Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership

Title:      The Lust of Hate
Author:     Guy Boothby
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0601611.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
Character set encoding:     Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit
Date first posted:          June 2006
Date most recently updated: June 2006

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at

To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to

The Lust of Hate
Guy Boothby



Let me begin by explaining that I have set myself the task of
telling this story for two sufficient reasons. The first, because I
consider that it presents as good a warning to a young fellow as he
could anywhere find, against allowing himself to be deluded by a
false hatred into committing a sin that at any other time he would
consider in every way contemptible and cowardly; and the second,
because I think it just possible that it may serve to set others on
their guard against one of the most unscrupulous men, if man he
is--of which I begin to have my doubts--who ever wore shoe leather.
If the first should prove of no avail, I can console myself with the
reflection that I have at least done my best, and, at any rate, can
have wrought no harm; if the second is not required, well, in that
case, I think I shall have satisfactorily proved to my reader,
whoever he may be, what a truly lucky man he may consider himself
never to have fallen into Dr. Nikola's clutches. What stroke of ill
fortune brought me into this fiend's power I suppose I shall never be
able to discover. One thing, however, is very certain, that is that I
have no sort of desire ever to see or hear of him again. Sometimes
when I lie in bed at night, and my dear wife--the truest and
noblest woman, I verily believe, who ever came into this world for a
man's comfort and consolation--is sleeping by my side, I think of all
the curious adventures I have passed through in the last two years,
and then fall to wondering how on earth I managed to come out of them
alive, to say nothing of doing so with so much happiness as is now my
portion. This sort of moralising, however, is not telling my tale; so
if you will excuse me, kind reader, I will bring myself to my
bearings and plunge into my narrative forthwith.

By way of commencement I must tell you something of myself and my
antecedents. My name is Gilbert Pennethorne; my mother was a
Tregenna. and if you remember the old adage--"By Tre--, Pol-- and
Pen-- You may know the Cornishmen," you will see that I may claim to
be Cornish to the backbone.

My father, as far back as I can recollect him, was a highly
respectable, but decidedly choleric, gentleman of the old school, who
clung to his black silk stock and high-rolled collar long after both
had ceased to be the fashion, and for a like reason had for modern
innovations much the same hatred as the stagecoachman was supposed
to entertain for railway engines. Many were the absurd situations
this animosity led him into. Of his six children--two boys and four
girls--I was perhaps the least fortunate in his favour. For some
reason or another--perhaps because I was the youngest, and my advent
into the world had cost my mother her life--he could scarcely bring
himself at any time to treat me with ordinary civility. In
consequence I never ventured near him unless I was absolutely
compelled to do so. I went my way, he went his--and as a result we
knew but little of each other, and liked what we saw still less.
Looking back upon it now, I can see that mine must have been an
extraordinary childhood.

To outsiders my disposition was friendly almost to the borders of
demonstrativeness; in my own home, where an equivalent temperament
might surely have been looked for, I was morose, quick to take
offence, and at times sullen even to brutishness. This my father, to
whom opposition of any kind was as hateful as the Reform Bill, met
with an equal spirit. Ridicule and carping criticism, for which he
had an extraordinary aptitude, became my daily portion, and when
these failed to effect their purpose, corporal punishment followed
sure and sharp. As a result I detested my home as cordially as I
loathed my parent, and was never so happy as when at school--an
unnatural feeling, as you will admit, in one so young. From Eton I
went up to Oxford, where my former ill luck pursued me. Owing to a
misunderstanding I had the misfortune to incur the enmity of my
college authorities during my first term, and, in company with two
others, was ignominiously "sent down" at the outset of my second
year. This was the opportunity my family had been looking for from
the moment I was breeched, and they were quick to take advantage of
it. My debts were heavy, for I had never felt the obligation to stint
myself, and in consequence my father's anger rose in proportion to
the swiftness with which the bills arrived. As the result of half an
hour's one-sided conversation in the library, with a thunder-shower
pattering a melancholy accompaniment upon the window panes, I
received a cheque for five thousand pounds with which to meet my
University liabilities, an uncomplimentary review of my life, past
and present, and a curt announcement that I need never trouble the
parental roof with my society in the future. I took him at his word,
pocketed the cheque, expressed a hypocritical regret that I had
caused him so much anxiety; went up to my room and collected my
belongings; then, having bidden my sisters farewell in icy state in
the drawing-room, took my seat in the dog-cart, and was driven to the
station to catch the express to town. A month later I was on my way
to Australia with a draft for two thousand pounds in my pocket, and
the smallest possible notion of what I was going to do with myself
when I reached the Antipodes.

In its customary fashion ill luck pursued me from the very moment
I set foot on Australian soil. I landed in Melbourne at a
particularly unfortunate time, and within a month had lost half my
capital in a plausible, but ultimately unprofitable, mining venture.
The balance I took with me into the bush, only to lose it there as
easily as I had done the first in town. The aspect of affairs then
changed completely. The so-called friends I had hitherto made
deserted me with but one exception. That one, however, curiously
enough the least respectable of the lot, exerted himself on my behalf
to such good purpose that he obtained for me the position of
storekeeper on a Murrumbidgee sheep station. I embraced the
opportunity with alacrity, and for eighteen months continued in the
same employment, working with a certain amount of pleasure to myself,
and, I believe, some satisfaction to my employers. How long I should
have remained there I cannot say, but when the Banyah Creek gold-field
was proclaimed, I caught the fever, abandoned my employment,
and started off, with my swag upon my back, to try my fortune. This
turned out so poorly that less than seven weeks found me desperate,
my savings departed, and my claim,--which I must in honesty confess
showed but small prospects of success--seized for a debt by a
rascally Jew storekeeper upon the Field. A month later a new rush
swept away the inhabitants, and Banyah Creek was deserted. Not
wishing to be left behind I followed the general inclination, and in
something under a fortnight was prostrated at death's door by an
attack of fever, to which I should probably have succumbed had it not
been for the kindness of a misanthrope of the field, an old miner,
Ben Garman by name. This extraordinary individual, who had tried his
luck on every gold-field of importance in the five colonies and was
as yet as far off making his fortune as when he had first taken a
shovel in his hand, found me lying unconscious alongside the creek.
He carried me to his tent, and, neglecting his claim, set to work to
nurse me back to life again. It was not until I had turned the corner
and was convalescent that I discovered the curiosity my benefactor
really was. His personal appearance was as peculiar as his mode of
life. He was very short, very broad, very red faced, wore a long grey
beard, had bristling, white eye-brows, enormous ears, and the largest
hands and feet I have ever seen on a human being. Where he had
hailed from originally he was unable himself to say. His earliest
recollection was playing with another small boy upon the beach of one
of the innumerable bays of Sydney harbour; but how he had got there,
whether his parents had just emigrated, or whether they had been out
long enough for him to have been born in the colony were points of
which he pronounced himself entirely ignorant. He detested women,
though he could not explain the reason of his antipathy, and there
were not two other men upon the field with whom he was on even the
barest speaking terms. How it came about that he took such a fancy to
me puzzled me then and has continued to do so ever since, for, as far
as I could see, save a certain leaning towards the solitary in life,
we had not a single bond in common. As it was, however, we were
friends without being intimate, and companions by day and night
without knowing more than the merest outside rind of each other's

As soon as I was able to get about again I began to wonder what on
earth I should do with myself next. I had not a halfpenny in the
world, and even on a gold-field it is necessary to eat if one desires
to live, and to have the wherewithal to pay if one desires to eat. I
therefore placed the matter before my companion and ask his advice.
He gave it with his usual candour, and in doing so solved my
difficulty for me once and for all.

"Stay with me, lad," he said, "and help me to work the claim. What
with the rheumatiz and the lumbago I'm none so spry as I used to be,
and there's gold enough in the old shaft yonder to make the fortunes
of both of us when once we can get at it."

Naturally I lost no time in closing with his offer, and the
following morning found me in the bowels of the earth as hard at work
with pick and shovel as my weakness would permit. Unfortunately,
however, for our dream of wealth, the mine did not prove as brilliant
an investment as its owner had predicted for it, and six week's
labour showed us the futility of proceeding further. Accordingly we
abandoned it, packed our swags, and set off for a mountain range away
to the southward, on prospecting thoughts intent. Finding nothing to
suit us there, we migrated into the west, where we tried our hands at
a variety of employments for another eighteen months or thereabouts.
At length, on the Diamintina River, in Western Queensland, we parted
company, myself to take a position of storekeeper on Markapurlie
station in the same neighbourhood, and Ben to try his luck on a new
field that had just come into existence near the New South Wales

For something like three years we neither saw nor heard anything
of each other. Whether Ben had succeeded on the field to which he had
proceeded when he had said "good-bye" to me, or whether, as usual, he
had been left stranded, I could only guess. My own life, on the other
hand, was uneventful in the extreme.

From morning till night I kept the station books, served out
rations to boundary riders and other station hands, and, in the
intervals, thought of my old life, and wondered whether it would ever
be my lot to set foot in England again. So far I had been one of
Fate's failures, but though I did not know it, I was nearer fortune's
money bag then than I had ever been in my life before.

The manager of Markapurlie was a man named Bartrand, an upstart
and a bully of the first water. He had never taken kindly to me nor I
to him. Every possible means that fell in his way of annoying me he
employed; and, if the truth must be told, I paid his tyranny back
with interest. He seldom spoke save to find fault; I never addressed
him except in a tone of contempt which must have been infinitely
galling to a man of his suspicious antecedents. That he was only
waiting his chance to rid himself of me was as plain as the nose upon
his face, and for this very reason I took especial care so to arrange
my work that it should always fail to give him the opportunity he
desired. The crash, however, was not to be averted, and it came even
sooner than I expected.

One hot day, towards the end of summer, I had been out to one of
the boundary rider's huts with the month's supply of rations, and,
for the reason that I had a long distance to travel, did not reach
the station till late in the afternoon. As I drove up to the little
cluster of buildings beside the lagoon I noticed a small crowd
collected round the store door. Among those present I could
distinguish the manager, one of the overseers (a man of Bartrand's
own kidney, and therefore his especial crony), two or three of the
hands, and as the reason of their presence there, what looked like
the body of a man lying upon the ground at their feet. Having handed
my horses over to the black boy at the stockyard, I strode across to
see what might be going forward. Something in my heart told me I was
vitally concerned in it, and bade me be prepared for any

Reaching the group I glanced at the man upon the ground, and then
almost shouted my surprise aloud. He was none other then Ben Garman,
but oh, how changed! His once stalwart frame shrunk to half its
former size, his face was pinched and haggard to a degree that
frightened me, and, as I looked, I knew there could be no doubt about
one thing, the man was as ill as a man could well be and yet be
called alive.

Pushing the crowd unceremoniously aside, I knelt down and spoke to
him. He was mumbling something to himself and evidently did not
recognise me.

"Ben," I cried, "Ben, old man, don't you remember Gilbert
Pennethorne? Tell me what's wrong with you, old fellow."

But he only rolled his head and muttered something about "five
hundred paces north-west from the creek and just in a line with the
blasted gum."

Realizing that it was quite useless talking to him, and that if I
wished to prolong his life I must get him to bed as soon as possible,
I requested one of the men standing by to lend a hand and help me to
carry him into my hut. This was evidently the chance Bartrand

"To the devil with such foolery," he cried. "You, Johnstone, stand
back and let the man alone. I'll not have him malingering here, I
tell you. I know his little game, and yours too, Pennethorne, and I
warn you, if you take him into your hut I'll give you the sack that
instant, and so you remember what I say."

"But you surely don't want the man to die?" I cried, astonished
almost beyond the reach of words at his barbarity. "Can't you see how
ill he is? Examine him for yourself. He is delirious now, and if he's
not looked to he'll be dead in a few hours."

"And a good job too," said the manager brutally. "For my part, I
believe he's only shamming. Any way I'm not going to have him
doctored here. If he's as ill as you say I'll send him up to the Mail
Change, and they can doctor him there. He looks as if he had enough
money about him to pay Gibbs his footing."

As Garman was in rags and his condition evidenced the keenest
poverty, this sally was treated as a fine joke by the overseer and
the understrappers, who roared with laughter, and swore that they had
never heard anything better in their lives. It roused my blood,
however, to boiling pitch, and I resolved that, come what might, I
would not desert my friend.

"If you send him away to the Mail Change," I cried, looking
Bartrand square in the eye, "where you hope they won't take him
in--and, even if they do, you know they'll not take the trouble to
nurse him--you'll be as much a murderer as the man who stabs another
to the heart, and so I tell you to your face."

Bartrand came a step closer to me, with his fists clenched and his
face showing as white with passion as his tanned skin would

"You call me a murderer, you dog?" he hissed. "Then, by God, I'll
act up to what I've been threatening to do these months past and
clear you off the place at once. Pack up your traps and make yourself
scarce within an hour, or, by the Lord Harry, I'll forget myself and
take my boot to you. I've had enough of your fine gentleman airs, my
dandy, and I tell you the place will smell sweeter when you're out of

I saw his dodge, and understood why he had behaved towards Ben in
such a scurvy fashion. But not wanting to let him see that I was
upset by his behaviour, I looked him straight in the face as coolly
as I knew how and said--

"So you're going to get rid of me because I'm man enough to want
to save the life of an old friend, Mr. Bartrand, are you? Well, then,
let me tell you that you're a meaner hound than even I took you for,
and that is saying a great deal. However, since you wish me to be off
I'll go."

"If you don't want to be pitched into the creek yonder you'll go
without giving me any more of your lip," he answered. "I tell you I'm
standing just about all I can carry now. If we weren't in Australia,
but across the water in some countries I've known, you'd have been
dangling from that gum tree over yonder by this time."

I paid no attention to this threat, but, still keeping as calm as
I possibly could, requested him to inform me if I was to consider
myself discharged.

"You bet you are," said he, "and I'll not be happy till I've seen
your back on the sand ridge yonder."

"Then," said I, "I'll go without more words. But I'll trouble you
for my cheque before I do so. Also for a month's wages in lieu of

Without answering he stepped over Ben's prostrate form and
proceeded into the store. I went to my hut and rolled up my swag.
This done, I returned to the office, to find them hoisting Ben into
the tray buggy which was to take him to the Mail Change, twenty miles
distant. The manager stood in the verandah with a cheque in his hand.
When I approached he handed it to me with an ill-concealed grin
of satisfaction on his face.

"There is your money, and I'll have your receipt," he said. Then,
pointing to a heap of harness beyond the verandah rails, he
continued, "Your riding saddle is yonder, and also your pack saddles
and bridles. I've sent a black boy down for your horses. When they
come up you can clear out as fast as you please. If I catch you on
the run again look out, that's all."

"I'll not trouble you, never fear," I answered. "I have no desire
to see you or Markapurlie again as long as I live. But before I go
I've got something to say to you, and I want these men to hear it. I
want them to know that I consider you a mean, lying, contemptible
murderer. And, what's more, I'm going to let them see me cowhide you
within an inch of your rascally life."

I held a long green-hide quirt in my hand, and as I spoke I
advanced upon him, making it whistle in the air. But surprised as he
was at my audacity he was sufficiently quick to frustrate my
intention. Rushing in at me he attempted to seize the hand that held
the whip, but he did not affect his purpose until I had given him a
smart cut with it across the face. Then, seeing that he meant
fighting, for I will do him the justice to say that he was no coward,
I threw the thong away and gave him battle with my fists. He was not
the sort of foe to be taken lightly. The man had a peculiar knack of
his own, and, what was more, he was as hard as whalebone and almost
as pliable. However he had not the advantage of the training I had
had, nor was he as powerful a man. I let him have it straight from
the shoulder as often and as hard as he would take it, and three
times he measured his full length in the dust. Each time he came up
with a fresh mark upon his face, and I can tell you the sight did me
good. My blood was thoroughly afire by this time, and the only thing
that could cool it was the touch of his face against my fist. At last
I caught him on the point of the jaw and he went down all of a heap
and lay like a log, just as he had fallen, breathing heavily. The
overseer went across to him, and kneeling by his side, lifted his

"I believe you've killed him," said he, turning to me with an evil
look upon his face.

"Don't you believe it," I answered. "It would have saved the
hangman a job if I had, for, you take my word for it, he'll live to
be hung yet."

I was right in my first assertion, for in a few moments the
manager opened his eyes and looked about him in a dazed fashion.
Seeing this I went off to the stock yard and saddled my horses, then,
with a last look at the station and my late antagonist, who at that
moment was being escorted by the overseer to his own residence, I
climbed into my saddle, and, taking the leading rein of the pack
horse from the black boy's hand, set off over the sand hills in the
direction taken by the cart containing poor Ben.

Reaching the Mail Change--a miserable iron building of four rooms,
standing in the centre of a stretch of the dreariest plain a man
could well imagine--I interviewed the proprietor and engaged a room
in which to nurse my sick friend back to life. Having done this I put
Ben to bed and endeavoured to discover what on earth was the matter
with him. At that moment I verily believe I would have given anything
I possessed, or should have been likely to possess, for five minutes'
conversation with a doctor. I had never seen a case of the kind
before, and was hopelessly fogged as to what course I should pursue
in treating it. To my thinking it looked like typhoid, and having
heard that in such cases milk should be the only diet, I bespoke a
goat from the landlord's herd and relegated her to Ben's exclusive

My chief prayer for the next month was that it might never be
necessary for me to pass through such an awful time again. For three
weeks I fought with the disease night and day, one moment cheered by
a gleam of hope, the next despairing entirely of success. All the
time I was quite aware that I was being spied upon, and that all my
sayings and doings were reported to the manager by my landlord when
he took over the weekly mail bag. But as I had no desire to hide
anything, and nothing, save Ben's progress, to tell, this gave me but
the smallest concern. Being no longer in his employ, Bartrand could
do me no further mischief, and so long as I paid the extortionate
charge demanded by the proprietor of the shanty for board and
residence, I knew he would have no fault to find with my presence

Somewhere or another I remembered to have read that, in the malady
from which I believed my old friend was suffering, on or about the
twenty-first day the crisis is reached, and afterwards a change
should be observable. My suspicions proved correct, for on that very
day Ben became conscious, and after that his condition began
perceptibly to improve. For nearly a week, though still as feeble as
a month-old child, he mended rapidly. Then, for some mysterious
reason he suffered a relapse, lost ground as fast as he had gained
it, and on the twelfth day, counting from the one mentioned above, I
saw that his case was hopeless, and realised that all my endeavours
had been in vain.

How well I remember that miserable afternoon! It had been
scorchingly hot ever since sunrise, and the little room in which I
watched beside the sick man's bed was like a furnace. From my window
I could see the stretch of sunbaked plain rising and falling away
towards the horizon in endless monotony. In the adjoining bar I could
hear the voices of the landlord and three bushmen who, according to
custom, had come over to drink themselves into delirium on their
hard-earned savings, and were facilitating the business with all
possible despatch. On the bed poor Ben tumbled and tossed, talking
wildly to himself and repeating over and over again the same words I
had heard him utter that afternoon at Markapurlie--"five hundred
paces north-west from the creek, and just in a line with the blasted
gum." What he meant by it was more than I could tell, but I was
soon to discover, and that discovery was destined to bring me as near
the pit of damnation as it is possible for a man to get without
actually falling into it.

A little before sundown I left the bedroom and went out into the
verandah. The heat and the closeness of the sick room had not had a
good effect upon me, and I felt wretchedly sick and ill. I sat down
on a bench and took in the hopeless view. A quarter of a mile away
across the plain a couple of wild turkeys were feeding, at the same
time keeping a sharp look-out about them, and on the very edge of the
north-eastern horizon a small cloud of dust proclaimed the coming of
the mail coach, which I knew had been expected since sunrise that
morning. I watched it as it loomed larger and larger, and did not
return to my patient until the clumsy, lumbering concern, drawn by
five panting horses, had pulled up before the hostelry. It was the
driver's custom to pass the night at the Change, and to go on again
at daylight the following morning.

When I had seen the horses unharnessed and had spoken to the
driver, who was an old friend, I made my way back to Ben's room. To
my delight I found him conscious once more. I sat down beside the bed
and told him how glad I was to see that his senses had returned to

"Ay, old lad," he answered feebly, "I know ye. But I shan't do so
for long. I'm done for now, and I know it. This time to-morrow old
Ben will know for hisself what truth there is in the yarns the
sky-pilots spin us about heaven and hell."

"Don't you believe it, Ben," I answered, feeling that although I
agreed with him it was my duty to endeavour to cheer him up. "You're
worth a good many dead men yet. You're not going out this trip by a
great deal. We shall have you packing your swag for a new rush before
you can look round. I'll be helping sink a good shaft inside a

"Never again," he answered; "the only shaft I shall ever have
anything to do with now will be six by two, and when I'm once down in
it I'll never see daylight again."

"Well you're not going to talk any more now. Try and have a nap if
you can. Sleep's what you want to bring your strength back."

"I shall have enough and to spare of that directly," he answered.
"No, lad, I want to talk to you. I've got something on my mind that I
must say while I've the strength to do it."

But I wouldn't hear him.

"If you don't try to get to sleep," I said, "I shall clear out and
leave you. I'll hear what you've got to say later on. There will be
plenty of time for that by and bye."

"As you please," he replied resignedly. "It's for you to choose.
If you'd only listen, I could tell you what will make you the richest
man on earth. If I die without telling you, you'll only have yourself
to thank for it. Now do you want me to go to sleep?"

"Yes, I do!" I said, thinking the poor fellow was growing
delirious again. "I want you to try more than ever. When you wake up
again I'll promise to listen as long as you like."

He did not argue the point any further, but laid his head down on
his pillow again, and in a few moments was dozing quietly.

When he woke again the lamp on the ricketty deal table near the
bed had been lit some time. I had been reading a Sydney paper which I
had picked up in the bar, and was quite unprepared for the choking
cry with which he attracted my attention. Throwing down the paper I
went across to the bed and asked him how he felt.

"Mortal bad," was his answer. "It won't be long now afore I'm
gone. Laddie, I must say what I've got to say quickly, and you must
listen with all your ears."

"I'll listen, never fear," I replied, hoping that my acquiescence
might soothe him. "What is it you have upon your mind? You know I'll
do anything I can to help you."

"I know that, laddie. You've been a good friend to me, an' now,
please God, I'm going to do a good stroke for you. Help me to sit up
a bit."

I lifted him up by placing my arm under his shoulders, and, when I
had propped the pillows behind him, took my seat again.

"You remember the time I left you to go and try my luck on that
new field down south, don't you?"

I nodded.

"Well, I went down there and worked like a galley slave for three
months, only to come off the field a poorer man than I went on to it.
It was never any good, and the whole rush was a fraud. Having found
this out I set off by myself from Kalaman Township into the west,
thinking I would prospect round a bit before I tackled another place.
Leaving the Darling behind me I struck out for the Boolga Ranges,
always having had a sort of notion that there was gold in that part
of the country if only folk could get at it."

He panted, and for a few moments I thought he would be unable to
finish his story. Large beads of perspiration stood upon his
forehead, and he gasped for breath, as a fish does when first taken
from the water. Then he pulled himself together and continued:

"Well, for three months I lived among those lonely hills, for all
the world like a black fellow, never seeing a soul for the whole of
that time. You must remember that for what's to come. Gully after
gully, and hill after hill I tried, but all in vain. In some places
there were prospects, but when I worked at them they never came to
anything. But one day, just as I was thinking of turning back, just
by chance I struck the right spot. When I sampled it I could hardly
believe my eyes. I tell you this, laddie," here his voice sunk to a
whisper as he said impressively, "there's gold enough there to set us
both up as millionaires a dozen times over."

I looked at him in amazement. Was this delirium? or had he really
found what he had averred? I was going to question him, but he held
up his hand to me to be silent.

"Don't talk," he said; "I haven't much time left. See that there's
nobody at the door."

I crossed and opened the door leading into the main passage of the
dwelling. Was it only fancy, or did I really hear someone tip-toeing
away? At any rate whether anybody had been eavesdropping or not, the
passage was empty enough when I looked into it. Having taken my seat
at the bedside again, Ben placed his clammy hand upon my arm and

"As soon as I found what I'd got, I covered up all traces of my
work and cut across country to find you. I sent you a letter from
Thargomindah telling you to chuck up your billet and meet me on the
road, but I suppose you never received it?"

I shook my head. If only I had done so what a vast difference it
might have made in both our lives.

"Well," continued Ben, with increased difficulty, "as no letter
came I made my way west as best I could, to find you. On Cooper's
Creek I was taken ill, and a precious hard time I had of it. Every
day I was getting worse, and by the time I reached Markapurlie I was
done for, as you know."

"But what did you want with me?" I asked, surprised that he
should have taken so much trouble to find me when Fortune was staring
him in the face.

"I wanted you to stand in with me, lad. I wanted a little capital
to start work on, and I reckoned as you'd been so long in one place,
you'd probably have saved a bit. Now it's all done for as far as I'm
concerned. It seems a bit rough, don't it, that after hunting for the
right spot all my life long, I should have found it just when it's no
use to me? Howsoever, it's there for you, laddie, and I don't know
but what you'll make better use of it than I should have done. Now
listen here."

He drew me still closer to him and whispered in my ear--

"As soon as I'm gone make tracks for the Booiga Ranges. Don't waste
a minute. You ought to do it in three weeks, travelling across
country with good horses. Find the head of the creek, and follow it
down till you reach the point where it branches off to the east and
leaves the hills. There are three big rocks at the bend, and half a
mile or so due south from them there's a big dead gum, struck by
lightning, maybe. Step five hundred paces from the rocks up the
hillside fair north-west, and that should bring you level with the
blasted gum. Here's a bit of paper with it all planned out so that
you can't make a mistake."

He pulled out half a sheet of greasy note-paper from his bosom and
gave it to me.

"It don't look much there; but you mark my words, it will prove to
be the biggest gold mine on earth, and that's saying a deal! Peg out
your claim as soon as you get there, and then apply to Government in
the usual way for the Discoverer's Eight. And may you make your
fortune out of it for your kindness to a poor old man."

He laid his head back, exhausted with so much talking, and closed
his eyes. Nearly half-an-hour went by before he spoke again. Then he
said wearily,--

"Laddie, I won't be sorry when it's all over. But still I can't
help thinking I would like to have seen that mine."

He died almost on the stroke of midnight, and we buried him next
day on the little sandhill at the back of the grog shanty. That I was
much affected by the poor old man's decease it would be idle to deny,
even if I desired to do so. The old fellow had been a good mate to
me, and, as far as I knew, I was the only friend he had in the world.
In leaving me his secret, I inherited all he died possessed of. But
if that turned out as he had led me to expect it would do, I
should, indeed, be a made man. In order, however, to prevent a
disappointment that would be too crushing, I determined to place no
faith in it. My luck had hitherto been so bad that it seemed
impossible it could ever change. To tell the truth, I was feeling far
too ill by this time to think much about anything outside myself.
During the last few days my appetite had completely vanished, my head
ached almost to distraction, and my condition generally betokened the
approach of a high fever.

As we left the grave and prepared to return to the house, I
reeled. Gibbs, the landlord, put his arm round me to steady me.

"Come, hold up," he said, not unkindly. "Bite on the bullet, my
lad. We shall have to doctor you next if this is the way you are
going on."

I felt too ill to reply, so I held my tongue and concentrated all
my energies on the difficult task of walking home. When I reached the
house I was put to bed, and Gibbs and his slatternly wife took it in
turns to wait upon me. That night I lost consciousness, and remember
nothing further of what happened until I came to my senses, in the
same room and bed which had been occupied by Ben, some three weeks
later. I was so weak then that I felt more of a desire to die and be
done with it, than to continue the fight for existence. But my
constitution was an extraordinary one, I suppose, for little by
little I regained my strength, until, at the end of six weeks, I was
able to leave my bed and hobble into the verandah. All this time the
story of Ben's mine had been simmering in my brain. The chart he had
given me lay where I had placed it before I was taken ill, namely, in
my shirt pocket, and one morning I took it out and studied it
carefully. What was it worth? Millions or nothing? But that was a
question for the future to decide.

Before putting it back into its hiding place I turned it over and
glanced at the back. To my surprise there was a large blot there that
I felt prepared to swear had not been upon it when Ben had given it
to me. The idea disquieted me exceedingly. I cudgelled my brains to
find some explanation for it, but in vain. One thought made me gasp
with fright. Had it been abstracted from my pocket during my illness?
If this were so I might be forestalled. I consoled myself, however,
with the reflection that, even if it had been examined by strangers,
no harm would be done, for beyond the bare points of the compass it
contained no description of the place, or where it was situated; only
the plan of a creek, a dotted line running five hundred paces
north-west and a black spot indicating a blasted gum tree. As Ben had
given me my directions in a whisper, I was convinced in my own mind
that it was quite impossible for anyone else to share my secret.

A week later I settled my account with Gibbs, and having purchased
sufficient stores from him to carry me on my way, saddled my horses
and set off across country for the Boolga Ranges. I was still weak,
but my strength was daily coming back to me. By the time I reached my
destination I felt I should be fit for anything. It was a long and
wearisome journey, and it was not until I had been a month on the
road that I sighted the range some fifty miles or so ahead of me. The
day following I camped about ten miles due north of it, and had the
satisfaction of knowing that next morning, all being well, I should
be at my destination. By this time the idea of the mine, and the
possibility of the riches that awaited me, had grown upon me to such
an extent that I could think of nothing else. It occupied my waking
thoughts, and was the continual subject of my dreams by night. A
thousand times or more, as I made my way south, I planned what I
would do with my vast wealth when I should have obtained it, and to
such a pitch did this notion at last bring me that the vaguest
thought that my journey might after all be fruitless hurt me like
positive pain.

That night's camp, so short a distance from my Eldorado, was an
extraordinary one. My anxiety was so great that I could not sleep,
but spent the greater part of the night tramping about near my fire,
watching the eastern heavens and wishing for day. As soon as the
first sign of light was in the sky I ran up my horses, saddled them,
and without waiting to cook a breakfast, set off for the hills which
I could see rising like a faint blue cloud above the tree tops to the
south. Little more than half-an-hour's ride from my camp brought me
to the creek, which I followed to the spot indicated on the chart. My
horses would not travel fast enough to keep pace with my impatience.
My heart beat so furiously that I felt as if I should choke, and when
I found the course of the stream trending off in a south-easterly
direction, I felt as if another hour's suspense must inevitably
terminate my existence.

Ahead of me I could see the top of the range rising quite
distinctly above the timber, and every moment I expected to burst
upon the plain which Ben had described to me. When I did, I almost
fell from my saddle in sheer terror. The plain was certainly there,
the trend of the river, the rocks and the hillside were just as they
had been described to me, but there was one vital difference--the
whole place was covered with tents, and alive with men. The field
had been discovered, and now, in all human probability, my claim was
gone. The very thought shook me like the ague. Like a madman I
pressed my heels into my horse's sides, crossed the creek and began
to climb the hill. Pegged-out claims and a thousand miners, busy as
ants in an ant heap, surrounded me on every side. I estimated my five
hundred paces from the rocks on the creek bank, and pushed on until I
had the blasted gum, mentioned on the chart, bearing due south.
Hereabouts, to my despair, the claims were even thicker than
before--not an inch of ground was left unoccupied.

Suddenly, straight before me, from a shaft head on the exact spot
described by Ben, appeared the face of a man I should have known
anywhere in the world--it was the face of my old enemy Bartrand.
Directly I saw it the whole miserable truth dawned upon me, and I
understood as clearly as daylight how I had been duped.

Springing from my saddle and leaving my animals to stray where
they would, I dashed across the intervening space and caught him just
as he emerged from the shaft. He recognised me instantly, and turned
as pale as death. In my rage I could have strangled him where he
stood, as easily as I would have done a chicken.

"Thief and murderer," I cried, beside myself with rage and not
heeding who might be standing by. "Give up the mine you have stolen
from me. Give up the mine, or, as I live, I'll kill you."

He could not answer, for the reason that my grip upon his throat
was throttling him. But the noise he made brought his men to his
assistance. By main force they dragged me off, almost foaming at the
mouth. For the time being I was a maniac, unconscious of everything
save that I wanted to kill the man who had stolen from me the one
great chance of my life.

"Come, come, young fellow, easy does it," cried an old miner, who
had come up with, the crowd to enquire the reason of the excitement.
"What's all this about? What has he done to you?"

Without a second's thought I sprang upon a barrel and addressed
them. Speaking with all the eloquence at my command, I first asked
them if there was anyone present who remembered me. There was a dead
silence for nearly a minute, then a burly miner standing at the back
of the crowd shouted that he did. He had worked a claim next door to
mine at Banyan Creek, he said, and was prepared to swear to my
identity whenever I might wish him to do so. I asked him if he could
tell me the name of my partner on that field, and he instantly
answered "Old Ben Garman." My identity and my friendship with Ben
having been thus established, I described Ben's arrival at
Markapurlie, and Bartrand's treatment of us both. I went on to tell
them how I had nursed the old man until he died, and how on his
deathbed he had told me of the rich find he had made in the Boolga
Ranges. I gave the exact distances, and flourished the chart before
their faces so that all might see it. I next described Gibbs as one
of Bartrand's tools, and commented upon the ink-stain, on the back of
the plan which had aroused my curiosity after my illness. This done,
I openly taxed Bartrand with having stolen my secret, and dared him
to deny it. As if in confirmation of my accusation, it was then
remembered by those present that he had been the first man upon the
field, and, moreover, that he had settled on the exact spot marked
upon my plan. After this, the crowd began to imagine that there might
really be something in the charge I had brought against the fellow.
Bartrand, I discovered later, had followed his old Queensland
tactics, and by his bullying had made himself objectionable upon the
field. For this reason the miners were not prejudiced in his

In the middle of our dispute, and just at the moment when ominous
cries of "Lynch him" were beginning to go up, there was a commotion
behind us, and presently the Commissioner, accompanied by an escort
of troopers, put in an appearance, and enquired the reason of the
crowd. Having been informed, the great man beckoned me to him and led
me down the hill to the tent, which at that time was used as a Court
House. Here I was confronted with Bartrand, and ordered to tell my
tale. I did so, making the most I could of the facts at my disposal.
The Commissioner listened attentively, and when I had finished turned
to Bartrand.

"Where did you receive the information which led you to make your
way to this particular spot?" he asked.

"From the same person who gave this man his," coolly replied
Bartrand. "If Mr. Pennethorne had given me an opportunity, I would
willingly have made this explanation earlier. But on the hill yonder
he did all the talking, and I was permitted no chance to get in a

"You mean to say then," said the Commissioner in his grave,
matter-of-fact way, "that this Ben Garman supplied you with the
information that led you to this spot--prior to seeing Mr.

"That is exactly what I do mean," replied Bartrand quickly.
"Mr. Pennethorne, who at that time was in my employment as
storekeeper upon Markapurlie Station, was out at one of the boundary
riders' huts distributing rations when Garman arrived. The latter was
feeling very ill, and not knowing how long he might be able to get
about, was most anxious to find sufficient capital to test this mine
without delay. After enquiry I agreed to invest the money he
required, and we had just settled the matter in amicable fashion when
he fell upon the ground in a dead faint. Almost at the same instant
Mr. Pennethorne put in an appearance and behaved in a most unseemly
manner. Unless his motives are revenge, I cannot conceive, your
worship, why I should have been set upon in this fashion."

The Commissioner turned to me.

"What have you to say to this?" he asked.

"Only that he lies," I answered furiously. "He lies in every
particular. He has been my enemy from the very first moment I set
eyes upon him, and I feel as certain as that I am standing before you
now, that Ben Garman did not reveal to him his secret. I nursed the
old man on his deathbed, and if he had confided his secret to any one
he would have been certain to tell me. But he impressed upon me the
fact that he had not done so. When he was dead I became seriously ill
in my turn, and the information that led to this man's taking up the
claim was stolen from me, I feel convinced, while I was in my
delirium. The man is a bully and a liar, and not satisfied with that
record, he has made himself a thief."

"Hush, hush, my man," said the Commissioner, soothingly. "You must
not talk in that way here. Now be off, both of you, let me hear of no
quarrelling, and to-morrow I will give my decision."

We bowed and left him, each hating the other like poison, as you
may be sure.

Next morning a trooper discovered me camped by the creek, and
conducted me to the Commissioner's presence. I found him alone, and
when I was ushered in he asked me to sit down.

"Mr. Pennethorne," said he, when the trooper had departed, "I have
sent for you to talk to you about the charge you have brought against
the proprietor of the 'Wheel of Fortune' mine on the hillside
yonder. After mature consideration, I'm afraid I cannot further
consider your case. You must see for yourself that you have nothing
at all to substantiate the charge you make beyond your own bald
assertion. If, as you say, you have been swindled, yours is indeed a
stroke of bad luck, for the mine is a magnificent property; but if,
on the other hand--as I must perforce believe, since he was first
upon the field--Bartrand's statement is a true one, then I can only
think you have acted most unwisely in behaving as you have done. If
you will be guided by me, you will let the matter drop. Personally I
do not see that you can do anything else. Bartrand evidently received
the news before you did, and, as I said just now, in proof of
that we have the fact that he was first on the field. There is no
gainsaying that."

"But I was ill and could not come," I burst out. "I tell you he
stole from me the information that enabled him to get here at

"Pardon me, I do not know that. And now it only remains for me to
ask you to remember that we can have no disturbance here."

"I will make no disturbance," I answered. "You need have no fear
of that. If I cannot get possession of my property by fair means I
shall try elsewhere."

"That does not concern me," he replied. "Only, I think on the
evidence you have at present in your possession you'll be wasting
your time and your money. By the way, your name is Gilbert
Pennethorne, is it not?"

"Yes," I said, without much interest, "and much good it has ever
done me."

"I ask the question because there's an advertisement in the
Sydney Morning Herald which seems to be addressed to you. Here
it is!"

He took up a paper and pointed to a few lines in the "agony"
column. When he handed it to me I read the following:--

"If Gilbert Pennethorne, third son of the late Sir Anthony William
Pennethorne, Bart., of Polton-Penna, in the County of Cornwall,
England, at present believed to be resident in Australia, will apply
at the office of Messrs. Grey and Dawkett, solicitors, Maoquarie
Street, Sydney, he will hear of something to his advantage."

I looked at the paper in a dazed sort of fashion, and then, having
thanked the Commissioner for his kindness, withdrew. In less than two
hours I was on my way to Sydney to interview Messrs. Grey and
Dawkett. On arriving I discovered their office, and when I had
established my identity, learned from them that my father had died
suddenly while out hunting, six months before, and that by his will I
had benefited to the extent of five thousand pounds sterling.

Three days later the excitement and bitter disappointment through
which I had lately passed brought on a relapse of my old illness, and
for nearly a fortnight I hovered between life and death in the Sydney
Hospital. When I left that charitable institution it was to learn
that Bartrand was the sole possessor of what was considered the
richest gold mine in the world, and that he, after putting it into
the hands of reliable officers, had left Australia for London.

As soon as I was quite strong again I packed up my traps, and,
with the lust of murder in my heart, booked a passage in a P. and O.
liner, and followed him.


WHEN I reached England, the icy hand of winter was upon the land.
The streets were banked feet high with snow, and the Thames at London
Bridge was nothing but a mass of floating ice upon which an active
man could have passed from shore to shore. Poor homeless wretches
were to be seen sheltering themselves in every nook and cranny, and
the morning papers teemed with gruesome descriptions of dead bodies
found in drifts, of damage done to property, and of trains delayed
and snowed up in every conceivable part of the country. Such a winter
had not been experienced for years, and when I arrived and realised
what it meant for myself, I could not but comment on my madness in
having left an Australian summer to participate in such a direful
state of things.

Immediately on arrival I made my way to Blankerton's Hotel, off
the Strand, and installed myself there. It was a nice, quiet place,
and suited me admirably. The voyage home from Australia had done me a
world of good--that is to say as far as my bodily health was
concerned--but it was doubtful whether it had relieved my brain of
any of the pressure recent events in Australia had placed upon it.
Though nearly three months had elapsed since my terrible
disappointment in the Boolga Ranges, I had not been able to reconcile
myself to it; and as the monotonous existence on board ship allowed
me more leisure, it probably induced me to brood upon it more than I
should otherwise have done. At any rate, my first thought on reaching
London was that I was in the same city with my enemy, and my second
to wonder how I could best get even with him. All day and all night
this idea held possession of my brain. I could think of nothing but
my hatred of the man, and as often as I saw his name mentioned in the
columns of the Press, the more vehement my desire to punish him
became. Looking back on it now it seems to me that I could not
have been quite right in my head at that time, though to all intents
and purposes I was as rational a being as ever stepped in shoe
leather. In proof of what I mean, I can remember, times out of
number, talking sensibly and calmly enough in the smoking room, and
then going upstairs to my bedroom and leaning out of my window, from
which a glimpse of the Strand was obtainable, to watch the constant
stream of passers by and to wonder if Bartrand were among the number.
I would imagine myself meeting him and enticing him into one of those
dark passages leading from the gas-lit thoroughfare, and then, when I
had revealed my identity, drawing a knife from my sleeve and stabbing
him to his treacherous heart. On another occasion I spent hours
concocting a most ingenious plan for luring him on to the Embankment
late at night, and arranging that my steps to my hotel, feeling about
as miserable as it would be possible for a man to be. What did life
contain for me now? I asked myself this question for the hundredth
time, as I walked up the sombre street; and the answer was,
Nothing--absolutely nothing. By judiciously investing the
amount I had inherited under my father's will I had secured to myself
an income approaching two hundred pounds a year, but beyond that I
had not a penny in the world. I had been sick to death of Australia
for some years before I had thought of leaving it, and my last great
disappointment had not furnished me with any desire to return to it.
On the other hand I had seen too much of the world to be able to
settle down to an office life in England, and my enfeebled
constitution, even had I desired to do so, would have effectively
debarred me from enlisting in the Army. What, therefore, was to
become of me--for I could not entertain the prospect of settling down
to a sort of vegetable existence on my small income--I could not see.
"Oh, if only I had not been taken ill after Ben's death," I said to
myself again and again; "what might I not then have done?" As it was,
that scoundrel Bartrand had made millions out of what was really my
property, and as a result I was a genteel pauper without a hope of
any sort in the world. As the recollection of my disappointment came
into my mind, I ground my teeth and cursed him; and for the rest of
my walk occupied myself thinking of the different ways in which I
might compass his destruction, and at the same time hating myself for
lacking the necessary pluck to put any one of them into

As I reached the entrance to my hotel a paper boy came round the
corner crying his wares.

'"Ere yer are, sir; 'orrible murder in the West End," he said,
running to meet me; and, wanting something to occupy me until
breakfast should be ready, I bought a copy and went in and seated
myself by the hall fire to read it. On the second page was a column
with the following headline, in large type:--

"SHOCKING TRAGEDY IN THE WEST END." Feeling in the humour for this
sort of literature, I began to read. The details were as

"It is our unfortunate duty to convey to the world this morning
the details of a ghastly tragedy which occurred last night in the
West End. The victim was Major-General Charles Brackington, the
well-known M.P. for Pollingworth, whose speech on the Short Service
Extension Bill only last week created such a sensation among military
men. So far the whole affair is shrouded in mystery, but, it is
believed, the police are in possession of a clue which will
ultimately assist them in their identification of the assassin. From
inquiries made we learn that Major-General Brackington last night
visited the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in company with his wife and
daughter, and having escorted them to Chester Square, where his
residence is situated, drove back to the Veteran Club, of which he is
one of the oldest and most distinguished members. There he remained
in conversation with some brother officers until a quarter past
twelve o'clock, when he hailed a passing hansom and bade the man
drive him home. This order was given in the hearing of one of the
Club servants, whose evidence should prove of importance later on.
From the time he left the Club until half-past one o'clock nothing
more was seen of the unfortunate gentleman. Then Police-Sergeant
Maccinochie, while passing along Piccadilly, discovered a man lying
in the centre of the road almost opposite the gates of the Royal
Academy. Calling the constable on the beat to his assistance, he
carried the body to the nearest gas lamp and examined it. To his
horror he recognised Major-General Brackington, with whose features
he was well acquainted. Life, however, was extinct. Though convinced
of this fact, he nevertheless obtained a cab and drove straightway to
Charing Cross Hospital, where his suspicions were confirmed. One
singular circumstance was then discovered--with the exception of the
left eyebrow, which had been cut completely away, evidently with some
exceedingly sharp instrument, there was not a wound of any sort or
description upon the body. Death, so the medical authorities
asserted, had been caused by an overdose of some anaesthetic, though
how administered it was impossible to say. The police are now engaged
endeavouring to discover the cabman, whom it is stated, the Club
servant feels sure he can identify."

With a feeling of interest, for which I could not at all account,
seeing that both the victim and the cabman, whom the police seemed
determined to associate with the crime, were quite unknown to me, I
re-read the paragraph, and then went in to breakfast. While I was
eating I turned the page of the paper, and propping it against the
cruet stand, scanned the fashionable intelligence. Sandwiched in
between the news of the betrothal of the eldest son of a duke, and
the demise of a well-known actress, was a paragraph which stirred me
to the depths of my being. It ran as follows:--

"It is stated on reliable authority that Mr. Richard Bartrand, the
well-known Australian millionaire, has purchased from the executors
of the late Earl of Mount Chennington the magnificent property known
as Chennington Castle in Shropshire, including several farms, with
excellent fishing and shooting."

* * * *  *

I crushed the paper up and threw it angrily away from me. So he
was going to pose as a county magnate, was he--this swindler and
liar!--and upon the wealth he has filched from me? If he had been
before me then, I think I could have found it in my heart to kill him
where he stood, regardless of the consequences.

After breakfast I went for another walk, this time in a westerly
direction. As I passed along the crowded pavements I thought of the
bad luck which had attended me all my life. From the moment I entered
the world nothing seemed to have prospered that I had taken in hand.
As a boy I was notorious for my ill-luck at games; as a man good
fortune was always conspicuously absent from my business ventures;
and when at last a chance for making up for it did come in my way,
success was stolen from me just as I was about to grasp it.

Turning into Pall Mall, I made my way in the direction of St.
James's Street, intending to turn thence into Piccadilly. As I passed
the Minerva Club the door swung open, and to my astonishment my
eldest brother, who had succeeded to the baronetcy and estates on my
father's death, came down the steps. That he recognised me there
could be no doubt. He could not have helped seeing me even if he had
wished to do so, and for a moment, I felt certain, he did not know
what to do. He and I had never been on good terms, and when I
realised that, in spite of my many years' absence from home, he was
not inclined to offer me a welcome, I made as if I would pass on. He,
however, hastened after me, and caught me before I could turn the

"Gilbert," he said, holding out his hand, but speaking without
either emotion or surprise, "this is very unexpected. I had no notion
you were in England. How long is it since you arrived?"

"I reached London yesterday," I answered, with a corresponding
coolness, as I took his hand. For, as I have said, there was that in
his face which betrayed no pleasure at seeing me.

He was silent for half a minute or so, and I could see that he was
wondering how he could best get rid of me.

"You have heard of our father's death, I suppose?" he said at

"I learnt the news in Sydney," I replied. "I have also received
the five thousand pounds he left me."

He made no comment upon the smallness of the amount in proportion
to the large sums received by himself and the rest of the family, nor
did he refer in any other way to our parent's decease. Any one
watching us might have been excused had they taken us for casual
acquaintances, so cool and distant were we with one another.
Presently I enquired, for politeness sake, after his wife, who was
the daughter of the Marquis of Belgravia, and whom I had, so far,
never seen.

"Ethelberta unfortunately is not very well at present," he
answered. "Sir James Peckleton has ordered her complete rest and
quiet, and I regret, for that reason, I shall not be able to see as
much of you as I otherwise should have hoped to do. Is it your
intention to remain very long in England?"

"I have no notion," I replied, truthfully. "I maybe here a week--a
year--or for the rest of my life. But you need not be afraid, I shall
not force my society upon you. From your cordial welcome home, I
gather that the less you see of me the more you will appreciate the
relationship we bear to one another. Good morning."

Without more words I turned upon my heel and strolled on down the
street, leaving him looking very uncomfortable upon the pavement.
There and then I registered a vow that, come what might, I would have
no more to do with my own family.

Leaving Pall Mall behind me, I turned up St. James's Street and
made my way into Piccadilly. In spite of the slippery roads, the
streets were well filled with carriages, and almost opposite
Burlington House I noticed a stylish brougham drawn up beside the
footpath. Just as I reached it the owner left the shop before which
it was standing, and crossed the pavement towards it. Notwithstanding
the expensive fur coat he wore, the highly polished top hat, and his
stylish appearance generally, I knew him at once for Bartrand, my
greatest enemy on earth. He did not see me, for which I could not
help feeling thankful; but I had seen him, and the remembrance of his
face haunted me for the rest of my walk. The brougham, the horses,
even the obsequious servants, should have been mine. I was the just,
lawful owner of them all.

After dinner that evening I was sitting in the smoking room
looking into the fire and, as usual, brooding over my unfortunate
career, when an elderly gentleman, seated in an armchair opposite me,
laid his paper on his knee and addressed me.

"It's a very strange thing about these murders," he said, shaking
his head. "I don't understand it at all. Major-General Brackington
last night, and now Lord Beryworth this morning."

"Do you mean to say there has been another murder of the same kind
to-day?" I enquired, with a little shudder as I thought how nearly
his subject coincided with the idea in my own head.

"I do," he answered. "The facts of the case are as follows:--At
eleven o'clock this morning the peer in question, who, you must
remember, was for many years Governor of one of our Australian
capitals, walked down the Strand in company with the Duke of Garth
and Sir Charles Mandervan. Reaching Norfolk Street he bade his
friends 'good-bye,' and left them. From that time until a quarter
past one o'clock, when some children went in to play in Dahlia Court,
Camden Town, and found the body of an elderly gentleman lying upon
the ground in a peculiar position, he was not seen again. Frightened
at their discovery, the youngsters ran out and informed the policeman
on the beat, who returned with them to the spot indicated. When he
got there he discovered that life had been extinct for some

"But what reason have the authorities for connecting this case
with that of Major-General Brackington?"

"Well, in the first place, on account of the similarity in the
victims' ranks; and in the second, because the same extraordinary
anaesthetic seems to have been the agent in both cases; and thirdly,
for the reason that the same peculiar mutilation was practised. When
Lord Beryworth was found, his left eyebrow had been cut completely
away. Strange, is it not?"

"Horrible, I call it," I answered with a shudder. "It is to be
hoped the police will soon run the murderer to earth."

If I had only known what I do now I wonder if I should have
uttered that sentiment with so much fervour? I very much doubt

The following evening, for some reason or another, certainly not
any desire for enjoyment, I visited a theatre. The name or nature of
the piece performed I cannot now remember. I only know that I sat in
the pit, in the front row, somewhere about the middle, and that I was
so hemmed in by the time the curtain went up, that I could not move
hand or foot. After the little introductory piece was finished the
more expensive parts of the house began to fill, and I watched with a
bitter sort of envy the gaiety and enjoyment of those before me. My
own life seemed one perpetually unpleasant dream, in which I had to
watch the happiness of the world and yet take no share in it myself.
But unhappy as I thought myself then, my cup of sorrow was as yet far
from being full. Fate had arranged that it should be filled to
overflowing, and that I should drink it to the very dregs.

Five minutes before the curtain rose on the play of the evening,
there was a stir in one of the principal boxes on the prompt side of
the side of the house, and a moment later two ladies and three
gentlemen entered. Who the ladies, and two of the gentlemen were I
had no notion; the third man, however, I had no difficulty in
recognising, he was Bartrand. As I saw him a tremour ran through me,
and every inch of my body quivered under the intensity of my emotion.
For the rest of the evening I paid no attention to the play, but sat
watching my enemy, and writhing with fury every time he stooped to
speak to those with whom he sat, or to glance superciliously round
the house. On his shirt front he wore an enormous diamond, which
sparkled and glittered like an evil eye. So much did it fascinate me
that I could not withdraw my eyes from it, and as I watched I felt my
hands twitching to be about its owner's throat.

When the play came to an end, and the audience began to file out
of the theatre into the street, I hastened to the front to see my
enemy emerge. He was standing on the steps, with his friends, putting
on his gloves, while he waited for his carriage to come up. I
remained in the crowd, and watched him as a cat watches a bird.
Presently a magnificent landau, drawn by the same beautiful pair of
thoroughbred horses I had seen in the morning, drew up before the
portico. The footman opened the door, and the man I hated with such a
deadly fervour escorted his friends across the pavement and, having
placed them inside, got in himself. As the vehicle rolled away the
bitterest curse my brain could frame followed it. Oh, if only I could
have found some way of revenging myself upon him, how gladly I would
have seized upon it.

Leaving the theatre I strolled down the street, not caring very
much where I went. A little snow was falling, and the air was
bitterly cold. I passed along the Strand, and not feeling at all like
bed, turned off to my left hand, and made my way towards Oxford
Street. I was still thinking of Bartrand, and it seemed to me that,
as I thought, my hatred became more and more intense. The very idea
of living in the same city with him, of breathing the same air, of
seeing the same sights and meeting the same people was hideously
repulsive to me. I wanted him out of the world, but I wanted
to do the deed myself, to punish him with my own hand; I wanted to
see him lying before me with his sightless eyes turned up to the
skies, and his blood crimsoning the snow, and to be able to assure
myself that at last he was dead, and that I, the man he had wronged,
had killed him. What would it matter? Supposing I were hung for his
murder! To have punished him would surely have been worth that. At
any rate I should have been content.

When I reached Oxford Street I again turned to my left hand, and
walked along the pavement as far as the Tottenham Court Road, thence
down the Charing Cross Road into Shaftesbury Avenue. By this time the
snow was falling thick and fast. Poor homeless wretches were crouched
in every sheltered corner, and once a tall man, thin and ragged as a
scarecrow, rose from a doorway, where he had been huddled up beside a
woman, and hurried after me.

"Kind gentleman," he said in a voice that at any other time could
not have failed to touch my heart, "for the love of God, I implore
you to help me. I am starving, and so is my wife in the doorway
yonder. We are dying of cold and hunger. We have not touched bite or
sup for nearly forty-eight hours, and unless you can spare us the
price of a night's lodging and a little food I assure you she will
not see morning."

I stopped and faced him.

"What will you do for it?" I asked, with a note in my voice that
frightened even myself. "I must have a bargain. If I give you money,
what will you do for it?"

"Anything," the poor wretch replied. "Give me money, and I swear I
will do anything you may like to ask me."

"Anything?" I cried. "That is a large word. Will you commit

I looked fixedly at him, and under the intensity of my gaze he
half shrunk away from me.

"Murder?" he echoed faintly.

"Murder? Yes, murder," I cried, hysterically. "I want murder done.
Nothing else will satisfy me. Kill me the man I'll show you, and you
shall have all you want. Are you prepared to do so much to save your

He wrung his hands and moaned. Then he pulled himself

"Yes, I'll do anything," he answered hoarsely. "Give
me the money; let me have food first."

As he spoke his wife rose from the doorstep, and came swiftly
across the snow towards us. She must have been a fine-looking woman
in her day; now her face, with its ghastly, lead-coloured complexion
and dark, staring eyes was indescribably horrible. On her head she
wore the ruins of a fashionable bonnet.

"Come away!" she cried, seizing the man fiercely by the arm.
"Can't you see that you are talking to the Devil, and that he's
luring your soul to hell? Come away, my husband, I say, and leave
him! If we are to die, let us do it here in the clean snow like
honest folk, not on the scaffold with ropes round our necks. There is
your answer, Devil!"

As she said this she raised her right hand and struck me a blow
full and fair upon the mouth. I felt the blood trickle down my

"Take that, Devil," she shouted; "and now take your temptations
elsewhere, for you've met your match here."

As if I were really the person she alluded to, I picked up my
heels and ran down the street as hard as I could go, not heeding
where I went, but only conscious that at last I had spoken my evil
thoughts aloud. Was I awake, or was I dreaming? It all seemed like
some horrible nightmare, and yet I could feel the hard pavement under
my feet, and my face was cold as ice under the cutting wind.

Just as I reached Piccadilly Circus a clock somewhere in the
neighbourhood struck one. Then it dawned upon me that I had
been walking for two hours. I stood for a moment by the big fountain,
and then crossed the road, and was about to make my way down the
continuation of Regent Street into Waterloo Place, when I heard the
shrill sound of a policeman's whistle. Almost immediately I saw an
officer on the other side of the road dash down the pavement. I
followed him, intent upon finding out what had occasioned the call
for assistance. Bound into Jermyn Street sped the man ahead of me,
and close at his heels I followed. For something like three minutes
we continued our headlong career, and it was not until we had reached
Bury Street that we sounded a halt. Here we discovered a group of men
standing on the pavement watching another man, who was kneeling
beside a body upon the ground. He was examining it with the
assistance of his lantern.

"What's the matter, mate?" inquired the officer whom I had
followed from Piccadilly. "What have you got there?"

"A chap I found lying in the road yonder," replied the policeman
upon his knees. "Have a look at him, and then be off for a stretcher.
I fancy he's dead; but, anyway, we'd best get him to the hospital as
soon as maybe."

My guide knelt down, and turned his light full upon the victim's
face. I peered over his shoulder in company with the other
bystanders. The face we saw before us was the countenance of a
gentleman, and also of a well-to-do member of society. He was clothed
in evening dress, over which he wore a heavy and expensive fur coat.
An opera hat lay in the gutter, where it had probably been blown by
the wind, and an umbrella marked the spot where the body had been
found in the centre of the street. As far as could be gathered
without examining it, there was no sign of blood about the corpse;
one thing, however, was painfully evident--the left eyebrow had
been severed from the face in toto. From the cleanness of the cut
the operation must have been performed with an exceedingly sharp

A more weird and ghastly sight than that snow-covered pavement,
with the flakes falling thick and fast upon it, the greasy road, the
oilskinned policemen, the curious bystanders, and the silent figure
on the ground, could scarcely be imagined. I watched until the man I
had followed returned with an ambulance stretcher, and then
accompanied the mournful cortege a hundred yards or so on its
way to the hospital. Then, being tired of the matter, I branched off
the track, and prepared to make my way back to my hotel as fast as my
legs would take me.

My thoughts were oppressed with what I had seen. There was a grim
fascination about the recollection of the incident that haunted me
continually, and which I could not dispel, try how I would. I
pictured Bartrand lying in the snow exactly as I had seen the other,
and fancied myself coming up and finding him. At that moment I was
passing Charing Cross Railway Station. With the exception of a
policeman sauntering slowly along on the other side of the street, a
drunken man staggering in the road, and a hansom cab approaching us
from Trafalgar Square, I had the street to myself. London slept while
the snow fell, and murder was being done in her public thoroughfares.
The hansom came closer, and for some inscrutable reason I found
myself beginning to take a personal interest in it. This interest
became even greater when, with a spluttering and sliding of feet, the
horse came to a sudden standstill alongside the footpath where I
stood. Next moment a man attired in a thick cloak threw open the
apron and sprang out.

"Mr. Pennethorne, I believe?" he said, stopping me, and at the
same time raising his hat.

"That is my name," I answered shortly, wondering how he knew me
and what on earth he wanted. "What can I do for you?"

He signed to his driver to go, and then, turning to me, said, at
the same time placing his gloved hand upon my arm in a confidential

"I am charmed to make your acquaintance. May I have the pleasure
of walking a little way with you? I should be glad of your society,
and I can then tell you my business."

His voice was soft and musical, and he spoke with a peculiar
languor that was not without its charm. But as I could not understand
what he wanted with me, I put the question to him as plainly as I
could without being absolutely rude, and awaited his answer. He gave
utterance to a queer little laugh before he replied:

"I want the pleasure of your company at supper for one thing," he
said. "And I want to be allowed to help you in a certain matter in
which you are vitally interested, for another. The two taken together
should, I think, induce you to give me your attention."

"But I don't know you," I blurted out. "To the best of my belief I
have never set eyes on you before. What business, therefore, can you
have with me?"

"You shall know all in good time," he answered. "In the meantime
let me introduce myself. My name is Nikola. I am a doctor by
profession, a scientist by choice. I have few friends in London, but
those I have are the best that a man could desire. I spend my life in
the way that pleases me most; that is to say, in the study of human
nature. I have been watching you since you arrived in England, and
have come to the conclusion that you are a man after my own heart. If
you will sup with me as I propose, I don't doubt but that we shall
agree admirably, and what is more to the point, perhaps, we shall be
able to do each other services of inestimable value. I may say
candidly that it lies in your power to furnish me with something I am
in search of. I, on my part, will, in all probability, be able to put
in your way what you most desire in the world."

I stopped in my walk and faced him. Owing to the broad brim of his
hat, and the high collar of his cape, I could scarcely see his face.
But his eyes rivetted my attention at once.

"And that is?" I said.

"Revenge," he answered, simply. "Believe me, my dear Mr.
Pennethorne, I am perfectly acquainted with your story. You have been
wronged; you desire to avenge yourself upon your enemy. It is a very
natural wish, and if you will sup with me as I propose, I don't doubt
but that I can put the power you seek into your hands. Do you

All my scruples vanished before that magic word revenge,
and, strange as it my seem, without more ado I consented to his
proposal. He walked into the road and, taking a whistle from his
pocket, blew three staccato notes upon it. A moment later the
hansom from which he had jumped to accost me appeared round a corner
and came rapidly towards us. When it pulled up at the kerb, and the
apron had been opened, this peculiar individual invited me to take my
place in it, which I immediately did. He followed my example, and sat
down beside me, and then, without any direction to the driver, we set
off up the street.

For upwards of half-an-hour we drove on without stopping, but in
which direction we were proceeding I could not for the life of me
discover. The wheels were rubber-tyred and made no noise upon the
snow-strewn road; my companion scarcely spoke, and the only sound to
be heard was the peculiar bumping noise made by the springs, the soft
pad-pad of the horse's hoofs, and an occasional grunt of
encouragement from the driver. At last it became evident that we were
approaching our destination. The horse's pace slackened; I detected
the sharp ring of his shoes on a paved crossing, and presently we
passed under an archway and came to a standstill.

"Here we are at last, Mr. Pennethorne," said my mysterious
conductor. "Allow me to lift the glass and open the apron."

He did so, and then we alighted. To my surprise we stood in a
square courtyard, surrounded on all sides by lofty buildings. Behind
the cab was a large archway, and at the further end of it the gate
through which we had evidently entered. The houses were in total
darkness, but the light of the cab lamps was sufficient to show me a
door standing open on my left hand.

"I'm afraid you must be very cold, Mr. Pennethorne," said Nikola,
for by that name I shall henceforth call him, as he alighted, "but if
you will follow me I think I can promise that you shall soon be as
warm as toast."

As he spoke he led the way across the courtyard towards the door I
have just mentioned. When he reached it he struck a match and
advanced into the building. The passage was a narrow one, and from
its appearance, and that of the place generally, I surmised that the
building had once been used as a factory of some kind. Half-way down
the passage a narrow wooden staircase led up to the second floor, and
in Indian file we ascended it. On reaching the first landing my guide
opened a door which stood opposite him, and immediately a bright
light illumined the passage.

"Enter, Mr. Pennethorne, and let me make you welcome to my poor
abode," said Nikola, placing his hand upon my shoulder and gently
pushing me before him.

I complied with his request, half expecting to find the room
poorly furnished. To my surprise, however, it was as luxuriously
appointed as any I had ever seen. At least a dozen valuable
pictures--I presume they must have been valuable, though personally I
know but little about such things--decorated the walls; a large and
quaintly-carved cabinet stood in one corner and held a multitude of
china vases, bowls, plates, and other knick-knacks; a massive oak
sideboard occupied a space along one wall and supported a quantity of
silver plate; while the corresponding space upon the opposite wall
was filled by a bookcase reaching to within a few inches of the
ceiling, and crammed with works of every sort and description. A
heavy pile carpet, so soft that our movements made no sound upon it,
covered the floor; luxurious chairs and couches were scattered about
here and there, while in an alcove at the farther end was an
ingenious apparatus for conducting chemical researches. Supper was
laid on the table in the centre, and when we had warmed ourselves at
the fire that glowed in the grate, we sat down to it. As if to add
still further to my surprise, when the silver covers of the dishes
were lifted, everything was found to be smoking hot. How this had
been managed I could not tell, for our arrival at that particular
moment could not have been foretold with any chance of certainty, and
I had seen no servant enter the room. But I was very hungry,
and as the supper before me was the best I had sat down to for
years, you may suppose I was but little inclined to waste time on a
matter of such trivial importance.

When we had finished and I had imbibed the better part of two
bottles of Heidseck, which my host had assiduously pressed upon me,
we left the table and ensconced ourselves in chairs on either side of
the hearth. Then, for the first time, I was able to take thorough
stock of my companion. He was a man of perhaps a little above middle
height, broad shouldered, but slimly built. His elegant proportions,
however, gave but a small idea of the enormous strength I afterwards
discovered him to possess. His hair and eyes were black as night, his
complexion was a dark olive hue, confirming that suspicion of foreign
extraction which his name suggested, but of which his speech afforded
no trace. He was attired in faultless evening dress, the dark colour
of which heightened the extraordinary pallor of his complexion.

"You have a queer home here, Dr. Nikola!" I said, as I accepted
the cheroot he offered me.

"Perhaps it is a little out of the common," he answered, with one
of his queer smiles; "but then that is easily accounted for. Unlike
the general run of human beings, I am not gregarious. In other words,
I am very much averse to what is called the society of my fellow man;
I prefer, under most circumstances, to live alone. At times, of
course, that is not possible. But the idea of living in a flat, shall
we say, with perhaps a couple of families above me, as many on either
side, and the same number below; or in an hotel or a boarding-house,
in which I am compelled to eat my meals in company with
half-a-hundred total strangers, is absolutely repulsive to me. I
cannot bear it, and therefore I choose my abode elsewhere. A private
dwelling-house I might, of course, take, but that would necessitate
servants and other incumbrances; this building suits my purposes
admirably. As you may have noticed, it was once a boot and shoe
factory; but after the proprietor committed suicide by cutting his
throat--which, by the way, he did in this very room--the business
failed; and until I fell across it, it was supposed to be haunted,
and, in consequence, has remained untenanted."

"But do you mean to say you live here alone?" I enquired,
surprised at the queerness of the idea.

"In a certain sense, yes--in another, no. That is, I have a deaf
and dumb Chinese servant who attends to my simple wants, and a cat
who for years has never left me."

"You surprise me more and more!"

"And why? Considering that I know China better than you know that
part of London situated, shall we say, between Blackfriars Bridge and
Charing Cross, and have spent many years of my life here, the first
should not astonish you. And as I am warmly attached to my cat, who
has accompanied me in all my wanderings about the globe, I cannot see
that you should be surprised at the other. Perhaps you would like to
see both?"

As may be supposed, I jumped eagerly at the opportunity; and upon
my saying so, Nikola pressed a knob in the wall at his side. He had
hardly taken his finger away before my ear detected the shuffling of
feet in the passage outside. Next moment the door opened, and in
walked the most hideous man I have ever yet beheld in my life. In
Australia I had met many queer specimens of the Chinese race, but
never one whose countenance approached in repulsiveness that of the
man Nikola employed as his servant. In stature he was taller than his
master, possibly a couple or three inches above six feet, and broad
in proportion. His eyes squinted inwardly, his face was wrinkled and
seamed in every direction, his nose had plainly been slit at some
time or another, and I noticed that his left ear was missing from his
head. He was dressed in his native costume, but when he turned round
I noticed that his pigtail had been shorn off at the roots.

"You are evidently puzzled about something," said Nikola, who had
been watching my face.

"I must confess I am," I answered. "It is this. If he is deaf and
dumb, as you say, how did he hear the bell you rang, and also how do
you communicate your orders to him?"

"This knob," replied Nikola, placing his finger on the bell-push,
"releases a smaller shutter and reveals a disc that signifies that I
desire his services. When I wish to give him instructions I speak to
him in his own language, and he answers it. It is very simple."

"But you said just now that he is deaf and dumb," I cried,
thinking I had caught him in an equivocation. "If so, how can he hear
or speak?"

"So he is," replied my host, looking at me as he spoke, with an
amused smile upon his face. "Quite deaf and dumb."

"Then how can you make him hear. And how does he reply?"

"As I say, by word of mouth. Allow me to explain. You argue that
because the poor fellow has no tongue wherewith to speak, and his
ears are incapable of hearing what you say to him, that it is
impossible for him to carry on a conversation. So far as your meaning
goes, you are right. But you must remember that, while no sound can
come from his lips, it is still possible for the words to be framed.
In that case our eyes take the place of our ears, and thus the
difficulty is solved. The principle is a simple one, and a visit to
any modern deaf and dumb school in London will show you its efficacy.
Surely you are not going to ask me to believe you have not heard of
the system before?"

"Of course I have heard of it," I answered, "but in this case the
circumstances are so different."

"Simply because the man is a Chinaman--that is all. If his skin
were white instead of yellow, and he wore English dress and parted
his hair in the middle, you would find nothing extraordinary in it.
At any rate, perpetual silence on the part of a servant and physical
inability to tittle-tattle of the affairs one would wish kept a
secret, is a luxury few men can boast."

"I agree with you; but how did the poor fellow come to lose his

"To let you into that secret would necessitate the narration of a
long and, I fear to you, uninteresting story. Suffice that he was the
confidential servant of the Viceroy of Kweichow until he was detected
in an amiable plot to assassinate his master with poisoned rice. He
was at once condemned to die by ling-chi or the death of a
thousand cuts, but by the exercise of a little influence which,
fortunately for him, I was able to bring to bear, I managed to get
him off."

"I wonder you care to have a man capable of concocting such a plot
about you," I said.

"And why? Because the poor devil desired to kill the man he hated,
is it certain that he should wish to terminate the existence of his
benefactor, for whom he has a great affection? Moreover, he is a
really good cook, understands my likes and dislikes, never grumbles,
and is quite conscious that if he left me he would never get another
situation in the world. In the nineteenth century, when good servants
are so difficult to procure, the man is worth a gold mine--a Wheel
of Fortune, if you like."

"You would argue, then," I said, disregarding the latter part of
his speech, "that if a man hates another he is justified in
endeavouring to rid the world of him?"

"Necessarily it must depend entirely on the circumstances of the
case," replied Nikola, leaning back in his chair and steadfastly
regarding me. "When a man attempts to do, or succeeds in doing, me an
injury, I invariably repay him in his own coin. Presume, for
instance, that a man were to rob you of what you loved best, and
considered most worth having, in the world--the affection of your
wife, shall we say?--in that case, if you were a man of spirit you
would feel justified in meting out to him the punishment he deserved,
either in the shape of a duel, or severe personal chastisement. If he
shot at you in any country but England, you would shoot at him. Eye
for eye, and tooth for tooth, was the old Hebrew law, and whatever
may be said against it, fundamentally it was a just one."

I thought of Bartrand, and wished I could apply the principle to

"I fear, however," continued Nikola, after a moment's pause, "that
in personal matters the men of the present day are not so brave as
they once were. They shelter themselves too much behind the law of
the land. A man slanders you; instead of thrashing him you bring an
action against him for libel, and claim damages in money. A man runs
away with your wife; you proclaim your shame in open court, and take
gold from your enemy for the affront he has put upon your honour. If
a man thrashes you in a public place, you don't strike him back; on
the contrary, you consult your solicitor, and take your case before a
magistrate, who binds him over to keep the peace. If, after all is
said and done, you look closely into the matter, what is crime? A
very pliable term, I fancy. For instance, a duke may commit an
offence, and escape scot free, when, for the same thing, only under a
different name, a costermonger would be sent to gaol for five years.
And vice versa. A subaltern in a crack regiment may run up
tailors' bills--or any others, for that matter--for several thousands
of pounds and decamp without paying a halfpenny of the money, never
having intended to do so from the very beginning, while if a chimney
sweep were to purloin a bunch of radishes from a tray outside a
greengrocer's window, he would probably be sent to gaol for three
months. And yet both are stealing, though I must confess society
regards them with very different eyes. Let clergymen and other
righteous men say what they will, the world in its heart rather
admires the man who has the pluck to swindle, but he must do so on a
big scale, and he must do so successfully, or he must pay the penalty
of failure. Your own case, with which, as I said earlier, I am quite
familiar, is one in point. Everyone who has heard of it, and who
knows anything of the man, feels certain that Bartrand stole from you
the information which has made him the millionaire he is. But does it
make any difference in the world's treatment of him? None whatever.
And why? Because he swindled successfully. In the same way they
regard you as a very poor sort of fellow for submitting to his

"Curse him!"

"Exactly. But, you see, the fact remains. Bartrand has a house in
Park Lane and a castle in Shropshire. The Duke of Glendower dined
with him the night before last, and one of the members of the Cabinet
will do so on Saturday next. Yesterday he purchased a racing stable
and a stud, for which he paid twenty thousand pounds cash; while I am
told that next year he intends building a yacht that shall be the
finest craft of her class in British waters. It is settled that he is
to be presented at the next levee, and already he is in the first
swim of the fashionable world. If he can only win the Derby this
year, there is nothing he might not aspire to. In ten years, if his
money lasts and he is still alive, he will be a peer of the realm and
founding a new family."

"He must not live as long. Oh, if I could only meet him
face to face and repay him for his treachery!"

"And why not? What is there to prevent you? You can walk to his
house any morning and ask to see him. If you give the butler a
fictitious name and a tip he will admit you. Then, when you get into
the library, you can state your grievance and, having done so, shoot
him dead."

I uttered a little involuntary cry of anger. Deeply as I hated the
man, it was not possible for me seriously to contemplate murdering
him in cold blood. Besides--no, no; such a scheme could not be
thought of for a moment.

"You don't like the idea?" said Nikola, with that easy
nonchalance which characterised him. "Well, I don't wonder at
it; it's bizarre, to say the least of it. You would probably
be caught and hanged, and hanging is an inartistic termination to the
career of even an unsuccessful man. Besides, in that case, you
would have lost your money and your life; he only his life, so that
the balance would still be in his favour. No; what you want is
something a little more subtle, a little more artistic. You want a
scheme that will enable you to put him out of the way, and, at the
same time, one that will place you in possession of the money that is
really yours. Therefore it must be done without any esclandre.
Now I don't doubt you would be surprised if I were to tell you that
in the event of his death you would find yourself his sole heir."

"His sole heir?" I cried. "You must be mad to say such a

"With due respect, no more mad than you are," said this
extraordinary man. I have seen the will for myself--never mind how I
managed it--and I know that what I say is correct. After all, it is
very feasible. The man, for the reason that he has wronged you, hates
you like poison, and while he lives you may be sure you will never
see a penny of his fortune. But he is also superstitious, and
believing, as he does, that he stands a chance of eternal punishment
for swindling you as he did, he is going to endeavour to obtain a
mitigation of his sentence by leaving you at his death what he has
not been able to spend during his lifetime. If you die first, so much
the worse for him; but I imagine he is willing to risk that."

I rose from my chair, this time thoroughly angered.

"Dr. Nikola," I said, "this is a subject upon which I feel very
deeply. I have no desire to jest about it."

"I am not jesting, my friend, I assure you," returned Nikola, and,
as he said so, he went to an escritoire in the corner. "In proof that
what I say is the truth, here is a rough draft of his will, made
yesterday. You are at liberty to peruse it if you care to do so, and
as you are familiar with his writing, you can judge for yourself of
its worth."

I took the paper from his hand and sat down with it in my chair
again. It certainly was what he had described, and in it I was named
as sole and undivided heir to all his vast wealth. As I read, my
anger rose higher and higher. From this paper it was evident that the
man knew he had swindled me, and it was also apparent that he was
resolved to enjoy the fruits of his villainy throughout his life, and
to leave me what he could not use when he died, and when I would, in
all human probability, be too old to enjoy it. I glanced at the paper
again, and then handed it back to Nikola, and waited for him to
speak. He watched me attentively for a few seconds, and then said in
a voice so soft and low that I could scarcely hear it--

"You see, if Bartrand were to be removed after he had signed that
you would benefit at once."

I did not answer. Nikola waited for a few moments and then
continued in the same low tone--

"You hate the man. He has wronged you deeply. He stole your secret
while you were not in a position to defend yourself, and I think he
would have killed you had he dared to do so. Now he is enjoying the
fortune which should be yours. He is one of the richest men in the
world--with your money. He has made himself a name in England, even
in this short space of time--with your money. He is already a patron
of sport, of the drama, and of art of every sort--with your money. If
you attempt to dispute his possession, he will crush you like a worm.
Now the question for your consideration is: Do you hate him
sufficiently to take advantage of an opportunity to kill him if one
should come in your way?"

He had roused my hate to such a pitch that before I could control
myself I had hissed out "Yes!" He heard it, and when I was about to
protest that I did not mean it, held up his hand to me to be

"Listen to me," he said. "I tell you candidly that it is in my
power to help you. If you really wish to rid yourself of this man, I
can arrange it for you in such a way that it will be impossible for
any one to suspect you. The chance of detection is absolutely
nil. You will be as safe from the law as you are at this
minute. And remember this, when you have rid yourself of him, his
wealth will be yours to enjoy just as you please. Think of his money
--think of the power it gives, think of the delight of knowing that
you have punished the man who has wronged you so shamefully. Are you
prepared to risk so much?"

My God! I can remember the horror of that moment even now. As I
write these words I seem to feel again the throbbing of the pulses in
my temples, the wild turmoil in my brain, the whirling mist before my
eyes. In extenuation, I can only hope that I was, for the time being,
insane. Shameful as it may be to say so, I know that while Nikola was
speaking, I hungered for that man's death as a starving cur craves
for food.

"I don't want his money," I cried, as if in some small
extenuation of the unutterable shame of my decision. "I only want to
punish him--to be revenged upon him."

"You consent, then?" he said quietly, pulling his chair a little
closer, and looking at me in a strange fashion.

As his eyes met mine all my own will seemed to leave me. I was
powerless to say anything but "Yes, I consent."

Nikola rose to his feet instantly, and with an alertness that
surprised me after his previous langour.

"Very good," he said; "now that that is settled, we can get to
business. If you will listen attentively, I will explain exactly how
it is to be done."


"THERE are three things to be borne in mind," said Nikola, when
I had recovered myself a little: "the first is the dependent
point, namely, that the man has to be, well, shall we call it,
relieved of the responsibility of his existence! Secondly, the deed
must be done at once; and, thirdly, it must be accomplished in such a
manner that no suspicion is aroused against you. Now, to you who know
the world, and England in particular, I need scarcely explain
that there are very few ways in which this can be done. If you
desire to follow the melodramatic course, you will decoy your enemy
to an empty house and stab him there; in that case, however, there
will, in all probability, be a tramp taking refuge in the coal cellar
who will overhear you, the marks of blood on the floor will give
evidence against you, and--what will be worse than all--there will be
the body to dispose of. It that procedure does not meet with
your approval, you might follow him about night after night until you
find an opportunity of effecting your purpose in some deserted
thoroughfare; but then you must take into consideration the fact that
there will always be the chance of his calling out, or in other ways
attracting the attention of the neighbourhood, or of someone coming
round the corner before you have quite finished. A railway train has
been tried repeatedly, but never with success; for there is an
increased difficulty in getting rid of the body, while porters and
ticket collectors have a peculiar memory for faces, and history shows
that whatever care you may take you are bound to be discovered sooner
or later. In his own house the man is as secure, or more so, than he
would be in the Tower of London; and even if you did manage to reach
him there, the betting would be something like a million to one that
you would be detected. No; none of these things are worthy of our
consideration. I came to this conclusion in another and similar case
in which my assistance was invoked three months ago. If one wants to
succeed in murder, as in anything else, one must endeavour to be

"For heaven's sake, man, choose your words less carefully!" I
cried, with a sudden fierceness for which I could not afterwards
account. "You talk as if we were discussing an ordinary business

"And are we not?" he replied calmly, paying no attention to my
outburst of temper. "I am inclined to think we are. You desire to
revenge yourself upon a man who has wronged you. For a consideration
I find you the means of doing it. You want--I supply. Surely supply
and demand constitute the component parts of an ordinary business

"You said nothing just now about a consideration. What is it to

"We will discuss that directly."

"No, not directly. Now! I must know everything before I hear more
of your plans."

"By all means let us discuss it then. Properly speaking, I suppose
I should demand your soul as my price, and write the bond with a pen
dipped in your blood. But, though you may doubt it, I am not
Mephistopheles. My terms are fifty thousand pounds, to be paid down
within six months of your coming in to your money. I think you will
admit that that is a small enough sum to charge for helping a man to
obtain possession of nearly two millions. I don't doubt our friend
Bartrand would pay three times as much to be allowed to remain on in
Park Lane. What do you think?"

The mere mention of Bartrand's name roused me again to fury.

"You shall have the money," I cried. "And much good may it do you.
Come what may, I will not touch a penny of it myself. I want to
punish him, not to get his fortune. Now what is your scheme?"

"Pardon me, one thing at a time if you please."

He crossed to the escritoire standing in the corner of the room,
and from a drawer took a sheet of paper. Having glanced at it he
brought it to me with a pen and ink.

"Read it, and when you have done so, sign. We will then proceed to

I glanced at it, and discovered that it was a legally drawn up
promise to pay Dr. Antonio Nikola fifty thousand pounds within six
months of my succeeding to the property of Richard Bartrand, of Park
Lane, London, and Chennington Castle, Shropshire, should such an
event ever occur. Dipping the pen into the ink I signed what he had
written, and then waited for him to continue. He folded up the paper
with great deliberation, returned it to its place in the escritoire,
and then seated himself opposite me again.

"Now I am with you hand and glove," he said with a faint smile
upon his sallow face. "Listen to my arrangement. In considering the
question of murder I have thought of houses, trains, street
stabbings, poisonings, burnings, drowning, shipwreck, dynamite, and
even electricity; and from practical experience I have arrived at the
conclusion that the only sure way in which you can rid yourself of an
enemy is to do the deed in a hansom cab."

"A hansom cab?" I cried. "You must be mad. How can that be safe at

"Believe me, it is not only the safest, but has been proved to be
the most successful. I will explain more fully, then you will be able
to judge of the beautiful simplicity of my plan for yourself. The cab
I have constructed myself after weeks of labour, in this very house;
it is downstairs now; if you will accompany me we will go and see

He rose from his chair, took up the lamp that stood upon the
table, and signed to me to follow him. I did so, down the stairs by
which he had ascended, and along the passage to a large room at the
rear of the building. Folding doors opened from it into the yard,
and, standing in the centre of this barn-like apartment, its shafts
resting on an iron trestle, was, a hansom cab of the latest pattern,
fitted with all the most up-to-date improvements.

"Examine it," said Nikola, "and I think you will be compelled to
admit that it is as beautiful a vehicle as any man could wish to ride
in; get inside and try it for yourself."

While he held the lamp aloft I climbed in and seated myself upon
the soft cushions. The inside was lined with Russia leather, and was
in every way exquisitely fitted. A curious electric lamp of rather a
cumbersome pattern, I thought, was fixed on the back in such a
position as to be well above the rider's head. A match-box furnished
the bottom of one window, and a cigar-cutter the other; the panels on
either side of the apron were decorated with mirrors; the wheels were
rubber tyred, and each of the windows had small blinds of heavy
stamped leather. Altogether it was most comfortable and complete.

"What do you think of it?" said Nikola, when I had finished my

"It's exactly like any other hansom," I answered. "Except that it
is finished in a more expensive style than the average cab, I don't
see any difference at all."

"There you refer to its chief charm," replied Nikola, with a grim
chuckle. "If it were different in any way to the ordinary
hansom, detection would be easy. As it is I am prepared to defy even
an expert to discover the mechanism without pulling it to

"What is the mechanism, then, and what purpose does it serve?"

"I will explain."

He placed the lamp he held in his hand upon a bracket on the wall,
and then approached the vehicle.

"In the first place examine these cushions," he said, pointing to
the interior. "You have doubtless remarked their softness. If you
study them closely you will observe that they are pneumatic. The only
difference is that the air used is the strongest anaesthetic known to
science. The glass in front, as you will observe now that I have
lowered it, fits into a slot in the apron when the latter is closed,
and thus, by a simple process, the interior becomes air-tight. When
this has been done the driver has but to press this knob, which at
first sight would appear to be part of the nickel rein-support, and a
valve opens on either side of the interior--in the match-box in the
right window, in the cigar-cutter in the left; the gas escapes, fills
the cab, and the result is--well, I will leave you to imagine the
result for yourself."

"And then?" I muttered hoarsely, scarcely able to speak
distinctly, so overcome was I by the horrible exactness and ingenuity
of this murderous affair.

"Then the driver places his foot upon this treadle, which, you
see, is made to look as if it works the iron support that upholds the
vehicle when resting, the seat immediately revolves and the bottom
turns over, thus allowing the body to drop through on to the road.
Its very simplicity is its charm. Having carried out your plan you
have but to find a deserted street, drive along it, depress the
lever, and be rid of your fare when and where you please. By that
time he will be far past calling out, and you can drive quietly home,
conscious that your work is accomplished. Now what do you think of my

For a few moments I did not answer, but sat upon an upturned box
close by, my head buried in my hands.

The agony of that minute no man will ever understand. Shame for
myself for listening, loathing of my demoniacal companion for
tempting me, hatred of Bartrand, and desire for revenge, all
struggled within me for the mastery. I could scarcely breathe; the
air of that hateful room seemed to suffocate me. At last I rose to my
feet, and as I did so another burst of fury seized me.

"Monster! Murderer!" I cried, turning like a madman on Nikola, who
was testing the appliances of his awful invention with a smile of
quiet satisfaction on his face. "Let me go, I will not succumb to
your temptations. Show me the way out of this house, or I will kill

Sobs shook my being to its very core. A violent fit of hysteria
had seized me, and under its influence I was not responsible for what
I said or did.

Nikola turned from the cab as calmly as if it had been an ordinary
hansom which he was examining with a view to purchase, and,
concentrating his gaze upon me as he spoke, said quietly:

"My dear Pennethorne, you are exciting yourself. Pray endeavour to
be calm. Believe me, there is nothing to be gained by talking in that
eccentric fashion. Sit down again and pull yourself together."

As I looked into his face all my strength seemed to go from me.
Without a second's hesitation I sat down as he commanded me, and
stared in a stupid, dazed fashion at the floor. I no longer had any
will of my own. Of course I can see now that he had hypnotised me;
but his methods must have been more deadly than I have ever seen
exercised before, for he did not insist upon my looking into his eyes
for any length of time, nor did he make any passes before my face as
I had seen professional mesmerists do. He simply glanced at
me--perhaps a little more fixedly than usual--and all my will was
immediately taken from me. When I was calm he spoke again.

"You are better now," he said, "so we can talk. You must pay
particular attention to what I am going to say, and what I tell you
to do you will do to the letter. To begin with, you will now go back
to your hotel, and, as soon as you reach it, go to bed. You will
sleep without waking till four o'clock this afternoon; then you will
dress and go for a walk. During that walk you will think of the man
who has wronged you, and the more you think of him the fiercer your
hatred for him will become. At six o'clock you will return to your
hotel and dine, going to sleep again in the smoking-room till ten.
When the clock has struck you will wake, take a hansom, and drive to
23, Great Gunter Street, Soho. Arriving at the house, you will ask
for Levi Solomon, to whom you will be at once conducted. He will look
after you until I can communicate with you again. That is your
programme for the day. I order you not to fail in any single
particular of it. Now you had better be off. It is nearly six

I rose from my seat and followed him out into the passage like a
dog; thence we made our way into the yard. To my surprise a cab was
standing waiting for us, the lamps glaring like fierce eyes into the
dark archway which led into the street.

"Get in," said Nikola, opening the apron. "My man will drive you
to your hotel. On no account give him a gratuity, for I do not
countenance it, and he knows my principle. Good night."

I obeyed him mechanically, still without emotion, and when I was
seated the cab drove out into the street.

Throughout the journey back to the hotel I sat in the corner
trying to think, and not succeeding. I was only conscious that,
whatever happened, I must obey Nikola in all he had told me to do.
Nothing else seemed of any importance.

On approaching my residence, I wondered how I should obtain
admittance; but, as it turned out, that proved an easy matter, for
when I arrived the servants were already up and about, and the front
door stood open. Disregarding the stare of astonishment with which I
was greeted, I went upstairs to my room, and in less than ten minutes
was in bed and fast asleep.

Strangely enough, considering the excitement of the previous
twenty-four hours, my sleep was dreamless. It seemed only a few
minutes from the time I closed my eyes till I was awake again, yet
the hands of my watch had stood at half-past six a.m. when I went to
bed, and when I opened my eyes again they chronicled four o'clock
exactly. So far I had fulfilled Nikola's instructions to the letter.
Without hesitation I rose from my bed, dressed myself carefully, and
when I was ready, donned my overcoat and went out for a walk.

The evening was bitterly cold, and heavy snow was falling. To keep
myself warm I hurried along, and as I went I found my thoughts
reverting continually to Bartrand. I remembered my life at
Markapurlie, and the cat-and-dog existence I had passed there with
him. Then the memory of poor old Ben's arrival at the station came
back to me as distinctly as if it had been but yesterday, and with
its coming the manager's brutality roused me afresh. I thought of the
fight we had had, and then of the long weeks of nursing at the
wretched Mail Change on the plains. In my mind's eye I seemed to see
poor old Ben sitting up in bed telling me his secret, and when I was
once more convalescent, went over, day by day, my journey to the
Boolga Ranges, and dreamt again the dreams of wealth that had
occupied my brain then, only to find myself robbed of my fortune at
the end. Now the man who had stolen my chance in life was one of the
richest men in England. He had in his possession all that is
popularly supposed to make life worth the living, and while he
entertained royalty, bought racehorses and yachts, and enjoyed every
advantage in life at my expense, left me to get along as best I
might. I might die of starvation in the gutter for all he would care.
At that moment I was passing a newsagent's stall. On a board before
the door, setting forth the contents of an evening newspaper, was a
line that brought me up all standing with surprise, as the sailors
say. "Bartrand's Generosity.--A Gift to the People," it ran. I
went inside, bought a copy of the paper, and stood in the light of
the doorway to read the paragraph. It was as follows:--

"Mr. Richard Bartrand, the well-known Australian millionaire, has,
so we are informed, written to the London County Council offering to
make a free gift to the city of that large area of ground recently
occupied by Montgomery House, of which he has lately become the
possessor. The donor makes but one stipulation, and that is that it
shall be converted into public gardens, and shall be known in the
future as Bartrand Park. As the ground in question was purchased at
auction by the millionaire last week for the large sum of fifty
thousand pounds, the generosity of this gift cannot be overestimated."

To the surprise of the newsagent I crushed the paper up, threw it
on the ground, and rushed from the shop in a blind rage. What right
had he to pose as a public benefactor, who was only a swindler and a
robber? What right had he to make gifts of fifty thousand pounds to
the people, when it was only by his villainy he had obtained the
money? But ah! I chuckled to myself, before many hours were over I
should be even with him, and then we would see what would happen. A
hatred more intense, more bitter, than I could ever have believed one
man could entertain for another, filled my breast. Under its
influence all my scruples vanished, and I wanted nothing but to cry
quits with my enemy.

For more than half an hour I hurried along, scarcely heeding where
I went, thinking only of my hatred, and gloating over the hideous
revenge I was about to take. That I was doing all this under Nikola's
hypnotic influence I now feel certain; but at the time I seemed to be
acting on my own initiative, and Nikola to be only playing the part
of the deus ex machina.

At last I began to weary of my walk, so, hailing a hansom, I
directed the driver to convey me back to my hotel. As I passed
through the hall the clock over the billiard-room door struck six,
and on hearing it I became aware that in one other particular I had
fulfilled Nikola's orders. After dinner I went into the smoking-room,
and, seating myself in an easy chair before the fire, lit a cigar.
Before I had half smoked it I was fast asleep, dreaming that I was
once more in Australia and tossing on a bed of sickness in the Mail
Change at Markapurlie. A more vivid dream it would be impossible to
imagine. I saw myself, pale and haggard, lying upon the bed,
unconscious of what was passing around me. I saw Bartrand and Gibbs
standing looking down at me. Then the former came closer, and bent
over me. Next moment he had taken a paper from the pocket of my
shirt, and carried it with him into the adjoining bar. A few minutes
Later he returned with it and replaced it in the pocket. As he did so
he turned to the landlord, who stood watching him from the doorway,
and said--"You're sure he's delirious, that he's not shamming?"

"Shamming? Poor beggar," answered Gibbs, who after all was not
such a bad fellow at heart. "Take a good look at him and see for
yourself. I hope I may never be as near gone as he is now."

"So much the better," said Bartrand with a sneer, as he stepped
away from the bed. "We'll save him the trouble of making us his

"You don't mean to steal the poor beggar's secret, surely?"
replied Gibbs. "I wouldn't have told you if I'd thought that."

"More fool you then," said Bartrand. "Of course I'm not going to
steal it, only to borrow it. Such chances don't come twice in
a lifetime. But are you sure of your facts? Are you certain the old
fellow said there was gold enough there to make both of them
millionaires half-a-dozen times over?"

"As certain as I'm sitting here," answered Gibbs.

"Very good; then I'm off to-night for the Boolga Ranges. In ten
days I'll have the matter settled, and by the time that dog there
gets on to his feet again we'll both be on the high road to

"And I'm only to have a quarter of what you get? It's not fair, Bartrand."

Bartrand stepped up to him with that nasty, bullying look on his
face that I knew so well of old.

"Look here, my friend," he said, "You know Richard Bartrand, don't
you? And you also know what I can tell about you. I offer you a
fourth of the mine for your information, but I don't give it to you
for the reason that I'm afraid of you, for I'm not. Remember I know
enough of your doings in this grog shanty to hang you a dozen times
over; and, by the Lord Harry, if you make yourself a nuisance to me
I'll put those on your track who'll set you swinging. Stand fast by
me and I'll treat you fair and square, but get up to any hanky-panky
and I'll put such a stopper on your mouth that you'll never be able
to open it again."

Gibbs leaned against the door with a face like lead. It was
evident that however much he hated Bartrand he feared him a good deal
more. A prettier pair of rogues it would have been difficult to find
in a long day's march.

"You needn't be afraid, Mr. Bartrand," he said at last, but this
time in no certain voice. "I'll not split on yon as long as you treat
me fairly. You've been a good friend to me in the past, and I know
you mean me well though you speak so plain."

"I know the sort of man with whom I have to deal, you see,"
returned Bartrand with another nasty sneer. "Now I must get my horse
and be off. I've a lot to do if I want to get away to-night."

He went out into the verandah and unhitched his reins from the
nails on which they were hanging.

"Let me have word directly that carrion in there comes to himself
again," he said, as he got into the saddle. "And be sure you never
breathe a word to him that I've been over. I'll let you know all that
goes on as soon as we've got our claim fixed up. In the meantime,
mum's the word. Good-bye."

Gibbs bade him good-bye, and when he had watched him canter off
across the plain returned to the room where I lay. Evidently his
conscience was reproving him, for he stood by my bed for some minutes
looking down at me in silence. Then he heaved a little sigh and said
under his breath, "You miserable beggar, how little you know what is
happening, but I'm bothered if I don't think after all that you're a
dashed sight happier than I am. I'm beginning to wish I'd not given
you away to that devil. The remembrance of it will haunt me all my
life long."

I woke up with his last speech ringing in my ears, and for a
moment could scarcely believe my own eyes. I had imagined myself back
in the bush, and to wake up in the smoking room of a London hotel was
a surprise for which I was not prepared. The clock over the door was
just striking eleven as I rose to my feet and went out into the hall.
Taking my coat down from a peg I put it on, and then, donning my hat
and turning up my collar, went out into the street. Snow was still
falling, and the night was bitterly cold. As I walked I thought again
of the dream from which I had just wakened. It seemed more like a
vision intended for my guidance than the mere imagining of an
over-excited brain. How much would I not have given to know if it was
only imagination, or whether I had been permitted to see a
representation of what had really happened? This question, however, I
could not of course answer.

On reaching the Strand I hailed a hansom and bade the driver
convey me with all speed to 23, Great Gunter Street, Soho.

"Twenty-three, Great Gunter Street?" repeated the man, staring at
me in surprise. "You don't surely mean that, sir?"

"I do," I answered. "If you don't like the job I can easily find
another man."

"Oh, I'll take you there, never fear, sir," replied the man; "but
I didn't know perhaps whether you was aware what sort of a crib it
is. It's not the shop gentlemen goes to as a general rule at night
time, except maybe they're after a dog as has been stole, or the

"So it's that sort of place is it?" I answered. "Well, I don't know
that it matters. I'm able to take care of myself."

As I said this I got into the vehicle, and in half a minute we
were driving down the Strand in the direction of Soho. In something
under a quarter of an hour we had left Leicester Square behind us,
crossed Shaftesbury Avenue, and turned into Great Gunter Street. It
proved to be exactly what the driver had insinuated, neither a
respectable nor a savoury neighbourhood; and when I saw it and its
inhabitants I ceased to wonder at his hesitation. When he had
proceeded half-way down the street he pulled his horse up before the
entrance to what looked like a dark alley leading into a court.
Realising that this must be my destination I opened the apron and
sprang out.

"Number 23 is somewhere hereabouts, sir," said the driver, who
seemed to derive a certain amount of satisfaction from his ignorance
of the locality. "I don't doubt but what one of these boys will be
able to tell you exactly."

I paid him his fare and sixpence over for his civility, and then
turned to question a filthy little gutter urchin, who, with bare feet
and chattering teeth, was standing beside me.

"Where is 23, my lad?" I inquired. "Can you take me to it?"

"Twenty-three, sir?" said the boy. "That's where Crooked Billy
lives, sir. You come along with me and I'll show you the way."

"Go ahead then," I answered, and the boy thereupon bolted into the
darkness of the alley before which we had been standing. I followed
him as quickly as I could, but it was a matter of some difficulty,
for the court was as black as the Pit of Tophet, and seemed to twist
and turn in every conceivable direction. A more unprepossessing place
it would have been difficult to find. Half-way down I heard the boy
cry out 'Hold up, mother!' and before I could stop I found myself
in collision with a woman who, besides being unsteady on her legs,
reeked abominably of gin. Disengaging myself, to the accompaniment of
her curses, I sped after my leader, and a moment later emerged into
the open court itself. The snow had ceased, and the three-quarter
moon, sailing along through swift flying clouds, showed me the
surrounding houses. In one or two windows, lights were burning,
revealing sights which almost made my flesh creep with loathing. In
one I could see a woman sewing as if for her very life by the light
of a solitary candle stuck in a bottle, while two little children lay
asleep, half-clad, on a heap of straw and rags in the corner. On my
right I had a glimpse of another room, where the dead body of a man
was stretched upon a mattress on the floor, with two old hags seated
at a table beside it, drinking gin from a black bottle, turn and turn
about. The wind whistled mournfully among the roof tops; the snow had
been trodden into a disgusting slush everywhere, save close against
the walls, where it still showed white as silver; while the
reflection of the moon gleamed in the icy puddles golden as a spade

"This is number 23," said my conductor, pointing to the door
before which he stood.

I rewarded him, and then turned my attention to the door

Having rapped with my knuckles upon the panel, I waited for it to
be opened to me. But those inside were in no hurry, and for this
reason some minutes elapsed before I heard anyone moving about; then
there came the sound of shuffling feet, and next moment the door was
opened an inch or two, and a female voice inquired with an
oath--which I will omit--what was wanted and who was wanting it.

To the first query I replied by asking if Levi Solomon lived
there, and, if he did, whether I could see him. The second I shirked
altogether. In answer I was informed that Levi Solomon did reside
there, and that if I was the gentleman who had called to see him
about a hansom cab I was to come in at once.

The door was opened to me, and I immediately stepped into the
grimiest, most evil-smelling passage it has ever been my ill luck to
set foot in. The walls were soiled and stained almost beyond
recognition; the floor was littered with orange peel, paper, cabbage
leaves, and garbage of all sorts and descriptions, while the stench
that greeted me baffles description. I have never smelled anything
like it before, and I hope I may never do so again.

The most I can say for the old lady who admitted me is that she
matched her surroundings. She was short almost to dwarfishness,
well-nigh bald, and had lost her left eye. Her dress consisted of a
ragged skirt, and in place of a body--I believe that is the technical
expression--she wore a man's coat, which gave a finishing touch of
comicality to the peculiar outline of her figure. As soon as she saw
that I had entered, she bade me shut the door behind me and follow
her. This I did by means of a dilapidated staircase, in which almost
every step was taken at the risk of one's life, to the second floor.
Having arrived there, she knocked upon a door facing her; and I
noticed that it was not until she had been ordered to enter that she
ventured to turn the handle.

"The gentleman what has come about the 'ansom keb," she said, as
she ushered me into the room.

The apartment was lit by two candles stuck in their own wax upon a
little deal table, and by their rays I could distinguish the man I
had come in search of standing by the fireplace awaiting me. He did
not greet me until he had made certain, by listening at the keyhole,
that the old woman had gone downstairs. He was a quaint little
fellow, Jewish from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. He
had the nose of his race, little beady eyes as sharp as gimlets, and
a long beard which a little washing might have made white. He was
dressed in a black frock coat two sizes too large for him, black
trousers that would have fitted a man three times his size, and boots
that had been patched and otherwise repaired till their original
maker would not have known them again.

"Mr. Pennethorne, I presume," he began, rubbing his hands together
and speaking as if he had a bad cold in his head. "I am delighted to
see you. I am sorry that I cannot ask you to sit down, but I have no
chair to give you. For the same reason I cannot offer you
refreshment. Have you had a good look at me?"

My surprise at this abrupt question prevented my replying for a
moment; then I insinuated that I thought I should know him again,
after which, with a muttered "That's all right," he blew out one of
the candles, remarking that, as we now knew each other, we could
conduct our business quite as well with half the light.

"I received word from our mutual acquaintance Dr. Nikola this
morning," he began, when the illumination had been thus curtailed,
"that you would be coming to see me. Of course I did not ask the
business, for Dr. Nikola is my friend, and I obey and trust him to
the letter. By his instructions I am to fit you with a disguise, and
then to take you to the place where you will discover a certain
hansom cab awaiting you."

I nodded. At the very mention of the cab my old hatred of Bartrand
sprang up again, and I began to question the Jew as to where we were
to find it and what I was to do when I had got it. But this
impetuosity did not meet with his approval.

"My young friend, you must not be in such a hurry," he said,
wagging his head deprecatingly at me.

"We shall have to be sure we make no mistake, otherwise the doctor
would not be pleased, and I should not like to risk that. Have you
known Dr. Nikola very long?"

"I met him this morning for the first time in my life," I
answered, realising on what intimate terms we now stood, considering
the length of our acquaintance.

"If that is so you have much to learn regarding him," the Jew
replied. "Let us be very careful that we do not risk his displeasure.
Now we will get to work, for it is nearly time for us to be

As he spoke he crossed to a cupboard in the corner of the room,
and took from it some garments which he placed upon the table in the

"Here we have the very identical things," he said, "and when
you've got them on, you'll be as smart a cabby as any that mounts his
box in the streets of London. Try this and see how it suits you."

He handed me a bushy black beard, which worked on springs, and
assisted me to fasten it to my face. When it was made secure he
stepped back and examined it critically; then with a muttered "that
will do," turned to the garments on the table, and selected from the
heap a tarpaulin cape, such as cabmen wear in wet weather. This I
fixed round my shoulders. A sou'wester was next placed upon my head,
and when this was done, as far as I was concerned, we were ready to
be off. My curious acquaintance was not long in making his toilet,
and five minutes later found us passing out of the filthy alley into
Great Gunter Street once more.

"I'll go first," said the Jew. "You follow two or three paces
behind me. It's just as well we should not be seen together."

I accordingly took up my position a few steps in the rear, and in
this fashion dodged along behind him, until we reached the corner of
Wardour and Pultney Streets. Here my guide stopped and looked about
him. Evidently what he wanted was not forthcoming, for he began to
grow uneasy, and stamped up and down the pavement, looking eagerly in
each direction. All the time I did not venture to approach him. I was
considering what I was about to do. I thought of my father, and my
brother and sisters, and wondered what they would have thought if
they could have known to what a pass I had fallen. What would my poor
mother have said if she had lived? But she, as far as I could learn
from those who had known her, had been a gentle Christian woman, and
if she had lived I should in all probability never have left England.
In that case I should not have known Bartrand, and this revenge would
then not have been necessary. By what small chances are our destinies
shaped out for us!

At last the rattle of wheels sounded, and a moment later a smart
hansom cab, which I recognised as that shown me by Nikola at his
house that morning, drove down the street and pulled up at the corner
where we stood. The lamps glowed brightly in the frosty air, and it
was evident the horse was one of spirit, for he tossed his head and
pawed the ground with impatience to be off again.

The driver descended from his perch, while the Jew went to the
horse's head. The other was a tall fellow, and until he came into the
light of the lamps I could not see his face. To my surprise, he did
not speak, but stood fumbling in the pocket of his oilskin for
something, which proved to be a letter. This he handed to me.

I opened it and scanned its contents. It was, of course, from

"Dear--Everything is arranged, and I send you this, with the cab,
by my servant, who, as you know, will not reveal anything. As soon as
you receive it, mount and drive to Pall Mall. Be opposite the
Monolith Club punctually at 11.30 and once there, keep your eyes open
for the man we want. I will arrange that he shall leave exactly as
the clock chimes, and will also see that he takes your cab. When you
have dropped your fare in a quiet street, drive as fast as you can go
to Hogarth Square, and wait at, or near, the second lamppost on the
left-hand side. I will pick you up there, and will arrange the rest.
The man in question has been entertaining a distinguished company,
including two dukes and a Cabinet Minister, at dinner this evening,
but I have arranged to meet and amuse him at twelve. May good luck
attend you.

"Yours, N."

I stuffed the note into my pocket and then glanced at my watch.
It was exactly a quarter-past eleven, so if I wanted to be at the
rendezvous at the time stated it was necessary that I should start at
once. Without more ado, I climbed on to the seat at the back, wound
the rug I found there round my legs, put on the badge the
Chinaman handed up to me, and, whipping up the horse, much to the
Jew's consternation, drove off down the street at a rapid pace. As I
turned into Great Windmill Street snow began to fall again, and I
gave an evil chuckle as I reflected that even the forces of Nature
were assisting me in my murderous intentions. In my heart I had no
pity for the man whom I was about to kill. He had robbed me as
cruelly as one man could rob another, and now I was going to repay
him for his treachery.


THE cab horse was a fine animal, and spun along to such good
purpose that when I turned from Waterloo Place into Pall Mall I had,
contrary to my expectations, still some few minutes to spare. Now
that the actual moment for putting into effect the threats I had so
often uttered against the man who had wronged me so cruelly, had
arrived, strange to say I was seized with a sudden and inexplicable
feeling of compassion for him. Badly as he had injured me, and
desirous as I was of repaying him for his treachery, I discovered I
could not bring myself to do what I had arranged without reluctance.
If it had been a matter of fair fighting, with the certainty of no
one interfering between us, it would have been a totally different
matter, and I could have gone into it with a light heart; but now to
decoy him to his death by the aid of Nikola's science was an act of
cowardice at which my whole nature revolted.

Feeling half inclined to put off--if not for ever, at least for that
evening the dastardly deed I had had arranged for me--I drove slowly
down the street, quite unable to resist the temptation of seeing the man
whom, if I wished to do so, I could kill so easily. In the event of his
hailing me as had been arranged, I would reply that I was engaged, and
leave him to find another vehicle, unconscious of the narrowness of his
escape. At any cost I would not let him set foot in my conveyance. While
I was thus arguing with myself I was drawing closer and closer to the
Monolith Club. Already I could discern the stalwart form of the
commissionaire standing upon the steps under the great lamp. At the
moment that I approached, two men left the building arm in arm, but
neither of them was the man I wanted. Little by little their steps died
away in the distance, and so nicely had I timed my arrival that the
clock at the Palace ahead chimed the half-hour exactly as I came
opposite the steps. At the same instant the doors of the Club opened,
and Bartrand and another man, whom I recognised instantly as Nikola,
came out. The mere sight of the man I hated shattered all my plans in an
instant. In the presence of the extraordinary individual accompanying
him I had not sufficient pluck to cry "engaged"; so, when the
commissionaire hailed me, there was nothing for it but to drive across
the road and pull up alongside the pavement, as we had previously

"You're in luck's way, Bartrand," cried Nikola, glancing at my
horse, which was tossing his head and pawing the ground as if eager
to be off again; "that's a rare good nag of yours, cabby. He's worth
an extra fare."

I grunted something in reply, I cannot remember what. The mere
sight of Bartrand standing there on the pavement scanning the horse,
had roused all my old antipathy; and, as I have said, my good
resolves were cast to the winds like so much chaff.

"Well, for the present, au revoir, my dear fellow," said
Nikola, shaking hands with his victim. "I will meet you at the house
in half-an-hour, and if you care about it you can have your revenge
then; now you had better be going. Twenty-eight, Saxeburgh Street,
cabby, and don't be long about it."

I touched my hat and opened the apron for Bartrand to step inside.
When he had done so he ordered me to lower the glass, and not be long
in getting him to his destination or I'd hear of it at the other end.
He little thought how literally I might interpret the command.

Leaving Nikola standing on the pavement looking after us, I shook
up my horse and drove rapidly down the street. My whole body was
tingling with exultation; but that it would have attracted attention
and spoiled my revenge, I felt I could have shouted my joy aloud.
Here I was with my enemy in my power; by lifting the shutter in the
roof of the cab I could see him lolling inside--thinking, doubtless,
of his wealth, and little dreaming how close he was to the poor
fellow he had wronged so cruelly. The knowledge that by simply
pressing the spring under my hand I could destroy him in five
seconds, and then choosing a quiet street could tip him out and be
done with him for ever, intoxicated me like the finest wine. No one
would suspect, and Nikola, for his own sake, would never betray me.
While I was thinking in this fashion, and gloating over what I was
about to do, I allowed my horse to dawdle a little. Instantly an
umbrella was thrust up through the shutter and I was ordered, in the
devil's name, to drive faster.

"Ah! my fine fellow," I said to myself, "you little know how near
you are to the master by whom you swear. Wait a few moments until
I've had a little more pleasure out of your company, and then we'll
see what I can do for you."

On reaching Piccadilly I turned west, and for some distance
followed the proper route for Saxeburgh Street. All the time I was
thinking, thinking, and thinking of what I was about to do. He was at
my mercy; any instant I could make him a dead man, and the cream of
the jest was that he did not know it. My fingers played with the
fatal knob, and once I almost pressed it. The touch of the cold steel
sent a thrill through me, and at the same instant one of the most
extraordinary events of my life occurred. I am almost chary of
relating it, lest my readers may feel inclined to believe that I am
endeavouring to gull them with the impossible. But, even at the risk
of that happening, I must tell my story as it occurred to me. As I
put my hand for the last time upon the knob there rose before my
eyes, out of the half dark, a woman's face, and looked at me. At
first I could scarcely believe my own eyes. I rubbed them and looked
again. It was still there, apparently hanging in mid-air above the
horse I was driving. It was not, if one may judge by the photographs
of famous beauties, a perfect face, but there was that in it that
made it to me the most captivating I had ever seen in my life--I
refer to the expression of gentleness and womanly goodness that
animated it. The contour of the face was oval, the mouth small and
well-shaped, and the eyes large, true, and unflinching. Though it
only appeared before me for a few seconds, I had time to take
thorough stock of it, and to remember every feature. It seemed to be
looking straight at me, and the mouth to be saying as plainly as any
words could speak--"Think of what you are doing, Gilbert
Pennethorne; remember the shame of it, and be true to yourself." Then
she faded away; and, as she went, a veil that had been covering my
eyes for months seemed now to drop from them, and I saw myself for
what I really was--a coward and a would-be murderer.

We were then passing down a side street, in which--fortunately
for what I was about to do--there was not a single person of any sort
to be seen. Happen what might, I would now stop the cab and tell the
man inside who I was and with what purpose I had picked him up. Then
he should go free, and in letting him understand that I had spared
his life I would have my revenge. With this intention I pulled my
horse up, and, unwrapping my rug from my knees, descended from my
perch. I had drawn up the glass before dismounting, the better to be
able to talk to him.

"Mr. Bartrand," I said, when I had reached the pavement, at the
same time pulling off my false beard and my sou'wester, "this
business has gone far enough, and I am now going to tell you who I am
and what I wanted with you. Do you know me?"

Either he was asleep or he was too surprised at seeing me before
him to speak, at any rate he offered no reply to my question.

"Mr. Bartrand," I began again, "I ask you if you are aware who I

Still no answer was vouchsafed to me, and immediately an overwhelming
fear took possession of me. I sprang upon the step and tore open the
apron. What I saw inside made me recoil with terror. In the corner, his
head thrown back and his whole body rigid, lay the unfortunate man I had
first determined to kill, but had since decided to spare. I ran my
hands, all trembling with terror, over his body. The man was dead--and I
had killed him. By some mischance I must have pressed the spring which
opened the valve, and thus the awful result had been achieved. Though
years have elapsed since it happened, I can feel the agony of that
moment as plainly now as if it was but yesterday.

When I understood that the man was really dead, and that I was his
murderer--branded henceforth with the mark of Cain--I sat down on the
pavement in a cold sweat of terror, trembling in every limb. The face
of the whole world had changed within the past few minutes--now I
knew I could never be like other men again. Already the fatal noose
was tightening round my neck.

While these thoughts were racing through my brain, my ears, now
preternaturally sharp, had detected the ring of a footstep on the
pavement a hundred yards or so away. Instantly I sprang to my feet,
my mind alert and nimble, my whole body instinct with the thought of
self-preservation. Whatever happened I must not be caught,
red-handed, with the body of the murdered man in my possession. At
any risk I must rid myself of that, and speedily, too.

Climbing to my perch again I started my horse off at a rapid pace
in the same direction in which I had been proceeding when I had made
my awful discovery. On reaching the first cross-roads I branched off
to the right, and, discovering that to be a busy thoroughfare, turned
to the left again. Never before had my fellow-man inspired me with
such terror. At last I found a deserted street, and was in the act of
pressing the lever with my foot when a door in a house just ahead of
me opened, and a party of ladies and gentlemen issued from it. Some
went in one direction, others in a contrary, and I was between both.
To drop the body where they could see it would be worse than madness,
so, almost cursing them for interrupting me, I lashed my horse and
darted round the first available corner. Once more I found a quiet
place, but this time I was interrupted by a cab turning into the
street and coming along behind me. The third time, however, was more
successful. I looked carefully about me. The street was empty in
front and behind. On either side were rows of respectable
middle-class houses, with never a light in a window or a policeman to
be seen.

Trembling like a leaf, I stopped the cab, and when I had made sure
that there was no one looking, placed my foot upon the lever. So
perfect was the mechanism that it acted instantly, and, what was
better still, without noise. Next moment Bartrand was lying upon his
back in the centre of the road. As soon as his weight released it the
bottom of the vehicle rose, and I heard the spring click as it took
its place again. Before I drove on I turned and looked at him where
he lay so still and cold on the pure white snow, and thought of the
day at Markapurlie, when he had turned me off the station for wanting
to doctor poor Ben Garman, and also of the morning when I had
denounced him to the miners on the Boolga Ranges, after I had
discovered that he had stolen my secret and appropriated my wealth.
How little either of us thought then what the end of our hatred was
to be! If I had been told on the first day we had met that I should
murder him, and that he would ultimately be found lying dead in the
centre of a London street, I very much doubt if either of us would
have believed it possible. But how horribly true it was!

As to what I was now, there could be no question. The ghastly
verdict was self-evident, and the word rang in my brain with a
significance I had never imagined it to possess before. It seemed to
be written upon the houses, to be printed upon the snow-curdled sky.
Even the roll of the wheels beneath me proclaimed me a murderer.
Until that time I had had no real conception of what that grisly word
meant. Now I knew it for the most awful in the whole range of our
English language.

All this time I had been driving aimlessly on and on, having no
care where I went, conscious only that I must put as great a
distance as possible between myself and the damning evidence of my
crime. Then a reaction set in, and I became aware that to continue
driving in this half-coherent fashion was neither politic nor
sensible, so I pulled myself together and tried to think what I had
better do. The question for my consideration was whether I should
hasten to Hogarth Square as arranged and hand the cab over to Nikola,
or whether I should endeavour to dispose of it in some other way, and
not go near that dreadful man again. One thing was indisputable:
whatever I did, I must do quickly. It was nearly one o'clock by this
time, and if I wanted to see him at the rendezvous I must hurry, or
he would have gone before I reached it. In that case, what should I
do with the cab?

After anxious thought I came to the conclusion that I had better
find him and hand him his terrible property. Then, if I wished to
give him the slip, I could lead him to suppose I intended returning
to my hotel, and afterwards act as I might deem best for my own
safety. This once decided, I turned the vehicle round, whipped up the
horse, and set off for Hogarth Square as fast as I could go. It was a
long journey, for several times I missed my way and had to retrace my
steps; but at last I accomplished it and drove into the Square. Sure
enough at the second lamp-post on the left hand side, where he had
appointed to meet me, three men were standing beside a hansom cab,
and from the way they peered about, it was evident they were
anxiously awaiting the arrival of someone. One I could see at first
glance was Nikola, the other was probably his Chinese servant, the
man who had brought me the cab earlier in the evening, but the
third's identity I could not guess. Nor did I waste time trying.

As I approached them Nikola held up his hand as a signal to me to
stop, and I immediately pulled up and got down. Not a question did he
ask about my success or otherwise, but took from the second cab a
bowler hat and a top coat, which I recognised as the garments I had
left at Levi Solomon's that evening.

"Put these on," he said, "and then come with me as quickly as you
can. I have a lot to say to you."

I did as he ordered me, and when my sou'wester and cape had been
tossed into the empty cab, he beckoned me to follow him down the
square. His servant had meanwhile driven that awful cab away.

"Now, what have you to tell me?" he asked, when we had walked a
little distance along the pavement.

I stopped and faced him with a face, I'll be bound, as ashen as
that of a corpse.

"I have done your fiendish bidding," I hissed. "I am--God help
me--unintentionally what you have made me--a murderer."

"Then the man is dead, is he?" replied Nikola, with icy calmness.
"That is satisfactory. Now we have to divert suspicion from yourself.
All things considered, I think you had better go straight back to
your hotel, and keep quiet there until I communicate with you. You
need have no fear as to your safety. No one will suspect you.
Hitherto we have been most successful in eluding detection."

As he spoke, the memory of the other murders which had shocked all
London flashed through my brain, and instantly I realised everything.
The victims, so the medical men stated, had in each case been killed
by some anesthetic: they had been found in the centre of the road, as
if dropped from a vehicle, while their faces had all been mutilated
in the same uncanny fashion. I turned and looked at the man by my
side, and then, in an unaccountable fit of rage, threw myself upon
him. The men who actually did the deeds were innocent--here was the
real murderer--the man who had instigated and egged them on to
crime. He had led my soul into hell, but he should not escape scot

The suddenness of my passion took him completely by surprise, but
only for an instant. Then, with a quick movement of his hands, he
caught my wrists, and held me in a grip of iron. I was disarmed and
powerless, and he knew it, and laughed mockingly.

"So you would try and add me to your list, would you, Mr. Gilbert
Pennethorne? Be thankful that I am mercifully inclined, and do not
punish you as you deserve."

Without another word he threw me from him, with the ease of a
practised wrestler, and I fell upon the pavement as if I had been
shot. The shock brought me to my senses, and I rose an altogether
different man, though still hating him with a tenfold loathing as the
cause of all my misery. Having once rid himself of me however, he
seemed to think no more of the matter.

"Now be off to your hotel," he said sharply, "and don't stir from
it until I communicate with you. By making this fuss you might have
hung yourself, to say nothing of implicating me. To-morrow morning I
will let you know what is best to be done. In the meantime, remain
indoors, feign ill health, and don't see any strangers on any pretext

He stood at the corner of the Square, and watched me till I had
turned the corner, as cool and diabolical a figure as the Author of
all Evil himself. I only looked back once, and then walked briskly on
until I reached Piccadilly Circus, where I halted and gazed about me
in a sort of dim confused wonderment at my position. What a variety
of events had occurred since the previous night, when I had stood in
the same place, and had heard the policeman's whistle sound from
Jermyn Street, in proclamation of the second mysterious murder! How
little I had then thought that within twenty-four hours I should be
in the same peril as the murderer of the man I had seen lying under
the light of the policeman's lantern! Perhaps even at this moment
Bartrand's body had been discovered, and a hue and cry was on foot
for the man who had done the deed. With this thought in my mind, a
greater terror than I had yet felt came over me, and I set off as
hard as I could go down a bye-street into Trafalgar Square, thence by
way of Northumberland Avenue on to the Embankment. Once there I leant
upon the coping and looked down at the dark water slipping along so
silently on its way to the sea. Here was my chance if only I had the
pluck to avail myself of it. Life had now no hope left for me. Why
should I not throw myself over, and so escape the fate that must
inevitably await me if I lived? One moment's courage, a little
struggling in the icy water, a last choking cry, and then it would
all be over and done with, and those who had the misfortune to call
themselves my kinsmen would be spared the mortification of seeing me
standing in a felon's dock. I craned my neck still further over the
side, and looked at the blocks of ice as they went by, knocking
against each other with a faint musical sound that sounded like the
tinkling of tiny bells. I remembered the depth of the river, and
pictured my sodden body stranded on to the mud by the ebbing tide
somewhere near the sea. I could fancy the conjectures that would be
made concerning it. Would anyone connect me with--but there, I could
not go on. Nor could I do what I had proposed. Desperate as was my
case, I found I still clung to life with a tenacity that even crime
itself could not lessen. No; by hook or crook I must get out of
England to some place where nobody would know me, and where I could
begin a new life. By cunning it could surely be managed. But in that
case I knew I must not go back to my hotel, and run the risk of
seeing Nikola again. I distrusted his powers of saving me; and, if I
fell once more under his influence, goodness alone knew what I might
not be made to do. No; I would make some excuse to the landlord to
account for my absence, and then creep quietly out of England in such
a way that no one would suspect me. But how was it to be managed? To
remain in London would be to run endless risks. Anyone might
recognise me, and then capture would be inevitable. I turned out my
pockets and counted my money. Fortunately, I had cashed a cheque only
the day before, and now had nearly forty pounds in notes and gold in
my purse; not very much, it is true, but amply sufficient for my
present needs. The question was: Where should I go? Australia, the
United States, South America, South Africa? Which of these places
would be safest? The first and second I rejected without
consideration. The first I had tried, the second I had no desire to
visit. Chili, the Argentine, or Bechuanaland? It all depended on the
boats. To whichever place a vessel sailed first, to that place I
would go.

Casting one last glance at the ice-bound water below me, and with
a shudder at the thought of what I had contemplated doing when I
first arrived upon the Embankment, I made my way back into the
Strand. It was now close upon three o'clock, and already a few people
were abroad. If I were not out of London within a few hours, I might
be caught. I would go directly I had decided what it was imperative I
should know. Up one street and down another I toiled until at last I
came upon what I wanted, a small restaurant in a back street, devoted
to the interests of the early arrivals at Covent Garden Market. It
was only a tiny place, shabby in the extreme, but as it just suited
my purpose, I walked boldly in, and ordered a cup of cocoa and a
plate of sausages. While they were being prepared I seated myself in
one of the small compartments along the opposite wall, and with my
head upon my hands tried to think coherently. When the proprietor
brought me the food, I asked him if he could oblige me with the loan
of writing materials. He glanced at me rather queerly, I thought, but
did not hesitate to do what I asked. When he had gone again I dipped
the pen into the ink and wrote a note to the proprietor of my hotel,
telling him that I had been suddenly taken out of town by important
business, and asking him to forward my boxes, within a week, to the
cloak room, Aberdeen railway station, labelled "to be called for."
I chose Aberdeen for the reason that it was a long distance from
London, and also because it struck me that if enquiries were made by
the police it would draw attention off my real route, which would
certainly not be in that direction. I then wrote a cheque for the
amount of my account, enclosed it, and having done so sealed up the
letter and put it in my pocket. On an adjoining table I espied a
newspaper, which I made haste to secure. Turning to the column where
the shipping advertisements were displayed, I searched the list for a
vessel outward bound to one of the ports I had chosen. I discovered
that to Chili or any of the South American Republics there would not
be a boat sailing for at least a week to come. When I turned to South
Africa I was more fortunate; a craft named the Fiji Princess
was advertised to sail from Southampton for Cape Town at 11 a.m. on
this self-same day. She was of 4,000 tons burden, but had only
accommodation for ten first-class passengers and fifty in the
steerage. What pleased me better still, she would only call at Tenerife
on the way. The steerage fare was fifteen pounds, and it
was by this class I determined to travel. My mind once made up, the
next thing to decide was how to reach Southampton without incurring
suspicion. To catch the boat this could only be done by rail, and to
further increase my store of knowledge I had again to borrow from the
proprietor of the restaurant. From the time table he lent me I found
that a train left Waterloo every morning at six o'clock, which would
get me to the docks before nine o'clock, thus allowing me two full
hours in which to make my preparations and to get on board in
comfortable time; that is, supposing she sailed at the hour stated.
But I had still three hours to put in in London before the train
would start, and how to occupy them without running any risk I could
not tell. It was quite impossible for me to remain where I was, and
yet to go out and walk about the streets would be dangerous in the
extreme. In that time Nikola might get hold of me again, and I
believe I dreaded that more than even falling into the clutches of
the law. Suddenly I was struck by what seemed a splendid idea. What
if I walked out of London to some station along the line where the
train would pick me up? In that case no one would be able to remember
seeing me start from Waterloo, and I should be believed to be still
in London. The thought was no sooner born in my brain than I picked
up my hat and prepared to be off.

When I paid at the counter for my meal, and also for the note
paper with which the proprietor had obliged me, I strode out of the
restaurant and down the street into the Strand again. Surbiton, I
reflected, was twelve miles from Waterloo, and, besides being quiet,
it was also one of the places at which I had noticed that the train
was advertised to call. I had almost three hours before me in which
to do the distance, and if I walked at the rate of five miles an hour
it was evident I should accomplish it with ease. To Surbiton,
therefore, I would go.

Having made my way back to Charing Cross, I passed down Whitehall
and over Westminster Bridge to the Lambeth Palace Road. Under the
influence of my new excitement I felt easier in my mind than I had
been since I made my awful discovery three hours before, but still
not easy enough to be able to pass a policeman without a shudder.
Strangely enough, considering that I had had no sleep at all, and had
been moving about all night, I was not conscious of the least
fatigue, but strode along the pavement at a swinging pace, probably
doing more than I had intended when I had first set out. The snow had
ceased, but a nasty fog was rising from the river to take its place.
I pictured the state of London when day should break, and devoutly
thanked Heaven that I should be well out of it by that time. I could
imagine the newsboys running about the streets with cries of "Another
'orrible murder! A millionaire the victim." I seemed to see the
boards stuck before shop doors with the same ghastly headline, and I
could realise the consternation of the town, when it awoke to find
the mysterious assassin still at work in its midst. Then would follow
the inquest. The porter at the Monolith Club would be called upon to
give evidence, and would affirm that he had seen the deceased
gentleman step into a smart hansom, driven by a cabman dressed in an
oilskin cape and a sou'wester, and would probably remember having
noticed that the cabby was a gruff fellow with a bushy, black beard.
The next witnesses would be the finders of the body, and after that
the same verdict would be returned--"Wilful murder against some
person or persons unknown"--as had been given in the previous

If only Nikola remained faithful to me I should probably have time
to get out of England before the police could stop me, and, once
among the miners of the Rand, I should be able to arrange matters in
such a way that recognition would be almost an impossibility. With a
sigh of relief at this comfortable thought, I pushed on a little
faster along the Wandsworth Road until I reached Clapham Junction
Station. As I did so I looked at my watch. It was just a quarter to
four, and already the footpaths were becoming dotted with

Leaving Clapham Junction behind me, I passed along the Lavender
Hill Road, through Wandsworth, and struck out along the road to West
Hill, then across Putney Heath, through Kingston Vale, and so into
Kingston. From that quaint old riverside town to Surbiton is but a
step, and exactly as the church clocks in the latter place were
chiming a quarter to six, I stood on the platform of the railway
station prepared to board my train when it should come in sight. The
last four miles had been done at a fast pace, and by the time I had
taken my ticket I was completely worn out. My anxiety was so keen
that I could not sit down, but waited until I should be safely on
board the train. The cries of the newsboys seemed still to be ringing
in my ears--"Another 'orrible murder! Discovery of the body of a
famous millionaire!"

To while away the time I went out of the station again and
explored the deserted streets, passing houses in which the owners
still lay fast asleep, little dreaming of the miserable man who was
tramping along in the cold outside. A biting north wind blew over the
snow, and chilled me to the marrow. The leaden hand of despair was
pressing hard upon my heart, and when I looked at the rows of trim,
matter-of-fact residences on either side of me, and thought of
the gulf that separated their inmates from myself, I groaned aloud in
abject misery.

At five minutes to the hour I returned to the station, and, just
as I reached it, punctual almost to the tick of the clock, the train
made its appearance round the bend of the line. With the solitary
exception of an old man I was the only passenger from this station;
and, as soon as I had discovered an empty third-class compartment, I
got in and stowed myself away in a corner. Almost before the train
was out of the station I was fast asleep, dreaming of Nikola and of
the horrible events of the night just past. Once more I drove the cab
along the snow-covered streets; once more that strange woman's face
rose before me in warning; and once more I descended from my seat to
make the horrible discovery that my enemy was dead. In my agony I
must have shrieked aloud, for the noise I made woke me up. An elderly
man, possibly a successful country butcher from his appearance, who
must have got in at some station we had stopped at while I slept, was
sitting in the corner opposite, watching me.

"You have been having a pretty bad nightmare these last few
minutes, I should say, mister," he observed, with a smile. "I was
just going to give you a shake up when you woke yourself by screaming
out like that."

An awful fear came over me. Was it possible that in my sleep I had
revealed my secret?

"I am sorry I disturbed you," I said, faintly, "but I am subject
to bad dreams. Have I been talking very much?"

"Not so far as I've heard," he answered; "but you've been moaning
and groaning as if you'd got something on your mind that you wanted
to tell pretty bad."

"I've just got over a severe illness," I replied, relieved beyond
measure to hear that I had kept my dreadful secret to myself, "and I
suppose that accounts for the uneasy way in which I sleep."

My companion looked at me rather searchingly for a few seconds,
and then began to fumble in his greatcoat pocket for something.
Presently he produced a large spirit flask.

"Let me give you a drop of whiskey," he said, kindly. "It will
cheer you up, and you look as if you want it right down bad."

He poured about half a wineglassful into the little nickel-plated
cup that fitted the bottom of the flask, and handed it to me. I
thanked him sincerely, and tossed it off at one gulp. It was neat
spirit, and ran through my veins like so much fire. Though it burnt
my throat pretty severely, it did me a world of good, and in a few
moments I was sufficiently recovered to talk reasonably enough.

At nine o'clock almost to the minute we drew up at Southampton Docks,
and then, bidding my fellow passenger good morning, I quickly quitted
the station. Before I left London I had carefully noted the address of
the steamship company's agents, and, having ascertained the direction of
their office, I made my way towards it. Early as was the hour I found it
open, and upon being interrogated by the clerk behind the counter,
stated my desire to book as steerage passenger for Cape Town by the
steamer Fiji Princess, which they advertised as leaving the docks that
day. The clerk looked at me with some surprise when I said "steerage,"
but, whatever he may have thought, he offered no comment upon it.

"What is your name?" he inquired, dipping his pen in the ink.

I had anticipated this question, and replied "George Wrexford" as
promptly as if it had really been my patronymic.

Having paid the amount demanded, and received my ticket in
exchange, I asked what time it would be necessary for me to be on

"Half-past ten without fail," he answered. "She will cast off
punctually at eleven; and I give you fair warning Captain Hawkins
does not wait for anything or anybody."

I thanked him for his courtesy and left the office, buttoning up
my ticket in my pocket as I went down the steps. In four hours at
most, all being well, I should be safely out of England; and, for a
little while, a free man. By half-past nine I had purchased a small
outfit, and also the few odds and ends--such as bedding and mess
utensils--that I should require on the voyage. This done I hunted
about till I found a small restaurant, again in a back street, which
I entered and ordered breakfast. As soon as I smelt the cooking I
found that I was ravenous, and twice I had to call for more before my
hunger was satisfied."

Towards the end of my meal a paper boy put in an appearance, and
my heart well-nigh stopped when I heard the girl beyond the counter
enquire if there was "any startling news this morning."

"'Nother terrible murder in London," answered the lad with
fiendish glibness; and as he spoke my over-taxed strength gave way,
and I fell back in my chair in a dead faint.

I suppose for a few moments I must have quite lost consciousness,
for I can recollect nothing until I opened my eyes and found a small
crowd collected round me, somebody sponging my forehead, and two
people chafing my hands.

"How do you feel now?" enquired the nervous little man who had
first come to my assistance.

"Better, thank you," I replied, at the same time endeavouring to
sit up. "Very much better. What has been the matter with me?"

"A bit of a faint, that's all," another answered. "Are you subject
to them?"

"I've been very ill lately," I said, giving them the same reply as
I had done to the man in the train, "and I suppose I overtaxed my
strength a little this morning. But, thanks to your kindness, I feel
ever so much better now."

As soon as I had recovered sufficiently, I paid my bill, and,
having again sincerely thanked those who had assisted me, left the
shop and hurried off to the docks as fast as I could go. It was now
some few minutes after ten o'clock.

The Fiji Princess was a fair-sized vessel of an
old-fashioned type, and very heavily laden; indeed, so heavy was she
that she looked almost unsafe beside the great American liner near
which she was berthed.

Having clambered on board I enquired my way to the steerage
quarters, which were forward, then stowed away my things and
endeavoured to make myself as comfortable as circumstances would
permit in the place which was to be my home for the next five weeks
or so. For prudence sake I remained below until I heard the whistle
sound and could tell by the shaking that the steamship was moving.
Then, when I had satisfied myself that we were really under way, I
climbed the gangway that led to the deck and looked about me. Slowly
as we were moving, we were already a hundred yards from the wharf
side, and in a few minutes would be well out in Southampton Water.
Eight aft a small crowd of passengers were grouped at the stern
railings, waving their handkerchiefs and hats to a similar group
ashore. Forward we were less demonstrative, for, as I soon
discovered, the steerage passengers consisted only of myself, a
circumstance which you may be very sure I did not by any means

By mid-day we were in the Solent, and by lunch time the Isle of
Wight lay over our taffrail. Now, unless I was stopped at Tenerife,
I was certain of a month's respite from the law. And when I realised
this I went to my berth and, sinner as I was, knelt down and offered
up the heartiest prayer of gratitude I have ever in my life given
utterance to.


If any man is desirous of properly understanding the feelings of
gratitude and relief which filled my breast as the Fiji
Princess steamed down channel that first afternoon out from
Southampton, he must begin by endeavouring to imagine himself placed
in the same unenviable position. For all I knew to the contrary, even
while I stood leaning on the bulwarks watching the coast line away to
starboard, some unlucky chance might be giving the police a clue to
my identity, and the hue-and-cry already have begun. When I came to
consider my actions during the past twenty-four hours, I seemed to be
giving my enemies innumerable opportunities of discovering my
whereabouts. My letter to the manager of the hotel, which I had
posted in the Strand after leaving the Covent Garden restaurant,
would furnish proof that I was in town before five o'clock--the time
at which the box was cleared on the morning of the murder. Then,
having ascertained that much, they would in all probability call at
the hotel, and in instituting enquiries there, be permitted a perusal
of the letter I had written to the manager that morning. Whether they
would believe that I had gone north, as I desired they should
suppose, was difficult to say; but in either case they would be
almost certain to have all the southern seaports watched. I fancied,
however, that my quickness in getting out of England would puzzle
them a little, even if it did not baffle them altogether.

Unfortunately, the Fiji Princess had been the only vessel
of importance sailing from Southampton on that particular day, and
owing to the paucity of steerage passengers, I felt sure the clerk
who gave me my ticket would remember me sufficiently well to be able
to assist in the work of identification. Other witnesses against me
would be the porters at Surbiton railway station, who had seen me
arrive, tired and dispirited, after my long walk; the old man who had
given me whiskey on the journey down; and the people in the
restaurant where I had been taken ill would probably recognise me
from the description. However, it was in my favour that I was here on
the deck of the steamer, if not devoid of anxiety, at least free from
the clutches of the law for the present.

The afternoon was perfectly fine, though bitterly cold; overhead
stretched a blue sky, with scarcely a cloud from horizon to horizon;
the sea was green as grass, and almost as smooth as a millpond. Since
luncheon I had seen nothing of the passengers, nor had I troubled to
inquire if the vessel carried her full complement. The saloon was
situated right aft in the poop, the skipper had his cabin next to the
chart room on the hurricane deck, and the officers theirs on either
side of the engine-room, in the alley ways below. My quarters--I
had them all to myself, as I said in the last chapter--were as roomy
and comfortable as a man could expect for the passage-money I paid,
and when I had made friends with the cook and his mate, I knew I
should get through the voyage in comparative comfort.

At this point I am brought to the narration of the most uncanny
portion of my story: a coincidence so strange that it seems almost
impossible it can be true, and one for which I have never been able,
in any way, to account. Yet, strange as it may appear, it must be
told; and that it is true, have I not the best and sweetest evidence
any man could desire in the world? It came about in this way. In the
middle of the first afternoon, as already described, I was sitting
smoking on the fore hatch, and at the same time talking to the chief
steward. He had been to sea, so he told me, since he was quite a lad;
and, as I soon discovered, had seen some strange adventures in almost
every part of the globe. It soon turned out, as is generally the way,
that I knew several men with whom he was acquainted, and in a few
minutes we were upon the most friendly terms. From the sea our
conversation changed to China, and in illustration of the character
of the waterside people of that peculiar country, my companion
narrated a story about a shipmate who had put off in a sampan to
board his boat lying in Hong Kong harbour, and had never been seen or
heard of again.

"It was a queer thing," he said impressively, as he shook the
ashes out of his pipe and re-charged it, "as queer a thing as ever a
man heard of. I spent the evening with the chap myself, and before we
said 'good-bye' we arranged to go up to Happy Valley the Sunday
morning following. But he never turned up, nor have I ever set eyes
on him from that time to this. Whether he was murdered by the
sampan's crew or whether he fell overboard and was drowned in the
harbour, I don't suppose will ever be known."

"A very strange thing," I said, as bravely as I could, and
instantly thought of the bond I had in common with that sampan's

"Aye, strange; very strange," replied the steward, shaking his
head solemnly; "but there's many strange things done now-a-days. Look
at these here murders that have been going on in London lately. I
reckon it would be a wise man as could put an explanation on

All my blood seemed to rush to my head, and my heart for a second
stood still. I suffered agonies of apprehension lest he should notice
my state and have his suspicions aroused, but he was evidently too
much engrossed with his subject to pay any attention to my
appearance. I knew I must say something, but my tongue was cleaving
to the roof of my mouth. It was some moments before I found my voice,
and then I said as innocently as possible--

"They are certainly peculiar, are they not? Have you any theory to
account for them?"

This was plainly a question to his taste, and it soon became
evident that he had discussed the subject in all its bearings on
several occasions before.

"Do you want to know what I think?" he began slowly, fixing me
with an eye that he seemed to imagine bored through me like an augur.
"Well, what I think is that the Anarchists are at the bottom of it
all, and I'll tell you for why. Look at the class of men who were
killed. Who was the first? A Major-General in the army, wasn't he?
Who was the second? A member of the House of Lords. Who was the

He looked so searchingly at me that I felt myself quailing before
his glance as if he had detected me in my guilt. Who could tell him
better than I who the last victim was?

"And the third--well, he was one of these rich men as fattens on
Society and the workin' man, was he not?"

He pounded his open hand with his fist in the true fashion, and
his eyes constantly challenged me to refute his statements if I were
in a position to do so. But--heaven help me!--thankful as I would
have been to do it, I was not able to gainsay him. Instead, I sat
before him like a criminal in the dock, conscious of the danger I was
running, yet unable for the life of me to avert it. Still, however,
my tormentor did not notice my condition, but returned to the
charge with renewed vigour. What he lacked in argument he made up in
vehemence. And for nearly an hour I had to sit and bear the brunt of

"Now, I'll ask you a question," he said for the twentieth time,
after he had paused to watch the effect of his last point. "Who do
the Anarchists mostly go for? Why for what we may call, for the sake
of argument, the leaders of Society--generals, peers, and
millionaires. Those are the people, therefore, that they want to be
rid of."

"You think then," I said, "that these--these crimes were the work
of a party instead of an individual?"

He half closed his eyes and looked at me with an expression upon
his face that seemed to implore me to contradict him.

"You know what I think," he said; then with fine conceit, "If only
other folk had as much savee as we have, the fellows who did
the work would have been laid by the heels by this time. As it is
they'll never catch them--no, not till the moon's made of cream

With this avowal of his settled opinion he took himself off, and
left me sitting on the hatch, hoping with all my heart and soul that,
if in this lay my chance of safety, the world might long retain its
present opinion. While I was ruminating on what he had said, and
feeling that I would give five years of my life to know exactly how
matters stood ashore, I chanced to look up at the little covered way
on the hurricane deck below the bridge. My heart seemed to stand
still. For the moment I thought I must be asleep and dreaming, for
there, gazing across the sea, was the same woman's face I had seen
suspended in mid-air above my cab on the previous night. Astonishing
as it may seem, there could be no possible doubt about it--I
recognised the expressive eyes, the sweet mouth, and the soft, wavy
hair as plainly as if I had known her all my life long.

Thinking it was still only a creation of my own fancy, and that in
a moment it would fade away as before, I stared hard at it, resolved,
while I had the chance, to still further impress every feature
upon my memory. But it did not vanish as I expected. I rubbed my eyes
in an endeavour to find out if I were awake or asleep, but that made
no difference. She still remained. I was quite convinced by this
time, however, that she was flesh and blood. But who could she be,
and where had I really seen her face before? For something like five
minutes I watched her, and then for the first time she looked down at
the deck where I sat. Suddenly she caught sight of me, and almost at
the same instant I saw her give a little start of astonishment.
Evidently she had also seen me in some other place, but could no more
recall it than myself.

As soon as she had recovered from her astonishment she glanced
round the waste of water again and then moved away. But even when she
had left me I could not for the life of me rid myself of my feeling
of astonishment. I reviewed my past life in an attempt to remember
where I had met her, but still without success. While I was
wondering, my friend the chief steward came along the deck again. I
accosted him, and asked if he could tell me the name of the lady with
the wavy brown hair whom I could see talking to the captain at the
door of the chart house. He looked in the direction indicated, and
then said:

"Her name is Maybourne--Miss Agnes Maybourne. Her father is a big
mine owner at the Cape, so I'm told. Her mother died about a year
ago, I heard the skipper telling a lady aft this morning, and it
seems the poor young thing felt the loss terribly. She's been home
for a trip with an old uncle to try and cheer her up a bit, and now
they are on their way back home again."

"Thank you very much," I said. "I have been puzzling over her face
for some time. She's exactly like someone I've met some time or
other, but where, I can't remember."

On this introduction the steward favoured me with a long account
of a cousin of his--a steward on board an Atlantic liner--who, it
would appear, was always being mistaken for other people; to such a
length did this misfortune carry him that he was once arrested in
Liverpool on suspicion of being a famous forger who was then at
large. Whether he was sentenced and served a term of penal servitude,
or whether the mistake was discovered and he was acquitted, I cannot
now remember; but I have a faint recollection that my friend
described it as a case that baffled the ingenuity of Scotland Yard,
and raised more than one new point of law, which he, of course, was
alone able to set right in a satisfactory manner.

Needless to say, Miss Maybourne's face continued to excite my
wonder and curiosity for the remainder of the afternoon; and when I
saw her the following morning promenading the hurricane deck in the
company of a dignified grey-haired gentleman, with a clean-shaven,
shrewd face, who I set down to be her uncle, I discovered that my
interest had in no way abated. This wonderment and mystification kept
me company for longer than I liked, and it was not until we were
bidding "good-bye" to the Channel that I determined to give up
brooding over it and think about something else.

Once Old England was properly behind us, and we were out on the
open ocean, experiencing the beauties of a true Atlantic swell, and
wondering what our portion was to be in the Bay of Biscay, my old
nervousness returned upon me. This will be scarcely a matter for
wonder when you reflect that every day we were drawing nearer our
first port of call, and at Tenerife I should know whether or not the
police had discovered the route I had taken. If they had, I should
certainly be arrested as soon as the vessel came to anchor, and be
detained in the Portuguese prison until an officer should arrive from
England to take charge of me and conduct me home for trial. Again and
again I pictured that return, the mortification of my relatives, and
the excitement of the Press; and several times I calmly deliberated
with myself as to whether the best course for me to pursue would not
be to drop quietly overboard some dark night, and thus prevent the
degradation that would be my portion if I were taken home and placed
upon my trial. However, had I but known it, I might have spared
myself all this anxiety, for the future had something in store for me
which I had never taken into consideration, and which was destined to
upset all my calculations in a most unexpected fashion.

How strange a thing is Fate, and by what small circumstances are
the currents of our lives diverted! If I had not had my match-box in
my pocket on the occasion I am about to describe, what a very
different tale I should have had to tell. You must bear with me if I
dwell upon it, for it is the one little bit of that portion of my
life that I love to remember. It all came about in this way: On the
evening in question I was standing smoking against the port bulwarks
between the fore rigging and the steps leading to the hurricane deck.
What the exact time was I cannot remember. It may have been eight,
and it might possibly have been half-past; one thing, at any rate, is
certain: dinner was over in the saloon, for some of the passengers
were promenading the hurricane deck. My pipe was very nearly done,
and, having nothing better to do, I was beginning to think of turning
in, when the second officer came out of the alley way and asked me
for a match. He was a civil young fellow of two or three-and-twenty,
and when I had furnished him with what he wanted, we fell into
conversation. In the course of our yarning he mentioned the name of
the ship upon which he had served his apprenticeship. Then, for the
first time for many years, I remembered that I had a cousin who had
also spent some years aboard her. I mentioned his name, and to my
surprise he remembered him perfectly.

"Blakeley," he cried; "Charley Blakeley, do you mean? Why, I knew
him as well as I knew any man! As fine a fellow as ever stepped. We
made three voyages to China and back together. I've got a photograph
of him in my berth now. Come along and see it."

On this invitation I followed him from my own part of the vessel,
down the alley way, past the engine-room, to his quarters, which were
situated at the end, and looked over the after spar deck that
separated the poop from the hurricane deck. When I had seen the
picture I stood at the door talking to him for some minutes, and
while thus engaged saw two ladies and a gentleman come out of the
saloon and go up the ladder to the deck above our heads. From where I
stood I could hear their voices distinctly, and could not help
envying them their happiness. How different was it to my miserable

Suddenly there rang out a woman's scream, followed by another, and
then a man's voice shouting frantically, "Help, help! Miss Maybourne
has fallen overboard."

The words were scarcely out of his mouth before I had left the
alley way, crossed the well, and was climbing the ladder that led to
the poop. A second or two later I was at the taffrail, had thrown off
my coat, mounted the rail, and, catching sight of a figure struggling
among the cream of the wake astern, had plunged in after her. The
whole thing, from the time the first shriek was uttered until I had
risen to the surface, and was blowing the water from my mouth and
looking about me for the girl, could not have taken more than twenty
seconds, and yet in it I seemed to live a lifetime. Ahead of me the
great ship towered up to the heavens; all round me was the black
bosom of the ocean, with the stars looking down at it in their
winking grandeur.

For some moments after I had come to the surface I could see
nothing of the girl I had jumped overboard to rescue. She seemed to
have quite disappeared. Then, while on the summit of a wave, I caught
a glimpse of her, and, putting forth all my strength, swam towards
her. Eternities elapsed before I reached her. When I did I came
carefully up alongside, and put my left arm under her shoulders to
sustain her. She was quite sensible, and, strangely enough, not in
the least frightened.

"Can you swim?" I asked, anxiously, as I began to tread water.

"A little, but not very well," she answered. "I'm afraid I am
getting rather tired."

"Lean upon me," I answered. "Try not to be afraid; they will lower
a boat in a few moments, and pick us up."

She said no more, but fought hard to keep herself afloat. The
weight upon my arm was almost more than I could bear, and I began to
fear that if the rescue boat did not soon pick us up they might have
their row for nothing. Then my ears caught the chirp of oars, and the
voice of the second officer encouraging his men in their search for

"If you can hold on for another three or four minutes," I said in
gasps to my companion, "all will be well."

"I will try," she answered, bravely; "but I fear I shall not be
able to. My strength is quite gone."

Her clothes were sodden with water, and added greatly to the
weight I had to support. Not once, but half-a-dozen times, seas,
cold as ice, broke over us; and once I was compelled to let go my
hold of her. When I rose to the surface again some seconds elapsed
before I could find her. She had sunk, and by the time I had dived
and got my arm round her again she was quite unconscious. The boat
was now about thirty yards distant from us, and already the men in
her had sighted us and were pulling with all their strength to our
assistance. In another minute or so they would be alongside, but the
question was whether I could hold out so long. A minute contained
sixty seconds, and each second was an eternity of waiting.

When they were near enough to hear my voice I called to them with
all my strength to make haste. I saw the bows of the boat come closer
and closer, and could distinctly distinguish the hissing of the water
under her bows.

"If you can hold on for a few seconds longer," shouted the officer
in command, "we'll get you aboard."

I heard the men on the starboard side throw in their oars. I saw
the man in the bows lean forward to catch hold of us, and I remember
saying, "Lift the lady; I can hold on," and then the boat seemed to
fade away, the icy cold water rose higher and higher, and I felt
myself sinking down, down, down, calmly and quietly into the black
sea, just fading out of life as happily as a little child falls

When I came to my senses again I found myself lying in a bunk in a
cabin which was certainly not my own. The appointments were decidedly
comfortable, if not luxurious; a neat white-and-gold washstand stood
against the bulkhead, with a large mirror suspended above it. Under
the porthole, which was shaded with a small red curtain, was a
cushioned locker, and at one end of this locker a handy contrivance
for hanging clothes. Two men--one a young fellow about my own age,
and the other the elderly gentlemen with whom I had often seen Miss
Maybourne walking--were standing beside me watching me eagerly. When
they saw that I had recovered consciousness they seemed to consider
it a matter for congratulation.

"So you know us again, do you?" said the younger man, whom I now
recognised as the ship's doctor. "How do you feel in yourself?"

"Not very bright just at present," I answered truthfully. "But
I've no doubt I shall be all right in an hour or two." Then, when a
recollection of what had occasioned my illness came over me, I said,
"How is Miss Maybourne? I hope they got her on board safely?"

"Thanks to you, my dear sir, they did," said the old gentleman,
who I discovered later was her uncle, as I had suspected. "I am glad
to be able to tell you that she is now making rapid progress towards
recovery. You must get well too, and hear what the entire ship has to
say about your bravery."

"I hope they'll say nothing," I answered. "Anybody could have done
it. And now, how long have I been lying here?"

"Since they brought you on board last night--about twelve hours.
You were unconscious for such a long time that we were beginning to
grow uneasy about you. But, thank goodness, our clever doctor here
has brought you round at last."

The young medico resolved to stop this flow of flattery and small
talk, so he bade me sit up and try to swallow some beef tea he had
had prepared for me. With his assistance I raised myself, and when I
had polished off as much of the food as I was able to manage, he made
me lie down once more and try to get to sleep again. I did exactly as
I was ordered, and, in less time than it takes to tell, was in the
land of Nod. It was not until I was up and about again that I learnt
the history of the rescue. Immediately Miss Maybourne's shriek had
roused the ship, and I had sprung overboard to her assistance, the
chief officer, who was on the bridge, ran to the engine-room
telegraph and gave the signal to stop the vessel; the second officer
by this time, with commendable activity, had accompanied the
carpenter, who among others had heard the alarm, to one of the
quarter boats, and had her ready for lowering by the time a crew was
collected. At first they had some difficulty in discovering us, but
once they did so they lost no time in picking us up. Miss Maybourne
was quite unconscious when they took her from my arms, and I believe
as soon as I felt myself relieved of her weight I too lost my senses
and began to sink. A boat-hook, however, soon brought me to the
surface. Directly we reached the ship's deck the captain gave orders
that I should be conveyed to an empty cabin at the end of the saloon,
and it was here that I found myself when I returned to consciousness.

For what length of time I slept after the doctor and Miss
Maybourne's uncle left the cabin I cannot say. I only know that when
I woke the former would not hear of my getting up as I desired to do,
but bade me make the best of a bad job and remain where I was until
he examined me the following morning. It must have been after
breakfast that he came to see me, for I heard the bell go, and half
an hour later the voices of the passengers die away as they left the
table and went on deck.

"Good morning, Mr. Wrexford," he said, as he shut the door behind
him and came over to the bunk. "How are you feeling to-day? Pretty
well, I hope?"

"I feel quite myself again," I answered. "I want to get up. This
lying in bed is dreary work."

"I daresay you find it so. Anyway, I'll not stop you from getting
up now, if you're so minded; that is provided you eat a good
breakfast first."

"I think I can meet you on that ground," I said with a laugh. "I'm
as hungry as a hunter. I hope they're going to give me something
pretty soon."

"I can satisfy you up on that point," he replied. "I saw the
steward preparing the tray as I came through the saloon. Yes, you
must hurry up and get on deck, for the ladies are dying to shake you
by the hand. I suppose you're not aware that you are the hero of the

"I'm sorry to hear it," I said in all sincerity. "There has been a
terrible lot of fuss made over a very simple action."

"Nonsense, my dear fellow, there hasn't been anything said yet.
You wait till old Manstone gets hold of you. He would have said his
say yesterday but for my preventing him, and ever since then he has
been bottling it up for you when you're well enough to receive

"Who is this Mr. Manstone of whom you speak? I don't think I know

"Why you must remember, he's Miss Maybourne's uncle--the
old gentleman who was in here with me yesterday when you came to your
senses again. You must have seen him walking with her on deck--a
fine, military-looking old chap, with a big grey moustache."

"Now that you describe him, I remember him perfectly," I said;
"but I had never heard his name before. I wish you'd tell him from me
that I don't want anything more said about the matter. If they want
to reward me, let them do it by forgetting all about it. They
couldn't do anything that would please me more."

"Why, what a modest chap you are, to be sure," said the doctor.
"Most men would want the Royal Humane Society's medal, and some would
even aspire to purses of sovereigns."

"Very probably. But down on my luck, as I am, I don't want either.
The less notoriety I derive, the happier man I shall be. To change
the subject, I hope Miss Maybourne is better?"

"Oh, she's almost herself again now. I expect to have her up and
about again to-day. Surely you will not mind receiving her

"I should not be so churlish, I hope," I remarked; "but all the
same, I would rather she said nothing about the matter. That is the
worst part of doing anything a little out of the ordinary: one must
always be thanked, and praised, and made a fuss of till one begins to
regret ever having committed an action that could produce such
disastrous results."

"Come, come, you're looking at the matter in a very dismal light,
I must say," he cried. "Nine out of every ten men, I'm certain, would
have given their ears for the chance you had of rescuing Agnes
Maybourne. That it should have come to a man who can't appreciate his
good fortune seems like the irony of Fate."

I was about to reply to his jesting speech in a similar strain
when there was a tap at the door, and a steward entered bearing a
tray. The smell of the food was as good as a tonic to me, and when
the doctor had propped me up so that I could get at it in comfort, I
set to work. He then left me to myself while he went to see his other
patient--the lady of whom we had just been speaking--promising to
return in a quarter of an hour to help me dress.

I had just finished my meal, and was placing the tray upon the
floor in such a way that the things upon it could not be spilt if the
vessel should roll, when there came another tap at the door, and in
response to my cry "come in," the captain of the ship appeared, and
behind him the elderly gentleman whom the doctor had described to me
as Miss Maybourne's uncle, under whose care she was travelling to
South Africa.

"Good morning, Mr. Wrexford," said the captain, politely, as he
advanced towards me and held out his hand. "I hope you are feeling

"I am perfectly well again now, thank you," I replied. "The doctor
is going to let me get up in a few minutes, and then I shall be ready
to return to my old quarters forward."

"And that is the very matter I have come in to see you about,"
said the skipper. "First, however, I must tell you what the entire
ship's company, both passengers and crew, think of your bravery the
night before last. It was as nobly done, sir, as anything I have ever
seen, and I heartily congratulate you upon it."

"Thank you very much," I answered; "but I must really ask you to
say no more about it. I have already been thanked ever so much more
than I deserve."

"That could not be," impetuously broke in Mr. Manstone, who had
not spoken hitherto. "On my own behalf and that of my niece I, too,
thank you most heartily; and you may rest assured I shall take care
that a full and proper account of it is given my brother when I reach
South Africa."

"Until we do so, I hope, Mr. Wrexford," said the skipper, "that
you will take up your quarters in this cabin, and consider yourself a
saloon passenger. I'm sure the owners would wish it, and for my part
I shall be proud to have you among us."

"And I say 'Hear, hear!' to that," added Mr. Manstone.

For a moment I hardly knew what to say. I was touched by his
kindness in making the offer, but in my position I could not dream of
accepting it. This notoriety was likely to do me quite enough harm as
it was.

"I thank you," I said at last, "and I hope you will fully
understand how grateful I am to you for the kindness which prompts
the offer. But I think I will remain in my old quarters forward, if
you have no objection. I am quite comfortable there; and as I made my
choice on principle at the beginning, I think, with your permission,
I would rather not change it now."

"But my dear sir," began the captain, "you must let us show
our appreciation in some practical form. We could never let you off
quietly, as you seem to wish."

"You have already done more than enough," I answered. "You have
told me what you thought of my action, and you have also made me this
offer, the value of which, you may be quite sure, I fully appreciate.
I have felt compelled to decline it, and under those circumstances I
think it would be best to let the subject drop.

"You are too modest by half, Mr. Wrexford," said Miss Maybourne's
uncle. "Far too modest."

For some time the two gentlemen did their best to persuade me to
forego my decision, but, hard as they tried, they did not succeed.
There were so many reasons why I should not take up my residence
among the first saloon passengers aft, and as I reviewed them in my
mind, I became more than ever convinced that it would be madness for
me to forego my resolution.

When they discovered that I was not to be moved they shook hands
again, and then left me. Five minutes later the doctor came in to
help me dress. He carried a bundle of clothes in his arms, and when
he had shut the door behind him he threw them on the locker under the

"Your own clothes, I'm sorry to say, Wrexford," he began, "are
completely spoiled; so if you'll allow me, I'm going to lend you
these till you can see about some more. We are men of pretty much the
same build, so what fits me should fit you, and vice versa.
Now, if you're ready, let me give you a hand to dress, for I want to
get you on deck into the fresh air as soon as possible."

Half an hour later I was ready to leave my cabin. The doctor's
clothes fitted me admirably, and after I had given a look round to
see that I had not left anything behind me, I followed the medico out
into the saloon. Fortunately, there were very few people about, but,
to my horror, those who were there would insist upon shaking hands
with me, and telling me what they thought of my action before they
would let me escape. To add to my discomfort, when I left the saloon
and passed along the spar deck towards my own quarters I had to run
the gauntlet of the rest of the passengers, who clustered round me,
and overwhelmed me with a chorus of congratulations on my recovery. I
doubt very much if ever there was more fuss made over an act of
common humanity than that made by the passengers of the Fiji
Princess over mine. If I had saved the lives of the whole ship's
company, captain and stokers included, there could not have been more
said about it.

Reaching my own quarters forward I went down to my berth, in
search of a pipe and a pouch of tobacco, and when I had found them,
sat myself down on the fore-hatch and began to smoke. It was a lovely
morning, a merry breeze hummed in the shrouds, and the great steamer
was ploughing her way along with an exhilarating motion that brought
my strength back quicker than any doctor's physic. On the bridge my
old friend the second officer was pacing up and down, and when he saw
me he came to the rail, and waved his hand in welcome.

The chief steward also found me out, and embraced the opportunity
for telling me that my conduct reminded him of a cousin's exploits in
the Hooghly, which said narrative I felt constrained to swallow with
a few grains of salt. When he left me I sat where I was and thought
how pleasant it was, after all, to find that there were still people
in the world with sufficiently generous natures to appreciate a
fellow creature's actions. One question, however, haunted me
continually: What would the folk aboard this ship say when they knew
my secret? And, above all, what would Miss Agnes Maybourne think when
she should come to hear it?


That afternoon I was sitting in my usual place on the fore-hatch,
smoking and thinking about our next port of call, and what a
miserable figure I should cut before the ship's company if by any
chance I should be arrested there, when I became conscious that
someone had come along the hurricane deck and was leaning on the
rails gazing down at me. I looked up, to discover that it was none
other than Miss Maybourne. Directly she saw that I was aware of her
presence she moved towards the ladder on the port side and came down
it towards where I sat. Her dress was of some dark-blue material,
probably serge, and was cut in such a fashion that it showed her
beautiful figure to the very best advantage. A sweeter picture of an
English maiden of gentle birth than she presented as she came down
the steps it would have been difficult to find. Kindness and
sincerity were the chief characteristics of her face, and I felt a
thrill of pride run through me as I reflected that she owed her life
to me.

When she came up to where I stood, for I had risen on seeing her
approaching me, she held out her hand with a frank gesture, and said,
as she looked me in the eyes:

"Mr. Wrexford, you saved my life the night before last, and this
is the first opportunity I have had of expressing my gratitude to
you. I cannot tell you how grateful I am, but I ask you to believe
that so long as I live I shall never cease to bless you for your

To return an answer to such a speech would not seem a difficult
matter at first thought, and yet I found it harder than I would at
any other time have imagined. To let her see that I did not want to
be thanked, and at the same time not to appear churlish, was a very
difficult matter. However, I stumbled out some sort of a reply, and
then asked her how she had managed to fall overboard in that
extraordinary fashion.

"I really cannot tell you," she answered, without hesitation. "I
was leaning against the rails of the hurricane deck talking to Miss
Dursley and Mr. Spicer, when something behind me gave way, and then
over I went backwards into the water. Oh, you can't imagine the
feeling of utter helplessness that came over me as I rose to the
surface and saw the great ship steaming away. Then you nobly sprang
in to my assistance, and once more hope came into my heart. But for
you I might now be dead, floating about in the depths of that great
sea. Oh! it is an awful thought."

She trembled like a leaf at the notion, and swept her pretty hands
across her face as if to brush away the thought of such a thing.

"It was a very narrow escape," I said. "I must confess myself that
I thought the boat would never reach us. And yet how cool and
collected you were!"

"It would have meant certain death to have been anything else,"
she answered. "My father will be indeed grateful to you when he hears
of your bravery. I am his only child, and if anything were to happen
to me I don't think he would survive the shock."

"I am very grateful to Providence for having given me such an
opportunity of averting so terrible a sorrow," I said. "But I fear,
like everyone else, you attach too much importance to what I did. I
simply acted as any other decent man would have done had he been
placed in a similar position."

"You do not do yourself justice," she said. "But, at any rate, you
have the satisfaction of knowing, if it is any satisfaction to you,
that Agnes Maybourne owes her life to you, and that she will never
forget the service you have rendered her."

The conversation was growing embarrassing, so I turned it into
another channel as soon as possible. At the same time I wanted to
find out something which had been puzzling me ever since I had first
seen her face, and that was where I had met her before. When I put
the question she looked at me in surprise.

"Do you know, Mr. Wrexford," she said, "that I was going to ask
you that self-same question? And for rather a strange reason. On the
night before we sailed, you must understand, I was sleeping at the
house of an aunt who lives a few miles outside Southampton. I went to
bed at ten o'clock, after a rather exciting day, feeling very tired.
Almost as soon as my head was upon the pillow I fell asleep, and did
not wake again until about half-past twelve o'clock, when I suddenly
found myself wide awake sitting up in bed, with a man's pale and
agonised face staring at me from the opposite wall. For a few moments
I thought I must be still asleep and dreaming, or else seeing a
phantom. Almost before I could have counted five it faded away, and I
saw no more of it. From that time forward, like yourself, I was
haunted with the desire to remember if I had ever seen the man's face
before, and, if so, where. You may imagine my surprise, therefore,
when I found the owner of it sitting before me on the hatch of the
very steamer that was to take me to South Africa. Can you account for

"Not in the least," I answered. "Mine was very much the same sort
of experience, only that I was wide awake and driving down a prosaic
London street when it happened. I, too, was endeavouring to puzzle it
out the other day when I looked up and found you standing on the deck
above me. It seems most uncanny."

"It may have been a warning from Providence to us which we have
not the wit to understand."

"A warning it certainly was," I said truthfully, but hardly in the
fashion she meant. "And one of the most extraordinary ever vouchsafed
to mortal man."

"A fortunate one for me," she answered with a smile, and then
offering me her dainty little hand, she bade me "good-bye," and went
up the steps again to the hurricane deck.

From that time forward I saw a good deal of Miss Maybourne; so
much so that we soon found ourselves upon comparatively intimate
terms. Though I believe to others she was inclined to be a little
haughty, to me she was invariably kindness and courtesy itself.
Nothing could have been more pleasant than her manner when we were
together; and you may be very sure, after all that I had lately
passed through, I could properly appreciate her treatment of me. To
be taken out of my miserable state of depression, and, after so many
years of ill fortune, to be treated with consideration and respect,
made me feel towards her as I had never done towards a woman in my
life before. I could have fallen at her feet and kissed her shoes in
gratitude for the luxury of my conversation with her. It was the
luckiest chance for both of us when I went aft that night to see that
photograph in the second officer's cabin. Had I not been there I
should in all probability never have heard Miss Maybourne's shriek as
she went over the side, and in that case she would most certainly
have been drowned; for I knew that, unaided and weighed down by her
wet clothes as she was, she could never have kept afloat till the
boat reached her. Strange as it may seem, I could not help deriving a
sort of satisfaction from this thought. It was evident that my
refusal to accept the captain's kind offer to take possession, for
the rest of the voyage, of the vacant berth aft, had created a little
surprise among the passengers. Still, I believe it prejudiced the
majority in my favour. At any rate, I soon discovered that my humble
position forward was to make no sort of difference in their treatment
of me; and many an enjoyable pipe I smoked, and twice as many talks I
had with one and another, sitting on the cable range, or leaning over
the bows watching the vessel's nose cutting its way through the clear
green water.

One morning, after breakfast, I was forward watching the effect
just mentioned, and, as usual, thinking what my sensations would be
if I should be arrested at Tenerife, when I heard footsteps behind
me. On looking round I discovered Miss Maybourne and the skipper
coming towards me.

"Good morning, Mr. Wrexford," said the former, holding out her
hand. "What a constant student of nature you are, to be sure. Every
morning lately I have seen you standing where you are now, looking
across the sea. My curiosity could hold out no longer, so this
morning I asked Captain Hawkins to escort me up here in order that I
might ask you what you see."

"I'm afraid you will hardly be repaid for your trouble, Miss
Maybourne," I answered with a smile, as the captain, after shaking
hands with me and wishing me good morning, left us to speak to one of
the officers who had come forward in search of him.

"But surely you must see something--King Neptune, or at least a
mermaid," she persisted. "You are always watching the water."

"Perhaps I do see something," I answered bitterly. "Yes; I
think you are right. When I look over the sea like that I am watching
a man's wasted life. I see him starting on his race with everything
in his favour that the world can give. I see a school career of
mediocrity, and a university life devoid of any sort of success; I
can see a continuity of profitless wanderings about the world in the
past, and I am beginning to believe that I can make out another just
commencing. Disgrace behind, and disgrace ahead; I think that is the
picture I have before me when I look across the sea, Miss Maybourne.
It is an engrossing, but hardly a pretty one, is it?"

"You are referring to your own life, I suppose?" she said,
quietly. "Well, all I can say is that, from what I have seen of you,
I should consider that you are hardly the man to do yourself

"God forbid," I answered. "If I were to do that it would be
impossible for me to live. No; I endeavour, as far as I am able, to
forget what my past has been."

She approached a step closer to me, and placed her little white
hand on my arm as it lay on the bulwark before her.

"Mr. Wrexford," she said, with an earnestness I had not hitherto
noticed in her, "I hope you will not consider me impertinent if I say
that I should like to know your history. Believe me, I do not say
this out of any idle curiosity, but because I hope and believe that
it may be in my power to help you. Remember what a debt of gratitude
I owe you for your bravery the other night. I cannot believe that a
man who would risk his life, as you did then, can be the sort of man
you have just depicted. Do you feel that you can trust me
sufficiently to tell me about yourself?"

"What there is to tell, with certain reservations, of course, you
shall hear. There is no one to whom I would confess so readily as to
yourself. I will not insult you by asking you to let what I tell you
remain a, secret between us, but I will ask you to try not to judge
me too harshly."

"You may be sure I shall not do that," she replied; and then
realising what her words implied, she hung her head with a pretty
show of confusion. I saw what was passing in her mind, and to help
her out of her difficulty plunged into the story of my miserable
career. I told her of my old home in Cornwall, of my mother's death,
and my father's antipathy to me on that account. On my Eton and
Oxford life I dwelt but lightly, winding up with the reason of my
being "sent down," and the troubles at home that followed close upon
it. I described my bush life in Australia, and told her of the great
disappointment to which I had been subjected over the gold mine,
suppressing Bartrand's name, and saying nothing of the hatred I had
entertained for him.

"After that," I said in conclusion, "I decided that I was tired of
Australia, and, having inherited a little money from my father, came
home, intending to get something to do and settle down in London. But
I very soon tired of England, as I tired of every other place and
hence my reason for going out to seek my fortune in South Africa. Now
I think I have given you a pretty good idea of my past. It's not an
edifying history, is it? It seems to me a parson might moralise very
satisfactorily upon it."

"It is very, very sad," she answered. "Oh, Mr. Wrexford, how
bitterly you must regret your wasted opportunities."

"Regret!" I said. "The saddest word in the English language. Yes,
I think I do regret."

"You only 'think?' Are you not sure? From your tale one would
suppose you were very sorry."

"Yes, I think I regret. But how can I be certain? The
probabilities are that if I had my chance over again I should
do exactly the same. As Gordon, the Australian poet, sings:--

"'For good undone, and gifts misspent and resolutions vain,
'Tis somewhat late to trouble. This I know--I should live the
same life, if I had to live again; And the chances are I go
where most men go.'

"It's not a pretty thought, perhaps, to think that one's bad
actions are the outcome of a bad nature, but one is compelled to own
that it is true."

"You mustn't talk like that, Mr. Wrexford," she cried; "indeed,
you mustn't. In all probability you have a long life before you; and
who knows what the future may have in store for you? All this trouble
that you have suffered may be but to fit you for some great success
in after life."

"There can never be any success for me, Miss Maybourne," I said,
more bitterly than I believe I had spoken yet. "There is no chance at
all of that. Success and I parted company long since, and can never
be reconciled to each other again. To the end of my days I shall be a
lonely, homeless man, without ambition, without hope, and without
faith in any single thing. God knows I am paying dearly for all I
have done and all that I have failed to do."

"But there is still time for you to retrieve everything. Surely
that must be the happiest thought in this frail world of ours. God,
in His mercy, gives us a chance to atone for whatever we have done
amiss. Believe me, I can quite realize what you feel about yourself.
But at the same time, from what I have seen of you, I expect you make
more of it than it really deserves."

"No, no; I can never paint what I have done in black enough
colours. I am a man eternally disgraced. You try to comfort me in
your infinite compassion, but you can never take away from me, try
how you will, the awful skeleton that keeps me company night and
day--I mean the recollection of the past."

She looked at me with tears of compassion in her lovely eyes. I
glanced at her face and then turned away and stared across the sea.
Never in my life before had hope seemed so dead in my heart. Now, for
the first time, I realized in all its naked horror the effect of the
dastardly deed I had committed. Henceforward I was a social leper,
condemned to walk the world, crying, "Unclean! unclean!"

"I am so sorry--so very sorry for you," Miss Maybourne said, after
the little pause that followed my last speech. "You cannot guess how
much your story has affected me. It is so very terrible to see a man
so richly endowed as yourself cast down with such despair. You
must fight against it, Mr. Wrexford. It cannot be as bad as
you think."

"I am afraid I am past all fighting now, Miss Maybourne," I
answered. "But I will try, if you bid me do so."

As I spoke I looked at her again. This time her eyes met mine
fearlessly, but as they did so a faint blush suffused her face.

"I bid you try," she said very softly. "God give you grace, and
grant you may succeed."

"If anything can make me succeed," I replied, "it will be your
good wishes. I will do my best, and man cannot do more. You have
cheered me up wonderfully, and I thank you from the bottom of my

"You must not do that. I hope now I shall not see you looking any
more across the sea in the same way that you were this morning. You
are to cheer up, and I shall insist that you report progress to me
every day. If I discover any relapse, remember, I shall not spare
you, and my anger will be terrible. Now good-bye; I see my uncle
signalling to me from the hurricane deck. It is time for me to read
to him."

"Good-bye," I said, "and may God bless you for your kindness to
one who really stood in want of it."

After that conversation I set myself to take a more hopeful view
of my situation. I told myself that, provided I managed to reach my
destination undetected, I would work as never man ever worked before
to make an honourable place for myself among those with whom my lot
should be cast. The whole of the remainder of my life I vowed, God
helping me, should be devoted to the service of my fellow creatures,
and then on the strength of their respect and esteem I would be able
to face whatever punishment Providence should decree as the result of
my sin. In the strength of this firm resolve I found myself becoming
a happier man than I had been for years past.

By this time we had left Madeira behind us, and were fast
approaching Tenerife. In another day and a half, at the longest
calculation, I should know my fate.

That night I had been smoking for some time on the fo'c'sle, but
after supper, feeling tired, had gone to my bunk at an earlier hour
than usual. For some reason my dreams were the reverse of good, and
more than once I woke in a fright, imagining myself in danger. To
such a state of nervousness did this fright at last bring me that,
unable to sleep any longer, I got out of bed and dressed myself. When
I was fully attired I sought the deck, to discover a fine starlight
night with a nice breeze blowing. I made my way to my usual spot
forward, and, leaning on the bulwark, looked down at the sea. We were
now in the region of phosphorescent water, and the liquid round the
boat's cutwater sparkled and glimmered as if decked with a million
diamonds. In the apex of the bows the look-out stood, while black and
silent behind him the great ship showed twice its real size in the
darkness. The lamps shone brilliantly from the port and starboard
lighthouses, and I could just manage to distinguish the officer of
the watch pacing up and down the bridge with the regularity of an
automaton. There was something about the silence, and that swift
rushing through the water--for we must have been doing a good sixteen
knots--that was most exhilarating. For something like an hour I stood
and enjoyed it. My nervousness soon left me, and to my delight I
found that I was beginning to feel sleepy again. At the end of the
time stated I made my way towards the ladder leading from the
topgallant fo'c'sle to the spar deck, intending to go below, but just
as I reached it a man appeared from the shadow of the alley way,
approached the bell, and struck three strokes--half-past one--upon
it. At the same instant the look-out called "All's well!" The words
were scarcely out of his mouth before there was a shuddering and
grinding crash forward, then a sudden stoppage and heeling over of
the great craft, and after that a dead, ghastly silence, in which the
beating of one's heart could be distinctly heard.

The confusion of the next few minutes can be better imagined than
described. The vessel had slipped off and cleared herself from the
obstruction whatever it was that had caught her, and was now going on
her way again, but at reduced speed. I heard the skipper open his
cabin door and run up the ladder to the bridge shouting, "What has
happened?" The officer of the watch replied, but at the same instant
the sailors and firemen off duty came pouring out of the fo'c'sle
shouting, "She's sinking! She's sinking!" The engine-room telegraph
had meanwhile been rung, and the ship was perceptibly stopping. I
stood where I was, wondering all the time what I had better do.

"Every man to his station," bellowed the skipper, coming to the
rails of the bridge, and tunneling his mouth with his hands so that
his voice might be heard above the din. "Be steady, men, and remember
that the first man who gives any trouble I shall shoot without
warning." Then, turning to the chief officer, he signed to him to
take the carpenter and hasten forward in an endeavour to ascertain
the nature of the injuries the vessel had received.

By this time all the passengers were on deck, the women pale and
trembling, and the men endeavouring to calm and reassure them as well
as they were able. I made my way up the ladder to the hurricane deck,
and as I did so felt the vessel give a heavy lurch, and then sink a
little deeper in the water. A moment later the chief officer and
carpenter crossed the well and hurried up the ladder to the bridge.
We all waited in silence for the verdict that meant life or death to

"Ladies and gentleman," said the skipper, coming down from the
bridge, after a short conversation with them, and approaching the.
anxious group by the chart room door, "I am sorry to have to tell you
that the ship has struck a rock, and in a short time will be no
longer habitable for us. I want, however, to reassure you. Thare is
ample boat accommodation for twice the number of our ship's company,
so that you need have no possible fear about leaving her. How long it
will be before we must go I cannot say. There is a strong bulkhead
between us and the water which may stand long enough for us to reach
Tenerife, which is only about a hundred miles distant. I think,
however, it would be better for us to be prepared for any emergency.
The ladies will therefore remain on deck, while the gentlemen go down
to their cabins and bring them such warm clothing as they can find.
The night is cold, and in case we may have to take to the boats
before morning it will be well for everybody to make themselves as
warm as possible."

Without more ado the male portion of the passengers ran down the
stairway to the saloon like so many rabbits, I following at their
heels to see if I could be of assistance. Into the cabins we rushed
at random, collecting such articles of apparel as we could find, and
carrying them on deck with all possible haste. The necessity for
speed was so great that we did not pause to make selection or to
inquire as to ownership, but took what we could lay our hands on and
were thankful for the find. In the cabin I entered I noticed a pair
of cork jackets pushed under a bunk. I dragged them out, and heaped
them on the top of the other things I had collected. Then a sudden
inspiration seized me. On the rack in the saloon I had noticed a
large flask. I took possession of it, and then, collecting the other
things I had found, ran on deck again. I could not have been gone
half a minute, but even in that short space of time a change had come
over the ship. Her bows were lower in the water, and I trembled when
I thought of the result of the strain on the bulkhead. I found Miss
Maybourne standing just where I had first seen her, at a little
distance from the others, aft of the chart-room and beside the
engine-room skylight. She was fully dressed, and had a little girl of
eight with her, the only daughter of a widow named Bailey, of whom
she was very fond.

"Miss Maybourne," I cried, throwing down the things I had brought
on the deck as I spoke, and selecting a thick jacket from the heap,
"I found these clothes in a cabin. I don't know who they belong to,
but you must put on as much as you can wear."

She obeyed me willingly enough, and when I had buttoned the last
garment up I insisted on her putting on one of the cork lifebelts. As
soon as she was clothed I put another garment on the child, and then
attached the second lifebelt to her body. It was too big for her to
wear, but fastened round her shoulders I knew it would answer the
same purpose.

"But yourself, Mr. Wrexford?" cried Miss Maybourne, who saw my
condition. "You must find a cork jacket for yourself, or you will be

At the very instant that I was going to answer her the vessel gave
a sudden pitch, and before the boats could be lowered or anything be
done for the preservation of the passengers, she began to sink
rapidly. Seeing that it was hopeless to wait for the boats, I dragged
my two companions to the ladder leading to the after spar deck. When
I reached it, I tore down the rail just at the spot where Miss
Maybourne had fallen overboard on the Spanish coast a few nights
before, and, this done, bade them jump into the sea without losing
time. Miss Maybourne did so without a second thought; the child,
however, hung back, and cried piteously for mercy. But, with the ship
sinking so rapidly under us, to hesitate I knew was to be lost, so I
caught her by the waist, and, regardless of her screams, threw her
over the side. Then, without waiting to see her rise again, I dived
in myself. The whole business, from the moment of the first crash to
the tune of our springing overboard, had not lasted five minutes. One
thing was self-evident--the bulkhead could not have possessed the
strength with which it had been credited.

On coming to the surface again I shook myself and looked about me.
Behind me was the great vessel, with her decks by this time almost on
a level with the water. In another instant she would be gone. True
enough, before I had time to take half a dozen strokes there was a
terrific explosion, and next instant I was being sucked down and down
by the sinking ship. How far I went, or how long I was beneath the
waves, I have no possible idea. I only know that if it had lasted
much longer I should never have lived to reach the surface again or
to tell this tale. But after a little while I found myself rising to
the surface, surrounded by wreckage of all sorts and descriptions.

On reaching the top, I looked about me for the boats, which I felt
sure I should discover; but, to my surprise, I could not
distinguish one. Was it possible that the entire company of the
vessel could have gone down with her? The thought was a terrible one,
and almost unnerved me. I raised myself in the water as well as I was
able, and as I did so I caught sight of two people within a few yards
of me. I swam towards them, and to my joy discovered that they were
Miss Maybourne and the child upon whom I had fastened the cork
life-preservers a few minutes before.

"Oh, Mr. Wrexford," cried Miss Maybourne, in an agonised voice.
"What are we to do? This poor child is either dead, or nearly so, and
I can see no signs of any boat at all."

"We must continue swimming for a little while," I answered, "and
then we may perhaps be picked up. Surely we cannot be the only

"My poor, poor uncle!" she cried. "Can he have perished! Oh, it is
too awful!"

The cork lifebelts were keeping them up famously, and on that score I
felt no anxiety at all. But still the situation was about as desperate
as it well could be. I had not the least notion of where we were, and I
knew that unless we were picked up we should be better drowned at once
than continue to float until we died of starvation. However, I was not
going to frighten my only conscious companion by such gloomy
anticipations, so I passed my arm round the child's waist and bade Miss
Maybourne strike out for the spot where the ill-fated Fiji Princess had
gone down. At the same time I asked her to keep her eyes open for a
boat, or at least a spar of some sort, upon which we could support
ourselves until we could find some safer refuge. On the horrors of that
ghastly swim it will not be necessary for me to dilate. I must leave my
readers to imagine them for themselves. Suffice it that for nearly a
quarter of an hour we paddled aimlessly about here and there. But look
as we might, not a sign of any other living soul from aboard that ship
could we discover, nor anything large enough upon which three people
could rest. At last, just as I was beginning to despair of saving the
lives of those whom Providence had so plainly entrusted to my care, I
saw ahead of us a large white object, which, upon nearer approach,
proved to be one of the overturned lifeboats. I conveyed the good news
to Miss Maybourne, and then, with a new burst of energy, swam towards it
and caught hold of the keel. She was a big craft, and, to my delight,
rode high enough out of the water to afford us a resting-place. To pull
myself and the child I carried on to her, and to drag Miss Maybourne up
after me, was the work of a very few moments. Once there, we knew we
were safe for the present.


FOR some minutes we lay upon the bottom of the up-turned boat too
exhausted to speak. I still held the unconscious form of little
Esther Bailey in my arms, and protected her, as well as I was able,
from the marauding seas. Though the waves about us upheld many
evidences of the terrible catastrophe, such as gratings, broken
spars, portions of boat gear, still, to my astonishment, I could
discover no signs of any bodies. Once, however, I was successful in
obtaining possession of something which I knew would be worth its
weight in gold to us: it was an oar, part of the equipment of one of
the quarter boats I imagined; half the blade was missing, but with
what remained it would still be possible for us to propel the boat on
which we had taken refuge.

What a terrible position was ours, lodged on the bottom of that
overturned lifeboat, icy seas breaking upon us every few seconds, the
knowledge of our gallant ship, with all our friends aboard, lying
fathoms deep below the surface of the waves, and the remembrance that
the same fate might be ours at any moment; no possible notion of
where we were, no provisions or means of sustaining life, and but
small chance of being picked up by any passing boat!

It was Miss Maybourne who spoke first, and, as usual, her
conversation was not about herself.

"Mr. Wrexford," she said, and her teeth chattered as she spoke,
"at any risk something must be done for that poor child you hold in
your arms, she will die else. Do you think we could manage to get her
up further on to the boat and then try to chafe her back to

"By all means let us try," I answered, "though I fear it will
prove a difficult matter. She seems very far gone, poor little

With the utmost care I clambered further up the boat till I sat
with my burden astride the keel. In the darkness we could scarcely
see each other, but once the child was placed between us we set to
work rubbing her face and hands and trying by every means in our
power to restore consciousness. Suddenly a great thought occurred to
me. I remembered the flask I had taken from the cabin where I had
found the clothes. In an instant I had dived my hand into my pocket
in search of it, almost trembling with fear lest by any chance it
should have slipped out when I had dived overboard, but to my delight
it was still there. I had pulled it out and unscrewed the stopper
before anyone could have counted a dozen, taking the precaution to
taste it in order to see that it was all right before I handed it to
Miss Maybourne. It was filled with the finest French brandy, and,
having discovered this, I bade her take a good drink at it. When she
had done so I put it to the child's mouth and forced a small quantity
between her lips.

"Surely you are going to drink some yourself," said my companion,
as she saw me screw on the top and replace it in my pocket.

But I was not going to do anything of the sort. I did not need it
so vitally as my charges, and I knew that there was not enough in the
bottle to justify me in wasting even a drop. I explained this and
then asked her if she felt any warmer.

"Much warmer," she answered, "and I think Esther here feels better
too. Let us chafe her hands again."

We did so, and in a few minutes had the satisfaction of hearing
the poor mite utter a little moan. In less than an hour she was
conscious once more, but so weak that it seemed as if the first
breath of wind that came our way would blow the life out of her tiny
body. Poor little soul, if it was such a terrible experience for us,
what must it have been for her?

What length of time elapsed from the time of our heading the boat
before daylight came to cheer us I cannot say, but, cramped up as we
were, the darkness seemed to last for centuries. For periods of
something like half an hour at a time we sat without speaking,
thinking of all that had happened since darkness had fallen the night
before, and remembering the rush and agony of those last few dreadful
minutes on board, and the awful fact that all those whom we had seen
so well and strong only a few hours before were now cold and lifeless
for ever. Twice I took out my flask and insisted on Miss Maybourne
and the child swallowing a portion of the spirit. Had I not brought
that with me, I really believe neither of them would have seen
another sunrise.

Suddenly Miss Maybourne turned to me.

"Listen, Mr Wrexford," she cried. "What is that booming noise?
Is it thunder?"

I did as she commanded, but for some moments could hear nothing
save the splashing of the waves upon the boat's planks. Then a dull,
sullen noise reached my ears that might very well have been mistaken
for the booming of thunder at a great distance. Thunder it certainly
was, but not of the kind my companion imagined. It was the thunder of
surf, and that being so, I knew there must be land at no great
distance from us. I told her my conjecture, and then we set ourselves
to wait, with what patience we could command, for daylight.

What a strange and, I might almost say, weird dawn that was! It
was like the beginning of a new life under strangely altered
conditions. The first shafts of light found us still clinging to the
keel of the overturned boat, gazing hopelessly about us. When it was
light enough to discern our features, we two elder ones looked at
each other, and were horrified to observe the change which the
terrible sufferings of the night had wrought in our countenances.
Miss Maybourne's face was white and drawn, and she looked years older
than her real age. I could see by the way she glanced at me that I
also was changed. The poor little girl Esther hardly noticed either
of us, but lay curled up as close as possible to her sister in

As the light widened, the breeze, which had been just perceptible
all night, died away, and the sea became as calm as a mill pond. I
looked about me for something to explain the noise of breakers we had
heard, but at first could see nothing. When, however, I turned my
head to the west I almost shouted in my surprise, for, scarcely a
mile distant from us, was a comparatively large island, surrounded by
three or four reef-like smaller ones. On the larger island a peak
rose ragged and rough to a height of something like five hundred
feet, and upon the shore, on all sides, I could plainly discern the
surf breaking upon the rocks. As soon as I saw it I turned excitedly
to Miss Maybourne.

"We're saved!" I cried, pointing in the direction of the island;
"look there--look there!"

She turned round on the boat as well as she was able and when she
saw the land, stared at it for some moments in silence. Then with a
cry, "Thank God!" she dropped her head on to her hands and I could
see her shoulders shaken by convulsive sobs. I did my best to console
her, but she soon recovered of her own accord, and addressed herself
to me again.

"These must be the Salvage Islands of which the captain was
speaking at dinner last night," she said. "How can we reach the
shore? Whatever happens, we must not drift past them."

"Have no fear," I answered; "I will not let that happen, come what

So saying, I shifted my position to get a better purchase of the
water, and then using the broken oar began to paddle in the direction
of the biggest island. It was terribly hard work, and a very few
moments showed me that after all the horrors of the night I was as
weak as a kitten. But by patience and perseverance I at last got the
boat's head round and began to lessen the distance that separated us.
At the end of nearly half an hour we were within an hundred yards of
the shore. By this time I had decided on a landing-place. It was a
little bit of open sandy beach, perhaps sixty yards long, without
rocks, and boasting less surf than any other part of the island I
could see. In addition to these advantages it was nearer, and I noted
that that particular side of the island looked more sheltered than
the others.

Towards this haven of refuge I accordingly made my way, hoping
that I should not find any unexpected danger lurking there when I
should be too close in to be able to get out again. It was most
necessary for every reason that we should save the boat from damage,
for by her aid alone could we hope to make our way out to passing
ships, or, if the worst came, to strike out on our own account for
the Canary Islands. That the rocks we were now making were the
Salvage Group, as Miss Maybourne had said, I had no doubt in my own
mind, though how the skipper came to be steering such a course was
more than I could tell.

At last we were so close that I could see the sandy bottom quite
distinctly only a fathom or so below us. A better landing-place no
man could have wished for. When we were near enough to make it safe I
slid off the boat into the water, which was just up to my hips, and
began to push her in before me. Having grounded her I took Miss
Maybourne in my arms and carried her out of the water up on to the
beach and then went back for the child. My heart was so full of
gratitude at being on dry land again and having saved the two lives
entrusted to my care that I could have burst into tears on the least

Having got my charges safely ashore, I waded into the water again
to have a look at the boat and, if possible, to discover what had
made her capsize. She was so precious to us that I dared not leave
her for an instant. To my delight she looked as sound as the day she
had been turned out of the shipwright's yard, and I felt if once I
could turn her over she would carry us as well as any boat ever
built. But how to do that, full of water as she was, was a problem I
could not for the life of me solve. Miss Maybourne's wits, however,
were sharper than mine and helped me out of the difficulty.

"There is a rope in her bows, Mr. Wrexford," she cried; "why not
drive the oar into the sand and fasten her to that? then when the
tide goes out--you see it is nearly full now--she will be left high
and dry, the water will have run out of her, and then you will be
able to do whatever you please to her."

"You've solved the difficulty for me in a very simple fashion," I
answered. "What a duffer I was not to have thought of that."

"The mouse can help the lion sometimes, you see," she replied,
with a wan little smile that went to my heart.

Having got my party safely ashore, and made my boat fast to the
oar, as proposed by Miss Maybourne, the next thing to be done was to
discover a suitable spot where we might fix our camp, and then to
endeavour to find some sort of food upon which we might sustain our
lives until we should be rescued. I explained my intentions to my
elder companion, and then, leaving them on the beach together,
climbed the hillside to explore. On the other sides of the island
the peak rose almost precipitously from the beach, and upon the side
on which we stood it was, in many places, pretty stiff climbing. At
last, however, to my great delight, on a small plateau some thirty
yards long by twenty deep, I discovered a cave that looked as if it
would suit my purpose to perfection. It was not a large affair, but
quite big enough to hold the woman and the child even when lying at
full length. To add to my satisfaction, the little strip of land
outside was covered with a coarse grass, a quantity of which I
gathered and spread about in the cave to serve as a bed. This, with
a few armfuls of dry seaweed, which I knew I should be able to obtain
on the beach, made an excellent couch.

What, however, troubled me more than anything else, was the fear
that the island might contain no fresh water. But my doubts on that
head were soon set at rest, for on the hillside, a little below the
plateau on which I had discovered the cave, was a fair-sized pool,
formed by a hollow in a rock, which, when I tasted it, I found to
contain water, a little brackish it is true, but still quite
drinkable. There was an abundance of fuel everywhere, and if only I
could manage to find some shell fish on the rocks, or hit upon some
way of catching the fish swimming in the bay, I thought we might
manage to keep ourselves alive until we were picked up by some
passing boat.

Descending to the beach again, I told Miss Maybourne of my
discoveries, and then taking poor little Esther in my arms we set off
up the hill towards the cave. On reaching it I made them as
comfortable as I could and then descended to the shore again in
search of food.

Leaving the little sandy bay where we had landed, I tramped along
as far as some large rocks I could see a couple of hundred yards or
so to my left hand. As I went I thought of the strangeness of my
position. How inscrutable are the ways of Providence! However much I
might have hated Bartrand, had I not met Nikola I should in all
probability never have attempted to revenge myself on him. In that
case I should not have been compelled to fly from England at a
moment's notice, and should certainly not have sailed aboard the
Fiji Princess. Presuming, therefore, that all would have gone
on without me as it had done with me, Miss Maybourne would have been
drowned off the coast of Spain, and the Fiji Princess would
have gone to the bottom and nobody have been left to tell the tale.
It was a curious thought, and one that sent a strange thrill through
me to think what good had indirectly resulted from my misfortune.

Reaching the rocks mentioned above, I clambered on to them and
began my search for limpets. Once more Fate was kind to me. The
stones abounded with the mollusks, the majority of which were of
larger sizes than I had met with in my life before. In considerably
less than five minutes I had detached a larger supply than our little
party would be able to consume all day.

My harvest gathered, I filled my handkerchief and set off for the
plateau again. About half-way I looked up, to find Miss Maybourne
standing at the cave mouth watching me. Directly she saw me
approaching, she waved her hand to encourage me, and that little
gesture set my heart beating like a wheat-flail. It was the first
dawning of a knowledge that was soon to give me the greatest pain I
had ever yet known in my life.

On reaching the plateau, I hastened towards her and placed my
spoils at her feet.

"Fortune is indeed kind to us," I said. "See what splendid limpets
I have obtained from the rocks down yonder. I was beginning to
be afraid lest there should be nothing edible on the island."

"But how are we to cook them?" she answered, with a little
shudder, for I must confess the things did not look appetising. "I
could not eat them raw."

"I have no intention that you shall," I cried, reassuringly. "I am
going to light a fire and cook them for you."

"But how can you light a fire? Have you any matches dry

I took from my waistcoat pocket a little Japanese match-box, the
lid of which closed with a strong spring, and opened it in some
trepidation. So much depended on the discovery I was about to make.
With a trembling hand I pressed back the lid, and tipped the contents
into my palm. Fortunately, the strength of the spring and the tight
fit of the cover rendered the box almost water-tight, and for this
reason the dozen or so matches it contained were only a little damp.
In their present state, however, they were quite useless.

"I think," I said, turning them over and examining them closely,
"that if I place them in a dry spot they will soon be fit for

"Let me do it for you," she said, holding out her hand. "You have
done everything so far. Why should I not be allowed to help you?"

"I shall be only too glad to let you," I answered. "I want to cut
the fish out of their shells and prepare them for the fire."

So saying, I handed over the precious matches to her care; and
then, taking my clasp knife from my pocket, set about my work. When
it was finished, and I had prepared an ample meal for three people, I
placed it in a safe place in the cave, and then set about collecting
a supply of fuel for the fire.

When this work was done I determined to climb to a point of
vantage and search the offing for a sail. Just as I was starting,
however, Miss Maybourne called to me to know where I was going. I
informed her of my errand, and she immediately asked permission to
accompany me. I told her that I should be very glad of her company,
and when she had looked into the cave at the little child, who was
still fast asleep, we set off together.

From the encampment we climbed the hillside for a hundred feet or
so, and then, reaching another small plateau, turned our attention to
the sea. Side by side we looked across the expanse of blue water for
the sail that was to bring deliverance to us. But no sign of any
vessel could be seen--only a flock of seagulls screeching round the
rocks below us, and another wheeling roundabout in the blue sky above
our heads.

"Nothing there," I said bitterly. "Not a single sail of any

A fit of anger, as sudden as the squall that ruffles the surface
of a mountain lake, rose in my breast against Fate. I shook my fist
fiercely at the plane of water softly heaving in the sunlight, and
but for my companion's presence could have cursed our fate aloud. I
suppose Miss Maybourne must have understood, for she came a little
closer to me and laid her hand soothingly upon my arm.

"Mr. Wrexford," she said, "surely you who have hitherto been so
brave are not going to give way now, just because we cannot see a
ship the first time we look for one. No! No! I know you too well, and
I cannot believe that."

"You shame me, Miss Maybourne," I replied, recovering myself
directly. "Upon my word, you do. I don't know what made me give way
like that. I am worse than a baby."

"I won't have you call yourself names either. It was because you
are tired and a little run down," she answered. "You have done too
much. Oh, Mr. Wrexford, I want you to grant me a favour. I want you
to kneel with me while I thank God for His great mercy in sparing our
lives. We owe everything to Him. Without His help where should we be

"I will kneel with you with pleasure," I said, "if you wish it,
but I am not worthy. I have been too great a sinner for God to listen
to me."

"Hush! I cannot let you say that," she went on. "Whatever your
past may have been, God will hear you and forgive you if you pray
aright. Remember, too, that in my eyes you have atoned for all your
past by your care of us last night. Come, let us kneel down

So saying, she dropped on to her knees on that little plateau, and
without a second's hesitation I followed her example. It must have
been a strange sight for the gulls, that lovely girl and myself
kneeling, side by side, on that windy hillside. Overhead rose the
rugged peak of the mountain, below us was the surf-bound beach, and
on all sides the treacherous sea from which we had so lately been
delivered. What were the exact words of the prayer Miss Maybourne
sent up to the Throne of Grace I cannot now remember; I only know it
seemed to me the most beautiful expression of thankfulness for the
past, and supplication for guidance and help in the future that it
would be possible for a human being to give utterance to. When she
had finished we rose, and having given a final glance round, went
down the hill again. On reaching our camping-place she went to the
cave to ascertain how little Esther was, while I sought the spot
where she had set the matches to dry. To my delight they were now
ready for use. So placing them back in my box as if they were the
greatest treasures I possessed on earth--as they really were just
then--I went across to the fire I had built up. Then striking one of
the matches upon a stone I lit the grass beneath the sticks, and in
less time than it takes to tell had the satisfaction of seeing a fine
bonfire blazing before me. This done, I crossed to the cave to obtain
the fish I had placed there.

On entering, I discovered Miss Maybourne kneeling beside the

"How is she now?" I enquired, surprised at discovering the poor
little mite still asleep upon the bed of grass.

"She is unconscious again," answered Miss Maybourne, large tears
standing in her beautiful eyes as she spoke. "Oh, Mr. Wrexford, what
can we do to save her life?"

"Alas! I cannot tell," I replied. "Shall we give her some more
brandy? I have still a little left in the flask."

"We might try it," she said. "But I fear it will not be much use.
What the poor little thing needs most is a doctor's science and
proper nursing. Oh! if I only knew what is really the matter, I might
be able to do something for her. But, as it is, I feel powerless to
help her at all."

"At any rate, let us try the effect of a few sips of this," I
said, as I took the flask from my pocket. "Even if it does no good,
it cannot possibly do any harm."

I knelt beside her, and having opened the little child's mouth,
poured into it a few drops of the precious spirit. We then set to
work and chafed her hands as briskly as possible, and in a few
minutes were rewarded by seeing the mite open her eyes and look about

"Thank God," said Miss Maybourne, devoutly. "Oh, Esther darling,
do you know me? Do you remember Aggie?"

To show that she understood what was said to her, the little one
extended her hand and placed it in that of her friend. The action was
so full of trust and confidence that it brought the tears to my

"How do you feel now, darling?" asked her friend, as she lifted
the little sufferer into a more comfortable position.

"A pain here," faltered Esther, placing her hand on the side of
her head. Then looking round the cave as if in search of someone, she
said, "Miss Maybourne, where is mother?"

At this point my pluck forsook me altogether, and seizing the fish
for which I had come, I dashed from the cave without waiting to hear
what answer the brave girl would give her. When she joined me, ten
minutes later, large tears were running down her cheeks. She made no
attempt to hide them from me, but came across to where I knelt by the
fire, and said, in a choking voice:

"I have been preparing that poor child for the sad news she must
soon hear, and I cannot tell you how miserable it has made me. Do you
really think in your own heart that we are the only people who
escaped from that ill-fated vessel? Isn't it just possible that some
other boat may have been lowered, and that the child's mother may be
among those who got away in her? Tell me exactly what you think,
without hiding anything from me, I implore you."

"Of course it may be just possible, as you say, that a boat
did get away; but I must confess that I think it is most,
unlikely. Had such a thing occurred, we should have been almost
certain to have seen her, and in that case we should have been able
to attract her attention, and she would have picked us up. No, Miss
Maybourne. I wish I could comfort you with such an assurance; but I
fear it would be cruel to buoy you up with any false hopes, only to
have them more cruelly shattered later on. I'm afraid we must
accustom ourselves to the awful thought that the Fiji Princess
and all her company, with the exception of ourselves, have met a
watery grave. Why I should have been saved when so many worthier
people perished I cannot imagine."

"To save us, Mr. Wrexford," she answered. "Think what you are
saying, and remember that but for you we should not be here now."

"I thank God, then, for the opportunity He gave me," I answered;
and what I said I meant from the very bottom of my heart.

Whatever she may have thought of my speech, she vouchsafed no
reply to it; but on looking up a moment later, I discovered that her
face was suffused with a beautiful blush that was more eloquent than
any words. After that I turned my attention to the meal which I was
preparing, and gave her time to recover herself a little.

Having no pot in which to cook the fish, I had to use the largest
of the shells I had discovered. These did not prove altogether a good
substitute, but as they were all I had got, I had to make the best of
them or go without.

When the mussels were sufficiently done, I lifted them off the
fire and invited my companion to taste the dish. She did so, and the
grimace which followed told me that she was not overpleased at the
result. I followed her example, and felt obliged to confess that they
made but poor fare to support life upon.

"If we cannot get something better, I don't know what we shall
do," she cried. "These things are too horrible."

"Perhaps I may be able to hit upon a way of catching some fish," I
said; "or it is just possible I may be able to get a trap and catch
some birds. There is no knowing what I may not be able to do with a
little practice. In the meantime, you must endeavour to swallow as
much of this mess as possible, and try to get the little one in the
cave there to do the same."

Putting some of the fish into another shell, I gave it to
her, and she carried it off to her sick friend. After I had scraped
and washed it carefully, I filled a larger shell with pure water from
the pool and gave it to them to drink. When they had finished their
meal--and it was not much that they ate--I called Miss Maybourne
outside and informed her that I was going to build up a large fire,
after which I should set off on a tramp round the island to see if I
could discover anything better to eat. While I was away, I advised
her to dry her own and the child's things by the blaze, for though we
had been some time under the influence of the hot sun, still our
garments could not be said to be anything like dry. She promised to
do as I wished, and when I had piled what remained of my heap of fuel
upon the fire I made my way down to the shore, and then set off for a
tramp round the island.

My first call was at the group of rocks from which I had gathered
the shellfish of which my companion had so strongly disapproved. I
wanted to see if I could discover a place where it would be possible
for me to construct some sort of a trap for fish. But though I
searched diligently, nothing suitable could I find. At last I had to
give it up in despair, and set my brain to work on another plan for
stocking my larder. That fish were plentiful I could see by looking
over the edges of the rocks, but how I was to capture them was by no
means so plain. I think at that moment I would have given a year of
my life for the worst hook and line I had used as a boy among the
sticklebacks of Polton Penna.

Leaving the rocks behind me, I turned the point and made for the
brow of a low hill that overlooked the sea on the further side. I had
noticed that the sea birds gathered here in greater numbers than
elsewhere, and when I reached the cliff, to my surprise and delight,
I found the ground literally covered with nests. Indeed, it was a
matter of some difficulty to move without treading upon the eggs. My
delight can scarcely be overestimated, for here was a new food
supply, and one that, while it would be unlikely to give out for some
weeks to come, would be infinitely preferable to the wretched limpets
upon which we had almost made up our minds we should have to subsist.
I hastened to fill my handkerchief and pockets with the spoil, and
when I could stuff in no more, continued my walk in a much easier,
and consequently more thankful, frame of mind.

As I tramped along, glancing ever and anon at the sea, the sordid
details of my past life rose before me. When I considered it, I felt
almost staggered by the change that had come over me. It seemed
scarcely possible that so short a time could have passed since I had
plotted against Bartrand and had been so miserable in London. In my
present state of usefulness, I felt as if centuries had elapsed since
then, instead of barely a couple of weeks, as was really the case. I
wondered what would be said in England when the news got into the
papers, as I supposed it inevitably must, that I had found a watery
grave in the ill-fated Fiji Princess. Would there be anyone to
regret me? I very much doubted it. One hope occurred to me. Perhaps,
under cover of the supposition that I was dead, I might manage to
outwit the law after all, and then an opportunity would be afforded
me of beginning a new life in a strange land--the land that was the
home of Agnes Maybourne.

From a consideration of this important chance I fell to
thinking of the girl herself. Could it have been for the reason that
I was ultimately to save her life that Fate had raised her face
before my eyes to warn me that miserable night in London? It looked
very much like it. If, however, that was the beginning, what was the
sequel to be? for surely it could not be intended that Fate, having
brought me so far, should suddenly abandon me at the end. "Oh! if I
were only clean handed like my fellow-men," I cried, in miserable
self-abasement, "how happy might I not be!" For I must mention here
that in my own mind I had quite come to the conclusion that Agnes
Maybourne entertained a liking for me. And, God knows, I on my side
had discovered that I loved her better than my own soul. What was to
be the end of it all? That the future alone could decide.

The other side of the island--that is to say, the side exactly
opposite that upon which we had landed--was almost precipitous, and
at the foot of the cliffs, extending for some distance out into the
sea, were a number of small islets, upon which the seas broke with
never-easing violence. I searched that offing, as I had done the
other, for a sail, but was no better rewarded. As soon as I had made
certain that there was nothing in sight, I turned upon my tracks and
hastened back to the plateau as fast as I could go. For some reason
or another, I experienced a great dread lest by any chance something
ill might have befallen my charges. But when I reached the beach
below the plateau and looked up, to see the fire still burning
brightly and Miss Maybourne moving about between it and the cave, I
was reassured.

The tide by this time had gone out, and the lifeboat lay high and
dry upon the beach. Before rejoining my companions I made my way
towards her.

To roll her over into her proper position was only a matter of
small difficulty now that the water was out of her, and once this was
accomplished I was able to satisfy myself as to her condition. As far
as I could gather, there was nothing amiss with her, even her oars
lay fastened to the thwarts as usual. How she could have got into the
water was a mystery I could not solve for the life of me. I examined
her most carefully, and having done so, found some pieces of wood to
act as rollers, and dragged her up the beach till I had got her well
above high water mark. After that I picked up my parcel of eggs and
climbed the hill to the plateau. It was now well on into the
afternoon, and I had still much to do before nightfall.'

When I showed Miss Maybourne the eggs I had found, she expressed
her great satisfaction, and we immediately cooked a couple to be
ready against the little sufferer's waking.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in carrying drift wood from
the beach to the plateau; for I had determined to keep a good flare
burning all night, in case any ships might happen to pass, and think
it worth their while to stand off and on till daylight should show
them the reason of it. When I had stacked it ready to my hand there
was yet another supply of grass to be cut, with which to improve the
bed-places in the cave. Then my own couch had to be prepared
somewhere within call. After which there was the evening meal to
cook. By the time this was done, darkness had fallen, and our first
night on the island had commenced.

When I bade Miss Maybourne "good night" she was kind enough to
express her thanks a second time for the trouble I had taken. As if
the better to give point to her gratitude, she held out her hand to
me. I took it and raised it to my lips. She did not attempt to stop
me, and then, with another "good night," she passed into the cave,
and I was left alone.

For hours I sat watching my blaze and listening to the rumbling of
the surf upon the shore. The night was as still as a night could well
be. Not even a breath of wind was stirring. When I laid myself down
in my corner between the rocks near the cave's mouth, and fell
asleep, it was to dream of Agnes Maybourne and the happiness that
might have been mine but for the one dread thing which had made it
quite impossible.


LONG before daylight I was awake, thinking of our unenviable
position, and wishing for the ladies' sakes that I could do something
to improve it. But, as far as I could see, I had done everything that
was possible by mortal man. Somehow, though I valued their eggs above
gold, I had no fancy for the sea birds themselves. What I wanted most
was a contrivance with which to capture some of the fish in the bay.
A line I could easily make by unravelling the painter of the
lifeboat; the hook, however, beat me. A hair-pin would have done
admirably; but, unfortunately, Miss Maybourne's hair covered her
shoulders just as she had run up from her cabin on hearing the first
alarm. An ordinary pin would have been invaluable; but among the
three of us we could not muster even one. Just as daylight broke,
however, I solved my difficulty in the simplest fashion possible, and
could have kicked myself round the island, if it had been possible,
for my stupidity in not having thought of it sooner. In my tie I wore
a long gold pin, with an escutcheon top, which had been given me in
Australia years before. The remembrance of it no sooner came into my
mind than I had whipped it out of the tie, and had bent the point
into a fair-sized hook. This done, I rose from my couch between the
rocks, and having replenished the fire, which still showed a red
glow, hastened down the hillside to where the boat lay upon the
sands. From the painter I extracted sufficient strands to make a line
some thirty feet long, and to this I attached my hook. I very much
doubt if a fish were ever honoured before with so grand a hook.

Just as the sun's first rays were shooting up beyond the placid
sea line, and the sea and heavens were fast changing from a pure
pearl grey to every known colour of the rainbow, I pushed the boat
into the water, and rowed out for half a mile or so. Then, having
baited my hook with mussel, I threw it overboard, and seating myself,
line in hand, in the stern, awaited results. I looked at the island,
showing so clear and rugged in the bright morning light, and thought
of Miss Maybourne and the sick child. If the truth must be confessed,
I believe I was happier then, even in such straits and upon so
inhospitable a shore, than I had ever been before. When I thought of
Bartrand, as I had last seen him, lying stretched out in the snow in
that quiet street, and remembered my struggle with Nikola in Golden
Square, my walk through sleeping London to Surbiton, and my journey
to Southampton, it all seemed like some horrible dream, the effects
of which I was at last beginning to rid myself. It was hard to
believe that I had really gone through it all; that I, the man now
fishing so quietly in this boat, in whom Miss Maybourne believed so
much, was in reality Gilbert Pennethorne, the perpetrator of one of
the mysterious murders which had entirely baffled the ingenuity of
the London police. I could not help wondering what she would say if
anyone should tell her the true history of the man in whom she placed
such implicit confidence. Would she credit it or not?

While I was thinking of this, I felt a sharp tug upon my line, and
when I drew it in, I found, to my delight, a nice fish impaled upon
the hook. Having released him and placed him securely at the bottom
of the boat, I did not lose a moment in throwing the line overboard
again. Within a quarter of an hour I had landed five splendid
fellows, and was as pleased with my success as if I had just been
created Lord Chancellor of England. To-day, at any rate, I told
myself, Miss Maybourne and the little girl should have a nice

Arriving at the beach I sprang out, and, using the same means as
before, drew my boat up out of reach of the tide. Then, taking my
prizes with me, I made my way up the hillside to the plateau. Just
as I reached it, Miss Maybourne made her appearance from the cave and
came towards me.

"Look!" I cried, holding up the fish as I spoke. "Are these not

"They are indeed splendid," she answered. "But how did you manage
to obtain them? I thought you said last night that you could think of
no way of making a hook?"

"So I did. But since then I have remembered the gold pin I wore in
my tie. I found that it made a most excellent hook, and with its
assistance I managed to get hold of these gentlemen. But, in my
triumph, I am forgetting to enquire how you and your little friend
are this morning. You were fairly comfortable in the cave, I

"Quite comfortable, thank you," she answered, gravely. "But poor
little Esther is no better this morning. In fact, if anything, I
fancy she is worse. She was delirious for some time in the night, and
now she is in a comatose condition that frightens me more than her
former restlessness. It goes to my heart to see her in this

"Is there nothing we can do for her, I wonder?" I said, as I
prepared my fish for the fire.

"I fear we are powerless," replied Miss Maybourne. "The only thing
I can imagine to be the matter with her is that she must have been
struck by something when we were sucked under by the sinking ship.
She complains continually of pains in her head."

"In that case, I fear there is nothing for it but to wait
patiently for some ship, with a doctor on board, to come in sight and
take us off."

"In the meantime, she may die. Oh, poor little Esther! Mr.
Wrexford, this helplessness is too terrible."

What could I say to comfort her? In my own mind I saw no hope.
Unless a vessel hove in sight, and she chanced to carry a doctor, the
child must inevitably die. As soon as the breakfast was cooked, I
went into the cave and looked at her. I found the little thing
stretched upon the grass I had thrown down for a bed. She was
unconscious, as Miss Maybourne had said, and was breathing heavily.
Her pulse was almost unnoticeable, and occasionally she moaned a
little, as if in pain. It was a sight that would have touched the
most callous of men, and in spite of that one sinister episode in my
career, I was far from being such a hero.

At midday there was no change perceptible in her condition. By the
middle of the afternoon she was worse. Miss Maybourne and myself took
it in turns to watch by her side; in the intervals, we climbed the
hill and scanned the offing for a sail. Our vigilance, however, was
never rewarded--the sea was as devoid of ships as our future seemed
of hope.

After a day which had seemed an eternity, the second night of our
captivity on the island came round. A more exquisite evening could
scarcely be imagined. I had been watching by the sick child's side
the greater part of the afternoon, and feeling that, if I remained on
shore, Miss Maybourne would discover how low-spirited I was, I took
the boat and rowed out into the bay, to try and obtain some fish for
our supper. This was not a matter of much difficulty, and in less
than a quarter of an hour I had hauled on board more than we could
possibly have eaten in three meals. When I had finished, I sat in my
boat watching the sunset effects upon the island. It was indeed a
scene to remember, and the picture of it, as I saw it then, rises
before me now as clearly as if it were but yesterday.

To right and left of the points which sheltered the bay, the deep
green of the sea was changed to creaming froth, where the surf caught
the rocks; but in the little indentation which we had made our home
the wavelets rippled on the sand with the softest rhythm possible.
The sky was cloudless, the air warmer than it had been for days past.
The glow of sunset imparted to the western cliffs a peculiar shade
of pink, the beauty of which was accentuated by the deep shadows
cast by the beetling crags. On the hillside, directly opposite where
my boat was anchored, I could see the plateau, and on it my fire
burning brightly. I thought of the brave woman nursing the sick child
in the cave, and of the difference she had made in my lonely

"Oh, God!" I cried, "if only You had let me see the chance that
was to be mine some day, how easy it would have been for me to have
ordered Nikola and his temptation to stand behind me. Now I see my
happiness too late, and am consequently undone for ever."

As I thought of that sinister man and the influence he had
exercised upon my life, I felt a thrill of horror pass over me. It
seemed dreadful to think that he was still at large, unsuspected, and
in all probability working some sort of evil on another unfortunate

In my mind's eye I could see again that cold, impassive face, with
its snake-like eyes, and hear that insinuating voice uttering once
more that terrible temptation. Surely, I thought, the dread enemy of
mankind must be just such another as Dr. Nikola.

When the sun had disappeared below the sea line, the colour of the
ocean had changed from all the dazzling tints of the king-opal to a
sombre coal-black hue, and myriads of stars were beginning to make
their appearance in the sky, I turned my boat's head, and pulled
towards the shore again. A great melancholy had settled upon me, a
vague sense of some impending catastrophe, of which, try how I would,
I found I could not rid myself.

On reaching the plateau, I made my way to the cave, and looked in.
I discovered Miss Maybourne kneeling beside the child on the grass.
As soon as she saw me she rose and led me out into the open.

"Mr. Wrexford," she said, "the end is quite close now, I feel
sure. The poor little thing is growing weaker every moment. Oh, it is
too terrible to think that she must die because we have not the means
to save her."

I did my best to comfort her, but it was some time before I
achieved any sort of success. When she had in a measure recovered her
composure, I accompanied her back to the cave and examined the little
sufferer for myself. Alas! one glance showed me how very close the
end was. Already the child's face and hands were cold and clammy, her
respiration was gradually becoming more and more difficult. She was
still unconscious, and once I almost thought she was dead.

All through that dreadful night she lingered on. Miss Maybourne
remained with her until close upon midnight, when I relieved her.
Shortly before sunrise I went to the mouth of the cave and looked
out. The stars were almost gone from the sky, and the world was very
still. When I returned, I thought the child had suddenly grown
strangely quiet, and knelt down to examine her. The first grey shafts
of dawn showed me that at last the end had come. Death had claimed
his victim. Henceforth we need feel no more concern for poor little
Esther--her sufferings were over. She had gone to join her mother and
the little ones who had lost their lives two days before. Having
convinced myself that what I imagined was correct, I reverently
closed the little eyes and crossed the frail hands upon her breast,
and then went out into the fresh air. The sun was in the act of
making his appearance above the peak, and all our little world was
bathed in his glory. I looked across to the place between the rocks
where I usually slept, and saw Miss Maybourne rising from her rest.
My presence outside the cave must have told her my news, for she came
swiftly across to where I stood.

"It is all over," she said, very quietly. "I can see by your face
that the end has come."

I nodded. For the life of me, I could not have spoken just then.
The sight of that agonised face before me and the thought of the dead
child lying in the cave behind me deprived me of speech entirely.
Miss Maybourne noticed my condition, and simply said, "Take me to
her." I did as she commanded, and together we went back to the
chamber of death. When we reached it, my companion stood for a few
moments looking at the peaceful little figure on the couch of grass,
and then knelt down beside it. I followed her example. Then, holding
my hand in hers, she prayed for the child from whose body the soul
had just departed; then for ourselves still left upon the island.
When she had finished, we rose, and, after a final glance at our dead
companion, went out into the open air again.

By this time I had got so much into the habit of searching the sea
for ships that I did it almost unconsciously. As I passed the cave I
glanced out across the waste of water. Then I stood stock still,
hardly able to believe the evidence of my eyes. There, fast rising
above the horizon, were the sails of a full-rigged ship. Miss
Maybourne saw them as soon as I did, and together we stood staring at
the vessel with all our eyes. My companion was the first to speak."

"Do you think she will come near enough to see us," she cried, in
a voice I hardly recognized, so agitated was it.

"She must be made to see us," I answered, fiercely. "Come what
may, she must not pass us."

"What are you going to do? How are you going to prevent it? Tell
me, and let me help you if I can."

A notion had seized me, and I determined to put it into practice
without an instant's delay.

"Let us collect all the wood we can find and then make a large
bonfire. When that has been done, we must launch the boat and pull
out to intercept her. If she sees the flare she will make her way
here, and if she does not, we may be able to catch her before she
gets out of our reach. Thus in either case we shall be saved."

Without another word we set to work collecting wood. By the time
the hull of the vessel was above the horizon we had accumulated a
sufficient quantity to make a large beacon. We did not set fire to it
at once, however, for the reason that I had no desire to waste my
smoke before those on board the ship would be able to distinguish it
from the light clouds hovering about the peaks above. But before we
could dream of leaving the island there were two other matters to be
attended to. The first was to fill up the mouth of the cave with
stones, for there was no time to dig a grave, and so convert it into
a rough sepulchre; the second was to cook and eat our breakfast. It
was certain we should require all our strength for the undertaking,
and to attempt such a long row on an empty stomach would, I knew, be
worse than madness. These things I explained to Miss Maybourne, who
willingly volunteered to officiate as cook while I set about the work
first mentioned. In something less than a quarter of an hour I had
rolled several large rocks into the mouth of the cave, and upon these
had placed others until the entrance was effectually barricaded. By
the time this work was completed it was necessary to light the
bonfire. This I did, setting fire to the dry grass at the bottom with
a log from the blaze at which Miss Maybourne had just been cooking.
In a few minutes we had a flare the flames of which could not have
been less than twenty feet in height.

We ate our breakfast with our eyes fixed continually upon the
advancing ship. So far she seemed to be heading directly for the
island, but my fear was that she might change her course without
discovering our beacon, and in that case be out of range before we
could attract her attention. Our meal finished therefore, I led Miss
Maybourne down the hill to the beach, and then between us we pushed
the lifeboat into the water. My intention was to row out a few miles
and endeavour to get into such a position that whatever course the
vessel steered she could not help but see us.

As soon as we had pushed off from the shore I turned the boat's
head, and, taking up the oars, set to work to pull out to sea. It was
not altogether an easy task, for the boat was a heavy one and the
morning was strangely warm. The sky overhead was innocent of cloud,
but away to the west it presented a hazy appearance; the look of
which I did not altogether like. However, I stuck to my work, all the
time keeping my eyes fixed on the rapidly advancing ship. She
presented a fine appearance, and it was evident she was a vessel of
about three thousand tons. I hoped she would turn out to belong to
our own nationality, though under the circumstances any other would
prove equally acceptable. At present she was distant from us about
six miles, and as she was still heading directly for the island I
began to feel certain she had observed our signal. For this reason I
pointed my boat's head straight for her and continued to pull with
all the strength I possessed. Suddenly Miss Maybourne uttered a
little cry, and seeing her staring in a new direction I turned in my
seat to discover what had occasioned it.

"She is leaving us," cried my companion, in agonized tones,
pointing to the vessel we had been attempting to intercept. "Look,
look, Mr. Wrexford, she is leaving us!"

There was no need for her to bid me look, I was watching the ship
with all my eyes. Heaven alone knows how supreme was the agony of
that moment. She had gone about, and for this reason it was plain
that those on board had not seen our signal. Now, unless I could
manage to attract her attention it would be most unlikely that she
would see us. In that case we might die upon the island without a
chance of escape. At any cost we must intercept her. I accordingly
resumed my seat again and began to pull wildly after her. Fortunately
the breeze was light and the sea smooth, otherwise I should
have made no headway at all. But when all was said and done, with
both wind and tide in my favour, it was but little that I could
accomplish. The boat, as I have already said, was a large and heavy
one, and my strength was perhaps a little undermined by all I had
gone through in the last two or three days. But, knowing what
depended on it, I toiled at the oars like a galley slave,
while Miss Maybourne kept her eyes fixed upon the retreating ship. At
the end of an hour I was obliged to give up the race as hopeless. My
strength was quite exhausted, and our hoped-for saviour was just
showing hull down upon the horizon. Realizing this I dropped my head
on to my hands like the coward I was and resigned myself to my
despair. For the moment I think I must have forgotten that I was a
man, I remembered only the fact that a chance had been given us of
escaping from our prison, and that just as we were about to grasp it,
it was snatched away again. Our fate seemed too cruel to be endured
by mortal man.

"Courage, friend, courage," said Miss Maybourne, as she noticed my
condition. "Bitter as our disappointment has been we have not done
with hope yet. Because that vessel did not chance to rescue us it
does not follow that another may not do so. Had we not better be
getting back to the island? It is no use our remaining here now that
the ship is out of sight."

I saw the wisdom contained in her remark, and accordingly pulled
myself together and set to work to turn the boat's head in the
direction we had come. But when we had gone about, my dismay
may be imagined at discovering that a thick fog had obscured the
island, and was fast bearing down upon us. Those on hoard the vessel
we had been chasing must have seen it approaching, and have thought
it advisable to give the island and its treacherous surroundings as
wide a berth as possible.

"Can you see the land at all, Mr. Wrexford?" asked Miss Maybourne,
who had herself been staring in the direction in which our bows were

"I must confess I can see nothing of it," I answered. "But if we
continue in this direction and keep our ears open for the sound of
the surf, there can be no doubt as to our being able to make our way
back to the bay."

"How thick the fog is," she continued, "and how quickly it has
come up! It makes me feel more nervous than even the thought of that
ship forsaking us."

I stared at her in complete surprise. To think of Miss Maybourne,
whom I had always found so cool and collected in moments of danger,
talking of feeling nervous! I rallied her on the subject as I pulled
along, and in a few moments she had forgotten her fear.

While I pulled along I tried to figure out what distance we could
be from the island. When we discovered that the vessel had turned her
back on us I had been rowing for something like half an hour.

At the rate we had been travelling that would have carried us
about a couple of miles from the shore. After we had noticed the
change in her course we had probably pulled another four at most.
That being so, we should now be between five and six miles from
land--two hours' hard work in my present condition. To add to the
unpleasantness of our position, the fog by this time had completely
enveloped us, and to enable you to judge how dense it was I may say
that I could only just distinguish my companion sitting in the stern
of the boat. Still, however, I pulled on, pausing every now and again
to listen for the noise of the surf breaking on the shore.

The silence was intense; the only sound we could hear was the
tinkling of the water as it dripped off the ends of the oars. There
was something indescribably awful about the utter absence of noise.
It was like the peace which precedes some great calamity. It
stretched the nerves to breaking pitch. Indeed, once when I allowed
myself to think what our fate would be if by any chance we should
miss the island, I had such a shock as almost deprived me of my power
of thinking for some minutes.

For at least an hour and a half I pulled on, keeping her head as
nearly as possible in the same direction, and expecting every moment
to hear the roar of the breakers ahead. The fog still remained as
thick as ever, and each time I paused in my work to listen the same
dead silence greeted me as before. Once more I turned to my work, and
pulled on without stopping for another quarter of an hour. Still no
sound of the kind we hoped to hear came to us. The island seemed as
difficult to find in that fog as the proverbial needle in the bundle
of hay.

The agony of mind I suffered was enough to turn a man's brain. If
only the fog would lift and let us have a glimpse of where we were,
it would have been a different matter, but no such luck. It continued
as thick as ever, wreathing and circling about us like the smoke from
the infernal regions. At last I drew in my oars and arranged them by
my side. Under the circumstances it was no use wasting what remained
of my strength by useless exertion.

From that time forward--that is to say for at least six hours--we
drifted on and on, the fog remaining as dense as when we had first
encountered it. Throughout that time we kept our ears continually
strained for a sound that might guide us, but always without success.
By this time it must have been considerably past three in the
afternoon, and for all we knew to the contrary we might still be
miles and miles out of our reckoning. All through this agonizing
period, however, Miss Maybourne did not once complain, but bore
herself with a quiet bravery that would have shamed the veriest
coward into at least an affectation of courage. How bitterly I now
reproached myself for having left the island to pursue that vessel I
must leave you to imagine. But for that suicidal act of folly we
might now be on dry land, if not perhaps as luxuriously housed as we
should have liked, at least safer than we were now. The
responsibility for that act of madness rested entirely upon my
shoulders, and the burden of that knowledge was my continual

At last I was roused from my bitter thoughts by my companion
exclaiming that she thought the fog was lifting a little in one
particular quarter. I looked in the direction indicated and had to
admit that the atmosphere certainly seemed to be clearer there than
elsewhere. Still, however, there was no noise of breakers to be

The light in the quarter pointed out by my companion was destined
to be the signal for the fog's departure, and in less than a quarter
of an hour, starting from the time of our first observing it, the
whole expanse of sea, from horizon to horizon, stood revealed to us.
We sprang to our feet almost simultaneously, and searched the ocean
for the island. But to our horror it was not to be seen. We were
alone on the open sea without either water or food, any real
knowledge of where we were, or without being able to tell from which
quarter we might expect assistance to come. A more dreadful
situation could scarcely be imagined, and when I considered the sex
and weakness of my companion, and reflected what such a fate would
mean for her, I could have cursed myself for the stupidity which had
brought it all about.

For some moments after we had made our terrible discovery, neither
of us spoke. Then our glances met and we read our terror in each
other's eyes.

"What are we to do? What can we do?" cried Miss Maybourne, running
her eyes round the horizon and then meeting my gaze again.

I shook my head and tried to think before I answered her.

"For the moment I am as powerless as yourself to say," I replied.
"Even if we could fix the direction, goodness only knows how far we
are from the island. We may be only distant ten miles or so, or we
may be twenty. It must be nearly four o'clock by this time, and in
another four hours at most darkness will be falling; under cover of
the night we may miss it again. On the other hand we cannot exist
here without food or water. Oh, Miss Maybourne, to what straits have
I brought you through my stupidity. If we had stayed on the island
instead of putting off on this fool's chase you would be safe

"You must not blame yourself, Mr. Wrexford," she answered. "Indeed
you must not! It is not just, for I was quite as anxious as yourself
to try and intercept the vessel. That we did not succeed is not our
fault, and in any case I will not let you reproach yourself."

"Alas! I cannot help it," I replied. "And your generosity only
makes me do so the more."

"In that case I shall cease to be generous," she said. "We will see
how that plan works. Come, come, my friend, let us look our situation
in the face and see what is best to be done. Believe me, I have no
fear. God will protect us in the future as He has done in the

I looked at the noble girl as she said this, and took heart from
the smile upon her face. If she could be so brave, surely I, who
called myself a man, must not prove myself a coward. I pulled myself
together and prepared to discuss the question as she desired. But it
was the knowledge of our utter helplessness that discounted every
hope. We had no food, we had no water. True, we might pull on; but if
we did, in which direction should we proceed? To go east would be to
find ourselves, if we lived so long--the chances against which were a
thousand to one--on the most unhealthy part of the long coast line of
Africa. To pull west would only be to get further out into mid-ocean,
where, if we were not picked up within forty-eight hours, assistance
would no longer be of any use to us. The Canary Islands, I knew, lay
somewhere, say a hundred miles, to the southward, but we could not
pull that distance without food or water, and even if we had a
favourable breeze, we had no sail to take advantage of it. To make
matters worse, the fishing line and hook I had manufactured for
myself out of my scarf-pin, had been left on the island. Surely any
man or woman might be excused for feeling melancholy under the
pressure of such overwhelming misfortunes.

While we were thus considering our position the sun was sinking
lower and lower to his rest, and would soon be below the horizon
altogether. The sea was still as calm as a mill-pond, not a breath of
air disturbed its placid surface. We sat just as we had done all day:
Miss Maybourne in the stern, myself amidships. The oars lay on either
side of me, useless as the rudder, the yoke lines had scarcely been
touched since the ship had turned her back on us. When I look back on
that awful time now, every detail of the boat, from the rowlocks to
the grating on the bottom, seems impressed on my memory with a
faithfulness that is almost a pain. I can see Miss Maybourne sitting
motionless in the stern, her elbows on her knees and her face buried
in her hands.

At last to rouse her and take her out of herself, I began to talk.
What I said I cannot recollect, nor can I even recall the subject of
my conversation. I know, however, that I continued to talk and
insisted upon her answering me. In this way we passed the time until
darkness fell and the stars came out. For the past hour I had been
suffering agonies of thirst, and I knew, instinctively, that my
companion must be doing the same. I followed her example and dabbled
my hands in the water alongside. The coolness, however, while proving
infinitely refreshing to my parched skin, only helped to intensify my
desire for something to drink. I searched the heavens in the hope of
discovering a cloud that might bring us rain, but without

"Courage," said Miss Maybourne again, as she noticed me drop my
head on to my hands in my despair. "As I said just now, we are in
God's hands; and I feel certain we shall be saved at last."

As if in mockery of her faith I noticed that her voice had lost
its usually clear ring, and that it was lower than I had ever
hitherto heard it. But there was a note of conviction in it that
showed me how firm her belief was. For my own part I must confess
that I had long since given up all hope. In the face of so many
calamitous circumstances it seemed impossible that we could be saved.
My obvious duty there was to endeavour by every means in my power to
make death as easy as possible for the woman I loved.

In the same tedious fashion hour after hour went by and still we
remained as we were, floating idly upon the bosom of the deep. Twice
I tried to persuade Miss Maybourne to lie down at the bottom of the
boat and attempt to obtain some sleep, but she would not hear of such
a thing. For myself I could not have closed my eyes for five minutes,
even if by doing so I could have saved my life. Every faculty was
strained to breaking pitch, and I was continually watching and
listening for something, though what I expected to see or hear I
could not have told if I had been asked. I pray to God that I may
never again be called upon to spend such another absolutely
despairing night.


THE calm with which we had so far been favoured was not, however,
destined to be as permanent as we imagined, for towards the middle of
the night the wind got up, and the sea, from being as smooth as
glass, became more boisterous than I altogether liked. Miss
Maybourne, who now seemed to be sunk into the lethargy from which she
had roused me, lifted her head from her hands, and at intervals
glanced over her shoulder apprehensively at the advancing waves. One
thing was very evident: it would never do to let our boat drift
broadside on to the seas, so I got out the oars again, and to
distract my companion's thoughts, invited her to take the helm. She
did as I requested, but without any sign of the eagerness she had
hitherto displayed. Then, for something like an hour, we struggled on
in this crab-like fashion. It was Herculean labour, and every minute
found my strength becoming more and more exhausted. The power of the
wind was momentarily increasing, and with it the waves were assuming
more threatening proportions. To say that I did not like the look of
affairs would be to put my feelings very mildly. To tell the truth, I
was too worn out to think of anything, save what our fate would be if
by any chance we should be on the edge of an hurricane. However, I
knew it would not do to meet trouble half-way, so by sheer force of
will I rivetted my attention upon the boat, and in thus endeavouring
to avert the evil of the present, found sufficient occupation to
prevent me from cross-questioning the future.

Suddenly Miss Maybourne, who, as I have said, had for some time
been sitting in a constrained attitude in the stern, sprang to her
feet with a choking cry.

"Mr. Wrexford," she said, in a voice that at any other time I
should not have recognised as hers, "I must have something to drink
or I shall go mad."

Fearing she might fall overboard in her excitement, I leapt up,
seized her in my arms, and dragged her down to her seat again. Had I
not done so, I cannot say what might not have happened.

"Let me go," she moaned. "Oh, for Heaven's sake, let me go! You
don't know what agony I am suffering."

I could very well guess, for I had my own feelings to guide me.
But it was my duty to try and cheer her at any cost, and upon this
work I concentrated all my energies, at the same time keeping the
boat's head in such a position that the racing seas should not
overwhelm her--no light work, I can assure you. When at last I
did succeed in calming her, she sat staring straight ahead of
her like a woman turned to stone. It was pitiful to see a woman, who
had hitherto been so brave, brought so low. I put my arm round her
waist the better to hold her, and, as I did so, watched the black
seas, with their tips of snowy foam, come hissing towards us.
Overhead the stars shone brightly, and still not a vestige of a cloud
was to be seen. It seemed like doubting Providence to believe that,
after all the dangers from which we had been preserved since we had
left England, we were destined to die of starvation in an open boat
in mid-Atlantic. And yet how like it it looked.

After that one outburst of despair Miss Maybourne gave no more
trouble, and when she had been sitting motionless beside me for an
hour or thereabouts fell fast asleep, her head resting on my arm.
Weak and suffering as I was, I was not so far gone as to be unable to
feel a thrill of delight at this close contact with the woman I
loved. What would I not have given to have been able to take her in
my arms and have comforted her properly!--to have told her of my
love, and, in the event of her returning it, to have faced King Death
side by side as lovers. With her hand in mine Death would not surely
be so very terrible. However, such a thing could not be thought of. I
was a criminal, a murderer flying from justice; and it would have
been an act of the basest sacrilege on my part to have spoken a word
to her of the affection which by this time had come to be part and
parcel of my life. For this reason I had to crush it and keep it
down; and, if by any chance we should be rescued, I would have to
leave her and go out to hide myself in the world without allowing her
ever to suspect the thoughts I had had in my mind concerning her. God
knows, in this alone I had suffered punishment enough for the sin I
had unintentionally committed.

At last the eastern stars began to lose something of their
brilliance, and within a short period of my noticing this change, the
wind, which had been sensibly moderating for some time past, dropped
to a mere zephyr, and then died away completely. With its departure
the violence of the waves subsided, and the ocean was soon, if not so
smooth as on the previous day, at least sufficiently so to prevent
our feeling any further anxiety on the score of the boat's

One by one the stars died out of the sky, and a faint grey light,
almost dove-coloured in its softness, took their place. In this light
our boat looked double her real size, but such a lonely speck upon
that waste of water that it would have made the heart of the boldest
man sink into his shoes with fear. From the above-mentioned hue the
colour quickly turned to the palest turquoise, and again to the
softest pink. From pink it grew into a kaleidoscope of changing tints
until the sun rose like a ball of gold above the sea-line--and day
was born to us. In the whole course of my experience I never remember
to have seen a more glorious sunrise. How different was it in its
joyous lightness and freshness to the figures presented by the two
miserable occupants of that lonely boat!

At last Miss Maybourne opened her eyes, and, having glanced round
her, sat up. My arm, when she did so, was so cramped and stiff that
for a moment I could scarcely bear to move it. She noticed this, and
tried to express her regret, but her tongue refused to obey her
commands. Seeing this, with an inarticulate sound she dropped her
head on to her hands once more. To restore some animation into my
cramped limbs, I rose and endeavoured to make my way to the bows of
the boat. But, to my dismay, I discovered that I was as weak as a
month-old child. My legs refused to support the weight of my body,
and with a groan I sank down on the thwart where I had previously
been rowing.

For upwards of half an hour we remained as we were, without
speaking. Then I suddenly chanced to look along the sea-line to the
westward. The atmosphere was so clear that the horizon stood out like
a pencilled line. I looked, rubbed my eyes, and looked again. Could I
be dreaming, or was it a delusion conjured up by an overtaxed brain.
I shut my eyes for a moment, then opened them, and looked again. No,
there could be no mistake about it this time. A ship was in sight,
and heading directly for us! Oh, the excitement of that moment,
the delirious joy, the wild, almost cruel, hope that seized me! But,
mad with longing though I was, I had still sufficient presence of
mind left to say nothing about my discovery to Miss Maybourne until I
was sure of my facts. She was sitting with her back towards it, and
therefore could not see it. So, while there was any chance of the
vessel leaving us, I was not going to excite her hopes, only to have
them blighted again. There would be plenty of time to tell her when
she was close enough to see us.

For what seemed an eternity I kept my eyes fixed upon the
advancing vessel, watching her rise higher and higher above the
waves. She was a large steamer, almost twice the size of the
ill-fated Fiji Princess. A long trail of smoke issued from her
funnels; and at last, so close did she come, I could distinguish the
water frothing at her bows with the naked eye. When she was not more
than three miles distant, I sprang to my feet.

"We're saved, Miss Maybourne!" I cried frantically, finding my
voice and strength as suddenly as I had lost them. "We're saved! Oh,
thank God, thank God!"

She turned her head as I spoke, and looked steadily in the
direction I pointed for nearly a minute. Then, with a little sigh,
she fell upon the gunwale in a dead faint. I sprang to her
assistance, and, kneeling at her feet, chafed her hands and called
her by name, and implored her to speak to me. But in spite of my
exertions, she did not open her eyes. When a quarter of an hour had
elapsed, and she was still insensible, I began to wonder what I
should do. To remain attending to her might mean that we should miss
our deliverer. In that case we should both die. At any cost, and now
more than ever, I knew I must attract the steamer's attention. She
was not more than a mile behind us by this time, and, if I could only
make her see us, she would be alongside in a few minutes. For this
reason I tore off my coat, and, attaching it to an oar, began to wave
it frantically above my head. Next moment a long whistle came across
the waves to me. It was a signal that our boat had been observed, and
never did a sound seem more musical to a human ear. On hearing it, I
stood up again, and, shading my eyes with my hands, watched her
approach, my heart beating like a piston-rod. Closer and closer she
came, until I could easily read the name, King of Carthage,
upon her bows. When she was less than a hundred yards distant, an
officer on the bridge came to the railings, and hailed us.

"Boat, ahoy!" he cried. "Do you think you can manage to pull
alongside? or shall we send assistance to you?"

In reply--for I could not trust my voice to speak--I got out my
oars, and began to row towards her. Short as was the distance, it
took me some time to accomplish it. Seeing this, the same officer
again hailed me, and bade me make fast the line that was about to be
thrown to me. The words were hardly out of his mouth before the line
in question came whistling about my ears. I seized it as a drowning
man is said to clutch at a straw, and, clambering forward, secured it
to the ring in the bows. When that was done, I heard an order given,
and willing hands pulled us quickly alongside.

By the time we reached it the gangway had been lowered, and a
couple of men were standing at the foot of it ready to receive us. I
remember leaning over to fend her off, and I also have a good
recollection of seeing one of the men--the ship's doctor I afterwards
discovered him to be--step into the boat.

"Can you walk up the steps yourself, or would you like to be
carried?" he asked, as I sank down on the thwart again.

"Carry the lady," I answered huskily; "I can manage to get up
myself. Take her quickly, or she will die."

I saw him pick Miss Maybourne up, and, assisted by the
quartermaster who had accompanied him, carry her up the ladder. I
attempted to follow, only to discover how weak I really was. By the
exercise of sheer will, however, I managed to scramble up, holding on
to the rail, and so gained the deck. Even after all this lapse of
time I can distinctly see the crowd of eager faces pressed round the
top of the ladder to catch a glimpse of us, and I can hear again the
murmurs of sympathy that went up as we made our appearance. After
that all seems a blank, and I can only believe what I am
told--namely, that I looked round me in a dazed sort of fashion, and
then fell in a dead faint upon the deck.

When I recovered consciousness again, I had to think for a moment
before I could understand what had happened. I found myself in a
handsomely-furnished cabin that I had never seen before. For an
instant I imagined myself back again on the ill-fated Fiji
Princess. Then a tall, red-bearded man--the same who had carried
Miss Maybourne up from the boat--entered, and came towards me.
Through the door, which he had left open, I could see the
awning-covered promenade-deck outside. As soon as I saw him I tried
to sit up on the velvet-cushioned locker upon which I had been
placed, but he bade me be content to lie still for a little

"You will be far better where you are," he said. "What you want is
rest and quiet. Take a few sips of this, and then lie down again and
try to get to sleep. You have some arrears to make up in that line,
or I'm mistaken."

He handed me a glass from the tray above my couch, and held it for
me while I drank. When I had finished I laid myself down again, and,
instead of obeying him, began to question him as to where I was. But
once more I was forestalled, this time by the entrance of a steward
carrying a bowl of broth on a tray.

"You see we're determined, one way or another, to close your
mouth," he said, with a laugh. "But this stuff is too hot for you at
present. We'll put it down here to cool, and in the meantime I'll
answer not more than half-a-dozen questions. Fire away, if you feel

I took him at his word, and put the one question of all others I
was longing to have answered.

"How is the lady who was rescued with me?"

"Doing as well as can be expected, poor soul," he replied. "She's
being well looked after, so you need not be anxious about her. You
must have had a terrible time in that boat, to judge from the effects
produced. Now, what is the next question?"

"I want to know what ship this is, and how far we were from the
Salvages when you picked us up?"

"This vessel is The King of Carthage--Captain Blockman in
command. I'm afraid I can't answer your last question offhand, for
the reason that, being the doctor, I have nothing to do with the
navigation of the ship; but I'll soon find out for you."

He left the cabin, and went to the foot of the ladder that led to
the bridge. I heard him call the officer of the watch, and say
something to him. Presently he returned.

"The Salvages lie about seventy miles due nor'-nor'-east of our
present position," he said.

"Nor'-nor'-east?" I cried. "Then I was even further out in my
calculations than I expected."

"Why do you ask about the Salvages?"

"Because it was on a rock off those islands that our ship, the
Fiji Princess, was lost. We put off from the island to try and
catch a sailing vessel that came in sight yesterday morning. A dense
fog came on, however, and during the time it lasted we lost both the
ship we went out to stop and also our island. Ever since then we have
been drifting without food or water."

"You have indeed had a terrible experience. But you've a splendid
constitution, and you'll soon get over the effects of it. And now
tell me, were no others saved from the wreck?"

"As far as we could tell, with the exception of our three selves,
not a single soul."

"You say 'three selves,' but we only rescued the lady and
yourself. What, then, became of the third?"

"The third was a child about eight years old. The poor little
thing must have been hurt internally when we were sucked under by the
sinking ship, and her condition was probably not improved by the long
exposure we had to endure on the bottom of the boat from which you
rescued us. She scarcely recovered consciousness, and died on the
island a short time before we left it in our attempt to catch the
vessel I spoke of just now."

"I never heard a sadder case," said the doctor. "You are indeed to
be pitied. I wonder the lady, your companion, came through it alive.
By the way, the skipper was asking me just now if I knew your

"The lady is Miss Maybourne, whose father is a well-known man at
the Cape, I believe."

"Surely not Cornelius Maybourne, the mining man?"

"Yes, she is his daughter. He will be in a terrible state when the
Fiji Princess is reported missing."

"I expect he will; but, fortunately, we shall be in Cape Town
almost as soon as she would have been, and he will find that his
daughter, thanks to your care, is safe and sound. Now I am not going
to let you talk any more. First, take as much of this broth as you
can manage, and then lie down and try to get to sleep again. As I
said just now, I prophesy that in a few days you'll be up and about,
feeling no ill-effects from your terrible adventure."

I obeyed him, and drank the broth. When I had done so I lay down
again, and in a very short time was once more in the Land of Nod.
When I opened my eyes again the cabin was almost dark. The doctor was
still in attendance, and, as soon as he saw that I was awake, asked
me if I would like to get up for a little while. I answered that I
should be only too glad to do so; and when he had helped me to dress,
I took possession of a chair on the promenade-deck outside. It was
just dinner-time in the saloon, and by the orders of the captain, who
came personally to enquire how I was, I was served with a meal on
deck. Nothing could have exceeded the kindness and thoughtfulness of
the officers and passengers. The latter, though anxious to hear our
story from my own lips, refrained from bothering me with questions;
and thinking quiet would conduce to my recovery, allowed me to have
the use of that end of the deck unmolested. As soon as I could do so,
I enquired once more after Miss Maybourne, and was relieved to hear
that she was making most satisfactory progress towards recovery.
After dinner the captain came up, and seating himself in a chair
beside me, asked a few questions concerning the foundering of the
Fiji Princess, which information, I presumed, he required for
his log.

"You have placed Mr. Maybourne very deeply in your debt," he said,
after a little further conversation; "and I don't doubt but there
will be many who will envy your good fortune in having conferred so
signal a service upon his daughter. By the way, you have not told us
your own name."

My heart gave a great jump, and for the moment I seemed to feel
myself blushing to the roots of my hair. After the great kindness I
had already received from everyone on board the vessel, it seemed
worse than ungrateful to deceive them. But I dared not tell the
truth. For all I knew to the contrary, my name might have been
proclaimed everywhere in England before they left.

"My name is Wrexford," I said, feeling about as guilty as a man
could well do.

"Any relation to the Wrexfords of Shrewsbury?" asked the captain
with mild curiosity.

"Not that I'm aware of," I answered. "I have been living out of
England for many years, and have no knowledge of my relations."

"It's not a common name," continued the skipper; "that is why I
ask. Sir George Wrexford is one of our directors, and a splendid
fellow. I thought it was just possible that you might be some
connection of his. Now, if you will excuse me, I'll be off. Take my
advice and turn in early. I'm sorry to say we're carrying our full
complement of passengers, so that I cannot give you a proper berth;
but I've ordered a bed to be made up for you in my chart-room, where
you have been all day to-day. If you can manage to make yourself
comfortable there it is quite at your service."

"It is very kind of you to put yourself to so much inconvenience,"
I answered. "I fear by the time we reach Cape Town I shall have
caused you a considerable amount of trouble."

"Not at all! Not at all!" the hospitable skipper replied, as he
rose to go. "I'm only too glad to have picked you up. It's our duty
to do what we can for each other, for we none of us know when we may
be placed in a similar plight ourselves."

After he left me, I was not long in following the good advice he
had given me; and when I had once reached my couch, fell into a
dreamless sleep, from which I did not wake until after eight o'clock
next morning. Indeed, I don't know that I should have waked even
then, had I not been disturbed by the noise made by someone entering
the cabin. It proved to be the doctor.

"How are you feeling this morning?" he asked, when he had felt my

"Ever so much better," I replied. "In fact, I think I'm quite
myself again. How is Miss Maybourne?"

"Still progressing satisfactorily," he answered. "She bids me give
you her kind regards. She has been most constant in her enquiries
after your welfare."

I don't know whether my face had revealed my secret, or whether it
was only supposition on his part, but he looked at me pretty hard for
a moment, and then laughed outright.

"You may not know it," he said, "but when all's said and done,
you're a jolly lucky fellow."

I sighed, and hesitated a moment before I replied.

"I'm afraid you're mistaken," I said. "Luck and I have never been
companions. I doubt if there is a man in this world whose career has
been more devoid of good fortune than mine. As a boy, I was unlucky
in everything I undertook. If I played cricket, I was always either
bowled for a duck's egg, or run out just as I was beginning to score.
If there was an accident in the football field, when I was playing, I
was invariably the sufferer. I left Oxford under a cloud, because I
could not explain something that I knew to be a mistake on the part
of the authorities. I quarrelled with my family on the same
misunderstanding. I was once on the verge of becoming a millionaire,
but illness prevented my taking advantage of my opportunity; and
while I was thus delayed another man stepped in and forestalled me. I
had a legacy, but it brought me nothing but ill-luck, and has finally
driver me out of England!"

"And since then the tide of ill-fortune has turned," he said. "A
beautiful and wealthy girl falls overheard--you dive in, and rescue
her. I have heard about that, you see. The ship you are travelling by
goes to the bottom--you save your own and the same girl's life. Then,
as if that is not enough, you try your luck a third time; and, just
as a terrible fate seems to be going to settle you for good and all,
we heave in sight and rescue you. Now you have Miss Maybourne's
gratitude, which would strike most men as a more than desirable
possession, and at the same time you will have her father's."

"And, by the peculiar irony of fate, both come to me when I am
quite powerless to take advantage of them."

"Come, come, you mustn't let yourself down like this. You know
very well what the end of it all will be, if you spend your life
believing yourself to be a marked man."

"You mean that I shall lose my reason? No, no! you needn't be
afraid of that. I come of a hard-headed race that has not been in the
habit of stocking asylums."

"I am glad of that. Now what do you say to getting up? I'll have
your breakfast sent to you in here, and after you've eaten it, I'll
introduce you to some of the passengers. On the whole, they are a
nice lot, and very much interested in my two patients."

I thanked him, and, to show how very much better I felt, sprang out of
bed and began to dress. True to his promise, my breakfast was brought to
me by a steward, and I partook of it on the chart-room table. Just as I
finished the doctor reappeared, and, after a little conversation, we
left the cabin and proceeded out on to the deck together. Here we found
the majority of the passengers promenading, or seated in their chairs.
Among them I noticed two clergymen, two or three elderly gentlemen of
the colonial merchant type, a couple of dapper young fellows whom I set
down in my own mind as belonging to the military profession, the usual
number of elderly ladies, half a dozen younger ones, of more or less
fascinating appearances, and the same number of children. As soon as
they saw me several of those seated rose and came to meet us. The doctor
performed the necessary introductions, and in a few minutes I found
myself seated in a comfortable deck-chair receiving innumerable
congratulations on my recovery. Strange to say, I did not dislike their
sympathy as much as I had imagined I should do. There was something so
spontaneous and unaffected about it that I would have defied even the
most sensitive to take offence. To my astonishment, I discovered that no
less than three were personal friends of Miss Maybourne's, though all
confessed to having failed in recognising her when the boat came
alongside. For the greater part of the morning I remained chatting in my
chair, and by mid-day felt so much stronger that, on the doctor's
suggestion, I ventured to accompany him down to the saloon for lunch.
The King of Carthage was a finer vessel in every way than the ill-fated
Fiji Princess. Her saloon was situated amidships, and could have
contained the other twice over comfortably. The appointments generally
were on a scale of great magnificence; and, from what I saw at lunch,
the living was on a scale to correspond. I sat at a small table presided
over by the doctor, and situated near the foot of the companion ladder.
In the pauses of the meal I looked round at the fine paintings let into
the panels between the ports, at the thick carpet upon the floor, the
glass dome overhead, and then at the alley-ways leading to the cabins at
either end. In which direction did Miss Maybourne's cabin lie, I
wondered. The doctor must have guessed what was passing in my mind, for
he nodded his head towards the after-alley on the starboard side, and
from that time forward I found my eyes continually reverting to it.

Luncheon over, I returned to the promenade-deck, and, after a
smoke--the first in which I had indulged since we left the
island--acted on the doctor's advice, and went to my cabin to lie
down for an hour or so.

When I returned to the deck, afternoon tea was going forward, and
a chair having been found for me, I was invited to take a cup. While
I was drinking it, the skipper put in an appearance. He waited until
I had finished, and then said he would like to show me something if I
would accompany him along the deck to his private cabin. When we
reached it, he opened the door and invited me to enter. I did so,
and, as I crossed the threshold, gave a little start of surprise, for
Miss Maybourne was there, lying upon the locker.

"Why, Miss Maybourne!" I cried, in complete astonishment, "this is
a pleasant surprise. I had no idea you were about again. I hope you
are feeling stronger."

"Much stronger," she answered. "I expect I shall soon be
quite myself again, now that I have once made a start. Mr. Wrexford,
I asked Captain Blockman to let me see you in here for the first
time, in order that I might have an opportunity of expressing my
gratitude to you before we face the passengers. You cannot imagine
how grateful I am to you for all you have done for me since that
awful night when the Fiji Princess went down. How can I ever
repay you for it?"

"By becoming yourself again as quickly as possible," I answered;
"I ask no better payment."

I thought she looked at me in rather a strange way as I said this;
but it was not until some time later that I knew the reason of it. At
the time I would have given worlds to have spoken the thoughts that
were in my mind; but that being impossible, I had to hold my tongue,
though my heart should break under the strain. We were both silent
for a little while, and then Miss Maybourne took my hand, and I could
see that she was steeling herself to ask me some question, and was
not quite certain what answer she would receive to it.

"Mr. Wrexford," she began, and there was a little falter in her
voice as she spoke, "you told me on board the Fiji Princess
that you were going to South Africa to try and obtain employment. You
must forgive my saying anything about it, but I also gathered from
what you told me that you would arrive there without influence of any
sort. Now, I want you to promise me that you will let papa help you.
I'm sure he will be only too grateful for the chance. It would be a
kindness to him, for he will remember that, but for you, he would
never have seen me again."

"I did not do it for the sake of reward, Miss Maybourne," I
answered, with an outburst of foolish pride that was not very
becoming to me.

"Who knows that better than I?" she replied, her face flushing at
the thought that she had offended me. "But you must not be angry with
me. It would be kind of you to let me show my gratitude in some way.
Papa would be so glad to give you letters of introduction, or to
introduce you personally to people of influence, and then there is
nothing you might not be able to do. You will let him help you, won't

If she could only have known what she was asking of me! To be
introduced to the prominent people of the colony was the very last
thing in the world I wanted. My desire was to not only attract as
little attention as might be, but also to get up country and beyond
the reach of civilization as quickly as possible.

However, I was not going to make Miss Maybourne unhappy on the
first day of her convalescence, so I promised to consider the matter,
and to let her know my decision before we reached Cape Town. By this
compromise I hoped to be able to hit upon some way out of the
difficulty before then.

From that day forward the voyage was as pleasant as it would be
possible for one to be. Delicate as was our position on board, we
were not allowed for one moment to feel that we were not upon the
same footing as those who had paid heavily for their accommodation.
The officers and passengers vied with each other in showing us
kindnesses, and, as may be imagined, we were not slow to express our

Day after day slipped quickly by, and each one brought us nearer
and nearer to our destination. As the distance lessened my old fears
returned upon me. After all the attention I had received from our
fellow-travellers, after Miss Maybourne's gracious behaviour towards
me, it will be readily imagined how much I dreaded the chance of
exposure. How much better, I asked myself, would it not be to drop
quietly overboard while my secret was still undiscovered, than to
stay on board and be proclaimed a murderer before them all?

On the evening prior to our reaching Cape Town I was leaning on
the rails of the promenade deck, just below the bridge, when Miss
Maybourne left a lady with whom she had been conversing, and came and
stood beside me. The evening was cool, and for this reason she had
thrown a lace mantilla, lent her by one of the passengers, over her
head, and had draped it round her shapely neck. It gave her an
infinitely charming appearance; indeed, in my eyes, she appeared the
most beautiful of all God's creatures--a being to be loved and
longed for beyond all her sex.

"And so to-morrow, after all our adventures, we shall be in Cape
Town," she said. "Have you thought of the promise you gave me a
fortnight ago?"

"What promise was that?" I asked, though I knew full well to what
she alluded.

"To let papa find you some employment. I do hope you will
allow him to do so."

I looked at her as she stood beside me, one little hand resting on
the rail and her beautiful eyes gazing across the starlit sea, and
thought how hard it was to resist her. But at any cost I could not
remain in Cape Town. Every hour I spent there would bring me into
greater danger.

"I have been thinking it over as I promised," I said, "and
I have come to the conclusion that it would not be wise for me to
accept your offer. I have told you repeatedly, Miss Maybourne, that I
am not like other men. God knows how heartily I repent my foolish
past. But repentance, however sincere, will not take away the stain.
I want to get away from civilization as far and as quickly as
possible. For this reason immediately we arrive I shall start for the
Transvaal, and once there shall endeavour to carve out a new name and
a new life for myself. This time, Providence helping me, it shall be
a life of honour."

"God grant you may succeed!" she said, but so softly that I could
scarcely hear it.

"May I tell myself that I have your good wishes, Miss Maybourne?"
I asked, with, I believe, a little tremor in my voice.

"Every good wish I have is yours," she replied. "I should be worse
than ungrateful, after all you have done for me, if I did not take an
interest in your future."

Then I did a thing for which it was long before I could forgive
myself. Heaven alone knows what induced me to do it; but if my life
had depended on it I could not have acted otherwise. I took her hand
in mine and drew her a little closer to me.

"Agnes," I said, very softly, as she turned her beautiful face
towards me, "to-morrow we shall be separated, perhaps never to meet
again. After tonight it is possible, if not probable, that we shall
not have another opportunity of being alone together. You don't know
what your companionship has been to me. Before I met you, I was
desperate. My life was not worth living; but you have changed it
all--you have made me a better man. You have taught me to love you,
and in that love I have found my belief in all that is good--even, I
believe, a faith in God. Oh, Agnes, Agnes! I am not worthy to touch
the ground you have walked on, but I love you as I shall never love
woman again!"

She was trembling violently, but she did not speak. Her silence
had the effect, however, of bringing me to myself, and it showed me
my conduct in all its naked baseness.

"Forgive me," I whispered; "it was vile of me to have insulted you
with this avowal. Forget--and forgive, if you can--that I ever spoke
the words. Remember me only as a man, the most miserable in the whole
world, who would count it heaven to be allowed to lay down his life
for you or those you love. Oh, Agnes! is it possible that you can
forgive me?"

This time she answered without hesitation.

"I have nothing to forgive," she said, looking up into my face
with those proud, fearless eyes that seemed to hold all the truth in
the world; "I am proud beyond measure to think you love me."

When I heard these precious words, I could have fallen at her feet
and kissed the hem of her dress; but I dared not speak, lest I should
forget myself in my joy, and say something for which I should never
be able to atone. Agnes, however, was braver than I.

"Mr. Wrexford," she said, "you have told me that you love me, and
now you are reproaching yourself for having done so. Is it because,
as you say, you are poor? Do you think so badly of me as to imagine
that that could make any difference to me?"

"I could not think so badly of you if I tried," I answered.

"You have said that you love me?"

"And I mean it. I love you as I believe man never loved woman
before--certainly as I shall never love again."

Then, lowering her head so that I could not see her face, she

"Will it make you happier if I say that I love you?"

Her voice was soft as the breath of the evening rustling some tiny
leaf, but it made my heart leap with a delight I had never known
before, and then sink deeper and deeper down with a greater

"God forbid!" I cried, almost fiercely. "You must not love me. You
shall not do so. I am not worthy even that you should think of

"You are worthy of a great deal more," she answered. "Oh, why will
you so continually reproach yourself?"

"Because, Agnes, my conscience will not let me be silent," I
cried. "Because, Agnes, you do not know the shame of my life."

"I will not let you say 'shame,'" she replied. "Have I not grown
to know you better than you know yourself?"

How little she knew of me! How little she guessed what I was! We
were both silent again, and for nearly five minutes. I was the first
to speak. And it took all the pluck of which I was master to say what
was in my mind.

"Agnes," I began, "this must be the end of such talk between us.
God knows, if I were able in honour to do so, I would take your love,
and hold you against the world. But, as things are, to do that would
be to proclaim myself the most despicable villain in existence. You
must not ask me why. I could not tell you. But some day, if by chance
you should hear the world's verdict, try to remember that, whatever I
may have been, I did my best to behave like a man of honour to

She did not answer, but dropped her head on to her hands and
sobbed as if her heart would break. Then, regaining her composure a
little, she stood up again and faced me. Holding out her hand, she

"You have told me that you love me. I have said that I love you.
You say that we must part. Let it be so. You know best. May God have
mercy on us both!"

I tried to say "Amen," but my voice refused to serve me, and as I
turned and looked across the sea I felt the hot salt tears rolling
down my cheeks. By the time I recovered my self-possession she had
left me and had gone below.


EVEN o'clock next morning found us entering Table Bay, our
eventful journey accomplished. Overhead towered the famous mountain
from which the Bay derives its name, its top shrouded in its cloth.
At its foot reposed the town with which my destiny seemed so vitally
connected, and which I was approaching with so much trepidation. As I
stood on the promenade deck and watched the land open out before me,
my sensations would have formed a good problem for a student of
character. With a perception rendered abnormally acute by my fear, I
could discern the boat of the port authorities putting off to us long
before I should, at any other time, have been able to see it. It had
yet to be discovered whether or not it contained a police official in
search of me. As I watched her dipping her nose into the seas, and
then tossing the spray off from either bow, in her haste to get to
us, she seemed to me to be like a bloodhound on my track. The closer
she came the more violently my heart began to beat, until it was as
much as I could do to breathe. If only I could be certain that she
was conveying an officer to arrest me, I felt I might find pluck
enough to drop overboard and so end the pursuit for good and all. But
I did not know, and the doubt upon the point decided me to remain
where I was and brave the upshot.

As I watched her, I heard a footstep upon the deck behind me. I
turned my head to find that it was Miss Maybourne. She came up beside
me, and having glanced ashore at the city nestling at the foot of the
great mountain, and then at the launch coming out to meet us, turned
to address me.

"Mr. Wrexford," she began, "I am going to ask you to do me a great
favour, and I want you to promise me to grant it before I tell you
what it is."

"I'm afraid I can hardly do that," I answered. "But if you will
tell me what it is, I will promise to do it for you if it is in any
way possible."

"It is this," she said: "I want you, in the event of my father not
meeting me, to take me home. Oh don't say no, Mr. Wrexford, I want
you so much to do it. Surely you will not deny me the last request I
make to you?"

She looked so pleadingly into my face that, as usual, it required
all my courage not to give way to her. But the risk was too great for
me even to contemplate such a thing for a moment. My rescue of the
daughter of Cornelius Maybourne, and my presence in Cape Town, would
soon leak out, and then it would be only a matter of hours before I
should be arrested. Whatever my own inclinations may have been, I
felt there was nothing for it but for me to refuse.

"I am not my own master in this matter," I replied, with a
bitterness which must have shown her how much in earnest I was. "It
is impossible that I can remain so long in the place. There are the
most vital reasons in the world against it. I can only ask you to
believe that."

I saw large tears rise in her eyes, though she turned hurriedly
away in the hope that I should not see them. To see her weep,
however, was more than I could bear, and under the influence of her
trouble my resolutions began to give way. After all, if I was
destined to be arrested, I might just as well be taken at Mr.
Maybourne's house as elsewhere--perhaps better. Besides, it was more
than likely, in the event of no warrant having been issued, Mr.
Maybourne, whose influence, I had been told, was enormous in the
colony, might prove just the very friend of all others I wanted. At
any rate, if I were not taken before the time came for going ashore,
I would do as she wished. I told her this, and she immediately
thanked me and went down below again.

Just as I announced my decision the launch came alongside, and a
moment later her passengers were ascending the accommodation ladder,
which had been lowered to receive them. They were three in number,
and included--so I was told by a gentleman who stood beside me--the
harbour master, the officer of health, and another individual, about
whose identity my informant was not quite assured. I looked at the
last-named with no little apprehension; my nervousness endowed him
with all the attributes of a police official, and my mind's eye could
almost discover the manacles reposing in his coat pocket. I trust I
may never pass through such another agonizing few minutes as I
experienced then. I saw the party step on to the spar deck, where
they shook hands with the purser and the chief officer, and watched
them as they ascended to the promenade deck and made their way
towards the bridge. Here they were received by the skipper. I leaned
against the rails, sick with fear and trembling in every limb,
expecting every moment to feel a heavy hand upon my shoulder, and to
hear a stern voice saying in my ear--"Gilbert Pennethorne, I arrest
you on a charge of murder."

But minute after minute went by, and still no one came to speak
the fatal words. The ship, which had been brought to a standstill to
pick up the boat, had now got under weigh again, and we were
approaching closer and closer to the docks. In less than half an hour
I should know my fate.

As soon as we were safely installed in dock, and everyone was
looking after his or her luggage, saying "good-bye" and preparing to
go ashore, I began to look about me for Miss Maybourne. Having found
her we went to the chart-room together to bid the captain "good-bye,"
and to thank him for the hospitality and kindness he had shown us.
The doctor had next to be discovered, and when he had been assured of
our gratitude, we made enquiries for Mr. Maybourne. It soon became
evident that he was not on board, so, taking his daughter under my
protection, we said our final farewells and went down the gangway.
For the first time in my life I set foot on South African soil.

The Custom House once passed, and the authorities convinced that
we had nothing to declare, I hailed a cab and invited Miss Maybourne
to instruct the driver in which direction he was to proceed. Half an
hour later we had left the city behind us, and were driving through
the suburbs in the direction of Mr. Maybourne's residence. After
following a pretty road for something like a mile, on either side of
which I noticed a number of stately residences, we found ourselves
confronted with a pair of large iron gates, behind which was a neat
lodge. But for the difference in the vegetation, it might very well
have been the entrance to an English park. Through the trees ahead I
could distinguish, as we rolled along the well-kept drive, the
chimneys of a noble residence; but I was quite unprepared for the
picture which burst upon my view when we turned a corner and had the
whole house before us. Unlike most South African dwellings, it was a
building of three stories, surmounted by a tower. Broad verandahs ran
round each floor, and the importance of the building was enhanced by
the fact that it stood on a fine terrace, which again led down by a
broad flight of steps to the flower gardens and orangery. A more
delightful home could scarcely be imagined; and when I saw it, I
ceased to wonder that Miss Maybourne had so often expressed a
preference for South Africa as compared with England.

When the cab drew up at the front door I jumped out, and was about
to help my companion to alight when I heard the front door open, and
next moment a tall, fine-looking man, about sixty years of age,
crossed the verandah and came down the steps. At first he regarded me
with a stare of surprise, but before he could ask me my business,
Miss Maybourne had descended from the vehicle and was in his arms.
Not desiring to interrupt them in their greetings I strolled down the
path. But I was not permitted to go far before I heard my name
called. I turned, and went back to have my hand nearly shaken off by
Mr. Maybourne.

"My daughter says you have saved her life," he cried. "I'll not
ask questions now, but I thank you, sir--from the bottom of my heart
I thank you. God knows you have done me a service the value of which
no man can estimate."

The warmth of his manner was so much above what I had expected
that it left me without power to reply.

"Come in, come in," he continued in a voice that fairly shook with
emotion. "Oh, let us thank God for this happy day!"

He placed his arm round his daughter's waist, and drew her to him
as if he would not let her move from his side again. I followed a few
steps behind, and should have entered the house had I not been
recalled by the cabman, who ventured to remind me that he had not yet
been paid.

I instantly put my hand into my pocket, only to have the fact
recalled to me that I possessed no money at all. All my capital had
gone to the bottom in the Fiji Princess, and I was absolutely
penniless. The position was an embarrassing one, and I was just
reflecting what I had better do, when I heard Mr. Maybourne come out
into the verandah again. He must have divined my difficulty, for
without hesitation he discharged the debt, and, apologizing for not
having thought of it, led me into the house.

Passing through an elegantly-furnished hall we entered the
dining-room. Here breakfast was laid, and it was evidently from that
meal that Mr. Maybourne had jumped up to receive us.

"Now, Mr. Wrexford," he cried, pointing to a chair, "sit yourself
down yonder, and let me hear everything from the beginning to the
end. Heaven knows I can hardly believe my good fortune. Half an hour
ago I was the most miserable man under the sun; now that I have got
my darling back safe and sound, I believe I am the happiest."

"Had you then heard of the wreck of the Fiji Princess?" I enquired.

"Here is a telegram I received last night," he said, handing me a
paper he had taken from his pocket. "You see it is from Tenerife,
and says that nothing has yet been heard of the vessel which was then
more than a fortnight overdue. Agnes tells me that you were rescued
by the King of Carthage. I understood she was expected about
mid-day to-day, and I had resolved to visit her as soon as she got
into dock, in order to enquire if they had any tidings to report
regarding the lost vessel. How little I expected to find that you
were safe on board her, Aggie! Mr. Wrexford, you can have no idea of
the agony I have suffered this week past."

"On the contrary," I answered, "I think I can very well imagine

"And now tell me your story. I must not be cheated of a single

I saw from the way he looked at me that he expected me to do the
narrating, so I did so, commencing with the striking of the vessel on
the rock, and winding up with an account of our rescue by the King
of Carthage. He listened with rapt attention until I had
finished, and then turned to his daughter.

"Has Mr. Wrexford told me everything?" he asked with a smile.

"No," she answered. "He has not told you half enough. He has not
told you that when I fell overboard one night, when we were off the
Spanish coast, he sprang over after me and held me up until a boat
came to our assistance. He has not told you that when the vessel sank
he gave his own life-belt up to me, nor has he given you any idea of
his constant kindness and self-sacrifice all through that dreadful

Mr. Maybourne rose from his chair as she finished speaking, and
came round to where I sat. Holding out his hand to me, he said, with
tears standing in his eyes:

"Mr. Wrexford, you are a brave man, and from the bottom of my
heart I thank you. You have saved my girl, and brought her home safe
to me; as long as I live I shall not be able to repay the debt I owe
you. Remember, however, that henceforth I am your truest friend."

But I must draw a curtain over this scene. If I go into any
further details I shall break down again as I did then. Suffice it
that Mr. Maybourne refused to hear of my leaving his house as I
proposed, but insisted that I should remain as his guest until I had
decided what I intended to do with myself.

"For the future you must look upon this as your home in South
Africa," he said. "I seem powerless to express my gratitude to you as
I should like. But a time may come when I may even be able to do

"You have more than repaid me, I'm sure," I replied. "I have every
reason to be deeply grateful to you for the way you have received

He replied in his former strain, and when he had done so, the
conversation turned upon those who had been lost in the ill-fated
Fiji Princess. It was easy to see that his brother-in-law's
death cut him to the quick.

After luncheon that day I found myself alone with Mr. Maybourne. I
was not sorry for this, as I wanted to sound him as to my future
movements. As I have so often said, I had no sort of desire to remain
in Cape Town, and judged that the sooner I was up country, and out of
civilization, the better it would be for me.

"You must forgive my being frank with you, Mr. Wrexford," said my
host, as we lit cigars preparatory to drawing our chairs into the
verandah; "but I have gathered from what you yourself have said and
from what my daughter has told me, that you are visiting South Africa
on the chance of obtaining some sort of employment. Is this so?"

"That is exactly why I am here," I said. "I am most anxious to
find something to do as soon as possible."

"In what direction will you seek it?" he asked. "What is your
inclination? Remember, I may be able to help you."

"I am not at all particular," I answered. "I have knocked about
the world a good deal, and I can turn my hand to most things. But if
a choice were permitted me, I fancy I should prefer mining of some
sort to anything else."

"Indeed! I had no idea you understood that sort of work."

"I have done a good deal of it," I replied, with a little touch of
pride, for which next moment I found it difficult to account,
considering the result to which it had brought me.

He asked one or two practical questions, which I was fortunately
able to answer to his satisfaction, and then was silent for a couple
of minutes or so. At last he consulted his pocket-book, and then
turned to me.

"I fancy, Mr. Wrexford," he said, "that you have come in the nick
of time for both of us. We may be able to do each other mutual

"I am very glad to hear that," I answered. "But in what possible
way can I help you?"

"Well, the matter stands like this," he said. "As you are
doubtless aware, my business is mostly in connection with mining,
both in this colony and its neighbours. Well, information has lately
reached me concerning what promises to prove a first-class property
in Mashonaland, eighty-five miles from Buluwayo. The mine has been
excellently reported on, and is now being got into good going order.
It only needs a capable manager at its head to do really well. Of
course such a man is easily procured in a country where every man
seems to be engaged in mining, more or less; and yet for that very
self-same reason I am unable to make a selection. The available men
all know too much, and I have private reasons for wishing this mine
to be well looked after. Now the question is, would you care for the

Needless to say, I embraced the opportunity in much the same
manner as a hungry trout jumps at a fly. If I could only manage to
get up there without being caught the appointment would suit me in
every way. Mr. Maybourne seemed as pleased at my acceptance of it as
I was at his offer; and when, after a little further conversation--in
which I received many useful hints and no small amount of advice--it
was revealed to his daughter, she struck me as being even more
delighted than either her father or myself. I noticed that Mr.
Maybourne looked at her rather anxiously for a moment as if he
suspected there might be some sort of understanding between us, but
whatever he may have thought he kept it to himself. He need, however,
have had no fear on that score. Circumstances had placed an
insurmountable barrier between myself and any thought of marriage
with his daughter.

As the result of our conversation, and at my special desire, it
was arranged that I should start for my post on the following day.
Nobody could have been more eager than I was to be out in the wilds.
But, with it all, my heart felt sad when I thought that after
tomorrow I might never see the woman I so ardently loved again. Since
the previous night, when on the promenade-deck of the steamer I had
told her of my love, neither of us had referred in any way to the
subject. So remote was the chance that I should ever be able to make
her my wife that I determined, so far as possible, to prevent myself
from giving any thought to the idea. But I was not destined after all
to leave without referring to the matter.

That evening after dinner we were sitting in the verandah outside
the drawing-room, when the butler came to inform Mr. Maybourne that a
neighbour had called to see him. Asking us to excuse him for a few
moments he left us and went into the house. When we were alone
together I spoke to my companion of her father's kindness, and told
her how much I appreciated it. She uttered a little sigh, and as this
seemed such an extraordinary answer to my speech, I enquired the
reason of it.

"You say you are going away to-morrow," she answered, "and yet you
ask me why I sigh! Cannot you guess?"

"Agnes," I said, "you know I have no option but to go. Do not let
us go over the ground we covered last night. It would be best not for
both our sakes; you must see that yourself."

"You know that I love you, and I know that you love me--and yet
you can go away so calmly. What can your love be worth?"

"You know what it is worth," I answered vehemently, roused out of
myself by this accusation. "And if ever the chance occurs again of
proving it you will be afforded another example. I cannot say

"And is it always to be like this, Gilbert," she asked, for the
first time calling me by my Christian name. "Are we to be separated
all our lives?"

"God knows--I fear so," I murmured, though it cut me to the heart
to have to say the words.

She bowed her head on her hands with a little moan, while I,
feeling that I should not be able to control myself much longer,
sprang to my feet and went across to the verandah rails. For
something like five minutes I stood looking into the dark garden,
then I pulled myself together as well as I was able and went back to
my chair.

"Agnes," I said, as I took possession of her little hand, "you
cannot guess what it costs me to tell you how impossible it is for me
ever to link my lot with yours. The reason why I cannot tell you. My
secret is the bitterest one a man can have to keep, and it must
remain locked in my own breast for all time. Had I met you earlier it
might have been very different--but now our ways must be separate for
ever. Don't think more hardly of me than you can help, dear. Remember
only that as long as I live I shall call no other woman wife.
Henceforward I will try to be worthy of the interest you have felt in
me. No one shall ever have the right to say ought against me; and, if
by any chance you hear good of me in the dark days to come, you will
know that it is for love of you I rule my life. May God bless and
keep you always."

She held up her sweet face to me, and I kissed her on the lips.
Then Mr. Maybourne returned to the verandah; and, half-an-hour later,
feeling that father and daughter would like a little time alone
together before they retired to rest, I begged them to excuse me, and
on a pretence of feeling tired went to my room.

Next morning after breakfast I drove with Mr. Maybourne into Cape
Town, where I made the few purchases necessary for my journey. In
extension of the kindness he had so far shown me, he insisted on
advancing me half my first year's salary--a piece of generosity for
which you may be sure I was not ungrateful, seeing that I had not a
halfpenny in the world to call my own. Out of this sum I paid the
steamship company for my passage--much against their wish--obtained a
ready-made rig out suitable for the rough life I should henceforth
live, also a revolver, a rifle, and among other things a small gold
locket which I wished to give to Agnes as a keepsake and remembrance
of myself.

At twelve o'clock I returned to the house, and, after lunch,
prepared to bid the woman I loved "good-bye." Of that scene I cannot
attempt to give you any description--the pain is too keen even now.
Suffice it that when I left the house I carried with me, in addition
to a sorrow that I thought would last me all my life, a little square
parcel which, on opening, I found to contain a photo of herself in a
Russia leather case. How I prized that little present I will leave
you to guess.

Two hours later I was in the train bound for Johannesburg.


SIX months had elapsed since I had left Cape Town, and on looking
back on them now I have to confess that they constituted the happiest
period of my life up to that time. I had an excellent appointment, an
interesting, if not all-absorbing, occupation, comfortable quarters,
and the most agreeable of companions any man could desire to be
associated with. I was as far removed from civilization as the most
misanthropic of men, living by civilized employment, could hope to
get. Our nearest town, if by such a name a few scattered huts could
be dignified, was nearly fifty miles distant, our mails only reached
us once a week, and our stores once every three months. As I had
never left the mine for half a day during the whole of the time I had
been on it, I had seen no strange faces, and by reason of the
distance and the unsettled nature of the country, scarcely
half-a-dozen had seen mine.

"The Pride of the South," as the mine had been somewhat
grandiloquently christened by its discoverer, was proving a better
property than had even been expected, and to my astonishment, for I
had made haste to purchase shares in it, my luck had turned, and I
found myself standing an excellent chance of becoming a rich man.

One thing surprised me more and more every day, and that was my
freedom from arrest; how it had come about that I was permitted to
remain at large so long I could not understand. When I had first come
up to Rhodesia I had found a danger in everything about me. In the
rustling of the coarse veldt grass at night, the sighing of the wind
through the trees, and even the shadows of the mine buildings and
machinery. But when week after week and month after month went by and
still no notice was taken of me by the police, my fears began to
abate until, at the time of which I am about to speak, I hardly
thought of the matter at all. When I did I hastened to put it away
from me in much the same way as I would have done the remembrance of
some unpleasant dream of the previous week. One consolation, almost
cruel in its uncertainty, was always with me. If suspicion had not so
far fallen on me in England, it would be unlikely, I argued, ever to
do so; and in the joy of this thought I began to dream dreams of the
happiness that might possibly be mine in the future. Was it to be
wondered at therefore that my work was pleasant to me and that the
wording of Mr. Maybourne's letters of praise seemed sweeter in my
ears than the strains of the loveliest music could have been. It was
evident that my star was in the ascendant, but, though I could not
guess it then, my troubles were by no means over; and, as I was soon
to find out, I was on the edge of the bitterest period of all my

Almost on the day that celebrated my seventh mouth in Mr.
Maybourne's employ, I received a letter from him announcing his
intention of starting for Rhodesia in a week's time, and stating that
while in our neighbourhood he would embrace the opportunity of
visiting "The Pride of the South." In the postscript he informed me
that his daughter had decided to accompany him, and for this reason
he would be glad if I would do my best to make my quarters as
comfortable as possible in preparation for her. He, himself, he
continued, was far too old a traveller to be worth considering.

I was standing at the engine-room door, talking to one of the men,
when the store-keeper brought me my mail. After I had read my chief's
letter, I felt a thrill go through me that I could hardly have
diagnosed for pleasure or pain. I felt it difficult to believe that
in a few weeks' time I should see Agnes again, be able to look into
her face, and hear the gentle accents of her voice. The portrait she
had given me of herself I carried continually about with me; and, as
a proof of the inspection it received, I may say that it was already
beginning to show decided signs of wear. Mr. Maybourne had done well
in asking me to see to her comfort. I told myself I would begin my
preparations at once, and it should go hard with me if she were not
pleased with my arrangements when she arrived.

While I was mentally running my eye over what I should do,
Mackinnon, my big Scotch overseer, came up from the shaft's mouth to
where I stood, and reported that some timbering which I had been
hurrying forward was ready for inspection. After we had visited it
and I had signified my approval, I informed him of our employer's
contemplated visit, and wound up by saying that his daughter would
accompany him. He shook his head solemnly when he heard this.

"A foolish thing," he said, in his slow, matter-of fact way, "a
very foolish thing. This country's nae fit for a lady at present, as
Mr. Maybourne kens well eno'. An' what's more, there'll be trouble
among the boys (natives) before vera long. He'd best be out of

"My dear fellow," I said, a little testily I fear, for I did not
care to hear him throw cold water on Mr. Maybourne's visit in this
fashion, "you're always thinking the natives are going to give
trouble, but you must confess that what you prophesy never comes

He shook his head more sagely than before.

"Ye can say what ye please," he said, "I'm nae settin' up for a
prophet, but I canna help but see what's put plain before my eyes. As
the proverb says 'Forewarned is forearmed.' There's been trouble
an' discontent all through this country-side for months past, an' if
Mr. Maybourne brings his daughter up here--well, he'll have to run
the risk of mischief happenin' to the lass. It's no business o' mine,
however. As the proverb says--'Let the wilful gang their own

Accustomed as he was to look on the gloomy side of things, I could
not but remember that he had been in the country a longer time than I
had, and that he had also had a better experience of the treacherous
Matabele than I could boast.

"In your opinion, then," I said, "I had better endeavour to
dissuade Mr. Maybourne from coming up?"

"Nae! Nae! I'm na' sayin' that at all. Let him come by all means
since he's set on it. But I'm not going to say I think he's wise in
bringing the girl."

With this ambiguous answer I had to be content. I must
confess, however, that I went back to the house feeling a little
uneasy in my mind. Ought I to write and warn Mr. Maybourne, or should
I leave the matter to chance? As I did not intend to send off my mail
until the following day, I determined to sleep on it.

In the morning I discovered that my fears had entirely vanished.
The boys we employed were going about their duties in much the same
manner as usual, and the half-dozen natives who had come in during
the course of the day in the hope of obtaining employment, seemed so
peaceably inclined that I felt compelled to dismiss Mackinnon's
suspicions from my mind as groundless, and determined on no account
to alarm my friends in such needlessly silly fashion.

How well I remember Mr. and Miss Maybourne's arrival! It was on a
Wednesday, exactly three weeks after my conversation with Mackinnon
just recorded, that a boy appeared with a note from the old gentleman
to me. It was written from the township, and stated that they had got
so far and would be with me during the afternoon. From that time
forward I was in a fever of impatience. Over and over again I
examined my preparations with a critical eye, discussed the meals
with the cook to make sure that he had not forgotten a single
particular, drilled my servants in their duties until I had brought
them as near perfection as it was possible for me to get them, and in
one way and another fussed about generally until it was time for my
guests to arrive. I had fitted up my own bedroom for Miss Maybourne,
and made it as comfortable as the limited means at my disposal would
allow. Her father would occupy the overseer's room, that individual
sharing a tent with me at the back.

The sun was just sinking to his rest below the horizon when I
espied a cloud of dust on the western veldt. Little by little it grew
larger until we could distinctly make out a buggy drawn by a pair of
horses. It was travelling at a high rate of speed, and before many
minutes were over would be with us. As I watched it my heart began to
beat so tumultuously that it seemed as if those around me could not
fail to hear it. In the vehicle now approaching was the woman I
loved, the woman whom I had made up my mind I should never see

Five minutes later the horses had pulled up opposite my verandah
and I had shaken hands with my guests and was assisting Agnes to
alight. Never before had I seen her look so lovely. She seemed quite
to have recovered from the horrors of the shipwreck, and looked even
stronger than when I had first seen her on the deck of the Fiji
Princess, the day we had left Southampton. She greeted me with a
fine show of cordiality, but under it it was easy to see that she was
as nervous as myself. Having handed the horses and buggy over to a
couple of my boys, I led my guests into the house I had prepared for

Evidently they had come with the intention of being pleased, for
they expressed themselves as surprised and delighted with every
arrangement I had made for their comfort. It was a merry party, I can
assure you, that sat down to the evening meal that night--so merry,
indeed, that under the influence of Agnes' manner even Mackinnon
forgot himself and ceased to prophesy ruin and desolation.

When the meal was finished we adjourned to the verandah and lit
our pipes. The evening was delightfully cool after the heat of the
day, and overhead the stars twinkled in the firmament of heaven like
countless lamps, lighting up the sombre veldt till we could see the
shadowy outline of trees miles away. The evening breeze rustled the
long grass, and across the square the figure of our cook could just
be seen, outlined against the ruddy glow of the fire in the hut
behind him. How happy I was I must leave you to guess. From where I
sat I could catch a glimpse of my darling's face, and see the gleam
of her rings as her hand rested on the arm of her chair. The memory
of the awful time we had spent together on the island, and in the

open boat, came back to me with a feeling that was half pleasure,
half pain. When I realized that I was entertaining them in my abode
in Rhodesia, it seemed scarcely possible that we could be the same

Towards the end of the evening, Mr. Maybourne made an excuse and
went into the house, leaving us together. Mackinnon had long since
departed. When we were alone, Agnes leant a little forward in her
chair, and said:

"Are you pleased to see me, Gilbert?"

"More pleased than I can tell you," I answered, truthfully. "But
you must not ask me if I think you were wise to come."

"I can see that you think I was not," she continued. "But how
little you understand my motives. I could not----"

Thinking that perhaps she had said too much, she checked herself
suddenly, and for a little while did not speak again. When she did,
it was only about the loneliness of my life on the mine, and such
like trivial matters. Illogical as men are, though I had hoped, for
both our sakes, that she would not venture again on such delicate
ground as we had traversed before we said good-bye, I could not help
a little sensation of disappointment when she acted up to my advice.
I was still more piqued when, a little later, she stated that she
felt tired, and holding out her hand, bade me "good-night," and went
to her room.

Here I can only give utterance to a remark which, I am told, is as
old as the hills--and that is, how little we men understand the
opposite sex. From that night forward, for the first three or four
days of her visit, Agnes' manner towards me was as friendly as of
old, but I noticed that she made but small difference between her
treatment of Mackinnon and the way in which she behaved towards
myself. This was more than I could bear, and in consequence my own
behaviour towards her changed. I found myself bringing every bit of
ingenuity I possessed to bear on an attempt to win her back to the
old state. But it was in vain! Whenever I found an opportunity, and
hinted at my love for her, she invariably changed the conversation
into such a channel that all my intentions were frustrated. In
consequence, I exerted myself the more to please until my passion
must have been plain to everyone about the place. Prudence, honour,
everything that separated me from her was likely to be thrown to the
winds. My infatuation for Agnes Maybourne had grown to such a pitch
that without her I felt that I could not go on living.

One day, a little more than a week after their arrival, it was my
good fortune to accompany her on a riding excursion to a waterfall in
the hills, distant some seven or eight miles from the mine. On the
way she rallied me playfully on what she called "my unusual
quietness." This was more than I could stand, and I determined, as
soon as I could find a convenient opportunity, to test my fate and
have it settled for good and all.

On reaching our destination, we tied our horses, by their reins,
to a tree at the foot of the hill, and climbed up to the falls we had
ridden over to explore. After the first impression, created by the
wild grandeur of the scene, had passed, I endeavoured to make the
opportunity I wanted.

"How strangely little circumstances recall the past. What place
does that remind you of?" I asked, pointing to the rocky hill on the
other side of the fall.

"Of a good many," she answered, a little artfully, I'm afraid. "I
cannot say that it reminds me of one more than another. All things
considered, there is a great sameness in South African scenery."

Cleverly as she attempted to turn my question off, I was not to be
baulked so easily.

"Though the likeness has evidently not impressed you, it reminds
me very much of Salvage Island," I said, drawing a step closer to her
side. "Half-way up that hill one might well expect to find the
plateau and the cave."

"Oh, why do you speak to me of that awful cave," she said, with a
shudder; "though I try to forget it, it always gives me a

"I am sorry I recalled it to your memory, then," I answered. "I
think in spite of the way you have behaved towards me lately, Agnes,
you are aware that I would not give you pain for anything. Do you
know that?"

As I put this question to her, I looked into her face. She dropped
her eyes and whispered "Yes."

Emboldened by my success I resolved to push my fate still

"Agnes," I said, "I have been thinking over what I am going to say
to you now for some days past, and I believe I am doing right. I want
to tell you the story of my life, and then to ask you a question that
will decide the happiness of the rest of it. I want you to listen
and, when I have done, answer me from the bottom of your heart.
Whatever you say I will abide by."

She looked up at me with a startled expression on her face.

"I will listen," she said, "and whatever question you ask I will
answer. But think first, Gilbert; do you really wish me to know your

"God knows I have as good reasons for wishing you to know as any
man could have," I answered. "I can trust you as I can trust no one
else in the world. I wish you to hear and judge me. Whatever you say,
I will do and abide by it."

She put her little hand in mine, and having done so, seated
herself on a boulder. Then, after a little pause, she bade me tell
her all.

"In the first place," I said, "I must make a confession that may
surprise you. My name is not Wrexford, as I have so long led you to
suppose. It is Pennethorne. My father was Sir Anthony Pennethorne, of
Polton-Penna, in Cornwall. I was educated at Eton and Oxford; and, as
you will now see, I got no good from either. After a college scrape,
the blame for which was thrown upon me, my father turned me out of
England with a portion of my inheritance. I went to Australia, where
I tried my hand at all sorts of employment, gold mining among the
number. Details of my life out there, with one exception, would not
interest you; so I will get on to the great catastrophe, the results
of which were taking me out of England when I first met you. Up to
this time ill-luck had constantly pursued me, and I had even known
the direst poverty. You may imagine, therefore, what my feelings were
when an old friend, a man with whom I had been partner on many
gold-fields, told me of a place which he had discovered where, he
said, there were prospects of sufficient gold to make us both
millionaires half a dozen times over. He, poor fellow, was dying at
the time, but he left his secret to me, bidding me take immediate
advantage of it. True to my promise, I intended to set off to the
place he had found as soon as he was buried, and having discovered
it, to apply to Government for right to mine there, but fate was
against me, and I was taken seriously ill. For weeks I hovered
between life and death. When I recovered I saddled my horse, and,
dreaming of all I was going to accomplish with my wealth, when I had
obtained it, made my way across country by the chart he had given me.
When I arrived at the spot it was only to learn that my greatest
enemy in the world, a man who hated me as much as I did him, had
filched my secret from me in my delirium, and had appropriated the
mine. You cannot imagine my disappointment. I wanted money so badly,
and I had counted so much on obtaining this, that I had almost come
to believe myself possessed of it. What need to tell the rest? He
became enormously rich, and returned to England. In the meantime my
father had died, leaving me a sufficient sum, when carefully
invested, to just keep me alive. With this to help me I followed my
enemy home, resolved, if ever a chance arose, to revenge myself upon
him. When I arrived I saw his name everywhere. I found his wealth,
his generosity, his success in life, extolled in every paper I picked
up; while I, from whom he had stolen that which gave him his power,
had barely sufficient to keep me out of the workhouse. You must
understand that I had been seriously ill, for the second time, just
before I left Australia, and perhaps for this reason--but more so, I
believe, on account of the great disappointment to which I had been
subjected--I began to brood over my wrongs by day and night, and pine
for revenge. I could not eat or sleep for it. Remember, I do not say
this in any way to excuse myself, but simply to show you that my mind
was undoubtedly not quite itself at the time. At any rate, to such a
pitch of hatred did I at length work myself that it was as much as I
could do to prevent myself from laying violent hands upon my enemy
when I saw him in the public streets. After I had been entertaining
the devil in this fashion for longer than was good for me, he in
return sent one of his satellites to complete my ruin. That man--such
a man as you could not picture to yourself--put before me a scheme
for getting even with my enemy, so devilish that at first I could
hardly believe he was in earnest. So insidiously did he tempt me,
playing upon my hatred and increasing my desire for revenge, that at
last I fell into his net as completely as he could wish. The
means were immediately found for getting my victim into my clutches,
and then nothing remained but to work out the hideous crime that had
been planned for me."

I stopped for a moment and looked at Agnes, who was cowering with
her face in her hands. She did not speak, so I continued my gruesome

"I need not tell you how I got the man in my power, nor in what
manner it was arranged that I should kill him. I will content myself
with telling you that when I had got him, and could have
killed him by lifting my little finger, difficult as you may find it
to believe it, I saw your face before me imploring me to repent.
There and then I determined to throw off my disguise, to let him know
who I was, and what I intended to do to him; after that I would have
bidden him go, and have left him to his own conscience. But, to my
horror, when I got down from my box--for I was driving him in a
cab--I found that in some devilish fashion my work had been
anticipated for me--the man was dead, killed by the same fatal
agency that had been given to me to do the deed. Try for one
moment to imagine my position. In one instant I stood in that quiet
London street, stamped with the brand of Cain. Never again could I be
like my fellow men. Henceforth I must know myself for what I was--a
murderer, whose proper end should be the gallows. In an agony of
terror I got rid of the body--left it in the street in fact--and
fled for my very life. While the town was still abed and asleep I
tramped away into the country, and at a suburban station caught the
earliest train to Southampton. On arrival there I booked my passage
in the Fiji Princess for South Africa, and went on board. The
rest you know. Now, Agnes, that you have heard my wretched story, you
can see for yourself why I was so desirous of getting out of
civilization as quickly as possible. You can judge for yourself
whether I was right or wrong in refusing to allow you to say you
loved me. God knows you cannot judge me more harshly than I judge

She looked up at me with terror-stricken eyes.

"But you did not mean to kill the man," she cried. "You repented
--you said so just now yourself.

"If it had not been for me the man would not have died," I
answered. "No, no! Agnes, you cannot make me out innocent of his
death, however hard you try."

A look of fresh life darted into her face. It was as if she had
been struck by a brilliant idea that might mean my salvation.

"But how do you know that you killed the man?" she asked. "Are you
quite certain that he was dead when you looked at him?"

"Quite certain," I answered. "I examined him most carefully.
Besides, I have made enquiries since and elicited the fact that he
has never been seen or heard of since that awful night. There have
been advertisements in the papers offering rewards for any
information concerning him."

She did not reply to this, only sat and rocked herself to and fro,
her face once more covered in her hands. I knelt beside her, but did
not dare, for very shame, to attempt to comfort her.

"Agnes," I said, "speak to me. If it only be to say how much you
loathe me. Your silence cuts me to the heart. Speak to me, tell me my
fate, advise me as to what I shall do. I swear by God that whatever
you tell me, that I will do without questioning or comment."

Still she did not answer. When I saw this I rose to my feet, and
in my agony must have turned a little from her. This action evidently
decided her, for she sprang up from the boulder on which she had
hitherto been sitting, and, with a choking cry, fell into my arms and
sobbed upon my shoulder.

"Gilbert," she moaned, "come what may, I believe in you. Nothing
shall ever convince me that you would have killed the man who so
cruelly wronged you. You hated him; you longed to be revenged on him;
but you never would have murdered him when it came to the point."

In answer I drew her closer to me.

"Agnes, my good angel," I said; "what can I say to you for the
comfort you give me? You have put fresh life into me. If only you
believe in me, what do I care for the world? Heaven knows I did not
mean to kill the man--but still the fact remains that he is dead, and
through my agency. Though morally I am innocent, the law would
certainly hold me guilty."

"You do not mean to say that the police will take you?" she cried,
starting away from me with a gesture of horror.

"If I am suspected, there can be no doubt that they will do so.
How it happens that I have not been arrested ere this I cannot

"But, Gilbert, you must not let them find you. You must go
away--you must hide yourself."

"It would be no use, they would find me sooner or later, wherever
I went."

"Oh, what can you do then? Come what may I shall not let you be
taken. Oh God, I could not bear that."

She glanced wildly round, as if she fancied the minions of the law
might already be on my track. I endeavoured to soothe her, but in
vain. She was thoroughly frightened, and nothing I could say or do
would convince her that I was not in immediate danger. At last, to
try and bring her to a reasonable frame of mind, I adopted other

"But, Agnes, we are missing one point that is of vital
importance," I said. "Knowing what I am, henceforward everything must
be over between us."

"No, no!" she cried, with a sudden change of front. "On the other
hand, you have shown me that there is more reason than ever that I
should love you. If you are in danger, this is the time for me
to prove what my affection is worth. Do you value my love so lightly
that you deem it only fit for fair weather? When the world is against
you, you can see who are your friends."

"God bless you, darling," I said, kissing her sweet upturned face.
"You know that there is no one in this world so much to me as you;
and for that very reason I cannot consent to link your fate with such
a terrible one as mine."

"Gilbert," she said, "if you repulse me now you will make me
miserable for life. Oh, why must I plead so hard with you? Cannot
you see that I am in earnest when I say I wish to share your danger
with you?"

I was silent for a few moments. In what way could I make her see
how base a thing it would be on my part to pull her down into the
maelstrom of misery that might any day draw me to my doom? At
last an idea occurred to me.

"Agnes," I said, "will you agree to a compromise? Will you promise
me to take a year to think it over? If at the end of that time I am
still at liberty I will go to your father, tell him my story as I
have to-day told it to you, and, if he will still have anything to do
with me, ask him for your hand. By that time I shall probably know my
fate, you will be able to see things more clearly, and I shall not
feel that I have taken advantage of your love and sympathy."

"But I want to be with you and to help you now."

"Believe me, you can help me best by agreeing to my proposal. Will
you make me happy by consenting to what I wish?"

"If it will please you I will do so," she said, softly.

"God bless you, dear," I answered.

And thus the matter was concluded.


Nearly a week had elapsed since I had made my confession to Agnes
at the falls, and in three days it was Mr. Maybourne's intention to
set out on his return journey to the South. During the whole of that
period not one word had been said by Miss Maybourne regarding my
story. But if she did not refer to it in speech it was easy to see
that the subject was never absent from her mind. On two occasions I
heard her father question her as to the reason of her quietness, and
I saw that each time she found it a more difficult task to invent a
satisfactory reply. What this meant to me you will readily
understand. I could not sleep at night for thinking of it, and not
once but a thousand times I bitterly regretted having burdened her
mind with my unhappy secret.

Two afternoons prior to our guests' departure I was sitting in my
verandah reading the letters which had been brought to the mine by
the mailman at midday. Mr. Maybourne was sitting near me, also deep
in his correspondence, while his daughter had gone to her own room
for the same purpose. When I came to the end of my last epistle I eat
with it in my hand, looking out across the veldt, and thinking of all
that had happened since I had said good-bye to old England.

From one thing my thoughts turned to another; I thought of my
wandering life in Australia, of poor old Ben Garman, of Markapurlie,
and last of all of Bartrand. The memory of my hatred for him brought
me home again to London, and I saw myself meeting Nikola in the
Strand, and then accompanying him home to his extraordinary abode. As
I pictured him seated in his armchair in that oddly-furnished room,
all my old horror of him flashed back upon me. I seemed to feel the
fascination of his eyes just as I had done that night when we visited
that murderous cab in the room below.

While I was thinking of him, I heard a footstep on the path that
led round the house, and presently Mackinnon appeared before me. He
beckoned with his hand, and understanding that he desired to speak to
me, I rose from my chair and went out to him.

"What is it?" I enquired, as I approached him, for at that hour he
was generally in the depths of the mine. "Has anything gone

"That's as ye care to take my words or no," he answered, wheeling
about and leading me out of earshot of the house. There was something
in his manner that frightened me, though I could not for the life of
me have said why. When we reached the fence that separated my garden
from the open veldt I stopped, and leaning on the rails, once more
asked him why he had called me out.

"I told ye a fortnight ago that there was trouble brewing for us
with the natives," he said impressively. "I warned ye a week ago that
'twas no better. Now I tell ye its close upon us, and if we're not
prepared, God help us all."

"What do you mean? Don't speak in enigmas, man. Tell me straight
out what you are driving at."

"Isn't that what I'm trying to do?" he said. "I tell ye the whole
country's in a ferment. The Matabele are out, and in a few hours, if
not before, we shall have proof of it."

"Good God, man!" I cried, "how do you know this? And why did you
not make me see the importance of it before?"

"'Ye can lead a horse to the water but ye canna make him drink,'
says the proverb," he answered. "Ye can tell a man of danger, but ye
canna make him see it. An' so 'twas with ye. I told ye my suspicions
a fortnight past, but 'twas only this minute I came to know how bad
it really was."

"And how have you come to hear of it now?"

"Step this way an' I'll show ye."

He led me to a small hut near the kitchen. On reaching it, he
opened it and showed me a man stretched out upon a bed of sacks and
grass. He was a white man, and seemed utterly exhausted.

"This man's name," said Mackinnon, as if he were exhibiting some
human curiosity, "is Andrews. He's a prospector, and we've been
acquent for years. Now tell your yarn, Andrews, and let Mr. Wrexford
here see how bad the matter is."

"I've not much to tell, sir," said the man addressed, sitting up
as he spoke. "It came about like this: I am a prospector, and I was
out away back on the river there, never dreaming there was mischief
in the wind. Then my boys began to drop hints that there was likely
to be trouble, and I'd best keep my weather eye open. At first I
didn't believe them, but when I got back to camp at mid-day to-day
and found both my servants murdered, my bullocks killed, and my
rifles and everything else of value stolen, I guessed who had done
it. Fortunately, they had passed on without waiting for me, so I got
into the saddle again and came here post haste to warn you. I tell
you this, the Matabele are rising. The impi that murdered my men is
under one of the king's sons, and by this time they are not twenty
miles distant from this spot. There can be no doubt that they are
travelling this way. From what my boys told me, Buluwayo is
surrounded, while three more impis are travelling night and day with
the same object as the one I now warn you of, namely, to cut off the
advance of the troops being pushed forward to oppose them from the

"Do you mean this? On your oath, are you telling me the

"God strike me dead if I'm not," he answered, solemnly. "Look at
me, sir, I've made my way in here as hard as a man could come, riding
for his life. That should be proof enough; but if it isn't, Mr.
Mackinnon here will speak for me, I'm sure."

"That I will," said Mackinnon. "I've known you long enough, and
always found you a straightforward man."

I stood for a few moments deep in thought.

"How far do you think they are away from us at the present

"Not more than twenty miles at most, sir. I left my camp on the
river about mid-day, and I've been here about a quarter of an hour. I
came in as hard as I could ride; say five hours riding at twelve
miles an hour, making a big detour of about twenty miles, to avoid
them. That should make between fifteen and twenty miles away now if
they did five miles an hour straight across country."

"And you're sure they mean war?"

"There's not a doubt of it, sir. I know the vermin too well by
this time not to be certain of that."

"Then I must tell Mr. Maybourne at once. Come with me Mackinnon,
and you too, Andrews, if you can manage it. We must hold a council of
war and see what's best to be done."

I led them across the small paddock to my office, and then went on
to the house in search of my employer. I found him pacing up and down
the verandah, looking rather disturbed.

"Wrexford, my dear fellow," he began, on seeing me, "I have been
looking for you. I want a few moments' earnest conversation with

"And I with you, sir," I answered.

He led me beyond the verandah before he spoke again.

"You must hear me first. What I want to see you about is as
important as life and death to us all. I have received a number of
letters by the mail, and one and all warn me that there is likely to
be trouble with the Matabele--The Chartered Company have seen it
coming, I am told, and are taking all the necessary steps to secure
life and property, but there is no knowing when the brutes may not be
on us, and what they may not do if they start with the upper hand.
Now, you see, if I were alone I should have no hesitation in
remaining to see it out--but there is Agnes to consider; and, with a
woman in the question, one has to think twice before one ventures
upon such a course,"

"That is the very thing I came over to see you about, sir. Serious
news has just reached me, and--well, to tell you the truth, we are
in danger now, this very minute. If you will step over to my office,
I have a man there who has seen the enemy within forty miles of this
place, and he tells me they are advancing in our direction even

His face, for an instant, became deadly pale, and I noticed that
he glanced anxiously at the sitting-room door.

"Steady, Wrexford, for heaven's sake," he said. "Not too loud, or
Agnes will hear. We musn't frighten her before we are absolutely
obliged. Come to the office and let me see this man for myself."

Together we walked over to my den where Mackinnon and Andrews were
awaiting us.

Mr. Maybourne nodded to the former and then looked searchingly at
the latter.

"I am told that you have seen the Matabele under arms to-day," he
began, coming straight to the point, as was characteristic of

"My servants were killed by them, and my camp was looted about
forty miles from this office," replied Andrews, meeting Mr.
Maybourne's glance without flinching.

"At what number should you estimate them?"

"Roughly speaking, from what I saw of them from a hill nearly a
mile distant, I should say they were probably two thousand strong.
They were in full war dress, and from what my servants had hinted to
me that morning, I gathered that they are led by one of the king's

"You have no doubt in your mind that they are coming this

"I don't think there's a shadow of a doubt about it, sir. They're
probably trying to effect a junction with another impi, and then
they'll be ready to receive any troops that may come up against them
from the South."

"There's something in that," said Mr. Maybourne, reflectively.
"And now I am going to ask you the most important question of all,
gentlemen. That is, what's to be done? If we abandon this place, the
mine and the buildings will be wrecked for certain. At the best we
can only reach the township, where we can certainly go into laager,
but in my opinion we shall be even worse off there than we are here.
What do you say?"

There could not be any doubt about the matter in my opinion. In
the township we should certainly be able to make up a larger force,
but our defences could not be made so perfect, while to abandon the
mine was an act for which none of us were prepared.

"Very well then," continued Mr. Maybourne, when he had heard that
we agreed with him, "in that case the best thing we can do is to form
a laager here, and prepare to hold out until the troops that I have
been told are on their way up can rescue us. How are we off for arms
and ammunition, Wrexford?"

"I will show you," I said, and forthwith led the way through the
office into a smaller room at the back. Here I pointed to an arm-rack
in which twenty-two Winchester repeating rifles, a couple of
Martini-Henris, and about thirty cutlasses were arranged.

"How may men capable of firing a decent shot can we muster?" asked
Mr. Maybourne, when he had overhauled the weapons.

"Nineteen white men, including ourselves, and about half-a-dozen

"And how much ammunition have we?"

"I can tell you in a moment," I answered, taking up a book from
the table and consulting it. "Here it is. Two thousand cartridges for
the repeating rifles, two hundred for the Martinis, and a thousand
for the six revolvers I have in this drawer."

"A good supply, and I congratulate you on it. Now let us get to
work. Ring the bell, Mr. Mackinnon, and call all the hands up to the
house. I'll talk to them, and when I've explained our position, we'll
get to work on the laager."

Ten minutes later every man had been informed of his danger, and
was taking his share of work upon the barricades. Waggons, cases,
sacks of flour, sheets of iron--everything, in fact, which would be
likely to give shelter to ourselves and resistance to the enemy was
pressed into our service, while all that would be likely to afford
cover to the enemy for a hundred yards or so round the house was
destroyed. Every tank that could be utilized was carried to the house
and filled with water. The cattle were driven in, and when small
earthworks had been thrown up and the stores had been stacked in a
safe place, we felt we might consider ourselves prepared for a siege.
By nightfall we were ready and waiting for the appearance of our foe.
Sentries were posted, and in order that the township might be
apprised of its danger and also that the troops who were hourly
expected, as Mr. Maybourne had informed us, might know of our peril,
a man was despatched on a fast horse with a letter to the

Having accompanied Mr. Maybourne round the square, and assured
myself that our defences were as perfect as the limited means at our
disposal would permit, our store of arms was brought from the office
and the distribution commenced. A Winchester repeating rifle and a
hundred cartridges, a cutlass, and a revolver, were issued to each
white man, and after they were supplied the native boys were called
up. To our astonishment and momentary dismay only one put in an
appearance. The rest had decamped, doubtless considering discretion
the better part of valour. When, however, we saw the stuff of which
they were made this did not trouble us very much.

As soon as every man had received his weapons, and had had his
post and his duties pointed out to him, Mr. Maybourne and I left them
to their own devices, and went up to the house. The former had told
his daughter of our danger, and for this reason I was prepared to
find her, if not terrified, at least showing some alarm. But to my
amazement I discovered her hard at work preparing a meal for the
garrison, just as calmly and quietly as if nothing out of the common
were occurring. She greeted me with a smile, showed me her puddings
boiling on the fire, and pointed to a number of buckets which stood
about the verandah. These were filled with some peculiar-looking
fluid; and I enquired what it might be. In answer I was told that it
was oatmeal and water.

"If we are to fight," said this daughter of war, "you will find it
thirsty work. I shall put these buckets, with mugs, at convenient
places, so that you may assuage your thirst if occasion serves."

I noticed also that she had prepared a large quantity of lint in
case it should be required, and had arranged a number of mattresses
in the verandah. Her courage put fresh heart into me, as without
doubt it did into everyone else who saw her. I told her that she was
braver than the boldest man amongst us, and she thereupon showed that
she still had sufficient of the woman left in her to blush with
pleasure at the compliment.

"If the enemy were only forty miles away at midday," said Mr.
Maybourne as we carried the men's tea out into the open to them,
"they ought to be close at hand now. When we've done our meal we'll
post extra sentries; for though I do not for a moment expect they'll
attack us in the dark, it would never do to allow ourselves to be

I agreed with him; and, accordingly, as soon as our tea was
finished, men were placed not only at the four corners of the laager,
but at equal distances between them. The remainder lay down to rest
wherever they could make themselves most comfortable. I found myself
about the only exception to the rule; and, do what I would, I could
not sleep. Having tried for an hour and a half, and found it still
impossible, I went across to the verandah and sat down in one of the
cane chairs there. I had not been there many moments before I was
joined by Agnes, who seated herself beside me. I reproved her for not
resting after her labours of the day.

"I could not sleep," she answered. "Brave as you call me, I am far
too nervous to rest. Do you really think the enemy will attack us in
the morning?"

"Not knowing their plans, I cannot say," I replied, "but I must
confess it looks terribly like it."

"In that case I want you to promise me something, Gilbert."

"What is it?" I asked. "You know there is nothing I would not do
for you, Agnes. What am I to promise?"

"That if we are overpowered you will not let me fall into their
hands alive. You may think me a coward, but I dread that more than
any thought of death."

"Hush! You must not talk like that. Have no fear, we will not let
you fall into their hands. You know that there is not a man upon the
mine who would not give his life for you."

She leaned a little forward and looked into my face. "I know you
would protect me, would you not?"

"Wait and see. The man who touches you, Agnes, will have to do it
over my dead body. Do you know that to-night, for some reason or
other, I feel more superstitious than I have ever done before. I
can't rid myself of the thought that I am near the one vital crisis
of my life."

"What do you mean, Gilbert? You frighten me."

"I cannot tell you what I mean, for I don't know myself. I think
I'm what the Scotch call 'fey'"

"I have prayed to God for you," she said. "He who has
protected us before will do so again. Let us do our duty and leave
the rest to Hun."

"Amen to that," I answered solemnly; and then with a whispered
"good-night" she got up and went into the house again.

Hour after hour I sat on in the verandah, as much unable to
sleep as I had been at the beginning. At intervals I made a circuit
of the sentries, and convinced myself that no man was sleeping at his
post, but for the greater part of the time I sat staring at the
winking stars. Though I searched the open space outside the laager
over and over again, not a sign of the enemy could I discover. If
they were there, they must have been keeping wonderfully quiet. The
sighing of the breeze in the long veldt grass was the only sound that
I could distinguish.

I heard the clock in the house behind me strike one, two, and then
three. By the time the last hour sounded, it was beginning to grow
light. From where I sat in the verandah, I could just discern the
shadowy outline of the waggons, and distinguish the figures of the
sentries as they paced to and fro at their posts.

Thinking it was time to be astir, I rose from my chair and went
into the house to help Agnes by lighting the fire for her, and
putting the kettles on to boil.

I had just laid the sticks, and was about to set a match to them,
when a shot rang out on the northern side of the laager. It was
immediately followed by another from the south. I waited to hear no
more, but snatched up my rifle from the table and ran out into the
open. Before I had crossed the verandah, shots were being fired in
all directions, and on reaching my post, I discovered a black crowd
advancing at a run towards us.

"Steady men, steady," I heard Mr. Maybourne shout as he took up
his station. "Don't lose your heads whatever you do. Keep under
cover, and don't fire till you're certain your shot will tell."

The words were hardly out of his mouth before the enemy were upon
us, brandishing their assegais and shields, and yelling in a manner
that would have chilled the blood of the oldest veteran. It was the
first time I had ever fired a shot at my fellow man, and for the
moment I will confess to feeling afraid. However, that soon passed,
and I found myself taking aim, and firing as coolly as the best of
them. Though I was hardly conscious that I had pulled the trigger, I
saw the man directly in front of me--a fine, tall fellow with a
nodding head-dress of feathers--suddenly throw up his arms and fall
forward on his face, tearing at the ground with his hands in his
death agony. But I was not able to do more than glance at him before
two others were upon me. This time I fired with more deliberation
than before, with the result that both went down, one after the
other, like ninepins. Then for what seemed a year, but must in
reality have been about three minutes, I continued to fire,
depressing the finger lever between each shot and tipping out the
empty cartridge with automatic regularity. In front of my defences a
ghastly pile of bodies was fast accumulating, and by craning my neck
to right and left, I could discern similar heaps before the shelters
of my next-door neighbours.

This desire to ascertain how my friends were getting on was,
however, nearly my undoing; for if I had been more intent upon my own
concerns, I should have seen a man wriggling along on the ground
towards me. Just, however, as he was about to hurl his assegai I
caught sight of him, and brought my rifle to the shoulder. Seeing
this, he rose to his feet with a jump, and hurled his spear. I dodged
with the quickness of lightning, and heard it strike the tyre of the
wheel behind me. At the same instant I covered him and pulled the
trigger. To my horror the rifle did not go off. I had fired my nine
shots, and the magazine was empty. But my wits did not desert me for
long. Before the savage had time to clamber on to the wheel and raise
his knob-kerrie, I was within striking distance, and, swinging my
rifle by the barrel high into the air, brought the butt down upon his
head with a crash that might have been heard yards away. It crushed
in his skull like an egg-shell, and he fell like a log and never
moved again.

As he went down a sudden peace descended upon the field, and for a
moment or two every man wondered what had happened. The smoke quickly
cleared away, and when it did we saw that the foe had retired. I
accordingly clambered back to my old position, and looked about me.
My throat was like a lime kiln, and my eyes were dry as dust. But I
was not going to take any refreshment, though a bucket stood quite
close to me, until I had refilled my rifle. This done, I crossed to
the bucket, filled the mug and drank its contents with a relish such
as I had never known in my life before. When I had handed it to
another man, I turned about and endeavoured to take stock of our
company. From where I stood I could see two men stretched out upon
the ground. The one nearest me I knew instantly. It was Mackinnon,
and a single glance was sufficient to tell me that he was dead. The
other I could not for the moment identify. Mr. Maybourne, I was
relieved to see, was unhurt save for a wound on his left hand, which
he explained he had received in a hand-to-hand encounter in his

"We've taught the brutes a lesson in all conscience," he said. "I
don't fancy they'll be as eager next time. How many men have we

In order to find out, we walked quickly round our defences,
encouraging the garrison as we went, and bidding them replenish the
magazines of their rifles while they had the chance.

On the other side of the house we discovered Agnes, busily engaged
binding up the wounds of those who had been hurt. She was deadly
pale, but her bravery was not a bit diminished. When we got back to
our own quarters we had counted three dead men, two placed hors de
combat by their wounds, and five more or less cut and scratched.
Of the enemy we estimated that at least a hundred had fallen before
our rifles, never to rise again.

For something like half-an-hour we stood at our posts, waiting to
be attacked, but the foe showed no sign of moving. I was just
wondering what the next move would be when I heard a shout from the
right. I gripped my rifle and peered ahead of me, but there was
nothing to be seen save the foe crouching behind their shelters in
the distance.

"What is it?" I cried to my right-hand neighbour. "What do they

"A horseman," he replied, "and coming in our direction."

"Is he mad?" I cried, "or doesn't he see his danger?"

My informant did not reply, and a moment later I saw for myself
the person referred to. He was mounted on a grey horse, and was
riding as fast as his animal could travel in our direction. I turned
my eyes away from him for a moment. When I looked again I saw a man
rise from behind a bush and hurl a spear at him. The cruel weapon was
thrown with unerring aim and struck the horse just behind the saddle.
He leapt into the air, and then with a scream of agony that could be
heard quite plainly where we all stood watching, dashed frantically
towards us. He had not, however, gone a hundred yards before he put
his foot into a hole, and fell with a crash to the ground, to lie
there motionless. His neck was broken, so we discovered later.

From where I stood, to the place where the man and beast lay, was
scarcely eighty yards; thence, on to the spot where the enemy were in
ambush, not more than a hundred. For some reason--why, I shall never
be able to explain--an irresistible desire to save the injured man
came over me. I could not have resisted it, even had I wished to do
so. Accordingly, I placed my rifle against the axle, sprang upon the
box of the waggon wheel, vaulted over, and ran as hard as I could go
towards the victim of the accident. Ahead of me I could distinctly
see the nodding plumes of the foe as they crouched behind their
enormous shields. They did not, however, move, and I was thus enabled
to reach the man's side, and to take him in my arms unmolested. I had
not gone ten yards on my return journey, however, before I heard
their yells, and knew that they were after me. Fortunately, I had
nearly a hundred and twenty yards start; but I had a heavy man to
carry, and was quite out of breath. However, I was not going to be
beaten, so putting out every ounce of strength I boasted in my body,
I raced on. By the time I reached the waggons again, the foe were not
fifty yards behind me. A couple of assegais whistled passed my ears
as I climbed over the wheel and dropped my burden on the ground, but
fortunately neither hit me. So exhausted was I that for a moment I
leant against the waggon, unable to move. But the instinct of
self-preservation gave me strength, and picking up my rifle I let
drive blindly at the nearest of the foe who was already on the wheel
before me. I saw the man's forehead open out like a cracked walnut as
my shot caught it, and a moment later he fell forward on the
tyre--dead. I threw him off in time to shoot the next man as he took
his place. Of the following five minutes my only recollection is a
sense of overpowering heat; a throat and mouth parched like the sands
of the Great Sahara; a rifle growing every moment hotter in my hand,
and dominating all the necessity of stemming, at any cost, the crowd
of black humanity that seemed to be overwhelming me. How long the
fight lasted I cannot say. But at last a cheer from the other side of
the laager reached me, and almost at the same instant the enemy
turned tail and fled for their lives. Then, with an empty rifle at my
feet, a dripping cutlass in one hand, and a still smoking revolver in
the other, I leant against the waggon and laughed hysterically till I
fell fainting to the ground.


WHEN I recovered consciousness I found a stranger dressed in
uniform kneeling beside me. What was more singular still I was not
under the waggon as before, but was lying surrounded by a dozen or so
of my comrades in the verandah of my own house. Agnes was kneeling
beside me, and her father was holding a basin of water at my

"There is nothing at all to be alarmed about, my dear young lady,"
the man in uniform was saying as he felt my pulse. "Your friend here
will live to fight another day, or a hundred other days for that
matter. By this time to-morrow he'll be as well as ever." Then,
turning to me, he asked: "how do you feel now?"

I replied that I felt much stronger; and then, looking up at Mr.
Maybourne, enquired if we had beaten off the enemy.

"They have been utterly routed," replied the gentleman I
addressed. "The credit, however, is due to Captain Haviland and his
men; but for their timely arrival I fear we should have been done
for. Flesh and blood could not have stood the strain another half

"Stuff and nonsense," said the doctor, "for such I afterwards
discovered he was, all the credit is due to yourselves; and, by
George, you deserve it. A finer stand was never made in this country,
or for that matter in any other."

After a few minutes' rest and another sip of brandy, I managed to
get on to my feet. It was a sad sight I had before me. Stretched out
in rows beyond the verandah rails were the bodies of the gallant
fellows who had been killed--twelve in number. On rough beds placed
in the verandah itself and also in the house were the wounded; while
on the plain all round beyond the laager might have been seen the
bodies of the Matabele dead. On the left of the house the regiment of
mounted infantry, who had so opportunely come to our assistance, were
unsaddling after chasing the enemy, and preparing to camp.

After I had had a few moments' conversation with the doctor, Mr.
Maybourne and Agnes came up to me again, and congratulated me on
having saved the stranger's life. The praise they gave me was
altogether undeserved, for, as I have already explained, I had done
the thing on the spur of the moment without for an instant
considering the danger to which I had exposed myself. When they had
finished I enquired where the man was, and in reply they led me into
the house.

"The doctor says it is quite a hopeless case," said Agnes, turning
to me in the doorway; "the poor fellow must have injured his spine
when his horse fell with him."

I followed her into the room which had once been my own sleeping
apartment. It was now filled with wounded. The man I had brought in
lay upon a mattress in the corner by the window, and, with Agnes
beside me, I went across to him. Once there I looked down at his
face, and then, with a cry that even on pain of death I could not
have kept back, I fell against the wall, as Agnes afterwards told me,
pallid to the very lips. I don't know how to tell you who I saw
there; I don't know how to make you believe it, or how to enable you
to appreciate my feelings. One thing was certain, lying on the bed
before me, his head bandaged up, and a bushy beard clothing the lower
half of his face, was no less a person than Richard Bartrand--my
old enemy and the man I believed myself to have murdered in London so
many months before. I could hardly believe my eyes; I stared at
him and then looked away--only to look back again half expecting to
find him gone. Could this be any mistake? I asked myself. Could it be
only a deceiving likeness, or an hallucination of an overtaxed brain?
Hardly knowing what I did I dragged Agnes by the wrist out of the
house to a quiet corner, where I leant against the wall feeling as if
I were going to faint again.

"What is the matter, Gilbert?" she cried. "Oh, what is the matter
with you?"

"Matter!" I almost shouted in my joy. "This is the matter. I am
free--free--free! Free to marry you--free to do as I please, and live
as I please, and go where I please!!! For there in that bed is my old
enemy, the man I told you I had killed."

For a second she must have thought me mad, for I noticed she
shrank a step away from me, and looked at me with an apprehensive
glance. But she soon recovered her composure, and asked if I were
certain of what I said.

"As certain as I am that you are standing before me now," I
answered. "I should know him anywhere. Where is the doctor?"

A moment later I had found the doctor.

"Doctor," I said, "there is a man in that room yonder whom, I am
told, you say has a broken back. He is unconscious. Will he remain so
until he dies?"

"Most probably," was the other's matter-of-fact reply as he began
to bind up the arm of the man he had been operating on. "Why do you

"Because it is a matter of the most vital importance that I should
speak with him before he dies. All the happiness of my life and
another's depends upon it."

"Very well. Don't worry yourself. I'll see what I can do for you.
Now go away and be quiet. I'm busy."

I went away as he ordered me, and leant against the verandah rails
at the back of the house. My head was swimming, and I could hardly
think coherently. Now that Bartrand was alive, every obstacle was
cleared away--I was free to marry Agnes as soon as her father would
let me; free to do whatever I pleased in the world. The reaction was
almost more than I could bear. No words could over-estimate my relief
and joy.

Half an hour later the doctor came to me.

"Your man is conscious now," he said. "But you'd better look sharp
if you want to ask him anything. He won't last long."

I followed him into the house to the corner where the sick man
lay. As soon as he saw me, Bartrand showed with his eyes that he
recognized me.

"Pennethorne," he whispered, as I knelt by the bed, "this is a
strange meeting. Do you know I've been hunting for you these nine
months past?"

"Hunting for me?" I said. "Why, I thought you dead!"

"I allowed it to be supposed that I was," he answered. "I can tell
you, Pennethorne, that money I swindled you out of never brought me
an ounce of luck--nor Gibbs either. He turned cocktail and sent his
share back to me almost at once. He was drinking himself to death on
it, I heard. Now look at me, I'm here--dying in South Africa. They
tell me you saved me to-day at the risk of your life."

"Never mind that now," I said. "We've got other things to talk

"But I must mind," he answered. "Listen to what I have to tell
you, and don't interrupt me. Three nights before I disappeared last
winter, I made my will, leaving you everything. It's more than the
value of the mine, for I brought off some big speculations with the
money, and almost doubled my capital. You may not believe it, but I
always felt sorry for you, even when I stole your secret. I'm a
pretty bad lot, but I couldn't steal your money and not be a bit
sorry. But, funny as it may seem to say so, I hated you all the time
too--hated you more than any other man on God's earth. Now you've
risked your life for me, and I'm dying in your house. How strangely
things turn out, don't they?"

Here the doctor gave him something to drink, and bade me let him
be quiet for a few moments. Presently Bartrand recovered his
strength, and began again.

"One day, soon after I arrived in London from Australia, I fell in
tow with a man named Nikola. I tell you, Pennethorne, if ever you see
that man beware of him, for he's the Devil, and nobody else. I tell
you he proposed the most fiendish things to me and showed me such a
side of human nature that, if I hadn't quarrelled with him and not
seen so much of him I should have been driven into a lunatic asylum.
I can tell you it's not altogether a life of roses to be a
millionaire. About this time I began to get threatening letters from
men all over Europe trying to extort money from me for one purpose or
another. Eventually Nikola found out that I was the victim of a
secret society. How he managed it, the deuce only knows. They wanted
money badly, and finally Nikola told me that for half a million he
could get me clear. If I did not pay up I'd be dead, he said, in a
month. But I wasn't to be frightened like that, so I told him I
wouldn't give it. From that time forward attempts were made on my
life until my nerve gave way--and in a blue funk I determined to
forego the bulk of my wealth and clear out of England in the hopes of
beginning a new life elsewhere."

He paused once more for a few moments; his strength was nearly
exhausted, and I could see with half an eye that the end was not far
distant now. When he spoke again his voice was much weaker, and he
seemed to find it difficult to concentrate his ideas.

"Nikola wanted sixty thousand for himself, I suppose for one of
his devilments," he said, huskily. "He used every means in his power
to induce me to give it to him, but I refused time after time. He
showed me his power, tried to hypnotize me even, and finally told me
I should he a dead man in a week if I did not let him have the money.
I wasn't going to be bluffed, so I declined again. By this time I
distrusted my servants, my friends, and everybody with whom I came in
contact. I could not sleep, and I could not eat. All my arrangements
were made, and I was going to leave England on the Saturday. On the
Wednesday Nikola and I were to meet at a house on special business.
We saw each other at a club, and I called a hansom, intending to go
on and wait for him. I had a dreadful cold, and carried some cough
drops in a little silver box in my pocket. He must have got
possession of it, and substituted some preparations of his own.
Feeling my cough returning, I took one in the cab as I drove along.
After that I remember no more till I came round and found myself
lying in the middle of the road, half covered with snow, and with a
bruise the size of a tea-cup on the back of my head. For some reason
of his own Nikola had tried to do for me; and the cabman, frightened
at my state, had pitched me out and left me. As soon as I could walk,
and it was daylight, I determined to find you at your hotel, in order
to hand over to you the money I had stolen from you, and then I was
going to bolt from England for my life. But when I reached
Blankerton's I was told that you had left. I traced your luggage to
Aberdeen; but, though I wasted a week looking, I couldn't find
you there. Three months ago I chanced upon a snapshot photograph
taken in Cape Town, and reproduced in an American illustrated paper.
It represented one of the only two survivors of the Fiji
Princess, and I recognised you immediately, and followed you,
first to Cape Town and then, bit by bit, out here. Now listen to me,
for I've not much time left. My will is in my coat-pocket; when I'm
dead, you can take it out and do as you like with it. You'll find
yourself one of the richest men in the world, or I'm mistaken. I can
only say I hope you'll have better luck with the money than I have
had. I'm glad you've got it again; for, somehow, I'd fixed the idea
in my head that I shouldn't rest quietly in my grave unless I
restored it to you. One caution! Don't let Nikola get hold of it,
that's all--for he's after you, I'm certain. He's been tracking you
down these months past; and I've heard he's on his way here. I'm told
he thinks I'm dead. He'll be right in his conjecture soon."

"Bartrand," I said, as solemnly as I knew how, "I will not take
one halfpenny of the money. I am firmly resolved upon that. Nothing
shall ever make me."

"Not take it? But it's your own. I never had any right to it from
the beginning. I stole your secret while you were ill."

"That may be; but I'll not touch the money, come what may."

"But I must leave it to somebody."

"Then leave it to the London hospitals. I will not have a penny of
it. Good heavens, man, you little know how basely I behaved towards

"I've not time to hear it now, then," he answered. "Quick! let me
make anew will while I've strength to sign it."

Pens, paper, and ink were soon forthcoming; and at his instruction
Mr. Maybourne and the doctor between them drafted the will. When it
was finished the dying man signed it, and then those present
witnessed it, and the man lay back and closed his eyes. For a moment
I thought he was gone, but I was mistaken. After a silence of about
ten minutes he opened his eyes and looked at me.

"Do you remember Markapurlie?" he said. That was all. Then, with a
grim smile upon his lips, he died, just as the clock on the wall
above his head struck twelve. His last speech, for some reason or
other, haunted me for weeks.

Towards sundown that afternoon I was standing in the verandah of
my house, watching a fatigue party digging a grave under a tree in
the paddock beyond the mine buildings, when a shout from Mr.
Maybourne, who was on his way to the office, attracted my attention.
"When I reached his side, he pointed to a small speck of dust about a
mile to the northward.

"It's a horseman," he cried; "but who can it be?"

"I have no possible notion," I answered; "but we shall very soon

The rider, whoever he was, was in no hurry. When he came nearer,
we could see that he was cantering along as coolly as if he were
riding in Rotten Row. By the time he was only a hundred yards or so
distant, I was trembling with excitement. Though I had never seen the
man on horseback before, I should have known his figure anywhere.
It was Dr. Nikola. There could be no possible doubt about
that. Bartrand was quite right when he told me that he was in the

I heard Mr. Maybourne say something about news from the township,
but the real import of his words I did not catch. I seemed to be
watching the advancing figure with my whole being. When he reached
the laager he sprang from his horse, and then it was that I noticed
Mr. Maybourne had left my side and was giving instructions to let him
in. I followed to receive him.

On reaching the inside of our defences, Nikola raised his hat
politely to Mr. Maybourne, while he handed his reins to a trooper
standing by.

"Mr. Maybourne, I believe," he said. "My name is Nikola. I am
afraid I am thrusting myself upon you in a very unseemly fashion, and
at a time when you have no desire to be burdened with outsiders. My
friendship for our friend Wrexford here must be my excuse. I left
Buluwayo at daylight this morning in order to see him."

He held out his hand to me and I found myself unable to do
anything but take it. As usual it was as cold as ice. For the moment
I was so fascinated by the evil glitter in his eyes that I forgot to
wonder how he knew my assumed name. However, I managed to stammer out
something by way of a welcome, and then asked how long he had been in
South Africa.

"I arrived two months ago," he answered, "and after a week in Cape
Town, where I had some business to transact, made my way up here to
see you. It appears I have arrived at an awkward moment, but if I can
help you in any way I hope you will command my services. I am a
tolerable surgeon, and I have the advantage of considerable
experience of assegai wounds."

While he was speaking the bell rang for tea, and at Mr.
Maybourne's invitation Dr. Nikola accompanied us to where the meal
was spread--picnic fashion--on the ground by the kitchen door. Agnes
was waiting for us, and I saw her start with surprise when her father
introduced the newcomer as Dr. Nikola, a friend of Mr. Wrexford'g.
She bowed gravely to him, but said nothing. I could see that she knew
him for the man Bartrand had warned me against, and for this reason
she was by no means prepossessed in his favour.

During the meal Nikola exerted all his talents to please. And such
was his devilish--I can only call it by that name--cleverness, that
by the time we rose from the meal he had put himself on the best of
terms with everyone. Even Agnes seemed to have, for the moment, lost
much of her distrust of him. Once out in the open again I drew Nikola
away from the others, and having walked him out of earshot of the
house, asked the meaning of his visit.

"Is it so hard to guess?" he said, as he seated himself on the
pole of a waggon, and favoured me with one of his peculiar smiles. "I
should have thought not."

"I have not tried to guess," I answered, having by this time
resolved upon my line of action; "and I do not intend to do so. I
wish you to tell me."

"My dear Pennethorne-Wrexford, or Wrexford-Pennethorne," he said
quietly, "I should advise you not to adopt that tone with me. You
know very well why I have put myself to the trouble of running you to

"I have not the least notion," I replied, "and that is the truth.
I thought I had done with you when I said good-bye to you in Golden
Square that awful night."

"Nobody can hope to have done with me," he answered, "when they do
not act fairly by me."

"Act fairly by you? What do you mean? How have I not acted fairly
by you?"

"By running away in that mysterious fashion, when it was agreed
between us that I should arrange everything. You might have ruined

"Still I do not understand you! How might I have ruined you?"

This time I took him unawares. He looked at me for a moment in
sheer surprise.

"I should advise you to give up this sort of thing," he said,
licking his lips in that peculiar cat-like fashion I had noticed in
London. "Remember I know everything, and one word in our friend
Maybourne's ear, and--well--you know what the result will be. Perhaps
he does not know what an illustrious criminal he is purposing to take
for a son-in-law."

"One insinuation like that again, Nikola," I cried, "and I'll have
you put off this place before you know where you are. You dare
to call me a criminal--you, who plotted and planned the
murders that shocked and terrified all England!"

"That I do not admit. I only remember that I assisted you to
obtain your revenge on a man who had wronged you. On summing up so
judiciously, pray do not forget that point."

Nikola evidently thought he had obtained an advantage, and was
quick to improve on it.

"Come, come," he said, "what is the use of our quarrelling like a
pair of children? All I want of you is an answer to two simple

"What are your questions?"

"I want to know, first, what you did with Bartrand's body when you
got rid of it out of the cab."

"You really wish to know that?"

He nodded.

"Then come with me," I said, "and I'll tell you." I led him into
the house, and, having reached the bed in the corner, pulled down the

He bent over the figure lying there so still, and then started
back with a cry of surprise. For a moment I could see that he was
non-plussed as he had probably not been in his life before,
but by the time one could have counted twenty, this singular being
was himself again.

"I congratulate you," he said, turning to me and holding out his
hand. "The king has come into his own again. You are now one of the
richest men in the world, and I can ask my second question."

"Be certain first," I said. "I inherit nothing from Mr.

"What do you mean by that? I happen to know that his will was made
in your favour."

"You are quite mistaken. He made a later will this afternoon,
leaving all his money and estates to four London hospitals."

Nikola's face went paler than I had ever seen it yet. His thin
lips trembled perceptibly. The man was visibly anxious.

"You will excuse my appearing to doubt you, I hope," he said, "but
may I see that will?"

I called Mr. Maybourne into the room and asked him if he had any
objection to allowing Dr. Nikola to see the paper in question. He
handed it to him without hesitation, keeping close to his elbow while
he perused it. The Doctor read it slowly from beginning to end,
examined the signature, noted the names of the executors, and also of
the witnesses, and when he had done so, returned it to Mr. Maybourne
with a bow.

"Thank you," he said, politely. "It is excellently drawn up, and,
with your evidence against me, I fear it would be foolish for me to
dispute it. In that case, I don't think I need trouble your
hospitality any further."

Then, turning to me, he led me from the house across to where his
horse was standing.

"Good-bye, Pennethorne," he said. "All I can say of you is that
your luck is greater than your cleverness. I am not so blase
but I can admire a man who can surrender three millions without a
sigh. I must confess I am vulgar enough to find that it costs me a
pang to lose even my sixty thousand. I wanted it badly. Had my
coup only come off, and the dead man in there not been such an
inveterate ass, I should have had the whole amount of his fortune in
my hands by this time, and in six months I would have worked out a
scheme that would have paralyzed Europe. As it is, I must look
elsewhere for the amount. When you wish to be proud of yourself, try
to remember that you have baulked Dr. Nikola in one of his
best-planned schemes, and saved probably half-a-million lives by
doing so. Believe me, there are far cleverer men than you who have
tried to outwit me and failed. I suppose you will marry Miss
Maybourne now. Well, I wish you luck with her. If I am a judge of
character, she will make you an able wife. In ten years' time you will
be a commonplace rich man, with scarcely any idea outside your own
domestic circle, while I--well the devil himself knows where or what
I shall be then. I wonder which will be the happier? Now I must be
off. Though you may not think it, I always liked you, and if you had
thrown in your lot with me, I might have made something of you.

He held out his hand, and as he did so he looked me full in the
face. For the last time I felt the influence of those extraordinary
eyes. I took the hand he offered and bade him good-bye with almost a
feeling of regret, mad as it may seem to say so, at the thought that
in all probability I should never see him again. Next moment he was
on his horse's back and out on the veldt making for the westward. I
stood and watched him till he was lost in the gathering gloom, and
then went slowly back to the house thinking of the change that had
come into my life, thanking God for my freedom.

Three months have passed since the events just narrated took
place, and I am back in Cape Town again, finishing the writing of
this story of the most adventurous period of my life, in Mr.
Maybourne's study. To-morrow my wife (for I have been married a week
to-day) and I leave South Africa on a trip round the world. What a
honeymoon it will be!

"The Pride of the South," you will be glad to hear, has made
gallant strides since the late trouble in Rhodesia, and as my shares
have quadrupled in value, to say nothing of the other ventures in
which I have been associated with my father-in-law, I am making rapid
progress towards becoming a rich man. And now it only remains for me
to bring my story to a close. By way of an epilogue let me say that
no better, sweeter, or more loyal wife than I possess could possibly
be desired by any mortal man. I love her with my whole heart and
soul, as she loves me, and I can only hope that every masculine
reader who may have the patience to wade through these, to me,
interminable pages, may prove as fortunate in his choice as I have been.
More fortunate, it is certain, he could not be.


This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia