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Title: The Tower of Dago
Author: Jókai, Mór, 1825-1904
Language: English
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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.

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produced from scanned images of public domain material


The Tower of Dago

[Illustration: SANDS AND COMP^Y]


[Illustration: "He threw the lamp-light on her face" (p. 89)]


[Illustration: The Tower of Dago]

By Maurus Jókai

_Illustrations by A. M. Bishop_

[Illustration: London Sands & Co. 1899]

Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
At the Ballantyne Press



CONTENTS

CHAP.                       PAGE
I.      THE TOWER              1
II.     BACK TO THE SEA        6
III.    THE OBSERVATORY       20
IV.     THE SORCERER          35
V.      THE FAMINE            41
VI.     COMPENSATION          52
VII.    THE MEETING           54
VIII.   RECONCILIATION        70
IX.     THE MINSTER BELL      75
X.      WEAKNESS              88
XI.     THE SEVERED CORD      93
XII.    NEMESIS               99



[Illustration]

CHAPTER I

The Tower


As the steamer from Stralsund is approaching the Gulf of Finland, the
passenger's attention is attracted by an object which projects high
out of the sea. He will hear the seamen call it the Tower of Dago. An
old and wealthy Englishman, he may be told, on one occasion felt
impelled by curiosity to ask the captain what it would cost him to
examine the ruin close at hand. The answer was clothed in language
less polite than forcible: "Merely the shrivelled skin and dried-up
bones you carry about with you, sir!"

For hitherto the Tower of Dago has been spared an appearance in our
art galleries only by the circumstance that it cannot well be got
before the painter's easel. It is built upon the outermost point of a
rocky promontory of the great island of Dago. The projecting headland
lies obliquely across the northern current, and the sea makes a
ceaseless seething whirlpool round the obstruction. The sea-bottom all
around is strewn with most perilous reefs. Among their intricate
labyrinths even the skiffs of the most adroit boatmen are in danger of
being dashed in pieces.

And yet, for a sight of the Tower of Dago one might well risk one's
life, especially at a time when the raging storm is clothing it with
all its picturesque grandeur.

The extreme ledge of the promontory is a great block of reddish-brown
rock. It rises precipitously out of the dark green waves, which
incessantly storm it with their foam-crested dragon-heads. Some
spring-tide monster will often lash itself aloft to the very summit,
frightening the seagulls and eagles that love to range themselves
along the verge of the rock.

From this ledge rises a six-sided tower some hundred and fifty feet
high. The lower part is built in Cyclopean fashion, of massive uncut
blocks of rock. The upper portion is of red stones. These reach to the
very summit of the tower, the battlements of which are to-day
surmounted by the luxuriant green of juniper shrubs. And when the
setting sun, bursting through a cloud, casts his rays upon the dead
giant rising there in his solitude, while round about the low ashen
clouds seem almost to touch his head; when the sea roars beneath and
breaks in foam against his feet; when the reflected sunlight streams
back, like the rays of a lighthouse, from some window the panes of
which are haply still unshattered--then the glowing colossus seems a
very Polyphemus, who with his one eye dares to defy the gods and wage
eternal feud with men. That is the Tower of Dago.

But in perfect calm the scene is changed. Veiled in translucent mists,
the tower rises aloft in grand repose beneath the hot, unclouded
summer sky. Towards the summit it shows a great semi-circular gap like
a mighty mouth petrified in the act of making an imprecation--a mouth
gaping wide as if to salute the sea, or hail yonder craft that glides
along the horizon. At ebb-tide, too, the great rock's hidden
companions, the sunken reefs, begin to show themselves all around.
Among them, half sunk in the sand, are seen the shattered remains of
masts, rusty anchors and guns, all overgrown with seaweed and
shell-fish. Here and there the eye perceives a human skull still
encased in a helmet, a skeleton still protected by a shirt of mail,
and innumerable remnants of stranded ships with their inscriptions and
marks still readable. At one spot is seen the bottom of a vessel,
whose copper plates, now hidden, now disclosed, by the restless motion
of the waves, are green with verdigris. And everywhere the great
sea-spiders and monster crabs--lords of the abyss--crawl and gloat
unceasingly among the wreckage. Then the spectator, shuddering at
this terrible arrangement of still life, is forced to ask himself,
"Who could have been so mad as to build a tower like this on such an
accursed spot, and who the madmen that could steer their vessels
hither on these cruel rocks?"

And could there be any link of destiny connecting that forbidding
edifice with the wreckage that lay around?



[Illustration]

CHAPTER II

Back to the Sea


In the time of Catherine II. a baron of the Von Ungern family, in the
province of Brandenburg, migrated to the court of St. Petersburg. He
had some Slavonic blood in his veins, and shortly after settling in
the Russian capital he married the daughter of a Muscovite nobleman.
His wife's dowry brought him several extensive estates in Volhynia.
In spite of their German name his two sons were perfect Russians. The
elder, Feodor, was a naval officer. He was a thorough seaman, and the
terror of every Swedish seaport and merchantman. Zeno, the younger
brother, was also a seaman, but his tactical abilities were exercised
only at court, and particularly among the ladies. The fame of the
elder brother naturally lent brilliancy to Zeno's name also. Feodor,
however, willingly left to him all the pleasures of court life and all
its dazzling distinctions. Such things were not for him. The
storm-tossed sea and its perilous combats were for Feodor his chiefest
joy. Yet, when storm and fight alike were lulled to rest, he loved his
quiet home--a little castle buried in an old forest, where his dear
and beautiful wife dwelt with her little son. The boy, whose name was
Alexander, was now four years old, and the father was not less proud
of his domestic fortune than of his naval laurels.

Feodor had just accomplished one of his most heroic exploits against
the Swedes. One stormy night he had suddenly surprised the convoy
fleet at Karlskrona and burnt a large portion of it. He had captured
several richly laden merchant-ships which tried hard to get out of
range, plundered them of their most valuable contents, and then sent
them to the bottom. He had also carried off the magnificent bell which
had been taken by the Swedes from Hamburg city, and was then on its
way to adorn the cathedral of Kalmar. Then he returned, unmolested,
with booty and fame to Kronstadt.

Upon arriving there he considered it his first duty to deliver an
account of his actions to the Admiral of the fleet. At that time the
shore at Kronstadt was covered with a great number of small huts
inhabited by the workmen in the port. As Captain Feodor leaped ashore
from his boat, a girl, who had been watching the spot for some time,
came out of one of the huts and approached him. The girl was young and
pretty, and was dressed in the picturesque costume of the Volhynian
women. She hurried up to the officer and seized his hand to kiss it.
He recognised her immediately as his little son's nurse.

"What!" he exclaimed in surprise. "Mashinka! Why, what brings you
here?"

The girl raised her finger to her lips and glanced timorously round
about. Only when she had assured herself that there was no one
listening did she begin to speak.

"Oh, my Master!" she exclaimed in a low tone; "have a care! Muffle
yourself in your cloak! If you are recognised here you will certainly
be taken!"

"Taken!" cried the Captain. "What foolishness is this, Mashinka? Why
should any one wish to take me, think you?"

"Why!" echoed the girl. "To make you dig for lead in the Urals, most
likely. You are an outlaw!"

"Are you raving, woman?" asked Feodor. "What crime have I committed?"

"That you will soon learn," replied Mashinka. "Last winter did you
not shelter Krazinski in your house?"

"Krazinski! Why, he was a dear friend of mine--a brother-in-arms of
the old days."

"That may be. But now they say he is a conspirator."

"But what is that to me? I knew nothing of that then. He came to the
castle for the hunting, and after having had as much of that as he
wanted he went off again. But I see I had better go off to the Court
at once and tell them all about the matter."

"Nay, Master; go not there!" whispered the girl imploringly. "There
you have a most powerful enemy whom your death alone will pacify."

"An enemy! Who is he?" asked Feodor in surprise.

"Your brother," replied Mashinka.

"What! Zeno?--he whom I loved so much that I made over to him my
inheritance and even the title of Count as well, reserving only a
minor's portion for myself?"

"Ay; and now he means to have that portion also," said Mashinka. "He
has seized your castle in the forest; and even that seaman's whistle
at your breast--he has already been promised that."

"Well, well! Fool that I am!" muttered Feodor. "Was he not all his
life a miserable cur? After all, it is not to be wondered at. But what
can he know of Krazinski?"

"This much--that Krazinski, in leaving, forgot to take with him a
certain leather writing-case, and that it contained many dangerous
papers."

"But I myself delivered that case to my wife, in order that she might
take charge of it until Krazinski should demand it. She was to give it
up to no one else."

"And yet, she has given it up to your brother. And because of that you
have been outlawed."

"My wife!" exclaimed Captain Feodor, turning pale.

"She only was your wife. Now she is your brother's. Whoever is
banished for life to the Ural mines is at the same time separated for
ever from his wife, and she can at once marry again. That is how it
happened. You were too long gone, and love in absence, they say, is
difficult."

"But she had her son!" cried the Captain in a tone of agony. "Was not
he enough to love? And such a son, too! Tell me, what have they done
with my son?"

"You know well the custom, surely? When the father is banished the
child is outlawed also. Son must follow father, and in order that he
may never return, he is branded with a red-hot iron on the shoulder."

The Captain seemed about to reply, but the words died away upon his
lips.

Suddenly he seized the girl's shoulders in his powerful grasp, and
began to stare intently into her eyes. For it is a common belief in
Volhynia that there are many unhappy mortals possessed by the Evil One
in such a way that he takes up his abode in their eyeballs. Then, by
means of all manner of phantoms and illusions, he causes them to "see
the things that are not." About such sights the victims talk as if
they were perfectly real. But it is believed that if a truly brave and
upright man who fears not the Evil One seizes the possessed person
firmly by the shoulders, gazes unflinchingly into the bewitched eyes
until he perceives the demon lurking within, and then quickly and
unexpectedly spits into them--then the Evil Spirit is confounded and
flies in confusion from the possessed one's eyes. Thus did Captain
Feodor.

"Ah, yes! It may be--it may, indeed, be so," said the girl resignedly,
as she wiped her eyes with the hem of her apron. "Often have I asked
myself whether all I have seen and heard is not merely falsehood and
deceit. It may be all the devil's work. Oh, would to God it were so! I
would bless you every day of my life for driving the curse out of me.
But, Master, I beseech you, cross the threshold of that hut and look
within. If you see nothing, then the Evil One has indeed been at his
juggling tricks with me, making me see and speak the things that are
not."

Feodor stepped into the tumble-down hut to which Mashinka had pointed.
The first thing that met his gaze was his little son lying on a heap
of dirty straw. The little shirt had slipped down over one shoulder,
and upon this the mark of the branding-iron was clearly seen. Feodor
knelt down, buried his face in the straw beside the boy, and clasped
him in his arms. But he uttered no cry and shed no tear.

"Why, my good Master," said the girl, "surely you, too, have become
possessed, and see things that do not exist."

Meantime the child did not cry. He trembled violently; for fear, and
pain, and fever were working together. The father wrapped him in his
cloak, and laid him tenderly across his knees.

"Now listen," said Mashinka, "to all that the Evil One must have put
into my eyes and ears, if, indeed, it is all nothing but his black
magic. Your own steward had orders to bring all your treasure in a
great iron chest along with the child to Tsarskoye Selo. Your brother
and your wife were already in St. Petersburg--together. The treasure
was to be divided among I know not how many of the high court
officials. Your wife, of course, fell to the informer's portion, and
the child was sent off later in order to be transported to the Urals
along with you. As the boy begged most piteously for me I was allowed
to travel along with him. He cried during the whole journey with the
pain caused by the branding-iron. At last the steward could no longer
bear his constant moaning in the carriage, and ordered me to get down
and gather some poppy-heads in the field, so that I might make an
infusion of them and put the child to sleep. So I gathered a great
many poppy-heads and made them into a good strong tea at our next
stopping-place. But I did not give it to the boy to drink. I mixed it
among the brandy which the steward, the driver, and the Cossacks were
drinking, and it was not long before their heads were nodding under
it.

"I then took the keys of the iron chest from the steward's pocket,
flung him out of the troïka and the driver after him, seized the reins
and drove off with the boy. But when the Cossacks had become a little
sober they came galloping after us. When I saw that we must soon be
overtaken, I opened the treasure-chest took out great handfuls of gold
and silver, and flung them on the road. Of course, they could not let
stuff of that kind lie, and by the time they had scraped it all
together we were far away over hill and dale. On reaching the forest
of Pleskov the middle horse became lame, and I saw that I could not
hope to save both the money and the child. I should have had to
sacrifice either one or other. So I told the boy to clasp me tightly
round the neck, and away we fled together across the steppe. I had
previously turned the horses loose with the troïka. No doubt the
Cossacks overtook the carriage with all the treasure. But I brought
the child here through the forests and across the moors, for I knew
that you would land here when you returned from the sea. But you are
not angry with me, Master, for bringing only the boy with me instead
of all the gold?"

As yet not a tear had risen to the rugged seaman's eyes. He sat
staring with frenzied look at the cruel brand upon his son's shoulder.
But suddenly, as Mashinka finished speaking, a flood of hot tears
burst from the father's eyes. He wiped them away. The white
handkerchief was stained with crimson spots. He held it up before the
girl's eyes.

"Remember!" he exclaimed in hollow tones, "once in your life you saw a
man weep tears of blood."

"Now," he added sternly, after a pause, "take the boy in your arms and
follow me."

"But whither are you going, Master?" asked the girl.

"Back again to the sea."

When Captain Von Ungern, with his child and Mashinka, regained the
deck of his vessel, the _Gladova Strela_, he found the plenipotentiary
of the Admiralty already on board. That official was charged with the
ukase depriving Feodor of his rank, and appointing his brother Zeno to
the post of frigate-captain in his place. The crew were looking on in
gloomy silence, ready for any turn which events might take.

"Throw both ukase and messenger into the sea!" shouted Feodor.

The order was exactly to the mind of the crew, and right promptly did
they execute it.

"And now," he called out, "which of you will come with me wherever I
may go?"

"We will all go with you against Hell itself!" shouted the men.

"Nay, my men; against the powers of Hell we will never fight, but only
against those of Heaven and Earth. Henceforth we will league ourselves
with all the fiends of Darkness and the Storm!"

The weather was tempestuous and the sea was running high. Not until
the following day did the Admiralty decide to pursue the vessel which
had vanished so suddenly in full sail. It was then too late to
overtake her.

It was shortly afterwards that the sad news reached St. Petersburg
that the fugitive vessel had run upon the rocks of Dago. Her mainmast
and bowsprit were all that was ever picked up, so it was plain to all
men that the _Gladova Strela_, with her fifty men and seven guns, had
gone to the bottom. So after all, men said, things had perhaps
happened as they ought. At all events, the name of Captain Feodor Von
Ungern was utterly forgotten.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER III

The Observatory


It was in the following spring that the lofty tower arose on the
promontory of the Isthmus of Dago. The building was quite unnoticed
except by the inhabitants of the island. The ordinary track of vessels
was then far distant from the spot.

At that time the island of Dago still belonged to Finland. Although
under Swedish rule, it formed a small republic standing by itself, in
whose internal affairs no one interfered. The governor of the island
had, of course, made inquiries regarding the inhabitants of the
tower, and had learnt that they were foreign seamen, whose vessel had
been wrecked in the neighbourhood. Their commander was reported to be
a most cultured gentleman, capable of conversing fluently in Latin as
well as in Dutch. He had purchased the whole of the waste promontory
from the authorities of the island with hard cash, and had then had
the stupendous edifice built by his own men and in accordance with his
own plans. When it was completed the whole company lived together in
the tower. How many of them there might be was never exactly known,
for they never showed themselves outside their fortress walls. But
what, it was often asked, could be the occupation of the men within?
That, however, was a mystery to the islanders.

But the mystery of mysteries was: What did the inmates eat?

For to build such a tower some fifty men at least must have been
necessary. Even had they succeeded in bringing all their provisions to
land from their stranded vessel, these must have been consumed in a
very short time. They had already been living there a whole year, and
had never once come forth from their rocky retreat to buy provisions
in the neighbouring village. They could certainly not have lived on
sea-spiders and mussels alone; and yet their rocks produced nothing
else.

It was evident, nevertheless, that they possessed abundance of money.
For, in summer, the old women of Dago (but never the young girls)
would carry great baskets of fruit and flowers to the locked door
which guarded the entrance to the courtyard of the tower. Some one
would then appear in response to their knocking, open a small window
in the door, receive the baskets of flowers, and hand out real money
in exchange for them. No; that was no spurious coin. At one time it
was a Russian imperial, at another an English sovereign, while
sometimes it was German thalers and Spanish dollars, intermixed with a
few Venetian zecchini, that were given in payment. But who within, it
was often wondered, could require flowers? And if they had money to
give in exchange for flowers, then why not for food also?

At length the spiritual overseer of the island, the Very Reverend
Jeremiah Waimœner, resolved to ascertain by personal inquiry what
manner of men really dwelt in that mysterious edifice. With this
object he one day made bold to call upon its self-imprisoned
proprietor.

He was at once admitted. Strange to say, although he came quite alone,
his eyes were not even bound--as he had fully convinced himself they
would be--before he was conducted to the Master's presence. He was
allowed to look all around and see everything. On returning home there
would be absolutely nothing to prevent him telling everybody that the
tower, with all its inner staircases, was built of massive stone, and
that it was divided internally into very many stories. On reaching the
twelfth story the reverend gentleman was received by the Master of the
tower. This portion of the building had the appearance of an
observatory, and was surmounted by a lofty dome. The room was
six-sided, and had three large windows looking towards the sea, the
three opposite walls being covered with wainscot. Everything in the
room indicated that it served as the study of a man of science. There
were astronomical instruments, musty books, and numerous chemical
tubes and retorts. In addition there were all kinds of superstitious
designs, alchemistic abracadabras and symbols, in which no man of
sense any longer believes.

The Master himself was a grave-looking personage, whose features never
betrayed the slightest emotion either while speaking or listening. He
requested his visitor to be seated beside him on a semicircular bench
which enclosed a sort of chemical furnace. The clergyman introduced
himself and, after hinting that he had heard of the Master's great
love for science, observed that he had long ardently wished to make
his acquaintance, as science was his own darling pursuit. They might
be able, he suggested, to exchange ideas to their mutual advantage.

The Master hereupon welcomed him warmly as a guest. Presently he
pressed a secret spring, and a bright fire suddenly blazed up in the
furnace before them. In a moment the Master had drawn forth from the
oven a supply of bread, meat and dried figs, just as if they had all
been freshly baked and prepared within. He then turned a tap in
another part of the same apparatus, and at once a stream of fresh
foaming beer flowed into a large tankard beneath. This he placed with
the other good things on the table before his guest.

The Reverend Herr Waimœner convinced himself by tasting that
everything was really what it appeared to be.

"But tell me, my good sir," he exclaimed in astonishment, "whence do
you procure all these provisions?"

"That is perfectly simple," replied the Master gravely. "Everything on
earth, as you know, is produced by the transformation of matter. The
alchemists of old used to puzzle their brains to discover how to make
stones into gold. But I have solved a much deeper problem than
that--how to make the rocks into bread, meat and fruit, and the waters
of the sea into sparkling wine and foaming beer."

"You are pleased to make sport of me, I see," said the clergyman with
a somewhat sickly smile.

"Quite the contrary, my friend," said the Master. "The proof is before
you. Beneath and around me, as you see, there is nothing but rocks and
water. As you know, I have not stirred from this spot for years, and
could not do so if I wished, for I have no vessel. Yet I live here
with some fifty companions, without asking a single thing from any one
on your island. Besides, what is there in my theory that is
incredible? Are not the constituents of bread, flesh and fruit already
present in the rocks, the air and the ocean? You are a scientific man
and, of course, know well that it is as I say. In truth, the only
secret in the business is how to hasten Nature's tardy process of
the transformation of matter. That is my discovery. Just look here for
a moment. In this vessel you see a black, sticky fluid. You may tell
it by its smell. It is tar. And here before us is a heated furnace.
Now, every chemist knows that by means of fire and sal-ammoniac he can
produce ice. I now place the vessel in the flue of the furnace--so. We
will take our watches in our hands and count the time. In
seventy-seven seconds the transformation will be complete. . . . Let
us open the aperture. Look at the dish now--and taste it too. It is a
pineapple ice."

[Illustration: "It is a pineapple ice"]

A shiver ran through the reverend gentleman's whole body at the mere
sight of the mysterious delicacy.

"Taste it! Never!" he cried in horror. "Such things are not to be done
without the help of the foul Fiend himself!"

"Without that, indeed, it were impossible," said the Master calmly.
"Everything of that nature is done only with the aid of the powers of
Darkness. But, my friend, have you any special objection to them?"

"Have I any objection to the powers of Darkness?" exclaimed the
horrified ecclesiastic.

"Ah! You have, I see. Well, well; that's a somewhat antiquated
notion--a relic of those times when the theory prevailed that the
earth was governed by God. But nowadays we have changed all that. It
is an absolute necessity for all species of life on this apple-skin of
an earthcrust to have the forces of Hell immediately beneath them. The
breath of Heaven chills and stiffens everything. It is the agents of
Satan that produce everything--trees, fruit, beast and man."

"But, my dear sir," expostulated the clergyman, "these are strange
geognostic theories! Notwithstanding your assertions, man, at least,
is in no wise the work of Satan."

"And why not?" demanded the Master. "Man is so fashioned that he must
freeze to death unless he murder some other brute that happens to
have a fur skin. To appease his hunger, also, he must slay some other
animal. And his thirst--does he not even thirst for the blood of his
fellow man--of his own brother? Could such a monster, think you, be
fashioned in any other region than the place of perdition itself?"

"But you forget the human virtues!" interrupted the ecclesiastic.
"There are many men, you will admit, who rule their whole lives by the
law of Heaven."

"Of all things that, surely, is the most opposed to Nature. Those laws
of which you speak have been made merely to torment the human race.
The virtues are simply so many revolts against Nature. That alone is
good which satisfies the body."

"And the soul, my dear sir! What of the immortal soul!" said the
minister solemnly.

"The soul!" echoed the Master contemptuously; "the most execrable
imposture with which the world has ever been befooled! For the body's
torment a tyrant was invented to chastise it by means of fasting and
renunciation, thus to reduce it to desperation. The soul, sir, is
simply a tyrant that forces its monstrous feelings on the body. And we
are to suffer thus merely because that tyrannous fiction comes from
above--from Heaven, and the body from beneath--from Hell! But how if
it were to occur to the body that it is really the master and the
other the slave, and the soul were to be trodden under foot?"

"Sir, your dogma seems to me perfectly frightful!" said Herr Waimœner
aghast.

"I prosper well enough under it, however. My whole confession of
faith, indeed, is contained in these words: 'That which is agreeable
to me is right; that which is hurtful to another is not wrong.'"

"Sir, do your companions all practise this religion also?"

"I preach them no other, and they appear quite content with it."

"Have you a family also?" asked the clergyman anxiously; "I sincerely
trust not."

"Oh yes," answered the Master lightly. "There dwell with me both a
female anthropopithecus and an undeveloped specimen of the _simia
anthropos_, _masculini generis_."

"And what religion, pray, do you teach your son?"

"The same that I have just enunciated."

The reverend gentleman raised his hands in righteous horror. Then,
after fervently murmuring the first lines of Luther's hymn, "A safe
stronghold our God is still!" he rose to go.

"Farewell, sir," said he. "Never again can I come here. When I reach
home I shall at once make a representation to our authorities to
compel you to build up your exit on the island side, so that you and
yours may never come forth to trouble and contaminate our people."

"Fear not, friend," said the Master, calmly and emphatically. "We
never shall go out to trouble you; but it will not be long ere you
come here to us. Listen! In this very year a famine will visit your
island. I have learnt as much already from those demons of mine. Ay,
and your people will come crawling on their knees to me who possess
the power to turn the rocks into bread, and they will sing 'Hallelujah
Satanas!' in chorus."

The clergyman pulled his gown over his ears in order to shut out such
blasphemy, and rushed precipitately down stairs and out at the lower
door. Never again had he the least inclination to pay a further
pastoral visit to the Satanic Apostle of Dago.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER IV

The Sorcerer


The Master of the Tower of Dago spoke the truth. It was really the
powers of Darkness that helped him to make the rocks and water into
bread and wine. He also stated a simple fact when he declared that the
agent in the transformation was the furnace in the observatory at the
summit of the tower. It was in the following manner that this work of
sorcery was accomplished.

On a day when the position of the barometer and the cries of the
sea-gulls announced the approach of a storm, the Apostle of Dago
assembled his companions in a subterranean chamber of his tower. This
vault was called the "chapel." It contained a pulpit, from which the
Master himself was in the habit of exhorting his flock. It was,
indeed, a strange chapel!

And what frightful exhortations were these! Exhortations to the
perpetration of all manner of misdeeds and cruelty; the ten
commandments of God reversed; perpetual enmity towards all mankind,
and especially towards their own land, their dearest friends, their
fathers and brothers; sin in its deepest depths of depravity raised
aloft as a virtue; faithlessness and treachery the highest duty; and
the malediction of the world the most perfect bliss! Such was the
gospel of Dago.

While the Master uttered these doctrines his little son sat on the
pulpit steps at his feet, so that he might early imbibe the frightful
precepts in all childish simplicity, and continue their propagation
when his father should have gone to his own place. The song of praise
was never raised in that chapel; only the sound of scornful, scoffing
laughter was ever heard.

"Overthrow the ten commandments! Be false; covet what is thy
neighbour's; kill, steal, dishonour thy father, thy father's father,
and the greatest father of all--the Tsar! Seek out for thyself a
lovely flower whose name is woman; pluck it--then crush it, and cast
it away when all its fragrance is fled!"

Doubtless the child understood but little as yet of such doctrines as
those to which he was compelled to listen.

"To-night or to-morrow we hold high festival!"

Upon this announcement being made the inmates hastened to bring their
small boats out of their concealment in the vault. These vessels were
constructed to hold three men each, and were made of light wood
covered with stout leather. They were then placed in readiness in a
narrow creek leading from the vault out into the open sea.

As the storm at length began to break, the men were certain to be
sitting ready in their boats, awaiting the expected "sacrifice."

And as certainly it came.

As night began to fall the Master ascended alone to the observatory.
He at once lighted the furnace, and heightened its brilliancy by means
of lime and oxygen. He then removed the wainscot from the three walls
opposite the large windows facing the sea. Behind the wainscot were
immense concave mirrors of burnished steel. These now reflected back
the dazzling light from the furnace in three directions away to the
distant horizon.

Before the exercises of the night it was customary to ring the
"chapel" bell. This was an enormous bell, which had once been taken as
booty. It was suspended in a secret chamber beneath the observatory,
and on being rung, its rumbling notes sounded through a semicircular
window of the tower far out into the night. The tower had no opening
on the land side, and the inhabitants of the island could neither see
the light of the furnace nor hear the tolling of the bell. Every ship
which appeared on the horizon in a stormy night must inevitably fall
a prey to this diabolical stratagem.

In the channel connecting the Baltic with the Gulf of Finland there
were two lighthouses--one on the Swedish coast at Gustavsvarn, and
another on the Finnish coast near Revel. Even on a stormy night seamen
might easily have steered their course by these two lights. But the
Devil's apostle in the Tower of Dago confused them with his light and
the sound of his bell. The mariners imagined that one of the two
lighthouses known to them lay before them. They felt sure that the
light beckoned them on to safety. So, with heartfelt thanks to God for
His mercy, they steered directly towards it, and about an hour later
were dashed against the rocks of Dago.

Then, as signals for help and cries of terror rose above the roar of
wind and sea, the small boats swarmed forth from their concealment and
boarded the stranded vessel. The crews killed all who were still alive
on board, and plundered everything of value to be found--money, bales
of goods, and provisions. They then carried everything ashore and
stored it in the lower vaults of the tower. Such an expedition would
often have to be repeated twice or thrice in a single night, for the
deceptive light enticed vessels from three different quarters, and all
went into the trap. The Master was careful to extinguish the light
about two hours before daybreak, in order that no vessel should make
towards his stronghold in broad daylight. Of his victims not one man
was ever left alive.

They had, indeed, leagued themselves with all the fiends of Darkness
and the Storm, in defiance of both Heaven and Earth.

This, then, was the sorcery by which they drew bread, meat, wine and
fruit from the rocks and the sea. It was the stranded vessels that
filled the chambers and vaults of the Tower of Dago with everything
dear to the heart of man, and covered the rocky shore beneath the
tower with that which was now dearest of all to its inmates'
hearts--the fleshless bones of their brother men.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER V

The Famine


It came to pass as the Master of the Tower of Dago had foretold. A
year of famine visited the island.

There in his loneliness he had taken continual counsel of that great
vital principle which he chose to associate with the Prince of Evil,
but to which the learned give the name of "Gæa"--Earth.

And the Earth-demon has, in truth, diabolical humours. Between Earth
and her minions, and the favourites of Heaven, there is eternal
strife. It pleases Earth to let the ill weeds grow. The poppy and the
corn-flower are her darlings. And yet, that child of Heaven, man's
finer nature, forces her to bring forth white wheat for him! The
Earth-spirit favours the savage and grosser instincts, while man does
her violence by pressing upon her his nobler fruits and virtues. Man,
doubtless, has a right to ask, "Why has the Creator brought forth
these myriads of caterpillars and cockchafers that devastate my
fruit-trees?" But surely the caterpillar and the cockchafer have an
equal right to demand, "To what purpose has Earth given birth to that
misshapen, two-legged creature that delights to sweep me down from my
tree, and trample me under foot?" But, after all, the Earth-spirit is
not the gardener's friend, but rather the caterpillar's.

The hermit in the Tower of Dago included in his studies that centre of
the other infernos, the sun. He had observed that the spots and
eruptions on the sun's disc exercise an influence upon the weather of
our planet. He had, moreover, imbibed the wisdom of the wind and
waves. He had carefully noted the migrations of whales and
kingfishers, as well as the displays of the aurora borealis and the
shooting stars. All these had told him that the hot days of May, which
so quicken the growth of the crops, would be succeeded by a frost that
would blight utterly the whole field produce of the island of Dago in
a single night.

And so it happened. Not on that island alone but throughout the whole
of northern Russia, the hopes of the agriculturists were shattered by
that terrible frost. The capricious weather brought in its train that
pestilence which attacks only the poor--Starvation.

In such circumstances larger and more powerful States may easily
procure money, and tide over the evil day by purchasing grain in lands
more blessed than theirs, and distributing it among their people. But
a small and poverty-stricken republic like the island of Dago could
not so easily get gold and silver to give in exchange for bread. The
poor people had to fall back upon such nutriment as fish and cheese.
"This year," they said, "we must eat no bread." That was the
solution.

The old women of the island now came much more frequently to the tower
to sell their flowers. But instead of gold they now begged for a
little corn.

"Listen to me!" said the Master of the tower to them one day. "You
want bread. Well, I know a secret which enables me to transform earth
at once into corn and barley. Bring me earth, then--but rich and
fertile it must be--and I will give you corn in exchange for it.
However large the sack may be in which you bring the clods, just so
large will be the sack of corn I will give you in return."

At first it was only the women that made the trial. They brought the
magician good, dark loam in small sacks. For this they received a like
quantity of wheat. The grain was such as they had never before seen.
At once the strong young men were seized with the desire to
participate in such profitable barter, and soon they too were carrying
to the tower as heavy sacks of mother earth as their brawny arms and
broad shoulders could support.

The Very Reverend Pastor Waimœner did, indeed, pronounce his anathema
against all who dared to make such pilgrimages to the Satanic shrine
in order to barter their own blessed earth for a stranger's accursed
corn. He warned them that grain grown in such a mysterious and
suspicious soil could not but give them the itch and elflock, and that
one day their souls must inevitably sink for ever in the pool of fire.
His threats and warnings, however, were of no avail. The people's
skins did not turn black with eating the mysterious corn, neither did
their hair become entangled. Their souls' welfare, they therefore
reasoned, might well be equally secure.

The grain was, in fact, the best ever reaped in Brandenburg. The
Russian Government had had it shipped for their northern ports. That
year so many grain-laden vessels had gone on the rocks beneath the
Tower of Dago, that its inmates had soon no more room to store the
booty. Thus it was that they came to exchange it with the islanders
for earth.

Earth! But for what purpose could the Destroying Spirit require earth?

To create!

[Illustration]

There was a little hollow on the south side of the tower which was
sheltered from the wind on every side. This hollow the Master filled
with the earth, and planted the little plot all over with flowers. In
this way he soon had a perfect flower-garden laid out.

There was, then, one human being in the tower who took pleasure in
flowers.

But did the terrible doctrines professed by the Master permit him to
act thus kindly towards any living creature?

Alas! Nothing in creation is flawless--not even the Satanic confession
of faith. Even Satan is sometimes tricked by his disciples, and
unbelief itself has its hypocrisy.

To his own thinking, this man had succeeded in banishing every human
feeling from his heart--but this one still remained. He had, he
thought, been able to renounce every virtue in favour of its opposite
vice--but this one he could not renounce. He could not fight down the
kindliness that filled his heart for the poor girl, Mashinka, who had
saved his child, who had accompanied him into exile, and who had
become a loving mother to his boy and a devoted companion to him. So
he felt grateful to her.

But that was surely a heresy against the religion he professed and
preached--a positive breach of the all-denying dogma! For Gratitude is
itself a virtue and closely related to Love. Gratitude being merely a
tyranny of the soul over the body, how could the body, which had now
become master, admit it? And if the body be indeed the ruling lord,
the right of thought also belongs to it. Its philosophy must, then,
determine the course of both action and feeling. Was it not plain that
this one contradiction in the Master's principles might--nay, must,
overturn the whole edifice of Babel?

Nevertheless, the Master found it impossible to shut his heart against
this one feeling. With the most painstaking art he had laid out this
garden--bought at a higher price even than the gardens of Semiramis;
and that, too, for a poor peasant girl who alone in that Babel of hate
had retained in her heart the priceless feeling of Love.

When the garden was finished and planted with all the flowers the
island could afford, the Master led Mashinka to the door, which had
hitherto been closed to her, opened it, and said simply:

"The garden is yours!"

[Illustration: "The garden is yours!"]

And as the girl, weeping with joy, threw herself at his feet, pressed
his hand to her lips and covered it with her tears--did not the
captive spirit throb rebelliously within its weak bodily prison, and
ask: "Is not a single tear like these--a single cry of joy--sweeter
far than a sea of blood, and a chorus of death-shrieks from the
throats of thousands of vanquished enemies?"

At the thought, he pushed the girl away from him and rushed up to his
laboratory, there to continue the work of destruction.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER VI

Compensation


One day, while the inmates of the tower were preparing for one of
their fiendish festivals, the Master's little son came into Mashinka's
room. He had just come up from the underground "chapel." The boy's
face looked sorely troubled. When Mashinka asked what ailed him, he
whispered softly to her:

"Something makes me so sad--what it is I cannot tell. But this at
least I know--I hate my father!"

Then Mashinka took the boy's cold hand in hers and tried to soothe
away the pain that filled his heart. She taught him how he ought to
love both his Heavenly and his earthly father, even though both should
chastise their child so severely that love was moved to give place to
fear.

Thus the evil seeds which the Master was perpetually striving to sow
in his son's heart by night, were ever rooted up again in the daytime
by the poor Volhynian peasant girl.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER VII

The Meeting


This terrible life had now gone on for twelve long years. Most of the
actors in the drama had become grey. Several had died, and the total
number in the tower had now fallen to forty. Even the master-spirit of
Dago had snow-white hair, and seemed some twenty years older than he
really was.

During that time some six hundred vessels had been shattered on the
rocks of Dago. Some eighteen thousand men had perished, and a fortune
of a hundred millions of thalers had been destroyed.

But still the demon of revenge and destruction was unsatisfied. Twelve
years of blood had not sufficed to quench the fire of hate that
consumed his heart.

All those whose bodies lay scattered among the rocks beneath him were
men quite unknown to him. He never even learnt their names, nor was he
present when they were struck down.

But one thing he still yearned for--of one thing he was ever dreaming.
His sole remaining wish was to hold in his destroying power those who
had made him so miserable; to meet them for a moment face to face;
then to drink in the curses of their despair as they were thrust down
into their graves. That, indeed, would be the very crown of his
life-work!

During summer the work was discontinued. In northern regions
lighthouses are of little service in the short and light summer
nights. During these months of inactivity the Master, as became a
dutiful father, instructed his son in all those arts whereby the
mighty powers of Nature are made serviceable to man. He exercised him
also in the use of arms--not in true knightly fashion, but with all
the tricks approved of bandits and corsairs. He took the boy with him
in his boat among the reefs along the shore, so that he should learn
early to be reckless and defiant of all danger. Many a time he would
throw the lad from the boat right out into the eddy. At first he was
unable to get out without help, and then the father would leap in
after him and bring him back by the hair of the head. In a little
time, however, the lad was expert enough to dispense with all help,
and would swim in and out of the most dangerous positions alone.

About the end of autumn in the twelfth year an imperial Russian
gunboat was wrecked upon the rocks of Dago. Among the papers found in
the cabin by the plunderers was an Admiralty order addressed to all
the commanders of war vessels. This document stated that during the
past twelve years a vast number of maritime disasters had occurred in
the Baltic, and particularly (so, at least, it was believed) in the
passage between Faro and Gustavsvarn. As not a single soul was known
to have survived, the general voice of terror and exasperation had at
length decided the ruling powers to move in the matter. The order went
on to express the opinion that these seas must be the haunt of some
piratical vessel which captured ships in stormy nights, and sent them
to the bottom after slaughtering their crews. For, strangely enough,
no one had ever found a single fragment of any of the missing vessels.
Seamen (it was stated) were in the habit, when a disaster was
imminent, of committing a short account of the catastrophe to the
waves in a sealed bottle which, in all likelihood, would one day be
picked up by fishermen. But out of some six hundred missing vessels no
such memorial had ever made its appearance. Human hands, it was
therefore concluded, must be at work, and search for them must be
diligently made. The document, therefore, required the commander of
every man-of-war and gunboat to take every possible step to track out
the mysterious destroyer.

How the Apostle of Dago laughed sardonically as he read the order.

"So they are coming at last!" he cried; "those for whom I have waited
so long! Right well shall they be received!"

At that season of the year dense fogs begin to be prevalent in the
Baltic. These are of the utmost danger to seamen, for the rays from
the lighthouses cannot penetrate the atmosphere, and the attention of
vessels can only be attracted by the sound of bells.

On one such hazy and sultry night the Master of the Tower of Dago rang
the bell for evening "service." That night, surely, they should hold
high festival. Vessels of war were certainly scouring the seas all
around. One such vessel was still wanting on the rocks of Dago.
Smaller ships, such as gunboats, brigs and corvettes, were lying there
in plenty, forming excellent places of retreat for the hydra and
nautilus. To them the company of a full three-decker could not but be
welcome.

Presently, in response to the sounds which had so often proved a
mariner's death-knell, an answering signal was borne in from the open
sea. It was the familiar, long-drawn tones of a great sea-horn, which
can be heard many miles off in foggy weather.

They were coming, then, at last!

Only a little while ago, no doubt, they had thought that they had lost
their way. But now, thank God! they were sailing towards a safe
harbour. By daybreak they should be beyond all danger!

"Not God in Heaven can save them now!" muttered the Master, as with
such thoughts he gazed intently into the gloom.

But, nevertheless, it appeared that He could save them.

Just as the approaching sound of the fog-signal indicated that the
vessel could now be scarcely a mile distant from the tower, the fog
suddenly lifted, and the rays of the rising sun disclosed the outline
of a ship of the line.

She immediately dropped her anchor. For, now that the fog had cleared,
the seamen perceived the danger of their position, and arrested their
vessel's course. And that not a moment too soon. She lay-to about a
gunshot from the tower, and presently hoisted the Russian colours. In
response, the Master of the tower at once saluted her by running up
the corresponding flag.

The vessel's long-boat was now lowered. The Commodore, a midshipman,
and four and twenty marines and seamen took their places. All were
fully armed.

They steered for the entrance facing the sea. Although well concealed,
they had soon discovered it with the aid of their powerful glasses.
They succeeded in making their way safely through all the rocks and
breakers which threatened their approach.

The strangers were received at the lower door by an old, hunch-backed
porter, who was, to all appearance, nearly stone deaf. The Commodore
had to shout with all his might into the fellow's ears before he could
be made to hear anything. Then he gave an answer of which not a word
could be understood, for the old man spoke the purest Platt-Deutsch.
By means of signs, however, he at length gave them to understand that
he was the only servant in the establishment, and that if the
gentlemen would like to speak to any one they might go upstairs and
see "Mynheer."

[Illustration]

The Commodore ordered his men to land, and the entire company then
followed the old porter. At each door which they passed on their way
the officer took the precaution of stationing two armed men. When he
reached the observatory floor only the coxswain and the
midshipman--the latter quite a lad--remained with him. But these were
evidently more than sufficient. For the Master of the tower was quite
alone in his study and had beside him no other weapons than those of
science.

The Commodore saluted him in good French:

"You are the Master of this tower, I believe?"

"At present, indeed, I am."

"And for what purpose did you have it built, pray?"

The Master glanced sharply at his questioner.

"May I first inquire," said he, "what entitles you to ask such a
question?"

"You shall hear," replied the officer. "You see, of course, by my
uniform that I am Commodore on a ship of the line in the service of
his Majesty the Tsar of all the Russias. The three-decker lying out
there is my vessel the _St. Thomas_. Of late years an enormous number
of ships have been lost in the Baltic, and that in the most mysterious
circumstances. I have therefore received orders to stop and search
every suspicious vessel on the high seas, as well as to make any
investigations upon the coast which I may consider advisable. My name
is Count Zeno von Ungern."

Surely the Master's features must long ago have assumed the repose of
death itself not to have been convulsed with every evil passion at the
very mention of that name--the worst passion of all being joy.

It was his brother who stood before him.

The two sons had never seen each other since their earliest childhood.
Zeno had visited his elder brother's house only in Feodor's absence at
sea, while Feodor had never once appeared in the brilliant salons of
the court. The elder brother, moreover, now looked much older than he
really was. It was impossible, therefore, for Zeno to recognise him.

Feodor acknowledged his visitor's mission with a polite bow.

"I am delighted," he said, "to have this pleasure. My name is Baron
Helmford."

"Ah!--a Swede?"

"My ancestors may have been so. I am from Friesland."

"And for what purpose do you live here?"

"I live here," answered the Master calmly, "mainly for scientific
pursuits. There is, indeed," he added hesitatingly, "another reason as
well, but one which, after all, I have really little reason to conceal
from you."

"Why, then, do you not inform me of it at once?"

"Because a child might also hear it."

The Master here glanced significantly at the young midshipman who was
also in the room.

"Oh, that is my son Paul," said the Commodore, with fatherly pride.
"He is anything but a child. He is a midshipman on his Majesty's ship
the _St. Thomas_, and has already been through many a deadly fray."

"I do not doubt it. And yet, he can hardly be more than--ah!--thirteen
years old?"

"That is, in fact, exactly his age."

"I also have a son," said the Master. "He is sixteen years of age, and
he too has seen and heard many fearful things. But one thing, you
know, he must not hear--tales in which a woman----"

"Ah! you are right," said the Commodore hastily. "If it is a question
of that sort I need ask no more."

"Now, Commodore, if you wish it, I will myself show you all the rooms
and passages in the building. Be good enough to accompany me."

Feodor led the way down the stone steps connecting one floor with
another. The smallness of the rooms into which each story was divided
easily made the stranger imagine that he was seeing the whole of the
space between the walls, whereas he really saw only about two-thirds
of it. A vertical partition, running from the vaults beneath up to the
upper story, shut off a portion of the space. It was here that all the
plundered treasure, ammunition and guns were carefully concealed.
Through this section a secret passage led down to the rooms in which
the provisions were stored, and to the subterranean "chapel" in which
the armed men were hidden, waiting for the signal to force their way
by means of a trap-door into the upper portions of the tower.

The living rooms through which the Commodore was conducted had quite
the appearance of such as might be used by some contemplative and
learned recluse. They contained naturalists' collections, shell-fish
and corals, antiquities, and book-cases filled with yellow-edged
folios.

Presently the officer glanced out of a window in one of the rooms and
saw away beneath him the flower garden with the asters and
chrysanthemums blooming in the autumn sun.

"Ah!" he exclaimed; "that garden tells plainly enough that this tower
has also a mistress."

"I am very sorry that I cannot conduct you thither, Count von Ungern,"
said the Master; "we should have to pass through the lady's boudoir."

"The lady is your wife, is she not?" inquired the Commodore.

"It is ill answering that question. Yes, and yet No."

"Ah! A secret, I perceive."

"Yes, Count. But to show you that the secret is in no way a suspicious
one, I will make a suggestion. Where a man may not enter, a guest who
is still a child may fitly enough be seen."

So saying, he opened a door and called:

"Alexander!"

In response, a tall sunburnt lad stepped from the adjacent room. His
face betrayed much perplexity upon perceiving the strangers.

Feodor gently pushed him towards the younger youth.

"See," he said; "this is Count Paul von Ungern, a midshipman. Take him
with you to see your mother; and be sure that you make good friends
with each other."

Alexander gazed in wonder with his great dark eyes, first at his
father and then at the strange lad. He then silently held out his hand
to Paul, drew him towards him, and embraced him. Finally he linked his
arm in Paul's and led him away to see his--mother.

The frank wonder expressed by the boy's flushed face quite disarmed
the Commodore's suspicions. He began to believe that, after all, those
walls might merely conceal the secret of some tragedy of passion. One
might well have grounds, he imagined, for shutting oneself off from
the world along with a woman whose face no one might look upon except
a child no older than the tower itself.

And yet, had he but known it, the woman might have been safely seen by
any one on earth except Zeno von Ungern alone. Had he seen her, he
must at once have recognised the nurse of his brother's child--the
girl he had so often seen when visiting Feodor's castle. The features
of women, too, do not alter like those of men. Had Zeno seen her,
therefore, he must at once have guessed who the Master of the tower
really was.

The party had just stopped at the entrance to the dining-room. The
little table was laid and luncheon was ready. A small cask of fresh
beer stood tapped on the floor. Everything seemed most inviting.

"We might, perhaps, remain here," suggested the Master. "Your coxswain
can examine the other rooms and the stores. There is nothing very
remarkable about them. My old porter will open all the lockfast places
for him. He can then report the result of his inspection on his
return."

He laughed lightly as he concluded, and the Commodore laughed also.
Their laughter seemed to be echoed by the voices of the two boys which
sounded from the garden below. As Count Zeno again looked down through
the window he saw that the lads were playing together. They were
having a trial of strength. The clear voice of a woman, which seemed
to sound through an open door, admonished them to be careful not to
injure each other. But she apparently did not dream of admonishing
them for trampling down all her flowers in their struggles.

As he looked on at the havoc caused by the lads, Count Zeno could not
but feel that the inhabitants of the tower appeared to be quite the
most hospitable and complaisant people he had ever met.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER VIII

Reconciliation


For the first time in his life since the joys of his earliest
childhood Feodor's son Alexander experienced a real pleasure. It was
now when, pointing to Mashinka, he was able to say to his guest:

"See, here is my mother."

For to him she was really so. Since his earliest years this woman had
indeed filled a mother's place to him. His real mother had now other
cares. This woman alone loved him. From her alone he had learnt that
there should be any other feeling than anger and hate on earth.

Still greater, however, was his pleasure as he presented his guest.

"Look, mother!" he cried. "This is Paul--Paul von Ungern. Father told
me to bring him to see you. He said we were to be good friends."

Tears were glistening in his eyes. For well he knew who this Paul von
Ungern really was.

There was, in fact, one secret which Mashinka had never disclosed to
Feodor during all these years. This same Paul, she well knew, had
already entered the world when the great catastrophe overcame her
master. It was, indeed, mainly this boy's birth which had caused the
catastrophe. Two people whom a sinful passion had made to fall had
their reasons for preventing Feodor from learning their guilt. The
woman, having committed the first fault, was compelled to conceal it
with fresh sins. The husband, therefore, had never learnt this secret.

In an hour of confidence, however, when the boy had fled to her in
horror from the frightful teachings of his father, Mashinka had told
young Alexander the truth. Under her breath she told him that he had
mighty enemies in that world which had vanished from him in childhood:
that they were his uncle and his uncle's son--a half-brother. It was
because of them, she told him, that he was compelled to waste away his
life in that dreary rocky fortress. But she also taught him that it
was the duty of good men who wish to please God to forgive their
enemies; and taught him, too, a simple prayer which a good man might
pray for his enemies--a prayer that God might turn their hearts, that
they might cease from persecuting him, and that they should become
reconciled with him, free him from that life of captivity, and once
more hold out to him the hand of friendship. She had taught him even
to pray for the welfare of that brother who from his very birth had
unwittingly been the boy's persecutor.

So, now that he was able to say to Mashinka, "Look, here is Paul von
Ungern," it seemed to him as if these words said simultaneously, "My
prayer has at length been answered. My enemy is reconciled, and has
come to free me. And God is indeed good, and so is my father. Now I
can love both God and my father--yes, and my enemy also."

Mashinka understood the boy's thoughts well. She threw her arms round
both their necks and kissed them.

"Yes, yes," she said smiling, "you must indeed be good friends."

She then brought forth from her cupboard a host of dainties, and
spread quite a little feast for them. While partaking of this Paul
began to tell Alexander of the great world of adventure so well known
to him, and of his frequent encounters with the pirates of the
northern seas. Here it occurred to Alexander that the swordsmanship of
pirates is distinguished by its peculiar cuts and thrusts, with the
exercise of which he was but too familiar. He therefore brought out
his weapons and gave Paul some lessons in these useful devices, so
that he might be able to put them into practice if he should again
find himself in any piratical fray.

How happy he felt in having for once the companionship of a lad like
himself--a true playmate. How his heart throbbed with joy when he
looked at this brother of his. How glad he was, too, to find that Paul
was such a fine strong fellow. As they fought, he took good care not
to hit his opponent with his blunted weapon so hard as to hurt him.
And if Paul, in return, chanced to give him a good sturdy blow, he
would laughingly cry, "No, no; it didn't hurt at all!" And then he
would praise him for his dexterity.

Mashinka stood at her window and silently looked on as they knocked
each other about in the garden. And as she looked up she wiped away
the tears that rose to her eyes. They were indeed tears of joy.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER IX

The Minster Bell


The Master of the tower and Count Zeno were still conversing together.
The marines had now searched every corner of the building, and their
leader returned with the report that nothing of a suspicious nature
was to be found.

Feodor hereupon took a speaking-trumpet in his hand.

"Permit me," said he, "to give my castellan orders for the refreshment
of your brave men. The fellow hears badly."

So saying he spoke through the trumpet into the porter's ear. No one
else was able to make out what he said. The castellan, however,
appeared to understand the command. He made a sign to the sailors and
marines who stood at the door, and begged them to seize hold of the
beer-cask on the floor and carry it out. Of this, surely, they might
quite safely drink. The liquor, they reflected, could not well be
poisoned, for both the Master and their own commander had drunk from
the cask.

When the men had disappeared Feodor rose and took from a small
cupboard in the wall a bottle of sherry and two wine glasses, which he
filled. The two men were once more alone.

"I am in no great hurry to leave this place," observed Count Zeno,
after a pause. "I should like to take advantage of your hospitality
for the night, if you can make that convenient. I will explain to you
my motive for such a request."

"Before doing so," said Feodor rising, "allow me to inform the lady of
the house that her guests are to stay over night. It will give me the
utmost pleasure to make provision for yourself and your company. She,
of course, will attend to the comfort of her guests."

"You are most kind," observed Zeno as the Master made his way into the
adjacent room, which was Mashinka's. Feodor left the door ajar so that
Zeno might hear what was said.

"There is only one bed in Alexander's room, but they can sleep
together well enough for one night, I suppose."

Of course they could! Alexander would be only too pleased to have Paul
actually beside him before falling asleep. No longer would he need to
repeat the old nightly petition. That which he had so long asked was
at length within his very embrace.

Feodor now returned to Zeno.

"Now, sir," said he, "I can hear all you may have to say. But first
let us drink to each other."

They touched glasses, bowed to each other, and drank.

"In the first place," began Zeno, after a short silence, "I may as
well inform you that all last night I and my entire crew thought we
heard something very like the tolling of a bell away in the distance
before us."

"Indeed," observed the Master with the most perfect calm.

"Yes," Zeno went on; "the tolling quite confused us. My officers, who,
I fear, are by no means too expert with the compass and chart,
declared that the sounds must have proceeded from the lighthouse of
Gustavsvarn, whose lights, of course, could not then be seen in the
dense fog. On the other hand, my coxswain, who, it is true, is a
clumsy fellow enough, swears that it is impossible for the sound of a
bell in Gustavsvarn to be heard in this quarter, for Gustavsvarn lies
due north-east, while the sound we heard came more from the east. In
his opinion the bell-ringing is simply nothing but the pranks of evil
spirits. Just about here, he declares, there is a sunken town on the
deep sea-bottom, and on foggy nights seamen always hear its minster
bell tolling under the sea. The sound is too often their destruction,
for the spectres' bell invariably leads them wherever the most
frightful reefs and cliffs are to be found. There is quite a legend on
the subject, I believe. Do you know the story at all?"

"Oh yes," said Feodor quietly, "I know it well."

"Pray have the goodness to tell it me."

On the spur of the moment Feodor composed and embellished a legend of
a sunken town, from which on dark and foggy nights was heard the
tolling of a minster bell. A Russian, he reflected, even although a
commodore, is by nature superstitious. Possibly, he imagined, he would
be satisfied with such an explanation.

"But do you yourself believe in this legend?" asked Zeno with a
searching look, when he had finished.

Feodor met his questioner's gaze without a tremor, and shrugged his
shoulders.

"Pooh!" he ejaculated; "why should I believe such stuff?"

"And yet," pursued Zeno, "there must be some truth in the story. The
tolling of the bell had actually drawn us into such a dangerous
position that, had the fog not lifted just before daybreak, I and my
vessel should by this time have been at the bottom together. We
dropped anchor not a moment too soon. But whence do the sounds come?
One might conclude that they proceeded from some church spire on the
island of Dago itself. But then, of course, no church bells are ever
rung at night except at the service on Christmas Eve. Now, Baron
Helmford, can you explain this mystery to me in any way?"

"Tolerably well, I fancy," said Feodor. "Without having recourse to
any ghost stories, I think these sounds are capable of being explained
quite satisfactorily--and that on purely scientific grounds. The
sounds, I take it, do, in fact, come from Gustavsvarn lighthouse. The
heavy atmosphere, of course, depresses the sound, which is then
carried along the smooth surface of the water twice as far as it would
be in fine weather. Sound has admittedly much greater travelling
power in such an atmosphere than in clear weather."

"Yes, I know that," said Zeno. "But the altered direction?"

"That also has quite a simple explanation. The fog itself proceeds
from the south-west. This, of course, prevents the tolling of the bell
from coming in a perfectly straight line from Gustavsvarn. Moreover,
the vibrations, being echoed back by the cliffs of Dago, seem even
louder, and in this way, too, it may appear as if they actually
proceeded from the island itself."

"That is true. But if, as you say, the cliffs of Dago merely echo back
the sound of the bell at Gustavsvarn, then one must also hear the
tolling perfectly well from here."

"That is so," said Feodor; "I have often heard it here."

"Very well, then," said Zeno; "I should like to convince myself of the
matter, and will therefore accept your hospitality for the night."

"That," said the Master, with a bow, "I need hardly repeat, you are
most welcome to do."

During the remainder of the day Count Zeno acted as if he were most
deeply interested in all the sciences. He requested his host to
instruct him in the various uses of all the instruments which lay
around. He even pretended never to have seen a galvanic battery or a
theodolite.

There was, however, one object in the room the purpose of which he was
really unable to divine, but to inquire about which might have seemed
the height of simplicity. It was a long, thick silken cord which hung
down from the ceiling. What could it be? A bell-rope? But what
purpose, he asked himself, would that serve? The only servant in the
building was stone-deaf, so it would be of little use ringing for him.

Feodor had moved his chair in front of this hanging cord in such a way
as to make it impossible for any one to approach it.

The two men sat and discussed various scientific experiments and,
from time to time, the wine. While they were engaged in these
occupations night began to fall. They could hear the two boys talking
in the next room. The lads wished Mashinka good-night, and then went
off to their bedroom. Shortly afterwards the men heard a deep sigh,
followed by the opening words of a prayer. The woman was evidently
commending her soul to Heaven during the night. All three, therefore,
would soon be asleep.

"Now we may go up to the observatory," said Feodor, rising from his
chair. "There we can listen better to the sound of the bell."

He stepped over to the fireplace in order to light a small hand lamp
with which to show the way.

As soon as Feodor had risen from his seat and turned his back on Zeno,
the latter stepped swiftly and noiselessly towards the silken cord and
pulled it violently.

Immediately the deep tones of the hidden bell sounded from above.

"Ha!" he cried in triumphant wrath; "so the bell is here!"

"Wretch!" hissed Feodor beneath his breath; "you yourself have given
the signal!"

Zeno drew his sword and sprang to the door opening on the staircase.
Feodor was quite unarmed. The Commodore threw the door open and
shrilly blew his seaman's whistle.

Immediately, as if in response to the shrill sound, the hurried
footsteps of men were heard ascending the dark staircase.

"Seize that man and put him in irons!" ordered Zeno, pointing with his
naked sword to Feodor.

But the men seized Zeno himself, tore the sword from his grasp, and
bound his hands behind him. They were not his own seamen as he had
expected, but the Master's hidden companions. In a few moments he was
bound fast in the armchair in which he had been comfortably seated a
few minutes before, and ere he could utter a word he was securely
gagged.

"Well," said Feodor, placing himself calmly before his prisoner, "so
you have discovered where the bell-ringers are, and for whom they
ring! Doubtless you would like also to know who it was that rang. I am
Count Feodor von Ungern, the brother whom you betrayed, whom you
falsely accused, whom you had condemned to lifelong exile, whom you
made a wretched fugitive, whose wife you carried off, and whose child
you branded with shame. Since those days I have had no other thought
but that of vengeance. I built this tower here merely that I might see
your accursed nation's vessels dashed in pieces beneath it. Six
hundred of them have I destroyed already, and your proud three-decker
will be the first of the seventh hundred. The very moment you pulled
that cord, my trusty men burst forth from their concealment, overcame
your company, and, without a doubt, slew every one. And now they will
put on your men's uniforms, and row off in your own boat to your ship.
Then there will be a bath of blood! When every life has been destroyed
they will set fire to the ship and let her burn to cinders. Ay! and
you will be able to see the magnificent spectacle from the tower
windows. There you may enjoy it until at last, with a final crash, the
hull bursts into the air. At this sound our two boys will rush out of
bed half dressed. To my son I will say: 'Look! That brand on your
shoulder which has banished you for ever from the world, which
prevents you from ever calling any honourable woman your wife, or
disclosing your true name; that mark of infamy, which buries you alive
and damns you for ever before you have even sinned--it was that man
who stamped it upon you! He it was who robbed you of your heritage,
who robbed you of your mother's heart--of everything on earth. He has
turned your father into a devil, and of earth he has made a hell for
you. That man has a son. There he stands. That stripling is to blame
for all your misery. He had no right even to come into the world; by
his very birth he utterly destroyed both you and me. He is a thief who
has stolen away your good name. Well, you have there two swords. Fall
upon each other!' I will say all this, and then you will enjoy the
sight of my son killing yours. It may be, of course, that they will
kill each other. But what matters that? We will both look on, quite
calm and silent. When they have done with each other I will loosen
your cords. It will then be our turn. For do not think that I intend
to murder you like an assassin. No; I will place your own sword in
your hand, and then--then may the Devil and Hell judge us! . . . Men!
Take him away!"

The bound man writhed in an agony and his eyes gazed beseechingly at
his brother.

But Feodor's face remained cold as marble.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER X

Weakness


Thus, then, was the diabolical work to be completed. For Satan is not
wont to betray those who are true to him.

But had Feodor really been true to him?

Had he not, he asked himself, secretly sinned against his master and
his religion in suffering beside him a human creature who whispered a
prayer to Heaven before laying her head upon her pillow?

And was that head really on the pillow now? Was Mashinka really
asleep?

Might not she have heard all that had just been spoken--all those
frightful things which she could not hitherto have imagined? . . .
Might not she betray him?

With these thoughts rushing confusedly through his brain, Feodor took
the lamp in his hand and entered the next room. The woman lay before
him with closed eyes. He threw the lamp-light on her face. Her hands
were clasped across her breast, which gently rose and fell.

Something whispered to him that the woman must die. She might have
heard everything and might only be feigning sleep.

He set down the lamp. Placing one hand over her heart, he held in the
other a keen dagger, so that its point just touched her breast. Had
but a single quickened beat betrayed that she was aware of the danger
so near her, the weapon would have pierced her heart. But Mashinka lay
perfectly still.

Presently a smile flitted across her face, and her lips began to
mutter words as sleepers often do in dreams.

"Do not tickle me so with the blade of grass, Shasha," she murmured
coyly.

The Apostle of Dago had not the heart to drive the blade of steel into
her bosom.

But something within him admonished him.

"Thou art not wholly mine," said the voice; "a single good feeling yet
lingers within thee! By it thou art corrupted--thou art lost!"

Yet he could not kill her.

He consoled himself with the thought that she must certainly have been
asleep and could, therefore, have heard nothing. It would be
sufficient, he reflected, to take the precaution of securing the key
of the door which opened on the outside steps leading down to the
garden. Mashinka and the two lads would thus be all securely locked
in.

He left the room and went up to the observatory.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mashinka was not asleep. She had heard every word.

With almost superhuman strength she had fought down the terror that
rose within her, and was able to appear asleep even while the dagger
was pointed at her heart by the hand of the man whom she now knew in
all his infamy.

She sprang from the bed as soon as the sound of Feodor's footsteps had
died away, rushed to the little room where the two sleeping boys lay
clasping each other's hands, and called them.

"Wake, children, wake!" she cried in despair; "prepare yourselves for
death--it is close at hand!"

She then hastily told them all she had heard.

"And you are to be made to fight each other to death before your
fathers' eyes!" she exclaimed as she concluded.

Alexander and Paul tremblingly embraced each other. It was not the
thought of death that made them tremble, but the thought that their
fathers should hate each other so.

"Oh! if you could but fly from here!" cried Mashinka.

"But how?" exclaimed Alexander. "Ah!--the door to the garden!
Impossible--it is locked!"

"Here!" cried Mashinka suddenly; "through this window you can reach
the garden--then over the outer wall and on to the rocks on the shore!
There you will find a boat. In it you may reach the ship."

"But you--you must come with us too," they cried together.

But Mashinka had already begun to cut up the bed-clothes and tie the
pieces together into a stout rope. The clothes were not long enough.
Swiftly she passed into the dining-room, and cut off the bell-cord
which hung from the ceiling. With this the rope was soon completed.

The night was dark and favoured the flight of the fugitives.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER XI

The Severed Cord


The two brothers were now alone in the observatory. Zeno had been
carried thither and bound in the easy-chair before the great open
window. Feodor sat at his big telescope watching the anchored vessel.
At intervals as he sat he informed his prisoner of what he saw passing
on board.

"The roll of the drum is summoning the crew to evening prayer. The
fools! . . . The watch is being set for the night. . . . Now they are
hauling down the flag. . . . The captain has gone into his cabin and
his lieutenant has taken the quarter-deck. . . . Now the look-out in
the main-top is taking a pull from his bottle. In a moment he will
drop off to sleep. . . . One by one the lights are being put out; only
those from the captain's windows are now to be seen. . . . Soon they
will all be asleep--in the Lord! So--good-night!"

"And now, brother," said Feodor, "the entertainment I promised you is
about to begin. My fellows are already sitting in your long-boat and
their own skiffs. The sound of the bell is the signal that all is
ready."

With these words he left Zeno alone in the observatory and hurried
downstairs to give the signal.

With a violent effort, Zeno succeeded in getting one foot so far out
of his bonds that he could reach the ground with his heel. With this
foot he gradually pushed himself nearer and nearer to the edge of the
low open window. Then, with a desperate effort, he tilted the chair
forward, and precipitated himself and it together into the depths
beneath. For him there was neither entertainment nor spectacle any
more on this earth.

Meantime Feodor strode down to the dining-room where he usually rang
the bell in the concealed room by means of the silken cord. He stopped
suddenly and turned pale with fear when he discovered that the cord
had been cut.

[Illustration: "The cord had been cut"]

He burst into the next room. There Mashinka's bed was empty. He
hurried into his son's bedroom. The boys were nowhere to be seen. The
open window and the rope dangling outside in the wind told him plainly
enough of their flight.

It was too late now. In vain his cry of wrath sounded through the
fortress. In vain he pierced with his sword the empty bed from which
his victim had escaped. In vain he now beat his breast for having
harboured a human feeling within it. That weakness, he now saw, had
indeed been his ruin.

In his boundless wrath he rushed up to the observatory to wreak all
his baffled vengeance on his one remaining victim. He consoled himself
with the thought that he at least could not escape.

But Zeno too had vanished. He was no longer where he had left him.

Feodor stretched his body far out of the open window and shrieked his
brother's name. There was no response but the dull dashing of the
waves against the rocks below.

When he raised his eyes again and looked towards the war-ship an icy
chill ran through his heart. The windows of the vessel were all
lighted up, and the crew were lining the bulwarks.

"Betrayed!--utterly betrayed!" he cried in despair as he cursed and
abjured the Devil and all his works. "Nay, there _is_ no Devil!--there
is nothing!--nothing!"



[Illustration]

CHAPTER XII

Nemesis


It was not until the next day that Feodor learned all that had taken
place in the outer world.

A company of armed men were now advancing against his fortifications
from the direction of the island, while the war-ship had turned her
broadside with its triple row of guns against the tower.

After landing a party to storm the building from the land side, the
_St. Thomas_ had stood off for the attack.

In conformity with custom, the besiegers, before beginning the
assault, summoned the fortress to surrender in order that the shedding
of blood might be avoided.

The Very Reverend Herr Waimœner, accompanied by a herald, came as a
messenger of peace to the great door of the tower and, with the blast
of a trumpet, called upon its commander to take part in peaceful
negotiations.

Feodor sent him the hunchback who acted as his castellan. "The fellow
is stone-deaf," said he; "let them negotiate with him!"

But the hunchback was not stone-deaf--at least when he cared to hear.
He merely chose to deceive the deceivers.

Right well did he understand the reverend gentleman's summons.
According to it, every man would be granted free departure, immunity
from all punishment, and as much of the tower's treasure as his
shoulders could bear, if only the Master were delivered alive into the
hands of justice.

The castellan first returned and imparted the news to those of his
companions who were keeping watch at the door. These passed it on to
the others.

At this juncture the Master appeared in their midst. As of yore they
gathered round him and listened attentively to his words.

"Men!" cried Feodor, "we have now to stand the test of fire, and show
the world what forty fellows like us can do in a stronghold like this.
We have magnificent guns and enough ammunition and provisions to last
till doomsday. We will sweep away all who attempt to creep along that
rocky ridge, and will send that ship to the bottom should she dare to
come within range of our guns."

He paused as if to observe the effect of his words upon those around
him, but there was not the spirited response which he had expected.

"Even if we be overcome," he went on desperately, "is it not enough if
we send the tower and our enemies into the air together, our hands
gripping their throats to the last? Thus, either they will bear us
aloft with them to Heaven--or we will drag them down with us to Hell.
Up, then, and ready with fire and sword!"

Time was when such an address would have been greeted with a storm of
applause. Now it was received with silence and strangely sullen faces.

Presently the hunchback stepped forth from the band.

"Master," he said, "I have heard all your fine words--for, you see, I
am not always deaf--and must say now that it is a very beautiful
religion, this that you have taught us. 'That which is agreeable to me
is right; that which is hurtful to another is not wrong.' Fidelity,
too, is a virtue--then it is not for us, the Devil's children! All you
say is good--very good indeed. However, we have been promised freedom
and a sackful of your treasure if we only deliver you up alive. That
is quite agreeable to us; so it is right. You will certainly be
quartered. That is, indeed, hurtful to you; so it is not wrong. If we
do not remain true to you we shall still please the Devil perfectly,
for fidelity--as you have ever preached--is a virtue. Therefore we
will rather give you up than accompany you in the aërial flight you
speak of."

They all laughed loudly in chorus, and Feodor laughed strangely along
with them.

"What is agreeable to me is right; what is hurtful to another is not
wrong!" the men shouted derisively in his very face.

This, then, was to be the triumph of his religion!

They had evidently learned their lesson only too well from him.

"But you will get nothing by your treachery!" exclaimed the Master
suddenly.

And ere they could lay hands on him he had drawn a pistol from his
belt; there was a click and a flash, and Feodor von Ungern fell dead
in their midst.

       *       *       *       *       *

Alexander and Paul returned to Russia, and like brothers shared the
property of their estranged parents between them.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the Tower of Dago still rises high above the rocky promontory of
the island, and serves as the safe untroubled haunt of the wild
sea-birds for miles around.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]





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