Part 4 out of 4
I had been to Turin, and remembered some of the places the sketch
indicated. It might be far from perfect, but it was sufficient for me.
It would be child's play to find Kaffar there.
"That will do," I said to the professor. "I'll start at once. Thank you
"Ah, that will do, will it?" he said, with a smile. "Then I'll wake up
Simon woke up as usual, rubbing his eyes, and asked whether any good had
"Everything's been done," cried I. "Come, professor, allow me to write
you a cheque. How much shall it be?"
"Not a penny until your work is accomplished," replied the little man,
"That is not fair," I said. "I don't know what may happen, and you must
not be defrauded. Anyhow, here's something on account;" and I put a
twenty-pound note in his hand.
He smiled as he looked at it, while I took my hat, and stated my
intention to start for Turin at once.
"Beggin' yer pardon," said Simon, "but this 'ere waccination business
is awfully wearyin', and I should like to--that is--"
"The very thing," I replied, anticipating his request. "You shall go
Half-an-hour later, we were at Gower Street, making preparations for our
journey to Turin--Simon calm and collected, I feverish and excited.
NEARING THE END
There were, as I said, eight days in which to find Kaffar and bring him
to London, counting the day on which we started our journey. It was
Wednesday; by the following Wednesday, at midnight, I must prove to
Gertrude that Voltaire was a villain and a liar. It should be done
easily. It was but little more than a thirty hours' ride to Turin--that
is, providing everything went smoothly. To put it at the outside, it was
only a forty-eight hours' journey, allowing time for a sleep on the way.
Thus four days would suffice for travelling, and I should have more than
three days in which to find Kaffar. It was true Turin was a large town,
but in three days I was sure I could find him. In that time I thought I
could hunt every lodging-house and hotel in the city.
I shall say little of the journey. Mostly it was cold and wearisome
enough. From Dover to Paris it was fairly comfortable, but from Paris to
the Italian border we were travelling through a snowstorm, and thus,
when we came to this our last stopping-place before going through the
famous Mont Cenis Tunnel, we were four hours late. It was terribly cold
there. Everything was ice-bound. Brooklets, waterfalls, rivers, all were
held fast by the ice-king. Simon was much impressed by the scenery. The
great giant mountains towering up on every hand were a revelation to
him, and he stood open-mouthed, gazing at what is perhaps among the
grandest sights in France.
We swept through Mont Cenis Tunnel, and then, with a cry of gladness, we
entered the sunny land of Italy. What a change it was! Here the warm
sun, which had been hidden on the other side by the high mountain range,
had melted the snow, and so bright streams of water came rushing down
the mountain sides, laughing as if in glee. The cottagers sat outside
their doors, singing in the sun. The vine-covered hills, although not
yet clothed with their green garment, were still beautiful, while away
in the distance spread a broad Italian plain, dotted with villages, out
of whose midst a modest church spire ever lifted its head.
I had seen all this before, but to Simon it was a marvel of beauty. In
England the streets were muddy, and a yellow fog hung over London, and
yet in forty-eight hours we were beneath sunny skies, we were breathing
a comparatively humid air.
But I must not stay to write about this, for my story is not about
Italian scenery, or beautiful sights of any sort. It is my work now to
tell about my search after Kaffar.
We arrived in Turin on Friday evening, about fifty-one hours from the
time we started from London. We had spent some little time in Paris, or
we could have done it more quickly. We found Turin lit up with a pure
bright light, and, as Simon declared, "looking one of the most purtiest
places like, as ever he'd clapped his eyes on."
We stayed at Hotel Trombetta. We had several reasons for doing this.
First, it was a good hotel. I had stayed there before, and so I knew. It
was also near the station, and fairly near the place where, according to
Simon's sketch, Kaffar was staying. We got into the hotel just in time
for dinner. Simon declared that he "dar'n't go into the dining-room amo'
the swells like; it would take away his appetite jist like waccination
did;" but as I insisted, he gave way, and certainly did not draw any
one's attention by his awkwardness. I had got him a perfectly fitting
suit of clothes in Paris, in which he looked a respectable member of
Directly after dinner I went out, to try to find Kaffar's whereabouts;
but although Turin is beautifully built, and the streets very straight,
I found I had to put off my search until the morning.
Every hour of waiting was, as the reader may imagine, of great anxiety
to me. I was now making my great move. If I missed in this, all was
lost. Was Kaffar in Turin? Was he or had he been there? Was all this
mesmerism so much hocus-pocus and nonsense to deceive me, a credulous
fool? And yet I was sure Simon would not be a party in deceiving me. But
might not I have been deceived by the professor? Could he not make my
friend say, not what really existed, but what existed in his own mind?
And yet the little man seemed honest! Anyhow, I could do no more, and it
was my only hope. There could be no harm in trying. If I failed, well, I
could not help it; I had done my best. I would go back and face Voltaire
and Miss Forrest, and--well--I knew not what--! But if I found the
Egyptian! Ah, it was too good to be true. I dared not dwell upon the
thought. It was not for me to build castles in the air, and weave
bright fancies; but to work, until I had accomplished the work I had set
out to do.
And so I went quietly to bed, and, much to my astonishment, slept long
and soundly. The sun was shining in at my window when I awoke, and this
Italian city looked wondrously beautiful as it lay there this clear
December morning, in the light of the bright sun.
We wasted no time after breakfast before setting out--I with beating
heart, Simon still calm and collected, looking with critical eyes on the
sketch he had drawn in his mesmeric sleep.
"After all," remarked Simon, slowly, "it shows us how a feller can live
away from his body, don't it, then? We are fearfully and terribly made,
as Solomon said to the people on Mount Sinai."
I did not reply to Simon's philosophy, nor to his wonderful scriptural
quotations. I was too anxious to get to this hotel, where I hoped Kaffar
would be staying.
We came to the great square in which stood the palace of the king, but I
paid no heed to the imposing building nor to the magnificently carved
monuments that stood around in the square. I was too anxious to turn
down the street in which my hopes lay.
I went slowly down, till I came to the bottom of it, where a narrow
road branched off, leading to a kind of observatory; but I saw nothing
of an hotel.
My heart became like lead.
Simon's sketch of the streets had not been a false one. If any of my
readers have been to Turin, they will remember the long street leading
from the station; they will also recognize the two squares which Simon
indicated in his plan. True, he had sketched them out of proportion,
while the street was far more straight than he had drawn it. Still, it
bore a close resemblance to that particular part of the city.
But there was no hotel, nor sign of one in the street.
We walked up and down again and again, with no success. Could it be that
I had come all these weary miles again only for a bitter and terrible
disappointment? The thought almost drove me mad.
I would not give up, however! There might be no hotel, but it was
possible Kaffar stayed in a lodging-house, or even in a private house. I
would knock at every house in the street, and make inquiries, before I
would give up.
The Italian language was not altogether strange to me. I could not by
any means speak it fluently, but I knew it enough to enter into an
ordinary conversation. So, seeing a soldier pass up the street, I
saluted him and asked him whether he knew a lodging-house or private
boarding establishment in the street?
No, the soldier said, he did not know any at all in that street, or,
indeed, in that part of the town; but if I would go with him, he would
direct me to a splendid place, marvellously convenient, marvellously
clean, and marvellously cheap, and, best of all, kept by his mother's
I cannot say I felt either elated or depressed by this answer. Evidently
this was a keen youth, trying to get a suitable customer for his
Another youth came up to me soon after, offering to sell me photographs
of some of the principal sights in Turin. Could he tell me of any
boarding or lodging establishment in the street?
Yes, he knew of three or four. For a franc he would give me their
history and lead me to them.
Was there one about the middle of the street?
Yes, there were two close together. Should he take me?
I closed with the youth's offer, and accordingly we walked down the
street together. He entered a tobacconist's shop, assuring me that this
was a lodging-house.
A young Italian girl stood behind the counter, as if waiting for an
order; so I asked to see the proprietor of the place.
She immediately went out of the shop and gave a shout, and a minute
after a matronly woman entered, about fifty years of age, and who, from
her close resemblance to the dark-eyed girl, was probably her mother.
Was she the proprietor of this establishment?
Did she keep a boarding-house?
She did--for well-behaved people.
She had no husband?
The Blessed Virgin had taken him home.
And a man did not conduct her business?
Certainly not. She was a capable woman, able to attend to the wants of
her guests, while her daughter was a universal favourite because of
politeness to customers and the good tobacco she sold. Should she have
the pleasure of selling me some?
I did not reply except by a smile, which this Italian maiden evidently
took for an assent to her mother's proposition, and accordingly
proceeded to make some cigarettes for me. Meanwhile her mother assured
me that her house was convenient and comfortable, and asked permission
to show me some vacant rooms, and give me an idea of the attendance I
I accordingly followed her, and found rooms which, while not altogether
according to my English tastes, did her credit.
"Have you many lodgers now?" I asked.
"Four," was the reply.
"Might I ask their nationality?" I said.
"They are all Italian," was the reply.
My hopes had risen high, but they were by this answer dashed to the
ground. Then I remembered that Simon had described Kaffar as being in a
room with a man. So, after thanking the lady for her kindness and paying
for the cigarettes, I asked the boy, who was waiting for his franc, to
show me to the other lodging-house close by.
"Oh, sir," said the proprietress of this establishment, "don't go there!
It's a bad house; it really is! The lodgers are bad men, and they are
bad people." She said this evidently in earnest, while the little girl
behind the counter hoped I should not go among those thieves.
I was not displeased at this. I did not think Kaffar would be very
particular as to his society, and he would be more likely to stay at
this disreputable place than in a respectable lodging-house.
Accordingly, I told the good lady that I should not take lodgings there,
and, if I took apartments in any place in the city, hers should have the
first consideration. This considerably mollified her, so my guide
proceeded to lead the way to the other lodging-house. This was also a
tobacconist's shop, but a dirty old woman stood behind the counter. She
was very polite, however, and quickly called down the proprietor of the
This was a lodging-house, was it not?
He assured me that my surmise was correct, and forthwith began to
enumerate the advantages received by those who were fortunate enough to
be received as lodgers.
"Have you many lodgers at present?" I asked.
"Five," was the reply.
My heart began to beat violently now, for I felt I was near the time
when my labours would be rewarded by success, or I should have to give
up my search in despair.
"Are they all Europeans?" I asked.
"No. There was one Turk, one Frenchman, two Italians, and one Egyptian."
My heart gave a great bound. Surely I had been guided aright; I should
find him at last.
"Are they at home during the day?"
"No," was the reply; "they are mostly out."
"But they come home at night?"
"Yes, they come home at night, all except one."
Which was he?
Did he stay at home during the day?
He really could not say. He only came a little more than two days ago,
and his habits seemed uncertain.
"And is the Egyptian at home now?"
"No," said the man, eyeing me keenly.
"Might I ask when he will be home?" I asked eagerly.
"I do not think it right to answer questions about my lodgers," said the
man, sharply. "You have asked a great many; I must know your reasons for
so doing before I answer any more."
I began to chide myself for my folly. I had raised suspicions, and now I
might not be able to get the information I wanted. "I did not intend to
be offensive," I said. "If I mistake not, this Egyptian gentleman is
acquainted with a man in England whom I know, and I have a message of
great importance to convey."
"To Mr. Kaffar's advantage?" asked the Italian, eagerly.
No words can express what I felt as the man unthinkingly uttered
Kaffar's name. I had not come on a false report. The Egyptian bore the
name of the man I wanted to find.
"He can turn it to his advantage," I replied.
"Mr. Kaffar is not in Turin at present," he said confidentially.
"Could you tell me where he is?" I said, with beating heart.
"I cannot. You see--" and the Italian put his face close to mine. "Might
I ask if you are somewhat of a--well, a gentleman fond of play?"
I did not reply.
"Ah, I thought so," said he, cunningly. "At first I was afraid you were
a detective fellow, but I see now. Well, you will perhaps know that Mr.
Kaffar is a very accomplished gentleman, and he left yesterday afternoon
for a little tour--where I don't know. Another accomplished gentleman
went with him. We have a jolly house, and you Englishmen would enjoy a
few nights here. Come up to-night and win some of our Italian gold."
"When will Mr. Kaffar be back?"
"He said he might be back on Monday night--on Tuesday morning at
"I daren't come and play till he comes," I said. "Will he let you know
when he is coming back?"
"Yes; he said he'd telegraph."
"Would you mind letting me know the train? I am staying at the Hotel
"Yes, yes, I shall be delighted; and then, when he comes, we'll--But
what name shall I write on my message?"
"Herod Voltaire," I said.
I went away then, and began to think. I found the man, and yet I had
not. Nothing was certain yet. It was now Saturday, and he would not
return until Monday night or Tuesday morning, and I must be in London by
Wednesday at midnight, or all was lost. Say he came back on Tuesday by
noon, there would then be only thirty-six hours left in which to get to
London. Thirty-six hours, and many hundreds of dreary, weary miles
between! Or if he should not come at all! If the Italian were deceiving
I shall not try and relate what happened the next two days, except to
say that I set Simon to watch every train that came into Turin station,
while I did all I could to discover whether he were hiding in Turin.
Neither of us saw Kaffar, nor did we hear anything of him.
Monday night came. I had received no message from the lodging-house
keeper, neither had I heard any news. The suspense was becoming
Six o'clock! Seven o'clock, and no news!
"Simon," I said, "go to that lodging-house and ask whether any message
has been received."
The willing fellow, still with a smile on his face and a cheery look,
started to do my bidding. I do not know how I should have borne up
during those two terrible days, but for my faithful friend.
He had not been gone above half a minute before he came bounding back to
"A message jist 'a come, yer honour!" he cried.
Eagerly I snatched it, and read--"_Expect me home to-night by the
I caught up a time-table and anxiously scanned it. The telegram was from
_Nice_. There was a train due from this fashionable seaport at 12.30.
The lodging-house keeper had kept his word, and Kaffar would be safe. It
was become intensely real, intensely exciting!
Five hours to wait--five hours! Only those who have felt as I did can
know what they meant.
At twelve o'clock I sent Simon to the station, while I went to the
lodging-house to await Kaffar's arrival.
"Mr. Kaffar will have supper, I suppose?" I said to the proprietor of
"Yes, I shall prepare supper."
"In his own room."
"Just so. Could you manage to put me in a room where I can see him at
supper without being observed? I should like to enter quietly and give
him a surprise."
"You mean nothing wrong?"
"On my honour, I do not."
"It is said," mused the Italian, "that an English gentleman's honour is
like English cloth; it can always be depended on. The adjoining room is
"Thank you," I replied, while he led the way to the room.
I had not been there long before I heard some one enter with the
landlord. The two rooms, like many we find in French hotels, could
easily be made one, as a doorway led from one to the other. I had
arranged my door to be slightly ajar, so was able to see.
The man with the landlord was Kaffar!
I found that Kaffar could not speak Italian. He spoke French enough to
make himself understood, and, as his host was proficient in that
language, French was the tongue in which they conversed.
"Has any one been asking for me?" asked Kaffar.
"A gentleman from England."
"From England! What kind of a man?"
"A giant, with brown hair."
"A giant, with brown hair! Man, where is he now?"
"How can I say?" said the Italian.
Kaffar held down his head for a minute, and then said hastily, "And his
"Something to your advantage, sir."
"My advantage? Can it be he? Did he give his name?"
"Voltaire! Never! He dare not come near me; I'm his master for many
reasons--he dare not come! But--"
He checked himself, as if he were telling the Italian too much. The host
then left the room, while Kaffar went on with his supper.
I opened the door noiselessly and went into the room, and said
distinctly, "Good evening, Mr. Kaffar."
He looked up and saw me. Never, I think, did I see so much terror,
astonishment, mingled with hate, expressed on a human face before.
He made a leap for the door. I caught him, and held him fast.
"No, Mr. Kaffar, you must not escape," I said, leading him back to his
"You cannot--kill me--here!" he gasped. "I mean no wrong--to you. I--Ah,
you've followed me for revenge."
For an answer I went to the door and locked it.
"Have mercy!" he said. "Don't kill me. I--you don't know all! Voltaire's
your enemy, not I."
"You knew I was following you, did you?" I said.
"Yes. Voltaire said you were mad for my life; that you swore to be
revenged; that you would pull me limb from limb! Ah, you do not know."
Surely I had found out the man's nature. He was a coward, and stood in
deadly fear of me. He had been Voltaire's tool, who had frightened him
to do his every bidding. Now I must use his fear of me to make him do my
"Well, I have found you out," I said. "You thought you would master me,
"Well, I'm master of you both. Voltaire's influence over me is gone, and
now he is in my power; while you--"
"Ah, Mr. Blake, have mercy," he whined. "I only did what he told me, and
he has treated me like a dog."
"Yes; he intended me to kill you, while both of you tried to ruin me."
"Curse him! I know he did. Oh, I am not his friend now. Mr. Blake,
forgive me. Ah, say--"
I felt that if I allowed this man to think my welfare depended on his
doing my will, he would defy me. I must use means suitable to the man.
"Kaffar," I said, "had I a heart like you Egyptians, you know what I
should do; but--well, I will be merciful on one condition."
"That you will come back to England with me at once."
"I cannot; I dare not. He has promised to take my life-blood if I do."
"No harm shall happen to you, I promise."
"You will not allow him to touch me?"
"He shall not."
"Then I will go."
My point was gained. The man had promised to accompany me willingly,
while I had expected a difficult matter in getting him to England.
Early the next day we were on our way to England, Simon and I taking
turns in watching the wily Egyptian.
THE SECOND CHRISTMAS EVE
The skies were clear when we left Turin, and the air pure and free. We
had not got far into France, however, when we found everything changed.
It was snow--snow everywhere. On ordinary occasions I should not have
minded much, but now everything depended on my getting to London at a
certain hour. How slowly the train seemed to creep, to be sure; and how
long we stopped at the little roadside stations!
Simon did his best to cheer me, while Kaffar furtively watched us both,
as if in fear. I was silent and fearful, for I felt sure the Egyptian
meditated escape. The laughter of the light-hearted French people, who
were preparing for Christmas festivities, grated on my ears; for,
although I had succeeded almost beyond my hopes, a great fear rested
upon me that I should fail even yet. Especially was this realized when
I knew that our train was hours late, and I knew that did we not arrive
in Paris at something like reasonable time, we should miss the express
trains for England.
When we got to the French metropolis we were nearly five hours late. It
was not to be wondered at, for the snow fell in blinding drifts, until,
in some cases, the railways were completely blocked. The wonder was how
we got to Paris so soon, when we considered what had to be contended
Anxiously I inquired after trains by which I could catch the boats for
England, but the replies were vague. First, it was now Christmas Eve,
which at all times caused the general traffic to be delayed; and,
second, the weather was so bad that to state times of arrival was
It was now Wednesday morning, and I started from Paris with sixteen
hours before me in which to get to London. Ordinarily I should have had
time enough and to spare, but everything was delayed and confused. I had
thought of going back by Dieppe and Newhaven; but a storm was blowing,
and I knew that meant a longer sea-passage, so I went to Calais, thus
riding through one of the most uninteresting parts of France. It was
five o'clock on Christmas Eve when we arrived at this little French
seaport, and then it took us two hours to cross the straits, although we
happened to be on one of the fast-sailing steamers. We had now five
hours to get to Kensington. I was getting terribly anxious now. If there
should be a breakdown, or if anything should happen to hinder us! We
were so near, and yet so far. Once I thought of telegraphing and telling
of my success, but I refrained from that. I wanted to tell of my victory
in person, and thus, if needs be, destroy Voltaire's last hope.
The usual time for an express train to run from Dover to Victoria is
about two hours; but it was Christmas Eve, special trains were running,
and passengers crowded on every hand, thus we were more than three hours
in accomplishing the journey. The train swept into Victoria at a
quarter-past ten. There was one hour and three-quarters to go to
"This way to the Custom House," shouted one of the officials. I had
forgotten this part of the programme, but I determined not to wait for
my luggage. I would sooner lose it a thousand times over than be late in
reaching Kensington. I accordingly got the keys from Kaffar and Simon,
and pointing out the portmanteaus to an official, gave him a sovereign
to see them examined and sent on to my address in Gower Street.
I hailed a hansom, but the cabby refused to take the three of us, upon
which Kaffar offered to go in another; but I dared not risk him out of
my sight, so we got into a rumbling old four-wheeler, and I offered the
cabby a sovereign if he would get me at the address I gave him in
"Couldn't do it for ten sovereigns, sir," said the cabby. "The streets
is as slippery as glass, and as crowded as herrin's in a barrel. I'll do
it in _three-quarters_ for a quid, yer honour."
It was now nearly half-past ten; that would make it a quarter-past
eleven. To me it was drawing it terribly fine, but I consented. If he
were not spurred on by thought of reward, short as the distance was,
there was no knowing how long he would be.
At length the cab stopped. It was a quarter-past eleven, and as I got
out I noticed that we stood in front of one of those tall noble-looking
mansions which are so common in Kensington.
"Wait a minute," I said to the cabby; "I want to be certain this is the
right house." Meanwhile I noticed that my constant friend Simon held
Kaffar by the arm.
I rang the bell violently, and a servant appeared at the door.
Did Miss Gertrude Forrest live there?
Was she at home?
Could I see her?
The servant was not sure, but would ascertain. Miss Forrest was then
I stopped the man, for I did not wish to appear in the way that matters
seemed to promise. Meanwhile Simon had paid the cabby, and so the three
of us stood together in the hall.
"I am an old friend of Miss Forrest's," I said to the man; "I want to be
shown to the room where she is, without her being apprised of my
"I daren't," he replied; "it would be as much as my place is worth."
"No, it would not," I replied. "You would not suffer in the slightest
"But there are several people in the room," he said, eyeing a sovereign
I was turning over in my hand.
"There's Miss Forrest, her aunt, and Miss Staggles, besides a gentleman
that came early in the evening."
"That gentleman's name is Herod Voltaire," I said.
"Yes, sir, that's the name. Well, I'll do as you wish me."
I followed the servant, while Simon kept fast hold on Kaffar. The man
knocked at the door, while I stood close behind him, and the moment he
opened the door I entered the room.
Never shall I forget the sight. Evidently Voltaire had been claiming the
fulfilment of her promise, for he was earnestly speaking when I entered,
while Miss Forrest, pale as death, sat by an elderly lady, who I
concluded to be her aunt. Miss Staggles also sat near, as grim and
taciturn as ever.
"It is nearly twelve o'clock," I heard Voltaire say, "and he's not here.
He dare not come; how dare he? He has left the country, and will never
"But I am here," I said distinctly.
They all turned as I spoke, and Miss Forrest gave a scream. I had been
travelling incessantly for forty hours, so I am afraid I did not present
a very pleasant appearance. No doubt I was travel-stained and dusty
"Who are you?" demanded Voltaire.
"You know well enough who I am," I said.
"Begone!" he cried; "this is no place for murderers."
"No," I said, "it is not."
No sooner had Miss Forrest realized who I was, than she rushed to my
"Oh, are you safe--are you safe?" she said huskily.
I looked at her face, and it was deathly pale, while her eyes told me
she had passed sleepless nights.
"No, he's not safe," said Voltaire, "and he shall pay for this with his
"Is it manly," I said to him, "to persecute a lady thus? Can't you see
how she scorns you, hates you, loathes you? Will you insist on her
abiding by a promise which was made in excitement to save an innocent
"Innocent!" he sneered, and I noticed a look of victory still in his
glittering eye. "Innocent! Yes, as innocent as Nero or Robespierre; but
you shall not come here to pollute the air by your presence. Begone!
before I forget myself, and send for the police to lock you up. Ah, I
long for vengeance on the man who murdered my dear friend."
"Then you will not release Miss Forrest?"
"Then I shall make you."
"You make me?" he cried savagely.
Meanwhile Miss Forrest had clung tremblingly to my arm; Miss Forrest's
aunt had looked fearfully, first at Voltaire, then at me; while Miss
Staggles had been mumbling something about showing me out of doors.
"Yes," I said; "I shall make you."
"You cannot," he jeered. "I have it in my power now to lodge you safe in
a felon's gaol, and bring you to a hangman's noose."
"Ay, and I would too," cried Miss Staggles. "You are too kind, too
forbearing, Mr. Voltaire."
"Oh, leave me," cried Miss Forrest, clinging closer to me; "I will
suffer anything rather than you should be--be--"
"Ring the bell for a servant," I said; and Miss Forrest's aunt
tremblingly touched a button close beside her.
The man who had showed me in immediately answered the summons.
"Show my friends in," I said.
A minute more and Simon entered, carefully leading Kaffar. Voltaire gave
a yell like that of a mad dog, while Miss Forrest gave a scream of
"There, villain," I said, "is the man whom you say I've murdered."
"How dare you come here?" said Voltaire to Kaffar.
"Because I brought him," I said, "to save this lady and expose you. Now,
where is your power, and where are the charges you have brought?"
Had he a pistol I believe he would have shot me dead. His ground was cut
from under him. The man who destroyed his every hope stood before us
all, and refuted his terrible charges. For a minute he stood as if
irresolute; then he turned to Miss Forrest and spoke as coolly as if
nothing had happened.
"May I claim your pardon, your forgiveness?" he said. "Believe me, lady,
it was all because I loved you that I have acted as I have. Say, then,
now that all is against me, that you forgive me."
She hesitated a minute before replying; then she said slowly, "It is
difficult for me to speak to you without shuddering. Never did I believe
such villainy possible; but--but I pray that God may forgive you, as I
"Then I will leave you," he said, with a terrible look at me.
"No," I said; "you will not leave us so easily. Know, man, that you are
punishable by the law of England."
"You are guilty of many things that I need not enumerate here; some
Kaffar has told me about, some I knew before. So, instead of my lying in
a felon's cell, it will be you."
Then we all received a great shock. Miss Staggles arose from her chair
and rushed towards me.
"No, no, Mr. Blake," she cried; "no, not for my sake. He's my only son.
For my sake, spare him."
"_Your_ only son? _Yours?_" cried Miss Forrest's aunt.
"Mine," cried this gaunt old woman. "Oh, I was married on the Continent
when quite a girl, and I dared not tell of it, for my husband was a
gambler and a villain; but he was handsome and fascinating, and so he
won me. Herod, this son of mine, was born just the day before his father
was killed in a duel. Oh, spare him for my sake!"
I need not enter into the further explanations she made, nor how she
pleaded for mercy for him, for they were painful to all. And did I spare
him? Yes; on condition that he left England, never to return again,
besides stipulating for Kaffar's safety.
He left the house soon after, and we all felt a sense of relief when he
had gone, save Miss Staggles, or rather Mrs. Voltaire, who went up to
her room weeping bitterly.
Need I relate what followed that night? Need I tell how I had to recount
my doings and journeyings over again and again, while Simon and Kaffar
were asked to give such information as I was unable to give, and how one
circumstance was explained by another until all was plain? I will not
tax my readers' patience by so doing; this must be left to their own
After this, Mrs. Walters insisted that we must have refreshments, and
bustled away to order it, while a servant conducted Simon and Kaffar to
a room where food was to be obtained; and so I was left alone with the
woman I loved.
"Well?" I said, when they were gone.
"Well?" she replied, looking shyly into my face.
"I have done your bidding," I said, after a minute's silence. "I have
freed you from that man."
"Thank God, you have!" she said, with a shudder. "Oh, if you only knew
how I have prayed and hoped and thought!"
"And I had a promise, too," I said; "will it be painful for you to keep
"Painful, Justin?" she cried. "You know I will gladly be your wife."
I will not write of what happened then. It is not for the eyes of the
world to see. Tears come into my eyes now as I remember how her
new-found happiness lit up her eyes with joy, and how the colour came
into her beautiful cheeks. God alone knows how happy we were. We had
been kept asunder by a cruel hand, and had been brought together again
by long and bitter struggles, struggles which would never have been but
for the love of God and the love in our hearts. Then, when our joy was
fullest, a choir from a neighbouring church began to sing--
"Christians, awake, salute the happy morn,
Whereon the Saviour of mankind was born."
It was indeed, a happy Christmas morn to us. The darkness had rolled
away, and the light of heaven shone upon us.
When I left shortly after, I asked whether I should come the next day,
or rather when daylight came, and spend Christmas Day with her.
"You must not be later than nine o'clock," she said, with a glad laugh,
while my heart seemed ready to break for joy.
I have nearly told my story now; the loving work of months is almost at
an end, and soon I must drop my pen. I am very happy, happier than I
ever hoped to be. My new-found strength not only brought me freedom from
my enemy, not only enabled me to accomplish my purpose, but gave me
fuller and richer life. Gertrude and I live under brighter skies than we
should do had I not been led through so terrible an experience. Thus the
Eternal Goodness brings good out of evil.
Voltaire is on the Continent. I do not think that he has ever returned
to England; while his mother, who still lives the same kind of life as
of yore, supplies him with money. It appears that she has means which
were unknown to her friends, and thus she keeps him supplied. Of course
the relationship between them explains their being in league in
Yorkshire. She was ever seeking to serve him then; she is still trying
to do the same. She never speaks to me. But for me, she says, her son
would have married Gertrude, and then she would have lived with her
Herod, who would have been a country gentleman, not the poor outcast he
Kaffar has gone back to Egypt. He stayed in London a few days after the
scene on Christmas Eve, and I gave him house-room in my old lodgings;
but he tired of England, so I sent him back to Cairo. I think he is a
far better man than he was, but I am not at all sorry that he dislikes
England. He writes sometimes, but I never receive his letters without
thinking of the terrible night on the Yorkshire moors--of the dark
waters, the red hand, and the terrible struggle. Although I am now
entirely free from any such influences, I cannot help fearfully
wondering at the awful power one being can exert over another. How an
evil man could almost deplete me of my own self, and make me see
according to his will and act according to his desires, is to me beyond
explanation. Truly does our greatest poet say--
"We are such stuff
As dreams are made of, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."
Tom Temple is married, and lives happily at Temple Hall. Tom attributes
all his happiness to the ghost. He should never have had the pluck to
ask Edith Gray to be his wife, he says, had not his lady-love been so
"But you found no difficulty in getting her consent, Tom?" I said one
day at Temple Hall.
"Difficulty!" laughed Tom. "She said 'Yes' before I had stuttered out
my little speech."
"I couldn't bear to see you in such an agony of pain," blushingly
replied his happy little wife.
Ah, well, Tom deserves his happiness, because he makes those around him
Simon Slowden lives with Gertrude and me. He declared that he couldn't
bear the idea of leaving us, after he'd gone through so much to bring us
together. We are not sorry for this, for he has been an incalculable
help to me in many ways. But for him, perhaps, I should never have the
treasure I now possess, the truest and noblest wife God ever gave to
man; but for him, I might have dragged out my weary life, disappointed
and almost broken-hearted. Of course this might not be so; but I know
that Simon was one of my greatest helpers in making me the happiest man
I will close my story with a secret. Yesterday, Simon came to me,
looking very grave.
"If I remember aright, yer honour," he said, "I told you as 'ow I'd
completely finished wi' all belongin' to the female persuasion."
"You did, Simon."
"Well, I've changed my mind. I used to think after that waccinatin'
business gived me small-pox, that I was done for; but that 'ere Emily
the 'ousemaid 'ev bin waccinated, and she 'ev had small-pox too. Well,
't seems to me as 'ow it must hev bin special Providence as hev brought
us together, as we read in the Book of Job; and not likin' to go 'gin
Providence, I axed her to change her name to Slowden."
"Well, Simon, what was her reply?"
"She seed the force o' my reasonin's in a minute, and so, as you may
say, 'there'll be good brought out o' evil,' even the evil o'
waccinatin'; for it's give us both small-pox, and we both live. Our
faces be a bit pitty, but kisses ain't none the less sweet for that."
"And when is it to come off, Simon?"
"I'm goin' to the registrar's now, yer honour, so three weeks to-morrow
I shall be took in and done for, and all threw waccination."