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Title: Hatchie, the Guardian Slave; or, The Heiress of Bellevue
Author: Ashton, Warren T.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hatchie, the Guardian Slave; or, The Heiress of Bellevue" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

THE HEIRESS OF BELLEVUE***


HATCHIE THE GUARDIAN SLAVE;

OR

THE HEIRESS OF BELLEVUE.

A Tale of the Mississippi and the South-west

by

WARREN T. ASHTON.

Boston:
B. B. Mussey and Company,
and
R. B. Fitts and Company

1853.

Reprinted 1972 from a copy in the
Fisk University Library Negro Collection
New World Book Manufacturing Co., Inc.
Hallandale, Florida 33009



     "Here is a man, setting his fate aside, Of comely virtues."

     SHAKSPEARE

     "Is this the daughter of a slave?"

     KNOWLES.



INTRODUCTION.


In the summer of 1848 the author of the following tale was a passenger
on board a steamboat from New Orleans to Cincinnati. During the
passage--one of the most prolonged and uncomfortable in the annals of
western river navigation--the plot of this story was arranged. Many of
its incidents, and all its descriptions of steamboat life, will be
recognized by the voyager of the Mississippi.

The tale was written before the appearance of "Uncle Tom's
Cabin,"--before negro literature had become a mania in the community. It
was not designed to illustrate the evils or the blessings of slavery. It
is, as its title-page imports, a _tale_; and the author has not stepped
out of his path to moralize upon Southern institutions, or any other
extraneous topic. But, as its _locale_ is the South, and its principal
character a slave, the story incidentally portrays some features of
slavery.

With these explanations, the author submits the tale to the public,
hoping the reader will derive some portion of the pleasure from its
perusal which he experienced in its preparation.

BOSTON, November 18, 1852.



HATCHIE:

THE GUARDIAN SLAVE.

CHAPTER I.


     "_Antony_. You grow presumptuous.
     _Ventidius_. I take the privilege of plain love to speak.
     _Antony_. Plain love!--Plain arrogance! plain insolence!"

     DRYDEN.


On the second floor of a lofty building in ---- street, New Orleans, was
situated the office of Anthony Maxwell, Esq., Attorney and Counsellor at
Law, Commissioner for Georgia, Alabama, and a dozen other states. His
office had not the usual dusty, business-like aspect of such places, but
presented more the appearance of a gentleman's drawing-room; and, but
for the ponderous cases of books bound in law-sheep, and a table covered
with tin boxes and bundles of papers secured with red tape, the visitor
would easily have mistaken it for such. The space on the walls not
occupied by book-cases was hung with rich paintings, whose artistic
beauty and elevated themes betokened a refined taste. The floor of the
room was covered by a magnificent tapestry carpet. The chairs, lounges
and tables, were of the most costly and elegant description. The windows
were hung with graceful and brilliant draperies. Every arrangement of
the office betokened luxury and indolence, rather than the severe toil
and privation to which the aspirant for legal honors must so often
submit. The costly appurtenances of the apartment seemed to indicate
that the young lawyer's path to fame was over a velvet lawn, bedecked
with beautiful flowers, rather than the rough road, steep and crooked,
over which the greatest statesmen and most eminent jurists have trodden.

The occupant of this chamber was stretched at full length upon one of
the luxurious lounges, puffing, with an abstracted air, a fragrant
regalia. He was a young man, not more than five-and-twenty years of age,
and what ladies of taste would have styled decidedly handsome. His face
was pale, with a certain haggard appearance, which indicates the earlier
stages of dissipation. His complexion was of a delicate white, unbrowned
by the southern sun, and the skin was so transparent that the roots of
his black beard were visible beneath its surface. His jet-black hair
hung in rich, wavy curls, which seemed to be the especial care of some
renowned tonsorial artist, so gracefully and accurately were they
arranged. His black eye was sharp and expressive when his mind was
excited in manly thought; but now it was a little unsteady,--disposed to
droop, and wander, as though ashamed to express the emotions which
agitated his soul. Altogether, his features were classic; but there was
something about them which the moralist would not like--a sort of
lascivious softness mingling with the nobler intellectual expression,
that warned him to beware of the Siren, while he admired the Apollo.

The marks of vice were visible in his countenance. They had not yet
become canker-spots on the surface, but they rankled and festered
beneath that fair field of physical and intellectual grandeur.

The young attorney was dressed in the extreme of fashion, yet in good
taste. Though he wore all the fashion demanded, he did not court
ridicule by overstepping its flickering lines. He was not the
over-dressed dandy, but the full-dressed gentleman of refined taste, in
his external appearance.

Anthony Maxwell had been educated at a northern institution. A year
before his introduction to the reader, he had entered his father's
office in the capacity of a partner, where, by an assumed devotion to
business, he had effectually deceived his father and his clients into
the belief that he was a steady, industrious young man. His talents were
of a very respectable order, which, superadded to a native eloquence and
an engaging demeanor, had enabled him to acquit himself with much credit
in the cases intrusted to his management. A few months after his
professional _début_, his father's decease had placed him in possession
of a very lucrative practice and a moderate fortune, thus enabling him
in some degree to follow the bent of his own inclinations. To those
whose habits and desires were similar to his own, he was not long in
unfolding his true character, though not to a sufficient extent to
destroy at once his professional prospects. The irresponsible life of
the man of leisure had more charms to him than an honorable distinction
in his profession. To labor in any form he had an intolerable
repugnance. His fortune was not sufficient to allow an entire neglect of
business; therefore he determined to practise law in an easy manner,
until a rich wife, or the "tricks" of his craft, would permit an entire
devotion to the pleasures of affluence.

In accordance with this idea, his first step, after the death of his
father, had been to locate himself in the magnificent apartments we have
described. He gave up the house in which his father had dwelt, and,
fitting up a sleeping-room in the rear of the office with oriental
splendor, his life and habits were free from the scrutinizing gaze of
friend and foe, and he found himself situated as nearly to his mind as
his income would permit. These indications of a dissolute life were
viewed with distrust by the more respectable of his clients. His
subsequent actions were not calculated to increase their confidence;
yet, for the respect they bore to the father's memory, they were slow in
casting off the son.

Mr. Maxwell smoked his cigar, and occasionally uttered an impatient
exclamation, as though some scheme he was turning in his mind refused to
accommodate itself to his means. He was evidently engaged in the
consideration of some complicated affair; and the more he thought, the
more impatient he grew. He finished his cigar, and lit another; still
the knotty point was not conquered. His haggard countenance at one
moment was lighted up, as though success had dawned upon his mental
contest; but at the next moment it darkened into disappointment, which
he vented in an audible oath.

While thus laboring in his perplexity, the door communicating with the
ante-chamber was opened, and the boy in attendance very formally
announced "Miss Dumont."

This announcement seemed to dissipate the vexatious clouds which had
environed the attorney, and a light and cheerful smile came, as if by
magic, upon his care-worn features, as he apologized to the lady for the
smoky atmosphere of the room.

"I trust your honored father is well," said he, after disposing of the
usual commonplace introductions of conversation.

"I regret to say that his failing health is the occasion of this visit,"
replied the lady, in a cold and even serious tone. "I have called to
request your immediate attendance at Bellevue. My father has some
business matters upon which he requires your professional advice."

"Col. Dumout, I trust, is not seriously ill," returned Maxwell, with an
appearance of sympathy.

"He is confined to his room, but not entirely to his bed. When shall I
say you will come?" said the lady.

"I will be there within an hour after your own arrival, if you go
direct."

"Very well, sir;" and she turned to depart.

This intention on the part of the lady did not seem to meet the
approbation of the attorney.

"Stay a moment, Miss Dumont," said he, in an embarrassed manner; "pray,
honor me with a moment's conversation."

"Nay, sir. I know too well your object in this request, and cannot
accede to it," replied the lady, in a firm and dignified manner, while
a rich crimson shade suffused her beautiful countenance.

"Be not so unkind,--a moment is all I ask," said Maxwell, with pleading
earnestness.

"No, sir; not a moment. Your unopened letter, which I yesterday
returned, should be enough to convince you that my mind is not changed,"
replied she, moving to the door.

The lawyer was vexed. The letter alluded to by the lady he had received,
and it had troubled him exceedingly. He had a great purpose in view,--a
purpose which, accomplished, would enable him to realize the cherished
object of his life,--would enable him to revel in the ease and affluence
he so much coveted. Something must be done. Here was an opportunity
afforded by the providential visit of Miss Dumont which might never
occur again, and he resolved to improve it. Determined to detain her, he
adopted the first expedient which presented itself.

"Pardon me," said he, "I have not received the letter, and was not aware
that you intended to return it."

"Indeed!" replied the lady, with evident astonishment, as she
relinquished her hold of the door-handle, and returned to the table by
the side of which the attorney stood.

"I regret that I did not, as it would have saved you from further
annoyance, and me from a few of the hours of anguish with which I have
awaited your reply," returned the lawyer, in accents of humility, which
were too well feigned to permit the lady to suspect them. "The
bitterness of a blighted hope were better than the agony of suspense."

A smile of pity and contempt rested upon the fair face of the lady, as
she turned her glance from him to the papers on the table. There lay
Maxwell's letter, with the envelope in which she had returned it! She
only pointed to it, and looked into his face to read the shame and
confusion her discovery must create.

Maxwell's pallid cheek reddened, as he perceived that his deceit was
exposed; but he instantly recovered his self-possession, and said,

"Pardon this little subterfuge. I permitted myself to descend to it,
that I might gain a moment's time to plead with you for the heart which
is wasting away beneath your coldness. You do not, you cannot, know the
misery I have endured in possessing the love upon which you so cruelly
frown."

The passionate eloquence of Maxwell might have melted a heart less firm
than that of Emily Dumont. As it was, the cold expression of contempt
left her features, and, if not disposed to listen with favor to his
suit, she was softened into pity for his assumed misery. Under any other
circumstances, the lie he had a moment before uttered would have forever
condemned him in her sight. But her charitable disposition compelled her
to believe that it was the last resort of a mind on the verge of
despair.

"Mr. Maxwell," said she, "I am deeply grieved that you should have
suffered any unhappiness on my account."

"I will bless you for even those words," returned Maxwell, hastily,
feeling that he had gained the first point.

"But I do not intend to encourage your suit," promptly returned the
lady.

"Be not again unkind! Veil not that heavenly sympathy in the coldness of
indifference again!"

"I wish not to be harsh, or unkind. You have before given me an index of
your sentiments, and I have endeavored, by all courteous means, to
discountenance them."

"Yet I have always found something upon which to base a flickering
hope."

"If you have, I regret it all the more."

"Do not say so! Changed as has been your demeanor towards me, I have
dared to fan the flame in my heart, till now it is a raging fire, and
beyond my control."

"I cannot give my hand where my heart is uninterested," replied the
lady, feelingly. "I love you not. I am candid, and plain, and I trust
this unequivocal declaration will forever terminate any hope you have
cherished in relation to this matter. Painful as I now feel it must be
for you to hear, and painful as it is to me, on that account, to declare
it, I repeat--I can never reciprocate the affection you profess. And now
let this interview terminate. It is too painful to be prolonged;"--and
she again moved towards the door.

"Do not leave me to despair!" pleaded Maxwell, earnestly, as he followed
her toward the door. "At least, bid me wait, bid me prove myself
worthy,--anything, but do not forever extinguish the little star I have
permitted to blaze in the firmament of my heart--the star I have dared
to worship. Do not veil me in utter darkness!"

"I can offer no hope--not the slightest, even to rid myself of an
annoyance," replied Miss Dumont, with the return of some portion of her
former dignity; for the perseverance of the attorney perplexed and
troubled her exceedingly.

"You know not to what a fate you doom me," said Maxwell, heedless of the
lady's rebuke.

"There is no remedy;" and Miss Dumont grasped the door-knob.

"There is a remedy. Bid me wait a month, a year, any time, till you
examine more closely your own heart. Give me any respite from hopeless
misery."

"You have my answer; and now I trust to your honor as a gentleman to
save me from further annoyance," said Miss Dumont, with spirit, for her
patience was fast ebbing out.

"I will not _annoy_ you," replied Maxwell, with emphasis, as he assumed
an air of more self-possession. "I have been pleading for exemption from
the direst of human miseries. But I will not _annoy_ you, even to save
myself from endless woe."

"Forget this misplaced affection; for he assured my sentiments will
continue unchanged."

"I can never forget it; but I will strive to endure it with
resignation. I feel that I must still cherish the presumptuous hope
that you will yet relent."

"Destroy not your own peace; for the hope must be a vain one.
Good-afternoon;" and the lady departed before the attorney had time to
add another hyperbolical profession of a passion which, however well
acted, was not half so deeply grounded as he had led the unsuspecting
object of it to believe. That he really loved her was to some extent
true. That his love was earnest and pure, such as the blight of coldness
and inconstancy would render painful, was not true,--far from it. He had
sought her hand, not to lay at her feet the offering of a hallowed
affection, but to realize the object we have before mentioned,--to
enable him, by the possession of her vast wealth, to live a life of ease
and pleasure.

He had commenced his attack upon her affections with some prospect of
success. To the occasional professional visit he paid her father he had
added frequent social calls, in which he had used all his eloquence to
enlist the sympathies of the fair daughter. She had regarded him as an
agreeable visitor; and, indeed, his natural abilities, the unceasing wit
and liveliness of his conversation, had well earned him this
distinction. Flattering himself that he should be able to win her
affections, he had gradually emerged from the indifference of the mere
formalist to the incipient attentions of the devoted lover. These
overtures were not well received, and, if she had before treated him
with the favor which the agreeable visitor always receives, she now
extended to him only the stately courtesy of entire indifference. The
visible change in the cordiality of her receptions had opened his eyes,
and revealed the nature of his unpromising position. But his disposition
was too buoyant, his character too energetic, to allow him to despair.

Latterly, however, a new obstacle to his suit had presented itself, in
the person of a rival, upon whom the object of his ambitious wishes
appeared to bestow unusual favor. This individual was a young officer
in the army, a sort of _protegé_ of the lady's father, who had been
spending a furlough at Bellevue. In the matter of fortune Maxwell's
rival was not to be dreaded, for he knew the lady was not mercenary in
her views. The young captain was penniless; but his family was good, and
he had the advantage of being a favorite with the father. He had won for
himself a name on the fields of Mexico, which went far to enlist a
lady's favor. He was a universal favorite both with the public and in
the private circle.

Maxwell considered this young officer a formidable rival, and he
resolved to retrieve himself at once. Upon his personal attractions he
relied to overcome the lady's disfavor; and, notwithstanding the
unequivocal intention of discountenancing his suit she had manifested,
he resolved to open his campaign by addressing her, eloquently and
tenderly, through the medium of a letter. He felt that he could in this
manner gain her attention to his suit,--a point which his vanity assured
him was equivalent to a victory. But his philosophy and his vanity were
both sorely tried by the return of the letter unopened. His point was
lost, and he was harassing his fertile brain with vain attempts to
suggest any scheme short of honest, straight-forward wooing,--which the
circumstances seemed to interdict,--when the visit of the lady herself
rendered further efforts useless.

His position, resting, as it did, on the purpose of marrying the
heiress,--a purpose too deeply incorporated with his future prospects to
be resigned,--was now a desperate one. Through the long vista of
struggles and difficulties he saw his end, and the fact that he had to
some extent compromised his heart stimulated him still more to meet and
overcome the barriers that environed him.

For an hour after the lady's departure the young lawyer pondered the
obstacles which beset him. With the aspect of an angry rather than a
disappointed man, he paced the office with rapid and irregular strides.
He could devise no expedient. A lady's will is absolute, and he must
bend in submission. He blamed his own tardiness one moment, and his
precipitancy the next; then he cursed his ill luck, and vented his anger
and disappointment in a volley of oaths.

His meditations were again interrupted, by his attendant's announcement
of "Mr. Dumont."

"Ah, good-morning, sir! I was just on the point of going to Bellevue.
Nothing serious has happened, I trust," said Maxwell, laying aside, with
no apparent effort, his troubled visage, and assuming his usual bland
demeanor.

"Nothing," replied the visitor, gruffly.

"Your niece left the office an hour since," continued Maxwell. "She
requested me immediately to visit your brother."

"Which you have not done," returned the visitor, whom we will style
Jaspar, to distinguish him from his brother, Colonel Dumont.

"But which I intend to do at once, a little matter having detained me
longer than I supposed it would."

"I will save you the trouble. The business upon which my brother wished
to see you was concerning his will."

"Indeed, sir! I hope he is not dangerously ill," said Maxwell, in
apparent alarm.

"Not at all. The doctor says he will be out in a week; but he thinks
otherwise, and is now engaged in putting his house in order," replied
Jaspar, with a sickly smile.

"I am glad he is no worse, though it is better at all times to be
prepared for the final event."

"Perhaps it is," said Jaspar, coldly. "Here is a rough draught of the
will, which he wishes reduced to the usual form with all possible haste.
Will it take you long?"

"An hour or two."

"I will wait, then, as he requested me to bring you with me on my
return."

"It shall be done with all possible haste. There are cigars, and the
morning papers. Pray make yourself comfortable."

Jaspar seated himself, and lit a cigar, without acknowledging his host's
courtesy, while Maxwell applied himself to the task before him. The
first part of the will was speedily written; but those parts which
alluded to the testator's daughter, foreshadowing the opulence that
awaited her, he could not so easily pass over. They were so strongly
suggestive of the fortunate lot of him who should wed her, that he could
scarcely proceed with the work. An hour before, she had veiled _his_
prospects in darkness; now he was preparing a will which would, at no
distant day, place her in possession of a princely fortune. His mind was
so firmly fixed upon the attainment of this treasure that it refused to
bend itself to the task before him.

Jaspar had finished his cigar, and began to be a little impatient.
Thrice he rose from his chair, and looked over the lawyer's shoulder.

"This is an important paper," said Maxwell, noticing Jaspar's
impatience, "and must be executed with great care."

"So it is; but the colonel may die before you get it done," observed
Jaspar, coarsely, and with a crafty smile, which was not unnoticed by
the attorney.

"O, no! I hope not," replied Maxwell, exhibiting the prototype of
Jaspar's smile.

A smile! What is it? What volumes are conveyed in a single smile! It is
the magnetic telegraph by which sympathetic hearts convey their untold
and unmentionable purposes. To the anxious lover it is the bearer of the
first tidings of joy. Long before the heart dare resort to coarse,
material words, the smile carries the messages of affection. To the
villain it reveals the sympathetic purposes of his according fiend. What
the lead and line are to the pilot, the smile, the cunning, dissembling
smile, is to the base mind. By means of it he feels his way into the
heart and soul of his supposed prototype.

Maxwell knew enough of human character to read correctly the meaning of
Jaspar's crafty smile. The attorney had long known that he was cold and
unfeeling, a bear in his deportment, and sadly lacking in common
integrity; but that he was capable of bold and daring villany he had had
no occasion to suspect. As he turned to the document again, the base
character of the uncle came up for consideration in connection with his
suit to the niece. Might not this circumstance open the way to the
attainment of his grand purpose?

But, while he considers, let us turn our attention to the development of
the history and circumstances of the Dumont family.



CHAPTER II.

     "_Lorenzo_. You loved, and he did love!
       _Mariana_. To say he did
     Were to affirm what oft his eyes avouched,
     What many an action testified--and yet,
     What wanted confirmation of his tongue."

     KNOWLES.


On the right bank of the Mississippi river, a few miles above New
Orleans, was situated the plantation of Colonel Dumont, which he had
chosen to designate by the expressive appellation of "Bellevue;" though,
it would seem, from the level nature of the country, it could not have
been chosen on account of any fitness in the term.

In territorial extent, in the number of slaves employed, and in the
quantity of sugar annually produced, the plantation of Colonel Dumont
was one of the most important on the river. This fact, added to the
possession of immense estates in the city, rendered its owner a man of
no small consequence in the vicinity. But, more than this, Colonel
Dumont was beloved and respected for his many good qualities of mind and
heart. In the late war with England he had served in the army, and as an
officer had won an enviable distinction by his courage and his talents.
Coming unexpectedly into the possession of this estate by the death of
an uncle, he retired, at the close of the war, from a profession to
which a genuine patriotism alone had invited him, and devoted himself
entirely to the improvement of his lands.

Colonel Dumont had been married; but, after a single year of happiness
in the conjugal state, his wife died, leaving him an only daughter in
remembrance of her. This child, at the opening of the tale, was within
a few years of maturity,--the image of her father's only love,--not less
fair, not less pure and good.

Emily Dumont was a beautiful girl, fair as the lily, gentle as the dove.
She was of a medium height, and of slender and graceful form. Her step
was light and elastic, and, if there was any poetry in her light,
elegant form, there was more in her easy, fairy-like motion. Her
features were as daintily moulded as her form. Her eye was light blue,
soft, and beautifully expressive of a pure heart. She was a little paler
than the connoisseur in female loveliness would demand in his ideal, and
her expression was a little inclined to sadness; but it was a
sadness--or rather a sweet dignity--more winning than repulsive to the
gazer.

Emily Dumont, highly as fortune had favored her in the bestowal of
worldly goods and personal beauty, was still more blessed in the gifts
of an expansive mind and a gentle heart; and mind and heart had both
been faithfully cultivated by the assiduous care of her devoted father.
She was a true woman,--not a mere plaything to while away a dandy's idle
hours, not a piece of tinsel to adorn the parlor of a nabob, but a true
woman,--one fitted by nature and education to adorn all the varied
scenes of life. Although brought up in unclouded prosperity, amid luxury
and affluence, she was still prepared for the day of adversity, if it
should ever come.

As the heiress of immense wealth, her hand was eagerly sought in the
aristocratic circle around her; but thus far she had resisted all these
attacks upon her heart, and upon her prospective riches. In the crowd of
suitors who gathered around her was Anthony Maxwell. In the item of
wealth his fortune was comparatively small; and in that of a noble
character, smaller still. Emily could have forgiven him the want of the
former, but the latter was imperatively demanded. At the young lawyer's
return from the North, and on his first appearance at the bar, Emily had
regarded him with more than ordinary attention. But, after the death of
his father, the reports which reached her ears of his dissolute habits
and inclinations caused her to regard him with distrust. His wit,
accomplishments and native suavity, had procured him admission into the
circle of her more favored friends. But the report of his vices had as
promptly produced his expulsion.

The return of the army from Mexico brought with it the young officer
whom we have before mentioned. The father of this young man had been a
companion-in-arms of Colonel Dumont, and a strong friendship had grown
up between the veterans. The tie was severed only by the death of the
former, after a life of mercantile misfortunes, and finally of utter
ruin. At the period of the father's insolvency and death, Henry Carroll,
the son, was a cadet at West Point, and was about abandoning his chosen
profession, for the want of means, when Colonel Dumont wrote him an
affectionate letter, offering all that he required to complete his
studies. This offer, coming from one who had been a heavy loser by his
father's bankruptcy, was highly appreciated, and the young student had
allowed no false delicacy to prevent his acceptance of the generous
proposal, though with a stipulation to repay all sums, with interest.
Colonel Dumont, in his regular summer tour to the North, never failed to
visit his young friend, whose noble bearing and lofty principle entirely
won his heart, and he charged himself with a father's duty towards him.
A regular correspondence was kept up between the self-constituted
guardian and his _protegé_; and the more the former read the heart of
the young man, the more did he rejoice that he had befriended him. He
read with mingled pride and affection the repeated instances of his
daring courage and matchless skill which found their way into the
newspapers; while the record of his humanity to a fallen foe contributed
to swell the tide of the old gentleman's affection.

On his return from Mexico, Henry's first care was to see his devoted
friend and guardian, and he accepted his pressing invitation to spend a
month at Bellevue.

As an inmate of her father's family, he was, of course, a constant
companion of Emily. Her radiant beauty had captivated his heart long ere
the month had expired; and he saw, or thought he saw, in the heart of
the fair girl, indications of a sympathetic sentiment. In the rashness
of his warm blood he had allowed himself to cherish a lively hope that
his dawning love was not entirely unrequited. He had seen that _his_
bouquet was more fondly cherished than the offerings of others; that
_his_ hand, as she alighted from the carriage, was more gladly received
than any other; that _his_ conversation never wearied her; in short,
there was in all their intercourse an unmistakable exponent of feelings
deeper than those of common friendship.

In the midst of this delighted existence,--while yet he revelled in the
pleasure of loving and being loved,--there came to him, like a dark
cloud over a clear sky, the unwelcome thought that it was wrong for him
to entangle the affections of his benefactor's daughter. He was a
beggar,--the object of her father's charity. Her prospects were
brilliant and certain, and he felt that he had no right to mar or
destroy them. He knew that she would love him none the less for his
poverty; but, probably, her father had already anticipated something
better than a beggar for his future son-in-law.

Poor Captain Carroll! The modesty of true greatness of soul had left
unconsidered the genuine nobility of the man. He thought not of the name
he had won on the field of battle,--of the honorable wounds he bore as
testimonials of his devotion to his country. He was poor, and, in the
despondency which his position induced, he attributed to wealth a value
which to the truly good it never possesses.

He loved Emily, and his poverty seemed to shut him out from the hallowed
field to which his heart fondly sought admission.

Henry Carroll was a high-minded man; he felt that to love the daughter
while the father's views were unknown to him would be rank ingratitude;
and ingratitude towards so good a man, so kind a benefactor, was
repugnant to every principle of his nature. There was but one path open
to him. If he could not help loving her, he could strive to prevent the
loved one from squandering her affections where pain and sorrow might
ensue. They had often met; but he strove to believe, in his unwilling
zeal, that their intimacy had not yet resulted in an incurable passion.
She had as yet shown nothing that could not have resulted from simple
friendship. And yet she had,--the warm glow that adorned her cheek when
she received his flower, the expressive glance of her soft eye as he
assisted her to the carriage, the sweet smile with which she had always
greeted him,--ah, no, these were not friendship! I He could not believe
that his affection was unreturned; it was too precious to remain
unacknowledged. The will and the heart would not conform to each other.
But his duty seemed plain, and he did not hesitate to obey its call,
though it demanded a great sacrifice.

The month to which he had limited his visit at Bellevue expired about
the period at which our tale begins. Inclination prompted him to accept
the pressing invitation of Colonel Dumont to prolong his stay; but,
bitter as was the thought of parting from her he loved, his nice sense
of honor compelled him to be firm in his purpose.

The announcement of his intended departure to Emily, as they were seated
in the drawing-room on the designated day, afforded him another evidence
that her heart was not untouched. Her pale cheek grew paler, and the
playful smile was instantly dismissed.

"So soon?" said she, scarcely able to conceal the tremulous emotion
which agitated her.

"So soon! I have finished the month allotted to me," replied Henry
Carroll, with a weak effort to appear gayer than he felt.

"Allotted to you! And pray are you stinted in the length of your visit?"

"My orders will not permit a longer stay, happy as I should be to
remain; and I have already trespassed long on your hospitality."

"Indeed, Henry, you have grown sensitive! You were not wont to consider
your visits a trespass. Pray, have you not been regarded as one of the
family?"

"True, I have. I can never repay the debt of gratitude for the many
kindnesses I have received at your good father's hands."

"He has been a thousand times repaid by the honorable life you have
led,--by feeling that the talents he has encouraged you to foster are
now blessing the world," replied Emily, warmly; "so no more of your
gratitude, if you please."

"However lightly you, or your father, may regard my obligations to him,
I cannot view them coldly."

"Well, then, your presence here will give him more pleasure than any
other token of respect you can bestow; and, I am sure, I should be
rejoiced--that is to say--that is--I should be glad to have you stay
longer, if you can be contented," stammered Emily, as her mantling
blushes betrayed her confusion. Deception was not in her nature, and,
strive as hard as she might, she must reveal her feelings.

"I should be happier than it is possible for me to express in remaining
at Bellevue. My month has passed away like a dream of pleasure,--so
short it seemed that time had staid his wheels,--so joyous that earth
seemed shorn of sorrow. You know not how much I have enjoyed the society
of your father, and, pardon me, of yourself," returned Henry, scarcely
less confused than Emily.

"I am glad to hear you say so," she replied, with some hesitation, and
fearful of exposing the sentiment she was conscious of cherishing. "I
have thought that, accustomed as you are to the stirring life of the
camp, you had grown tired of our quiet home."

"You wrong me, Emily, I should never weary here; but I was fearful that
I had already staid too long," said Henry, in a sad tone, for he felt it
most deeply, though not in the sense that Emily understood him.

"Too long! Then you are weary of us, and I will not chide you forbidding
us adieu," said Emily, with a glance of anxiety at Henry.

"Nay, Miss Dumont, do not misinterpret my words. I am not weary, I
cannot be weary, of Bellevue and its fair and good inmates."

"Then what mean you by saying you have staid too long?"

"Pardon me, I cannot tell why I said it; but I feel that I should do
wrong to prolong my stay, however congenial to my feelings to do so,"
replied Henry, with the most evident embarrassment.

"How strange you talk, Henry! What mystery is this?" said Emily, to whom
prudential motives were unknown.

"If it be a mystery, pray do not press me to unravel it, for I cannot."

His resolution was fast giving way before the strength of his love. He
was sorely tempted to throw himself at her feet and pour forth the
acknowledgment of his affection, which, he felt, would be kindly
received. It was a difficult position for a man of sensitive feelings to
be placed in, and he felt it keenly. But the duty he owed to his
benefactor seemed imperative.

Emily, on her part, was sadly bewildered by the strangeness of Henry's
words; but she had no suspicion of the truth. If she had, perhaps, with
a woman's ingenuity, she had devised some plan to extricate him from the
dilemma. She was conscious of the strong interest she felt in the man
before her; but the fact that she loved him was yet unrecognized. How
should it be? She was unskilled in the subtleties even of her own
heart. She know not the meaning of love yet. She was conscious of a
grateful sensation in her heart; but she had yet to learn that this
sensation was that called love in the great world. She began to fear, in
her inability to account for Henry's strangeness in any other way, that
some secret sorrow weighed heavily upon him.

"I will not press you," said she, in a tone of affectionate sympathy;
"but, if you have any sorrow which oppresses you, reveal it to my
father, and take counsel against it. My father's house is your home,--at
least, we have always endeavored to make it so. Father has always
regarded you with the affection of a parent, and taught me to consider
you as a brother--"

"A brother!" interrupted Henry, feeling that the relation of brother and
sister was too cold for the warmth of his affection; but, instantly
banishing the unworthy thought, he continued,

"And so, my pretty sister, you are for the first time entering upon your
sisterly relations?"

"The first time! Have I not always given you evidence of a sister's
esteem?"

"Pardon me. I only jested," said Henry, as the playful smile left his
countenance.

"Do not jest upon serious things, Henry," replied Emily. "But, brother,
something troubles you. You cannot deny it. You look so gloomy and sad,
and must leave us so suddenly."

"Nay, my sweet sister,--since sister I am permitted to call you,--you
must forgive me if I am obstinate just this once."

"I will forgive your obstinacy because you desire it, and not because I
am satisfied. Do you know, brother," said she, with a playful smile,
"that I suspect you are in love?"

This raillery was intended to have been uttered with a pert archness;
but the crimson cheek and tremulous lips entirely defeated the
intention.

"Fie, sister! You are jesting now, yourself," replied Henry, with what
was intended for a smile, but which, like his assailant's archness, was
a signal failure.

Both parties were now in the most unfortunate position imaginable.
Neither dared to speak, for fear of disclosing their emotions. Both felt
the awkwardness of the silence, and both felt the danger of breaking it.
Henry twirled the tassel of the window drapery, and Emily twisted her
pocket-handkerchief into every conceivable shape. Henry was the first to
gather fortitude enough to venture a remark.

"I must leave you, sister, now that, for the first time, the relation is
acknowledged. I assure you, however, that I appreciate the sisterly
kindness you have always lavished upon me. And I shall always remember
this visit as the happiest period of my life."

"Then I may hope you will often repeat it," replied Emily, sadly.

"However pleasant it would be for me to do so, I fear my duty will be a
barrier to my inclination. My future post, you are aware, is Newport."

"And you depart so suddenly, and then seem inclined to make your absence
perpetual! But we shall see you where-ever you are. We go to Newport
this season, if father's health will permit," returned Emily, with a
playful pout.

"I would stay by you,--that is, I would stay at Bellevue forever,--if my
duty to your father--I mean to my country--would permit," stammered
Henry, much agitated, as he rose to depart.

"I must go and bid farewell to your father," continued he, taking her
hand, which he perceived trembled violently, in his own; "and I trust
you will remember your absent brother--" kindly, he was about to say,
but Emily, attempting to rise, was overpowered by the emotions which she
had vainly striven to suppress, and sunk back in a swoon.

Henry summoned assistance, and applied the usual restoratives, but he
did not again venture to address her; and, as her pale features
exhibited signs of returning consciousness, he hurried from the room.

As the hour of his departure drew near, he bade an affectionate farewell
to Colonel Dumont, who was confined to his room by illness. His kind
friend used many entreaties for him to prolong his stay, but Henry
pleaded his duty, and that the dying request of a brother officer
required him to take a journey into Georgia, which would consume some
three or four weeks' time. He intended to go to his future station by
the way of the Mississippi, and promised that, if any time were left him
on his return, he would again visit Bellevue. This, however, he thought
was improbable.

Colonel Dumont gave his _protegé_ much good advice, and, as his failing
health had infected his usually cheerful spirits, he said that they
would probably meet no more in this world. He frankly told him that he
should remember him in his will, and wished him ever to regard Emily in
the relation of a _sister_.

This last wish seemed like a positive prohibition of the fond hope he
had cherished, of regarding her in a nearer and more tender relation. He
congratulated himself on the decision with which he had resisted the
temptation to avow his love.

This injunction of Emily's father could be interpreted in two ways,--as
a requirement to preserve the present friendly relations, or as a
prohibition against his ever making her his wife. The latter method of
rendering his meaning seemed to him the most in accordance with their
relative positions, and he was compelled to adopt it.

After renewing his thanks to his benefactor, he took his leave with a
sad heart, and departed from the mansion which contained his newly-found
yet now rejected love.



CHAPTER III.

     "_Macbeth_.--What is 't ye do?
     _Witches_.--A deed without a name."

     Shakespeare.


In the management of his estates, Colonel Dumont had, for many years,
been assisted by an only brother. This brother was directly the opposite
of himself in character, in aims, in everything. Even in his childhood
this brother had displayed a waywardness of disposition which gave the
promise of much evil in his future years. As the seed sown so was the
harvest. Parental instruction, counsel and rebuke, were alike
unavailing, and he attained the years of manhood morose and
unsympathizing in his disposition, avaricious and hard with his equals,
and cruel and unjust towards his inferiors. His selfish mind, his low
aims, and his tyrannical character, had long been preparing him for
deeds of villany and injustice.

In the earlier years of his life he had been a merchant in New Orleans;
but, being universally detested for his meanness and duplicity, in a
season of general panic in the financial world he was completely ruined,
by the want of those kind offices which are so freely interchanged in
the mercantile community. In this dilemma, he asked his brother's
assistance. Colonel Dumont examined his affairs, and, considering his
position in the community, with the almost hopeless embarrassment of his
concerns, concluded that success under these circumstances was
impossible. He frankly and kindly informed his brother of his
conclusion, and offered him a share in his planting operations. His
brother--Jaspar--was sorely wounded in his pride by this reply. It
generated in him a sentiment, if not of malignity, at least of hatred,
and from that day he was his brother's enemy. Jaspar's business was
gone, and he never allowed his spirit of revenge even to interfere with
his interest; so he availed himself of his brother's offer.

Colonel Dumont trusted much to the gentle influence of his family circle
to soften Jaspar's moroseness, and infuse some principle of charity and
love. But these anticipations proved vain. He was cold and taciturn.
Business alone could call forth the display of his energy, of which he
was possessed of a liberal share. The society of Emily and other ladies
he seemed to shun. The gentle influence of domestic life seemed entirely
wasted upon him. Colonel Dumont was forced to believe his brother a
misanthrope, and no longer strove to soften his character. Emily
regarded his coldness as his natural manner, and left him to the full
enjoyment of his eccentricity. Between persons of such opposite
dispositions there could be, of course, but little sympathy, and that
little was entirely upon one side.

The demon of Jaspar's nature displayed itself in the cane-field and in
the sugar-house, which Colonel Dumont rarely visited, having intrusted
the entire management of the estate to him, his own attention being
occupied by the exterior business of the plantation, and by his city
possessions. The poor negro, who was compelled to submit to cruel usage
and short fare, knew Jaspar's nature better than uncle or niece. His
advent among them had been the era from which they dated the life of
misery they led--a life so different from that they had been accustomed
to under the superintendence of the more Christian brother.

Jaspar Dumont managed the "negro stock" in the true spirit of a demon,
and as such the "hands" learned to regard him. Runaways, which, under
the mild management of his brother, were rarely known, were common now;
and almost the only amusement Jaspar knew was to hunt them down with
rifle and bloodhound.

This state of things Colonel Dumont saw, but he did not appreciate the
reason of it. Himself a rigid disciplinarian, he wished not to
interfere, though the cruelty of Jaspar pained his heart. His failing
health had latterly withdrawn his attention still more from the
plantation, and Jaspar drew the reins the tighter when he saw that the
humane eye was removed from him.

Such was Jaspar Dumont, whom we left in Maxwell's office at the close of
our first chapter.

On the day succeeding the departure of Henry Carroll, Colonel Dumont
felt himself much weaker in body, and was fully impressed with the
conviction that his final sickness had laid its hand upon him. To Emily
he had not communicated these gloomy forebodings, and she had discovered
no alarming symptoms in his illness. She had no suspicion of the nature
of her father's business with Maxwell, and had borne his message to the
attorney, as she had often done before, in her frequent visits to New
Orleans, though on this occasion, as may be supposed, she felt much
delicacy in doing so.

In her absence Colonel Dumont had become more and more impressed with
the omens of a speedy dissolution, and in his uneasiness had despatched
Jaspar with a draft of his intentions, wishing the attorney to write the
will in his office (where he could have his authorities at hand), and
return with his brother.

Maxwell considered the will and his own position, while Jaspar lit
another cigar. Each was striving to penetrate the thoughts of the other,
but neither had the boldness to enter upon the subject which occupied
his mind. The lawyer wanted the lady and the fortune, and he had an
undefined purpose of obtaining them through the agency of Jaspar, who
wanted only the fortune, and had a decided anticipation of being able to
retain the attorney in his service. Neither knew the purposes of the
other; but each wanted the assistance of the other.

Maxwell, with an absent mind, perused and reperused the first page of
Colonel Dumont's instructions. Without a purpose he turned the leaf, and
his attention was attracted by the name of his formidable rival, Henry
Carroll. He read, with astonishment, a bequest to him of fifty thousand
dollars. If it needed anything to complete his discomfiture, this was
sufficient. He began to think Colonel Dumont was in his dotage. He had
scarcely heard of Captain Carroll until his return from Mexico, and now
he was a legatee in the will of a millionaire. With much anxiety he
completed the reading of the instructions, fearful that he should find
the young officer's name in connection with Emily's. To his great relief
he found no such allusion, and again he applied himself to the task of
writing out the will.

Jaspar smoked his cigar, glanced occasionally at the newspaper, and
stared out of the window. He was evidently lost to all around him, in
the workings of his own mind. Now his thoughts seemed to excite him, for
his eye glared with an unusual lustre, and his thin lips moved, as if
they would disclose the operations of his mind. "Will he do it?"
muttered he. "He shall do it, or by ---- he shall suffer! I have the
means of compelling him. I will use them."

Apparently satisfied with his conclusion, he rose hastily and approached
the attorney. A smooth smile--an unwonted expression on his
features--seemed to come on demand. Again he looked over the lawyer's
shoulder. He saw the name of Henry Carroll, and his former severe
expression returned, and his frame was stirred by angry emotions. A
half-suppressed oath did not escape the quick ear of the attorney, and
he turned to observe the face of his companion. He read at a glance the
dissatisfaction which the will occasioned. The reason was plain; and,
with the intention of drawing out Jaspar's views, he addressed him.

"This Carroll is a lucky fellow," said he.

"The devil is always the luckiest fellow in the crowd," growled Jaspar,
with an oath.

"You are right, sir," returned Maxwell, pleased to see no better feeling
between his rival and the uncle.

"But who is this Carroll?" said he.

"A hungry cub, whom the colonel has helped along in the world."

"Well, he has proved himself a brave and skilful officer, and reflects
credit on your brother's judgment in the selection of a _protegé_,"
returned Maxwell, adroitly.

"The fellow is all well enough, for aught I know, but he has wheedled
the colonel out of fifty thousand dollars, and I can never forgive him
for that," said Jaspar, in what was intended for a playful tone, but
which was designed as a "feeler" of the attorney's conscience.

"But there is still an immense property left, even after deducting the
liberal charitable donations," said Maxwell.

"There is, but where does it go to? That whining young cub has divided a
hundred thousand with me, and the silly girl has the rest."

"Which will eventually go into the hands of Captain Carroll,--lucky dog,
he!" returned Maxwell, striving to provoke Jaspar still more.

"What! what mean you, man?" said Jaspar, with a scowl, as he caught a
glimpse of the attorney's meaning.

"Is it possible, my dear sir," said Maxwell, laying down his pen, and
turning half round, "is it possible you have not observed the intimacy
which has grown up between this Carroll and your niece?"

"Intimacy! what do you mean? Speak out! no equivocation!" said Jaspar,
almost fiercely.

"Do you not see that she will yet be the wife of Captain Carroll?"

Jaspar scowled, but said nothing. He had seen nothing from which he
could draw such an inference, but he doubted not the information was
correct.

"Well, well, it matters not. He may as well have it as she," muttered
he. "This will suits me not, and must be broken or altered."

"It _is_ hard upon you," said Maxwell, who had overheard Jaspar's
mutterings.

"It is rather hard to be placed upon the same level with a comparative
stranger," replied Jaspar, thoughtfully, after a long pause. He had not
intended the lawyer should hear his previous remarks, and had reflected
whether he should disown them, or pursue the subject as thus opened.

"Of course you will not mention the idle remark I made," continued
Jaspar, in a vein of prudence. "My brother has an undoubted right to
dispose of his property as he pleases."

"O, certainly. What transpires in my office is always regarded with the
strictest confidence, whatever its nature, and however it affects any
individual," replied Maxwell, laying peculiar emphasis on the latter
clause.

"That's right, always be secret," said Jaspar, without any of the
appearance of obligation for the favor which the attorney expected to
see.

"I have secrets in my possession which would ruin some of the best
families in the State of Louisiana."

"Without doubt," replied Jaspar, coldly.

The attorney resumed his writing, and pronounced in an audible tone each
sentence as he committed it to the paper.

"To my beloved brother--Jaspar Dumont--I give and bequeath the sum of
fifty thousand dollars."

These words, as intended, again fired Jaspar's passions.

"Is there no remedy for this?" asked he, hastily.

"No legal remedy," replied Maxwell, indifferently, as he continued his
task.

"Is there any, legal or illegal?"

"None that an honest man would be willing to resort to."

"That any man would resort to?" and Jaspar was not a little provoked at
the attorney's moral inferences.

"I know of none."

"I do."

"Then why do you not put it into operation before it is too late? The
will is now nearly written."

"Pshaw! man; you do not understand me. A bolder step than you are
thinking of."

"Well, what do you wait for?"

"I need assistance."

"If I can afford you any aid, _honorably_, I shall be most happy."

"_Honorably_! What the devil do you mean by _honorably_?" said Jaspar,
exasperated by this unexpected display of morality.

"What do I mean by honorably? Why, anything which does not affect the
legal or moral rights of others," replied Maxwell, a little touched by
the seeming reflection of Jaspar.

"Fudge! how long have you been so conscientious?" sneered Jaspar.

"When a man has a reputation to make or break, it becomes him to handle
it with care."

"Out upon you, man! _Your_ reputation is not so fair, that you need be
so tender of it," replied Jaspar, with some severity.

"Sir!"

"O, you needn't '_sir_' me! You have led me to commit myself, and now
assume a virtue you possess not."

"Sir, I value my reputation, and--"

"Of course you do, but you would not sacrifice a fortune for it,"
interrupted Jaspar, easily changing the tenor of the conversation.

"I certainly would not stain it unnecessarily," replied Maxwell, with a
meaning smile, for he saw the folly of attempting the "high flight" with
Jaspar.

"Now you talk sensibly," said Jaspar.

"Mr. Dumont, it is useless to beat about the bush any longer; if you
have any proposition to make, out with it at once; and if I cannot aid
you, I will, at least, keep your secret."

"Will you swear never to reveal what I shall propose?"

"Yes, if paid for it," said Maxwell, frankly.

"It is well. Now, I will put you in the way of making ten thousand
dollars, if you so will," said Jaspar, slapping the attorney on the back
with a familiarity which was likely to breed contempt.

This was a tempting offer, and Maxwell prepared to listen to the
proposition. He was aware that it was some design upon the estate of
Colonel Dumont, and he inwardly resolved to be a gainer by the
operation, whether he joined in it or not.

Jaspar Dumont laid aside his sternness, and disclosed his plot to
Maxwell. It was, as may be supposed, a nefarious scheme, and not only
intended to deprive Henry Carroll of his legacy, but also to disinherit
the heiress, and cast a stigma upon the character of his brother.

The plot we will not here disclose.

Maxwell listened attentively, occasionally interrupting the speaker, by
asking for details, or pointing out dangers But the foul wrong intended
towards her for whom he entertained warmer sentiments than those of
friendship shocked even his hardened sensibilities, and he strongly
objected to its consummation. It would also, by stripping her of her
broad lands, and stigmatizing her birth, render her undesirable as a
wife. But Jaspar was firm in his purpose, and refused to listen to any
other scheme. This one, he contended, was the safest and surest.

"But it is a diabolical transaction," suggested Maxwell.

"Call it what you will, it is the only one that will work well."

Maxwell remained silent. He was studying to make this scheme subservient
to his own purpose. He was obliged to confess to himself that his hopes
with the heiress were worse than folly, and he judged that the execution
of Jaspar's scheme would remove his rival. He looked forward years, and
saw his own purpose gained by means of Jaspar's plan. It was true that
he and Jaspar both could not have her estates; but then Jaspar was a
villain, and it would be a good service, at a convenient season, to be a
traitor to him. His plans were arranged, and he determined to encourage
his companion to proceed, though, at the same time, to seem unwilling,
and to keep his own hands clean from all participation in it.

After this long interval of silence, which Jaspar had endured with
patience, for he recognized the truth of the saying, that "He who
deliberates is damned," Maxwell said,

"I cannot consent to stain my hands with such gross injustice."

"You cannot!" sneered Jaspar.

"It would ruin me."

"It was part of my intention to keep the transaction a secret," said
Jaspar, sarcastically.

"Of course, and your confidence in me shall not be misplaced."

Jaspar's fists were clenched, and a demoniacal expression rested on his
countenance, as he said, savagely,

"You know your own interest too well to do otherwise."

"I am not to be intimidated," replied Maxwell, who despised his
companion most heartily, and did not relish his tyrannical manner. "Your
confidence, I repeat, is safe. _Honor_ will keep your secret,--threats
will not compel me to do so."

"_Honor_! ha, ha, ha!" chuckled Jaspar. "Do you know, Maxwell, that you
are a ---- fool, to talk to me of your honor?"

"Would you insult me, sir?" said, Maxwell, with vehemence.

"O, no, my fine fellow! _Your_ honor!--ha, ha!" returned Jaspar, taking
from his pocket a little slip of paper. "Look here, my _honorable_
worthy, do you know this check?"

Maxwell's face assumed a livid hue, and a convulsive tremor passed
through his frame, as he read the check.

In a moment of temporary embarrassment he had been tempted to forge the
name of Colonel Dumont to this check, for five hundred dollars, to
liquidate a debt of honor, not doubting that he should be able to obtain
it again before the day of settlement at the bank, by means of a
dissolute teller, a boon companion at the gaming-table. But Colonel
Dumont, in arranging his affairs for their final settlement, had sent
Jaspar for a statement of his bank account at an unusual time. Jaspar,
who, in the illness of his brother, had managed all his business,
immediately discovered the forgery. Without disputing its genuineness,
he ascertained who had presented it, and traced the deed to the
attorney, and thus obtained a hold upon him which was peculiarly
favorable to the execution of his great purpose.

"You see I have not laid myself open to your fire without fortifying my
position," said Jaspar, enjoying, with hearty relish, the discomfiture
of the lawyer. "Now, no more of _honor_ to me. I have kept your secret
for my own interest, and now you will keep mine from the same motive."

"But I _dare_ not do this thing," replied Maxwell, keenly sensitive to
the weakness of his position; "I lack the ability."

"You have signed the colonel's name once very well; perhaps you can do
it again," sneered Jaspar, who had no mercy for an unwilling servant.

"It will not be for your interest or mine that I should do it," returned
Maxwell, determined, if possible, to avoid committing himself.

"Why not?" said Jaspar.

"My frequent visits to Bellevue would subject me to suspicion. I am
known. Another would not be suspected. If I clear myself, I shall clear
you at the same time. I can procure a person who will accomplish all in
safety."

"Think you I will trust another man with the possession of the secret?"

"I shall compromise my own safety by writing the will, as you propose."

"True,--who is this person?"

"His name is--" and Maxwell hesitated; then a severe fit of coughing
apparently prevented his uttering the name--"his name is Antoine De
Guy."

"Do I know him?"

"You do, I think,--a kind of _street_ lawyer,--you must have met him at
the Exchange."

"What looking man is he?"

"About fifty years of age," replied Maxwell, more thoughtful than the
simple description of a person would seem to require,--"rather
corpulent, black hair and whiskers, intermixed with gray,--dresses
old-fashioned, and always looks rusty."

"I do not remember him,--De Guy--De Guy," said Jaspar, musing; "no, I do
not know him. Are you confident he can be trusted?"

"Perfectly confident. I pledge my own safety on his fidelity," replied
Maxwell, not a little satisfied at gaining his point,--for he had a
point, and a strong one, as the reader may yet have occasion to know.

"Very good,--I will inquire about him."

"And expose us both!" replied Maxwell, in much alarm.

"True,--on reflection, it would not be wise, and it would be best for
you and I not to be seen together. But finish the will; the colonel will
not relish my long absence. A word more: do not say anything about
_this_ will. The colonel has a fancy to keep it secret, and this fancy
will be the salvation of our scheme."

But we will not follow the conversation any further. The reader has
obtained a sufficient knowledge of these worthies from their own mouths,
to believe them capable of any villany they may be called upon to
perpetrate.

The plot was further arranged in all its details. A meeting with De Guy
was fixed for the next day, when all parties were to be prepared to act
their parts.



CHAPTER IV.

     "He is a man, setting his fate aside,
     Of comely virtues;
     Nor did he soil the fact with cowardice,
     But with a noble fury and a fair spirit
     He did oppose his foe."

     Shakespeare.


Colonel Dumont's melancholy forebodings proved to be too well grounded,
for in ten days after the departure of Henry Carroll he breathed his
last, not fully ripe in years, but mature in the stature of a good man.
His worldly affairs had all been arranged, and with his mind at peace
with God and man he bade a final adieu to his weeping daughter and
dissembling brother, and calmly resigned his spirit to its Author.

The mansion of Colonel Dumont had been the abode of happiness.
Cheerfulness and contentment--rare visitors at the home of
opulence--dwelt gracefully amid the luxurious splendor of this house.
But now a heavy stroke of affliction had come upon the devoted Emily.
The ruthless hand of death had struck down her father in the midst of
prosperity and happiness. She felt that she was alone in the world. Her
unsympathizing uncle seemed not to feel the loss, but appeared even more
cold and churlish than ever. She could not expect from him the offices
of kindness and sympathy. She was an orphan, but not till she was
prepared to combat with the trials of life. Recognizing the hand of
Providence in this visitation of the Angel of Death, she bowed meekly
and submissively to the Master Will, and was even cheerful and happy in
her tears.

It was about ten o'clock on the night succeeding the funeral of Colonel
Dumont that a small canoe, containing a single individual, touched at
the bank of the river near the now gloomy mansion. Leaping from the
canoe, which was nearly swamped by the act, the person it had contained
drew the frail bark beyond the reach of the rapid current, and ascended
the steep bank. Following the smooth shell road through the long vista
of negro huts, he reached the little grove of tropical trees which
surrounded the proprietary mansion. Casting an anxious glance around
him, to satisfy himself that he was not watched, he cautiously
approached the only illuminated window on that side of the house, upon
which, after a close scrutiny of the interior of the room, he gave
several light taps. This signal was answered by Jaspar Dumont, who, with
a word of caution, opened the window. The stranger, with a light spring
which belied his apparent years, gained the interior of the room, which
was the library of the late owner.

The person who had thus obtained admission was the lawyer, Antoine De
Guy, whom Maxwell had suggested as a fit agent for the execution of
Jaspar's scheme. He was certainly an odd-looking man. His face was of a
very dark red color, much like that which is produced by the united
effects of exposure and intemperance, and was encircled by a pair of
black whiskers, intermixed with gray. His cranium was ornamented with a
huge mass of the same parti-colored hair. His fiery red nose was placed
in strange contrast with a pair of green spectacles, which entirely
concealed the color and expression of his eyes. His clothes were of a
most primitive cut, and had probably been black once, but were now rusty
and white from long service. His form was portly, a little inclined to
corpulency. His hands were most unprofessionally dirty; but this might
have been occasioned by contact with the canoe in his passage. On one of
his fingers glittered a diamond ring, which, considering the lack of
ornaments in other respects, but ill accorded with the apparent
parsimony of the man. It might, however, have been obtained in the way
of trade, for Maxwell had hinted that he did business under the sign of
the "three golden balls." He was apparently in the neighborhood of
five-and-forty, and looked like the debauchee in the face, while his
dress indicated the penurious man of business.

"Did any one see you?" asked Jaspar, whose teeth were chattering with
apprehension, notwithstanding his natural boldness.

"Not that I am aware of," replied De Guy, in a silky tone, which,
proceeding from such a form, would have astonished the listener.

"You met no one?" interrogated the anxious Jaspar.

"Not a soul! Everything was still."

"Let us be sure of it. Step into this room for a moment. I will see that
all the servants have retired," said Jaspar, pushing his confederate
into an adjoining apartment.

A light pull at the bell-rope brought to the library the body-servant of
the late planter.

This "boy," who was known by the name of _Hatchie_, was a mulatto. He
was about forty years of age, and, having never been reduced to labor in
the cane-fields, bore his age remarkably well. He was about six feet in
height, very stout built, and was endowed with immense physical
strength. His brow was a little wrinkled, and his head was a little bald
upon the top,--and these were the only evidences of his years. His
expression was that of great intelligence. In his countenance there was
a kind of humility, to which his demeanor corresponded, that might have
resulted from his condition, or have been inherent in his nature. He was
a man who, even in a land of slavery, would be instinctively respected.

He had been a great favorite with his late master, in whose family he
had spent the greater part of his life. By being constantly in
attendance upon him and his guests, he had acquired a much greater
amount of information than is often found in those of his condition. He
could read and write, and by his intelligence and singular fidelity had
proved a valuable addition to his master's household. Possessing his
confidence, and regarded more as a friend than a slave by Emily, he was
a privileged person in the house,--a confidence which in no instance did
he abuse, and which in no degree abated his affection or his fidelity.

Hatchie was not a phrenologist, but he had long ago acquired a perfect
knowledge of Jaspar's character,--a knowledge which his master or Emily
had never obtained.

Hatchie considered Emily, now that her father was dead, as his own
especial charge, and he watched over her, in the disparity of their
stations, very much as a faithful dog watches over a child intrusted to
its keeping. Towards her he entertained a sentiment of the profoundest
respect as his mistress, and of parental affection as one who had grown
up under his eye.

"Hatchie," said Jaspar, as the mulatto entered the library, "are the
hands all in?"

"Yes, sir," replied Hatchie, whose penetrating mind detected the
tremulous quiver of Jaspar's lip; "all in two hours ago, according to
regulations."

"All right, then. You can go to bed now."

"Yes, sir," replied Hatchie, with his customary obeisance, as he turned
to depart.

"Stay a moment. Go to Miss Emily, and get the keys of the secretary,"
said Jaspar, with assumed carelessness.

Hatchie obeyed; and, suspecting something before, he was confirmed in
the opinion now, and determined to watch. His suspicions of
something--he knew not what--had been excited by seeing Maxwell in
earnest consultation with Jaspar on the day of the funeral. He had, of
course, no idea of the plots of the latter; but, in common with all the
"boys," he hated Jaspar, and was willing to know more of his
transactions.

Giving the keys to Jaspar, he left the room, and heard the creaking of
the bolt which fastened the door.

As soon as the servant had departed, Jaspar called his confederate from
his concealment.

"Are you ready for business?" said he.

"I am," replied De Guy, "as soon as you pay me the first instalment. I
can't take a single step in the dark."

"Here it is," and Jaspar took from his pocket the money. "Have you the
document?"

"I have," replied De Guy, producing the fictitious will, which Maxwell
had drawn up in conformity with the instructions of Jaspar.

"And you are ready to affix the signature?" said Jaspar, who appeared
not to be in the possession of his usual confidence. Few villains ever
become so hardened as never to tremble.

"I am. I came for that purpose. Give me the genuine will, and I will
soon make this one so near like it that the witnesses themselves shall
not discover the cheat," replied De Guy, with an air of confidence.

"You shall have it; but first read this to me. I do nothing blindly."

The attorney, in his silky tones, read the paper through, and Jaspar
pronounced it correct in every particular.

"I see nothing in the way of entire success," said Jaspar, rubbing his
hands with delight at his prospective fortune.

"Nor I," replied De Guy, "except that these witnesses will deny the
substance of it."

"How can they, when they know it not? The colonel, for some reason or
other, would not let them read it or know its purport. Maxwell and
myself are pledged to secrecy. It is upon this fact that I based the
scheme."

"But the will would not be worth a tittle in the law with such
witnesses."

"Bah! the colonel knew no one would contest it. He did it at his own
risk."

"But will they not contest _your_ will?"

"If they do, I shall find the means of proving what the document
affirms, and my case will then stand just as well. As a kind of
assurance for the witnesses my brother affixed a character,--a kind of
cabalistic design,--upon the will, assuring them it was placed on the
will alone. You have a copy of this design?"

"I have. Maxwell gave it to me, and I have practised till I can do it to
perfection. Your brother had an odd way of doing business."

"He had; but his oddity in this instance is a God-send."

"But the _other_ document, Mr. Dumont! My stay is already too long!"

Jaspar, taking the keys from the table, opened the secretary, and took
from a small iron safe in the lower part of it a large packet, on which
were several large masses of wax bearing the impress of Colonel Dumont's
seal.

"Now, De Guy," said he, "do your best."

"Do not fear! I never yet saw a name I could not imitate."

"So much the better; but be careful, I entreat you! Think how much
depends upon care!"

"O, I can do it so nicely that your brother himself would not deny it,
if he should step out of his grave!"

"Silence, man!" said Jaspar, angrily, as a superstitious thrill of
terror crept through his veins.

Jaspar took up the packet, and was about to snap the seals, when,
quicker than thought, the window through which De Guy had entered flew
open, and Hatchie leaped into the room. Without giving Jaspar or his
accomplice time to recover from the surprise of his sudden entrance, he
levelled a blow at the lawyer, and another at the perfidious brother,
which placed both in a rather awkward position on the floor. Hatchie
then seized the envelope containing the will, and made his escape in the
manner he had entered, well knowing that Jaspar would not hesitate to
take his life rather than be foiled in his purpose.

[Illustration: Hatchie knocking down De Guy and Jasper, and stealing the
will. Page 46.]

The mulatto's blows produced no serious effect upon the heads of the
two villains, and, recovering from the surprise and shock the act had
occasioned, they lost not a moment in pursuing their assailant. Hatchie
directed his course to the river, and scarcely a moment had elapsed
before he heard the steps of his pursuers. Leaping down the bank, he ran
along by the edge of the water, with the intention of reaching a boat
which he knew was moored a few rods further down. In his flight,
however, he discovered the canoe in which De Guy had arrived, and,
casting it off, he paddled with astonishing rapidity towards the
opposite shore.

His pursuers reached the bank, and perceiving the canoe through the
darkness, Jaspar discharged his rifle at it. A heavy splash followed the
discharge. The canoe appeared to float at the mercy of the current.
Jaspar and De Guy, satisfied that the rifle-ball had done its work,
hastened down stream to a small point of land which projected into the
river, with the hope of securing the canoe and the body of the slave,
upon which they expected to find the will. The canoe was driven ashore,
as they had anticipated; but it contained not the objects for which they
sought. The corpse of Hatchie was nowhere to be found, though they
paddled about the river an hour in search of it,--not that the body of
the mulatto was of any consequence, but in the hope of obtaining the
precious will.

Here was a contingency for which Jaspar was wholly unprepared. The
original signature of the will was not now available, and they must
trust to luck for accuracy in signing the false one. There was little
difficulty in this, as the will was known to have been signed in the
usual manner, and the private character they had in their possession.
Still Jaspar felt that the original paper afforded the surer means of
deceiving the witnesses. They had before intended to produce a
fac-simile, mechanically, of the original,--a purpose which could not
now be accomplished. The witnesses were all friends of Colonel Dumont,
and they had various papers signed by them from which to copy their
signatures. The worst, and to Jaspar's daring mind the only difficulty
which now presented itself, was the fear that the body of Hatchie might
be found, and the genuine will thus brought to light. After much
reflection and consultation with De Guy, he determined to risk all, to
watch for the body, and be prepared to overcome any obstacle which might
be presented. With this conclusion they returned to the library. By the
aid of old notes, checks, and other papers, the fictitious will was duly
signed, the significant character affixed, and the document enveloped so
as to exactly resemble the original packet.

The whole transaction was so well performed that Jaspar retired to his
pillow confident of success, to await the result on the morrow, when the
will was to be read.



CHAPTER V.

     "Is this the daughter of a slave? I know
     'Tis not with men as shrubs and trees, that by
     The shoot you know the rank and order of
     The stem. Yet who from such a stem would look
     For such a shoot?"

     Knowles.


The morrow came. Emily was summoned to the library, to hear the reading
of her father's will. With her no worldly consideration could mitigate
the deep grief that pervaded her heart. She derived her only consolation
from a purer, higher source. She was a true mourner, and the acquisition
of the immense fortune of which she was the heiress was not an event
which could heal the wound in her heart. She looked not forward to the
bright scenes of triumph and of conquest that awaited her. She was not
dazzled by the brilliancy of the position to which wealth and an
honorable name entitled her. Such thoughts never occurred to her. She
did think of Henry Carroll; but not in the proud situation to which her
wealth might elevate him, but as a pure heart that would beat in unison
with her own, that would sympathize with her in her hour of sorrow; as
one who would mingle his tears with hers, over the bier of a common
parent. She was not sentimental in her love, nor in her grief. Sighs and
tears with her were not a sentimental commodity,--an offering which the
boarding-school miss makes alike at the altar of her love, or at the
shrine of a dead parent's memory. The desolation of heart and home was
not a trial which wealth and honors could adorn with tinsel, and thus
render it desirable, or even tolerable!

Emily Dumont entered the library. The occasion was repugnant to her
feelings. The unceremonious blending of dollars and cents with the
revered name of her father was extremely painful to her sensibility. It
seemed like a profanation of his memory.

Her uncle, Maxwell, the witnesses of the will, and several
others,--intimate friends of the family,--were already there. On
Jaspar's countenance were no tell-tale traces of the last night's
villany. He looked gloomy and sorrowful. So thoroughly had he schooled
himself in hypocrisy for this occasion, that the scene he knew would, in
a few minutes, transpire, had no prophetic indications in his features.
Like the tragedian who is tranquil and unaffected in the scene in which
he knows his own death or triumph occurs, Jaspar was calm, and his
aspect even sanctimonious.

As Emily entered Maxwell tendered his sympathies in his usual elegant
manner, and so touchingly did he allude to the death of her father that
with much difficulty she restrained a flood of tears. The scene in the
office, and the disfavor with which she had lately regarded him, were
forgotten in his eloquence.

After this courtesy to the daughter of his former patron, Maxwell again
seated himself, and after briefly and formally stating the reasons of
their meeting, to which he added a short but apparently very feeling
eulogy of the deceased, he took the packet from the safe, and proceeded
to break the seals.

In his full and musical tones the attorney read the preliminary parts of
the instrument, and then commenced upon the principal items of the will.
First came several legacies to charitable institutions and to personal
friends; after which was a legacy of ten thousand dollars to Emily
Dumont, to be paid in Cincinnati by his brother. The testator further
declared _that the said Emily was manumitted_, and should proceed under
the guidance of his brother to the place designated for the payment of
the legacy.

Emily, who had scarcely heeded the provisions of the will until the
mention of her name attracted her attention, was, as may be supposed,
somewhat astonished to hear her own name in connection with a legacy.
She raised her sad eyes from the floor, and heard the other stipulations
in regard to her. So utterly unexpected, so terribly revolting, was the
clause which pronounced her a slave, that for a time she did not realize
its awful import. But the blank dismay of her friends, the
well-counterfeited surprise of Jaspar and Maxwell, brought her to a
painful sense of her position. She attempted to rise, but in the act the
color forsook her face, and she sunk back insensible. In this condition
she was conveyed to her room.

The attorney completed the reading of the will, though, after the
extraordinary incident which had just occurred, but little attention was
given him. The witnesses at once recognized the strange character, and
acknowledged the signatures to be genuine. Here, then, thought they, was
the reason why the provisions of the will had been concealed from them.
So impressed were they with the apparent purpose of Colonel Dumont in
throwing the veil of secrecy over the contents of his will, that the
very strangeness of it seemed to confirm its genuineness; and they did
not scrutinize it so closely as under other circumstances they probably
would have done.

How often may a good motive be tortured, by the appearance of evil, into
the most despicable criminality! Colonel Dumont in this will had devised
large sums of money to various charitable institutions, and in the event
of his life being prolonged, did not wish to be pointed at and lauded
for this act. True charity is modest, and Colonel Dumont did not desire
to see his name blazoned forth to the world for doing that which he
honestly and religiously deemed his duty.

This modesty had favored Jaspar's plans. No one could now gainsay the
will he had invented; and he felt strong in his position, especially
after the witnesses had assented to their signatures.

Among the persona who had been present in the library was Mr. Faxon, an
aged and worthy clergyman. He had for many years been an intimate friend
of Colonel Dumont, and was a legatee in his will to a liberal amount. A
constant visitor in the family, its spiritual adviser and comforter, he
had possessed the unlimited confidence of the late planter and his
daughter. To him the whole clause relating to Emily seemed like a
falsehood. Pure and holy in his own character, it was beyond his
conception that a man of Colonel Dumont's lofty and Christian views
could have lived so many years in the practice of this deception. He had
no means of disproving the illegitimacy of Emily. The family had been
unknown to him at the period of her birth. The house-servants, with the
exception of Hatchie, were all younger than Emily. Then, the statement
was made in the will, and was, therefore, the statement of Colonel
Dumont himself,--for the genuineness of the will he did not call in
question. In accordance with his general character, her father had
manumitted her, and left her a competence. From this clause he inferred
that her father intended to place her beyond the reach of harm, and
beyond the possibility of ever being reduced to the degraded condition
so often the lot of the quadroon at the South. He had not only given her
freedom, but had provided for her conveyance beyond the pale of slavery.
With these intentions, if she were in reality a slave, Mr. Faxon could
find no fault. They were liberal in the extreme. But why had he, at this
late period, mentioned the stain upon her birth? Why not let her live as
he had educated her? These queries were so easily answered that the good
clergyman could not condemn the dead on account of them. If the
daughter, then she was the heiress; if not, legitimately, it would be
injustice to the brother.

Mr. Faxon reasoned in this manner. He could not believe, even with all
the evidence before him. There was a reasonable answer, apparently, to
every objection he could think of, and he resolved to apply to Jaspar
and Hatchie for more information. All that Jaspar could say, or would
say, in answer to his interrogatories, was that his brother's wife had
died in giving birth to a dead child; and that Emily, who was the child
of a house-servant by him, had so engaged his attention by her singular
beauty that he had substituted her for his own child. This story, Jaspar
said, his brother had told him in the strictest confidence, many years
before. Mr. Faxon, appreciating the disappointment of a father with such
a sensitive nature as Colonel Dumont, was willing to believe that Emily
had been substituted to supply in his affections the place of the lost
child; but that he should educate her as his own child, and then cast
her out from the pale of society, was incredible!

The evidence was so strong, he could see no escape from the terrible
conclusion that the gentle being, to whom he had ministered in joy and
in sorrow, was a slave! It required a hard struggle in his mind before
he could reconcile himself to the revolting truth. Her beautiful
character, built up mostly under his own supervision, he regarded with
peculiar pride. He was not so bigoted, however, as to believe his labors
lost, or even less worthy, because bestowed, as it now appeared, upon a
slave. In heaven his labors would be just as apparent in the quadroon as
in the noble-born lady.

After the departure of the friends who had been summoned to the reading
of the will, and whose stay had been prolonged by the melancholy
interest they felt in the unfortunate Emily, Mr. Faxon requested to see
her, and was shown to her room. She had just been restored to
consciousness, by the assiduous efforts of her maids, as the good man
entered.

"O, Mr. Faxon!" sobbed Emily, but she could articulate no more. The
terrible reality of her situation had entirely overcome her.

"Be comforted, my dear child," said Mr. Faxon, affectionately, taking
her hand. "The ways of Providence are mysterious, and we must bend
humbly to our lot."

"I will try to be resigned to my fate, terrible as it is," replied
Emily, looking at the minister with a subdued expression, while hot
tears poured down her cheeks. "You will not forsake me, if all others
do!"

"No, no, my dear child; it is my duty to wrestle with sorrow. I have
come to direct your thoughts to that better world, where the
distinctions of caste do not exist."

"O, that I could die!" murmured Emily, as a feeling of despair crept to
her mind.

"Nay, child, you must not repine at the will of Heaven. In God's own
good time He will call you hence."

"I will not repine; but what a terrible life is before me!"

"The future is wisely concealed from us. It is in the keeping of the
Almighty. He may have many years of happiness and usefulness in store
for you."

"But I am an outcast now,--one whom all my former friends will
despise,--a slave!" replied Emily, covering her face with her hands, and
sobbing convulsively.

"Nay, be calm; do not give way to such bitter thoughts. This may be a
deception, though, to be candid, I can scarcely see any reason to think
so."

Emily caught at the slight hope thus extended to her; her eyes
brightened, and a little color returned to her pallid cheek.

"Heaven send that it may prove so!" said she; "for I cannot believe that
he who taught me to call him by the endearing name of father; who
watched so tenderly over my infancy, and guided my youthful heart so
faithfully; who, an hour before he died, called me daughter, and blessed
me with his dying breath,--I cannot believe he has been so cruel to me!"

"It seems scarcely possible; but, my child, the ways of Providence are
inscrutable. Whatever afflictions visit us, they are ordered for our
good. Trust in God, my dear one, and all will yet be well."

"I will, I will! My father's and your good instructions shall not be
lost upon me, slave though I am. _Dear_ father," said she, and the tears
blinded her,--"I love his memory still, though every word of this hated
will were true. I ought not to repine, whatever be my future lot. That
he loved me as a daughter, I can never doubt; that he never told me I am
a slave, I will forgive, for he meant it well."

"I am glad to witness your Christian faith and patience in this painful
event. But, Emily, had you no intimation or suspicion of this trial
before?"

"No, never, not the slightest," said Emily, wiping away the tears which
had gathered on her cheeks.

"See if you cannot call to mind some slight circumstance, which you can
now recognize as such."

Emily reflected a few moments, and then replied that she could not.

"And your house-servants are all too young to remember as long ago as
your birth?"

"All but Hatchie."

"Perhaps you had better send for him, and I will question him.

"I will, and I pray that his knowledge may favor me."

Emily sent one of the maids for Hatchie; but she returned in a few
moments, accompanied by Jaspar, who, hearing her inquiries for the man
his rifle-ball had sent to the other world, had come to prevent any
injurious surmises.

This man, Hatchie, had not escaped Jaspar's attention, in the maturing
of his plot; but, as in some other of the particulars, he had trusted to
the facilities of the moment for the means of silencing him. Being a
man, it was not probable he could know much of the events attending the
birth of Emily to his prejudice. If it should prove that he did, why, it
was an easy thing to get rid of him. His rifle-ball or the slave-market
were always available. But Jaspar's good fortune had smiled upon him,
and he felt peculiarly happy, at this moment, in the reflection that he
was out of the way, for he doubted not the object of Emily in sending
for him.

"Miss Emily," said Jaspar, in a tone of unwonted softness, "I am sorry
to say that your father's favorite servant met with a sad mishap last
night, of which I intended to have informed you before, but have not had
an opportunity."

Emily's cheek again blanched, as she saw all hope in this quarter cut
off.

"Poor Hatchie!" said she, as calmly as her excited feelings would
permit. "What was it, Uncle Jaspar?"

Jaspar's lip curled a little at the weakness which could feel for a
slave, and he commenced the narrative he had concocted to account for
the disappearance of Hatchie.

"About eleven o'clock last night," said he, "as I was about to retire, I
heard a slight noise, which appeared to proceed from the library.
Knowing that you would not be there at that hour, I at once suspected
that the river-thieves, who have grown so bold of late, had broken into
the house. I seized my rifle, and when I opened the door the thief
sprung out at the open window. I pursued him down the shell-road to the
river; upon reaching which I perceived him paddling a canoe towards the
opposite shore. I fired. A splash in the water followed the discharge.
The canoe came ashore a short distance below, but the man was either
killed by the ball or drowned. In the canoe I found a bundle of
valuables, which had been stolen from the library,--among them your
father's watch."

"But was this Hatchie? Are you quite sure it was Hatchie?" asked Emily,
with much anxiety; for she felt keenly the loss of her slave-friend.

"My investigations this morning proved it to be so. He is missing, and
the appearance of the thief corresponded to his size and form. I am now
satisfied, though I did not suspect it at the time, that he was the man
upon whom I fired."

"But Hatchie was always honest and faithful," said Emily.

"So he was, and I must share your surprise," returned Jaspar.

"There is a possibility that it was not he," suggested Mr. Faxon.

"There can be no doubt," said Jaspar, sharply. "The evidence is
conclusive."

"No doubt!" repeated Mr. Faxon, with a penetrating glance into the eye
of Jaspar, whose apparent anxiety to settle the question had roused his
first suspicion. "He was, if I mistake not, the only servant of your
household who was on the estate at the time of Miss Dumont's birth?"

"He was, I believe," replied Jaspar, with a coolness that belied the
anxiety within him.

"Were you _alone_ when you shot him, Mr. Dumont?" asked the clergyman,
sternly.

"I was alone. But allow me to ask, sir, by what right you question me. I
am not your pupil or your servant," replied Jaspar, rather warmly, his
natural testiness getting the better of his discretion.

"Pardon me, sir," replied the minister, in a tone of mock humility. "Do
not let my curiosity affront you."

"But it does affront me," said Jaspar, losing his temper at the
sarcastic manner of the other. "Now, allow me to inquire your business
with this girl."

"I came in the discharge of my duty as a Christian minister, to impart
the consolations of religion to this afflicted child of the church. Of
course, my business could not be with _you_ in that capacity."

"You seem to have departed very widely from your object," replied
Jaspar, with a sneer which he always bestowed upon religious topics.

"True, I have. This last blow upon poor Emily was so sudden and so
severe as to call forth a remark, and even a question of the validity of
the will."

"Indeed!" replied Jaspar, with a nervous start; "you have the will as
her father left it."

"Uncle, you said my father's watch was stolen? Was it not in the iron
safe, with the other articles?" asked Emily, timidly.

"It was," replied Jaspar, coldly.

"How did he open it?" interrogated Mr. Faxon, taking up the suggestion
of Emily.

"Did Hatchie return the keys to you last night?" asked Jaspar of Emily,
promptly.

"He did not," replied she.

"I sent for them to put a note in its place, and sent them back by him
immediately. The fellow stood by when I opened the safe, and must have
witnessed its contents. You can judge how he opened it now," returned
Jaspar, with a sneer, well pleased that he had foiled their inquiries.

"You say that the canoe in which he was making his escape came ashore.
Where is it now? No canoe belongs to the estate."

"There is not," said Jaspar, uneasily.

"Perhaps an examination of it will disclose something of the robber, if
not of the will."

"So I thought this morning, and for this purpose went to the river, but
the canoe was not to be found. I did not secure it last night, and
probably it broke adrift and went down," replied Jaspar, whose ingenuity
never deserted him.

"Very likely," said the minister, with a kind of solemn sarcasm. "This
whole affair seems more like romance than reality."

"I cannot believe my father was so cruel," cried Emily, the tears again
coming to the relief of her full heart.

"Do you doubt the word of the witnesses, and the mark and signature of
your father?" said Jaspar, fiercely, with the intention of intimidating
her.

"No, no! but, Uncle--"

"Call me not uncle again! I am no longer the uncle of the progeny of my
brother's slaves. This cheat has already been continued too long."

"I will not call you uncle, but hear me," replied Emily, frightened at
Jaspar's violence.

"I will hear nothing more. You will prepare to leave for Cincinnati next
week. I will no longer endure the presence of one upon whom my
brother's bounty has been wasted. Have you no gratitude, girl? Remember
what you are!"

With these cruel words Jaspar hurried out of the room, satisfied that he
had established his position, and, at least, silenced Emily. The
minister he regarded, as he did all of his profession, with contempt.

Mr. Faxon and Emily had a long consultation upon the embarrassing
position of her who had so lately been the envied heiress. The murder of
the mulatto, the conduct of Jaspar, and some other circumstances,
afforded ground to believe that the will was a forgery. If such was the
fact, the minister was compelled to acknowledge that it was a deep-laid
plot. Everything seemed to aid the conspirators; for he was satisfied,
both from the wording and the chirography of the will, that Jaspar,
whatever part he played, was assisted by others. There was not the
slightest clue by which the mystery could be unravelled. If there was
hope that the will was a forgery, there was no immediate prospect of
proving it such.

Under these circumstances, Mr. Faxon felt compelled to advise obedience
to the instructions of the will. The journey to the North could do no
harm, and was, perhaps, advisable, under the state of feeling which
would follow the publicity of the will. Emily, painful as it was to
leave the home of her childhood at such a time, acquiesced in the
decision of her clerical friend. But there was a feeling in her heart
that she was wronged,--that she should go forth an exile from her _own_
Bellevue.

On the following week, Jaspar and Emily proceeded to New Orleans, in the
family carriage, to take a steamer for Cincinnati.



CHAPTER VI.

     "Day after day, day after day,
     We stuck,--nor breath, nor motion,--
     As idle as a painted ship
     Upon a painted ocean."

     ANCIENT MARINER.


It was about the time of the events related in the preceding chapters,
at the close of a variable day, in which the storm and sunshine seemed
to struggle for the ascendency, that a plain-looking, home-made sort of
man might have been seen attempting to effect a safe transit of the
steamboat levee at New Orleans. This personage was no other than Mr.
Nathan Benson, commonly called at home "Uncle Nathan." He was one of the
better class of New England farmers, an old bachelor, well to do in the
world, and was now engaged in the laudable enterprise of seeing the
country.

Uncle Nathan, though he laid no claims to gentility in the popular
signification of the term, was, nevertheless, a gentleman,--one of
Nature's noblemen. He was dressed scrupulously neat in every particular,
though a little too rustic to suit the meridian of fashionable society.
He presented a very respectable figure, in spite of the fact that the
prevailing "mode" had not been consulted in the fashioning of his
garments. His coat was, without doubt, made by some village tailoress,
for many of the graces with which the masculine artist adorns his
garments were entirely wanting in those of our worthy farmer. His hat
was two inches too low in the crown, and two inches too broad in the
brim, for the style; still it was a good-looking and a well-meaning hat,
for it preserved the owner's phiz from the burning rays of the sun much
better than the "mode" would have done. His boots, though round-toed and
very wide, were nicely polished when he commenced the passage of the
levee, but were now encased in a thick coating of yellow clay.

Uncle Nathan was a medium-sized man, and preserved as much of nature's
grace as a man can who has labored for five-and-thirty years at the
stubborn soil of New England. His hair was sandy, and his full,
good-natured physiognomy was surrounded by a huge pair of reddish
whiskers.

The superficial, worldly-minded man would have deemed Uncle Nathan's
_principles_ rather too ultra for common, everyday use; but he, good
soul, found no difficulty in applying them to every action he performed.
He was, to use a common phrase, a "professor of religion;" but, less
technically, he was more than a professor, and strove to live out the
spirit of truth and righteousness.

After much difficulty, Uncle Nathan succeeded in effecting a safe
passage to the planking which formed the landing for the boats. After a
glance of vexation at the soiled condition of his boots (Uncle Nathan
was a bachelor!), he commenced his search for an upward-bound steamer,
for he was about to begin his homeward tour. Two columns of dense black
smoke, the hissing noise of escaping steam, and the splashing paddles of
a boat a short distance down the stream, attracted his attention, and
towards her he directed his steps. Approaching near enough to read her
name, he was not a little surprised to find the boat he had seen
advertised to start a week before. Concluding, in his innocence, that
some accident had detained her, he hastened on board. Entering the
cabin, the scene which was there presented did not exactly coincide with
his ideas of neatness or morality. Uncle Nathan had read descriptions of
the magnificence of Mississippi steamers; but the Chalmetta (for this
was the name of the boat) fell far below them. Even the best boats on
the river he considered vastly inferior to the North River and Sound
steamers.

After a hasty survey of the Chalmetta's capability of making him
comfortable for a week or more, he concluded to take passage in her for
Cincinnati, and accordingly he sought for the captain. To his inquiries
for that personage a thin, cadaverous-looking man presented himself, and
drawled out a civil salutation.

"How long afore you start, cap'n?" inquired Uncle Nathan.

"We shall get off in about ten minutes," replied Captain Brawler.
"John," continued he, turning to a waiter near him, with a wink, "tell
the pilot to be all ready, and ring the bell."

"Why, gracious!" said Uncle Nathan, hastily, as the waiter dodged into
the pantry, "I shan't have time to get my trunk down."

"How far up do you go?" inquired Captain Drawler.

"To Cincinnati, if you can carry me about right," replied Uncle Nathan,
with an eye to business.

"Well, as you are going clear through, I will wait a few minutes for
you," suggested the captain.

Uncle Nathan thought him very obliging, and after some little
"dickering" (for he had heard that Western steamboats were not
particularly uniform in their charges), he engaged a passage, applying
to the bargain the trite principle that "no berth is secured till paid
for," which had been reduced to writing, and occupied a conspicuous
place in the cabin. Without waiting to see the berth he had paid for, he
hastened to the hotel for the large hair trunk, which contained his
travelling wardrobe.

Our worthy farmer made it a point never to cause any one an unnecessary
inconvenience; never to read the morning paper more than half an hour
when an impatient crowd was waiting to see it; and never in his life
stopped his five-cattle team in the middle of a narrow, much-frequented
road, to the annoyance of others. So the captain did not have to wait
more than five minutes beyond the stated time. Depositing his trunk upon
a heap of baggage in the cabin, and turning with pious horror from the
gaming-tables there, Uncle Nathan seated himself in an arm-chair on the
boiler deck, to await the departure of the boat, and, in anticipation,
to feast his vision with the wonders of the Father of Waters. He waited
very long and very patiently, for Uncle Nathan considered patience a
cardinal virtue, and strove manfully against every feeling of
uneasiness. The tongue of the hugs bell over him at intervals banged
forth its stunning cadence, the hissing steam let loose from its pent-up
cells, the water which the wheels sent surging far up upon the levee,
all were indications, to his unsophisticated mind, of a speedy
departure.

Two hours he waited, with the same exemplary patience; but still the
Chalmetta was a fixture.

Night came, and the music of the bell, and the steam, and the surging
water, ceased. Uncle Nathan, thinking patience no longer a virtue,
cardinal or secondary, hastened to the captain, with some appearance of
indignation on his honest features. The worthy officer very coolly
informed him that, owing to the non-arrival of the mail, he should be
unable to get off till the next morning.

Uncle Nathan uttered a very peculiar "O!" and, seemingly perfectly
satisfied with this explanation, asked to be shown his berth. The
captain consulted the clerk, and the clerk consulted the berth-book,
which conveyed the astounding intelligence that the berths were all
taken!

"All taken!" exclaimed Uncle Nathan, aghast. "Haven't I paid for one?"

The gentlemanly clerk acknowledged that he _had_ paid for one, and
kindly offered him a mattress on the floor, assuring him that there
would be plenty of berths after the boat got off.

Uncle Nathan did not see how this could be, and was informed that many
berths taken were not claimed.[1]

[Footnote 1: Western steamers seldom start at the time they advertise,
but wait until they are full of freight and passengers. The latter are
boarded on them from the time they take passage, if they wish,--often a
week or ten days. Berths are often engaged by "loafers," who eat and
sleep on board, and grumble at the detention, but who suddenly decamp
when the boat starts.]

Contenting himself with this explanation, Uncle Nathan sought the boiler
deck again, to obtain the only possible oblivion for his uneasiness in
the society of mongrel gentlemen and monstrous mosquitos. Those who have
been subjected to these steamboat impositions will readily perceive that
Uncle Nathan was in no very agreeable state of mind. He was, to a
certain extent, home-sick. There was something in his expectant state,
and something in the gloomy aspect of the low city with its cheerless
lights, in the damp atmosphere and the clouds of mosquitos, to produce a
sigh for home and its joys. If any one had hummed "Sweet Home" in his
ears, it would have brought the tears to his eyes. He thought of
everything connected with his hallowed home: of the good-natured
spinster who was his housekeeper, and of the ten-acre lots upon his
farm; of the red steers and the gray mare; of the shaggy watch-dog and
the tabby-cat; of home in all its minutiæ. Its familiar scenes visited
him with a vividness which added ten-fold to their influence. He was as
far abstracted as the mosquitos, which gathered in swarms upon every
tenable spot of his flesh, would permit, when his meditations were
disturbed by the gentleman who occupied the next chair. He wore the
uniform of the army, and was battling the mosquitos with the smoke of a
plantation cigar, which bore a very striking resemblance to those rolls
of the weed vulgarly denominated "long nines."

This gentleman was Henry Carroll, who had been in waiting three days for
the sailing of the Chalmetta. On his return from Georgia he had not
deemed it prudent to visit Bellevue. Of the startling events which had
transpired there since his departure he was in entire ignorance.

"No prospect of getting off to-night, is there?" said he to Uncle
Nathan.

"Not the least," replied the latter. "The cap'n just told me the mail
hadn't come, so he should have to wait till mornin'."

Henry turned to Uncle Nathan rather sharply, to discover any mischief
which might lurk in his expression. Perceiving that he looked perfectly
sincere, and was innocent of any intention to quiz him, he merely
uttered, in the most contemptuous tone, the single word "Humbug!"

"You seem a leetle out o' sorts," returned Uncle Nathan, piqued at the
coldness with which his intelligence was received.

"Well, sir, I think I have very good reason to be so," returned Henry;
"for I have lain about this boat, like a dead dragoon, for three days,
in suspense."

"You don't say so!" responded Uncle Nathan, with interest. "When did
they tell you they should start?"

"The captain said in about ten minutes," answered Henry, with a smile.

"Good gracious! he told me the same thing!" said Uncle Nathan,
astonished at the coincidence.

"But I knew he lied, when he said so; yet the boat seemed full of
passengers, and I did not expect to wait so long."

"Don't you think they will get started to-morrow?"

"I cannot venture an opinion, having been so often deceived. The captain
is trying to get a freight of soldiers on deck. The city is full of them
now, returning to their respective states."

"Then he has taken me in most outrageously," said the New Englander,
with emphasis.

"A very common occurrence, sir," replied Henry, who now explained to his
companion some of the tricks of Western steamboat captains.

"Is there no remedy?" asked Uncle Nathan, anxiously.

"Certainly; you can go in the next boat, if you choose. I shall take the
'Belle of the West,' which I am pretty well assured will sail
to-morrow, if this one does not. But I prefer this, as many of my
friends go in her."

"But will they give you back your passage-money again?" asked the
economical Yankee.

"I have not paid it yet," replied Henry, now understanding the position
of his fellow-traveller.

"Then how did you secure a berth? The sign in the cabin says 'No berth
secured till paid for.'"

"I see how it is. You have been dealing with these fellows as though
they were honest men." He then explained that there is no security
against imposition for travellers who pay their passage in advance, in
case the boat gets aground, or the captain pleases to detain them an
unreasonable time; that the "old stagers" never show their money till
the trip is up; and much more useful information for the voyager on the
Western rivers.

"And I have no berth yet! The fellow promised me one when we got off,"
said Uncle Nathan, chopfallen; for, if any one is keenly sensitive to an
imposition, the Yankee is the man.

"There you are lame again," replied Henry. "You may get one, and you may
not. As you have paid your fare, you had better keep quiet, and
to-morrow I will assist you in securing your rights."

"Thank ye," replied Uncle Nathan, truly grateful for the kind sympathy
of the officer. "I had no sort of idee that they played _such_ tricks
upon travellers."

"Fact, sir; this New Orleans is said to be a very naughty place,"
returned Henry, amused at the simplicity of his companion.

"True as gospel!" ejaculated Uncle Nathan, fervently.

"Have you been here long?"

"Only about ten days; but I have seen more iniquity in that time than I
supposed the whole airth contained."

Henry smiled at the fervid utterance of his companion.

"You are from the North, I perceive," said he.

"Yes, sir, I am from Brookville, State of Massachusetts, which, thank
the Lord, is a long way from New Orleans!"

"Still, there are some excellent people here," suggested Henry, who had
known and appreciated Southern kindness and hospitality.

"Well--yes--I suppose there is; but their morals and religion are
shockin'. It made my blood run cold, and my hair stand on eend, to see a
company of soldiers marchin' through the streets last Sabba' day, to the
tune of 'Hail Columby;' and then to think of balls and theatres on the
Lord's day night, really it's terrible. I wouldn't live in sich a place
for all the world!"

"Very different from New England, certainly," replied Henry,
good-naturedly, for it must be confessed he was not so much shocked at
these desecrations.

Uncle Nathan discoursed long and eloquently on Sabbath-breaking,
gambling and intemperance, which prevail to such an extent in the
luxurious metropolis of the South,--as long, at least, as the patience
of his new-found military friend would permit. At his suggestion they
retired to a hotel for the night, for the mosquitos were in undisturbed
possession of the Chalmetta.



CHAPTER VII.

     "--And deep the waves beneath them bending glide.
     The youth, who seemed to watch a time to sin,
     Approached the careless guide, and thrust him in."

     PARNELL.

     "Accoutred as I was, I plungéd in."

     SHAKSPEARE.


Early on the following morning, Henry Carroll and Uncle Nathan were on
board the Chalmetta, ready and eager for a start. But they were doomed
to more disappointment. Nearly all day the bell banged and the steam
hissed; the captain told a hundred lies, but the boat did not budge an
inch from her berth. Still there were certain signs that the hour of
departure could not be far distant. Fresh provisions and ice in
unusually large quantities were received on board about noon, and these
are unfailing prognostics of "a good time coming."

At about five o'clock in the afternoon, the captain's ten minutes, with
which he had secured an occasional fresh passenger, seemed actually to
have expired. Our two friends on board, however, had been so often
disappointed that they did not allow a single bright anticipation to
enliven their hearts, till they actually heard the order given "to cast
off the fasts and haul in the planks." And even then their hopes were
instantly dampened by the sudden reversion of the order.

This unexpected change had been produced in the mind of the captain by
seeing a splendid equipage dashing at a furious pace across the levee,
the driver of which had, by his gestures, made it appear that his
vehicle contained passengers.

The carriage drew up opposite the boat, and Emily Dumont and Jaspar
alighted from it. Picking their way through the crowd of dealers in
cigars, shells, and obscene books, who had just been ejected from the
boat, they were soon on board. A few moments' delay in getting up the
baggage of the new comers, and the welcome "cast off the fasts and haul
in the plank" was again heard. The rapid jingling of the engineer's bell
succeeded, and, to the joy of some three hundred souls on board, she
backed out into the stream and commenced her voyage. Uncle Nathan
breathed freely; the load of anxiety which had oppressed him was
removed. But his joy was short-lived, for Henry Carroll informed him
that the boat was headed _down_ river!

"What in all natur' can be the meanin' of this?" exclaimed our
Northerner, wofully perplexed.

"I cannot tell," replied Henry; "but I am much afraid we shall yet have
to stay over Sunday in New Orleans."

"The Lord deliver me!" ejaculated Uncle Nathan. "I will go into the
swamp back of the city, afore I will look upon the iniquities of that
Sodom again."

"Rather a hard penance; but let us first see what this movement will
amount to."

At this moment Captain Drawler descended from the wheel-house, and was
immediately besieged by a dozen angry passengers, who had resolved to
lynch him, or leave the boat,--which he dreaded more,--if satisfaction
was not given.

The stoical captain, with perfect coolness, heard their complaints and
their threats. He waited with commendable patience till they had vented
their indignation, and then informed them that he only intended to
receive a little freight at the lower city, which would not detain him
"ten minutes."

The captain's assertion, with the exception of the ten minutes, was soon
verified by the boat touching at a sort of dépôt for naval and military
stores. The "_freight_" which the Chalmetta was to take consisted of
several long boxes, which lay near the landing. These boxes contained
coffins, in which were the remains of some sixteen officers, who had
paid the debt of nature in the discharge of their duties in Mexico.

Henry Carroll, with a melancholy heart, witnessed the process of
conveying these boxes to the deck of the steamer. In them was all that
remained of many stout hearts, with whom, side by side, he had marched
to glory and victory. There were the forms with whom he had triumphantly
mounted the battlements at Vera Cruz, and raised the stars and stripes
over the city of Mexico. There, before him, forever silent, were the
dead heroes of Chepultepec and Perote. Those with whom he had endured
toils and hardships of no common nature,--with whom he had contended
against a treacherous foe, and a more treacherous climate,--were there
encoffined before him. They died in defence of their country's honor;
and he almost envied them the death which wrote their names, subject to
no future stain, upon the roll of fame.

The sight of these boxes, and a knowledge of their contents, also
awakened sad reflections in the mind of Uncle Nathan. But his
reflections were of a different character from those of the soldier. War
he regarded as an unnecessary evil,--one which men had no more right to
countenance than they had the deeds of the midnight assassin. The honor
of a nation were better sacrificed than that the blood of innocent men
should flow in its support. He was a thorough disciple of the peace
movement. With such views as these, his sympathies naturally reverted to
the dwelling of the departed hero; to the home rendered desolate by the
untimely death of a father; to the circle which gathered in tears around
the fire-side, to deplore the loss of an affectionate brother and son;
to the widow and the orphan, whom war's desolating hand cast into the
world to tread alone its dreary path. To Uncle Nathan victory and defeat
were alike the messengers of woe. Both were the death-knell of human
beings; both carried weeping and wailing to women and children.

After the last box of the pile had been conveyed on board, and
preparations were making to cast off, the reflections of hero and
moralist were disturbed by several long, loud vociferations, in a strong
Hibernian accent. They proceeded from a man, dressed in the tattered
remnants of the blue army uniform, who was industriously propelling a
wheel-barrow towards the landing, on which was a box of similar
description to those just embarked.

"Hould on!" shouted he; "hould on, will yous, and take on this bit of a
box?"

"Does it belong with the others?" asked the captain.

"To be sure it does," replied Pat. "What the divil else does it belong
to? Arn't it the body of Captain Farrell, long life to his honor! going
home to see his frinds?"

"Take it aboard," said Captain Brawler to the deck hands, after
examining the direction.

The men lifted the box rather rudely, in a manner which seemed to hurt
poor Pat's feelings.

"Bad luck to yous! where were you born, to handle the body of a dead man
the like o' that?" said he. "Have yous no rispict for the mim'ry of a
haro, that yous trate his ramains so ongintlemanly? Hould up your ind,
darlint, and walk aisy wid it!"

"Lively there," cried Captain Drawler, "lively, men!"

"Bad luck to your soul for a blackguard, as ye are!" shouted Pat. "Where
did you lave your pathriotism?"

The box was by this time on deck, and the captain, to do him justice,
made all haste to proceed on his voyage.

The cases containing the remains of the officers were deposited in the
after part of the hold, to which access was had by means of a hatch near
the stern. Pat's peculiar charge was placed on top of the others, and he
maintained a most vigilant watch over it.

There was now a fair prospect of commencing the voyage, and our two
passengers were in high spirits. Henry was not a little fearful that the
boat would resume her long-occupied position at the levee; the very
thought of such a calamity was painful in the extreme. But this fear was
not realized; the Chalmetta gave the levee a wide berth. The Rubicon was
passed; the shades of doubt and anxiety were supplanted by the clear
sunshine of a bright prospect.

"We are at last fairly started," said Henry, seating himself by the side
of Uncle Nathan, on the boiler deck.

"Thank fortin, we are!" responded the farmer, heartily. "We are fast
getting away from that den of sin."

"And you may preserve your morals yet," said Henry, with a pleasant
laugh.

"My morals are safe enough, thank the Lord!" answered Uncle Nathan, a
little touched at this reflection upon his firmness; "but I don't like
the place, to say nothing of its morals."

"Very likely. But see that Irishman--the fellow who had charge of the
box. He looks poorly enough, as far as this world's goods are concerned,
but happy and full of mirth, for all that."

"He looks as though he had seen hard times," added Uncle Nathan,
indifferently.

"He does, indeed, like many other of the poor soldiers; but, I warrant
me, he has a stout will, and an honest heart. I say, my fine fellow,"
said Henry, addressing Pat, "come up here."

"Troth I will, then, for I see yous wear the colors of Uncle Sam,"
replied the Irishman, making his way to the boiler deck.

"Long life to your honor!" continued Pat, as he reached the deck, and
making a low bow, as he doffed his slouched hat,--"but I wish I had the
money to trate your honor."

"Which means," replied Henry, "as you have not, I should treat you?"

"That's jist it, your honor. I persave your honor is college-larnt by
the way yous see into my heart."

Henry laughed heartily, and so did Uncle Nathan; though, to tell the
truth, our moralist of the North was sorry to see his companion hand the
man a "bit" to drink with, for he was a member of the temperance
society.

Pat got the "smile," and with a grateful heart returned to his patron.

"Thank your honor, kindly," said Pat.

"Now tell me, Pat, what regiment you served in," said Henry.

"In the first Pennsylvanians,--Captain Farrell's company."

"Captain Farrell's! I knew him well,--a fine fellow and a gallant
officer! Many were the tears shed when the vomito carried him off," said
Henry, with much feeling. "And you were one of his company?"

"Troth, I was, thin. He was every inch a sodger and a gintleman."

"And the box you brought on board contains his remains?"

"Upon me sowl it contains the body of as good a man as iver breathed the
breath o' life," replied Pat, very emphatically.

"Very true. You speak well of your captain, and he deserved all he will
ever get of praise. Here, Pat, is a dollar for you; and if you want
anything, come to me."

"Thank your honor," replied Pat, uncovering, with a bow and a scrape of
the foot. "You are as near like poor Captain Farrell as one pay is like
another. Long life to your honor,--may you live forever, and then die
like a haro!"

"A genuine Irishman!" said Henry, as Pat descended to the main deck;
"one in whom gratitude and faithfulness are as strong as life itself!"

"He seems a good sort of man," returned Uncle Nathan, who had but little
appreciation of the Irish heart.

The conversation was interrupted by the ringing of the supper-bell. An
eager multitude rushed to the cabin; but every seat was already
occupied. On a crowded boat on the Mississippi there is often much
selfishness displayed. On the Chalmetta half an hour before tea-time the
most knowing of the passengers had stationed themselves in a line around
the table, ready to charge upon the plates, like a file of soldiers, the
moment the bell rang. Those who did not understand the necessity of this
precaution, on entering the cabin were much surprised to find every
place occupied, and were comforted with the assurance of a second table.

Uncle Nathan and Henry secured seats which had been reserved for ladies
who did not appear to claim them. Opposite them were seated Emily and
her uncle. She was dressed in deep mourning, and her countenance was
saddened by the gloom of affliction. Her eyes were reddened by weeping,
in which she had indulged freely in the quiet of her state-room. By
intense effort she had subdued her violent agitation, and a sad calmness
rested upon her face, that belied her feelings.

Henry Carroll, who had not before been aware of her presence, was, as
may be supposed, astonished at this meeting. In her sable dress and
melancholy aspect he read the sad affliction which had befallen her in
the death of her father. Their eyes met, and exchanged warmer greetings
than their words could have done. A sad smile--the smile of
pleasure--rested upon her beautiful features, as they interchanged
salutations. Her pale cheek was slightly crimsoned with a tell-tale
blush. Her fluttering heart refused to retain its secret.

Henry expressed his grief at the melancholy event which had shrouded her
in the weeds of mourning,--not in words alone, but his sorrow for the
death of a kind friend was more eloquently told in his countenance.

Jaspar was chagrined at this meeting, and his awkward attempts to be
civil to Henry were entire failures. This was an event for which he was
not prepared,--the consequences of which filled him with anxiety. He
knew that in Henry his wronged niece would have a zealous
advocate;--not a superannuated priest, but a young man whose blood was
warm, and whose soul was full of energy. True, he reasoned, the young
officer was powerless as a diplomatist. Ho as yet knew nothing of the
will, or of Emily's degraded position. Henry knew the feelings and
character of his brother, and would be the last one to believe the
infamous statement of the will. What the father might have said to him
in regard to her he knew not. As guilt always does, he imagined a
thousand dangers, and saw with a clear vision the real ones besides.

At the tea-table there was little conversation beside the ordinary
courtesies of the occasion. Jaspar said but little.

The guilty never feel any security in the enjoyment of ill-gotten
wealth. The murderer is haunted by the ghost of his victim. The cries of
the widow and the orphan continually ring in the ear of the avaricious.
The fear of discovery haunted Jaspar. Although he saw no probability of
his villany being exposed, the fear of discovery troubled him day and
night. Revengeful and cruel, dauntless and bold, as he had ever been,
the present seemed a crisis in his life. He had accomplished the climax
of villany, and as he had racked his powers of invention for the means
of attaining his purpose, he now taxed them for the means of concealing
it. The insecurity of his position was so tedious, that he sought, as
the tempest-tost mariner seeks the quiet haven, to fortify it, so that
he might be at rest from the tormenting doubts which assailed him. Vain
hope! there is no rest for the wicked. Plots and schemes ran through his
mind; but they afforded no satisfaction. There was only one event which
promised the least mitigation of his mental sufferings, and this was the
death of his niece. Black as he was at heart, he shrank from her
murder,--not at the deed, but at the terrible consequences to him which
might follow it.

Emily was conducted to the ladies' cabin by Jaspar, who, by a dogged
adherence to her side, seemed determined to prevent any further
conversation between her and Henry. But the black chambermaid, with an
official dignity which is oftentimes necessary in her position, politely
requested him to retire. Jaspar left, satisfied she would be safe from
intrusion for the present.

Jaspar's disposition to prevent further conversation between Emily and
Henry was not unperceived by the latter. He was satisfied that her
uncle's close attendance at her side--so foreign to his former
manner--was not without its purpose. Love, which he had in vain
attempted to stifle, pressed more vigorously at his heart. In her
recognition of him he had read that the sentiment in her heart was not
abated by his absence. Her melancholy aspect had awakened a new interest
in him. Disappointed in obtaining the interview he desired, he sought
the hurricane deck to think of her, and to cherish the warm feeling in
his heart. But what was his surprise, on reaching it, to find Emily
there, and alone!

After the departure of Jaspar she had retired to the gallery which
surrounds the cabin, to enjoy the freshness of the evening air. The
gallery was somewhat crowded, and, with a lady and gentleman, she had
ascended to the hurricane deck. Her companions, more gay and happy than
she, soon left her to the gloom and comparative silence which usually
reigns on the upper deck. There were no other passengers there, and,
fearing not the darkness or the loneliness, she was there venting the
sadness which pervaded her heart. She was about to descend, when she
recognized Henry.

Emily related to him the circumstances of her father's death, and of the
reading of the will.

"Impossible!" exclaimed Henry, in astonishment.

"It is strange; but I cannot see any reason to disbelieve it, except
that my father's character assures me it is not so."

"Which would be a very good reason for disbelieving it. And you are now
on your way to Cincinnati?"

"I am; and it is the most melancholy journey I ever attempted. But I
ought to be thankful for all that comes,--if I am a slave, for the
freedom that awaits me."

"Good Heavens! Emily, do not talk so! You freeze the blood in my veins!"

"Nay, I feel somewhat reconciled to the terrible reality now, for it
little matters what I really am, since the will--true or false--condemns
me to the odium of having been a slave. You will not wish now to own
your sister!" said Emily, with a sad smile.

"Yes, were you ten times a slave, it would not obliterate the mark of
the omniscient God! It could not alter the beauty of the features or the
character. I should be proud of such a sister, even did she wear the
shackles. But you! No, no, there is no stain upon your birth!"

"And can you regard me as you once did? A--"

"An angel. Yes, truly, as an angel of the higher order."

"Nay, nay, this sounds not like the Henry Carroll of a month since. You
are a flatterer," said Emily, with a smile.

"I did but say what I would have gladly said then," replied Henry.

The fear of ingratitude to a father no longer chained his heart to the
narrow limit of friendship. He saw her before him trodden down by
misfortune, in the power of subtlety and villany, and as a child of
misfortune his heart even more strongly inclined to her. He loved her
more tenderly than before.

"Then, when sorrow was a stranger, you were subdued and distant to your
sister," said Emily, her heart fluttering with the storm of emotion
within it.

"I am as I was then; but you were a child of affluence, and I feared
to--to--"

"Why did you fear?" asked Emily, not waiting to hear the word Henry was
stammering to enunciate. "Had you no confidence in your sister?"

"I did have confidence in the _sister_. But I fear it was not a sister's
confidence I sought."

"Indeed!" said Emily, her emotions destroying the appearance of surprise
the word was intended to convey.

"Emily, I will not now attempt to conceal the feelings which have torn
my heart," said Henry, in a low tone, as he took her willing hand. "When
I bade you farewell,--alas! what misfortunes have come since!--when I
left you for I dared not think how long, you know not what violence I
did to the warmest feeling of my heart. You know not what misery the
struggle between that feeling and duty has caused me. I have striven to
conquer it; but Heaven has now put you in my path, thus bidding me
resist no more the impulse of my heart. I love you, Emily, and I have
tried, for your sake and your father's, to conquer my love. Say, Emily,
may I venture to hope my love is not unvalued?"

A slight pressure of the hand he held was all the answer he
received--was, indeed, all he asked.

"You forget what I am," murmured Emily.

"I will always forget what this will has said you are. But Heaven will
not let the innocent be wronged, nor the guilty remain unpunished. A
month since, how I wished you were not the heiress of a millionaire!"

"Why did you wish it? Did you think that gold would blacken my heart?"

"No, dear Emily, but it would have been ingratitude in me to win your
love, and thus destroy any other plan your father might have cherished."

"My father never had an avaricious disposition," replied Emily, warmly.

"Far from it; but he might have had some views, in regard to his
daughter, with which I might have interfered."

"But you were a rebel against his views, notwithstanding," said Emily,
with a smile, and a deep blush, which the darkness concealed from Henry.

"I should have been sorry to have heard you say so, then; but now,
Heaven bless you for the words!" replied Henry, with a warm pressure of
the hand.

[Illustration: Hatchie and Henry rescuing Emily from the Mississippi.
Page 79]

"Madam," said Jaspar, who had stealthily approached, without the
knowledge of the lovers, "to your state-room! Captain Carroll, as the
guardian of this lady, I request your entire withdrawal, in future, from
her society."

"A request," replied Henry, proudly, "which I shall entirely disregard."

"Then, by--you will receive the penalty of your obstinacy!" said Jaspar,
in a passion.

"I am not to be intimidated by threats."

"Do not provoke him, Henry" said Emily, fearful for the safety of him
whom the last hour had doubly endeared to her.

"Mr. Dumont, _her_ request I will obey," and Carroll walked forward.

He paused by the side of the wheel-house, to hear the report of the
leadsman, who was sounding the depth of water, in obedience to the
command of the pilot, expressed in a single clang of the heavy bell.
Mechanically he had stopped, and with no interest in the matter he
listened to the monotonous reply, "Quarter less three," &c. He was about
to descend to the boiler deck, when a shrill shriek startled him from
his revery. There was no mistaking the sound of that voice! Without an
instant's hesitation, he called to the pilot to stop the boat, and, with
a few bounds, was by the side of Jaspar, who was calling lustily for
help. Henry, careless of his own safety, slid down to the gallery abaft
the ladies' cabin, and then sprang to the single pole upon which was
suspended the small boat. Before he could unloose the tackle, and lower
himself down, he heard a splash, and saw a man swimming towards the spot
where Emily had disappeared. Henry plied a single oar in the stern of
the boat, and reached the place in season to take in the noble fellow
who had preceded him, together with his lifeless burden, as he rose. The
steamer backed down, and in a few moments more the party was safely on
board again.

"Where is the man who saved her?" said the disappointed Jaspar, after
assisting Emily to her state-room.

Emily's fall had not been accidental, as the reader will at once infer.
Jaspar's passion, and the danger which he thought the young officer's
presence menaced, had prompted him to an act which was not attended with
his usual prudence, and the failure was likely to place him in a more
uncomfortable position than his former one. With the instinct of
deception, he immediately offered a liberal reward to the man who had
rescued her.

"Where is he? Who is he?" shouted Jaspar, eagerly.

"_Here_!" cried a voice from the crowd.

Jaspar started and turned pale, for the voice was a familiar one.

"Where is he?" called Jaspar again, concluding that he must have
mistaken the voice.

"Here!" again came forth from the crowd, and Hatchie stepped forward.

"Hell!" exclaimed Jaspar, staggering back as he recognized the man whom
he supposed his rifle-ball had sent to furnish food for the fishes. But
he recovered his courage instantly, feeling the danger of betraying
himself.

"Here is the reward," stammered he, holding out the money.

"Never!" said Hatchie; and, before the crowd could clearly understand
the nature of the case, he had vanished behind a heap of freight.

At Jaspar's suggestion, a diligent search was made in every part of the
boat, but the mulatto was nowhere to be found. Jaspar, as usual,
invented a story to account for the strangeness of the incident which
had occurred. A liberal reward offered by him failed to produce the
preserver of Emily.



CHAPTER VIII.


               "'Tis much he dares;
     And to that dauntless temper of his mind
     He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor
     To act in safety."   SHAKSPEARE.


Although the general condition of the negro slaves at the South is the
most degraded in which humanity can exist, there are some exceptions to
the rule; and among them may well be placed the body-servant of Colonel
Dumont, Hatchie, whose sudden and mysterious reäppearance upon the deck
of the Chalmetta must be accounted for.

With an intelligence far superior to his condition, Hatchie discovered
the villany that lurked in the eye of Jaspar, on the night of the
forgery of the will. As we have before said, no one better than he knew
the character of Jaspar; no one better than he knew of what villany he
was capable. When he had been sent for the keys, an undefined sense of
duty prompted him to watch, and, if possible, to prevent the mischief
which he foresaw was gathering. When ordered to retire, he had pretended
to obey; but he placed himself beneath the window through which De Guy
had entered, a small crack of which had been accidentally left open. In
this position he saw Jaspar take out the packet which he knew contained
the will. He heard De Guy read the fictitious will, and at once
discerned enough of the plot to comprehend the danger that hovered over
his mistress. He understood that the real will was to be destroyed; and
his first impulse was to save it, which he had adroitly accomplished as
before related.

When Hatchie reached the open air, he was sensible of the dangerous
position in which his bold act had placed him. So sudden and
unpremeditated had been his action that no thought of future
consequences had accompanied it. But, undismayed, he ran at his fleetest
speed towards the river. He heard the footsteps of his pursuers, and
every step he advanced he expected to receive the bullet of Jaspar.
Trusting for safety to the darkness of the night, he quickened his
speed, till he gained the steep bank of the river. Leaping into the
canoe which he discovered in his flight, he pushed out into the stream,
and was several rods advanced towards the opposite shore when his
pursuers reached the bank.

Plying the canoe with all the strength and skill of which he was master,
his progress was suddenly interrupted by a log, upon which his frail
bark struck with much violence. The collision checked his progress, and
swung the canoe round by the side of the log. Satisfied that Jaspar
would fire as soon as he saw the canoe, his ready ingenuity supplied him
with the means of avoiding the ball, and of escaping further pursuit.
Taking the will in his mouth, he grasped the canoe with one hand, and
paddled silently with the other and with his feet. He had turned the
canoe adrift, and Jaspar, without waiting to examine it, had fired.
Hatchie then jumped up in the water, and produced the splash which had
deceived his pursuers.

With much difficulty the mulatto had propelled the log beyond the reach
of the current into comparatively still water. Here he remained quietly
on the log, using only sufficient exertion to avoid the current, until
he was satisfied that Jaspar and his companion had departed from the
bank. He then returned to the shore, using the greatest precaution to
avoid his enemies; but all was still.

Immediate danger being at an end, he bethought him of securing his
future safety,--a matter of extreme difficulty for one in his position.
He was satisfied that Jaspar would invent some story to account for his
disappearance; and just as well satisfied that he would shoot him, if he
again showed himself on the plantation. He congratulated himself on the
happy scheme he had adopted to deceive Jaspar; for he had now a
reasonable security from being advertised and pursued as a runaway
slave.

After much reflection, he concluded his wisest plan would be to seek
safety in New Orleans, where, in the crowd, he might escape recognition.
The cane-brake and the cotton-grove would not protect him. He might be
seen, and the blood-hound and the rifle bring him in a prisoner, and
even Miss Emily would now be unable to save him from the penalty. How
could he live in New Orleans, or how escape from there? He was without
money, and he had sense enough to know that money is a desideratum,
especially to the traveller.

Of this useful commodity, however, he had a supply in the mansion house,
which he had saved from the presents made him by Colonel Dumont and his
guests. Recognizing the necessity of obtaining it, as well as some more
clothing, he resolved to enter the house and procure them, after the
light he saw in the library-window was removed.

While waiting, he pondered more fully his position. What should be his
future conduct in regard to the will? He carried with him, he felt, the
future destiny of his gentle, much-loved mistress. He felt that on his
action during the next hour depended the happiness for a lifetime of one
whom he had been taught to revere, and whose gentleness and beauty had
almost lured him to worship. If the morrow's sun found him in the
vicinity of the estate, he would probably fall a victim to Jaspar's
policy. What should he do with the will? Should he show himself at the
hour appointed for the reading of it? He might fall into Jaspar's hands
in the attempt, the precious document be wrested from him, and thus all
his exertions be in vain. Without the will itself he could do
nothing,--his word or his evidence in court would be of no avail. No
one would believe the former against Jaspar, and the latter was
inadmissible.

Should he carry it to Mr. Faxon, or even to Miss Emily herself, Jaspar
might obtain possession of it by some means.

His deliberations could suggest no method by which immediate justice
could be done his mistress; and the conclusion of his reflections was,
that he must place himself in a safe position before he attempted to
expose the villany of others. His mistress, he knew by the will which he
had heard De Guy read, was to be conveyed to Cincinnati. He must go to
Cincinnati--but how? This was a hard question for the faithful Hatchie
to answer; but answer it he must. He would go to New Orleans, and there
form his plan.

After waiting till the lights were extinguished in the library, he
entered the house, and obtained his money and clothing.

By the exercise of much caution, he reached New Orleans in safety,
where, by the disbursement of a small sum of money, he obtained a secure
retreat in the house of a free man, with whom he had formerly been
acquainted. His object was now to obtain a passage to Cincinnati,--a
matter not easy to accomplish, as the law against conveying blacks,
unprovided with the necessary permit, was very stringent. He could not
hope, with his limited means, to offer an acceptable bribe for this
service. To attain his object, therefore, he must resort to stratagem,
for the chances of obtaining a passage by direct means were too remote
and too perilous to be hoped for. But accident soon afforded him the
means of attaining his end.

The negro with whom he had obtained a shelter kept a small shop, and by
the grace of the authorities and his neighbors was permitted to sell
liquor, tobacco and cigars, to the steamboat cooks, stewards, sailors,
and the soldiers who thronged the city on their return from Mexico. In
the rear of this shop, and connected with it, was a small room in which
the negro lived. This room afforded a safe retreat, and in it Hatchie
had his hiding-place.

One day a little knot of men, in the faded, dilapidated garments of the
army, entered the tap-room of Hatchie's protector. They drank deeply,
and, as was their constant practice, they seated themselves at the
broken table, and commenced gambling with the negro's dirty cards for
the few dollars which remained in their possession. This amusement
terminated, as such amusements frequently do, in a fight, in which one
of the number seemed to be singled out as an object of vengeance for the
others. This individual was an Irishman; and, for a time, he held way
manfully against his assailants. But, at last, in spite of the exertions
of the "proprietor" to protect him, he was likely to get the worst of
it, when Hatchie, no longer able to control his indignation at the
unfairness displayed in the encounter, suddenly interfered in favor of
the now fallen man. His enormous strength and skill soon cleared the
room of the rioters. Hatchie drew the defeated Irishman into his
hiding-place, and locked the door. This man was Pat Fegan, who has been
introduced to the reader.

Pat was filled with gratitude to his protector, and swore he would stick
by him till his dying day, if he was a "naiger." A mutual friendship was
thus established, which resulted in the disclosure of their future
prospects. The fact that both were seeking the same destination seemed
to strengthen the bond thus formed. Hatchie, shrewd by nature, read the
true heart of the Irishman. He felt that he could trust him with his
life; but his ability was quite another thing.

Pat Fegan was without means, and readily accepted the hospitality which
Hatchie offered to pay for. In the course of the long conversations with
which the two friends beguiled the weary day, Pat related his adventures
in Mexico, at the close of which he casually mentioned that the remains
of several officers, who died there, were to be conveyed up the river.
Hatchie's curiosity prompted many inquiries, which drew from the
talkative Hibernian a full description of the boxes that contained the
coffins, and many particulars relative to the transportation of them.

Pat's description of the boxes suggested to Hatchie the means of getting
to Cincinnati.

"Could you get me a box like those which contain these coffins?" asked
he.

"Faix, I can, thin, if I only had the matther of two or three dollars.
But what the divil makes yous ax sich a question?"

"I will give you ten dollars, and pay your passage to Cincinnati
besides, if you will get me the box," said Hatchie, disregarding Pat's
query.

"By me sowl, I'll get yous the box, and ax yous only the price meself
pays for 't," replied Pat, touched at the idea of a reward, which
between friends seemed base even to his rude mind.

"And I shall want your help, too."

"Yous may well count on that, for whin did a Fegan desart his frind? But
tell me, honey, what yous mane to do wid it."

"I intend to get to Cincinnati in it."

"Is it in the box?" exclaimed Pat, astonished beyond measure. "Sure you
will smodther!"

"But, my friend, I want you to look out for that, and give me something
to eat and drink. You can pretend that the box contains the body of your
captain, who, you said, died in Mexico."

"Arrah, me darlint, I see it all!" and Pat shook his sides with laughter
at the idea of the mulatto's "travelling-carriage," as he styled it.

Pat had procured the box, and conveyed it to Hatchie's asylum. It was
sufficiently large to furnish quite a roomy apartment. The covering
consisted of short boards, matched, and screwed on crossways. To
facilitate the introduction of food and air, and to afford the means of
a speedy exit in case of need, he had taken off half these boards, and
fastened them together with cleats on the inner side. The ends of the
screws were then filed off, so that this portion of the lid exactly
corresponded with the other portion. A number of hooks were then
procured, so as to fasten it upon the inner side. By this arrangement,
the occupant of the box would not be dependent upon exterior aid for
egress. When once on board the steamer, he expected he should be able to
leave his hiding-place in the night, and perhaps at other times.

Upon the outside the box was similar to the others, and was duly marked
and consigned.

Hatchie's quarters were near the dépôt from which the coffins were to be
shipped, and Pat, watching his time, had wheeled his own charge down in
season to be shipped with the others. In the haste of embarking, the
clerk had not noticed that one box more had been brought on board than
his manifest indicated.

Hatchie was not aware that Emily and her uncle were passengers on the
same boat till the moment of the accident. He had before released
himself from his prison-box, and was enjoying the fresh air, which the
closeness of his box rendered particularly desirable, when he heard the
scream of his mistress. Her voice was familiar, and even in the scream
of terror he recognized it. It needed not a second thought to convince
him of his duty. He had saved her life, and, forgetful of the danger of
thus exposing his person, he stood by and saw her conveyed to her
state-room. He heard Jaspar call for her deliverer, and offer a reward.
This he knew, if no one else did, was gross hypocrisy, and in the
indignation of his honest heart he had stepped forward to confront him.
The sight of Jaspar, and the thought of his own responsibility, recalled
his prudence; and he hastened to retrieve his error by escaping to his
hiding-place in the box, in which no one thought of searching for a
living man.

In the excitement and exertion attendant upon the incident, Henry
Carroll had not recognized Hatchie; and, while Jaspar inquired for her
deliverer, he had been seeking the surgeon. Henry thought of nothing but
her safety.

Hatchie at once knew the voice of Henry, but, knowing nothing of the
relation between him and his mistress, he feared to trust him with his
secret.



CHAPTER IX.


                  "But as thou art a man
     Whom I have picked and chosen from the world,
     Swept that thou wilt be true to what I utter;
     And when I've told thee that which only gods,
     And men like gods, are privy to, then swear
     No chance, or change, shall wrest it from thy bosom."

                                              OTWAY.


Emily Dumont, while yet insensible, was conveyed to her state-room,
where, by the assiduous attention of the stewardess and the lady
passengers, she was soon restored to consciousness. An army surgeon, who
was fortunately on board, prescribed a course of treatment which
prevented all evil consequences, so that on the following morning she
appeared at breakfast as well as usual bodily, though the terrible fact
that her uncle had attempted her life so agitated her that sleep had
been a stranger to her eyelids. By whom she had been rescued was yet
unknown to her.

Henry Carroll again took his place opposite her at the morning meal,--a
place he had secured by the exercise of a full hour's patience in
occupying it. At the first convenient opportunity, he congratulated her
upon her safe recovery, and for the first time she heard the particulars
of her rescue. Jaspar, with an ill grace, expressed his obligations to
him, though at the same time he wished him at the bottom of the river.

Henry failed not to notice the blush which came to her cheek, as she
modestly but fervently expressed her gratitude for the noble service he
had rendered her. Although her accepted lover, there had been but little
intercourse of a tender nature between them,--not enough to prevent her
heart from fluttering when he spoke, and sending its warm blood to her
cheek.

With what indescribable pleasure does the lover recognize the blush
which a word or an act of his own calls to the face of his new-found
love! Like the breaking clouds which disclose to the worn mariner the
faint outline of the distant land, he hails it as the omen of future
bliss! It is part of the mystical language of the heart. It is part of
the mechanism of the affections, which the will cannot conceal. The
gentle look, the warm pressure of the hand, the eloquent language of
love, which modesty at first forbids, are supplied by the timid,
uncalled, beautiful blush! Prudence and delicacy cannot chain it in the
veins.

Henry read in her blush the warm current of pure love which flowed from
her heart. It told him how willingly her gratitude coalesced with her
love. Their position at table did not afford the opportunity of
interchanging those feelings of the heart which each felt swelling
within. The present, so full of joy and hope, it seemed cruel to
surround with circumstances which forbade them to enjoy it. A crowded
steamer is the most uncomfortable place in the world for a pair of
lovers, and Henry and Emily felt the inconvenience of it.

But, if the position of the lovers was uncomfortable, Jaspar's was
painful. They had the consolation of loving and being loved; but he was
now writhing under the weight of an additional torture. The appearance
of Hatchie was the knell of all his hopes, the precursor of ruin. To him
it was a mystery, and all his endeavors to solve it were unavailing.

About noon the Chalmetta arrived at Baton Rouge, where, according to
previous arrangement, and much to the joy of the perplexed uncle, De Guy
came on board. Jaspar greeted him with more than usual courtesy, and
felt, to as great a degree as guilt can feel it, a relief from the
embarrassments which surrounded him. The first step of the red-faced
attorney, on finding no state-room unoccupied, was to dispossess two
flat-boatmen of theirs, by the payment of a round bonus. Jaspar thought
this a rather extravagant move for one apparently so parsimonious; but
his mind was too deeply engrossed with the difficulties which environed
him to comment on extraneous subjects.

To this state-room Jaspar and his confidant retired, to consider the
condition of their operations; and while they deliberate we will return
to another character.

Uncle Nathan was in the full enjoyment of all the satisfaction which
seeing the world affords to the observing man. He gazed with unceasing
wonder upon the Father of Waters, on whose mighty bosom he was borne
towards the loved scenes of home. He was edified and amused with the
ever-varying succession of objects which presented themselves, as the
Chalmetta progressed. Flat-boats and steamers, plantations and
cotton-wood groves, islands and cut-offs, were all objects of interest.
And, when he was tired of these, "Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress," which
was his constant travelling companion, afforded him all the excitement
his contented disposition required. The time promised to be easily
disposed of, even if the passage should be unusually prolonged. Besides,
the number and variety of dispositions on board afforded him some study,
and some instruction. There were men of all grades of society, and all
degrees of moral worth,--beginning, of course, at a very moderate
standard, and descending to the vilest of the vile, which last were in a
large majority. There were tipplers, and gamblers, and profane swearers,
in abundance; and Uncle Nathan felt, at the bottom of his philanthropic
heart, a desire to lead them from their sins. Not that he was officious
and meddlesome, for he believed in "a time for everything." In his
modest, inoffensive way, no doubt, he sowed the seeds of future
reformation in some wayward heart.

Pat Fegan proved an apt disciple, and already had Uncle Nathan given him
the first lesson in the form of a temperance lecture, which probably had
its effect, as he left the boiler deck without the dram for which he
was supposed to have come up.

"Now, Partrick," said Uncle Nathan, on the evening after Emily's rescue,
"rum never did any one any good."

"'Pon my soul it did, thin,--it makes me happy whin sorra thing else in
the wide world will comfort me," replied Pat.

"But that an't nateral happiness; it an't the sort that comes of doin'
good to your feller-creturs."

"It sinds throuble away--what else is happiness?"

"But how do you feel arterwards? That's the pint."

"Arrah! bad enough, sure. Yous have the betther of me there."

"Then leave it off, Partrick," responded Uncle Nathan, drawing the
pledge from his pocket. "Sign the pledge, and you are safe."

But we need not follow Uncle Nathan in his reformatory lucubrations. Pat
signed the pledge; but whether he had an appreciating sense of the
restraint he imposed upon his appetite we cannot say. Uncle Nathan
thought him saved from his cups, and rejoiced accordingly. Perhaps, if
he had looked a little closer, he might have suspected an interested
motive on the part of Pat. He saw none, and, feeling secure in the
present victory, he admonished his disciple "to stick to it as long as
he lived."

"'Pon me word, I will, thin," replied Pat. "I see yous are a gintleman,
if yous don't look jist like one. Now, do you see, Mr. Binson, you are
jist the man I am looking for, this last six hours."

"Why so, Partrick--what do you mean?" said Uncle Nathan, mystified by
the sudden change of manner in the new convert.

"Hould aisy a bit, for I'd like to hould a private correspondence wid
yous. Will ye jist come to the hurricane deck, till I tells yous all
about it?"

"Sartain," replied Uncle Nathan, his curiosity fully excited.

As soon as they reached a deserted portion of the promenade deck, Pat,
after satisfying himself there were no listeners near, commenced, with
an air of grave importance, his story.

"Whisht now, and draw near," said he. "Can yous keep a sacret?"

"Well, I think I could, if it was an honest one."

"Faix, thin, it _is_ an honest one. Sure yous come from the North, and
don't belave in keeping the naigers in bondage?"

"To be sure not."

"Well, then, would yous help a naiger out of throuble, if yous could as
well as not?"

"I sartainly wish 'em well; but the Scripture says 'Honor the king,'
which means nothin' more nor less than 'obey the laws.' Arter all,
though, perhaps we ought not to mind wicked laws."

"Musha bad luck to your raysoning! Sure I'm no docthor, to blarney over
the matther. Will yous kape the sacret?" asked Pat, a little excited,
and somewhat disappointed to find his auditor lukewarm in "the cause."

"Sartain; tell your story, and, if I can't do you any good, I won't do
you any harm."

"That's the mon for me!" replied Pat, slapping Uncle Nathan familiarly
on the back. "Now, do you see, there's a naiger on this boat, that wants
a frind."

"A friend!" said Uncle Nathan, with some doubt, as he reflected on the
conflict between the claims of humanity and the stringent laws of the
slave states.

"To be sure, a _frind_!" replied Pat, with emphasis.

"I _will_ befriend him," replied Uncle Nathan, his natural inclination
triumphing over his fear of the law.

"Spoken like a Christian! Sure, that's jist what St. Patrick would say,
if the saint--long life to him!--were here," replied Pat, rejoicing
that the difficulty was overcome.

"Now, dhraw near till I tells yous all about it; and, if iver you
mintion a word of it, may your sowl never lave purgatory till it is
burnt to a cindther! Now, do you mind, there's a naiger concayled in the
hould of the boat, that wants to correspond with a faymale in the
cabin."

"But he will expose himself, and she may deliver him up."

"Divil a bit! Didn't he save her from dhrowning, last night?" exclaimed
Pat, warmly, for this act of Hatchie excited all his admiration.

"Good gracious! you don't say so!" and Uncle Nathan understood the
mystery of the previous night.

"Sorra a word o' lie in it."

"But where in natur is the feller?" asked the wonder-struck Yankee, his
curiosity getting the better of every other consideration.

"Whisht, now," whispered Pat; "he is in one of those boxes, with the
dead men! Do yous mind?"

"Good gracious! how you talk! In a coffin?"

"Divil a coffin at all. Sure as nate a bit of a box as iver held a
Christian."

"But why does he wish to speak with the lady?"

"Sorra know I know," replied Pat, to whom Hatchie had communicated no
more than was necessary.

"Does he wish to see her in person?"

"Not a bit of it. Now, do you mind, I saw you speaking to the lady, and
I tould him of it. Then the naiger axed me could he trust yous. I tould
him yes; and he tould me to bring yous down to him, and that's the whole
of it. Now, will yous go down the night and spake to him?"

Uncle Nathan reflected a little; for, though no craven, he was very
prudent, and had no romance in his composition. After deliberating some
time, much to the detriment of Pat's patience, he replied in the
affirmative.

Pat then instructed him in relation to certain precautions to be
observed in order to avoid notice, and left him to ponder the
strangeness of the adventure. He had well considered his course, and,
having decided upon it, he was earnest in pursuing it. He had chosen, he
felt, a dangerous, but his conscience assured him a right path, and
nothing could now deter him from proceeding in it. He was not fickle,
and invoked many a blessing on the effort he might make for the
salvation of the poor negro. True, his prudence had magnified the
undertaking, which was a trivial affair, into a great adventure.
Imagination often makes bold men.



CHAPTER X.


             "_Duke_.--How's this?
             The treason's
             Already at the doors."

                                    VENICE PRESERVED.

     "_Amelia_.--I thought I heard a step.
      _Charles_.--'T is your tyrant coming."

                                               PROCTOR.


Jaspar and De Guy were for a long time closeted in the state-room. On
their reäppearance Jaspar felt much easier. The silky-toned attorney had
used a variety of arguments to convince him that their schemes were
working excellently well, and that everything, notwithstanding the
resurrection of the negro, would terminate to his entire satisfaction.

The process of "wooding-up" on a Mississippi steamer, inasmuch as it
affords the passengers an opportunity to exercise their locomotive
powers on shore, is regarded as an interesting incident. This was
particularly true on board the Chalmetta, for she was crowded to nearly
double her complement of cabin-passengers, and the space usually devoted
to exercise was too much crowded to render it very pleasant.

When, therefore, the Chalmetta touched at a wood-yard, after leaving
Baton Rouge, the passengers hurried on shore, to enjoy the novelty of an
unconfined promenade. De Guy, on pretence of further private
conversation, induced Jaspar to forsake his post as sentinel over Emily,
and join him in a walk. For half an hour the attorney in his silky tones
regaled the ears of Jaspar with various strange schemes, until the bell
of the steamer announced her near departure. Even then De Guy seemed in
no haste, and assured his companion the boat would not start without
them. But the second bell admonished them that the steamer was already
getting under way. The passengers were all on board, and, as they heard
in the distance the tinkling of the engineer's bell, they started at a
run to reach her. By some accident, De Guy's foot got between Jaspar's
legs, and he fell. The attorney stooped, as if to assist him up, but, in
reality, struck the fallen man a blow, which rendered him insensible. De
Guy hurried towards the boat, leaving the watchful uncle to shift for
himself. He reached the landing in season to jump upon the stern of the
boat as it swung in shore. Pushing through the crowd which had gathered
to witness his exploit of getting on board, he retreated to his
state-room, and locked the door.

Jaspar was not immediately missed by Emily, and his absence was too
desirable to be the cause of any solicitude. As the tea-hour approached,
and the ladies were requested to take their places at table, she was
very much surprised to see _Mr. Maxwell_ present himself as her escort
to the table. Since the unhappy disclosure of his love in the office,
she had regarded him with pity, rather than with the contempt he
merited. She could not but feel that he loved her. His eloquent language
and forlorn aspect had not been in vain, for they had saved him from her
_utter_ contempt. A true woman cannot be conscious of possessing a
portion of the love, even of a dissolute man, without feeling some
respect for him. To love truly and devotedly is an element of the
angelic character; and such love will purify and ennoble even the
grossest of human beings. Emily unconsciously arrived at this
conclusion; and, discerning some indications of pure love towards her in
his gross and earthly mind, she felt that he was entitled to her
sympathy. She cherished no affection for him; all that her gentle heart
could contain was bestowed upon another. A suspicion had more than once
entered her mind that Maxwell was, in some manner, connected with the
foul plot which had drawn her into its toils. But, she reasoned, if he
loved her, he would not injure her,--no, not even in revenge for her
refusal. _She_ could not, and her beautiful nature would not allow her
to believe it, even of a man as gross as her better judgment told her
Maxwell was.

To her inquiry for her uncle, Maxwell informed her that he had some
conversation with him since he came on board at Baton Rouge, and that he
had requested him to attend her at tea. He had not seen him since, but
supposed he was forward, or in his state-room.

Emily readily accepted his arm, for anything was a relief from the
hateful presence of Jaspar. Maxwell used all the art which politeness
could lend to render himself agreeable. His ready wit, and the
adaptation of his conversation to the unhappy circumstances of her
position, in some measure dispelled the misery of the hour. Besides, it
was plain the attorney did not believe the statement of the will; for a
high-born Southern gentleman would never associate in public with a
slave girl. She had, too, a presentiment that he came on some errand to
her. Perhaps the good minister, Mr. Faxon, had sent him with good news
to her. Perhaps through him the will had been proved false. Such
reflections as these imparted more interest to his society than she
would otherwise have felt.

During the tea-hour his assiduous courtesy left scarcely a particular in
which Henry Carroll, who, as before, occupied a seat opposite to him,
could render himself of use. He could hardly address a word to her
without interrupting her companion. An introduction, which had before
placed the young captain and the attorney on speaking terms, did not
prevent the latter from mixing excessively good with excessively bad
breeding. He was apparently unwilling that Henry should be heard by
Emily. Maxwell had some idea of the relation which subsisted between his
two companions; but, of course, knew nothing of the previous night's
interview, which had indissolubly bound their hearts together. He
seemed determined to keep their sympathies as far apart as possible.

Henry Carroll wondered at the absence of Jaspar and at the sudden
appearance of Maxwell, for he had not before seen him. His attentions to
her he loved created no jealousy. Emily had satisfactorily acknowledged
her affection for him, and to believe her pure nature, especially under
the present circumstances, susceptible of coquetry, were infidelity. A
single look beaming with love had assured him that his star was still in
the ascendant.

At the conclusion, Maxwell, with the same elegant courtesy, conducted
her back to the ladies' cabin. Emily repeated her acknowledgments for
the attentions, and was about to enter her state-room, when he addressed
her.

"May I beg the favor of a few moments' private conversation, Miss
Dumont?" said he, in a more business-like manner than that he had
assumed at the tea-table.

Emily hesitated. Her supposition concerning his mission was partly
verified in this request; but the remembrance of her last interview with
him at his office in New Orleans came like a cloud over the bright sky
of her hopes. Curiosity and a painful interest prompted her to risk the
interview. If this interview was likely to be of an unpleasant nature,
she could retire; and, if the worst she apprehended was likely to be
realized, she knew that Henry Carroll hovered near her, at all times,
like a guardian angel.

"In your legal capacity, I presume?" said she, with a smile and a
crimson face.

"Certainly, certainly," replied Maxwell, not a little disconcerted to
discover this troublesome caution.

"Will you take a seat, then? I think no one will feel an interest in our
conversation beside ourselves."

"Excuse me," replied Maxwell, in his blandest tones, "a few words of our
conversation overheard might expose persons we wish not to injure."

"Perhaps it had better be deferred to a more convenient opportunity."

"Delays are dangerous, Miss Dumont. Justice to yourself requires that my
communication be made at once. Allow me to attend you to the promenade
deck, where we shall be secure from interruption."

Emily, with many doubts, accepted his arm, and they proceeded to the
promenade deck.

"Now, Mr. Maxwell," said Emily, in a very serious tone, for she wished
to awe the profligate into the most business-like reserve, "be as speedy
as possible, for I am fearful of the effects of the night-air upon my
health."

Maxwell was disconcerted at this change in the manner of his companion,
and vexed to account for it. The remembrance of past events came to his
aid, but afforded no satisfactory solution. He could not see why Emily
should studiously reject his overtures. His experience of female society
had been of the most flattering character. He was perfectly aware of his
popularity. His personal attractions always had been a strong
recommendation, and he could not see why they should not be in this
instance. His family was good, his fortune supposed to be
respectable,--everybody did not know the inroads he had made upon it;
his business was a pastime--the gate of honor and fame. It was true his
character was dissolute, but she did not know this.

Unfortunately for him and his prospects, she did know it, and the fact
had all the weight which a virtuous mind attaches to such a
circumstance.

"I have been fortunate enough to obtain some information which may be of
great value to you, or I should not thus have intruded upon you," said
Maxwell, with the air of a man upon whom suspicion rested unjustly.

"Indeed, Mr. Maxwell!" replied Emily, forgetting both the night-air and
the character of the man who stood beside her; "pray, tell me all at
once!"

"Pardon me," replied he, coldly, "as the story is somewhat lengthy,
perhaps it might be deferred till to-morrow, if your health is likely to
suffer from exposure at this hour."

Emily was confused; but she could not stoop to the weakness of deception
to smooth over her former coldness. She was burning with impatience to
be restored, even in imagination, to the position from which she had
been degraded by the cruel will. Her companion's language was not
calculated to remove her doubts of his intentions. If the communication
was of a business character, why should he be offended at her haste to
terminate the interview? This reflection strengthened her resolution not
to conciliate him. She would trust to Providence and the justice of her
cause, rather than make an intimate of a man whom she despised.

"Miss Dumont," said Maxwell, growing desperate at the lady's silence,
"perhaps I have offended in some manner. If I have, it was
unintentional, and I trust you will forgive me."

"O, no, sir, not at all!" exclaimed Emily, mollified, in spite of
herself, by the humility of the attorney. "There is no offence, and no
apology is necessary."

"I am greatly relieved by this assurance, and, with your leave, will
proceed with my narrative."

Maxwell now entered into a relation of the history of the will, but
studiously avoided imparting a single fact with which she was not
already acquainted. All this he had related with a lawyer's skill, to
awaken her curiosity and interest, and to remove by distance any
unpleasant suspicions which might have been awakened in her mind in
regard to his motives.

To all he said Emily listened with profound attention, momentarily
expecting the development of the foul plot. But thus far Jaspar Dumont
is as pure as an angel,--nothing is disclosed. In this manner half an
hour passed away, and Emily was no wiser than at first.

Maxwell has now, with an adroitness peculiar to the successful lawyer,
made _himself_ the subject of his remarks. He is careful that she shall
know how sagacious he has been in discovering the facts he has not yet
revealed. He tells her how many weary days and nights he has spent in
searching out the truth; what wonderful intelligence of his had
converted the shadow of a suspicion into the reality of an
incontrovertible conviction; how a single word he casually overheard has
been followed through weary days and dismal nights, till he has arrived,
with all the evidence in his hands, at the truth!

Emily was certainly grateful for the deep interest he had manifested in
her behalf, and she expressed her gratitude with modest earnestness.

"But, Miss Dumont," continued Maxwell, "I could not thus have sacrificed
myself for every client. My health and strength, under ordinary
circumstances, would have given way, and the case have been lost."

"Indeed, sir, you may rely on the fullest and most substantial
acknowledgment for the service you have rendered. My purse shall be
entirely at your disposal," responded Emily, warmly and innocently.

"Money, Miss Dumont, would not have tempted me to make the sacrifice of
health and comfort which this exertion has required of me. I have done
all my humble talents would permit from a higher motive. I look for my
reward in the consciousness of having done my duty."

"I trust, Mr. Maxwell, you will receive the great reward which is sure
to follow every noble and true action."

Emily was sadly perplexed to understand this new and singular
phenomenon.

"The act itself is its own reward," said Maxwell, with an attempt to
counterfeit humility, which was very awkward, but which deceived Emily,
agitated as she was by hopes and fears.

"But, as I said," continued he, "I would not have done this for every
client, and I trust you will pardon me when I say the only reward I
look forward to is your smile of approval."

"I certainly cannot but approve of the motives which have actuated you,
and your actions perhaps I could better appreciate if my knowledge of
them was more extensive," responded Emily, disappointed and displeased,
as her suspicions were reawakened.

But a faint smile rested upon her beautiful features, as if to soften,
the reproof she had administered, and to conceal her rising emotions.
She felt that Maxwell could assist her, but she feared every moment that
some allusion to the prohibited subject would compel her to banish him
from her presence.

"A smile from you were an ample reward for all my trouble and exertion,"
said Maxwell, deceived by the smile of Emily. "To be as sincere as your
generous nature demands, I cannot conquer the love I have before
expressed. I--"

"Excuse me, sir," indignantly interrupted Emily, "I must retire."

"Nay, nay, Miss Dumont! I meant no offence. Hear me but for a moment!"

"Not another instant, sir! You have deceived me."

"Upon my honor, I have not. I possess the evidence by which your
birthright and possessions may be restored."

"No more! I had rather die in poverty, with the stain clinging to me,
than owe the restoration of my rights to you. You have taken advantage
of my unprotected condition to impose upon me."

"You wrong me, Miss Dumont; as, if you will remain but a moment, I will
prove to you," said Maxwell, pleading like an injured man.

Maxwell's peculiar tone and penitent air made Emily pause, and perhaps
think she had spoken too hastily. All the wrong of which she could
accuse him was, that he loved her. She felt that this was not a crime.
The remembrance of wrongs she knew he had inflicted upon others,
perhaps weak and unprotected like herself, nerved her resolution, and to
a word of love from him she could not listen. She wished to conciliate
him, if possible, but not at the expense of her self-respect.

"Why have you detained me all this time to listen to a story with which
I was before as familiar as yourself? Why have you used the language of
love, which a refusal to hear now renders insolent?"

"I have offended you, Miss Dumont," said he, in the humblest tones; "can
I hope to be forgiven?"

"Your future conduct alone can secure my forgiveness."

"Then I solemnly promise never again to allude to the admiration with
which I have regarded your matchless beauty, or to mention the love
which now consumes my heart."

"I trust you are sincere," said Emily, not knowing whether to smile or
frown upon this making and breaking the promise in the same breath. The
deep anxiety she felt for her future fate made her disposed to forget
the past, and in a gentler tone she expressed her forgiveness.

Maxwell imagined that, at last, his star was in the ascendant. His
experience of woman-kind only indicated that he had been too
precipitate, and that the reserve, even the refusal he had received,
were only the accidents of the moment, not the natural expression of an
indifferent heart. His assurance increased as he reflected. He was led
to believe that he might, now that the ice-barrier was removed, be more
unreserved in his wooing. His perseverance had now overcome all
obstacles, and the prize was in his grasp.

"I have a plan to propose," said he, "which will immediately secure to
you all your rights."

"Pray what is it?" asked Emily, eagerly.

"As you have forbidden me to speak of love, I am placed in a very
unfortunate position. In short, you can obtain possession of your estate
by returning as my wife."

This last sentence was said in a whisper, and in a tone of assurance,
as though he felt she would gladly accept the alternative.

"Sir!" exclaimed Emily, aghast with astonishment and indignation, for
the abruptness of the degrading proposition nearly deprived her of the
power of speech.

"Even so, Emily. I have the power to restore your rights, and will do so
on this condition. The ceremony may be performed at Natchez, where we
shall arrive to-night; or, if you fear I promise more than I can
perform, I will draw up an agreement, which you shall sign, to the
effect that you will accept my hand on the restoration of your rights. I
will give you two hours to think of it; and if, at the end of that time,
you accept the proposal, I will at once take the necessary steps to
regain your fortune, and remove the stigma which rests on your name."

"Never, sir, never! I will die a beggar before I will owe my prosperity
to such a contract!" exclaimed Emily, whose indignation now found
utterance.

"I beg madam will reflect before she decides," said Maxwell, in a
satirical tone.

"Sir, I will die upon the rack, before the hand of a villain shall lead
me to the altar!" answered Emily, unable to control her feelings.

"Softly, lady, softly!"

"Leave me, sir! leave me, or I will call upon my uncle to protect me
from further insult!"

"Your _uncle_, I fear, was left at the last wood-yard; so I heard my
friend De Guy say."

Emily felt herself the victim of a plot, and, rousing all her energies,
she said,

"I see it all. The machinations of a villain--for such you are--shall be
foiled."

"Miss Dumont," said Maxwell, his passions roused by the severity of her
epithet, "do you forget your condition? You are a _slave_! Your supposed
uncle is not here. You have no free papers, and are liable to be
committed to the next jail."

"But I am not without a friend who is able to protect me," said Emily,
with spirit, as she saw Henry Carroll ascend to the deck upon which they
stood.

"Your friend is helpless. Another word, and I will proclaim your
condition," and he rudely seized her by the arm. "Your friend cannot
help you. He has not your free papers."

"But he has a strong arm!" shouted Henry Carroll, as with a single blow
he struck the attorney to the deck.

"This way, Emily," said he to the weeping girl, who clung tremblingly to
him; "you are safe now."

Emily was conducted by the gallant arm which had protected her from we
know not what indignity. She felt secure in his presence from further
molestation, and his soothing words and hopeful promises did much to
restore her.

Maxwell soon recovered from the effects of the blow he had received,
and, boiling with passion, swore vengeance upon the man who had
interrupted him. But his passion was of short duration, and was
succeeded by sober reflections upon the "position of his case." Emily
Dumont was not of that class of women with whom he was accustomed to
deal. He had found in her an element with which he had not before been
conversant,--of which, indeed, he had read in books of poetry, but did
not believe it existed in the material world.



CHAPTER XI.

                            "Caught, caught
     In thine own trap! Thou hast confessed it all,--
     The means, the end, the motive,--laid all Bare!
     O, thou poor knave!--and that convenient friend
     Who swears or unswears, speaks or holds his peace,
     At thy command,--you have conspired together!"

                                            LOVELL.


On board the Chalmetta, Harwell discovered an old acquaintance in the
person of a notorious gambler,--a class of persons who congregate on
Mississippi steamers, and practise their arts upon the unwary traveller.
This person, who went by the name of Vernon, was well known at the faro
and roulette boards in New Orleans. He was an accomplished swindler. In
the winter season, when the city is crowded with the élite of the state,
and with strangers from all parts of the Union, Vernon found abundant
exercise for his professional ability at the hells of the city, in the
employment of their proprietors, acting the part of banker, or anything
else that offered him the means of gratifying his luxurious habits. A
twinge of conscience never prevented him from adopting any means of
emptying the pockets of his victims, even without the formality of dice
or cards.

In the summer season he beguiled his time on the river, or migrated with
the fashionables to Pascagoula, or a more northern watering-place,--in
fine, to any sphere which afforded him a theatre for the exercise of his
talents as a blackleg. Wherever he was, he never passed by an
opportunity to obtain possession of his neighbor's valuables. If the
monied man would accept a hand at euchre or poker, why, he was so much
the easier cleaned out; if not, false keys, pick-locks, or
sleight-of-hand, soon relieved the unfortunate victim of his superfluous
possessions.

Early in his career of fashionable dissipation, Maxwell had made the
acquaintance of this notorious individual. Indeed, he had sufficient
cause to remember him, for he had made a deep inroad into his patrimony.
Maxwell was too great a rascal himself to be long duped by a greater
one. A kind of business intimacy had grown up between them, and
continued to exist at the time of our story. This connection was not,
however, publicly acknowledged by Maxwell; it would have been the ruin
of his fine prospects: but he used him whenever a scheme of profit or
revenge required an unscrupulous confederate. Yet this Vernon was by no
means a dependent creature of Maxwell's, for he was bold, reckless, and
independent to the last degree. Whether acting as the paid devil of
another, or on his own responsibility, he bowed to no power but his own
will. His physical courage was well known to be of the most obstinate
character. When the coward dandy had an enemy to punish, Vernon, for a
hundred dollars, would first insult and then fight the luckless
individual. This had formerly been a lucrative part of his trade; but
latterly his claims to the distinction of _gentleman_ and _man of honor_
had been of such a questionable character, that the man who refused to
meet him did not lose caste among the bloods of the city.

Vernon was now on his way to a wider sphere of action than New Orleans,
with its yellow fever season at hand, afforded him. As usual, he
practised his arts on board the Chalmetta, which, however, afforded him
but a narrow field, the passengers being mostly officers, who had left
their pay in the _cabarets_ of Mexico.

By some means he had ascertained that Henry Carroll was in possession of
a considerable sum of money. By all the arts in his power he had
endeavored to lure him to the gambling-table, which was constantly
spread in the cabin, and surrounded by unfortunate victims, vainly
striving against the coolness and trickery of professional blacklegs, to
recruit their exhausted finances, or retrieve the ruin to which an
unlucky hour had enticed them. Henry obstinately refused to take a hand;
but Vernon's heart was set upon the bag of gold he knew was in Henry's
trunk, and he resolved to possess it,--a feat not easy to accomplish on
board a crowded steamer.

After Maxwell had recovered from the blow which had felled him to the
deck, and while Henry was soothing the distress of Emily, he met Vernon,
who was in the act of reconnoitring the young officer's state-room.
Vernon was just the person to serve him in this extremity. The protector
of Emily must be removed from his charge, as her uncle had been by De
Guy. He resolved upon a consultation with the blackleg. Accordingly he
expressed his desire, to which the gambler replied by requesting him to
give notice of the approach of any one, while he did a little business
in the state-room.

Maxwell vainly remonstrated, but was obliged to comply with the wishes
of the robber, or lose his services.

Vernon, thus protected from intrusion, entered the room, and by the aid
of a pick-lock soon succeeded in obtaining possession of all poor
Henry's earthly wealth. Beckoning Maxwell to follow, he descended to the
main deck, where, procuring a lantern, they proceeded aft.

We must return to Uncle Nathan and Pat Fegan, whom we left on their way
to the fugitive in the hold of the steamer.

"Whisht, now," said Pat, in a whisper, as they prepared to jump down the
hatchway; "whisht, now, and don't spake a loud word, for the life of
yous."

Uncle Nathan promised obedience, and followed Pat into the hold. All was
total darkness, and it was not without a feeling of superstitious dread
that Uncle Nathan heard his companion tap on the box which contained
the mulatto. He heard the whispered recognition of its inmate, and stood
like a statue while Hatchie freed himself from his confinement.

"Whisht, now," said Pat, in a low voice; "give me your hand, Mr. Binson.
Now, there yous are," and he placed Uncle Nathan's hand in that of
Hatchie.

Uncle Nathan found the hand was warm, and felt completely relieved of
the sensation of fear which had come over him.

"Glad to see you," said he, though an instant afterwards his conscience
asked him if he had not told a lie, inasmuch as it was so dark he could
not see anything.

"You are a _friend_, I trust," replied Hatchie, who, although he
implicitly relied on the _faith_ of the Irish ally, had not the fullest
confidence in his judgment. Nothing but what he deemed a stern necessity
would have compelled him to trust the secret with any one. So many
dangers encompassed him, that the duty he owed to his injured mistress
obliged him to look around for the means of preserving the valuable
document he possessed. An accident to the steamer, the continuous danger
of being restored to Jaspar, and a hundred other painful reflections,
brought him to the resolution of depositing the will in the hands of the
most trustworthy person he could find. In this extremity, he canvassed
the characters of all he knew on board. Henry Carroll, he feared, was
too impetuous, if not actually devoted to Jaspar. He knew nothing of the
interesting relation which the hearts of the lovers had
recognized,--pity he did not! Uncle Nathan, whom Pat had described in
glowing colors,--none are more highly esteemed than those who confer the
most solid benefits,--seemed to him the proper person, especially as Pat
had seen _her_ speak to him after the accident. An honest man is so
easily known, that the poor Irishman's instinctive knowledge of human
nature imparted the most correct information.

"I _am_ your friend, and I trust the Lord will always put it into my
heart to befriend the unfortunate," said Uncle Nathan, in answer to
Hatchie's remark.

"It is not on my own account that I need a friend," said Hatchie, in a
melancholy tone, for the responsibility which rested upon him had
solemnized his mind, and banished all reflections of self. "It matters
little what becomes of _me_. But, sir, you are a stranger to me, and I
know not that I may trust you."

"Nor I nuther, till I know what you want of me. If it is an honest
sarvice, one that I can do without goin' agin my conscience, why, I am
ready to do anything to help a feller-cretur."

"The service I am about to request," replied Hatchie, his doubts in a
great measure removed by the apparent sincerity of his auditor, "can be
done honestly; and, if your conscience approves any act, it will approve
this one."

"Very well, I will act for you to the best of my judgment, and use all
the discretion that natur gave me, and a little I larned by the
way-side. Partrick tells me you want to talk with the lady whose life
you saved last night."

"Not exactly to talk _with_ her, but about her. I feel that I can trust
you, even with her destiny. That lady is my mistress. She is an angel of
goodness. I am perfectly willing to be _her_ slave, so that it was not
to gain my freedom I escaped in this box. It was to save her from a
cruel wrong which her uncle would inflict upon her."

"That old gentleman who is with her?" interrupted Uncle Nathan.

"The same. He is the most hardened villain in the world,--so different
from my poor master, who was a good man, and loved even his slaves! This
man would make it appear that my mistress is not the legitimate child of
her father, but the daughter of a quadroon girl, whom he formerly owned.
He has forged a will to obtain his own purposes, and deprived poor
mistress of her natural rights. But, on the night when the villany was
perpetrated, I managed to obtain the true will, and to make my
escape,--and a very narrow escape it was, for I was shot at and obliged
to jump into the river to save my life. They think the shot killed me;
but I shall yet expose their villany--"

"Good gracious, I hope so!" exclaimed Uncle Nathan, whose sympathies
wore awakened by the brief narrative of the mulatto.

"Now, it is scarcely prudent for me to retain possession of this will. I
may be discovered, or drowned, or shot; and then my poor mistress would
never be restored."

"True," replied Uncle Nathan, appreciating his companion's reasoning,
and admiring his warm devotion to his mistress.

"I wish to place the will in the keeping of some trusty person, who will
guard it as his own life,--who will deem no sacrifice too great to
relieve the distressed, and foil the wicked," said Hatchie, earnestly.

"I will do the best I can."

"Before I intrust it to you, I must feel that you will not only be
discreet, but that you will labor to foil this wicked plot."

"I will do everything I can," replied Uncle Nathan, warmly, for his
heart was touched at the wrongs of Emily.

"Then here is the will," said Hatchie, handing him the packet, which he
had taken the precaution to envelop in oil-cloth. "Remember how much
depends upon your caution and fidelity. God forgive me, if I have done
wrong in giving it to you."

"You may depend upon me. I will take good care of the document. But
shan't I say anything to the lady about it?"

"Assure her, if you can without exposing yourself, that the will is
safe. It will give joy to her heart to know that she has the means of
restoration to her home and name."

"I will see everything done about right; and I hope soon to meet you in
the land of liberty."

"I shall never leave my mistress. I have been near her from her birth,
and, though only a slave, I feel that I was sent into the world for no
other purpose than to protect and serve her. Liberty away from her has
no charms for me."

"Goodness!" ejaculated Uncle Nathan; "I never should have thought it!"

Hatchie's devotion to his mistress, so eloquently expressed, jostled
rather rudely the Northerner's prejudices concerning the treatment of
slaves.

The conversation was here interrupted by three taps on the deck above
them, produced by the brogan of Pat Fegan.

Hatchie recognized the preconcerted signal, and, abruptly terminating
his remarks, he leaped into the box, drew on the lid, and left Uncle
Nathan to find his way out as best he could.

"Whisht, now," said Pat, whispering down the hatch. "Jump up, Mr.
Binson!"

Uncle Nathan approached the hatchway, and endeavored to leap out, an
effort which was assisted by Pat, who, rudely seizing him by the collar,
jerked him out with a violence that threatened his bones with
dissolution.

"How the divil did yous tumble in there?" screamed Pat, as two persons
approached. "Are yous hurted?"

"A little," replied Uncle Nathan, perceiving the ruse of his coadjutor.

"I fear yous are. Thry are your legs broke?" continued Pat, whose energy
of utterance gave a fair appearance to the deceit.

"Are you much hurt?" asked one of the persons who had by their presence
disturbed the conference.

"Very little," replied Uncle Nathan, who really felt the uncomfortable
effects of a knock on the knee he had received in his involuntary ascent
from the hold.

"Bad luck to 't, but 'twas a wicked fall!" said Pat, fearful that his
conscientious companion would expose the deceit.

"Can I render you any assistance?" asked one of the intruders, who were
none other than Maxwell and Vernon, whom we left on their way to the
main deck.

"Thank ye, I don't need any," replied Uncle Nathan, hobbling off,
accompanied by Pat.

"Now, is the coast clear?" said Vernon, who carried a lantern he had
borrowed from the mate.

"All clear; but put out that light,--the engineers will notice us,"
replied Maxwell.

"But I can't find my way into the hold without it. There is no danger of
the engineers. They are all asleep on the forward deck."

"What do you want in the hold?" asked Maxwell, in an irritable tone.

"I want to hide this bag of money," replied Vernon, in a whisper. "As
soon as the covey finds he has been picked, they will search the boat;
and my character is not likely to save me from the indignity of being
obliged to open my trunk, and turn out my pockets."

"It is bad business, and I wish you had not done this thing. As I told
you before, _I_ have nothing to do with it. I feel myself rather above
common robbery."

"Self-esteem! But you came down on your own business, not on mine. You
can return, and not trouble yourself any further," growled Vernon.

"I need your help, and will pay you for it."

"Very well, then, wait till _this_ job is finished."

"Go on! I will follow," replied Maxwell, finding remonstrance vain.

After a careful scrutiny of the premises, Vernon concealed his lantern
under his coat, and leaped into the hold, followed by Maxwell.

"Now," said Vernon, "I must put this bag into one of these boxes, to be
guarded by the spirits of the brave men whose bones repose in them."

"Are you mad, man? Would you open the coffins of the dead to hide your
ill-gotten gold?" exclaimed Maxwell, alarmed at the purpose of his
confederate.

"Why not? We need not disturb the bodies,--only open the outside box."

"Very well," said Maxwell, who felt how useless it was to oppose his
companion. "But remember, I have nothing to do with the robbery."

"Of course not, and nothing to do with sharing the proceeds; but sit
down, if you have anything to say to me. We are perfectly safe from
interruption here;" and Vernon seated himself on the box which was
occupied by the mulatto.

"My words need not be many. In the first place, I have been insulted,
and must have satisfaction; and, in the second, there is a girl in the
cabin to whom I am much attached, and she will not give me the smallest
sign of encouragement. Have her I must, by fair means or foul. I would
marry her. You understand?"

"Certainly; but what's the plan?" asked Vernon, indifferently.

"Rather a difficult one, and may require some nerve to execute it,"
replied Maxwell, who proceeded to develop his schemes, both in respect
to Henry Carroll and to Emily.

Although the conspirators spoke in a low tone, Hatchie heard and
understood the whole plot. The voice of Maxwell he recognized, and,
although the name of the lady against whom his designs were meditated
was not mentioned, he comprehended who she was.

The confederated scoundrels having finished their conference, Vernon
drew from his pocket a small screw-driver, and proceeded to remove the
screws from one of the boxes, which, to Hatchie's great relief, was not
the one occupied by himself. After much labor, for the boxes were
carefully constructed, to bear the rough usage of transportation, he
succeeded in removing the lid, and deposited the bag of money between
the coffin and the case which enclosed it.

Having effected the object which brought them to the hold, the two
ascended again, and made their way to the cabin.

In addition to the knowledge of the plot, Hatchie was made acquainted
with a fact which afforded him much pleasure--that Henry Carroll, in
defence of his mistress, had knocked Maxwell down. This was evidence in
his favor. He also heard something of the preference she had bestowed
upon him, and that on this account, more than for the blow, he was to be
the victim of Maxwell's vengeance. But he resolved to foil both schemes.



CHAPTER XII.

     "He must be taught to know he has presumed
     To stand in competition with me.
     --You will not kill him?"  SHIRLEY.

           --"Wherefore com'st thou?
     --To comfort you, and bring you joyful news."
                                MARLOW.


On the second night of the Chalmetta's voyage, as Henry was about to
retire, the steward handed him a note. An hour before he had struck a
"fashionable" man a severe blow, and he conjectured at once that it had
called forth this note. On opening the billet, his supposition proved to
be correct. It was a challenge from Maxwell.

We are very much opposed to duels and duelling, and we regret that
faithfulness to the facts of history compels us to record that Captain
Carroll accepted the challenge. He had moral courage enough to resist
the promptings of that artificial spirit of honor which encourages
duels, but there was "a lady in the case,"--a lady whom he fondly loved.
He felt that the insult which she had received was not sufficiently
punished. Besides, there was an audacity about the man which deserved to
be punished, and he resolved to punish it. Poor human nature! Henry
never reflected that he might be shot himself, and the persecutor of
innocence escape unharmed. No, he felt that the blow he had struck in
defence of innocence was a just retribution, as far as it went; and that
he should fall, _he_ who had espoused the cause of innocence, why it was
simply impossible!

He accepted the challenge, and requested a brother officer to act as his
"friend." The two seconds--Major Brunn on the part of Henry, and Vernon
on the part of Maxwell--arranged the preliminaries.

The boat would arrive at Natchez about daylight, and would remain there
long enough to allow the meeting to take place.

Henry Carroll, though his chivalrous spirit was gratified at the
opportunity to revenge the insult offered to Emily, was ill at ease. To
meet a man of no character (for such he supposed Maxwell to be) was not
a very ornamental accompaniment to an affair of honor. He had a hundred
times braved death on the field of battle, but to die in a duel with
such a man seemed to his now tranquillized mind anything but honorable.
Emily had retired, and he could not bid her farewell. Perhaps he had
seen her for the last time on earth, for the possibility of being killed
himself tardily came to his mind. He wrote a long letter to Emily, and
another to Uncle Nathan.

The worthy Northerner had produced a very favorable impression upon his
mind. He knew his liberal soul, and the design of the letter was to
interest him in her favor,--to induce him to conduct her to his Northern
home.

Henry returned to his couch with many painful doubts as to the morality,
and even the expediency, of his course. But the feeling of honor--of
false honor--comforted him, and, animated by its spirit, he even looked
forward with pleasure upon his revenge,--upon the death of his opponent.
This would be in accordance with the justice of the case, and he
flattered himself that justice, if it did not always prevail, would
triumph in this instance. With such reflections he closed his eyes, and
sunk to his slumbers.

The Chalmetta moved lazily on her course. Her lights had all been
extinguished, and the idlers, who a few hours before had paced the
decks, were now slumbering in their berths, or on the cabin floor. The
clock over the clerk's office indicated the hour of twelve. On the main
deck forward the sleepy firemen were languidly supplying the furnaces;
the engineers, less actively employed, had fallen asleep by the
cylinders.

On the after quarter, laying flat upon the deck, were two men earnestly
engaged in conversation, in which the whispered brogue of Pat Fegan
might have been detected. After the conversation had continued some
time, one of them cautiously raised his head, as if to penetrate the
gloom that enshrouded them. Satisfied that they were alone, the two
rose, and, without noise, climbed up one of the posts to the gallery
which surrounded the cabin. Then, with a light step, they passed on, and
stopped before the state-room occupied by Vernon.

"Are you sure this is his room?" asked Hatchie, in a smothered whisper.

"Troth, I am, thin," responded his companion; "but be aisy, or you'll
wake him."

"The worse for him," replied Hatchie, as his teeth ground together.

Hatchie placed his hand upon the door, and softly opened it. The sleeper
heard him not. The negro groped about the room until his hand rested
upon some pistols which lay on a trunk by the side of the berth. These
he took, and, handing two of them to Pat, retained the third in his
hand. Closing the door, they proceeded, as they had come, to the main
deck.

Seating himself behind a heap of merchandise, Hatchie proceeded to
examine the pistols by the light of a lantern which Pat had _borrowed_
from the sleeping engineers. The pistols were of the common pattern used
in duelling. Two of the three were mates; and Hatchie discovered, on
examination, that neither of them were loaded with ball. The third
pistol, which contained two balls, was very similar in form and size to
the pair. Hatchie extracted the balls from this one, and loaded the pair
with one ball each, leaving the unmatched one blank. They then carefully
conveyed them to Vernon's state-room, and placed them on the trunk
precisely as they had found them.

As had been premised, the Chalmetta arrived at Natchez about daylight.
Vernon, well acquainted with all its localities, led the parties of the
duel to a retired place in the vicinity. The distance was measured off,
and the principals took the stations assigned them.

"Now be careful they do not see you do it," said Vernon, in a low,
careless tone.

The pistols were handed to the principals, the signal was given, and
both fired nearly at the same instant.

"Confound it!" exclaimed Maxwell, dropping his pistol, and grasping the
left arm, which had been hit by Henry's ball. "How does this happen?"

But Vernon was as much confounded by this unexpected result of the duel
as his principal. He had only time to protest that he had prepared the
pistols as agreed upon, when Major Brunn arrived at the spot.

On examining the wounded man, it was found that the ball had struck the
fleshy part of the arm. The injury was very trifling. Maxwell was much
astonished at receiving a ball from his opponent's pistol,--a
circumstance which was owing entirely to Hatchie's precaution on the
previous night. He had overheard the plan by which Maxwell was to fire a
ball at Henry, with no danger of receiving one in return. Vernon had
loaded the pair without ball, and the single pistol with two balls.
Henry was to select from the pair; the third was to be concealed upon
the person of Maxwell, who was to use it instead of the blank. Major
Brunn, supposing Vernon to be a man of honor, had not insisted upon
examining the charge in presence of both seconds, and thus everything
had worked to the satisfaction of the confederates up to the time of the
firing. By Hatchie's precaution, Henry held one of the two which were
loaded with ball, while Maxwell had fired the blank.

Maxwell was, as may be supposed, vexed and disconcerted at the result
of the duel; and, with an ill grace, he resolved to postpone his revenge
to another time, inasmuch as he could not hope again to shoot at his foe
in perfect safety.

The party returned to the steamer just in season for her departure.
Maxwell's wound was examined by the surgeon, and pronounced very slight.
Henry was rejoiced at this intelligence, for the cold-blooded thoughts
which had found a place in his heart had departed, and his naturally
kind disposition resumed its sway. He was glad that the affair had
terminated without the loss of life; glad that his conscience was not
burdened with the blood of a fellow-creature; glad, too, that he had
escaped unhurt. This last consideration was not a selfish one. He felt
that all the energy he possessed he should require in the restoration of
her he so tenderly loved.

His first step, on returning to the steamer, was to destroy the letters
he had written to meet the worst calamity which might befall him. Having
occasion to open his trunk, he discovered, to his surprise, that it was
unlocked. Further examination showed that he had been robbed of all his
earthly possessions. This was a severe blow. The money was the
accumulation of two years' service, and he was now penniless,--without
even a sufficient sum to pay his passage. He immediately informed the
captain of his loss, who gave him the comfortable assurance that the
robber had probably gone ashore at Natchez. However, he caused a
thorough search of the boat to be made; but, as may be supposed, the
search was vain.

Uncle Nathan sympathized with him in his loss,--not with words alone,
but voluntarily proposed to lend him any amount he required; an offer
which Henry accepted with gratitude.

"I see you are acquainted with that lady you saved from drowning," said
the worthy farmer, after he had passed the loan to Henry. The duel had
before been discussed and roundly condemned. The cause of the quarrel
had introduced the fact to which the farmer had alluded.

"I am. Her father was my best friend. I spent a few weeks with him a
short time before his death."

"O, ho!" thought Uncle Nathan, "I guess the black feller didn't know
that, or he would have given the papers to him;" and he resolved to
inform Hatchie of Henry's presence.

Descending, he soon discovered Pat Fegan, and, by his help, was enabled
to hold a conference with Hatchie, who, now that it was daylight, talked
through a crevice in his box.

Hatchie was anxious to know the result of the duel, which Uncle Nathan
imparted, to whom, in return, the mulatto related the means he had used
to foil the attorney's purpose, which was nothing less than murder. He
also disclosed the particulars of the second plot, which was to be put
in execution that night.

The information the faithful slave had gained in relation to the
character of Henry's efforts for his mistress made him quite willing to
have him admitted into the confidence of her secret protectors.

Uncle Nathan returned to the cabin, delighted with the idea of sharing
his responsibility with Henry. But his first wish was to relieve the
distress of Emily, who, he rightly judged, was in continued suffering,
on account of the painful uncertainty which shrouded her destiny.

Emily rose on the morning of the duel in blissful ignorance of the
danger which Henry had incurred on her account. She had passed a
sleepless night, in the most intense agony. Her eyes were red and
swollen with weeping, and her heart yet beat with the violence of her
emotions. She felt in the most intense degree the misery of her
situation, to which she failed not to give all its weight. She had a
friend--a brother--more than brother--near, in the person of Henry. That
love which she allowed her fond heart to cherish was like an oasis in
the desert of her misery. She loved him, and in this thought--in the
delightful sensation which accompanied it--she found her only solace.

At breakfast she saw him again; again his speaking eyes told how fondly
his heart clung to her; again his smile fanned her fevered brain, like
the zephyr of summer, into a dream of bliss. Her heart led her back to
the days when they had wandered together over her father's plantation.
Then, restrained by the coyness of unrevealed love, each enjoyed a
happiness to which the other was supposed to be a stranger.

But the anguish of her painful position _would_ come to destroy the
dream of bliss, and dissipate the bright halo her imagination had cast
before her. She retired to her state-room, to ponder again her unhappy
lot. "Thy will be done," murmured she, as, throwing herself into a
chair, she resigned herself to the terrible reflection that she was a
slave and an outcast. The bright dream of love was only a chimera, to
make her feel more deeply the terrible reality.

Whilst she was thus venting her anguish, she was roused from her
lethargy of grief by the chambermaid, who had entered by the inner door.

"Please, ma'am, a gentleman out in the cabin says he wants to speak to
you."

"A gentleman wishes to speak to me? Did he send his name?"

"No, ma'am. He said you wouldn't know him, if he did; so it was no use
to send it."

"Pray, what looking gentleman is he?"--her mind reverting to Maxwell.

"Well, ma'am, he's a very respectable looking gentleman," answered the
girl, to whom Uncle Nathan (for he was the person alluded to) had given
half a dollar. "I think he is a Yankee, by his talk."

"Pray, ask him to send his name."

"Yes, ma'am," said the chambermaid, retiring.

Emily was puzzled by the request, and, judging from the girl's
description that it could not be Maxwell, began to dread a new enemy.

The chambermaid presently returned, and said the gentleman's name was
Benson.

Emily's perplexity was not diminished, but she resolved to see the
applicant at the door of the room, so that, if his errand was from
Maxwell, she could easily retire from his presence. Accordingly she
instructed the girl to show him to the door on the gallery.

"I beg your pardon, ma'am," said Uncle Nathan, as soon as he reached the
position assigned him; "you are Miss Dumont, I believe?"

"The same," said she, as calmly as her fluttering heart would permit.
"May I beg to know your business with me?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Uncle Nathan, bluntly; "but don't be scart. I know
something of your trials; and I trust the Lord will give you strength to
endure them with patience."

"Really, sir, you astonish me! May I be allowed to ask how you became
acquainted with my affairs?"

"All in good time, ma'am; I have in my possession a document, which, I'm
told, will set matters all right with you."

"What is it, sir?"--and Emily was still more astonished at the
singularity of the adventure.

"_It is your father's will_, ma'am," replied Uncle Nathan, disdaining
all preface and preliminary to this important remark.

"My father's will, sir! Impossible!"

"Fact, ma'am. I will tell you all about it," and Uncle Nathan proceeded,
in his own blunt way, to relate his adventures in the hold.

Emily listened with surprise and joy to the honest farmer's story. When
he had concluded, although she did not give way to the joy of her heart,
a change from the depth of despair to the pinnacle of happiness took
place in her silent heart. How devoutly she thanked the great Father
who had watched over her in her anguish, and now shed a halo of joy
across her darkened path! How earnest was the silent prayer which arose
from the depths of her heart, for the safety of the faithful slave, who
had perilled his life for her happiness! How deeply laden with the
incense of gratitude was the song of thanksgiving which rose from her
soul to the Giver of all good!

And when Uncle Nathan told the story of the duel, a new song of
thanksgiving arose for Henry's safety. The joy she felt in his
preservation would not be entirely confined to her heart, and Uncle
Nathan--unromantic bachelor as he was--could not but discern the deep
interest she felt in him.

The interview was concluded, and the worthy farmer left the gallery more
rejoiced than if he had himself been declared heir of Colonel Dumont's
millions; and he looked around, as excited as a school-boy on the first
day of vacation, to find Henry, and relate the good news.



CHAPTER XIII.

     "Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash
     Of echoing thunder."  BYRON.


The day of the duel was a day of happiness to Emily Dumont. The
restraint which Jaspar's presence imposed was removed. Maxwell, from
prudence or some other motive, did not intrude upon her. Her heart was
rejoiced by the glad tidings which Uncle Nathan had conveyed to her.
Henry Carroll was permitted to enjoy her society. It was a day of bliss
to both; and, though a crowded steamer could ill afford the privacy
which new-born love ever seeks, yet opportunities of giving expression
to their feelings were not wanting. All day long they revelled in the
delightful emotions which warmed their hearts. Their intercourse was now
burdened by no painful reflections on the misery which had so lately
environed Emily. The means of her restoration to home and society were
at hand. The only difficulty now was to discover the best method of
establishing her rights. Against Jaspar and Maxwell they cherished no
ill-will,--they had no desire to punish them for their wicked designs.

Uncle Nathan, too, was in the "full enjoyment of his mind." The relief
he had "providentially" been able to afford to Emily's mind was the
medium of an abundant satisfaction. As the darkness began to gather, he
found an opportunity of conversing with Henry, whose entire devotion to
Emily during the day had rendered him a stranger in the gentlemen's
cabin. The plot which Hatchie had revealed to him had caused him but
little anxiety. Maxwell's wounded arm, he concluded, would delay its
execution. But he gave the particulars to Henry, who was not at all
satisfied that it would not be undertaken.

"We must watch to-night," said he.

"Sartain, we'll keep a good look-out; but the scamp can't do anything
while he is wounded."

"But he had confederates."

"Perhaps he has. But here is another friend," said Uncle Nathan, as he
perceived Pat Fegan, who had for some time been watching an opportunity
to speak to him.

"Sure, the naiger would like to spake wid yous," said Pat, in a whisper.

"What's the matter, Pat?" asked Henry.

"Nothin', your honor," replied Pat, promptly; "I was only tellin' this
gintleman that a poor divil was dhrunk on the lower deck, and he'd
betther go and praych timperance to him."

"No, no, Partrick, that's too bad," interrupted Uncle Nathan,
reprovingly; "I must teach you to tell the truth."

Pat opened his eyes with astonishment when he heard Uncle Nathan explain
to Henry the part he had borne in the drama, and was about to utter in
plain Irish his opinion of a man who would thus betray a confidence,
when Henry explained that he was an old friend of Hatchie and the lady.

"Long life to your honor, if that be true!" exclaimed Pat; "and you
won't blow on the naiger?"

"I have too strong an interest in him to do anything to his injury,"
replied Henry. "But show me the way to him, Pat."

"One at a time, if yous plaze," said Pat, as he perceived Uncle Nathan
about to follow them.

Pat led the way to the after part of the lower deck, to which Hatchie
had ascended, as on the night of the rescue, to inhale the fresh air.
This step was a safe one in the night, as, if any one approached (which
was seldom), he could easily and speedily regain his hiding-place.

"Hould aisy," said Pat, as they approached the fugitive; "don't be
afraid,--I have brought yous a frind."

"I hope you will not bring me too many friends," replied Hatchie, a
little disconcerted.

"Don't you know me?" said Henry, as he grasped the hand of Hatchie; "I
have just come from your mistress, and know your whole story."

"Not all," replied Hatchie; "you cannot know how much anxiety I have
endured. Miss Emily is not yet safe."

"But we can easily foil the villain's future designs."

"We will, at least, endeavor to do so."

"I believe I have seen you before; we were companions in the rescue."

"We were, and God bless you for the noble service you rendered my
mistress!"

"That service was all your own, my gallant fellow."

"You undervalue your own efforts. He who gets into the Mississippi
seldom gets out alive. Without your timely assistance, I tremble to
think of what might have been the end. My experience of the river
enabled me to bring her up; but without your aid at the moment it came I
do not think I could have saved her. But this is all past. Thank God,
she is yet safe, though another danger hovers over her."

"This foul conspiracy,--will they put it in execution to-night?"

"I heard the villain they call Vernon, an hour ago, engage a deck hand
to help him row the boat."

"Then there is indeed danger. I had thought Maxwell's wound would have
prevented it for a season."

"A mere scratch. I would your ball had found the villain's heart, if he
has one. But Vernon is the most dangerous man--a more accomplished
villain."

"Vernon," said Henry, musing; "he was Maxwell's second."

"Yes. That duel was a plot to murder you."

"How so?"

Hatchie explained the plan of Vernon, which had been rendered futile by
his precaution.

"The scoundrel! but how knew you this, and how happens it that I escaped
while he is wounded?" said Henry.

"I overheard the plot when I did the other. Vernon is a common robber.
He came into the hold to conceal a bag of money he had stolen."

"A bag of money!" interrupted Henry, his thoughts diverted from the
subject.

"Ay, a bag of money."

"Do you know where they hid it?"

"I do; but why do you ask?" and Hatchie was much pained to discover in
Henry what he mistook for a feeling of rapacity. He wanted and expected
the perfection of an angel in the man who sustained the relation of
lover and protector to his mistress.

"Because I have been robbed of all I had in the world," replied Henry,
seeing the shade upon Hatchie's brow.

"Indeed!" exclaimed the mulatto, his doubts removed, and pleased in
being able to restore his money.

"The money is undoubtedly mine. Your noble devotion to your mistress has
thus proved a fortunate thing for me. But about the pistols?"

Hatchie related the means he had used to derange Maxwell's plan.

"I shall never be able to repay the debt I owe you," said Henry, warmly,
as the mulatto finished his story.

"I did it for my mistress' sake. I learned that you were her friend."

"And she will bless you for the act."

"Now, what shall be done to insure her safety to night? for they will
attempt her abduction, I doubt not."

It was arranged that Henry should watch in the vicinity of Emily's
state-room, while Uncle Nathan, Hatchie and Pat Fegan, should occupy the
lower deck. Emily was not to be informed of the danger; it would
distress her to no purpose.

They had no doubt of their ability to protect her. Accustomed as Henry
was to danger, perhaps he did not fully appreciate that which was now
gathering around Emily. He felt that, in knowing the particulars of the
nefarious scheme, he was abundantly able, even single-handed, to prevent
its success.

Obtaining a screw-driver and a lantern from one of the engineers, he
succeeded in obtaining possession of his stolen bag of gold. On his
return to the cabin, he observed Vernon standing at the bar, and the
temptation to give his moral faculties a start could not be resisted.
Purchasing a dozen cigars, he remarked that he had no change, and coolly
pulled the bag of gold from his pocket. Vernon's astonishment and
consternation could not be entirely concealed, as he recognized the bag
he had securely deposited in the box with the dead. Henry took no notice
of him, though he heard him say, in a suppressed tone, "The devil is in
this boat!"

Henry sought his state-room, where he found Uncle Nathan impatiently
waiting to hear the result of the interview.

"There is danger," said Henry, "and we must be ready to do our duty
manfully."

"Good gracious! you don't say so!" exclaimed Uncle Nathan.

"We must watch to-night, and, if need be, fight!"

"How you talk! You don't think the feller with the sore arm will try to
do anything to-night?"

"I fear he will;" and Henry opened his trunk, and took therefrom a pair
of revolvers.

"Gracious! will there be any need of pistols? Couldn't you reason with
them?" exclaimed Uncle Nathan, who, as before hinted, had a great
repugnance to the use of deadly weapons.

"I am afraid they will not listen to reason," said Henry, smiling, in
spite of his anxiety. "If action is necessary, it must be prompt. I know
your heart, my good friend, and I trust your non-resistant notions will
not interfere with your duty. I must rely on your aid in this affair."

"Sartain. I will do all I can, if I die for it. But I think I can get
along very well without one of them 'ere things," said Uncle Nathan,
eying the pistols with distrust.

"Very well, I shall not urge you, though I think it would be prudent for
you to have one. As you go to your station, you will oblige me by giving
this one to the mulatto boy."

"Sartain, cap'n," replied Uncle Nathan, taking the pistol; "I an't
exactly a non-resistance man, only I hate to use pistols;--not that I'm
afeered on 'em; but to take a feller-cretur's life is a dreadful thing.
You know the New Testament says, 'Resist not evil,' and--"

"Yes, I remember; but now is the time to act, and not to preach. I shall
place myself near Miss Dumont's state-room, and your party will see that
the stern-boat is not disturbed."

"All right, cap'n, but do be careful about spilling blood!" said Uncle
Nathan, who did not like the cool, determined air with which Henry
handled his pistols.

"Be assured I will not wantonly take the life of even the most hardened
villain; but in defence of Miss Dumont I shall consider that the end
will justify the means."

Uncle Nathan went to his post, and Henry, muffling himself in a large
camp-cloak, seated himself near Emily's door. Accustomed as he was to
the perils and privations of the camp, the duty before him did not seem
difficult or irksome. To his chivalrous spirit there was a pleasure in
thus watching over an innocent being, while she slept, unconscious of
the danger that menaced her. Lighting his cigar, he resigned himself to
the dream of blissful anticipations, which relieved the monotony of the
scene.

Maxwell, in the seclusion of his state-room, had thoroughly digested the
plan for the abduction of Emily. Vernon had arranged the details, and
the lawyer's reflections suggested no material alteration. His wounded
arm was a hindrance, but time was too precious to admit of delay. The
Chalmetta was so tardy in her movements that Jaspar must soon overtake
them, and then the opportunity would be lost.

If he could get Emily into his power, and away from the influences which
now surrounded her, he doubted not he could induce her, by threats or
persuasion, to become his wife; then he would spring the trap upon
Jaspar, and the coveted object of his existence would be gained. He had
already forged a bill of sale of her person, and, thus provided with an
implement of coercion, he doubted not that success would crown his
efforts.

As the evening advanced, and the passengers had mostly retired for the
night, Maxwell and Vernon left the state-room, and went aft to examine
more particularly the means of descent to the lower deck. As they
approached Emily's state-room, they perceived Henry puffing away at his
second cigar. Had it been any other person, Maxwell would not have
devoted a thought to him. It was he with whom he had fought the
duel,--whom a mysterious providence seemed to protect. Was he there by
accident or design?

The two confederates passed round the gallery, and returned to the
cabin. A long hour they waited, and the cabin clock pointed to the hour
of twelve; still Henry had not changed his position. His cigar was
consumed, but there he sat like a statue, obstinately obstructing the
completion of Maxwell's designs. The confederates began to fear he had
some knowledge of their contemplated project. Yet how could this be? The
plan had been arranged in the hold of the steamer. It was impossible
that any one, even the men they had hired to row the boat, could know
their intentions. Vernon, who had seen the stolen bag of money
miraculously restored to its owner, who had seen two balls pass
harmlessly through him, was perfectly willing to believe that Henry
Carroll was the devil! But, devil or not, it was all the same to him.

It was already time to commence operations. Vernon was impatient to
begin; for, as he averred, he did not like to lose a whole night's sleep
in so small an affair. But nothing could be done while Henry retained
his present position, unless they silenced him by force; and he seemed
an ugly customer.

The Chalmetta pursued her way, stemming with difficulty, as it would
seem by her lazy pace, the current of the mighty river. She had just
passed Vicksburg. The night was dark and gloomy. Those bright, beautiful
moons, with which the panorama-mongers are wont to gild the eddying
current, and solemnize the scenery with a pale loveliness, were not in
the ascendant. Even the bright stars were hid by the thick clouds. The
darkness cast a sad gloom over the scene, which a few hours before had
been "leaping in light, and alive with its own beauty." The yellow bank
rose high on either side of the river, and formed a sombre wall, which
seemed to keep the sojourner on the tide a prisoner from the world
above.

Yet, deep as was the darkness, and perilous as was the navigation of the
river, the Chalmetta sluggishly pursued her upward course, shunning
sand-bars and snags which the eye could not see, and which the stranger
knew not of. Now she crept, like a thief at night, so closely beneath
the high bank that her tall chimneys almost swept the overhanging
branches; then, stealing from the treacherous shoal, she sped her way
through the middle of the vast waters, as if ashamed of her former
timidity. Here she shot through the narrow cut-off, and there left her
foaming surge in the centre of the broad expanse.

On board all was still, save the puffing blasts of steam, which, at each
stroke of the pistons, echoed through the woods and over the plains. The
cabin lights had long been extinguished, and, from a distance, nothing
could be seen of her but the huge blazing furnaces, and the red signal
lantern, which was suspended over the boiler deck. The firemen, just
roused from their dream of comfort, no more passed round the coarse
jest, no more whistled "Boatman, dance," but, like automata, threw the
fuel into the roaring furnaces. Occasionally, the startling note of the
great bell roused the deck-watch from his slumber, and he sang over
again the monotonous song that told the pilot how far his keel was from
the sands below. Again the bell pealed a heavy stroke, which indicated
that the steamer was in free water, and the leadsman settled himself for
another nap.

The passengers, save those whom we have before noted, were deep in the
arms of Morpheus, rejoicing, no doubt, in their dreams, over the many
tedious hours they thus annihilated.

Wakeful and watchful, Henry Carroll still kept his post. Ever present to
his mind was the fair being over whose safety his vigil was kept. Her
image, clothed in all the gorgeous fancies which the love-sick brain
conjures up, spoke in silver tones to his heart, and the melody of her
voice thrilled his soul. Descending from the dignity of the man, he
built childish air-castles, wherein he throned his idol, and in a few
fleeting moments squandered years of happiness by her side. The perils
of the past, the sternness of the present, the responsibilities of the
future, all faded away, and from their ashes rose the bright empress of
his soul.

This, we know, was all very foolish of him; but then it must be
remembered he was in love, and men in love can scarcely be called
accountable beings.

Thus he dreamed, and thus he trod the fairy ground of imagination, nor
heeded the creaking timbers and the increasing rapidity of the puffs
from the escape-pipe. To a man not intoxicated by the dream of young
love these facts would have indicated a great increase in the speed of
the boat; but he noticed them not.

By the motions of the Chalmetta it was plain that, though incapable of
accomplishing any wonderful feat in the attainment of speed, she had a
considerable amount of that commodity somewhat vulgarly termed "spunk."
As she passed the mouth of the Yazoo river, another steamer, apparently
of her own calibre, rounded gracefully into the channel, from a
wood-yard. This boat--the Flatfoot, No. 3--seemed, by her straining and
puffing, to throw the gauntlet to the Chalmetta; a challenge, real or
imaginary, which the latter made haste to accept,--or, rather, her
sleepy firemen did, for, without leave or license, they crammed her
furnaces to their utmost capacity. The effects of this movement were
soon perceptible in every part of the boat, for she creaked and groaned
like a ship in a gale. But the Flatfoot, No. 3, had the lead, and seemed
to gain upon her rival,--a circumstance which seemed to rouse the
lethargic firemen of the Chalmetta to the highest pitch of excitement,
for they packed the furnaces more closely still.

Maxwell saw, with much satisfaction, the prospect of a race; not that he
expected in this instance to enjoy the excitement which, with "fast
men," is consequent upon such an occasion. He hoped it might distract
the attention of the person who, by accident or design, opposed the
execution of his purpose. He had sent Vernon to the cabin to watch the
movements of Henry, while he remained upon the main deck, forward of the
furnaces, to encourage the firemen in their ambitious project of passing
the other boat. Several barrels of hams which lay upon the deck the
apparently excited attorney ordered the firemen to throw into the
furnaces, promising to screen them from blame by paying the owner double
their value. The firemen, not blessed with an undue amount of caution,
willingly obeyed the order, and soon the boilers hissed and groaned
under the extraordinary pressure. The engineers, roused from their
slumbers, and entering at once into the sport, secured the safety-valve
in its place by attaching to the lever double the usual weight.

Still the person whom Maxwell wished to lure from his post remained
immovable. A few pitch-barrels were now split up, and cast into the
furnaces, which so increased the pressure that the faithful safety-valve
refused longer to endure the curb placed upon the discharge of its
function. It was again secured, and the reckless firemen, urged on by
Maxwell and the engineers, still pressed the boat to its destruction.

The boilers, notwithstanding the tremendous pressure to which they were
subjected, still realized the expectations of the confident engineers,
and refused to be the agents of an "awful calamity." But all exertion
was of no avail; the Flatfoot, No. 3, whose tall chimneys vomited forth
a long trail of flame, showing that she, too, was hard pressed, was
rapidly increasing her distance. Still the firemen plied the furnaces,
and again the engineers added more weight to the lever of the
safety-valve. The boilers were evidently pressed to their utmost, the,
decks were hot, and her timbers creaked and snapped as though they would
drop out of her.

Hatchie had placed his party in the hold, one of which was on the
look-out at the hatchway. He saw the danger of the steamer; but all his
friends were in the safest places the boat afforded. It was an anxious
hour for him; but everybody was in peril, and there was no remedy.

Maxwell, whose excitement in the race was feigned, perceived that the
boat was in imminent danger. He had not intended to carry the excitement
quite so far. An explosion was not exactly the thing he desired. It
would not be sufficiently discriminating in its choice of victims. But
the firemen were too much excited to listen to reason; therefore he
proceeded, with Vernon, towards the extreme after part of the boat.
Passing round the gallery of the ladies' cabin, they perceived that
Henry had, at last, left his post. Such was indeed the case. Roused from
his abstraction by the terrible anticipation of an explosion, he had
gone forward to reason with the pilots on the recklessness of their
course in allowing the boat to be so hard pressed.

"Now is our time," said Maxwell, in a whisper.

"Here goes, then!" replied Vernon.

"Be careful that you do not injure her,--and bring her clothes."

"Ay, ay! Have the boat ready quick, for, if I mistake not, the sooner we
are out of this boat the better."

The ruffian approached the door of Emily's state-room, and was about to
open it, when, with a noise louder than the crashing of the thunderbolt,
the starboard boiler exploded, and the Chalmetta lay a shapeless wreck
upon the waters!



CHAPTER XIV.

     "False world, thou ly'st; thou canst not lend
             The least delight;
     Thy favors cannot gain a friend,
             They are so slight."          FRANCIS QUARLES.


The traveller on the Mississippi observes with interest the innumerable
islands which dot the river, and relieve the monotony of the scenery.
These islands are, for the most part, covered with a luxurious growth of
cotton-wood trees. They have generally been formed by what are
technically called cut-offs, or new channels, from the main land. The
mighty torrent, scorning its own well-beaten track, ploughs a way
through the country, and returns to its channel miles below, opening at
once a new path for the voyager upon its tide. The portion of land thus
separated from the main shore is often subdivided by the action of the
waters into several smaller islands. These islets are, however, oftener
seen in isolated positions, varying in area from a few square rods to
several acres. A remarkable feature of these islands is their
_locomotive_ powers,--for, strange as it may seem, they annually take a
step down stream! Observation has shown a change of position almost
incredible.

The river, continually wearing upon the up-river side of the island,
washes the sands and soil to the lower side. Thus, the situation of the
island is actually changed. The fact is clearly shown by the singular
configuration of the mass of trees growing upon them. The wood on the
upstream side of the island is of the largest size; while that on the
down-stream side begins at the mere shrub, and, by a regular gradation
in height, like a pair of stairs, increases to the altitude of the
full-grown tree. Each successive year places a new layer of soil upon
the lower side, in which the young tree takes root; and the growth of
each year is distinctly visible to the traveller as he ascends the
river.

On one of these islands, above Vicksburg, was located a neat cottage.
The island differed in many respects from others. Its area might have
been eight or ten acres. On one side of it was a narrow, but deep
stream, which, entering from the broad river, described a semi circle,
and returned its waters on the same side. On three sides, except at the
mouths of the little stream, the island was rendered inaccessible by the
high banks, while on the fourth side the shrubs grew so luxuriantly as
to be impervious, save to the most resolute visitor. From the high banks
which walled it in the surface of the island sloped gradually towards a
common centre, through which rushed the little stream.

This little island had probably been a part of the main land; the river
had forced its way through a valley, and, by degrees, had worn down the
high land on either side, till they formed the precipices which now
frowned on the visitor. The little stream had, perhaps, once been a
meandering rivulet,--part of one which emptied into the river on the
opposite side.

On one of the sloping sides of the interior was situated the cottage. It
was small in size, containing but four rooms and an attic, and was
neatly painted white. Its location in the valley concealed it from the
main land, and from the traveller upon the river. It was accessible only
by means of the stream, which rolled by within a few rods of the door. A
cow grazed in the woods, which had been partly cleared of under-brush,
and had the appearance of a park grove. Near the house a plot of land
had been reduced to a state of cultivation, upon which an old negro
servant managed to raise vegetables sufficient for the use of the
family.

The interior of the cottage was neatly furnished, though with none of
the gaudy trappings of fashion. Everything was plain and useful. On the
side fronting the stream, which served the inmates as a highway, were
two rooms,--a library, which was also the sitting-room, and a sleeping
apartment. The library was far the most substantial and
comfortable-looking room in the house, inasmuch as it was abundantly
supplied with modern and classical lore. In the middle was a large
writing-desk, upon which lay sundry manuscripts, apparently the last
labor of the occupant. The books and papers were all arranged with
scrupulous neatness and method.

The two rooms in the rear were the dining-room and another sleeping
apartment, while the attic was occupied by the old negro and his
wife,--the property of the proprietor, and his only attendants upon the
island. Back of the house, as is the custom of the South, was a small
building used as a kitchen. Near it was another building, appropriated
to the use of the cow aforesaid.

In the stream in front of the cottage, fastened to a tree on the bank,
was a beautifully-modelled sail-boat, which was worthy to rank with the
miniature yachts of our large cities. She was schooner-rigged, with a
small cabin forward. Her masts, by an ingenious contrivance, could be
lowered down aft, and, by means of a rope attached to the fore-top, and
running through a block on the bowsprit, could be instantly restored to
their original upright position. This arrangement the owner found
necessary, on account of the overhanging trees, which nearly concealed
the two openings of the stream into the river.

On the night of the Chalmetta's terrible disaster, a man wrapped in a
camlet cloak left the cottage, and approached the landing-place. In one
hand he carried a glass lantern, and in the other a double-barrelled
gun. Descending the steps to the rude pier of logs, he drew the boat
in-shore and seated himself in the stern-sheets. Unloosing the
stern-line, which alone held her, the boat was borne on by the rapid
stream. The helm the occupant handled with a masterly skill, and in a
moment the little bark swept through the half-hid opening into the broad
river. Placing the helm amid-ships, the man went forward, and, pulling
the proper line, brought the masts to their upright position. He then
inserted the iron keys which kept them in their place, and hoisted the
sails. By this time the boat had drifted to the lower extremity of the
island; so, bracing her sharp up, he stood away across the river.
Tacking before he reached the swift channel, which flowed close in
shore, he laid the boat's course up the stream. The wind was blowing
fresh, and, notwithstanding the contending force of the current, the
boat careened to her task, and made very good progress through the
water. While the gallant little bark pursues her way, we will introduce
her skipper to the reader.

Dr. Vaudelier was about fifty years of age. He was descended from one of
the old French families of Louisiana; and had been, for nearly thirty
years, a practising physician in the city of New Orleans, during which
time he had accumulated a very handsome fortune. At the age of
twenty-five he had been married to a lady, whose only recommendations
were her personal beauty and her fashionable accomplishments. Her vanity
had disgusted him, and her uncontrollable temper had embittered to its
very dregs the cup of his existence. Being naturally of a gloomy and
melancholy temperament, this unfortunate union had rendered his life
almost insupportable. Domestic happiness, to which he had looked forward
with high-wrought anticipations, proved, in his case, to have no
foundation.

He was disappointed. His dream of home and its blessings faded away, and
was supplanted by a terrible reality. He grew more and more melancholy.
But there was a solace, which saved him from absolute misery. Two
children--a boy and a girl--blessed his otherwise unhallowed union. The
education of these children was the only joy his home afforded; but
even this to his misanthropic mind could not compensate for his
matrimonial disappointment.

Years passed away; the son was sent to college, from which, to the
anguish of his father, he was expelled for gross misconduct. The young
man returned to New Orleans, and became one of the most dissolute and
abandoned characters of the city. Dr. Vaudelier disowned him, and sunk
the deeper in his melancholy.

The death of his wife left him alone with his daughter; and if the fatal
influence of past years could have been removed, perhaps he might have
been a happy man. The daughter was a beautiful girl, and promised to
realize all the fond expectations of her father. Her daily education and
method of life, as directed by her father, were better calculated to fit
her for the occupancy of a nun's cell than for rational society.

About five years previous to the time of our story, the solemn quiet of
Dr. Vaudelier's dwelling was disturbed by the arrival of a young French
gentleman, bearing letters of introduction to the misanthropic
physician. This gentleman was delighted with the daughter of his host,
and she experienced a before unknown pleasure in his society. The doctor
was, to some extent, obliged to abandon the "pleasures of melancholy,"
and accompany the young couple into the world.

This intimacy between the young persons rapidly ripened into love. Dr.
Vaudelier's inquiries into the character and circumstances of the young
gentleman were not satisfactory, and he refused to sanction the union.
Perhaps he was influenced more in this decision by the dread of parting
with his daughter than by any other motive. The father's refusal was
followed by the elopement of the young couple,--an act which blasted the
only remaining hope of the misanthrope. His heart was too sensitive to
endure the shock.

Reduced to the depths of despair, suicide presented itself as the only
effectual remedy for his misfortunes. But the church, to whose rites
and promises he yielded the most devoted reverence, doomed the suicide
to eternal woe!

Society, into which for a brief period he had allowed himself to be
enticed, was ten-fold more distasteful to him than before. He could not
endure even that which the practice of his profession demanded. The
great city seemed a pandemonium, and he resolved to escape from its
hated scenes.

He travelled up the river in search of seclusion, and accidentally had
noticed the island upon which he afterwards fixed his residence.

His abode upon the island was not entirely unknown to the inhabitants of
his vicinity; yet they seldom troubled him with their presence. Steamers
and flat-boats continually passed his little domain; yet the traveller
knew not that it was occupied by human beings.

Dr. Vaudelier's pursuits were of the most simple nature. He read and
wrote nearly the whole day, and in the evening,--often at the dead of
night,--he would unmoor his yacht, and stem the tide of the mighty
river. His chief happiness was in communion with nature. His solitary
habits had completely estranged him from society; and he chose the night
for his lonely excursions on the river, to avoid the presence of man.

Dr. Vaudelier was a benevolent man; and his benevolence was still his
friend. It kept his heart from corroding, or becoming entirely cold. His
professional services he freely gave to the poor "squatter," woodman and
boatman, whenever he could learn that they were needed. The old negro
made frequent visits to the shore to procure provisions and other
necessaries, and informed his master if any of his indigent neighbors
needed his aid. Dr. Vaudelier, as far as he was known, was regarded with
profound respect and affection, and none were disposed to disturb his
privacy when it was understood that entire seclusion was his desire.

Dr. Vaudelier reclined on the cushions in the stern-sheets of his boat.
With an abstracted mind he gazed upon the gloomy outlines of the shore.
Nature in this sombre dress seemed in unison with the gloom of his own
soul. Scarcely conscious of his actions, he managed the boat with the
most consummate skill, avoiding the unseen shoal and the unfavorable
current, but still never allowing the sails to shiver. Far ahead of him
he descried the blazing chimneys of a steamer. It was night, and he was
secure from the prying gaze or the rude hail of the voyagers.

His reflections were gloomy. He reviewed his earlier years. He thought
of his affectionate daughter, who had promised to be the stay of his
declining years, perhaps at that moment a wanderer and an outcast. He
had heard nothing of her since her departure. He had made no effort to
ascertain her fate. He considered his whole course of conduct to her,
the nature of the education he had imparted to her, the example he had
set for her imitation. His reflections were not altogether satisfactory,
and kindled a few compunctious thoughts. The blame had not been all on
the side of the daughter. His misanthropic character was the origin of
some part of it.

Thus he mused, and thus dawned upon his mind the first gleams of
repentance. His melancholy temperament had caused the loss of his
daughter; and, for the time, it grew repugnant. He felt that he was not
living the life his Maker intended he should live.

His meditations were suddenly interrupted by a tremendous explosion, and
he was at once satisfied that it proceeded from the steamer he had
before observed. His supposition was soon verified by the flames he saw
rising from the spot where he had last seen her. She was, he judged, at
least three miles distant. His benevolent disposition, stimulated by the
reflection, and, perhaps, by some unconscious resolution of the previous
hour, prompted him to hasten to her relief. Leaving the helm, he took
from the little cabin a stay-sail, and by the light of the lantern
attached it to the lines and hoisted it. The lively little craft,
feeling the additional impulse, careened till her gunnel was nearly
submerged, and cut her way with increased velocity through the
unfavorable current. Half an hour elapsed before he approached near
enough to make out the condition of the shattered steamer. Another
steamer lay as near to her as the flames, which had apparently been
partly subdued, would permit. Men were busily engaged in throwing on
water, and their efforts promised to be crowned with success, for the
volume of flame was rapidly decreasing. A line was passed from the bow
of the Chalmetta to the Flatfoot, No. 3 (for these were the steamers),
which enabled the latter to control the drift of the former. Dr.
Vaudelier was too far off, however, to form a very correct idea of the
casualty.

Portions of the wreck were floating by him, and occasionally his boat
struck against a timber or cask. While anxiously straining his vision,
to ascertain further particulars of the disaster, he heard a faint cry
close ahead of him. By the light of his lantern, which he had hung up by
the foremast, to attract the eye of any sufferer who might need aid, he
saw a man clinging to a barrel floating by him. Hastily letting go the
halyards, the fore and main sails came down, the boat was put about, and
Dr. Vaudelier, with much exertion, succeeded in saving the almost dying
sufferer. Conveying him to the cabin, which was of sufficient size to
contain two berths, he placed him upon one of them, and proceeded to
ascertain his ailments. These, as far as he could discover them,
consisted of a broken arm, a severe contusion of the head, and several
severe scalds. The wounded man's endeavors to aid in his own rescue had
been too violent, and on being placed in the berth he had fainted. After
administering such relief as he was able, he returned to the
stern-sheets, hoisted the sails, and the boat, which had been drifting
down-stream, again approached the wreck.

The flames of the Chalmetta were now extinguished. Before the benevolent
physician could reach her, the Flatfoot had taken her in tow, and both
were rapidly leaving him. Further pursuit was useless; so, taking in
the stay-sail, he put the boat about, and again turned his attention to
the sufferer.

The boat's progress, assisted by the current, was very rapid, and she
soon reached the island. The experienced eye of her manager discerned
through the darkness the narrow opening of the little stream. Taking in
the sails and lowering the masts, the little craft glided through the
rivulet, and in less time than is taken to relate it was securely moored
in front of the cottage. The old negro, bewildered by the unseasonable
summons, assisted in conveying the wounded stranger to the cottage.

Dr. Vaudelier, after a more thorough examination of his patient than he
had been able to make before, was pleased to find that his wounds,
though serious, were not of a dangerous character. He set the broken
arm, and, by the exercise of the great skill for which he had been
distinguished, restored him to consciousness, and made sure his future
recovery.

"Where is she? Is she safe?" murmured the sufferer, as his returning
consciousness afforded a partial knowledge of his condition. "Where am
I?"

"You are among friends, sir,--among friends. Do not distress yourself,"
replied the doctor, in a soothing tone.

"Where is she? Great God! what has become of her?" exclaimed the wounded
man, with startling energy.

"You must be quiet, sir, or you will injure your arm," said Dr.
Vaudelier, mildly restraining the excited man.

"O, Emily, Emily!" groaned the sufferer. "Why did I leave you? Why did
we not perish together?"

"Be calm, sir,--be calm! You have lost a friend in this terrible
disaster?"

"I have. O that I could have died with her!"

"Are you sure she has perished?"

"She could scarcely have survived the explosion."

"Was she not in the ladies' cabin?"

"She was."

"Then probably she is safe. The ladies' cabin was thrown from its
position; but it appeared to be comparatively but little shattered. The
forward cabin was blown entirely in pieces."

"Thank God for this intelligence!" ejaculated Henry Carroll,--for the
reader has already discovered that it was he whom the doctor had
rescued.

"Another steamer was close at hand, so that probably most of the ladies
were saved, unless, as is often the case, they jumped overboard in their
fright."

"Heaven protect her!" exclaimed Henry.

"But, sir, I must insist on perfect quiet. Your condition imperatively
demands it. To-morrow everything shall be done to relieve your anxiety.
We shall then receive Vicksburg papers, which will contain the names of
all who are lost."

"I will try to be quiet, but I cannot but be anxious till I know the
whole truth."

Dr. Vaudelier again applied a soothing balm to the scalded portions of
his body, and gave him a powerful narcotic, the effects of which were
soon visible in a deep, troubled slumber.



CHAPTER XV.

     "But thou, a wretched, base, false, worthless coward!
     All eyes must shun thee, and all hearts detest thee.
     Prythee avoid, nor longer cling thus round me,
     Like something baneful, that my nature's chilled at."

     OTWAY.


In a small log-cabin, a few miles above "Cottage Island," reposing upon
a rude bed, on the morning of the Chalmetta's disaster, was a young and
beautiful female. She was pale and in tears, evidently suffering the
most excruciating mental agony. An old woman, from whose bosom her
half-civilized mode of life had not entirely banished those refined
sympathies which belong by intuition to her sex, was vainly striving to
impart comfort.

"You ought to be thankful, ma'am, that you wan't blowed up, with the
rest of the poor people," said she, kindly, attempting to turn the
lady's attention from her absorbing misery.

"I had rather a thousand times have perished than fallen into the hands
of the villain who rescued me," replied Emily,--it was she,--with a
shudder.

"O, ma'am, they shan't hurt a hair of your head. My old man wouldn't see
such a good cretur as you hurt, for all the world."

"Alas! I fear his power will not avail against this hardened villain."

"Never you fear, ma'am! Two sich popinjays as them couldn't skeer my
Jerry, nohow. Besides, my son, Jim, will be back in an hour or two."

"I fear they cannot aid me."

"Yes, they can. My Jerry alone would turn 'em inside out, if they are
sarcy."

"I can scarcely hope the villains--"

"Softly, lady, softly! do not be harsh!" said Harwell, entering the
apartment in which Emily was, and which was the only one the cabin
contained.

"Mr. Maxwell," said Emily, rising, "if you have any mercy, or pity for
my misfortunes, let me be left alone."

"I would not injure you, Miss Dumont," replied Maxwell, in a gentle
tone. "I would see you in safety at your destination. Mr. Vernon has
been two hours absent, in search of a carriage."

"A carriage! For what?"

"To convey you to a steamboat-landing."

"Bless your heart, sir! you needn't go a step for that. My Jerry will
hail the very next one that passes the wood-yard," suggested the old
lady.

"Silence, old woman!" said Maxwell, sternly, for he feared the dame
would increase Emily's distrust of him.

"Don't old-woman me, you puppy! I know what's what!" responded the dame,
sharply, for her temper was not exactly angelic; "it's my opinion you
don't mean this lady any good. Let me tell you, aforehand, you can't cut
any of your didoes here!"

"Silence, woman! when I need your help I will ask it. I propose, Miss
Dumont, to convey you to Vicksburg, where you can be comfortably
accommodated until a steamer arrives which will take you to Cincinnati.
It may be several days, you are aware."

"Several days!" exclaimed the mistress of the cabin; "who ever heerd of
such a thing! There'll be one along afore the day is out."

"For Cincinnati?" sneered Maxwell, who found the old woman's tongue a
very formidable weapon.

"I dare say there will," responded the dame.

"It is extremely uncertain, Miss Dumont. We came in the last one, and it
is scarcely possible, at this season, another followed immediately. But
here is the carriage."

"Mr. Maxwell, I shall positively refuse to accompany you," said Emily,
in a most decided tone. "This good woman, I doubt not, will accommodate
me."

"That I will," promptly responded the dame.

"I am sorry, Miss Dumont, I cannot, in this instance, yield to your
wishes. I must insist on your company to Vicksburg," said Maxwell,
striving, by a supercilious manner, to keep down his angry passions.

"By what right, sir, do you _insist_ upon it? I was not aware that you
were invested with any legal control over me."

"Then you are mistaken. I act upon undoubted authority."

"Indeed, sir, are you my guardian?" said Emily, shuddering at the
thought of the will.

"Not technically a guardian. My authority is a little more definite."

"I do not understand you, sir."

"It is immaterial. Perhaps you had better go with me peaceably,
however," said Maxwell, with a carelessness foreign to his feelings.

"That, sir, I never will do alive!" replied Emily, surmising the nature
of the attorney's assumed authority. "Mr. Maxwell, you have taught me to
believe that you are a hardened villain, and I _command_ you, leave my
presence!"

The indignation of Emily was roused, and she spoke with a flashing eye,
and with an imperativeness which her wrongs alone could have called to
her aid.

"That was very prettily done, lady; but I cannot obey. It is useless to
multiply words. You _must_ go with me;" and Maxwell extended his hand.

Emily recoiled from the proffered hand; her brow lowered, and her lips
compressed. She regarded him with a look of ineffable scorn,--a look
before which even Maxwell, penetrated, as he was, with evil purposes,
quailed.

"Go along, now, about your business, and don't bother the lady any
more!" said the old woman, taking advantage of the momentary silence.

"Miss Dumont, I once more ask you to go with me peaceably," said
Maxwell, not heeding the dame's remark.

"And once more I answer, _I will not_!"

"I should be sorry to use compulsion. Do you forget your condition?"

"I do not," replied Emily, with a tremor, but without the loss of her
self-possession. "I am of the best blood of Louisiana."

"But still a _slave!_"

"Good gracious!" exclaimed the hostess.

"I am _not_ a slave! You know this is the plot of a villain like
yourself. The true will has been found."

"Indeed! Is it here?" said Maxwell, with a sneer, for while he had Emily
in his power he feared nothing.

"No; but it shall be brought forth in due season."

"Until which time you are a slave; and not only a slave, but _my_
slave," replied Maxwell, with perfect coolness, as he drew from his
pocket-book the forged bill of sale.

"Great God, desert me not in this hour of my afflictions!" groaned
Emily. This last revelation entirely unnerved her, and exposed in a more
terrible light her appalling position. She doubted not the paper she saw
in Maxwell's hands was a bill of sale of her person, and that it would
establish his claim; for his present purposes seemed too flagrant to be
pursued without good authority. Her features, dress and language, she
felt, would be no safeguards. She had seen slave-girls as fair and white
as herself. She had heard of those who, with scarcely a drop of negro
blood in their veins, were educated to pander to the appetite of
depravity. She had seen them in the streets of New Orleans, in no manner
differing in appearance from, the best-born ladies. Her situation,
then, was an awful one.

"Will you read this paper?" continued Maxwell.

"No; like the will, it is a forgery!" replied Emily, determined to die
rather than yield herself to the guidance of the attorney.

"It gives me an undeniable right to your person, and you must obey me.
The carriage waits in the road."

"Mr. Maxwell, if you have a particle of honor left, or if even a shadow
of pity rests in your heart, leave me, and finish your despicable
persecution!" said Emily, in a pleading tone.

"I have both honor and pity; but I cannot abandon my purpose. You
refused to trust to my honor, refused to receive the offered hand, which
would lead you back to the home you have left. I would fain have averted
the calamity you are madly courting; but you would not. I humbly prayed
to be allowed to step between you and your uncle's avarice; but you
would not. I would willingly have prevented the accomplishment of your
uncle's plans; but--"

"Then you own that it is a plot?"

"I acknowledge nothing."

"But you know it is a base trick?"

"It is not for me to say. The law will be satisfied. I have offered to
do all I could for you, and you have refused. You appeal to my pity.
Pity! did you pity me when I would have been your willing slave,--when I
pleaded for the hope you have ruthlessly crushed?"

"I did pity you; but I could not help you. I could not then, and I
cannot now, give my hand where my heart is uninterested. I feared you
then, as I despise you now. Report said your character was not entirely
free from stain, and you are now striving to demonstrate the truth of
the rumors," said Emily, whose contempt would not be concealed.

"Report may have belied me," replied Maxwell, struggling with his
violent passions. "But we are wasting time. Proceed with me to
Vicksburg, and I pledge you my honor you shall not be injured or
insulted."

"Your honor!" said Emily, bitterly. "It is but a poor dependence for an
unprotected female."

"Gently, Miss Dumont! Do not rouse the demon within me by such taunts."

"I fear the worst demon of your nature is already in the ascendency."

"Enough! Will you go, or will you not?" said Maxwell, impatiently.

"I will not!"

"Then I must claim you as my slave,--do not start!--and _compel_ you."

"Bond or free, I will not stir from beneath this roof with you," replied
Emily, with calm resolution. All hope, if she had cherished any, was
gone. Silently she breathed a prayer for strength and meekness to endure
all; for fortitude to enable her to struggle till death with the
oppression of her enemy; and for courage to meet any emergency in which
her lot might be cast.

"It must be done! I will hesitate no longer!" said Maxwell, seizing
Emily by the arm.

"Look here, you varmint, that won't do here!" exclaimed the mistress of
the house, who, much against her inclination, had remained silent during
the past fifteen minutes. "It shan't be said that Jerry Swinger's ruff
couldn't protect a stranger."

"But, woman, she is my property," answered Maxwell, not a little
intimidated by the ferocious aspect of the matron.

"Do not believe him, good woman, do not believe him!" exclaimed Emily,
as she saw the woman was a little staggered by the attorney's claim.

"No, ma'am, I won't believe him," responded Mrs. Swinger, as her heart
triumphed over the argument of the lawyer.

"It matters little whether you believe me or not. Here is the bill of
sale, and, in the name of the law, I take what is mine."

The hostess was not a little perplexed by the document, and Emily
observed, with terror, that she wavered in her purpose.

"It is a gross forgery!" exclaimed Emily, with a glance of earnest
pleading, which the rough but kind-hearted woman could not resist.

"I don't care nothin' about your bill of sale! The gal is safe," said
Mrs. Swinger, with emphasis.

Maxwell, resolving to execute his design, again seized Emily by the arm,
and was on the point of hurrying her out of the cabin.

Mrs. Swinger was a stout, masculine woman, brought up in the woods, and
never fainted in her life, even in presence of an alligator or a
panther. So she had no scruples in seizing Mr. Maxwell by the nape of
the neck, and giving him a kind of double twist, which sent him reeling
into the corner of the cabin.

"I'll teach you to put your hands upon an onprotected female, you
varmint, you!" said she, and, going to the door, she screamed "Jerry"
three times, with a voice that would have done honor to a Stentor.

"Now, stranger," said she, elevating her tall form to its full height,
and, with a gesture like a queen of the Amazons, pointing to the door,
"take yourself off, or my Jerry will tote you down to the river, and
drown you like a kitten!"

Mrs. Swinger's arm fell like a tragic heroine's, and she stood proudly
contemplating the object of her wrath, perhaps hoping the attorney would
await the arrival of "her Jerry," in whose prowess she seemed to place
unlimited confidence.

Vernon, who was waiting near the vehicle he had procured, heard the loud
and angry words of the excited dame, and now approached the house to
ascertain the cause of the confusion. This redoubtable worthy had
received the reward of his villany, and considered the deed
accomplished; but he had no objection to a little excitement. A fight
was his element, and he never let slip an opportunity to join in one.

The worthy Jerry Swinger; the good woman's beau ideal of a man, reached
the cabin at the moment Vernon entered.

Maxwell had now the alternative of abandoning his coveted prize, or of
fighting for it. The first he would not do; and the second, with the
wound he had received in the duel, was not an easy matter. The latter,
however, he determined upon. Drawing from his pocket a revolver, he
again approached Emily.

"What's all this about?" said Jerry, as he entered the cabin.

"Save me, sir,--save me from these villains!" exclaimed Emily, whose
piteous accents penetrated the heart of the honest woodman.

"That I will, ma'am. Why, you infarnal, sneakin' whelp of an alligator,
whar's your conscience? But you've run agin a snag, and you shan't make
another bend, this trip; so sheer off! Suke, jest fotch out my rifle,
thar."

Mrs. Swinger, before the assailants could prevent it, unhung the rifle,
and was about to present it to her husband, when Maxwell pointed his
pistol at her, and said, "Move another inch, woman, and I will fire!"

"Look here, stranger," said Jerry, approaching the attorney, "if you
touch that trigger, I'll pull your heart out!"

Vernon saw that his time had come, and, grappling with the woodman, they
both fell upon the mud floor of the cabin.

Maxwell, his pistol still pointed at the woman, advanced a step, with
the intention of taking the rifle from her. Mrs. Swinger, perceiving his
purpose, elevated the rifle to her shoulder as gracefully as the most
accomplished Kentuckian would have done, and fired. But her aim was bad;
the ball passed through the attorney's hat. It came near enough,
however, to rouse his passion, and, without a moment's deliberation,
which might have saved him the reproach of shooting a woman, he fired.
His aim, better than his feminine opponent's had been, sent the ball
through her side, and she fell. Emily, filled with horror by the
sanguinary scene, sprung to Mrs. Swinger's aid, as she fell.

"Look here, you cussed villain," said Jerry Swinger, who, in the
struggle, had got his antagonist under him, and had drawn from his
pocket a long clasp-knife, "if you stir an inch, I'll put this
blood-sucker through your shrivelled-up gizzard!"

Vernon attempted to rise, bowie-knife in hand, to the conflict. Jerry
Swinger was about to put his threat in execution, when Maxwell,
released, by the fall of the woman, from danger in that quarter, struck
him a heavy blow upon the head with the pistol in his hand. The woodman
sunk back, with a groan, and Vernon, rising from his fallen posture, was
about to plunge the knife to his heart, when a new actor appeared upon
the stage. The blade of Vernon was arrested in its deadly descent, and a
single blow from the fist of the new-comer laid the black-leg prostrate
by the side of the woodman. Maxwell was thrown off his guard by the
suddenness of the new assailant's movements, and, before he could raise
his pistol,--his only dependence,--it was wrested from him. The
new-comer threw the pistol down, and, seizing the attorney by the neck,
and applying a smart blow with the knee upon his back, he brought him to
the floor. Taking a cord which hung on the cabin wall, he bound the
fallen man hand and foot, and dragged him out of the cabin. Placing his
back against a tree, he lashed him firmly to its trunk. Leaving the
chop-fallen attorney to mature his plans, the conqueror returned to the
hut.

"O, Hatchie, Hatchie! you have again saved me!" exclaimed Emily, as she
saw her deliverer reënter. "Thank God! I am safe, though at what a
terrible sacrifice!"

She had, in her terror, obtained but a very imperfect idea of the
exciting scene which had transpired before her. When she saw Vernon
fall, and then Maxwell, she realized that she was safe. With an
effort,--for her excited nerves had taken away her strength,--she rose
from her position on the floor, by the side of her lifeless hostess. At
this moment Hatchie entered, and, with a heart full of gratitude, she
grasped his hand.

"O, Hatchie! what do I not owe you for this service!"

"I am so happy to serve you, Miss Emily!" replied Hatchie, rejoiced to
hear again his mistress' voice.

"You have been my best friend in this season of adversity. Without you,
I had been lost forever. But let us do what we may for these poor
people, who have, I fear, sacrificed their lives in my defence."

The inanimate form of Mrs. Swinger was placed upon the bed by Hatchie,
and, while Emily endeavored to ascertain the nature of her wound, the
mulatto examined into Jerry's condition. The worthy woodman had only
been stunned by the blow, and Hatchie's vigorous application soon
restored him to consciousness. With the assistance of the mulatto, he
rose. Looking wildly around him, he discovered the form of Vernon upon
the floor. This seemed to recall his recollection of the events of the
hour.

"Whar's Suke?" said he.

Then perceiving her outstretched form upon the bed, he calmly, but very
sorrowfully, asked, "Is she dead?"

"No, thank God! she is not dead; but I fear she is badly injured,"
replied Emily, who was still bending over the sufferer.

The woodman approached the bed-side, and, observing the faint breathing
which gently heaved her chest, he seemed comforted.

"Whar's the wound?" asked he, in a melancholy tone.

"In her side," replied Emily; "the bullet seems to have penetrated the
region below the heart."

"Poor gal! I'm feered it's all up with her. She has been a good woman to
me."

"I am afraid my visit to your house will prove a sad day to you, even if
she recovers," said Emily, in a sad tone.

"No, stranger, no! Suke would have died any day to save a neighbor from
misery;" and the woodman's eyes filled with tears at the remembrance of
his humble companion's virtues.

"But let us hope for the best. Is there a physician in the vicinity?"

"Ay, stranger, there is one that sometimes helps the poor folks about
here."

"Then, Hatchie, you can go for him."

"Stop a little! The doctor is an oncommon strange man, and lives on an
island down the bend."

"I will go for him," said Hatchie.

"I dar say; but whar you gwine? that's the pint. Nobody can find the way
that warn't there before. My son, Jim, will soon be here."

"But we must be as speedy as possible," suggested Emily.

The arrival of the woodman's son terminated the difficulty. It was
arranged that Hatchie should go with him, to assist in rowing back.

As they were about to depart, Vernon showed signs of returning life, and
Hatchie conveyed him to an out-building till a more convenient season,
and then dismissed the negro and his vehicle, which had been brought to
convey Emily to Vicksburg.



CHAPTER XVI.

     "Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell;
       Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave;
     Then some leaped overboard with dreadful yell,
       As eager to anticipate their grave."  BYRON.


We left the Chalmetta in a situation which demands explanation.

Emily retired to her state-room on that dreadful night entirely relieved
from the distressing anticipations which had before oppressed her. Her
name and her home were virtually restored to her. The foul stain upon
the honor of her father had been removed. Doubt and fear scarcely
disturbed her; the battle yet to be fought seemed but a trifle. Maxwell
had said her uncle was left at a wood-yard. This was strange. It looked
not like an accident, but the doing of the wily attorney; and perhaps
Jaspar had voluntarily withdrawn; perhaps her uncle had made _her_ the
reward of Maxwell's silence. But these reflections were now robbed of
their bitterness. She felt that in Henry Carroll she had a sufficient
protection.

She retired to her state-room with a light heart, and even Maxwell's
villanous designs were forgotten as she revelled in the bright hopes
before her. She knew nothing of the foul plot which had been concocted
for her abduction. She knew not that Henry Carroll was then watching
over her. In blissful ignorance of the danger that hovered near her, she
sunk into the quiet sleep of innocence.

After midnight her slumbers were disturbed by the unusual creaking of
the boat, and the hasty puffs of steam from the escape-pipes. She
awoke, and was at once sensible of the immense pressure to which the
boilers were subjected. Awhile she lay and listened to the ominous
sounds which indicated the danger of the boat; then, much alarmed, she
rose and dressed herself. For nearly an hour she sat in the darkness of
the room, during which time the danger seemed momentarily to increase,
until, no longer able to endure such agonizing suspense, she was about
to leave the room. At this moment Vernon was about to enter, when the
explosion took place.

The forward part of the Chalmetta was completely torn in pieces. The
gentlemen's cabin was lifted from its supports, and torn into fragments.
The unfortunate occupants of berths in this part of the boat were either
instantly killed or severely wounded. The ladies' cabin, being at a
greater distance from the immediate scene of the explosion, had not
suffered so severely. Although torn from its position, and shattered by
the shock, it had proved fatal to but a few of its occupants, who had
been crushed by falling timbers. The hull of the boat was not injured by
the explosion, but before those who had escaped a sudden death could
recover their disordered faculties, the flames began to ascend from the
wreck of the cabin, which had been precipitated upon the furnaces.

The scene surpassed description. The groans of the wounded and scalded,
the shrieks of those who were on the boat, expecting every moment to be
carried down in her, mingled in wild confusion on the midnight air.
Fortunately the passengers were mostly soldiers, accustomed to scenes of
horror, who immediately turned their attention to the extinguishing of
the flames. The Flatfoot, No. 3, approached within a short distance of
the wreck, and a line was passed from her to the bow of the Chalmetta.
Her passengers and crew were humanely assisting in rescuing those who
had jumped or been thrown overboard in the disaster.

By the aid of a fire-engine on board of the Flatfoot, which had
approached near enough to render it available, the flames were
extinguished. It was ascertained that the Chalmetta had received no
serious damage in her hull; and as all the survivors had been picked up,
the Flatfoot took her in tow, and proceeded up the river.

Emily had been stunned by the explosion, and ere she could recover,
Vernon, with a strong arm, bore her to the main deck. The boat was
lowered into the water, and, before the passengers, or the petrified
watch in the hold, could regain their self-possession, it was impelled
by the strong arm of Vernon, and the ruffian who had been hired for the
purpose, far astern of the wreck.

The main deck was enveloped in clouds of steam, so that, when Vernon had
handed Emily down, the movement could not be seen by Hatchie and his
friends in the hold. In another instant the wreck of the cabins came
tumbling down.

Hatchie, understanding at once the nature of the calamity, made his way,
as well as he was able, through the shattered ruins to the stern, where
he discovered that the boat was gone. The flames from the forward part
of the boat now enabled him to discover the abductors of Emily rowing
down the river. Leaping into the water, he seized a door, which was
floating near him, and thus enabled to sustain himself with tolerable
ease, he swam after them.

Emily, on recovering from the shock, found herself reclining on the
shoulder of a man in an open boat. The first impulse of her pious heart
was to return thanks to the Almighty preserver that she had been rescued
from a terrible death. Her thoughts then turned to her deliverer, for
such she supposed was the person in the boat with her. Who was he? Was
it Henry Carroll? She hoped it was. She raised her head from the
position in which Maxwell had placed it, and endeavored to distinguish
his features; but the darkness defeated her wish.

"Fear nothing, lady; you are safe," said Maxwell.

The voice was like the knell of doom. It grated harshly upon her ears,
and gave rise to a thousand fears in her timid heart.

"Thank God, I am safe!" said she, after a pause.

"And I thank God I have been the means of preserving you," replied
Maxwell, willing to render the terrible calamity an accessory to his
crime.

"But why do you go this way?" asked Emily, as she saw the Flatfoot
approach the wreck.

"I only wish to convey you from the scene of danger."

"Then why not go to that steamer?"

"Probably she is by this time converted into a hospital for the
sufferers. I would not shock your delicate nerves with such a scene of
woe and misery as will be on board of her."

"May we not render some assistance?"

"No doubt there are more assistants than can labor to advantage now."

Emily was silent, but not satisfied. Her fears in some measure subsided,
when, about two miles below the scene of the disaster, Maxwell ordered
the boat to be put in at a wood-yard. The attorney was all gentleness,
and assisted her to the cabin of Jerry Swinger, the owner of the
wood-yard.

Hatchie had been able, by severe exertion, to keep within hearing of the
splashing oars. The current fortunately carried him near the wood-yard,
and, aided by the sounds he heard at the cabin, and by the boat which he
saw, he concluded the party had landed there. Letting go the door, a few
vigorous strokes brought him to the shore. Approaching the cabin, he
satisfied himself that his mistress had taken shelter there. Concealing
himself in the woods, he awaited with much anxiety the next movement of
the attorney. In the morning he heard the noise at the cabin, and had
been the means of saving his mistress from a calamity far more dreadful
than death itself.

On the evening of the day of the explosion, an elderly gentleman sat in
a private apartment of one of the principal hotels in Vicksburg,
attentively reading an "Extra," in which the particulars of the disaster
were detailed. He read, with little apparent interest, the account,
until he came to the names of "Saved, Killed, Wounded and Missing." An
expression of the deepest anxiety settled upon his countenance. He
finished reading the list of survivors, and a transient feeling of
satisfaction was visible on his face. When in the list of the "missing"
he read the name of "Miss Dumont, Antoine De Guy and Henry Carroll," a
smile as of glutted revenge and malignant hatred dispelled the cloud of
anxiety which had before brooded over his features. Throwing down the
sheet, he drank off a glass of brandy, which had been waiting his
pleasure on the table. The potion was not insignificant in quantity or
strength, and the wry face he made did not add to the amiability of his
expression. As the dose permeated his brain, and produced that agreeable
lightness which is the first phase of intoxication, he rubbed his hands
with childish delight, and half muttered an expression of pleasure.

Suddenly his countenance assumed its former lowering aspect, his brows
knit, and his lips compressed.

"Missing!" muttered he. "What the devil does _missing_ mean? What can it
mean but dead, defunct, gone to a better world, as the canting
hypocrites say?"

But we will not attempt to record the muttered soliloquy of the
gentleman,--Jaspar Dumont, who had reached Vicksburg that day, from the
wood-yard where we left him. It was too profane, too sacrilegious, to
stain our page.

Grasping the bell-rope with a sudden energy, as though a new thought had
struck him, he gave it a violent pull, which brought to his presence a
black waiter.

"Has the Dragon returned?" asked Jaspar.

"Yes, sar, jus got in, Massa."

"Is there any person in the house who went up in her?"

"Yes, massa, one gemman in de office."

"Who is he?"

"Massa--massa--" and the darkey scratched his head, to stimulate his
memory, which act instantly brought the name to his mind.

"Massa _Lousey_."

"Mister what, you black scoundrel!"

"Yes, sar,--Massa Lousey; dat's de name."

"Lousey?" repeated Jaspar.

"Stop bit," said the waiter, a new idea penetrating his cranium. "Dar
Lousey, dat's de name, for sartin."

"Dalhousie," responded Jaspar. "Give my compliments to Mr. Dalhousie,
and ask him to oblige me with a few moments' conversation in this room."

"Yes, sar;" and the waiter retired, muttering, "Dar Lousey."

The Dragon was a small steamer, which had been sent, on the intelligence
of a "blow up," to obtain the particulars for the press, and render
assistance to the survivors. Dalhousie was a transient visitor at the
hotel, and, with many others, had gone in the Dragon to gratify his
curiosity.

"Sorry to trouble you, sir," said Jaspar, as the gentleman entered the
apartment; "but I am much interested in the fate of several persons who
were passengers on board the Chalmetta."

"No trouble, Mr. Dumont, I am extremely happy to serve you," replied
Dalhousie, whose obsequious manners were ample evidence of his
sincerity.

"My niece was on board of her," continued Jaspar, "and I see her name in
the list of missing."

"Your _niece_!" replied Dalhousie, emphasizing the latter word. He had a
few days before come from New Orleans, and had there heard of the
startling developments in the Dumont family.

"No matter," returned Jaspar, sharply; "she went by the name of Dumont.
Did you find any bodies?"

"We picked up the remains of six men and two females."

"Can you describe the females? How were they dressed?" asked Jaspar, in
an excited manner.

"One was dressed in black. The other had on a common calico."

"But the one in black,--describe her,--her hair,--was she tall or
short?" interrupted Jaspar, hurriedly.

"Her hair was in curls. She was apparently about twenty-six or seven,
and rather short in stature."

"Curls," muttered Jaspar; "she has not worn curls since the colonel
died. She may have put them on again to please that infernal Captain
Carroll. Twenty-six years old, you think?"

"She may have been younger. Her features were terribly mangled," and Mr.
Dalhousie cast a penetrating glance at Jaspar, as though he would read
out the beatings of his black heart.

Jaspar considered again the description, and, though it did not
correspond to his niece's, his anxiety had contributed to warp his
judgment. He was very willing to believe the Chalmetta's fatal disaster
had forever removed the only obstacle to the gratification of his
ambition, and the only source of future insecurity. He paced the room,
muttering, in his abstraction, sundry broken phrases.

Dalhousie watched him, and endeavored to obtain the purport of his
disjointed soliloquy. A stranger, without some strong motive, could
scarcely have had so much interest in him as he appeared to have.

"Had she any jewels--ornaments of any kind?" asked Dalhousie, after the
silence had grown disagreeable to him.

"She had," replied Jaspar, stopping suddenly in his perambulation of the
room, and speaking with an eagerness which betrayed his anxiety to
obtain more evidence. "Were any found upon her person?"

"You are a man of honor, Mr. Dumont, and, if I disclose to you a
thoughtless indiscretion of my own, you will not, of course, expose
me?" said Dalhousie, with, hesitation, and apparent want of confidence.

"Of course not," replied Jaspar, impatiently. "What has this to do with
the matter?"

"Did your niece wear a ring?"

"Yes, a mourning ring."

"Do you know the ring? Could you identify it?"

"Certainly," replied Jaspar, who remembered having seen an ornament of
this description on the finger of Emily.

"Will you describe it to me, if you please?"

But Jaspar had reckoned without his host. The details of a piece of
jewelry were matters entirely foreign to his taste. However, he
succeeded in giving a description, which, from its general terms, might
have applied to one mourning ring as well as another.

"Is this the one?" asked Dalhousie, with an anxiety which he could
scarcely conceal, as he produced a ring.

"That _is_ it," replied Jaspar, confidently; and the jewel did bear some
resemblance to that worn by Emily.

"But where did you obtain this?"

"I must insist on the most inviolable secrecy."

"Certainly, certainly," said Jaspar, eagerly.

"I will disclose the particulars only on the condition that you pledge
yourself never to reveal my agency in the matter; for it would
compromise my character."

"Very well. I pledge you my honor," replied Jaspar, impatiently. "You
took it from the corpse of the lady in black."

"I did, and you must be aware that such an act would subject me to
inconvenience, if known."

"Don't be alarmed; your secret is safe."

"But are you sure this is the ring worn by your niece?"

"It looks like it;" but Jaspar was perplexed with a doubt. He bethought
himself that it was only in a casual glance he had observed Emily's
ring. He had never examined it, and, after all, this might not be the
one. There was certainly nothing strange in any lady dressed in black
wearing a mourning ring. Again he turned the ring over and over, and
scrutinized it closely. His finger touched a spring, and the plate flew
up, disclosing a small lock of gray hair, twined around the single
letter D.

"I will swear to it now," exclaimed Jaspar, in a tone which betrayed the
malicious joy he felt at the discovery. He was perfectly satisfied now
of the identity of the ring. It never occurred to him that D stood for
any other name than Dumont.

"This appears to be decisive evidence," replied Dalhousie. "Your
_niece_, then, must be the person brought down by the Dragon."

"Without doubt."

"As this matter, then, is settled to your satisfaction--"

"Sir!" exclaimed Jaspar.

"I beg your pardon," resumed Dalhousie, with a supercilious air; "I only
meant that your mind was satisfied--relieved from a painful anxiety."

"A very painful anxiety," replied Jaspar.

"I understand, sir, you own a large plantation."

"Well."

"Perhaps you need an overseer?"

Jaspar acknowledged that he did need an overseer.

"I should be happy to make an engagement with you," said the other, in
complaisant tones.

"I don't think you would suit me. You are too genteel, by half,"
returned Jaspar, bluntly.

"I have been in a better position, it is true. I was born in France, but
I understand the business."

"Did you ever manage a gang of niggers?"

After a little hesitation, Dalhousie replied that he had.

"We will talk of it some other time," said Jaspar, satisfied, from the
air and manner of the other, that his statement was false.

Dalhousie put on his hat, and, taking the mourning ring from the table,
was about to enfold it in a bit of paper.

"What are you about, sir?" exclaimed Jaspar, as he witnessed the act.

"The ring is my property, is it not?" said Dalhousie.

"Put it down, or, by heavens, I will expose your rascality in taking
it!"

"Do not be hasty, sir. I have not studied your looks, the last hour,
without profiting by them."

"What do you mean by that?" said Jaspar, a little startled.

"I mean that the death of your niece does not seem to be received with
that degree of sorrow which an uncle would naturally feel."

"_Fool_! she was not my niece!"

"Why are you so anxious to establish her decease?"

"Was I anxious?" said Jaspar, not knowing how far he might have betrayed
himself.

"Quite enough so to convince even the most indifferent observer that you
were extremely rejoiced at the event," replied Dalhousie, willing to
make out a strong case.

Jaspar did not reply, and it was plain Dalhousie's remarks had had their
effect.

"But, Mr. Dumont, I flatter myself I am a man of discretion. As you were
saying, you need an overseer," said Dalhousie, with a glance at Jaspar,
which conveyed more meaning than his words.

The glance was irresistible, and Jaspar engaged him at a liberal salary,
as well as his wife, who was to be the housekeeper at Bellevue.
Dalhousie was a needy man. His fortunes were on the descending scale.
Born in France, he had emigrated to this country, with the chimerical
hope of speedily making a fortune. He could not build up the coveted
temple stone by stone, but wished it to rise like a fairy castle. With
such views, he had wandered about the country with his wife (whom he had
married since his arrival), in search of the philosopher's stone. He
had several times engaged in subordinate capacities, but his impatient
hopes would not brook the distance between him and the goal. He had been
to New Orleans, but the city was almost deserted. On his arrival at
Vicksburg, Jaspar had been pointed out to him as a person who could
probably favor his wishes, and he had obtained an introduction to him.

Jaspar's thoughts and feelings he read. He discovered the nature of the
relations between the uncle and niece,--which required but little
sagacity, under the circumstances. Determined to profit by the knowledge
he had obtained, his first step was to satisfy Jaspar of the death of
Emily, of whom, in reality, he knew nothing. The initial letter of his
wife's name in the ring had suggested the means, and he had convinced
Jaspar as related. How Dalhousie's sense of moral rectitude would allow
him to use the deception, we will not say; but he seemed to tolerate the
idea that the great purpose he had in view would justify any little
peccadilloes he might commit in obtaining it.

He had gained his end, and taken the first step in the great road to
fortune; and he doubted not his future relations with Jaspar would
suggest a second.

The body of the deceased lady was claimed by Dalhousie, in behalf of
Jaspar, and interred in Vicksburg.

In company with the new overseer and his wife, Jaspar returned the next
day to Bellevue.



CHAPTER XVII.

     "Say quick! quoth he; I bid thee say,
     What manner of man art thou?

     "Forthwith, this frame of mine was wrenched
     With a woful agony,
     Which forced me to begin my tale;
     And then it left me free."  ANCIENT MARINER.


The morning advanced, and Henry Carroll, under the influence of the
powerful opiate, still slept. By his side sat the misanthropic
physician, who seemed to have learned a lesson of the dealing of the
Creator with the creature such as he had never before acquired. He had
rescued a fellow-creature from sure death, and the act seemed a part of
the great duties of life which he had so long neglected. He reflected
upon the numerous opportunities of doing good to his fellow-men from
which his hermit-life debarred him. Again he thought of his daughter.
Her image rose before him in the darkened chamber of the sick man, and
seemed to reproach him for his want of faithfulness to her. The incident
and reflections of the previous night had strangely influenced his mind,
and changed the whole current of his impulses and hopes. The solitude of
his lonely island no longer seemed desirable. The world, with all its
vanities and vexations, was the true sphere of life.

The arrival of Jim now summoned him to the relief of Mrs. Swinger.
Calling in the old negro, he gave him some directions in case the
patient should awake, and, taking his case of surgical instruments, he
proceeded to the landing. Unmooring the sail-boat, he took the two
messengers on board, with their boat in tow. The wind was still fresh,
and the yacht, with all her sails spread, bore the doctor rapidly on his
errand of mercy. A strange impulse seemed to animate him,--an impulse of
genuine, heart-felt sympathy towards the whole human family,--a feeling
to which he had before been a stranger. His profession seemed to him now
a boon of mercy to the suffering, and he saw how poorly he had performed
his mission to the world. He felt a pleasure he had never before
experienced, in being able to relieve the distressed, to heal the
wounded heart, as well as the bruised limb.

Under the skilful pilotage of Dr. Vaudelier the more rapid currents were
avoided, the boat pressed to her utmost speed; and in a short time the
party landed at the wood-yard of Jerry Swinger.

During the absence of the messengers Emily, by the most assiduous
attentions, had succeeded in restoring the wounded woman to a state of
partial consciousness. The arrival of the doctor increased her hopes of
a speedy restoration. The rough woodman, who had patiently watched Emily
as she labored over his beloved partner, was melted into tears of joy
when he heard her faintly articulate his name.

After a thorough examination of the wound, the doctor announced the
gratifying intelligence that the woman was not dangerously wounded. The
severe operation of extracting the ball was performed, and the patient
left to the quiet her situation demanded.

On the passage from Cottage Island Hatchie had related the particulars
of the affray, so that on his arrival Dr. Vaudelier was in possession of
all the facts.

"You have had a severe fight here, madam," said he to Emily, who had
followed him out to inquire more particularly into the situation of her
hostess.

"We have, indeed; but I trust no lives will be lost," replied Emily.

"No; the woman will do very well. The wound is a severe one, but not
dangerous. Her strong constitution will resist all fatal consequences."

"I trust it may, for this has been a day of disaster, without the loss
of more life."

"You were a passenger in the Chalmetta?"

"I was."

"Then you have had a narrow escape."

"But a more narrow one since the explosion. Thank Heaven, I have been
preserved from both calamities!"

"Had you no friends on board?"

"I had--one friend;" and she hesitated. "I fear he has perished."

"Hope for the best!" replied the doctor, kindly.

The blush, and then the change to the paleness of death, as Emily
thought of Henry, first as the lover, and then as a mangled corpse had
not escaped the notice of Dr. Vaudelier. He read in her varying color
the relation they had sustained to each other.

"I have no alternative but hope," said Emily; "but it seems like hoping
against the certainty of evil."

"I saved the life of a gentleman this morning who must shortly have
perished without aid. He, too, had lost a dear friend."

"Indeed!" said Emily, with interest.

"Yes; but he was much injured, and will require the most diligent care."

"I trust your merciful endeavors will be crowned with success. Do you
know the gentleman?"

"I do not. He has not yet been able to converse much. He was dressed in
the uniform of an officer."

"An officer! Perhaps it is he!" exclaimed Emily.

Dr. Vaudelier was much interested in the adventure, and the pale,
anxious features of Emily excited his sympathy for her.

"As I dressed his wounds," said he, "I noticed the initials upon his
linen. Perhaps these may afford some clue."

"What were they?" exclaimed Emily, scarcely able to articulate, in the
intensity of her feelings.

"H.C."

"It is he! It is he! And you say he is wounded?"

"I am sorry to say he is."

"Can I go to him?" said Emily, grasping the doctor's arm.

"I fear your presence will excite him. Are you a relative?"

"No, not a relative," replied Emily, blushing; "but I know he would like
to see me."

"I do not doubt it," said the doctor, with a smile,--a luxury in which
he rarely indulged. "I am afraid your presence will agitate him."

"Let me watch over him while he sleeps. He need not know I am near."

"Rather difficult to manage, but you shall see him. Will you return with
me?"

"Thank you, I will. But poor Mrs. Swinger!" and a shade of anxiety
crossed her features, as she thought of leaving her kind hostess in
affliction.

"Her husband is a good nurse, and understands her case better than you
do. If I mistake not, your services will be full as acceptable at my
cottage."

Dr. Vaudelier tried to smile at this sally; but the effort was too much
for him, and he sank under it.

Emily, though sorry to leave her protectress, was drawn by the
irresistible magnetism of affection to Cottage Island. She compromised
between the opposing demands of duty by promising herself that she would
again visit the wood-yard.

She embarked with Dr. Vaudelier, and they were soon gliding down the
mighty river on their way to Cottage Island. Emily had wished Hatchie to
accompany her, as much for his safety as for her own; but the faithful
fellow desired to stay at the wood-yard. They had before had an
interview in relation to the will. Uncle Nathan, who had been made the
custodian of it, had not been seen or heard from, and her case again
seemed to be desperate. Hatchie assured her of his safety, and of his
good faith. He had left him in the hold, and, with common prudence, the
worthy farmer might have made his escape unharmed. Emily, who now
regarded her devoted servant in the light of a guardian angel, had
entire confidence in his reasoning and conclusions. Of Hatchie's motive
in remaining at the wood-yard she had no conception. If she had had, she
would probably have insisted on his attendance.

After the departure of Dr. Vaudelier and Emily, Hatchie went to the
cabin, and took therefrom a carpet-bag belonging to Maxwell,--an article
which, even in the hurry of his exit from the steamer, he had not
omitted to take. With this in his hand, he proceeded to the
out-building, to satisfy himself of the security of his prisoners; but
Vernon had fled,--the wooden door of the shed had not been proof against
his art. Hatchie was not disconcerted by this incident. Vernon, he was
aware, was only a subordinate, who did his evil deeds for hire, and
against him he bore no ill will. But it immediately occurred to him that
the ruffian might have liberated Maxwell, and this would have utterly
deranged his present plans. Taking from the shed a long rope, he
proceeded to the other side of the cabin, where he had secured the
attorney to the tree. To his great satisfaction he found the prisoner
secure. Vernon did not see him, or was too intent on his own safety to
bestow a thought upon his late employer.

Hatchie reached the scene of Maxwell's humiliation. Coolly seating
himself on a log near the discomfited lawyer, and regarding him with a
look of contempt, he proceeded to examine the fastenings of the
carpet-bag. Maxwell spoke not; his pride was still "above par," and he
returned Hatchie's contemptuous glances with a scowl of scorn and
hatred. The attorney was in sore tribulation at the unexpected turn
affairs had taken, and the future did not present a very encouraging
aspect. Of the mulatto'a present intentions he could gain no idea. The
long rope he had brought with him looked ominous, and a shudder passed
through his frame as he considered the uses to which it might be
applied. As he regarded the cool proceedings of his jailer, the worst
anticipations crowded upon him. The mulatto looked like a demon of the
inquisition to his guilty soul. But, tortured as he was by the most
terrible forebodings, he still preserved his dignified scowl, and
watched the operations of Hatchie with apparent coolness.

Hatchie examined the lock upon the carpet-bag, and found that it
entirely secured the contents from observation.

"I will trouble you for the key of this bag," said he, politely, as he
rose and approached the attorney.

"What mean you, fellow? Would you rob me?" exclaimed Maxwell.

"Not at all, sir; do not alarm yourself. The key, if you please. In
which pocket is it?"

Hatchie approached, with the intention of searching his prisoner.

"Stand off, villain!" cried Maxwell, as he gave the mulatto a hearty
kick in the neighborhood of the knee.

"Very well, sir," said Hatchie, not at all disconcerted by the blow.

Taking the rope he had brought, he dexterously passed it round the legs
of the attorney, and made it fast to the tree.

"Now, sir, if you will tell which pocket contains the key, you will save
yourself the indignity of being searched."

"Miserable villain! if you wish to commit violence upon me, you must do
it without my consent."

"Sorry to disoblige you, sir," said Hatchie, with an affectation of
civility; "but I must have the key."

"I have not the key; it is lost. If I had, you should struggle for it."

"You will pardon me for doubting your word. I must satisfy myself."

"Help! help!" shouted the attorney, as his tormentor proceeded to put
his threat in execution.

This was a contingency for which Hatchie was not prepared. To the little
operation he was about to perform he desired no witnesses at present,
and a slight rustling in the bushes near him not a little disconcerted
him. Stuffing a handkerchief into the attorney's mouth, he waited for
the intruder upon his pastime; but no one came, and he proceeded to
search the pockets of the lawyer. To his great disappointment, the key
could not be found.

Hatchie was persuaded that this carpet-bag must contain some evidence
which would be of service to his mistress, in case Uncle Nathan and the
will should not come to light. There were two acts to the drama he
intended to perform on the present occasion; the first, alone with the
attorney,--and the last, in the presence of witnesses. Deferring,
therefore, the opening of the bag to the second act, he proceeded with
the first.

"Now, Mr. Maxwell," said he, "as you have given me encouragement that
you _can_ tell the truth, I have a few questions to put to you."

"I will answer no questions," replied Maxwell, sullenly.

He saw that the mulatto would have it all his own way; and he felt a
desire to conciliate him, but his pride forbade. He felt very much as a
lion would feel in the power of a mouse, if such a thing could be.

"Please to consider, sir. You are entirely in my power."

"No matter; do with me as you please,--I will answer no questions."

"Think of it; and be assured I will do my best to _compel_ an answer. If
I do not succeed, you will be food for the buzzards before yonder sun
sets."

"What, fellow! would you murder me?" exclaimed Maxwell, in alarm.

"I would not; if you compel me to use violence, the consequences be upon
your own head. Will you answer me?"

Maxwell hesitated. The dreadful thought of being murdered in cold blood
presented itself on the one hand, and the scarcely less disagreeable
thought of exposing his crimes, on the other. The loss of reputation,
his prospective fall in society, were not less terrible than death
itself. Resolving to trust in his good fortune for the result, he firmly
refused to answer.

Hatchie now took the rope, and having cut off a portion from one end,
with which he fastened together the legs of his prisoner, he ascended
the tree with an end in his hand. Passing the rope over a smooth branch
about fifteen feet from the ground, he descended and made a slip-noose
in one end. Heedless of the remonstrances of the victim, he fastened it
securely to his neck.

Seating himself again on the log, with the other end of the rope in his
hand, he looked sternly upon the attorney, and said,

"Now, sir, I put the question again. Will you answer me?"

"Never!" said Maxwell, in desperation.

"Very well, then; if you have any prayers to say, say them now; your
time is short."

"Fool! villain! murderer! I have no prayers to say. I am not a
drivelling idiot, or fanatic; I can die like a man."

"You had better reconsider your determination."

"No, craven! woolly-headed coward! I will not flinch. Do you think to
_drive_ a gentleman into submission?"

"Be calm, Mr. Maxwell; do not waste your last moments in idle
invectives. The time were better spent in penitence and prayer."

"Pshaw! go on, if you dare, with your murderous work!"

Hatchie now unloosed the cords which secured the attorney to the tree,
and he stood bound hand and foot beneath the branch over which the line
was passed. Seizing the end of the rope, the mulatto pulled it gently at
first, but gradually increasing the pressure upon the prisoner's throat,
as if to give him a satisfactory foretaste of the hanging sensation.
This slow torture was too much for the attorney's fortitude; and, as his
respiration grew painful, he called to his executioner to stop. Hatchie
promptly loosened the rope.

After giving the victim time to recover from the choking sensation, the
mulatto repeated his question.

The fear of an ignominious death, of dying under such revolting
circumstances, had a cooling effect upon the bravado spirit of the
lawyer. His pride had received a most salutary shock, and he felt
disposed to treat for his life, even with the despised slave of Miss
Dumont. Had his tormentor been any other than one of that detested race,
he could easily have regarded him as a man and conceded something for
the boon of life. Reduced to the last extremity by the relentless energy
of his victor, he had no choice but to yield the point or die.

"Will you answer my questions?" repeated Hatchie, sternly.

"What would you have me answer?" replied Maxwell, doggedly.

"Did you forge the will by which my mistress is deprived of her rights?"

"No."

"Do you know who did?"

Maxwell hesitated, and Hatchie again pulled the rope till his face was
crimson.

"Who forged the will?" repeated Hatchie, slackening the rope.

"I did not," replied Maxwell, as soon as he could regain breath enough
to speak.

"Who did?"

"I know not."

[Illustration: Hatchie forcing secrets from Maxwell. Page 178]

Hatchie pulled the rope again.

"Your master--"

"I have no master. Miss Emily is my mistress."

"I have been told his name was De Guy."

"Who is De Guy?"

"A lawyer of New Orleans."

"And what agency had you in the affair?"

"None whatever."

"Then Mr. Dumont and De Guy are the only persons concerned in the
transaction?"

"Yes."

"You are positive?"

"Yes."

"Then, how comes it, Mr. Maxwell, that they have intrusted you with
their secret? How came you by this knowledge?" said Hatchie, fiercely,
as he prepared, apparently, to swing up the attorney.

Maxwell was staggered by this question, and Hatchie perceived his
discomfiture. That Maxwell had any agency in the transaction he only
suspected; certainly it was not he whom he had seen with Jaspar on the
night of his escape from Bellevue. There was much evidence for and much
against him.

Maxwell, unwilling to criminate himself, was in a sad dilemma; his ready
wits alone could save him. But his hesitation procured him another
instant of suffocation.

"I obtained the knowledge from De Guy," said he, at last.

"How! did he voluntarily betray the confidence of his employer?"

"No, from his inquiries concerning the affairs of the family, I
suspected something; when the will was read my impressions were
confirmed. I charged him with the crime."

"Did he acknowledge it?"

"He did."

"Then why did you not expose the plot?"

"It did not suit my purpose."

"What was your purpose?"

"To marry Miss Dumont."

The attorney's answers seemed plausible. His actions were in conformity
with his avowed purpose. If he wished to marry his mistress, he would
not have joined in the plot. But the bill of sale, which Emily had
mentioned to him, was against him. Poor Hatchie was no lawyer, and was
sadly perplexed by the conflicting testimony.

"Where did you get that bill of sale?" said he.

Again the attorney hesitated, and again Hatchie pulled the rope till he
was ready to answer.

"Is it a forgery?" said Hatchie, slackening the rope.

"Probably it is," replied Maxwell.

"Who wrote it?"

"De Guy."

"This De Guy is a most consummate villain, and shall yet be brought to
justice. But how came it in your possession?"

"I received it from De Guy, as the agent of Mr. Dumont. In fine, I
_bought_ the girl," said Maxwell, maliciously.

Hatchie's temper had nearly got the better of him, for he made a spring
on the rope, which threatened death to the attorney. But his judgment
overcame his passion, and he again turned his attention to the great
object before him.

"Now, Mr. Maxwell, as you are a lawyer," said Hatchie, "you are aware of
the disadvantages I shall labor under in making the evidence you have
furnished me available."

"I am," replied the attorney. "Do you think I would have yielded to you,
if I had not known it?"

"Have you told me the truth in these statements?" asked Hatchie.

The attorney hesitated; but a sharp twinge at the neck compelled him to
say that he had.

"Then I shall be obliged to trouble you to repeat some of your
revelations. Now, mark me, Mr. Maxwell; I am going to procure the
woodman and his son, to witness your statements."

"Fool! what avail will they be, extorted with a rope about my neck?"

"Perhaps we may be able to show you some law such as you never read in
your books. If, as I suspect, this carpet-bag contains papers, I doubt
not we shall find something to confirm your evidence."

The face of the lawyer grew a shade paler; but he spoke not.

"Before I go, let me charge you, at your peril, not to be obstinate; for
here I solemnly assure you that you shall swing by the branch above you,
if you refuse to answer," said Hatchie, going towards the cabin.

The scene of this exploit was at some distance from the log-cabin of the
woodman, and the mulatto had scarcely got out of sight before Vernon
appeared. He had been at a little distance from the parties during the
whole scene, but he had too much respect for the prowess of his late
conqueror to venture on a rescue. He had once been tempted to do so, and
had made the noise which had disturbed Hatchie. The blackleg, without
much sympathy for his confederate, had rather regarded the whole scene
as a good joke than as a serious affair; and, as he approached the
lawyer, his merriment and keen satire were not relished by the victim.

"But how is it, Maxwell, about this will? You have never told me about
it," said Vernon, who, ruffian as he was, believed in fair play.

"I will tell you another time; cut these ropes, and let us be off."

"But let me tell you, my fine fellow, that though I can rob a man who
has enough, I would not be concerned in such a dirty game as this," said
Vernon, as he severed the ropes which bound the attorney. "If you have
been helping old Dumont to wrong his niece, may I be hanged, as that
nigger would have served you, if I don't blow the whole affair!"

"You know nothing about it; but, let me tell you, I am not concerned in
the affair. The girl, I have no doubt, is a slave."

The confederates now made all haste to depart from their proximity to
such dangers as both had incurred, and, by a circuitous way, reached the
river, where, taking a boat, they rowed under the banks down stream.

Hatchie was disappointed, on his return, to find his prisoner had
escaped. A diligent search, by the precaution of the confederates, was
rendered fruitless.



CHAPTER XVIII.

     "Why should my curiosity excite me
     To search and pry into the affairs of others,
     Who have to employ my thoughts so many cares
     And sorrows of my own?"                LILLO.


Jaspar Dumont sat in the library at Bellevue. It was the evening after
his return from Vicksburg. Near him, engaged in examining a heap of
papers, was his new overseer, Dalhousie.

Jaspar was musing over the late turn his affairs had taken; and, while
he congratulated himself on his present triumphant position, he could
but regard with apprehension the future, which seemed to smile only to
lure him on to certain destruction. The trite saying, "There is no peace
for the wicked," is literally and universally true. The lowering brow,
the threatening scowl, the suspicious glance, of the wicked uncle, were
as reliable evidences of his misery as his naked soul, torn with doubt
and anguish, could have been. Every new paper the overseer turned over
produced a start of apprehension, lest it might contain evidence of his
villany. His nerves had suffered terribly beneath the vision of guilt
and punishment that constantly haunted him. His new overseer, whom he
had partially admitted to his bosom as a confidant, had secured a strong
hold upon his fears. His presence seemed necessary to cheer him in his
lonely hours, to chase away the phantoms of vengeance that pursued him.
Harassed by doubts and fears, his constitution was, in some degree,
impaired, and his mind, losing the pillar upon which it rested, was
prone to yield also.

Dalhousie examined with minuteness the papers to which his attention had
been directed. Before him was a heap of documents of various kinds, all
in confusion,--bills and bonds, letters and deeds, were thrown
promiscuously together. His purpose was to sort and file them away for
future reference. This confusion among the papers was not the work of
Colonel Dumont; he had been strictly methodical and accurate in all his
business affairs. This fact was attested by the occasional strips of
pasteboard, on which were marked various descriptions of papers, as well
as by bits of red tape that had secured the bundles.

Dalhousie perceived that the labyrinth he was engaged in exploring had
not been the labor of the former owner of Bellevue, and he was perplexed
to understand why Jaspar had taken such apparent pains to disarrange
them. But Jaspar did have a motive; he had produced the disorder in his
careless search for any paper which might be evidence against him. So
heedlessly, however, had he ransacked the drawers, that, if any such
were there, they must have escaped his notice. He was too much excited
to do the work with the attention his own safety demanded.

Dalhousie continued to examine the papers, and Jaspar still trembled
lest something might turn up which would give the overseer a
confirmation of the opinions he had expressed at Vicksburg. Still Jaspar
had not the courage to undertake the task himself. He allowed the
overseer to perform it, in the very face of the danger he wished to
escape.

The overseer seemed to Jaspar's troubled vision perfectly indifferent.
He could discover no anxiety in his features, to indicate that he had
any other purpose than to do his employer's bidding. A more close
inspection would have developed a slight twinkle, as of anticipation, in
the marble face of Dalhousie.

As he turned paper after paper, his eye rested upon a packet enclosed
in a blank envelope. His curiosity was aroused, and, glancing
indifferently at Jaspar, he saw that his piercing eye regarded him with
intense scrutiny. Continuing his labor without disturbing the mysterious
packet, he waited until the sharp eye of his companion was removed from
him.

On the table by the side of Jaspar was a bottle of brandy, at which, at
short intervals, the miserable man paid his devoir. Dalhousie did not,
therefore, have to wait long before the keen watcher left his chair,
and, with his back to him, took a long draught of the exciting beverage.
The overseer, seizing the favorable opportunity, slipped the packet into
his pocket. As indifferently as before, he completed the task, and
Jaspar was relieved when he saw the papers again filed away.

Dalhousie sought his room, and, scarcely heeding the salutation of his
wife, he seated himself, and drew forth the packet. Removing the blank
envelope, he found it was a letter, directed to "Emily Dumont," with a
request to Mr. Faxon that it might be delivered to her after the
writer's decease. This seemed to imply that the writer had intended the
clergyman as the keeper of the letter; but with this surmise the
overseer did not trouble himself. He turned the letter over and over,
examined the seal of Colonel Dumont, which was upon it, and, at last, as
though he had satisfied the warning voice of conscience, he snapped the
wax, and opened it. The letter was quite a lengthy one, yet, without
raising his eyes, he completed the reading of it. A faint smile of
satisfaction played upon his lips, as he re-folded the paper, and
returned it to the envelope.

"You have a letter, Francois?" said his wife, who had watched him in
silence as he read, and who noticed the complacent smile its contents
had produced.

"Yes, Delia, and our fortune is at last come," replied Dalhousie,
rising, and bestowing a kiss upon the fair cheek of the lady.

"Is it from France?"

"No, dear; it is from the land of spirits!" answered Dalhousie, with a
good-natured laugh.

"Indeed! I was not aware that you had a correspondent there."

"But I have; and I am exceedingly obliged to him for putting me in
possession of such useful information as this letter contains."

"Pray, who is your ghostly correspondent?"

"Colonel Dumont,--a deceased brother of the worthy Jaspar, in whose
employ we now are."

"Do not jest, Francois!" said the lady, as a feeling akin to
superstition rose in her mind.

"Jest or not, the letter was written by him," continued her husband,
still retaining his playful smile.

"To you?"

"Not exactly; but I presume he meant it for me, or it would not have
slipped so easily through Mr. Dumont's fingers into mine."

"To whom is it directed, Francois?"

"You grow inquisitive, Delia. I will tell you all about it in a few
days. I must go now and see that the hands are all in their quarters;"
and Dalhousie, to avoid unpleasant interrogatories, left the room.

The overseer went the rounds of the quarters, more as a matter of form
than of any interest he felt in his occupation. A gentleman by birth and
education, these duties were extremely distasteful to him,--embraced
because necessity compelled him. His mind seemed far away from his
business, for a party of negroes passed him on his return, upon whom he
did not bestow the usual benediction the boys receive when found out
after hours.

"Strike while the iron is hot," muttered he, as he entered the house,
and gave his lantern to a servant. "If I don't do it to-night, it may be
too late another time. The letter is in safe hands; and, as to the
other traps, I must get them if I can. At any rate, I will try."

Approaching the door of the library, he knocked, and was requested to
enter. Under pretence of receiving directions for his next day's
operations upon the plantation, he entered, and opened a conversation
with Jaspar. Walking carelessly up and down the room while his employer
issued his commands, he occasionally cast a furtive glance at the
secretary. Then, narrowing down his walk, he approached nearer and
nearer to it, until his swinging arm could touch it as he passed.
Finally he stopped, and leaned against the secretary, with his hands
behind him. He appeared very thoughtful and attentive, while Jaspar,
glad to find a theme he could converse upon, expatiated upon his
favorite methods of managing stock and crops. The overseer listened
patiently to all he said, occasionally interrupting with a word of
approbation. The enthusiastic planter, suspecting nothing of the
overseer, labored diligently in his argument, and did not notice that,
when the attentive listener carelessly put his hands into his pockets,
he conveyed with them the key of one of the drawers.

Dalhousie, having effected the object which brought him to the library,
soon grew tired of the planter's arguments, and edged towards the door,
through which he rather rudely made his exit.

Jaspar again relapsed into the moody melancholy from which the presence
of the overseer had roused him. Sinking back into his chair, he again
was a prey to the armed fears that continually goaded him. Occasionally
he roused from his stupor, and, driven by the startling apparition of
future retribution, paced the room in the most intense nervous
excitement. Frequent were the stops he made at the brandy-bottle on the
table; but, for a time, even the brandy-fiend refused to comfort
him,--refused to excite his brain, or pour a healing balm upon his
consuming misery. Again he sunk into his chair, overcome by the torture
of his emotions, and again the gnawing worm forced him to the bottle,
until, at last, nearly stupefied by the liquor, he slumbered uneasily in
his chair. But the terrible apparition, which seldom left him when
awake, was constant in his dreams; and, just as he was about to plunge
into the awful abyss that always yawned before him, he awoke, and
staggered to the bottle again. A gleam of consciousness now visited his
inebriated mind, and he bethought himself of retiring. With a dim sense
of his usual precaution, he reeled to the secretary, and attempted to
lock the drawers. He discovered that one key was missing; but, too much
intoxicated to reason upon the circumstance, he took another draught of
brandy, and ambled towards his sleeping-room. He was too far gone to
effect a landing at the head of the stairs, and fell full-length upon
the floor when he released his hold of the banister.

Dalhousie was still up, and his knowledge of Jaspar's habits enabled him
to judge the occasion of the noise he heard, and he immediately hastened
to the rescue. "Lucky!" muttered he, as he lifted the fallen man. "He
must have been intoxicated when he examined those papers, or he would
have seen that letter."

Jaspar, who had not entirely lost his senses, muttered something about
an accident, and clung closely to his companion, who soon deposited him
on his bed.

The overseer, instead of returning to his room, descended to the
library, where the light was still burning. Locking the door, he seated
himself in the large stuffed chair, and drew from his pocket the letter
he had purloined from the secretary. Opening it, he proceeded to a
re-perusal of it. The letter was as follows:

     "MY DEAR CHILD:--When you read this letter, your father will be no
     more. The last act of affection will have been performed, and the
     ground closed over your only earthly protector. I am aware that you
     will be exposed to many trials and temptations. The latter you are,
     I trust, prepared to resist; the former must come to all. I feel
     that I have done my duty to you, not only in bestowing an abundance
     of this world's goods, but that I have not entirely failed to
     implant in your mind the treasure 'which neither moth nor rust can
     corrupt.' I have done all that I could do, and in a short time I
     must lay my body in the grave, and leave you an orphan. But you are
     in the hands, and under the protection, of a Father who is
     infinitely more able to take care of you than I have been. Into His
     hands, with my ransomed spirit, I undoubtingly commit you.

     "As I write this letter, I feel the hand of death upon me. In a few
     short days, it may be only hours, I must go. I am the less ready to
     bid you the everlasting adieu when I think of the dangers that may
     surround you. In my last hours I am doomed to the torments of
     suspicion. I pray God they may be groundless. Perhaps they are only
     idle fancies, the dotings of an over-anxious father. I feel, as the
     sands of life are fast ebbing out, that some great calamity is
     lowering over you. I know not that a remark I accidentally
     overheard should thus haunt me; but it has roused my suspicions,
     and the presage of calamity will not depart from me. I cannot, with
     the warning voice ever ringing in my mind, help taking steps to
     guard you against the worst that may befall you.

     "My dear child, if I should disclose my suspicions, and they should
     prove unreasonable, I shall have done a grievous wrong to him I
     suspect. Although you cannot save me from the misery of doubting in
     my last hour, you can save me from injuring another in your good
     opinion. If I have wronged him, let the injury die with me. If my
     suspicions are not groundless, I offer you the means of saving
     yourself from the calamity that impends.

     "Should any event occur after my death which deprives you of any of
     your inheritance, follow the directions I now give you.

     "In the back of the lower drawer of the secretary you will find a
     secret aperture. The back of the drawer is a thick board, upon
     which is screwed, on the lower side, a thin slat. Take out the
     screws and remove the piece they secure, and the aperture will be
     seen. It contains a sealed packet, the contents of which require no
     explanation.

     "If nothing happens after my decease, and you peaceably obtain all
     your rights, burn the packet without opening it. My unjust
     suspicions, then, cannot influence you, or injure the person to
     whom they refer.

     "This letter you will receive from Mr. Faxon, to whom I recommend
     you for counsel and consolation in every trial.

     "And now, my child, I must bid you farewell. I feel my end
     approaching. May God forever bless and preserve you!

     "Your dying father,

     "EDGAR DUMONT."

Dalhousie perused and re-perused this letter, until its contents were
fixed in his mind. He had many doubts and scruples, both prudential and
conscientious, in regard to the step he was about to take: but the
chimera of fortune prompted him to risk all in the great project he had
matured. Taking from his pocket a small screw-driver, with which he had
prepared himself, he opened the drawer designated in the letter, the key
of which he had secured. Emptying the drawer of its contents, he turned
it over, and, to his great delight, perceived the slat as described in
the letter. Removing the screws, he soon had the satisfaction of holding
in his hand the packet which, he doubted not, would restore the heiress
of Bellevue to her home and her estates, if she were still alive; or
which would give him a hold upon Jaspar, by means of which he could make
his fortune.

Dalhousie was not a natural-born villain. It was the pressure of
necessity, the almost unconscious yielding of a weak resolution, which
had led him thus far in his present illegal and dishonorable course. Of
the heiress he knew nothing; and the thought of restoring her had never
entered his head, much more his heart. The great purpose of his life
was to make his fortune, and it was this idea alone which influenced him
in the present instance. He had entered upon his duties at Bellevue only
the day before; but so impatient was he to realize the hope which had
brought him there, that every hour seemed burdened with the weight of
weeks.

Carefully depositing its contents as he had found them, he locked the
drawer, and put the key upon the floor.



CHAPTER XIX.


     "The accursed plot he overheard,
        Its every point portrayed;
     Yet ere the villain's words were cold.
        The counter-plot was made."


Hatchie was chagrined at the loss of his prisoner. His diligent search
was of no avail. The Chalmetta's boat, which lay at the wood-yard in the
morning, was gone; so he had no doubt Maxwell had made his escape in it.
Having no further motive in remaining at the wood-yard, he procured a
small canoe, with the intention of joining his mistress at Cottage
Island.

Seated in the stern of the canoe, Hatchie propelled it with only
sufficient force to avoid the eddies which would have whirled his frail
bark in every direction. His thoughts wandered over the events of the
past few days. He moralized upon the conduct of the attorney and the
uncle, and nursed his indignation over them. Hatchie was a moralist in
his own way, but not a moralist only. The great virtue of his
philosophy, unlike much of a more scholastic origin, was its practical
utility. From the past, with its conquered trials, he turned to the
future, to inquire for its dangers, to ask what snares it had spread to
entangle the fair being whom he worshipped with all a lover's fondness,
without the lover's sentiment.

We will not follow him in his peregrinations through the mazes of the
misty future, for they were interrupted by the appearance on the water
of a distant object, which excited his attention. A searching and
anxious scrutiny convinced him that it was the boat in which Maxwell had
made his escape. Though at a great distance from him, he could see that
it contained two men. Guardian as he was of his mistress' honor and
safety, the sight awakened all his fears and called up all his energy.
Did they know that his mistress had gone to Cottage Island? It was
possible that Vernon had obtained a knowledge of her movements. The
faithful fellow was almost maddened at the thought.

The boat approached Cottage Island, and Hatchie observed them pull in
under the high bank. This movement was ominous of evil, and all the
mulatto's fears were confirmed, when, as they passed the mouth of the
little stream, he saw one of them rise in the boat and point it out.
Satisfied that his canoe was yet unnoticed by his enemies, and dreading
no immediate danger, he paddled across the river so as to bring the
island between them. When he had gained a position which hid him from
their view, he used all his immense strength in propelling the canoe
towards the island. A few minutes sufficed to bring him up with the
western shore of the islet, his enemies being upon the opposite side.
Keeping close to the high bank, he paddled down-stream to the lower
extremity of the island, where the sound of voices caused him suddenly
to check his progress, and gain a landing. Drawing the canoe out of
reach of the current, he climbed up the bank, which, being near the
down-stream end of the island, sloped gradually down, till it terminated
in the low, sandy beach.

He reached the high bank without attracting the attention of the party
of whose motions he wished to obtain a knowledge. He could now
distinctly hear their conversation, though they were still at a
considerable distance from him. Cautiously he climbed a thick
cotton-wood tree, whose foliage completely screened him from
observation, and there awaited the nearer approach of Maxwell and his
confederate.

"Are you sure this is the island?" said Maxwell, when they had come
within hearing of Hatchie.

"This must be the one," replied Vernon. "We shall soon see whether it is
inhabited or not."

"With whom did the girl leave the wood-yard?"

"With a doctor who lives like a hermit on this island. I saw them from a
distance get into the sail-boat, and I asked a boatman for the
particulars."

"Who is the doctor?"

"Don't know. The boatman said it was an outlandish name, and he had
forgotten it. You mean to have the girl, do you?"

"I do, if possible."

"O, it's quite possible--nothing easier. You say the girl belongs to
you?"

"I do; did I not show you the bill of sale?"

"That might be a trick of your own, you know. It's a devilish queer
story."

"Pshaw! man, are you crazy? This thing has startled your conscience more
than all the crimes of a lifetime. What has gotten into you, Vernon? I
never knew you to moralize before."

"Look here, my boy, I can do almost anything; but I would not wrong a
woman,--no, not a _woman_,--I am above that," said Vernon, with much
emphasis.

"But, man, she is my slave--a quadroon."

"Property's property; but since I met the girl in the boat, I am half
inclined to believe she is no quadroon. Maxwell, I had a sister once,
and may my body be rent into a thousand pieces but I would tear out the
heart of the man who would serve her as you do this girl. If she is your
_property_, why, that alters the case."

"Certainly it does; so, end your sermon, and tell me how to gain
possession of my _property_."

"We can storm the island."

"What! two of us?"

"I can get plenty of soldiers, if you will pay them."

"I will give a thousand dollars for her; and, if I get her again, by
heavens, she shall not escape me! I will put a pair of ruffles on her
wrists such as the dainty girl never got of her milliner. How many
persons are on the island?"

"That I don't know--perhaps half a dozen. Your hangman will be there,"
and Vernon chuckled at the thought of the scene he had witnessed near
the wood-yard.

Maxwell's teeth grated, and Hatchie distinctly heard the malediction he
bestowed upon him. Fears for his personal safety did not, for a moment,
disturb him. Prudence alone prevented him from rushing upon the
villains, and thwarting in its embryo stage their design upon his
mistress.

"You mean," said Maxwell, "to take the girl from the house by force?"

"There is no other way."

"Then we had better examine the island, or it will not be an easy matter
to land in a dark night."

"How does the owner land?"

"Probably by the little stream we saw above."

"Rather difficult navigation for a stranger. We had better land in this
part of the island. Let us walk through the thicket and find the house."

Hatchie saw them attempt to pass through the thick brush; but the task
was not an easy one. By the aid of a bowie-knife, with which they cut
away some of the bushes, they penetrated to the larger growth of trees,
where the under-brush no longer impeded their progress. They passed
beyond the hearing of the mulatto, though from his elevated position he
occasionally obtained a view of them, as they approached the cottage.
Anxiously he waited their return, in the hope of getting more definite
ideas of the time and method of the proposed attack upon the island.

After a careful survey of the premises, Maxwell and Vernon returned to
their former position.

"Quite an easy job," said Vernon; "the only difficulty is this thick
brush, which can be easily removed. I will cut away a part now."

"Very well," responded Maxwell, as his associate proceeded to cut away
the bushes, and form a pathway through, the thicket. "When shall the
thing be done?"

"As to that I can hardly say. When we get to Vicksburg we can decide.
Better let the girl rest a week or so; for it may take that time to get
things ready. You can't hire men to do such work as easily as you can to
cut wood and dig ditches. It takes skill and caution."

"Very well, I am in no haste."

For nearly an hour Vernon labored at his task, and completed a path
through which the party could easily pass to the cottage.

The object of their visit accomplished, Hatchie saw them return to their
boat, and row down the river. After they had disappeared round a bend,
he descended from the tree, and examined the labors of Vernon. He found
the bushes which had been cut down were nicely placed at each end of the
path in an upright position, so as to conceal it from the eyes of the
passer. For a long time the mulatto reflected upon the conversation he
had heard, and considered the means of defeating the diabolical plot.
Against a band of ruffians, such as Vernon would enlist for the service,
he could not contend single-handed. To remove his mistress from the
island, while Henry Carroll lay helpless there, would not be an
acceptable proposition to her. Resolving to lay the information he had
gained before Dr. Vaudelier, he returned to his canoe, and, having
rounded the island, reached the cottage by the usual passage.

       *       *       *       *       *

Henry Carroll still slept. For six hours he had lain under the influence
of the powerful opiate. Emily entered his chamber in company with the
doctor, on their return from the wood-yard. The sight of Henry, pale and
worn as he appeared, excited all her sympathy. His right arm, which was
uninjured, lay extended on the bed; she gently grasped it, and, bending
over him, imprinted upon his pallid lips a kiss, that was unknown and
unappreciated by its recipient. Only a few days before she had listened
to the eloquent confession of him who now lay insensible of her
presence. She was a true woman, and the presence of Dr. Vaudelier did
not restrain the expression of her woman's heart. It was visible in her
pale cheek, in her heaving breast, and in her sparkling eye, from which
oozed the gentle tear of affectionate sympathy.

She held his hand; unconsciously, at the silent bidding of her warm
heart, she gently pressed it. As though the magnetism of love had
communicated itself to the sleeper, he sighed heavily, and uttered a
groan of half-subdued anguish. His eyelids fluttered; he was apparently
shaking off the heaviness of slumber. His lips quivered, and Emily heard
them faintly articulate her name.

At the request of the good physician, she reluctantly withdrew from the
apartment.

The sufferer endeavored to turn in the bed; the effort drew from him a
groan of agony, which, in a more wakeful state, a proud superiority over
every weakness would not have permitted him to utter. His eyes opened,
and he stared vacantly about the darkened chamber. The doctor took his
hand, and examined his pulse.

"How do you feel, captain? Does your head ache?" asked he.

"Slightly; I am better, I think," replied the invalid, faintly.

"And you are better," said the doctor, with evident satisfaction. "The
scalds are doing very well, and the wound on your head is not at all
serious."

"Now, sir, will you tell me where I am?"

Dr. Vaudelier imparted the information.

"Emily! Emily! Won but lost again!" murmured Henry. "Would that we had
sunk together beneath the dark tide!"

"Do not distress yourself, my dear captain. We must be careful of this
fever."

"Distress myself!" returned Henry, not a little provoked at the coolness
of the doctor. "You know not the loss I have sustained."

"But you must keep calm."

"Doctor, did you ever love?" asked Henry, abruptly, as he gazed rather
wildly at his host.

This was a severe question to a man whose matrimonial experience was of
such a disagreeable nature. But he remembered the day before
marriage,--the sunny dreams which had beguiled many a weary hour,--and
he sympathized with the unhappy man.

"I have," replied the doctor, solemnly, so solemnly that it chilled the
ardent blood of the listener. "I have loved, and can understand your
present state of feeling."

"Then you know, if I do not regain her whom I have lost, I had better
die now than endure the misery before me."

The doctor was not quite so sure of this, but he did not express the
thought.

"You will regain her," said he.

"Alas! I fear not. The boat was almost a total wreck. I saw scores of
dead and dying as I clung to my frail support."

"Fear not. Believe me, captain, I am a prophet; she shall be restored to
your arms again."

"I thank you for the assurance; but I fear you are not an infallible
prophet."

"In this instance, I am."

Henry looked at the doctor, and saw the smile of satisfaction that
played upon his usually stern features. It augured hope--more than hope;
and, as the wrecked mariner clings to the disjointed spar, his mind
fastened upon that smile as the forerunner of a blissful reunion with
her his soul cherished.

"Be calm, sir, be calm; she is safe," continued Dr. Vaudelier.

"Do you know it?" almost shouted Henry, attempting to rise.

"Be quiet, sir," said the doctor, in a voice approaching to sternness;
"be quiet, or I shall regret that I gave you reason to hope."

"Where is she?" asked Henry, sinking back at the doctor's reproof, and
heeding not the darting pain his attempt to rise had produced.

"She is safe; let this suffice. I see you cannot bear more now."

"I can bear anything, sir, anything. I will be as gentle as a lamb, if
you will tell me all you know of her."

"If you keep entirely quiet, we will, in a few days, let her speak for
herself."

"Then she is safe; she has escaped every danger?"

"She has."

"And was not injured?"

"No; she was taken, it seems, from the wreck by a villain. Thank God,
she has escaped his wiles!"

Henry's indignation could scarcely be controlled, even by the reflection
that Maxwell's wicked intentions had been turned, by an overruling
Providence, into the means of her safety.

Dr. Vaudelier related to his patient the incident of the wood-yard; not,
however, without the necessity of frequently reproving his auditor,
whose exasperation threatened serious consequences. When, at the
conclusion of the narration, he told Henry that the loved one was at
that moment beneath his roof, he could scarcely restrain his immoderate
joy within the bounds of that quiet which his physician demanded.

"May I not see her?" said he.

"That must depend entirely upon your own behavior. You have not shown
yourself a very tractable patient thus far."

"I will be perfectly docile," pleaded Henry.

"I fear I cannot trust you. You are so excitable, that you explode like
a magazine of gunpowder."

"No, no; I solemnly promise to keep perfectly quiet. She will, I know,
be glad to see me, wounded and stricken though I am."

"She has already seen you."

"Indeed!"

"Yes; and not content with _seeing_ you merely, your lips are not yet
cold from the kiss she imprinted upon them;" and a smile, not altogether
stoical, lit up the doctor's cold expression. "You shall see her, but
the instant I perceive that the interview is prejudicial to your nerves,
I shall remove her."

"Thank you, doctor!" said Henry, fervently.

"O, it is part of my treatment. It may do you more good than all my
physic. I have known such cases."

"I am sure it will," returned the patient.

Dr. Vaudelier retired, and after a serious charge to Emily, he
reëntered, leading the Hygeia who was to restore the sick man.

"Be careful," was the doctor's monition, as he elevated his fore-finger,
in the attitude of caution; "be careful."

"O, Emily!" exclaimed Henry, more gently than the nature of the
interview would seem to allow, as he extended his hand to her.

Emily silently took the hand, and while a tell-tale tear started from
her eye, she pressed it gently; but the pressure startled the sick man's
blood, and sent it thrilling with joy through its lazy channels. The
invalid, as much as the pressure of the hand warmed his heart, seemed
not to be satisfied with the hand alone; for he continued to draw her
towards himself, until her form bent over him, and their lips met. It
was the first time when both were conscious of the act. We will not go
into ecstasies over the unutterable bliss of that moment. We will not
deck our page with any unseemly extravagances. If the experience of the
reader has led him through the hallowed mystery of the first kiss of
love, he needs not another's fancy to revive the beatific vision. If
not, why, thousands of coy and blushing damsels, equally in the dark,
are waiting, from whom he may select one to assist him in solving the
mystery. Besides, it is not always wise to penetrate the secrets of the
heart, even in a novel; for there is a sacredness about them, a kind of
natural free-masonry, which must not be made too common.

Dr. Vaudelier, when he saw that the patient was disposed to behave
himself in a reasonable manner, withdrew from the room, and left them to
the undisturbed enjoyment of their happy reunion. In an hour he
returned, and peremptorily forbade all further conversation. He
permitted Emily to remain in the room, however, on the promise to allow
the invalid to use no further exertion in talking.

All day, like a ministering angel, she moved about his couch, and laved
his fevered brow. All his art could not lure her into any conversation
beyond the necessary replies to his questions concerning his physical
condition. Henry was too thankful for being permitted to enjoy her
presence to forfeit the boon by any untractableness, and, for one of his
excitable temperament, he was exceedingly docile.



CHAPTER XX.

     "_Appius_. Well, Claudius, are the forces
     At hand?

     "_Claudius_. They are, and timely, too; the people
     Are in unwonted ferment."

     KNOWLES.


It was midnight at Cottage Island,--the third night after the events of
the preceding chapter. Henry Carroll, by the skilful treatment of his
host, was in a great degree relieved from his severe pain, and had now
sunk into a natural and quiet slumber. By his bedside sat Dr. Vaudelier.
Emily had, an hour before, retired to the rest which her exhausted frame
demanded. For the past three days she had watched patiently and lovingly
by the invalid. And now she had only been induced to retire by the
promise of the doctor to call her, if any unfavorable symptom appeared.

The threatened assault upon the island had been thoroughly considered,
and for the past two nights the island wore the appearance of a
garrisoned fortress, rather than the secluded abode of a hermit. Emily
knew of the peril which now menaced her, but the ample means at hand for
protection rendered it insignificant. All thought, even of her own
security, was merged in her generous interest in the comfort of the
sufferer.

The good physician was uneasy and disturbed, as he sat by the bedside of
his patient. The circumstances which surrounded him were novel in the
extreme. Accustomed as he had been to the quiet which always reigned in
his domain, to find himself, as it were, the inmate of a fortress, in
momentary expectation of an attack, was so singularly odd, that his
natural indifference deserted him. He had collected quite a large force
of his humble neighbors to assist him in his present emergency, and they
were now making their final arrangements to meet the assault.

The doctor was restless; but it was not on account of any fear of his
personal safety,--he was above that. The lonely and innocent being whom
he had undertaken to protect had filled his mind with a sense of
responsibility. A single day had been long enough for Emily to win a way
to his affections, and he had grown to regard her with the tender care
of a father. Occasionally he left his place at the bedside, and went to
the window, as if to assure himself that the attack had not already
commenced.

In front of the cottage a different sentiment prevailed among the motley
group there assembled. There were twenty men, including Hatchie, all
armed with rifle and bowie-knife, and every one anxious for the fight to
commence. Besides their arms, each man was provided with a small cord,
and a torch of pitch-wood, the end of which had been plentifully
besprinkled with turpentine.

The party was composed mostly of woodmen and boatmen, who had promptly
and willingly obeyed the doctor's summons. Like most men of their class
in that locality, they were hardy and reckless; they had not that
healthy horror of a mortal combat which the moralist would gladly see.
Dr. Vaudelier had always been their friend; had always promptly and
kindly aided them in their necessities, whether moral, physical, or
pecuniary. As he had laved the fevered brows of their wives and
children, so had he said prayers over their dead, in the absence of a
clergyman. He had exhorted the intemperate and the dishonest, and with
his purse relieved the needy in their distress. They were not
ungrateful; they appreciated his many kindnesses, and rejoiced in an
opportunity to serve him. These men, notwithstanding their rude speech,
their rough exteriors, and their reckless dispositions, were
true-hearted men. They reciprocated the offering of a true friendship,
not by smooth speeches and unmeaning smiles, but by actions of manly
kindness. The philosopher in ethics may say what he pleases of the
refinements of sympathy; we would not give a single such heart as those
gathered on Cottage Island for a whole army of puling, sentimental,
hair-splitting moralizers. They were men of action, not of words; and,
though they hesitated not, in what they deemed a good cause, to close
with their man in deadly combat, they were true as steel to a friend in
the hour of his need.

With these men the exploits of Hatchie, which had been related, and
perhaps exaggerated, by Jerry Swinger, who was a leading spirit of the
party, had been much applauded, and he had, in spite of the odium of his
social position, obtained a powerful influence over them. They heard him
with attention, and deferred to his skill and judgment. By his advice,
and to remove the confusion of the affray from the vicinity of the
cottage, it was determined to receive the invaders near the beach where
he had overheard Vernon propose to land. Jerry Swinger, whom natural
talent and the wish of the party seemed to indicate as leader, marched
the expedition towards the avenue which had been made in the bushes by
the ruffians.

For so many men, excited as they were by the anticipation of a conflict,
they were remarkably quiet and orderly. Dr. Vaudelier had cautioned them
to avoid all noise, and not to fire a rifle unless absolutely necessary.
He had also instructed them to make prisoners of the assailants, if
possible, without injuring them.

Jerry Swinger stationed his party near the avenue, ready to spring upon
and overpower the foe, when the favorable moment should arrive.

An hour passed by, and the impatience of the ambushed woodmen seemed
likely to give their faithful leader some trouble, when the careful dip
of oars near the shore saluted their ears. In a whisper Jerry gave the
oft-repeated caution for silence, and charged them to be prompt when the
moment came.

The assaulting party approached the shore. There were two boats, the
foremost of which contained eight men, under the direction of Maxwell,
and the other six, led by Vernon. The latter had reconnoitred the island
several times, and had somewhat modified the plan of the attack, on
discovering that the cottage, for the past two nights, had been occupied
by more than its usual occupants. Several men had been seen to land
there; but, as his preparations on the lower part of the island were
undisturbed, it never occurred to him that his purpose would be
anticipated.

Vernon had procured the services of fourteen men, chicken-thieves, and
others of desperate fortunes, to engage in the enterprise, by holding
out to them the hope of plunder, of which the cottage, he assured them,
would afford an abundant harvest. The real purpose of the expedition
was, therefore, unknown to any of the party, except the leaders. The
prospect of a sharp fight had not in the least dampened the ardor of
their hopes. With men of their craft it was a dull season, and the
prospect of "cracking a crib" plentifully stored with valuables was
quite a pleasant anticipation.

It was arranged that Maxwell, with the larger portion of the
desperadoes, should land at the lower part of the island, and, if any
defenders appeared, commence hostilities, and draw them away from the
house, while Vernon, with the most experienced of the "cracks-men,"
should assault the house, and effect the purpose of the enterprise. In
the person of one of the chicken-thieves a pilot for the creek was
discovered; and, to make assurance doubly sure, it was decided that
Vernon should approach the cottage by the usual channel.

Maxwell's boat was beached, while that of Vernon proceeded up the river
to the little stream. The skill of his pilot, of whom Vernon had felt
many doubts, soon brought him to the creek. The current, he found, was
quite rapid, and he feared it would carry him into the midst of the
"enemy's camp" before Maxwell should have made his demonstration. As the
boat was whirled along towards the centre of the island, for the oars
could not be used, on account of their noise, his position seemed to
grow desperate. Vernon was on the point of risking the noise, and taking
to the oars, when he discovered an overhanging branch, which he seized
as the boat passed under it. Fortunately for him, a bend in the stream
turned the current from the middle of the creek, or its violence would
have drawn him into the water. By the aid of his companions, he
succeeded in making the boat fast to the branch. He listened; but all
was still. There were no indications of the approach of the other party.

Seating himself in the stern-sheets of the boat, he again considered the
operations in which he was soon to engage; but, as these were
necessarily to be directed by the circumstances of the moment, his
deliberations soon gave way to that impatience which the perpetrator of
crime experiences at an unexpected delay. His eager spirit was, however,
soon gratified by sounds of conflict, which proceeded from the part of
the island where Maxwell had landed. Awhile he listened, and the sounds
grew more and more distinct. Loosing the boat from its aërial moorings,
it was again driven by the current towards the landing in front of the
cottage. Preparations were now made to effect the grand object, and,
landing by the side of the doctor's yacht, Vernon found no one to oppose
his progress, though the sounds from the lower extremity of the island
indicated that the affray was growing hotter and more violent. At the
head of his party, Vernon was about to enter the house, when the
approach of a body of men from the scene of action caused him to pause,
and await their approach.

Maxwell had landed on the beach, and, not suspecting the proximity of
the ambush which waited to receive him, had proceeded towards the avenue
made at his first visit to the island. Removing the loose bushes, they
attempted to pass through; but no sooner were they fairly involved among
the young trees than Jerry Swinger shouted his first order, to light the
torches, and, in an instant, the woods were illuminated, and the
position of both parties disclosed. This was, undoubtedly, a masterly
stroke of preparation on the part of Jerry. The torches, on the
application of the match, emitted a broad sheet of flame, which glared
upon the invaders like a sudden flash of lightning, and utterly
confounded them. It seemed like the bolt of Omnipotence thrown across
their path in the hour of their great transgression.

Maxwell was unprepared for an immediate attack. He had calculated on
effecting a junction with Vernon in the vicinity of the cottage. Before
his party had time to recover from the panic, they were surrounded by
the resolute woodmen. The attorney, who was as brave and active as he
was unprincipled and cunning, was not a man to be defeated without a
stout resistance. Encouraging his party by shouts, and by his own
example, a general engagement ensued.

Hatchie no sooner saw the foe of his mistress' peace, than, stepping
between him and Jerry Swinger, who also had an account to settle with
him, he knocked down the pistol which was levelled at his head, and
grasped him by the throat. In the hands of Hatchie the attorney was as
nothing. The stalwart mulatto cast him upon the ground, and, with his
cord, bound him hand and foot. The leader vanquished, it was the work of
but a few moments to secure the rest of the assailants.

Jerry Swinger learned, from sundry exclamations of the defeated party,
that another portion of the expedition was to land at the creek. Leaving
a few of his men in charge of the prisoners, he made all haste, with the
remainder, towards the cottage.

The affray had occupied but a few moments. The sturdy woodmen,
accustomed to such scenes, and animated by a high motive, had done their
duty promptly and efficiently, as the woful appearance of the
disconcerted ruffians testified. Some hard blows had been dealt; some
few upon both sides were severely wounded; but, considering the
desperate character of the invaders, the masterly tact of Jerry Swinger
had evidently saved much bloodshed.

Hatchie, as soon as he had secured his prisoner, hastened, somewhat in
advance of Jerry's party, towards the cottage.

Vernon waited the approach of the party in front of the cottage. While
it was yet at some distance, he discovered Hatchie, whom he recognized
by the light of his torch, running in front of it. The appearance of the
mulatto, alone, he interpreted as the signal of victory to the party in
conjunction with him, who, he imagined, were pursuing him. Resolving,
therefore, to lose no more time, he advanced towards the house, ordering
two of his followers to secure Hatchie.

Dr. Vaudelier had heard the sounds of the distant encounter, and
occasionally sought the window to assure himself the invaders did not
approach the cottage. The glaring torch of Hatchie, who was running
towards the house, gave him some misgivings, and, seizing the pistols
which lay upon the table, he went to the door, on opening which he was
confronted by Vernon.

"Come on, boys! come on!" shouted the ruffian, as he pushed by the
doctor. "The way is clear; let us make quick work."

The pistol of Dr. Vaudelier had been raised to shoot down the assailant;
but his hand dropped at the sound of his voice, he staggered back and
let the weapon fall from his hand, and uttered an exclamation of intense
feeling.

"This way, men! this way!" shouted Vernon, as he pressed on.

Entering the room at the right of the entry, in which a bed had been
temporarily placed for the use of Emily, he found the affrighted girl,
who had been aroused from her transient slumber by the noise of the
attack. Rising from the bed upon which she had merely thrown herself,
she was confounded by the appearance of her former persecutor.

"Ah, my pretty bird, you are again in my power, and I shall take care
that no weak indulgence again deprives me of your society," said Vernon,
as he seized her arm, and attempted to hurry her from the room.

"Unhand me, villain!" exclaimed she, roused to desperation by the sudden
and painful change which had overtaken her.

"Do not pout, my pretty dove! there is no chance to escape this time.
Your valuable assistant, that bull-headed nigger, cannot help you; so I
advise you to come quietly with me."

"Never, villain! I never will leave this house alive!"--and she
struggled to free herself from the ruffian's grasp.

"Nay, nay, lady! do not be unreasonable."

"Help! help!" shouted Emily, with the energy of desperation.

"No use, my pretty quadroon; I put your man, Hatchie, into the hands of
two stout fellows; he cannot come, even at your bidding."

The ruffian had hardly finished the sentence before a heavy blow on the
back of the head laid him prostrate upon the floor.

"You are a false prophet," said Hatchie, quietly, as he assisted his
mistress to a sofa, while Jerry Swinger, who had followed him, examined
the condition of the fallen man.

"Thank God!" continued Hatchie, "we have beaten them off."

"Heaven is kinder to me than I deserve," murmured Emily, bursting into
tears, as the terrible scene through which she had just passed was fully
realized. "But where is Henry--Captain Carroll--is he safe?"

"All safe, ma'am; the catamounts have not been in his room," replied
Jerry Swinger. "Cheer up, ma'am; it mought have been worse."

"Let us carry this carrion from the house," said Hatchie, seizing the
prostrate Vernon in no gentle gripe. "Let us fasten him to a tree, and I
will not take my eye from him or the lawyer till both are hung."

"Stay, stay, Hatchie!" exclaimed Dr. Vandelier, who at that moment
entered. "_He is my son_!"

"Good heavens!" said Emily, rising from her recumbent posture on the
sofa.

"It is indeed true," replied the doctor, in a melancholy tone. "I would
that he had died in the innocency of his childhood. I recognized him as
he entered the house, and had nearly lost my consciousness, as the
terrible reality stared me in the face, that my son, he whose childhood
I had watched over, who once called me by the endearing name of father,
is a common midnight assassin!

"Is he your persecutor?" continued the doctor, relieved by an abundant
shower of tears which the terrible truth had called to his eyes. "Is he
the person who has caused you so much trouble?"

"No, no, sir!" responded Emily, eager to afford the slightest comfort to
the bereaved heart of the father; "he only acted for Maxwell."

"A hired villain! without even the paltry excuse of an interested motive
to palliate the offence. O God! that I should be brought so low!"--and
the doctor wrung his hands in anguish.

"Perhaps, sir," said Emily, "he is not so bad as you think; let us hear
before we condemn him."

Her resentment, if her gentle nature had for a moment harbored such a
feeling, had all given way to the abundant sympathy she felt for the
doctor in his deep distress. Forgiving as the spirit of mercy, she now
applied restoratives to the man who had so lately attempted to wrong
her; and Dr. Vaudelier, with a sad heart, assisted her in her merciful
duty.

Hatchie, on his approach to the cottage, had been assailed by the men
whom Vernon had sent to secure him. A severe encounter had ensued, and
although Hatchie's great muscular power and skill had enabled him to
keep his assailants at bay, he would eventually have had the worst of
it; but Jerry Swinger came to his aid in season for him to save his
mistress from injury. Vernon's party, like that of Maxwell, were all
secured.

The noise caused by the entrance of Vernon had awakened Henry Carroll
from his slumbers. He listened, but could not make out the occasion of
it; for, in consideration of his feeble condition, he had not been
informed of the meditated attack. The cry for help uttered by Emily
convinced him of the nature of the disturbance. His first impulse was to
rise and rush to her assistance; but of his inability to do this he was
painfully reminded in his attempt to rise. The heavy fall of Vernon on
the floor, and the voice of Hatchie, assured him that, whatever the
affair might be, it had assumed a new phase. His painful apprehensions
were quieted by the appearance of Hatchie, who in a concise manner
related the events of the night.

The last lingering doubt of the suspicious invalid was removed by the
entrance of Emily herself.

"You are safe, dear Emily!" exclaimed he.

"I am, thank God!"

"And I could not assist in your defence!"

"Heaven will protect me, Henry. It seems as if a veritable angel hovered
over my path to shield me from the thousand perils that assail me."

"The angels do hover around you, Emily; you are so pure, and good, and
true, that they are ever near you, even in your own heart. Angels always
minister to the good,--to those who resist the temptations of the
world."

"You speak too well of me. But you have been excited by this tumult,
Henry."

"I was a little disturbed; but, unable to help myself, I could do
nothing for others,--not even for you, dearest."

"I know what you would have done, if you had been able. I know your
heart, and I feel just as grateful as though your strong arm had rescued
me."

Dr. Vaudelier, who had succeeded in restoring Vernon--or, by his true
name, Jerome Vaudelier--to consciousness, now entered the room. He
appeared more melancholy and harassed in mind than Emily had before seen
him. His soul seemed to be crushed by the terrible realization that _his
son_ was a common felon--worse than felon, the persecutor of innocence.
A soul as sensitive as his to the distinctions of right and wrong could
hardly endure the misery of that hour.

With an absent manner, he inquired into the condition of the patient,
and took the necessary steps to soothe him to slumber again.

Hatchie, having satisfied himself that the prisoners were all safe, left
them under guard of the woodmen, and returned to the chamber of the sick
man; and, at the doctor's urgent request, Emily left Henry to his care.



CHAPTER XXI.

     "_Friar_ Can you forgive?
     _Elmore_. As I would be forgiven."

     LOVELL.


On the morning following the defeat of Maxwell and Vernon, it became
necessary to make some disposition of the prisoners, so that the
conquerors could attend to their daily duties. Their number was too
large to be left upon the island in the absence of its defenders. A
consultation between Dr. Vaudelier and the principals of the party took
place. There were so many difficulties in the way of bringing the
invaders to justice, that it was finally decided to release them all.
The burden of the evidence was against the physician's son. The doctor,
however much he deprecated the deed, was anxious to save his son from
the publicity of a trial. His friends, seeing the melancholy truth,
relieved his mind by suggesting that all of them be released, which was
accordingly done.

Vernon had entirely recovered from the effects of Hatchie's blow, and
was seated at the window of his apartment, contemplating the means of
escape. At his father's request, two men had sat by him during the
night, as much to prevent his escape as to minister to his wants. The
watchers were still in the room. Vernon was not yet informed of the
relation he sustained to the proprietor of the mansion in which he now
involuntarily abode. He thought that, considering the unequivocal
circumstances under which he had been made a prisoner, he was treated
with a great deal of gentleness; but to him the reason was not apparent.
He had been an alien from his father's house for a long period, and was
not acquainted with the history of the past three or four years of the
doctor's life.

His mind was now occupied in devising the means of escape; and just as
he had struck upon a feasible project, he was interrupted by the
entrance of Jerry Swinger, who had been sent by Dr. Vaudelier to
ascertain the present frame of his son's mind, and broach to him the
tidings that he was beneath his father's roof,--a circumstance of which
his watchers were also ignorant.

"Well, stranger, how do you feel yourself, this morning?" asked Jerry.

"Better. That was a cursed hard rap which some one gave me, last night,"
replied Vernon,--as, from the force of habit, we must still call him.

"That are a fack, stranger; the man that gin you that blow has a moughty
hard fist; and I advoise you to keep clear of him, or he will beat you
into mince-meat."

"I will try to do so."

"You will larn to, if he mought have one more chance at that head of
yours."

"Who is he?"

"He's an oncommon fine fellow, and made your cake dough once before."

"Ah, was it Miss Dumont's--that is, the quadroon's servant."

"Quadroon, man!--that's all humbug. But he's the boy, and is bound to
fotch his missus out straight, in the end."

"Well, if she is his mistress, I hope he may. I wish her no harm,
however much appearances belie me."

"Is that a fack, stranger?"

"Certainly; she never did me any harm."

"Then what mought be the reason you were so onmerciful to her?"

"I never used her hardly. My friend said she was his slave, and all I
wished was to have him obtain his own. In short, I was paid for my
services."

"No doubt of it, stranger. But I can't see how the tenth part of a man
could hunt down such a gal as that,--it's onnateral. Besides, you didn't
believe she was a slave."

"'Pon my honor I did, or I would not have lifted a finger. But I see you
have released the rest of your prisoners,--I hope you will be as
generous towards me."

"Don't flatter yourself, stranger!"

"I have a mortal aversion to courts of justice."

"Quite likely," returned Jerry, pleased with the man's frankness.

"Besides, I belong to a respectable family, who will not mind paying
something handsome to avoid exposure."

"Can't be bought, stranger; besides, respectable villains arn't any
better nor others."

"True; but, you know, their friends, who are educated, are more
sensitive in such matters than others."

"That mought be true, for's aught I know; but it's mighty strange you
never thought of that sarcumstance before."

"Never was in limbo before."

"That's the go, is't? Look-a-here, stranger, is it the darbies, or the
crime, which brings the disgrace upon the family? Accordin' to my
notion,--and I believe I've got something besides nits and lice in my
head,--it's the deed, and not the punishment, that fotches the disgrace.
But whar does your family live?"

"In New Orleans," replied Vernon, who knew nothing to the contrary,
though we are not sure that, if he had, it would have made any
difference in his reply.

"And your name is Vernon?"

"It is."

"Is that your family name, or only a borried one?"

"It is my real name," replied Vernon, not a little perplexed by the
coolness and method of the woodman's queries.

"I rather guess not," suggested Jerry, mildly.

"'Pon my honor--"

"Think again,--maybe you mought fotch the real one to your mind."

Vernon, whose temper was not particularly gentle under contradiction,
was nettled, and disposed to be angry.

"Perhaps you know best," said he, conquering his passion, and assuming
one of those peculiarly convincing smiles, which must be an hereditary
possession in the family of the "father of lies."

"Perhaps I do," replied Jerry. "If you don't know any better than that,
why, then, I do know best. It arn't Vernon."

"It is not manly, captain, to insult a prisoner," replied Vernon, with
an air of dignity, which came from the same source as the liar's smile.

"I don't mean to insult you, stranger; but facts is facts, all over the
world," said Jerry, untouched by the other's rebuke.

"What mean you?"

"Nothin', stranger, only I know you. Your mother arn't livin'."

"No," returned Vernon, with a start; for, with all his vices and his
crimes, a sense of respect for the name and honor of his family had
outlived the good principles imbibed upon a mother's knee. Although a
villain in almost every sense of the word, there were many redeeming
traits in his character, which the reader will be willing to believe, on
recalling his expressions of conscientiousness uttered to Maxwell.
Family pride is often hereditary, and the reverses and degradations of a
lifetime cannot extinguish it. It was so with Vernon. His real name was
unknown, even among his most intimate associates. He had early taken the
precaution--not in deference to the feelings of his father--to assume a
name; it was from pride of birth, which shuddered more at the thought of
a stain upon the family escutcheon than at all the crimes which may
canker and corrode the heart.

"My mother is not living," continued he; "but how know you this?"

"It don't matter, stranger. Have you seen your father lately?"

"Not for many years. I am an outcast from his presence," replied Vernon,
with some appearance of feeling.

"That's onfortunate; does he know what sort of a lark you are?"

"I hope not," replied Vernon, with a sickly smile.

"But he does; he knows all about this ongodly scrape you got into last
night."

"What mean you?" said the ruffian, sternly.

"Mean? Why, just exactly what I say, Mr. Vaudelier! Don't start! I know
you as well as you know yourself."

Vernon bit his lips; he was confounded at hearing his name uttered,--a
name which had not greeted his ears for many years. His passion was
disarmed before the rude but cutting speech of the woodman, whose
knowledge of human nature, bred in the woods as he had been, was
remarkable. There are men in the world, supposed to be entirely
intractable, who, when rightly approached, prove as gentle as lambs.
There is no evil without its antidote, however deeply it may be hid from
the knowledge of man; and there is no man so vile that he cannot be
reformed. The image of God, marred and disfigured as it may be, exists
in every man, as the faultless statue exists in the rough block of
marble; from which, when the fashioning hand, aided by the magic of
genius, touches it, the imago of beauty shall come forth. So, when man,
in whom always exists the elements of the highest character, shall be
approached by the true reformer,--the highest and truest genius,--the
bright ideal shall assume the actual form.

The woodman had touched a chord in the heart of the gambler which
vibrated at his touch. It was not the words, but the genuine sympathy
with which they were laden, that overcame the indifference of the
vicious man. Perceiving his advantage, the woodman followed it up,
repeatedly disarming the bolt of passion, which was poised in the mind
of his auditor.

"Your father," said Jerry, "is a good man, and you mought go round the
world without finding a better."

"Very true!" replied Vernon, moved to a degree he was unwilling to
acknowledge.

"Now, if you jest turn over a new leaf in the book of life, and try to
fotch out right in the end, I believe the old man would cry quits on the
old score."

"Send those men away, captain! I will not attempt to escape."

Jerry complied, and the watchers took their departure.

"Where is my father?"

"Close by, stranger. May be you'd like to see him?"

"On no account!"

"That's a good sign, anyhow," muttered Jerry. "You will have to see him,
I am afraid. You are under his ruff."

Vernon, completely overcome, staggered to a chair, and covered his face
with his hands.

"Not so bad a boy as one mought suppose," soliloquized Jerry, as he went
to the door, and requested the servant to summon Dr. Vaudelier. "The
fellow has fed on husks long enough, and, as the scripter says, he is
goin' to rise and go to his dad."

"Do not let my father see me,--anything, rather than that!" exclaimed
Vernon, rising, and grasping the woodman's arm. "I am a great villain!"

"That's very true, stranger; but you have got into the scrape, and the
best thing you can do is to get out on't."

"How can I!"

"Be an honest man."

"I fear I never can be that."

"Try it! There is something left of you."

At this moment Dr. Vaudelier entered the room. His aspect was stern and
forbidding, and the son buried his face in his hands after the first
glance at him.

"Jerome," said he, "you will bring my gray hairs with sorrow down to the
grave."

"Easy with him, doctor, easy! He is a little touched, and, if you manage
him right, you can fotch him over. He is under conviction now. Don't let
on yet!"

"Jerome, this is a sorry visit you have made me," continued the doctor.
"Are you entirely lost to all shame, that you could thus enter my house
with a band of ruffians behind you?"

"Father," said the convicted Vernon, "I did not know it was your house,
or I could never have done it."

"Alas, that a son of mine should have become a midnight assassin!" and
Dr. Vaudelier covered his face with his hands, and sobbed like a child.

"Forgive me, father!" exclaimed the repentant son. "Forgive me!"

"God and your country alone can forgive crimes like yours!"

"Easy with him, doctor!" interposed Jerry, fearful lest the son's
repentance should be dissipated before the father's sternness.

"I will atone for all, to the best of my ability."

"Would that you might do so!"

"I will! Heaven witness my sincerity!"

"Your first act of atonement must be to the lady you have so deeply
injured."

"I would be her slave for life!"

"If you are sincere, you will disclose all you know of the wrongs which
have been inflicted upon her."

"I fear, for her sake, that my knowledge is too limited to avail
anything to her. Maxwell assured me she was his slave, and showed me the
bill of sale. I believed him, or he could never have had my help."

"You were too willing to believe him," said the doctor, sternly.

"I told him, at the outset, that I would expose all I knew (which is but
little), if I discovered she was not a slave. I will tell you all."

"Let Miss Dumont be called, Jerry."

Emily came at the summons, and Dr. Vaudelier informed her of the
position of the matter.

"Can you forgive me, Miss Dumont, for the wrong I have done?"

"Freely, sir; and may God enable you to persevere in the course you have
taken!"

"Thank you! With an angel's prayer, I shall begin the new life with the
strength your good wishes impart."

Vernon now related all he knew of the machinations of the attorney,
concealing no part of his own or his confederate's villany. Of the will
he knew nothing, his operations having been confined to the attempts to
obtain possession of her person.

Dr. Vaudelier was satisfied that his son had told the whole truth. It
was a source of much satisfaction to him that he had chosen the better
part. His fervent prayer ascended that the penitent might be faithful to
his good resolutions.

All the circumstances relating to the will were unknown to Vernon, which
was the occasion of much congratulation both to his father and to Emily.
It seemed to relieve him from some portion of the guilt which the
subsequent transactions fastened upon him; and, when these circumstances
were related to him, a burst of generous indignation testified that he,
the blackleg, the robber, was above such villany. However depraved in
some respects, that vice which is commonly called _meanness_ had no
place within him. He was, or rather had been, of that class of operators
who "rob the rich to pay the poor;" who have no innate love of vice,
only a desire to be free from wholesome restraint, and have at hand,
without toil or sacrifice, the means of enjoying life to the utmost.

"Jerome," said Dr. Vaudelier, "this Maxwell must be watched, and, if you
are true to yourself, no one can do this duty as well as you."

"Trust me, sir! I am strong in this lady's service."

"I shall not doubt you, my son, until I have occasion to do so. I am
satisfied, if Miss Dumont is."

"I feel perfectly confident in the good faith of your son, and am
indebted to him for the zeal he manifests in my cause."

"Thank you, Miss Dumont," said Vernon. "You are too generous; but, be
assured, your confidence shall not be abused."

It was determined that Vernon should immediately depart for Vicksburg,
whither Maxwell had gone.



CHAPTER XXII.

     "He gives me leave to attend you,
     And is impatient till he sees you."

     SHAKSPEARE.


It was the afternoon of the same day, as Dr. Vaudelier was reclining
upon a rustic seat near the landing, he was surprised by the appearance
of a canoe coming down the creek. The canoe contained an elderly
gentleman, and a negro, who, after several unsuccessful attempts,
succeeded in landing the passenger upon the little pier. He was about
fifty years of age, apparently. His hair and whiskers were a mixture of
gray and black; his countenance was full, and his complexion florid,
which contrasted oddly with the green spectacles that rested upon his
nose.

"Do I have the honor of addressing Dr. Vaudelier?" said, the stranger,
in a tone so soft and silky that the doctor could hardly persuade
himself it did not proceed from a woman.

"That is my name, sir; and to whom am I indebted for this unexpected
pleasure?"

"De Guy, sir,--Antoine De Guy, at your service," squeaked the visitor,
with whom the reader is already acquainted.

"Well, sir, may I inquire the object of your visit?"

"Certainly, sir. I am informed there is a lady at present residing with
you, one of the unfortunate persons who were on board the Chalmetta at
the time of her late disaster. A Miss Dumont."

"Who informed you, sir?"

De Guy hesitated a little, and then said he heard a number of gentlemen
discuss the late disaster at the hotel in Vicksburg; that one of them
had mentioned this fact--he really could not tell the gentleman's name.

"What is your business with the lady?" asked the doctor, to whom the
idea of a new enemy of Emily had already presented itself.

"That, sir, I can best disclose to the lady in person," squeaked the
street-lawyer, with a low bow.

"This way then," and the doctor led him to the library, into which he
soon after conducted Emily.

"Miss Dumont?" said De Guy, rising and making a profound obeisance as
she entered. "My name is De Guy."

Emily bowed slightly, but made no reply.

"May I beg that our interview may be private?" said the attorney,
glancing at Dr. Vaudelier.

"This gentleman is my friend and confidant; it is not necessary that he
should retire," replied Emily, as Dr. Vaudelier was moving towards the
door.

"Very well, madam; though I think, from the nature of my business, you
would wish it to be confidential."

"Perhaps I had better withdraw," suggested the physician.

"By no means, my dear sir; if this gentleman's visit relates to business
matters, I must beg the favor of your counsel."

"As you please, Miss Dumont; I come charged with a message from your
uncle, my respected client, Mr. Dumont."

"Indeed, sir!" replied Emily, a slight tremor creeping through her
frame; "pray deliver it at once."

"It is simply to say your immediate presence at your late residence is
necessary."

"Where did you see my uncle?" asked she.

"At Bellevue, madam, yesterday morning. I arrived at eleven o'clock
to-day."

"When did Mr. Dumont return from his journey up the river?" asked Dr.
Vaudelier.

De Guy reflected a moment; from the shade of displeasure on his
countenance, it was evident he disliked the interference of the doctor.

"About four days ago."

"When did you last see your uncle, Miss Dumont?" asked the doctor.

"I have not seen him since the second day of our journey,"--which was
the time that Jaspar had been left at the wood-yard.

"Probably, then, he has returned to Bellevue. It is singular that, under
the instructions of the will, he should leave you in this unceremonious
manner."

"Not at all," interrupted De Guy.

"You speak as though you were familiar with his motions," said Dr.
Vaudelier, with a penetrating glance at the attorney.

"To some extent, I am," replied the silky-toned lawyer, with a smile
which was intended to declare his own innocence in any of the plots of
Jaspar. "He has voluntarily acquainted me with some of the particulars
of this unfortunate affair."

"Indeed, sir!"

"Such is the fact," continued the attorney, with professional ease; "he
has sent for Miss Dumont in order to effect a compromise."

"A compromise!" exclaimed Emily, with disdain; "there can be no
compromise, short of restoring, absolutely, my rights!"

"It is very probable he is quite ready to do so," replied the
accommodating attorney.

"May I ask what has produced this singular and sudden change in the
purpose of my uncle?"

"Well, madam, it would be difficult to explain the precise reasons. His
mind seemed troubled; I advised him to unburden to me, which he did. The
conclusion of the whole matter is, he has taken this step by my
advice," said De Guy, with an air of the deepest humility.

Emily was somewhat moved, by the revelation of the attorney, from the
stern reserve she had manifested, and said,

"I am grateful for your interest in my behalf."

"Do not mention it, madam. There is a pleasure in doing one's duty,
which is superior to every other gratification."

"May I ask what prompted you to give such advice?" asked Dr. Vaudelier,
incredulously.

"The consciousness that my duty to this lady demanded it. It was not
exactly in keeping with the profession, I am aware; but I felt obliged
to sacrifice professional consistency to the call of justice," said the
attorney, in such a way as to leave it doubtful whether he was
perpetrating a jest or a moral axiom.

"Humph!" said the doctor, with a doubtful sneer.

"Principle before professional advantage, is my motto, sir," continued
De Guy.

"Pray, what gave you the first intimation that all was not right between
this lady and her uncle?"

"The voluntary confession of Mr. Dumont," replied De Guy, readily.

"You do not believe Mr. Dumont would have abandoned his purpose, just as
it was in the very act of being consummated, without a strong motive."

"True; I understand that the body-servant of the late Colonel Dumont is
upon this island. He must have informed the lady, by this time, of his
share in the transaction."

"Well."

"And Mr. Dumont saw the boy the night before he left the steamer."

"True."

"Was not the reäppearance, the rising from the dead, of this man, quite
enough to convince him that all his plans had failed?"

"Why so?"

"The boy had the will!"

"It is all plain to me," said Emily, more disposed to trust De Guy than
Dr. Vaudelier was.

"Perfectly plain, madam; it is not at all strange that he should adopt
this course. He must trust to his niece's good-nature to save him from
exposure."

"Perhaps this is only a plan to get the lady into his power again,"
suggested Dr. Vaudelier.

"I assure you it is not. He is sorely troubled in mind, even now, at the
guilt which is fastened upon him. His conscience is awakened."

"And well it might be," said the doctor.

"True," responded the silky attorney, with an appearance of honest
indignation; "but when we see a man disposed to repent, we should be
ready to assist him."

Dr. Vaudelier involuntarily turned his thoughts to the incidents of the
morning,--called to mind the feelings which had been awakened in the
presence of his penitent son, and he felt the full force of De Guy's
argument.

"If Mr. Dumont is disposed to repent of the injury he has done his
niece, and make atonement for it, I should, by all means, advise her to
follow the course which, I am sure, her gentle nature suggests. 'To err
is human; to forgive, divine.' The lady is a Christian, and will act in
the true spirit of Christianity."

"I trust she will," responded De Guy, meekly; "I trust she will, and,
with all convenient haste, try to mitigate his distress."

"I will! I will!" exclaimed Emily.

"Perhaps you will accompany me, as your uncle suggests," insinuated De
Guy.

"There is certainly no need of such haste as this," said the doctor.

"Her uncle may change his mind."

"Then his penitence is not sincere, and he cannot be trusted."

"I should scarcely call it penitence, sir, since it is only the fear of
discovery which has driven him to this step," said the attorney,
branching off in to a new school of ethics.

"I can go in a few days," said Emily. "Captain Carroll, you think, is
out of danger now?"

De Guy started, and a scowl of the deepest malignity overshadowed his
countenance, which had before been that of a meek and truthful man. The
change was so sudden that he seemed to be a man within a man, and the
two creatures of an opposite character. Neither the doctor nor Emily
noticed the start, or the sudden change of expression; and the attorney,
seemingly aware of the danger of wearing two faces, restored the former
aspect.

"I think he is entirely out of danger," replied Dr. Vaudelier, in reply
to Emily's question. "Perhaps he will be able to accompany you in a few
days."

Emily blushed, but made no reply, other than a sweet smile, betokening
the happiness such an event would give her.

"I fear, madam, the delay will be dangerous," suggested De Guy, who did
not relish the proposition of the doctor.

"Why dangerous? If Mr. Dumont changes his mind, we have the means of
proving that that miserable will is false."

"You forget, sir, that Mr. Benson may be lost, and with him the will,"
interposed Emily, whose love of truth did not enable her to conceal the
weakness of her case.

"Indeed! Is the will in the hands of a third party?" said the attorney,
with apparent indifference, while, in reality, he was inwardly chuckling
with delight.

"It matters not," replied the doctor; "the lady's case is safe. You can
inform Mr. Dumont that his niece will present herself in a week or ten
days."

"But, my dear sir, the delay will be fatal, both to the lady and her
uncle," said the attorney, with alarm.

"It cannot be helped," said the doctor.

"Mr. Dumont's health, I fear, will render it unsafe to wait so long.
Miss Dumont does not wish her uncle to die unforgiven."

"I will go, sir; I will go at once," exclaimed Emily, shocked at the
condition of Jaspar, and anxious, as was her nature, to relieve the
sufferings he must endure in her absence. She forgot how basely he had
wronged her--how he had attempted her life; the divine sentiment, "Love
your enemies," prevailed over every other consideration.

"Die unforgiven," muttered the doctor. "Is he sick?"

"He is, sir, and near his end."

"Why have you not mentioned this circumstance before? It seems of
sufficient importance to merit a passing word."

"I wished not to distress the lady. I think I hinted that he was in
great distress."

"I fear some evil, Miss Dumont."

"Be assured, sir, if Mr. Dumont meditates any further wrong, he has not
the power of putting it into effect. He is prostrate upon his bed, and
if his niece does not see him soon, it will be too late, if it is not so
already. The stricken man must soon stand for judgment in another
world," said De Guy, solemnly.

"This alters the case," said the doctor, musing.

"But, sir," continued the attorney, "I was aware that, after what has
happened, my mission would be attended with many difficulties, and I
have not come unprepared to overcome them. I do not wonder that you have
no confidence,--I confess I should not have, under like circumstances.
You know Dr. Le Verier?" and the attorney drew from his pocket a bundle
of papers, and opening one, he glanced at the signature upon it, as he
pronounced the name.

"I do, very well," replied the doctor.

"Our family physician!" exclaimed Emily.

"Here, madam, is his certificate of your uncle's physical condition,"
said De Guy, handing her the paper.

Emily read the paper, and handed it to the doctor.

"Very satisfactory," said he; "you will pardon me for doubting your
word--"

"Don't mention it, sir," replied De Guy, blandly. "I fully appreciate
your motive, and honor you for it. And you know Mr. Faxon?"

"O, yes--what of him," said Emily, eagerly.

"A letter from him," replied De Guy, giving her the missive.

Emily hastily broke the seal, and, as she examined its contents, the
attorney appeared uneasy, and watched her with a solicitude such as
attorneys seldom manifest in their clients, especially if the pockets of
the latter be empty.

"I will go immediately!" exclaimed Emily, as she finished reading the
letter. "Mr. Faxon says my Uncle Jaspar is quite a different man, and is
ready to restore all my rights."

"Finally," said De Guy, "here is your uncle's own signature. This letter
I wrote by his dictation, but he, with much difficulty, signed his
name."

Emily perused the paper, which was a promise that Jaspar would restore
all, and concluded with an earnest request for her to return to Bellevue
with all possible haste. Emily recognized the signature, though it was
apparently written by the trembling hand of a dying man.

"The papers are quite satisfactory," said Dr. Vaudelier, as he completed
the reading of the note from Jaspar. "If you had presented them at
first, I should have been spared my uncourteous suspicions. But you will
pardon them, and consider that the lady's case requires the utmost
caution."

"It was only in deference to the lady's nerves that I broke the
intelligence gradually. I was quite willing to sacrifice myself, for the
moment, in your good opinion, for her sake. I trust you will appreciate
and regard my motives, as I do yours."

Henry Carroll, as may be supposed, was much against the plan of Emily's
returning to Bellevue with De Guy. But a death-bed scene was a difficult
thing to reason against, and he was obliged to yield the point before
the earnest eloquence of Emily, and more calm persuasions of Dr.
Vaudelier.

It was arranged that Hatchie should accompany her, and that the party
should take the morning boat from Vicksburg.

Hatchie was immediately summoned to receive instructions in relation to
their departure.

At the mention of Hatchie's name, the attorney grew marvellously uneasy,
and suddenly recollected that the negro who had conveyed him to the
island was waiting for him. He therefore proposed that Dr. Vaudelier
should escort Emily to Vicksburg in the morning, which was readily
agreed to, and De Guy made a precipitate retreat, without confronting
the mulatto.



CHAPTER XXIII.

     "_Jaffier_. O, Belvidera!
     _Belvidera_. Why was I last night delivered to a villain?
     _Jaffier_. Ha! a villain?
     _Belvidera_. Yes, to a villain!"

     OTWAY.


Agreeably to the arrangement of the previous night, Emily was on board
of the "Montezuma," prepared to commence her journey to Bellevue. While
De Guy conducted Emily to the ladies' cabin, Hatchie was getting her few
articles of baggage on board, and the boat was fairly under weigh
without the faithful mulatto's having had a sight of the new protector
of Emily. The attorney congratulated himself on this circumstance; his
mind had thus been released from the pressure of a most painful anxiety.
His plan was now accomplished.

But the meeting could not be much longer deferred. De Guy, however, now
that they were free from the friends of Emily, no longer dreaded it.

The dinner hour arrived, and Hatchie was standing by the side of his
mistress on the gallery, when De Guy approached and announced the fact.
His voice startled Hatchie. It was the same squeaking tone he had heard
at Bellevue on the night of his escape. He turned to look upon the
speaker, and was confounded to behold the very person who had plotted
with Jaspar on that memorable night! With a presence of mind which never
deserted him, he held his peace, resolved not to frighten his mistress
by exposing the fact.

Hatchie stood lost in thought on the gallery long after De Guy had
conducted his mistress to the dinner-table. The mulatto was in a
quandary,--a worse quandary than the congressional hero of Kentucky has
described in any of his thousand relations of hair-breadth escapes. His
mistress was fairly committed to her new destiny, and how could he
extricate her?

He resolved to do the only thing he possibly could do,--to watch
unceasingly, to be ever ready to defend his mistress in case of
necessity. The papers which De Guy had brought from Bellevue, and which
he heard described by the doctor, did much to assure him that no evil
was intended towards her; but the man who had been a villain once was,
in his opinion, exceedingly apt to be so again.

Emily was ill at ease during the passage; not that she felt unsafe, or
dreaded treachery, but something seemed to whisper that evil _might_ be
near her. An undefined sensation of doubt seemed to beset her path, and
urge upon her the unpleasant necessity of extreme caution. She was
conscious of being engaged in a good work. She had forgiven her great
enemy, and was now on her way to smooth his dying pillow. There was
something lofty and beautiful in the thought, and she derived much
consolation from it.

De Guy rarely intruded himself upon her notice during the passage. At
meal-hours he was scrupulously polite and attentive, but he was as cold
and formal as she could desire. She never ventured upon the promenade
deck, unless her faithful Hatchie was near.

The mulatto, with all his watchfulness, was unable to discover any
indications of treachery on the part of De Guy, though an apparently
confidential conversation with the captain of the steamer, on the night
before their arrival at New Orleans, had rather an unfavorable
appearance.

It was late at night when the Montezuma arrived at New Orleans. The
steamer quietly took her berth at the levee, so that few of the
passengers took any notice of their arrival, and contentedly turned
over in their berths to wait the advent of the coming day.

Hatchie, who occupied a room near the boiler deck, had been awakened by
the confusion of making fast the steamer. His watchful vigil over the
safety of his mistress did not permit him to slumber while the
possibility of danger existed. He had, therefore, risen; but scarcely
had he completed his dress, when the door of his room was suddenly
opened, and himself violently seized by two stout men. The attack had
been so sudden, and the movements of the assailants so well directed,
that resistance was hopeless. Before he fully realized the presence of
his foes, his hands were pinioned behind him. In this condition, without
knowing why or by whom he was assailed, he was hurried away to the
calaboose.

At an early hour in the morning carriages and drays began to assemble on
the levee, and all the noise and bustle of landing passengers, baggage
and freight, commenced.

Emily Dumont, as soon as it was fairly light, rose from her couch, and
made her preparations to leave the steamer. Fully equipped for her
journey to Bellevue, she entered the cabin, where De Guy soon presented
himself.

"Where is Hatchie?" was the first question she asked; for Hatchie had
always been on the spot whenever and wherever she needed his services.

"I have taken the liberty to send him up to the St. Charles with your
luggage. You will, of course, breakfast there," said the attorney,
blandly.

"Such was not my intention," replied she, as a cold tremor--she knew not
why--agitated her.

"I am sorry to have mistaken your purpose; the ride to Bellevue is a
long one to take without any refreshment."

"I mind it not; my haste is too great to admit of any delay."

"I sent by your servant to order an early breakfast, and a carriage at
seven o'clock."

"Very well, I will conform to the arrangement you have made," replied
Emily, with a dissatisfied air.

A carriage was called from the mass which had congregated, whose drivers
were not a whit behind those of the metropolitan city in earnest
perseverance; and De Guy assisted her into it, seating himself at a
respectful distance on the forward seat.

Now, the act of engaging a cab or a carriage is of itself quite an easy
matter; but we question whether passengers are generally as well suited
as in the present instance. Without troubling the worthy Mr. De Guy with
any foolish queries as to where he should drive them, the Jehu mounted
his box, and conducted his team apparently to the entire satisfaction of
his fare. It may be that the intelligent driver had a way of divining
the wishes of his customers; or it may be that De Guy, in deference to
any supposed repugnance to business matters on the part of his
companion, had previously discussed this topic. Without any design of
prejudicing the reader's mind in favor of the latter supposition, we
confess our inclination to accept it as correct.

Emily vainly attempted to assure herself that her companion was
conducting her in good faith to the home of her early years. An
undefined feeling of insecurity was painfully besetting her, whichever
way she turned. She considered and reconsidered the evidences he had
brought to Cottage Island of the truth of his own statements, and of his
own trustworthiness. It was all in vain. Could those papers have been
forgeries? It was a terrible thought to her.

The carriage stopped, and the attorney invited her to alight.
Change--anything, was a relief to the painful sensations which had
almost overpowered her, and without reflection she did so. Her faculties
were so confused she did not notice that it was not the private entrance
of the St. Charles. She took everything for granted, and accepted the
offered arm of De Guy. She crossed the broad side-walk, and, raising her
eyes, was overwhelmed by seeing at the side of the door she was about
to enter the sign of "_Anthony Marwell, Attorney and Counsellor at
Law_."

"Please to walk up stairs," squeaked the attorney, drawing her after him
to the inside of the door, which he immediately closed and bolted.

"Not a step further, sir!" said she, with as much firmness as she could
command. "What means this? Am I again betrayed?"

"Nay, nay, madam, walk up quietly," said De Guy, in a soothing tone, as
he applied a little gentle force to the arm he held.

"Unhand me, sir!" screamed Emily, as loud as her agitated condition
would permit.

But De Guy heeded her not; and, without condescending to utter another
word, he took her up like a child, and bore her up the stairs to
Maxwell's office. Turning the key to prevent interruption, he opened the
lawyer's private apartment in the rear, and placed the fainting girl
upon the bed, and retired.

Unlocking the office door, he was confronted by an old negress, who had
charge of the sweeping and cleaning department of the building.

"Sar! what's all dis about?" screamed she, in no gentle tone; for the
colored lady had witnessed De Guy's achievement from the stair-case
above.

"Hush, Dido--"

"Sar! who are you dat come inter Massa Maxwell's room widout no leave?"

"Never mind who I am, Dido. There is a lady in the bedroom, by whom Mr.
Maxwell sets his life--do you hear?--sets his life. She has fainted, and
you must take care of her,"--and De Guy slipped a half-eagle into the
negress' hands.

"Dat alters de case," said the black lady, eying the money with much
satisfaction. "Massa Maxwell's a sly dog. I take good care ob de
lady--not de fus time, nuder."

"Don't let her get away; take good care of her, and you shall have half
a dozen just such pieces."

"Never fear, Massa, I's use to de business."

De Guy left the building, satisfied, it would seem, of the negress'
fidelity.



CHAPTER XXIV.

     "_Lieut_. Forgive me, sir, what I'm compelled t' obey: An order for
     your close confinement.

     "_King H_. Whence comes it, good lieutenant?

     "_Lieut_. Sir, from the Duke of Gloster.

     "_King H_. Good-night to all, then!"

     SHAKSPEARE.


Connected with the estate at Bellevue, of which Jaspar Dumont was now in
actual possession, was a small slave jail. It had been constructed under
the immediate direction of Jaspar, to afford a place of confinement for
the runaway or refractory negroes of the plantation. It was located at
some distance from the proprietary mansion, and from the quarters of the
negroes. Jaspar's taste in matters of this kind was of the most refined
character, and he had caused it to be constructed on a plan and in a
manner that would seem to bid defiance to the skill of a Baron Trenck,
or a Stephen Burroughs. The material was granite, brought at no trifling
expense from the North. There were no windows upon the sides, and only
one entrance, which was secured by double iron doors. Light and air were
supplied, in meagre quantities, by means of a skylight in the roof,
which was regulated by a cord passing down upon the outside.

This jail, either by accident or design, was so constructed that any
noise inside was not transmitted to the outside. Whether this was
because of the reflecting properties of the walls, which might have sent
the sound echoing out at the skylight on the apex of the four-sided
roof, or because of some other natural causes, we shall not take up the
reader's time in discussing. Its inmates might startle Heaven with their
cries, but certainly every ear on earth below must be deaf to their
wail. This circumstance seemed typical of the actual fact of oppression;
but we are sure that Jaspar never meant to typify the groans, by man
unheeded, of the victims of tyranny ascending to be heard above.

It was the day after the events related in the last chapter, and the
negro jail was tenanted; but not by a refractory or a runaway slave. It
was now devoted to a more dignified purpose, being occupied by a white
man and his wife, the victims of Jaspar Dumont's hatred and fears. They
had already been prisoners for the past forty-eight hours. No sound from
the wide, wide world without had reached them; and, though the man had
shouted himself hoarse in endeavors to arrest the attention of any
casual passer-by, the sound of his voice had risen to Heaven, but had
not been heard by any mortal ear.

On a heap of dirty straw, in one corner, lay a female. She was feeble
and helpless. By her side, gazing sadly upon her, was her companion,
pale and haggard, and apparently conquered in spirit. The sufferings of
the frail being by his side seemed to pierce him to the soul. He felt
not for himself; his thoughts, his feelings, all were devoted to her,
whom he had loved and respected through many vicissitudes, whose kindly
sympathy had cheered his heart in many of the severest of earth's
trials. They had passed through peril and poverty together, and now the
cup of tribulation seemed full to the brim. They were doomed to
death,--not to the death of the malefactor, but as victims of private
interest. No friendly jailer had been near, to bring them even a cup of
cold water to assuage their consuming thirst. Not a morsel of food had
they tasted since their incarceration! The terrible doom to which they
were consigned was too apparent; there was nothing to foreshadow even
the slightest hope of redemption. A few days' intercourse with their
inhuman persecutor had demonstrated too plainly that he was equal to any
crime which his own safety demanded.

The female turned uneasily upon her rude and filthy bed. Her companion
bent over her, and, as a flood of tears poured from his sunken eyes, he
imprinted a kiss upon her pale cheek.

"Do you feel no better, Delia?" asked he, tenderly.

"Alas, no! The sands of life are fast ebbing out. O, for a single drop
of cold water!"

"God in heaven! must I see her die, with no power to save?" exclaimed
Dalhousie,--for it was he,--striking his hands violently upon his
forehead.

"Do not let me distress you, Francois! Let me die!--I am ready to die,"
said she, faintly.

Dalhousie could make no reply. His emotions were too powerful to permit
his utterance. Maddened by despair, into which the terrible situation of
his cherished wife had plunged him, he paced the jail with long strides,
gazing about him, as if to seek some desperate remedy for his woes.
Escape had scarcely presented itself to his mind. He had not the energy
of character which rises superior to every ill, and had bent himself
supinely to the fate which awaited him. To work through the solid walls
of the jail seemed to him an impossibility, even if provided with the
necessary implements. The scheme was too vast for his mind,
unaccustomed, as it was, to contend with great difficulties.

Despair seemed to create, at this moment, a new man within him, armed
with energy to break through every obstacle which might oppose him. His
feeble, suffering companion demanded an effort for her relief, and such
a demand even his supine nature could not resist.

Near one side of the jail was a shallow pit, which had, apparently, been
quite recently excavated. In it lay the shovel with which the earth had
been thrown out.

Dalhousie fixed his eyes upon the pit. A new thought animated him. "_I_
began to dig that pit for gold; I will continue it for water," muttered
he, as he seized the shovel, and commenced digging. Awhile he labored
with the energy of desperation; but, enfeebled by long fasting, and
unused to such severe toil, he soon felt his strength give way. It
appeared to be his only hope, the only ministration of comfort to the
loved one beside him, and he strove manfully against the weakness which
beset him. An hour he labored; but not a drop of moisture rewarded his
toil. Overcome by his exertions, he seated himself upon the brink of the
pit, and gave way to the agonizing emotions which filled his soul. A
sigh from his wife roused him to a new effort, and, partially
invigorated by the few moments' rest, he again applied himself to his
task. The ground was of a moist character, and he had every
encouragement of soon finding the coveted treasure. Animated by this
hope, he redoubled his efforts, and for another hour despair nerved his
arm, and strengthened his sinking frame. Still the buried treasure
eluded his search. Exhausted by his exertions, he sunk heavily upon the
side of the pit, and the big tears coursed down his hollow cheeks.
Deserted by man, he felt that there was no God in heaven; and no
divinely-born sentiment came to cheer him in the hour of his
despondency. He felt that the hand of death must soon take him and his
loved wife into its cold embrace. With much effort he drew himself to
her side, and endeavored to compose his mind for the struggle with the
destroyer.

Two hours he lay by her side; but his time had not yet come. Rested from
the severe fatigue he had undergone, he felt a new vigor stealing
through his frame. Something like hope again flitted before his
desponding mind, and, partially raising himself from his recumbent
posture, he gazed about the apartment. The pit he had dug was yawning
near him. A shudder convulsed his frame, as it reminded him of the open
grave that gaped to receive him. Had he not dug this grave for himself?

The instinct of self-preservation drew him to his feet. Seizing the
shovel, he advanced to the pit, when, to his unspeakable delight, he
perceived that the bottom of it was covered with black, dirty water. The
sight roused his dormant energies, and he saw before him years of life
and happiness. Leaping into the pit, he drank from the putrid pool,
using the palms of his hands for a drinking vessel.

Tearing off the top of his glazed cap, he succeeded in making a very
tolerable cup of it, with which he conveyed some of the precious liquid
to the parched lips of his sinking wife. The act roused her from the
absent mood to which she had abandoned herself. She took a long draught
of the discolored beverage, and, had it been the pure mountain spring,
its effect could scarcely have been more magical. It not only refreshed
the body, but inspired the mind. With this dawning hope the poor
prisoners built the flimsy fabric of future joy and safety.

Dalhousie had lived years in the hours of his confinement. Experience,
the stern mentor of humanity, had ministered to him, and imparted the
strength and resolution which often require years to mature. Thoughts,
and feelings, and energies, to which he had before been a stranger, came
bounding through his mind, as the mighty river, which, having broken
away the feeble barrier man had set in its course, roars and thunders
down its before forsaken path. The powerful impulse of hope, stimulated
by this successful act, made him curse his supineness in calmly yielding
to the awful fate which awaited him. His best hours--his hours of
unimpaired strength--had now passed away; there was no fountain at which
he could renew it. But energy now burned within him, and, like an
invisible power, seemed to drive him on to some great act. The impulse
was irresistible; hopeless as his case had before appeared, he
determined to escape. But how? This question had not yet presented
itself. Escape from the jail!--from death!--himself,--more than himself,
his wife! Stone walls lost their appalling firmness, and were no more
than downy masses, which his breath could blow away.

Animated by this irresistible impulse, he took the shovel, and sounded
upon the walls; but they were everywhere firm and solid beneath his
blow. It seemed useless to his usually inert mind, and he was about to
abandon himself again to the jaws of despair, when a new thought
suggested itself. Fired with the inspiration of the new idea, he
impulsively proceeded to carry it into execution. By the side of the
wall, with vigorous strokes, he commenced digging, with the intention of
undermining it. Without a thought of his enfeebled body, he plied the
shovel with the energy of desperation. Instead of making a calm
calculation, and proceeding with such an economy of strength as would
enable him to complete the work, he labored as though the task before
him could be easily and quickly accomplished.

His wife, somewhat revived by the draught she had taken, penetrated the
purpose of her husband; but she saw that his strength must entirely fail
him ere the work could be accomplished.

"You must husband your strength, Francois," said she; "rest a little."

"The hope of deliverance is too strong to let me sacrifice another
moment in idleness," replied Dalhousie, without ceasing from his labors.

"But, Francois, you will kill yourself, if you work so hard."

"That would be an honorable death, at least."

"And leave me to linger here?--No, let us die together, if die we must.
Perhaps I can help you,"--and she strove to rise.

"Do not rise, Delia,--keep quiet; I am strong, and will yet deliver you
from this dungeon. Lay quiet, dear; do not add to my distress."

"I fear I must lay still,--I cannot rise," said she, sinking back with
the exhaustion of the effort.

Dalhousie threw down his shovel, and hastened to her side.

"Do not attempt to rise again, dear," said he. "Let me get you some more
water."

He again filled the rude cup at the pit, and, after she had taken a long
draught of it, he laved her head, an operation which appeared to refresh
her.

"Do you feel better?"

"Much better."

"Now keep perfectly quiet, and I will resume my task."

"I will; but pray, Francois, do not work so hard; temper your enthusiasm
with reason. You cannot succeed, unless you are careful."

"I will, dear; I will rest every little while."

Dalhousie resumed his labor, and, convinced by his wife's reasoning, he
labored more moderately. While he toils at this apparently hopelessly
task, we will return to the night when we left him in the library, after
having obtained possession of the secret packet.

The overseer, after leaving the library, was perplexed to determine his
future course. He was in possession of a mighty secret, a secret which
involved his employer's very existence. The realization of a thousand
golden dreams was at hand, and he was resolved, without an over-nice
balancing of conscientious scruples, to make the most of the information
he had obtained. There were two methods of procedure open to him, and
his perplexity was occasioned by this fact. In this instance his
resolution was not at fault, for the reins were in his own hands. It was
not like hewing a path through the granite barriers of difficulty,
against the very frown of destiny. He imagined that some overruling
power had made the path, and invited him to walk in it.

Should he make his fortune by means of the uncle or the niece? The
question of his existence had narrowed itself down to this point. It
was sure, he felt, from one or the other.

Being of a naturally generous disposition, with strong affections, and
having not a little of the natural sense of justice in his composition,
he was decidedly in favor of permitting the niece to enrich him. This
was his personal preference; but he was sensible of the truth of the
axiom, that individual preferences must sometimes be sacrificed to the
success of the main object; and, if the circumstances demanded it, he
felt able to make the sacrifice.

If he forwarded the packet to its proper destination, the lady would,
without doubt, be soon restored to her possessions. This was the course
he preferred, as well as the course which justice and morality demanded.
But, alas! his moral sentiment was not sufficiently developed to make
him pause before taking the opposite course, if his present and
temporary interest should seem to demand it. A departure from the strict
injunction of conscience is sure to bring misery; and this was doubly
true in his case.

The uncle was in actual possession, and he called to mind the old maxim,
that "possession is nine points in the law." He was unwilling to risk
the bright prospects, which had so suddenly opened upon him, on the
tenth point. Fearing that Jaspar's unscrupulous character would enable
him to defeat the heiress, he had not the courage to do his duty and
trust Heaven for the reward.

With this view of his position, he reluctantly--we will do him the
justice to say reluctantly--abandoned the project of restoring the niece
to her birthright. Thus was the great purpose of his life narrowed down
to one point, and he retired to his pillow to consider in what manner he
should approach Jaspar.

Simple as this single point had before appeared, he found, on
reflection, that it was environed with difficulties and dangers. Jaspar
was intrenched in his own castle, and it would require some address even
to approach near enough to hold a parley. Conclusive as were the
evidences in his possession of Jaspar's perfidy, they might, by the aid
of cunning and gold, be made to appear as forgeries, gotten up for the
purpose of extorting money. The stake was a great one, and he determined
with a bold hand to play the game.



CHAPTER XXV.

     "_Cassius_. At such a time as this, it is not meet
     That every nice offence should bear its comment.
     --You wrong me every way; you wrong me, Brutus!"
     SHAKSPEARE.


Jaspar Dumont, on the morning after the abstraction of the papers by
Dalhousie, rose from his inebriated slumbers; but his rest was a
misnomer. The strong excitement, which a few weeks before had served to
keep his mind occupied, had now passed away. His villany was
accomplished; but it had not purchased the satisfaction he coveted--it
had cost too much sacrifice of soul. Brandy was his only solace; and
even this only conjured up demons of torture in his fevered imagination.

He was conscious that on the previous night he had drank too much. There
seemed to be a chasm in his recollection which all his efforts could not
fill. He might, while in a measure unconscious of his actions, have
betrayed some of his momentous secrets. The overseer, of whose presence
he had an indistinct remembrance, might have obtained some further clue
to the great mystery. These were annoying reflections, and while he
resolved to be more temperate in future, how fervently he adjured his
patron demon to ward off any danger he might have courted in his
inebriation!

After his accustomed ride through the cane-fields, he retired to the
library. The decanter had been replenished with brandy, and his late
resolutions did not deter him from freely imbibing of its contents. The
equilibrium was restored. His mind, stimulated by the fumes of the
liquor, resumed its usual buoyancy. He paced the room, and drank
frequent draughts of the fiery beverage.

Suddenly he stopped in his perambulation, as a faint recollection of the
lost key came to his mind. He searched his pockets; but it could not be
found. The drawer was locked. Suspicious as he was fearful, he trembled
lest in his oblivious moments he had compromised his secret. He sent for
the overseer, determined to know and provide for the worst.

After the messenger left, his reflections assumed a new direction. He
tried to laugh away his suspicions, applied epithets to himself which it
would not have been safe for another to have applied, and in good round
oaths cursed his own stupidity. In his privacy he was a pattern of
candor, and bestowed upon himself such a rating as, to another, would
have given fair promise of good results.

He satisfied himself that the drawer could contain nothing to implicate
him; and, even if it did, why, he was safe enough in the hands of
Dalhousie. The overseer he regarded as a kind of _thing_, who, while he
retained him in his service, would never injure him. Jaspar, for some
reason or other, had formed no very elevated opinion of Dalhousie's
acuteness. He had bought him off cheaply once, and could do so again. If
he refused to be bought off cheaply,--and Jaspar grated his teeth at the
reflection,--why, a method could be devised to get rid of him.

While engaged in these musings, a knock at the door startled him to his
feet. It was not the overseer's knock.

A servant announced a strange gentleman, who declined to give his name.

"Show him in," said Jaspar, re-seating himself, and striving to assume a
tranquillity which did not pervade his mind. Since the consummation of
his base scheme he had been a prey to nervous starts, and the
announcement of a stranger stirred the blood in its channels, and sent
his heart into his throat. This nervous excitement had been increasing
upon him every day, and his devotion to the bottle by no means tended
to allay it. Such are the consequences of guilt. If the victim, before
he yields to temptation, could anticipate the terrible state of suspense
into which his guilt would plunge him,--if he could see only a faint
reflection of himself, starting at every sound in nervous terror, as
before the appearance of some grim spirit of darkness,--he would never
have the courage to commit a crime.

The stranger entered the library. It was De Guy. At his appearance
Jaspar's fears gave way to a most uncontrollable fit of passion.

"Villain!" exclaimed he, "how dare you enter my house, after what has
passed?"

"Gently, my dear sir! You forget that we have been friends, and that our
mutual safety requires us to remain so still," said De Guy, in his silky
tone and compromising manner.

Jaspar compressed his lips, and grated his teeth, while a smothered oath
escaped him. But his rage soon found a more audible expression.

"Friends!" By ----, I should think we had been _friends!_" said he,
fiercely.

"Certainly, my dear sir,--_friends_."

"Then save me from my friends!"

"Better say your enemies! I fear you have a great many."

"Save me from both! May I ask to what fortunate circumstance I am
indebted for the honor of this visit?" said Jaspar, sarcastically
mimicking the silky tones, of the attorney.

"I came to forward our mutual interest."

"Then, by ----, you can take yourself off! You and I will part company."

"Indeed, sir, this is ungenerous, after I have assisted you into your
present position, to treat me in this manner," replied the attorney,
smilingly shaking his head.

"I am _not_ indebted to you for my life, or my position! You have been
a traitor, sir!--a traitor! and, tear out my heart, but I will swing,
before I have anything further to do with you!" roared Jaspar, with
compound emphasis, as he rose from his chair, and advanced to the
brandy-bottle.

"Gently, Mr. Dumont, gently! Do not get into a passion! May I ask what
you mean by traitor? Have I not served you faithfully?" interrogated the
attorney, with a smile of assurance.

"Served me faithfully!" sneered Jaspar. "You served me a cursed shabby
trick above Baton Rouge, at the wood-yard."

"My _dear_ sir, you wrong me! I did not injure you bodily, I trust?"

"No, sir! You have not that satisfaction."

"I rejoice to hear it. All that I did was for your benefit," returned
the attorney, complacently.

"Do you take me for an idiot?"

"By no means! You have shown your shrewdness too often to permit such a
supposition."

"What do you mean, then?" said Jaspar, a little mollified, in spite of
himself, by the conciliatory assurance of De Guy.

"Simply that your interest demanded your absence. I had not the time,
then, to convince you of the fact; and, I trust, you will pardon the
little subterfuge I adopted to promote your own views."

Jaspar opened his eyes, and fixed them in a broad stare upon big
companion.

"Explain yourself," said he.

"Everything has come out right,--has it not?"

"Yes."

"You are in quiet possession?"

"Yes."

"Then, sir, you may thank me for that little plan of mine at the
wood-yard. If I had not prevented you from continuing your journey, all
your hopes would have been blasted."

"I do not understand you."

"Where is your niece now?" asked the attorney, as a shade of anxiety
beclouded his brow.

"She was lost in the explosion," replied Jaspar, with a calmness with
which few persons can speak of the loss of near friends.

The attorney was particularly glad at this particular moment to
ascertain that this, as he had before suspected, was Jaspar's belief,
and that this belief had lulled him into security. He was not, however,
so candid as to give expression to his sentiments on the subject.

"Precisely so!" exclaimed the attorney, as though no shade of doubt or
anxiety had crossed him. "The Chalmetta exploded her boiler."

"Well!"

"Both Miss Dumont and her troublesome lover were lost,--were they not?"

"Yes."

"And, if you had continued on board, you would probably have shared
their fate."

"Yes; but do you mean to say you blowed the steamer up? asked Jaspar,
with a sneer.

"Exactly so!"

"Fool! do you expect me to believe such a miserable rigmarole as this?"

"I hope you will, for it is strictly true," returned the attorney,
convincingly.

Jaspar looked incredulous, and resorted to the brandy-bottle, which
seemed to bear the same relation to him that the oracle of Delphi did to
the ancient Greeks.

"You do not think me capable of _inventing_ such a story, I trust," said
De Guy, seriously.

"Ha! ha! ha! you have joined the church, haven't you, since we met
last?"

"I see, sir, you think, because I assisted you in your plans, that I
have no honor, no conscience, no humanity. Why, sir, what I have done
for you was only a duty which my religion demanded of me."

"Your creed must be an original one!" replied Jaspar, with a sickly
laugh.

"It _is_ an original one. You thought yourself better entitled to your
brother's property than this giddy girl. So did I; and it was my duty to
see justice done. A matter of conscience with me, upon my honor."

"Enough of this!" said Jaspar, sternly, for a joke soon grew stale with
him.

"Be it so; but remember the story is true."

"And you did me the favor to blow up the steamer!" sneered Jaspar.

"At the risk of my own life, I did. I bribed the firemen to crowd on the
steam, and the engineers to keep down the safety-valve,--all under the
excitement of a race, though with special reference to your interest."

"Was this part of your creed, too?"

"Certainly," and the attorney launched out into a dissertation of
theology and kindred topics, with which we will not trouble the reader.

Jaspar heard it not, for he was busy in considerations of a less
metaphysical character. He was thinking of his present position, and of
the overseer, whose step he heard on the veranda.

"I see," said he, interrupting De Guy, "you have been my friend."

This remark was the result of his deliberations. He might need the
services of the attorney.

"I expect my overseer on business in a moment," continued he, "and I
should like to see you again, after he has gone. May I trouble you to
step into this room for a few moments?"

"Certainly," replied De Guy, who was congratulating himself on his
success in conciliating the "bear of Bellevue," as he styled him among
his boon companions.

Jaspar closed the door upon the attorney, and was in the act of lighting
a cigar, when Dalhousie entered. The overseer endeavored to discover in
the countenance of his employer some indications of his motive in
sending for him; but Jaspar maintained a perfect indifference, which
defeated his object, Neither spoke for several moments; but at last the
overseer, embarrassed by the silence, said,

"You sent for me, Mr. Dumont?"

"I did," said Jaspar, suddenly, as though the words had roused him from
his profound abstraction; "I did; one of my keys is missing, so that I
cannot open the drawer. You arranged its contents, I believe."

"Yes," said Dalhousie, flustered, for he was not so deeply skilled in
the arts of deception as to carry them on without some compunction; "but
I left the key in the drawer."

"You see It is not there," said Jaspar, fixing his sharp gray eye upon
the overseer.

"It is not," said Dalhousie, advancing to the secretary. "Probably it
has fallen upon the floor--" and he stooped down to look for it.

Jaspar watched him in silence, as he felt about the floor. The overseer
was in no haste to find it, though his eyes were fixed on it all the
time.

"Didn't you put it into your pocket, by mistake?" suggested Jaspar.

"Certainly not," replied Dalhousie; "here it is;" and, picking up the
key, he handed it to Jaspar. "I was certain I left it here."

Jaspar felt much relieved.

"Sorry to have troubled you," said he, "but I wanted a paper--" and he
rose and opened the drawer, as if in quest of it.

"No trouble at all," returned the overseer. "Now that I am here, a few
words with you would be particularly agreeable to me."

Jaspar's curiosity was instantly excited, and, forgetting the paper and
De Guy, he requested him to proceed immediately with his business.

"It is a matter of much interest to both of us," continued Dalhousie,
embarrassed by the difficulties of his position.

"Well, sir, go on," said Jaspar, impatiently, for the overseer's
hesitation had rather a bad odor.

"I may as well speak bluntly and to the point," stammered Dalhousie,
still reluctant to state his business.

"Why don't you? I am not a sentimental girl, that you need make a long
preface to your oration."

"I will, sir. Every man is in duty bound to consider his own interest--"

"Certainly, by all means. Go on."

"In regard to your relations with your niece--" and Dalhousie paused
again.

Jaspar's reddening face and the curl upon his lip indicated the volcano
of passion which would soon burst within him.

"Proceed, sir," said he, struggling to be calm.

"In regard to your relations with your niece, you are aware that I am
somewhat acquainted with them."

"I am; I hope you do not know too much for your own good. You know I am
not to be trifled with."

"I am not concerned for my own safety," replied Dalhousie, a little
stung by the implied threat of Jaspar; "but I wish to provide for your
safety. I intend to go to France."

"I do not prevent you."

"I lack the means."

"And you wish me to furnish them?"

"I do."

"And how large a sum do you need?"

"A pretty round sum. I will keep entirely away from this part of the
country, so that you need not fear me."

"Fear you!" sneered Jaspar, rising and draining a glass of brandy. "I
fear no man, no devil, no angel!"

"Perhaps you are not aware that your reputation is in my hands."

"Not at all, sir," said Jaspar, coldly.

"Know, then, that I have a copy of the genuine will, and the means of
attesting it!"

Jaspar was prepared for almost anything, but this was too much. He paced
the room with redoubled energy. His bravado had vanished, and he was as
near pale as his bloated visage could approach to that hue. He strode up
and down the room in silence, while his heart beat the reveille of fear.
For a time his wonted firmness forsook him, and he felt as weak as a
child, and sunk back into a chair.

By degrees he grew calmer. The case was a desperate one. Again he
swallowed a long draught of brandy, which seemed to reduce his nerves to
a state of subjection. Gradually he rallied the dissipated powers of his
mind, and was ready to meet the emergency before him.

Dalhousie, after making his appalling announcement, had thrown himself
into a chair, to await the effect of his words. He seemed in no hurry to
continue the subject. Thus far the effect warranted his most sanguine
hopes of the realization of his great schemes.

Jaspar, after recovering some portion of his former calmness, said,

"May I ask how you obtained possession of the document?"

"That question, sir, I must decline answering."

"You will, at least, show me the paper?"

"That also I must decline."

Jaspar bit his lip.

"How shall I know, then, that you are not deceiving me?"

"I assure you that I have the document, and you must trust to my honor
for the rest."

"Honor!" exclaimed Jaspar, giving way to his passion. "No one but a
scoundrel ever talks of his honor! By ----, I only want to hear that
word, to know that the man is a ---- rascal!"

"Very well, sir, I shall be under the necessity of seeking out your
niece."

"My niece!" roared Jaspar, terror-stricken. "Did you not see her buried
at Vicksburg?"

"It might have been she, but it is scarcely possible."

"Hell!" shouted Jaspar, unable to govern his fury. With long strides he
paced the room, his teeth grating like a madman's, and his eyes
bloodshot and glaring like those of a demon. His fears seemed to arm him
with desperate fury.

"Where is the ring?--the ring!" said he, stopping in front of the
overseer. "Didn't you give me her ring?"

"I gave you a ring," said Dalhousie, calmly.

"Was it not _her_ ring? Did it not have her initial, and her father's
hair in it?" and Jaspar flew to the secretary, where he had deposited
the evidence of his niece's supposed death.

"There is no longer any need of continuing the deception--"

"Deception! Here is the ring, and here is the letter D. Doesn't it stand
for Dumont?"

"Not at all. It stands for Delia, my wife's name, in this instance."

"Your wife's name!" exclaimed Jaspar, striking his forehead furiously.

"It does, sir, and for her mother's name also, whose memory it was
intended to commemorate."

Jaspar's emotions were so violent, that the overseer began to fear some
fatal consequences might ensue.

"Calm yourself, Mr. Dumont. Do not let your passions overcome you. I
have no intention of making an evil use of this information," said he,
in a soothing tone.

This seemed to calm the violence of Jaspar's feelings, and with a strong
effort he recovered his command of himself.

"My niece Is yet alive, is she?" said Jaspar, looking anxiously at the
overseer.

"Perhaps not; but probably she is."

"And it was not she that was buried?"

"As to that, I cannot say; I never saw the lady alive."

"And what are your plans?" asked Jaspar, with a glance of doubt at the
overseer.

"I will go to France, if you provide the means."

"Suppose I will not?"

"Perhaps your niece will."

"What if she is dead?"

"I can better tell when I know that she is dead."

"How much money do you require?"

"Twenty thousand."

"A large sum."

"From millions your niece would gladly give more."

"I will think of your proposition. Come in again in two hours, and you
shall have my answer."

"Better give me an answer now."

"I wish to consider."

"You have only to choose between twenty thousand dollars and the whole
fortune. With your means at command, much reflection is not needed."

"Show me the papers, and I will decide at once."

"No."

"Then I must consider whether your pretensions are well founded."

"I will not be over nice; but any attempt to play me false shall rest
heavily on your own head."

"Honor!" said Jaspar, with something like a smile, but more like a
sneer.

With compressed lips, and the scowl of a demon, Jaspar witnessed the
departure of the overseer. His case looked desperate, and he felt
something like the gloominess of despair. Dalhousie could be disposed
of, but the niece!--the niece, if she yet lived, would be the
destruction of all his avaricious schemes.

As usual when agitated, he paced the room; and, as he reflected upon the
danger, and the desperate remedies which suggested themselves, his
manner grew more and more demoniacal. He resolved to trust no man. This
was a dark thought, and could proceed only from the darkest mind.

The twenty thousand dollars he could pay; but the man who had such a
hold upon him would never be satisfied while a dollar remained. And
revenge was sweet! No! Dalhousie must not be _bought_ off! It was a
feast to his mind to anticipate the torture of the overseer!

An exclamation of satisfaction escaped him, as he suddenly decided upon
the means of torture. In imagination he could see before him _the
thing_, who had dared to threaten him, lingering out the moments of a
hated life in slow agony. The vision was one of pleasure, and he rubbed
his hands with delight.

The means of accomplishing his dark purpose then came up for
consideration, and in this connection he happened to think of De Guy. He
must be the minister of his vengeance, and the herald of his future
safety; and he summoned him again to his presence.



CHAPTER XXVI.

     "Thou hast stepped in between me and my hopes,
     And ravished from me all my soul held dear."  ROWE.


De Guy returned to the library at Jaspar's summons. The shrewd attorney
at once perceived the conflict which agitated the mind of his patron. He
had come to Bellevue with a purpose, and, as Jaspar's disturbed mind
seemed to favor that purpose, he hailed it as an omen of success. But
what had so agitated him? Jaspar was not a man to be depressed by any
trivial circumstance.

The attorney did not have to wait long in suspense, for Jaspar related
the particulars of his interview with Dalhousie, and mentioned the price
he had named to insure his silence. It was now De Guy's turn to be
disturbed. The purpose for which he had come was likely to be thwarted
by this new aspirant for a share in the Dumont estates.

"What is to be done?" said Jaspar, in a tone which betrayed his deep
anxiety.

"Get rid of him! His story is a fabrication," returned De Guy.

"Not entirely. He knows too much for our safety."

"So much the worse for him!"

"Why? What would you do?"

"Shut his mouth! It matters not how. You do not want to--" and the
attorney drew his under lip beneath his upper teeth, and produced an
explosive sound, very much like the crack of a pistol, or a
champagne-cork, but which Jaspar did not mistake for the latter. "You
do not want to--_f-h-t_--him, if you can help it."

"It would be the safest way," returned the other, not at all embarrassed
by the attorney's ambiguous method of expressing himself.

"Perhaps not; though 'dead men tell no tales,' it is also true that
'murder will out.' Besides, I have conscientious scruples."

Jaspar sneered at this last remark; but the attorney was too useful an
adviser at that moment to be lightly provoked, and he suppressed the
angry exclamation which rose to his lips.

"How would the slave jail do?" said he, with a fiendish smile.

"Too public. Our object is to save the man's life,--an act of humanity;
but we must not endanger our own safety."

"No mortal man can ever know that he is confined there. The jail was
built under my own direction, and, owing to its peculiar construction,
not even the hands on the estate will know that it is occupied. I always
keep the keys myself."

"If you are satisfied, it is enough. But how can you get him in?"

"I can manage that, with your assistance," said Jaspar, who had already
arranged every particular. "But his wife?"

"His wife! Has he a wife?"

"Ay; and one who, if I mistake not, will give us more trouble than the
fellow himself."

"She must be caged with him."

"You say well, Mr. De Guy. But can you reconcile this advice with your
dainty humanity?" said Jaspar, with a sneer.

"Certainly, I can! It were cruelty to separate man and wife, even in
death. If I had a wife, I should be sorry to part with her under any
circumstances."

Jaspar grinned a sickly smile.

"But the plan!" continued the attorney. "This loving couple will not
willingly occupy your fancy apartment."

"Leave that to me. Go to the jail. Here are the keys. I will send them
to you. When they are in, lock the doors!"

De Guy smiled.

"You do not understand me?"

The attorney confessed that he did not.

"Nevertheless, go to the jail, and wait their coming. Unlock the doors,
and get out of sight. They will enter, like lambs."

Jaspar explained a little further, and the attorney took his departure
to obey his instructions.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the time appointed, Dalhousie returned to receive Jaspar's reply.

"You are punctual," said the latter.

"I am," replied Dalhousie, cavalierly. "This business admits of no
delay. Are you prepared to give me an answer?"

"Yes," returned Jaspar, endeavoring to assume a crestfallen air.

"Well, sir, do you accept my terms?"

"I do, on one condition."

"Name it."

"It is, that you sign this bond never again to land in America, and to
preserve entire silence in regard to the information you have obtained;"
and Jaspar read an instrument he had drawn up, to blind the eyes of the
overseer.

"I agree to it."

"It is well. But a further difficulty presents itself. I have not so
much money in the world. The estate, perhaps you know, consists mostly
of real estate, stocks, negroes, &c. I have not five thousand dollars by
me."

The overseer looked at Jaspar with a keen, contemptuous glance, as if to
read any attempt on his part to dupe him; but the wily planter moved not
a muscle.

"Then you cannot, if you would, consummate the bargain?" said he.

"I said not so," returned Jaspar. "I only remarked that a difficulty had
presented itself."

"Pray explain yourself."

"The difficulty can be removed."

"Well, how? What new risk must I run?"

"No risk. To tell you all in a few words, I have the money in gold
buried on the estate."

"That will suit me better. I prefer gold."

"It is buried three feet under ground, in the slave jail. I selected
that place to bury it, because I could dig without attracting
attention."

"It can easily be brought to light. An hour's work with the spade will
unearth it."

"True; but I have not the strength to dig. Besides, I am engaged with a
friend in the nest room."

Dalhousie accepted the excuse, for he had seen De Guy, as he was walking
in the garden, half an hour before.

"I can dig it up myself. Show me the spot."

"Very well; but sign the bond first."

"Of course, if you keep not your faith with me, the bond is nothing,"
said Dalhousie, as he affixed his signature to the paper, which Jaspar
folded carefully, and put in his pocket.

"Here are directions which will enable you to find it without the
necessity of my attending you;" and he handed him a slip of paper, upon
which were written minute directions to the supposed locality of the
treasure.

"But, suppose," said Dalhousie, after he had read the directions, "while
I am digging, you should close the doors upon me?"

"Honor!" said Jaspar, laying his hand upon the place where the heart
belonged, with an amusing contortion of the facial muscles.

"I have not the highest confidence in _your_ honor."

"Perhaps not; but I can suggest a better protection. Have you any person
at hand upon whose faith you can rely?"

"None but my wife," replied Dalhousie, carelessly, for the mortifying
fact seemed laden with nothing of bitterness.

"So much the better. She will be true. Station her at the door, and, if
she sees me approach, you can be sure to be on the outside when I close
the door."

Jaspar's air of sincerity did as much to assure him as the fitness of
the plan suggested, and the overseer determined to adopt it.

Briefly he narrated to his wife--though with some variations and
concealments, for he knew she would not endorse all his operations--the
history of the affair, and the good fortune that awaited him; and
requested her attendance at the jail, to stand sentry over the gloomy
den, while he dug up the treasure.

De Guy's patience was nearly exhausted when the overseer and his wife
made their appearance. He had only time to conceal himself in a
cane-field, when the doomed couple reached the jail. Dalhousie walked
twice round it, before he ventured to enter the building. Stationing his
wife at the door, he proceeded to measure out the locality of the
supposed treasure.

De Guy watched them. For half an hour he remained quiet, when the
vigilance of the lady-sentinel began to abate, and, by the exercise of
extreme caution, he succeeded in reaching, undiscovered, the rear of the
jail. Cat-like, he crept to the corner, and listened. He could hear
their conversation. Carefully he stole round to the corner nearest to
the door. For an instant the wife had left her station, to observe the
progress of her husband's labor. The time had come, and the attorney was
not the man to let the favorable moment pass unimproved. With a rapidity
which seemed utterly incompatible with his rotund corporation, he flew
to the door, and sprung the trap upon the hapless pair, in the midst of
their vision of wealth and happiness.

Carefully locking the doors of the dungeon, he walked back to the
mansion as coolly as though he had only impounded his neighbor's cow.
Entering the library, he found Jaspar impatiently waiting his return.

"Are they safe?" said he.

"As safe as your jail-walls can make them. Your plan was a clumsy one,
but I _forced_ it to succeed."

"Did they not enter without scruple?"

"Yes, but the sentinel."

"Pshaw! did you not know she would desert her post? If she saw not
danger, she would fear none in the day-time,--it is woman-like."

"Not always; but it matters not; they are safe. Now to business."

"Business!" exclaimed Jaspar, with a start, and a wild stare at the
attorney. "The business is done."

"Not all of it. There are other enemies in the field."

"What mean you?" said Jaspar, alarmed. "Are we not safe yet?"

"Not quite," replied the smooth attorney, with a quiet smile. "The game
you played was a deep one, and you must needs persevere to the end."

"Explain yourself, man; don't trifle with me," said Jaspar, roused by
the smooth smile of the attorney; for that smile seemed to him full of
meaning.

"All in good time, my dear sir. Let me beg of you not to be discomposed
by anything I may say to you."

Jaspar sneered, but ventured no reply.

"I have served you faithfully, you must acknowledge."

"I will acknowledge nothing," said Jaspar, testily.

"The steamer exploded, you remember," returned De Guy, with an
expression of sly humor, which Jaspar did not appreciate.

"I do remember it, by Heaven! But this villanous Dalhousie says my niece
was not known to have been killed."

"Exactly so."

"Sir! Do you mean to say that you _know_ she was not lost?"

"Precisely so."

"By ----! Sir, you have been making a merit of this very thing."

"True, but policy, policy! You will recollect you were not in a
particularly amiable mood when I had the honor to introduce myself this
morning. It was necessary to conciliate you, and my plan succeeded
admirably. Besides, I blowed up the steamer with the intention of
serving you, and I ought to have the credit of my good intentions!"

"And a pretty mess you have made of it!"

"Did the best that could be done, under the circumstances."

"The game is up! I may as well hang myself, at once."

"The very worst thing you could possibly do. A long life of happiness
and usefulness is yet before you, provided you follow my advice."

"Your advice!" sneered Jaspar.

"I shall have the pleasure of convincing you that my advice will be the
best that could possibly be given to a man in your condition."

"The girl is alive, is she?" muttered Jaspar, heedless of the smooth
words of his companion.

"Alive and well; and, moreover, is close at hand."

"The devil, she is! And you have been dallying around me all day without
opening your mouth."

"But remember, sir, you had another affair on your hands."

"What avail to get that miserable overseer out of the way, when the girl
herself is at hand?"

"One thing at a time. That excellent old man, Dr. Franklin, always
advised this method. The overseer is safe; now turn we to other
matters."

"Well, what shall be done?" said Jaspar, rising suddenly and paying his
devoir to the brandy-bottle.

"I will tell you," replied the attorney, rising from his chair and
coolly imitating Jaspar's example at the bottle. Then throwing himself
lazily upon the sofa--"I will tell you. The case is not desperate yet.
How much is the amount of the old colonel's property?"

"How, sir! What mean you?"

"Favor me with an answer," replied the attorney, with admirable
_sang-froid_, as he drew from his pocket a cigar-case, and, taking
therefrom a cigar, proceeded to light it with a patent vesuvian.
Politely tendering the case to Jaspar, who rudely declined the courtesy,
he continued, "It is necessary to our further progress that I have this
information."

"Well, perhaps he was worth four or five hundred thousand. What then?"
replied Jaspar, doggedly.

"No more? Surely, you forget. His city property was worth more than
double that sum."

"No more, by Heavens!" said Jaspar.

"Then, my dear sir, I fear you are a ruined man."

"Sir!" and Jaspar started bolt upright.

"See if you cannot think of something more," said De Guy, calmly.

"He might possibly have left more."

"Haven't you the schedule? Pray allow me to look at it;" and the
attorney rose and approached the secretary. With the ease of one
perfectly at home, and acquainted with every locality, he opened the
drawer which contained the business papers of the estate.

"What are you about, sir? You are impudent!"

"Not at all, sir. I wish to satisfy myself that the property is worth
more,"--and he commenced fumbling over the contents of the drawer.

"Take your hands out of that drawer, or I will blow your brains out!"
said Jaspar, fiercely, as he seized a pistol from the table.

"Very well," replied the attorney, closing the drawer; "you shall have
it as you will. I shall bid you a good-day,"--and he prepared to depart.

"Stay!" said Jaspar, replacing the pistol; "perhaps I can satisfy you,
though I cannot see what bearing it has upon the subject."

"A very decided bearing, I should say," replied the attorney, not at all
disconcerted by what had happened.

"Perhaps if I had said a million, it were nearer the truth."

"Not a bit. You are still half a million out of the way, at least. Is it
not a million and a half?"

"It may be," said Jaspar, hesitating.

"Perhaps two millions."

"No," said Jaspar, decidedly.

"I suspected two was about the figure, but we will call it a million and
a half."

"Well, what then?" said Jaspar, impatiently.

"One-half of it would be a very pretty fortune," soliloquized De Guy,
loud enough to be heard by his companion.

"No doubt of it," replied Jaspar, with a ghastly smile, which betrayed
but little of the terrible agitation that racked him, as he heard these
words.

"But, Mr. Dumont, you are not a married man, you know, and one-third of
it would be very handsome for you."

"Very comfortable, indeed; and, no doubt, I ought to be very grateful to
you for allowing me so much."

"Exactly so. Gratitude is a sentiment worthy of cherishing. The fact is,
Mr. Dumont, I intend to marry; and, for a man of my expensive habits,
one-half is hardly an adequate share. You are a single man, and not
likely to change your condition at present, so that you can have no
possible use, either for yourself or for your heirs, for any more than
one-third."

"Your calculations are excellent!" said Jaspar, with a withering sneer.
"But suppose I should grumble at your taking the lion's share?"

"O, but, my dear sir, you will not grumble! Your sense of justice will
enable you to perceive the equity of this division."

"Enough of this! I am in no humor for jesting," said Jaspar, with a
frown.

"Jesting!" exclaimed the attorney, with a well-made gesture of
astonishment; "I was never more in earnest in my life."

"May I be allowed to inquire the name of your intended bride?" sneered
Jaspar.

"A very proper question; and, considering our intimate friendship, a
very natural one. Although my intention is a profound secret, and one I
should not like to have go abroad at present, especially as her nearest
of kin might possibly object, still I shall venture to inform _you_,
since you are to have the honor of providing the means of carrying my
matrimonial designs into effect."

"I am certainly under obligations for your favorable consideration. But
the lady's name?"

"Miss Emily Dumont! a beautiful creature--high-spirited--every way
worthy--"

"Damnation! this is too much," growled Jaspar, fiercely, as he seized
the pistol which lay near him, and levelled it at De Guy. "You cursed
villain! You and I must cry quits!"

"Do not miss your aim!" coolly returned the attorney, drawing from his
pocket a revolver. "Miss not your aim, or the fortune is _all_ mine."

Jaspar was overcome by the coolness of De Guy, and, throwing down the
pistol, he sank back into his chair, overpowered by the violence of his
emotions.

"De Guy!" said he; "fiend! devil! you were born to torment me. There is
no hotter hell than thine! Do thy work. I must bear all,"--and Jaspar
felt that he was sold to the fiend before him.

"My dear sir, do not distress yourself," replied the attorney, resuming
his supercilious manner, which he had laid aside in the moment of peril.
"I offer you the means of safety. You will escape all the dangers that
lower over you by my plan, which, I am glad to see, you perfectly
understand."

"And lose the price for which I sold my soul? Even Judas had his forty
pieces of silver--the more fool he, to throw them away! I could not do
this thing, if I would. My soul is bound to my money."

"Pshaw! do not let avarice be your besetting sin. It is a vice too mean
for your noble nature."

Jaspar tried to sneer again, but the muscles refused to perform their
office. He stood like a convicted demon before his sulphurous master.

"It must be done," said De Guy; "there is no other way."

Jaspar heard the words, and struggled to avoid the conclusion towards
which they pointed. The demon bade him yield, and the command was
imperative. He could not resist--his will was gone.

"What are the details of your plan?" gasped he, faintly.

"Marry the lady, and take up my abode in this mansion," replied the
attorney, promptly.

"And turn me out of doors! Well, be it so. I must do as you will."

"Nay, nay, my dear sir; you wrong me. You shall still be the honored
inmate of our dwelling,--the affectionate uncle of your Emily, as of
old," said the attorney, with infinite good humor.

Jaspar had well-nigh recovered his self-possession under the stroke of
this, to him, severe satire; but De Guy gave him no time.

"We must proceed in some haste," continued the attorney, seizing a pen,
and writing as he spoke. "My time is short, and I have already been
somewhat lavish of it. Here, sign this paper; it is your consent to my
union with your niece. Call some one to witness it."

Jaspar signed the certificate, without reading it. A witness was called,
and the paper in due form was deposited in De Guy's pocket.

"Now, sir, the lady is not altogether willing to consent to this
arrangement; but you must persuade her, and, if need be, compel her, to
consent. She will be here in a few days. After the marriage, it will
only remain for me to make over to you one-third of the property, which,
as her husband, I can then legally do. Be firm, and behave like a man,
and your troubles are ended. Everything will be hushed up, and you can
spend the evening of your days in peace and quiet. I bid you good-day."

The attorney formally and politely ushered himself out of the library,
and took his departure for New Orleans.



CHAPTER XXVII.

     "Jaffier, you're free; but these must wait for judgment."

     OTWAY.


We left Dalhousie engaged in the seemingly hopeless task of undermining
the wall of the slave jail, at which he labored for several hours,
resting at intervals, as his exhausted frame demanded. The prospect of
realizing his hope encouraged him, and lent an artificial strength to
his arm. He had already excavated a pit several feet in depth, but had
not reached the bottom of the foundation wall. The quantity of earth
piled upon the brink of the pit required extra exertion to remove it,
but he toiled on with the energy of despair.

After laboring several hours more, he discovered, to his great joy, the
bottom of the foundation. Again he plied the spade, and, by almost
superhuman exertions, he succeeded in excavating a hole under the
stones, which, below the surface of the ground, were not laid in mortar.
After loosening all the small stones around a larger one, he found that
he could pry it out, which, with much labor, he accomplished. The
removal of the other stones was comparatively an easy task, and a little
time sufficed to clear a space up to the solid masonry.

But here a new difficulty presented itself. The hole he had dug was
already half filled with the stones he had tumbled from their positions.
His strength was not sufficient to remove them, and he was compelled to
dig again, in order to prosecute his labors.

The wall removed, he commenced digging outside of the foundation wall.
Patiently he dug down to obtain sufficient room for the deposit of earth
from the outside. Slowly and laboriously he undermined the ground, till
the surface above him caved in, and--joy to his panting soul!--the air,
the pure air of heaven, rushed in through the aperture! Hastily
enlarging the cavity, and removing the earth to the inside, he ascended
to the surface of the ground. A feeling of gratitude thrilled through
his frame, as he once more inhaled the free air of heaven, that he had
escaped the terrible fate which a few hours before had seemed
inevitable.

With faltering step,--for now that his Herculean task was accomplished,
the reality of his weakened physical condition was painfully
apparent,--he walked round the jail, to satisfy himself that no one was
in the vicinity. The sun was set, and the shades of night were gathering
upon the earth. The time was favorable for his escape. Having satisfied
himself that he was unobserved, he hastened to the garden, which was
close at hand, to procure the means of invigorating his own body, and
restoring to life and animation the partner of his captivity. Fruit of
various kinds--melons, figs--rewarded his anxious search. Filling his
handkerchief with cantelopes and figs, he hastened back to the jail,
with all the speed his weary limbs would permit. His thoughts were fixed
upon his wife, whose suffering had pierced his soul more deeply than all
the anxiety and doubt he had experienced on his own account. As he
tottered along, he asked himself if he should eat of the fruit he
carried ere she had tasted of the banquet. He drew one of the
rosy-cheeked, juicy figs from the handkerchief. It was no loss of
time--no deferring of the succor she needed--to eat as he walked; run he
could not, though he fain would have quickened his tardy pace. It would
restore his strength, and enable him the better to protect and rescue
her. It was not wrong, though, from the deep well of his affection, came
up something like a reproach for his selfishness. He ate the fruit. The
effect was, or seemed to be, magical. He thought he could feel it
imparting strength to his exhausted form. Again he ate, and in the
pleasant sensation to his unsated palate, his imagination, as much as
the fruit, nerved his muscles, and he walked with a firmer step.

He had not completed one-half the distance back, when he discovered two
men in the vicinity of the jail. A cold shudder nearly paralyzed him.
Was his labor all in vain? Had he with so much trial and suffering
effected his escape, only to be incarcerated again? The thought was
maddening, and he resolved to die rather than be returned to the
dungeon.

Drawing a revolver from his pocket, with which he had prudently prepared
himself before his interview with Jaspar, he proceeded on his way.

On a nearer approach, the men appeared to be strangers to him. They
might, however, be in the employ of Jaspar. They might be engaged in
watching over his captivity.

He approached nearer. He had never seen either of them before. They did
not look like men whom Jaspar would have been likely to select for such
a purpose as he apprehended. Still, he took the precaution to examine
the caps upon his pistol, and have his bowie-knife in a convenient place
for immediate use.

Dalhousie was the first to speak.

"Your business here?" demanded he, regardless of the courtesy to which
he had been all his life accustomed.

"The fact on 'tis," replied one of the strangers, a little startled by
the rude manner of Dalhousie, "the fact on 'tis, we are lookin' arter
the mansion of a Mr. Dumont. Perhaps you will oblige us by tellin' us
which way to go."

"He lives in yonder house," replied Dalhousie, pointing it out.

The simplicity of the speaker dissipated his apprehensions, and his
curiosity was excited.

"You know him, do you?" continued he.

"Well, no--I can't say I do."

"But you have business with him?"

"Not particularly with him,--the Lord forbid!" replied the stranger,
devoutly.

"Devil a bit with him, at all," added his companion.

"Since no one else resides under the same roof with him, may I ask the
reason of your visit there, if I am not too bold?" said Dalhousie.

"Sure, it's only to see the counthry, about here, we've come," replied
the Irish stranger.

"No, Partrick, you know that is not the truth. Never tell a lie for
anything, Partrick. Our business an't with him, but it consarns him. We
don't care about mentioning it to everybody."

"I do not mean to be impertinent," said Dalhousie; "but perhaps I may be
able to serve you. The man you seek is a villain!"

"Good gracious!" exclaimed Uncle Nathan,--for we presume it is
unnecessary to _tell_ the reader that it was he,--"I know _that_."

"Indeed, then you have some knowledge of him?"

"Sartain! but do you know a minister in these parts by the name of
Faxon?"

"I do; he lives close by."

"Do you belong in this part of this country, Mister?" asked Uncle
Nathan, who seemed to make the question a prelude to other inquiries.

"I do. But I must leave you now. I am the bearer of life to one whom I
love dearer than myself. I have been foully wronged by the man you
visit."

"Heavens and airth! you don't say so?" exclaimed Uncle Nathan.

"Doomed to a death by starvation, with my wife, in yonder jail, by his
malice, I have just effected my escape. My wife is nearly dead, but I
hope to restore her with these fruits."

"Good Heavens! who would have thought there was such a monster upon the
airth?"

"By the powers!" ejaculated Pat Fegan.

"Can't we help you?" asked Uncle Nathan.

"Perhaps you can. I thank you, and, if it is not too late, she also will
thank you. My strength is nearly gone."

Dalhousie, followed by Uncle Nathan and Pat Fegan, proceeded towards the
jail, the former relating, as they went, the terrible incidents of their
captivity, and the means by which he had effected their happy
deliverance.

On the night of the explosion of the Chalmetta's boiler, Uncle Nathan
and Pat Fegan had saved their lives by jumping overboard, and had been
picked up by the Flatfoot. The true-hearted New Englander had made a
diligent search for the parties who had intrusted the will in his
keeping, but without success. He had been enabled to gain no tidings of
any of them, and was now continuing his search to the mansion of the
Dumont family.

The party reached the jail, and Dalhousie leaped into the pit, followed
by his companions. The poor wife seemed to have no realization of the
event which had set them free, and gazed with a wild stare upon her
husband and those who accompanied him.

"We are safe, Delia! we are safe!" said Dalhousie, as he proceeded to
untie the bundle of fruit.

"Safe! no, it cannot be--only a dream! But who are these persons?"

"They are friends, Delia--friends who have come to help me in saving
you. Take one of these figs, dear. They will restore you."

"Figs!" replied Delia, with a vacant look.

"Yes, dearest; taste it,"--and he placed the fruit, which he had
divested of its rind, to her lips.

The act seemed to restore her wandering mind to its equilibrium, and she
painfully lifted herself on the pallet of straw, and took the fruit in
her hand. She gazed upon it with a kind of silent rapture, while a
faint smile rested upon her pallid lips.

"We are indeed safe, if you have found food,"--and she tasted the fig.

"Eat it all, dear; here are plenty more, and melons, too."

"Let me see you eat, Francois; it will do me more good than to eat
myself. You have labored hard. Can we get out of this place? Are not
these Mr. Dumont's friends? Have they come to fill up the pit you have
dug?"

"No, dearest, they are _our_ friends," said Dalhousie, pained by the
wandering, wild state of her mind, and fearful that it might end in
insanity. "We will leave this place as soon as you have eaten some of
these figs and melons. I am almost restored by the joy of this moment,
dearest; and you must strive to be of good cheer."

Dalhousie and his wife ate freely of the fruit, while Uncle Nathan and
Pat gazed in silence upon the scene. But Delia was not so easily
restored. Her mental and physical sufferings appeared to have given her
constitution a shock from which it would take time to recover.

A conference took place between the parties, to decide upon the best
means of removing the lady, who was utterly incapable of moving a step,
and scarcely of lifting her form on her rude couch. Uncle Nathan was not
long in devising a method; and, directing Pat to enlarge the aperture
through which the captives were to escape, he went in search of some
canes, with which to construct a litter. Pat applied himself vigorously
to his task, tumbling over the huge stones like playthings, and handling
the shovel with all that dexterity for which the Celtic race is so
distinguished.

A rude litter was constructed, on which were laid the coats of the
party, so as to render it as comfortable as possible to the sufferer.
Uncle Nathan and Dalhousie, with much tenderness, though not without
pain to the invalid, succeeded in getting her through the aperture into
the open air, where she was placed upon the litter.

It was decided to carry her to the house of Mr. Faxon, upon whose active
sympathies they relied for shelter and assistance; and they went with
the more confidence, because Uncle Nathan had heard from Emily the
interest he took in her affairs. The litter was borne by Uncle Nathan
and Pat, while Dalhousie walked by its side, to cheer the heart of his
wife by promises of future joy, which the uncertain future might never
redeem.

Mr. Faxon received the party with scarcely an inquiry as to the nature
of the misfortune which brought them to his door. There was a person in
distress, and this was all his great, sympathetic heart needed to bid
him open wide his doors.

Delia Dalhousie was placed upon a bed, a negro was despatched for a
physician, and every effort used to alleviate her physical and mental
sufferings.

After the wants of the sufferers had been supplied, Mr. Faxon listened
with horror and indignation to the tale of Dalhousie's confinement, and
the causes which led to it; for the overseer was so candid as to relate
all, not even omitting the bribe he had agreed to take of Jaspar.

"It is thus, Mr. Dalhousie, that our plans are defeated, when they are
unworthy," said he. "Let this be a lesson to you for the future. Never
do or countenance a wrong action, and, whatever befalls you in this
changing world, you will have an approving conscience to smile upon you,
and lighten the darkest hour of adversity. But your tale brings me
consolation. There is yet hope that Miss Dumont is alive. The cruel
story of her death has darkened the abode of many a warm heart, even in
spite of the reflection that she was a slave. She was a true woman, and
I pray that God may spare her yet many years to bless the needy and the
unfortunate."

Dalhousie felt the full weight of Mr. Faxon's rebuke, and acknowledged
the justice of the punishment he had received. Uncle Nathan heard with
astonishment the wickedness of which the uncle of Emily had been guilty,
and his simple New England heart was sorely perplexed by it. He had no
"idea" of such depravity, and he was tempted, even in spite of the
Scripture injunction to the contrary, to "thank God that he was not like
other men."

In the course of the conversation to which the incidents of the evening
had given rise, the honest farmer found an opportunity to broach the
subject of his mission; and the time was occupied, until a late hour, in
discussing the means of doing justice to the injured, in restoring to
Bellevue its rightful mistress.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

     "To do a great right, do a little wrong."

     SHAKSPEARE.


Emily Dumont remained a close prisoner in the rear apartment of
Maxwell's office. Dido, the old negress, was her only attendant during
her incarceration; for, though the room was supplied with every luxury
the most pampered appetite could desire, her confinement deserved no
better name. She recognized the place, and doubted not she should be
again subjected to the infamous persecution of her old enemy. She
wondered that he had not already presented himself, and concluded he
could not yet have returned from his up-river journey, or he would have
done so. No one visited her but the negress, whose conversation, in her
eagerness to serve the liberal proprietor of the office, was disgusting
to her refined sensibilities. Not oven De Guy came, to give her any
intimation of the nature of the fate which awaited her.

Maxwell's mind, she was satisfied, was fixed upon the possession of her
estates. She could not now entertain the belief which once, in her weak
pity, she had countenanced, that the attorney could _love_ her. O, no!
God forbid that even the human heart can love, and, at the same time,
persecute the object of its affections! It was her estates; and she half
resolved to compromise with her tormentor by yielding him one-half of
her property, on the condition of his restoring the other half, for she
doubted not that he was able to do so. But there was something so
debasing to her sentiment of truth and justice in the fact of
bargaining with so base a man, that she could not conquer her prejudice,
and finally determined to suffer everything rather than succumb to the
villain.

Hope had not yet abandoned her. She had too much confidence in the
omnipresent justice of an overruling Providence to doubt that all would
yet end well.

Dido was her jailer, and she scarcely left the office, through which
alone egress was had from the apartment of Emily. There she dozed away
the day and night, freely indulging in the fashionable habit of
"imbibing," to chase away the _ennui_ of the heavy hours. Her liberal
perquisites enabled her to gratify her appetite without stint or
measure, though a sort of demi-consciousness of her responsibility
deterred her from an entire abandonment to the pleasures of the cup.

The apartment in which Emily was confined was lighted by windows of
stained glass, opening into the main office, so that there was no
immediate connection with the open air. This fact rendered the room so
secure that Dido rested perfectly easy from the fear of interruption,
save from the front of the building.

The colored guardian, having imbibed rather inordinately one day, was
disposed to court the favor of the sleepy god, and stretched herself at
full length upon one of the easy lounges of the office. Her eyelids
opened and closed languidly, as though she was about to sink away into
dreamy unconsciousness, when she was startled by a loud knocking at the
door.

"Who's dar?" shouted Dido, springing to her feet; for a visit to the
office, at this season of the year, was of rare occurrence.

"Open the door, Max," responded a voice from the outside.

"Mr. Maxwell not here, sar," said the colored lady, partly opening the
door.

"Not here!" returned the visitor, pushing into the office in spite of
the negress, who was disposed to prevent his entrance. "Isn't Max in
town?"

"No sar; he went away to de Norf about a monf ago."

"Look here, you black imp," said the stranger, in a severe tone, "do you
mean to say that Max is _not_ in town?"

"I do, for sartin, sar."

"And he has left you to practise law for him in his absence?" returned
the visitor, with a grin.

"No sar, I takes care ob de buildin."

"Fudge! Maxwell always shuts up his room when he leaves town;" and the
stranger walked round the room towards the private apartment, much to
the consternation of Dido.

"No, Massa, he tell me, monf ago, to keep de room in order."

"No doubt he did," returned the stranger, placing his hand on the handle
of the door, and attempting to open it, which, by Dido's precaution, was
ineffectual.

"Is there no one in this room?" asked the gentleman.

"No sar, de room is locked, and Massa Maxwell hab carry off de key."

The stranger walked several times round the room, and thoroughly
scrutinized everything; after which, to the entire satisfaction of the
colored lady, he took his departure. Passing out of the building, he
crossed the street and entered a coffee-room, at the front window of
which he seated himself, as if with the intention of watching Maxwell's
office.

This person was the reader's old acquaintance, Vernon,--or, more
properly, Jerome Vaudelier, whose intervening history we are now called
upon to relate. It will be remembered that, at the request of his
father, and at the earnest desire of Henry Carroll, as well as by the
promptings of his own wish to do justice to the heiress, he had gone to
Vicksburg, for the purpose of keeping an eye on the movements of
Maxwell. On his arrival at the hotel, he found the attorney, and dined
With him; but after dinner he suddenly and mysteriously disappeared.
All Vernon's inquiries were of no avail. The landlord said he had paid
his bill, and that was the last he had seen of him. Vernon was
perplexed, and on learning that no boat had left since dinner, he was at
a loss which way to proceed. Late in the afternoon he obtained, as he
thought, some clue to him; and he departed, without loss of time, to
Jackson, whither the attorney was supposed to have gone. His search,
however, was futile, and he returned to Vicksburg by the morning train.
Much disheartened, he was compelled to go to Cottage Island with the
intelligence that his efforts had been foiled. On his arrival, he
learned, to his astonishment, that Emily had just gone to Bellevue in
company with De Guy--a person of whom he had no knowledge.

Though Dr. Vaudelier and Henry Carroll had been satisfied with the
evidences brought by De Guy, Vernon was not. He knew better than they
the character of Maxwell, and it was determined that he should proceed
immediately to New Orleans, to guard against the possibility of any evil
to which Emily might be subjected.

On the morning after De Guy's departure, he proceeded down the river,
and landed in the vicinity of Bellevue, to which he immediately made his
way. Without a direct application to any one, he learned that Emily had
not yet arrived. He waited in the vicinity another day, but obtained no
tidings of her. His worst fears were now confirmed. De Guy had deceived
them.

This De Guy, then, was an emissary of Maxwell. To his mind, now animated
by a high purpose, the reflection was annoying. To the fate of Emily his
new destiny seemed to be attached. His greatest error--at least, the one
most troublesome to his awakened conscience--was the act of oppressing
Emily. He felt that the washing of the stains from his character
depended upon securing her rights.

The _ci devant_ desperado, as we have before indicated, was radically
changed at heart, and he now felt more interest in the welfare of Emily
than he had ever before harbored for any human being.

His position was full of embarrassments. He learned, while at Bellevue,
that Jaspar was not, and had not been, sick. This information decided
his future course. The mission of De Guy had only been a decoy, to lure
her into the hands of Maxwell.

Hatchie was with her; but, alas! what could a slave do against the
powerful machinations of such a villain as Maxwell?

After obtaining the information which satisfied him of the imposture, he
proceeded to New Orleans. Knowing the name of the steamer in which De
Guy had taken passage from Vicksburg, he hastened to the levee, to gain
what tidings he might from the officers of the Montezuma. He found that
a lady and gentleman answering to his description had taken a carriage
on the morning of their arrival, and this was all they knew. In answer
to his inquiries for Hatchie, he learned that a servant had been handed
over to the police, to be imprisoned in the calaboose till called for.

This was scanty information upon which to continue his search. His first
step was to go to the calaboose, where he managed to obtain an interview
with Hatchie. The poor fellow was in an agony of grief,--not on his own
account, but on that of his mistress, for he well understood the reason
of this imprisonment.

Hatchie, of course, could give him no information of the whereabouts of
Emily, nor offer any suggestion; and Vernon was compelled to leave the
disheartened mulatto, with only a promise of speedily effecting his
deliverance.

Vernon's next step was to ascertain the present abiding place of
Maxwell, if, indeed, he was in the city; and for this purpose he had
gone to his office. The open room did not verify the statements of the
negress. He knew that Maxwell always closed up his rooms when he left
the city, and the fact of their being open now tended to fix suspicion
upon him, or rather to confirm the suspicions before entertained. He
had made the visit to the attorney's rooms to gain information; and,
being partly convinced, by the manner of the negress, that the rear
chamber was occupied, he retired to the coffee-room to digest the
knowledge, and, if possible, arrive at some conclusion through it, as
well as at the same time to keep watch of the movements at the office.

Who was this De Guy, who had been the agent of Maxwell?--for such he
determined to believe him, until convinced to the contrary. He canvassed
their mutual acquaintances, but could remember no such person. Intimate
as he had been with all the associates of Maxwell, he could not identify
this bold and cunning confederate.

He had not long deliberated, when, to his surprise,--albeit it was not
an event at all remarkable,--Maxwell entered the coffee-room.

Before Vernon had time to decide whether or not he should charge the
lawyer with the abduction of Emily, that worthy approached his chair,
and, with much cordiality,--more than he had formerly bestowed upon
him,--extended his hand, and expressed his happiness at again meeting
him in the city.

Undecided as yet how to proceed, Vernon returned his salutations with an
appearance of equal cordiality.

"My dear fellow," said Maxwell, "I am rejoiced to see you in town again.
I was afraid you would quite desert us."

This language was new and strange to Vernon. It sounded like the days in
which he had been respectable--before his vices had found him out.

"Indeed! why did you think so?" replied Vernon.

"Why, Vernon, there was some kind of a ridiculous story current at
Vicksburg, to the effect that you had joined the church, or something of
that sort."

"Ha, ha! funny!" said Vernon, adopting the free and easy style, which
had formerly distinguished his colloquial efforts. "Where did you pick
up the story?"

"O, it was quite current when I left Vicksburg."

"A good joke, hey?" said Vernon, musing.

When Maxwell left Vicksburg, it was impossible that any such story could
have been extant. Of his reformation no one but the people of Cottage
Island could have known anything. It seemed a little mysterious that
Maxwell should know of it; but the fact of De Guy's visit to the house
of his father came to his assistance, and the mystery was solved. De Guy
had communicated this information to Maxwell, and thus he was enabled to
establish conclusively the connection between them.

Vernon's plan for the future was adopted; and manifesting no surprise,
he denied the fact of his reformation, however strong the circumstances
might be against him. He had often been implicated in fouler deceptions
than this in a worse cause, and, in spite of his great resolves, he did
not hesitate in this instance.

"Quite a sell, wasn't it, this reformation? The old gentleman has a fine
place up there,--money in the bank,--hey, boy? I saw through the whole
of it, as soon as I heard the absurd story," said Maxwell, who, to do
him justice, did not believe the tale. It was too much for his
credulity, that a thing like Vernon could be animated by a good
motive,--could, by any possibility, abandon the error of his ways.

"Just so, Max. The fact is, I found the old fellow had plenty of money,
and no one but me to leave it to; so I thought it would be a devilish
pity to have it all go to found a hospital, an orthodox college, or some
such absurdity, and I could not resist the temptation to become a little
saintly, just for a few days."

"Bravo, Vernon! You will yet be a rich man. You did it well. The old
fellow swallowed it all, didn't he?"

"As an alderman does turtle-soup. But, Max, where did you slip to from
Vicksburg?"

"To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid of your penitence, and
thought it was not safe to be in the same coach with you; so I gave you
the slip, by going down the river by land a few miles, and then taking
the boat."

"But you didn't know I had reformed then,--ha, ha, ha!"

"Yes. I heard something about it before I left the island,--I overheard
that Jerry Swinger and the mulatto boy speaking of it. But I own,
Vernon, I was too hasty, to judge you unheard."

"Max, who is this De Guy?"

"De Guy," said Maxwell, with feigned astonishment; "don't know him."

"Bah, Max! don't you know that you cannot _wool_ me? By the way, that
was a clumsy trick of yours, sending this De Guy after the girl. When he
had gone, the captain would have chased him, if I had not come and
assured them that the terrible Maxwell could not possibly be concerned
in the affair."

"Indeed! did you do me this essential service?" said Maxwell, forgetting
that he had denied his connection with De Guy.

"I did. If you had left the matter with me, I could have done it
better."

"Well, Vernon, I see you are all right yet; but the thing worked to a
charm. De Guy is the cleverest fellow out. The girl is safe."

"So I suppose," said Vernon, with an assumption of indifference.

"But all the sport is yet to come."

"Indeed," said Vernon, burning with anxiety, but striving to maintain
his accustomed easy and reckless air.

"Yes, Vernon, all the hard work we did up the river shall not be in
vain. I shall win the prize!" and Maxwell rubbed his hands at the
pleasant anticipation.

"Wish you joy, Max! But you don't mean to marry the girl?"

"Certainly."

"What! a quadroon?"

"Pshaw! that story is all blown through. Her old uncle, up the river,
got up that abstraction, so as to finger her property," said Maxwell,
forgetting, in his candor, the scruples which his companion had
expressed on a former occasion with relation to persecuting a white
woman,--scruples which Vernon did not seem disposed to press upon the
attorney's memory.

"You helped him through with his scheme?" answered Vernon, with a bold,
careless air.

"'Pon honor, I had nothing to do with it. Old Jaspar did it all
himself," replied Maxwell, with an oath.

"Looks a little like you, though," said Vernon, with a nonchalance which
provoked Maxwell, whose temper was not of the mildest tone.

"Nevertheless, it is none of mine, though the plan was a creditable one.
But it has brought old Jaspar into a wasp's nest."

"How's that?"

"I had my eye on the girl, ever since the colonel died. I saw through
Jaspar's plot, and a little bravado made him tell me all about it."

"Good!"

"Just so; and, as they are old clients of mine, why, I could not do less
than get them out of the scrape, and remove the stain from the name of
the fair heiress."

"How can you do it?"

"That's the point."

"Looks rather complicated."

"Exactly so; but energy and skill will accomplish wonders."

"Very true," replied Vernon, in his usual quiet manner, well knowing
that Maxwell would take the alarm if he appeared in the least
inquisitive,--so he contented himself with this simple ejaculation.

"Can I trust you still?" said Maxwell, in a low tone, and with an
anxious look, after a pause of several minutes.

"I care not whether you trust me or not," replied Vernon, with
characteristic indifference.

"Are you the man you were two months ago? If you are, I need ask no more
questions."

"I am. And now let me tell you, if you have work for me, the pay must be
liberal. I have reformed in one respect, and that is from low prices to
high ones. I have done too many of your little chores for nothing. Good
pay is my motto now."

"Be it so," replied Maxwell, whose suspicions, as Vernon had intended,
were diverted by this by-talk. "I will pay you well. If my plan
succeeds, three thousand."

"Good! that sounds liberal. But suppose it fail?"

"It cannot fail."

"What is the plan? You mean to help old Jaspar out of the scrape, and
save the girl too. How can you do it?"

"There is only one way--marry the girl!"

"Just so," replied Vernon, with an indifference it was hard to assume.

"Here are the whole details of the plan. I have Jaspar's consent to my
marriage with the girl, but I dare not attempt to consummate the scheme
in the city. She is so cursed obstinate, that it is a hard matter to
manage her. I saw Jaspar last night, and we concluded to have the
ceremony performed at Bellevue, as soon as possible, or that fiery son
of Mars and your worthy patriarch will be down upon us, and spoil the
whole."

"Never fear them," said Vernon. "You will not proceed for a week or
two?"

"A week or so will make no difference. But I am afraid it will take more
time than that to induce her to consent. The difficulty which has
troubled me more than any other is to get her to Bellevue. She tells
Dido that she will not go alive. She fears Jaspar more than she does me,
and rightly suspects that if she yields she will have to encounter
both. She has not seen me since the row at the wood-yard, and I intend
to transact all business with her through De Guy."

"She is a difficult case," suggested Vernon, to fill up a pause in
Maxwell's speech.

"Now, it has occurred to me," continued Maxwell, "that _you_ could
manage her like a young lamb."

"I!" exclaimed Vernon.

"Certainly. You stand well with her, do you not?"

"Like a saint."

"You can get up a rescue, or something of that sort, you know."

"To be sure," replied Vernon, thoughtfully.

"Pretend that you are going to effect her escape."

"Capital!" said Vernon, suddenly; "I _will_ pretend to effect her
escape. But there is one difficulty--" and he suddenly checked his
apparent zeal, and assumed a thoughtful air.

"A difficulty?"

"Ay. I must be at Baton Rouge to-morrow night, or all my hopes up the
river are lost."

"And you will return--"

Vernon reflected, and then replied,

"In four days."

"That will do. Don't let it be more than four days."

"No."

"And, Vernon, you had better write to the military lover that the lady
is doing well--that Jaspar's health is improving, &c. They won't hurry
down, then."

"A good thought. I _will_ write to him."



CHAPTER XXIX.

     "Here is my hand for my true constancy."

     "There is a fair behavior in thee, captain;
     I will believe thou hast a mind that suits
     With this thy fair and outward character."
     SHAKSPEARE.


"Villain!" muttered Vernon, as Maxwell left the coffee-room, "your work
of iniquity is nearly done. If from the depths of my seared heart can
come up one single good impulse to guide me, I will bring the guilty and
the innocent to their just desert."

He had told Maxwell that he should go to Baton Rouge, and prudence
required him to go. He had certain intelligence that a boat would leave
in an hour, and he hastily wrote the letter to Captain Carroll. This
letter was not exactly of the tenor Maxwell had bargained for, inasmuch
as the object of it was to request the immediate presence of his father
and Henry at Bellevue, which promised soon to be the theatre of war.
With this letter in his pocket, he made his way to the levee, and
departed for Baton Rouge.

It was with some compunction that he took this seemingly inconsistent
step. It was, for the time, turning his back upon the object to which he
had devoted himself. It was necessary for him to gain time, even at the
sacrifice of Emily's feelings, for a short season, so that his father
and Henry Carroll might reach Bellevue as soon as Emily. He had written
them all the details of the plan. His own purpose was to have Emily's
strongest friends at hand on her arrival at Bellevue, so as effectually
to foil the machinations of Jaspar and Maxwell. His own visit to Baton
Rouge was only a feint to avoid a meeting with Maxwell in the interim,
thus keeping the appearance in unison with the pretension.

The river had risen some three or four feet, and the large and rapid
steamers had commenced running. The "Raven," to the clerk of which he
had intrusted the letter for Cottage Island, was a remarkably fast boat,
and he had every reason to hope that his plan would be successful.

Three days he remained at Baton Rouge, in a state of impatience and
inactivity, rendered doubly uncomfortable by the fear that Maxwell might
change his plan in his absence.

A downward steamer was approaching the city, and he hastened on board.
His letter had been faithfully delivered, for almost the first person he
discovered on board the boat was Henry Carroll, and Dr. Vaudelier was
close at hand. This was excellent, and he congratulated himself on the
bright prospect before him.

It was arranged that the doctor and his late patient should remain in
the vicinity of Bellevue until the following day, when Vernon would
convey Emily to her home. They were accordingly landed at the Red
Church, and Vernon proceeded to New Orleans.

Maxwell greeted him with a cordiality which showed the interest he felt
in the scheme, the consummation of which would realize his dreams of
luxurious indulgence. They wended their way, without loss of time, up
the street, deciding that Vernon should at once broach the proposition
to Emily of going up to Bellevue. The attorney, when they had arrived
within a short distance of the office, directed Vernon to proceed alone,
agreeing to meet him at a coffee-room in the neighborhood.

On reaching the office, a new difficulty was presented. The inflexible
guardian of Emily refused to allow Vernon to see her, stoutly persisting
that De Guy would not permit it. Vernon was obliged to resort to Maxwell
in this dilemma, who, affirming that he did not wish Emily to know of
his presence in town, had kept the secret from the negress. So what
could he do? But, bidding Vernon wait, he left the coffee-room, and soon
returned with an order signed by De Guy, whom, Maxwell affirmed, he had
been so fortunate as to meet at the Exchange.

"But of what use is this paper? The girl cannot read. Shall I take the
keys from her?" asked Vernon.

"The note will be sufficient. Show it to her; she will pretend to read
it, and would, if it were in Hebrew or Sanscrit," said Maxwell, who then
repeated the caution he had before given, not to betray the fact of his
presence in the city.

Vernon presented the note to the negress, who, with a business-like air,
opened it; and, though he could perceive that she held it up-side down,
she examined it long and attentively, sputtering with her thick lips, as
though actually engaged in the to her impossible operation of reading
it.

"Dis alters de case, Massa. Why you no show dis paper before?" said
Dido, with an air of huge importance, which would have done credit to
the captain of a country company of militia.

"Open the door, and don't stop to chatter!" replied Vernon.

"Yes, Massa, I have read de letter, and now I knows dat Massa Guy wants
you to see de leddy. Dat alters de case. I has nussin furder to say,"
muttered Dido, as she unlocked the chamber door.

Emily was seated on a sofa, reading a book she had taken with her to
while away the time on board of the steamer.

"Missus, a gemman, who hab brought a letter from Massa Guy," said Dido,
as she opened the door.

"Bring the letter, then," replied Emily, scarcely raising her eyes from
the book.

"No, Missus, de letter am for me, and I hab read it. It orders me to
'mit dis gemman."

"That is sufficient," said Vernon, pushing the attendant back, and
closing the door.

Emily rose; and great was her surprise at perceiving the son of her late
benefactor. An avalanche of doubt rushed through her mind, and she could
not conjecture the occasion of this visit. She had left him at his
father's house. Had he forsaken his new-born repentance? Was he again
the minister of Maxwell's evil purposes? She had been a prey to the most
distressing anticipations, and had now settled down into the calmness of
resignation. Resolved to die rather than become the bride of Maxwell,
she had spent the hours and days of her imprisonment in nerving herself
to meet whatever bitter fate might await her, in maintaining her purity
and her principle.

The appearance of Jerome Vaudelier caused her a thrill of apprehension,
but it was quickly supplanted by a feeling of interest in the individual
himself. Her own gloomy position seemed divested of its sombreness, as
she felt that the penitence of the erring soul had not been a reality.

"Jerome Vaudelier, are you, too, the minister of a villain's wishes?"

"Nay, Miss Dumont--"

"Say that you are yet true to yourself; that you have not forgotten
those solemn vows you made in the home of your father; say that you are
not the tool of the vile Maxwell--say it before you speak your business
with me!"

"Miss Dumont, I acknowledge that the present appearance is against me;
but I assure you I have come only as the minister of good to you."

"Bless you for the words! I feared you had again been tempted."

"So I have, lady, and apparently have yielded; but it was only to save
you. Listen to me, and I will disclose all the details of the plots
which are even now ripening to ensnare you,"--and Vernon, in a low tone,
briefly narrated everything, and the means which were in operation to
secure her safety.

"You must go to Bellevue to-morrow, there to meet my father and Captain
Carroll," said he.

The color came to her pale cheek, at the mention of her lover's name.
She felt that Vernon meant to be true to her, and true to himself. And
it required no persuasion to induce her to acquiesce in the
arrangements.

"But, Hatchie--must I leave him in prison? It is not a meet reward for
his fidelity."

"It cannot be avoided, Miss Dumont. I will see him to-day, and when his
honest heart knows that you are in safety, he will be just as happy in a
prison as in a palace. He shall be set at liberty in a few days."

"I hope he may. Does this De Guy accompany you?"

"No; but Maxwell says he will reach Bellevue as soon as we do."

"Why is this? Why does not Maxwell present himself, and urge his
infamous proposals?"

"I know not, unless it be that De Guy is the more artful of the two."

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us change the scene to the next day, at the abode of Mr. Faxon.

Dalhousie and his wife, by the kind attentions of their host, were
restored to a comparatively healthy state. The lady had suffered much in
her physical and mental constitution, and a shade of deep melancholy
rested upon her handsome features. She could not forget the horrors of
the dungeon in which she had been confined. It seemed a great epoch in
her life; all before it was strange and undefined, while every trivial
incident since was a great paragraph in her history.

Mr. Faxon was seated in his library, surrounded by his guests. The
affairs of the Dumont family had again been discussed, for to them they
were full of interest.

The good minister feelingly expatiated upon the bitterness of the
heiress' lot, brought up as she had been amid all the refinements of
polished society, whose sensibilities were rendered doubly acute by
nature and the circumstances which environed her, to be thus degraded
into the condition of a base-born, despised being,--to be so suddenly
hurled from honor and opulence,--it was a dreadful blow! So feelingly
did he narrate the particulars, so tenderly did he describe the
loneliness of her position, that his hearers were deeply affected, and
Delia shed a flood of tears.

"I too have been a wanderer, though a voluntary one, from the home of my
father," said she.

"Nay, Delia," said Dalhousie, tenderly; "do not revert to your own
experience. Remember you are not strong enough to bear much excitement."

"I did not intend to speak of my own experience; but the sufferings of
poor Miss Dumont call to my mind the remembrance of similar feelings."

"I presume the company are not desirous of hearing the story of an
elopement," said Dalhousie, with a smile.

"Nor I to relate one. The pure devotion of Miss Dumont to the memory of
her father recalls the affection, the fond indulgence, of my own father.
I have not, as she has, the consciousness of having never wilfully
abused his confidence."

"If you have erred, madam," said Mr. Faxon, "your father still lives,
does he not? Perhaps it is not yet too late to atone for the fault."

"Alas! I know not whether he is living or not. I wrote to him several
times, but never received an answer."

"Who was your father, madam?" said Mr. Faxon, with much sympathy in the
tones of his voice.

"I dread even to mention the name I bore in the innocent days of
childhood."

"Fie, Delia!" said Dalhousie, with a pleasant laugh, "what have you done
to sink yourself so far in your own estimation? You and your father
differed as to the propriety of our marriage; to you, as a true woman,
your course was plain. This is the height and depth of your monstrous
sin."

The conversation was here interrupted by the announcement that a
gentleman waited to see Mr. Faxon.

The good clergyman had a habit of promptness in answering all calls upon
him. This custom had been acquired by the reflection that a poor dying
mortal might wait his blessing, ere he departed on his endless journey;
that, sometimes, a moment's delay could never be atoned for; therefore
he rose on the instant, and hastened to the parlor, where the visitor
waited.

"Ah! is it possible--Captain Carroll!" said he, as he grasped Henry's
hand; "I am glad to see you. But how pale and thin you look!"

"Good reason for it, my dear sir. I was on board of the Chalmetta."

"Were you, indeed! Thank God, you escaped with life! Were you much
injured?"

"I was, but, thanks to the care of a good physician, I am nearly
restored again."

"But our poor lady--Miss Dumont--have you any tidings of her? Report
said she was lost in the catastrophe."

"She is safe, though, unfortunately, at present in bad hands;" and Henry
related to the astonished minister the events of Emily's history since
her departure from Bellevue, not concealing even the details of his
present relations with her.

"And now, my dear sir," said he, rising to depart, "the crisis has come.
Dr. Vaudelier waits close by, and we are ready to witness the denouement
of this climax of plots. It is already time for Jerome and Emily to
arrive, and we desire your immediate presence at the mansion-house."

"I will attend you. But I have in the house several friends of Miss
Dumont--"

"Bring them all with you," interrupted Henry, looking at his watch.
"The more witnesses the better, especially if they be friends."

"But wait till I tell you who they are."

"Excuse me, Mr. Faxon, I must not tarry longer. I will meet them at the
mansion."



CHAPTER XXX.

     "What devil's here, dragging the dead to life,
     To overthrow me?"

     "Who art thou?
     Speak! speak!"

     "The features all are changed,
     But the voice grows familiar on my ears."

           LOVELL


Jaspar Dumont was seated in the library. The ravages of care and vice
were growing more plainly visible on his face. His countenance was
haggard, and his complexion seemed to be a struggle between the wanness
of care and the redness of intemperance.

Near him sat De Guy, who had but just arrived.

"The lady has come," said the attorney, adjusting his green spectacles;
"and I am here to claim the fulfilment of our contract."

Jaspar looked up from the floor, upon which his eyes had been fastened,
and gazed with a fixed stare upon his companion.

"You do not understand me," insinuated De Guy.

"I do," said Jaspar, sternly; "I do; you have come to plunder me."

"You do me injustice, my kind friend; I come to save you from the doom
of a felon."

"To put your foot upon my neck, and leap out of the pit your villany has
dug!"

"Very well, my dear sir, if you are of this mind, my course is plain.
Did you not agree to this arrangement?" said De Guy, with a smile, which
was meant to soften the hard question.

"True, I did," replied Jaspar, with a whining sullenness. "What would
you have of me now?"

"Only that you fulfil the stipulations of the bargain."

"Can I fulfil them? Can I marry you, even if the girl were willing?"

"You can give your commands. Will she not obey them?"

"Fool if she does!" muttered Jaspar, in a low tone.

"She will be so glad to be restored to her home, I fancy she will not
think the terms are hard."

"I don't know," said Jaspar, eying the attorney from head to foot. "I
consent to the marriage. I can do no more."

"Perhaps you will be willing to use a little gentle force, to save your
own neck," said the attorney, with something like a sneer.

"Anything, anything, that will silence your damning tongue, and rid me
of your teasing!"

"Now, sir, you are reasonable."

"Summon the girl," said Jaspar, impatiently. "I will say all I have to
say in a few words. But, if she foils you, it is not my fault."

"True sir; but Miss Dumont, at this critical juncture of her affairs,
will have respect for your counsels;" and the attorney withdrew to call
her.

Emily entered the abode of her early years, and the memories of the past
came crowding thick upon her. She seemed to realize that her sorrows
were near an end, but the hope which such a pleasant thought inspired
could not entirely overcome the gloom which the scene around her was
calculated to produce. It was here she had often rambled with her
father, and a thousand trivial incidents presented themselves to remind
her of him.

As she entered the house, she clung to the arm of Vernon, as though she
was entering the abode of evil spirits; for, with all the memories of
the past, she could not forget that the home of her childhood was
inhabited by her inhuman uncle.

She had been but a short time seated in the old, familiar drawing-room,
like a stranger now, when De Guy entered, to request her presence in the
library. She rose, and looked at Vernon, who, understanding the glance,
approached, as if to bear her company.

"This gentleman had better remain here," suggested De Guy.

"I prefer that he should attend me," said Emily, firmly, even while her
heart rose to her throat, at the thought of meeting her uncle.

"But really, madam, his presence would embarrass the business of the
interview."

"He is a friend," stammered Emily, "and is acquainted with all the
circumstances of this affair."

"I will attend her, sir," said Vernon, who had before remained silent.

"Pardon me," said the attorney, looking sharply at Vernon, "but it will
be impossible to transact any business in presence of others."

"Lead on," said Vernon, sternly; "I will attend the lady, in spite of
all objections."

"Sir, you are insolent!" said the attorney, tartly, though without the
loss of his self-possession.

"The gentleman will not in the least retard the business. Pray pass on,"
interposed Emily, fearful of a collision between the parties.

"It is impossible, madam. I must insist that he remain here. Such is Mr.
Dumont's express order."

"Will you say to Mr. Dumont that the lady demands my attendance? Perhaps
he will yield the point," answered Vernon.

"I will see him, but it is useless. I know his views;" and De Guy left
the room.

"Do not hesitate to go with him, Miss Dumont; I will be close at hand;
but no violence will be offered you. I see my father and Captain Carroll
coming up the road," said Vernon, looking out the window. "Yield, if
necessary, and fear nothing."

"Mr. Dumont persists in his purpose of meeting the lady alone," said De
Guy, as he reëntered the drawing-room.

"The lady, in your absence, has concluded to dispense with my
attendance," replied Vernon.

"This way, madam,"--and the attorney, with punctilious politeness, led
the way.

Vernon threw himself upon a sofa, as they were leaving; but no sooner
had the door closed, than he rose in haste, and left the apartment.
Reaching the veranda of the house, he met Dr. Vaudelier and Henry
Carroll, who followed him back to the drawing-room.

"This way, silently, if you please," said he, and then closed the door.
A moment sufficed to inform the new comers of the position of affairs;
then Vernon left the room, and went to the library door, which he found,
by Henry's direction. Stationing himself in a recess behind some coats,
he waited till his presence should be needed.

The meeting between Emily and her uncle was not embarrassed by any
formal greetings. Jaspar did not even raise his eyes from the floor, as
she entered. He heard the door close, and being aware by the silence of
the parties--for De Guy had judged an announcement unnecessary--that
they were ready to hear him, he said, in a gentle tone,

"Emily, I have sent for you to receive a proposition, which will finally
terminate the unfortunate circumstances that have shrouded our family in
hostility and misery."

"Indeed, uncle, I have no feeling of hostility towards you. God forbid!"
replied Emily, upon whose agitated senses Jaspar's mild words had fallen
like promises of peace.

Jaspar was astonished. He had lost much of the severity of his
disposition in the miseries which had overtaken him. He was humiliated,
his spirit broken, and he could not understand why his victim did not
upbraid him, as he expected, for the wrongs he had inflicted. A
momentary hope of reconciliation on better terms crossed his mind; but
there stood the attorney, who would permit no other compromise.

"I restore your fortune," said Jaspar, with a shudder, as he raised his
head for the first time from the floor to look upon his niece,--"I
restore it, on one condition."

"Name not the fortune, uncle; your peace and happiness are far dearer to
me than all the wealth of the world. You have wronged me, but I freely
forgive you; and Heaven will also forgive you, if you sin no more. O,
uncle, I beseech you dismiss this evil man, and let me be to you as a
daughter!"

"Let us attend to business, if you please, Mr. Dumont," said the
attorney, in a whining tone; for, it must be confessed, the conversation
had assumed a different turn from what he had anticipated.

"I must state the business for which I requested your presence," said
Jaspar, not a little moved by the words of Emily. Human nature is a
strange compound of inconsistencies. This man, whose life had been
stained with crime, was now disposed to regard the past with contrition.
We have seen him scorning even an allusion to the higher life of the
soul,--but success was then within the reach of his crime-stained hand!
Now, failure on every hand awaited him, and all those bravadoes with
which he had kept down his better nature deserted him. Not one scornful
thought came to banish the good angel from his presence. But the feeling
was of short duration. It was but a momentary contrition, which a
selfish hope or a burst of passion could dissipate.

"I will restore your fortune, on one condition," said he. "You can
accept or reject it, at your option."

"I beg your pardon," suggested the attorney, "these were not exactly the
terms of our contract."

"Name the condition, uncle," added Emily, indifferently; for she was
anxious to have the business, whatever it might be, finished, so that
she could again plead with Jaspar for his personal reformation, for she
was a little encouraged by the appearance of humiliation he had
manifested.

"I restore your fortune, on condition that you give your hand to this
gentleman in marriage;"--and Jaspar again fixed his eyes on the floor,
as if he dreaded the outbreak of a storm.

"This gentleman!" exclaimed Emily, indignantly. "This gentleman!"--and
she gazed upon him with a proud look of contempt, from which the
attorney would fain have hid his head. Her surprise was equal to her
indignation. Vernon had told her that _Maxwell_ was to be the suppliant
for her hand, and she could not see why his menial had the presumption
to claim her.

"This gentleman!" repeated Emily. "I had rather die a thousand deaths!"

"Then, madam, we shall be obliged to compel you to this step," replied
De Guy, stung by the scorn of Emily, and distrusting the energy of
Jaspar.

"Sir, your impertinence deserves a severer rebuke than I can
administer!" said Emily, the blood mounting to her face.

"But it must be even so, madam," returned the attorney coolly. "Fate has
so decreed. Your good uncle's circumstances imperatively demand it."

"Is this so, uncle?"

"It is, Emily. You must submit to your fate, unpleasant though it may
be," said Jaspar, looking at her with an absent stare.

"No, uncle, it shall not be so. I never will submit to such a fate. What
circumstances do you refer to?"

"I am in this man's power."

"God be with you, then! But I understand it all. He seeks my fortune,
not myself. I would rather he had the whole of it, than become such a
_thing_ as to marry that man!"

"Nay, lady, _you_ are of more worth to me than your fortune, large as it
is. I have contracted with your uncle for your hand, and he must pay the
price," said De Guy.

"He speaks truly, Emily. I have _sold_ you to him," replied Jaspar,
vacantly.

Emily was stung to the quick. This remark, she supposed, was in allusion
to her alleged condition; and the tears rose to her eyes, while the
indignant blood mounted to her cheek.

"Uncle, do not brand your soul with infamy!" she said, quickly.

"What!" exclaimed Jaspar, roused to a burst of passion.

"Be not a villain!" returned Emily, whose good-nature was sorely tried.

"Girl, beard not the lion in his den! I had half relented, but now I
feel strong again!" and he rose and tottered to the table, on which his
brandy-bottle stood. After taking a deep draught, he reseated himself.

"You must marry this man!" said he, fiercely striking the table with his
fist.

"I never will!" replied Emily, trembling at Jaspar's violence, but firm
in her purpose.

"Remember! girl, remember what you are!" said Jaspar, passionately.

"Enough of this," said Emily. "I leave you for--"

"Stay, lady! You must not leave the room," interrupted De Guy, laying
his hand upon her arm.

"Remove your hand, villain, nor dare to pollute me with your touch!"
exclaimed Emily, shaking off his hand as though it had been
contamination.

The hitherto placid features of the attorney darkened into a scowl of
malignity, as he said,

"Madam, we have been too long subject to your caprice. Here let it end.
Know that mighty interests depend upon the union this day to be
consummated, and we refuse longer to submit to your whims."

"Yes, Emily, the honor and safety of your family name depend upon your
acquiescence in this plan," said Jaspar, whose passion had moderated a
little.

"I will never countenance any of your unhallowed plots," replied Emily,
and she again moved towards the door.

"You leave not the room till you consent to this union," interposed De
Guy.

"Stand from my path, or I will summon assistance!"

"Your summons would be in vain."

With a proud step and a curling lip, Emily attempted to advance; but De
Guy seized her by the arm, and restrained her. She struggled to free
herself from the villain's grasp, without success. Knowing that Vernon
was within hearing of her, she called "Jerome," at the top of her voice.

"No use, madam. The gentleman whose name you utter is a friend of mine,"
said the attorney. "He conveyed you here as an emissary of mine. Haven't
you known him before?" said De Guy, with a mixture of sarcasm and
triumph in the tones of his squeaky voice.

The door-handle was at this moment seized on the outside. The door was
wrenched and pushed, but it did not yield, for De Guy had taken the
precaution to lock it.

"Who is there?" shouted the attorney, alarmed at the intrusion.

"Open," said Jerome, "or I force the door!"

"What does this mean?" asked Jaspar, who had remained a quiet spectator
to the violence offered his niece.

"I will soon ascertain," said De Guy, dragging Emily after him, towards
a large closet on the other side of the room.

"Help! help!" again screamed Emily; and, ere she had the second time
uttered the word, a crash was heard, the library-door splintered, and
Vernon stood in the room.

"How is this? Villain! traitor!" shouted De Guy, drawing from his pocket
a revolver.

"Unhand the lady!" said Vernon, in a severe tone, as, at the same time,
he drew from his pocket a pistol. "Unhand her!" and he approached the
lawyer.

"Back, traitor, or you die!" said De Guy, in a voice which suddenly lost
its silky tone, and was firm and round.

"Then I die like a man!" responded Vernon, still advancing.

Jaspar's ferocious nature, stimulated to activity by the prospect of a
fight, now promised to revive his spirits and nerve his arm. He advanced
behind Vernon, and, ere he was aware, had clasped both hands around him.
Vernon tried to free himself from the bearish hug, and they both fell to
the floor. Jaspar still held tight, and the struggle promised to be a
severe one.

De Guy perceived the movement of Jaspar, and, as soon as the combatants
had fallen to the floor, he restored the pistol to his pocket, so that,
unembarrassed, he might convey Emily to a place of security, until this
unlooked-for contest was ended. Scarcely was the pistol in his pocket,
when the window behind him flew open, and the attorney was in the iron
grip of a powerful arm! Emily, freed from her assailant, retreated to
the other side of the room, where, glancing in terror upon the new
assault, she saw De Guy thrown violently upon the floor by her
ever-present and ever-faithful slave, Hatchie!

The mulatto, having been allowed the liberty of the yard early in the
evening before, had contrived to effect his escape from the calaboose,
and had walked the whole distance from Now Orleans.

Henry Carroll and Dr. Vaudelier had heard the confusion, and judged that
the conflict had begun with something more than the war of words.
Hatchie had scarcely done his work when Henry reached the library, and
rescued Vernon from the hands of Jaspar.

The contest was ended, and the victors and vanquished stood
contemplating each other in mute astonishment. Dr. Vaudelier, who had
followed Henry into the room, assisted Jaspar to rise, and conducted him
to a chair. The courage of the vanquished seemed entirely to have oozed
out, and they remained doggedly considering the new state of things.

Hatchie bent over his fallen foe, and, drawing from his pocket the
revolver and bowie-knife which rendered him a formidable person, he
loosed his firm hold of him, as if it was an acknowledgment of weakness
to hold him longer a close prisoner. Seizing the prostrate lawyer by the
hair, he bade him rise, at the same time giving a sharp twist to the
ornamental appendage of his cranium. But the hair yielded to the motion
of his hand, and the entire scalp scaled off, bringing with it the huge
parti-colored whiskers, and revealing a beautiful head of black, curly
hair, where the mixed color had before predominated!

"What does this mean? Methinks I have seen that head of hair before,"
said Henry Carroll.

"The face is not of the natural color," added Dr. Vaudelier, remarking
that the skin of the forehead, which the wig had concealed, was very
white, and almost transparent, while the face was besmeared with the
color that composed the florid complexion of the attorney.

"Take off his spectacles, Hatchie," said Henry.

The glasses were removed, and a pair of piercing black eyes glared upon
them.

"It is Maxwell, by ----," shouted Jaspar, who had in some measure
recovered from the exhaustion of his struggle with Vernon, and had
watched with much anxiety the "unearthing" of his confederate.

"It is Maxwell," responded Hatchie, tearing open the vest which
encircled the attorney's portly form, and displaying the cushion that
had been used to extend his corporation.

"Merciful Heaven! how narrowly have I escaped!" exclaimed Emily, laying
her head in giddy faintness upon the shoulder of Henry, who, at the
moment he was at liberty, had flown to her side.

At this moment Mr. Faxon entered, and saw, with astonishment, the
evidence of the recent fray.

"Justice is triumphant, I see," said he, taking Emily by the hand, and
affectionately congratulating her upon her return to Bellevue.

"Heaven has been more indulgent to me than I deserve,--has preserved me
from a thousand perils I knew not of; and has, at last, placed me again
in this haven of repose!" replied Emily.

"Bless His holy name, my child; for, though we forget Him, He can never
forget us!" said the minister, devoutly.

"Well, gentlemen," interrupted Jaspar, with a bitter scowl, "I trust,
when you have finished your cant, you will depart, and leave me in
peace."

"We will, at this lady's pleasure," said Dr. Vaudelier.

"Hell! would you trifle with me?" roared Jaspar, rising in a passion.
"Would you turn me out of my house?"

"Never yours, Mr. Dumont! Heaven has restored the innocent and oppressed
to her rights," answered Mr. Faxon, calmly.

"Uncle," said Emily, earnestly, "let me entreat you to lay aside the
terrible aspect you have worn, and be again even as you once were. The
past shall be forgotten, and I will strive to make the future happy."

Jaspar gazed at her with a vacant stare, and, muttering some
unintelligible words, sunk back into his chair, and buried his face
beneath his hands. The consciousness of the utter failure of the plan he
had cherished for years, and the terrible obloquy to which his crime
subjected him, rushed like an earthquake into his mind. He was
completely subdued in spirit, and groaned in his anguish.

"The way of the transgressor is hard," remarked Mr. Faxon, in pitying
tones.

These words were heard by Jaspar. They touched his pride. He could not
endure the notes of pity. He raised his head, and his eyes glared with
the fury of a demon.

"Leave the house, sir!" gasped he, choking with passion. "Leave my
house, or I will tear you limb from limb! I can do it, and I _dare_ do
it!" and he started suddenly to the floor. "Yes, I _dare_ do it, if you
mock me with your canting words!"

His eyes rolled like a maniac's, and he gasped for breath, as he
continued,

"I am a murderer already!--a double murderer! Dalhousie and his wife
have felt my vengeance. They have starved like dogs! Their prison is
their tomb!"

"Compose yourself, Mr. Dumont," said Mr. Faxon; "your soul is still free
from the heavy burden of such a guilt. Dalhousie and his wife live."

"You lie, canting hypocrite! No mortal arm can save them. They have been
eight days in my slave jail. Here are the keys," gasped Jaspar, drawing
them from his pocket.

"You shall see; I will call them," said Mr. Faxon.

Dalhousie and his wife, followed by Uncle Nathan and Pat Fegan, entered
the room.

Jaspar fixed his glaring eyes upon those whom he supposed were rotting
within the precincts of his Inquisition. His power of speech seemed to
have deserted him, and he shook all over like an aspen-leaf.

To Jaspar alone on the estate was the secret of Dalhousie's imprisonment
known. He had not approached the jail, and if any other person was aware
that it had been undermined, they had not communicated the fact to him.

As the last party entered, Dr. Vaudelier turned to look upon the new
comers. Starting suddenly from his chair, he approached them, and gazed
with earnestness into the face of Delia.

"Is it possible!" said he.

"My God,--my father!" and father and daughter were locked in each
other's embrace.

Maxwell, stripped of his disguise, and ruined in his own opinion, and in
the opinion of everybody else, had watched all the proceedings we have
narrated in silence. Ashamed of the awkward appearance he made in his
undress, and confused by the sudden change in his affairs, he was at a
loss to know which way to turn.

Henry Carroll realized the sense of embarrassment that pervaded all
parties, and was desirous of putting an end to the state of things which
promised nothing but strife and confusion. So he directed Hatchie to
fasten Maxwell's hands together, and keep him secure. This step the
attorney seemed not inclined to permit, and a struggle ensued.

"Mr. Dumont," said he, "is this by your order?"

"No," replied Jaspar, anxious to secure at least one friend. "No! I am
still in my own house, and the law will protect me."

"Certainly," returned Maxwell; "this is all a farce. There is not a
single particle of evidence to disprove the will."

"Well, now, I reckon there is a leetle grain," said Uncle Nathan,
stepping forward and producing the will, which had been intrusted to him
on board the Chalmetta. "This will set matters about right, I rayther
guess."

"What mean you, fellow?" said Jaspar. "What is it?"

"The genuine will," replied Hatchie, still holding Maxwell. "I gave it
into his hands. To explain how I came by it, I need only call your
attention to a certain night, when I surprised you and this honorable
gentleman in this very apartment."

"It is all over!" groaned Jaspar.

"This is a forgery!" exclaimed Maxwell.

"Ay, a forgery!" repeated Jaspar, catching the attorney's idea. "Who can
prove that this is a correct will, and the other false?"

"I can," said Dalhousie. "Here is a duplicate copy, with letters
explaining the reason for making it, in the testator's own
hand-writing."

Dalhousie candidly stated the means by which he had obtained possession
of the papers, and trusted his indiscretion would be overlooked. Dr.
Vaudelier frowned, as his son-in-law related the unworthy part he had
performed, and perhaps felt a consciousness of the good intentions which
had years before induced him to refuse his consent to the marriage of
his daughter.

Jaspar yielded the point; but Maxwell, in the hope of gaining time,
boldly proclaimed all the papers forgeries.

"It matters not; we will not stop to discuss the matter now. Tie his
hands, Hatchie," said Henry Carroll, and, with the assistance of others,
he was bound, and handed over to a constable, upon the warrant of Mr.
Faxon, who was a justice.

The party separated,--Henry and Emily seeking the grove in front of the
house, to congratulate each other on the happy termination of their
season of difficulty. The meeting between Dr. Vaudelier and his son and
daughter was extremely interesting, and the hours passed rapidly away,
in listening to the experience of each other. The meeting concluded with
the making of new resolves, on the part of Dalhousie, to seek "the great
purpose of his life" by higher and nobler means.

As the dinner-hour approached, the happy parties were summoned by Mr.
Faxon to visit his house, and partake of his hospitality. The good man
was never happier in his life than when he said grace over the noon-day
meal, surrounded by the restored heiress of Bellevue, and her happy
friends.



CONCLUSION.

     "From that day forth, in peace and joyous bliss,
     They lived together long, without debate;
     Nor private jars nor spite of enemies
     Could shake the safe assurance of their states."

     SPENSER.


Our story is told. It only remains to condense the subsequent lives of
our characters into a few lines.

Jaspar Dumont lingered along a few weeks after the return of Emily; but
his life had lost its vitality. Continued devotion to the demon of the
bottle laid him low,--he was found dead in the library, having been
stricken with an apoplectic fit.

After the death of Jaspar, Maxwell was tried for a variety of crimes,
and sentenced to the penitentiary for ten years.

Dr. Vaudelier, accompanied by Dalhousie and his wife, removed to New
Orleans, where they spent many happy years, devoted to those pure
principles of truth and justice which the events of our history
contributed not a little to create and strengthen.

Vernon,--or, as he has changed his character, we may venture to change
his name,--Jerome Vaudelier, went to California in the first of the
excitement; where, amid the temptations of that new and dissolute land,
he yet maintains the integrity he vowed to cherish on the night of the
attack upon Cottage Island.

Uncle Nathan and Pat Fegan spent a few days at Bellevue, and then
started for the North. The honest yeoman, either on account of the many
adventures they had passed through together, or because Pat was a true
convert of his, had taken quite a fancy to the Hibernian, and insisted
that he should accompany him home. Pat became a very worthy man, after
abandoning the "critter," which had been his greatest bane. For three
years he served our New Englander faithfully on the farm, at the end of
which period his desire to get ahead prompted him to take a buxom Irish
girl to his bosom, and go to farming on his own hook. A visit of Henry
and Emily, about this time, to the worthy farmer, contributed to forward
this end; for Pat, with Celtic candor and boldness, stated to them his
views and purposes. Before the heiress left, Pat's farm was bought and
paid for, besides being well stocked, by her princely liberality.

Jerry Swinger and his wife, who had rendered such important services to
Emily, were not forgotten. The honest woodman disdained to receive
compensation for any service he or his good wife had rendered, but Emily
found a way to render them comfortable for life, without any sacrifice
of pride on their part.

One year after the events which close our history the great mansion at
Bellevue was the scene of gay festivities. Dr. Vaudelier and his
daughter, and Dalhousie, and Jerry Swinger and all his family, were
there, because, in the hour of its owner's greatest happiness, she could
not be without those who had been her friends in the season of
adversity. All the country round was there,--New Orleans was
there,--everybody was there, to witness the nuptials of the fair heiress
and the gallant Captain Carroll.

The great drawing-room was brilliantly illuminated. The happy couple
entered the room, and stood up before Mr. Faxon. A step behind Emily,
watching the proceedings with as much interest as a fond father would
witness the espousal of a beloved daughter, stood Hatchie. Race and
condition did not exclude him from the proud and brilliant assemblage
that had gathered to honor the nuptials of his mistress.

They were married, and, ere the good minister had concluded his
congratulations, the huge yellow palm of the faithful slave was extended
to receive the white-gloved hand of the bride. Nor did she shrink from
him. With a sweet smile, and a look which told how deep were her respect
and admiration, she gave him her hand, heedless of the proud circle
which had gathered around her to be first in their offering of good
wishes.

"God bless you, Miss Emily! Bless you!" said he, and the tear stole into
his eye, as he withdrew from the crowd.





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