Part 5 out of 6
the north coast. The passage led to this boat. It was always ready to
put out to sea. But one night it was destroyed by the great rocks which
fell from the cliffs in an earthquake. When I came here, I at once
thought of the passage. You will see that the doors into the cellar
cannot be opened from this chamber; the locks and bolts are on the other
side. I knew where the keys were hidden. It was easy to unlock the doors
and come into this room. I found that some one had been here before me.
The door to the passage had been forced open from without--cracked by
dynamite. Many of the treasure boxes have been removed. Von Blitz was
here not an hour ago. He wears boots. I saw the footprints among the
naked ones in the passage. They will come back for the other chests.
Then they will blow up the passage way with powder and escape from the
chateau through it will be cut off. I have found the kegs of powder in
the passage and have destroyed the fuses. It will be of no avail, sahib.
They will blow it up at the other end, which will be just the same."
"There's no time to be lost," cried Chase. "We must bring enough men
down here to capture them when they return--shoot 'em if necessary. Come
on! We can surprise them if we hurry."
They were starting across the chamber toward the door, when a gruff,
sepulchral oath came rolling up to the chamber through the secret
passage. Quick as a flash Selim, who realised that they could not reach
and open the door leading to the stairs, turned in among the huge wine
casks, first blinding his lantern. He whispered for the others to
follow. In a moment they were squeezing themselves through the narrow
spaces between the dark, strong-smelling casks, back into a darkness so
opaque that it seemed lifeless. Selim halted them in a recess near the
wall and there they huddled, breathlessly awaiting the approach of the
"They won't suspect that we are here," whispered Selim as the door to
the passage creaked. "Keep quiet! Don't breathe!"
The single electric light was still burning, as Selim had found it when
he first came. The door swung open slowly, heavily, and Jacob von Blitz,
half naked, mud-covered, reeking with perspiration, and panting
savagely, stepped into the light. Behind him came a man with a lantern,
and behind him two others.
They were white men, all. Von Blitz turned suddenly and cursed the man
with the lantern. The fellow was ready to drop with exhaustion.
Evidently it had been no easy task to remove the chests.
The four burly men sat down upon the chests, Von Blitz alone being
visible to the watchers. They were fagged to the last extreme.
"Dis is der last," panted Von Blitz, blowing hard and stretching his big
arms. The guttural German tones were highly accentuated by the effort
required in speaking. His three helpers said nothing in reply. For fully
five minutes the quartette sat silent, collecting their strength for the
next trip with the chests. Again it was Von Blitz who spoke. He had been
staring savagely at the floor for several minutes, brooding deeply.
"I fix him," he growled. "His time vill come, by tarn! I let him know he
can't take my vives avay mit him. Der dog! I fix him some day purdy
soon. Und dem tarn vimmens! Dem tarn hyenas! Dey run avay mit him, eh?
Ach, Gott, if I could only put my hands by deir necks yet!"
"Vat for you fret, Yacob?" growled one of the Boers. "You couldn't take
dose vimmens back by Europe mit you. I tink you got goot luck by losing
dem. Misder Chase can't take dem back needer--so, dey go to hell yet.
"Veil," said Von Blitz, arising. "Come on, boys. Dis is der lasd of dem.
Den ve blow der tarn t'ing up. Grab hold dere, Joost. Up mit it, Jan.
"Gott in himmel, Yacob, vait a minutes. My back is proke," protested
Joost stubbornly. Von Blitz swore steadily for a minute, but could not
move the impassive Boers. He began pacing back and forth, growling to
himself. At last he stopped in front of the tired trio.
"Vat for you tink I vant you in on dis, you svine? To set aroundt und
dream? Nobody else knows aboud dis treasures, und ve got it all for
ourselves--ve four und no more, und you say, 'Vat's der hurry?' It's all
ours. Ve divide it oop in der cave mit all der money ve get from der
bank. Vat? Yes? Den, ven der time comes, ve send it all by Australia und
no von is der viser. Der natives von't know und der white peebles von't
be alive to care aboudt it. Ve let it stay hided in der cave undil dis
drouble is all over und den it vill be easy to get it avay from der
island, yoost so quiet. Come on, boys! Don't be lazy!"
"I don't like dot scheme to rob der bank," growled Jan. "If der peeples
get onto us, dey vould cut us to bieces."
"But dey von't get onto us, you fool. Dey vouldn't take it demselves if
it vas handed to dem. Dey're too honest, yes. Vell, don't dey say ve're
honest, too? Vell, vat more you vant? Dey don't know how much money und
rubies dere is in der bank. Ve von't take all of it--und dey von't know
der difference. Ve burn der books. Das is all. Ve get in by der bank
"I don't like id," said Joost. "Id's stealing from our freunds, Yacob.
Besides, if der oder heirs should go before der government mit der
story. Vat den?"
"Der oder heirs vill never get der chance, boys. Dey vill die mit der
plague--ha, ha! Sure! Dere von't be no oder heirs. Rasula says it must
be so. Ve can'd vait, boys. It vill be years before der business is
settled. Ve must get vat ve can now and vait for der decision
aftervards. Brodney has wrote to Rasula, saying dat dot Chase feller is
to stay here vedder ve vant him or not. He says Chase is a goot man! By
tarn, it makes me cry to fink of vot he has done by me--dot goot man!"
To the amazement of all, the burly German began to blubber.
"Don't cry, Yacob," cried Joost, coming to his master's side and shaking
him by the shoulder. "You can get oder vives some day--besser as dese,
"Joost, I can't help crying--I can't. Ven I t'ink how I got to kill dem
yet! I hates to kill vimmens."
They permitted him to weep and swear for a few minutes. Then, without
offering further consolation, the three foremen made ready to take up
the remaining chests.
"Come on, Yacob," said Jan gruffly.
Von Blitz shook his fist at the door across the chamber and thundered
his final maledictions.
"Sir John says in der letter to Misder Chase dere is a movements on foot
in London to settle der contest out of court," volunteered Joost.
"Sure, but he also say dat ve all may die mit old age before it is over
"Don't forget der plague!" said Jan.
They groaned mightily as they lifted the heavy chests to their shoulders
and started for the door.
"Close der door, Jan," commanded Von Blitz from the passage. "Ve vill
light der fuse ven ve haf got beyond der first bend. Vat? Look! By tam,
von of you swine has broke der fuse. Vait! Ve vill fix him now."
The door was closed behind them, but the listeners could hear them
repairing the damage that Selim had done to the fuse.
Led by Selim, the four made a rush for the door leading into the
chateau. They threw it open and passed through, flying as if for their
lives. No one could tell how soon an explosion might bring disaster to
the region; they put distance between them and the powder keg. Selim
paused long enough to drop the bolts and turn the great key with the
lever. At the second turn in the narrow corridor, he overtook Chase and
the scurrying women.
"Is there nothing to be done?" cried the Princess. "Can we not prevent
the explosion? They will cut off our means of escape in that--"
"I know too much about gunpowder, Princess," said Chase drily, "to fool
with it. It's like a mule. It kicks hard. 'Gad, it was hard to stand
there and hear those brutes planning it all and not be able to stop
The Princess was once more at his side; he had clasped her arm to lead
her securely in the wake of Neenah's electric lantern. She came to a
"And pray, Mr. Chase," she said sharply, as if the thought occurred to
her for the first time, "why _didn't_ you stop them? You had the
advantage. You and Selim could have surprised them--you could have taken
them without a struggle!"
He laughed softly, deprecatingly, not a little impressed by the justice
of her criticism.
"No doubt you consider me a coward," he said ruefully.
"You know that I do not," she protested. "I--I can't understand your
motive, that is all."
"You forget that I am the representative of these very men. I am the
trusted agent of Sir John Brodney, who has refused to supplant me with
another. All this may sound ridiculous to you, when you take my
anomalous position into account. I can't very well represent Sir John
and at the same time make prisoners or corpses of his clients, even
though I am being shielded by their legal foes. I don't mean to say that
I condone the attempt Von Blitz is making to rob his fellow-workmen of
this hidden plate and the plunder in the bank. They are traitors to
their friends and I shall turn them over sooner or later to the people
they are looting. I'll not have Von Blitz saying, even to himself, that
I have not only stolen his wives but have also cast him into the hands
of his philistines. It may sound quixotic to you, but I think that Lord
Deppingham and Mr. Browne will understand my attitude."
"But Von Blitz has sworn to kill you," she expostulated with some heat.
"You are wasting your integrity, I must say, Mr. Chase."
"Would you have me shoot him from ambush?" he demanded.
"Not at all. You could have taken him captive and held him safe until
the time comes for you to leave the island."
"He would not have been my captive in any event. I could do no more than
deliver him into the hands of his enemies. Would that be fair?"
"But he is a thief!"
"No more so than Taswell Skaggs and John Wyckholme, who unquestionably
cheated the natives out of the very treasure we have seen carried away."
"Admitting all that, Mr. Chase, you still forget that he has stolen
property which now belongs quite as much to Lady Deppingham and Mr.
Browne as it does to the natives."
"Quite true. But I am not a constable nor a thief catcher. I am a
soldier of the defence, not an officer of the Crown at this stage of the
game. To-day I shall contrive to send word to Rasula that Von Blitz has
stolen the treasure chests. Mr. Von Blitz will have a sad time
explaining this little defection to his friends. We must not overlook
the fact that Lady Deppingham and Robert Browne are quite willing to
take everything from the islanders. Everything that Taswell Skaggs and
John Wyckholme possessed in this island belongs to them under the terms
of the will."
They were at the top of the second flight of stairs by this time and
quite a distance from the treasure chamber. His coolness, the absence of
any sign of returning sentiment, was puzzling her sorely. Every vestige
of that emotion which had overwhelmed him during their sweet encounter
was gone, to all appearances: he was as calm and as matter-of-fact as if
she were the merest stranger. She was trying to find the
solution--trying to read the mind of this smiling philosopher. Half an
hour before, she had been carried away, rendered, helpless by the
passion that swayed him; now he spoke and looked as if he had forgotten
the result of his storming. Strangely enough, she was piqued.
When they came into the well-lighted upper corridor he proceeded
ruthlessly to upset all of her harsh calculations. They were now
traversing the mosaic floors of the hall that led to the lower terraces.
He stopped suddenly, stepping directly in front of her. As she drew up
in surprise, he reached down and took both of her hands in his. For the
moment, she was too amazed to oppose this sudden action. She looked up
into his face, many emotions in her own--reproof, wonder, dismay,
"Wait," he said gently. They were quite alone. The stream of daylight
from the distant French windows barely reached to this quiet spot. She
saw the most wonderful light in his grey eyes; her lips parted in quick,
timorous confusion. "I love you. I am sorry for what I did down there. I
couldn't help it--nor could you. Yet I took a cruel advantage of you. I
know what you've been thinking, too. You have been saying to yourself
that I wanted to see how far I could go--don't speak! I know. You are
wrong. I've absolutely worshipped you since those first days in
Thorberg--wildly, hopelessly--day and night. I was afraid of you--yes,
afraid of you because you are a princess. But I've got over all that,
Genevra. You are a woman--a living, real woman with the blood and the
heart and the lips that were made for men to crave. I want to tell you
this, here in the light of day, not in the darkness that hid all the
truth in me except that which you might have felt in my kiss."
"Please, please don't," she said once more, her lip trembling, her eyes
full of the softness that the woman who loves cannot hide. "You shall
not go on! It is wrong!"
"It is not wrong," he cried passionately. "My love is not wrong. I want
you to understand and to believe. I can't hope that you will be my
wife--it's too wildly improbable. You are not for such as I. You are
pledged to a man of your own world--your own exalted world. But listen,
Genevra--see, my eyes call you darling even though my lips dare not---
Genevra, I'd give my soul to hear you say that you will be my wife. You
_do_ understand how it is with me?"
The delicious sense of possession thrilled her; she glowed with the
return of her self-esteem, in the restoration of that quality which
proclaimed her a princess of the blood. She was sure of him now! She was
sure of herself. She had her emotions well in hand. And so, despite the
delicious warmth that swept through her being, she chose to reveal no
sign of it to him.
"I do understand," she said quietly, meeting his gaze with a directness
that hurt him sorely. "And you, too, understand. I could not be your
wife. I am glad yet sorry that you love me, and I am proud to have heard
you say that you want me. But I am a sensible creature, Mr. Chase, and,
being sensible, am therefore selfish. I have seen women of my unhappy
station venture out side of their narrow confines in the search for
life-long joy with men who might have been kings had they no been born
under happier stars--men of the great wide world instead of the
soulless, heartless patch which such as I call a realm. Not one in a
hundred of those women found the happiness they were so sure of grasping
just outside their prison walls. It was not in the blood. We are the
embodiment of convention, the product of tradition. Time has proved in
nearly every instance that we cannot step from the path our prejudices
know. We must marry and live and die in the sphere to which we were
born. It must sound very bald to you, but the fact remains, just the
same. We must go through life unloved and uncherished, bringing princes
into the world, seeing happiness and love just beyond our reach all the
time. We have hearts and we have blood in our veins, as you say, and we
may love, too, but believe me, dear friend, we are bound by chains no
force can break--the chains of prejudice."
She had withdrawn her hands from his; he was standing before her as calm
and unmoved as a statue.
"I understand all of that," he said, a faint smile moving his lips. She
was not expecting such resignation as this.
"I am glad that you--that you understand," she said.
"Just the same," he went on gently, "you love me as I love you. You
kissed me. I could feel love in you then. I can see it in you now.
Perhaps you are right in what you say about not finding happiness
outside the walls, but I doubt it, Genevra. You will marry Prince Karl
in June, and all the rest of your life will be bleak December. You will
never forget this month of March--our month." He paused for a moment to
look deeply into her incredulous eyes. His face writhed in sudden pain.
Then he burst forth with a vehemence that startled her. "My God, I pity
you with all my soul! All your life!"
"Don't pity me!" she cried fiercely. "I cannot endure that!"
"Forgive me! I shouldn't say such things to you. It's as if I were
"You must not think of me as unhappy--ever. Go on your own way,
Hollingsworth Chase, and forget that you have known me. _You_ will find
happiness with some one else. You have loved before; you can and will
love again. I--- I have never loved before--but perhaps, like you, I
shall love again. You _will_ love again?" she demanded, her lip
trembling with an irresolution she could not control.
"Yes," he said calmly, "I'll love the wife of Karl Brabetz." His eyes
swept hungrily over the golden bronze hair; then he turned away with the
short, hard laugh of the man who scoffs at his own despair. She started
violently; her cheek went red and white and her eyes widened as though
they were looking upon something unpleasant; her thoughts went back to
the naive prophecy in the treasure chamber.
She followed him slowly to the terrace. He stopped in the doorway and
leisurely drew forth his cigarette case.
"Shall we wait for the explosion?" he asked without a sign of the
emotion that had gone before. She gravely selected a cigarette from the
case which he extended. As he lighted his own, he watched her draw from
her little gold bag a diamond-studded case, half filled. Without a word
of apology, she calmly deposited the cigarette in the case and restored
it to the bottom of the bag.
Then she looked up brightly. "I am not smoking, you see," she said, with
a smile. "I am saving all of these for you when the famine comes."
"By Jove!" he exclaimed, something like incredulity in the smile that
transfigured his face.
"I _could_ be a thrifty housewife, couldn't I?" she asked naively.
At that moment, a dull, heavy report, as of distant thunder, came to
their ears. The windows rattled sharply and the earth beneath them
seemed to quiver. Involuntarily she drew nearer to him, casting a glance
of alarm over her shoulder in the direction from which they had come.
"You could, if you had half a chance," he said drily, and then casually
remarked the explosion.
THE DISQUIETING END OF PONG
Later on, he and Deppingham visited the underground chamber, accompanied
by Mr. Britt. They found that the door to the passage had been blown
away by the terrific concussion. Otherwise, the room was, to all
appearances, undamaged, except that some of the wine casks were leaking.
The subterranean passage at this place was completely filled with earth
Deppingham stared at the closed mouth of the passage. "They've cut off
our exit, but they've also secured us from invasion from this source. I
wonder if the beggars were clever enough to carry the plunder above the
flood line. If not, they've had their work for nothing."
"Selim says there is a cave near the mouth of the passage," said Chase.
"The tunnel comes out half way up the side of the mountain, overlooking
the sea, and the hole is very carefully screened by the thick shrubbery.
Trust Von Blitz to do the safe thing."
"I don't mind Von Blitz escaping so much, Chase," said his lordship
earnestly, "as I do the unfortunate closing of what may have been our
only way to leave the chateau in the end."
"You must think me an ungrateful fool," said Chase bitterly. He had
already stated his position clearly.
"Not at all, old chap. Don't get that into your head. I only meant that
a hole in the ground is worth two warships that won't come when we need
Chase looked up quickly. "You don't believe that I can call the
"Oh, come now, Chase, I'm not a demmed native, you know."
The other grinned amiably. "Well, you just wait, as the boy says."
Deppingham put his eyeglass in more firmly and stared at his companion,
not knowing whether to take the remark as a jest or to begin to look for
signs of mental collapse. Britt laughed shortly.
"I guess we'll have to," said the stubby lawyer.
After satisfying themselves that there was no possibility of the enemy
ever being able to enter the chateau through the collapsed passage, the
trio returned to the upper world.
Involuntarily their gaze went out searchingly over the placid sea. The
whole sky glared back at them, unwrinkled, smokeless, cloudless. Chase
turned to Deppingham, a word of encouragement on his lips. His lordship
was looking intently toward the palm-shaded grotto at the base of the
lower terrace. Britt moved uneasily and then glanced at his
fellow-countryman, a queer expression in his eyes. A moment later
Deppingham was clearing his throat for the brisk comment on the beauty
of the view from the rather unfrequented spot on which they stood.
Robert Browne and Lady Agnes were seated on the edge of the fountain in
Apollo's Grotto, conversing earnestly, even eagerly, with Mr. Bowles,
who stood before them in an unmistakable attitude of indecision and
perturbation. Deppingham's first futile attempt to appear unconcerned
was followed by an oppressive silence, broken at last by the Englishman.
He gave Chase a look which plainly revealed his uneasiness.
"Ever since I've heard that Bowles has the power to marry people, Chase,
I've been upset a bit," he explained nervously.
"You don't mean to say, Lord Deppingham, that you're afraid the heirs
will follow the advice of that rattle-headed Saunders," said Chase, with
a laugh, "Why, it wouldn't hold in court for a second. Ask Britt."
Britt cleared his throat. "Not for half a second," he said. "I'm only
wondering if Bowles has authority to grant divorces."
"I daresay he has," said Deppingham, tugging at his moustache.
"He's--he's a magistrate."
"It doesn't follow," said Chase, "that he has unlimited legal powers."
"But _what_ are they ragging him about down there, Chase," blurted out
the unhappy Deppingham.
"Come in and have a drink," said Chase suddenly. Deppingham was
shivering. "You've got a chill in that damp cellar. I can assure you
positively, as representative of the opposition, that the grandchildren
of Skaggs and Wyckholme are not going to divorce or marry anybody while
I'm here, Britt and Saunders and Bowles to the contrary. And Lady
Deppingham is no fool. Come on and have something to warm the cockles.
You're just childish enough to have the croup to-night." He said it with
such fine humour that Deppingham could not take offence.
"All right, old chap," he said with a laugh. "I am chilled to the bone.
I'll join you in a few minutes." To their surprise, he started off
across the terrace in the direction of the consulting trio. Chase and
Britt silently watched his progress. They saw him join the others,
neither of whom seemed to be confused or upset by his appearance, and
subsequently enter into the discussion that had been going on.
"Just the same, Chase," said Britt, after a long silence, "he's worried,
and not about marriage or divorce, either. He's jealous. I didn't
believe it was in him."
"See here, Britt, you've no right to stir him up with those confounded
remarks about divorce. You know that it's rot. Don't do it."
"My dear Chase," said Britt, waving his hand serenely, "we can't always
see what's in the air, but, by the Eternal, we usually can feel it.
'Nough said. Give you my word, I can't help laughing at the position
you're in at present. It doesn't matter what you get onto in connection
with our side of the case, you're where you can't take advantage of it
without getting killed by your own clients. Horrible paradox, eh?"
When Deppingham rejoined them, he was pale and very nervous. His wife,
who had been weeping, came up with him, while Browne went off toward the
stables with the ex-banker.
"What do you think has happened?" demanded his lordship, addressing the
two men, who stood by, irresolutely. "Somebody's trying to poison us!"
"What!" from both listeners.
"I've said it all along. Now, we know! Lady Deppingham's dog is
dead--poisoned, gentlemen." He was wiping the moisture from his brow.
"I'm sorry, Lady Deppingham," said Chase earnestly. "He was a nice dog.
But I hardly think he could have eaten what was intended for any of us.
If he was poisoned, the poison was meant for him and for no one else. He
bit one of the stable boys yesterday. It--"
"That may all be very true, Chase," protested his lordship, "but don't
you see, it goes to show that some one has a stock of poison on hand,
and we may be the next to get it. He died half an hour after
eating--after eating a biscuit that was intended for _me_! It's--it's
demmed uncomfortable, to say the least."
"Mr. Bowles has been questioning the servants," said Lady Agnes
"Of course," said Chase philosophically, "it's much better that Pong
should have got it than Lord Deppingham. By the way, who gave him the
"Bromley. She tossed it to him and he--he caught it so cleverly. You
know how cunning he was, Mr. Chase. I loved to see him catch--"
"Then Bromley has saved your life, Deppingham," said Chase. "I'm sure
you need the brandy, after all this. Come along. Will you join us, Lady
"No. I'm going to bed!" She started away, then stopped and looked at her
husband, her eyes wide with sudden comprehension. "Oh, Deppy, I should
have died! I should have died!"
"I couldn't have lived if--"
"But, my dear, I _didn't_ eat it--and here we are! God bless you!" He
turned abruptly and walked off beside her, ignoring the two distressed
Americans. As they passed through the French window, Deppingham put his
arm about his wife's waist. Chase turned to Britt.
"I don't know what you're thinking, Britt, but it isn't so, whatever it
"Good Lord, man, I wasn't thinking _that_!"
A very significant fact now stared the occupants of the chateau in the
face. There was not the slightest doubt in the minds of those conversant
with the situation that the poison had been intended for either Lord or
Lady Deppingham. The drug had been subtly, skilfully placed in one of
the sandwiches which came up to their rooms at eleven o'clock, the hour
at which they invariably drank off a cup of bouillon. Lady Deppingham
was not in her room when Bromley brought the tray. She was on the
gallery with the Brownes. Bromley came to ask her if she desired to have
the bouillon served to her there. Lady Agnes directed her to fetch the
tray, first inviting Mrs. Browne to accept Lord Deppingham's portion.
Drusilla declined and Bromley tossed a sandwich to Pong, who was always
lying in wait for such scraps as might come his way. Lady Agnes always
ate macaroons--never touching the sandwiches. This fact, of course, it
was argued, might not have been known to the would-be poisoner. Her
ladyship, as usual, partook of the macaroons and felt no ill effects. It
was, therefore, clear that the poison was intended for but one of them,
as, on this occasion, a single sandwich came up from the buffet. No one
but Deppingham believed that it was intended for him.
In any event, Pong, the red cocker, was dead. He was in convulsions
almost immediately after swallowing the morsel he had begged for, and in
less than three minutes was out of his misery, proving conclusively that
a dose of deadly proportions had been administered. It is no wonder that
Deppingham shuddered as he looked upon the stiff little body in the
Drusilla Browne was jesting, no doubt, but it is doubtful if any one
grasped the delicacy of her humour when she observed, in mock concern,
addressing the assembled mourners, that she believed the heirs were
trying to get rid of their incumbrances after the good old Borgia
fashion, and that she would never again have the courage to eat a
mouthful of food so long as she stood between her husband and a hymeneal
"You know, my dear," she concluded, turning to her Husband, "that I
_might_ have had Lord Deppingham's biscuit. His wife asked me to take
it. Goodness, you're a dreadful Borgia person, Agnes," she went on,
smiling brightly at her ladyship. Deppingham was fumbling nervously at
his monocle. "I should think you _would_ be nervous, Lord Deppingham."
The most rigid questioning elicited no information from the servants.
Baillo's sudden, involuntary look of suspicion, directed toward Lady
Agnes and Robert Browne, did not escape the keen eye of Hollingsworth
"Impossible!" he said, half aloud. He looked up and saw that the
Princess was staring at him questioningly. He shook his head, without
Despair settled upon the white people. They were confronted by a new and
serious peril: poison! At no time could they feel safe. Chase took it
upon himself to talk to the native servants, urging them to do nothing
that might reflect suspicion upon them. He argued long and forcefully
from the standpoint of a friend and counsellor. They listened stolidly
and repeated their vows of fidelity and integrity. He was astute enough
to take them into his confidence concerning the treachery of Jacob Von
Blitz. It was only after most earnest pleading that he persuaded them
not to slay the German's wives as a temporary expedient.
One of the stable boys volunteered to carry a note from Chase to Rasula,
asking the opportunity to lay a question of grave importance before him.
Chase suggested to Rasula that he should meet him that evening at the
west gate, under a flag of truce. The tone of the letter was more or
Rasula came, sullen but curious. At first he would not believe; but
Chase was firm in his denunciation of Jacob von Blitz. Then he was
pleased to accuse Chase of duplicity and double-dealing, going so far as
to charge the deposed American with plotting against Von Blitz to
further his own ends in more ways than one. At last, however, when he
was ready to give up in despair, Chase saw signs of conviction in the
manner of the native leader. His own fairness, his courage, had appealed
to Rasula from the start. He did not know it then, but the dark-skinned
lawyer had always felt, despite his envy and resentment, a certain
respect for his integrity and fearlessness.
He finally agreed to follow the advice of the American; grudgingly, to
be sure, but none the less determined.
"You will find everything as I have stated it, Rasula," said Chase. "I'm
sorry you are against me, for I would be your friend. I've told you how
to reach the secret cave. The chests are there. The passage is closed.
You can trap him in the attempt to rob the bank. I could have taken him
red-handed and given him over to Lord Deppingham. But you would never
have known the truth. Now I ask you to judge for yourselves. Give him a
fair trial, Rasula--as you would any man accused of crime--and be just.
If you need a witness--an eye-witness--call on me. I will come and I
will appear against him. I've been honest with you. I am willing to
trust you to be honest with me."
DEPPINGHAM FALLS ILL
That evening Lord Deppingham took to his bed with violent chills. He
shivered and burned by turns and spent a most distressing night. Bobby
Browne came in twice to see him before retiring. For some reason unknown
to any one but himself, Deppingham refused to be treated by the young
man, notwithstanding the fact that Browne laid claim to a physician's
certificate and professed to be especially successful in breaking up
"the ague." Lady Agnes entreated her liege lord to submit to the doses,
but Deppingham was resolute to irascibility.
"A Dover's powder, Deppy, or a few grains of quinine. Please be
sensible. You're just like a child."
"What's in a Dover's powder?" demanded the patient, who had never been
ill in his life.
"Ipecac and opium, sugar of milk or sulphate of potash. It's an anodyne
diaphoretic," said Browne.
"Opium, eh?" came sharply from the couch. "Good Lord, an overdose of it
would--" he checked the words abruptly and gave vent to a nervous fit of
"Don't be a fool, George," commanded his wife. "No one is trying to
"Who's saying that he's going to poison me?" demanded Deppingham
shortly. "I'm objecting because I don't like the idea of taking medicine
from a man just out of college. Now judge for yourself, Browne: would
you take chances of that sort, away off here where there isn't a
physician nearer than twelve hundred miles? Come now, be frank."
Bobby Browne leaned back and laughed heartily. "I daresay you're right.
I should be a bit nervous. But if we don't practise on some one, how are
we to acquire proficiency? It's for the advancement of science. Lots of
people have died in that service."
"By Jove, you're cold-blooded about it!" He stared helplessly at his
wife's smiling face. "It's no laughing matter, Agnes. I'm a very sick
"Then, why not take the powders?"
"I've just given my wife a powder, old man. She's got a nervous
headache," urged Browne tolerantly.
"Your wife?" exclaimed Deppingham, sitting up. "The devil!" He looked
hard at Browne for a moment. "Oh, I say, now, old chap, don't you think
it's rather too much of a coincidence?"
Browne arose quickly, a flash of resentment in his eyes. "See here,
"Don't be annoyed, Bobby," pleaded Lady Agnes. "He's nervous. Don't mind
"I'm not nervous. It's the beastly chill."
"Just the same. Lady Agnes, I shall not give him a grain of anything if
he persists in thinking I'm such a confounded villain as to--"
"I apologise, Browne," said Deppingham hastily. "I'm not afraid of your
medicine. I'm only thinking of my wife. If I _should_ happen to die,
don't you know, there would be people who might say that you could have
cured me. See what I mean?"
"You dear old goose," cried his wife.
"I fancy Selim or Baillo or even Bowles knows what a fellow doses
himself with when he's bowled over by one of these beastly island
ailments. Oblige me, Agnes, and send for Bowles."
Bowles came bowing and scraping into the room a few minutes later. He
immediately recommended an old-fashioned Dover's powder and ventured the
opinion that "good sweat" would soon put his lordship on his feet,
"better than ever." Deppingham kept Bowles beside him while Browne
generously prepared and administered the medicine.
Later in the night the Princess came to see how the patient was getting
on. He was in a dripping perspiration.
Genevra drew a chair up beside his couch and sat down.
Lady Agnes was yawning sleepily over a book.
"Do you know, I believe I'd feel better if I could have another chill,"
he said. "I'm so beastly hot now that I can't stand it. Aggie, why don't
you turn out on the balcony for a bit of fresh air? I'm a brute to have
kept you moping in here all evening."
Lady Agnes sighed prettily and--stepped out into the murky night. There
were signs of an approaching storm in the sultry air.
"I say, Genevra, what's the news?" demanded his lordship.
"The latest bulletin says that you are very much improved and that you
expect to pass a comfortable night."
"'Gad I _do_ feel better. I'm not so stuffy. Where is Chase?"
Now, the Princess, it is most distressing to state, had wilfully avoided
Mr. Chase since early that morning.
"I'm sure I don't know. I had dinner with Mrs. Browne in her room. I
fancy he's off attending to the guard. I haven't seen him."
"Nice chap," remarked Deppingham. "Isn't that he now, speaking to Agnes
Genevra looked up quickly. A man's voice came in to them from the
balcony, following Lady Deppingham's soft laugh.
"No," she said, settling back calmly. "It's Mr. Browne."
"Oh," said Deppingham, a slight shadow coming into his eyes. "Nice chap,
too," he added a moment later.
"I don't like him," said she, lowering her voice. Deppingham was silent.
Neither spoke for a long time The low voices came to them indistinctly
from the outside.
"I've no doubt Agnes is as much to blame as he," said his lordship at
last. "She's made a fool of more than one man, my dear. She rather likes
"He's behaving like a brute. They've been married less than a year."
"I daresay I'd better call Aggie off," he mused.
"It's too late."
"Too late? The deuce--"
"I mean, too late to help Drusilla Browne. She's had an ideal
"It really doesn't amount to anything, Genevra," he argued. "It will
blow over in a fortnight. Aggie's always doing this sort of thing, you
"I know, Deppy," she said sharply. "But this man is different. He's not
a gentleman. Mr. Skaggs wasn't a gentleman. Blood tells. He will boast
of this flirtation until the end of his days."
"Aggie's had dozens of men in love with her--really in love," he
protested feebly. "She's not--"
"They've come and gone and she's still the same old Agnes and you're the
same old Deppy. I'm not thinking of you or Aggie. It's Drusilla Browne."
"I see. Thanks for the confidence you have in Aggie. I daresay I know
how Drusilla feels. I've--I've had a bad turn or two, myself, lately,
and--but, never mind." He was silent for some time, evidently turning
something over in his mind. "By the way, what does Chase say about it?"
he asked suddenly.
She started and caught her breath. "Mr. Chase? He--he hasn't said
anything about it," she responded lamely. "He's--he's not that sort,"
"Ah," reflected Deppingham, "he _is_ a gentleman?"
Genevra flushed. "Yes, I'm sure he is."
"I say, Genevra," he said, looking straight into her rebellious eyes,
"you're in love with Chase. Why don't you marry him?"
"You--you are really delirious, Deppy," she cried. "The fever has----"
"He's good enough for any one--even you," went on his lordship coolly.
"He may have a wife," said she, collecting her wits with rare swiftness.
"Who knows? Don't be silly, Deppy."
"Rubbish! Haven't you stuffed Aggie and me full of the things you found
out concerning him before he left Thorberg--and afterward? The letters
from the Ambassador's wife and the glowing things your St. Petersburg
friends have to say of him, eh? He comes to us well recommended by no
other than the Princess Genevra, a most discriminating person. Besides,
he'd give his head to marry you--having already lost it."
"You are very amusing, Deppy, when you try to be clever. Is there a
clause in that silly old will compelling me to marry any one?"
"Of course not, my dear Princess; but I fancy you've got a will of your
own. Where there's a will, there's a way. You'd marry him to-morrow
"If I were not amply prepared to contest my own will?" she supplied
"No. If your will was not wrapped in convention three centuries old. You
won't marry Chase because you are a princess. That's the long and the
short of it. It isn't your fault, either. It's born in you. I daresay it
would be a mistake, after a fashion, too. You'd be obliged to give up
being a princess, and settle down as a wife. Chase wouldn't let you
forget that you were a wife. It would be hanging over you all the time.
Besides, he'd be a husband. That's something to beware of, too."
"Deppy, you are ranting frightfully," she said consolingly. "You should
go to sleep."
"I'm awfully sorry for you, Genevra."
"Sorry for me? Dear me!"
"You're tremendously gone on him."
"Nonsense! Why, I couldn't marry Mr. Chase," she exclaimed, irritable at
last. "Don't put such things into my head--I mean, don't get such things
into that ridiculous old head of yours. Are you forgetting that I am to
become Karl's wife in June? You are babbling, Deppy----"
"Well, let's say no more about it," he said, lying back resignedly.
"It's too bad, that's all. Chase is a man. Karl isn't. You loathe him. I
don't wonder that you turn pale and look frightened. Take my advice!
"Don't!" she cried, a break in her voice. She arose and went swiftly
toward the window. Then she stopped and turned upon him, her lips parted
as if to give utterance to the thing that was stirring her heart so
violently. The words would not come. She smiled plaintively and said
instead: "Good-night! Get a good sleep."
"The same to you," he called feverishly.
"Deppy," she said firmly, a red spot in each cheek, her voice tense and
strained to a high pitch of suppressed decision, "I shall marry Karl
Brabetz. That will be the end of your Mr. Chase."
"I hope so," he said. "But I'm not so sure of it, if you continue to
love him as you do now."
She went out with her cheeks burning and a frightened air in her heart.
What right, what reason had he to say such things to her? Her thoughts
raced back to Neenah's airy prophecy.
Bobby Browne and Agnes were approaching from the lower end of the
balcony. She drew back into the shadow suddenly, afraid that they might
discover in her flushed face the signs of that ugly blow to her pride
and her self-respect. "I'm not so sure of it," was whirling in her
brain, repeating itself a hundred times over, stabbing her each time in
a new and even more tender spot.
"If you continue to love him as you do now," fought its way through the
maze of horrid, disturbing thoughts. How could she face the charge: "I'm
not so sure of it," unless she killed the indictment "if you love him as
you do now?"
Lady Agnes and Browne passed by without seeing her and entered the
window. She heard him say something to his companion, softly,
tenderly--she knew not what it was. And Lady Agnes laughed--yes,
nervously. Ah, but Agnes was playing! She was not in love with this man.
It was different. It was not what Neenah meant--nor Deppingham, honest
friend that he was.
Down below she heard voices. She wondered--inconsistently alert--whether
_he_ was one of the speakers. Thomas Saunders and Miss Pelham were
coming in from the terrace. They were in love with each other! They
_could_ be in love with each other. There was no law, no convention that
said them nay! They could marry--and still love! "If you continue to
love him as you do now," battered at the doors of her conscience.
Silently she stole off to her own rooms; stealthily, as if afraid of
something she could not see but felt creeping up on her with an evil
grin. It was Shame!
Her maid came in and she prepared for bed. Left alone, she perched
herself in the window seat to cool her heated face with the breezes that
swept on ahead of the storm which was coming up from the sea. Her heart
was hot; no breeze could cool it--nothing but the ice of decision could
drive out the fever that possessed it. Now she was able to reason calmly
with herself and her emotions. She could judge between them. Three
sentences she had heard uttered that day crowded upon each other to be
uppermost: not the weakest of which was one which had fallen from the
lips of Hollingsworth Chase.
"It is impossible--incredible!" she was saying to herself. "I could not
love him like that. I should hate him. God above me, am I not different
from those women whom I have known and pitied and despised? Am I not
different from Guelma von Herrick? Am I not different from Prince
Henri's wife? Ah, and they loved, too! And is _he_ not different from
those other men--those weak, unmanly men, who came into the lives of
those women? Ah, yes, yes! He _is_ different."
She sat and stared out over the black sea, lighted fitfully by the
distant lightning. There, she pronounced sentence upon him--and herself.
There was no place for him in her world. He should feel her disdain--he
should suffer for his presumption. Presumption? In what way had he
offended? She put her hands to her eyes but her lips smiled--smiled with
the memory of the kiss she had returned!
"What a fool! What a fool I am," she cried aloud, springing up
resolutely. "I _must_ forget. I told him I couldn't, but I--I can." Half
way across the room she stopped, her hands clenched fiercely. "If--if
Karl were only such as he!" she moaned.
[Illustration: 'No' she said to herself, 'I told him I was keeping them
She went to her dressing table and resolutely unlocked one of the
drawers, as one would open a case in which the most precious of
treasures was kept. A cautious, involuntary glance over her shoulder,
and then she ran her hand into the bottom of the drawer.
"It was so silly of me," she muttered. "I shall not keep them for him."
The drawer was partly filled with cigarettes. She took one from among
the rest and placed its tip in her red lips, a reckless light in her
eyes. A match was struck and then her hand seemed to be in the clutch of
some invisible force. The light flickered and died in her fingers. A
blush suffused her face, her eyes, her neck. Then with a guilty, shamed,
tender smile she dropped the cigarette into the drawer. She turned the
"No," she said to herself, "I told him that I was keeping them for him."
THE TRIAL OF VON BLITZ
The next morning found the weather unsettled. There had been a fierce
storm during the night and a nasty mist was blowing up from the sea.
Deppingham kept to his room, although his cold was dissipated. For the
first time in all those blistering, trying months, they felt a chill in
the air; raw, wet, unexpected.
Chase had been up nearly all of the night, fearful lest the islanders
should seize the opportunity to scale the walls under cover of the
tempest. All through the night he had been possessed of a spirit of wild
bravado, a glorious exaltation: he was keeping watch over her, standing
between her and peril, guarding her while she slept. He thought of that
mass of Henner hair--he loved to think of her as a creation of the
fanciful Henner--he thought of her asleep and dreaming in blissful
security while he, with all the loyalty of an imaginative boy, was
standing guard just as he had pictured himself in those heroic days when
he substituted himself for the story-book knight who stood beneath the
battlements and defied the covetous ogre. His thoughts, however, did not
contemplate the Princess fair in a state of wretched insomnia, with
himself as the disturbing element.
He looked for her at breakfast time. They usually had their rolls and
coffee together. When she did not appear, he made more than one pretext
to lengthen his own stay in the breakfast-room. "She's trying to forget
yesterday," he reflected. "What was it she said about always regreting?
Oh, well, it's the way of women. I'll wait," he concluded with the
utmost confidence in the powers of patience.
Selim came to him in the midst of his reflections, bearing a thick,
"It was found, excellency, inside the southern gate, and it is meant for
you," said Selim. Chase gingerly slashed open the envelope with his
fruit knife. He laughed ruefully as he read the simple but laborious
message from Jacob von Blitz.
"_Where are your warships all this time? They are not coming to you
ever. Good-bye. You got to die yet, too. Your friend, Jacob von Blitz.
And my wives, too._"
Chase stuffed the blurred, sticky letter into his pocket and arose to
"There's something coming to you, Jacob," he said, much to the wonder of
Selim. "Selim, unless I miss my guess pretty badly, we'll be having a
message--not from Garcia--but from Rasula before long. You've never
heard of Garcia? Well, come along. I'll tell you something about him as
we take our morning stroll. How are my cigarettes holding out?"
"They run low, sahib. Neenah has given all of hers to me for you,
excellency, and I have demanded those of the wives of Von Blitz."
"Selim, you must not forget that you are a gentleman. That was most
ungallant. But I suppose you got them?"
"No, sahib. They refused to give them up. They are saving them for Mr.
Britt," said Selim dejectedly.
"Ah, the ficklety of women!" he sighed. "There's a new word for you,
Selim--ficklety. I like it better than fickleness, don't you? Sounds
like frailty, too. Was there any shooting after I went to bed?" His
manner changed suddenly from the frivolous to the serious.
"I don't understand their game," he mused, a perplexed frown on his
brow. "They've quit popping away at us."
It was far past midday when he heard from Rasula. The disagreeable
weather may have been more or less responsible for the ruffling of
Chase's temper during those long, dreary hours of waiting. Be that as it
may, he was sorely tried by the feeling of loneliness that attached
itself to him. He had seen the Princess but once, and then she was
walking briskly, wrapped in a rain coat, followed by her shivering dogs,
and her two Rapp-Thorberg soldiers! Somehow she failed to see Chase as
he sauntered hungrily, almost imploringly across the upper terrace, in
plain view. Perhaps, after all, it was not the weather.
Rasula's messenger came to the gates and announced that he had a letter
for Mr. Chase. He was admitted to the grounds and conducted to the sick
chamber of "the commandant." Hollingsworth Chase read the carefully
worded, diplomatic letter from the native lawyer, his listeners paying
the strictest attention. After the most courteous introductory, Rasula
had this to say:
"We have reason to suspect that you were right in your suspicions. The
golden plate has been found this day in the cave below the chateau, just
as you have said. This much of what you have charged against Jacob von
Blitz seems to be borne out by the evidence secured. Last night there
was an attempt to rob the vaults in the company's bank. Again I followed
your advice and laid a trap for the men engaged. They were slain in the
struggle which followed. This fact is much to be deplored. Your command
that these men be given a fair trial cannot be obeyed. They died
fighting after we had driven them to the wall. I have to inform you,
sir, that your charge against Jacob von Blitz does not hold good in the
case of the bank robbery. Therefore, I am impelled to believe that you
may have unjustly accused him of being implicated in the robbery of the
treasure chests. He was not among the bank thieves. There were but three
of them--the Boer foremen. Jacob von Blitz came up himself and joined us
in the fight against the traitors. He was merciless in his anger against
them. You have said that you will testify against him. Sir, I have taken
it upon myself to place him under restraint, notwithstanding his actions
against the Boers. He shall have a fair trial. If it is proved that he
is guilty, he shall pay the penalty. We are just people.
"Sir, we, the people of Japat, will take you at your word. We ask you to
appear against the prisoner and give evidence in support of your charge.
He shall be placed on trial to-morrow morning at ten o'clock. On my
honour as a man and a Believer, I assure safety to you while you are
among us on that occasion. You shall find that we are honourable--more
honourable than the people you now serve so dearly. I, Rasula, will meet
you at the gates and will conduct you back to them in safety. If you are
a true man, you will not evade the call. I beg to assure you that your
testimony against Jacob von Blitz shall be weighed carefully and without
prejudice by those who are to act as his judges. My messenger will carry
your reply to us. RASULA."
"Well, it looks as though Von Blitz has spiked your guns," said
Deppingham. "The dog turns against his confederates and saves his own
skin by killing them."
"In any event," said Browne, "you spoiled his little game. He loses the
treasure and he didn't get into the vaults. Rasula should take those
points into consideration."
"He won't forget them, rest assured. That's why I'm sure that he'll take
my word at the trial as against that of Von Blitz," said Chase.
"You--you don't mean to say, Mr. Chase, that you are going into the
town?" cried Lady Agnes, wide-eyed.
"Certainly, Lady Deppingham. They are expecting me."
"Don't be foolhardy, Chase. They will kill you like a rat," exclaimed
"Oh, no, they won't," said the other confidently. "They've given their
promise through Rasula. Whatever else they may be, they hold a promise
sacred. They know I'll come. If I don't, they'll know that I am a
coward. You wouldn't have them think I _am_ a coward, would you, Lady
Deppingham?" he said, turning to look into her distressed face with his
most winning smile.
The next morning he coolly set forth for the gates, scarcely thinking
enough of the adventure to warrant the matter-of-fact "good-byes" that
he bestowed upon those who were congregated to see him off. His heart
was sore as he strode rapidly down the drive. Genevra had not come down
to say farewell.
"By heaven," he muttered, strangely vexed with her, "I fancy she means
it. She's bent on showing me my place. But she might have come down and
wished me good luck. That was little enough for her to do. Ah, well," he
sighed, putting it away from him.
As he turned into the tree-lined avenue near the gate, a slender young
woman in a green and white gown arose from a seat in the shade and
stepped a pace forward, opening her parasol quite leisurely as he
quickened his steps. His eyes gleamed with the sudden rush of joy that
filled his whole being. She stood there, waiting for him, under the
trees. There was an expression in her face that he had never seen there
before. She was smiling, it is true, but there was something like
defiance--yes, it was the set, strained smile of resolution that greeted
his eager exclamation. Her eyes gleamed brightly and she was breathing
as one who has run swiftly.
"You are determined to go down there among those men?" she demanded, the
smile suddenly giving way to a look of disapproval. She ignored his
"Certainly," he said, after the moment of bewilderment. "Why not? I--I
thought you had made up your mind to let me go without a--a word for
good luck." She found great difficulty in meeting the wistful look in
his eyes. "You are good to come down here to say good-bye--and howdy do,
for that matter. We're almost strangers again."
"I did not come down to say good-bye," she said, her lips trembling ever
"I don't understand," he said.
"I am going with you into the town--as a witness," she said, and her
face went pale at the thought of it. He drew back in amazement, staring
at her as though he had not heard aright.
"Genevra," he cried, "you--you would do _that_?"
"Why not, Mr. Chase?" She tried to speak calmly, but she was trembling.
After all, she was a slender, helpless girl--not an Amazon! "I saw and
heard everything. They won't believe you unsupported. They won't harm
me. They will treat me as they treat you. I have as much right to be
heard against him as you. If I swear to them that what you say is true
Her hand was on his arm now, trembling, eager, yet charged with fear at
the prospect ahead of her. He clasped the little hand in his and quickly
lifted it to his lips.
"I'm happy again," he cried. "It's all right with me now." She withdrew
her hand on the instant.
"No, no! It isn't that," she said, her eyes narrowing. "Don't
misinterpret my coming here to say that I will go. It isn't because--no,
it isn't that!"
He hesitated an instant, looking deep into the bewildered eyes that met
his with all the honesty that dwelt in her soul. He saw that she trusted
him to be fair with her.
"I was unhappy because you had forsaken me," he said gently. "You are
brave--you are wonderful! But I can't take you down there. I know what
will happen if they find him guilty. Good-bye, dear one. I'll come
back--surely I'll come back. Thank you for sending me away happy."
"Won't you let me go with you?" she asked, after a long, penetrating
look into his eyes.
"I would not take you among them for all the world. You forget. Neither
of us would come back."
"Neither of us?" she said slowly.
"I wouldn't come back without you," he said quietly, earnestly. She
understood. "Good-bye! Don't worry about me. I am in no danger."
"Good-bye," she said, the princess once more. "I shall pray for
you--with all my soul." She gave him her hand. It was cold and lifeless.
He pressed it warmly and went quickly away, leaving her standing there
in the still shade of the satinwoods, looking after him with eyes that
grew wider and wider with the tears that welled up from behind.
Hours went by--slow, tortuous hours in which the souls of those who
watched and waited for his return were tried to the utmost. A restless,
uncanny feeling prevailed: as if they were prisoners waiting in dead
silence for the sickening news that the trap on the scaffold had been
dropped with all that was living of a fellow-cellmate, whom they had
known and pitied for weeks.
Once there came to the ears of the watchers on the mountainside the
sound of distant shouts, later, the brief rattle of firearms. The blood
of every one turned cold with, apprehension; every voice was stilled,
every eye wide with dread. Neenah screamed as she fled across the
terrace toward the drawbridge, where Selim stood as motionless as a
Luncheon-time passed, and again, as if drawn by a magnet, the entire
household made its way to the front of the chateau.
At last Selim uttered a shout of joy. He forgot the deference due his
betters and unceremoniously dashed off toward the gates, followed by
Neenah, who seemed possessed of wings.
Chase was returning!
They saw him coming up the drive, his hat in his hand, his white
umbrella raised above his head. He drew nearer, sauntering as carelessly
as if nothing unusual lay behind him in the morning hours. The eager,
joyous watchers saw him greet Selim and his fluttering wife; they saw
Selim fall upon his knees, and they felt the tears rushing to their own
"Hurray!" shouted little Mr. Saunders in his excitement. Bowles and the
three clerks joined him in the exhibition. Then the Persians and the
Turks and the Arabs began to chatter; the servants, always cold and
morose, revealed signs of unusual emotion; the white people laughed as
if suddenly delivered from extreme pain. The Princess was conscious of
the fact that at least five or six pairs of eyes were watching her face.
She closed her lips and compelled her eyelids to obey the dictates of a
resentful heart: she lowered them until they gave one the impression of
indolent curiosity, even indifference. All the while, her
incomprehensible heart was thumping with a rapture that knew no
allegiance to royal conventions.
A few minutes later he was among them, listening with his cool,
half-satirical smile to their protestations of joy and relief, assailed
by more questions than he could well answer in a day, his every
expression a protest against their contention that he had done a brave
and wonderful thing.
"Nonsense," he said in his most deprecating voice, taking a seat beside
the Princess on the railing and fanning himself lazily with his hat to
the mortification of his body-servant, who waved a huge palm leaf in
vigorous adulation. "It was nothing. Just being a witness, that's all.
You'll find how easy it is when you get back to London and have to
testify in the Skaggs will contest. Tell the truth, that's all." The
Princess was now looking at his brown face with eyes over which she had
lost control. "Oh, by the by," he said, as if struck by a sudden
thought. He turned toward the shady court below, where the eager
refugees from Aratat were congregated. A deep, almost sepulchral tone
came into his voice as he addressed himself to the veiled wives of Jacob
von Blitz. "It is my painful duty to announce to the Mesdames von Blitz
that they are widows."
There was a dead silence. The three women stared up at him,
"Yes," he went on solemnly, "Jacob is no more. He was found guilty by
his judges and executed with commendable haste and precision. I will say
this for your lamented husband: he met his fate like a man and a
German--without a quiver. He took his medicine bravely--twelve leaden
pills administered by as many skilful surgeons. It is perhaps just as
well for you that you are widows. If he had lived long enough he would
have made a widower of himself." The three wives of Von Blitz hugged
themselves and cried out in their joy! "But it is yet too early to
congratulate yourselves on your freedom. Rasula has promised to kill all
of us, whether we deserve it or not, so I daresay we'd better postpone
the celebration until we're entirely out of the woods."
"They shot him?" demanded Deppingham, when he had finished.
"Admirably. By Jove, those fellows _can_ shoot! They accepted my word
against his--which is most gratifying to my pride. One other man
testified against him--a chap who saw him with the Boers not ten minutes
before the attempt was made to rob the vaults. Rasula appeared as
counsel for the defence. Merely a matter of form. He _knew_ that he was
guilty. There was no talk of a new trial; no appeal to the supreme
court, Britt; no expense to the community."
He was as unconcerned about it as if discussing the most trivial
happening of the day. Five ancient men had sat with the venerable Cadi
as judges in the market-place. There were no frills, no disputes, no
summing up of the case by state or defendant. The judges weighed the
evidence; they used their own judgment as to the law and the penalty.
They found him guilty. Von Blitz lived not ten minutes after sentence
"As to their intentions toward us," said Chase, "they are firm in their
determination that no one shall leave the chateau alive. Rasula was
quite frank with me. He is a cool devil. He calmly notified me that we
will all be dead inside of two weeks. No ships will put in here so long
as the plague exists. It has been cleverly managed. I asked him how we
were to die and he smiled as though he was holding something back as a
surprise for us. He came as near to laughing as I've ever seen him when
I asked him if he'd forgotten my warships. 'Why don't you have them
here?' he asked. 'We're not ready,' said I. 'The six months are not up
for nine days yet.' 'No one will come ashore for you,' he said
pointedly. I told him that he was making a great mistake in the attitude
he was taking toward the heirs, but he coolly informed me that it was
best to eradicate all danger of the plague by destroying the germs, so
to speak. He agreed with me that you have no chance in the courts, but
maintains that you'll keep up the fight as long as you live, so you
might just as well die to suit his convenience. I also made the
interesting discovery that suits have already been brought in England to
break the will on the grounds of insanity."
"But what good will that do us if we are to die here?" exclaimed Bobby
"None whatsoever," said Chase calmly. "You must admit, however, that you
exhibited signs of hereditary insanity by coming here in the first
place. I'm beginning to believe that there's a streak of it in my
"And you--you saw him killed?" asked the Princess in an awed voice, low
and full of horror.
"Yes. I could not avoid it."
"They killed him on your--on your--" she could not complete the
sentence, but shuddered expressively.
"Yes. He deserved death, Princess. I am more or less like the Moslem in
one respect. I might excuse a thief or a murderer, but I have no pity
for a traitor."
"You saw him killed," she said in the same awed voice, involuntarily
drawing away from him.
"Yes," he said, "and you would have seen him killed, too, if you had
gone down with me to appear against him."
She looked up quickly and then thanked him, almost in a whisper.
CENTURIES TO FORGET
"My lord," said Saunders the next day, appearing before his lordship
after an agitated hour of preparation, "it's come to a point where
something's got to be done." He got that far and then turned quite
purple; his collar seemed to be choking him.
"Quite right, Saunders," said Deppingham, replacing his eyeglass
nervously, "but who's going to do it and what is there to be done?"
"I'm--er--afraid you don't quite understand, sir," mumbled the little
solicitor, glancing uneasily over his shoulder. "If what Mr. Chase says
is true, we've got a precious short time to live. Well, we've--we've
concluded to get all we can out of the time that's left, my lord."
"I see," said the other, but he did not see.
"So I've come to ask if it will be all right with you and her ladyship,
sir. We don't want to do anything that would seem forward and out of
"It's very considerate of you, Saunders; but what the devil are you
"Haven't you heard, sir?"
"That we are to die? Certainly."
"That's not all, sir. Miss--Miss Pelham and I have decided to
get--er--get married before it is too late."
Deppingham stared hard for a moment and then grinned broadly.
"You mean, before you die?"
"That's it exactly, my lord. Haw, haw! It _would_ be a bit late,
wouldn't it, if we waited till afterward? Haw, haw! Splendid! But
seriously, my lord, we've talked it all over and it strikes us both as a
very clever thing to do. We had intended to wait till we got to London,
but that seems quite out of the question now. Unless we do it up pretty
sharp, sir, we are likely to miss it altogether. So I have come to ask
if you think it will interfere with your arrangements if--if we should
be married to-night."
"I'm sure, Saunders, that it won't discommode me in the least," said his
lordship genially. "By all means, Saunders, let it be to-night, for
to-morrow we may die."
"Will you kindly speak to her ladyship, sir?"
"Gladly. And I'll take it as an honour if you will permit me to give
away the bride."
"Thank you, my lord," cried Saunders, his face beaming. His lordship
shook hands with him, whereupon his cup of happiness overflowed,
notwithstanding the fact that his honeymoon was likely to be of scarcely
any duration whatsoever. "I've already engaged Mr. Bowles, sir, for half
past eight, and also the banquet hall, sir," he said, with his frank
"And I'll be happy, Saunders, to see to the wedding supper and the
rice," said his lordship. "Have you decided where you will go on your
"Yes, sir," said Saunders seriously, "God helping us, we'll go to
The wedding took place that night in the little chapel. It was not an
imposing celebration; neither was it attended by the gladsome revelry
that usually marks the nuptial event, no matter how humble. The very
fact that these two were being urged to matrimony by the uncertainties
of life was sufficient to cast a spell of gloom over the guests and high
contracting parties alike. The optimism of Hollingsworth Chase lightened
the shadows but little.
Chase deliberately took possession of the Princess after the hollow
wedding supper had come to an end. He purposely avoided the hanging
garden and kept to the vine-covered balcony overlooking the sea. Her
mood had changed. Now she was quite at ease with him; the taunting gleam
in her dark eyes presaged evil moments for his peace of mind.
"I'm inspired," he said to her. "A wedding always inspires me."
"It's very strange that you've never married," she retorted. She was
striding freely by his side, confident in her power to resist sentiment
"Will you be my wife?" he asked abruptly. She caught her breath before
laughing tolerantly, and then looked into his eyes with a tantalising
"By no means," she responded. "I am not oppressed by the same views that
actuated Miss Pelham. You see, Mr. Chase, I am quite confident that we
are _not_ to die in two weeks."
"I could almost wish that we could die in that time," he said.
"How very diabolical!"
"It may seem odd to you, but I'd rather see you dead than married to
Prince Karl." She was silent. He went on: "Would you consent to be my
wife if you felt in your heart that we should never leave this island?"
"You are talking nonsense," she said lightly.
"Perhaps. But would you?" he insisted.
"I think I shall go in, Mr. Chase," she said with a warning shake of her
"Don't, please! I'm not asking you to marry me if we _should_ leave the
island. You must give me credit for that," he argued whimsically.
"Ah, I see," she said, apparently very much relieved. "You want me only
with the understanding that death should be quite close at hand to
relieve you. And if I were to become your wife, here and now, and we
should be taken from this dreadful place--what then?"
"You probably would have to go through a long and miserable career as
plain Goodwife Chase," he explained.
"If it will make you any happier," she said, with a smile in which there
lurked a touch of mischievous triumph, "I can say that I might consent
to marry you if I were not so positive that I will leave the island
soon. You seem to forget that my uncle's yacht is to call here, even
though your cruisers will not."
"I'll risk even that," he maintained stoutly.
She stopped suddenly, her hand upon his arm.
"Do you really love me?" she demanded earnestly.
"With all my soul, I swear to you," he replied, staggered by the abrupt
change in her manner.
"Then don't make it any harder for me," she said. "You know that I could
not do what you ask. Please, please be fair with me. I--I can't even
jest about it. It is too much to ask of me," she went on with a strange
firmness in her voice. "It would require centuries to make me forget
that I am a princess, just as centuries were taken up in creating me
what I am. I am no better than you, dear, but--but--you understand?" She
said it so pleadingly, so hopelessly that he understood what it was that
she could not say to him. "We seldom if ever marry the men whom God has
made for us to love."
He lifted her hands to his breast and held them there. "If you will just
go on loving me, I'll some day make you forget you're a princess." She
smiled and shook her head. Her hair gleamed red and bronze in the kindly
light; a soft perfume came up to his nostrils.
* * * * *
The next day three of the native servants became violently ill, seized
by the most appalling convulsions. At first, a thrill of horror ran
through the chateau. The plague! The plague in reality! Faces blanched
white with dread, hearts turned cold and sank like lead; a hundred eyes
looked out to sea with the last gleam of hope in their depths.
But these fears were quickly dissipated. Baillo and the other natives
unhesitatingly announced that the men were not afflicted with the "fatal
sickness." As if to bear out these positive assertions, the sufferers
soon began to mend. By nightfall they were fairly well recovered. The
mysterious seizure, however, was unexplained. Chase alone divined the
cause. He brooded darkly over the prospect that suddenly had presented
itself to his comprehension. Poison! He was sure of it! But who the
All previous perils and all that the future seemed to promise were
forgotten in the startling discovery that came with the fall of night.
The first disclosures were succeeded by a frantic but ineffectual search
throughout the grounds; the chateau was ransacked from top to bottom.
Lady Deppingham and Robert Browne were missing! They had disappeared as
if swallowed by the earth itself!
Neenah, the wife of Selim, was the last of those in the chateau to see
the heirs. When the sun was low in the west, she observed them strolling
leisurely along the outer edge of the moat. They crossed the swift
torrent by the narrow bridge at the base of the cliff and stopped below
the mouth of the cavern which blew its cool breath out upon the hanging
garden. Later on, she saw them climb the staunch ladder and stand in the
black opening, apparently enjoying the cooling wind that came from the
damp bowels of the mountain. Her attention was called elsewhere, and
that was the last glimpse she had of the two people about whom centred
the struggle for untold riches.
It was not an unusual thing for the inhabitants of the chateau to climb
to the mouth of the cavern. The men had penetrated its depths for
several hundred yards, lighting their way by means of electric torches,
but no one among them had undertaken the needless task of exploring it
to the end. This much they knew: the cavern stretched to endless
distances, wide in spots, narrow in others, treacherous yet attractive
in its ugly, grave-like solitudes.
"God, Chase, they are lost in there!" groaned Deppingham, numb with
apprehension. He was trembling like a leaf.
"There's just one thing to do," said Chase, "we've got to explore that
cavern to the end. They may have lost their bearings and strayed off
into one of the lateral passages."
"I--I can't bear the thought of her wandering about in that horrible
place," Deppingham cried as he started resolutely toward the ladders.
"She'll come out of it all right," said Chase, a sudden compassion in
Drusilla Browne was standing near by, cold and silent with dread, a set
expression in her eyes. Her lips moved slowly and Deppingham heard the
"You will find them, Lord Deppingham. You will find them!"
He stopped and passed his hand over his eyes. Then, without a word, he
snatched a rifle from the hands of one of the patrol, and led the way up
the ladder. As he paused at the top to await the approach of his
companions, Chase turned to the white-faced Princess and said, between
"If Skaggs and Wyckholme had been in the employ of the devil himself
they could not have foreseen the result of their infernal plotting. I am
"Take care of him, Hollingsworth," she whispered shuddering.
The last glow of sunset, reflected in the western sky, fell upon the
tall figure of the Englishman in the mouth of the cavern. Tragedy seemed
to be waiting to cast its mantel about him from behind.
"Good-bye, Genevra, my Princess," said Chase softly, and then was off
with Britt and Selim. As he passed Drusilla, he seized her hand and
paused long enough to say:
"It's all right, little woman, take my word for it. If I were you, I'd
cry. You'll see things differently through your tears."
The four men, with their lights, vanished from sight a few moments
later. Chase grasped Deppingham's arm and held him back, gravely
suggesting that Selim should lead the way.
They were to learn the truth almost before they had fairly begun their
The heirs already were in the hands of their enemies, the islanders!
The appalling truth burst upon them with a suddenness that stunned their
sensibilities for many minutes. All doubt was swept away by the
The eager searchers, shouting as they went, had picked their way down
the steps in the sloping floor of the cavern, down through the winding
galleries and clammy grottoes, their voices booming ever and anon
against the silent walls with the roar of foghorns. Now they had come to
what was known as "the Cathedral." This was a wide, lofty chamber, hung
with dripping stalactites, far below the level at which they began the
descent. The floor was almost as flat and even as that of a modern
dwelling. Here the cavern branched off in three or four directions, like
the tentacles of a monster devilfish, the narrow passages leading no one
knew whither in that tomb-like mountain.
Selim uttered the first shout of surprise and consternation. Then the
four of them rushed forward, their eyes almost starting from their
sockets. An instant later they were standing at the edge of a vast hole
in the floor--newly made and pregnant with disaster.
A current of air swept up into their faces. The soft, loose earth about
the rent in the floor was covered with the prints of naked feet; the
bottom of the hole was packed down in places by a multitude of tracks.
Chase's bewildered eyes were the first to discover the presence of
loose, scattered masonry in the pile below and the truth dawned upon him
sharply. He gave a loud exclamation and then dropped lightly into the
"I've got it!" he shouted, stooping to peer intently ahead. "Von Blitz's
powder kegs did all this. The secret passage runs along here. One of the
discharges blew this hole through the roof of the passage. Here are the
walls of the passage. By heaven, the way is open to the sea!"
"My God, Chase!" cried Deppingham, staggering toward the opening. "These
footprints are--God! They've murdered her! They've come in here and
"Go easy, old man! We need to be cool now. It's all as plain as day to
me. Rasula and his men were exploring the passage after the discovery of
the treasure chests. They came upon this new-made hole and then crawled
into the cavern. They surprised Browne and--Yes, here are the prints of
a woman's shoe--and a man's, too. They're gone, God help 'em!"
He climbed out of the hole and rushed about "the Cathedral" in search of
further evidence. Deppingham dropped suddenly to his knees and buried
his face in his hands, sobbing like a child.
It was all made plain to the searchers. Signs of a fierce struggle were
found near the entrance to the Cathedral. Bobby Browne had made a
gallant fight. Blood stains marked the smooth floor and walls, and there
was evidence that a body had been dragged across the chamber.
Britt put his hand over his eyes and shuddered. "They've settled this
contest, Chase, forever!" he groaned.
Deppingham sprang to his feet with a fierce oath on his lips. His
usually lustreless eyes were gleaming with something more than despair;
there was the wild light of unmistakable relief in them. It was as if a
horrid doubt had been scaled from the soul of Lady Deppingham's husband.
"We must follow!" shouted his lordship, preparing to lower himself into
the jagged opening. "We may be in time!"
"Stop, Deppingham!" cried Chase, leaping to his side. "Don't rush
blindly into a trap like that. Let's consider for a moment."
They had it back and forth for many minutes, the united efforts of the
three men being required to keep the half-frantic Englishman from
rushing alone into the passage. Reason at last prevailed.
"They've got an hour or more start of us," argued Chase. "Nothing will
be accomplished by rushing into an ambush. They'd kill us like rats.
Rasula is a sagacious scoundrel. He'll not take the entire
responsibility. There will be a council of all the head men. It will be
of no advantage to them to kill the heirs unless they are sure that _we_
won't live to tell the tale. They will go slow, now that they have the
chief obstacles to victory in their hands."
"If they will give her up to me, I will guarantee that Lady Agnes shall
relinquish all claim to the estate," announced the harassed husband.
"They won't do that, old man. Promises won't tempt them," protested
Chase. "We've got to do what we can to rescue them. I'm with you,
gentlemen, in the undertaking, first for humanity's sake; secondly,
because I am your friend; lastly, because I don't want my clients to
lose all chance of winning out in this controversy by acting like
confounded asses. It isn't what Sir John expects of me. Now, let's
consider the situation sensibly."
In the meantime, the anxious coterie in the chateau were waiting eagerly
for the return of the searchers. Night had fallen swiftly. The Princess
and Drusilla were walking restlessly back and forth, singularly quiet
and constrained. The latter sighed now and then in a manner that went
directly to the heart of her companion. Genevra recognised the futility
of imposing her sympathies in the face of this significant reserve.
Drusilla made one remark, half unconsciously, no doubt, that rasped in
the ears of the Princess for days. It was the cold, bitter, resigned
epitome of the young wife's thoughts.
"Robert has loved her for months." That was all.
Mr. and Mrs. Saunders, thankful that something had happened to divert
attention from their own conspicuous plight, were discoursing freely in
the centre of a group composed of the four Englishmen from the bank, all
of whom had deserted their posts of duty to hear the details of the
"It's a plain out and out elopement," said Mrs. Saunders, fanning
"But, my dear," expostulated her husband, blushing vividly over the
first public use of the appellation, "where the devil could they elope
"I don't know, Tommy, but elopers never take that into consideration. Do
they, Mr. Bowles?"
Mr. Bowles readjusted the little red forage cap and said he'd be hanged
if he knew the eloping symptoms.
At last the four men appeared in the mouth of the cavern. The watchers
below fell into chilled silence when they discovered that the missing
ones were not with them. Stupefied with apprehension, they watched the
men descend the ladder and cross the bridge.
"They are dead!" fell from Brasilia Browne's lips. She swayed for an
instant and then sank to the ground, unconscious.
* * * * *
In the conference which followed the return of the searchers, it was
settled that three of the original party should undertake the further
prosecution of the hunt for the two heirs. Lord Deppingham found ready
volunteers in Chase and the faithful Selim. They prepared to go out in
the hills before the night was an hour older. Selim argued that the
abductors would not take their prisoners to the town of Aratat. He
understood them well enough to know that they fully appreciated the
danger of an uprising among those who were known to be openly opposed to
the high-handed operations of Rasula and his constituency. He convinced
Chase that the wily Rasula would carry his captives to the mines, where
he was in full power.
"You're right, Selim. If he's tried that game we'll beat him at it. Ten
to one, if he hasn't already chucked them into the sea, they're now
confined in one of the mills over there."
They were ready to start in a very short time. Selim carried a quantity
of food and a small supply of brandy. Each was heavily armed and
prepared for a stiff battle with the abductors. They were to go by way
of the upper gate, taking chances on leaving the park without discovery
by the sentinels.
"We seem constantly to be saying good-bye to each other." Thus spoke the
Princess to Chase as he stood at the top of the steps waiting for Selim.
The darkness hid the wan, despairing smile that gave the lie to her
"And I'm always doing the unexpected thing--coming back. This time I may
vary the monotony by failing to return."
"I should think you could vary it more pleasantly by not going away,"
she said. "You will be careful?"
"The danger is here, not out there," he said meaningly.
"You mean--me? But, like all danger, I soon shall pass. In a few days, I
shall say good-bye forever and sail away."
"How much better it would be for you if this were the last good-bye--and
I should not come back."
"Yes. You could marry the Prince without having me on your conscience
"It's easier to forget the dead than the living, they say."
"Don't be too sure of that."
"Ah, there's Selim! Good-bye! We'll have good news for you all, I hope,
before long. Keep your eyes on Neenah. She and Selim have arranged a set
of signals. Don't lie awake all night--and don't pray for me," he
scoffed, in reckless mood.
The three men stole out through the small gate in the upper end of the
park. Selim at once took the lead. They crept off into the black forest,
keeping clear of the mountain path until they were far from the walls.
It was hard going among the thickly grown, low-hanging trees. They were
without lights; the jungle was wrapped in the blackness of night; the
trail was unmade and arduous. For more than a mile they crept through
the unbroken vegetation of the tropics, finally making their way down to
the beaten path which led past the ruins of the bungalow and up to the
mountain road that provided a short cut around the volcano to the
highlands overlooking the mines district in the cradle-like valley
Deppingham had not spoken since they left the park grounds. He came
second in the single file that they observed, striding silently and
obediently at the given twenty paces behind Selim. They kept to the
grassy roadside and moved swiftly and with as little noise as possible.
By this time, their eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness; they
could distinguish one another quite clearly. The starlight filtered down
through the leafy canopy above the road, increasing rather than
decreasing the density of the shadows through which they sped. None but
strong, determined, inspired men could have followed the pace set by the
lithe, surefooted Selim.
Mile after mile fell behind them, with no relaxation of energy or
purpose. Chase found time and opportunity to give his thoughts over to
Genevra. A mighty longing to clasp her in his arms and carry her to the
ends of the earth took possession of him: a longing to drag her far from
the conventions which bound her to a world he could not enter into. Down
in his heart, he knew that she loved him: it was not a play-day folly
with her. And yet he knew that the end would be as she had said. She
would be the wife of the man she did not love. Fate had given her to him
when the world was young; there was no escape. In story-books, perhaps,
but not in real life. And how he had come to love her!
They were coming to the ridge road and Selim fell back to explain the
need for caution. The ridge road crept along the brow of the deep canyon
that ran down to the sea. This was the road, in all likelihood, he
explained, that the abductors would have used in their flight from the
cavern. Two miles farther south it joined the wide highway that ran from
Aratat to the mines.
Selim crept on ahead to reconnoitre. He was back in ten minutes with the
information that a party of men had but lately passed along the road
toward the south. Their footprints in the soft, untraveled road were
fresh. The stub of a cigarette that had scarcely burned itself out
proved to him conclusively that the smoker, at least, was not far ahead
They broke away from the road and took a less exposed course through the
forest to their right, keeping well within earshot of the ridge, but
moving so carefully that there was slight danger of alarming the party
ahead. The fact that the abductors--there seemed to be no doubt as to
identity--had spent several hours longer than necessary in traversing
the distance between the cave and the point just passed, proving rather
conclusively that they were encumbered by living, not dead, burdens.
At last the sound of voices came to the ears of the pursuers. As they
crept closer and closer, they became aware of the fact that the party
had halted and were wrangling among themselves over some point in
dispute. With Selim in the lead, crawling like panthers through the
dense undergrowth, the trio came to the edge of the timber land. Before
them lay the dark, treeless valley; almost directly below them, not
fifty yards away, clustered the group of disputing islanders, a dozen
men in all, with half as many flaring torches.
They had halted in the roadway at the point where a sharp defile through
the rocks opened a way down into the valley. Like snakes the pursuers
wriggled their way to a point just above the small basin in which the
party was congregated.
A great throb of exultation leaped up from their hearts, In plain view,
at the side of the road, were the two persons for whom they were
"God, luck is with us," whispered Chase unconsciously.
Lady Agnes, dishevelled, her dress half stripped from her person, was
seated upon a great boulder, staring hopelessly, lifelessly at the crowd
of men in the roadway. Beside her stood a tall islander, watching her
and at the same time listening eagerly to the dispute that went on
between his fellows. She was not bound; her hands and feet and lips were
free. The glow from the torches held by gesticulating hands fell upon
her tired, frightened face. Deppingham groaned aloud as he looked down
upon the wretched, hopeless woman that he loved and had come out to die
Bobby Browne was standing near by. His hands were tightly bound behind
his back. His face was blood-covered and the upper part of his body was
almost bare, evidence of the struggle he had made against overwhelming
odds. He was staring at the ground, his head and shoulders drooping in
The cause of the slow progress made by the attacking party was also
apparent after a moment's survey of the situation. Three of the treasure
chests were standing beside the road, affording seats for as many weary
carriers. It was all quite plain to Chase. Rasula and his men had
chanced upon the two white people during one of their trips to the cave
for the purpose of removing the chests. Moreover, it was reasonable to
assume that this lot of chests represented the last of those stored away
by Von Blitz. The others had been borne away by detachments of men who
left the cave before the discovery and capture of the heirs.
Rasula was haranguing the crowd of men in the road. The hidden listeners
could hear and understand every word he uttered.
"It is the only way," he was shouting angrily. "We cannot take them into
the town to-night--maybe not for two or three days. Some there are in
Aratat who would end their lives before sunrise. I say to you that we
cannot put them to death until we are sure that the others have no
chance to escape to England. I am a lawyer. I know what it would mean if
the story got to the ears of the government. We have them safely in our
hands. The others will soon die. Then--then there can be no mistake!
They must be taken to the mines and kept there until I have explained
everything to the people. Part of us shall conduct them to the lower
mill and the rest of us go on to the bank with these chests of gold." In
the end, after much grumbling and fierce quarreling, in which the
prisoners took little or no interest, the band was divided into two
parts. Rasula and six of the sturdiest men prepared to continue the
journey to Aratat, transporting the chests. Five sullen, resentful
fellows moved over beside the captives and threw themselves down upon
the grassy sward, lighting their cigarettes with all the philosophical
indifference of men who regard themselves as put upon by others at a
time when there is no alternative.
"We will wait here till day comes," growled one of them defiantly. "Why
should we risk our necks going down the pass to-night? It is one
o'clock. The sun will be here in three hours. Go on!"
"As you like, Abou Dal," said Rasula, shrugging his pinched shoulders.
"I shall come to the mill at six o'clock." Turning to the prisoners, he
bowed low and said, with a soft laugh: "Adios, my lady, and you, most
noble sir. May your dreams be pleasant ones. Dream that you are wedded
and have come into the wealth of Japat, but spare none of your dream to
the husband and wife, who are lying awake and weeping for the foolish
ones who would go searching for the forbidden fruit Folly is a hard road
to travel and it leads to the graveyard of fools. Adios!"
Lady Agnes bent over and dropped her face into her hands. She was
trembling convulsively. Browne did not show the slightest sign that he
had heard the galling words.
At a single sharp command, the six men picked up the three chests and
moved off rapidly down the road Rasula striding ahead with the flaring
They were barely out of sight beyond the turn in the hill when
Deppingham moved as though impulse was driving him into immediate attack
upon the guards who were left behind with the unhappy prisoners. Chase
laid a restraining hand upon his arm.
"Wait! Plenty of time. Wait an hour. Don't spoil everything. We'll save
them sure," he breathed in the other's ear. Deppingham's groan was
almost loud enough to have been heard above the rustling leaves and the
collective maledictions of the disgusted islanders.
The minutes slipped by with excruciating slowness The wakeful eyes of
the three watchers missed nothing that took place in the little
grass-grown niche below them They could have sprung almost into the
centre of the group from the position they occupied. Utterly unconscious
of the surveillance, the islanders gradually sunk into a morose, stupid
silence. If the watchers hoped that they might go to sleep they were to
be disappointed Two of the men sat with their backs to the rocks, their
rifles across their knees. The others sprawled lazily upon the soft
grass. Two torches, stuck in the earth, threw a weird light over the
Bobby Browne was now lying with his shoulder against a fallen
tree-trunk, staring with unswerving gaze at the woman across the way.
She was looking off into the night, steadfastly refusing to glance in
his direction. For fully half an hour this almost speaking tableau
presented itself to the spectators above.
Then suddenly Lady Agnes arose to her feet and lifted her hands high
toward the black dome of heaven, Salammbo-like, and prayed aloud to her
God, the sneering islanders looking on in silent derision.
THE PERSIAN ANGEL
The man called Abou suddenly leaped to his feet, and, with the cry of an
eager animal, sprang to her side. His arms closed about her slender
figure with the unmistakable lust of the victor. A piteous,
heart-rending shriek left her lips as he raised her clear of the ground
and started toward the dense shadows across the road. Her
terror-stricken face was turned to the light; her cries for mercy were
directed to the brute's companions.
They did not respond, but another did. A hoarse, inarticulate cry of
rage burst from Deppingham's lips. His figure shot out through the air
and down the short slope with the rush of an infuriated beast. Even as
the astonished Abou dropped his struggling burden to meet the attack of
the unexpected deliverer, he was felled to the earth by a mighty blow
from the rifle which his assailant swung swift and true. His skull was
crushed as if it were an eggshell.
Lady Agnes struggled to her feet, wild-eyed, half crazed by the double
assault. The next instant she fell forward upon her face, dead to all
that was to follow in the next few minutes. Her glazed eyes caught a
fleeting glimpse of the figures that seemed to sweep down from the sky,
and then all was blank.
There was no struggle. Chase and Selim were upon the stupefied islanders
before they could move, covering them with their rifles. The wretches
fell upon their knees and howled for mercy. While Deppingham was holding
his wife's limp form in his arms, calling out to her in the agony of
fear, utterly oblivious to all else that was happening about him, his
two friends were swiftly disarming the grovelling natives. Selim's knife
severed the cords that bound Bobby Browne's hands; he was staring
blankly, dizzily before him, and many minutes passed before he was able
to comprehend that deliverance had come.
Ten minutes later Chase was addressing himself to the four islanders,
who, bound and gagged, were tied by their own sashes to trees some
distance from the roadside.
"I've just thought of a little service you fellows can perform for me in
return for what I've done for you. All the time you're doing it,