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an invalid going home.”

“And am I her medical attendant?” asked Despard.

“No; that is not necessary. You are her guardian–the Rector of Holby, of course–your name is sufficient guarantee.”

“Oh,” said Despard, after a pause, “I’ll tell you something better yet. I am her brother and she is my sister–Miss Despard.”

As he spoke he looked down upon her marble face. He did not see Langhetti’s countenance. Had he done so he would have wondered. For Langhetti’s eyes seemed to seek to pierce the very soul of Despard. His face became transformed. Its usual serenity vanished, and there was eager wonder, intense and anxious curiosity–an endeavor to see if there was not some deep meaning underlying Despard’s words. But Despard showed no emotion. He was conscious of no deep meaning. He merely murmured to himself as he looked down upon the unconscious face:

“My sick sister–my sister Beatrice.”

Langhetti said not a word, but sat in silence, absorbed in one intense and wondering gaze. Despard seemed to dwell upon this idea, fondly and tenderly.

“She is not one of that brood,” said he, after a pause. “It is in name only that she belongs to them.”

“They are fiends and she is an angel,” said Langhetti.

“Heaven has sent her to us; we most preserve her forever.”

“If she lives,” said Langhetti, “she must never go back.”

“Go back!” cried Despard. “Better far for her to die.”

“I myself would die rather than give her up.”

“And I, too. But we will not. I will adopt her. Yes, she shall cast away the link that binds her to these accursed ones–her vile name. I will adopt her. She shall have my name–she shall be my sister. She shall be Beatrice Despard.

“And surely,” continued Despard, looking tenderly down, “surely, of all the Despard race there was never one so beautiful and so pure as she.”

Langhetti did not say a word, but looked at Despard and the one whom he thus called his adopted sister with an emotion which he could not control. Tears started to his eyes; yet over his brow there came something which is not generally associated with tears–a lofty, exultant expression, an air of joy and peace.

“Your sister,” said Despard, “shall nurse her back to health. She will do so for your sake, Langhetti–or rather from her own noble and generous instincts. In Thornton Grange she will, perhaps, find some alleviation for the sorrows which she may have endured. Our care shall be around her, and we can all labor together for her future welfare.”

They at length reached the inn of which they had spoken, and Beatrice was tenderly lifted out and carried up stairs. She was mentioned as the sister of the Rev. Mr. Despard, of Holby, who was bringing her back from the sea-side, whither she had gone for her health. Unfortunately, she had been too weak for the journey.

The people of the inn showed the kindest attention and warmest sympathy. A doctor was sent for, who lived at a village two miles farther on.

Beatrice recovered from her faint, but remained unconscious. The doctor considered that her brain was affected. He shook his head solemnly over it; as doctors always do when they have nothing in particular to say. Both Langhetti and Despard knew more about her case than he did.

They saw that rest was the one thing needed. But rest could be better attained in Holby than here; and besides, there was the danger of pursuit. It was necessary to remove her; and that, too, without delay. A closed carriage was procured without much difficulty, and the patient was deposited therein.

A slow journey brought them by easy stages to Holby. Beatrice remained unconscious. A nurse was procured, who traveled with her. The condition of Beatrice was the same which she described in her diary. Great grief and extraordinary suffering and excitement had overtasked the brain, and it had given way. So Despard and Langhetti conjectured.

At last they reached Holby. They drove at once to Thornton Grange.

“What is this?” cried Mrs. Thornton, who had heard nothing from them, and ran out upon the piazza to meet them as she saw them coming.

“I have found Bice,” said Langhetti, “and have brought her here.”

“Where is she?”

“There,” said Langhetti. “I give her to your care–it is for you to give her back to me.”

CHAPTER XXXIV.

ON THE TRACK.

Beatrice’s disappearance was known at Brandon Hall on the following day. The servants first made the discovery. They found her absent from her room, and no one had seen her about the house. It was an unusual thing for her to be out of the house early in the day, and of late for many months she had scarcely ever left her room, so that now her absence at once excited suspicion. The news was communicated from one to another among the servants. Afraid of Potts, they did not dare to tell him, but first sought to find her by themselves. They called Mrs. Compton, and the fear which perpetually possessed the mind of this poor, timid creature now rose to a positive frenzy of anxiety and dread. She told all that she knew, and that was that she had seen her the evening before as usual, and had left her at ten o’clock.

No satisfaction therefore could be gained from her. The servants tried to find traces of her, but were unable. At length toward evening, on Potts’s return from the bank, the news was communicated to him.

The rage of Potts need not be described here. That one who had twice defied should now escape him filled him with fury. He organized all his servants into bands, and they scoured the grounds till darkness put an end to these operations.

That evening Potts and his two companions dined in moody silence, only conversing by fits and starts.

“I don’t think she’s killed herself,” said Potts, in reply to an observation of Clark. “She’s got stuff enough in her to do it, but I don’t believe she has. She’s playing a deeper game. I only wish we could fish up her dead body out of some pond; it would quiet matters down very considerable.”

“If she’s got off she’s taken with her some secrets that won’t do us any good,” remarked John.

“The devil of it is,” said Potts, “we don’t know how much she does know. She must know a precious lot, or she never would have dared to say what she did.”

“But how could she get out of the park?” said Clark. “That wall is too high to climb over, and the gates are all locked.”

“It’s my opinion,” exclaimed John, “that she’s in the grounds yet.”

Potts shook his head.

“After what she told me it’s my belief she can do any thing. Why, didn’t she tell us of crimes that were committed before she was born? I begin to feel shaky, and it is the girl that has made me so.”

Potts rose to his feet, plunged his hands deep into his pockets, and walked up and down. The others sat in gloomy silence.

“Could that Hong Kong nurse of hers have told her any thing?” asked John.

“She didn’t know any thing to tell.”

“Mrs. Compton must have blown, then.”

“Mrs. Compton didn’t know. I tell you that there is not one human being living that knows what she told us besides ourselves and her. How the devil she picked it up I don’t know.”

“I didn’t like the cut of her from the first,” said John. “She had a way of looking that made me feel uneasy, as though there was something in her that would some day be dangerous. I didn’t want you to send for her.”

“Well, the mischief’s done now.”

“You’re not going to give up the search, are you?” asked Clark.

“Give it up! Not I.”

“We must get her back.”

“Yes; our only safety now is in catching her again at all hazards.”

There was a long silence.

“Twenty years ago,” said Potts, moodily, “the _Vishnu_ drifted away, and since the time of the trial no one has mentioned it to me till that girl did.”

“And she is only twenty years old,” rejoined John.

“I tell you, lads, you’ve got the devil to do with when you tackle her,” remarked Clark; “but if she is the devil we must fight it out and crush her.”

“Twenty-three years,” continued Potts, in the same gloomy tone–“twenty- three years have passed since I was captured with my followers. No one has mentioned that since. No one in all the world knows that I am the only Englishman that ever joined the Thugs except that girl.”

“She must know every thing that we have done,” said Clark.

“Of course she must.”

“Including our Brandon enterprise,” said John.

“And including your penmanship.” said Clark; “enough, lad, to stretch a neck.”

“Come,” said Potts, “don’t let us talk of this, any how.”

Again they relapsed into silence.

“Well!” exclaimed John, at last, “what are you going to do to-morrow?”

“Chase her till I find her,” replied Potts, savagely.

“But where?”

“I’ve been thinking of a plan which seems to me to be about the thing.”

“What?”

“A good old plan,” said Potts. “Your pup, Johnnie, can help us.”

John pounded his fist on the table with savage exultation.

“My blood-hound! Good, old Dad, what a trump you are to think of that!”

“He’ll do it!”

“Yes,” said John, “if he gets on her track and comes up with her I’m a little afraid that we’ll arrive at the spot just too late to save her. It’s the best way that I know of for getting rid of the difficulty handsomely. Of course we are going after her through anxiety, and the dog is an innocent pup who comes with us; and if any disaster happens we will kill him on the spot.”

Potts shook his head moodily. He had no very hopeful feeling about this. He was shaken to the soul at the thought of this stern, relentless girl carrying out into the world his terrific secret.

Early on the following morning they resumed their search after the lost girl. This time the servants were not employed, but the three themselves went forth to try what they could do. With them was the “pup” to which allusion had been made on the previous evening. This animal was a huge blood-hound, which John had purchased to take the place of his bull-dog, and of which he was extravagantly proud. True to his instinct, the hound understood from smelling an article of Beatrice’s apparel what it was that he was required to seek, and he went off on her trail out through the front door, down the steps, and up to the grove.

The others followed after. The dog led them down the path toward the gate, and thence into the thick grove and through the underbrush. Scraps of her dress still clung in places to the brushwood. The dog led them round and round wherever Beatrice had wandered in her flight from Vijal. They all believed that they would certainly find her here, and that she had lost her way or at least tried to conceal herself. But at last, to their disappointment, the dog turned away out of the wood and into the path again. Then he led them along through the woods until he reached the Park wall. Here the animal squatted on his haunches, and, lifting up his head, gave a long deep howl.

“What’s this?” said Potts.

“Why, don’t you see? She’s got over the wall somehow. All that we’ve got to do is to put the dog over, and follow on.”

[Illustration: “WHY, DON’T YOU SEE? SHE’S GOT OVER THE WALL SOMEHOW.”]

The others at once understood that this must be the case. In a short time they were on the other side of the wall, where the dog found the trail again, and led on while they followed as before.

They did not, however, wish to seem like pursuers. That would hardly be the thing in a country of law and order. They chose to walk rather slowly, and John held the dog by a strap which he had brought with him. They soon found the walk much longer than they had anticipated, and began to regret that they had not come in a carriage. They had gone too far, however, to remedy this now, so they resolved to continue on their way as they were.

“Gad!” said John, who felt fatigued first, “what a walker she is!”

“She’s the devil!” growled Clark, savagely.

At last, after about three hours’ walk, the dog stopped at a place by the road-side, and snuffed in all directions. The others watched him anxiously for a long time. The dog ran all around sniffing at the ground, but to no purpose.

He had lost the trail. Again and again he tried to recover it. But his blood-thirsty instinct was completely at fault. The trail had gone, and at last the animal came up to his master and crouched down at his feet with a low moan.

“Sold!” cried John, with a curse.

“What can have become of her?” said Potts.

“I don’t know,” said John. “I dare say she’s got took up in some wagon. Yes, that’s it. That’s the reason why the trail has gone.”

“What shall we do now? We can’t follow. It may have been the coach, and she may have got a lift to the nearest railway station.”

“Well,” said John, “I’ll tell you what we can do. Let one of us go to the inns that are nearest, and ask if there was a girl in the coach that looked like her, or make any inquiries that may be needed. We could find out that much at any rate.”

The others assented. John swore he was too tired. At length, after some conversation, they all determined to go on, and to hire a carriage back. Accordingly on they went, and soon reached an inn.

Here they made inquiries, but could learn nothing whatever about any girl that had stopped there. Potts then hired a carriage and drove off to the next inn, leaving the others behind. He returned in about two hours. His face bore an expression of deep perplexity.

“Well, what luck, dad?” asked John.

“There’s the devil to pay,” growled Potts.

“Did you find her?”

“There is a girl at the next inn, and it’s her. Now what name do you think they call her by?”

“What?”

“Miss Despard.”

Clark turned pale and looked at John, who gave a long, low whistle.

“Is she alone?” asked John.

“No–that’s the worst of it. A reverend gent is with her, who has charge of her, and says he is her brother.”

“Who?”

“His name is Courtenay Despard, son of Colonel Lionel Despard,” said Potts.

The others returned his look in utter bewilderment.

“I’ve been thinking and thinking,” said Potts, “but I haven’t got to the bottom of it yet. We can’t do any thing just now, that’s evident. I found out that this reverend gent is on his way to Holby, where he is rector. The only thing left for us to do is to go quietly home and look about us.”

“It seems to me that this is like the beginning of one of those monsoon storms,” said Clark, gloomily.

The others said nothing. In a short time they were on their way back, moody and silent.

CHAPTER XXXV.

BEATRICE’S RECOVERY.

It was not easy for the overtasked and overworn powers of Beatrice to rally. Weeks passed before she opened her eyes to a recognition of the world around her. It was March when she sank down by the road-side. It was June when she began to recover from the shock of the terrible excitement through which she had passed.

Loving hearts sympathized with her, tender hands cared for her, vigilant eyes watched her, and all that love and care could do were unremittingly exerted for her benefit.

As Beatrice opened her eyes after her long unconsciousness she looked around in wonder, recognizing nothing. Then they rested in equal wonder upon one who stood by her bedside.

She was slender and fragile in form, with delicate features, whose fine lines seemed rather like ideal beauty than real life. The eyes were large, dark, lustrous, and filled with a wonderful but mournful beauty. Yet all the features, so exquisite in their loveliness, were transcended by the expression that dwelt upon them. It was pure, it was spiritual, it was holy. It was the face of a saint, such a face as appears to the rapt devotee when fasting has done its work, and the quickened imagination grasps at ideal forms till the dwellers in heaven seem to become visible.

In her confused mind Beatrice at first had a faint fancy that she was in another state of existence, and that the form before her was one of those pure intelligences who had been appointed to welcome her there. Perhaps there was some such thought visible upon her face, for the stranger came up to her noiselessly, and stooping down, kissed her.

“You are among friends,” said she, in a low, sweet voice. “You have been sick long.”

“Where am I?”

“Among loving friends,” said the other, “far away from the place where you suffered.”

Beatrice sighed.

“I hoped that I had passed away forever,” she murmured.

“Not yet, not yet,” said the stranger, in a voice of tender yet mournful sweetness, which had in it an unfathomable depth of meaning. “We must wait on here, dear friend, till it be His will to call us.”

“And who are you?” asked Beatrice, after a long and anxious look at the face of the speaker.

“My name is Edith Brandon,” said the other, gently.

“Brandon!–Edith Brandon!” cried Beatrice, with a vehemence which contrasted strangely with the scarce-audible words with which she had just spoken.

The stranger smiled with the same melancholy sweetness which she had shown before.

“Yes,” said she; “but do not agitate yourself, dearest.”

“And have you nursed me?”

“Partly. But you are in the house of one who is like an angel in her loving care of you.”

“But you–you?” persisted Beatrice; “you did not perish, then, as they said?”

“No,” replied the stranger; “it was not permitted me.”

“Thank God!” murmured Beatrice, fervently. “_He_ has one sorrow less. Did _he_ save you?”

“He,” said Edith, “of whom you speak does not know that I am alive, nor do I know where he is. Yet some day we will perhaps meet. And now you must not speak. You will agitate yourself too much. Here you have those who love you. For the one who brought you here is one who would lay down his life for yours, dearest–he is Paolo Langhetti.”

“Langhetti!” said Beatrice. “Oh, God be thanked!”

“And she who has taken you to her heart and home is his sister.”

“His sister Teresa, of whom he used to speak so lovingly? Ah! God is kinder to me than I feared. Ah, me! it is as though I had died and have awaked in heaven.”

“But now I will speak no more, and you must speak no more, for you will only increase your agitation. Rest, and another time you can ask what you please.”

Edith turned away and walked to one of the windows, where she looked out pensively upon the sea.

From this time Beatrice began to recover rapidly. Langhetti’s sister seemed to her almost like an old friend since she had been associated with some of her most pleasant memories. An atmosphere of love was around her: the poor sufferer inhaled the pure and life-giving air, and strength came with every breath.

At length she was able to sit up, and then Langhetti saw her. He greeted her with all the ardent and impassioned warmth which was so striking a characteristic of his impulsive and affectionate nature. Then she saw Despard.

There was something about this man which filled her with indefinable emotions. The knowledge which she had of the mysterious fate of his father did not repel her from him. A wonderful and subtle sympathy seemed at once to arise between the two. The stern face of Despard assumed a softer and more genial expression when he saw her. His tone was gentle and affectionate, almost paternal.

[Illustration: “AS BEATRICE OPENED HER EYES AFTER HER LONG UNCONSCIOUSNESS SHE LOOKED AROUND IN WONDER.”]

What was the feeling that arose within her heart toward this man? With the one for her Father who had inflicted on his father so terrible a fate, how did she dare to look him in the face or exchange words with him? Should she not rather shrink away as once she shrank from Brandon?

Yet she did not shrink. His presence brought a strange peace and calm over her soul. His influence was more potent over her than that of Langhetti. In this strange company he seemed to her to be the centre and the chief.

To Beatrice Edith was an impenetrable mystery. Her whole manner excited her deepest reverence and at the same time her strongest curiosity. The fact that she was _his_ sister would of itself have won her heart; but there were other things about her which affected her strangely.

Edith moved among the others with a strange, far-off air, an air at once full of gentle affection, yet preoccupied. Her manner indicated love, yet the love of one who was far above them. She was like some grown person associating with young children whom he loved. “Her soul was like a star and dwelt apart.”

Paolo seemed more like an equal; but Paolo himself approached equality only because he could understand her best. He alone could enter into communion with her. Beatrice noticed a profound and unalterable reverence in his manner toward Edith, which was like that which a son might pay a mother, yet more delicate and more chivalrous. All this, however, was beyond her comprehension.

She once questioned Mrs. Thornton, but received no satisfaction. Mrs. Thornton looked mysterious, but shook her head.

“Your brother treats her like a divinity.”

“I suppose he thinks she is something more than mortal.”

“Do you have that awe of her which I feel?”

“Yes; and so does every one. I feel toward her as though she belonged to another world. She takes no interest in this.”

“She nursed me.”

“Oh yes! Every act of love or kindness which she can perform she seeks out and does, but now as you grow better she falls back upon herself.”

Surrounded by such friends as these Beatrice rapidly regained her strength. Weeks went on, and at length she began to move about, to take long rides and drives, and to stroll through the Park.

During these weeks Paolo made known to her his plans. She embraced them eagerly.

“You have a mission,” said he. “It was not for nothing that your divine voice was given to you. I have written my opera under the most extraordinary circumstances. You know what it is. Never have I been able to decide how it should be represented. I have prayed for a Voice. At my time of need you were thrown in my way. My Bice, God has sent you. Let us labor together.”

Beatrice grasped eagerly at this idea. To be a singer, to interpret the thoughts of Langhetti, seemed delightful to her. She would then be dependent on no friend. She would be her own mistress. She would not be forced to lead a life of idleness, with her heart preying upon itself. Music would come to her aid. It would be at once the purpose, the employment, and the delight of her life. If there was one thing to her which could alleviate sorrow and grief it was the exultant joy which was created within her by the Divine Art–that Art which alone is common to earth and heaven. And for Beatrice there was this joy, that she had one of those natures which was so sensitive to music that under its power heaven itself appeared to open before her.

All these were lovers of music, and therefore had delights to which common mortals are strangers. To the soul which is endowed with the capacity for understanding the delights of tone there are joys peculiar, at once pure and enduring, which nothing else that this world gives can equal.

Langhetti was the high-priest of this charmed circle. Edith was the presiding or inspiring divinity. Beatrice was the medium of utterance– the Voice that brought down heaven to earth.

Mrs. Thornton and Despard stood apart, the recipients of the sublime effects and holy emotions which the others wrought out within them.

Edith was like the soul.

Langhetti like the mind.

Beatrice resembled the material element by which the spiritual is communicated to man. Hers was the Voice which spoke.

Langhetti thought that they as a trio of powers formed a means of communicating new revelations to man. It was natural indeed that he in his high and generous enthusiasm should have some such thoughts as these, and should look forward with delight to the time when his work should first be performed. Edith, who lived and moved in an atmosphere beyond human feeling, was above the level of his enthusiasm; but Beatrice caught it all, and in her own generous and susceptible nature this purpose of Langhetti produced the most powerful effects.

In the church where Mrs. Thornton and Despard had so often met there was now a new performance. Here Langhetti played, Beatrice sang, Edith smiled as she heard the expression of heavenly ideas, and Despard and Mrs. Thornton found themselves borne away from all common thoughts by the power of that sublime rehearsal.

As time passed and Beatrice grew stronger Langhetti became more impatient about his opera. The voice of Beatrice, always marvelous, had not suffered during her sickness. Nay, if any thing, it had grown better; her soul had gained new susceptibilities since Langhetti last saw her, and since she could understand more and feel more, her expression itself had become more subtle and refined. So that Voice which Langhetti had always called divine had put forth new powers, and be, if he believed himself the High-Priest and Beatrice the Pythian, saw that her inspiration had grown more delicate and more profound.

“We will not set up a new Delphi,” said he. “Our revelations are not new. We but give fresh and extraordinary emphasis to old and eternal truths.”

In preparing for the great work before them it was necessary to get a name for Beatrice. Her own name was doubly abhorrent–first, from her own life-long hate of it, which later circumstances had intensified; and, secondly, from the damning effect which such a name would have on the fortune of any _artiste_. Langhetti wished her to take his name, but Despard showed an extraordinary pertinacity on this point.

“No,” said he, “I am personally concerned in this. I adopted her. She is my sister. Her name is Despard. If she takes any other name I shall consider it as an intolerable slight.”

He expressed himself so strongly that Beatrice could not refuse. Formerly she would have considered that it was infamous for her to take that noble name; but now this idea had become weak, and it was with a strange exultation that she yielded to the solicitations of Despard.

Langhetti himself yielded at once. His face bore an expression of delight which seemed inexplicable to Beatrice. She asked him why he felt such pleasure. Was not an Italian name better for a singer? Despard was an English name, and, though aristocratic, was not one which a great singer might have.

“I am thinking of other things, my Bicina,” said Langhetti, who had never given up his old, fond, fraternal manner toward her. “It has no connection with art. I do not consider the mere effect of the name for one moment.”

“What is it, then, that you do consider?”

“Other things.”

“What other things?”

“Not connected with Art,” continued Langhetti, evasively. “I will tell you some day when the time comes.”

“Now you are exciting my curiosity,” said Beatrice, in a low and earnest tone. “You do not know what thoughts you excite within me. Either you ought not to excite such ideas, or if you do, it is your duty to satisfy them.”

“It is not time yet.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“That is a secret.”

“Of course; you make it one; but if it is one connected with me, then surely I ought to know.”

“It is not time yet for you to know.”

“When will it be time?”

“I can not tell.”

“And you will therefore keep it a secret forever?”

“I hope, my Bicina, that the time will come before long.”

“Yet why do you wait, if you know or even suspect any thing in which I am concerned?”

“I wish to spare you.”

“That is not necessary. Am I so weak that I can not bear to hear any thing which you may have to tell? You forget what a life I have had for two years. Such a life might well prepare me for any thing.”

“If it were merely something which might create sorrow I would tell it. I believe that you have a self-reliant nature, which has grown stronger through affliction. But that which I have to tell is different. It is of such a character that it would of necessity destroy any peace of mind which you have, and fill you with hopes and feelings that could never be satisfied.”

“Yet even that I could bear. Do you not see that by your very vagueness you are exciting my thoughts and hopes? You do not know what I know.”

“What do you know?” asked Langhetti, eagerly.

Beatrice hesitated. No; she could not tell. That would be to tell all the holiest secrets of her heart. For she must then tell about Brandon, and the African island, and the manuscript which he carried and which had been taken from his bosom. Of this she dared not speak.

She was silent.

“You can not _know_ any thing,” said Langhetti. “You may suspect much. I only have suspicions. Yet it would not be wise to communicate these to you, since they would prove idle and without result.” So the conversation ended, and Langhetti still maintained his secret, though Beatrice hoped to find it out.

At length she was sufficiently recovered to be able to begin the work to which Langhetti wished to lead her. It was August, and Langhetti was impatient to be gone. So when August began he made preparations to depart, and in a few days they were in London. Edith was left with Mrs. Thornton. Beatrice had an attendant who went with her, half chaperon half lady’s maid.

CHAPTER XXXVI

THE AFFAIRS OF SMITHERS & CO.

For more than a year the vast operations of Smithers & Co. had astonished business circles in London. Formerly they had been considered as an eminently respectable house, and as doing a safe business; but of late all this had been changed in so sudden and wonderful a manner that no one could account for it. Leaving aside their old, cautious policy, they undertook without hesitation the largest enterprises. Foreign railroads, national loans, vast joint-stock companies, these were the things that now occupied Smithers & Co. The Barings themselves were outrivaled, and Smithers & Co. reached the acme of their sudden glory on one occasion, when they took the new Spanish loan out of the grasp of even the Rothschilds themselves.

How to account for it became the problem. For, allowing the largest possible success in their former business to Smithers & Co., that business had never been of sufficient dimensions to allow of this. Some said that a rich Indian had become a sleeping partner, others declared that the real Smithers was no more to be seen, and that the business was managed by strangers who had bought them out and retained their name. Others again said that Smithers & Co. had made large amounts in California mining speculations. At length the general belief was, that some individuals who had made millions of money in California had bought out Smithers & Co., and were now doing business under their name. As to their soundness there was no question. Their operations were such as demanded, first of all, ready money in unlimited quantities. This they were always able to command. Between them and the Bank of England there seemed to be the most perfect understanding and the most enviable confidence. The Rothschilds spoke of them with infinite respect. People began to look upon them as the leading house in Europe. The sudden apparition of this tremendous power in the commercial world threw that world into a state of consternation which finally ended in wondering awe.

But Smithers & Co. continued calmly, yet successfully, their great enterprises. The Russian loan of fifteen millions was negotiated by them. They took twenty millions of the French loan, five millions of the Austrian, and two and a half of the Turkish. They took nearly all the stock of the Lyons and Marseilles Railroad. They owned a large portion of the stock of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. They had ten millions of East India stock. California alone, which was now dazzling the world, could account to the common mind for such enormous wealth. The strangest thing was that Smithers himself was never seen. The business was done by his subordinates. There was a young man who represented the house in public, and who called himself Henderson. He was a person of distinguished aspect, yet of reserved and somewhat melancholy manner. No one pretended to be in his confidence. No one pretended to know whether he was clerk or partner. As he was the only representative of Smithers & Co., he was treated with marked respect wherever he appeared.

The young man, whether partner or clerk, had evidently the supreme control of affairs. He swayed in his own hands the thunder-bolts of this Olympian power. Nothing daunted him. The grandeur of his enterprises dazzled the public mind. His calm antagonism to the great houses of London filled them with surprise. A new power had seized a high place in the commercial world, and the old gods–the Rothschilds, the Barings, and others–looked aghast. At first they tried to despise this interloper; at length they found him at least as strong as themselves, and began to fancy that be might be stronger. A few experiments soon taught them that there was no weakness there. On one occasion the Rothschilds, true to their ordinary selfish policy, made a desperate attempt to crush the new house which dared to enter into rivalry with them. Widespread plans were arranged in such a way that large demands were made upon them on one day. The amount was nearly two millions. Smithers & Co. showed not the smallest hesitation. Henderson, their representative, did not even take the trouble to confer with the Bank of England. He sent his orders to the Bank. The money was furnished. It was the Directors of the Bank of England who looked aghast at this struggle between Rothschild and Smithers & Co. The gold in the Bank vaults sank low, and the next day the rates of discount were raised. All London felt the result of that struggle.

Smithers & Co. waited for a few months, and then suddenly retorted with terrific force. The obligations of the Rothschilds were obtained from all quarters–some which were due were held over and not presented till the appointed day. Obligations in many forms–in all the forms of indebtedness that may arise in a vast business–all these had been collected from various quarters with untiring industry and extraordinary outlay of care and money. At last in one day they were all poured upon the Rothschilds. Nearly four millions of money were required to meet that demand.

The great house of Rothschild reeled under the blow. Smithers & Co. were the ones who administered it. James Rothschild had a private interview with the Directors of the Bank of England. There was a sudden and enormous sale of securities that day on Change. In selling out such large amounts the loss was enormous. It was difficult to find purchasers, but Smithers & Co. stepped forward and bought nearly all that was offered. The Rothschilds saved themselves, of course, but at a terrible loss, which became the profits of Smithers & Co.

The Rothschilds retreated from the conflict utterly routed, and glad to escape disaster of a worse kind. Smithers & Co. came forth victorious. They had beaten the Rothschilds at their own game, and had made at least half a million. All London rang with the story. It was a bitter humiliation for that proud Jewish house which for years had never met with a rival. Yet there was no help, nor was there the slightest chance of revenge. They were forced to swallow the result as best they could, and to try to regain what they had lost.

After this the pale and melancholy face of Henderson excited a deeper interest. This was the man who had beaten the Rothschilds–the strongest capitalist in the world. In his financial operations he continued as calm, as grave, and as immovable as ever. He would risk millions without moving a muscle of his countenance. Yet so sagacious was he, so wide- spread were his agencies, so accurate was his secret information, that his plans scarcely ever failed. His capital was so vast that it often gave him control of the market. Coming into the field untrammeled as the older houses were, he had a larger control of money than any of them, and far greater freedom of action.

After a time the Rothschilds, the Barings, and other great bankers, began to learn that Smithers & Co. had vast funds every where, in all the capitals of Europe, and in America. Even in the West Indies their operations were extensive. Their old Australian agency was enlarged, and a new banking-house founded by them in Calcutta began to act on the same vast scale as the leading house at London. Smithers & Co. also continued to carry on a policy which was hostile to those older bankers. The Rothschilds in particular felt this, and were in perpetual dread of a renewal of that tremendous assault under which they had once nearly gone down. They became timid, and were compelled to arrange their business so as to guard against this possibility. This, of course, checked their operations, and widened and enlarged the field of action for their rivals.

No one knew any thing whatever about Henderson. None of the clerks could tell any thing concerning him. They were all new hands. None of them had ever seen Smithers. They all believed that Henderson was the junior partner, and that the senior spent his time abroad. From this it began to be believed that Smithers staid in California digging gold, which he diligently remitted to the London house.

At length the clerks began to speak mysteriously of a man who came from time to time to the office, and whose whole manner showed him to possess authority there. The treatment which he received from Henderson–at once cordial and affectionate–showed them to be most intimate and friendly; and from words which were dropped they all thought him to be the senior partner. Yet he appeared to be very little older than Henderson, if as old, and no one even knew his name. If any thing could add to the interest with which the house of Smithers & Co. was regarded it was this impenetrable mystery, which baffled not merely outriders but even the clerks themselves.

Shortly after the departure of Langhetti and Beatrice from Holby two men were seated in the inner parlor of the office of Smithers & Co. One was the man known as Henderson, the other the mysterious senior partner.

They had just come in and letters were lying on the table.

“You’ve got a large number this morning, Frank?” said the senior partner.

“Yes,” said Frank, turning them over; “and here, Louis, is one for you.” He took out a letter from the pile and handed it to Louis. “It’s from your Brandon Hall correspondent,” he added.

Louis sat down and opened it. The letter was as follows:

“August 15, 1840.

“DEAR SIR,–I have had nothing in particular to write since the flight of Miss Potts, except to tell you what they were doing. I have already informed you that they kept three spies at Holby to watch her. One of these returned, as I told you in my last letter, with the information that she had gone to London with a party named Langhetti. Ever since then _they_ have been talking it over, and have come to the conclusion to get a detective and keep him busy watching her with the idea of getting her back, I think. I hope to God they will not get her back. If you take any interest in her, Sir, as you appear to do, I hope you will use your powerful arm to save her. It will be terrible if she has to come back here. She will die, I know. Hoping soon to have something more to communicate,

“I remain, yours respectfully,

“E.L.

“Mr. Smithers, Sen., London.”

[Illustration: “LANGHETTI IS ALIVE.”]

Louis read this letter over several times and fell into deep thought.

Frank went on reading his letters, looking up from time to time. At last he put down the last one.

“Louis!” said he.

Louis looked up.

“You came so late last night that I haven’t had a chance to speak about any thing yet. I want to tell you something very important.”

“Well!”

“Langhetti is alive.”

“I know it.”

“You knew it! When? Why did you not tell me?”

“I didn’t want to tell any thing that might distract you from your purpose.”

“I am not a child, Louis! After my victory over Rothschild I ought to be worthy of your confidence.”

“That’s not the point, Frank,” said Louis; “but I know your affection for the man, and I thought you would give up all to find him.”

“Well!”

“Well. I thought it would be better to let nothing interpose now between us and our purpose. No,” he continued, with a stern tone, “no, no one however dear, however loved, and therefore I said nothing about Langhetti. I thought that your generous heart would only be distressed. You would feel like giving up every thing to find him out and see him, and, therefore, I did not wish you even to know it. Yet I have kept an account of his movements, and know where he is now.”

“He is here in London,” said Frank, with deep emotion.

“Yes, thank God!” said Louis. “You will see him, and we all will be able to meet some day.”

“But,” asked Frank, “do you not think Langhetti is a man to be trusted?”

“That is not the point,” replied Louis. “I believe Langhetti is one of the noblest men that ever lived. It must be so from what I have heard. All my life I will cherish his name and try to assist him in every possible way. I believe also that if we requested it he might perhaps keep our secret. But that is not the point, Frank. This is the way I look at it: We are dead. Our deaths have been recorded. Louis Brandon and Frank Brandon have perished. I am Wheeler, or Smithers, or Forsyth, or any body else; you are Henderson. We keep our secret because we have a purpose before us. Our father calls us from his tomb to its accomplishment. Our mother summons us. Our sweet sister Edith, from her grave of horror unutterable, calls us. All personal feeling must stand aside, Frank–yours and mine–whatever they be, till we have done our duty.”

“You are right, Louis,” said Frank, sternly.

“Langhetti is in London,” continued Louis. “You will not see him, but you can show your gratitude, and so can I. He is going to hire an opera- house to bring out an opera; I saw that in the papers. It is a thing full of risk, but he perhaps does not think of that. Let us enable him to gain the desire of his heart. Let us fill the house for him. You can send your agents to furnish tickets to people who may make the audience; or you can send around those who can praise him sufficiently. I don’t know what his opera may be worth. I know, however, from what I have learned, that he has musical genius; and I think if we give him a good start he will succeed. That is the way to show your gratitude, Frank.”

“I’ll arrange all that!” said Frank. “The house shall be crowded. I’ll send an agent to him–I can easily find out where he is, I suppose–and make him an offer of Covent Garden theatre on his own terms. Yes, Langhetti shall have a fair chance. I’ll arrange a plan to enforce success.”

“Do so, and you will keep him permanently in London till the time comes when we can arise from the dead.”

They were silent for a long time. Louis had thoughts of his own, excited by the letter which he had received, and these thoughts he did not care to utter. One thing was a secret even from Frank.

And what could he do? That Beatrice had fallen among friends he well knew. He had found this out when, after receiving a letter from Philips about her flight, he had hurried there and learned the result. Then he had himself gone to Holby, and found that she was at Mrs. Thornton’s. He had watched till she had recovered. He had seen her as she took a drive in Thornton’s carriage. He had left an agent there to write him about her when he left.

What was he to do now? He read the letter over again. He paused at that sentence: “They have been talking it over, and have come to the conclusion to get a detective, and keep him busy watching her with the idea of getting her back.”

What was the nature of this danger? Beatrice was of age. She was with Langhetti. She was her own mistress. Could there be any danger of her being taken back against her will? The villains at Brandon Hall were sufficiently unscrupulous, but would they dare to commit any violence? and if they did, would not Langhetti’s protection save her?

Such were his thoughts. Yet, on the other hand, he considered the fact that she was inexperienced, and might have peculiar ideas about a father’s authority. If Potts came himself, demanding her return, perhaps, out of a mistaken sense of filial duty, she might go with him. Or, even if she was unwilling to do so, she might yield to coercion, and not feel justified in resisting. The possibility of this filled him with horror. The idea of her being taken back to live under the power of those miscreants from whom she had escaped was intolerable. Yet he knew not what to do.

Between him and her there was a gulf unfathomable, impassable. She was one of that accursed brood which he was seeking to exterminate. He would spare her if possible; he would gladly lay down his life to save her from one moment’s misery; but if she stood in the way of his vengeance, could he–dared he stay that vengeance? For that he would sacrifice life itself! Would he refuse to sacrifice even _her_ if she were more dear than life itself?

Yet here was a case in which she was no longer connected with, but striving to sever herself from them. She was flying from that accursed father of hers. Would he stand idly by, and see her in danger? That were impossible. All along, ever since his return to England, he had watched over her, unseen himself and unsuspected by her, and had followed her footsteps when she fled. To desert her now was impossible. The only question with him was–how to watch her or guard her.

One thing gave him comfort, and that was the guardianship of Langhetti. This he thought was sufficient to insure her safety. For surely Langhetti would know the character of her enemies as well as Beatrice herself, and so guard her as to insure her safety from any attempt of theirs. He therefore placed his chief reliance on Langhetti, and determined merely to secure some one who would watch over her, and let him know from day to day how she fared. Had he thought it necessary he would have sent a band of men to watch and guard her by day and night; but this idea never entered his mind for the simple reason that he did not think the danger was pressing. England was after all a country of law, and even a father could not carry off his daughter against her will when she was of age. So he comforted himself.

“Well,” said he, at last, rousing himself from his abstraction, “how is Potts now?”

“Deeper than ever,” answered Frank, quietly.

“The Brandon Bank–“

“The Brandon Bank has been going at a rate that would have foundered any other concern long ago. There’s not a man that I sent there who has not been welcomed and obtained all that he wanted. Most of the money that they advanced has been to men that I sent. They drew on us for the money and sent us various securities of their own, holding the securities of these applicants. It is simply bewildering to think how easily that scoundrel fell into the snare.”

“When a man has made a fortune easily he gets rid of it easily,” said Louis, laconically. “Potts thinks that all his applicants are leading men of the county. I take good care that they go there as baronets at least. Some are lords. He is overpowered in the presence of these lords, and gives them what they ask on their own terms. In his letters he has made some attempts at an expression of gratitude for our great liberality. This I enjoyed somewhat. The villain is not a difficult one to manage, at least in the financial way. I leave the denouement to you, Louis.”

“The denouement must not be long delayed now.”

“Well, for that matter things are so arranged that we may have ‘the beginning of the end’ as soon as you choose.”

“What are the debts of the Brandon Bank to us now?”

“Five hundred and fifteen thousand one hundred and fifty pounds,” said Frank.

“Five hundred thousand–very good,” returned Louis, thoughtfully. “And how is the sum secured?”

“Chiefly by acknowledgments from the bank with the indorsement of John Potts, President.”

“What are the other liabilities?”

“He has implored me to purchase for him or sell him some California stock. I have reluctantly consented to do so,” continued Frank, with a sardonic smile, “entirely through the request of my senior, and he has taken a hundred shares at a thousand pounds each.”

“One hundred thousand pounds,” said Louis.

“I consented to take his notes,” continued Frank, “purely out of regard to the recommendations of my senior.”

“Any thing else?” asked Louis.

“He urged me to recommend him to a good broker who might purchase stock for him in reliable companies. I created a broker and recommended him. He asked me also confidentially to tell him which stocks were best, so I kindly advised him to purchase the Mexican and the Guatemala loan. I also recommended the Venezuela bonds. I threw all these into the market, and by dextrous manipulation raised the price to 3 per cent, premium. He paid L103 for every L100. When he wants to sell out, as he may one day wish to do, he will be lucky if he gets 35 per cent”

“How much did he buy?”

“Mexican loan, fifty thousand; Guatemala, fifty thousand; and Venezuela bonds, fifty thousand.”

“He is quite lavish.”

“Oh, quite. That makes it so pleasant to do business with him.”

“Did you advance the money for this?”

“He did not ask it. He raised the money somehow, perhaps from our old advances, and bought them from the broker. The broker was of course myself. The beauty of all this is, that I send applicants for money, who give their notes; he gets money from me and gives his notes to me, and then advances the money to these applicants, who bring it back to me. It’s odd, isn’t it?”

Louis smiled.

“Has he no _bona fide_ debtors in his own county?”

“Oh yes, plenty of them; but more than half of his advances have been made to my men.

“Did you hint any thing about issuing notes?”

“Oh yes, and the bait took wonderfully. He made his bank a bank of issue at once, and sent out a hundred and fifty thousand pounds in notes. I think it was in this way that he got the money for all that American stock. At any rate, it helped him. As he has only a small supply of gold in his vaults, you may very readily conjecture his peculiar position.”

Louis was silent for a time.

“You have managed admirably, Frank,” said he at last.

“Oh,” rejoined Frank, “Potts is very small game, financially. There is no skill needed in playing with him. He is such a clumsy bungler that he does whatever one wishes. There is not even excitement. Whatever I tell him to do he does. Now if I were anxious to crush the Rothschilds, it would be very different. There would then be a chance for skill.”

“You have had the chance.”

“I did not wish to ruin them,” said Frank. “Too many innocent people would have suffered. I only wished to alarm them. I rather think, from what I hear, that they were a little disturbed on that day when they had to pay four millions. Yet I could have crushed them if I had chosen, and I managed things so as to let them see this.”

“How?”

“I controlled other engagements of theirs, and on the same day I magnanimously wrote them a letter, saying that I would not press for payment, as their notes were as good to me as money. Had I pressed they would have gone down. Nothing could have saved them. But I did not wish that. The fact is they have locked up their means very much, and have been rather careless of late. They have learned a lesson now.”

Louis relapsed into his reflections, and Frank began to answer his letters.

CHAPTER XXXVII

THE “PROMETHEUS.”

It took some time for Langhetti to make his preparations in London. September came before he had completed them. To his surprise these arrangements were much easier than he had supposed. People came to him of their own accord before he thought it possible that they could have heard of his project. What most surprised him was a call from the manager of Covent Garden Theatre, who offered to put it into his hands for a price so low as to surprise Langhetti more than any thing else that had occurred. Of course he accepted the offer gratefully and eagerly. The manager said that the building was on his hands, and he did not wish to use it for the present, for which reason he would be glad to turn it over to him. He remarked also that there was very much stock in the theatre that could be made use of, for which he would charge nothing whatever. Langhetti went to see it, and found a large number of magnificently painted scenes, which could be used in his piece. On asking the manager how scenes of this sort came to be there, he learned that some one had been representing the “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” or something of that sort.

Langhetti’s means were very limited, and as he had risked every thing on this experiment he was rejoiced to find events so very greatly in his favor.

Another circumstance which was equally in his favor, if not more so, was the kind consideration of the London papers. They announced his forthcoming work over and over again. Some of their writers came to see him so as to get the particulars, and what little he told them they described in the most attractive and effective manner.

A large number of people presented themselves to form his company, and he also received applications by letter from many whose eminence and fortunes placed them above the need of any such thing. It was simply incomprehensible to Langhetti, who thoroughly understood the ways of the musical world; yet since they offered he was only too happy to accept. On having interviews with these persons he was amazed to find that they were one and all totally indifferent about terms; they all assured him that they were ready to take any part whatever, and merely wished to assist in the representation of a piece so new and so original as his was said to be. They all named a price which was excessively low, and assured him that they did so only for form’s sake; positively refusing to accept any thing more, and leaving it to Langhetti either to take them on their own terms or to reject them. He, of course, could not reject aid so powerful and so unexpected.

At length, he had his rehearsal. After various trials he invited representatives of the London Press to be present at the last. They all came, and all without exception wrote the most glowing accounts for their respective journals.

“I don’t know how it is,” said he to Beatrice. “Every thing has come into my hands. I don’t understand it. It seems to me exactly as if there was some powerful, unseen hand assisting me; some one who secretly put every thing in my way, who paid these artists first and then sent them to me, and influenced all the journals in my favor. I should be sure of this if it were not a more incredible thing than the actual result itself. As it is I am simply perplexed and bewildered. It is a thing that is without parallel. I have a company such as no one has ever before gathered together on one stage. I have eminent prima donnas who are quite willing to sing second and third parts without caring what I pay them, or whether I pay them or not. I know the musical world. All I can say is that the thing is unexampled, and I can not comprehend it. I have tried to find out from some of them what it all means, but they give me no satisfaction. At any rate, my Bicina, you will make your _debut_ under the most favorable circumstances. You saw how they admired your voice at the rehearsal. The world shall admire it still more at your first performance.”

Langhetti was puzzled, and, as he said, bewildered, but he did not slacken a single effort to make his opera successful. His exertions were as unremitting as though he were still struggling against difficulties. After all that had been done for him he knew very well that he was sure of a good house, yet he worked as hard as though his audience was very uncertain.

At length the appointed evening came. Langhetti had certainly expected a good house from those happy accidents which had given him the co- operation of the entire musical world and of the press. Yet when he looked out and saw the house that waited for the rising of the curtain he was overwhelmed.

When he thus looked out it was long before the time. A great murmur had attracted his attention. He saw the house crammed in every part. All the boxes were filled. In the pit was a vast congregation of gentlemen and ladies, the very galleries were thronged.

The wonder that had all along filled him was now greater than ever. He well knew under what circumstances even an ordinarily good house is collected together. There must either be undoubted fame in the prima donna, or else the most wide-spread and comprehensive efforts on the part of a skillful impresario. His efforts had been great, but not such as to insure any thing like this. To account for the prodigious crowd which filled every part of the large edifice was simply impossible.

He did not attempt to account for it. He accepted the situation, and prepared for the performance.

What sort of an idea that audience may have had of the “Prometheus” of Langhetti need hardly be conjectured. They had heard of it as a novelty. They had heard that the company was the best ever collected at one time, and that the prima donna was a prodigy of genius. That was enough for them. They waited in a state of expectation which was so high-pitched that it would have proved disastrous in the extreme to any piece, or any singer who should have proved to be in the slightest degree inferior. Consummate excellence alone in every part could now save the piece from ruin. This Langhetti felt; but he was calm, for he had confidence in his work and in his company. Most of all, he had confidence in Beatrice.

At last the curtain rose.

The scene was such a one as had never before been represented. A blaze of dazzling light filled the stage, and before it stood seven forms, representing the seven archangels. They began one of the sublimest strains ever heard. Each of these singers had in some way won eminence. They had thrown themselves into this work. The music which had been given to them had produced an exalted effect upon their own hearts, and now they rendered forth that grand “Chorus of Angels” which those who heard the “Prometheus” have never forgotten. The words resembled, in some measure, the opening song in Goethe’s “Faust,” but the music was Langhetti’s.

The effect of this magnificent opening was wonderful. The audience sat spell-bound–hushed into stillness by those transcendent harmonies which seemed like the very song of the angels themselves; like that “new song” which is spoken of in Revelation. The grandeur of Handel’s stupendous chords was renewed, and every one present felt its power.

Then came the second scene. Prometheus lay suffering. The ocean nymphs were around him, sympathizing with his woes. The sufferer lay chained to a bleak rock in the summit of frosty Caucasus. Far and wide extended an expanse of ice. In the distance arose a vast world of snow-coveted peaks. In front was a _mer de glace_, which extended all along the stage.

Prometheus addressed all nature–“the divine ether, the swift-winged winds, Earth the All-mother, and the infinite laughter of the ocean waves.” The thoughts were those of Aeschylus, expressed by the music of Langhetti.

The ocean nymphs bewailed him in a song of mournful sweetness, whose indescribable pathos touched every heart. It was the intensity of sympathy–sympathy so profound that it became anguish, for the heart that felt it had identified itself with the heart of the sufferer.

Then followed an extraordinary strain. It was the Voice of Universal Nature, animate and inanimate, mourning over the agony of the God of Love. In that strain was heard the voice of man, the sighing of the winds, the moaning of the sea, the murmur of the trees, the wail of bird and beast, all blending in extraordinary unison, and all speaking of woe.

And now a third scene opened. It was Athene. Athene represented Wisdom or Human Understanding, by which the God of Vengeance is dethroned, and gives place to the eternal rule of the God of Love. To but few of those present could this idea of Langhetti’s be intelligible. The most of them merely regarded the fable and its music, without looking for any meaning beneath the surface.

To these, and to all, the appearance of Beatrice was like a new revelation. She came forward and stood in the costume which the Greek has given to Athene, but in her hand she held the olive–her emblem– instead of the spear. From beneath her helmet her dark locks flowed down and were wreathed in thick waves that clustered heavily about her head.

Here, as Athene, the pure classical contour of Beatrice’s features appeared in marvelous beauty–faultless in their perfect Grecian mould. Her large, dark eyes looked with a certain solemn meaning out upon the vast audience. Her whole face was refined and sublimed by the thought that was within her. In her artistic nature she had appropriated this character to herself so thoroughly, that, as she stood there, she felt herself to be in reality all that she represented. The spectators caught the same feeling from her. Yet so marvelous was her beauty, so astonishing was the perfection of her form and feature, so accurate was the living representation of the ideal goddess that the whole vast audience after one glance burst forth into pealing thunders of spontaneous and irresistible applause.

Beatrice had opened her mouth to begin, but as that thunder of admiration arose she fell back a pace. Was it the applause that had overawed her?

Her eyes were fixed on one spot at the extreme right of the pit. A face was there which enchained her. A face, pale, sad, mournful, with dark eyes fixed on hers in steadfast despair.

Beatrice faltered and fell back, but it was not at the roar of applause. It was that face–the one face among three thousand before her, the one, the only one that she saw. Ah, how in that moment all the past came rushing before her–the Indian Ocean, the Malay pirate, where that face first appeared, the Atlantic, the shipwreck, the long sail over the seas in the boat, the African isle!

She stood so long in silence that the spectators wondered.

Suddenly the face which had so transfixed her sank down. He was gone, or he had hid himself. Was it because he knew that he was the cause of her silence?

The face disappeared, and the spell was broken. Langhetti stood at the side-scenes, watching with deep agitation the silence of Beatrice. He was on the point of taking the desperate step of going forward when he saw that she had regained her composure.

She regained it, and moved a step forward with such calm serenity that no one could have suspected her of having lost it. She began to sing. In an opera words are nothing–music is all in all. It is sufficient if the words express, even in a feeble and general way, the ideas which breathe and burn in the music. Thus it was with the words in the opening song of Beatrice.

But the music! What language can describe it?

Upon this all the richest stores of Langhetti’s genius had been lavished. Into this all the soul of Beatrice was thrown with sublime self-forgetfulness. She ceased to be herself. Before the audience she was Athene.

Her voice, always marvelously rich and full, was now grander and more capacious than ever. It poured forth a full stream of matchless harmony that carried all the audience captive. Strong, soaring, penetrating, it rose easily to the highest notes, and flung them forth with a lavish, and at the same time far-reaching power that penetrated every heart, and thrilled all who heard it. Roused to the highest enthusiasm by the sight of that vast assemblage, Beatrice gave herself up to the intoxication of the hour. She threw herself into the spirit of the piece; she took deep into her heart the thought of Langhetti, and uttered it forth to the listeners with harmonies that were almost divine–such harmonies as they had never before heard.

There was the silence of death as she sang. Her voice stilled all other sounds. Each listener seemed almost afraid to breathe. Some looked at one another in amazement, but most of them sat motionless, with their heads stretched forward, unconscious of any thing except that one voice.

[Illustration: “THE APPEARANCE OF BEATRICE WAS LIKE A NEW REVELATION.”]

At last it ceased. For a moment there was a pause. Then there arose a deep, low thunder of applause that deepened and intensified itself every moment till at last it rose on high in one sublime outburst, a frenzy of acclamation, such as is heard not seldom, but, once heard, is never forgotten.

Beatrice was called out. She came, and retired. Again and again she was called. Flowers were showered down in heaps at her feet. The acclamations went on, and only ceased through the consciousness that more was yet to come. The piece went on. It was one long triumph. At last it ended. Beatrice had been loaded with honors. Langhetti was called out and welcomed with almost equal enthusiasm. His eyes filled with tears of joy as he received this well-merited tribute to his genius. He and Beatrice stood on the stage at the same time. Flowers were flung at him. He took them and laid them at the feet of Beatrice.

At this a louder roar of acclamation arose. It increased and deepened, and the two who stood there felt overwhelmed by the tremendous applause.

So ended the first representation of the “Prometheus!”

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

THE SECRET.

The triumph of Beatrice continued. The daily papers were filled with accounts of the new singer. She had come suddenly before them, and had at one bound reached the highest eminence. She had eclipsed all the popular favorites. Her sublime strains, her glorious enthusiasm, her marvelous voice, her perfect beauty, all kindled the popular heart. The people forgave her for not having an Italian name, since she had one which was so aristocratic. Her whole appearance showed that she was something very different from the common order of artistes, as different, in fact, as the “Prometheus” was from the common order of operas. For here in the “Prometheus” there were no endless iterations of the one theme of love, no perpetual repetitions of the same rhyme of _amore_ and _cuore_, or _amor’_ and _cuor’_; but rather the effort of the soul after sublimer mysteries. The “Prometheus” sought to solve the problem of life and of human suffering. Its divine sentiments brought hope and consolation. The great singer rose to the altitude of a sibyl; she uttered inspirations; she herself was inspired.

As she stood with her grand Grecian beauty, her pure classic features, she looked as beautiful as a statue, and as ideal and passionless. In one sense she could never be a popular favorite. She had no archness or coquetry like some, no voluptuousness like others, no arts to win applause like others. Still she stood up and sang as one who believed that this was the highest mission of humanity, to utter divine truth to human ears. She sang loftily, thrillingly, as an angel might sing, and those who saw her revered her while they listened.

And thus it was that the fame of this new singer went quickly through England, and foreign journals spoke of it half-wonderingly, half- cynically, as usual; for Continentals never have any faith in English art, or in the power which any Englishman may have to interpret art. The leading French journals conjectured that the “Prometheus” was of a religious character, and therefore Puritanical; and consequently for that reason was popular. They amused themselves with the idea of a Puritanical opera, declared that the English wished to Protestantize music, and suggested “Calvin” or “The Sabbath” as good subjects for this new and entirely English class of operas.

But soon the correspondents of some of the Continental papers began to write glowing accounts of the piece, and to put Langhetti in the same class with Handel. He was an Italian, they said, but in this case he united Italian grace and versatility with German solemnity and melancholy. They declared that he was the greatest of living composers, and promised for him a great reputation.

Night after night the representation of the “Prometheus” went on with undiminished success; and with a larger and profounder appreciation of its meaning among the better class of minds. Langhetti began to show a stronger and fuller confidence in the success of his piece than he had yet dared to evince. Yet now its success seemed assured. What more could he wish?

September came on, and every succeeding night only made the success more marked. One day Langhetti was with Beatrice at the theatre, and they were talking of many things. There seemed to be something on his mind, for he spoke in an abstracted manner. Beatrice noticed this at last, and mentioned it.

He was at first very mysterious. “It must be that secret of yours which you will not tell me,” said she. “You said once before that it was connected with me, and that you would tell it to me when the time came. Has not the time come yet?” “Not yet,” answered Langhetti.

“When will it come?”

“I don’t know.”

“And will you keep it secret always?”

“Perhaps not.”

“You speak undecidedly.”

“I am undecided.”

“Why not decide now to tell it?” pleaded Beatrice. “Why should I not know it? Surely I have gone through enough suffering to bear this, even if it bring something additional.”

Langhetti looked at her long and doubtfully.

“You hesitate,” said she.

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“It is of too much importance.”

“That is all the more reason why I should know it. Would it crush me if I knew it?”

“I don’t know. It might.”

“Then let me be crushed.”

Langhetti sighed.

“Is it something that you know for certain, or is it only conjecture?”

“Neither,” said he, “but half-way between the two.”

Beatrice looked earnestly at him for some time. Then she put her head nearer to his and spoke in a solemn whisper.

“It is about my mother!”

Langhetti looked at her with a startled expression.

“Is it not?”

He bowed his head.

“It is–it is. And if so, I implore–I conjure you to tell me. Look–I am calm. Think–I am strong. I am not one who can be cast down merely by bad news.”

“I may tell you soon.”

“Say you will.”

“I will,” said Langhetti, after a struggle.

“When?”

“Soon.”

“Why not to-morrow?”

“That is too soon; you are impatient.”

“Of course I am,” said Beatrice. “Ought I not to be so? Have you not said that this concerns me? and is not all my imagination aroused in the endeavor to form a conjecture as to what it may be?”

She spoke so earnestly that Langhetti was moved, and looked still more undecided.

“When will you tell me?”

“Soon, perhaps,” he replied, with some hesitation.

“Why not now?”

“Oh no, I must assure myself first about some things.”

“To-morrow, then.”

He hesitated.

“Yes,” said she; “it must be to-morrow. If you do not, I shall think that you have little or no confidence in me. I shall expect it to- morrow.”

Langhetti was silent.

“I shall expect it to-morrow,” repeated Beatrice.

Langhetti still continued silent.

“Oh, very well; silence gives consent!” said she, in a lively tone.

“I have not consented.”

“Yes you have, by your silence.”

“I was deliberating.”

“I asked you twice, and you did not refuse; surely that means consent.”

“I do not say so,” said Langhetti, earnestly.

“But you will do so.”

“Do not be so certain.”

“Yes, I will be certain; and if you do not tell me you will very deeply disappoint me.”

“In telling you I could only give you sorrow.”

“Sorrow or joy, whatever it is, I can bear it so long as I know this. You will not suppose that I am actuated by simple feminine curiosity. You know me better. This secret is one which subjects me to the tortures of suspense, and I am anxious to have them removed.”

“The removal will be worse than the suspense.”

“That is impossible.”

“You would not say so if you knew what it was.”

“Tell me, then.”

“That is what I fear to do.”

“Do you fear for me, or for some other person?”

“Only for you.”

“Do not fear for me, then, I beseech you; for it is not only my desire, but my prayer, that I may know this.”

Langhetti seemed to be in deep perplexity. Whatever this secret was with which he was so troubled he seemed afraid to tell it to Beatrice, either from fear that it might not be any thing in itself or result in any thing, or, as seemed more probable, lest it might too greatly affect her. This last was the motive which appeared to influence him most strongly. In either case, the secret of which he spoke must have been one of a highly important character, affecting most deeply the life and fortunes of Beatrice herself. She had formed her own ideas and her own expectations about it, and this made her all the more urgent, and even peremptory, in her demand. In fact, things had come to such a point that Langhetti found himself no longer able to refuse, and now only sought how to postpone his divulgence of his secret.

Yet even this Beatrice combated, and would listen to no later postponement than the morrow.

At length, after long resistance to her demand, Langhetti assented, and promised on the morrow to tell her what it was that he had meant by his secret.

For, as she gathered from his conversation, it was something that he had first discovered in Hong Kong, and had never since forgotten, but had tried to make it certain. His efforts had thus far been useless, and he did not wish to tell her till he could bring proof. That proof, unfortunately, he was not able to find, and he could only tell his conjectures.

It was for these, then, that Beatrice waited in anxious expectation.

CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE CAB.

That evening Beatrice’s performance had been greeted with louder applause than usual, and, what was more gratifying to one like her, the effective passages had been listened to with a stillness which spoke more loudly than the loudest applause of the deep interest of the audience.

Langhetti had almost always driven home with her, but on this occasion he had excused himself on account of some business in the theatre which required his attention.

On going out Beatrice could not find the cabman whom she had employed. After looking around for him a long time she found that he had gone. She was surprised and vexed. At the same time she could not account for this, but thought that perhaps he had been drinking and had forgotten all about her. On making this discovery she was on the point of going back and telling Langhetti, but a cabman followed her persistently, promising to take her wherever she wished, and she thought that it would be foolish to trouble Langhetti about so small a matter; so that at length she decided to employ the persevering cabman, thinking that he could take her to her lodgings as well as any body else.

The cabman started off at a rapid pace, and went on through street after street, while Beatrice sat thinking of the evening’s performance.

At last it seemed to her that she had been a much longer time than usual, and she began to fear that the cabman had lost his way. She looked out. They were going along the upper part of Oxford Street, a great distance from where she lived. She instantly tried to draw down the window so as to attract the cabman’s attention, but could not move it. She tried the other, but all were fast and would not stir. She rapped at the glass to make him hear, but he took no notice. Then she tried to open the door, but could not do so from the inside.

She sat down and thought. What could be the meaning of this? They were now going at a much faster rate than is common in the streets of London, but where she was going she could not conjecture.

She was not afraid. Her chief feeling was one of indignation. Either the cabman was drunk–or what? Could he have been hired to carry her off to her enemies? Was she betrayed?

This thought flashed like lightning through her mind.

She was not one who would sink down into inaction at the sudden onset of terror. Her chief feeling now was one of indignation at the audacity of such an attempt. Obeying the first impulse that seized her, she took the solid roll of music which she carried with her and dashed it against the front window so violently that she broke it in pieces. Then she caught the driver by the sleeve and ordered him to stop.

“All right,” said the driver, and, turning a corner, he whipped up his horses, and they galloped on faster than ever.

“If you don’t stop I’ll call for help!” cried Beatrice.

The driver’s only answer was a fresh application of the whip.

The street up which they turned was narrow, and as it had only dwelling- houses it was not so brightly lighted as Oxford Street. There were but few foot-passengers on the sidewalk. As it was now about midnight, most of the lights were out, and the gas-lamps were the chief means of illumination.

Yet there was a chance that the police might save her. With this hope she dashed her music scroll against the windows on each side of the cab and shivered them to atoms, calling at the top of her voice for help. The swift rush of the cab and the sound of a woman’s voice shouting for aid aroused the police. They started forward. But the horses were rushing so swiftly that no one dared to touch them. The driver seemed to them to have lost control. They thought that the horses were running away, and that those within the cab were frightened.

Away they went through street after street, and Beatrice never ceased to call. The excitement which was created by the runaway horses did not abate, and at length when the driver stopped a policeman hurried up.

The house before which the cab stopped was a plain two-story one, in a quiet-looking street. A light shone from the front-parlor window. As the cab drew up the door opened and a man came out.

Beatrice saw the policeman.

“Help!” she cried; “I implore help. This wretch is carrying me away.”

“What’s this?” growled the policeman.

At this the man that had come out of the house hurried forward.

“Have you found her?” exclaimed a well-known voice. “Oh, my child! How could you leave your father’s roof!”

It was John Potts.

Beatrice was silent for a moment in utter amazement. Yet she made a violent effort against her despair.

“You have no control over me,” said she, bitterly. “I am of age. And you,” said she to the policeman, “I demand your help. I put myself under your protection, and order you either to take that man in charge or to let me go to my home.”

“Oh, my daughter!” cried Potts. “Will you still be relentless?”

“Help me!” cried Beatrice, and she opened the cab-door.

“The policeman can do nothing,” said Potts. “You are not of age. He will not dare to take you from me.”

“I implore you,” cried Beatrice, “save me from this man. Take me to the police-station–any where rather than leave me here!”

“You can not,” said Potts to the bewildered policeman. “Listen. She is my daughter and under age. She ran away with a strolling Italian vagabond, with whom she is leading an improper life. I have got her back.”

“It’s false!” cried Beatrice, vehemently. “I fled from this man’s house because I feared his violence.”

“That is an idle story,” said Potts.

“Save me!” cried Beatrice.

“I don’t know what to do–I suppose I’ve got to take you to the station, at any rate,” said the policeman, hesitatingly.

“Well,” said Potts to Beatrice, “if you do go to the station-house you’ll have to be handed back to me. You are under age.”

“It’s false!” cried Beatrice. “I am twenty.”

“No, you are not more than seventeen.”

“Langhetti can prove that I am twenty.”

“How? I have documents, and a father’s word will be believed before a paramour’s.”

This taunt stung Beatrice to the soul.

“As to your charge about my cruelty I can prove to the world that you lived in splendor in Brandon Hall. Every one of the servants can testify to this. Your morose disposition made you keep by yourself. You always treated your father with indifference, and finally ran away with a man who unfortunately had won your affections in Hong Kong.”

“You well know the reason why I left your roof,” replied Beatrice, with calm and severe dignity. “Your foul aspersions upon my character are unworthy of notice.”

“And what shall I say about your aspersions on my character?” cried Potts, in a loud, rude voice, hoping by a sort of vulgar self-assertion to brow-beat Beatrice. “Do you remember the names you called me and your threats against me? When all this is brought out in the police court, they will see what kind of a daughter you have been.”

“You will be the last one who will dare to let it be brought into a police court.”

“And why? Those absurd charges of yours are worthless. Have you any proof?” he continued, with a sneer, “or has your paramour any?”

“Take me away,” said Beatrice to the policeman.

“Wait!” exclaimed Potts; “you are going, and I will go to reclaim you. The law will give you back to me; for I will prove that you are under age, and I have never treated you with any thing except kindness. Now the law can do nothing since you are mine. But as you are so young and inexperienced I’ll tell you what will happen.

“The newspapers,” he continued, after a pause, “will be full of your story. They will print what I shall prove to be true–that you had an intractable disposition–that you had formed a guilty attachment for a drum-major at Hong Kong–that you ran away with him, lived for a while at Holby, and then went with your paramour to London. If you had only married him you would have been out of my power; but you don’t pretend to be married. You don’t call yourself Langhetti, but have taken another name, which the sharp newspaper reporters will hint was given you by some other one of your numerous favorites. They will declare that you love every man but your own father; and you–you who played the goddess on the stage and sang about Truth and Religion will be known all over England and all over Europe too as the vilest of the vile.”

[Illustration: “Oh, my daughter!” cried Potts, “will you still be relentless?”]

At this tremendous menace Beatrice’s resolution was shattered to pieces. That this would be so she well knew. To escape from Potts was to have herself made infamous publicly under the sanction of the law, and then, by that same law to be handed back to him. At least whether it was so or not, she thought so. There was no help–no friend.

“Go,” said Potts; “leave me now and you become covered with infamy. Who would believe your story?”

Beatrice was silent, her slender frame was rent by emotion.

“O God!” she groaned–but in her deep despair she could not find thoughts even for prayers.

“You may go, policeman,” said Potts; “my daughter will come with me.”

“Faith and I’m glad! It’s the best thing for her;” and the policeman, much relieved, returned to his beat.

“Some of you’ll have to pay for them winders,” said the cabman.

“All right,” answered Potts, quietly.

“There is your home for to-night, at any rate,” said Potts, pointing to the house. “I don’t think you have any chance left. You had better go in.”

His tone was one full of bitter taunt. Scarce conscious, with her brain reeling, and her limbs trembling, Beatrice entered the house.

CHAPTER XL.

DISCOVERIES.

The next morning after Beatrice’s last performance Langhetti determined to fulfill his promise and tell her that secret which she had been so anxious to know. On entering into his parlor he saw a letter lying on the table addressed to him. It bore no postage stamp, or post-office mark.

He opened it and read the following:

“London, September 5,1849.

“SIGNORE,–Cigole, the betrayer and intended assassin of your late father, is now in London. You can find out about him by inquiring of Giovanni Cavallo, 16 Red Lion Street. As a traitor to the Carbonari, you will know that it is your duty to punish him, even if your filial piety is not strong enough to avenge a father’s wrongs.

“CARBONARO.”

Langhetti read this several times. Then he called for his landlord.

“Who left this letter?” he asked.

“A young man.”

“Do you know his name?”

“No.”

“What did he look like?”

“He looked like a counting-house clerk more than any thing.”

“When was it left?”

“About six o’clock this morning.”

Langhetti read it over and over. The news that it contained filled his mind. It was not yet ten o’clock. He would not take any breakfast, but went out at once, jumped into a cab, and drove off to Red Lion Street.

Giovanni Cavallo’s office was in a low, dingy building, with a dark, narrow doorway. It was one of those numerous establishments conducted and supported by foreigners whose particular business it is not easy to conjecture. The building was full of offices, but this was on the ground-floor.

Langhetti entered, and found the interior as dingy as the exterior. There was a table in the middle of the room. Beyond this was a door which opened into a back-room.

Only one person was here–a small, bright-eyed man, with thick Vandyke beard and sinewy though small frame. Langhetti took off his hat and bowed.

“I wish to see Signore Cavallo,” said he, in Italian.

“I am Signore Cavallo,” answered the other, blandly.

Langhetti made a peculiar motion with his left arm. The keen eye of the other noticed it in an instant. He returned a gesture of a similar character. Langhetti and he then exchanged some more secret signs. At last Langhetti made one which caused the other to start, and to bow with deep respect.

“I did not know,” said he, in a low voice, “that any of the Interior Council ever came to London…. But come in here,” and he led the way into the inner room, the door of which he locked very mysteriously.

A long conference followed, the details of which would only be tedious. At the close Cavallo said, “There is some life in us yet, and what life we have left shall be spent in trapping that miscreant. Italy shall be avenged on one of her traitors, at any rate.”

“You will write as I told you, and let me know?”

“Most faithfully.”

Langhetti departed, satisfied with the result of this interview. What surprised him most was the letter. The writer must have been one who had been acquainted with his past life. He was amazed to find any one denouncing Cigole to him, but finally concluded that it must be some old Carbonaro, exiled through the afflictions which had befallen that famous society, and cherishing in his exile the bitter resentment which only exiles can feel.

Cavallo himself had known Cigole for years, but had no idea whatever of his early career. Cigole had no suspicion that Cavallo had any thing to do with the Carbonari. His firm were general agents, who did business of a miscellaneous character, now commission, now banking, and now shipping; and in various ways they had had dealings with this man, and kept up an irregular correspondence with him.

This letter had excited afresh within his ardent and impetuous nature all the remembrances of early wrongs. Gentle though he was, and pure in heart, and elevated in all his aspirations, he yet was in all respects a true child of the South, and his passionate nature was roused to a storm by this prospect of just retaliation. All the lofty doctrines with which he might console others were of no avail here in giving him calm. He had never voluntarily pursued Cigole; but now, since this villain had been presented to him, he could not turn aside from what he considered the holy duty of avenging a father’s wrongs.

He saw that for the present every thing would have to give way to this. He determined at once to suspend the representation of the “Prometheus,”