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Cord and Creese by James de Mille

Part 11 out of 11

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"Yes. Zangorri."

"Right. Well, do you know what Zangorri did to avenge his brother's

"No; what?"

"For many years he vowed death to all Englishmen, since it was an
Englishman who had caused the death of his brother. He had a ship; he
got a crew and sailed through the Eastern seas, capturing English ships
and killing the crews. This was his vengeance." Vijal gave a groan.

"You see he has done more than you. He knew better than you who it was
that had killed your father."

"Who was it?" cried Vijal, fiercely.

"I saw him twice," continued Brandon, without noticing the question, of
the other. "I saw him twice, and twice he told me the name of the man
whose death he sought. For year after year he had sought after that man,
but had not found him. Hundreds of Englishmen had fallen. He told me the
name of the man whom he sought, and charged me to carry out his work of
vengeance. I promised to do so, for I had a work of vengeance of my own
to perform, and on the same man, too.

"Who was he?" repeated Vijal, with increased excitement.

"When I saw him last he gave me something which be said he had worn
around his neck for years. I took it, and promised to wear it till the
vengeance which he sought should be accomplished. I did so for I too had
a debt of vengeance stronger than his, and on the same man."

"Who was he?" cried Vijal again, with restless impetuosity.

Brandon unbuttoned his vest and drew forth a Malay creese, which was
hung around his neck and worn under his coat.

"Do you know what this is?" he asked, solemnly.

Vijal took it and looked at it earnestly. His eyes dilated, his nostrils

"My father's!" he cried, in a tremulous voice.

Can you read English letters?"


"Can you read the name that is cut upon it?"

And Brandon pointed to a place where some letters were carved.

Vijal looked earnestly at it. He saw these words:


"That," said Brandon, "is what your father's brother gave to me."

"It's a lie!" growled Vijal, fiercely.

"It's true," said Brandon, calmly, "and it was carved there by your
father's own hand."

Vijal said nothing for a long time. Brandon arose, and put his pistol in
his pocket. Vijal, disencumbering himself from his horse, arose also.
The two stood together on the road.

For hours they remained there talking. At last Brandon remounted and
rode on to Denton. But Vijal went back to the village of Brandon. He
carried with him the creese which Brandon had given him.



Vijal, on going back to Brandon village, went first to the inn where he
saw John. To the inquiries which were eagerly addressed to him he
answered nothing, but simply said that he wished to see Potts. John,
finding him impracticable, cursed him and led the way to the bank.

As Vijal entered Potts locked the door carefully, and then anxiously
questioned him. Vijal gave a plain account of every thing exactly as it
had happened, but with some important alterations and omissions. In the
first place, he said nothing whatever of the long interview which had
taken place and the startling information which he had received. In the
second place, he assured Potts that he must have attacked the wrong man.
For when this man had spared his life he looked at him closely and found
out that he was not the one that he ought to have attacked.

"You blasted fool," cried Potts. "Haven't you got eyes? D--n you; I wish
the fellow, whoever he is, had seized you, or blown your brains out."

Vijal cast down his eyes humbly.

"I can try again," said he. "I have made a mistake this time; the next
time I will make sure."

There was something in the tone of his voice so remorseless and so
vengeful that Potts felt reassured.

"You are a good lad," said he, "a good lad. And you'll try again?"

"Yes," said Vijal, with flashing eyes.

"You'll make sure this time?"

"I'll make sure this time. But I must have some one with me," he
continued. "You need not trouble yourself. Send John with me. He won't
mistake. If he is with me I'll make sure."

As the Malay said this a brighter and more vivid flash shone from his
eyes. He gave a malevolent smile, and his white teeth glistened
balefully. Instantly he checked the smile, and cast down his eyes.

"Ah!" said Potts. "That is very good. John shall go. Johnnie, you don't
mind going, do you?"

"I'll go," said John, languidly.

"You'll know the fellow, won't you?"

"I rather think I should."

"But what will you do first?"

"Go to Denton," said John.

"To Denton?"



"Because Brandon is there."

"How can he be?"

"Simply," said John, "because I know the man that Vijal attacked must
have been Brandon. No other person answers to the description. No other
person would be so quick to dodge the cord, and so quick with the
revolver. He has humbugged Vijal somehow, and this fool of a nigger has
believed him. He was Brandon, and no one else, and I'm going on his

"Well--you're right, perhaps," said Potts; "but take care of yourself,

John gave a dry smile.

"I'll try to do so and I hope to take care of others also," said he.

"God bless you, Johnnie!" said Potts, affectionately, not knowing the
blasphemy of invoking the blessing of God on one who was setting out to
commit murder.

"You're spooney, dad," returned John, and he left the bank with Vijal.

John went back to the inn first, and after a few preparations started
for Denton. On the way he amused himself with coarse jests at Vijal's
stupidity in allowing himself to be deceived by Brandon, taunted him
with cowardice in yielding so easily, and assured him that one who was
so great a coward could not possibly succeed in any undertaking.

Toward evening they reached the inn at Denton. John was anxious not to
show himself, so he went at once to the inn, directing Vijal to keep a
look-out for Brandon and let him know if he saw any one who looked like
him. These directions were accompanied and intermingled with numerous
threats as to what he would do if Vijal dared to fail in any particular.
The Malay listened calmly, showing none of that impatience and haughty
resentment which he formerly used to manifest toward John, and quietly
promised to do what was ordered.

About ten o'clock John happened to look on of the window. He saw a
figure standing where the light from the windows flashed out, which at
once attracted his attention. It was the man whom he sought--it was
Brandon. Was he stopping at the same inn? If so, why had not Vijal told
him? He at once summoned Vijal, who came as calm as ever. To John's
impatient questions as to why he had not told him about Brandon, he
answered that Brandon had only come there half an hour previously, and
that he had been watching him ever since to see what he was going to do.

"You most keep on watching him, then; do you hear?"


"And if you let him slip this time, you infernal nigger, you'll pay dear
for it."

"I'll not make a mistake this time," was Vijal's answer. And as he spoke
his eyes gleamed, and again that baleful smile passed over his face.

"That's the man," said John. "You understand that? That's the man you've
got to fix, do you hear? Don't be a fool this time. You must manage it
to-night, for I don't want to wait here forever. I leave it to you. I
only came to make sure of the man. I'm tired, and I'm going to bed soon.
When I wake to-morrow I expect to hear from you that you have finished
this business. If you don't, d--n you, I'll wring your infernal nigger's

"It will all be done by to-morrow," said Vijal, calmly.

"Then clear out and leave me. I'm going to bed. What you've got to do is
to watch that man."

Vijal retired.

The night passed. When the following morning came John was not up at the
ordinary breakfast hour. Nine o'clock came. Ten o'clock. Still he did
not appear.

"He's a lazy fellow," said the landlord, "though he don't look like it.
And where's his servant?"

"The servant went back to Brandon at day-break," was the answer.

Eleven o'clock came. Still there were no signs of John. There was a
balcony in the inn which ran in front of the windows of the room
occupied by John. After knocking at the door once or twice the landlord
tapped at the window and tried to peep in to see if the occupant was
awake or not. One part, of the blind was drawn a little aside, and
showed the bed and the form of a man still lying there.

"He's an awful sleeper," said the landlord. "It's twelve o'clock, and he
isn't up yet. Well, it's his business, not mine."

About half an hour after the noise of wheels was heard, and a wagon
drove swiftly into the yard of the inn. An old man jumped out, gave his
horse to the hostler, and entered the inn.

He was somewhat flushed and flurried. His eyes twinkled brightly, and
there was a somewhat exuberant familiarity in his address to the

"There was a party who stopped here last night," said he, "that I wish
to see."

"There was only one person here last night," answered the landlord; "a
young man--"

"A young man, yes--that's right; I want to see him."

"Well, as to that," said the landlord, "I don't know but you'll have to
wait. He ain't up yet."

"Isn't he up yet?"

"No; he's an awful sleeper. He went to bed last night early, for his
lights were out before eleven, and now it's nearly one, and he isn't

"At any rate, I must see him."

"Shall I wake him?"


"Yes, and be quick, for I'm in a hurry."

The landlord went up to the door and knocked loudly. There was no
answer. He knocked still more loudly. Still no answer. He then kept up
an incessant rapping for about ten minutes. Still there was no answer.
He had tried the door before, but it was locked on the inside. He went
around to the windows that opened on the balcony; these were open.

He then went down and told the old man that the door was fastened, but
that the windows were unfastened. If he chose to go in there he might do

"I will do so," said the other, "for I must see him. I have business of
importance." He went up.

The landlord and some of the servants, whose curiosity was by this time
excited, followed after.

The old man opened the window, which swung back on hinges, and entered.
There was a man in the bed.

He lay motionless. The old man approached. He recognized the face.

A cold chill went to his heart. He tore down the coverlet, which
concealed the greater part of his face. The next moment he fell forward
upon the bed.

"Johnnie!" he screamed--"Johnnie!"

There was no answer. The face was rigid and fixed. Around the neck was a
faint, bluish line, a mark like what might have been made by a cord.

"Johnnie, Johnnie!" cried the old man again, in piercing tones. He
caught at the hands of the figure before him; he tried to pull it

There was no response. The old man turned away and rushed to the window,
gasping, with white lips, and bloodshot eyes, and a face of horror.

"He is dead!" he shrieked. "My boy--my son--my Johnnie! Murderer! You
have killed him."

The landlord and the servants started back in horror from the presence
of this father in his misery.

It was for but a moment that he stood there. He went back and flung
himself upon the bed. Then he came forth again and stood upon the
balcony, motionless, white-faced, speechless--his lips muttering
inaudible words.

A crowd gathered round. The story soon spread. This was the father of a
young man who had stopped at the inn and died suddenly. The crowd that
gathered around the inn saw the father as he stood on the balcony.

The dwellers in the cottage that was almost opposite saw him, and
Asgeelo brought them the news.



On the night after the arrival of John, Brandon had left Denton. He did
not return till the following day. On arriving at the inn he saw an
unusual spectacle--the old man on the balcony, the crowd of villagers
around, the universal excitement.

On entering the inn he found some one who for some time had been waiting
to see him. It was Philips. Philips had come early in the morning, and
had been over to the cottage. He had learned all about the affair at the
inn, and narrated it to Brandon, who listened with his usual calmness.
He then gave him a letter from Frank, which Brandon read, and put in his

Then Philips told him the news which he had learned at the cottage about
Langhetti. Langhetti and Despard were both there yet, the former very
dangerously ill, the latter waiting for some friends. He also told about
the affair on the road, the seizure of Clark, and his delivery into the
hands of the authorities.

Brandon heard all this with the deepest interest. While the excitement
at the inn was still at its height, he hurried off to the magistrate
into whose hands Clark had been committed. After an interview with him
he returned. He found the excitement unabated. He then went to the
cottage close by the inn, where Beatrice had found a home, and Langhetti
a refuge. Philips was with him.

On knocking at the door Asgeelo opened it. They entered the parlor, and
in a short time Mrs. Compton appeared. Brandon's first inquiry was after

"He is about the same," said Mrs. Compton.

"Does the doctor hold out any hopes of his recovery?" asked Brandon,

"Very little," said Mrs. Compton.

"Who nurses him?"

"Miss Potts and Mr. Despard."

"Are they both here?"


Brandon was silent.

"I will go and tell them that you are here," said Mrs. Compton.

Brandon made no reply, and Mrs. Compton, taking silence for assent, went
to announce his arrival.

In a short time they appeared. Beatrice entered first. She was grave,
and cold, and solemn; Despard was gloomy and stern. They both shook
hands with Brandon in silence. Beatrice gave her hand without a word,
lifelessly and coldly; Despard took his hand abstractedly.

Brandon looked earnestly at Beatrice as she stood there before him,
calm, sad, passionless, almost repellent in her demeanor, and wondered
what the cause might be of such a change.

Mrs. Compton stood apart at a little distance, near Philips, and looked
on with a strange expression, half wistful, half timid.

There was a silence which at length became embarrassing. From the room
where they were sitting the inn could plainly be seen, with the crowd
outside. Beatrice's eyes were directed toward this. Despard said not a
word. At another time he might have been strongly interested in this
man, who on so many accounts was so closely connected with him; but now
the power of some dominant and all-engrossing idea possessed him, and he
seemed to take no notice of any things whatever either without the house
or within.

After looking in silence at the inn for a long time Beatrice withdrew
her gaze. Brandon regarded her with a fixed and earnest glance, as
though he would read her inmost soul. She looked at him, and cast down
her eyes.

"You abhor me!" said he, in a loud, thrilling voice.

She said nothing, but pointed toward the inn.

"You know all about that?"

Beatrice bowed her head silently.

"And you look upon me as guilty?"

She gazed at him, but said nothing. It was a cold, austere gaze, without
one touch of softness.

"After all," said she, "he was my father. You had your vengeance to
take, and you have taken it. You may now exult, but my heart bleeds."

Brandon started to his feet.

"As God lives," he cried, "I did not do that thing!"

Beatrice looked up mournfully and inquiringly.

"If it had been his base life which I sought," said Brandon, vehemently,
"I might long ago have taken it. He was surrounded on all sides by my
power. He could not escape. Officers of the law stood ready to do my
bidding. Yet I allowed him to leave the Hall in safety. I might have
taken his heart's-blood. I might have handed him over to the law. I did

"No," said Beatrice, in icy tones, "you did not; you sought a deeper
vengeance. You cared not to take his life. It was sweeter to you to take
his son's life and give him agony. Death would have been insufficient--
anguish was what you wished;

"It is not for me to blame you," she continued, while Brandon looked at
her without a word. "Who am I--a polluted one, of the accursed brood--
who am I, to stand between you and him, or to blame you if you seek for
vengeance? I am nothing. You have done kindnesses to me which I now wish
were undone. Oh that I had died under the hand of the pirates! Oh that
the ocean had swept me down to death with all its waves! Then I should
not have lived to see this day!"

Roused by her vehemence Despard started from his abstraction and looked

"It seems to me," said he, "as if you were blaming some one for
inflicting suffering on a man for whom no suffering can be too great.
What! can you think of your friend as he lies there in the next room in
his agony, dying, torn to pieces by this man's agency, and have pity for

"Oh!" cried Beatrice, "is he not my father?"

Mrs. Compton looked around with staring eyes, and trembled from head to
foot. Her lips moved--she began to speak, but the words died away on her

"Your father!" said Despard; "his acts have cut him off from a
daughter's sympathy."

"Yet he has a father's feelings, at least for his dead son. Never shall
I forget his look of anguish as he stood on the balcony. His face was
turned this way. He seemed to reproach me."

"Let me tell you," cried Despard, harshly. "He has not yet made
atonement for his crimes. This is but the beginning. I have a debt of
vengeance to extort from him. One scoundrel has been handed over to the
law, another lies dead, another is in London in the hands of Langhetti's
friends, the Carbonari. The worst one yet remains, and my father's voice
cries to me day and night from that dreadful ship."

"Your father's voice!" cried Beatrice. She looked at Despard. Their eyes
met. Something passed between them in that glance which brought back the
old, mysterious feeling which she had known before. Despard rose hastily
and left the room.

"In God's name," cried Brandon, "I say that this man's life was not
sought by me, nor the life of any of his. I will tell you all. When he
compassed the death of Uracao, of whom you know, he obtained possession
of his son, then a mere boy, and carried him away. He kept this lad with
him and brought him up with the idea that he was his best friend, and
that he would one day show him his father's murderer. After I made
myself known to him, he told Vijal that I was this murderer. Vijal tried
to assassinate me. I foiled him, and could have killed him. But I spared
his life. I then told him the truth. That is all that I have done. Of
course, I knew that Vijal would seek for vengeance. That was not my
concern. Since Potts had sent him to seek my life under a lie, I sent
him away with knowledge of the truth. I do not repent that told him; nor
is there any guilt chargeable to me. The man that lies dead there is not
my victim. Yet if he were--oh, Beatrice! if he were--what then? Could
that atone for what I have suffered? My father ruined and broken-hearted
and dying in a poor-house calls to me always for vengeance. My mother
suffering in the emigrant ship, and dying of the plague amidst horrors
without a name calls to me. Above all my sweet sister, my pure Edith--"

"Edith!" interrupted Beatrice--"Edith!"

"Yes; do you not know that? She was buried alive."

"What!" cried Beatrice; "is it possible that you do not know that she is


"Yes, alive; for when I was at Holly I saw her."

Brandon stood speechless with surprise.

"Langhetti saved her," said Beatrice. "His sister has charge of her

"Where, where is she?" asked Brandon, wildly.

"In a convent at London."

At this moment Despard entered.

"Is this true?" asked Brandon, with a deeper agitation than had ever yet
been seen in him--"my sister, is it true that she is not dead?"

"It is true. I should have told you," said Despard, "but other thoughts
drove it from my mind, and I forgot that you might be ignorant."

"How is it possible? I was at Quebec myself. I have sought over the
world after my relatives--"

"I will tell you," said Despard.

He sat down and began to tell the story of Edith's voyage and all that
Langhetti had done, down to the time of his rescue of her from death.
The recital filled Brandon with such deep amazement that he had not a
word to say. He listened like one stupefied.

"Thank God!" he cried at last when it was ended; "thank God, I am spared
this last anguish; I am freed from the thought which for years has been
most intolerable. The memories that remain are bitter enough, but they
are not so terrible as this. But I must see her. I must find her. Where
is she?"

"Make yourself easy on that score," said Despard, calmly. "She will be
here to-morrow or the day after. I have written to Langhetti's sister;
she will come, and will bring your sister with her."

"I should have told you so before," said Beatrice, "but my own troubles
drove every thing else from my mind."

"Forgive me," said Brandon, "for intruding now. I came in to learn about
Langhetti. You look upon me with horror. I will withdraw."

Beatrice bowed her head, and tears streamed from her eyes. Brandon took
her hand.

"Farewell," he murmured; "farewell, Beatrice. You will not condemn me
when I say that I am innocent?"

"I am accursed," she murmured.

Despard looked at these two with deep anxiety.

"Stay," said he to Brandon. "There is something which must be explained.
There is a secret which Langhetti has had for years, and which he has
several times been on the point of telling. I have just spoken to him
and told him that you are here. He says he will tell his secret now,
whatever it is. He wishes us all to come in--and you too, especially,"
said Despard, looking at Mrs. Compton.

The poor old creature began to tremble.

"Don't be afraid, old woman," said Philips. "Take my arm and I'll
protect you."

She rose, and, leaning on his arm, followed the others into Langhetti's
room. He was fearfully emaciated. His material frame, worn down by pain
and confinement, seemed about to dissolve and let free that soaring soul
of his, whose fiery impulses had for years chafed against the prison
bars of its mortal inclosure. His eyes shone darkly and luminously from
their deep, hollow sockets, and upon his thin, wan, white lips there was
a faint smile of welcome--faint like the smile of the sick, yet sweet as
the smile of an angel.

It was with such a smile that he greeted Brandon, and with both of his
thin white hands pressed the strong and muscular hand of the other.

"And you are Edith's brother," he said. "Edith's brother," he repeated,
resting lovingly upon that name, Edith. "She always said you were alive,
and once she told me she should live to see you. Welcome, brother of my
Edith! I am a dying man. Edith said her other brother was alive--Frank.
Where is Frank? Will he not come to stand by the bedside of his dying
friend? He did so once."

"He will come," said Brandon, in a voice choked with emotion, as he
pressed the hand of the dying man. "He will come, and at once."

"And you will be all here, then--sweet friends! It is well."

He paused.

"Bice!" said he at last.

Beatrice, who was sitting by his head, bent down toward him.

"Bice," said Langhetti. "My pocket-book is in my coat, and if you open
the inside pocket you will find something wrapped in paper. Bring it to

Beatrice found the pocket-book and opened it as directed. In the inside
pocket there was a thin, small parcel. She opened it and drew forth a
very small baby's stocking.

"Look at the mark," said Langhetti.

Beatrice did so, and saw two letters marked on it--B. D.

"This was given me by your nurse at Hong Kong. She said your things were
all marked with those letters when you were first brought to her. She
did not know what it meant. 'B' meant Beatrice; but what did 'D' mean?"

All around that bedside exchanged glances of wonder. Mrs. Compton was
most agitated.

"Take me away," she murmured to Philips.

But Philips would not.

"Cheer up, old woman!" said he. "There's nothing to fear now. That
devil won't hurt you."

"Now, in my deep interest in you, and in my affection, I tried to find
out what this meant. The nurse and I often talked about it. She told me
that your father never cared particularly about you, and that it was
strange for your clothing to be marked 'D' if your name was Potts. It
was a thing which greatly troubled her. I made many inquiries. I found
out about the Manilla murder case. From that moment I suspected that 'D'
meant Despard.

"Oh, Heavens!" sighed Beatrice, in an agony of suspense. Brandon and
Despard stood motionless, waiting for something further.

"This is what I tried to solve. I made inquiries every where. At last I
gave it up. So when circumstances threw Beatrice again in my way I tried
again. I have always been baffled There is only, one who can tell--only
one. She is here, in this room; and, in the name of God, I call upon her
to speak out and tell the truth."

"Who?" cried Despard, while he and Brandon both looked earnestly at Mrs.

"Mrs. Compton!" said Langhetti; and his voice seemed to die away from

Mrs. Compton was seized with a panic more overpowering than usual. She
gasped for breath. "Oh, Lord!" she cried. "Oh, Lord! Spare me! spare me!
He'll kill me!"

Brandon walked up to her and took her hand. "Mrs. Compton," said he, in
a calm, resolute voice, "your timidity has been your curse. There is no
need for fear now. I will protect you. The man whom you have feared so
many years is now ruined, helpless, and miserable. I could destroy him
at this moment if I chose. You are foolish if you fear him. Your son is
with you. His arm supports you, and I stand here ready to protect both
you and your son. Speak out, and tell what you know. Your husband is
still living. He longs for your return. You and your son are free from
your enemies. Trust in me, and you shall both go back to him and live in

Tears fell from Mrs. Compton's eyes. She seized Brandon's hand and
pressed it to her thin lips.

"You will protect me?" said she.


"You will save me from him?" she persisted, in a voice of agony.

"Yes, and from all others like him. Do not fear. Speak out."

Mrs. Compton clung to the arm of her son. She drew a long breath. She
looked up into his face as though to gain courage, and then began.

It was a long story. She had been attendant and nurse to the wife of
Colonel Despard, who had died in giving birth to a child. Potts had
brought news of her death, but had said nothing whatever about the
child. Colonel Despard knew nothing of it. Being at a distance at the
time, on duty, he had heard but the one fact of his wife's death, and
all other things were forgotten. He had not even made inquiries as to
whether the child which he had expected was alive or dead, but had at
once given way to the grief of the bereavement, and had hurried off.

In his designs on Colonel Despard, Potts feared that the knowledge of
the existence of a child might keep him in India, and distract his mind
from its sorrow. Therefore he was the more anxious not only to keep this
secret, but also to prevent it from ever being known to Colonel Despard.
With this idea he hurried the preparation of the _Vishnu_ to such
an extent that it was ready for sea almost immediately, and left with
Colonel Despard on that ill-fated voyage.

Mrs. Compton had been left in India with the child. Her son joined her,
in company with John, who, though only a boy, had the vices of a grown
man. Months passed before Potts came back. He then took her along with
the child to China, and left the latter with a respectable woman at Hong
Kong, who was the widow of a British naval officer. The child was
Beatrice Despard.

Potts always feared that Mrs. Compton might divulge his secret, and
therefore always kept her with him. Timid by nature to an unusual
degree, the wretched woman was in constant fear for her life, and as
years passed on this fear was not lessened. The sufferings which she
felt from this terror were atoned for, however, by the constant presence
of her son, who remained in connection with Potts, influenced chiefly by
the ascendency which this villain had over a man of his weak and timid
nature. Potts had brought them to England, and they had lived in
different places, until at last Brandon Hall had fallen into his hands.
Of the former occupants of Brandon Hall, Mrs. Compton knew almost
nothing. Very little had ever been said about them to her. She knew
scarcely any thing about them, except that their names were Brandon, and
that they had suffered misfortunes.

Finally, this Beatrice was Beatrice Despard, the daughter of Colonel
Despard and the sister of the clergyman then present. She herself,
instead of being the daughter of Potts, had been one of his victims, and
had suffered not the least at his hands.

This astounding revelation was checked by frequent interruptions. The
actual story of her true parentage overwhelmed Beatrice. This was the
awful thought which had occurred to herself frequently before. This was
what had moved her so deeply in reading the manuscript of her father on
that African Isle. This also was the thing which had always made her
hate with such intensity the miscreant who pretended to be her father.

Now she was overwhelmed. She threw herself into the arms of her brother
and wept upon his breast. Courtenay Despard for a moment rose above the
gloom that oppressed him, and pressed to his heart this sister so
strangely discovered. Brandon stood apart, looking on, shaken to the
soul and unnerved by the deep joy of that unparalleled discovery. Amidst
all the speculations in which he had indulged the very possibility of
this had never suggested itself. He had believed most implicitly all
along that Beatrice was in reality the daughter of his mortal enemy. Now
the discovery of the truth came upon him with overwhelming force.

She raised herself from her brother's embrace, and turned and looked
upon the man whom she adored--the one who, as she said, had over and
over again saved her life; the one whose life she, too, in her turn had
saved, with whom she had passed so many adventurous and momentous days--
days of alternating peace and storm, of varying hope and despair. To him
she owed every thing; to him she owed even the rapture of this moment.

As their eyes met they revealed all their inmost thoughts. There was now
no barrier between them. Vanished was the insuperable obstacle, vanished
the impassable gulf. They stood side by side. The enemy of this man--his
foe, his victim--was also hers. Whatever he might suffer, whatever
anguish might have been on the face of that old man who had looked at
her from the balcony, she had clearly no part nor lot now in that
suffering or that anguish. He was the murderer of her father. She was
not the daughter of this man. She was of no vulgar or sordid race. Her
blood was no longer polluted or accursed. She was of pure and noble
lineage. She was a Despard.

"Beatrice," said Brandon, with a deep, fervid emotion in his voice;
"Beatrice, I am yours, and you are mine. Beatrice, it was a lie that
kept us apart. My life is yours, and yours is mine."

He thought of nothing but her. He spoke with burning impetuosity. His
words sank into her soul. His eyes devoured hers in the passion of their

"Beatrice--my Beatrice!" he said, "Beatrice Despard--"

He spoke low, bending his head to hers. Her head sank toward his breast.

"Beatrice, do you now reproach me?" he murmured.

She held out her hand, while tears stood in her eyes. Brandon seized it
and covered it with kisses. Despard saw this. In the midst of the
anguish of his face a smile shone forth, like sunshine out of a clouded
sky. He looked at these two for a moment.

Langhetti's eyes were closed. Mrs. Compton and her son were talking
apart. Despard looked upon the lovers.

"Let them love," he murmured to himself; "let them love and be happy.
Heaven has its favorites. I do not envy them; I bless them, though I
love without hope. Heaven has its favorites, but I am an outcast from
that favor."

A shudder passed through him. He drew himself up.

"Since love is denied me," he thought, "I can at least have vengeance."



Some hours afterward Despard called Brandon outside the cottage, and
walked along the bank which overhung the beach. Arriving at a point
several hundred yards distant from the cottage he stopped. Brandon
noticed a deeper gloom upon his face and a sterner purpose on his
resolute mouth.

"I have called you aside," said Despard, "to say that I am going on a
journey. I may be back immediately. If I do not return, will you say to
any one who may ask"--and here he paused for a moment--"say to any one
who may ask, that I have gone away on important business, and that the
time of my coming is uncertain."

"I suppose you can be heard of at Holby, in case of need."

"I am never going back again to Holby."

Brandon looked surprised.

"To one like you," said Despard, "I do not object to tell my purpose.
You know what it is to seek for vengeance. The only feeling that I have
is that. Love, tenderness, affection, all are idle words with me.

"There are three who pre-eminently were concerned in my father's death,"
continued Despard. "One was Cigole. The Carbonari have him. Langhetti
tells me that he must die, unless he himself interposes to save him. And
I think Langhetti will never so interpose. Langhetti is dying--another
stimulus to vengeance.

"The one who has been the cause of this is Clark, another one of my
father's murderers. He is in the hands of the law. His punishment is

"There yet remains the third, and the worst. Your vengeance is satisfied
on him. Mine is not. Not even the sight of that miscreant in the
attitude of a bereaved father could for one moment move me to pity. I
took note of the agony of his face. I watched his grief with joy. I am
going to complete that joy. He must die, and no mortal can save him from
my hands."

The deep, stern tones of Despard were like the knell of doom, and there
was in them such determinate vindictiveness that Brandon saw all
remonstrance to be useless.

He marked the pale sad face of this man. He saw in it the traces of
sorrow of longer standing than any which he might have felt about the
manuscript that he had read. It was the face of a man who had suffered
so much that life had become a burden.

"You are a clergyman," said Brandon at length, with a faint hope that an
appeal to his profession might have some effect.

Despard smiled cynically.

"I am a man," said he.

"Can not the discovery of a sister," asked Brandon, "atone in some
degree for your grief about your father?"

Despard shook his head wearily.

"No," said he, "I must do something, and only one purpose is before me
now. I see your motive. You wish to stop short of taking that devil's
life. It is useless to remonstrate. My mind is made up. Perhaps I may
come back unsuccessful. If so--I must be resigned, I suppose. At any
rate you know my purpose, and can let those who ask after me know, in a
general way, what I have said."

With a slight bow Despard walked away, leaving Brandon standing there
filled with thoughts which were half mournful, half remorseful.

On leaving Brandon Despard went at once to the inn. The crowd without
had dwindled away to half a dozen people, who were still talking about
the one event of the day. Making his way through these he entered the

The landlord stood there with a puzzled face, discussing with several
friends the case of the day. More particularly he was troubled by the
sudden departure of the old man, who about an hour previously had
started off in a great hurry, leaving no directions whatever as to what
was to be done with the body up stairs. It was this which now perplexed
the landlord.

Despard listened attentively to the conversation. The landlord mentioned
that Potts had taken the road to Brandon. The servant who had been with
the young man had not been seen. If the old man should not return what
was to be done?

This was enough for Despard, who had his horse saddled without delay and
started also on the Brandon road. He rode on swiftly for some time,
hoping to overtake the man whom he pursued. He rode, however, several
miles without coming in sight of him or of any one like him. At last he
reached that hollow which had been the scene of his encounter with
Clark. As he descended into it he saw a group of men by the road-side
surrounding some object. In the middle of the road was a farmer's wagon,
and a horse was standing in the distance.

[Illustration: "IT WAS POTTS."]

Despard rode up and saw the prostrate figure of a man. He dismounted.
The farmers stood aside and disclosed the face.

It was Potts.

Despard stooped down. It was already dusk but even in that dim light he
saw the coils of a thin cord wound tightly about the neck of this
victim, from one end of which a leaden bullet hung down.

By that light also he saw the hilt of a weapon which had been plunged
into his heart, from which the blood had flowed in torrents.

It was a Malay creese. Upon the handle was carven a name:



[Greek: Deute teleutaion aspasmon domen.]

The excitement which had prevailed through the village of Denton was
intensified by the arrival there of the body of the old man. For his
mysterious death no one could account except one person.

That one was Brandon, whom Despard surprised by his speedy return, and
to whom he narrated the circumstances of the discovery. Brandon knew who
it was that could wield that cord, what arm it was that had held that
weapon, and what heart it was that was animated by sufficient vengeance
to strike these blows.

Despard, finding his purpose thus unexpectedly taken away, remained in
the village and waited. There was one whom he wished to see again. On
the following day Frank Brandon arrived from London. He met Langhetti
with deep emotion, and learned from his brother the astonishing story of

On the following day that long-lost sister herself appeared in company
with Mrs. Thornton. Her form, always fragile, now appeared frailer than
ever, her face had a deeper pallor, her eyes an intenser lustre, her
expression was more unearthly. The joy which the brothers felt at
finding their sister was subdued by an involuntary awe which was
inspired by her presence. She seemed to them as she had seemed to others
like one who had arisen from the dead.

At the sight of her Langhetti's face grew radiant--all pain seemed to
leave him. She bent over him, and their wan lips met in the only kiss
which they had ever exchanged, with all that deep love which they had
felt for one another. She sat by his bedside. She seemed to appropriate
him to herself. The others acknowledged this quiet claim and gave way to

As she kissed Langhetti's lips he murmured faintly:

"I knew you would come."

"Yes," said Edith. "We will go together.

"Yes, sweetest and dearest," said Langhetti. "And therefore we meet now
never to part again."

She looked at him fondly.

"The time of our deliverance is near, oh my friend."

"Near," repeated Langhetti, with a smile of ecstasy--"near. Yes, you
have already by your presence brought me nearer to my immortality."

Mrs. Thornton was pale and wan; and the shock which she felt at the
sight of her brother at first overcame her.

Despard said nothing to her through the day, but as evening came on he
went up to her and in a low voice said, "Let us take a walk."

Mrs. Thornton looked at him earnestly, and then put on her bonnet. It
was quite dark as they left the house. They walked along the road. The
sea was on their left.

"This is the last that we shall see of one another, Little Playmate,"
said Despard, after a long silence. "I have left Holby forever."

"Left Holby! Where are you going?" asked Mrs. Thornton, anxiously.

"To join the army."

"The army!"

"Little Playmate," said Despard, "even my discovery of my father's death
has not changed me. Even my thirst for vengeance could not take the
place of my love. Listen--I flung myself with all the ardor that I could
command into the pursuit of my father's murderers. I forced myself to an
unnatural pitch of pitilessness and vindictiveness. I set out to pursue
one of the worst of these men with the full determination to kill him.
God saved me from blood-guiltiness. I found the man dead in the road.
After this all my passion for vengeance died out, and I was brought face
to face with the old love and the old despair. But each of us would die
rather than do wrong, or go on in a wrong course. The only thing left
for us is to separate forever."

"Yes, forever," murmured Mrs. Thornton.

"Ah, Little Playmate," he continued, taking her hand, "you are the one
who was not only my sweet companion but the bright ideal of my youth.
You always stood transfigured in my eyes. You, Teresa, were in my mind
something perfect--a bright, brilliant being unlike any other. Whether
you were really what I believed you mattered not so far as the effect
upon me was concerned. You were at once a real and an ideal being. I
believed in you, and believe in you yet.

"I was not a lover; I was a devotee. My feelings toward you are such as
Dante describes his feelings toward his Beatrice. My love is tender and
reverential. I exalt you to a plane above my own. What I say may sound
extravagant to you, but it is actual fact with me. Why it should be so I
can not tell. I can only say--I am so made.

"We part, and I leave you; but I shall be like Dante, I suppose, and as
the years pass, instead of weakening my love they will only refine it
and purify it. You will be to me a guardian angel, a patron saint--your
name shall always mingle with my prayers. Is it impious to name your
name in prayer? I turn away from you because I would rather suffer than
do wrong. May I not pray for my darling?"

"I don't know what to do," said Mrs. Thornton, wearily. "Your power over
me is fearful. Lama, I would do any thing for your sake. You talk about
your memories; it is not for me to speak about mine. Whether you
idealize me or not, after all, you must know what I really am."


"Would you be glad never to see me again?"

The hand which Despard held trembled.

"If you would be happier," said she.

"Would you be glad if I could conquer this love of mine, and meet you
again as coolly as a common friend?"

"I want you to be happy, Lama," she replied. "I would suffer myself to
make you happy."

She was weeping. Despard folded her in his arms.

"This once," said he, "the only time, Little Playmate, in this life."

She wept upon his breast.

"[Greek: Teleutaion aspasmon domen]" said Despard, murmuring in a low
voice the opening of the song of the dead, so well known, so often song,
so fondly remembered--the song which bids fare-well to the dead when the
friends bestow the "last kiss."

He bent down his head. Her head fell. His lips touched her forehead.

She felt the beating of his heart; she felt his frame tremble from head
to foot; she heard his deep-drawn breathing, every breath a sigh.

"It is our last farewell," said he, in a voice of agony.

Then he tore himself away, and, a few minutes later, was riding from the



A month passed. Despard gave no sign. A short note which he wrote to
Brandon announced his arrival at London, and informed him that important
affairs required his departure abroad.

The cottage was but a small place, and Brandon determined to have
Langhetti conveyed to the Hall. An ambulance was obtained from Exeter,
and on this Langhetti and Edith were taken away.

On arriving at Brandon Hall Beatrice found her diary in its place of
concealment, the memory of old sorrows which could never be forgotten.
But those old sorrows were passing away now, in the presence of her new

And yet that joy was darkened by the cloud of a new sorrow. Langhetti
was dying. His frail form became more and more attenuated every day, his
eyes more lustrous, his face more spiritual. Down every step of that way
which led to the grave Edith went with him, seeming in her own face and
form to promise a speedier advent in that spirit-world where she longed
to arrive. Beside these Beatrice watched, and Mrs. Thornton added her
tender care.

Day by day Langhetti grew worse. At last one day he called for his
violin. He had caused it to be sent for on a previous occasion, but had
never used it. His love for music was satisfied by the songs of
Beatrice. Now he wished to exert his own skill with the last remnants of
his strength.

Langhetti was propped up by pillows, so that he might hold the
instrument. Near him Edith reclined on a sofa. Her large, lustrous eyes
were fixed on him. Her breathing, which came and went rapidly, showed
her utter weakness and prostration.

Langhetti drew his bow across the strings.

It was a strange, sweet sound, weak, but sweet beyond all words--a long,
faint, lingering tone, which rose and died and rose again, bearing away
the souls of those who heard it into a realm of enchantment and delight.

That tone gave strength to Langhetti. It was as though some unseen power
had been invoked and had come to his aid. The tones came forth more
strongly, on firmer pinions, flying from the strings and towering
through the air.

The strength of these tones seemed to emanate from some unseen power; so
also did their meaning. It was a meaning beyond what might be
intelligible to those who listened--a meaning beyond mortal thought.

Yet Langhetti understood it, and so did Edith. Her eyes grew brighter, a
flush started to her wan cheeks, her breathing grew more rapid.

The music went on. More subtle, more penetrating, more thrilling in its
mysterious meaning, it rose and swelled through the air, like the song
of some unseen ones, who were waiting for newcomers to the Invisible

Suddenly Beatrice gave a piercing cry. She rushed to Edith's sofa. Edith
lay back, her marble face motionless, her white lips apart, her eyes
looking upward. But the lips breathed no more, and in the eyes there no
longer beamed the light of life.

At the cry of Beatrice the violin fell from Langhetti's hand, and he
sank back. His face was turned toward Edith. He saw her and knew it all.


He said not a word, but lay with his face turned toward her. They wished
to carry her away, but he gently reproved them.

"Wait!" he murmured. "In a short time you will carry away another also.

They waited.

An hour before midnight all was over. They had passed--those pure
spirits, from a world which was uncongenial to a fairer world and a
purer clime.

They were buried side by side in the Brandon vaults. Frank then returned
to London. Mrs. Thornton went back to Holby. The new rector was
surprised at the request of the lady of Thornton Grange to be allowed to
become organist in Trinity Church. She offered to pension off the old
man who now presided there. Her request was gladly acceded to. Her zeal
was remarkable. Every day she visited the church to practice at the
organ. This became the purpose of her life. Yet of all the pieces two
were performed most frequently in her daily practice, the one being the
Agnus Dei; the other, the [Greek: teleutaion aspasmon] of St. John
Damascene. Peace! Peace! Peace!

Was that cry of hers unavailing? Of Despard nothing was known for some
time. Mr. Thornton once mentioned to his wife that the Rev. Courtenay
Despard had joined the Eleventh Regiment, and had gone to South Africa.
He mentioned this because he had seen a paragraph stating that a Captain
Despard had been killed in the Kaffir war, and wondered whether it could
by any possibility be their old friend or not.

At Brandon Hall, the one who had been so long a prisoner and a slave
soon became mistress.

The gloom which had rested over the house was dispelled, and Brandon and
his wife were soon able to look back, even to the darkest period of
their lives, without fear of marring their perfect happiness.


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