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The American Baron by James de Mille

Part 5 out of 7

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During dinner the ladies conversed freely about "that horrid man,"
wondering what plan he would adopt to try to effect an entrance among
them. They were convinced that some such attempt would be made, and
the servants of the inn who waited on them were strictly charged to
see that no one disturbed them. However, their dinner was not
interrupted and after it was over they began to think of retiring, so
as to leave at an early hour on the following morning. Minnie had
already taken her departure, and the others were thinking of following
her example, when a knock came at the door.

All started. One of the maids went to the door, and found a servant
there who brought a message from the Baron Atramonte. He wished to
speak to the ladies on business of the most urgent importance. At this
confirmation of their expectations the ladies looked at one another
with a smile mingled with vexation, and Lady Dalrymple at once sent
word that they could not possibly see him.

But the Baron was not to be put off. In a few moments the servant came
back again, and brought another message, of a still more urgent
character, in which the Baron entreated them to grant him this
interview, and assured them that it was a matter of life and death.

"He's beginning to be more and more violent," said Lady Dalrymple.
"Well, dears," she added, resignedly, "in my opinion it will be better
to see him, and have done with him. If we do not, I'm afraid he will
pester us further. I will see him. You had better retire to your own

Upon this she sent down an invitation to the Baron to come up, and the
ladies retreated to their rooms.

The Baron entered, and, as usual, offered to shake hands--an offer
which, as usual, Lady Dalrymple did not accept. He then looked
earnestly all round the room, and gave a sigh. He evidently had
expected to see Minnie, and was disappointed. Lady Dalrymple marked
the glance, and the expression which followed.

"Well, ma'am," said he, as he seated himself near to Lady Dalrymple,
"I said that the business I wanted to speak about was important, and
that it was a matter of life and death. I assure you that it is. But
before I tell it I want to say something about the row in Rome. I have
reason to understand that I caused a little annoyance to you all. If I
did, I'm sure I didn't intend it. I'm sorry. There! Let's say no more
about it. 'Tain't often that I say I'm sorry, but I say so now.
Conditionally, though--that is, if I really _did_ annoy any body."

"Well, Sir?"

"Well, ma'am--about the business I came for. You have made a sudden
decision to take this journey. I want to know, ma'am, if you made any
inquiries about this road before starting?"

"This road? No, certainly not."

"I thought so," said the Baron. "Well, ma'am, I've reason to believe
that it's somewhat unsafe."


"Yes; particularly for ladies."

"And why?"

"Why, ma'am, the country is in a disordered state, and near the
boundary line it swarms with brigands. They call themselves
Garibaldians, but between you and me, ma'am, they're neither more nor
less than robbers. You see, along the boundary it is convenient for
them to dodge to one side or the other, and where the road runs there
are often crowds of them. Now our papal government means well, but it
ain't got power to keep down these brigands. It would like to, but it
can't. You see, the scum of all Italy gather along the borders,
because they know we _are_ weak; and so there it is."

"And you think there is danger on this road?" said Lady Dalrymple,
looking keenly at him.

"I do, ma'am."

"Pray have you heard of any recent acts of violence along the road?"

"No, ma'am."

"Then what reason have you for supposing that there is any particular
danger now?"

"A friend of mine told me so, ma'am."

"But do not people use the road? Are not carriages constantly passing
and repassing? Is it likely that if it were unsafe there would be no
acts of violence? Yet you say there have been none."

"Not of late, ma'am."

"But it is of late, and of the present time, that we are speaking."

"I can only say, ma'am, that the road is considered very dangerous."

"Who considers it so?"

"If you had made inquiries at Rome, ma'am, you would have found this
out, and never would have thought of this road."

"And you advise us not to travel it?"

"I do, ma'am."

"What would you advise us to do?"

"I would advise you, ma'am, most earnestly, to turn and go back to
Rome, and leave by another route."

Lady Dalrymple looked at him, and a slight smile quivered on her lips.

"I see, ma'am, that for some reason or other you doubt my word. Would
you put confidence in it if another person were to confirm what I have

"That depends entirely upon who the other person may be."

"The person I mean is Lord Hawbury."

"Lord Hawbury? Indeed!" said Lady Dalrymple, in some surprise. "But
he's in Rome."

"No, ma'am, he's not. He's here--in this hotel."

"In this hotel? Here?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"I'm sure I should like to see him very much, and hear what he says
about it."

"I'll go and get him, then," said the Baron, and, rising briskly, he
left the room.

In a short time he returned with Hawbury. Lady Dalrymple expressed
surprise to see him, and Hawbury explained that he was traveling with
a friend. Lady Dalrymple, of course, thought this a fresh proof of his
infatuation about Minnie, and wondered how he could be a friend to a
man whom she considered as Minnie's persecutor and tormentor.

The Baron at once proceeded to explain how the matter stood, and to
ask Hawbury's opinion.

"Yes," said Lady Dalrymple, "I should really like to know what you
think about it."

"Well, really," said Hawbury, "I have no acquaintance with the thing,
you know. Never been on this road in my life. But, at the same time, I
can assure you that this gentleman is a particular friend of mine, and
one of the best fellows I know. I'd stake my life on his perfect truth
and honor. If he says any thing, you may believe it because he says
it. If he says there are brigands on the road, they must be there."

"Oh, of course," said Lady Dalrymple. "You are right to believe your
friend, and I should trust his word also. But do you not see that
perhaps he may believe what he says, and yet be mistaken?"

At this the Baron's face fell. Lord Hawbury's warm commendation of him
had excited his hopes, but now Lady Dalrymple's answer had destroyed

"For my part," she added, "I don't really think any of us know much
about it. I wish we could find some citizen of the town, or some
reliable person, and ask him. I wonder whether the inn-keeper is a
trust-worthy man."

The Baron shook his head.

"I wouldn't trust one of them. They're the greatest rascals in the
country. Every man of them is in league with the Garibaldians and
brigands. This man would advise you to take whatever course would
benefit himself and his friends most."

"But surely we might find some one whose opinion would be reliable.
What do you say to one of my drivers? The one that drove our carriage
looks like a good, honest man."

"Well, perhaps so; but I wouldn't trust one of them. I don't believe
there's an honest vetturino in all Italy."

Lady Dalrymple elevated her eyebrows, and threw at Hawbury a glance of

"He speaks English, too," said Lady Dalrymple.

"So do some of the worst rascals in the country," said the Baron.

"Oh, I don't think he can be a very bad rascal. We had better question
him, at any rate. Don't you think so, Lord Hawbury?"

"Well, yes; I suppose it won't do any harm to have a look at the

The driver alluded to was summoned, and soon made his appearance. He
was a square-headed fellow, with a grizzled beard, and one of those
non-committal faces which may be worn by either an honest man or a
knave. Lady Dalrymple thought him the former; the Baron the latter.
The result will show which of these was in the right.

The driver spoke very fair English. He had been two or three times
over the road. He had not been over it later than two years before. He
didn't know it was dangerous. He had never heard of brigands being
here. He didn't know. There was a signore at the hotel who might know.
He was traveling to Florence alone. He was on horseback.

As soon as Lady Dalrymple heard this she suspected that it was Count
Girasole. She determined to have his advice about it. So she sent a
private request to that effect.

It was Count Girasole. He entered, and threw his usual smile around.
He was charmed, in his broken English, to be of any service to miladi.

To Lady Dalrymple's statement and question Girasole listened
attentively. As she concluded a faint smile passed over his face. The
Baron watched him attentively.

"I know no brigand on dissa road," said he.

Lady Dalrymple looked triumphantly at the others.

"I have travail dissa road many time. No dangaire--alla safe."

Another smile from Lady Dalrymple.

The Count Girasole looked at Hawbury and then at the Baron, with a
slight dash of mockery in his face.

"As for dangaire," he said--"pouf! dere is none. See, I go alone--no
arms, not a knife--an' yet gold in my porte-monnaie."

And he drew forth his porte-monnaie, and opened it so as to exhibit
its contents.

A little further conversation followed. Girasole evidently was
perfectly familiar with the road. The idea of brigands appeared to
strike him as some exquisite piece of pleasantry. He looked as though
it was only his respect for the company which prevented him from
laughing outright. They had taken the trouble to summon him for that!
And, besides, as the Count suggested, even if a brigand did appear,
there would be always travelers within hearing.

Both Hawbury and the Baron felt humiliated, especially the latter; and
Girasole certainly had the best of it on that occasion, whatever his
lot had been at other times.

The Count withdrew. The Baron followed, in company with Hawbury. He
was deeply dejected. First of all, he had hoped to see Minnie. Then he
hoped to frighten the party back. As to the brigands, he was in most
serious earnest. All that he said he believed. He could not understand
the driver and Count Girasole. The former he might consider a
scoundrel; but why should Girasole mislead? And yet he believed that
he was right. As for Hawbury, he didn't believe much in the brigands,
but he did believe in his friend, and he didn't think much of
Girasole. He was sorry for his friend, yet didn't know whether he
wanted the party to turn back or not. His one trouble was Dacres, who
now was watching the Italian like a blood-hound, who had seen him, no
doubt, go up to the ladies, and, of course, would suppose that Mrs.
Willoughby had sent for him.

As for the ladies, their excitement was great. The doors were thin,
and they had heard every word of the conversation. With Mrs.
Willoughby there was but one opinion as to the Baron's motive: she
thought he had come to get a peep at Minnie, and also to frighten them
back to Rome by silly stories. His signal failure afforded her great
triumph. Minnie, as usual, sympathized with him, but said nothing. As
for Ethel, the sudden arrival of Lord Hawbury was overwhelming, and
brought a return of all her former excitement. The sound of his voice
again vibrated through her, and at first there began to arise no end
of wild hopes, which, however, were as quickly dispelled. The question
arose, What brought him there? There seemed to her but one answer, and
that was his infatuation for Minnie. Yet to her, as well as to Lady
Dalrymple, it seemed very singular that he should be so warm a friend
to Minnie's tormentor. It was a puzzling thing. Perhaps he did not
know that the Baron was Minnie's lover. Perhaps he thought that his
friend would give her up, and he could win her. Amidst these thoughts
there came a wild hope that perhaps he did not love Minnie so very
much, after all. But this hope soon was dispelled as she recalled the
events of the past, and reflected on his cool and easy indifference to
every thing connected with her.

Such emotions as these actuated the ladies; and when the guests had
gone they joined their aunt once more, and deliberated. Minnie took no
part in the debate, but sat apart, looking like an injured being.
There was among them all the same opinion, and that was that it was
all a clumsy device of the Baron's to frighten them back to Rome. Such
being their opinion, they did not occupy much time in debating about
their course on the morrow. The idea of going back did not enter their

This event gave a much more agreeable feeling to Mrs. Willoughby and
Lady Dalrymple than they had known since they had been aware that the
Baron had followed them. They felt that they had grappled with the
difficulty. They had met the enemy and defeated him. Besides, the
presence of Hawbury was of itself a guarantee of peace. There could be
no further danger of any unpleasant scenes while Hawbury was with him.
Girasole's presence, also, was felt to be an additional guarantee of

It was felt by all to be a remarkable circumstance that so many men
should have followed them on what they had intended as quite a secret
journey. These gentlemen who followed them were the very ones, and the
only ones, from whom they wished to conceal it. Yet it had all been
revealed to them, and lo! here they all were. Some debate arose as to
whether it would not be better to go back to Rome now, and defy the
Baron, and leave by another route. But this debate was soon given up,
and they looked forward to the journey as one which might afford new
and peculiar enjoyment.

On the following morning they started at an early hour. Girasole left
about half an hour after them, and passed them a few miles along the
road. The Baron and the Reverend Saul left next; and last of all came
Hawbury and Dacres. The latter was, if possible, more gloomy and
vengeful than ever. The visit of the Italian on the preceding evening
was fully believed by him to be a scheme of his wife's. Nor could any
amount of persuasion or vehement statement on Hawbury's part in any
way shake his belief.

"No," he would say, "you don't understand. Depend upon it, she got him
up there to feast her eyes on him. Depend upon it, she managed to get
some note from him, and pass one to him in return. He had only to run
it under the leaf of a table, or stick it inside of some book: no
doubt they have it all arranged, and pass their infernal love-letters
backward and forward. But I'll soon have a chance. My time is coming.
It's near, too. I'll have my vengeance; and then for all the wrongs of
all my life that demon of a woman shall pay me dear!"

To all of which Hawbury had nothing to say. He could say nothing; he
could do nothing. He could only stand by his friend, go with him, and
watch over him, hoping to avert the crisis which he dreaded, or, if it
did come, to lessen the danger of his friend.

The morning was clear and beautiful. The road wound among the hills.
The party went in the order above mentioned.

First, Girasole, on horseback.

Next, and two miles at least behind, came the two carriages with the
ladies and their maids.

Third, and half a mile behind these, came the Baron and the Reverend

Last of all, and half a mile behind the Baron, came Hawbury and Scone

These last drove along at about this distance. The scenery around grew
grander, and the mountains higher. The road was smooth and well
constructed, and the carriage rolled along with an easy, comfortable

They were driving up a slope which wound along the side of a hill. At
the top of the hill trees appeared on each side, and the road made a
sharp turn here.

Suddenly the report of a shot sounded ahead.

Then a scream.

"Good Lord! Dacres, did you hear that?" cried Hawbury. "The Baron was
right, after all."

The driver here tried to stop his horses, but Hawbury would not let

"Have you a pistol, Dacres?"


"Get out!" he shouted to the driver; and, kicking him out of the seat,
he seized the reins himself, and drove the horses straight forward to
where the noise arose.

"It's the brigands, Dacres. The ladies are there."

"My wife! O God! my wife!" groaned Dacres. But a minute before he had
been cursing her.

"Get a knife! Get something, man! Have a fight for it!"

Dacres murmured something.

Hawbury lashed the horses, and drove them straight toward the wood.



The ladies had been driving on, quite unconscious of the neighborhood
of any danger, admiring the beauty of the scenery, and calling one
another's attention to the various objects of interest which from time
to time became visible. Thus engaged, they slowly ascended the incline
already spoken of, and began to enter the forest. They had not gone
far when the road took a sudden turn, and here a startling spectacle
burst upon their view.

The road on turning descended slightly into a hollow. On the right
arose a steep acclivity, covered with the dense forest. On the other
side the ground rose more gradually, and was covered over by a forest
much less dense. Some distance in front the road took another turn,
and was lost to view among the trees. About a hundred yards in front
of them a tree had been felled, and lay across the way, barring their

About twenty armed men stood before them close by the place where the
turn was. Among them was a man on horseback. To their amazement, it
was Girasole.

Before the ladies could recover from their astonishment two of the
armed men advanced, and the driver at once stopped the carriage.

Girasole then came forward.

"Miladi," said he, "I haf de honore of to invitar you to descend."

"Pray what is the meaning of this?" inquired Lady Dalrymple, with much

"It means dat I war wrong. Dere are brigand on dis road."

Lady Dalrymple said not another word.

The Count approached, and politely offered his hand to assist the
ladies out, but they rejected it, and got out themselves. First Mrs.
Willoughby, then Ethel, then Lady Dalrymple, then Minnie. Three of the
ladies were white with utter horror, and looked around in sickening
fear upon the armed men; but Minnie showed not even the slightest
particle of fear.

"How horrid!" she exclaimed. "And now some one will come and save my
life again. It's _always_ the way. I'm sure _this_ isn't my fault,
Kitty darling."

Before her sister could say any thing Girasole approached.

"Pardon, mees," he said; "but I haf made dis recepzion for you. You
sall be well treat. Do not fear. I lay down my life."

"Villain!" cried Lady Dalrymple. "Arrest her at your peril. Remember
who she is. She has friends powerful enough to avenge her if you dare
to injure her."

"You arra mistake," said Girasole, politely. "Se is mine, not yours. I
am her best fren. Se is fiancee to me. I save her life--tell her my
love--make a proposezion. Se accept me. Se is my fiancee. I was oppose
by you. What else sall I do? I mus haf her. Se is mine. I am an
Italiano nobile, an' I love her. Dere is no harm for any. You mus see
dat I haf de right. But for me se would be dead."

Lady Dalrymple was not usually excitable, but now her whole nature was
aroused; her eyes flashed with indignation; her face turned red; she
gasped for breath, and fell to the ground. Ethel rushed to assist her,
and two of the maids came up. Lady Dalrymple lay senseless.

With Mrs. Willoughby the result was different. She burst into tears.

"Count Girasole," she cried, "oh, spare her! If you love her, spare
her. She is only a child. If we opposed you, it was not from any
objection to you; it was because she is such a child."

"You mistake," said the Count, shrugging his shoulders. "I love her
better than life. Se love me. It will make her happy. You come too.
You sall see se is happy. Come. Be my sistaire. It is love--"

Mrs. Willoughby burst into fresh tears at this, and flung her arms
around Minnie, and moaned and wept.

"Well, now, Kitty darling, I think it's horrid. You're _never_
satisfied. You're always finding fault. I'm sure if you don't like
Rufus K. Gunn, you--"

But Minnie's voice was interrupted by the sound of approaching wheels.
It was the carriage of the Baron and his friend. The Baron had feared
brigands, but he was certainly not expecting to come upon them so
suddenly. The brigands had been prepared, and as the carriage turned
it was suddenly stopped by the two carriages in front, and at once was

The Baron gave one lightning glance, and surveyed the whole situation.
He did not move, but his form was rigid, and every nerve was braced,
and his eyes gleamed fiercely. He saw it all--the crowd of women, the
calm face of Minnie, and the uncontrollable agitation of Mrs.

"Well, by thunder!" he exclaimed.

Girasole rode up and called out:

"Surrender! You arra my prisoner."

"What! it's you, is it?" said the Baron; and he glared for a moment
with a vengeful look at Girasole.

"Descend," said Girasole. "You mus be bound."

"Bound? All right. Here, parson, you jump down, and let them tie your

The Baron stood up. The Reverend Saul stood up too. The Reverend Saul
began to step down very carefully. The brigands gathered around, most
of them being on the side on which the two were about to descend. The
Reverend Saul had just stepped to the ground. The Baron was just
preparing to follow. The brigands were impatient to secure them, when
suddenly, with a quick movement, the Baron gave a spring out of the
opposite side of the carriage, and leaped to the ground. The brigands
were taken completely by surprise, and before they could prepare to
follow him, he had sprung into the forest, and, with long bounds, was
rushing up the steep hill and out of sight.

One shot was fired after him, and that was the shot that Hawbury and
Dacres heard. Two men sprang after him with the hope of catching him.

In a few moments a loud cry was heard from the woods.


Minnie heard it; a gleam of light flashed from her eyes, a smile of
triumph came over her lips.

"Wha-a-a-a-t?" she called in reply.

"Wa-a-a-a-a-a-it!" was the cry that came back--and this was the cry
that Hawbury and Dacres had heard.

"Sacr-r-r-r-r-r-remento!" growled Girasole.

"I'm sure _I_ don't know what he means by telling me that," said
Minnie. "How can _I_ wait if this horrid Italian won't let me? I'm
sure he might be more considerate."

Poor Mrs. Willoughby, who had for a moment been roused to hope by the
escape of the Baron, now fell again into despair, and wept and moaned
and clung to Minnie. Lady Dalrymple still lay senseless, in spite of
the efforts of Ethel and the maids. The occurrence had been more to
her than a mere encounter with brigands. It was the thought of her own
carelessness that overwhelmed her. In an instant the thought of the
Baron's warning and his solemn entreaties flashed across her memory.
She recollected how Hawbury had commended his friend, and how she had
turned from these to put her trust in the driver and Girasole, the
very men who had betrayed her. These were the thoughts that
overwhelmed her.

But now there arose once more the noise of rolling wheels, advancing
more swiftly than the last, accompanied by the lash of a whip and
shouts of a human voice. Girasole spoke to his men, and they moved up
nearer to the bend, and stood in readiness there.

What Hawbury's motive was it is not difficult to tell. He was not
armed, and therefore could not hope to do much: but he had in an
instant resolved to rush thus into the midst of the danger. First of
all he thought that a struggle might be going on between the drivers,
the other travelers, and the brigands; in which event his assistance
would be of great value. Though unarmed, he thought he might snatch or
wrest a weapon from some one of the enemy. In addition to this, he
wished to strike a blow to save the ladies from captivity, even if his
blow should be unavailing. Even if he had known how matters were, he
would probably have acted in precisely the same way. As for Dacres, he
had but one idea. He was sure it was some trick concocted by his wife
and the Italian, though why they should do so he did not stop, in his
mad mood, to inquire. A vague idea that a communication had passed
between them on the preceding evening with reference to this was now
in his mind, and his vengeful feeling was stimulated by this thought
to the utmost pitch of intensity.

Hawbury thus lashed his horses, and they flew along the road. After
the first cry and the shot that they had heard there was no further
noise. The stillness was mysterious. It showed Hawbury that the
struggle, if there had been any, was over. But the first idea still
remained both in his own mind and in that of Dacres. On they went, and
now they came to the turn in the road. Round this they whirled, and in
an instant the scene revealed itself.

Three carriages stopped; some drivers standing and staring
indifferently; a group of women crowding around a prostrate form that
lay in the road; a pale, beautiful girl, to whom a beautiful woman was
clinging passionately; a crowd of armed brigands with leveled pieces;
and immediately before them a horseman--the Italian, Girasole.

One glance showed all this. Hawbury could not distinguish any face
among the crowd of women that bent over Lady Dalrymple, and Ethel's
face was thus still unrevealed; but he saw Minnie and Mrs. Willoughby
and Girasole.

"What the devil's all this about?" asked Hawbury, haughtily, as his
horses stopped at the Baron's carriage.

"You are prisoners--" began Girasole.

But before he could say another word he was interrupted by a cry of
fury from Dacres, who, the moment that he had recognized him, sprang
to his feet, and with a long, keen knife in his hand, leaped from the
carriage into the midst of the brigands, striking right and left, and
endeavoring to force his way toward Girasole. In an instant Hawbury
was by his side. Two men fell beneath the fierce thrusts of Dacres's
knife, and Hawbury tore the rifle from a third. With the clubbed end
of this he began dealing blows right and left. The men fell back and
leveled their pieces. Dacres sprang forward, and was within three
steps of Girasole--his face full of ferocity, his eyes flashing, and
looking not so much like an English gentleman as one of the old
vikings in a Berserker rage. One more spring brought him closer to
Girasole. The Italian retreated. One of his men flung himself before
Dacres and tried to grapple with him. The next instant he fell with a
groan, stabbed to the heart. With a yell of rage the others rushed
upon Dacres; but the latter was now suddenly seized with a new idea.
Turning for an instant he held his assailants at bay; and then,
seizing the opportunity, sprang into the woods and ran. One or two
shots were fired, and then half a dozen men gave chase.

Meanwhile one or two shots had been fired at Hawbury, but, in the
confusion, they had not taken effect. Suddenly, as he stood with
uplifted rifle ready to strike, his enemies made a simultaneous rush
upon him. He was seized by a dozen strong arms. He struggled fiercely,
but his efforts were unavailing. The odds were too great. Before long
he was thrown to the ground on his face, and his arms bound behind
him. After this he was gagged.

The uproar of this fierce struggle had roused all the ladies, and they
turned their eyes in horror to where the two were fighting against
such odds. Ethel raised herself on her knees from beside Lady
Dalrymple, and caught sight of Hawbury. For a moment she remained
motionless; and then she saw the escape of Dacres, and Hawbury going
down in the grasp of his assailants. She gave a loud shriek and rushed
forward. But Girasole intercepted her.

"Go back," he said. "De milor is my prisoner. Back, or you will be

And at a gesture from him two of the men advanced to seize Ethel.

"Back!" he said, once more, in a stern voice. "You mus be tentif to

Ethel shrank back.

The sound of that scream had struck on Hawbury's ears, but he did not
recognize it, If he thought of it at all, he supposed it was the
scream of common terror from one of the women. He was sore and bruised
and fast bound. He was held down also in such a way that he could not
see the party of ladies. The Baron's carriage intercepted the view,
for he had fallen behind this during the final struggle. After a
little time he was allowed to sit up, but still he could not see

There was now some delay, and Girasole gave some orders to his men.
The ladies waited with fearful apprehensions. They listened eagerly to
hear if there might not be some sounds of approaching help. But no
such sounds came to gladden their hearts. Lady Dalrymple, also, still
lay senseless; and Ethel, full of the direst anxiety about Hawbury,
had to return to renew her efforts toward reviving her aunt.

Before long the brigands who had been in pursuit of the fugitives
returned to the road. They did not bring back either of them. A
dreadful question arose in the minds of the ladies as to the meaning
of this. Did it mean that the fugitives had escaped, or had been shot
down in the woods by their wrathful pursuers? It was impossible for
them to find out. Girasole went over to them and conversed with them
apart. The men all looked sullen; but whether that arose from
disappointed vengeance or gratified ferocity it was impossible for
them to discern.

[Illustration: THE MELEE.]

The brigands now turned their attention to their own men. Two of these
had received bad but not dangerous wounds from the dagger of Dacres,
and the scowls of pain and rage which they threw upon Hawbury and the
other captives boded nothing but the most cruel fate to all of them.
Another, however, still lay there. It was the one who had intercepted
Dacres in his rush upon Girasole. He lay motionless in a pool of
blood. They turned him over. His white, rigid face, as it became
exposed to view, exhibited the unmistakable mark of death, and a gash
on his breast showed how his fate had met him.

The brigands uttered loud cries, and advanced toward Hawbury. He sat
regarding them with perfect indifference. They raised their rifles,
some clubbing them, others taking aim, swearing and gesticulating all
the time like maniacs.

Hawbury, however, did not move a muscle of his face, nor did he show
the slightest feeling of any kind. He was covered with dust, and his
clothes were torn and splashed with mud, and his hands were bound, and
his mouth was gagged; but he preserved a coolness that astonished his
enemies. Had it not been for this coolness his brains might have been
blown out--in which case this narrative would never have been written;
but there was something in his look which made the Italians pause,
gave Girasole time to interfere, and thus preserved my story from

Girasole then came up and made his men stand back. They obeyed

Girasole removed the gag.

Then he stood and looked at Hawbury. Hawbury sat and returned his look
with his usual nonchalance, regarding the Italian with a cold, steady
stare, which produced upon the latter its usual maddening effect.

"Milor will be ver glad to hear," said he, with a mocking smile, "dat
de mees will be take good care to. Milor was attentif to de mees; but
de mees haf been fiancee to me, an' so I take dis occazione to mak her
mine. I sall love her, an' se sall love me. I haf save her life, an'
se haf been fiancee to me since den."

Now Girasole had chosen to say this to Hawbury from the conviction
that Hawbury was Minnie's lover, and that the statement of this would
inflict a pang upon the heart of his supposed rival which would
destroy his coolness. Thus he chose rather to strike at Hawbury's
jealousy than at his fear or at his pride.

But he was disappointed. Hawbury heard his statement with utter

"Well," said he, "all I can say is that it seems to me to be a
devilish odd way of going to work about it."

"Aha!" said Girasole, fiercely. "You sall see. Se sall be mine. Aha!"

Hawbury made no reply, and Girasole, after a gesture of impatience,
walked off, baffled.

In a few minutes two men came up to Hawbury, and led him away to the
woods on the left.

[Illustration: "THEY SAW A RUINED HOUSE."]



Girasole now returned to the ladies. They were in the same position in
which he had left them. Mrs. Willoughby with Minnie, and Ethel, with
the maids, attending to Lady Dalrymple.

"Miladi," said Girasole, "I beg your attenzion. I haf had de honore to
inform you dat dis mees is my fiancee. Se haf give me her heart an'
her hand; se love me, an' I love her. I was prevent from to see her,
an' I haf to take her in dis mannaire. I feel sad at de pain I haf
give you, an' assuir you dat it was inevitabile. You sall not be
troubled more. You are free. Mees," he continued, taking Minnie's
hand, "you haf promis me dis fair han', an' you are mine. You come to
one who loves you bettaire dan life, an' who you love. You owe youair
life to me. I sall make it so happy as nevair was."

"I'm sure _I_ don't want to be happy," said Minnie. "I don't _want_ to
leave darling Kitty--and it's a shame--and you'll make me _hate_ you
if you do so."

"Miladi," said Girasole to Mrs. Willoughby, "de mees says se not want
to leaf you. Eef you want to come, you may come an' be our sistaire."

"Oh, Kitty darling, you won't leave me, will you, all alone with this
horrid man?" said Minnie.

"My darling," moaned Mrs. Willoughby, "how can I? I'll go. Oh, my
sweet sister, what misery!"

"Oh, now that will be really _quite_ delightful if you _will_ come,
Kitty darling. Only I'm afraid you'll find it awfully uncomfortable."

Girasole turned once more to the other ladies.

"I beg you will assura de miladi when she recovaire of my
considerazion de mos distingue, an' convey to her de regrettas dat I
haf. Miladi," he continued, addressing Ethel, "you are free, an' can
go. You will not be molest by me. You sall go safe. You haf not ver
far. You sall fin' houses dere--forward--before--not far."

With these words he turned away.

"You mus come wit me," he said to Mrs. Willoughby and Minnie. "Come.
Eet ees not ver far."

He walked slowly into the woods on the left, and the two sisters
followed him. Of the two Minnie was far the more cool and collected.
She was as composed as usual; and, as there was no help for it, she
walked on. Mrs. Willoughby, however, was terribly agitated, and wept
and shuddered and moaned incessantly.

"Kitty darling," said Minnie, "I _wish_ you wouldn't go on so. You
really make me feel quite nervous. I never saw you so bad in my life."

"Poor Minnie! Poor child! Poor sweet child!"

"Well, if I am a child, you needn't go and tell me about it all the
time. It's really quite horrid."

Mrs. Willoughby said no more, but generously tried to repress her own
feelings, so as not to give distress to her sister.

After the Count had entered the wood with the two sisters the drivers
removed the horses from the carriages and went away, led off by the
man who had driven the ladies. This was the man whose stolid face had
seemed likely to belong to an honest man, but who now was shown to
belong to the opposite class. These men went down the road over which
they had come, leaving the carriages there with the ladies and their

Girasole now led the way, and Minnie and her sister followed him. The
wood was very thick, and grew more so as they advanced, but there was
not much underbrush, and progress was not difficult. Several times a
wild thought of flight came to Mrs. Willoughby, but was at once
dispelled by a helpless sense of its utter impossibility. How could
she persuade the impracticable Minnie, who seemed so free from all
concern? or, if she could persuade her, how could she accomplish her
desire? She would at once be pursued and surrounded, while, even if
she did manage to escape, how could she ever find her way to any place
of refuge? Every minute, also, drew them deeper and deeper into the
woods, and the path was a winding one, in which she soon became
bewildered, until at last all sense of her whereabouts was utterly
gone. At last even the idea of escaping ceased to suggest itself, and
there remained only a dull despair, a sense of utter helplessness and
hopelessness--the sense of one who is going to his doom.

Girasole said nothing whatever, but led the way in silence, walking
slowly enough to accommodate the ladies, and sometimes holding an
overhanging branch to prevent it from springing back in their faces.
Minnie walked on lightly, and with an elastic step, looking around
with evident interest upon the forest. Once a passing lizard drew from
her a pretty little shriek of alarm, thus showing that while she was
so calm in the face of real and frightful danger, she could be alarmed
by even the most innocent object that affected her fancy. Mrs.
Willoughby thought that she understood Minnie before, but this little
shriek at a lizard, from one who smiled at the brigands, struck her as
a problem quite beyond her power to solve.

The woods now began to grow thinner. The trees were larger and farther
apart, and rose all around in columnar array, so that it was possible
to see between them to a greater distance. At length there appeared
before them, through the trunks of the trees, the gleam of water. Mrs.
Willoughby noticed this, and wondered what it might be. At first she
thought it was a harbor on the coast; then she thought it was some
river; but finally, on coming nearer, she saw that it was a lake. In a
few minutes after they first caught sight of it they had reached its

It was a most beautiful and sequestered spot. All around were high
wooded eminences, beyond whose undulating summits arose the towering
forms of the Apennine heights. Among these hills lay a little lake
about a mile in length and breadth, whose surface was as smooth as
glass, and reflected the surrounding shores. On their right, as they
descended, they saw some figures moving, and knew them to be the
brigands, while on their left they saw a ruined house. Toward this
Girasole led them.

The house stood on the shore of the lake. It was of stone, and was two
stories in height. The roof was still good, but the windows were gone.
There was no door, but half a dozen or so of the brigands stood there,
and formed a sufficient guard to prevent the escape of any prisoner.
These men had dark, wicked eyes and sullen faces, which afforded fresh
terror to Mrs. Willoughby. She had thought, in her desperation, of
making some effort to escape by bribing the men, but the thorough-bred
rascality which was evinced in the faces of these ruffians showed her
that they were the very fellows who would take her money and cheat her
afterward. If she had been able to speak Italian, she might have
secured their services by the prospect of some future reward after
escaping; but, as it was, she could not speak a word of the language,
and thus could not enter upon even the preliminaries of an escape.

On reaching the house the ruffians stood aside, staring hard at them.
Mrs. Willoughby shrank in terror from the baleful glances of their
eyes; but Minnie looked at them calmly and innocently, and not without
some of that curiosity which a child shows when he first sees a
Chinaman or an Arab in the streets. Girasole then led the way up
stairs to a room on the second story.

It was an apartment of large size, extending across the house, with a
window at each end, and two on the side. On the floor there was a heap
of straw, over which some skins were thrown. There were no chairs, nor
was there any table.

"Scusa me," said Girasole, "miladi, for dis accommodazion. It gifs me
pain, but I promise it sall not be long. Only dis day an' dis night
here. I haf to detain you dat time. Den we sall go to where I haf a
home fitter for de bride. I haf a home wharra you sall be a happy
bride, mees--"

"But I don't want to stay here _at all_ in such a horrid place," said
Minnie, looking around in disgust.

"Only dis day an' dis night," said Girasole, imploringly. "Aftaire you
sall have all you sall wis."

"Well, at any rate, I think it's very horrid in you to shut me up
here. You might let me walk outside in the woods. I'm so _aw_fully
fond of the woods."

Girasole smiled faintly.

"And so you sall have plenty of de wood--but to-morra. You wait here
now. All safe--oh yes--secura--all aright--oh yes--slip tonight, an'
in de mornin' early you sall be mine. Dere sall come a priest, an' we
sall have de ceremony."

"Well, I think it was very unkind in you to bring me to such a horrid
place. And how can I sit down? You _might_ have had a chair. And look
at poor, darling Kitty. You may be unkind to me, but you needn't make
_her_ sit on the floor. You never saved _her_ life, and you have no
right to be unkind to her."

"Unkind! Oh, mees!--my heart, my life, all arra youairs, an' I lay my
life at youair foot."

"I think it would be far more kind if you would put a chair at poor
Kitty's feet," retorted Minnie, with some show of temper.

"But, oh, carissima, tink--de wild wood--noting here--no, noting--not
a chair--only de straw."

"Then you had no business to bring me here. You might have known that
there were no chairs here. I can't sit down on nothing. But I suppose
you expect me to stand up. And if that isn't horrid, I don't know what
is. I'm sure I don't know what poor dear papa would say if he were to
see me now."

[Illustration: "WHAT IS THIS FOR?"]

"Do not grieve, carissima mia--do not, charming mees, decompose
yourself. To-morra you sall go to a bettaire place, an' I will carra
you to my castello. You sall haf every want, you sall enjoy every wis,
you sall be happy."

"But I don't see how I can be happy without a chair," reiterated
Minnie, in whose mind this one grievance now became pre-eminent. "You
talk as though you think I am made of stone or iron, and you think I
can stand here all day or all night, and you want me to sleep on that
horrid straw and those horrid furry things. I suppose this is the
castle that you speak of; and I'm sure I wonder why you _ever_ thought
of bringing me here. I suppose it doesn't make so much difference
about a _carpet_; but you will not even let me have a _chair_; and I
think you're _very_ unkind."

Girasole was in despair. He stood in thought for some time. He felt
that Minnie's rebuke was deserved. If she had reproached him with
waylaying her and carrying her off, he could have borne it, and could
have found a reply. But such a charge as this was unanswerable. It
certainly was very hard that she should not be able to sit down. But
then how was it possible for him to find a chair in the woods? It was
an insoluble problem. How in the world could he satisfy her?

Minnie's expression also was most touching. The fact that she had no
chair to sit on seemed to absolutely overwhelm her. The look that she
gave Girasole was so piteous, so reproachful, so heart-rending, that
his soul actually quaked, and a thrill of remorse passed all through
his frame. He felt a cold chill running to the very marrow of his

"I think you're _very, very_ unkind," said Minnie, "and I really don't
see how I can _ever_ speak to you again."

This was too much. Girasole turned away. He rushed down stairs. He
wandered frantically about. He looked in all directions for a chair.
There was plenty of wood certainly--for all around he saw the vast
forest--but of what use was it? He could not transform a tree into a
chair. He communicated his difficulty to some of the men. They shook
their heads helplessly. At last he saw the stump of a tree which was
of such a shape that it looked as though it might be used as a seat.
It was his only resource, and he seized it. Calling two or three of
the men, he had the stump carried to the old house. He rushed up
stairs to acquaint Minnie with his success, and to try to console her.
She listened in coldness to his hasty words. The men who were carrying
the stump came up with a clump and a clatter, breathing hard, for the
stump was very heavy, and finally placed it on the landing in front of
Minnie's door. On reaching that spot it was found that it would not go

Minnie heard the noise and came out. She looked at the stump, then at
the men and then at Girasole.

"What is this for?" she asked.

"Eet--eet ees for a chair."

"A chair!" exclaimed Minnie. "Why, it's nothing but a great big,
horrid, ugly old stump, and--"

Her remarks ended in a scream. She turned and ran back into the room.

"What--what is de mattaire?" cried the Count, looking into the room
with a face pale with anxiety.

"Oh, take it away! take it away!" cried Minnie, in terror.

"What? what?"

"Take it away! take it away!" she repeated.

"But eet ees for you--eet ees a seat."

"I don't want it. I won't have it!" cried Minnie. "It's full of horrid
ants and things. And it's dreadful--and _very, very_ cruel in you to
bring them up here just to _tease_ me, when you _know_ I hate them so.
Take it away! take it away! oh, do please take it away! And oh, do
please go away yourself, and leave me with dear, darling Kitty. _She_
never teases me. She is _always_ kind."

Girasole turned away once more, in fresh trouble. He had the stump
carried off, and then he wandered away. He was quite at a loss what to
do. He was desperately in love, and it was a very small request for
Minnie to make, and he was in that state of mind when it would be a
happiness to grant her slightest wish; but here he found himself in a
difficulty from which he could find no possible means of escape.

"And now, Kitty darling," said Minnie, after Girasole had gone--"now
you see how very, very wrong you were to be so opposed to that dear,
good, kind, nice Rufus K. Gunn. _He_ would never have treated me so.
_He_ would never have taken me to a place like this--a horrid old
house by a horrid damp pond, without doors and windows, just like a
beggar's house--and then put me in a room without a chair to sit on
when I'm so _aw_fully tired. He was _always_ kind to me, and that was
the reason you hated him so, because you couldn't bear to have people
kind to me. And I'm _so_ tired."

"Come, then, poor darling. I'll make a nice seat for you out of these

And Mrs. Willoughby began to fold some of them up and lay them one
upon the other.

"What is that for, Kitty dear?" asked Minnie.

"To make you a nice, soft seat, dearest."

"But I don't want them, and I won't sit on the horrid things," said

"But, darling, they are as soft as a cushion. See!" And her sister
pressed her hand on them, so as to show how soft they were.

"I don't think they're soft _at all_," said Minnie; "and I wish you
wouldn't tease me so, when I'm _so_ tired."

"Then come, darling; I will sit on them, and you shall sit on my

"But I don't want to go near those horrid furry things. They belong to
cows and things. I think _every body's_ unkind to me to-day."

"Minnie, dearest, you really wound me when you talk in that way. Be
reasonable now. See what pains I take. I do all I can for you."

"But I'm _always_ reasonable, and it's _you_ that are unreasonable,
when you want me to sit on that horrid fur. It's very, _very_
disagreeable in you, Kitty dear."

Mrs. Willoughby said nothing, but went on folding some more skins.
These she placed on the straw so that a pile was formed about as high
as an ordinary chair. This pile was placed against the wall so that
the wall served as a support.

Then she seated herself upon this.

"Minnie, dearest," said she.

"Well, Kitty darling."

"It's really quite soft and comfortable. Do come and sit on it; do,
just to please me, only for five minutes. See! I'll spread my dress
over it so that you need not touch it. Come, dearest, only for five

"Well, I'll sit on it just for a little mite of a time, if you promise
not to tease me."

"Tease you, dear! Why, of course not. Come."

So Minnie went over and sat by her sister's side.

In about an hour Girasole came back. The two sisters were seated
there. Minnie's head was resting on her sister's shoulder, and she was
fast asleep, while Mrs. Willoughby sat motionless, with her face
turned toward him, and such an expression in her dark eyes that
Girasole felt awed. He turned in silence and went away.



The departure of the drivers with their horses had increased the
difficulties of the party, and had added to their danger. Of that
party Ethel was now the head, and her efforts were directed more
zealously than ever to bring back Lady Dalrymple to her senses. At
last these efforts were crowned with success, and, after being
senseless for nearly an hour, she came to herself. The restoration of
her senses, however, brought with it the discovery of all that had
occurred, and thus caused a new rush of emotion, which threatened
painful consequences. But the consequences were averted, and at length
she was able to rise. She was then helped into her carriage, after
which the question arose as to their next proceeding.


The loss of the horses and drivers was a very embarrassing thing to
them, and for a time they were utterly at a loss what course to adopt.
Lady Dalrymple was too weak to walk, and they had no means of
conveying her. The maids had simply lost their wits from fright; and
Ethel could not see her way clearly out of the difficulty. At this
juncture they were roused by the approach of the Rev. Saul Tozer.

This reverend man had been bound as he descended from his carriage,
and had remained bound ever since. In that state he had been a
spectator of the struggle and its consequences, and he now came
forward to offer his services.

"I don't know whether you remember me, ma'am," said he to Lady
Dalrymple, "but I looked in at your place at Rome; and in any case I
am bound to offer you my assistance, since you are companions with me
in my bonds, which I'd be much obliged if one of you ladies would
untie or cut. Perhaps it would be best to untie it, as rope's

At this request Ethel obtained a pair of scissors from one of the
maids, and after vigorous efforts succeeded in freeing the reverend

"Really, Sir, I am very much obliged for this kind offer," said Lady
Dalrymple, "and I avail myself of it gratefully. Can you advise us
what is best to do?"

"Well, ma'am, I've been turning it over in my mind, and have made it a
subject of prayer; and it seems to me that it wouldn't be bad to go
out and see the country."

"There are no houses for miles," said Ethel.

"Have you ever been this road before?" said Tozer.


"Then how do you know?"

"Oh, I was thinking of the part we had passed over."

"True; but the country in front may be different. Didn't that brigand
captain say something about getting help ahead?"

"Yes, so he did; I remember now," said Ethel.

"Well, I wouldn't take his advice generally, but in this matter I
don't see any harm in following it; so I move that I be a committee of
one to go ahead and investigate the country and bring help."

"Oh, thanks, thanks, very much. Really, Sir, this is very kind," said
Lady Dalrymple.

"And I'll go too," said Ethel, as a sudden thought occurred to her.
"Would you be afraid, aunty dear, to stay here alone?"

"Certainly not, dear. I have no more fear for myself, but I'm afraid
to trust you out of my sight."

"Oh, you need not fear for me," said Ethel. "I shall certainly be as
safe farther on as I am here. Besides, if we can find help I will know
best what is wanted."

"Well, dear, I suppose you may go."

Without further delay Ethel started off, and Tozer walked by her side.
They went under the fallen tree, and then walked quickly along the

"Do you speak Italian, miss?" asked Tozer.


"I'm sorry for that. I don't either. I'm told it's a fine language."

"So I believe; but how very awkward it will be not to be able to speak
to any person!"

"Well, the Italian is a kind of offshoot of the Latin, and I can
scrape together a few Latin words--enough to make myself understood, I
do believe."

"Can you, really? How very fortunate!"

"It is somewhat providential, miss, and I hope I may succeed."

They walked on in silence now for some time. Ethel was too sad to
talk, and Tozer was busily engaged in recalling all the Latin at his
command. After a while he began to grow sociable.

"Might I ask, miss, what persuasion you are?"

"Persuasion?" said Ethel, in surprise.

"Yes, 'm; de-nomination--religious body, you know."

"Oh! why, I belong to the Church."

"Oh! and what church did you say, 'm?"

"The Church of England."

"H'm. The 'Piscopalian body. Well, it's a high-toned body."

Ethel gave a faint smile at this whimsical application of a name to
her church, and then Tozer returned to the charge.

"Are you a professor?"

"A what?"

"A professor."

"A professor?" repeated Ethel. "I don't think I _quite_ understand

"Well, do you belong to the church? Are you a member?"

"Oh yes."

"I'm glad to hear it. It's a high and a holy and a happy perrivelege
to belong to the church and enjoy the means of grace. I trust you live
up to your perriveleges?"

"Live what?" asked Ethel.

"Live up to your perriveleges," repeated Tozer--"attend on all the
means of grace--be often at the assembling of yourself together."

"The assembling of myself together? I don't think I _quite_ get your
meaning," said Ethel.

"Meeting, you know--church-meeting."

"Oh yes; I didn't understand. Oh yes, I always go to church."

"That's right," said Tozer, with a sigh of relief; "and I suppose,
now, you feel an interest in the cause of missions?"

"Missions? Oh, I don't know. The Roman Catholics practice that to some
extent, and several of my friends say they feel benefit from a mission
once a year; but for my part I have not yet any very decided leanings
to Roman Catholicism."

"Oh, dear me, dear me!" cried Tozer, "that's not what I mean at all; I
mean Protestant missions to the heathen, you know."

"I beg your pardon," said Ethel. "I thought you were referring to
something else."

Tozer was silent now for a few minutes, and then asked her, abruptly,

"What's your opinion about the Jews?"

"The Jews?" exclaimed Ethel, looking at him in some surprise, and
thinking that her companion must be a little insane to carry on such
an extraordinary conversation with such very abrupt changes--"the

"Yes, the Jews."

"Oh, I don't like them at all."

"But they're the chosen people."

"I can't help that. I don't like them. But then, you know, I never
really saw much of them."

"I refer to their future prospects," said Tozer--"to prophecy. I
should like to ask you how you regard them in that light. Do you
believe in a spiritual or a temporal Zion?"

"Spiritual Zion? Temporal Zion?"

"Yes, 'm."

"Well, really, I don't know. I don't think I believe any thing at all
about it."

"But you _must_ believe in either one or the other--you've _got_ to,"
said Tozer, positively.

"But I _don't_, you know; and how can I?"

Tozer threw at her a look of commiseration, and began to think that
his companion was not much better than a heathen. In his own home
circle he could have put his hand on little girls of ten who were
quite at home on all these subjects. He was silent for a time, and
then began again.

"I'd like to ask you one thing," said he, "very much."

"What is it?" asked Ethel.

"Do you believe," asked Tozer, solemnly, "that we're living in the
Seventh Vial?"

"Vial? Seventh Vial?" said Ethel, in fresh amazement.

"Yes, the Seventh Vial," said Tozer, in a sepulchral voice.

"Living in the Seventh Vial? I really don't know how one can live in a

"The Great Tribulation, you know."

"Great Tribulation?"

"Yes; for instance, now, don't you believe in the Apocalyptic Beast?"

"I don't know," said Ethel, faintly.

"Well, at any rate, you believe in his number--you must."

"His number?"


"What do you mean?"

"Why, the number six, six, six--six hundred and sixty-six."

"I really don't understand this," said Ethel.

"Don't you believe that the Sixth Vial is done?"

"Sixth Vial? What, another vial?"

"Yes; and the drying of the Euphrates."

"The Euphrates? drying?" repeated Ethel in a trembling voice. She
began to be alarmed. She felt sure that this man was insane. She had
never heard such incoherency in her life. And she was alone with him.
She stole a timid look, and saw his long, sallow face, on which there
was now a preoccupied expression, and the look did not reassure her.

But Tozer himself was a little puzzled, and felt sure that his
companion must have her own opinions on the subject, so he began

"Now I suppose you've read Fleming on the Papacy?"

"No, I haven't. I never heard of it."

"Strange, too. You've heard of Elliot's 'Horae Apocalypticae?', I

"No," said Ethel, timidly.

"Well, it's all in Cumming--and you've read him, of course?"

"Cumming? I never heard of him. Who is he?"

"What, never heard of Cumming?"


"And never read his 'Great Tribulation?'"


"Nor his 'Great Expectation?'"


"What! not even his 'Apocalyptic Sketches?'"

"I never heard of them."


Tozer looked at her in astonishment; but at this moment they came to a
turn in the road, when a sight appeared which drew from Ethel an
expression of joy.

It was a little valley on the right, in which was a small hamlet with
a church. The houses were but small, and could not give them much
accommodation, but they hoped to find help there.

"I wouldn't trust the people," said Ethel. "I dare say they're all
brigands; but there ought to be a priest there, and we can appeal to

This proposal pleased Tozer, who resumed his work of collecting among
the stores of his memory scraps of Latin which he had once stored away

The village was at no very great distance away from the road, and they
reached it in a short time. They went at once to the church. The door
was open, and a priest, who seemed the village priest, was standing
there. He was stout, with a good-natured expression on his hearty,
rosy face, and a fine twinkle in his eye, which lighted up pleasantly
as he saw the strangers enter.

Tozer at once held out his hand and shook that of the priest.

"Buon giorno," said the priest.

Ethel shook her head.

"Parlate Italiano?" said he.

Ethel shook her head.

"Salve, domine," said Tozer, who at once plunged headlong into Latin.

"Salve bene," said the priest, in some surprise.

"Quomodo vales?" asked Tozer.

"Optime valeo, Dei gratia. Spero vos valere."

Tozer found the priest's pronunciation a little difficult, but managed
to understand him.

"Domine," said he, "sumus viatores infelices et innocentes, in quos
fures nuper impetum fecerunt. Omnia bona nostra arripuerunt--"

"Fieri non potest!" said the priest.

"Et omnes amicos nostros in captivitatem lachrymabilem tractaverunt--"

"Cor dolet," said the priest; "miseret me vestrum."

"Cujusmodi terra est haec in qua sustenendum est tot labores?"

The priest sighed.

"Tonitruendum est malum!" exclaimed Tozer, excited by the recollection
of his wrongs.

The priest stared.

"In hostium manibus fuimus, et, bonum tonitru! omnia impedimenta
amissimus. Est nimis omnipotens malum!"

"Quid vis dicere?" said the priest, looking puzzled. "Quid tibi vis?"

"Est nimis sempiternum durum!"

"In nomine omnium sanctorum apostolorumque," cried the priest, "quid
vis dicere?"

"Potes ne juvare nos," continued Tozer, "in hoc lachrymabile tempore?
Volo unum verum vivum virum qui possit--"

"Diabolus arripiat me si possim unum solum verbum intelligere!" cried
the priest. "Be jabers if I ondherstan' yez at all at all; an' there
ye have it."

And with this the priest raised his head, with its puzzled look, and
scratched that organ with such a natural air, and with such a full
Irish flavor in his brogue and in his face, that both of his visitors
were perfectly astounded.

"Good gracious!" cried Tozer; and seizing the priest's hand in both of
his, he nearly wrung it off. "Why, what a providence! Why, really,
now! And you were an Irishman all the time! And why didn't you speak

"Sure and what made you spake Latin?" cried the priest. "And what was
it you were thryin' to say wid yer 'sempiternum durum,' and yer
'tonitruendum malum?' Sure an' ye made me fairly profeen wid yer talk,
so ye did."

"Well, I dare say," said Tozer, candidly--"I dare say 'tain't onlikely
that I _did_ introduce one or two Americanisms in the Latin; but then,
you know, I ain't been in practice."

The priest now brought chairs for his visitors, and, sitting thus in
the church, they told him about their adventures, and entreated him to
do something for them. To all this the priest listened with thoughtful
attention, and when they were done he at once promised to find horses
for them which would draw the carriages to this hamlet or to the next
town. Ethel did not think Lady Dalrymple could go further than this
place, and the priest offered to find some accommodations.

He then left them, and in about half an hour he returned with two or
three peasants, each of whom had a horse.

"They'll be able to bring the leedies," said the priest, "and haul the
impty wagons afther thim."

"I think, miss," said Tozer, "that you'd better stay here. It's too
far for you to walk."

"Sure an' there's no use in the wide wurruld for _you_ to be goin'
back," said the priest to Ethel. "You can't do any gud, an' you'd
betther rist till they come. Yer frind'll be enough."

Ethel at first thought of walking back, but finally she saw that it
would be quite useless, and so she resolved to remain and wait for her
aunt. So Tozer went off with the men and the horses, and the priest
asked Ethel all about the affair once more. Whatever his opinions
were, he said nothing.

While he was talking there came a man to the door who beckoned him
out. He went out, and was gone for some time. He came back at last,
looking very serious.

"I've just got a missage from thim," said he.

"A message," exclaimed Ethel, "from them? What, from Girasole?"

"Yis. They want a praste, and they've sint for me."

"A priest?"

"Yis; an' they want a maid-servant to wait on the young leedies; and
they want thim immajitly; an' I'll have to start off soon. There's a
man dead among thim that wants to be put undherground to-night, for
the rist av thim are goin' off in the mornin'; an' accordin' to all I
hear, I wouldn't wondher but what I'd be wanted for somethin' else
afore mornin'."

"Oh, my God!" cried Ethel; "they're going to kill him, then!"

"Kill him! Kill who? Sure an' it's not killin' they want me for. It's
the other--it's marryin'."

"Marrying?" cried Ethel. "Poor, darling Minnie! Oh, you can not--you
will not marry them?"

"Sure an' I don't know but it's the best thing I can do--as things
are," said the priest.

"Oh, what shall I do! what shall I do!" moaned Ethel.

"Well, ye've got to bear up, so ye have. There's throubles for all of
us, an' lots av thim too; an' more'n some av us can bear."

Ethel sat in the darkest and bitterest grief for some time, a prey to
thoughts and fears that were perfect agony to her.

At last a thought came to her which made her start, and look up, and
cast at the priest a look full of wonder and entreaty. The priest
watched her with the deepest sympathy visible on his face.

"We must save them!" she cried.

"Sure an' it's me that made up me moind to that same," said the
priest, "only I didn't want to rise yer hopes."

"_We_ must save them," said Ethel, with strong emphasis.

"_We?_ What can you do?"

Ethel got up, walked to the church door, looked out, came back, looked
anxiously all around, and then, resuming her seat, she drew close to
the priest, and began to whisper, long and anxiously.



When Dacres had sprung aside into the woods in the moment of his
fierce rush upon Girasole, he had been animated by a sudden thought
that escape for himself was possible, and that it would be more
serviceable to his friends.

Thus, then, he had bounded into the woods, and with swift steps he
forced his way among the trees deeper and deeper into the forest. Some
of the brigands had given chase, but without effect. Dacres's superior
strength and agility gave him the advantage, and his love of life was
a greater stimulus than their thirst for vengeance. In addition to
this the trees gave every assistance toward the escape of a fugitive,
while they threw every impediment in the way of a pursuer. The
consequence was, therefore, that Dacres soon put a great distance
between himself and his pursuers, and, what is more, he ran in such a
circuitous route that they soon lost all idea of their own locality,
and had not the faintest idea where he had gone. In this respect,
however, Dacres himself was not one whit wiser than they, for he soon
found himself completely bewildered in the mazes of the forest; and
when at length the deep silence around gave no further sound of
pursuers, he sank down to take breath, with no idea whatever in what
direction the road lay.

After a brief rest he arose and plunged deeper still into the forest,
so as to put an additional distance between himself and any possible
pursuit. He at length found himself at the foot of a precipice about
fifty feet in height, which was deep in the recesses of the forest. Up
this he climbed, and found a mossy place among the trees at its top,
where he could find rest, and at the same time be in a more favorable
position either for hearing or seeing any signs of approaching

Here, then, he flung himself down to rest, and soon buried himself
among thoughts of the most exciting kind. The scene which he had just
left was fresh in his mind, and amidst all the fury of that strife
there rose most prominent in his memory the form of the two ladies,
Minnie standing calm and unmoved, while Mrs. Willoughby was convulsed
with agitated feeling. What was the cause of that? Could it be
possible that his wife had indeed contrived such a plot with the
Italian? Was it possible that she had chosen this way of striking two
blows, by one of which she could win her Italian, and by the other of
which she could get rid of himself, her husband? Such had been his
conjecture during the fury of the fight, and the thought had roused
him up to his Berserker madness; but now, as it recurred again, he saw
other things to shake his full belief. Her agitation seemed too

Yet, on the other hand, he asked himself, why should she not show
agitation? She was a consummate actress. She could show on her
beautiful face the softness and the tenderness of an angel of light
while a demon reigned in her malignant heart. Why should she not
choose this way of keeping up appearances? She had betrayed her
friends, and sought her husband's death; but would she wish to have
her crime made manifest? Not she. It was for this, then, that she wept
and clung to the child-angel.

Such thoughts as these were not at all adapted to give comfort to his
mind, or make his rest refreshing. Soon, by such fancies, he kindled
anew his old rage, and his blood rose to fever heat, so that inaction
became no longer tolerable. He had rest enough. He started up, and
looked all around, and listened attentively. No sound arose and no
sight appeared which at all excited suspicion. He determined to set
forth once more, he scarcely knew where. He had a vague idea of
finding his way back to the road, so as to be able to assist the
ladies, together with another idea, equally ill defined, of coming
upon the brigands, finding the Italian, and watching for an
opportunity to wreak vengeance upon this assassin and his guilty

He drew his knife once more from a leathern sheath on the inside of
the breast of his coat, into which he had thrust it some time before,
and holding this he set forth, watchfully and warily. On the left side
of the precipice the ground sloped down, and at the bottom of this
there was a narrow valley. It seemed to him that this might be the
course of some spring torrent, and that by following its descent he
might come out upon some stream. With this intention he descended to
the valley, and then walked along, following the descent of the
ground, and keeping himself as much as possible among the thickest
growths of the trees.

The ground descended very gradually, and the narrow valley wound along
among rolling hills that were covered with trees and brush. As he
confined himself to the thicker parts of this, his progress was
necessarily slow; but at the end of that turn he saw before him
unmistakable signs of the neighborhood of some open place. Before him
he saw the sky in such a way that it showed the absence of forest
trees. He now moved on more cautiously, and, quitting the valley, he
crept up the hill-slope among the brush as carefully as possible,
until he was at a sufficient height, and then, turning toward the
open, he crept forward from cover to cover. At length he stopped. A
slight eminence was before him, beyond which all was open, yet
concealed from his view. Descending the slope a little, he once more
advanced, and finally emerged at the edge of the forest.

He found himself upon a gentle declivity. Immediately in front of him
lay a lake, circular in shape, and about a mile in diameter, embosomed
among wooded hills. At first he saw no signs of any habitation; but as
his eyes wandered round he saw upon his right, about a quarter of a
mile away, an old stone house, and beyond this smoke curling up from
among the forest trees on the borders of the lake.

The scene startled him. It was so quiet, so lonely, and so deserted
that it seemed a fit place for a robber's haunt. Could this be indeed
the home of his enemies, and had he thus so wonderfully come upon them
in the very midst of their retreat? He believed that it was so. A
little further observation showed figures among the trees moving to
and fro, and soon he distinguished faint traces of smoke in other
places, which he had not seen at first, as though there were more
fires than one.

Dacres exulted with a fierce and vengeful joy over this discovery. He
felt now not like the fugitive, but rather the pursuer. He looked down
upon this as the tiger looks from his jungle upon some Indian village.
His foes were numerous, but he was concealed, and his presence
unsuspected. He grasped his dagger with a firmer clutch, and then
pondered for a few minutes on what he had better do next.

One thing was necessary first of all, and that was to get as near as
he possibly could without discovery. A slight survey of the situation
showed him that he might venture much nearer; and his eye ran along
the border of the lake which lay between him and the old house, and he
saw that it was all covered over with a thick fringe of trees and
brush-wood. The narrow valley along which he had come ended at the
shore of the lake just below him on his right, and beyond this the
shore arose again to a height equal to where he now was. To gain that
opposite height was now his first task.

Before starting he looked all around, so as to be sure that he was not
observed. Then he went back for some distance, after which he
descended into the valley, crouching low, and crawling stealthily
among the brush-wood. Moving thus, he at length succeeded in reaching
the opposite slope without appearing to have attracted any attention
from any pursuers. Up this slope he now moved as carefully as ever,
not relaxing his vigilance one jot, but, if possible, calling into
play even a larger caution as he found himself drawing nearer to those
whom he began to regard as his prey.

Moving up this slope, then, in this way, he at length attained the
top, and found himself here among the forest trees and underbrush.
They were here even denser than they were on the place which he had
just left. As he moved along he saw no indications that they had been
traversed by human footsteps. Every thing gave indication of an
unbroken and undisturbed solitude. After feeling his way along here
with all the caution which he could exercise, he finally ventured
toward the shore of the lake, and found himself able to go to the very
edge without coming to any open space or crossing any path.

On looking forth from the top of the bank he found that he had not
only drawn much nearer to the old house, but that he could see the
whole line of shore. He now saw that there were some men by the door
of the house, and began to suspect that this was nothing else than the
headquarters and citadel of the brigands. The sight of the shore now
showed him that he could approach very much nearer, and unless the
brigands, or whoever they were, kept scouts out, he would be able to
reach a point immediately overlooking the house, from which he could
survey it at his leisure. To reach this point became now his next aim.

The wood being dense, Dacres found no more difficulty in passing
through this than in traversing what lay behind him. The caution which
he exercised here was as great as ever, and his progress was as slow,
but as sure. At length he found himself upon the desired point, and,
crawling cautiously forward to the shore, he looked down upon the very
old house which he had desired to reach.

The house stood close by the lake, upon a sloping bank which lay
below. It did not seem to be more than fifty yards away. The doors and
windows were gone. Five or six ill-looking fellows were near the
doorway, some sprawling on the ground, others lolling and lounging
about. One glance at the men was sufficient to assure him that they
were the brigands, and also to show him that they kept no guard or
scout or outpost of any kind, at least in this direction.

Here, then, Dacres lay and watched. He could not wish for a better
situation. With his knife in his hand, ready to defend himself in case
of need, and his whole form concealed perfectly by the thick
underbrush into the midst of which he had crawled, he peered forth
through the overhanging leaves, and watched in breathless interest.
From the point where he now was he could see the shore beyond the
house, where the smoke was rising. He could now see that there were no
less than four different columns of smoke ascending from as many
fires. He saw as many as twenty or thirty figures moving among the
trees, made conspicuous by the bright colors of their costumes. They
seemed to be busy about something which he could not make out.

Suddenly, while his eye roved over the scene, it was struck by some
fluttering color at the open window of the old house. He had not
noticed this before. He now looked at it attentively. Before long he
saw a figure cross the window and return. It was a female figure.

The sight of this revived all that agitation which he had felt before,
but which had been calmed during the severe efforts which he had been
putting forth. There was but one thought in his mind, and but one
desire in his heart.

His wife.

He crouched low, with a more feverish dread of discovery at this
supreme moment, and a fiercer thirst for some further revelation which
might disclose what he suspected. His breathing came thick and hard,
and his brow lowered gloomily over his gleaming eyes.

He waited thus for some minutes, and the figure passed again.

He still watched.

Suddenly a figure appeared at the window. It was a young girl, a
blonde, with short golden curls. The face was familiar indeed to him.
Could he ever forget it? There it was full before him, turned toward
him, as though that one, by some strange spiritual sympathy, was aware
of his presence, and was thus turning toward him this mute appeal. Her
face was near enough for its expression to be visible. He could
distinguish the childish face, with its soft, sweet innocence, and he
knew that upon it there was now that piteous, pleading, beseeching
look which formerly had so thrilled his heart. And it was thus that
Dacres saw his child-angel.

A prisoner, turning toward him this appeal! What was the cause, and
what did the Italian want of this innocent child? Such was his
thought. What could his fiend of a wife gain by the betrayal of that
angelic being? Was it possible that even her demon soul could compass
iniquity like this? He had thought that he had fathomed her capacity
for malignant wickedness; but the presence here of the child-angel in
the power of these miscreants showed him that this capacity was indeed
unfathomable. At this sudden revelation of sin so enormous his very
soul turned sick with horror.

He watched, and still looked with an anxiety that was increasing to
positive pain.

And now, after one brief glance, Minnie drew back into the room. There
was nothing more to be seen for some time, but at last another figure

He expected this; he was waiting for it; he was sure of it; yet deep
down in the bottom of his heart there was a hope that it might not be
so, that his suspicions, in this case at least, might be unfounded.
But now the proof came; it was made manifest here before his eyes, and
in the light of day.

In spite of himself a low groan escaped him. He buried his face in his
hands and shut out the sight. Then suddenly he raised his head again
and stared, as though in this face there was an irresistible
fascination by which a spell was thrown over him.

It was the face of Mrs. Willoughby--youthful, beautiful, and touching
in its tender grace. Tears were now in those dark, luminous eyes, but
they were unseen by him. Yet he could mark the despondency of her
attitude; he could see a certain wild way of looking up and down and
in all directions; he noted how her hands grasped the window-ledge as
if for support.

And oh, beautiful demon angel, he thought, if you could but know how
near you are to the avenger! Why are you so anxious, my demon wife?
Are you impatient because your Italian is delaying? Can you not live
for five seconds longer without him? Are you looking in all directions
to see where he is? Don't fret; he'll soon be here.

And now there came a confirmation of his thoughts. He was not
surprised; he knew it; he suspected it. It was all as it should be.
Was it not in the confident expectation of this that he had come here
with his dagger--on their trail?

It was Girasole.

He came from the place, further along the shore, where the brigands
were around their fires. He was walking quickly. He had a purpose. It
was with a renewed agony that Dacres watched his enemy--coming to
visit his wife. The intensity of that thirst for vengeance, which had
now to be checked until a better opportunity, made his whole frame
tremble. A wild desire came to him then and there to bound down upon
his enemy, and kill and be killed in the presence of his wife. But the
other brigands deterred him. These men might interpose and save the
Italian, and make him a prisoner. No; he must wait till he could meet
his enemy on something like equal terms--when he could strike a blow
that would not be in vain. Thus he overmastered himself.

He saw Girasole enter the house. He watched breathlessly. The time
seemed long indeed. He could not hear any thing; the conversation, if
there was any, was carried on in a low tone. He could not see any
thing; those who conversed kept quiet; no one passed in front of the
window. It was all a mystery, and this made the time seem longer. At
length Dacres began to think that Girasole would not go at all. A long
time passed. Hours went away, and still Girasole did not quit the

It was now sundown. Dacres had eaten nothing since morning, but the
conflict of passion drove away all hunger or thirst. The approach of
darkness was in accordance with his own gloomy wishes. Twilight in
Italy is short. Night would soon be over all.

The house was on the slope of the bank. At the corner nearest him the
house was sunk into the ground in such a way that it looked as though
one might climb into the upper story window. As Dacres looked he made
up his mind to attempt it. By standing here on tiptoe he could catch
the upper window-ledge with his hands. He was strong. He was tall. His
enemy was in the house. The hour was at hand. He was the man.

Another hour passed.

All was still.

There was a flickering lamp in the hall, but the men seemed to be

Another hour passed.

There was no noise.

Then Dacres ventured down. He moved slowly and cautiously, crouching
low, and thus traversing the intervening space.

He neared the house and touched it. Before him was the window of the
lower story. Above him was the window of the upper story. He lifted up
his hands. They could reach the window-ledge.

He put his long, keen knife between his teeth, and caught at the upper
window-ledge. Exerting all his strength, he raised himself up so high
that he could fling one elbow over. For a moment he hung thus, and
waited to take breath and listen.

There was a rush below. Half a dozen shadowy forms surrounded him. He
had been seen. He had been trapped.

He dropped down and, seizing his knife, struck right and left.

In vain. He was hurled to the ground and bound tight.



Hawbury, on his capture, had been at once taken into the woods, and
led and pushed on by no gentle hands. He had thus gone on until he had
found himself by that same lake which others of the party had come
upon in the various ways which have been described. Toward this lake
he was taken, until finally his party reached the old house, which
they entered. It has already been said that it was a two-story house.
It was also of stone, and strongly built. The door was in the middle
of it, and rooms were on each side of the hall. The interior plan of
the house was peculiar, for the hall did not run through, but
consisted of a square room, and the stone steps wound spirally from
the lower hall to the upper one. There were three rooms up stairs, one
taking up one end of the house, which was occupied by Mrs. Willoughby
and Minnie; another in the rear of the house, into which a door opened
from the upper hall, close by the head of the stairs; and a third,
which was opposite the room first mentioned.

Hawbury was taken to this house, and led up stairs into this room in
the rear of the house. At the end farthest from the door he saw a heap
of straw with a few dirty rugs upon it. In the wall a beam was set, to
which an iron ring was fastened. He was taken toward this bed, and
here his legs were bound together, and the rope that secured them was
run around the iron ring so as to allow of no more motion than a few
feet. Having thus secured the prisoner, the men left him to his own

The room was perfectly bare of furniture, nothing being in it but the
straw and the dirty rugs. Hawbury could not approach to the windows,
for he was bound in a way which prevented that. In fact, he could not
move in any direction, for his arms and legs were fastened in such a
way that he could scarcely raise himself from where he was sitting. He
therefore was compelled to remain in one position, and threw himself
down upon the straw on his side, with his face to the wall, for he
found that position easier than any other. In this way he lay for some
time, until at length he was roused by the sound of footsteps
ascending the stairs. Several people were passing his room. He heard
the voice of Girasole. He listened with deep attention. For some time
there was no reply. At length there was the sound of a woman's
voice--clear, plain, and unmistakable. It was a fretful voice of
complaint. Girasole was trying to answer it. After a time Girasole
left. Then all was still. Then Girasole returned. Then there was a
clattering noise on the stairs, and the bumping of some heavy weight,
and the heavy breathing of men. Then he heard Girasole say something,
after which arose Minnie's voice, close by, as though she was in the
hall, and her words were, "Oh, take it away, take it away!" followed
by long reproaches, which Hawbury did not fully understand.

This showed him that Minnie, at least, was a prisoner, and in this
house, and in the adjoining room, along with some one whom he rightly
supposed was Mrs. Willoughby.

After this there was a further silence for some time, which at last
was broken by fresh sounds of trampling and shuffling, together with
the confused directions of several voices all speaking at once.
Hawbury listened, and turned on his couch of straw so as to see any
thing which presented itself. The clatter and the noise approached
nearer, ascending the stairs, until at last he saw that they were
entering his room. Two of the brigands came first, carrying something
carefully. In a few moments the burden which they bore was revealed.

It was a rude litter, hastily made from bushes fastened together. Upon
this lay the dead body of a man, his white face upturned, and his
limbs stiffened in the rigidity of death. Hawbury did not remember
very distinctly any of the particular events of his confused struggle
with the brigands; but he was not at all surprised to see that there
had been one of the ruffians sent to his account. The brigands who
carried in their dead companion looked at the captive with a sullen
ferocity and a scowling vengefulness, which showed plainly that they
would demand of him a reckoning for their comrade's blood if it were
only in their power. But they did not delay, nor did they make any
actual demonstrations to Hawbury. They placed the corpse of their
comrade upon the floor in the middle of the room, and then went out.

The presence of the corpse only added to the gloom of Hawbury's
situation, and he once more turned his face to the wall, so as to shut
out the sight. Once more he gave himself up to his own thoughts, and
so the time passed slowly on. He heard no sounds now from the room
where Miss Fay was confined. He heard no noise from the men below, and
could not tell whether they were still guarding the door, or had gone
away. Various projects came to him, foremost among which was the idea
of escaping. Bribery seemed the only possible way. There was about
this, however, the same difficulty which Mrs. Willoughby had
found--his ignorance of the language. He thought that this would be an
effectual bar to any communication, and saw no other alternative than
to wait Girasole's pleasure. It seemed to him that a ransom would be
asked, and he felt sure, from Girasole's offensive manner, that the
ransom would be large. But there was no help for it. He felt more

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