Part 2 out of 4
said. "Ah, my friend, it is dangerous to fight with a man when you don't
know his weapons."
"I want to know what this means?" I said haughtily.
"Not so fast," he sneered. "Come down from that high horse and let's
talk quietly. Yes, I've no doubt you would have enjoyed a ride with a
certain lady better than the lonely walk you have had; but, then, you
know the old adage, 'Needs must when the devil drives.'"
"And so you've admitted your identity!" I said. "Well, I don't want your
society; say what you want to say, or I'm going back."
"Yes," he said, revealing his white teeth, "I am going to say what I
want to say, and you are not going back until you have heard it, and,
more than that, promised to accede to it."
Again I felt a cold shiver creep over me, but I put on a bold face, and
said, "It always takes two to play at any game."
"Yes it does, Mr. Blake, and that you'll find out. You feel like defying
me, don't you? Just so; but your defiance is useless. Did you not come
here against your will? Are you not staying here now against your will?
Look here, my man, you showed your hand immediately you came, and you've
been playing your game without knowing the trump cards. It looked very
innocent to be mesmerized last night, didn't it? Oh, mesmerism is a
vulgar affair; but there was more than mesmerism realized last night. I
played three trump cards last night, Mr. Justin Blake. The Egyptian
story was one, the thought-reading was the second, the animal and mental
magnetism was the third. I had tested my opponent before, and knew just
how to play. When I took the last trick, you became mine--mine, body and
I still defied him, and laughed scornfully into his face.
"Yes, you laugh," he said; "but I like your English adages, and one is
this, 'Those laugh best who win.' But come," he said, altering his tone,
"you are in my power. By that one act last night you placed yourself in
my power, and now you are my slave. But I am not a hard master. Do as I
wish you, and I shall not trouble you."
"I defy you!" I cried. "I deny your power!"
"Do you?" he said. "Then try and move from your present position."
I had been leaning against a tree, and tried to move; but I could not. I
was like one fastened to the ground.
He laughed scornfully. "Now do you believe?" he said.
I was silent.
"Yes," he said, "you may well be silent, for what I say is true. And
now," he continued, "I promise not to use my power over you on one
"Name it," I said.
"I will name it. It is this. You must give up all thoughts, all hopes,
all designs, of ever winning Gertrude Forrest for your wife."
"And if I refuse?"
"If you refuse, I shall have to make you do what I would rather you
would do willingly. Think as you will, but she can never be yours. I do
not mind telling you now, for you dare not speak. I have marked her for
my own; and, mark you, she must be mine. No power shall stop that. If
you presume to speak to her, I will stop you in the act. If ever you
seek to walk with her, I will drag you away from her; nay, more than
that, I will make you act in such a way as to make you, to her, an
object of derision."
"But," I said, "if you possess such a power over me, which I do not
admit, I will proclaim to every one in the house the villainous means by
which you have possessed it. I will make you an object of hatred."
His light eyes gleamed with an unearthly glare. "Think you I have not
thought of that?" he said. "Try and tell of my influence over you, seek
to speak one word against me, and mark the result. I defy you to utter
Again I was silent. I seemed hemmed in on every hand by this man's
terrible power. "Come," he said, "do you consent to my terms? Do you
relinquish all thoughts, all hopes, of ever winning Gertrude Forrest?"
In spite of my strange situation, I could not help seeing two rays of
light. One was, that this man must have seen that Miss Forrest looked on
me with a degree of favour; and the other was that, if his power was as
great as he boasted, he needed not be so anxious to obtain my consent to
his terms. If I were wholly in his power, he could do with me as he
would, and need not trouble about any promises of mine. This led me to
defy him still.
"Herod Voltaire," I said, "villain by your own admission, I do not
believe in your power; but, admitting it for the moment, I still refuse
to do what you ask me. You have guessed my secret. I love Gertrude
Forrest with all my heart, and I will promise neither you nor any other
man to give up hopes of winning her. And mark you this, too. Although by
unlawful means you may have obtained mastery over me, as surely as there
is a God who cares for men, your power will be broken. Meanwhile, you
may force me to act against my will, but my will you shall never have!"
"Fool, idiot!" he cried, "you shall repent this. You shall be dragged
through mire, dirt, pain, defeat, disgrace, and then, when all is over,
you will find I have had my own way!" He made a step towards me. "Stay
there for a quarter of an hour," he said, "and then you may go where you
He rushed away, and left me alone. I tried to move, but could not; and
yet I realized this--although my body was chained, my mind was still
free and active. When the quarter of an hour was up, I went away, with a
great weight upon my heart, wondering, yet dreading, what would happen
I will not try to describe my walk back to Temple Hall, or tell of the
terrible sensations that I felt. Think, if you can, of my position. A
young man of thirty, a slave to a deep designing villain, held fast in
his power by some secret nervous or brain forces which he possessed.
More than this, he had designs upon the woman I loved, while I was
powerless, nay, worse than powerless, for he might make me do things
which would be altogether opposed to what I believed right and true.
When you realize this, you will be able to form some idea of how I felt.
And yet I 'was not altogether without hope. I felt that life and love of
liberty were strong in me, and I determined that, though I might be
conquered, it should not be without a struggle.
Arriving at the house, I saw Simon Slowden. He evidently had a message
for me, for, making a sign for me to stop, he quickly came to my side.
"Yer nag is saddled, sur," he said.
I caught his meaning instantly. "Which way did they go, and how long
have they been gone?" I asked.
"They're gone to Drearwater Pond, yer honour. Started 'bout half-an-hour
"Any message for me?"
"The guv'nor told me, if I saw yer, to tell yer where they'd gone."
"Who went with Mr. Temple?"
"Miss Gray and the other lady, yer honour."
He had led out the horse by this time, and I was preparing to mount it,
when I saw that he had something more to communicate.
"What is it, Simon?" I said.
He did not speak, but winked slyly at me, and then led the horse away
from the stable-yard. As he did so, I saw Kaffar come away from one of
the lads who was employed about the house.
"He's a spy, yer honour, a reg'lar Judas Iscariot. T'other chap's called
Herod, pity this one isn't called Judas. They be a bootiful couple, yer
honour." He looked around again, and then said, "That murderin',
waccinatin' willain is gone efter 'em, Mr. Blake. He came back just
after they'd gone, and went ridin' efter 'em like greased lightnin'."
For a minute I was stunned.
"I thought I'd better tell 'ee, yer honour, and then you'd know 'ow to
I thanked Simon heartily; then, turning my horse's head towards
Drearwater Pond, I galloped away. I had not gone far before I began to
question the wisdom of what I was doing. Was I right in thus openly
defying the man who possessed such a terrible power? It certainly seemed
foolish, and yet I could not bear the idea of his being the companion of
Gertrude Forrest. Besides, it might stagger him somewhat to find that
his words had not frightened me.
With this thought I gave my horse the rein. He was a beautiful
high-blooded creature, and seemed to delight in making the snow crystals
fly around him, as he scampered over the frozen ground.
I did not know the district at all, but I had been told in what
direction Drearwater Pond lay, so I did not doubt that I should easily
find them. When I came to the spot, however, those I hoped to find were
nowhere to be seen, and so, guiding the horse up to the dark waters, I
stood and looked at the little lake that bore such a sombre name. It was
indeed a dreary place. On one side was wild moorland, and on the other a
plantation of firs edged the dismal pond. It might be about a quarter of
a mile long, and perhaps one-sixth of a mile wide. There were no houses
near, and the high-road was some distance away. It was not an attractive
place for several reasons. The region was very drear, and, moreover, the
place had a bad reputation. The pond was said to have no bottom, while a
murder having been committed on the moors near by, the country people
said that dark spirits of the dead were often seen to float over the
Drearwaters in the silent night.
I stood at the edge of the water for some time; then I quietly led my
horse away around to the other side, where dark fir trees made the
scene, if possible, more gloomy than it would otherwise have been. I had
not been there long before I heard voices, and, looking up, I saw the
party walking towards me. Evidently they had fastened their horses in
the near distance, and were now seeking to better enjoy themselves by
As they came near me, I made a slight noise, which drew their attention.
Certainly I ought to have felt flattered by their greeting, especially,
by that of Miss Forrest.
"We thought you had been bewitched, Mr. Blake," said Miss Gray, after a
few trivial remarks had been passed.
"Perhaps I was," I said, looking at Voltaire. He stared at me as if in
wonder, and a curious light played in his eyes. He had uttered no word
when he saw me, but he gave indications of his astonishment.
"Well," continued Miss Gray, "this is the proper place to be bewitched.
Mr. Temple has been telling some strange stories about it. What was it,
Mr. Temple?--a red hand appears from the water, and whoever sees it will
be led to commit murder?"
"Oh, there are dozens of stories about the place," said Tom. "Indeed,
there is scarcely a youth or maiden who will be seen here after dark."
"Why?" asked Voltaire, suddenly.
"Oh, as I said just now, it is reported to be haunted; but, more than
that, the pond is said to have an evil power. Some say that if any one
sees the place for the first time alone, his hands will be red with
blood before a month passes away."
"Then that will refer to me," I said. "But surely such nonsense is not
believed in now?"
"These things are not nonsense," said Voltaire. "Earth and heaven are
full of occult forces." I paid no further attention to the subject at
the time, but this conversation came back to me with terrible force in
For a while we chatted on ordinary subjects, and then, remounting our
horses, we prepared to ride back. During this time I had felt entirely
free from any of the strange influences I have described, and I began to
wonder at it; especially so as Miss Forrest had voluntarily come to my
side, and we had galloped away together.
We took a roundabout road to Temple Hall, and so were longer together,
and again I was happy.
"I thought you were not coming," she said. "What in the world drew you
away so suddenly?"
I tried to tell her, but I could not. Every time I began to speak of the
influence Voltaire had exerted I was seemingly tongue-tied. No words
"I was very sorry," I said at length, "but you did not want a companion.
Mr. Voltaire came."
"Yes, he overtook us. Is he not a wonderful man?"
"Yes," I said absently.
"I was so sorry you allowed yourself to be placed under his influence
last night. Did you not hear me asking you to avoid having anything to
do with him?"
"Yes," I said, "I am sorry. I was a coward."
"I do not understand him," she said. "He fascinates while he repels. One
almost hates him, and yet one is obliged to admire him. No one could
want him as a friend, while to make him an enemy would be terrible."
I could not help shuddering as she spoke. I had made him my enemy, and
the thought was terrible.
"He does not like you," she went on; "he did not like the way you
regarded his magical story and his thought-reading. Were I you, I should
have no further communications with him. I should politely ignore him."
I watched her face as she spoke. Surely there was more than common
interest betrayed in her voice; surely that face showed an earnestness
beyond the common interest of a passing acquaintance?
"I do not wish to have anything to do with him," I said, "and might I
also say something to you? Surely if a man should avoid him, a woman
should do so a thousand times more. Promise me to have nothing to do
with him. Avoid him as you would a pestilence."
I spoke passionately, pleadingly. She turned her head to reply, and I
was bending my head so as not to miss a word when a subtle power seized
me. I did not wait for her reply, but turned my head in a different
"Let us join the others," I stammered with difficulty, and rode away
without waiting for her consent.
She came up by my side again presently, however, but there was a strange
look on her face. Disappointment, astonishment, annoyance, and hauteur,
all were expressed. I spoke not a word, however. I could not; a weight
seemed to rest upon me, my free agency was gone.
"How do you know they are in this direction?" she said at length. "We
have come a circuitous route."
"They surely are," I said. The words were dragged out of me, as if by
sheer force of another will, while I looked vacantly before me.
"Are you well, Mr. Blake?" she asked again. "You look strange."
"Well, well," I remember saying. Then we caught sight of three people
"Hurrah!" I cried, "there they are."
I could see I was surprising Miss Forrest more and more, but she did not
speak again. Pride and vexation seemed to overcome her other feelings,
and so silently we rode on together until we rejoined our companions.
"Ha, Justin!" cried Tom, "we did not expect to see you just yet Surely
something's the matter?"
"Oh no," I replied, when, looking at Herod Voltaire, I saw a ghastly
smile wreathe his lips, and then I felt my burden gone. Evidently by
some strange power, at which I had laughed, he had again made me obey
his will, and when he had got me where he wanted me, he allowed me to be
free. No sooner did I feel my freedom than I was nearly mad with rage. I
had been with the woman I wanted, more than anything else, to accompany,
we had been engaged in a conversation which was getting more and more
interesting for me, and then, for no reason save this man's accursed
power, I had come back where I had no desire to be.
I set my teeth together and vowed to be free, but, looking again at
Voltaire's eyes, my feelings underwent another revulsion. I trembled
like an aspen leaf. I began to dread some terrible calamity. Before me
stretched a dark future. I seemed to see rivers of blood, and over them
floated awful creatures. For a time I thought I was disembodied, and in
my new existence I did deeds too terrible to relate. Then I realized a
new experience. I feared Voltaire with a terrible fear. Strange forms
appeared to be emitted from his eyes, while to me his form expanded and
became terrible in its mien.
I knew I was there in a Yorkshire road, riding on a high-blooded horse;
I knew the woman I loved was near me; and yet I was living a dual life.
It was not Justin Blake who was there, but something else which was
called Justin Blake, and the feelings that possessed me were such as I
had never dreamed of. And yet I was able to think; I was able to connect
cause and effect. Indeed, my brain was very active, and I began to
reason out why I should be so influenced, and why I should act so
The truth was, and I felt sure of it as I rode along, I was partly
mesmerized or hypnotized, whatever men may please to call it. Partly I
was master over my actions, and partly I was under an influence which I
could not resist. Strange it may appear, but it is still true, and so
while one part of my being or self was realizing to a certain extent the
circumstances by which I was surrounded, the other enslaved part
trembled and feared at some dreadful future, and felt bound to do what
it would fain resist.
This feeling possessed me till we arrived at Temple Hall, when I felt
free, and, as if by the wave of some magical wand, Justin Blake was
Instead of following the ladies into the house, I followed the horses to
the stables. I thought I might see Simon Slowden, who I was sure would
be my friend, and was watching Kaffar closely, but I could not catch
sight of him. Herod Voltaire came up to me, however, and hissed in my
"Do you yield to my power now?"
I answered almost mechanically, "No."
"But you will," he went on. "You dared to follow me to yonder lake, but
you found you could not ride alone with her. How terrible it must be to
have to obey the summons of the devil, and so find out the truth that
while two is company, five is none!"
I began to tremble again.
He fixed his terrible eye upon me, and said slowly and distinctly,
"Justin Blake, resistance is useless. I have spent years of my life in
finding out the secrets of life. By pure psychology I have obtained my
power over you. You are a weaker man than I--weaker under ordinary
circumstances. You would be swayed by my will if I knew no more the
mysteries of the mind than you, because as a man I am superior to
you--superior in mind and in will-force; but by the knowledge I have
mentioned I have made you my slave."
I felt the truth of his words. He was a stronger man than I naturally,
while by his terrible power I was rendered entirely helpless. Still, at
that very moment, the inherent obstinacy of my nature showed itself.
"I am not your slave," I said.
"You are," he said. "Did you feel no strange influences coming back just
now? Was not Herod Voltaire your master?"
I was silent.
"Just so," he answered with a smile; "and yet I wish to do you no harm.
But upon this I do insist. You must leave Temple Hall; you must allow me
to woo and to win Miss Gertrude Forrest."
"I never will," I cried.
"Then," said he, jeeringly, "your life must be ruined. You must be swept
out of the way, and then, as I told you, I will take this dainty duck
from you, I will press her rosy lips to mine, and--"
"Stop!" I cried; "not another word;" and, seizing him by the collar, I
shook him furiously. "Speak lightly of her," I continued, "and I will
thrash you like a dog, as well as that cur who follows at your heels."
For a moment my will had seemed to gain the mastery over him. He stared
at me blankly, but only for a moment, for soon his light eyes glittered;
and then, as Kaffar came up by his side, my strength was gone, my hands
dropped by my side, and unheeding the cynical leer of the Egyptian, or
the terrible look of his friend, I walked into the house like one in a
DARKNESS AND LIGHT
During the next few days there was but little to record. The party
evidently forgot mesmerism and thought-reading, and seemingly enjoyed
themselves without its assistance. The young men and women walked
together and talked together, while the matrons looked complacently on.
During the day there was hunting, skating, and riding, while at night
there was story-telling, charades, games of various sorts, and dancing.
Altogether, it was a right old-fashioned, unconventional English country
party, and day by day we got to enjoy ourselves more, because we learned
to know each other better.
Perhaps, however, I am using a wrong expression. I ought not to have
said "we." I cannot say that I enjoyed myself very much. My life was
strange and disappointing. More than that, the calamities I dreaded did
not take place, but the absence of those calamities brought me no
satisfaction. And thus, while all the rest laughed and were joyful, I
was solitary and sad. Once or twice I thought of leaving Temple Hall,
but I could not bring myself to do so. I should be leaving the woman I
was each day loving more and more, to the man who knew no honour, no
mercy, no manliness.
During these days I was entirely free from Voltaire's influence, as free
as I was before I saw him. He always spoke to me politely, and to a
casual observer his demeanour towards me was very friendly. Kaffar, on
the other hand, treated me very rudely. He often sought to turn a laugh
against me; he even greeted me with a sneer. I took no notice of him,
however--never replied to his insulting words; and this evidently
maddened him. The truth was, I was afraid lest there should be some
design in Voltaire's apparent friendliness and Kaffar's evident desire
to arouse enmity, and so I determined to be on my guard.
I was not so much surprised at my freedom from the influence he had
exercised over me the day after I had placed myself under his power, and
for a reason that was more than painful to me. Miss Forrest avoided ever
meeting me alone, never spoke to me save in monosyllables, and was cold
and haughty to me at all times. Many times had I seen her engaged in
some playful conversation with some members of the party; but the moment
I appeared on the scene her smile was gone, and, if opportunity
occurred, she generally sought occasion to leave. Much as I loved her, I
was too proud to ask a reason for this, and so, although we were so
friendly on Christmas Day, we were exceedingly cold and distant when New
Year's Eve came. This, as may be imagined, grieved me much; and when I
saw Voltaire's smile as he watched Miss Forrest repel any attempt of
mine to converse with her, I began to wish I had never set my foot in
And yet I thought I might be useful to her yet. So I determined to
remain in Yorkshire until she returned to London, and even then I hoped
to be able to shield her from the designs which I was sure Voltaire
New Year's Day was cold and forbidding. The snow had gone and the ice
had melted; but the raw, biting wind swept across moor and fen,
forbidding the less robust part of the company to come away from the
I had come down as usual, and, entering the library, I found Miss
"I wish you a happy new year, Miss Forrest," I said. "May it be the
happiest year you have ever known." She looked around the room as if she
expected to see some one else present; then, looking up at me, she said,
with the happy look I loved to see, "And I heartily return your wish,
There was no coldness, no restraint in her voice. She spoke as if she
was glad to see me, and wanted me to know it. Instantly a burden rolled
away from my heart, and for a few minutes I was the happiest of men.
Presently I heard voices at the library door, and immediately Miss
Forrest's kindness and cheerfulness vanished, and those who entered the
room must have fancied that I was annoying her with my company. I
remained in the room a few minutes longer, but she was studiously cold
and polite to me, so that when I made a pretence of going out to the
stables to see a new horse Tom Temple had bought, I did so with a heavy
I had no sooner entered the stable-yard than Simon Slowden appeared, and
beckoned to me.
"I looked hout for yer honour all day yesterday," he said, "but you lay
like a hare in a furze bush. Things is looking curious, yer honour."
"Indeed, Simon. How?"
"Can 'ee come this yer way a minit, yer honour?" "Certainly," I said,
and followed him into a room over the stables. I did not like having
confidences in this way; but my brain was confused, and I could not rid
myself from the idea that some plot was being concocted against me.
Simon looked around to make sure there were no eavesdroppers; then he
said, "There's a hancient wirgin 'ere called Miss Staggles, ain't there,
"There is. Why?"
"It's my belief as 'ow she's bin a waccinated ten times, yer honour."
"Why, she's without blood or marrow, she is; and as for flesh, she ain't
"Well, what for that?"
"And not honly that," he continued, without heeding my question, "she
hain't a got a hounce of tender feelin's in her natur. In my opinion,
sur, she's a witch, she is, and hev got dealin's with the devil."
"And what for all this?" I said. "Surely you haven't taken me up here to
give me your impressions concerning Miss Staggles?"
"Well, I hev partly, yer honour. The truth is"--here he sunk his voice
to a whisper--"she's very thick with that willain with a hinfidel's
name. They're in league, sur." "How do you know?"
"They've bin a-promenadin' together nearly every day since Christmas;
and when a feller like that 'ere Woltaire goes a-walkin' with a creature
like that hancient wirgin on his arm, then I think there must be
somethin' on board."
"But this is purely surmise, Simon. There is no reason why Miss Staggles
and Mr. Voltaire may not walk together."
"There's more than surmise, sur. You know the plantation up behind the
house, Mr. Blake?"
"The fir plantation? Very well."
"Well, sur, the night afore last I wur up there. They are hevin' a kind
of Christmas-tree in one of the Sunday schools over in the willage
to-night, and some o' the teachers came to the guv'nor and asked him for
a tree to put some knick-knacks on. So he says to me, 'Simon,' says he,
'go up in the plantation and pull up a young fir tree, and then in the
morning put it in the cart and take it over to the school-room.' This
was day afore yesterday, in the afternoon. I was busy jist then, so I
didn't go to the plantation till 'twas dusk. However, as you know, yer
honour, 'tis moonlight, so I didn't trouble. Well, I got a young fir
tree pulled up, and was jist a-going to light my pipe, when I see some
figures a-comin' threw the plantation towards a summer-'ouse that was
put up 'bout two year ago. So I lied luff. 'I believe,' I says, 'that
it's that hinfidel and the skinny wirgin a-walkin' together.' They goes
into the summer-'ouse, and then I creeps down, and gets behind a tree,
but close enough to the couple to hear every word. Sure 'nough, sur, I
wur right; it was the wirgin Staggles and this 'ere Woltaire.
"'They seemed quarrellin' like when I come up, for she wur sayin'--
"'Tis no use, she never will.'
"'Nonsense!' says he. 'Give her time, and poison her mind against that
Blake, and she'll come around.'
"'I've done that,' says she. 'I've told her that Mr. Blake is a regular
male flirt; that he's had dozens of love affairs with girls; and,
besides that, I told her that her marked preference for him was being
"'Yes,' says Woltaire, 'and see how she's treated him since.'
"'True enough,' says she; 'but it's made her no softer towards you. If
she avoids him, she dislikes you.'
"'And do you think she cares about Blake?' says he.
"'I don't know,' she replies. 'She never would tell me anything, and
that's why I dislike her so. But, for all that, she's no hypocrite.'
"'Well, what for that?' he asks.
"'I went to her room last night, and I began to tell her more about him
and compare him with you.'
"'Well?' says he.
"'Well, she got into a temper, and told me that she would not allow Mr.
Blake's name to be associated with yours in her room.'
"Then, sur, that 'ere willain he swore like a trooper, and said he'd make
you rue the day you were born. After that, they were silent for a little
while, and then she says to him--
"'I believe she knows what you are wanting to do, and has some idea of
the influence you have exerted over him. She's as sharp as a lancet, and
it's difficult to deceive her.'
"'If only that Blake hadn't come,' he says, as if talkin' to hisself.
"'Yes,' she says, 'but he has come,' says she.
"'But if he can be made to leave her, and never speak to her again, will
it not show to her that he's what you said he was, and thus turn her
"'I don't know. She's been cool enough to drive him away,' said that 'ere
"'But if he leaves disgraced, proved to be a villain, a deceiver, a
blackleg, or worse than that, while I show up as an angel of light?'
"'I don't know,' she says. 'You are a wonderful man; you can do almost
anything. You could charm even an angel.'
"'Well, you'll do your best for me, won't you?' says he.
"'You know I will,' she says; 'but we must not be seen together like
this, or they will suspect something.'
"'True,' says he, 'but I want to know how things are goin' on.' Then he
stopped a minit, and a thought seemed to strike him. 'Miss Staggles, my
friend,' he says, 'watch her closely, and meet me here on New Year's
Day, at five o'clock in the evening. It's dark then, and everybody will
"Then, yer honour, they went away together, and I was on the look-out
for you all day yesterday."
There was much in Simon's story to think about, and for a time all was
mystery to me. One thing, however, I thought was clear. He had either
found he could do no good by his mesmeric influences, or else he had
lost them, and so he was working up some other scheme against me. I
pondered long over the words, "If he leaves disgraced, proved to be a
villain, a deceiver, a blackleg, or worse than that, while I show up as
an angel of light?" Surely that meant a great deal! I must be on the
watch. I must be as cunning as he. I did not like eavesdropping or
playing the spy, and yet I felt there were times when it would be right
to do so, and surely that time had come in my history. There was
villainy to be unmasked, there was a true, innocent girl to be saved,
while my reputation, happiness, and perhaps life were in danger. I
determined I would meet stratagem with stratagem. I would hear this
conference in the wood that evening. I would seek to undeceive Miss
Forrest, too, whose behaviour was now explained. Accordingly, after a
few more words with Simon, I wended my way back to the house again.
I found Miss Forrest still in the library, together with Tom Temple and
Edith Gray. All three looked up brightly at my entrance.
"We were just talking about you, Justin," said Tom, as I joined them. "I
had been telling these ladies what a terrible woman-avoider you have
always been. Miss Forrest wouldn't believe me at first; but that story
of your walking five miles alone, rather than ride in a carriage with
some ladies, has convinced her. I thought you had improved the first day
or so after you came, but you seem to have fallen back into your old
"Don't put the fault on me, Tom," I said.
"The fault has generally been with the ladies. The truth is, I'm not a
ladies' man, and hence not liked by them. I have generally been put down
as a kind of bore, I expect, and I've never taken the trouble to improve
"Then you ought," said Miss Gray, laughingly. "It's a shame that you
should be under such a ban, because if a man can't make himself pleasant
to ladies, what _can_ he do?"
"Well, I should like to turn over a new leaf," I replied; "but then I
don't seem to please. I've no doubt my company is very tiring, and thus
I must be left out in the cold."
"Nonsense," replied Tom. "Let us have another ride this afternoon, and
see whether you can't make Miss Forrest a pleasant companion."
"If Miss Forrest would allow me, I should be delighted," I said.
I expected an excuse, such as a cold, a headache, or some previous
engagement, especially as she had looked steadily into the fire while we
had been talking. Instead of this, however, she frankly accepted my
escort, and accordingly the ride was arranged.
Nothing of importance happened before we started. We had gone out
quietly, and had attracted no notice, and rode away towards the ruins of
an old castle which Tom thought we should like to visit.
As I stated, it was a raw, cold day; but I did not feel the biting wind,
or notice the weird desolation that was all around. I felt supremely
happy as I rode by Miss Forrest's side.
We had gone perhaps two miles from the house, when we found ourselves
separated from Tom Temple and Miss Gray, and we slackened our horses'
speed to a walk.
"Have you thought my conduct strange since we last rode out together?"
"I have indeed," I replied bluntly, "especially as I do not remember
having done anything that should merit your evident dislike to me."
"I owe you an apology," she said. "I have been very foolish, very
unjust. I am very sorry."
"But might I ask why you saw fit to change your conduct from
friendliness to extreme aversion?"
"I'm almost ashamed to tell you, Mr. Blake, but I will. If there is one
thing for which I have aversion and contempt, it is for flirting,
coquetry, and the like. If there is any species of mankind that I
despise, it is that of a flirt, a society man, a ladies' man."
"And have I ever given evidence of belonging to that class, Miss
"No," she replied; "and that is why I am so ashamed of myself. But I
listened to some foolish gossip about your boasting of your conquests
with ladies and the like. I know I ought not to have listened to it, but
I did. I am very sorry; will you forgive me?"
She said this frankly, and without hesitation; yet I thought I saw a
blush mount her cheek as she spoke.
"If there is anything to forgive, I do forgive you," I replied,
"especially as I despise that class of individuals as much as you. The
vapid, dancing society mannikin is everywhere an object of contempt,
while a society girl, as generally accepted, is not a whit more to my
I saw she was pleased at this, and I felt I loved her more than ever.
Did she, I wondered, care anything for me? Was there any vestige of
interest in her heart beyond that which she felt for any passing
"Mr. Blake," she said, after pausing a second, "do you remember what we
were talking about that day when we last rode out together?"
"We were talking of Mr. Voltaire," I said. "Have you found out anything
more about him?"
"No, I have not. Is there any mystery connected with him?"
"I think there is. I have an indistinct kind of feeling that both he and
the Egyptian are deceivers, while I am sure that Mr. Voltaire is--is
"I have no doubt he is," I said.
She looked at me strangely.
"I had not been in Temple Hall two hours before that man had marked me
as one that he would fain be rid of."
"Indeed," she said; "then if that is the case, you should listen to my
advice. Have nothing to do with him."
"But I must have something to do with him, and with his friend the
Egyptian as well."
"Don't," she said anxiously; "the two work together, and both are
cunning as serpents. I believe," she continued, after a pause, "that the
thought-reading and mesmerism were somehow designed to injure you. I
think somehow they are acquainted with forces unknown to us, and will
use them for evil."
"Yes, I believe all that," I said.
"Then why must you have any dealings with them?"
"Because they will have dealings with me; because they are plotting
against me; because there are forces, over which I have no control,
drawing me on."
"But why will they have dealings with you? Why are they plotting against
"Because Voltaire knows that I love, with all my soul, the woman he
wants to win for his wife."
A curious look shot across her face. What was it? Love, astonishment,
pain, vexation, or joy? I could not tell; but my tongue was unloosed.
"Do I annoy you, astonish you, Miss Forrest?" I said. "Forgive me if I
do. I have been regarded as a woman-hater, a society-avoider. That is
because I never saw a woman in whom I was sufficiently interested to
court her society. I have heard it said that such characters fall in
love quickly, or not at all. The first day I saw you I fell in love with
you; I love you now with all my soul."
She looked at my face steadily, but did not speak a word.
"Voltaire has found out this, and he too wants you for his wife; so he
has been trying--is trying--to drive me away from here. How I cannot
tell you; but what I have said is true!" I spoke rapidly, passionately,
and I saw that her face became alternately pale and red, but she did not
"Am I bold to speak thus?" I asked. "I think I must be, for I have
scarcely known you a week. But I cannot help it. My life is given up to
you. If I could but know that my love were not in vain! If you could
give me some word of hope!"
A beautiful look lit up her eyes; she opened her mouth to speak, when a
"Come, Justin; don't loiter so. We shall not get back in time for
dinner, if you do."
It was Tom Temple who spoke, and a turn in the lane revealed him. To say
I was sorry would be but to hint at my feelings. But I could not hinder
the turn things had taken, so we started our horses into a gallop, I
hoping that soon another opportunity might occur for our being alone,
when I trusted she would tell me what I desired to know.
I do not know how I dared to make my confession of love, for certainly I
had but little proof of her caring for me. If I hoped, it was almost
without reason; and yet, as we galloped on, my heart beat right
Nothing of importance occurred during the ride. The castle we visited
was grim and grey enough; but it was not the kind of afternoon when one
could enjoy to the full such a place, so we were not long before we
turned our horses' heads homeward. Time after time, on our homeward
journey, did I contrive to be alone with Miss Forrest, but always in
vain. She kept by the side of Edith Gray in spite of all my schemes to
get her by mine. Her lips were compressed, and her eyes had a strange
look. I longed to know what she was thinking about, but her face
We came to the house at length, however, and then I hastened from her
side to lift her from the saddle. Then my heart gave a great throb, for
I thought she returned the pressure of my hand.
"Do be careful about that man," she said hurriedly, and then ran into
It was joy and light to me, and I needed it in the dark days that came
The stable-boy had scarcely taken the horses when a thought struck me. I
looked at my watch, and it was almost too dark for me to discern the
time, but I saw, after some difficulty, that it wanted but a few minutes
to five. In my joy I had forgotten my determination, but now I quickly
made my way to the summer-house that stood in the dark fir plantation.
THE HALL GHOST
Perhaps some of my readers may think I was doing wrong in determining to
listen to the proposed conference between Miss Staggles and Voltaire. I
do not offer any excuse, however. I felt that if this man was to be
fought, it must be by his own weapons; such, at any rate, as I could
use. I remembered the terrible influence he had exercised over me, the
power of which might not yet be broken. I remembered Miss Forrest too.
Evidently this man was a villain, and wanted to make her his wife. To
stop such an event, I would devote my life. Something important might be
the result of such a conversation. I might hear disclosed the secret of
his influence, and thereby discover the means whereby I could be free,
and this freedom might, I hoped, make me his master.
Anyhow, I went. The dark clouds which swept across the sky hid the pale
rays of the moon, and, clothed in black as I was, it would be difficult
to see me amongst the dark tall trees. I hurried to the summer-house,
for I wished to be there before they arrived. I was successful in this.
When I came, all was silent; so I got behind a large tree, which, while
it hid me from any one entering the house, enabled me to be within
earshot of anything that might be said, especially so as the
summer-house was a rustic affair, and the sides by no means thick.
Silently I waited for, I should think, half-an-hour; then a woman came
alone. Evidently she was cold, for she stamped her feet against the wood
floor with great vehemence. Minute after minute passed by, and still
there was no third party. Then I heard a low "hist."
"You're late," said the woman's voice, which I recognized as Miss
"Yes; and we must not stay long."
"Because I think we are watched."
"But why should we be watched? Surely no one perceives that we are
"I cannot say. I only know I cannot stay long."
"I have much to think about, much to do." "And I have much to tell you."
"I can guess it, I think; but I must know. Tell me quickly."
He spoke peremptorily, as if he had a right to command, while she did
not resent his dictatorial tones.
"They've been riding together again to-day."
"I guessed it. Bah! what a fool I've been! But there, that may mean
"But it does; it means a great deal."
"I believe that he's asked her to be his wife. In fact, I'm sure he
"Darkness and death, he has! And she?"
"I hardly know; but as sure as we are alive, she likes him."
"How do you know this?"
"I saw them come in from their ride, and so I guessed that they had
become friendly again."
"Well, I met her in the hall. She looked as happy as a girl could well
look. I am a woman, so I began to put two and two together. I determined
to listen. I went up-stairs to my room, which, you know, is close to
Miss Gray's and Gertrude's. If you had known girls as long as I, you
would know that they usually make friends and confidantes of each other.
I found this to be true in the present case. Gertrude had not been in
their room above five minutes before Miss Gray came to the door and
asked to come in. It was immediately opened, and she entered."
"And what then?"
"Just so; I expected that. But what did you hear?"
"I could not catch all they said; but I gathered that they had a
delightful ride, that Mr. Blake had made a declaration of love to
"And her answer?"
"I could not catch that; she spoke too low. But I should think it was
favourable, for there was a great deal of whispering, and after a while
I heard something about that dreadful man being Mr. Blake's enemy."
"Ah! How did they know that?"
"I gathered that Mr. Blake told her. Look here, Herod Voltaire; you are
playing a losing game."
"I playing a losing game? Do not fear. I'll win, I'll win, or--or--"
Here he paused, as if a thought struck him.
"Why don't you get an influence over her, as you did over Blake? Then
you could manage easily." "I cannot. I've tried; her nature is not
susceptible; besides, even if I got such a power, I could not use it.
You cannot force love, and the very nature of the case would make such a
thing impossible. Stay! You know Miss Forrest well, don't you, her
education, and her disposition?"
"I've known her long enough."
"Well, tell me whether I am correct in my estimate of her character. If
I am, I do not fear. She's very clear-headed, sharp, and clever; a hater
of humbug, a despiser of cant."
"True enough; but what's this got to do with the matter?"
"In spite of this, however," went on Voltaire without heeding Miss
Staggles' query, "she has a great deal of romance in her nature; has a
strong love for mystery, so much so that she is in some things a trifle
"I can't say as to that, but I should think you are correct."
"Then she's a young lady of very strong likes and dislikes, but at
bottom is of a very affectionate nature."
"Affectionate to nearly every one but me," muttered Miss Staggles.
"She is intensely proud--"
"As Lucifer!" interrupted Miss Staggles. "This is her great weakness,"
went on Voltaire. "Her pride will overcome her judgment, and because of
it she will do things for which she will afterwards be sorry. Is this
"True to the letter. You must be a wizard, Herod Voltaire, or you
couldn't have summed up her disposition so correctly."
"Her sense of honour is very great. She would sacrifice her happiness to
do what was thought to be honourable."
"I believe she would."
"Then my path is marked out," said he, savagely.
From that time I could catch nothing of what was said, although they
conversed for five minutes at least. But it was in whispers, so low that
I could not catch a word.
Presently they got up and went away, while I, with aching head and
fast-beating heart, tried to think what to do. Everything was mystery. I
could not see a step before me. Why should Miss Staggles be so willing
to help Herod Voltaire, and what were the designs in his mind? What was
his purpose in getting at a correct estimate of Miss Forrest's
I went to the house pondering these things in my mind, and, arriving
there, heard the hall clock strike the quarter, from which I knew it was
a quarter past six. We were to dine at seven that day, and, as I did not
usually make an elaborate toilette, I knew I had plenty of time. I felt
I could not go in for a few minutes; my brain seemed on fire. I turned
to take a walk towards the park gates, when I heard a footstep, and
turning, saw Simon Slowden.
"Can you give me ten minutes before dinner, sur?" he said.
"I dare say," I said.
He led me into the room in which we had spoken together before. "There's
something wrong, yer honour," he said in a low voice.
"How do you know?"
"Why, that 'ere Egyptian hev bin doggin' me all day. He's got a hinklin'
as how we're tryin' to match 'em, and reckons as how I'm yer friend.
Besides, to-day when I see you ride hoff with the young lady, I thinks
to myself, 'There's no knowin' what time he'll be back.' I know what
'tis, yer honour; hi've bin in the arms o' Wenus myself, and knows as
'ow a hour slips away like a minnit. So as there wur no tellin' if you
would get to the summer-house to-night at five o'clock, I thought I'd
just toddle up myself. But 'twas no go. I sees they two willains
a-talkin' together, and when that 'ere Woltaire went off by himself, the
other took it 'pon him to keep wi' me. I tried to git 'im off, but 'twas
no use; he stuck to me like a limpet to a rock."
"Perhaps it was all fancy, Simon."
"No fancy in me, but a lot o' judgment. Fact, sur, I've begun to think
for the fust time as 'ow some things in the Bible ain't true. In the
Psalms of Solomon it reads, 'Resist the devil and he'll go away
howlin'.' Well, I've resisted that 'ere devil, and he wouldn't go away
till he'd knowed as how he'd played his little game;" and Simon looked
very solemn indeed.
"Is that all, Simon?"
"All, yer honour. 'Tisn't much, you think; but to me it looks mighty
suspicious, as I said to my sweetheart when I see her a-huggin' and
kissin' the coachman."
I went away laughing, but my heart was still heavy. Try as I would, I
could not dispel the fancy that soon something terrible would happen.
During dinner Kaffar made himself very disagreeable. This was somewhat
unusual, as he was generally very bland and polite, but to-night he was
so cantankerous that I fancied he must have been drinking. To me he was
especially insulting, and went so far as to hint that I, unlike other
Englishmen, was a coward; that I hadn't courage to resist a man
manfully, but would act towards an enemy in a cunning, serpent-like way.
This was not the first occasion on which he had sought to pick a quarrel
with me, and I felt like resenting it. I desisted, however, as there
were ladies present, and went on quietly talking to my neighbour as if
he hadn't spoken. This roused his ire more, while I saw that Voltaire
watched me with his light glittering eye, as if expecting a scene.
After dinner, this being New Year's Day, we passed a more than usually
merry time. Stories were told, old ballads were sung, while Roger de
Coverley was danced in downright earnest by most of those who were
present. By midnight, however, the old hall was silent; each of us had
repaired to his room, and most, I expect, were quietly asleep, when a
terrible scream was heard, after which there were shouts for help and
hysterical cries. The sounds seemed to come from the direction of the
servants' hall, and, quickly putting on some clothes, I hurried thither.
I soon found that the noise had roused the whole household, and so, when
I arrived, I found a number of the guests had gathered together. On
looking into the room, I saw that the housekeeper was lying in a swoon,
one of the servants was in hysterics, while Simon Slowden, who was in
the room, and the page boy looked as white as sheets, and were trembling
evidently with fear.
"What does this mean?" asked Tom Temple, a little angrily.
At this the housekeeper became conscious and said in a hoarse whisper,
"Is she gone?"
"What? Who do you mean?" asked Tom.
"The hall lady," she said fearfully.
"We are all friends here," said Tom, and I thought I detected an amount
of anxiety in his voice.
This appeared to assure the housekeeper, who got up and tried to collect
her thoughts. We all waited anxiously for her to speak.
"I have stayed up late, Mr. Temple," she said to Tom, "in order to
arrange somewhat for the party you propose giving on Thursday. The work
had got behind, and so I asked two or three of the servants to assist
She stopped here, as if at a loss how to proceed.
"Go on, Mrs. Richards; we want to know all. Surely there must be
something terrible to cause you all to arouse us in this way."
"I'll tell you as well as I can," said the housekeeper, "but I can
hardly bear to think about it. Twas about one o'clock, and we were all
very busy, when we heard a noise in the corridor outside the door.
Naturally we turned to look, when the door opened and something
"Well, what? Some servant walking in her sleep?"
"No, sir," said Mrs. Richards in awful tones. "It looked like a woman,
very tall, and she had a long white shroud around her, and on it were
spots of blood. In her hand she carried a long knife, which was also
covered with blood, while the hand which held it was red. She came
closer to us," she went on with a shudder, "and then stopped, lifting
the terrible knife in the air. I cannot remember any more, for I was so
terribly frightened. I gave an awful scream, and then I suppose I
This story was told with many interruptions, many pauses, many cries,
and I saw that the faces of those around were blanched with fear.
"Do you know what it did, Simon," said Tom, turning to that worthy,
"after it lifted its knife in the air?"
"She went away with a wail like," said Simon, slowly; "she opened the
door and went out. An' then I tried to go to the door, and when I got
there, there was nothin'."
"That is, you looked into the passage?"
Simon nodded. "And what did you think she was like?"
"Like the hall ghost, as I've heard so much about," said Simon.
"The hall ghost!" cried the ladies, hysterically. "What does that mean,
I do not think Tom should have encouraged their superstition by telling
them, but he did. He was excited, and scarcely knew what was best to do.
"They say that, like other old houses, Temple Hall has its ghost," he
said; "that she usually appears on New Year's night. If the year is to
be good to those within at the time, she comes with flowers and dressed
in gay attire; if bad, she is clothed in black; if there's to be death
for any one, she wears a shroud. But it's all nonsense, you know," said
"And she's come in a shroud," said the servant who had been in
hysterics, "and there was spots of blood upon it, and that means that
the one who dies will be murdered; and there was a knife in her hand,
and that means that 'twill be done by a knife."
It would be impossible to describe the effect this girl's words made.
She made the ghost very real to many, and the calamity which she was
supposed to foretell seemed certain to come to pass. I looked at
Gertrude Forrest and Ethel Gray, who, wrapped in their dressing-gowns,
stood side by side, and I saw that both of them were terribly moved.
Voltaire and Kaffar were both there, but they uttered no word. They,
too, seemed to believe in the reality of the apparition.
After a great deal of questioning on the part of the lady guests, and
many soothing replies on the part of the men, something like quietness
was at length restored, and many of the braver ones began to return to
their rooms, until Tom and I were left alone in the servants' hall. We
again questioned the servants, but with the same result, and then we
went quietly up-stairs. Arriving at the landing, we saw Miss Forrest and
Miss Gray leaving Mrs. Temple at the door of her room. Tom hurried to
Miss Gray, and took her by the hand, while I, nothing loth, spoke to
"There's surely some trick in this," I said to her.
I felt her hand tremble in mine as she spoke. "I do not know. It seems
terribly real, and I have heard of such strange things."
"But you are not afraid? If you are, I shall be up all night, and will
be so happy to help you."
I thought I felt a gentle pressure of her hand, but I was not sure; but
I know that her look made me very happy as she, together with Edith
Gray, entered her room a few minutes after.
When they had gone, I said to Tom, "I am not going to bed to-night."
"No?" said Tom. "Well, I'll stay up with you."
"This ghost affair is nonsense, Tom. I hope you will not find any
valuables gone to-morrow."
"Real or not," said Tom, gaily, "I'm glad it came."
"It gave me nerve to pop the question," he replied. "I told my little
girl just now--for she is mine now--that she wanted a strong man to
protect such a weak little darling."
"She said that she knew of no one, whom she liked, that cared enough for
her to protect her. So I told her I did, and then--well, what followed
was perfectly satisfactory."
I congratulated him on his audacity, and then we spent the night in
wandering about the first floor of the house, trying to find the ghost,
but in vain; and when the morning came, and we all tried to laugh at the
ghost, I felt that there was a deep, sinister meaning in it all, and
wondered what the end would be.
THE COMING OF THE NIGHT
Directly after breakfast I went away alone. I wanted to get rid of an
awful weight which oppressed me. I walked rapidly, for the morning was
cold. I had scarcely reached the park gates, however, when a hand
touched me. I turned and saw Kaffar.
"I hope your solitary walk is pleasant," he said, revealing his white
"Thank you," I replied coldly.
I thought he was going to leave me, but he kept close by my side, as if
he wanted to say something. I did not encourage him to speak, however; I
walked rapidly on in silence.
"Temple Hall is a curious place," he said.
"Very," I replied.
"So different from Egypt--ah, so different. There the skies are bright,
the trees are always green. There the golden sandhills stretch away,
the palm trees wave, the Nile sweeps majestic. There the cold winds
scarcely ever blow, and the people's hearts are warm."
"I suppose so."
"There are mysteries there, as in Temple Hall, Mr. Blake; but mysteries
are sometimes of human origin."
As he said this, he leered up into my face, as if to read my thoughts;
but I governed my features pretty well, and thus, I think, deceived him.
"Perhaps you know this?" he said.
"No," I replied. "I am connected with no mysteries."
"Not with the appearance of the ghost last night?"
I looked at him in astonishment. The insinuation was so far from true
that for the moment I was too surprised to speak.
He gave a fierce savage laugh, and clapped his hands close against my
face. "I knew I was right," he said; and then, before I had time to
reply, he turned on his heel and walked away.
Things were indeed taking curious turns, and I wondered what would
happen next. What motive, I asked, could Kaffar have in connecting me
with the ghost, and what was the plot which was being concocted? There
in the broad daylight the apparition seemed very unreal. The servants,
alone in the hall at midnight, perhaps talking about the traditional
ghost, could easily have frightened themselves into the belief that they
had seen it. Or perhaps one of their fellow-servants sought to play them
a trick, and ran away when they saw what they had done. I would sift a
little deeper. I immediately retraced my steps to the house, where
meeting Tom, I asked him to let me have Simon Slowden and a couple of
dogs, as I wanted to shoot a few rabbits. This was easily arranged, and
soon after Simon and I were together. Away on the open moors there was
no fear of eavesdroppers; no one could hear what we said.
"Simon," I said, after some time, "have you thought any more of the
wonderful ghost that you saw last night?"
Instantly his face turned pale, and he shuddered as if in fear. At any
rate, the ghost was real to him.
"Yer honour," he said, "I don't feel as if I can talk about her. I've
played in 'Amlet, yer honour, along with Octavius Bumpus's travellin'
theatre, and I can nail a made-up livin' ghost in a minnit; but this
ghost didn't look made up. There was no blood, yer honour; she looked as
if she 'ad bin waccinated forty times."
"And were the movements of her legs and arms natural?"
"No j'ints, Master Blake. She looked like a wooden figger without proper
j'ints! Perhaps she 'ad a few wire pins in her 'natomy; but no j'ints
"So you believe in this ghost?"
"Can't help it, yer honour."
"Simon, I don't. There's some deep-laid scheme on foot somewhere; and I
think I can guess who's working it."
Simon started. "You don't think that 'ere waccinatin', sumnamblifyin'
willain 'ev got the thing in 'and?"
I didn't speak, but looked keenly at him.
At first he did nothing but stare vacantly, but presently a look of
intelligence flashed into his eyes. Then he gave a shrug, as if he was
disgusted with himself, which was followed by an expression of grim
"Master Blake," he said solemnly, "it's that waccinatin' process as hev
done it. Simon Slowden couldn't hev bin sich a nincompoop if he hadn't
bin waccinated 'gainst whoopin' cough, measles, and small-pox. Yer
honour," he continued, "after I wur waccinated I broke out in a kind of
rash all over, and that 'ere rash must have robbed me of my senses; but
I'm blowed--There, I can't say fairer nor that."
"Why, what do you think?"
"I daren't tell you, yer honour, for fear I'll make another mistake. I
thowt, sur, as it would take a hangel with black wings to nick me like
this 'ere, and now I've bin done by somebody; but it's the waccinatin',
yer honour--it's the waccination. In the Proverbs of Job we read, 'fool
and his money soon parted,' and so we can see 'ow true the teachin' is
"But what is to be done, Simon?"
Simon shook his head, and then said solemnly, "I'm away from my
bearin's, sur. I thought when I wur done the last time it should be the
last time. It wur in this way, sur. I was in the doctor's service as
waccinated me. Says he, when he'd done, 'Simon, you'll never have
small-pox now.' 'Think not?' says I. 'Never,' says he; and when Susan
the 'ousemaid heard on it, she says, 'I am so glad, Simon.' Then, says
I, 'Susan, when people are married they're converted into one flesh.
That's scripter. You get married to me,' says I, 'and you'll be kept
free from small-pox, without goin' threw this yer willifyin' process.'
Wi' that she looks at me, and she says, 'You are purty, and I'll try you
for three months; if you don't get small-pox in that time, why
then--we'll talk about it.' So I says, 'Say yes at once, Susan. The
doctor says I can't get it, so there's no sort o' fear.' I wur young and
simple then, and thowt doctors never made a mistake. Well, sur, in two
months more I were down wi' small-pox, and when I got up again I wur a
sight to behold. As soon as I wur fit to be seen I went to Susan to git
a mite o' comfort, and then I see 'er a-courtin' wi' the coachman. And I
says to myself, 'Simon Slowden,' I says, 'this yer is the last time you
must be ever taken in;' and now I'm right mad that I should 'a bin
licked in this yer way."
I could not help laughing at Simon's story, in spite of my heavy heart,
and so I asked him what the doctor said when he found vaccination a
"Sent me off without a character, sur," he replied grimly. "Said he
couldn't keep a servant as would be a livin' advertisement as 'ow his
pet 'obby wer a failure. And so I allays say as 'ow waccination is my
ruin. It's ruined my blood and weakened my brain. Still," continued
Simon, with a sly look, "I reckon as 'ow I'll be a match for that 'ere
doubly waccinated ghost as frightened me so."
I could get nothing more from him. He had formed some notion about the
apparition which he would not divulge, so we devoted our attention to
sport, and, after frightening a good many rabbits, we returned to the
Nothing of importance happened through the day, except an inquiry which
Tom made among the servants. Each declared that they were entirely
ignorant as to the appearance of the ghost, and all were evidently too
frightened to doubt the truth of their statement. Thus when evening came
nothing was known of it.
Kaffar did not speak to me from the time I had seen him in the morning
to dinner-time, and evidently avoided me. Voltaire, on the contrary, was
unusually bland and smiling. He was pleasant and agreeable to every one,
especially so to me.
After dinner we all found our way to the drawing-room, when the usual
singing, flirting, and dancing programme was carried out. Suddenly,
however, there was comparative silence. One voice only was heard, and
that was the Egyptian's.
"Yes," he was saying, "I am what is called a superstitious man. I
believe in dreams, visions, and returned spirits of the dead. But, ah! I
do not believe in made-up ghosts. Oh, you cold-blooded English people,
don't mistake the impulsive Egyptian; don't accuse him of lack of faith
in the unseen. So much do I believe in it, that sometimes I long to be
with those who have gone. But, bah! the ghost last night was to deceive,
to frighten. Got up by some villain for a purpose, and I can guess who
"This is serious," said Tom Temple. "I have inquired of the servants,
who all assure me of their entire ignorance of the matter, and I cannot
think that any of my guests would assume the person of the traditional
ghost for no other purpose than to frighten the housekeeper and two or
three servants. I'm by no means superstitious, but I do not see how I
can trace it to human origin."
"I cannot see why any guest should assume the person of the traditional
ghost, but some men have deep designing minds. They are like clever
draught-players; they see half-a-dozen moves ahead, and so do that which
to a novice appears meaningless and absurd."
Then I heard another voice, one that caused my heart to beat wildly. It
was Gertrude Forrest's. "Mr. Kaffar says he can guess who the person is
who has personated this ghost," she said; "I think it fair to every
guest that he should speak out."
"I would not like to say," he said insultingly; "perchance I should
wound _your_ tender feelings too deeply."
"Mr. Kaffar will remember he's speaking to a lady, I'm sure," said Tom
"Pardon me," said Kaffar, excitedly; "I forgot I was in England, where
men are the slaves of the ladies. With us it is different. We speak and
they obey. I forgot I was not in Egypt. I have done very wrong. I
implore the lady's pardon."
"I see no meaning in your words," said Miss Forrest, quietly, "therefore
I see nothing to forgive."
"Ah, I live again. A heavy load is gone from my heart! I have not
merited the lady's displeasure."
"Still I think it right, if you have grounds for suspecting any one,
that we should know," said a voice; "otherwise some one may be wrongly
"Do not ask me," said Kaffar. "Ask Mr. Blake."
Instantly all eyes were turned on me, and, do as I might, I could not
help an uncomfortable flush rising in my face. "I do not know what Mr.
Kaffar means," I replied. "I am as ignorant as to the origin of the
ghost as he is, perhaps more so."
Instantly Kaffar leapt from his chair, and came up to me, his hands
clenched, his black eyes gleaming, his teeth set together as if in a
"You are a liar and a villain!" he screamed.
"Ah, remember this morning. I accused him, gentlemen, of being connected
with this ghost only to-day, and he flushed guiltily and was silent. He
looked like a Judas who betrayed his master."
"Quietly, please," I replied. "You did come to me this morning with some
foolish jargon about my being connected with last night's affair, but I
was so surprised by the absurdity and foolishness of such a thing, that
I could not answer you before you ran away."
"You hear?" shrieked the Egyptian. "So surprised, was he? If he was, it
was because I had found him out."
"This man is mad," I said. "Surely he ought to be shut up."
"Mad, am I?" he shrieked. "Yes, and you are a liar, a coward, a villain!
You are engaged in a fiendish plot; you are deceiving an innocent lady.
Ah, I spurn you, spit upon you."
"Mr. Kaffar," said Tom Temple, "really this cannot be allowed. You must
remember you are among gentlemen and ladies. Please act accordingly."
"Ladies there are, gentlemen there are," shrieked the Egyptian; "but
he"--pointing at me--"is no gentleman. He is at once a viper, a villain,
and a coward. I leave this house; I renounce pleasant society; I leave
this country--for ever; but before I go I would like to fight hand to
hand with that giant, who--Ha!" He stood close to me and spat at me.
"There!" he cried, and then he struck me in the face with all his
Instantly I leapt to my feet. This insult was too great. I could
scarcely restrain from striking him to the ground. I mastered myself,
however, and so did not touch him.
"I leave this house," he said wildly. "Herod, send on my baggage to
Cairo. But"--turning to me--"you I challenge--you, with your big body
and trained arms! But, bah! you dar'n't fight. You are a mooning
He rushed out of the room as he spoke, and a minute later I heard the
hall door slammed with vehemence.
At that moment I became possessed of a terrible passion. I seemed to be
mad. I longed to avenge the insults that had been offered. I looked
around the room, and all seemed astounded at the behaviour of the
Egyptian, save Voltaire, who was apologizing in profuse terms for his
friend. As I looked at his terrible eyes, my passion became greater, and
I felt I could not govern myself if I stayed in the room. I think some
one came up to me, and congratulated me on my coolness in dealing with
the man who had insulted me so; but I did not listen--I could not. An
overmastering impulse laid hold of me to follow the Egyptian, and I
dimly remember going into the hall and out into the silent night.
I knew the probability was that I should be followed, but I did not know
where to go, when I seemed to hear voices all around me uttering the
words "Drearwater Pond!" With that I started running with all my might,
knowing not where, yet dimly remembering that I had gone the road
before. Then all memory and consciousness ceased.
DARK DREAMS AND NIGHT SHADOWS
I suppose I must have gone on blindly for some time, for when I again
became conscious I stood beside a river, while tall trees waved their
leafless branches overhead. Strange noises filled the air. Sometimes
wailing sounds were wafted to me, which presently changed into hisses,
until it seemed as if a thousand serpents were creeping all around me.
The waters of the river looked black, while above me were weird,
fantastic forms leaping in the stillness of the night. No words were
spoken, no language was uttered, save that of wailing and hissing, and
that somehow was indistinct, as if it existed in fancy and not in
reality. By and by, however, I heard a voice.
"Onward!" it said, and I became unconscious.
* * * * *
Again I realized my existence in a vague shadowy way. I stood beneath
the ruined walls of an Eastern temple. Huge columns arose in the air,
surmounted by colossal architraves, while the ponderous stones of which
the temple was built were covered with lichen. Large grey lizards
crawled in and out among the crevices of the rocks, and seemed to laugh
as they sported amidst what was once the expression of a great religious
system, but which was now terrible in its weird desolation. By and by
the great building seemed to assume its original shape and became
inhabited by white-robed priests, who ministered to the people who came
to worship. I watched eagerly, but they faded away, leaving nothing save
the feeling that a terrible presence filled the place. I heard a noise
behind; I turned and saw Kaffar, his black eyes shining, while in his
hand he held a gleaming knife. He lifted it above his head as if to
strike; but I had the strength of ten men, and I hurled him from me. He
looked at me with a savage leer.
"Onward!" said a distant voice.
The temple vanished, and with it all my realization of life, save a
vague fancy that I was moving somewhere, I knew not where.
* * * * *
I stood by a well-remembered spot. I was by the side of Drearwater Pond.
Around me was a stretch of common land, on which grew heather and
furze. In front of me were noiseless waters, a dismal sight at the best
of times, but awful as I saw them. Across the pond in the near distance
loomed the dark fir trees. No sound broke the stillness of the night.
The wind had gone to rest, the moon shone dimly from behind the misty
I stood alone.
Each minute my surroundings became more real. I recognized more clearly
the objects which had struck me during my first visit, while the stories
which had been told came back to me with terrible distinctness. I
remembered how it had been said that the pond had no bottom, and that it
was haunted by the spirits of those that had been murdered. The story of
its evil influence came back to me, and in my bewildered condition I
wondered whether there was not some truth in what had been said.
What was that?
The waters moved; distinctly moved near to where I stood, and from their
dark depths something appeared--I could not at first tell what.
What could it be? A monster of frightful mien? the ghost of some
murdered man or woman? I could have believed in either just then. It was
What then? A human hand, large and shapely, appeared distinctly on the
surface of the pond. Nothing more, not even the wrist to which it might
be attached. It did not beckon, or indeed move at all; it was as still
as the hand of death.
I stood motionless and watched, while the outline of the hand became
more clear; then I gave an awful shudder.
_The hand was red._
I gave a shriek, and for a time remembered nothing more.
* * * * *
I awoke to consciousness, fighting. At first it seemed as if I was
fighting with a phantom, but gradually my opponent became more real to
me. It was Kaffar.
I had only a dim hazy idea of what I was doing, except that I sought to
wrest from his hand a knife. We clutched each other savagely, and
wrestled there on the edge of the pond. Weights seemed to hang upon my
limbs, but I felt the stronger of the two. Gradually I knew I was
mastering him--then all was blank.
* * * * *
A sound of voices. A flash of light. A feeling of freedom, and I was
Still by Drearwater Pond. No phantoms, no shadow, nothing unreal, save
the memory of that which I have but dimly described. That was but as a
terrible nightmare--an awful dream.
Where was Kaffar?
I could not tell. Certainly he was not near; but two other forms stood
by me, one bearing a lantern.
"Is it you, Justin?" said a voice.
"It is I, Tom," I said, looking vacantly around.
"And where is Kaffar?" said another voice, which I recognized as
"Kaffar? I--I do not know."
"But you have been together."
"Have we?" I said vacantly.
"You know you have. What is that in your hand?"
I had scarcely known what I had been saying or doing up to this time,
but as he spoke I looked at my hand.
In the light of the moon I saw a knife red with blood, and my hand, too,
was also discoloured.
"What does this mean?" cried Voltaire.
"I do not know. I am dazed--bewildered."
"But that is Kaffar's knife. I know he had it this very evening. Where
is Kaffar now?"
"Is it true?" I remember saying. "Have we been together?" "That's his
knife, at any rate. And what is this?"
Voltaire picked up something from the ground and looked at it.
"Kaffar's," he said. "Look, Mr. Blake; do you recognize this?"
I looked and saw a finely-worked neckcloth, on which was written in
Arabic characters the words "Aba Wady Kaffar." It had every appearance
of being soiled by severe wrenching, and on it were spots of blood.
My faculties were rapidly returning to me, yet I stood as one in a
"You say, Mr. Justin Blake, that you do not know where Kaffar is, yet
you hold in your hand his knife, which is red with blood. Here is his
scarf, which has evidently been strained, and on it are spots of blood,
while all around are marks indicating a struggle. I say you do know what
this means, and you must tell us."
I reeled under this terrible shock. What had I done? Could it be that I
had murdered this man? Had I? Had I?
"I do not know what it means," I said. "I think I am ill."
"Men usually are when they have done what you have," he said.
"Why, what have I done?" I said, in a dazed kind of a way. "Done!" he
repeated. "You know best about that, in spite of the part you play.
Nevertheless, Kaffar has not gone without leaving a friend behind him,
and you will have to show how you came by that"--pointing to the knife,
which I had dropped with a shudder; "this"--holding up the neckcloth;
"you must explain these marks"--pointing to footmarks near the water's
edge; "besides which, you will have to produce my friend."
A terrible thought flashed into my mind. I had again been acting under
the influence of this man's power. By some means he had made me the
slave of his will, and I had unknowingly killed Kaffar, and he, like the
fiend he was, had come to sweep me out of his road. Perchance, too,
Kaffar's death might serve him in good stead. Undoubtedly the Egyptian
knew too much for Voltaire, and so I was made a tool whereby he could be
freed from troublesome obstacles. The idea maddened me. I would proclaim
the story to every one. If I were hanged I cared not. I opened my mouth
to tell Tom the whole truth, but I could not utter a word. My tongue
refused to articulate; my power of speech left me.
My position was too terrible. My overwrought nerves yielded at last. I
felt my head whirling around, while streams of icy water seemed to be
running down my legs. Then I fell down at Tom Temple's feet.
For some time after that I remembered nothing distinctly. I have some
idea of stumbling along, with Tom on one side of me and Voltaire on the
other, but no word was spoken until we came to Temple Hall. Then I heard
"He's better now. You go into the drawing-room as if nothing had
happened, and I'll take him quietly up-stairs to bed."
I entered the silent house like one in a dream, and went with Tom to my
bedroom, where I undressed like a weary child, and soon sunk into a deep
A MIDNIGHT CONFERENCE
Some one was knocking at the door.
I sprang out of bed and let him in. He looked very grave, very worried.
Instantly everything flashed through my mind in relation to our terrible
meeting of the night before.
"It's nine o'clock, Justin."
"Yes, Tom, I suppose it must be," I said confusedly; "but I have only
"I thought I must come; I want to talk with you."
"Thank you, Tom; I am glad you have come."
"How are you this morning? Is your mind clear?"
"I must have some conversation with you about last night. Everything is
confusion. I can explain nothing."
"Neither can I."
He looked at me keenly and sighed. "Were you with Kaffar last night
after he had so abominably insulted you and left the house?"
"I do not know."
"Do you know where he is now?"
"No idea whatever?"
"Not the slightest."
"Justin, my friend, this looks very strange. Everything is terribly
black, terribly suspicious."
I tried to tell him all I knew; tried to tell him of my mad passion, and
the scenes through which I seemed to go; but I could not. My mind
refused to think, my tongue refused to speak, when that was the subject.
"I suppose Voltaire has told every one the circumstances of last night?"
I said at length.
"No one that will divulge anything. Every one else thinks that Kaffar
has gone back to Egypt, as he said, and especially so as Voltaire has
been making arrangements for his luggage to be sent to Cairo."
"This is astounding. I do not comprehend in the least; but, tell me,
who is this some one to whom you or he has related last night's affair,
and why was it done?"
"I do not know whether I ought to tell or no, but you are an old friend,
and I cannot refuse. After I had come down from here last night, and
fancying that every one had retired, for it was quite midnight, I,
knowing I was too excited to sleep, made my way to the library. I had
just reached the door when I heard voices. I wondered who could be up at
that time of the night, but was not left to remain long in doubt."
"'Mr. Voltaire,' said a voice, 'you have been out looking for Mr. Blake;
have you found him?'"
"'Mr. Blake is safe in bed before this, Miss Forrest--probably asleep,'
was his reply."
"Miss Forrest!" I cried. "Did she go to him?"
"Evidently," replied Tom. "Indeed, I found out afterwards that she had
been very anxious. She had seen you go out, and watched Voltaire and me,
who went in search of you, and would not retire until she knew your
"Well, what then?"
"I went into the room. I could not stand and play the eavesdropper. Miss
Forrest seemed very glad to see me, and said eagerly--
"'I came down to ask whether you had found Mr. Blake. I am glad he is
"'And he must remain safe!' cried Voltaire.
"'Why?' asked Miss Forrest.
"'Miss Forrest,' cried Voltaire, vehemently, 'you have been deprived of
your rest to-night in order to know about one who is guilty of what you
English people call a foul crime, but which I call a deed that must be
"'I do not understand you.'
"'Ah! Miss Forrest, we Easterns are not like you English people. You are
cool and considerate; we are warm and impulsive. Kaffar was not one that
could be loved by you cold people; but I loved him. We were more than
brothers. I know he was faulty, I know he dared the anger of your
English giant, but I did not think it would come to this.'
"'Come to what?' she asked eagerly.
"'Voltaire,' I said, 'is this quite fair?'
"'No, no!' he cried; 'but I am so excited that I can scarcely master
myself. I will say no more.'
"'Come to what?' repeated Miss Forrest.
"'I will not say,' replied Voltaire. 'I will not wound your tender
nature; I will not tell you a tale of villainy; I will not cause a
ripple on the even stream of your life. Retire to rest, sweet lady, and
think that what I have said is a dream.'
"'Villainy!' cried she. 'Tell me what it is. Yes, there is villainy, I
think. I will be answered! Tell me the truth!'
"Even Voltaire was cowed by her words. He stood and looked at her for a
minute as if in doubt what to do. Then he burst out passionately--
"'Yes, I will answer you. I will tell you now what all the world must
know to-morrow. I had hoped to spare your feelings, but the tone of your
demand makes me speak.'
"'He has no proof for what he is going to say,' I said.
"'Proof!' cried Voltaire. 'There is sufficient proof for an English court
of law, and that law is terribly hard on murderers.'
"'Murderers!' cried Miss Forrest. 'What do you mean?'
"'This!' cried Voltaire. 'You saw Kaffar challenge Mr. Blake in the
"'I saw him insult Mr. Blake. I saw that Mr. Blake refrained from
crushing him beneath his heel like a reptile. I saw that!' she cried
"'Just so,' said Voltaire. 'Then Kaffar went out, and Mr. Blake went
"'After him! Where?'
"'Mr. Temple and I did not like the look on his face, and we followed
him. I traced his footsteps along the high-road for a long while, and
then we lost sight of them. We knew not where to go, when Mr. Temple
thought he heard voices away in the distance. We went in the direction
of the sound, and came to Drearwater Pond.'
"'Drearwater Pond? That terrible place to which we rode the other day?'
"'The same, gentle lady.'
"'When we came there we found Mr. Blake in a reclining position, with a
bloody knife in his hand. I recognized it as belonging to Kaffar. I saw
something lying on the ground, and, on picking it up, found it to be a
scarf which Kaffar had been wearing this very night. It was twisted and
soiled, and on it were spots of blood. Footmarks were to be seen on the
edge of the deep pond, indicating a struggle; but Kaffar was nowhere to
"'It cannot be! It cannot be!' said Miss Forrest. 'But what then?'
"'I asked Mr. Blake questions. I accused him of many things, but he
"'Nothing, Miss Forrest. He tacitly admitted everything. I wish I could
think otherwise; but oh, I am afraid my friend, my only friend, lies
murdered at the bottom of Drearwater Pond, and murdered by Mr. Blake.'
"'It cannot be!' cried Miss Forrest. 'Mr. Blake could never, _never_ do
so. There is some mistake.'
"He took something from his pocket which was wrapped in a handkerchief.
He removed this wrapping, and there revealed the knife you held in your
"'This blood cries out for vengeance,' he said; 'ay, and it shall be
"She gave a scream as if in pain. 'Why, what will you do?' she cried.
"'Were I in Egypt, my vengeance would be speedy,' he said, his light eyes
glittering; 'but I am debarred from that here. Still, there is a means
of vengeance. Your English law is stern. To-morrow the whole country
shall shudder because of this dark deed, and to-morrow night that man,
Justin Blake, shall sleep in a felon's cell'
"'No, no!' she cried. 'Not that. Have mercy.'
"'Yes, yes!' he said, his voice husky with passion. 'What mercy did he
have upon my friend? I will have vengeance, and my vengeance is just.'"
Try as I might, I could not help shuddering at this. A felon's cell! My
name mentioned with loathing! 'Twas too horrible. I tried to conquer
myself, however, and to tell Tom to go on with his recital. He
"'Does any one know of these things besides you two?' she said at length.
"'No,' replied Voltaire. 'No one has had a chance of knowing.'"
Tom stopped in his recital, as if he would rather not tell what
"What next, Tom?" I cried eagerly.
"I am thinking whether it is fair to her to tell you, and yet it is
right you should know."
"What was it, Tom?"
She threw herself down on her knees before us, and besought us to keep
the matter in our own hearts.
"'It is not true!' she cried; 'Mr. Blake would never do such a thing.
There is some mistake. Promise me no word shall be uttered as to this.
Mr. Kaffar has left, as he said, and gone back to Egypt. Why, then,
should such a terrible suspicion be aroused? I will answer for Mr.
"'You answer, Miss Forrest?' cried Voltaire. 'Nay, you cannot. I would I
could be merciful, but it must not be. My friend's spirit would haunt
me from town to town and land to land.'
"'Mr. Temple,' she cried to me, 'you will not tell, will you? You will
not spread such a deceptive story about?'
"'No,' I replied, 'I will not. Like you, I think there must be a mistake.
My friend Justin could never do this.'
"'There,' she cried to Voltaire; 'there's only you to be silent. Do it
for my sake!'"
I could not help feeling a great throb of joy in my heart at this. I was
sure now that she loved me. I could bear anything after hearing those
words. I was happy in spite of the terrible net that was woven around
"'For your sake,' said Voltaire--'for your sake I could do almost
anything. For your sake I could give up home, friends, happiness, life.
Yes, I say this, here, in the presence of my friend Temple. I could
forego anything for you. I would sacrifice father and mother for you.'"
I gave a great start.
"Justin, that man trembled like a leaf. His face became ashy pale; his
terrible eyes became brighter than ever.