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Title: The Bells of Sydney
Author: J. D. Hennessey
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1201531.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: February 2012
Date most recently updated: February 2012

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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: The Bells of Sydney
Author: J. D. Hennessey


*

Author of "The Dis-Honourable," "Wynnum," "An Australian Bush Track,"
etc.

*

Published in the Clarence and Richmond Examiner, Grafton, N.S.W., in
serial format commencing Saturday 18 July, 1896.

(Note: This story was also published as "Gunnery of Church-Consett"
in The Star, Christchurch, N.Z commencing 30 November, 1896,
and in book form as "A Lost Identity." in 1897.)

*


CHAPTER I.--WHAT THE BELLS SAID TO MARK GUNNERY.


From the Great Clock Tower which overlooks the busy heart of Sydney
there pealed forth in sonorous notes the hour of nine.

Half the city was at breakfast. The other half still in bed woke up to
listen. It is needless to say that it was Sunday, for the noise of the
street traffic on other mornings of the week drowns even the hoarse roar
of that full-throated brazen bell.

It was not a clear struck note which boomed above the quiet city, but
one that tripped, as though the hammer fell a second time with less
accentuated force. The echoes died away. Sunday morning stillness
resumed its sway, and the city munched its breakfast or turned over on
the other side to sleep.

Mark Gunnery, however, neither arose nor breakfasted, nor slept. Since
four that morning he had counted not only the hours, but also the
chiming of the quarters. He knew the sound of them so well that he could
tell at the first two strokes which of the quarters was about to
chime--whether it was four for the first, eight for the second, twelve
for the third, or sixteen for the hour. He may have dozed, but not for
more than few minutes.

The window of the room was slightly open, and the chiming of the
quarters and striking of the hours, reverberated among the tall
warehouses in the narrow street until the clock seemed to be just above
his head.

"How I detest the brutal noise," he muttered. "Every time it chimes or
strikes the hateful thing gets louder and more discordant. It goes right
through me.

"There!" he exclaimed, shuddering, "it's going to strike again! Liquid,
molten, tuneful tones, they call them. I call then cowardly, brutal,
implacable.

"There--that's the quarter! I can hear the whirr of the great wheel as
the hammer rises. It's the same old hateful thing--'Mark--Gun--ner--y!'
Bah! Thank heaven I shan't hear it again for another quarter of an hour.

"And it's not merely that I have to listen to the upbraiding of that
bell. There's that thing in front of me on the wall! I can't think how I
ever could have been idiotic enough to have hung it there. I don't know
why I should detest it so; but I do--the coffin, the plaid, the empty
chair--the old hat and stick--and the shepherd's dog resting his head
upon the coffin. It's only a picture, true both to art and life. A dog
is the best friend most men have in life, and the sincerest mourner,
too--perhaps--when dead.

"Now, why has that picture developed into such a hateful, hideous thing,
Mark Gunnery? I could drag it down I--I'm strong enough for that. But,
no; I can't will myself to move to reach it.

"Ah! there's that fearful clock chiming again--another stave of its
hateful message. I wonder whether it talks as plainly to others as it
does to me! It's no quarter of an hour since it struck last, I'll swear!
There's a fiend up in that clock-tower sworn to torment me! and he it is
who chimes and tolls and makes that braggart bell repeat the disgraceful
lesson he has taught it. The whole city must know it by this time.

"Ah! Great Powers--there he goes again!"

Before the next quarter chimed again, however, Mark Gunnery lay back
upon the shake-down bed upon the office-floor, white and motionless, to
all appearance either asleep or dead.

A few minutes after there came a tap upon the door, which was then
gently opened, and in the presence of the unconscious man there stood--a
child. She was not more than seven years old, but as beautiful as a
dream. For a moment she looked around the room. An oak book-case, with
tables and chairs and a few ornaments, comprised the meagre furniture.

After glancing around, she turned her face, and looked steadfastly at
the unconscious man. What a face it was! Perfect in feature, eyes large
and spirituelle--a human child's face: but something in it that reminded
one of another world. A wealth of golden curls broke away from the white
hat, and rested in rich negligence upon the snow-white dress in which
the child was clad. The man lay upon a mattress on the floor, covered
over with a white counterpane that might have been a shroud. Still the
child looked, but the sleeper, if sleeping, gave no sign.

"That's not my Grandpa Gunnery," she said at last. And, quick as she had
entered, she was gone.

The bell in the Great Clock Tower chimed on--four for each quarter and
sixteen for the hour, but it no longer angered the occupant of Office
No. 24. The city went its usual Sunday way. The old keeper of the
chambers dressed himself, and passed the office door, and left for his
Sunday's dinner and outing with a friend. The street door banged after
him, and the echoes reverberated through the silent passages and found
their way upstairs, and shook the office door: then died away in
silence, Mark Gunnery was dead!

On Monday at mid-day, the postman, bustling into the office to deliver a
letter, nearly stumbled across the corpse. Alas! child and letter had
both of them reached Mark Gunnery too late.

The next day, after some inquiry, they interred the body. No one seemed
to know anything about him. A few lines in the newspapers recorded a
sudden death and lonely burial. And that might have been the end. But
something happened. It was this. A fellow tenant of the chambers bought
the old bookcase at a sale after Mark Gunnery's decease. Before making
use of it, however, he had it thoroughly cleaned, and in doing so a
secret drawer was discovered, It contained a closely-written manuscript.




CHAPTER II.--RECOLLECTIONS OF HOME.


The manuscript bore evidence of having been written in haste, for it was
smeared and blotted in places, as though the writer, impatient with his
surroundings, had wrestled with himself even while he penned the story
of his marred and broken life. In some places the letters were clear and
shapely enough, as though in keeping with his orderly arrangement of
incidents and thoughts; but elsewhere it was interlined and corrected,
and in parts obliterated, and its singular changes of style and
calligraphy seemed to depict the writer's changing mood.

The opening pages were clearly written with clean up and down strokes
and graceful curves; but in parts the manuscript was painfully difficult
to decipher.

It read as follows:--

"About four years ago a thing happened to me which sealed my destiny and
damned my life.

"I was in England then. I had been married over five years to a woman of
considerable beauty. We had one child, a daughter, three years of age,
who was the pet of the household and the charm and comfort of my life.
My wife, Violet, had been a Miss Freeman, of Long Chace, and was the
daughter of a near neighbour to us, an old friend of my father's. We
lived pleasantly and fairly kindly together in the old hall, with my
father. I never crossed her temper, and was affectionate to her after a
sort; but we neither of us pretended to much love for each other.

"She was in her way an ambitious woman, and had married me for money and
position and a name that was known and respected throughout the whole
south-west of Derbyshire. No doubt I was regarded as a good catch, or
Violet Freeman would not have married me. I was not particularly
handsome, but education, travel and society had done something for me,
and certainly made me to differ somewhat from the bulk of men of the
well-to-do farming class around us.

"I have no recollections of my mother. My father, Ambrose Gunnery, could
trace his ancestry for centuries. He used to laugh sometimes, when in a
more than ordinary social mood, and say, 'You must marry, Mark; you are
my only son, and there has always been a Gunnery at Church Consett Hall.
He was a man of good presence, gentlemanly bearing, and fine, open,
genial countenance; hair iron gray; age about sixty years; and well
worthy of the respect in which he was universally held.

"It should be said that after the death of my mother he had come under
the influence of the Swedenhorgians, and ordinarily, at home, he was
quiet to a fault. He spent his money freely upon my education, kept on
my old nurse as a privileged servant of the household, and when, at
twenty-four, I came home to settle down for good as a gentleman farmer,
I had travelled the Continent, and had seen most that was worth the
seeing in Europe.

"Mark," said my father, as we sat together in the east parlour the night
after my return home, "you will have to settle down now; and, as soon as
you have made yourself acquainted with the management of things a bit, I
would like you to marry. I should be pleased, too, if your choice fell
upon Violet Freeman. She would make you a good wife, and her father and
myself have been friends from boyhood."

So it was settled between us. I had, of course, had sundry love affairs
in my youth and college days, but nothing serious, and had then met with
no woman to whom my heart had gone out in a supreme affection. To me one
pleasant and attractive girl was as much as another. The young lady of
my father's choice was praised for her beauty and amiable disposition.
If she approved the plan, and willed to marry me, it would please the
Squire--as Church Consett called my father--and no doubt I should be
happy enough with her. So, at the time I thought little more about it,
but applied myself to the business affairs of the large farm and small
estate belonging to Church Consett Hall.

Church Consett lay midway distant between two market towns, in a sort of
nook in the main roads of traffic. Within a few miles of us the country
side was studded with the seats of old English families of distinction.
It was a place, once seen, not likely to be forgotten. Nothing, to my
mind, can equal the scenery of some portion of the Midlands: the stretch
of corn-laden slopes and valleys; the green hedgerows and white
farmhouses, with stately old halls intervening, shut in by the hills on
one side, with the far-off mountains purpling the distant horizon on the
other. Such was the landscape which met the eye on any summer harvest
day at Church Consett.

The hall was a queer, rambling, ivy-clad, old place, built on rising
ground a short distance from the main road. It was partly surrounded by
an old-fashioned garden, where lilac and laburnum and crimson hawthorn
scented the air in spring time, and cabbage roses, pinks, tulips, and
scores of other old favourite English garden flowers nourished in the
summer. There was a corpse of nut trees and an orchard between the
out-buildings and commencement of the meadow lands, which were usually
flooded by the brook in the early spring-time, and bore luxuriant crops
of fragrant hay.

The hall was a large building, old, and but partially used, the
principal part being used by my father for storage purposes. The large
wing that was occupied had a separate entrance, and formed a good-sized
house by itself, but the main entrance and great hall and grand
staircase, were only used for storing grain, I cannot describe my
feelings when, on my return, I went over the place one day alone. The
furniture had been removed from the great dining-room on the ground
floor, and sacks of wheat covered the whole of the floor space. They
were stacked against the wall all up the grand staircase, and from the
walls of the ball-room costly oil paintings and life-sized portraits of
long forgotten Gunnerys looked down upon similar scenes.

What a shame it was to have the fine old place dismantled and
unoccupied. I could imagine the portrait of my great-greatgrandfather
Gunnery looking down upon me with satisfaction at the prospect of the
house once more being inhabited and restored to proper use--made bright
with the presence of family life again, and may be echoing with the gay
shouts and laughter of young children, as in days of yore.

Considering the uses to which these and other rooms had been put, the
house had been wonderfully well kept; and outside, where the creeping
ivy clung to walls and around windows, there was no thought suggested
other than that the whole place was fully occupied by Squire Gunnery and
his household. The gravelled paths and carriage drive were just as they
should have been, except that they were kept so scrupulously neat and
tidy as to suggest that they were never used.

"I could write pages about Church Consett Hall; the stained glass of the
great window overlooking the grand staircase; the delicate stonework of
the principal entrance, and the extent of its corridors and suites of
rambling rooms looking out upon the quiet English landscape scenery,
with the distant river, that formed the far boundary of one side of the
escape, at times gleaming under the setting sun like a thread of gold.
But it is about people, and not places, that I have to write.

"It should be explained that my father's position amongst the gentry of
the county was peculiar. He was a Gunnery right enough, but the son of a
woman of inferior birth, who had never been received into society. It
was my grandfather's second marriage, contracted late in life. He
thought more of his own comfort than of public opinion, and sent a curt
message one day to the parish clergyman that he would require his good
offices at an early date to marry him to Miss Marshall, his housekeeper.
Years passed away after the death of my grandfather, and my father,
inheriting the diffident disposition of his mother, contented himself
with clearing off the indebtedness of the estate and occupying his mind
with agricultural affairs and the oversight of cheesemaking on an
extensive scale, which was then the great industry of that portion of
the county. The old gossips of Church Consett said he would never have
married, but that his evident prosperity and well kept lands attracted
such general attention that Lady Browning, of Willesden Grange, turned a
kindly eye upon him, and somehow brought about his union with her
daughter Alice, one of the youngest of a marriageable crowd of girls.
She died early, myself the only living issue of the marriage, and my
father fell back upon his old way of life--an occasional ride to hounds,
a day's fishing in the Dove, or an afternoon's shooting in the Colton
covers, the only recreations that he cared about, apart from his books.
He was a methodical and successful man of business, and, as I learned
afterwards, made and saved money for me, his only son.

"I was soon a frequent visitor at Long Chace, for I had determined, if
possible, to gratify my father's wishes in my marriage. Moreover, it had
been a favourable theory of mine that marriage was safe and justifiable
where genuine affection prompted one of the parties to the union. Like
most men of my own age, I was not without personal vanity. I was
flattered, and any misgivings that might have arisen about the future
were set at rest. Violet Freeman had evidently become very much in love
with me. So the wooing time sped smoothly, and the date of our marriage
was in due course arranged.

"The night before the ceremony I had returned late from Long Chace to
Church Consett. It had been an evening of much merriment and
congratulation. The bride's home was filled with wedding guests, mostly
girl friends of the Freemans, and I had mounted my horse and said 'good
night!' amid much good-natured pleasantry and laughter.

"Riding past the While Hart hostelry, Church Consett, a tall gentlemanly
man entered that inn. I noticed him particularly, for strangers were so
infrequent in the village that they at once attracted attention. 'A
cheese buyer from Derby,' I said to myself, as I rode quietly along.

"It was late when I reached the Hall, and, except for the sleepy boy
waiting to take my horse, found that the household had retired.

"I was in no mood for sleep, so sat down by the open window, thinking
over the events of the day and of that which was to be the great event
of the morrow. It was natural, perhaps, at such a time to analyse one's
feelings, and--alone there with my heart--I was compelled to acknowledge
that the situation was not so satisfactory as could have been desired.
Esteem and admiration of Violet Freeman might develop into love on
closer acquaintance, and it might not. It never occurred to me that the
marriage might, on her part, be one of convenience. If such a thought
had intruded, it would have been scouted as disloyal to her who was to
be my wife. Then my thoughts turned to the individual who had passed me
to enter the White Hart. I had not seen his face, but his gait and
general bearing seemed familiar. Our serving-man, I thought, would know
who he was. I would make enquiries in the morning.

"It was summer-time, and the sweet breath of the night flowers stole
into the chamber through the open window as I at last lay down to rest,
still thinking of the morrow--and of that stranger. I could not have
slept long, when a noise awoke me. The door was opening. Half awake, I
asked who was there, but received no reply. Thinking that I had been
mistaken, I let my head fall back on the pillow again; but, a minute
afterwards, heard someone tread lightly across the room. It was a
slippered foot; at each step the heel seemed to drag across the floor.

"I waited now in silence, my right hand clenched to defend myself. If
necessary, when--whoever or whatever it was came toward the bed, and,
with an audible sigh, sat down beside it. I felt far from comfortable,
and suddenly reached out my hand to grasp hold of the intruder.

"Nothing was there!"

"I sprang from the bed and obtained a light. The room was empty!

"My nerves received a shock; but, after examining the apartment, I blew
out the light, and lay down again in no enviable state of mind. My
consternation and horror may be imagined, for almost immediately
afterwards I distinctly heard someone rise from the chair, and--with the
same slipshod step--cross the apartment, and leave the room!

"I had lain down partially dressed, and to leap up and follow the
retreating footsteps was the work of a moment. On reaching the door,
they were distinctly to be heard turning a corridor leading to a part of
the house containing a number of unoccupied rooms, at the end of which
there was a staircase leading to the servants' apartments. Here,
however, I lost all trace. Obtaining a light, I quietly examined the
rooms with an uncomfortable and eerie feeling; but the search was vain."




CHAPTER III.--I WAS CHARMED WITH MY WIFE; BUT----!


"It is not the writer's wish, in this narrative, to attempt to analyse
occult forces or explain away difficulties. The task he has undertaken
is simply to record facts, or what appeared to him to be facts.

"A further investigation, next morning, of the mysterious event recorded
in the last chapter and a casual inquiry amongst the servants furnished
no clue likely to throw light upon it, and in the hustle of
preparation--for Violet and myself were leaving for the Continent
immediately after the ceremony and breakfast--the incident was thrust
into the background of memory.

"There is no need to dwell in detail upon the events of the day, or of
the tour which followed our union. We were duly married, and the
carriage which conveyed us to the station drove off amid showers of rice
and old slippers. For better or worse, we were man and wife; and the
following day we left London for Paris.

"To Violet the continual change and whirl of pleasure and gaiety--in
Florence and Rome and other cities--during our two months on the
Continent, had a charm and novelty entirely new to her. Although country
born and bred, she had no liking for the country or for quiet pleasures.
Our letters of introduction gave us the entree into just the gay crowd
which pleased her. For my own part, I should have been a churl not to
have enjoyed the revisiting of familiar scenes in company with a
beautiful and attractive companion.

"We were at Rome for just over a fortnight, staying at the Grand
Continental, and had got in with a pleasant circle of fashionable
people. Violet's beauty and grace proved irresistible, and we found
ourselves welcomed into quite as much of the best Roman Society as we
wished for.

"Only one incident, however, has particularly to do with this narrative.
We had picked up with a rich Australian, who came on with us from
Florence to Rome, named Sir Gordon Bassett.

"With his wife and two daughters, they, Australian-like, were doing the
Continent regardless of expense. I should say that Sir Gordon was the
son of one of my father's oldest and most respected tenant farmers.
Twenty years' residence in the Colonies had brought him a fortune and a
title, and, although a self-made man, he was well educated and well
bred, and sufficiently well-known in the Anglo-Colonial politics for
himself and family to be everywhere well received. Violet became very
friendly with May and Pansy Bassett, and we were almost continually
together. Once properly introduced to an Englishman outside of England,
and there is a free and easy cordiality, not always extended to a
stranger upon English soil.

"Besides, Bassett had brought his own carriage and horses with him from
Australia, and there was scarcely a handsomer turn-out in Rome. He was a
genial fellow, and without being ostentatious knew how to make his money
useful to others as well as himself.

"The last few weeks had, no doubt, made a change in me. I had begun to
think myself actually in love with my wife. She was so affectionate and
thoughtful that I found myself anticipating her wishes, and waiting upon
her pleasure with almost a lover's ardour. She seemed, during those days
in Rome, to have developed a culture and refinement of feeling that,
beautiful as she was, I had never credited her before. I began to say to
myself--'This woman you have married has never shown herself till now.
Her love for you has brought out the hidden fire of jewel; the master
passion has awakened the soul.'

"I watched her one night, as a master of melody enthralled a large
private assembly, and carried us with him, willing captives. The music
was uncommon; it seemed to me like the warbling of a song-bird, in the
dewy morn, among the hills and lovely dales of distant Derbyshire. The
audience listened with almost painful eagerness, the musician had
carried them beyond the cold realms of criticism. While we listened the
lights, almost unknown to us, were gradually lowered, and the mellow
Italian moonbeams flooded the quaint music gallery in which we sat, and
then a voice commenced to sing, joining most sweetly in the melody. We
saw no one, but the musician played as though that voice had brought
fresh inspiration to him. Surely there never was such music! It was only
a simple Italian melody, but it might have been an angel hymning the
Divine Unseen, only, alas! there was a plaintive undertone in the music
(telling of earth, pain, and sin) that rose and sank amid the rich
swelling notes--now almost dying away, and then coming back, like a
haunting echo--to mar the heavenly joy.

"It was a triumph of art, poetry and music. At its close, it was as
though applause would have been a sacrilege, and the singer was for the
moment rewarded only with a sigh--a sigh that ended in a sob. I am sure
that tears suffused almost all eyes. Violet trembled with emotion, and I
felt that I loved her better than she wept. The lights were turned up
again, and, as the moonlight vanished, a storm of applause shook the
gallery. But no entreaty could prevail upon singer or musician to repeat
the melody. The former no one could see; the latter gravely shook his
head, and simply said, 'It cannot be done.'

"Who was that singer? It was an Italian song; but I could have sworn
that it was an English voice. Why should it carry me away among those
hills and dales of distant Derbyshire?

"I was charmed with my wife, I asked her no questions, made no
suggestions, I was under the wizardry of beauty, art, genius, and Rome.
If not a genius herself, Violet could recognise and respond to it in
others. I was already in love, and full-orbed love is blind. Another
night of such enchantment, and I might never have seen again. But the
morrow, alas! brought revelation; the spell was broken--broken for ever;
and the gold, alas! was clay.

"Violet was away next morning with some fashionable acquaintances on an
excursion to some of the Roman suburbs. I had been writing letters for
England, and reluctantly excused myself, for I was lover now as well as
husband, and to be with Violet had become the greatest pleasure in
existence. I would order a horse round after lunch, I thought, and join
them, or meet them if returning.

"I missed her. I walked round our rooms restlessly, felt half miserable
at three hours' absence; picked up a glove and kissed it, and placed it
aside as reverently and tenderly as a hermit might the relic of a saint;
then looked at myself in the glass--a sure sign of the presence of the
master-passion--and wondered however she ever came to love me, and dower
me with the wealth of her beauty and heart and soul.

"I sat in her chair, and tried to decide whether I would wait till after
lunch-time. Love nearly got the better of hunger, and I was on the point
of ordering round my horse and cantering off to meet her, hungry as I
was.

"However, the first gong for lunch sounded, so I went into the great
dining hall, and told one of the servants to serve lunch for me with as
little delay as possible. The long tables of the beautiful statued hall
were bright with flowers. There was not a creature in the place except
myself; so I sat down at the window side of one of the long tables where
I was half hidden by a massive silver epergne and a huge bouquet of
flowers. I was well screened, for the servant had to look around before
finding me to serve my lunch.

"I had not been there many minutes when May and Pansy Bassett came
strolling in, arm-in-arm. Two beautiful girls--twins. I thought they
must have seen me, as they came straight across in my direction; but no,
they had not, for they seated themselves, with their backs turned
towards me, at a small adjoining table.

"I should have risen and spoken to them, but I was happy with my own
thoughts of Violet, and disinclined for conversation.

"No sooner were they seated than May said to Pansy--

"'I am sorry that you were not with us last night; it was one of the
most delightful evenings.' She then recounted to her sister the effect
of that mysterious song.

"'I knew at once who it was,' she said; 'there's no one else in Rome who
could sing like that.'

"'It was not Harold de Vere?' inquired Pansy.

"'Yes, the very same,' replied her sister.

"'Ah! he's a wonder,' said Pansy; 'but I should be frightened to know
him well. They say he's a mystic, or something, and possessed of occult
powers. Did you hear that about him and Violet Gunnery?'

"'No,' said May, eagerly.

"I made a slight noise, but it failed to attract their attention. I
wanted to move, and yet the very name of Violet Gunnery kept me quiet.
What could the girl have to say about my wife? There was scarcely time
to either move or speak, for Pansy continued at once:

"'I had it all from Lady Arthur Burr, who was a school-fellow of Mrs.
Gunnery's when she was Violet Freeman. She gave me such a description of
him. He's the very man a woman like Mrs. Gunnery could not have helped
falling in love with. I believe they were engaged up to within a few
weeks of her marriage. Aren't some girls lucky? Mark Gunnery is a
splendid fellow. I watched them last night, and it seems to me that he
perfectly idolises her. But, then, she's sweetly pretty.'

"'Pretty does not describe it,' said May. 'Mrs. Gunnery is a beautiful
woman; and yet it seems to me there's something lacking in her face.'

"'It was there last night, though,' broke in Pansy; 'you should have
seen her after Harold de Vere had sung that Italian ballad.'

"'Ah! she's married now,' said May.

"Pansy lowered her voice in reply, and I just caught the words, 'But
suppose she loved him first--loved him before she married Mr. Gunnery.
Lady Burr says she knows that she loved him to distraction--that he
could do anything with her. Why, they say he was stopping once at Long
Chace, and if he willed her to come to him, a secret and irresistible
impulse sent her to the very place he was in.'

"'Just fancy haying a husband or lover like that,' continued the
vivacious girl, 'who could sit himself down anywhere, and just say to
himself--firmly, of course--Pansy, I want you! and for me to have to
march off to where his lordship sat to wait his pleasure. I could not
submit to that even from a husband; but imagine one man having such a
power over another man's wife. And that's what Lady Burr says Harold de
Vere can do to Violet Gunnery. They call it by some scientific name, but
I don't believe in it.'

"'May,' she said, leaning over towards her sister, 'its my belief that
Mark Gunnery ought to know about it. If I were he I'd take my wife into
another hemisphere, out of reach of such a man. There must be some
distant limit to such influences, and I think I'd see him; and really,
were I a man, if he got bewitching my wife--that is, if I really loved
her--I'd get a gun and shoot him. I would. It's wicked! I believe people
were better and happier before such things were known anything about.'

"I sat behind that epergne petrified. My heart seemed suddenly turned to
stone.

"When I looked up, a few minutes afterwards, the girls were gone."




CHAPTER IV.--HORACE DE VERE.


The carrier pigeon or bird of passage will find its way over unknown
wastes with unerring instinct, and in the same way do we arrive at some
conclusions. Instinct and intuition take the place of argument, and in
such conclusions we are rarely wrong.

What I had overheard about Violet and Horace de Vere, I felt convinced
was simply the truth. It was his voice and her love for him, that had
aroused the latent forces I had so much admired on the previous evening.
If my wife had sworn to me that it was otherwise I should scarcely have
believed her.

I left the dining hall like one in dream. I was a changed man. I had
almost loved, but not now: all the motives to it had vanished. And yet I
felt that I had no right to blame Violet. I had sought and won her in
marriage, and must make the best of it, and protect her from this man as
far as lay in my power. It was a bitter experience, however. The
springtime of love might, and doubtless would, have been followed by
summer's warmth, but it had suddenly changed again to winter's cold.

Late in the afternoon the party returned in high spirits, and Violet
came into our room with some acquaintances, radiant and happy, to
playfully scold me for not having met them as previously arranged.

I looked at her bright eyes and flushed cheeks, and made some lame
excuse. Love would have noticed how poor it was; but it evidently passed
muster. I learnt that she had unexpectedly met with an old friend and he
had been the life of the party. We had an engagement for the evening,
and some of our visitors remained for dinner, so that had I wished it,
there was no opportunity for private conversation.

That night sleep forsook me. I lay there the prey of thoughts that came
and went. In a few brief hours I had passed from the gate of Paradise to
the doors of Hell, and that night I entered for I heard her murmur
'Horace' in her sleep. She spoke the name twice as though calling
someone, and I swore a bitter oath that if I caught him making unlawful
use of his power over her, he should answer for it with his life.

I determined too, that with the least possible delay we would return to
England; but first I must see this man to-morrow!--and warn him somehow:
at whatever risk of insolence to myself or contemptuous denial, I would
warn him.

There was a mystery about him that annoyed me. He was an unknown one,
and an unknown adversary is always fearsome, until you have looked him
in the face and seen something not unlike yourself. I would stand face
to face with this man somehow, and have it out with him before leaving
Rome.

"Mark," said Violet the next morning as we sat alone at breakfast, "It
was really good of you to bring me here. I cannot tell you how much I
have enjoyed it. Everybody is charming, and the dear old place is simply
wonderful. Lady Burr says that it will take quite another month for us
to see all that we ought to. Do you think that we can stay?'

"I fear that we cannot stay much longer," I said with some restraint,
"I'm beginning to feel a bit home-sick, arn't you?"

"No; of course I would like to see them all at Long Chase," she said,
"but I am quite satisfied to be here with you?"

I looked at her. Could I possibly after all have been mistaken, and then
I remembered how she had called for 'Horace' in her sleep.

"Violet," I said abruptly, "do you know who it was that sung the other
night at the Countess of Concello's?"

"Yes," she replied, and as I looked steadily into her face a startled
blush suffused it. "It was an old friend of ours at Long Chase."

"Why did not you tell me before."

"You did not ask me until now," was the evasive answer.

We looked into each other's eyes, and in a moment read each other's
thoughts, and Violet knew that her secret was a secret no longer.

"We will return home at the end of the week," I said.

"Very well, Mark," said Violet.

I rose without another word and left the room. At the door I turned a
moment and looked back. A world for both hung in the balance; had I seen
her in tears--yea, a look of pain would have been enough--I should have
returned, and who can tell what might have been the consequences; but
she leaned over to fondle a pet dog, who leaped eagerly to meet the
touch of her dainty hand. I closed the door between us, and as it shut
the cold, hard iron door of separation came crashing down in its
appointed grooves; settled in its iron bed--to abide for ever.

I determined that before leaving Rome I would see and know something of
Horace De Vere. He had been one of the party on the previous day, and
must be somewhere in that city. I would find him.

I was turning into the entrance hall when I nearly ran into Sir Gordon
Basset.

"Hullo Gunnery?" he exclaimed, and linking his arm in mine he drew me
towards the smoking room. "Come and have a yarn. I've been trying to
talk Italian for the last two hours, and my tongue is stiff with it. A
wholesome gossip in English is about the only thing that will put me
straight."

I was nothing loath, and pulling up lounging chairs to one of the
windows we lit cigars.

"I've been wishing myself on my station on the Barcoo in Queensland this
morning, Gunnery,"'said Basset. "You English people don't understand the
exhilarating pleasure of a ten-mile ride before breakfast, with a bit of
good horse flesh under you, over blue grass plains, with the dew on bush
and grass, and the smell of the fresh gum leaves filling the air. It
bears all the antiquities of Rome to my fancy."

"Ah! but you Australians can't keep away from us," I said.

"That's true," he replied. "When men make money out there, one of the
first things their women-folk hanker after is a trip home, and we have
to do it. Not that the men have no wish to revisit old friends, and
familiar scenes," he continued, "but there is the fear of change, which
unfortunately is almost always realised. Things are found so very
different to what early impressions, and fond fancy, have pictured them,
that past memories are marred, and the sweet illusions of boyhood
dispelled by the revisiting of the scenes of early life in later years.
But we have to do it, if we can spare the cash; for no matter how well
we may educate our boys and girls, they lack finish until they have
travelled. Especially for those living in a new country like Australia,
it's part of a liberal education to have seen the world, which, by the
way, big steamers and express railway trains have made quite a small
place."

We sat thinking, after this long speech by Basset. I did not feel much
inclined to speak myself and we lounged back watching the wreathing
clouds of fragrant Havanah smoke from our cigars, when Sir Gordon
suddenly broke in upon the silence with--

"Have you met Horace De Vere yet?"

"No," I replied, "who is he?"

I listened eagerly to the gossipy description which my companion gave of
this old lover of my wife. Basset, who seemed to have been favourably
impressed with him, said he was a particular friend of Lord Burr's. To
look at he is a very fine man, a trifle over six feet, and well
proportioned. Basset averred that he might have sat as a model for one
of the old Greek athletes. I learned that he was the scion of an old
English family, poor and proud; but of brilliant and versatile genius.
"There's nothing," said my informant, "that he cannot do, and do well.
He came round with Lord Alfred Burr, in the latter's yacht to Leghorn,
and the night of the Countess Concello's concert came on to Rome by
rail, and startled us all with that queer song that made most of the
women weep. By George it was a clever thing to turn those lights down
and let the moonbeams in. It was De Vere planned it, I heard; my own
eyes were a bit moist that night."

"Yes, he can sing," continued Basset meditatively, "and do a score of
other things equally as well. Lord Burr was talking to me about him
yesterday, said he wondered sometimes what would be the end of him. He
has 600 a year and no expectations. Burr says that he is only six and
twenty, and that he will probably settle down and surprise everyone some
day. He's just the fellow to do it, I've seen dozens of them in
Australia. He was a chum of Burr's at Oxford, but they never knew what
he was up to. He would seemingly be studying anything except books;
others would be working early and late, and grinding themselves half
blind, but De Vere had leisure for any frolic that was going, and yet at
the 'exams.' he invariably passed remarkably well, and would sometimes
astonish even the dons. They wanted him to take a professorship; but not
he. Felt too much of a Bohemian, he said, so he took his degree with
honors, and started off with Burr, for a trip in the Emilia, and as the
latter said to me yesterday, they have been lounging round the
Mediterranean, smoking cigars, and taking an occasional run ashore, or
up to London for a few days if the fancy suited them; but now Lady Burr
is here, I suppose that they will stop a few weeks in Rome. Lord Alfred
says that De Vere is a really good fellow, and that he will wake up and
do something that will astonish his friends. It will be in perfect
keeping with his past career."

"But, here is Lord Alfred himself," exclaimed Basset, rising from his
seat, "and I'll be bound De Vere is not far away."

I turned and saw a man of about medium height approaching us, fair and
florid and without any striking or particular aristocratic personality.

He was rich, however, and I found him afterwards to be a good-natured
easy going fellow, and who had the reputation of being a good cricketer,
a fair oar, and expert yachtsman; his educational attainments were those
of the ordinary English country gentleman.

Basset introduced us, and we were soon on easy terms, as I had several
times met Lady Burr. On Basset mentioning De Vere, Lord Alfred began to
talk about their trip round in the Emilia.

"He's an old college chum of mine, you ought to meet him Mr. Gunnery,"
he said to me. "I believe that his mother and yours were friends years
ago, and he knew your wife (who, by the way, I have heard a lot about
from Lady Burr, and have not yet had the pleasure of meeting.) You were
not here when I left to bring round the yacht. De Vere came on a couple
of days ahead of me. I wonder you have not met him, he seemed anxious to
know you. You'll like him," he continued. "He's a capital fellow, as
true as steel, and can do almost anything."

"Ah, yes," said Basset, "Gunnery heard him sing the other night; you
know he took us all by storm."

I listened eagerly to the conversation; I wanted to hear and know all I
could about De Vere. I made every endeavour that day to see him, but
without success.

The next day I heard that he had been called suddenly away to England on
urgent private business.

Within a fortnight after this, we were back again in Church Consett.




CHAPTER V.--THE FACE OF MY GRANDMOTHER.


SEASON followed season, and life for the residents of Church Consett
Hall was, I reckon, neither better nor worse than for a hundred other
homes that nestle upon the country side of the fair English Midlands.
Violet was away at Long Chace for a week at a time, and did pretty well
as she pleased.

It did not trouble me much, for I had allowed myself to become engrossed
with the estate. A polite and not unpleasant courtesy took the place of
any warmer feeling, as it does, perhaps, in the majority of homes; it is
to be feared that the bulk of married people are mismarried; but, having
discovered their mistake too late, decide to make the best of it--admit
in silence, their mutual failure, and go each their way.

My father could not help but see that his plans for my domestic comfort,
and an heir for Church Consett Hall, had somehow miscarried, and one day
took me to task about what he described as my want of attention to my
wife. It was the only time within my memory that strong words passed
between us, and it possibly had some good effect. I had learnt to do
without Violet, and she followed her own bent without even consulting,
or being interfered with by her husband, often riding to hounds with one
of her sisters and a groom, and in other ways furnishing simple occasion
for gossip, of which neighbours made, as is customary, as much as
possible.

I was compelled to own to my father that I was not altogether blameless,
and our domestic relations were altered somewhat for the better. My old
father was delighted when about two years after our marriage a daughter
was born in the old Hall. She was named Beatrice after my mother.

As time passed by both the squire and myself grew to idolise the child.

She inherited more than her mother's beauty, but Violet seemed dead to
the stronger instincts of motherhood, and the child clung to her
grandfather and myself.

To some extent Beatrice brought us all closer together. She was a common
centre of interest, and the affection which should have been Violet's, I
lavished upon her child. I thought at the time that my fondness for
Beatrice pleased Violet, but we never exchanged those confidences which
I suppose are usual between well married people; indeed we rarely talked
to each other except in the presence of my father. We had accepted it as
inevitable, and neither of us regarded it other than as a matter of
course.

The fatal mistake of such a mode of life was made plain to me
afterwards, but like other bat blind mortals, I did not see it then.

About two years slipped away after the birth of Beatrice. Violet had
grown cooler, strangely so, I thought, for I had given her no reason, to
my knowledge, beyond our usual go-as-you-please way of life.

I often used to wonder what had become of De Vere, for although I had
heard nothing of him for over two years, and as has been previously
stated, had never met him, I bore him no good will. It is queer,
unexplainable, but this old lover of Violet's had become to me a sort of
embodiment of evil. I attributed my wife's increased coldness to his
influence over her; and felt convinced that he was resident somewhere
not very far away.

One day, just at this time the squire came home complaining he was
unwell, the doctor was called in, and ordered him to bed. Violet took
charge of the sick room, evidently much affected, and tended my father,
with every sign of kindness and affection. Notwithstanding her care, for
she was no doubt much attached to my father, within a fortnight he died,
his last kiss was pressed on the forehead of Beatrice, and with his last
words he pleaded with both of us, to live more unitedly, and for the
sake of Beatrice to seek each other's good, and make the home life at
the Hall brighter and happier.

We were sitting one each side of him. I was deeply affected and said, "I
promise, father." Violet said nothing, but bowed her head over my
father's hand in dumb assent.

I can recall the whole scene as if it happened but yesterday. The shadow
of death was upon the kind old face of my father, and opposite me on the
other side of the bed was the fair fact of Violet, tears in her eyes.

The dying day sank slowly to its rest, and night spread its shadowy
wings above the breathless landscape until darkness had sealed the
vision and with the darkness the calm, brave spirit of Squire Gunnery
passed to its rest.

The doctor had come in just before this, and after he had spoken the
simple words, "He is dead," Violet left the room. It was the last time I
saw her, for she left a few hours after for Long Chase without seeing
me, leaving a brief note to the effect that she was worn out, and would
take Beatrice with her to Long Chase until the funeral.

Occupied with the funeral, Violet's absence gave me no concern, and it
was several days before I drove over to Long Chase to bring her and
Beatrice back, and, as far as possible, place matters upon a better
footing. To my consternation I was met with the statement that both had
left for Church Consett the day following the funeral. Further inquiry
made it plain that Violet, taking Beatrice with her, had been driven by
someone to the railway station at Drayton, and had left the same night
for London--as far as could be ascertained--alone. They were traced to
the metropolis; but there all clue lost.

My first step was to advertise in the Times and other newspapers, and
give information to one of the Police Commissioners at Scotland Yard.
This was done with care to avoid unpleasant publicity; but all was
without avail. Wife and child had disappeared as though swallowed up by
an earthquake.

I undertook the search personally, for I was maddened at the thought of
losing Beatrice. The woman that had fled from a comfortable and in many
respects not unkindly home, I had no sympathy for, but the child was my
own, and I would not be bereft without an effort at recovery. If, as I
suspected, Violet had gone off with De Vere, she could only have taken
the child as a woman's vengeance against myself. I lavished money,
neglected everything besides, and night and day hunted London.

Weeks passed, when one evening a private detective--one of several I had
employed--brought intelligence of having discovered Harold de Vere in
London, but he was returning that night to Paris. It was said that he
had been upon the Continent, and, added Thompson, "It's my belief the
lady and child we have been looking for in London, are in Paris." It was
too late that night, but the following day the detective and myself were
on our way to the Continent, where after some delay it was discovered
that a gentleman named De Vere, and a lady called Mrs. Ferndale, had
been staying at a fashionable hotel in the Rue C----. They had left
overland to catch the Messageries Maritimes' s.s. bound for Melbourne
and Sydney.

I now felt confident that I was at last on the right track, and at once
booked for Naples.

Away from from France and Switzerland and sunny Italy sped the express,
recalling many a memory of bygone year's, but all too slow for me in the
quest I had undertaken. My very nature seemed changed: I was consumed
with a fierce desire to punish the man, and upbraid the woman. For the
time it even mastered my desire to regain Beatrice.

On reaching Naples I learnt that the steamer had left a few hours
previously, and it would be several days before another--one of the
Orient boats--would follow; but it was said that this would be a faster
ship, and would probably overtake the French boat before reaching
Melbourne. "Cable to Melbourne," was the thought that suggested itself,
"and have them watched," but it seemed so unnecessary, I felt so sure of
them now, besides I hesitated to make my own movements too public--there
were reasons why I might wish to be unknown.

There is no need to record the details of the voyage. The fine steamer
entered Hobson's Bay only a few miles behind the French boat, and was
boarded by the health officer--and to my unspeakable annoyance was put
into quarantine. A case of suspected small pox had developed among the
steerage passengers; it proved to be a false alarm, but it was several
days before we landed.

I had brought a large sum of money with me, and for the next fortnight
searched Melbourne with experienced assistance. Harold De Vere, Esquire,
and Mrs. Ferndale and child had, we found occupied separate apartments
at one of the principal hotels, but had left without leaving any
address. They both came and left on the same day. Further inquiries,
however, elicited the fact that the visitors had not been known in the
hotel, or upon the ship as being of the same party. It was De Vere right
enough, I felt sure, but I could not get satisfactory description of
Mrs. Ferndale--nothing that would enable me to identify her as Violet,
and the suspicion grew upon me that she must in some way have been
disguised.

One evening I stepped into a tram near the Scot's Church Collins-street.
There was no one in it but myself, the guard having gone on to the dummy
to collect a ticket, when a tall, dark man sprang upon the car while in
motion, a few yards further down the hill, and in doing so seemed to
give himself a sort of a wrench, for sitting down on the opposite seat
he said to himself but sufficiently loud for me to hear:

"I must have trod on a banana skin or something."

The guard came in a moment after, when he gave him the fare, and asked
when were we due at Spencer-street station.

It was the voice that rivetted my attention. I had only heard it before
in song, but I was confident that although I had never before been able
to catch sight of him, the man opposite to me was none other than Harold
De Vere.

As I looked him squarely in the face it seemed to me that he started, as
though he recognised me. He was a dark handsome man, and his eyes met
mine with a glance full of haughty indifference.

There was no mistaking the character of the man, if, as I felt
confident, this was Harold De Vere. He was no mean adversary, for in
addition to a melodious voice, I was compelled to acknowledge that
nature had endowed him with much manly strength, and grace and beauty of
person. Education and travel had done the rest. The lines of the
compressed lips told of a determined will, that would not stop at much
in the accomplishment of any set purpose. I was inclined to address him
by name at once, but as he looked at me a queer feeling seemed to come
over me, and I voluntarily recalled the night before my marriage, when a
stranger had passed me near the White Hart hostelry, Church Consett, and
a mysterious ghostly visitant had trod at midnight with slippered feet
across my bedroom floor. He looked calmly out into the night, as I
watched him and tried to shape my lips to call his name.

But I was spellbound: somehow or other the words would not come!

'Spencer Street!' shouted the guard, and the stranger at once leaped
out, followed by myself.

I dodged him like his shadow to the booking office, heard him take a
ticket for B----; booked myself for the same place and leaped into the
carriage after him. There were others in it, and seemingly he took no
notice of me. I had determined to follow him. It was at a suburban
station at which we alighted, and he turned out of the gates at a rapid
walk. For half-an-hour I followed along the lonely, dimly-lighted roads.
It seemed to me we must have walked almost in a circle, when, as we
approached a gas lamp, he suddenly stopped just beneath it.

For a moment, only a moment, I hesitated.

As I walked briskly forward, I saw that he turned round, and stood
confronting me in the middle of the pathway.

"Mark Gunnery, you're a fool," were the words with which he confronted
me. I raised my hand to strike him, for I wanted no further evidence as
to who or what he was, when he stepped back, and threw his closed hand
towards my face and opened it, but without touching me.

It was though a galvanic shock had struck me with full force. In a
moment I fell senseless upon the gravel pathway.

On the return of consciousness, I found myself the occupant of one of
the beds in a ward of the Melbourne Hospital.

Mine had been a very remarkable case, the nurse, after a few days,
informed me. I had been there for a fortnight, very ill, and the doctors
even then did not know what to make of me. It was a stroke of some sort,
and I was to be kept very quiet for a few days, and then might
communicate with my friends. The day nurse was a bright, intelligent
girl, and seemed to take an uncommon interest in my case. 'You must be
prepared to see a good bit of change in yourself,' she said to me one
day. 'You know, a severe illness, such as you have had, makes a great
change sometimes.'

"Bring me a looking glass," I said.

"No," she answered, "not to-day, but if you improve as much the next two
days as you have the last, the doctor says I may let you see yourself on
Sunday."

There was no mistaking the anxiety on the nurse's face on the Sunday
morning as she brought the looking glass for me to see myself.

I gave but one look.

"Good Heavens!" was all that I could ejaculate. It was an old, withered,
white-haired face that confronted me.

"Take it away," I said, as I sank back again upon my pillow.

In less than a month I passed from early manhood to old age.

A few days after this two of the doctors had a long talk with me about
my illness. I told them as much as I cared to, but they were evidently
incredulous. One thing, however, they were unable to explain; the marks
of age were confined to my features. Below the shoulders I was
unchanged.

Some days after I got a further shock. I had opened an account on coming
to Melbourne with one of the local banks, and wrote a cheque for a small
sum, when I was more startled if anything than before; the illness had
entirely altered my handwriting and signature, and I had much trouble in
afterwards proving to the bank my identity.

I came out of the hospital a changed man and yet as I looked at the
extraordinary alteration in my features, it dawned upon me that I might
still be recognised as a Gunnery. In the dining room of Church Consott
Hall there had been a likeness of my grandfather, painted when he was
over sixty years of age--it seemed to me that my face had become the
exact counterpart of that picture.




CHAPTER VI.--MISTAKES FOR A GHOST.


THERE comes a time to most men when the fact that they are old becomes a
new and unpleasant reality to them. But it is impossible for such to
understand the painful feelings which fill the mind of a man who has
passed abruptly from youth to age. Its effect upon me was to embitter my
whole nature and create in me an utter hatred for De Vere. I set myself
at once to trace his movements; having followed him to B----, I knew
that it would be easy enough to discover his place of residence.

Looking over some files of the Argus I was relieved, however, from any
further search in Melbourne, for there, as plain as could be, was the
name of Harold De Vere for the departures for Brisbane. He had evidently
made no effort to conceal his movements or disguise his name. He had
left about a fortnight after our meeting.

I chuckled fiercely when I found that he was moving further north. 'He's
getting away from civilization,' I muttered to myself, 'and will the
more easily fall into my hands.' I never counted the possible
consequences to myself; there are circumstances under which a man's life
may become of no value to him, and besides, to destroy such a man as De
Vere, I argued, would be a benefit to humanity; only one who had
bartered himself to the Evil One could possess such powers as he had.

I reached Brisbane, and found as I had expected that he was a visitor
with Gordon Bassett, but I also found to my surprise that Lord Alfred
Burr was there too. There was possibly some pre-arranged plan, I
thought, with Bassett that accounted for the meeting.

And now fortune suddenly favoured me in a most remarkable manner, and
unexpectedly gave me the opportunity that I had planned for and desired.

I was waiting for a train at the Melbourne-street Railway Station one
afternoon, when an old man, but vigorous and active, suddenly stopped in
front of me, and stared full in my face with every indication of
surprise. 'Good God!' he at last ejaculated, 'it's old Squire Gunnery!'
The man's face grew white, and I believe he would have fallen, but that
I reached out my hand and dragged him to a seat. He had mistaken me for
my grandfather!

'Old man,' I said, 'whoever you are, you once lived at Church Consett.'

As I spoke to him he shrank from me as from a demon, and his teeth
fairly chattered in his head.

'Who are you?' I asked.

'Don't you know me?' he said.

'No,' I answered; 'never saw you in my life before that I know of.'

'Ah! then you cannot be him,' he replied, looking at me eagerly, but
with a sigh of relief.

I asked some further questions, but could get nothing more out of the
man. He moved away to another seat, but I determined not to lose sight
of him. He knew that I was a Gunnery, and could only have become
possessed of that fact, by having known and been familiar with my
grandfather. I resolved to know more about him, so went to the booking
office and secured a ticket for the terminus station on the line the
next train was to travel upon. I would get out at whatever station this
man alighted. The mere fact of his knowing my name was sufficient to
upset all my plans.

The train ran on for nearly an hour in the direction of the shores of
Moreton Bay, stopping at a number of stations en route. The man at last
alighted, when I at once followed.

'What is it you want with me?' he asked in a harsh tone of voice, as I
caught him up.

'I want to do you no harm,' I answered, 'but you seem to know more about
an ancestor of mine than I could wish, and I must have some talk with
you.'

'Who in the devil's name are you?' he said, turning sharply round.

'The grandson of the Squire Gunnery, that you knew at Church Consett,' I
answered.

'That can't be,' he said. 'Mark Gunnery, the son of the present squire,
is not more than about thirty, and you are as old as I am.'

'Never mind,' I replied; 'what I have told you is the truth. But lead
on; I am coming with you for an hour's conversation.'

'Why can't we have it here?'

'Because it's not convenient. I have something to tell you that it might
be best for your own sake for me to say where there is no possibility of
our being overheard.' It was a random shot, but evidently told, for he
walked on without another word. 'This man,' I thought to myself, 'has
done something that my grandfather was aware of, and which he wishes to
forget.'

It was getting dark as he stopped at a cottage residence above a
sheltered cove of one of the many bays which are enclosed within the
great stretch of water known as Moreton Bay. A good-sized sailing boat
rode at anchor a short distance off the shore, and a rowing boat was
drawn up under a boat-house. There was a trim garden and small orchard,
with two or three small paddocks and stable, and the general
surroundings betokened the residence of a man in a comfortable way of
life.

Turning the latch, he let us into a room comfortably furnished, with the
table set for tea. A dark handsome girl, of four or five and twenty,
entered almost at the same time from another door.

'You're back again father,' she said in a not unmusical voice.

'Yes, Sis,' he answered pleasantly, 'and have brought a visitor with me,
who, I dare say, will not object to cup of tea. If you bring it in we
won't trouble you further.'

The man seemed more inclined to be friendly, so I made no remark, and
determined to take the proffered meal with him.

'Now,' said I, after he had somewhat appeased his appetite, 'I have told
you who I am. Who are you?'

'Well, if you must know,' he answered, 'my name is Dick Blackmann.'

'Ah,' said I, 'you have relatives still living at Church Consett?'

'I have.'

'And, excuse me, you are the Dick Blackmann that about fifty years ago
was transported for a poaching affair?'

'You're right again,' he said, 'now what next?'

I paused and looked at Blackmann, and then came to a rapid decision. It
would advantage me to take someone familiar with the place and people
into my confidence. There were palpable reasons why this should be the
man. His face contained that which suggested that he might be trusted
with a secret. There are some men whose own history make it inexpedient
for them to reveal another's secret or crime. Then, too, he knew me, and
I him.

'Dick Blackmann,' I said, 'I am going to take you into my confidence. I
don't want to ask anything more about you. Probably you hold a good
position in this place, and have well nigh forgotten the troubles of
your early days. Whatever I know of you and your past history is a
matter between ourselves.'

The man made an impatient gesture, but I stopped him from speaking. 'I
suppose you were going to say that you don't care what I know etc., but
hear me out. I've too much on my hands to be concerned about you, or
anything that was between you and my grandfather; but your knowledge of
this place and its people may be of service to me. To that extent you
must help me, Blackmann.'

He was filling a short pipe with tobacco, and neither looked up nor made
reply. I could not help watching him a moment. It was not actually a bad
face that the man had. It gave the impression of one that was older than
he looked. He was, I judged, cold and hardy by nature, and yet by no
means incapable of a generous action or kindly deed when his better self
was aroused. Physically his strong, well knit frame seemed capable of
much endurance.

'I have reasons for not wishing to be known here,' I continued. 'Not
that there's much fear of that,' I said bitterly, as I called my
premature age. Blackmann caught the tone of my voice and looked
curiously.

'Do you see that hand?' I asked, putting my right hand across the table,
'Does it match my face?'

'Put your own beside it, man.'

'Mine has had to work,' he answered, as he looked at his shrivelled
sinewy fingers.

'Yes, but that has not made the difference,' I answered warmly, 'some
cursed sorcery has made me an old man within two months; changed me in
features, speech, and bodily bearing; changed me so that my bosom friend
could not recognise me, and the man that did it added this to a previous
injury.'

'He's in Brisbane, and I've come up here to reckon with him. He's
staying with Sir Gordon Bassett.'

'I suppose it's that friend of Lord Alfred Burr's you are referring to,'
said Blackmann.

'It is.'

'Well I can tell you something about him.'

With some advice and assistance from Blackmann, who I found to be a
well-known citizen, whose doubtful antecedents had but very slightly
interfered with a successful colonial career, was introduced to Sir
Gordon Basset. I as a Mr. Vernon on the look-out for a good station
property for my two sons. The metamorphose was complete, and as Mr.
Vernon I became familiar with both Harold De Vere and Lord Alfred Burr.
There must have been something, however, in my manner which
unconsciously to some extent revealed my inner self to De Vere, for
notwithstanding all my caution and apparent friendliness, I felt that he
distrusted me.

We actually spent a fortnight together inspecting one of Bassett's
stations on the Maranoa, for at my suggestion both Lord Alfred and De
Vere accompanied us, but never during those days of bush journey could I
get him alone and at a disadvantage. Not that he in any way recognised
me; that was impossible, for voice, feature, handwriting, gait,
everything about me was altered.

I had during this time made the most careful search for Beatrice and
Violet, and at last became persuaded that they were not resident
anywhere in Brisbane. Why De Vere protracted his stay I could not guess.
He talked of visiting North Queensland and Java, returning by the
British India route to England. But still he stayed, as though conscious
of some watch upon his movements, or fear of some impending evil.
Scarcely an hour of the night or day but he was shadowed by some agent
of my own. Before punishing him, I would fain have discovered through
him, something of those I sought.

'Mr. Vernon,' said Sir Gordon Bassett to me one morning as I met him in
the Queensland Club. 'We are arranging a few days shooting down the bay;
will you make one of our party? We will run down in the yacht, and make
a week of it among the Islands. There are hundreds of black swans and
other game, and we should have some good sport. Lord Alfred Burr, De
Vere, and a couple of Brisbane men will he of the party.'

I agreed to go at once. I was desperate enough to seize any chance that
would put De Vere within my reach again.




CHAPTER VII.--RIDING TO HIS DOOM.


We had been shooting and fishing with varied luck among the picturesque
islands of Moreton Bay, when Bassett one evening proposed a visit to
some natural caves of curious formation beyond Bournemouth. He wanted to
go ashore at the latter place, as he had instructed his business manager
to wire him there that day should anything transpire of importance in
the city. It was only six miles ride, he said, and if we left early we
could be back again and dine on board. He would send a man ashore to
arrange with some one he knew for the horses.

The unexpected happened on the morrow. An important bank in which
Bassett had an account had suspended payment, and he, with one of the
two Brisbane men had decided to run up by rail to the city. 'Not that I
stand to lose much myself,' remarked Bassett, 'but I must do the best I
can for others.'

There were four of us left, and we strolled round to the outskirts of
the township to a farm where the horses were to be in readiness.

As Lord Alfred and Granby, one of the Brisbane men, were the least
accustomed to riding, the two quietest horses were taken by them, and
they rode off, saying we should soon overtake them.

One of the two left was a well made and evidently well-bred chestnut
mare, and the other a dark brown gelding.

'I'll take the chestnut,' said De Vere.

She watched him, showing the white of a wicked-looking eye as he went
forward to take the bridle, and snorted and moved away. He flung the
reins over her head as she swung round from him. He was a match for her,
however, for shortening the reins he took hold of her ear, and with a
free hand held the stirrup for his foot.

'Mind the mare, sir,' said the man, as De Vere sprang into the saddle.

The fiery-little chestnut was off before he had fairly gained his seat,
but he pulled her back almost on to her haunches, and threw himself on
the ground again.

'Stirrups are too short,' was all he said.

He put them down two holes on each side, during which time the mare
fidgetted about and then reared. He soothed and caressed her, and in a
favourable moment got his foot in the stirrup and swung over into the
saddle, as she at once broke into a smart canter.

'Steady, lass, steady,' I heard him call out, as he disappeared round a
turn in the road.

In a minute this became little better than a bush track. He had taken
the wrong turning.

By this time I was following him, my horse breaking from the canter into
a gallop as he missed sight of his mate. I steadied him with a firm
hand, for I felt there was mettle in him that might take me all my time
to control; not but that I was a good horseman, but I had had a long
spell, and this wild gallop along the Australian bush track was a new
experience to me.

How well I remember it, and recall every detail. The horse had an easy
swinging stride, the saddle might have been made for me, and the stirrup
leathers were the exact length, as we swung along, the trees in some
places meeting overhead, I noticed how in the clear patches the grass
was wet with a heavy dew. A startled bird would occasionally shake the
dew like rain from the branches of the trees, when it would fall
glistening in the slanting sun rays like a shower of diamonds. The
peculiar aroma which the gum trees have in the early summer mornings
filled the air. Occasionally a kangaroo or wallaby would come leaping
with enormous strides through the undergrowth and gleaming grass, to
disappear with the sound of crackling branches as it made its way
through the bush. At times I could hear the clatter of hoofs as De Vere
crossed a harder piece of roadway, but although I had now reached a
fairly straight and open road, he was not in sight, and it dawned upon
me that I was being left behind. The pace was a fast one, and I felt
sure that the mare must have bolted with him. Sitting down in the
saddle, I gave my horse his head; he wanted very little encouragement.
He could hear his mate ahead of him, and stretching out his neck he
increased his gallop to racing speed.

Suddenly I felt myself rising in the air. The horse had made a
prodigious leap, and as we cleared the ground there seemed to flash
under us a bunch of writhing snakes. They were black, and were probably
two male snakes fighting together, as I have heard that they will do
occasionally. My horse was now galloping at a terrific rate, I tried to
steady him, but it was useless; he was thoroughly aroused and frightened
by the snakes, and with the single rein bridle and snaffle bit I
realised that it was useless to try to check him. The most I could do
was to keep him on the track. Suddenly we came up to a fallen tree,
which he leaped without hesitation, and then turned a corner, where just
ahead I saw De Vere; he was riding fast, but seemed to have the mare
more under control, and I heard him laugh and shout at her as she shied
furiously at something on the roadside. That and the sound of my horse
behind made her quicken her pace, and I heard him laugh again as she
dashed forward at her previous mad rate of speed. He would have laughed
less had he known that he was riding to his doom.

The pace was again tremendous, but I rode on without any great alarm,
for I felt sure that they could not keep it up much longer, and the
track was fairly plain and seemed widening. A few minutes afterwards we
came to a wooden bridge spanning a creek. It was in very bad repair but
De Vere passed it safely, although his horse seemed to get a further
fright, for a young white heifer, scared at the noise, rushed up the
bank from the bed of the creek just as he passed. The approaches were
very bad, and my horse cleared all obstacles and avoided rotten planks
as by a miracle, and still raced after the chestnut.

We must have covered four or five miles by this time, and had not passed
a single house except one deserted shanty.

Just here we got on to rising ground. The soil was a bright chocolate,
then it suddenly changed to sand, the scrub thickening around the track,
and a moment afterwards we were on the Pacific beach, with hard white
sand under us that a few hours before had been submerged by the tide.

There was no sail or boat to be seen on the great expanse of water which
now spreads itself before us. De Vere was galloping away about a quarter
of a mile in front of me, keeping well down towards the water's edge,
where the sand was hardest. Had he pulled his horse on to the soft dry
sand he might soon have stopped. But he was riding to his fate, and at
such times men don't see such things. I kept behind him, not wanting to
distance him, and felt pretty certain that my horse was under control
again, when suddenly I saw De Vere's horse stagger, then make a great
leap, and at the same time scream as though in mortal terror. It was a
half mad terrific sound, such as I heard a dumb animal make, when in
fearful pain or peril, once or twice before; then I saw the horse sink
to the saddle flaps in the sand, where she violently struggled. I pulled
up my horse, which in turn seemed terrified with the spectacle, and
answered almost immediately to the rein, and, shaking in the saddle with
excitement, I watched him breathlessly. He was going to jump toward
shore. In a moment he had made a great leap, and disappeared nearly down
to his waist six feet from his horse. They had ridden into a quicksand.

No one but myself to hand to help him, and, if I had the will, it was
doubtful whether I had the power to save him from a frightful death. The
tide was rising, and if he was not swallowed beforehand by the
quicksand, in two hours the whole place would be under water.

He called out in an alarmed voice as I rode up, 'For God's sake, Vernon,
be quick and give me a hand to get out of this, I can feel the cursed
thing sucking me down.'

I dismounted, and walking inshore fastened my horse to a tree, and then
cautiously walked to within five and twenty yards of the terrified man,
and looked at him without speaking.




CHAPTER VIII.--THE SONG IN THE QUICKSAND.


De Vere was slowly sinking in the quicksand, in the position in which he
had leaped from the saddle of his horse, with his face turned from the
ocean. Behind him the chestnut was being engulphed more rapidly;
probably she was nearer the centre of the treacherous sand drift, and
her convulsive efforts to extricate herself only hastened her end; but
she groaned piteously as she struggled for life.

De Vere evidently thought that I was forming some plan for his
assistance, for he said nothing for a minute or more, but watched me
anxiously as I took in the whole scene.

In leaping from the horse he had somehow lost his hat, and I noticed
that it had fallen several yards away from him.

There was nothing to shade his features from me; I should see it all,
and I gloated over the thought of the death agony of which I would be
the only witness. It was as though I had suddenly become possessed by
some spirit of hell.

"Why don't you come nearer," he called out, "you will feel how far you
can come with safety, and then we can talk without shouting; but for
God's sake be quick, it's the most frightful sensation. I shall remember
it as long as I live."

I moved nearer to him cautiously, until I had decreased the distance by
about one half. I was on the verge of the sloppy quicksand now, and
within easy talking distance, but I still remained silent. He had a fine
head and forehead, I thought, and eyes to captivate a queen, and silky
luxuriant hair. Yes, he's a handsome man, and so Violet loved him. And
then it seemed as though out of the sea behind him, there arose pictures
and voices of the past; Church Consett and the old Hall, my father,
Violet and her sisters, and amid them was the dainty figure of a sweet
wee child, Beatrice, my Beatrice, and my eyes fell again upon this human
serpent, writhing and struggling in the sand.

"You might as well keep still Harold De Vere," I said, "the more you
struggle the faster you will sink, and that will be a pity, for I want
to have some conversation with you before you die."

The whole manner of the man changed, and he looked at me for fully a
minute in silence.

"I was able to move my foot up a little," he said in a quiet voice.

"Yes, but in doing so you have forced your body several inches lower in
the sand," I answered.

"Why don't you look sharp and do something to assist me; he said
hurriedly; if you broke down some ti tree branches and strewed them on
the sand, and then fastened your saddle-girth, stirrup-leathers, and
bridle together, you might be able to get near enough to throw them so
that I could catch hold, and in that way I might get out of this cursed
predicament; but unless you do something at once it will be too late."

"Supposing that I don't intend to help you Harold De Vere," I replied.

"Look here, Vernon!" he answered, "for heavens sake don't joke about it,
it means death, man, unless I have immediate assistance."

"I know that, and I am not joking; but why don't you call me by my right
name?"

He looked at me, and a sudden pallor overspread his face as he
ejaculated, "It's Gunnery!"

"Yes," I answered. "That's my name; so you did not recognise your own
infernal handiwork before? But listen to me for a little, there are a
few things that I want to know, and some other things that I am going to
tell you, now that I have such an unexpected but timely opportunity."

He saw that there was neither pity nor mercy to be expected from me, so
he turned his head and looked eagerly in both directions along the
beach. Inland a thick growth of bush trees stretched in an unbroken line
just above high water mark.

I followed his long anxious look, with almost equal eagerness. It had
not occurred to me before that our companions might return in quest of
us, or that there might be others travelling on the same road.

There was no one visible, however, it was a bye track, right off the
main road, leading no where in particular, and, as I learned afterwards,
the way was blocked by a large creek about half a mile beyond. Unless
some visitors from the distant township should ride so far for a
morning's outing, we were not likely to be disturbed in that lonely
spot.

I turned round towards De Vere again, and was about to speak, when I saw
his chest heave, as he filled his lungs, and high above the sullen roar
of the tumbling waves upon the beach, there rose the wailing piercing
native cry, familiar to most Australians. Coo-ee! Coo-ee!

"Stop that," I said, drawing a small revolver from an inside coat
pocket, "or I'll take the risk, and shoot you dead, just where you are."

"You daren't, you coward!" was his answer.

It is impossible to say what I might have done in the passion of the
moment, but my attention was suddenly arrested by the distant sound of
trampling hoofs, making their way through the bush.

De Vere heard it too, for his face became animated, and he listened in
silence, and looking in the direction from whence the sound came. My
horse, too, pricked up his ears, whinnied, and wheeled round facing in
the same direction. I ground my teeth and fidgetted with the trigger of
the revolver. De Vere watched me closely, but said nothing; he must have
known what was passing in my mind, and that his life, at that moment,
hung as it were, only upon a hair.

The tide by this time had crept considerably nearer, and only the top of
the saddle, and neck and bend of the struggling horse were above the
surface. De Vere seemed to be sinking, but more slowly, and had both
hands and arms stretched out upon the wet, oozing sand for support. I
put up the revolver as the trampling sound of the horses came nearer,
and, mad with disappointment, turned to see who it was.

A moment afterwards a riderless horse stepped cautiously into the open,
followed by two or three others, who stopped as soon as they saw me.

It was a small mob of stray horses! I called out to them, and they
turned and trotted off into the bush.

The face of the man in the quicksand at that moment assumed the aspect
of blank despair. Never shall I forget it! Scores of times it has
appeared to me in this very room, and I suppose it will occasionally
haunt me to the grave. It was the expression of perfect misery,
disappointment, and horror. I think that he now for the first time
really realized that in less than an hour the cold, wet grasp of the
quicksand would drag him down into his grave.

"Why don't you shoot me," he said, "and put me out of my misery?"

"No," I replied, "I shall not shoot you. I mean to stand here and watch
you; great Nature will do all the rest. Ask the rising tide to pity you,
or the oozing quicksand--but don't ask pity from me. Where's my wife and
child, you villain?"

"Don't lose your temper, Gunnery, or call names; here, face to face with
death, I tell you I'm sorry for you, A man can't help his fate. I have
ridden into this accursed quicksand and I have to pay the penalty. You
came into contact with a stronger force than your own, and you've been
worsted. Its the way of things in this queer world. Just look at me for
a moment," he continued, reaching out his right hand towards me and
glaring at me with his eyes, "I had a premonition this morning that our
ride would end in disaster, for you as well as for me. I have known for
weeks past that you were not what you represented yourself to be, I
knew, too, that you had some design on me; but had I known all I should
have killed you, that is if there had been no other recourse. You were
cautioned the night before you were married to Violet Freeman, and for
years you have known that she was not yours, but mine. Do you think that
you, and friendship, would satisfy a woman that had known me, and love.
You think, like other fools, that I am a sorcerer, in league with the
powers of darkness. I know something more of nature's secrets than you
do--unfortunately not enough to save me now--but I think I know enough
to make you a comrade and companion."

"Don't move, Mark Gunnery! Keep looking in my eyes; That's it! Now come,
and as you will not help to rescue me, come and take my hand, and let us
here sink together into the quiet and mystery of death."

It is impossible to explain the sensation. My brain whirled and my will
power seemed gone from me.

I was spell-bound. I could not unfix my eyes from his. A secret impulse
impelled me towards him. He reached out his hand. I was about to move
madly forward and share his frightful doom, when a sudden flash of
lightning seemed to drop out of the clear sky, followed almost
immediately by thunder.

I turned hurriedly away like one saved from a sudden death; hastened to
where my horse was still tethered, and mounted him, quivering in every
nerve.

Pulling the horse round I once more faced him. "That checkmates you, you
sorcerer," I said. "You may be able by your cursed art to hypnotise me,
but you can't the horse. You had better say a prayer if you've any God
to pray to, for another quarter of an hour and you'll either be
swallowed alive, or drowned."

He made no answer, he was probably making a last endeavor to think out
some plan of escape, or some final scheme of vengeance upon myself. My
horse moved about restively, conscious of the impending storm which had
crept silently up against the wind, and of which the lightning flash,
that had proved my salvation, had been to me the first intimation.

Making my horse walk up and down upon the soft dry sand, I looked around
me. Far out at sea a steamer hove in sight, the black smoke of her
funnels leaving a trail upon the blue expanse. She was in the sunshine,
for the dark shadow of the thunder cloud, which already blotted out the
sun from the land, and was sweeping out across the sea in a clearly
defined line, had not yet reached her. Men, women and children were
doubtless on deck watching the approaching storm; but little did they
think of the tragedy which, under the shadow of that cloud, was being
enacted here upon the land.

I turned my horse again, and he slowly and reluctantly paced back
towards the quicksand and De Vere. He wanted to be off home; wanted to
escape the storm; and he tossed his head and champed his bit, and now
and then pawed the sand in his impatience. "Steady, lad," I said
soothingly, "it won't be long now, less than a quarter of an hour will
do it, and then you shall race home at your topmost speed. He's down now
nearly to his chin, and the wash of the rollers already reach your old
mate the chestnut, who no longer struggles or groans, for she's dead."

I looked around again as I said this, talking as much to myself as to
the horse, when I, for the first time, seemed to realise the utter
horror of the weird and awful scene that stretched itself around us. It
was the long hush that sometimes comes before a storm. All nature seemed
spell bound, the wind had dropped to perfect stillness, the rollers of
the great Pacific Ocean, so soon to be lashed into seething fury, fell,
as though awed into quietness, upon the hard sandy shore, except in the
close vicinity of the quicksand, where there appeared to be some under
current of disturbance. I saw the dull line of bush trees reaching
inland; the stretch to right and left, of grey white sand; here and
there a stunted bush; one waiting horseman; and the head and neck of a
living man still visible above the watery, oozing sand.

I was suddenly seized with feelings of horror, and was involuntarily
turning my horse's head towards the township--it was enough, without my
seeing the final tragedy.

But as I turned I saw De Vere's hands appear upon the surface of the
sand, as though he were pushing it back off his chest, and to my
astonishment, there, with the breakers close behind him, and death
before, he commenced to sing.

I have spoken of the awful stillness. That song broke it like a voice
from another world. Every natural sound seemed to cease--twitter of
birds, rustle of trees, even the ever sounding sea struck the sands in
seeming accompaniment to the sweet, strong, swelling notes of that
plaintive melody. It was an Italian song, the air reminded me of the
familiar English one, "Alice, Where Art Thou?" Why he sang I cannot
tell, unless it was in the last despairing hope that the sound of a
human voice might bring him help. How he could sing under such
conditions I do not attempt to explain. It was his death song, and as I
watched and listened it echoed across the waste of sand, and along the
tree-lined shore, in wailing, plaintive, and yet defiant melody. The
voice soon grew faint, however, then ceased, stopped by the wash of the
sea and the engulfing sand. The spray of a larger wave had broken over
the brown hair, that fair fingers had often dallied with, and the proud
eyes, glazing with the film of death, for the last time met mine.

Then the tempest broke, as though in righteous anger. A great wind
swayed the trees, and dashed itself against the sea, which recoiled with
the shock, and then rolled back upon the shore in angry, foaming waves.

And amid the storm, like a half mad hunting thing, a white-haired old
looking man on a brown gelding, reckless alike of lightning, or wind, or
rain, or falling timber, galloped back to Bournemouth.




CHAPTER IX.--MY OTHER SELF.


My story was soon told, and as briefly as possible; this they attributed
to my condition through having received such a shock to my nerves
through the death of my acquaintance. It was a lamentable accident,
people said, but there was no help for it. The quicksands on that beach
were well known to local residents, and the newspapers said notices
should be erected warning strangers of the danger.

My mission north was accomplished, I had hunted De Vere to his death; so
I returned at once to Sydney to continue my quest for Violet and my
child.

I carrying out my purpose, I determined to live and work alone. I had
read somewhere of a recluse who resided for many years in solitary
chambers in Lincolns Inn, London. I determined to do the same, and at
last found a place to my taste, here in the heart of Sydney; it was but
a stone's throw from this, and within hearing of the clock tower bells.

I spoke to as few people as possible, while engaged in procuring simple
furniture, and gave the keeper of the chambers a small pittance to keep
them clean and tidy. Installed and settled I recommenced my search,
frequenting the public parks and gardens, and principal thoroughfares,
always and everywhere looking for my wife and child.

My evenings were spent mostly in the gloomy old chambers. The basement
must have been built in convict days, for there were iron bars upon the
windows of the lower apartments; placed there no doubt to prevent the
escape of assigned servants when they were once locked in for the night.
I took a pleasure in roaming about the passages after every one else had
gone. It amused me. My premature age had embittered my whole being. De
Vere was dead; but his evil work remained, and I hated myself that I was
compelled to carry my youthful manhood under a mask, and I hated the
world of men and women around me because I appeared to them different to
what I was. The reaction, too, had left me weak. I regretted De Vere's
death; he might have known some means by which my lost manhood could be
restored again. I took my meals at a restaurant, and for days together
addressed no word to a living soul.

And yet I longed for human companionship. I would sit sometimes for
hours on a seat in the public gardens. I saw men and women talking with
their friends. I sat by the side of them, thus conversing,--I, who had
not heard the sound of my own voice for days.

It was then that I first became conscious of my crime; I was the
murderer of De Vere. I, who could have saved him, saw him die and let
him perish. But I would not give way to the thing. I argued with myself,
set up a tribunal, and arraigned the dead to attend and answer for
himself--and at last one night he came.

It was all in miniature, and I was convinced that the whole thing was an
hallucination; but he came, and he argued his case in this fashion:

"Events proved too strong for me; I am dead; but rather a thousand times
would I be dead than such as you are. Unbeautiful and unloved. What
makes love, Mark Gunnery? Can you weigh it, measure it, command it to
come to you, or when it has come bid it depart? Love is a part of God,
and as mysterious. Whither it cometh, or whence it goeth, or what it is,
none can tell. But to have spent one hour with youth and love was worth
the living. You married her, but she was always mine, mine by right of
love, a right which neither priest nor marriage vows can make, nor
break, Mark Gunnery."

I got familiar with him in his diminutive form, and let him rant about
his love, and sometimes questioned him; but the hallucination (for it
was of course nothing more) would then vanish. But on one occasion, when
questioned, he said with a miraculous grin, "you will come back again
some day for punishment;" and then the hallucination left me.

One night a short time afterwards I found to my astonishment, sitting
beside me, my former self; the chair was not three yards distant. I
covered one eye and looked at it, but the figure remained. The shock
this gave me was extreme, for I knew by that that this was not an
optical illusion. It was my other self. "Old man," said he to me, "we
shall live well together, I will assist you to find her, and be company
for you in your quest. It is my wife and child you are looking for."

"My very blood curdled in my veins. It was my own voice, my own face,
and form and gesture. This man which sat thus beside me, and talked so
familiarly to me was the Mark Gunnery that married Violet Freeman, the
father of Beatrice. I must be going mad.

"Rising suddenly I threw myself upon the apparition, and encountered warm
flesh and blood.

"Sit down, old man," said the thing; "did you not hear me say that I had
come to stay. We will look for them together."

I drew back in consternation. So this was what De Vere meant when he
said, "you shall come back again." It was a coming back again with a
vengeance!

"You can leave me here for tonight," said the thing, and then it stepped
across to my writing desk and commenced to write a letter to my steward
in England. It was my own hand-writing.

"I will close the doors," I said, shaking with fear. But instead of
doing so I hurried out into the street. I did not know it then; I would
not have believed it, but I had commenced to live a dual life.




CHAPTER X.--"TO SEE OURSELVES AS OTHERS SEE US."


An editorial note seems necessary at this stage of Mark Gunnery's story,
for the very manuscript bore evidence of the horror of mind with which
the writer had recalled this incident in his history. The writing was
here deciphered only with difficulty. It had evidently been penned under
great mental agitation.

It should be said that however strange and improbable this portion of
Mark Gunnery's story may appear, it is plain that he himself believed it
true. Moreover, there are incidents connected with it, which suggest the
existence of internal evidence as to its accuracy.

The manuscript continued as follows: The whole of that first night of
horror and amazement I spent in the open air. I dared not go back. I
would have done so if it had been De Vere, or any other human being; but
I dared not go back to encounter this mysterious facsimile of myself,
myself as I ought to have been.

I wandered about the streets and the domain, and thought of myself in
those chambers. For a long time I feared even to sit down on one of the
park seats lest the awful thing should appear by my side!

I saw men sleeping upon the grass and on the benches. With all their
poverty, they were happier than I. It was not merely that I had a
double; but it was myself, my own personality that had been usurped. I
thought to myself that some demon had become incarnated in my natural
body, and that that in which I dwelt was an aged frame, resurrected from
the grave of one of my ancestors. I myself, my soul, the personality,
the ego which loved and hated, and thought, and remembered, had been
flung out of its natural home by the hand of De Vere, and had taken
refuge during that period of my unconsciousness in the aged body of
another--I was a living lie.

At last wearied out I sat down on a bench by the side of a sleeper; upon
a little bit of unoccupied room at the end. The man moved restlessly,
lifted his head a moment, and eyed me suspiciously. I apologised for
disturbing him; upon which he blurted out something and betook himself
again to slumber.

The night seemed interminable, but at last the grey dawn came, and I
walked about, for I was cold, and presently returned to the street in
which my chambers were located.

A light still burnt there, so I opened the street door with my
latch-key, and with trembling steps mounted the stairs. I pushed the
door gently open--and--saw the thing at the table still writing.

I thought "If I had a weapon I would shoot you," but the question arose
in my mind was it flesh and blood at all, or was it anything natural? It
would be little use to make a bullet hole in a ghost,--the sight of the
thing perfectly sickened me.

"Come in Vernon," he said turning around.

My God! it was indeed myself, Mark Gunnery--voice, feature, gesture!

"Close the door please," he continued, "and sit down, I want to talk to
you. You know you are singularly like an ancestor of mine Mr. Vernon. It
makes it the more strange that you should be so interested in this
search after my unfortunate wife and child."

My tongue was dry, and stuck to the roof of my mouth, and it was a
minute or so before I could moisten it so as to regain utterance.

"Do you know who you are, and where you are, and how you came here.
Whether you are human or inhuman, flesh or devil? In the name of God
answer me!" I exclaimed.

His lips curled with scorn, just as my own would have done had any one
so addressed me.

"Old man you have been drinking I fear," was all that he said; and that
was uttered carelessly and disdainfully.

"Who are you?" I repeated.

"If you do not know, sir, I am Mark Gunnery of Church Consett Hall,
England. If you wish to know further, I am in Temple Court Chambers,
talking to one John Vernon."

He said this with a fine tone of superiority and irony in his voice, as
though he still clung to the belief that I was intoxicated. I was simply
confounded!

And now commenced one or the strangest experiences which ever fell to
the lot of man. Daily and almost hourly I grew to have familiar
intercourse with this thing. The something which was inside the body I
hated; but the exterior was my own flesh, my own home, and I soon began
to think and plan as to how I might regain its possession. I encouraged
it to be with me, feared lest any accident might overtake it. It was
something belonging to myself in the temporary possession of another,
and I at this stage acted accordingly.

I called it Gunnery and the thing called me Vernon. I was amazed,
however, to find that this thing, the vileness and devilry of whose
character I soon learnt to know so well, was able to impress other
people favorably.

It had installed itself completely in my position, for not only had it
usurped my name and body, but it appropriated the property and funds,
both in England and Australia, which were vested in the name of Mark
Gunnery. The belief that it was a demon grew upon me, and in malice,
hatred, and all uncharitableness and falsity, it equalled, if not
surpassed other human demons, which, alas! walk our streets, and move in
society, and taint the very air with their blasphemies and obscenity. I
got to know my demon well, and I loathed him beyond measure; but yet
kept company with him, because of my interest in the body he possessed.

Soon after his first appearance I found that he had taken rooms at one
of the best hotels in the city, and was obtaining introductions by the
use of my name and money, and was actually getting into society. I was
sometimes led to almost question my own identity, for when we are long
familiar with the state of things, it becomes difficult to continue to
realise their falsity. Just as a man may so often repeat a fiction as to
believe it true. I was so familiar with the Mark Gunnery who I daily met
and conversed with, as almost to believe it to be what it seemed. The
illusion was never continued long, however, for I knew the real Mark
Gunnery too well not to discern the counterfeit.

The moment he commenced to talk of anything beyond the merest
common-place, I saw the imposture. It was my own body, face, voice, and
gesture. Every little trick natural to me as a man he had; to some
extent, too, he possessed a knowledge of my past, but it was partial, and
fragmentary. It was the outer circle of facts that he was familiar with,
he knew about my property at Church Consett, my investments, the cash in
the hands of my bankers, my wife and child, and other things which
belonged to matters physical and external; but when the inner circle of
knowledge and experience which everyman possesses was touched upon he
went off at a tangent. He knew that there I knew too much for him, so he
evaded such things, and in doing so at once revealed himself.

Nor did we in our private intercourse altogether hide this from each
other. He knew that I knew and hated him, and only kept company with
him, as we do with a thief or enemy, who possesses something dear to us.
That he had an object in coming to me, was self evident, either he was
acting for himself or for another; but certainly it was for the purpose
of tormenting me before my time.

I had singular bodily sensations in connection with his coming and his
going. I knew at once when he was in my neighbourhood and I felt
repelled and on my guard as soon as I found myself in his presence. It
was like the positive and negative poles of magnet. There was much in
common; but no spiritual affinity or attraction.

I believe that some people felt much the same way as I did, in his
company. That mysterious principle which is known to chemists as 'the
action of presence' was remarkably evident in him. I noticed the
children and animals shrank from him. And yet he could be suave, and
courteous, and sweet spoken when he liked; but it was only surface
sweetness, from the teeth outward. And the purer portion of society
seemed unconsciously to shrink from him.

But he had money, and spoke correctly, and carried himself among his
fellows as one who by birth and education and rank had claim upon their
consideration, and to large extent society took him at his own price.

A handsomely appointed cab, with liveried coachmen waited for him in the
morning, to drive him here and there, and not unfrequently to the
barracks, where he became specially familiar with an officer who was a
man of wealth, but was lightly regarded in the service, and had been
blackballed in the clubs.

I used to wonder sometimes why he clung to me so closely, and passed so
much time in my company, for I knew that the hatred between us was
mutual. I believe that there was some physiological cause, which even
now I only very partially understand. It may have been that he wanted to
find out something about my past history or intentions, or of the body
he inhabited, which remained undiscovered to him. I make no pretence
myself to special goodness or virtue, the current of circumstances, and
my own evil passions, had carried me a long way down the stream; but
there was still a great gulf fixed between myself and this unclean
demon. The very thought that he had possession of my body, that he made
it swear his obscene oaths and fulfil his unhallowed desires was
maddening to me.

I have already intimated that my father had left me a large fortune at
his death, and I expostulated with Gunnery at the way in which he was
spending it.

"You seem to know a lot about my affairs," he said with an oath, "it's
like your dashed impertinence to talk about a matter which is no concern
of yours at all;" a volley of scurrility followed, at which I turned upon
my heel contemptuously, and left the foul thing to itself. When next we
met it was as though this had never occurred, and it was as suave and
polite and generally fair spoken as before.

I never referred to the matter however again, let him spend it. I
thought it would be curious to note how he would act if he was poor. The
gross excesses of the thing, however, well nigh drove me to
distraction--in my person too. 'The vile body of my humiliation.' I
thought to myself, unconsciously recalling scripture which I had heard
in better and happier days.

I soon found out that he was associating himself with the fastest and
loosest society of Sydney, so I followed him about with his boon
companions, and witnessed, with a sickening heart how he was heaping
dishonor upon my person, and trailing the fair name of my ancestors in
the dust. Had I felt that he was human I would have risked everything to
have rescued him; but he was inhuman, and I could only stand and watch
the tragedy afar off.

And yet it puzzled me that the men with whom he consorted did not read
his character aright and shrink from him. They certainly quarrelled with
him occasionally at their wine parties; but foul as he then sometimes
became, they were too nearly his equals in sin to take much notice of
it, and in the morning, except for the deeper lines left by the previous
night's orgie, he and his companions were smooth spoken and fair faced
as before.

I asked myself whether it was possible that I, Mark Gunnery, could ever
have fallen so low as this; and yet I saw men from whose early life, and
religious training, and education, very different things might have been
expected, follow the lead of this incarnated demon, as though there was
no fine instinct of the heart to tell them what he was, or from whence
he came.

Sometimes the thought of these things was more than I could bear, and I
would then go alone, and sometimes lie down upon the cliffs at the South
Head of the harbour. I did this one afternoon when I was more than
usually depressed. The weather had been tempestuous, and I expected to
find the Great Pacific billows dashing themselves in foam capped
thundrous masses against the rocks. It would have been in keeping with
the tumult of my mind. Instead, however, the great waters stretched away
eastward in sublime tranquility; and I lay down on a little patch of
grass upon the summit of one of the cliffs. It was a scene of perfect
rest that lay before me, and its quietness stole into my heart and
rebuked its disquietude, and I gave myself up to nature, for to all
appearance we were there alone.

To my left was a long stretch of rugged beetling cliffs of rough brown
rock. Against their shaggy sides, many and many a storm had beaten
wrathfully, and many a well found vessel had been wrecked--wrecked at
the very entrance headlands of the harbour. Some fisherboats were
seemingly at anchor, half a mile or more from shore, moving up and down,
and too and fro, with the swelling and falling of the water, which
however never broke into a wave.

At a further distance a large clipper ship was being cast off by a tug
boat. She had come down the harbour in the wake of a puffing little
steamer with only her fore and aft sails set; but now she was shaking
out her topsails, and although no sound was audible, they were evidently
busy getting under way. The Guardian tug however kept beside her, and
the two drifted slowly by, until she could be quite ready to take her
own pathway on the sea.

The sun hung above the scene, as though enamoured of the glorious
prospect of the sea and land-locked harbor he was loath to leave it,
lest in his journey he might not look upon such a sight again. Nor could
I wonder, for to lie there, and look out upon the great beyond, and
drink in the fresh sea air, and scan occasionally the ever beautiful
panorama of sea and shore, had become to me a solace. Something which
took me out of myself and my dark surroundings, and rekindled hope, and
restored the even balance of my mind and placed a just and good God once
again upon the throne. Thus I lay thinking when I heard a voice which
seemed to come from below me. It was a voice which made my blood tingle
in my veins to my very finger tips; for it spoke in familiar accents, a
familiar name.

"Beatrice!"




CHAPTER XI.--A LEAF OUT OF THE PAST.


How many men live with women,--wife, sister, mother,--and never
understand them. To some extent it might be the same with all of us, but
men, I think, are less difficult to read and know.

Woman's whole nature is cast in a finer mould than man's. There's a
reason for it in the construction of her whole being and in the position
natural to her in life. The shyness of a young girl's disposition--the
drooping eyelash, the gentle sigh, the patient waiting to be sought, are
the language not of affectation but nature, and in every beautiful and
womanly woman there is a good deal of this remaining, even after
marriage, or when culture, and travel, and society, have made them what
we call, women of the world.

The voice I had heard was Violet's, and she evidently had Beatrice with
her. I could see no one; but looking around I noticed to the right a
narrow pathway, which, evidently led to one of the sheltered grassy
nooks which are common on the cliffs. I listened intently and a moment
afterwards heard Violet speak again.

"Beatrice child, don't go to sleep, sit nearer to me and listen. Yon
ship is like a woman, little one; see, how gracefully it is built, and
how it moves upon it's ocean pathway, as though compelling notice and
admiration. There is a very long voyage before her; but with one true
captain to rule and shape her course, she will haply reach the desired
haven in peace. You won't understand me now, but you will some day, two
lovers are as bad for a woman as are two captains for a ship. It ends in
mutiny, of some sort, in both cases.

"Where is my own father now?" asked Beatrice, in a half sleepy indolent
tone of voice, as though the asking of the question had aroused her from
the languor of the afternoon.

"He is in Sydney, love, and I have seen him, but either he has not seen
or has forgotten me. Your mother's life has not been a happy one, my
child, and less happy still, since we came to Australia. I think
everyone has some ordained place in life, but I always seem to get into
the place for which nature never intended me. For years I have been
dominated by a stronger will than my own, and that will, my child, was
between me and your father. I did wrong ever to have married him,--three
lives have been wrecked by it."

I listened, like one spell bound, she was opening her heart to the child
as she had never done to me.

"That little steamer is returning now," said Beatrice.

The child had evidently quite woke up, and the sweet bell-like tones of
her voice thrilled me again. My breast was torn by conflicting emotions.
I had not forgiven the woman, but my feelings towards her changed, for
through the death of her lover I felt as though in some way I owed her
compensation, but I had no love or even pity for her,--but the child; my
Beatrice! I could scarcely restrain myself from calling her by name.

But, Beatrice was now prattling away musically to her mother, who I
imagined to be gazing with strained attention, on the movements of the
ship--symbolical to her of her own life. She commenced presently to talk
again. It was as I had imagined, her thoughts were still with that ship.

"It is a wonderful emblem of life," she said, "one is towed out of the
harbour of one's early home. I did not want to marry; I was led into it
by my parents and family, they said it was the right thing to do. I
could not marry the man I loved and wanted; but I was expected to marry,
another, and alas! how little fitted I was for it; like a ship towed out
of a peaceful harbour, ill equipped and ill found, with two captains; no
wonder that my poor heart mutinied, and that the ship has been wrecked."

"Beatrice child, you remember the sea is not always like this, it is
peaceful, all smiles, and seemingly all gentleness; but it is a
treacherous thing, it can roar and thunder, and overwhelm fair vessels
in its wrath, and wreck them, and sport afterwards with the winds that
shriek--Ah! Ah! above the sinking ship, and drowning crew. The sea is a
cruel thing; and so is life. There's no pity in it. Ships go to sea with
massive cables, and great anchors, and strong yards, and masts and
ropes, and sails, to cope with circumstances, and fight the ocean in its
stormy moods; and so women, before they are cast adrift, as it were,
upon the ocean of married life, ought to be thoroughly prepared for it."

"Mother, while you have been talking the ship has passed nearly out of
sight," said Beatrice.

I turned my eyes towards the horizon where the vessel was fast sinking
in the distance. I almost pitied Violet as I watched the vanishing speck
sinking below the horizon. So fair, so unprepared for change or storm,
and with mutiny on board! So that was the way Violet, with me for a
husband, had put out to sea!

"There is nothing changes a woman so much as love or marriage," she
commenced again, unheeding the child's remark. "When I was your age, my
pet, I had the happiest of homes. There were a lot of us, but we were a
united family; I only knew what trouble was when, as a girl, I first
commenced to love."

"Your father was a good man, except that he married me without love. He
was the stronger of the two, and ought have known better than a girl,
the almost inevitable consequences. Then when he found out my secret,
man like, he flew to the opposite extreme and neglected me. He should
have fought for me; he had money, and might have taken me away from all
my dangerous surroundings, and if I had been out of reach of the other
influences, I think that I would have been grateful, and he was a good
man and in time I might have loved him, but now they are both gone, and
we must love each other, child, and be as cheerful as we can."

I was cut to the heart by this simple recital of Violet's own story. It
was true, no doubt, for there was no motive for deception; she could
have no knowledge of being overheard, nor did she know that De Vere was
dead; at least there was no reason to suppose that she knew of it.

I felt strongly impelled to make myself known to them, and tell Violet
of De Vere's death, and urge her to return with me to England. I had for
the moment forgotten my withered face and white hair, and the existence
of that thing. I groaned aloud in my anguish as I thought how completely
I would be a stranger to my own child, and cursed De Vere's malignity.

"What is that, mother?" I heard Beatrice exclaim, in a startled tone of
voice.

I did not wait to hear the answer, but rushed from the spot. "I must get
back my own proper body first, if there is any power on earth by which
it may be accomplished." I said this to myself over and over again; but
it was little more than a frenzied wish. What reasonable chance had I of
its fulfilment? Alas! practically none.




CHAPTER XII.--THE DOCTOR'S THEORY.


Much of my time during the next few weeks I passed alone. Men usually
stand perplexed and alarmed before the mystery of death, and its
surroundings. I sought death as a friend! To me it had no terror, for I
hoped somehow to learn the inscrutable secret of resurrection. I poured
over books dealing with these, and kindred subjects--Spiritualism,
demonical possession, witchcraft.

I studied the scriptures, and read of the raising of Samuel by the witch
of Endor, and mused upon what Paul, the holy apostle, said of being
clothed upon with a house from heaven. But all things pertaining to
death and resurrection, inscrutable as they are, even to philosophic
minds, seemed simple and familiar to me, compared with the dark awful
secret of my own life.

I remember specially meeting with the thing one day, just about this
time.

I was standing near the Sydney General Post-office; when, in company
with a fashionable man, I saw my own body walking into George street. I
had seen myself in mirrors; but never before had I looked at myself upon
the street. It was Mark Gunnery, and the step was firm, the head erect,
and a devil-may-care swagger marked the stride.

"Good Heaven!" I thought, that such a thing could be possible.

Outwardly they were both well dressed gentlemanly men. They raised their
glossy silk hats as two stylish women passed them, who smiled and bowed.
The two were smoking cigars, and as they crossed over, Gunnery
flourished his cane. They passed me near one of the pillars of the
building, and I heard them jest coarsely to each other, about the women.

I felt stung to madness, as when one sees a thief flaunting about in
some valuable stolen garment.

"The infernal shame of it!" I groaned in agony that a demon should be
thus able to possess himself of the body of another--and that other
still a living man!

In desperation I broke through my reserve and consulted a physician, who
was just then much talked about. It seemed to me from the first a very
singular interview. I will endeavour to describe the whole matter just
as it occurred.

The street he resided in was retired and of a severely respectable
character. Burnished bell-pulls and brass plates were numerous in this
street. At the door of a large and somewhat pretentious house I found
myself early one morning.

On gaining admission I was ushered by a servant into a large well
furnished apartment, to wait.

I say to wait, for it is part of a doctors method in Australia to keep
patients seated in a waiting room for some time before being admitted to
professional interview. It cools them if they are heated, reduces
temperature and pulse to normal condition, and generally quietens them
for the interview.

I must have waited in that wretched room fully half-an-hour--probably
while the doctor had his bath, and smoked his cigar, or ate his
breakfast. At last I was admitted.

The doctor, to my astonishment, turned out to be a man I had met with on
the continent; one who knew and had been friendly with De Vere.

How small a place the world is, at any rate in these days. There seems
to be no odd, out of the way, towns and cities now, such as there used
to be. You bury yourself in the heart of a continent, and find that your
nearest neighbour is a man from the next country, or possibly some
distant relation.

I shrank back for a moment; but then remembered that he could not
recognise me, and yet what did it matter, his knowledge of De Vere and
possibly of Violet and myself might be an assistance.

He was a tall spare man with grey eyes and thin brown hair. He regarded
me for a moment as though in doubt. I had no introduction; but I had
something better, so I drew out a five pound note, and placed it upon
the table.

"I wish, sir, to have your professional advice," I said.

"I have not the pleasure of your name, sir," he replied, carelessly
brushing the note on one side--the side farthest from me--as though he
had not noticed it.

"My name is Mark Gunnery," I replied.

"Take a chair," he said, at which he sat down in his own chair, which I
noticed was so arranged that the light shone full in my face, while he
remained in the shade. By this means he could perceive every change of
feature in a visitor's face, and himself remain unobserved.

"I know Mr. Gunnery of Church Consett Hall, England, who is staying at
the Golden Gate hotel. Are you related to him?" He said this very
quietly, and my face doubtless revealed my surprise. What was the use of
telling this man my story, he would think me insane or untruthful.

"My name is Mark Gunnery," I said emphatically, "and the thing you refer
to is a devil from hell, that has usurped my body."

He rose at once, and picked up my five pound note and reached it over to
me--I thought somewhat reluctantly--and said: "You had better take this
to Dr. Blank, sir, you will find him better able to advise you than I
can."

He had named a doctor for the insane!

"Don't be hasty, Doctor," I said, pushing the note back again. "I am not
a madman. You remember that duel at Alcona?"

He started as I mentioned this, and turned pale, for he had killed this
man. "Your Mark Gunnery never told you of that, or that Horace De Vere
was dead," I continued.

"Sit down again," he said wiping the perspiration from his face,
"whoever you are, I will listen to your story, if you will be brief."

I told him everything from the the time of my marriage with Violet to
then; it was a long story, and I heard ring after ring at the door bell,
and I guessed there must be a crowd of patients waiting; but I held him
with a fascinated attention, which surprised even myself.

"Mr. Gunnery," he said when I had done, "are you sure that you are not
mad?"

"Certain!" I replied.

"Can you describe the nature of the shock which you say De Vere gave you
in Melbourne?"

"It was like a galvanic shock," I answered.

"Were you perfectly unconscious the whole time?" he asked.

"Not altogether so, at first," I said, "but I was powerless to move. I
had a feeling as though my body were melting away from me, with a sound
like flowing water."

I saw him start as I said this.

"That is all you remember until you came back to consciousness?"

"Call and see me again, about the same time to-morrow morning," he said,
"I have a number of patients waiting for me, and I will think over your
remarkable story."

I left, feeling satisfied that he had some idea in his mind, but wanted
an opportunity to more closely observe my double. At any rate I had
partially persuaded him as to the genuineness of my story.

The following morning I kept my appointment punctually, and this time
was not asked to wait. The doctor met me with evident interest, and in a
state of some excitement.

"Come in," he said rising as I entered.

He waited until the servant had gone out, and then abruptly asked, "did
you feel any peculiar sensation at any time after seeing me yesterday?"

"I did," I replied.

"At what time?"

"At ten minutes to five o'clock," I answered.

"Describe to me the sensation," he said.

"It was as though a hot iron was passed from my temple down the right
side of my face and jaw," I answered.

"Any other sensation?" interrogated the doctor.

"A feeling of exhaustion, faintness, and as though I must fall asleep."

The doctor at this made some memoranda in a note book, and I heard him
say to himself, "It is certainly very remarkable."

"Mr. Gunnery," he said suddenly facing around upon me, "I want you to
keep away from your relative,"--he said this with some hesitation as
though he scarcely knew how to rightly designate my double.

"Keep away from him as much us possible for the next few days. I cannot
now tell you what I think of your very singular case, or of certain
remarkable phenomena, which I ascribe to natural causes, which have come
to my knowledge. I have a theory as to your case; but I want a further
data to go upon, which I hope to obtain during the next few days. You
may rely upon my professional assistance to the utmost of my power. Your
idea of the supernatural as it relates to Mr. Gunnery of the Golden Gate
Hotel, I believe to be altogether mistaken. But I think it possible that
we are upon the threshold of a great discovery."

This was all that I could induce him to say, and I went away, restless,
dissatisfied, and thoroughly mystified. He would say nothing about my
chances of regaining possession of my proper body. In fact while he
theorised, and set forth suppositions, and aroused my curiosity and
hope, he gave me no information, nor explanation of the remarkable
sensation I had experienced, of which he seemed to have some knowledge.

That evening, for want of something better to do I wandered into the
Free Public Library, and happened upon a book on Physicology, dealing
with the terms Soul, Spirit, Life, etc., viewed in their bearing on the
doctrine of Resurrection. The distinction of Spirit, Soul, and Body, the
author stated, was clearly recognised in the ancient philosophies, and
was familiar among the fathers of the Christian church. A quotation,
from Irenoeus specially clung to my memory: There are three of which the
perfect man consists, flesh, soul, spirit; the one, the Spirit giving
figure; the other, flesh, being formed. That, indeed, which is between
the two, is the soul, which sometimes following the spirit is raised by
it, sometimes consenting to the flesh, falls.

"Was it possible," I thought, for the spirit of a man to be divorced
from his soul and body, and for it (the spirit) to be incarnated in
another body? Was this, or something similar to this, the Doctor's
theory?

I had accidently stumbled upon a great physiological fact, viz. That the
spirit is to the soul, what the soul is to the body.




CHAPTER XIII.--VIOLET AGAIN.


I have for evident reasons refrained from mentioning the doctor's name.
He is still successfully practising his profession in Sydney, and what
follows as well as what has already been said about the duel at Ancona,
might prejudice him in the eyes of the public. I say this because it has
occurred to me that this manuscript may be found after my death, and its
contents made public, and I should be loath to injure in any way one
whom I have cause to respect and be grateful to, and whom I esteem in my
heart as a truly worthy and courageous man. With the scientific views
that he held, and my permission, he is I believe wholly absolved from
blame in regard to what follows. And I say this the more freely in view
of the results of his experiments as the unfortunately affected myself.

But I must proceed with my story.

The thought which had now taken possession of my mind at first staggered
me. I recalled the doctor's words, "Your idea of the supernatural, as it
relates to Mr. Gunnery of the Golden Gate Hotel, I believe to be
altogether mistaken; but I think it possible that we are upon the
threshold of a great discovery."

What did he mean? Was it that the Gunnery who had become such a horror
in my life was myself? My soul and body, but without my psyche, the
Spirit, which alone makes man to differ from the brute creation? The
words of Irenus passed and repassed through my mind. "Between these two
(the spirit and the body) is the soul, which sometimes following the
spirit is raised by it; and sometimes consenting to the flesh, falls."
In that case, I thought, What am I? I began to analyse my thoughts and
inner consciousness. Could it be possible that I was merely a spirit in
a body, without a human soul. I thought about it until my fleshly frame
was shaken with the vehemence of my feelings and conjectures. There was
only one source of relief for me.

I must again see the doctor.

He greeted me gravely, and listened with interest to what I had to say.
I could see by his face that I had a clue to the bent of his thoughts.
In fact without actually admitting it, he allowed me to see that I had
correctly surmised his theory.

It was in a word this: that by some mysterious power De Vere had
unknowingly brought about a severance of the spirit of Mark Gunnery from
his human soul and body; that my other self, dwelling at the Golden Gate
Hotel, was the animal body and human soul of Mark Gunnery; but the
masterpower, the spirit, the pneuma, was in some mysterious, manner
united to another aged body. But here, too, I was perplexed, for the
strong muscular frame which I possessed was scarcely in keeping with my
white hair and wrinkled face.

"Sit down," said the doctor, pointing to large padded operating chair.
"Make yourself quite comfortable. I may want to make an experiment. But
first answer me one or two questions."

"Do you remark any change in your mental and emotional sensations since
your illness in Melbourne?"

"Yes," I replied after a few minutes thought.

"As you best can, explain or describe them to me," said the doctor.

This was a matter of some difficulty, for one may be conscious of mental
and emotional changes, which it is very difficult to explain in words.
At last I said, "there seems now to be a missing link, as it were,
between the thought of my mind, and the action of my body. When my mind
is highly excited, I feel my body to be full of nervous force and
muscular power; but, unless so excited, it seems as though the
connection between thought and action were weak. I feel myself to be
deficient, in the softer and gentler emotions of the mind, I am easily
angered but never sorrowful, I brood over my state; but the feeling is
more one of indignation than regret. I have little desire for the
company of my fellows, such as I once had; but pride, hatred, and a
burning desire to secure my purpose, and get back my own body at any
cost, possesses me. I cannot explain it Doctor," I said with some
vehemence, "nor can you understand it, but I long to be back in my own
form, with a desire which neither love, nor woman, nor any other
passion, ever created in me before. I would die to secure it."

The doctor at this paced up and down the room, in deep thought. "Mark
Gunnery," he said at last, "will you place yourself wholly in my hands,
and absolve me from all blame, if I endeavour to make an experiment in
the interests of science--one which will for a time, at any rate, give
you your desire?"

"Most willingly doctor," I answered.

"It will be a great risk," he said.

"Doctor," I cried, "If by any power you can reunite me, if only for an
hour, to my other self, I will absolve you from all blame, even should
death be the penalty. My best friend," I pleaded, "don't trifle with me.
If you have the knowledge, and the power, use it, exert it, I beseech
you, in my behalf."

He looked very grave and seemed still to hesitate; but I continued to
urge him. "If I can do it," he said looking at his watch, "it must not
be for more than an hour."

At this he rose and rang the bell. "See that I am not disturbed, for one
full hour from the present time; it is now ten minutes to eleven," he
said to the servant.

As the servant closed the door, he turned upon me like a man
transformed. His eyes fairly glistened, and his hair seemed to move
slightly up and down of its own accord, as though surcharged with
electricity.

"Mark Gunnery," he said, lifting his hand above my head. "Sleep!" Again
he moved his hand, "Sleep!" he said.

I felt my whole body growing rigid, then a tingling sensation crept over
every limb, and a sense of death like, but peaceful slumber followed.

"Mark Gunnery you are now wholly at my command?"

"Speak!" he cried, impatiently.

"I am wholly at your command," I repeated, mechanically, for I was no
longer master of my own words.

"Search the room for the Golden Gate Hotel, and find whether your other
self is there," he said.

The sensation which followed these words, it is impossible for me to
describe. It was as my whole being was suddenly changed into a thousand
eyes. I could see every where and everything. "He is in his own room
dressing to go out," I said.

"For one hour," said the doctor solemnly, "and only for one hour I
permit and command you to take possession of that which is your own. Go!
but at the appointed time, I will, that you return."

As the last words fell from the Doctor's lips the surgery vanished, and
I was again consciously my former self.

I sat down for a moment on a chair in front of my dressing table, and
looked thoughtfully at myself. I had no special sense of surprise at the
change. There was only one thing which seemed to bind me to the old
fearful past. I felt as though a thread of some kind held me near the
heart. I tried to brush it off with my hands, but it was useless. I
arose and bathed my face in water; but although I could see and feel
nothing with my hands it was there, reminding me that I was only where I
was, by permission. The other end of that thread, I knew, was fastened
to a seemingly inanimate corpse which leaned back in an operating chair
in the Doctor's, surgery in W----Street. By means of that thread of
sympathy the Doctor could at any moment communicate with me, and I was
conscious that he was commanding me to make the best of the short
opportunity he had given me.

At that moment I remembered that in another quarter of an hour I had an
appointment to meet my wife and child. I need scarcely explain that it
had been made the previous day by my other self. I felt ashamed and
disgusted with myself, for about the same moment I found out that I had
been drunk the night before, or rather that my soul and body had been.

For five minutes, I had one of the strangest feelings which probably
ever fell to the lot of man, I took my own soul and body in hand a bit,
and let them know that the master had come back.

"Mark Gunnery, you drunken fool," I cried indignantly, "how dare you
make such an ass of yourself," and at this once again I felt sorry and
well nigh shed tears over my own unworthy degradation. "Never do this
again Mark Gunnery," I said. "I shall sign the pledge for you this very
day, and don't you care to break it, or get into any other abominable
wickedness."

I completed a careful toilet hurriedly, and during the time recalled a
thousand things which had been unknown to me before.

I passed down into the vestibule, and surveyed myself with intense
satisfaction in a mirror I found there. I was again Mark Gunnery, as of
old. My other self's companions came up just then and slapped me on the
back.

"You're a regular buck this morning Gunnery--what's in the wind--come
and have a soda and brandy, and a game of billiards."

"No, thank you, old man," I answered somewhat coolly.

"You won't," he said with an oath, eyeing me with evident astonishment,
as he no doubt remarked a change in me. "What has come over you--going
to join the Salvation Army?" This he said with another foul expression.

I looked at the great blustering cowardly rou, and all the passion of
outraged manhood that was left in me, seemed to spring up suddenly with
over-mastering power; this was one of the men who had enticed my
wretched soul and body perdition-ward. I lifted my clenched fist--and a
whole tempest of passionate indignation gave strength and aim to the
blow--and smote him fair between the eyes, and felled him to the ground.

I heard shouts behind me as I stepped outside, and jumped into my cab,
which stood waiting.

"Drive quickly," I said to the man. "Snowden Villa, Darlingford."

Ten minutes afterwards I was in a pleasant drawing room with one arm
round Beatrice, and my free hand clasped in the hand of Violet. Good
Heaven! I could have forgiven anything, I could have loved anyone! I was
so filled with delight at being once again my own self.

"Mark," said Violet, great tears in her eyes, "I feel happier to-day
than I have been for many years. I have been far from a good wife to
you; but you can never know the powerful spell that has been around and
over me. You know that I loved Horace De Vere," she continued, "before I
knew or married you."

I had no wish, and no time to chide her, half of my precious hour had
already gone.

"Violet," I said quietly, "Horace De Vere is dead."

"I am not surprised to hear it," she said calmly. "I have felt for
nearly a month past that something had happened to him. But why don't
you upbraid me, and say what you must feel in your heart, at my having
deserted you."

She was now sitting on a chair near me, her face covered with her hands.
But my arm was still around Beatrice, who stood between my knees, and
seemed to cling strangely to me.

"Violet," I said hurriedly, "I forgive you from my soul; I heard all
that you said to Beatrice the other day on the cliffs. I ought to have
fought for you, but instead of that I let you drift out to sea, poor
soul, with mutiny on board. Dry your tears and let me talk to you. My
time is most precious; but you cannot understand the awful thing De Vere
did to me. I cannot, I dare not tell you!"

I saw her wince under my words, and know that she altogether
misunderstood me, so I hastened to say "you are only indirectly
concerned in it, however. It was something which he did to me personally
that I refer to."

I saw Violet look at me as I caressed and fondled Beatrice; the child
had evidently not forgotten me, and her pleasure at again being with her
father filled me with unmixed delight. I bent down and kissed the
child's hair, and felt more like a lover than a father.

"Mark," said Violet quietly, "you are wonderfully changed since
yesterday, you are not like the same person."

"Violet! Beatrice!" I exclaimed excitedly, "let me explain an awful
secret to you," and I looked at my watch and saw that in another few
minutes my hour would have expired; indeed I already seemed to hear the
Doctor calling me from his surgery.

"De Vere by some accursed art has divorced my spirit from my soul and
body; the Gunnery you met with before was only a part of me--and--" at
that I felt the tugging at my heart again; and the Doctor's peremptory
voice commanded my return.

My last look out of my staring eyes, revealed to me the shrinking forms
of my terrified wife and child. Then for a moment I heard a knocking at
the outer door--then hurried steps, and a voice, asking where is he?
He's killed a man--and then unconsciousness.




CHAPTER XIV.--I MEDITATE SUICIDE.


THE period of unconsciousness must have been brief. Probably it only
lasted during the moment or two in which the doctor's influence recalled
me from Snowdon Villa back to the surgery.

Then as in a confused mist, I looked at the inanimate white-headed form
which lay back in the operating chair, and I was immediately conscious
of a revulsion of feeling. I seemed to struggle against the doctor's
efforts to reanimate that body. For my young ardent spirit to be again
incarcerated in such a form was most repulsive to me.

But I saw just then great drops of sweat standing thickly upon the
doctor's face, as in a perfect agony of excitement and fear, he labored
to reanimate the seemingly lifeless clay. Surely it was base
ingratitude! and at the thought I resisted no longer, and immediately
the white-faced man in the chair sighed.

At the doctor's command I then struggled to open the closed eyelids, and
in the effort lost all my sense of a separate existence.

I was oppressed with pain now; a tremor shook me, and I sighed a second
time, and then felt the doctor making fresh upward passes on me, and
afterward applying a restorative to my lips. He then fanned my face, at
which I again opened my eyes, and breathed heavily.

"Thank God!" I heard him ejaculate devoutly.

He sat down on a chair and looked at me and I think that of the two he
must have been the whitest.

Then he took my hand to feel my pulse.

"Are you all right, Gunnery, now?" he asked.

"Yes, doctor, thank you?" I replied.

"You have had a narrow squeak," he said. "I thought at one time I would
hardly bring you too again."

"It never occurred to me that the absence of a human soul would be so
perilous to the body during the clairvoyant state. I have had to keep up
respiration and heart action by artificial means during the whole time.
I never ought to have made such an experiment."

I was naturally very much exhausted, and could at first say very little
in reply. He saw this and gave me some brandy, and then half carried me
to a couch, and assisted me to lie down, covering me over with a rug.

"You had better sleep for half-an-hour," he said.

I found on waking that I had slept for several hours, and was quite
restored. The doctor had been out, but had returned again.

He invited me into his dining room, where I found dinner laid for four.
He then introduced me to his wife and daughter as Mr. Vernon, and we
talked upon general subjects. After dinner he asked me into his study
for a cigar and a chat.

"You feel quite yourself again now, do you not?" he commenced.

"No, I don't feel that I am myself;" I replied. "I feel that I am John
Vernon again, worse luck!"

"Ah! Of course, that's what I mean," said the doctor.

"Now, it won't excite you over much, will it, to talk of what has
transpired to-day," he continued.

"I don't think so," I replied.

"Have you any recollection," he asked, "of what happened while you were
clairvoyant?"

"My memory is not so clear as I could wish it to be, but I have a
recollection, and I feel it to be growing more distinct, as I endeavour
to recall the incidents of the day," I answered.

"You know that in ordinary cases of mesmeric sleep there is no
recollection whatever on the part of the patient?" he said, looking at
me anxiously.

"Yes," I answered.

"What is particularly impressed, upon you as having happened?" he asked.

"I remember seeing my wife and child," I answered; "and I have a faint
recollection of someone having said that I had killed a man."

I saw the doctor start as I said this; but he smoked for fully half a
minute before he answered me.

"Yours is the most extraordinary case I ever met with or heard of," he
said at last. "What you dimly recollect is perfectly true. A man was
killed in a fracas in the vestibule of the Golden Gate hotel, and your
other self has been arrested by the police and is now in prison charged
with murder or manslaughter."

I was not so much shocked by this announcement as might have been
expected, for mentally I was still somewhat confused, and while the
doctor had been speaking, my mind was struggling to recall the events of
the day. It was only afterward that they impressed themselves vividly
upon my mind, and I became fully aware of the seriousness of the
position. I was shocked and grieved, however, as memory, assisted by the
doctor's story, brought back the facts to me. The hand of my other self
had struck the blow; but it was by my will and direction.

"Don't you feel sorry for what has occurred?" said the doctor, looking
me full in the face with a somewhat stern expression.

"No, I cannot say that I exactly feel sorry, but I realise that it was a
mistake, and were it possible, I would recall the blow and its
consequences. I may feel it more keenly to-morrow; now I feel almost
stunned by what has happened. If, however, you think I am responsible,
Doctor, mesmerise me, and let me again take possession of my own self,
and remain there, and let this body die."

"And what should I do with the corpse of John Vernon?" asked the Doctor.

"No, sir," he said without giving me time to reply, "I will do nothing
of the sort. I have more compunction about killing people than you seem
to have. Don't you think we had better go up to the gaol, and see if it
is not possible to bail your relative out."

I could not bring myself to this, however, the idea of meeting the thing
again that day, was repulsive to me. My brain was in a whirl, the events
of the morning were rapidly imprinting themselves upon my memory with
most vivid distinctness. I afterwards recalled the very pattern of the
carpet in Violet's drawing room. I could see the face of Vaughan
Stockton immediately after the blow. Not one thing which had transpired
during my possession of my other self escaped me--Violet's words, her
tears, the tremor of her voice, and Beatrice--everything was vividly
remembered.

The doctor's offer to find bail was not accepted; and I returned to my
Chamber in Temple Court, with my hopes dashed to the ground, and with a
sense of fresh guilt and increased responsibility upon me. It was not
that poor wretched thing in gaol which struck the blow. It was only the
instrument of my passionate temper. If murder it was, I was the
murderer.

I lay awake half the night and seriously contemplated suicide, as the
only means of unravelling the tangled skein of my most unfortunate and
mysterious existence.

I could see that it would be a hopeless task to try and persuade the
doctor to again exert his power in my behalf. I was confronted too with
an unforseen difficulty. I found myself unable to act upon impulse: and
I felt a singular repugnance to taking my own life, I would have thanked
another for doing it, but shrank from the act myself.

I did not at this time trouble about Gunnery, except as something in
which I had a kind of personal possession. I knew now, however depraved
the thing had been, it was merely the uncontrolled and debased instincts
of my lower nature run wild; and that there could be no more
responsibility or accountability than in the case of a derelict floating
upon the ocean without a captain, in charge, possibly or an imbecile
crew.

I sought the doctor early next morning with anxious and haggard face,
and we debated the strange position of things long and earnestly.

He upraided me for not having controlled myself better on the previous
day, and strongly refused to make any further experiment.

"It is too dangerous," he said. "Besides it is plain that you are not to
be trusted. Good heavens! you would implicate me, and I should be
ruined--perhaps hanged."

"What is to be done then?" I asked.

"First of all I think that we had better both of us visit him; something
may suggest itself. Besides you must remember that an animal with a soul
has instincts, and reason and feeling, and the thing as you call it, is
a part of yourself--and you have no knowledge whatever of the extent of
the suffering you may experience should your relative be hanged. Do you
remember the pain you had the afternoon you first consulted me about
your case?"

"I do," I replied, and I shuddered at the recollection.

"That was merely through my having drawn a tooth from your other self's
jaw. I fear you will have to prepare yourself for some great
suffering--possibly death--should your relative be hanged."

This was a new idea to me, and I felt greatly disconcerted. Not that I
feared death, but I shrank from the thought of the ignomy, the disgrace,
and the pain, which it must inflict upon both myself, and Violet, and
Beatrice. I was greatly moved, and determined to accept the doctor's
suggestion and go with him to the prisoner. It proved to be a melancholy
and unsatisfactory mission.




CHAPTER XV.--A GREAT DISCOVERY.


FOR the sake of clearness it will be better for me to continue to refer
to my other self as Gunnery.

I wanted the Doctor to go with me at once to visit the prisoner, for
having come to this decision, I was impatient to carry it out, without
further loss of time. A desire had come over me to look intelligently at
my physical body and human soul from without.

Previously I had regarded my body as in the occupation of a demon. Now I
was persuaded that it was simply a human derelict, cast adrift upon the
ocean of life without spiritual guidance. Handed over as it were to
animalism to become earthly, sensual, and devilish, for the lack of the
divine essence which comes from, and returns to, Him who gave it.

The Doctor, however, could not visit Gunnery with me that day for many
patients were awaiting him. He urged me to go alone and see him, but
this I was disinclined to do; so he arranged to go with me on the
following day.

I knew that he wished to be rid of me; but I was afraid of myself, and
dreaded now to be left alone; so to please me he suggested that I should
accompany him in his gig, and return with him to dinner, after he had
visited certain patients.

I began now to realise that my case had so taken hold of the Doctor,
that its investigation was absorbing his almost every thought. He
commenced talking as soon as we started, and we resumed the conversation
after each visit he paid, as though nothing else was worthy or a
thought.

"I never did believe in the efficacy of what people call spiritualism,"
commenced the Doctor, "your case appears to me simply an illustration of
the marvellous possibilities of man's complex nature."

"I believe there are thousands of people in the world," he continued
impressively, "no better, and no worse, and no more accountable for
their actions, than is Gunnery in the gaol yonder. Do you remember how
St. Paul prayed that the spirit, the soul, the body, of some of his
converts might be kept blameless. It's the spirit, the 'pneuma,' that
makes men to differ from one another; but heaven only knows how many of
the men and women we meet with have one."

I listened to him in amazement. Could it be that of the men and women
around us, many had no spiritual aspirations, no heavenward longing?

The Doctor evidently read my thoughts.

"You see Mark Gunnery, I can talk to you about this, because I know my
words are not being thrown away upon a mere soul. I can recognise the
psyche in some people by their eyes; but yours is the first case in
which I have been able to actually demonstrate its existence apart from
the soul as a fact. I would give ten years of my life," he exclaimed
vehemently, "if I could prove it before an audience of scientific men.
Why if it could only be made an absolute certainty, it would change the
whole of our system of jurisprudence, and give the key to solve some of
the worst social problems which now perplex and sadden the nobler men
and women of the race."

The last remarks seem to hold out a hope to me, and I eagerly took hold
of it.

"Doctor, why do you not make use of Gunnery and myself to demonstrate
the truth of it?" I said. But my question was unnoticed.

"Yes," he continued stroking the horse with the whip, and speaking more
to himself than to me, "they talk about setting a trap to catch a
sunbeam; but De Vere has somehow managed to catch a man's spirit, and
confine it in a body, which that spirit has actually quickened into
life."

"Do you know," he said turning around and looking fixedly at me, "you
are the scientific marvel of the age! And yet I dare not make use of my
knowledge."

"What do you mean?" I asked, startled by his appearance.

"I mean," he said, "that through your case I have learnt the secret of
bringing a dead body to life again--but nothing is accomplished in this
world without sacrifice, and in every such case the miracle of
resurrection would mean the loss of the pneuma by some living man."

My very hair bristled with horror and astonishment. I grasped what he
meant. He would multiply similar cases to my own, and in doing so launch
other spiritless men and women, like Gunnery, upon the world. He again
read my thoughts.

"What would a few more or less matter," he said, "there are thousands of
them around us as it is. Besides, see what a solace it would be to
thousands, what mourners might be comforted, what tears dried, what
blighted hopes restored again; and think too," he said, lowering his
voice almost to a whisper, "think too, what I should be--a physician?
Nay! I should be a King, the lord of death and life; the thought of it
is marvellous!"

I began now to fear this man, and yet I clung to him, for he was my only
hope; and after all, the suggestion he had thrown out was purely
scientific, and only fearful because so new and strange. If instead of
being imprisoned in an aged form, I had been united by De Vere's mishap
to a more youthful body, I might have been less dissatisfied with my
lot.

I looked at the Doctor again, his eyes were glistening, and I noticed
the same strange throbbing movement in his hair, he was evidently
powerfully affected.

He now drew up the horse at the entrance gateway of a handsome
residence, and handing me the reins stepped from the gig without a word.

I sat there patiently for fully half an hour, pondering over the
doctor's words, when my mind became absorbed with a project of which I
shall have more to say presently.

The afternoon sun shone hotly overhead; some well dressed children in an
adjoining garden laughed loudly as they sportively chased each other on
a grassy lawn. How light-hearted they were? How little they thought of
the storm and stress of the life which lay before them. Alas! that we
could not always remain children; or at any rate retain the child heart,
which loves and trusts, and laughs and sings, and even when it weeps
sheds tears, which flashing, tell of summer sunshine in the life, as
well as summer rain.

Suddenly, however, my thoughts were broken in upon by the appearance of
a man servant who touched his cap to me, and betraying evident concern,
said:--

"Sir, the doctor wishes to consult with you, and has asked me to remain
with the horse and gig. One of the maids awaits you in the hall, and
will show you to the room where the doctor is with the young mistress.
Alas, her sister is dead."

I stepped out of the vehicle and passed along a well-kept gravel pathway
to the entrance hall, wondering the while why I should be called in for
consultation; but the thought suddenly flashed into my mind, that I was
wanted because the doctor was about to use his newly acquired knowledge,
and make his first original experiment.

That, in a word, he was about to attempt to bring the dead to life
again, and in doing so, turn adrift upon society another derelict,
similar to the Gunnery of the Golden Gate Hotel! I passed into the
mansion like one stunned. It was too terrible!

The servant took my hat and stick from me in the hall, and I followed
her into the chamber of death, like a man walking in a dream.




CHAPTER XVI.--QUICKENING THE DEAD.


Entering unnoticed, for the thick carpet deadened every sound, I saw
that the Doctor was in a state of intense but suppressed excitement. The
room was a large one, and richly furnished. Silken hangings draped the
lofty windows, and mirrors flashed from the walls. It was evidently a
home of luxury; but alas! wealth had failed to keep out the presence of
death. The Doctor stood beside a bed, of costly workmanship, which
occupied the centre of the apartment, his arms folded as he gazed
intently upon the dead.

While I had been watching the children outside in the sunshine, he had
been grappling with the Skeleton King for a Life, and Death had been
victorious.

It was a face of rare beauty which lay so white and still upon the
pillow. A girl of eighteen, and with no sign of a long illness in the
cheeks or upon the brow; her beautiful golden hued hair had been
confined; but a stray lock had broken away, and curled lovingly around
her shell-like ear and soft round cheek, from which the bloom of youth
had not yet departed.

A nurse was just bending over the corpse, with two golden coins in her
hands, to lay upon the lifeless eye balls, and close them down for ever.

"No nurse, not yet!" The voice of the Doctor was that of a man in pain,
and the woman evidently marked the strange inflexion, for she drew back
hurriedly.

At the same moment I noticed kneeling by the bedside another youthful
figure, the fair young head bowed down in grief, just such hair, and
such a head as that which lay so still upon the pillow. They were
sisters--only sisters--and nearly of the same age. At this moment the
Doctor saw me. He gave me a glance of recognition.

"Nurse," he said, "here is Mr. Vernon, who will now render me any
assistance which with Miss Mabel's help, I may need. I am of opinion
that life is not entirely extinct. I wish you to go and attend to Mrs.
Chesterfield, for whom I am much concerned. Tell her that I have called
in an assistant, and that we are going to try artificial respiration for
half an hour, and that she must not yet regard the case as altogether
hopeless. Ask one of the maids to wait outside the door, within
immediate call, and I will send for you at once if I need you."

I could see that he wanted us to be alone.

When she had left the room, he at once locked the door, and without
speaking to me, turned to the bereaved sister.

"Miss Mabel," he said, "there is still some hope; but as you love your
sister, I beg of you to endeavour to be calm. Very much will depend now
upon you. I am about to make a final attempt. It will mean hopeless
death for your sister if I fail; but If I succeed it will be her
restoration."

Seldom have I remarked such a change as these few words worked in Mabel
Chesterfield. She raised herself from the ground with eager earnest
eyes.

"Doctor!" she exclaimed. "I will be perfectly calm and composed, and
will do anything to assist you, if there is the slightest hope. Tell me
Doctor!" she said imploringly, "is it possible that my sister is not
dead, that there is still hope?"

The Doctor again reassured her; but I knew--as he did--that the recovery
which he referred to was altogether different to that which this eager
girl expected. Alas! it was to be resuscitation at the expense of this
sweet girl's spirit. And yet the experiment was magnificent if awful,
and offered compensation in this case, which possibly could scarcely
under any other circumstances be equalled.

"Will you kindly rest in this easy chair while Mr. Vernon attends me,"
said the Doctor, "we will call you when you can be of any assistance.
Let me feel your pulse."

"Ah! just a little excitement; let me make a pass or two over you to
quieten your nerves. There now, you feel better. You might go to sleep
for a few minutes if you can."

I saw that the girl was perfectly passive in his hands, and in a few
minutes he had cast her into a deep mesmeric sleep. When he saw this, he
turned around to me almost savagely:--

"Mark Gunnery, it is you who have taught me this; but what shall I do if
it fails?"

I shall never forget the plaintive upraining of these words. It was a
crisis in the doctor's life, one of those hours which turn men's hair
white, and put marks, not only upon the body, but upon the mind and
soul, the last eternally. I knew just how the Doctor felt, for had I not
myself troden a very similar pathway? On either side of him in that
still room there towered the mountains, awe inspiring and unscalable; in
front of him burned the luring beacon-light of hope; but to attain his
purpose, he must pass alone through the valley of the shadow--with death
on every side of him--a path which few tread without mental agony and
lacerated feet. How little do the great crowds of the passionate
heart-throbs, and sacrifices and soul-risks, through which daring
scientific explorers have won from nature, secrets that have enriched
the world.

By saying this I am not committing myself to any full approval of the
Doctor's actions in the case referred to. I believe him to be devoted to
his profession--a scientific enthusiast--and I am persuaded that he
honestly believed that in this case the end justified the means. My
desire is to narrate facts, rather than analyse motives.

He now turned his attention again to the body of the dead girl. He bared
her bosom, and laid his ear above her heart. There was neither breath
nor life. He gently chafed the flesh, and filled the lungs of the corpse
with his own breath.

"Put another pillow beneath the head," he said to me.

"Now you stand and watch, and touch the lips occasionally with this
cordial. Tell me immediately of any change you may remark--even the
slightest."

He went back once more to the other sister, and there, with my back to
the Doctor and the living sister, I watched the dead, and listened.

"You are still asleep, Mabel," I heard him say.

"Yes, Doctor," she answered.

"Are you strong enough to go and help Gertrude to recover?" he said.

"I feel as though I could do anything doctor which you wished, and which
you helped me to do."

"Are you stronger now?" he presently asked; and the tremor of his voice
told me of the strain under which he was operating.

"Yes," was the faint response.

"Go then to your sister's body, possess it and remain there, to sustain
it in life during my pleasure! Do you hear me, Mabel?"

A sigh escaped from the lips of the entranced girl. Then I heard her
say, "I want to do it doctor, but the heart is not beating, the body of
Gertrude is cold and lifeless. I am trying doctor--be patient with
me--it is so very hard."

"Put the cordial to the lips,"' said the doctor to me, "chafe the arms
again, and rub the palms of the hands."

I was too much engrossed with my task to turn around to look at him, but
the tone of his voice told me of his agony.

No doubt the singular constitution of my own being prevented the horror
of the thing being fully realised by myself; but I was startled for a
moment afterward, for I heard the doctor again commanding the spirit of
Mabel to take possession of her sister's body, and at that moment the
corpse whose hands chafed--sighed!

"Doctor, don't urge me any more or I shall die," was the next thing I
heard said behind me.

I chafed the arms and hands and feet with fresh energy, for now the eyes
had lost their stony vacant stare, and turning my head, I saw the doctor
beside me. His face was suffused with perspiration. "Get me that
smelling bottle," he said.

I realised at that moment his frightful position, as a physician. He was
staking everything upon this experiment. It was a question not of one
life, but of two.

He made a few passes above the reviving body of Gertrude. "Sleep!" he
said "Sleep!--Sleep!"

"Lift the girl gently up," he said, "and place her upon that couch. Put
that eiderdown coverlet around her. Tell the servant maid outside to
have my horse put into the stable for a few hours. And also to bring
something to the door for us to eat. They must both sleep until the
changed conditions of their bodies become normal. Be careful to lock the
door; no one must, at present, come in."

Half an hour afterwards the two young girls were calmly sleeping, their
breathing being in each case natural, and distinctly heard in the room,
and the news soon spread through the house that Miss Mabel was ill,
through the shock at her sister's supposed death, but that Miss Gertrude
was recovering. The secret of that resuscitation was known to no one,
except myself and the doctor. The strain upon him must have been almost
at the breaking point.

"I have done it," he said to me excitedly, "I have demonstrated it is an
actual possible fact, that the spirit of one person may possess, and
give life to the dead body of another; but it is a step in the dark; a
scientific exploration of nature's secrets which as yet we are
altogether unprepared for. It is my first, and it will be my last
experiment in reincarnation."

My whole feeling was one of horrified amazement; they were asleep now;
but what of their awakening!




CHAPTER XVII.--"AS THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY."


Let a hidden thing be but once discovered, and how it stares at us. We
marvel then that when we did not see it before. There is absolutely no
escaping it, and we upbraid ourselves for lack of shrewdness and
sagacity, that it was not at once distinguished. This was my feeling now
in regard to my other self. The absurd idea which I had held, that my
physical body was possessed by a demon, had completely vanished, and the
more I thought of the poor thing, away there in prison, the more I
pitied it--and myself too. My anger burned less even against De Vere.
There was after all no devilry in the matter. As he had put it when
sinking to his death in the Queensland Quicksand; it was not sorcery,
but simply his larger knowledge of Nature's secrets which gave to him
seemingly supernatural power.

De Vere however only knew in part--like others. The effect of his
assault on me, he could only have very partially understood, or he would
at once have recognised me when we met again in Queensland.

Such thoughts as these passed through my mind, as I watched alone in
that hushed chamber with the two sleeping girls. "But were they now two
girls?" I thought; and I was startled by the thought.

I should say that the Doctor had left me alone with them for a while, to
visit the mother upstairs, and speak with the nurse. He had been with
them for an hour, but both patients were now sound asleep. I watched
them closely one after the other, it seemed to me that it was not
exactly the sleep of health.

The colour had partially returned to Gertrude's cheeks, but it seemed
more like a swoon than the restful sleep of youth.

While thus watching them closely, during the Doctor's absence, it would
be difficult to put in words the thoughts which filled my mind. I stood
before Gertrude, the girl without a soul, but whose body had been
quickened into life by the indwelling spirit of her sister. She was not
Gertrude now, no more than I was my grandfather Gunnery. "We two
partners," I thought, "in a common bereavement; spirits flung out of
their natural homes into the bodies of others.'

"But how," I thought, "will she feel? What will she do and say, on
awakening? She must discover the truth then, just as I have done. And
how about the other sister?"

At that, the doctor knocked at the door, which I opened for him, and
then locked again.

"Will you awaken them now?" I asked anxiously.

He shook his head, "No, it will be better for them to sleep just where
and as they are, until the morning; they must both however be fed at
intervals. They will take it without being awakened."

He had some strong beef tea with wine in it, and went first to Gertrude,
"Gertrude," he said, "take a little of this, it will do you good."

He waited a moment but the lips were not opened, and there was no
answer. "Gertrude," he said more firmly, taking her hand, "open your
lips my dear, I wish you to take some nourishment."

"I thought that I heard you speak to Gertrude, Doctor; don't you know
that I am Mabel?"

I saw his hand tremble as he placed the medicine spoon to her lips.

"It's all right," he said, "take this, and then go to sleep again, and
mind, you must not awake until the morning."

He also gave some to the other girl; but without calling her name. He
might have done so for she would have answered all right--They were both
Mabel!

He left me abruptly after this for an hour, and then came back again
with another nurse, in whom he seemed to have special confidence. She
was to be left in charge for the night with the first nurse to assist
her, and I heard him giving the strictest directions as to the treatment
of the two sisters until his return the next day.

"I think that they will both sleep, but on no account disturb them," he
said.

As we drove back to the Doctor's home, I asked, "What will you do with
them when they awaken?"

"Don't ask me! don't ask me!" he exclaimed.

We argued the whole matter at length in the Doctor's study; he kept me
with him until midnight. It was evidently a relief to his strained
feelings to talk.

I could see that he was trying to take no thought for the morrow, and in
his case indeed, sufficient unto the day was the evil thereof.

"Do you now understand the nature of the remarkable discovery which I
have made?'' he asked abruptly.

"I believe so, Doctor."

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "it's a great discovery! It's a marvellous
discovery! but there is one thing which troubles me."

"I know what it is," I said.

"It won't forget, it cannot forget, it will retain its identity, even
though absent from its own body. I have done a marvellous thing; but I
have not given them back Gertrude; the hands, and the face, and the
voice, and the whole exterior form are there; but the spirit in
Gertrude's body is Mabel. Good Heaven! they will be accounted mad when
they awake, for each of them will be consciously Mabel. It is not
Gertrude after all that is brought to life, only another Mabel!"

"Can nothing be done to remedy that," I asked, equally excited with the
Doctor.

"Nothing," he replied, "the spirit never loses its identity. You, for
instance, are in a body which resembles your grandfather; but did you
ever imagine yourself to be Old Squire Gunnery?"

"Never!" I answered emphatically.

"That's the trouble in the case of these two girls," he said, "the
experiment breaks down at this very point. You may command the spirit,
and control it, and change its location permanently, while under the
influence of mesmeric trance; but you cannot cause it to lose its
identity, you cannot create a new spirit."

"Surely, Doctor, it's marvellous enough to be able, by any means, to put
life into a dead body."

"I don't know that that is so very marvellous," said the Doctor
thoughtfully. "What is a dead body?"

"Take a case of drowning," he continued, without waiting for a reply,
"There you have all the appearance and evidence of death. The heart has
ceased to beat, the lungs to breathe, the blood to circulate. Left to
itself the body is as dead as a piece of wood; but notice there is no
disease and no wound; you call it death by asphyxia. But by artificial
respiration and artificial circulation, you set the heart beating again,
and lo! the departed spirit comes back again, and you bring that dead
body to life again by compelling the return of its own spirit, just as I
brought back the life of Gertrude Chesterfield, by transferring to her
dead, but perfect and healthy body, the spirit of her sister, by means
of mesmeric trance.

"It's science. Sir! only that, and nothing more, and as far as I know,
yourself and Gertrude Chesterfield are the only two illustrations of the
transmittance of spirits into other bodies, to be found in the whole
universe."

"What caused Gertrude Chesterfield's death," I asked.

"Asphyxia," said the Doctor, "commonly speaking was the cause. It was
the result of a sudden shock, and not actual disease, but there is no
need to enter into particulars, her case was a similar one to that of
drowning. She ceased to breathe."

"Was it that which suggested to you to make the experiment?"

"Yes," said the Doctor, "I knew them both, and it occurred to me that if
Gertrude had only had as brave a spirit as Mabel's, it would have clung
to the body, and would not have allowed it to die."

"No end of people die simply because--if I may so put it--their spirits
lose heart. That's why we give intoxicants in some cases; the alcohol
puts a little Dutch courage into the spirit, and carries them over the
crisis. Some people's timorous spirits clear out of the body and make
off to another world, if you only give them half a chance to do so;
while others cling with such tenacity to the body, that they won't let
it die, and in such cases through the very pluck of the man's spirit he
pulls through and recovers again. There's another thing too, some
medical men have the power of infusing hope and courage into the spirit
of a sick man, to such an extent that the spirit fights with the disease
until it gets the upper hand of it. People have attributed all this to
what is called the imagination, but when there is no spirit there is no
imagination. For instance, you are all mind, sensual things are nothing
to you, your imaginative power is your strong point, because you are
spirit; but you will find that your poor relative up there in the prison
is a most unimaginative creature. In fact, has no imagination, but is
purely a creature of instincts, feelings and animal passions, because it
is nothing more than a physical body kept alive by the indwelling of a
human soul. If he were taken seriously ill there would be little or no
chance of recovery. If he is unfortunately hanged for the death of
Vaughan Stockton he will suffer far less than an ordinary man would, for
the very reason that he has no imagination. It is the presence of the
spirit in the soul which makes all the difference. Our exquisite
pleasures and our exquisite pains all arise from this source. We speak
of men being high spirited, proud spirited, low spirited, etc., and we
speak correctly. Imagination contains within itself positive evidence of
its spiritual nature. Imagination for instance has always preceded the
discovery of truth; the poet sings of things which he has learned by
spiritual intuition. And years afterwards laggard science catches up,
and proclaims that the poet's visionary song was actual truth."

"I am not sure that I even now thoroughly understand you, Doctor," I
said.

"You ought to, then, for it's plain enough," he replied. "Let me put the
whole thing in a nut shell. The ordinary man is composed of three
parts--Spirit, Soul, Body. The soul is a spiritual form, similar in
shape to the body, which is moulded upon it, and fits it as a glove does
the hand. If not, how is it that some of the lower forms of life have
the power to reproduce amputated members; you take off the foot or tail
of a lizard and a new one grows in its place. You don't suppose that
nature works a miracle? it merely moulds a new limb upon a spiritual
form already in existence. The soul is the life, and if you look up the
first chapter of Genesis, you will see by the marginal reference that in
the Hebrew the word translated life is really soul. It is not 'every
moving creature that hath life,' but every moving creature that hath
soul. The quotation of course refers to animals, and the form of all
animal souls is undoubtedly the same as that of the animal body. If you
had your arm amputated, and your body survived the loss of blood, you
would suffer pain; but you would have no remaining consciousness of that
limb still being there, because you have no human soul. But people
generally who have limbs amputated, retain a strange consciousness of
the old shape of the limb being there as long as they live. The fact is
you cannot amputate the spiritual form which in every limb underlies the
flesh. Gunnery of the Golden Gate Hotel, has your soul form, under the
flesh, and I might amputate his arm, but he would never lose the sense
of having one. Of course I cannot demonstrate all this mathematically,
because you can only positively prove the lower forms of truth. But I
should think that you have seen and experienced enough to-day to believe
what I say. You will be able tomorrow to put it to a further test when
you meet face to face with your own soul and body now incarcerated in
prison."

I left the doctor in the early morning hours and returned to my
chambers, but I could not sever myself from the marvellous experiences
and new discoveries of the day. My mind was in a state of feverish
activity. How should I feel when I again stood face to face with my
other self? Would I be able to persuade the doctor to carry out my
project and restore me finally to complete manhood, spiritually and
physically? Better a thousand times that John Vernon should die, than
that the spirit and soul and body of Mark Gunnery should be longer
separated! Better too, a thousand times, that there should be one
wholesome, complete, and perfect Mabel Chesterfield, than that there
should continue to be a counterfeit Gertrude and a spiritless Mabel;
sisters alas! and yet not sisters.

I decided to use every argument on the morrow to persuade him to restore
each of us to the other's counterpart, and somehow provide for the death
and burial of the superfluous bodies. How gladly would I, in my proper
person, have attended the funeral of John Vernon, or for the matter of
that, of Gertrude Chesterfield. The spirits of both bodies had passed
into another life, and I thought it was only decent and reasonable that
the bodies should be at once buried and return again to dust.




CHAPTER XVIII.--FACE TO FACE.


It was the following evening.

I had returned to my chambers after visiting the prison, and sat musing
upon the strange events of the day. Little had come of it, excepting a
change to myself; of which more hereafter.

Gunnery had met us almost with indifference. He was of course somewhat
depressed, but there was nothing like the despondency and anxiety in his
mien, which I had expected.

"Hallo, Vernon!" he exclaimed, "I have got into a devilish scrape,
haven't I? But I'm dashed if I know why I struck him--drunk, I suppose.
And yet the queer thing is," he said, turning around to the doctor, "I
have an impression that I drank nothing that morning except a whisky and
soda before breakfast."

"They say he asked you to drink with him just before you hit him," I
said quietly.

"Who told you that?" he exclaimed.

"There was a number of people about," I said, somewhat taken back by the
suddenness of the question.

"Ah, yes!" he replied, "I remember; but you know I was not myself
exactly that morning. I have had a lawyer in just now, and have given
him an account of the whole affair from my standpoint. He says that I
must have struck him in a fit of temporary insanity, and by George, I
think he is about right. You see, I had no motive for the crime. We were
out and out friends, and I am very sorry that he is dead; in fact when I
was told the whole of the trouble, I felt quite bad about it. But they
can't do much to me; besides I am told that in this dashed country,
money goes a long way, and I'll sell the Church Consett estate rather
than run short of money to grease their dirty palms with. Stickfast,
that's the lawyer, says I need not trouble my head about it. That they
will pull me through somehow; for if the worst comes to the worst,
they'll manage that no true bill shall be found against me. Stickfast is
a smart man. He went very carefully into the matter, and I told him all
about my money affairs. In fact, he made more notes over that than all
the rest put together. I expect they will bleed me pretty well before I
am through--hang them!"

"Who are the firm?" asked the doctor. "I don't seem to know the name."

"Bouncer and Stickfast of George-street. It was one of the gaolers
recommended them--a tout, no doubt gets a commission, I suppose. But you
see I don't know anyone likely to help me now, so I was glad to be able
to consult with someone. I thought Vernon, that you would have been in
to see me before this." He made the last remark reproachfully; almost as
a child or younger brother might have spoken.

"Why did you think that?" said the doctor, sharply.

"Oh," he said, "Vernon is an old acquaintance of mine, that I knew in
Melbourne."

I gave such a start at this that both the doctor and Gunnery noticed it.
The latter looked at me long and curiously.

"Vernon," he said at last, "I think that I would like to have a talk
with you alone."

"All right," said the doctor, "I'll leave you."

"Don't go for a minute, doctor," I said, laying my hand upon his arm.

"Gunnery, old man," I continued, addressing my other self, "I have not
been as good a friend to you as I might have been; but I am determined
to befriend you now, if you will let me. The doctor is an intimate
friend of mine; in fact, I believe you have met him before in Italy."

"Never mind about that," said the doctor, breaking in abruptly. "If I
can be of the least service to you, I shall be very happy. You may rely
upon me, Mr. Gunnery, for I have every reason to wish to serve Mr.
Vernon here, and I know him to have a friendly feeling towards your
self."

Gunnery looked from one to the other of us with a queer expression as
though thoroughly bewildered.

"He has taken a dashed queer way of showing his friendship to me," he
said with an oath.

"Don't go, doctor," I exclaimed, for he again made as though he would
leave us.

"There has been a mystery between Gunnery and myself, which I should
like to have as far as possible cleared up in the presence of a friendly
witness."

"I freely confess," I said, turning again to my other self, "that I have
not shown the friendliness which I might have done. The fact is, I have
misunderstood you altogether. And you have not known me properly."

"Look here, Vernon," he said suddenly, "I'm perfectly dazed. I know that
I have not seen you for a week, and yet I seem to have been with you
somewhere, and know a lot of things which you have told me, and yet
unless I am mad, I have not set eyes upon you for a week until to-day."

I think the doctor noticed my embarrassment, and guessed its cause. I
couldn't tell Gunnery the truth, for first of all, he would not believe
it; he could not believe it; he would only set the doctor and myself
down as a pair of sorcerers, and our chance of doing anything with him
would be gone.

"Gunnery," I said, "I have not told you before, but I am a relation of
yours."

"I guessed as much," he replied, "for you have some of the family
likeness. I suppose you are a brother of my dead father, but I never
heard of you."

"How came you to call upon me that first night in my chambers at Temple
Court?" I asked, my heart beating wild with excitement.

"Now that's the very thing I am puzzled about myself," he said, "and
have often wanted to ask you. You see, I had an illness or something of
the sort down in Melbourne directly after I met you, and when I try to
recall what happened, after meeting one night with a man I knew, I got
mixed. I sometimes believe that I will go out of mind, thinking and
thinking; but it does no good, and I generally wind up by getting drunk.
The night I first met you in Sydney, Vernon, I had just come up from the
South, and of course I made straight for your chambers; but you were
awful drunk that night, old man; you swore at me like a trooper and
wanted to fight, and goodness knows what all. Of course you remember it!
Upon my soul, I have often wondered how it is that I have stuck to you
so. But there, what's the good of talking. If you can arrange for me to
get some whisky and cigars in here, and have me out as soon as possible,
I shall be obliged to you."

It was indeed no use talking further, so I took his hand and promised to
get him all the indulgence possible and the best legal advice, and he
agreed to be guided by my judgement.

It was of no use asking him any questions about the trouble at the
hotel. I knew as much about that as he did.

The doctor said to me afterwards, "He's a bit mixed, as I expected he
would be. No doubt he has an indistinct recollection of many things
known to you, and which passed before his brain while you held
possession of it; but have you thought out any plan yet?"

"I have a plan," I answered, "but it is a desperate one, and I think we
will wait until after the trial."

I should say that the verdict at the inquest that day had been murder,
and Gunnery was afterward similarly charged at the police court, and was
committed for trial to the Quarter Sessions. I shall never forget that
night. The Doctor came down by arrangement to my chambers to tell me of
a visit that he had paid to Violet and Beatrice in the afternoon. They
had both been to see him that day in the gaol, and were thoroughly
repulsed by his behaviour.

"He does not seem to me to be the same man," Violet had said with tears
in her eyes to the doctor.

I must here set on record a fact in regard to myself. The feeling which
I experienced during the short time in which I visited my wife and child
at Snowdon Villa, was totally different to that which I experienced
afterward. I seemed when severed from my other self to be without human
love. I was a thing of spiritual sensations, passions, and desires. I
loved, and hated, and hoped, and feared, and remembered; but it was in a
different way to that of any ordinary human being. Of animal instincts
and passions, I had scarcely any. But on the other hand, I was deeply
pained and humiliated, to see what my lower nature had come to when left
to itself. I seemed to read new truth in the Holy Scriptures. Paul
said--"I keep under my body and bring it into subjection; and also, O
wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this
death." I read in the Old Testament--"The heart is deceitful above all
things, and desperately wicked," and I could understand it better. The
Gunnery in prison was my lower nature, uncontrolled by anything
spiritual. I seemed to understand things differently. I remembered that
it was not his soul that the martyr Stephen asked God to receive; but
his spirit.

"What a pity it is, and how it misleads men to talk of the soul, in the
way that ordinary theologians do," said I that night to the Doctor.

"Yes," he replied, "imagine that line in the hymn--'A never dying soul
to save and fit it for the sky.' It should be spirit of course; but that
would not rhyme."

"Ah!" I said, "but the writer of that hymn believed that there was a
future state for all souls, whether animal or human, and in that he was
supported by many of the old theologians."

"My dear fellow," said the Doctor impressively, "you cannot get away
from facts. The soul of a perfect man is one that is animated with
spiritual life. It is the spirit-soul that lives in the future life, and
it is the presence of the spirit which makes man to differ from the
brute creation around us, all of which by the teaching of reason,
science, and scripture, possess souls. A spirit is no doubt immortal,
but there is no proof that the soul is so of necessity. The Scripture
teaching on that point seems very plain. 'Fear not them which kill the
body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is
able to destroy both soul and body in hell.' For those who accept the
scriptures as a divine revelation nothing could be plainer than that;
but there is not a word in the book from cover to cover about destroying
a spirit."

"Of course," he continued, "Gunnery is, to some extent, an exception,
because in his case the soul is human, and was for many years associated
with, and under the dominion of, the spirit."

"But let me ask you, did you ever see him weep?"

"No," I replied, somewhat startled by the question, "I don't know that
he has ever had any occasion to weep."

"I don't believe he could weep violently," said the doctor emphatically,
"animals cannot weep at all; you cannot tickle them; they cannot laugh,
and they cannot sing. It is the spirit nature in man which makes him an
intellectual and emotional being, differing from the lower animal
creation. But we musn't talk metaphysics. Have you done anything yet to
get another firm of solicitors to take up Gunnery's case."

"I have called upon two or three; but as Bouncer and Stickfast have been
consulted, no one will take it out of their hands."

"Ah! professional etiquette!" exclaimed the Doctor.




CHAPTER XIX.--EVERYTHING AT STAKE.


THERE was nothing for it but to make the best of Bouncer and Stickfast,
who, knowing that there was a considerable amount of money available,
gave Gunnery's case their very full and careful attention.

It is perfectly astonishing how a law case, with money in it, grows; how
papers and costs accumulate. I felt afraid at last to meet Bouncer in
the street, for I am perfectly certain that every time I said "Good day,"
to him he charged six and eight pence in the bill. As for Stickfast, he
is a man with no more conscience than I have soul. He is well named, for
once he gets a pull upon anyone there is no shaking him off. I
frequently saw Gunnery, and although he was well taken care of in the
gaol, for all his meals were taken in from outside, and no necessary
comfort was denied him, still he was despondent.

It was not that he suffered much anxiety, for he seemed to sleep half
his time, but he was out of the ordinary grove of his life, and the
prison was intolerably irksome to him. I found out that he never read
anything except scrappy light literature. He ate, and slept, and
fattened.

I learned through the Doctor, that the counsel's opinion, who had been
retained for the defence, was that the blow was accidental, and that at
the worst the verdict could not be more than one of manslaughter.
Temporary insanity might, he said, be pleaded, but he did not see how
evidence could be obtained to uphold it. The prisoner had breakfasted as
usual in the public hall, and had chatted with various people on general
subjects, and afterward had smoked a cigar while looking over the
morning paper in the smoking room. Several people had spoken to him, and
he had made an exceptionally careful toilet, in view of visiting a
friend. There was no evidence of insanity!

I called on the lawyers after hearing this, and found that although they
had not told Gunnery so, they held the same opinion themselves, and yet
they were fooling their client, and leading him to believe that he was
sure to get off.

"The Crown is working up the case tremendously," said Stickfast to me.
"They have a witness to prove that Gunnery and Stockton were in love
with the same woman, a Mrs. Ferndale who lives at Snowdon Villa. He
drove there you see immediately after the unfortunate death of Stockton.
Then too, he has been heard on several occasions to threaten Stockton,
and it is said that he had lost large sums of money to him at cards. But
I can make very little of him, he refuses to talk about the lady, and
curses me for a fool for asking him any questions."

"Don't I pay you, sir, to get me off, work up the dashed case yourself,
sir."

"Now what can be done with such a man?"

I grow increasingly anxious in regard to the matter, for I thought if he
is imprisoned for 10 or 15 years, whatever will become of me. Just at
this time, however, something occurred which increased my anxiety
tenfold.

I was, as may well be believed, intensely interested in the strange case
of Mabel and Gertrude Chesterfield; but I could get very little out of
the Doctor about them. I was confident that he was still absorbed in the
results of his experiment, and that it was not turning out satisfactory.
There was evidently, too, some reason why he refused to allow me to
again meet with the sisters, or give me any particulars of how they were
getting on. His usual reply was that they were recovering as well as
might be expected.

"Do they know each other as Mabel and Gertrude?" I asked.

"Yes, in a certain way," he replied, "but really I would prefer not to
talk about it, and whatever you do," he said with much emphasis, "don't
mention it to anyone."

"I thought, Doctor, that you knew that I had neither friend nor intimate
in this city, except yourself," I said. I would not stoop to tell him
what he ought to have known, that any secret of his was safe with me.

"Tut! Tut! man, it's for your own good that I have kept it from you, you
need not feel hurt, I have confidence in you being able to keep a
secret, but I think it is as well for you not to know."

At this I urged him to tell me, for somehow I felt that there was
something being kept back, which it might benefit me to know.

"Well," said the Doctor at last, with evident reluctance, "Gertrude is
dead."

"How did she die?" I asked.

"Got into a passion with her sister and broke a blood vessel. She went
off then like the snuff of a candle."

"And how about Mabel?" I asked.

"Oh! don't bother me about her," said the Doctor brusquely. "She's
alright enough, you see Gertrude's death put an end to my experiment."

"And the spirit of Mabel!" I almost screamed this in excitement. "Good
heaven. Doctor! tell me what happened?"

"There, I thought you would want to know that," said the Doctor; "but
really I don't feel free to tell you."

"But I know! I know!" I cried out vehemently. "Mabel's spirit returned
again, to her living soul and body!"

It was as though the revelation was too much for me, for I felt sick and
faint.

"Doctor," I moaned. "Why did you not tell me sooner. I see it now. For
me to regain possession of my other self, I have only to let this old
body, which now imprisons my spirit, die!"

I had indeed something now to think about! I must save the life of
Gunnery, and secure the death of my own body, but how? This was the
question.

I seemed now to understand why I had such a repugnance to taking my own
life. Great nature prohibited my securing my own release by suicide; but
I must die! "Yes," I repeated to myself, over and over again, "I must
die! I must die!"

For a time this thought took up the whole of my attention. I had read of
men who had sought death; but could not find it. Who, amid the din of
battle, and, the convulsions of nature, seemed to lead charmed lives.
Such for a few days was my experience. I courted death. I went
everywhere, and did everything which seemed to me to be at all dangerous
to life. I read of accidents daily, by tram and steamer, but no
accidents would come anywhere near to me. I even rode a vicious horse,
hoping that I might be thrown; but, it was all in vain.

The fit lasted only a few days however. I then saw that at present it
would be better for me to secure the acquittal of my other self, for, if
I were reunited, and made a perfect human being again, it would not
prove of any permanent value to me, unless I had life and liberty.
Everything now depended upon securing the acquittal of Gunnery.

I visited the Doctor again, and through his influence, secured frequent
admission to the prison as Gunnery's next of kin and friend. He was
growing fatter and lazier daily, and I endeavoured to disturb his
serenity, and persuade him that his life was really at stake; but it was
useless.

"Why should I worry about it, Vernon," he would say, "let the lawyers
see to it, I pay them well, and they have pledged themselves to get me
off."

There was nothing for it, but for me to render the lawyers all the
assistance in my power, and at the same time carefully work up the case
myself. I had two projects, the least desperate was to get the Doctor to
restore me to my other self during a portion of the time of the trial,
by placing my body in a mesmeric trance, so that I might render Gunnery
any possible assistance when he had to go into the witness box to give
evience. The other was, that failing all else he would lend himself to a
project by which I yet hoped to get my other self out of that prison,
and also out of Sydney, alive.

So far as I could see, the tide of public opinion was running strongly
against the prisoner. Hints as to a probable scandal in connection with
the case, were thrown out by a section of the press. His evil life, bad
as it had been, was exaggerated, and I found that the judge, before whom
he was to be tried, had a reputation of harshness and severity. The
outlook was by no means reassuring, and my only source of consolation at
this time, I found in connection with my visits to the Doctor.

With the increased gravity of the position he had become more
sympathetic and communicative. In public he stoutly opposed the popular
opinion as to Gunnery, and showed more desire to assist me. But I could
not get him to promise to help me in the carrying out of my plan.

"It's too great a risk," he would say. I told him of my attempts to
secure the death of my body.

"I knew that's what you would be up to," he said, "and so hesitated to
tell you about Mabel Chesterfield. I am very glad that you have now
learnt to look at the matter differently. You can be of more use to
Gunnery with things as they are."

"Can you explain," I asked, "how it was the spirit of Mabel immediately
returned to her own soul and body, when Gertrude's body died?"

"Where else should it go?" asked the Doctor. "It had no right to go into
the spirit-world, for its proper soul and body were still alive. There
was no other place for it to go to, so it returned to its own home."

"I see!" I exclaimed, "I see!"

It need not be said that my spirit was more buoyant as to the result of
the great hope by which I was now actuated. Death must come sooner or
later to this old body called John Vernon. And then!

But in the meantime the day of trial rapidly approached, and I was
engrossed in the preparation of an elaborate defence. I could not
disclose it to the lawyers, it would have been worse than useless, they
would have set me down as mad. But I would speak myself, when the right
time came, through the lips of the Gunnery in prison.

I need scarcely say that I had secured a tacit promise from the Doctor
to assist me when that time came. He was now almost as anxious and
excited in prospect of the trial as I was myself.




CHAPTER XX.--I DEFEND MYSELF.


I suppose it is as natural for a man as for animals to hunt--to try by
skill and cunning, and misrepresentation and trickery, to catch
something. So the angler drops his fly for the unwary fish, and the
trapper fixes his bait for the unsuspecting animal. The devil is said to
hunt for men, and men hunt for their fellows, often very necessarily.
But not infrequently, quite careless of the man's guilt or innocence,
the police will prejudge a case, and urged on by the instinct to hunt,
and professional habit, will move heaven and earth to scrape together
evidence which will secure a conviction.

My anxiety increased as the day of trial drew nearer, for I heard from
the Doctor that it was whispered in legal circles that the police were
determined, if possible, to have my other self hanged. It was a matter
of professional pride. The facts seemed indisputable. There were several
witnesses of the actual assault, and they regarded the evidence as
sufficiently complete; besides, another alleged criminal had shortly
before given them the slip, and there hadn't been a hanging in Sydney
for six months.

It had been discovered by the police, too, that there was some mystery
about Violet; it was known that she was the prisoner's wife, and that he
had come to Australia in search of her. Vaughan Stockton, too, had been
friendly with some prominent members of the force; and generally both
public opinion and official circles showed a strong bias against the
prisoner.

"The other side has a strong case," said Stickfast to me, "and the
unfortunate thing is we have no case at all. The most that I can do is
to attempt to prove that there could be no malice; but the remarkable
thing is, Mr. Gunnery will give me no assistance. 'Hang the confounded
trial, get it over as quickly as you can,' is about all that I can get
out of him?"

"How long is the trial likely to last?" I inquired.

"Not less than a week," said Stickfast.

"A week!" I ejaculated, in dismay. I had overlooked the fact that there
was money in it for the lawyers for every extra day it took.

I have no intention of prolonging this narrative by entering into the
particulars of the trial at any length.

I sat in court as a spectator the first and second days, and saw Gunnery
in the dock, and heard him plead not guilty.

I cannot explain the sensation which passed through my mind as I looked
at him--my other self--thus shamed before the public gaze.

When he confronted the judge, and saw the spikes around the dock, and
noted the watchful constables guarding it, and the jury empannelled, he
seemed to feel his position keenly. I felt as though I could have gone
over and sat with him on the hard bench within the spikes, and have
called out to the judge and jury: "In justice, you must try me as well."

I listened in amazement as the Crown Prosecutor opened the case. It was
as though everything possible had been raked up against him. Things
which I knew to be utterly without significance as far as the case was
concerned, were colored and made to dovetail into other facts, until I
could scarcely believe my ears. It had the effect, however, of
sharpening every faculty of my mind, and I felt determined that I would
somehow frustrate their evident design to secure a verdict of wilful
murder. I felt maddened with what seemed to me the utter want of tact
and forensic skill on the part of the barrister in charge of Gunnery's
case. I felt that I could have conducted the affair better myself.

The case was progressing more rapidly than they had expected; there was
so little to be said in Gunnery's defence. So the afternoon of the third
day the time had come for me to play my part in the prologue, of what
proved to be a tragedy.

I lay all that morning on my bed in my chambers, and before midday the
Doctor was present.

It should be explained that I had stated to the keeper on the previous
evening, and also to one or two of those who knew me in the building,
that I was far from well, which was not altogether untrue.

When my servant came in to wait upon me that morning, I sent him for the
Doctor, to say that I wished to see him; all this was done by his
direction, for he had refused to put me again into a trance, except in
my own chambers, so that in case of any accident bringing about the
complete severance of my spirit and body he would be able to certify as
to my death, and protect himself.

"I can't have you dying in my surgery," he said, "and leave that old
body of yours to account for, it would look bad."

But I had no wish to die, or continue in possession of my other self,
except for the purpose of the trial, as it would not have suited my
plans to have remained reunited, at this crisis in my affairs.

It had been arranged the previous day that the prisoner should make a
statement in defence, and we had further learned that it was to be
immediately after lunch. So about an hour before the appointed time the
Doctor placed me in a mesmeric trance.

I lay there on the bed conscious of my surroundings in the chamber, and
conscious of the Doctor's presence, but also watching under his
direction, in my clairvoyant state, what was transpiring in the
courthouse a mile and a half away.

The court had adjourned for lunch.

Gunnery was eating a comfortable meal in the prison; he had got over the
first shock and was taking the trial more easily; I heard him talking to
one of the warders; but he did not seem so sure of getting off. Alas!
the evidence against him seemed most conclusive. It seemed impossible
for him to escape.

By the Doctor's direction, I then looked into the room where the judge
and his associate were also eating a very hearty lunch, and listened to
their talk; it was about the trial, and they expressed themselves as
convinced of the prisoner's guilt, especially on the grounds that
Vaughan Stockton had been known to have visited the prisoners wife at
Snowdon Villa. "He was jealous," said the judge, "and Vaughan was a man
to be jealous of, but the prisoner could not have cared much for her,
for he had been leading a fast life ever since he came to Sydney."

I wondered how the judge came to know so much about him.

The Doctor kept me thus clairvoyant, in order that I might tell him when
the court sat again. Then after impressing upon me that he should recall
me at a certain time he sent me again to take possession of the body of
my other self.

I think it will be as well to quote here from the columns of the Evening
Luminary, which gave a very fair resume of what transpired in the court.
Said the journal--"The prisoner, who during the morning had seemingly
betrayed a stolid indifference to the course of the trial, seemed to
arouse himself on the reassembling of the court, after lunch. He was
then to make a statement and submit himself to cross examination; and it
was noticeable that his attitude and mein as he passed from the dock to
the witness box was altogether different to that which he had previously
shown. In fact, the remarkable change was commented upon by all in
court."

I may here observe myself in passing, that the reporter's idea and my
own feelings, were very different. My re-possession of the soul and body
of my own self may have made such an impression upon the court and
spectators as is described by the said newspaper; but my own first
feeling on finding myself actually in the felon's dock, was one of
stupid horror and consternation. Fortunately I found myself in perfect
health; but the shock to the spirit was terrible, it was a very good
thing that I was not immediately called upon to make a statement, for my
knees smote together with alarm, and every portion of my carefully
prepared address had completely vanished from my mind.

I should say that I had not given the Doctor any clue as to the
substance of what I intended to say. Probably had I done so, he would
not have dared to be a party to the matter. I had obtained his consent
to my having one and a half hours but it was only after I awoke to
perfeet consciousness in my own body in the dock, that I thoroughly
settled upon my plans.

I noticed Violet in court, and also two or three other witnesses who had
been examined, so, through Stickfast's influence, I secured their
removal from the court, while I made my statement.

I will, however, again quote from the newspaper report, a copy of which
lies before me as I write--"The prisoner on entering the witness box
took the oath, after which the learned counsel for defence explained
that his client wished to make a statement, which might necessitate the
recalling of several of the witnesses.

"Very good Mr. Stoneham," said his Honor, "let all witnesses in the case
leave the court; but await in readiness should they need to be
recalled."

The prisoner commenced in a voice at first scarcely audible. He said:--

"Your Honor and gentlemen of the jury, I have an extraordinary statement
to make; but I do so with full realization of the gravity of my position
and the solemn obligation of the oath which I have just taken. What I am
about to say will be the truth, so help me God, and my plea is, that the
death of Vaughan Stockton was justifiable homicide, of which you shall,
after hearing my statement, be my judges.

"I arrived in Australia, as you have already heard, a man of position
and substance, in search of my wife and child. But you have not heard
that they had been lured from me by a man of singular ability and fine
person, who was deeply versed in occult arts, by which he had obtained a
fatal influence over my wife.

"I do not in this hour of my deepest humiliation and sorrow, wish to say
one hard word of the woman I made my wife and the mother of my child.
She was dominated, by a more powerful will than her own."

The newspaper here explains that at this early period of the prisoner's
statement, he seemed very much affected; while its remarkable character
and the visible emotion of the speaker, arrested the attention of the
whole of the crowded court. After taking some water from a tumbler,
pushed across to him by the Judge's Associate, he continued as
follows:--

"I arrived in Australia last year, a land which has been to me a place
only of misfortune and suffering, and shortly met the man who had robbed
me of my wife and child. I say I met him; but, alas! with disastrous
results to myself. He was a past master in the new science of hypnotism,
and by some means, although unknown to myself, he severed from me my
physical body and human soul, and I, a man in manhood's prime, awoke to
consciousness in the Melbourne hospital robbed of my rightful body, and
in possession of an aged physical form.

"Gentlemen of the jury, it may sound madness to you; but I remember that
I am on my oath, and on trial for my life, and I beg you to hear me
patiently. Witnesses who can corroborate what I state, will be called
presently, to, at any rate, partially substantiate my solemn
declaration.

"After many months had passed amid varied circumstance's, during which
time my enemy died by accident in Queensland, I in the aged form of
which my spirit was the enforced temporary occupant, met my living soul
and fleshy body for the first time in this city, and ultimately learned
the whole awful truth as to the diabolical outrage which had been
perpetrated upon me. I was a dual man. My spirit was knowingly possessed
of another body, while my spiritless soul and body moved to and fro
among my fellows, a human derelict, the sport of every animal passion,
and the prey to every tempter which crossed his path.

"You have heard from the learned counsel for the prosecution, of the
grossness and debauchery of my life in this city. I do not deny it, for
alas! I have been an eye-witness of the degradation to which the soul
and body of a man may be brought when the master has, by a cruel art,
been severed from its other self.

"I saw Vaughan Stockton and such as he, luring my wretched soul and body
to ignominy in this life and perdition in the next--and gloating over
the catastrophe.

"At that time I believed this body, in which I now stand before you, to
have been possessed of a demon from hell. But in mercy, a pitying
Providence brought me in contact with a man of great learning--a medical
scientist--through whom I learnt my error, and found that, under grave
risks, it was even possible for my spirit to be reinstated in possession
of its own proper soul and body.

"Upon my oath, gentlemen of the jury, as I speak to you by the aid of
this tongue, and through these lips of Mark Gunnery, I do so to-day only
by permission. There lies at this moment in a distant part of this city,
a body in a trance, and I who now speak to you may only do so while the
medical scientist under whose control I am, permits me to continue to
animate and vivify this my natural frame."

The awful sensation which thrilled the whole court at these words of the
prisoner's, we do not attempt to describe; it was a scene never to be
forgotten by any person who heard the speech and witnessed its effect.
His Honor readjusted his glasses, as though he could barely believe
either his ears or eyes; it looked as though he were about to interfere,
but after a moment's pause, the prisoner proceeded, the whole court
listening with strained and painful attention.

"My Lord, and gentlemen of the jury, and you who hold the responsible
position of legal advisers and counsel, to you I appeal: Can he who is
now addressing you be the same man that has ate, and slept, and fattened
in gaol, and awaited this trial with the utmost indifference? You must
all be convinced that it is another spirit which now animates this body,
and gives vigor to the mind, and words and argument to the lips!

"But let me continue: After learning from my friend this awful solution
of the mystery of my life, I prayed him to place me in the mesmeric
trance, and reinstate me in my rightful soul and body, if only for an
hour. This he at first refused to do but at last my importunity, and his
natural wish to put to the test what appeared to him to be a great
scientific discovery, caused him to yield, and on that fateful morning
when Vaughan Stockton died in the vestibule of the Golden Gate Hotel, I
was for the first time released from the environment of strange flesh in
which I was imprisoned, and for one hour only was reinstated by my
friend in my own proper form.

"It was an hour into which was crowded the thoughts and upbraidings and
passions of a lifetime. I then learnt, by actual personal intuition, how
fearful had been my soul and body's fall.

"Gentlemen of the jury, the Gunnery's come of a proud stock in the Old
Land, and have for generations borne an honoured name. Can you imagine
my feelings then, when I learned the whole sad and humiliating truth.

"I discovered, however, that my other self had made an appointment that
morning, at that very hour, to meet my wife and child. I went to keep
it, and in the vestibule of the hotel was met by one of the men, who had
won my money by trickery at cards; who had tempted my soul to sin, and
who with a knowledge that there was something to make my poor other self
so easy a prey for their wiles, had drawn him into drunkenness and
debauchery, until at last the lowest haunts of vice in Sydney had made
merry over my fathers honoured name.

"I was going out to meet her that morning, clothed and in my right mind,
bent on putting wrong things right, and for one short hour playing the
part of an honest man again, in my own proper person. Then it was that
Vaughan Stockton put his hand upon my shoulder, and jeered at me amid
the laughter of his companions, and urged me to turn aside from my
purpose, and go with him and drink.

"Gentlemen of the jury, there is murder of soul and body, just as real
as that which is by the hand of violence, and he who that morning
tempted me, was verily bent upon the death of all which in Mark Gunnery
was worthy of being called a man. In a whirl of suddenness I smote him
to the ground.

"You know the rest. When Mark Gunnery was arrested he averred that he
had no motive for the blow. He had no cause, he said, to strike his
companion, he regretted that he should have done such a thing! That was
the word of the Mark Gunnery who stood before the Police Magistrate; of
the Mark Gunnery who had lain for years in the adjoining prison, and who
has been unable to offer his solicitor or counsel any assistance in the
preparation of his case!

"But the Mark Gunnery who stands before you this afternoon, and bears
this testimony on oath, is he who smote Vaughan Stockton in the
vestibule of the Golden Gate Hotel. Smote him to save his soul from an
ignominious death--equal, if not worse than, the punishment which the
law metes out to the murderer. The blow was unpremeditated; it was
without malice; it was struck in defence of honor dearer than life, and
to save from a moral death, worse than that which is merely physical.

"I passed out of that hotel, gentlemen, in haste, for I had but one hour
(part of which had already expired) and in my proper person I sought
reconciliation and forgiveness from my wife and child. As my hour
expired--even as it is expiring now--I was arrested, charged with
murder, and the result has been this trial.

"But before my time expires to-day, I entreat you, gentlemen of the
jury, extraordinary as is this statement, incredible even as it may
appear, to accept it on its own merits. Test it honestly by
cross-examination of the witnesses, and, as I who now hold possession of
this brain as matter, and actuate and sway this physical frame, will be
absent--beyond the reach of your law or punishment--do not, I beseech
you, inflict upon this irresponsible human soul and physical body,
undeserved condemnation. If it was murder, or manslaughter, it can with
justice only be attributed to the spirit which was at the time master of
both body and soul, and which supplied the motion and the will power by
which the muscles of the body struck the blow.

"Gentlemen of the jury, I feel myself again called! called!! called!!! I
would that I could remain longer, but alas! alas! I must leave my poor
body and human soul once more to its helplessness--and to your mercy.

"But hear me? It was no murder to strike such a blow, in defence of
purity and manhood, and my last hope of this world's honor, and heaven's
reward."

The prisoner at this sank back against the edge of the witness box, and
swooning, fell heavily to the floor.

The sensation in Court was indescribable. It was felt to be impossible
to continue the case for that day, and amidst unparalled excitement, His
Honor adjourned the case.

The prisoner was carried to a ward of the gaol hospital and placed in
charge of the doctors. The whole case is most remarkable. In view of the
certainty of a crowded court tomorrow, we are requested to state that
admission will then be by ticket only, "a limited number of which may be
obtained from the Sheriff's officer."

This is the newspaper report of one of the most fateful and memorable
days of my life.




CHAPTER XXI.--VARIOUS EXPEDIENTS.


I learnt by the newspapers that the court on the following day was
crowded as had been expected; but I was not there. I had made my supreme
effort, and the inevitable reaction followed. I had no heart now for
anything, and lay there in my chambers attended by the Doctor, and a
nurse he had brought in, and there awaited the verdict.

The Doctor was not at all communicative. The newspaper report of the
scene in court during my statement, had fairly carried him off his feet.
I gathered from some remarks of the nurse that he had had an anxious
time with me, and that I lay unconscious for a long time during the
previous night.

I had no desire to return again to the court, or, at first, to look at a
newspaper, the passion mood had passed, and I lay there upon the bed as
weak and helpless as a child. Two or three days had thus passed, and
then with the desire to arouse me the Doctor placed the newspaper in my
hands containing a report of the proceedings.

I found that my statement in the witness box had made the case the talk
of the whole city, and that the interest had been still further deepened
when on the following day, my other self supplied a further sensation,
by contradicting the evidence he had given when under my influence, so
that not only the city, but the colony, became divided into two parties;
those who believed in the spirit, soul, and body theory, as set forth in
my address; and those who believed the statement in the witness box to
have been a wicked and fraudulent imposture. But the climax of the
sensation was reached when my wretched other self, later on, signed a
carefully prepared confession, duly attested by the Governor of the
gaol, as having been voluntarily made, without threat or promise, which
set forth in circumstantial language that the sworn statement from the
witness box was wholly a fabrication, and that not one thing he had then
said, about having experienced a remarkable change in his physical or
mental constitution, was true.

At this the learned counsel who had charge of Gunnery's case threw it up
in disgust, and the trial became a nine days wonder.

Those who held to the previous statement however, argued that being
deprived of the spirit, a repudiation such as that made by Gunnery was
what might have been expected. However, the newspaper accounts of the
actions of my other self, filled me with astonishment. As I read it I
could scarcely believe my own eyes. Mr. Shoreham the barrister had
clutched at my theory, as a drowning man may clutch at a straw, on the
day following the statement. And handled it with some dexterity, and
cross examined Violet and other witnesses in such a way as to show that
they had noticed a remarkable change on certain occasions in the
prisoner's demeanour; but the confession was so circumstantial that even
Mr. Shoreham was staggered by it; and as he himself stated, it was
useless to defend the prisoner further, unless to put in a plea of
insanity.

Some endeavour seems to have been made by an enterprising newspaper to
discover a Doctor or other individual who might answer to him, or other
person or persons, referred to in the prisoner's address; but it came to
nothing.

The judge in his summing up, commented, I thought, upon the prisoner's
conduct with extreme severity. He had committed perjury, by his own
confession. The plea of insanity, he passed over with
indifference--there could be no doubt in the minds of the jury as to the
light in which he regarded it. As might have been expected, the verdict
brought in by the jury was one of wilful murder, and Mark Gunnery was,
alas! sentenced to be hanged.

I was about again as usual after a few days, and obtained permission to
visit Gunnery in the condemned cell. He was stolidly uncomfortable; but
seemed to take the result of the trial only as an unavoidable
misfortune. He did not care to talk about it; but ate and drank, and
smoked and slept, and waited (very much as the doctor said he would),
for the day of execution.

The prison chaplain I learnt could make nothing of him, and expressed
his opinion privately to some of his friends, that he was inclined to
believe the extraordinary theory set forth by the prisoner in his
singular defence at the trial, "Or else," he said, "he is utterly
reprobate."

The opinion of the officials, however, was that Gunnery was a clever man
playing a part, and that he would break down and show his hand before
the morning of the execution.

For myself I suffered agonies of torture during those days of suspense
between the trial and the execution.

Imagination vividly pictured to me the effect of the tidings in Church
Consett, that young Squire Gunnery was to be hanged in Australia for
murder. What would be said by honest Bob Sutton--our old steward--and
then one after another the familiar faces of those whose esteem I
prized, came up before me.

"Good God! was there no escape?"

Then it occurred to me that there was perhaps one way by which Gunnery
might escape. I would give myself up to the police as the actual
murderer of Vaughan Stockton, and as John Vernon, submit to the last
penalty of the law, and from the scaffold, in spirit once again
repossess my former self.

I put this to the doctor; but he ridiculed the suggestion.

"You would gain nothing by that," he said. "Both of you would be hanged
for the murder, for your own confession would prove that you were
equally involved in the blow which resulted in Stockton's death. I see
no way out of it."

"There is one way," I said.

"What is that?"

"Let us together visit the prison, taking a suitable disguise with us,
you place me in a trance and reinstate my spirit in possession of my
soul and body, and let us return again and leave this old carcase to
perish in the prison cell."'

"My good friend," said the doctor sympathetically--he evidently pitied
the hardness of my lot--"it is impossible; the condemned cell is closely
watched, and the prison carefully guarded; you would involve me in a
conspiracy to frustrate the ends, of so called, justice. Unless you have
some totally different plan to that I cannot help you."

"Doctor!" I exclaimed in desperation, "could I not put myself into a
trance?"

He thought for a minute and then said, "Yes, I believe you could by
hypnotism."

"What is that?" I asked, "I thought hypnotism and mesmerism were the
same?"

"Not exactly. Mesmerism is the production of sleep or trance by the
influence of one individual over another; hypnotism is produced by a
patient fixing his attention upon an object, for instance, something
held in the hand, until the trance state supervenes. I know that the
terms are often used the one for the other; but that in the distinction.
You are now so susceptible to the trance state that I believe you could
easily induce it yourself."

"May I make the experiment now?"

"No," he replied hurriedly, "I have made my last experiment of that sort
with you."

Nor could I by any argument or entreaty, induce him to give me any
further information or assistance.

The day of execution had been fixed for nine o'clock on the following
Monday morning, and this was Thursday. I was in a state of feverish
excitement. Sleep had for several nights forsaken me. I knew that the
doctor regarded me with anxiety. He had adopted the plan of calling me
Vernon again in private; "I might make a slip in public if I get into
the way of calling you Gunnery," he said.

"Vernon!" he exclaimed, "come with me somewhere away from Sydney until
it is all over."

But I refused.

"Well then, stop here with us," he said.

This I also refused to do, for I was determined upon making one more
attempt.

"Doctor, will you give me permission to repossess my soul and body, if I
can do so without your intervention?" I said.

"No, certainly not," he replied sympathetically, "I cannot be a party to
any more experiments. I shall only be implicating myself in some way.
The prison authorities know that we have visited the place on several
occasions together; and know too, that you are related to Gunnery."

I was now just as determined however as the Doctor, and that evening, I
purchased a false beard and provided powder and other materials to make
up a disguise, and the next morning sought and obtained an interview
with Gunnery. I had a small ball of amber with me, for I had heard that
amber was specially calculated to induce hypnotic sleep.

I found Gunnery sadly callous as to the impending execution. He seemed
to have an idea that even now he would somehow get off. He had refused
to make any will, or even talk about the possibility of his being
hanged. But when I sat down and commenced to gaze absorbingly at my
amber sphere he at once grew restive. I noticed too, that the warder was
occasionally looking in upon us, and I saw that there was no possible
hope of carrying out my project, so with a sad and heavy heart, I shook
hands with my other self for the last time. Gunnery seemed a bit bored,
and shewed very little emotion. "Alas poor thing!" I thought, as the
prison gates closed behind me. "It is a hard and bitter ending for us
both."

Again, the feeling came upon me to go back and announce my relationship;
but it would have availed nothing, and I returned to my chambers with a
troubled mind to await the end. How it might affect myself, I scarcely
knew. "What matter," I thought, "there can be no further hope, or joy,
in life for me, after my other self has suffered death upon the
scaffold. It will be better to die and learn the whole secret."




CHAPTER XXII.--THIS FIRST PEAL OF THE BELLS.


It has been said that the execution was fixed for nine o'clock on Monday
morning. The doctor had strongly advised me not to get up; and had
promised that he would come and sit with me until all was over.

But my nervous excitement would not allow of this. I was up at seven
o'clock and breakfasted early, and when the Doctor came in a little
before half past eight, I was awaiting him in a fever of excitement.

He usually made himself very much at home with me in my chambers, and on
his arrival sent my man servant on a message to a distant part of the
town. He then locked the door of the outer room, and led me into that
which I used as a sleeping apartment. He said, "You know, Vernon, that I
am a bit apprehensive; but I don't think there is any actual cause for
alarm. I am here, as much to see whether the death of your other self
will result in the exhibition of any startling physiological phenomena
as anything else. I may as well tell you at once what I expect to see
when the death of Gunnery's body actually occurs."

"What do you mean?" I said.

He hesitated.

"Now, don't agitate yourself," he replied, "sit down in this arm chair;
lean your head back, and make yourself comfortable.''

"But tell me what you were going to say," I exclaimed impatiently.

"Simply this: that when the body of your other self is in the act of
dissolution, I expect to see your soul form come into this room, to
claim re-union with its spirit. There is, of course, no possible cause
for you to feel alarmed at that, for I expect it will unite itself to
you in your present body. I may be mistaken, so don't let your hopes be
unduly raised. If this should take place, you will become a perfect man
again, except that your body will be old and to some extent infirm. You
may suffer somewhat during the execution; but this thought should buoy
you up, that the death of your proper body is likely to reunite the soul
form to your spirit. I don't see where else it has to go. You see you
still have something to hope for."

"Doctor," I gasped, "why did you not tell me this before?"

"Ah!" he said, "you are too volatile now to tell you much; there is too
much of the spirit about you. If you get your human soul back again, it
will steady you a bit. I may then tell you something more. But it is
only a few minutes now to nine, try and settle yourself down to sleep a
bit. I would make a pass or two over you, and send you off myself; but
it might spoil the experiment. Only do, for goodness sake keep yourself
quiet. Suppose we talk now about something else."

Talk about something else, indeed! My whole being was thrilled by the
thought of the home coming of my soul. No lover longered more for the
embrace or his betrothed; no father desired more earnestly the return of
a long lost child. The Doctor saw the excitement in my face.

"There you go again," he grumbled, "you will spoil the whole thing. I
shall be compelled to put you off to sleep, unless you keep quiet."

"Doctor," I said, "if my soul comes, will it be exactly in the form of
my other self; and if it unites with my spirit how will the union be
consummated?"

"That is exactly what I am here to find out," he said. "But listen? It
is just about to chime the half-hour."

The top part of one of the windows was open and, as the Doctor spoke, I
seemed to hear the whirr of wheels as the hammer lifted to strike the
chimes. Just then I caught the Doctor's eyes; they were full of his
strange will power, and the hair above his broad white forehead for a
moment rose and fell. Then the chimes commenced to strike, eight in
number, which mark the half-hour.

For an instance my brain reeled with horror, it wanted only thirty
minutes to the time when my body would be led forth to a ghastly and
ignominious death; when the bolts would fly back, and the drop would
fall, and my miserable other self would be strangled until dead.

But, as the chime reverberated down the narrow street, and through the
quiet room, I felt the warm pressure of the Doctor's hand upon my own,
and immediately my head fell back peacefully upon the soft cushions of
the chair.

Instantly the familiar chamber, and all my accustomed surroundings
seemed somehow to change. It was not that I was in a trance, for I was
thoroughly conscious of the Doctor's presence, but it was as though the
whole of my body suddenly became one great receptacle for sound. I was
all ear. That is the only way in which I can describe the sensation.

What the overarching expanse of the midnight sky is to the vision, that
the universe of sound now became to my sense of hearing. The range was
wonderfully comprehensive, but perfectly harmonious. It was like a
magnificent oratorio, but performed with a vastness indescribable, and
yet a trained, ear might distinguish every part.

Or to attempt to describe it further, it was though the very first
stroke of the chimer had signalized to me a new and wonderful
development of the power of hearing.

From out of infinite space there came first of all, whispering sounds;
the low humming of the bees among the flowers in the old garden at
Church Consett; the sighing undertone which on still nights came up from
the clump of trees in the Brookside meadow; the distant lowing of the
cattle, as they made their way home with full udders through the dewy
pastures. Then there blended together in the distance, all dreamy
soothing sounds, which, undefined will float upon the air in the odorous
evening of an English summer's day. It need hardly be explained that the
duration of time seemed to be infinitely extended, for as yet I had
caught only the first stroke of the half hour chimes.

The second followed without any actual pause, and instantly a new
doorway of hearing was thrown open to my spirit. Harmonious music
swelled through the room, and I remember wondering to myself whether the
Doctor could hear it; but I was too enraptured to move or speak. It was
solemn but glad, like the chanting of holy psalms by a cathedral choir.
I seemed to hear my father's voice in the family pew of the old
church--the grave calm tuneful notes telling of a hallowed peace. Then
suddenly there burst forth the pealing of the church bells as though
their tasteful mellow notes came from a distance, now rising, just as I
had heard them on my wedding day long years before. Then mingling with
the music of the bells, out of the distance, the voices of children, and
the laughter of young girls, and the shouting of schoolboys at their
play. It should be said that there was no haste in all this, each
distinct sound was natural and fully prolonged, and in order and proper
sequence.

With each fast falling chime, it was as though new sounds were set in
motion. I heard the booming of ocean billows on the rocks and sand; the
wailing of the curlew, and the moaning of the wind across the sea. Then
came the muttering of distant thunder, nearer and still nearer, and the
sound of rushing waters, and the flapping of sails and cordage, and
crash of falling masts, and cries of distress which arose shrilly above
the clamour of the elements.

All weird and fantastic and awe inspiring sounds followed, until they
seemed to combine together, in one blood curdling scream of suffering,
which died away in an agonising sobbing cry that might have been the
wail of a lost soul.

The last chime of the half hour died away, it had only lasted,
altogether, for a minute, but it might, by the long succession of
wonderful sounds, have been an age. Silence once more reigned.

I felt the Doctor wiping the perspiration off my face and brow, and, as
I opened my eyes, I met his anxious gaze. Doubtless he was forecasting
what would happen later, for it was still half an hour to the time of
execution, the strange experience which I have described, was only that
of what I afterwards, remembered, as having accompanied the first peal
of the bells.




CHAPTER XXIII.--THE SECOND PEAL OF THE BELLS.


"This will never do," I heard the Doctor say. "He will either sink
through exhaustion a go raving mad, unless in some way his spirit can be
thoroughly subjugated and quietened."

"Mark Gunnery," he called out, "you are an ungrateful fool. Here I am
taking infinite pains and no end of personal risk, to pull you through,
and instead of quietly submitting yourself to my guidance as your
medical man, you excite yourself so that all your plans are frustrated,
and my effort made of no avail."

"Doctor," I said, "don't bully me. Did you hear that last scream?"

"What do you mean?" he asked.

Then I explained to him as well as I could what I had heard.

"You are a bit lightheaded," he said. "Tell me; what had you for your
breakfast?"

I had but very little, and I told him so. He went into the other room at
that, and I heard him heating up an egg, and presently he came in with a
tumbler of egg and brandy.

"Drink this," he said, "and compose yourself, and rest a little, it's
just going to chime the three-quarters--I think we had better talk a
bit."

But my head fell back upon the cushions again; the hammer was rising to
chime the three-quarters, and I was again seized by the same remarkable
feeling of conscious unconsciousness.

The hammer struck the first chime, and immediately all other senses
seemed swallowed up in that of sight. The Doctor avers that my eyes were
closed, so what followed must have been a series of images that were
reflected upon the brain. I saw--saw as never before, and as I never in
this life expect to see again. It was spirit sight. Why I should see
such things, even in that hour of extremity and apprehension, I cannot
surmise. What suggested the recurrence of these vivid images I cannot
tell. I have thought about it since, until brain-weary with the
thinking. So that I make no effort to explain, or to suggest, an
explanation.

In most vivid hues and distinct detail, there now swept before my vision
a succession of scenes associated with my early life; but many of which
I had no recollection of, and no key to, although I felt assured that
they were somehow associated with my history.

Other scenes, however, I readily recognised; each seeming to mark an
epoch in my life. A summer's day in harvest time appeared; the day upon
which I first remember meeting Violet in the Meadow Lands by the Colton
River. The detail of the scene, as it rose before me in that quiet room,
was amazing. The different shades of green in a clump of alders, the
white pebbles, where the shallow river at Colton-ford sparkled and
danced and eddied beneath the noonday sunshine. Everything was
reproduced in perfect verisimilitude. Violet's girlish beauty the
central feature of the picture. But the scenes passed in quick
succession.

They grew more sombre as the bitterness of life crept into them. I
shuddered when I recognised that long grey Pacific shore, with a rising
tide, near Bournemouth; but I had to see it. There was no closing of the
eyes against such visions as I was now called to look upon. I watched
every incident of the death of Horace De Vere--saw it to the very last
convulsive struggle, and was only saved the hearing, once again, of his
dying cry.

The scenes which rapidly followed each other after this were all sombre,
and some were fearful. I would have turned away my gaze had it been
possible; but although the looking at them seemed to scorch my brain, I
had no alternative but to gaze at every frightful thing which presented
itself. It lasted for what seemed an eternity; yet it had all transpired
in a few moments, for as I opened my eyes, and saw the Doctor again, the
chime of the second peal was but just dying into silence.

The Doctor had noticed nothing except that I had for a few minutes
closed my eyes; and yet, to me, in that brief time, there had been
crowded the scenes and incidents of an average life.

The Doctor sat down and commenced to talk to me about Violet and
Beatrice, for he seemed to be greatly taken with the winsomeness of the
child.

I listened, but I could at first make him no answer; a moment before I
had looked upon a world of ghastly things, and I dared not close my eyes
lest the dreaded scenes should return again. I made some incoherent
reply to him, which he attributed to my dread of the approaching ordeal;
but it was not that, but this fearful resurrection of my life, which now
troubled me.

I had seen things in those few moments which if I had the power I would
have plucked up by the roots, and have cast out of my life for ever. But
I now realised as I had never done before, that every one of those
dreaded things belonged to me. That I might forget but could never
remove them, that nothing could conceal them, that at any moment they
might be revived again, that they would cling to me in life, and follow
me into eternity, as imperishable as my own spirit of which they formed
a part.

"Doctor," I said at last abruptly, "is there no such thing as death, for
the soul?"

"I think there may be," he said gravely, "but not for the spirit--that
never dies."

And I groaned, repeating some former words of the Doctor's, "It never
forgets; it cannot forget; it will remember!"

The Doctor listened with anxious interest to my fervid words, and asked
me what I meant by them.

But I could not tell him of those scenes which had revealed to me the
imperishable character of the spirits memory. I could only pray the
bitter prayer of the guilty Eugene Aram: "O God! could I so close my
mind and clasp it with a clasp."

"Now brace yourself; be calm and resolute; it will soon be over," said
the Doctor kindly.

I tried to smile, and feebly promised to pull myself together; but what
I had passed through was trifling compared with that which I had yet to
experience. I had heard, and I had seen, but I had yet to feel. "Alas!
that it should be so," I thought, shuddering--"before the execution,
there is yet another peal of the bells!"




CHAPTER XXIV.--THE THIRD PEAL OF THE BELLS.


Hitherto I had not heard Gunnery speak; I had not seen him; but
immediately the chiming bells commenced to usher in the hour of
execution, I felt him. It is the only way by which the sensation may be
described.

Just as sound is transmitted, and thought, and light, and heat; so there
was by some mysterious means transmitted to me--feeling. I could not
see, nor hear, but, by feeling, I knew exactly what was transpiring in
the condemned cell. He had knelt down mechanically as the chaplain
prayed. I felt him. He had shuddered with momentary fear as the warders
prepared him for execucution. I knew when he emerged from the cell, and
passed into the fresh morning air--mounted the scaffold--and looked
dispairingly around on the few fearful witnesses.

I felt the touch of the rope by which he was bound, the pulling down of
the cap over his face, the preparatory tightening of the noose around
the neck, the shooting back of the bolts, and the drop into space, and
the horrors of strangulation.

The Doctor stood fanning me, for he guessed what was transpiring, he
knew that by some mysterious means I was suffering every agony, and
drinking to the very dregs, Gunnery's cup of death by violence. But
fearful as the sense of physical suffering was, there was a torment
still greater. It was the consciousness of guilt.

It is not given to ordinary men in this life to see the vision of sin. I
had seen; but now, I felt it. There was laid upon me in that hour of
horror, the whole burden of guilt of my spirit, soul, and body. But with
the consciousness that it was not vicarous suffering. One might in that
way, be willing in some heroic hour to suffer for another; but it was my
own burden that pressed me down, the penalty of my own transgressions,
the realization of my own sin. Every physical pang which the parting
soul and body of the hanged man suffered, passed spiritually to me; but
that I could have borne. It was the other thing. The choking sense of
wrong, of a hopeless future, a wrecked life. A mountainous unshapely
thing of evil, which encompassed me, which bore me down, and smothered
me in its vileness; until, as the Doctor told me afterwards, I literally
gasped for breath, and actually showed signs of strangulation. But it
was nothing physical, which I might explain. If, as I said, every colour
has a corresponding mental emotion, it was the darkest of them all,
something which personified all mental and physical suffering. The
wonder is that the body sustained the spirit; doubtless it would have
been better for me to have died.

But the Doctor was on the tiptoe of expectation as to what should be
next. He knew by the pallor of my face, that Gunnery away there in the
court-yard of the prison was dying, or dead. His one absorbing thought
was, would there be a reunion? Would the soul come seeking for itself?
Would it be visible? What matter my sufferings if he could but
demonstrate a remarkable psychological fact!

I saw it all myself, but I think it will be best to describe what
followed in his own words, as he related it to me afterward.

There was no preparatory sound of warning, said the Doctor, but he was
suddenly conscious of the presence of a third person in the room. He
looked into a mirror, and distinctly recognised behind me the soul form
of Mark Gunnery. It had come, as he expected. He confessed to a severe
mental shock when the apparition like figure first appeared, standing
behind me. He moved away nearer to the side of the room on which the
mirror was; carefully observing every movement of the soul in the glass.

There was only one living Gunnery now, and the soul had come in search
of its sister spirit, and yet it seemed to him to stand hesitating. My
eyes were closed, and my aged form lay back in the large chair as though
insensible. He realized in a moment that it was the aged form which was
repugnant to the soul, and it hesitated so long that he feared a
catastrophe, and every moment expected to see my spirit, in some
materialized form, emerge from the body and join with the soul-form and
disappear.

He trembled in every nerve lest this should occur, and the death penalty
should be paid by two instead of one, but he dared not turn around, for
it seemed to him from what he could see by the reflection of the ghost
in the glass, that it was watching him as much as the patient. His whole
body he said, broke out into a cold perspiration, so great was his
anxiety. Presently he observed the soul form draw nearer, and bend over
the unconscious form in the chair; then it again seemed to hesitate. He
was simply terrified now; and almost prayed aloud that the end might
come one way or the other quickly. He felt the tension upon his nerves
so great. Just then the soul-form changed in its appearance; and slowly
melted away.

It must have been some time afterward when the Doctor, who had sunk
exhausted into a chair, came to my assistance.

He found me sobbing as though in the greatest grief; but he at once
ceased to fear for me. I was once again perfectly human, for the soul of
the dead Gunnery in the prison, had secured reunion with its spirit in
the body known as John Vernon.




CHAPTER XXV.--THE LUXURY OF TEARS.


"Mark Gunnery," said the Doctor, "don't give away too much to your
feelings man, you may be better now than you have been if you control
yourself a bit."

I still wept, however, although not so much in grief, or from the sense
of loss or pain: it seemed to me as though I had at last found a place
for repentance; that the hard stony nature which had hated like a devil,
and hunted De Vere remorselessly to his death, and left a weak woman
unforgiven, had at last gone. Stray man as I was, as the Doctor stood
over me I still wept, wept foolishly, rioting in a very luxury of tears.
I got up after this, and, assisted by the Doctor, lay down upon a couch,
and presently fell asleep. It was a troubled but dreamless sleep, and I
awoke refreshed. The paroxysm of tears had done me good. I was the
better for it; as after long drought the parched earth is refreshed and
sweetened by the blessing of the rain.

I passed through a period of singular mental repose during the first few
days following the restoration to me of the triple nature. The Doctor
had carried me away among the mountains, and I was satisfied merely to
live. It was the re-marriage of the soul and spirit, and like other
brides and bridegrooms they were spending their honeymoon in an
unfamiliar home. The soul that is the bride--no doubt, specially felt it
so; but both were happily comforted by the thought that the physical
structure they then inhabited would not be the body of the resurrection.

There was still strife and storm to follow, but those first days among
the mountain were days of infinite calm and peace; spirit and soul were
satisfied with each other, and that and the restfulness of nature were
sufficient.

Some such seasons, no doubt, come to all men; but not with such
intensity. They are the slumber hours of life, when nature readjusts
itself and re-builds the worn tissue cells. As winter rests the earth,
and lulls the activities of vegetation until they lie dormant; and as
sleep rejuvenates the body so was the hushed inactive life of those days
to me. It was a sort of tranquil May-day of the soul and spirit. I
wanted no company; to speak was at times almost painful to me, all I
desired was to be left to myself. I was quiet that was needed for the
mental and spiritual processes, which I felt would soon be perfected
within me, when sleep would be followed by an awakening, and winter by
the spring.

I was lodging with a worthy old couple, dwelling near the verge of one
of those splendid prospects which have made the Blue Mountain scenery of
New South Wales famous all through Australia. When I reflected upon the
matter it surprised me that I was left so much alone; but I found out
afterwards that it was by the Doctor's explicit direction, who, by the
way, had now returned to Sydney. I can only marvel at the way in which
that master of medical science forecast my necessities. He knew that
what I wanted now was rest, and the tranquility of nature--the subtle
influences of mother earth when far removed from the noisy haunts of
men; the moving branches, the tremulous leaf, the chirp of birds and hum
of insect life, the far-reaching landscape, and the solemn mountains. I
think that if I had no other memory than of that fortnight of quietness,
and communion of self with self, and both with God, it would have
recompensed me for the previous agony, and whatever may yet follow. Like
two lovers--made one in marriage--who fully learn for the first time
each others worth, and passively enjoy the bliss of undisturbed society,
satisfied and happy with only the pressure of a hand, or the nameless
subtle, influence of presence--when it is that of one who is supremely
loved.

"Good Heaven!" I broke out impetuously as I lay alone upon the grassy
cliff, with a hundred miles of fair landscape at my feet, stretching
away to where it became lost in the blue distance. "To think how little
men and women enjoy of the delight of life for lack of knowledge of
life. What hours of bridal love might be the joy of men and women if
they only knew their capacity for enjoyment. But alas! one half the
world is grossly blind to the glorious possibilities of happiness which
God has laid up within them, and others of us discover it too late. We
live, and eat, and drink, and die; but never taste the wine of living."

These days of rest were followed by a period of singular mental
activity, when every faculty of the mind seemed to be quickened, and
every sensation of pleasure emphasised. I was rejuvenescence. I recall
my emotions with wonder. It was a new world which I saw, for I looked at
it through new eyes, and understood it as I never had before. My
feelings too were wonderfully changed toward Violet, and I thought more
about her, and her future, and her child.




CHAPTER XXVI.--A LETTER OF AMEND.


I was reminded by the reappearance of the Doctor, that rest and peace in
this world are of short duration. "I want to talk to you about Violet
and Beatrice," he said.

"I have been thinking of them both," I replied.

"That's good as far as it goes," said the Doctor, "but you will need to
do something more than think. They should at once return to England."

"I will take them back myself," I said eagerly. "De Vere is dead. I am
hopeless of recovering more than I now have. Australia has been the
scene of misfortune and sorrow, and I am cheered by the thought of
leaving it. I will take them back."

The Doctor looked at me as though he had something on his mind and
scarcely knew how to unburden himself.

"Listen to me," he said at last. "I can talk to you now, for you will be
able to judge more wisely, and have right feelings in regard to Mrs.
Gunnery and the child. Has it never occurred to you that you have no
claim upon either of them? Mrs. Gunnery's husband is dead. By marriage
two are made, not one spirit, but one flesh. You are not the husband of
Violet Gunnery."

This was a blow that I was utterly unprepared for. Singular as it may
appear, I had never thought of it. I had no bodily right to call Violet
wife, or Beatrice child. That death upon the scaffold had made the first
a widow, and the second fatherless.

I looked at the Doctor with a hard despairing gaze as I realized all
this. I was a mis-shapen wretch, without kith or kin. Relationship is of
blood. What law would recognise a mere spiritual relationship between
man and wife? Probably Violet was rejoicing in her new found personal
liberty. Marriage to her had brought no happiness: why should she not
feel glad at its being annulled?

"I have seen your wife," said the Doctor, "although, as you know, no one
but myself would in any way acknowledge such a relationship. But you
cannot cease to be interested in their welfare, and the time has come
for you to do something for them."

"Mrs. Gunnery has been twice to see me since the execution; the
remarkable incidents of the trial, and of your visit to her after the
murder, have made as deep impression upon her mind. I do not myself know
what to say. But it is due to her that there should be some explanation
from you. This you had better send in a letter, give her any necessary
information about your affairs, and let her return to England to her
friends."

"And the child?"

"Beatrice must also go."

"Why?"

"First for the mother's comfort, and second for her own happiness. You
might arrange to see her; but not as her father."

"You are keeping something back Doctor," I exclaimed angrily, "why do
you treat me like a child?"

"Gunnery," he said turning around warmly upon me, "do you not think that
I have been considerate for you all through this strange and painful
experience? I pity you from my heart."

"Why don't you help me then to a reunion with my wife and child?" I said
sullenly.

He shook his head, and sat down upon a chair, and looked at me with a
curious but pitiful glance. "Gunnery, you don't yet know yourself."

I said nothing, for there flashed into my mind that there was some
fearful thing about myself yet to be revealed.

"I took you to the country," he continued, "that you might be the better
fortified to bear life's ills. You have been telling me of the joy of
those days of intercourse with nature, and your own soul and spirit, let
that suffice you; you cannot get back your own body now. Write a
farewell to Violet and the child, and then take life quitely as long as
it may last."

"I understand you, Doctor," I said bitterly. "You think that the end is
not far distant, that for some cause best known to yourself the close of
all this will be that I shall go mad. I am not surprised."

"I do not say that," replied my friend, but the sadness of his voice
belied the hopefulness of his words.

"It will not be wise for you to attempt any personal explanation," he
continued. "You can write briefly, and then think no more of them, and
let us hope for the best."

"Tell me all that is in your mind," I said, "I can bear it now, and it
will be better for me to know before I attempt to write the letter which
you suggest. Why are you so fearful as to the length of my life or its
character? It will be kindest for you to tell me everything."

"I can tell you nothing absolutely," he replied, "unless you can tell me
the age of your present body."

"That you know I cannot tell you," I said.

"Just so, and herein is the difficulty, and yet the certainty. Your
spirit and soul are younger than your body. You are like a steamer too
powerfully engined, and except you can keep yourself quiet you will
shake your body into a speedy dissolution. You see it is impossible to
apply to your case any of the ordinary suppositions as to the
probability of life. You are not in your own body, and there must be
friction, and friction always causes pain. You suffer discomfort now,
because the brain, muscles, and various physical powers do not
correspond to the soul and spirit. Man is a marvellous piece of complex
mechanism; is it any wonder that such a union as that of your spirit and
soul with an older body should be likely to end disastrously? I don't
want you to think of it, but I want you to be prepared, and my advice to
you is not to try and explain to your wife or anyone else what they will
never be brought to believe; but set your affairs in order, and, as far
as possible, write her a letter of amend."

The more I reflected the more fully persuaded I was that this advice was
good and disinterested. So at last I returned to Sydney.

I had taken an intense dislike to my old chambers, and on arriving, at
once moved here. Somehow it seemed to me, as though in the other place,
I might again see the form of my other self. I was nervous and
unsettled.

I need not say much about another matter; but I found, on looking over
my affairs, that my funds were fast melting away. That does not trouble
me, however; there is nothing to live for now, unless it were to further
attempt to solve the mystery of this frail body. But that is hopeless,
and were it not, might only lead to further disappointment. So I put the
thought away from me, and have spent what I feel to be the closing days
of my earthly existence in writing this strange narrative of my
suffering and sin. I am well aware that most people would not credit my
story. I can scarcely credit it myself, although I have seen, and heard,
and realized its truth.

The fact is, the world is credulous and incredulous; put it upon a
beaten path of discovery, and it will credit everything which it may
find there. But that which lies a short distance off the beaten track,
although seen by one, will remain undiscovered by the crowd for years
and years.

It will, no doubt, be the same of much which I have written. Not that it
matters. I have written more to have something to occupy my attention,
and relieve my mind, than for anything else. Let it be set down as the
raving of a madman, yet let the sceptic explain as to where the madman
obtained his information and his facts. It would not be the first time
that words of truth and soberness have been branded madness by those who
failed to understand them.

I have just learned that the Doctor is called away to take part in a
consultation at a distance. I have not seen him, nor do I expect to see
him again. It would be in keeping with my life's strange tragedy to die
alone, and be buried in a strange grave an unknown man.

And yet I would, that I might once more see and kiss the child.




CHAPTER XXVII.--POSTSCRIPT.


A brief editorial note is all that need be added.

Pinned to the manuscript was a copy of a letter addressed from the
Chambers, and dated two days before Mark Gunnery's death. In some places
it was tear-stained, as though written under strong emotion, and it had
evidently been straightened out after being crumpled in places, as
though the latter had been done in some paroxysm of regret or pain.

The reader already knows how Mark Gunnery died; and how, in response to
that letter; the child had been brought to say good-bye to one supposed
to be her grandfather. The letter was full of penitence and forgiveness;
but it distinctly forbade Violet to visit him. He would see the child
alone.

One paragraph of the letter to Violet showed how the man's mind was
centred upon his mysterious trouble. It ran as follows:--"We both know
something of nature, but only a little; as a child playing on the ocean
beach knows something of the sea. Let us not judge each other too
harshly; both have erred, and both have suffered pain. It is the way of
nature never to pity, never to spare. It is too strong for us; it was
too strong for De Vere, too strong for you, too strong for me. God only,
who made it, understands it. Men and women it tosses to and fro, and
sports with; and when they contend with it, it crushes them. It drowns,
burns, pains; but fires cleanse, pain purifies, and death awakens
memories which live eternally. Be good to Beatrice!"

With this extract we close this strange story. We do not attempt to
offer any solution of the mystery of the two bodies in which the spirit
and soul of Mark Gunnery are said by him to have found temporary homes.
Whether a large portion of his story was the raving of a madman; or
whether, on the other hand, it was a glimpse into a hitherto unexplored
avenue of the mysterious tripartite nature of man, time alone will
reveal.



THE END



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