Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Fortune's My Foe - A Romance
Author: Bloundelle-Burton, John
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 "Fortune's My Foe - A Romance" ***

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



Google Books (University of Minnesota)



Transcriber's Notes:

   1.  Page scan source: Google Books
       https://books.google.com/books?id=zeQxAQAAMAAJ
       (University of Minnesota)



Appletons'
Town and Country
Library
No. 265



FORTUNE'S MY FOE



By J. BLOUNDELLE-BURTON.
------------------------
Each, 12mo, cloth, $1.00; paper, 50 cents.
------------------------
Fortune's my Foe.

Mr. Bloundelle-Burton has proved his ability to interest readers so
thoroughly that it is sufficient merely to announce this new and
entertaining romance. His story moves briskly as usual, and there is a
constantly sustained interest and plenty of dramatic action.


The Clash of Arms.

"Well written, and the interest is sustained from the beginning to the
end of the tale"--_Brooklyn Eagle_.

"Vividness of detail and rare descriptive power give the story life
and excitement."--_Boston Herald_.


Denounced.

"The author of 'Denounced' is second to none in the romantic
recounting of the tales of earlier days. A story of the critical times
of the vagrant and ambitious Charles I, it is so replete with incident
and realistic happenings that one seems translated to the very scenes
and days of that troublous era in English history."--_Boston Courier_.


The Scourge of God.

"The story is one of the best in style, construction, information, and
graphic power, that have been written in recent years."--_Dial,
Chicago_.


In the Day of Adversity.

"Mr. Burton's creative skill is of the kind which must fascinate those
who revel in the narratives of Stevenson, Rider Haggard, and Stanley
Weyman. Even the author of 'A Gentleman of France' has not surpassed
the writer of 'In the Day of Adversity' in the moving interest of his
tale."--_St. James's Gazette_.

---------------
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK.



FORTUNE'S MY FOE

_A ROMANCE_



BY
JOHN BLOUNDELLE-BURTON
AUTHOR OF THE SCOURGE OF GOD, THE CLASH OF ARMS,
DENOUNCED, IN THE DAY OF ADVERSITY, ETC.



NEW YORK
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
1899



COPYRIGHT, 1898, 1899,
BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.

_All rights reserved_.



CONTENTS.

   CHAPTER
          PROLOGUE--OFF CARTAGENA.
      I.--THE LION AND THE JACKAL.
     II.--AN HEIRESS.
    III.--A "COUNTRY CLOD."
     IV.--AN UNKNOWN VISITOR.
      V.--THE HAPPY MAN.
     VI.--LOVE'S CONTEST.
    VII.--THE CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE.
   VIII.--FOREBODINGS.
     IX.--THE END OF THE FIRST ACT.
      X.--"THE MIGNONNE."
     XI.--THE COLONISTS.
    XII.--VENGEANCE IS SWEET.
   XIII.--A BROKEN SWORD.
    XIV.--BUFTON IS IMPLACABLE.
     XV.--PLOT AND COUNTERPLOT.
    XVI.--WEAVING THE NET.
   XVII.--A DISCOVERY.
   XVIII.--RUSE CONTRE RUSE.
    XIX.--THE SECOND MAN.
     XX.--ARIADNE'S COMPASSION.
    XXI.--A DIVINE DESPAIR.
   XXII.--"AS YE SOW."
  XXIII.--QUIBERON



FORTUNE'S MY FOE.



PROLOGUE.

OFF CARTAGENA.


The storm of the night was over. The winds had subsided almost as
quickly as they had risen on the previous evening--as is ever the case
in the West Indies and the tropics generally. Against a large number
of ships of war, now riding in the waters off Boca Chica, the waves
slapped monotonously in their regularity, though each crash which they
made on the bows seemed less in force than the preceding one had been;
while the water looked less muddy and sand-coloured than it had done
an hour or so before. Likewise the hot and burning tropical sun was
forcing its way through the dense masses of clouds which were still
banked up beneath it; there coming first upon the choppy waters a
gleam--a weak, thin ray; a glisten like the smile on the face of a
dying man who parts at peace with this world; then, next, a brighter
and more cheery sparkle. Soon the waves were smoothed, nought but a
little ripple supplying the place of their recent turbulence; the sun
burst forth, the banks of clouds were dispersed, the bright glory of a
West Indian day shone forth in all its brilliancy. The surroundings,
which at dawn might well have been the surroundings of the Lower
Thames in November, had evaporated, departed; they were now those of
that portion of the globe which has been termed for centuries the
"World's Paradise."

The large gathering of ships mentioned above--they mustered one
hundred and twenty-four--formed the fleet under the command of Admiral
Vernon, and in that fleet were also numbers of soldiers and marines
who constituted what, in those days, were termed the Land Forces.
There were also a large contingent of volunteers from our American
colonies, drawn principally from Virginia.

The presence here both of sailors and soldiers was due to a
determination arrived at by the authorities at home in the year 1739,
to harass and attack the Spanish West Indian Islands and possessions
in consequence of England being once again, as she had been so often
in the past, at war with Spain. Now that fleet lay off Cartagena and
the neighbourhood; some of the officers and men--both sailors and
soldiers--were ashore destroying the forts near the sea; the
grenadiers were also ashore; the bomb-ketches were at this very moment
playing upon the castles of San Fernando and San Angelo; the siege of
Cartagena had begun.

Upon the quarterdeck of one of the vessels of war composing the great
fleet, a vessel which may be called the _Ariadne_, the captain walked
now as the storm passed away and the morning broke in all its fair
tropical beauty, and while there came the balmy spice-laden breeze
from the South American coast--a breeze soft as a maiden's first kiss
to him she loves; one odorous and sweet, and luscious, too, with the
scents of nutmeg and banana, guava and orange, begonia, bignonia, and
poinsettia, all wafted from the flower-laden shore. But because,
perhaps, such perfumes as these, such rippling blue waves, now crested
with their feathery tips, such a bright warm sun, were not deemed by
Nature to be the fitting accompaniments to the work which that fleet
had to do and was about to do--she had provided others.

Near the ship which has been called the _Ariadne_, alongside the great
and noble flagship, the _Russell_, passing slowly--but deadly even in
their slowness!--through the line made by the _Cumberland_, the
_Boyne_, the _Lion_, the _Shrewsbury_, and a score of others, went the
hideous white sharks of the Caribbean Sea, showing sometimes their
gleaming, squinting eyes close to the surface of the water and showing
always their dorsal fin as the water rippled by them.

"The brutes know well that they will be fed ere long," the
captain--Henry Thorne--said, half to himself, half aloud, as he gazed
through the quarterdeck starboard port; "they know it very well.
Trust them."

"They must know it, sir," said the chaplain, a fine rosy-cheeked
gentleman, who had already had his morning draught, wherefore his
cheeks looked shiny and brilliant--he having been standing near Thorne
while he murmured to himself--"specially since they have been fed
enough already by our fleet. Three went overboard only yesterday from
the _Weymouth_. While we are here they will never leave us."

"So-so," the captain said. "So-so. 'Tis very true." Then, turning to
the chaplain, he asked, "How is it with her below? Have you seen the
surgeon's mate? What does he say? Is her hour of trial near?"

"It is very near," the other answered. "Very near. Pray Heaven all may
go well. Ere long we may hope to congratulate you, sir, upon paternal
honours. 'Tis much to be desired that the Admiral will give no signal
for the bombardment to commence until Mrs. Thorne is through her
peril."

"At least I hope so. With all my heart. Poor girl! Poor girl! I would
never have brought my wife on board, Mr. Glew, had I known either of
two things. The first that she was so near her time; the second, that
we should be ordered to join this squadron--to quit our station at
Port Royal."

Whereby, as you may gather by this remark of Captain Thorne, the
_Ariadne_ was not one of those great war vessels which had sailed from
England under the order of the Admirals. Instead, she had come down
from Jamaica, where she was stationed, to join the fleet now before
Cartagena.

Then the captain continued--

"If the Admiral does open the attack this morning 'twill be a fine
hurly-burly for a child to be born amidst. Surely, if 'tis a boy, he
should live to do great things. He may be a bold sailor--or soldier,
at least. He may go far, too; do well. He will be fortunate also in
his worldly gear. I--I--am not rich, Glew, but he--or she--will be
some day an heir or heiress to much property and wealth that must come
my way at last if I live. If I live," he repeated, more to himself
than to his companion.

"You have not made your will yet, sir?" the parson asked, rubbing his
chin, which was red and almost raw from the use of a bad razor that
morning. "The will you talked about. As a chaplain who, on board ship,
is also supposed to be something of a lawyer, I feel it right to tell
you that you should do so. No man who is before the enemy, whatever
his standing, should neglect so important an office as that."

"I will not neglect it, Mr. Glew. Let the child but be born and I will
perform it in my cabin the moment I know the good news." Then,
changing the subject, he asked, "Will they let me see her if I go
below, think you?"

"I will make inquiries," the other said, going towards the
after-hatch. "Yet," he went on, as he put his foot on the ladder
beneath, "I doubt it. The event is very near at hand. The wife of the
master-at-arms, as well as the wife of the ship's corporal, are with
her--they rule all. But I will go see," and his head followed his body
and disappeared.

Left alone, or at least without the companionship of Mr. Glew, for
none could be alone on board such a ship as this was--even though she
might have been making a pleasant cruise on summer seas; while more
especially, none could be alone when that ship was one of a large
number engaged in a bombardment--the captain went about his duties. He
visited the gun decks and saw that all were at their proper stations,
inspected the twenty-four, twelve, and nine pounders, swivel guns,
stern and bow chasers, and indeed, everything that could throw a ball;
he saw that sponges and rammers were ready, and that every bolt and
loop was in working order. He neglected nothing, no more than he would
have done had his young wife been at home at Deptford or Portsmouth,
and he without the knowledge that at the present time, she was about
to make him a father.

Yet, all the same, his thoughts were never absent from her, his bride
of a year; again and again he lamented bitterly that she had come upon
this cruise with him. Why, he asked himself repeatedly, could he not
have left her behind in Port Royal, where she would have been well and
carefully attended to, and where he could have joined her after this
siege was over? He had been mad to bring her! Already the bomb-ketches
were making a hideous din all around; already, too, some of the great
ships of war had received their orders to open fire, and were obeying
those orders; from the forts on shore a horrible noise was being kept
up as they replied to the attackers in a more or less irregular and
perfunctory manner.

"What surroundings," he muttered to himself, breaking off even as he
did so to bawl orders to the men in the tops to train their swivel
guns more accurately upon the shore, "what surroundings for a little
helpless babe to be born in the midst of. What surroundings!"

They were, however, to become worse--far worse for the poor mother
below; surroundings more terrible and awful to accompany the birth of
a new-born child.

Commodore Lestock, with his broad red pennant hoisted, tapering and
swallow-tailed, went in to bombard all the forts along the shore, and
after him followed an appointed number of the ships in his squadron.
It was a noble sight, one that might have caused--and doubtless did
cause--many hearts to beat enthusiastically in their owners' breasts.
Along the line of other vessels which they passed, cheer rang upon
cheer; the bands of the flagships, and others which possessed such
music, played "Britons, Strike Home." Soon five hundred great guns
were firing on those forts, which replied with courage; the din was
tremendous, as also was the vibration caused to each of the vessels
while the flames belched forth and the guns shook. And in the middle
of the cannonading--when, on board, one could not see across the ship,
nor from the mizzen to the main shrouds on either side--the chaplain,
staggering on to the upper deck, his handkerchief to his nose and
mouth to keep out the saltpetre from his lungs, ran against Captain
Thorne giving orders for a marine who had been wounded by a shot from
the shore to be carried below.

"Sir," Mr. Glew said hastily, and clutching the captain by the arm,
"sir, I offer my congratulations. It----"

"Is well over?" Thorne exclaimed. "Is that it?"

"It is that, sir. And the child is----"

"What?"

"A girl."

"A girl," the captain repeated, while even amongst all the roar of the
cannonading, Glew seemed to think he heard a tone of disappointment in
the other's voice.

"So-so!" Thorne exclaimed a moment later. "Well, carry down my love to
my dear wife. I must not leave the deck now. Say--say--that I will be
below ere long. Say that I--am--rejoiced."


                        *    *    *    *    *    *    *


Meanwhile, what was passing below in the captain's cabin--which had
been set aside for his wife ever since her hour drew nigh; he sleeping
in a spare one close by? Independently of it being now a chamber in
which a young and beautiful wife had just become a mother, as well as
a room in great disorder, there were other things which, in any
circumstances, must have caused it to present an appearance of extreme
confusion. Naturally, all the pictures had been unshipped, since the
concussion of the guns would otherwise have brought them from the
bulkheads to the floor, or deck, to say nothing of shivering any glass
they might possess. And also all china and glass in the cabin, and the
pretty knick-knacks which Thorne had bestowed about it, were removed
from their usual positions. Whereby the apartment in the _Ariadne_, in
which Mrs. Thorne had but recently presented a child to her husband,
was even more disarranged than it would ordinarily have been,
Likewise, every port and scuttle was opened, so that thus some of the
concussion should be avoided, and the cabin was thereby made less hot
and stuffy than such a place would otherwise have been in this
climate. Yet it was but a poor place in which to bring a fresh body
and soul, into a troublous world--a poor place in which a child should
first open its eyes upon the light.

"Dear, dear!" said Mrs. Tickle, the wife of the master-at-arms, she
thinking thus, as she wiped the perspiration from Mrs. Thorne's face.
"Dear, dear! What a place for the sweet young thing to give birth to a
babe in. Yet," and, as she spoke, she took a sip of rumbullion from a
cannikin close to her hand, and then passed it over to Mrs. Pottle,
the wife of the ship's corporal, "it might have been wuss. My first
was born in Havant Work'us', Tickle being away with Captain Clipperton
at the time."

"Ha!" said Mrs. Pottle, as she in her turn took a sip of the toothsome
liquor. "Indeed, and it might have been wuss. Even now it may be so.
What if one of them forts should plump a round shot into us below the
water-line? Then there won't soon be no Captain Thorne, nor Mistress
Thorne, nor baby either."

"Nor yet no Mrs. Tickle nor Mrs. Pottle," said the other. Whereupon
each took another drink at the rumbullion to calm their nerves, which,
in truth, needed little calming, since this was not the first battle,
or rather bombardment, in which these good ladies had taken part. For,
in those days of a century and a half ago, it was common enough for
the wives of the petty officers and the lower-deck men to sail on
board ships with their husbands, they doing much such work therein as,
in these days, is done by soldier's wives who are on the "strength of
the regiment." They could also turn their hands to other things, even
as Mrs. Tickle and Mrs. Pottle were now doing. For they were almost
always excellent nurses, understanding much about wounds and fevers
and other complaints, and quite capable of working under, and
sometimes of advising, the raw sawbones whom the Admiralty sent into
the ships of war to cure--or kill--the sailors.

"Is the battle over?" Mrs. Thorne asked feebly, opening her eyes now
as she spoke, and endeavouring in her newly-developed maternal love,
to turn them down upon the tiny mite lying on her breast.

"Over, deary!" said Mrs. Tickle, sinking the character of the inferior
woman who was in the presence of the superior, and speaking only as a
good-hearted, motherly creature, which indeed she was, to another who
needed her care. "Not yet, poor lamb. Lawk's sakes," she whispered to
her comrade, "can't she hear the guns a-belching? Ah! drat you all,"
she muttered, as at this moment a larboard broadside bellowed forth,
causing the ship to tremble at her keelson; "that's them lower deck
twenty-four pounders at it again. Poor dear, she don't seem to hear or
feel them, anyhow."

She should have done so, indeed she must have done so, since even as
the roaring continued, while the _Ariadne_ was brought round so that
now her starboard broadside could be fired, she lifted her arms feebly
and enfolded more tightly to her breast than she had done before the
little atom she had but recently brought into the world.

"My child," she moaned, "my child! Oh what can your future be with
such a beginning as this? What shocks and tempests must threaten the
existence that commences in such turbulence and throes as these."

"You 'ear," said the master-at-arms' wife to the wife of the ship's
corporal, "you 'ear! She is quite calm and full of understanding. Ah!
poor dear." Whereupon she stretched out her hand once more for the can
of rumbullion.

And even now, as each of these women in the cabin listened to the
uproar without, that uproar seemed to increase. Half a dozen vessels
were firing at once; the battery which had been constructed ashore by
those who had landed overnight was adding to the tumult; the bo'sun's
pipes were heard whistling like some shrill-voiced bird that sings its
loudest amidst the violence of a summer storm; the master-gunner's
voice was heard on board the _Ariadne_ giving his orders. And there
came too, the sound of a hideous crash in the vessel, the rending of
timbers, the shrieks of sailors, who were doubtless wounded--bellows,
shouts and curses.

"The ship is struck," said Mrs. Tickle, calm and tranquil as became a
sailor's wife who had been in battle before. "Pray Heaven 'tis not
below the water-line."

"Nor that the magazine is set afire," said Mrs. Pottle, also with
heroic coolness. "Otherwise we have got our passage to Davy Jones.
Yet," she continued, the woman rising above the Amazon, "I have three
poor little children at home in Portsmouth town. And one is a'most
blind. God help them, what shall they do if Pottle and I have got our
discharge!"

While, even as she spoke of her children, that other child, the
newly-born babe present in the cabin, set up a piteous infantine wail.
Little, unconscious creature as it was, bearing a brain but an hour
old, it seemed to recognise, to have some glimmering of the terrors
that enveloped it. And while it did so the ship listed to starboard,
causing Mrs. Thorne's body to move somewhat, and, at the same moment,
the white, delicate hands seemed to strain the infant closer to her;
the liquor can, too, was upset, whereby the drink went slopping over
the cabin carpet. But the other two matrons were not to be stopped,
even at that moment, from doing their duty. Mrs. Tickle sprang up and
held the ailing woman tightly in her berth, as she muttered--

"The ship has listed four degrees. Yet she goes no further. They have
stopped the water from pouring in. Go, Pottle, and find the surgeon.
He must come here, even though he quits the wounded for an instant."

Whereon Mrs. Pottle went forth, a heroine still, though a white,
pale-faced one. A heroine, not thinking of her own life--now in deadly
peril!--but only of the little children at home in Portsmouth town.
Above all, she thought of the half-blind one who could never do aught
for itself when it grew up. She thought of it, and wondered who would
protect it when she and her husband were gone.

"My husband, my husband!" wailed Mrs. Thorne, as she and the other
woman were left alone. "My husband! Will he not come to me? To me. To
his wife and new-born babe. Oh! my husband. Why comes he not?"

"Dear heart," exclaimed Mrs. Tickle, "he cannot come. His duty is on
deck. Duty before all." Then she bent her head a little nearer to the
other's, and said, "We are sailors' wives. Our duty first. Duty before
all," she repeated.

As she did so the cabin door was slid back, and Mrs. Pottle returned,
bringing with her the surgeon's mate from the sick bay--a young,
callow Irishman, who was now making his first cruise. The surgeon, an
old man, who had an army of children of his own at home in
Rotherhithe, had attended Mrs. Thorne through her trouble, but now he
was busy with those who were wounded and in the cock-pit. He could not
come.

The mate was very pale--too pale, thought Mrs. Tickle, for a
sailor-doctor to be, even though he were smelling powder for the first
time. Then, to that good lady's astonishment, as she cast her eyes on
her nursing comrade, she saw that she too was very pale--was
white--ghastly. And in a moment she imagined, guessed, that the ship's
corporal was dead! By that freemasonry, by some telegraphic method of
the eyes, which women alone know how to use, she signalled to the
other to ask if such were the case, yet only to discover that she had
not divined aright. Mrs. Pottle shook her head; then, seeing that the
eyes of the captain's wife were wide open, she stepped behind the
surgeon's mate, and from the screen of his broad back put her finger
to her lip. Thereby not knowing what else she meant, Mrs. Tickle
understood at least that silence was to be observed.

"My husband," moaned Mrs. Thorne again now, gazing up into the dark
eyes of the handsome young fellow who looked so white, "my husband--I
want him."

"Nay, madam," he said, even as he felt her pulse and arranged her more
comfortably in the berth, "nay, not yet; the bombardment is not over."
While, turning his head round, he whispered to Mrs. Pottle behind him,
"You have left the cabin door open; shut it."

It was well she obeyed him at once. Well that, amidst fresh discharges
of the twenty-four pounders, another crash on deck and a noise which
was the fall of the foremast, added to the piercing cries of the
child, Mrs. Thorne could not hear nor see beyond that door. Well that
it was shut immediately on the order of the surgeon's mate.

For now six sailors were carrying down the after-ladder a helpless,
limp body at that moment--one that was to be laid in the very next
cabin to that which Mrs. Thorne was occupying. The body of Henry
Thorne, with a bullet in it that had pierced the heart.

And behind them came the chaplain, shaking his head sadly, yet
muttering somewhat thankfully, too--

"But he made that will. He made that will. And the child is safe.
Although it seems, no will was needed, yet it is as well that he
should have made it."


                        *    *    *    *    *    *    *


For many years after her father's death _Ariadne's_ home was with her
mother at Gosport, and here she grew from childhood to womanhood, and
became a sweet, pure girl, whom to see was at once to admire. A girl
so fair and pretty, that, whenever she walked abroad, the eyes of men
were turned towards her approvingly; a girl, tall, and with a figure
that full womanhood would develop into one of extreme grace and
beauty; one who possessed also such charms as deep hazel eyes, which
looked out at you from between thick eyelashes that were many shades
darker than the fair hair crowning her head as though with a golden
diadem; a pretty girl whose masses of curls reminded one of the
cornfields in July.

For years she lived with her mother here in Gosport, having done so
from the time when Vernon sent them both home to England in the first
ship of war that went back after Mrs. Thorne was able to travel. And
of all the neighbourhood around she was the pet; she was, too, the
darling of old sea captains who had had arms and legs lopped off in
many a fierce fight against those whom we called our old "hereditary
foes"; the darling of every old blue who had drawn cutlass for His
Majesty King George II., or King George I., or even, amongst the very
old and decrepit, for Great Anne; the beloved of those sea-dogs who had
first spat their quids out on the enemy's decks and had then hewn that
enemy down before them. For these old salts, no matter what their rank
was, regarded her as their own child and property. Had she not been
born amidst the roar and smoke of England's cannon as they vomited
forth fire and fury? Was she not a sailor's child, and he one who had
fallen as a sailor should fall, dying on his own deck, while doing his
duty? That was enough to make them love the little thing who grew
beneath their eyes towards beauteous womanhood; enough to make old
lieutenants who had served sufficiently long to be admirals, and
admirals--fortunate dogs!--who had not seen half the service of those
old lieutenants, worship her; to make them wander up to her mother's
house and smoke their pipes there, and talk to her about the father
who had died the glorious death. It was sufficient, too, to set old
tars carving out ornaments and knick-knacks from ancient ships of war
which had been towed as prisoners into the harbour and there broken
up, all of which they presented to her with grins of pleasure, and
almost with blushes--if such could be!--upon their wind-tanned,
scarred faces. It was amply sufficient also to cause others to bring
her in baskets of strawberries and raspberries from their little
gardens on the outskirts of the town, and bouquets of the sweet
old-time flowers that grew in such profusion in those gardens. And
some there were--and many--who called her the "Sailor's Pet," and
others who named her the "Mariner's Joy."

Yet 'twas not only the old who loved _Ariadne_ Thorne. Be very sure of
that. For you cannot but suppose that the young men loved her
too--those lieutenants and second lieutenants who, although still
beardless, had fought in many of the numerous sea-fights of the
period. Young fellows with boyish faces who had, all the same, been
with Hawke at the Isle of Aix, and Howe at St. Malo, or had assisted
in the destruction of the _Oriflamme_ by the _Monarque_ and the
_Monmouth_. They all loved her, and she loved one, and one alone.
Happy, happy man!

Two years before this narrative begins, however, and when _Ariadne_
was sixteen, there fell upon her a great blow, that of her mother's
death--a blow which, when it strikes a young girl in her swift
blossoming from maidenhood to womanhood, is doubly cruel. Mrs. Thorne
died of an internal disorder with which she had been for some time
afflicted, and the girl was left alone, or almost alone, in the world.
She had a relative, it was true, an uncle of her late father's, one
General Thorne; but he was a very old man--so old, indeed, that he
could talk of Eugene's campaign against the Turks, and speak of that
great soldier as one whom he had seen in boyhood; while he was also
able to boast that he had formed one of the guard of honour which had
accompanied the present King, George II., now grown old, to his
coronation. He dwelt at, and owned, an estate spoken of generally as
"Fawnshawe Manor," which lay five miles or so on the London side of
Portsmouth; one that would at his death come, with a very considerable
fortune, to _Ariadne_ herself. A fortune and an estate which would
have come to her eventually through her father had he not been slain
at Cartagena, even without his making that will which his chaplain,
the Reverend Mr. Glew, had so impressed on him to do, although it was
unnecessary; that must have come to her, since no heir male existed to
deprive her of it, or to step in between her and it.

She had likewise a friend, a true and steadfast friend, one who loved
her as, next to her mother, no other woman could have loved her. A
hard, rugged woman was this friend, with a deep voice and corrugated
face, yet possessing within her bosom a heart of gold; the woman who
had assisted at her birth--Mrs. Pottle, now growing old.

"Ah!" this good creature would moan sometimes as she sat by her
fireside, either in her own room in the house at Gosport, or, later,
in her parlour at the lodge at Fanshawe Manor, which she came to
occupy later. "Ah! if Ariannie," as she pronounced the loved one's
name, "was not left to me, mine would be a weary lot. Pottle, he've
gone; he done his duty, but he've gone; at Anson's victory off
Finisterre, it were. And as to all my children--oh!" she would
exclaim, "there! I can't abide to dwell on them. Oh! my children,"
whereon--because old customs grow on us and are hard to shake off--the
brave sailor-woman would endeavour to console herself with something
from a black bottle.

But she was true as steel to "her little child," as she called
Ariadne; true and loving as her honest English heart, as any honest
woman's heart, could be. She had not attended to all the child's wants
since the black day off Cartagena in '41; had not nursed and attended
to Ariadne for years, nor told her--in company with her own little
ones--of fierce and turbulent sea-fights and land-fights, without
becoming a foster-mother to her. So, now, she accompanied the girl,
clad in her deep mourning and weeping sorrowfully for her loss, and
also for having to quit the little house where she had lived so
happily for the great one where she did not know whether she would be
happy or not. She accompanied Ariadne, sitting by her side in the
coach and calling her "deary" and "dear heart," and bidding her cheer
up, because the General--"although he hadn't the luck to be an
admiral"--was reported to be kind and good.

"And," she would say more than once, "remember that, as the lawyer
told you, you go to what is your inheritance. It will be all your'n,
and you will rule over it like a young queen until some day you love
one who will rule over you."

Practically, that was what Ariadne did do after a few short months;
she did rule over the house for her great-uncle, as, ere long, she was
to do it for herself. General Thorne was now helpless with old age,
and was glad to know that, already, the girl was in the home which
must so soon be hers; that she was there to bring sunlight into the
great vast house which, through the Fanshawes, had by intermarriage
come into the possession of the Thornes.

As Mrs. Pottle had said, she presided over it like a young queen,
graciously and kindly, making herself beloved all around the place,
yet not forgotten by those old sailors amongst whom her earliest days
had been passed. She became its mistress from then until now, when
this history opens, and when "Ariadne Thorne" was a toast in the
county, while many gentlemen of various degrees aspired to win both
her hand and her love. When, too, others aspired to win that hand, not
so much because they desired to obtain her love so much as, in its
stead, they desired the possession of Fanshawe Manor and the hundred
thousand guineas which were reported to be her fortune.



CHAPTER I.

THE LION AND THE JACKAL.


Seventeen years have passed since the child who was to bear the name
of that ship of war, in which she was born, had come into the
world--upon the very day and at almost the very hour when her father
had left it. Seventeen years!--full of storm and strife and battles,
of thrones in danger; of one throne--that of England--almost lost to
its holder by the invasion of him to whom it by birth belonged. Years
full of storm and strife and battle by land and sea; of Dettingen won
and Fontenoy lost, of India coming nearer to our grasp and America
imperceptibly receding from it. Years full, too, of changes in many
ways, especially in our own land. Of growing alteration in that old
mother speech of ours which had become welded, by time and mixture of
race into the superb and sonorous diction of the English Bible and of
Shakespeare, and which found its last exponent in the great Defoe, but
was now sinking into a jargon in which gentlemen and ladies spoke in a
mincing and affected manner that was but a poor substitute for the
grammar which, if they had ever known it, they had now forgotten.
Gentlemen and ladies who should have been scholars, but who did not
know the difference between "was" and "were" nor "is" and "are," nor
the proper pronunciation of the vowel "e."

Changes, too, of clothes, of habits, customs, and morality. Scarlet
and blue cloth taking the place of russet or peach-coloured satin;
French dishes and kickshaws in the place of the honest beef and mutton
which had made us "eat like wolves and fight like devils"; and with
the dancing-master manners of Chesterfield and his imitators
superseding the grace and dignity of earlier days. The rogue too was
now a crafty, scheming knave who feared public opinion as much as he
feared the Lord Chief Justice and his subordinates, and began at this
time to think as much of his respectability as of his neck; whereby he
was an infinitely less interesting vagabond than his predecessor, who
revelled in his crimes, drank to the health of his friend, the
gallows, and went drunk to Tyburn, damning and cursing the populace
who cheered him, and jerring at the parson who sat in the cart by his
side, had been.

Two things, however, God be praised! were still left in existence in
this England of ours, namely, masculine courage and feminine virtue;
and against them neither the vagabond nor the knave had any more
chance than they had ever had or ever will have. When they succeeded
they did so because their victims were either fools or wantons, and
when they failed, as often enough was the case, if they did not find
the gallows they found the cart-tail, or what to them, if they
belonged to the upper classes, was often quite as bad--contempt and
ridicule.


                        *    *    *    *    *    *    *


Seventeen years had passed, consequently the world had arrived at the
year of our Lord 1758, and Beau Bufton sat in his lodgings in the
Haymarket one June afternoon. In front of him, because he was a beau,
there stood three wigs upon blocks, one black, the other brown, a
third one golden, and upon each his eye glanced with considerable
complacency--a complacency which, however, was somewhat marred by the
recollection that none were paid for, and, as far as Algernon Bufton
knew, were not likely to be so just yet. Which fact would not,
perhaps, have been particularly painful to him except for one other,
namely, that his credit was running short and his creditors were
beginning to pester him. Nevertheless, he smiled approvingly upon
them; not because they themselves were splendid, and would be
costly--if he should ever pay his bills!--but because he considered
that they would become him vastly.

"It was the golden one I wore," he muttered to himself now, "when
first I won her young and virgin heart at the Wells. Ay! the golden
one. I do remember very well. I assumed it because it matched the blue
frock and the green silk waistcoat trimmed with gold and the black
breeches of velvet. Ah! well, I will wear it again."

Then his eye, which was a dark, full one, fell upon a number of fans
nailed against the wall, in the midst of which, spread out and open,
was one that seemed to possess the place of honour. We know those fans
because our grandmothers' grandmothers (when we had any!) left them
behind after they had departed for a better world than this. We know
the carved ivory sticks, the highly coloured landscape, the lover
kneeling at his mistress's feet, with ever one amorous arm around her
waist--as should be in such happy sylvan scenes!--also we know the
blue sky and the sportive woolly sheep, as well as the bird upon the
bough, the rivulet and waterfall. Thus the fan appeared on which Beau
Bufton gazed now, his chin--a long one, causing him to be a man
mistrusted of other men--in his hand. Yet more particularly he gazed
upon two letters carved into the topmost ivory rib, and lacquered
golden; two letters entwined together--the letters "A. T."

"Ah, Ariadne!" he whispered, with emotion, "although you did protest,
you let me take it. Ah, Ariadne! In faith you must be mine. Those
sweet clear eyes, that supple form, those gentle features, and," he
concluded, perhaps a little inconsequently, "the Fanshawe Manor and
the hundred thousand guineas. All--all must be mine."

Then he returned to his seat, with again the smirk of fervour on his
face, while, still nursing that long chin, he pursued his meditations.

It has been said that this chin made other men mistrust him. And, it
may also be said, it was of so peculiar a shape as to make people
dislike him. In truth, it was a blemish to what otherwise would have
been a good-looking face--a long oval face, in which were set the soft
dark eyes above mentioned. But this chin, running down to a point (so
that some wondered how his barber shaved it, while others said it
looked like a sheep's tail stuck on to an ordinary face), spoilt all.
It caused him to look crafty; it seemed to make him lisp a little as
he spoke, as though its weight was more than his lower jaw could bear;
and it gained his enemies, since it irritated those who regarded it.
It gave him, too, a cynical appearance, which was not obnoxious to
him, as he considered that it emphasised the clever things which he
flattered himself he was particularly smart at saying. For the rest,
he was fairly tall, not badly knit, and as lean as a greyhound.

Thinking of her whom he apostrophised as Ariadne, and of her sweet,
clear eyes and supple form--with the Fanshawe Manor and the hundred
thousand guineas not forgotten!--his thoughts lent themselves to other
things in connection with her. To a letter he had addressed to her at
Fanshawe Manor, this side of Portsmouth--one full of holy vows of
admiration and esteem; a billet containing a little scrap of poetry
(written for him, probably, by a garreteer of Grub Street for
half-a-crown); one suggesting also that, by great good chance, he
would be in the neighbourhood of Havant on a certain evening now close
at hand, and that then "his wandering love-led steps" (for so he
phrased it) would turn, as turns the needle to the pole, towards the
avenue of limes where oft Phyllis was known to walk at eve and
Philomel to warble. Perhaps, too, the gutter-poet had helped him in
this charming composition!

"Ay, so I wrote," he said to himself now. "And so I did. Well! well!
Now for the means. I vow they run uncommon short." Whereupon he
unlocked a 'scrutoire that stood close to him, and thrusting his hand
into a drawer, pulling forth a silk purse. A well-filled one, too, as
it seemed by its weight; one heavy enough for any beau to carry,
provided always that it was so carried simply to supply the wants of
the passing hour, and was backed up by a good sound balance at Sir
Mathew Decker's Bank, or at some other. But, should it happen to
represent all the available cash that its owner was in possession of
as his whole goods, then but a lean and sorry purse.

He turned its contents out upon the table before him, picking out
amongst them five great three pound twelve shilling pieces, which he
stacked carefully in a little heap by themselves.

"They look well," Beau Bufton said, while assuming the cynical smile
which he practised in private, so that it should not fail him when
required in public. "They give their possessor an air of
sumptuousness. To draw one out 'twixt thumb and finger from a
well-gallooned waistcoat, and present it to, say, Ariadne's tiring
maid, or some scurvy groom, bespeaks wealth and ease. So, so. 'Tis
very well."

Then he fell to counting the guineas and half-guineas which he had
also tumbled out of the silken purse, though, as he did so, his chin
seemed to grow longer. "Humph!" he muttered, "seventy-nine guineas in
all. Devilish little. I thought there had been more. And where are
more to be gotten? Seventy-nine guineas---- Come in!" he cried,
breaking off. Come in!"--a knock being heard at the door, Yet, even as
he did so, he thrust a copy of the _Universal Chronicle_ over the
little heap, or, rather, endeavoured to do so.

"The chink of money is always agreeable to the ears of the poor," said
a man who now entered the room, "especially when those ears have
learnt to discriminate 'twixt gold and baser metals. And how does the
illustrious Beau Bufton find his health and spirits to-day?"

The new-corner who asked this question was a man of about the same age
as the Beau, neither of them being yet thirty, or within a year or so
of it; yet, except in point of age, there was no similarity between
them, for Bufton's clothes were of the newest and best--as why should
they not be, since still the creditors were confiding; his ruffles and
neck-lace were clean and expensive. But with the other man things were
mighty different. His coat was cloth, 'tis true, but cloth well worn;
his linen and his lace were, say, dingy; and his wig had had never a
shilling spent on it at the curler's for many a long day. Also his
spadroon stuck out two inches from its leathern scabbard and clinked
against a heel that needed sadly the cobbler's aid. Nevertheless, he
was a better-looking man than the Beau, in so far that his features
were softly turned and much more manly.

"Has't done it?" asked Bufton now, his dark eye roaming over the
other's worn garments, and resting with extreme displeasure on the
sight of his visitor's feet, which were lifted with an indifferent air
on to a neighbouring chair, across which was thrown a scarlet cloak.
"Has't done it, Granger?"

"Ay! ay! She loves you, Algernon, as I do think. The letter is in her
hands, and she awaits you in the lime-tree avenue. Thursday is the
night. Fortunate man!"

"You have rid post haste back?"

"Post-haste! Ay, in the devil's chariot. A lumbering waggon thing from
Portsmouth was my coach. A waggon lined with straw; and, for comrades,
two of Knowles' sailors, drunk; a demirep; also a Jew who furnishes
for the Press-gang. What travelling! What a sumptuous coach! I
protest, Algy, you starve your jackal."

"Better fare next time. When we have bagged the luscious plum. Then
the jackal shall be starved no longer. Meanwhile, you know----" and
here he gave the well-accustomed smile and fingered his chin, so that
the man called Granger began to feel his gall arising, and instantly
interrupted him, saying--

"NO jokes. No bites. Starve me as you will, keep me short of money,
but in the name of God, spare me your wit. My stomach is weak from
heavy fasting. I desire no emetics."

"At least you yourself waste no politeness. You do not curb a bitter
tongue."

"Better so, nevertheless. Better I cursed and swore, as Knowles'
sailors did all through the night, than listened to your emasculated
gibes. Algernon, my friend, in spite of your having won the love of a
great heiress, you will never succeed in life if you fail to recognise
that you are not a wit. The fourth-form little boy humour with which
you regaled us once at Shrewsbury becomes not London. I do remember
that humour with pain. I think you killed your little sister Lucy, by
repeating your schoolboy wit to her, or perhaps you put your finishing
stroke to her end by your Cambridge----"

"Be still! be still!" Beau Bufton exclaimed, wincing as the other
mentioned his dead sister's name. In truth he had loved that child,
and thinking himself cynical, had sometimes retailed to her his
sallies made both at Shrewsbury and at Clare. And now, to hear
that his humour, as he deemed it, had slain her! 'Twas too much.
"Be still," he cried, "or I will find some other to do my
work--to do----"

"Your dirty work! That's what I do. Because of my infirmities. My fall
from the position of a gentleman. Well! I have done it. A. T.--she,"
and he pointed to the fan which occupied the place of honour, "loves
you. If you woo her carefully, and do not weary her with your accursed
flabby wit, you may win her. Then--then--why, then--oh! my God!" he
exclaimed, breaking off into a strident peal of laughter, "you may be
so happy together. So happy. So happy." And again he laughed.

"You have been drinking," Bufton said, fingering his chin still.
"Drinking again. Come, tell me once more before you forget. About the
meeting? Where, and when is it?"

"Have I not said! At the lime-tree avenue, leading up to Fanshawe
Manor. Eight of the evening is the hour, and Thursday is the day. Win
her--fail not to win her; she is yours for the trouble, and then there
is the fortune and a large per centum for me."

"I shall not fail."

"I'll make very sure you do not. Remember, if I am a broken man--I--I
can break--bah! Threats are unnecessary. Now, I want money."

Saying which he flung the _Universal Chronicle_ aside, and then
started at the sight of the little heap of gold before him. "What!" he
exclaimed. "What! And three pound twelve shilling pieces, too. Gad! No
Shoe Lane ordinary for me to-night."

Whereupon he took two of those coins and dropped them into his
waistcoat pocket.



CHAPTER II.

AN HEIRESS.


The coach--it was the Self-Defence, which did the journey from the
"Swan with Two Necks" in Lad Lane to the "Globe" at Portsmouth in ten
hours and a quarter--had passed Purbrook, and was nearing Fanshawe,
which hamlet lay, as all the world knew, or ought to have known,
between the former place and Portsdown Hill, which is some five miles
from Portsmouth. About which village the new road-book said, amongst
other things, "On L., i,m., Fanshawe Manor, late General Thorne.
Justice of the Peace, etc.; now Miss Ariadne Thorne." So that, as all
who read may see, since Cary's Guide is understandable enough, the
child born seventeen years ago off Cartagena, in the ship after which
she was named, was now the owner of an estate. And what else she owned
has already been made clear.

The June evening was delicious in its soft summer coolness as, now,
the Self-Defence drew near that ancient inn, "The Hautboy," it
retaining on its equally ancient sign-board its old-time spelling of
Hautbois; and from the box-seat the Beau, who was the only occupant
beside the coachman, made ready to descend. A very gallant beau he
looked, too, as, throwing off his long light drugget cloak--assumed to
fend the dust from his bravery underneath--he displayed his costly
attire; attire consisting of his best laced scarlet summer coat, his
blue waistcoat, which was a mass of galloon, and his best satin
breeches, the whole surmounted by the golden peruke and the much-laced
three-cornered hat.

"You will be a-staying at the manor then, my lord?" the coachman said
now, deeming that one so fine and brave-seeming as this spark whom he
had brought from London could be no other than a lord going courting
the heiress of Fanshawe. "I'll go bail the lady is a-looking eagerly
for you."

"Not positively at the manor," Beau Bufton replied. "Not positively,
as yet. For to-night, at least, at the inn. There is, I should
suppose, good accommodation for a gentleman?"

"Ay, there is, my lord; that is, if so be as how one requires not them
damned French kickshaws, which they say are now the mode. But if good
beef and mutton, a pullet, or---- Bill," he broke off to speak to his
mate, the guard, "sound the horn. The O'boy is in sight."

None descended at that old hostelry with the exception of the Beau
himself, since, with the addition of one personage inside who was
booked for Portsmouth, nobody but the Beau had that day travelled from
London. Therefore his own descent took but very little time. A small
valise was handed out from the boot, the customary fee of half-a-crown
was distributed to guard and coachman, the landlady nodded to (she
staring somewhat amazed at Bufton's finery all the time, and more
particularly at his chin, which, she told her gossips later, gave her
"a mort o' fear"), and the visitor entered the low-roofed passage.
Then, as he did so, he felt his sleeve pulled gently by a woman
standing in the doorway, who, on having attracted his attention,
curtsied two or three times.

"Ha!" he said, glancing at her and noticing that, though plainly but
comfortably dressed, she had a strangely worn and seamed face, such as
those who have led an existence much exposed to the elements often
possess. "Ha! It should be the good woman Mr. Granger told me of.
Mrs.--Mrs.----?"

"Pottle, your worship's honour. Miss Ariadne's nurse from the first."

"Ay, Mrs. Pottle. Well, you would speak with me? You have some news?"

"If it pleases your honour. Will your honour step this way?"

It was indeed Mrs. Pottle, one of those women who in past days had
assisted at Ariadne's birth. Yet with now but little of the comeliness
left for which she had once been distinguished, the rumbullion, or its
substitutes in England, usquebaugh and gin, having done their work.
Time also had made her grey, and in some places bald. Otherwise, she
was not much changed. As for her whilom companion in the _Ariadne_,
she was gone. She lay now within the common grave at Gibraltar.

"I shall see her to-night?" Beau Bufton asked, somewhat
impatiently--eagerly--as he stepped into a side room after her. "She
will be there?"

"In truth she will, the pretty thing," the woman answered, roving an
eye, and that a somewhat watery one, on him, "in very truth. At eight,
in the lime-tree avenue. Your worship can find it?"

"Doubtless. I may therefore rely on seeing her?"

"It is to tell you so that I'm here. Oh! sir, you will be good to her.
She loves you fondly."

"Tush! What do I seek her for except to be kind?" Then he said, "Will
she consent, think you, to what I desire--to--to--a speedy marriage?"

"She loves you," Mrs. Pottle replied, with a gleam in her eye, "while,
as for the marriage--well! young, tender though she is, and full of a
maiden's fears, she longs for it."

"She shall be gratified," Beau Bufton said, smirking and pulling at
his chin so that Mrs. Pottle stared at him, wondering in her own mind
if he were trying to pull it off. "I do avow she shall as soon as may
be. I will go seek your parson here----"

"Not here," Mrs. Pottle said, laying on his arm a finger, which he
noticed had lost the top joint--it had, in truth, been shot off by a
spent bullet in an attack made by the _Ariadne_ and _Kingston_ on five
Spanish galleys, the shot coming through the scuttle of a cabin in
which she was calmly cooking--"not here. You must do that in London
town. She is a maiden averse to talk and gossip. She would not
suffer----"

"I will do it wher'er she pleases, so that she is mine. Now go, good
woman, and tell her I shall be there. I must make a meal first and
also remove the dust from off my clothes. Go now."

"There was a promise," Mrs. Pottle said, with an appearance of
hesitation, of modesty, which sat strangely on her rough face. "The
gentleman, your friend, he gave a promise of reward----"

"Curse me!" replied the Beau; "you waiting-women, you go-betweens, are
all alike. Damme! I know there was a promise of five hundred guineas.
But--when we leave the church--when all is over. Do you think I have
such a sum on me now?"

"Not now, dear gentleman. Oh! no. Not now. But a little earnest. A
little----"

"How much?" asked Bufton, looking at her and recognising that here was
a cormorant who would do nothing for nothing. "How much?"

"A little. Just a little. A trifle. Ten guineas will not hurt a pretty
man like you."

"Five," said Bufton. "Five, now. Five." Then, seeing a strange look in
Mrs. Pottle's eyes, which his wonderful knowledge of human nature,
whereon he so congratulated himself, did not assist him in fathoming,
he said, "Well, ten, then. Here," and slowly drawing forth some loose
guineas from his waistcoat, he put them in her open palm.

"A noble gentleman," said Mrs. Pottle, pocketing them in an instant,
"a real gentleman. Now, sir, I go. To-night," she repeated, "in the
lime avenue, at eight," and so withdrew.

Yet, doubtless because of the rough life she had led for years, her
gratitude evaporated swiftly the moment she was outside the door of
the room and had closed it on him; while her face assumed an
expression strangely unlike that which it had worn when she thanked
him for his gift.

"Curse you," she muttered to herself. "Curse you. May joy go with
you," and she shook her fist and mumbled to herself.

Two hours later Beau Bufton had entered the long lime avenue, and was
making his way up to where the lady of his heart was to await him. He
had added somewhat to his appearance, smart as it had been before--had
combed and dusted his peruke, perfumed his hands and lace, and
supplemented his other adornments with a new sword, which he had
brought down from London wrapped in silver paper. Now, it lay against
his thigh, its ivory handle decorated with a gold sword knot, and
once, as the Beau came to a portion of the avenue where it was
almost dark, so thickly did the trees interlace overhead, he told
himself he had done wisely to bring it. Ariadne might have other
admirers--country clowns, 'tis true, yet fellows, who, nevertheless,
were capable of feeling pangs of jealousy at the sight of so
aristocratic a wooer as he. And--and--he thought they might attack him
with clubs, or even with plebeian fists--when--well--damme!--he would
run them through. A little blood-letting--the reputation of being a
swordsman--would not hurt him. To win an heiress after having slain a
yokel lover would make him--well! perhaps even make him the more
sought after. Therefore he went on, wishing, however, that his Ariadne
had not selected a part of the avenue so distant from the main
road--and so near to her house; and then--then--he knew she was there
and had kept the appointed meeting.

A girl came towards him from beneath the trees, shyly, almost
hesitatingly; while over her fair hair she had drawn a riding-hood.
And a moment later Beau Bufton had taken her hand and was impressing
kisses on it, and muttering phrases such as were in use in the highest
London circles, and, consequently, must be irresistible to this
provincial heiress.

"I am enraptured," he murmured now, "that one so fair should deign to
receive her admirer. Ah, madam, if you but knew how my thoughts have
dwelt on you since you let me claim you at the Wells----"

"And stole my fan, bad man. Ah, sir, you should not have trifled
thus----"

"Love, madam, knows no law. But--but--fair Ariadne--almost had I said
fair and chaste Diana--may I not gaze once more in rapture on those
lovely orbs, those features ever present in my memory? Will you not
remove your hood?"

With no more than a brief assumption of coyness, the fair one did as
her gallant desired, showing a mass of light hair beneath the hood,
and, beneath that, a pair of bright eyes which glistened in the
evening dusk. She had too a fresh red-and-white complexion, the whole
being a very satisfactory proof of the benefits of country air and
living, as opposed to the effects of what an earlier poet had
rapturously spoken of as "the stench of the London flambeaux."

"Ah! I protest," Beau Bufton exclaimed now as the maiden yielded to
his request, and displayed her loveliness, "once more I tremble at the
sight of those charms which won my heart at Tunbridge. Ariadne, you
know by my letters all that I desire--all I wish. To call you mine. To
be your husband. You cannot doubt my love."

"So soon?" she said. "Oh, fie! Not yet--not for years, I vow. I am too
young."

"Young! Is the heart ever too young for love? And, Ariadne, dearest
one, now is the time. I protest I cannot wait."

"But there are my guardians, the lawyers. What will they say?"

"What can they say? I am of ancient family, sweet one, and allied to
some of the most distinguished houses in the land. They can make no
dissent."

"If 'tis to be done," the girl said, "it must not be here. Oh! I could
not. Instead, in London. We go to London two weeks hence. Yet--yet--I
fear," and she gazed up into his face with a look of alarm that
fascinated him. For now he knew that the hundred thousand guineas were
almost in his grasp.

Yet as those clear eyes met his, they also disturbed him.

"Where," he muttered, "where, dearest, have I seen such orbs as yours
before? Or was't in my dreams of them? Those lovely orbs."

"I do not know," she answered. "How can I say? I have wandered little
away from this old country home of mine; and at Tunbridge was the
first time I have ever been in the gay world. Ah, Algernon, you will
be good to me?"

"Your life shall ever be my choicest care. My most precious treasure.
Dearest, may I not put up the banns to-morrow, when I return to
London?"

"You will love me always?"

"Always and ever."

Then she slid her hand coyly into his, and told him it should be as he
desired.

"Now," she whispered, "you must away. Sunday sen'-night we leave for
Cowley Street in Lambeth. You will not, Algernon, desire a great
wedding? Let it be private; with none there but Mrs. Pottle, my
faithful nurse. Say that it shall be so, my own."

"It shall be ever as you wish, sweet one," Beau Bufton answered, while
as he did so he laughed in his sleeve. Mrs. Pottle, her faithful
nurse! The woman who had done more to bring this about in accord with
his jackal's, with Lewis Granger's machinations, than any one else;
the woman who was to have five hundred guineas for so bringing it
about (unless he could in any way manage to avoid the payment of the
money); the woman, who, that very night, had had ten guineas from him.

"Yes, yes," he whispered, "Mrs. Pottle, your faithful nurse, on your
side; Lewis Granger, my hireling, on mine." While as he mentioned the
latter's name he reflected that here was another who would have to be
hoodwinked out of the guerdon he had stipulated for--hoodwinked out of
five thousand guineas. Verily! a vast number of those guineas would
drunken, ruined Lewis Granger get, when once Ariadne's fortune was in
his hands. A vast number!

"Farewell, then," the girl said now. "Farewell, my beloved. Oh! do not
deceive me, do not take advantage of my innocence and inexperience.
Say you will not."

"Dear heart," he murmured, "who could deceive thee?" "A girl," he
added to himself, "who has a hundred thousand guineas and a Hampshire
manor. Who could do so?"

They parted now, she clinging to him tenderly before going away, and
whispering in his ear that 99, Cowley Street, Lambeth, was where she
would be a week from Sunday next, and that then she would be all his,
and, meanwhile, would write often. They parted, she going up the
avenue towards where the house stood, and he standing looking after
her, feeling his chin and, with a contemptuous smile, drawing down the
corners of his mouth.



CHAPTER III.

"A COUNTRY CLOD."


It was now almost dark--yet not quite so, it being the period when the
days are longest--and for some little time the Beau stood gazing after
the retreating figure of his captured heiress. Then he turned slowly
and began to retrace his steps to the Hautbois, where he intended to
snatch a few hours' rest ere the up coach, which left the "Globe" at
Portsmouth at five o'clock in the morning, should pass.

Perhaps never had Algernon Bufton been in a more agreeable frame of
mind than he was at this present time. Everything was, he told
himself, very well with him. A ruined spendthrift; a man who, seven
years ago, had inherited a substantial fortune and, in the passage of
those seven years, had managed to squander it; the chance had come to
him of winning this girl, whom, in his mind, he considered to be
little better than a fool.

He had thought so at first when he made her acquaintance at a public
ball at Tunbridge, he having gone there heiress hunting and with a
list in his pocket of all the young ladies who were known to be either
the possessors of large fortunes or the future inheritors thereof; and
he still thought her a fool after this evening's interview. That she
should have fallen violently in love with him did not of course stamp
her as one, since, in spite of his unfortunate chin, he deemed himself
not only attractive, but irresistible. Yet a fool she undoubtedly was
to throw herself away on a man about whom she had made no inquiries
(as he knew she could not have made), and to be willing to marry him
in the surreptitious, or, as he termed it, "hole in the corner,"
manner that she was about to do.

"If I were a scoundrel," he mused to himself with extreme complacency,
"who was pursuing the girl with some other object than that of
obtaining possession of her fortune, how I might hoodwink her!
Granger, if kept sober till midday, could play the parson sufficiently
well to throw dust in her eyes. But not in such a case as this should
it be done. No. No! my beauteous Ariadne. Not in such a case as this.
You shall be tied up devilish tight, so tight that never shall you
escape your bonds with Algernon Bufton; so fast that my demise alone
shall cancel them. You are not one of the pretty helpless fools whom
villains deceive.

"A fine property, too," he mused, casting a dark eye around,
"a fine property. The trees alone would sell for much if cut
down. Yet--yet--we must not come to that. An avenue gives ever an
imposing---- Hist! What is this? Some country clown, by the way he
sings to himself. Perhaps a rival."

Whereon, true to himself, Beau Bufton assumed a haughty, indifferent
air as he strode along, and drew down his lips into the well-known
Bufton sneer, as he considered it.

The person of whom he spoke, and who was quite visible in the evening
gloaming, was now drawing near, and Bufton decided that he had guessed
aright when he imagined him to be a country clown. A country squire
perhaps; but no more.

This person's face, he could observe, was an extremely good-looking
one, though marvellously brown and sunburnt--probably, the Beau
thought, from common country pursuits--a handsome English face indeed,
from which looked forth two bright blue eyes. Also he was tall and
well-set, though perhaps his figure was not exhibited to its best
advantage owing to a rolling gait. In his apparel he showed that he
was a gentleman, his coat of blue cloth being of the best, while his
lace, although not costly, was that which a person of position might
wear. By his side he carried a sword which evoked the deepest disdain
from Bufton, since it was but a common whinyard in a black leather
case, and boasted only a brass handle and hilt. For the rest, he was a
young man of the Beau's own age.

As they drew close to each other in the twilight, this young man fixed
those blue eyes on Bufton's face with an extremely keen glance; a
glance so penetrating that the other whose nose was in the air, and
whose chin was stuck out in front of him, knew well enough that he was
being scanned from head to foot. Then, before he could progress more
than another step or so, he was startled by hearing the new-comer
address him.

"My friend," that person said, "have you not lost your way? Or are you
not aware that this is private ground, the property of Miss Thorne?"
For a moment the Beau could scarcely believe his ears. To be addressed
as "his friend" by a person of this description! A country clod, and
in a plain blue coat!

"My good fellow," he said, with now his choicest sneer, "is it not
possible that the lady you mention may occasionally receive visitors
other than the rural inhabitants of this neighbourhood?"

"Extremely possible," the new-corner replied, "since she deigns to
receive me, who am not of this neighbourhood. But, since I happen to
have a very strong and tender interest in Miss Thorne, may I make so
bold as to ask if you have been received as a visitor by her
to-night?"

It was, perhaps, as it happened at this juncture, a little unfortunate
that Bufton had never accepted his friend Granger's estimate of him as
a more just one than that which he had long since formed of himself.
For the latter, in "coarse and ruffianly language," as the Beau termed
it, always took great delight in telling him that he didn't know
himself. "You are not as clever as you think, my friend," he would say
again and again; "you are not astute, and, indeed, without my
assistance you would be but a sorry knave. Also, your absurd belief in
your powers of ridicule, the use of which is always the mark of either
an envious person or a fool, will some day get you into trouble. I
wish you could be more intelligent." Which advice was, however,
entirely thrown away on Bufton, who was a man strong in his own
conceit. And, perhaps, after all, he had a right to be so, since he
had undoubtedly perpetrated many knavish tricks very successfully
during his career.

But now his folly and his idea of his own importance ran away with
him; while, at the same time, the reticence on which he prided
himself--and truly so in unimportant matters, though he could blab
freely on matters that should be kept secret--was shown to be the
useless thing it was.

"Young man," he said, "you forget yourself, allow yourself an
unpardonable license when you state that you have a strong and tender
interest in Miss Thorne. Such a thing is impossible in one of your
condition--indeed, in any one--now!"

"Why, you scurvy dog!" the other answered, approaching him--and now
his blue eyes blazed indignantly, while his brown face seemed to
assume a deeper hue--"you dare to speak thus to me--you jackanapes.
Begone from off this place at once, ere I kick you down the avenue.
Who are you, you bedizened mountebank, who dares put his foot here?
Begone, I say, at once!"

That calmness is a mark of the truly great had long been an axiom of
Beau Bufton; while he was also aware that those who possess such
terrible powers of ridicule and contempt as were his, must never stoop
to bandy words with others--since, thereby, even a clown might find a
loophole for retaliation. Nor did he forget those axioms now, even
though his blood boiled at being addressed as he had just been. But,
on the other hand, none could be allowed to make such remarks to
him--especially not he who had the monstrous temerity to state that he
had a strong and tender interest in Miss Thorne. In Miss Thorne--the
girl who, not a quarter of an hour ago, had promised to be his wife
within a fortnight--the girl who had a hundred thousand guineas for
portion!

"My good man," he said, "you carry a sort of weapon at your side."

"Ay, I do. A good one, too."

"Draw it, then. I must teach you a lesson. I presume you are of some
standing; that I may cross swords with you. You perhaps may be
considered a gentleman----"

"At least I have the gentleman's trick of knowing how to use a small
sword. Come, let us make an attempt. Lug out. Come."

Not being wanting in personal courage, while feeling very sure, too,
that Renoud had taught him all that there was to be learnt at the
fence school in Marylebone, the Beau drew forth from its scabbard the
bright new blade which, for the first time, he had hung by his side
to-night, and put himself upon his guard. Yet he could have wished
that his calm and dignified manner had more favourably impressed
his antagonist, and that he had not drawn his own common-looking
blade with such an easy air. It was, he thought, an air far too
self-confident for a yokel to assume. However, there was a lesson to
be taught, and he must teach it.

"You have ventured to state," he said, "that you have a tender
interest in Miss Thorne. If you will withdraw those words----"

"Curse you!" the other said furiously. "You dare to mention her name
again. Have at you!" and in a moment their swords were crossed.

Then Beau Bufton knew that he could not possibly be dealing with a
gentleman. For his opponent seemed utterly oblivious of every form and
method of recognised attack and defence, and, what was more, parried
every one of his choicest thrusts--even Renoud's low quarte, which was
thought so well of; while he also had the gross vulgarity to parry a
sweet flanconnade with his left hand. And the fellow had made him
positively warm! Nevertheless, he seemed to know more than was
desirable, since he had an accursed acquaintance with the old
_contretemps_, or _coup fourré_, which was a dangerous knowledge for
one's antagonist to possess.

In truth, Bufton began to think (although scarcely could it be
possible that Heaven would ever permit such an outrage) that this
provincial was very likely to stretch him ere long upon the soft grass
beneath his feet. A thing that, if ever known, must load his memory
with eternal disgrace. He a beau, a _maître des escrimeurs_, to be
laid low by such a one. It must not be. He must try the _botte
coupée_. He did try it--and it failed! While to make matters worse,
his bucolic adversary laughed at him.

"Come," that adversary said, "this will not do. You are not a coward,
it seems, therefore I will spare you. Only, henceforth, venture no
more in this place." Whereon, as he spoke, he disarmed Beau Bufton
with a heavy parry, and, a moment later held that gentleman's sword in
his left hand.

"Now," he said, while on his face there came a good-humoured
expression which made him look surprisingly handsome, though,
indeed, there was little enough light left for the other to observe it
by--"now be off. And, here, take your sword; it is a pretty weapon.
Only, for the future, wear it for ornament--not use. Away with you."

"Curse you!" said the Beau, snarling at him. "I'll be at evens with
you yet. If what I think is true, we shall meet again."

"Very likely," replied the other, "but it must not be here. I suspect
you of having been courting one of the maids; next time go round to
the offices--there you will not be interrupted," and in a moment he
had walked swiftly away up the avenue.

Humiliated as the Beau was by his defeat at the hands of such a
fellow! doubly humiliated, too, by that insulting suggestion that he,
a gentleman, should have been lurking about after one of Ariadne's
maid-servants, he had the good sense to hold his tongue and to let the
victor--for such, in truth the other was--depart without further
words. Yet, even after his defeat at that other's hands, he could
still find some reflections to comfort him.

"Since," he said to himself, as now he went down the avenue on his
road back to the inn, "the fellow is evidently on his way to visit
her, he must be some local rustic who imagines that she favours him.
Favours him! Oh, ye gods. Him! And not a quarter of an hour ere he
came along she was promising to be mine--to be my wife--her head upon
my shoulder--kissing me. Nay, I think she did not kiss me; in the
hurry of our parting that sweet ceremony was forgotten. Ha! very well.
When next he observes me, in this avenue, perhaps--it may be so!--he
will see me riding up it as the owner, and the owner also of my
Ariadne's guineas. Ah! my rural friend," he murmured, "I can forgive
your insolence very easily."

Whereon, comforted by these reflections, he strode forward to the
Hautbois, intent on obtaining some rest ere the coach should pass in
the early morning.

His host and hostess were sitting outside the porch of the inn as he
drew near it, the summer evening being so warm and balmy, while the
old thatched house, over which the honeysuckle and woodbine twined,
was close and stuffy inside; and as he now drew near both rose with
the antique ceremony of such persons, and bowed and curtsied.

"Your worship has paid a visit to Mistress Thorne?" the man asked
inquiringly, supposing that for no other purpose could a gentleman
have come down from London by the coach, only to return by it the next
morning.

"Yes, to Mistress Thorne," the Beau answered. "Yet, my friends," he
said, "it is a visit which I wish not discussed. It was on business--a
matter of business of some import. I pray you to keep silence on the
matter."

"For," he continued to himself, "I would not have that country calf
know that he has a rival in the field. Thus, when he learns that
Ariadne is mine, his despair will be greater. Thus, too, I shall have
my revenge."

"I will say nothing, your worship," the man promised, while his wife
echoed his words. "Nothing. Doubtless Miss Thorne has much business to
transact."

"Always--always," replied the Beau.

"And did your worship see Sir Geoffrey going up to the house? He must
have passed that way almost as you returned."

"Sir Geoffrey!" Bufton exclaimed. "Sir Geoffrey! What Sir Geoffrey,
pray?" while as he spoke he felt, he knew not why, that he was turning
somewhat white. Fortunately, however, the darkness which was now all
around prevented that whiteness from being seen.

"Sir Geoffrey Barry," the man replied. "I thought your worship would
have known him. He is of the county, and one of His Majesty's sea
captains. And he awaits only the command of a ship-of-war to--to----"

"To what?"

"To espouse Mistress Thorne!"

Later that night, if the worthy landlord could have but seen into the
small, low-ceilinged room in which Beau Bufton was installed, he would
perhaps have thought that his guest was a madman, or, had at least,
partaken too freely of the contents of a silver flask by his side. For
he laughed and chuckled to himself again and again; while also, he
snapped his fingers more than once in a manner which seemed to testify
exuberant delight.

"To espouse Mistress Thorne," he repeated continually, as now he
proceeded to divest himself of his clothes, knowing that it was
necessary he should obtain some few hours' rest. "To espouse Mistress
Thorne. Oh, gad! It is too much!" Yet, it would seem as though there
was a sinister side to his humour as well, since occasionally, amidst
all his hilarity, he would exclaim--

"Curse him! Curse him! He _is_ a gentleman, it would seem, and he
outraged me not only by his jeers and derisions, but also by having
got the better of me in the encounter. So be it! A fortnight hence, my
friend, and I shall have had my full retaliation. Ah, Sir Geoffrey
Barry, you do not know yet with whom you have to deal! 'One of the
maids,' indeed!"



CHAPTER IV.

AN UNKNOWN VISITOR.

   "Ah! what a little Time to Love is lent,
    Yet half that time is in unkindness spent."


As Sir Geoffrey proceeded up the avenue, at the end of which stood
Fanshawe Manor--an ancient house that for years had belonged to a
family bearing the same name as itself, and had then passed into the
hands of that family's kinsmen, the Thornes--he looked ahead of him,
expecting to see the light dress of Ariadne on the verandah; the spot
where, whenever she knew he was coming from Portsmouth to visit her,
she placed herself.

But to-night, very much to his disappointment as well as to his
astonishment--she was not there. This disconcerted him a little, since
it was the first time that he had ever known her to be absent from
that point of observation. The first time! and this on the evening
when, of all other evenings, he had encountered that grimacing,
pranked-up fop who had spoken as though, forsooth, he had some
intimate knowledge of her and her doings. What did it mean? he asked
himself in consequence. What? Was it possible that she, his modest,
winsome Ariadne, in whose eyes truth shone, in whose every accent
truth was proclaimed, could be--a--a coquette! Was it possible, too,
that she, who knew that he was riding from Portsmouth on that very
evening to pass an hour with her, had been whiling away the previous
hour with that fellow--that creature whom he believed was what they
called, in their London jargon, a macaroni--a swaggerer--a beau!

If so--but no! He could never believe that!

He had resolved at first, after quitting his unknown antagonist, that
he would tell Ariadne all and make her laugh at his description of the
man, and especially at the encounter they had had, as well as its
result; but, now--would it not be best to say nothing whatever on the
subject--to see, instead, what she would say to him? Surely the
stranger must have been there to visit her, and, equally surely, if
such were the case, she would tell him all about it.

So he went on towards the house, yet with, he knew not why, his
feelings a little dashed--his heart a little sore, in spite of his
certainty in Ariadne's truth and honour.

These two had known each other almost from boy and girl, and from that
time, notwithstanding he was ten years older than she, had loved each
other, the love not being, however, spoken of openly until a year or
so ago. They had known each other from the time when his father, the
late Sir Geoffrey Barry, had returned to his mortgaged, encumbered
estate near Alverstoke, "a battered and shattered man," as he had
frankly, and without shame, described himself to be.

"Foregad!" the late baronet used to say, he never having ceased to use
the quaint expressions of his earlier days of nearly fifty years ago;
those days of Queen Anne and the first George--which now seemed so far
off--when he had wassailed and drunk deep at Locket's, Pontack's, and
Rummer's, amidst such company as Vanbrugh, Nokes, and gentle George
Farquhar. "Foregad, what would you have? Why should I not be battered,
broken? I'fags, I have laced myself with claret all my days, and done
other things as well, equally dashing to one's constitution.
Wherefore, behold the result. A broken, ruined old man; a beggar,
where once I owned every acre I could see from my blue saloon window.
And with nothing to leave poor little Geoff--nothing. Not a stiver!"

And then, when he spoke of the boy, he would almost weep; nor was he
able to find consolation until his old butler (who served him now
without wage) said that he thought--"he was not sure, but still he
thought there might be yet a bottle or so of the yellow seal in the
cellar," which, when found, revived his drooping spirits so much that
soon he would be singing snatches of songs he should have forgotten,
or warbling "Ianthe the Lovely" in a cracked and quavering voice, or
other snatches from "Charming Creature," and, by midnight, would go
reeling and staggering to bed. In one way, this was a bad example for
his son; in another, it proved a good one; for the boy grew up hating
and despising such habits as those of his father, and contemning the
sight of an old man who had outlived all his dissolute companions yet
had never outlived their dissolute ways. And he also grew up resolved
that his life should be a different one from that. He did not know the
French proverb, "_Autres temps, autres m[oe]urs_," but he felt it, and
he resolved to put it into action. Wherefore, when the old satyr, the
man of so many unclean memories, sometimes maundered on over his
second bottle of yellow seal about the miserable remnants of a
fortune, once so substantial, which would be all he could possibly
leave behind, Geoffrey would turn almost fiercely on him and say:

"Enough, sir, enough. The past is past, and cannot be undone. Suffice
it that I have a calling, an honourable profession; that I am a
sailor. I want nothing more. Yet, since our calling--mine is one in
which in these days interest is of greater value than merit, and a
friend at Court of more use than courage and determination, if you
have any interest, use it on my behalf. There must be some amongst
your old boon companions still alive who will lend a helping hand,
even though only in memory of the Iphigenias and Roxanas with whom you
all revelled once."

This was not, perhaps, a dutiful speech, nor one which a son should
very willingly make to a father, yet, in the circumstances, it was
pardonable enough; and, at least, the old baronet did not resent it,
as how, indeed, could he, remembering the ruin he had brought upon
himself and his son after him?

That he acted upon the hint was, however, probable; it was most
probable, too, that he brought influence to bear upon some of those
admirals and captains whose seamanship had never been as great as
their social power and influence (for it was the latter, as often as
not, which made admirals and captains in those days). At any rate, the
young man rose fast, and shifting from ship to ship, serving at one
time as lieutenant in some great vessel of war, at another in command
of a bomb-ketch, and, next, of a third-rate; and then woke up one day
to learn that he was a captain, though without a ship. He was getting
on, he told himself; he was eradicating the disorders caused by his
now dead father's life; the name of Sir Geoffrey Barry should lose its
tarnish and should be borne once more with honour.

And all the time he was in love with a child, a girl with whom he had
often played, a sailor's daughter; the child of a man whose memory was
honoured and esteemed. This was the softer side, the romantic portion
of his life; this--his love for Ariadne Thorne; a romance that had
only one drawback to its perfection--the fact that she was rich, and
he, although now one of the King's captains, was poor. How, therefore,
should they wed?

Yet love sometimes ran smoothly in those brave, sweet old days; a man
of rank who followed an honourable calling, whose prospects were good,
might hope to win an even richer woman than Ariadne was, especially
when she loved him. And if his girl did not love him, then--then!
there was no truth in womankind; no truth in whispered words, in
glances, and, later, in vows and protestations. For, a year before the
time which had now arrived when he was drawing close to the house in
which she dwelt, Ariadne told him that she loved him, and had loved
him always; that she would be his wife the moment that he asked her.

Even as he thought upon all this, he saw her appear on the verandah;
he caught a glance of her white summer dress, and could see that she
was fastening some lace about her throat; he saw, too, that she
perceived him, for now she took her handkerchief and waved it to him,
and then, leaning forward with both hands upon the balcony-rail,
watched his approach. And a moment later, descending to the path
beneath, she came towards him.

It was dark now, or almost so--dark enough, at least, to prevent
them from doing more than recognise each other's forms; but--for
lovers--that is enough. Whereon Geoffrey Barry, putting now her hand
within his arm, led her back to the verandah from which she had
descended.

"For the first time," he said, after a tender greeting, "for the first
time, sweet, you were not in your accustomed place. Almost I began to
fear you might be unwell. Lovers are difficult to satisfy, you know,
and that which they have grown used to expect----"

"I had to change my dress," Ariadne said, glancing up at him. "I wore
a darker one but lately, and it got torn. Otherwise I should not have
failed." Then she asked, as now they entered the great saloon to which
a domestic had by this time brought a large branch-candelabra, in
which were a dozen white wax candles, "How is it you have come so
late? What is there to do at Portsmouth that should keep you from me?"

"Much. You know, sweetheart, that I have gotten a ship. No great
affair at present--a small frigate, a capture; yet the time is coming.
France itches for another great defeat; she is never satisfied! Soon
it will come, And then, my Ariadne---- Ah!" he said, breaking off,
"ah! I see you have already been taking the air to-night," and he
directed her eyes to a dark hood lying on a table close by. "Did you
get your dress torn in the bushes of the park?"

"No," she said. "No. I have not been out since the afternoon. But if I
go with you partway down the avenue, the hood will be necessary. The
dews are heavy sometimes on these summer nights," and she lifted her
soft eyes to his.

"You have had a visitor," he said, as now he took a place by her side
on a vast couch in the saloon. "A person----"

"I have had no visitor here to-day, Geoffrey," she said, interrupting
him. "Why should you suppose that?"

"No one to see you?"

"No one. Why do you ask?" And there came now a blush upon her face, a
deeper colour than before.

"I met," he said, "a man who, without doubt, hinted that he had been
to see you."

"It is impossible!" she exclaimed.

"Impossible, perhaps, that he saw you. Undoubtedly possible, however,
that I saw him--and--and--conversed with him. A gallant spark, too, if
rich clothes and gauds make a man such. A gentleman figged out in
London fashion, scarlet coat, yellow peruke, and such things. One who
might be a rich man, if, too, such things mean wealth."

"Geoffrey!" the girl cried, and now he saw that she had turned very
white. "I cannot understand. And--and--you conversed with him. What,
then, did he say?"

"He said," her lover continued, "on my asking him if he had not lost
his way, if he had not wandered by accident into private property,
that it was possible you might receive other visitors sometimes than
the rural inhabitants of this place."

"Oh!" Ariadne exclaimed. "It is impossible! Impossible! He must have
been some stranger--some man who had been drinking----"

"He had not been drinking," Geoffrey answered, with quiet emphasis.

"Who, then, could he have been?" she asked now, while he saw that she
was still very white; whiter even than before. He felt certain, too,
that her hands were trembling. "Could he be lurking here with a view
to entering the house at night?" she added.

"Not in that apparel."

"Then seeking one of the maids. Perhaps 'twas that. There are evil men
everywhere, men of rank and wealth, who---- Oh!" she exclaimed, "I
will summon Mrs. Pottle;" and so speaking, she went towards the
bell-pull and rang it.

"Has Mrs. Pottle gone to her room yet?" she asked the servant who
answered the summons. "If not, bid her come here." While on receiving
an answer to the effect that Mrs. Pottle was in the housekeeper's
room, she repeated her order.

Then, a moment or so later, the heavy footfall of Ariadne's old nurse
was heard outside the door, and Ariadne, going towards it, went out
into the passage to speak with her. It would, however, have been wiser
for her to have bidden the woman come in and tell her story before Sir
Geoffrey Barry, since, thereby, he would better have believed in his
mistress's good faith; for now this action on her part, this going
outside to converse with her principal servant, her confidante, seemed
a strange one on the girl's part; and, alas! he also heard a word, a
few whispered words, that confirmed his worst suspicions. He heard her
say, the door not being quite closed to, "Then he has seen him." He
heard the words clearly, in spite of their being uttered in that
whisper. Heard them, and made up his mind at once as to what his
future course must be.

A moment later Ariadne came back, and still she was pale, and, he
thought, trembling as she advanced towards him.

"None of the maids," she said, "have left the house this evening to
Mrs. Pottle's knowledge. Therefore this [oe]---"

"Ariadne," he interrupted, and she thought how handsome he looked as
he stood there before her, the lights from the candelabra illuminating
his face. "Ariadne, let us say no more on the matter. There is no
need. I will go now----"

"Now! So soon! Oh, God! Geoffrey!" regarding his face, "you do not
believe me! Instead, you believe that I have met--seen this man. Is
that it?"

For answer he looked at her--once; yet said nothing. What could he
say, he asked himself, having heard those words?

"You do not believe me," she insisted. "Speak, then; say so in as many
words, Sir Geoffrey Barry. I command you!" And now, slim girl as she
was, and only as yet on the threshold of womanhood, she stood before
him as calm and full of dignity as though her years were far riper.

If she were an actress, he told himself, at least she was a good one!

"Say it," she repeated; "let there be no misunderstanding. Say that
you do not believe me!"

"You forgot," he answered at last, his eyes upon the floor, "to close
that door when you spoke to your woman. And I heard your words--'that
I had seen him!'"

"Ah!" And now the girl gave a cry of despair, her dignity and her
defiance leaving her in a moment, while, as she uttered that cry, she
sank prostrate on to the couch where but a little while before they
had sat together. "You heard them!"

"Yes. I heard them."

"And you suspect that this man, this stranger, is my lover? Mine! The
lover of the woman who is your affianced wife!"

"What can I suspect, Heaven help me! Since you deny all. Since you
will tell me nothing."



CHAPTER V.

THE HAPPY MAN.


A fortnight had passed; the wedding of Beau Bufton was at hand--it was
to be on the next day--and he was celebrating what he called his last
night of freedom right royally. Indeed, he had been celebrating it
during the whole of that preceding day most royally by wandering about
from chocolate-house to chocolate-house, where he did not drink always
of that succulent but sober beverage; by inviting a few of his choice
companions to his rooms to supper, and by visiting his tradespeople
and telling them that ere long now every bill should be paid, while
also obtaining loans from more than one of them on the strength of his
forthcoming wedding with an heiress. One thing, however, he had
carefully kept quiet, namely, the information as to who and what his
heiress was, and where she came from. And it was well, indeed, that he
had obtained these loans, since his already lean purse had suffered
considerably through the inroads made on it by two people, one of whom
was Mrs. Pottle, now in town at Lambeth, with her charge; and the
other Lewis Granger, who haunted him like a spectre. Of the two, the
former was perhaps the worst harpy, the most intolerable blood-sucker,
as on each occasion when she had seen him she had demanded money from
him, and would listen to no denial.

"Five 'undred guineas," she said to him on the first meeting, which
was under the shadow of the great Abbey, she being there to hand him a
note and to explain why she could not convoy him to Cowley Street;
"five 'undred guineas to come to me, in a day or so now, and you won't
give me a paltry twenty. Fie, Mr. Bufton! Shame on you! And me doing
all, and putting you in the way of marryin' such a sweet young thing.
Fie, Mr. Bufton!"

Whereon, of last, by wheedling and cajolery, and also by threats that
even now it was not too late for her to break off this marriage and to
keep the "sweet young thing" out of his way, she had gained her object
and obtained her request--a request only to be reiterated and insisted
on the next time she saw him.

"But," exclaimed the Beau, "it is to come off the sum--off the five
hundred guineas! You will remember that, Mrs. Pottle!" Though, even as
he made the remark, he told himself that each of these handfuls of
guineas was in truth a gift, since there would never be any five
hundred guineas to find its way into her pockets. Quite a wasted gift.

"Ah," groaned Mrs. Pottle. "Um! Off the five 'undred. That ain't
noble. That ain't royal. Howsomdever, if it must be, it must." After
which she shuffled a letter into his hand and bade him read it. Which
he did--in rapture!


"Oh, my beloved one," it ran, the handwriting being, he noticed,
beautifully clear and legible, as indeed all young ladies' handwriting
was in those days, "I am here at last in London, ready to be your
bride. Yet ever have I trembled night and day with fear and
apprehension lest aught should arise to prevent our arrival. My
guardians would not at first decide to let me set out for London,
because the season was almost past; and also because I have been
ailing. Ay! in very truth almost have I been dead, owing to a terrible
scene which arose betwixt me and one other, the man whom you attacked
so nobly, as I have since heard, in the avenue; for, my beloved, that
man desired my hand, you must know--he was unlike you, my unselfish
hero! and was a fortune-hunter, and his reproaches were terrible when
he learnt that we had met. But now he is gone to his horrid ship; now
I can be wholly yours. Oh! my dear one, how I desire that you might
come here to our town house so that I could see you, embrace you; but,
alas! none must ever know till it is done. Meanwhile, Mrs. Pottle and
I will sally forth, and we will meet to arrange all. Bid me but to
come, and I will fly to you. Confide in her; she will be true. Now, no
more, from your ever fond and trusting--A. T."


And "A. T." had sallied forth, as she had said, under the charge of
the astute Mrs. Pottle; the lovers had met, and planned all; now,
to-morrow, Beau Bufton would clasp his beloved one, his heiress, in
his arms.

"Tell us," said Granger this evening, as he--clad in a brand-new suit,
a new wig, and clean fresh lace--sat at the Beau's table, "us all. Let
us know what is to be. My friends," he said, addressing two or three
dissolute-looking young men, all fashionably dressed, who also sat, or
rather lolled, at the repast, "we have a task, the task of duty, of
friendship, to perform to-morrow early. Tell us, or rather tell them,
since I know very well, what is to be done."

"Well, brave boys," exclaimed the Beau, beaming on them, as who would
not beam who upon the morrow was to marry a hundred thousand guineas,
"this is the plan: We wed to-morrow at Keith's Chapel, in May Fair, at
eleven. I would that it had been earlier, but Keith's clerk says his
reverence's deputy--Keith being now in Newgate--is never to be
depended on before that hour, he not having slept off the effects
of--well! of overnight."

"Keith's Chapel!" exclaimed one of the guests, who himself appeared as
though he would not have slept off the effects of the present night
much before the hour that had been mentioned. "Why, I protest, 'twas
there James, Duke of Hamilton, married Miss Gunning a few years ago.
You will be in the fashion, Beau."

"Ay! 'tis so," exclaimed Granger. "We are nothing if not fashionable."

"Yet," said an older, graver man than the first speaker, "are you very
sure that thus you will be by law united? Has not a Marriage Act
passed forbidding such things?"

"Such an Act has passed," Bufton replied, "but there are doubts as to
its being able to break the holy tie, Keith being a licensed clergyman
still permitted by the Archbishop to issue the license on a crown
stamp, and to give a certificate. But even were it not so," and now
Beau Bufton bestowed that smile of his upon his guests which always
caused Granger's gall to rise, "the ceremony may serve, illegal though
it should be; for if it is so, at least it will have given me
sufficient possession of my young heiress to make another and more
binding one necessary; while who, do you imagine, would be willing to
marry my adorable Ariadne Thorne afterwards? In truth, she could
belong to none but me."

"Ariadne Thorne!" exclaimed the youngest member of the company
present, who now spoke for the first time during the present
conversation, and causing his exclamation to be heard above the shrill
peal of nervous laughter emitted by Lewis Granger at the Beau's
exposition. "Ariadne Thorne! Can there be two of that name?"

"I devoutly hope not," remarked the Beau, fingering his chin and
looking himself a little nervous, the company thought, "or else I have
caged the wrong bird. What Ariadne Thorne do you know of, then,
Dallas?"

"One who is a rich heiress, even as you say your future bride is. One
who is the owner of Fanshawe Manor, in Hampshire, and is beloved by
Sir Geoffrey Barry."

"'Tis she!" Bufton said, with his most hateful chuckle. "'Tis she. And
Dallas, my dear, I have won her from him. She never loved him, and she
is mine."

"I thought she did," the young man named Dallas muttered. "In solemn
truth, I thought so. So, too, thought all the county. He is a brave,
handsome fellow."

"Handsome is as handsome does!" exclaimed Granger, who had scowled
somewhat at this conversation, and now seemed very desirous of putting
an end to it; "while as for bravery--well! ask the Beau if Sir
Geoffrey Barry was very brave in the avenue of Fawnshawe Manor two
weeks ago."

"I had to give him a lesson in the use of the small sword, to--in
fine--chastise him," Bufton said. "I was there with Ariadne,
and--and--well!--he drew off."

"He drew off! He permitted you to chastise him! Him! Geoffrey Barry!
The county, to which I myself belong, would scarce deem it possible."

"Yet," replied Bufton, with what he considered his choicest tone of
contempt, "I have told you that it is so."

"And also," said Dallas, "you have told me that Ariadne Thorne loves
you, while we know that she and you wed to-morrow. Naturally, your
word is to me sacred. Yet--I speak it not in offence--it would be hard
to convince all who know either Sir Geoffrey Barry or Ariadne Thorne
that such things could be." After which he became strangely silent,
the more so, perhaps, because now Lewis Granger bestirred himself to
circulate the bottles, filling each man's glass again and again with
wine, calling of toasts, singing himself snatches of songs, and
generally egging on the company to hilarious behaviour.

Thus the time passed, until from St. James's Church hard by there rang
out the hour of two, when Granger, who all through the evening had
performed the part of master of the ceremonies, suggested that they
should break off.

"It is a solemn occasion," he said, with his best air--one which,
whatever might have been his past, he was well capable of
assuming--"a solemn occasion in which we all take part to-morrow. Let
us not, therefore, sit up toping until daybreak, now close at hand.
Remember, there is a little feast at the Hercules Pillars directly
'tis concluded; let us reserve ourselves for that. Gentlemen, our
dearest friend, the Beau, relies on all your company to-morrow to see
him wed his fortune."

"Rather to see him wed a pure and lovely girl," said Dallas, who
appeared more sober than some of the company--to, indeed, have become
sober, or, at least, grave and thoughtful, during the last hour.
"There is not a man under threescore in Hampshire who will not envy
him when they hear of his _bonnes fortunes_. I shall for a certainty
be there."

"And I," each of the others said. Whereon, bidding their host a short
adieu and many pleasant dreams, and cautioning him jokingly not to
oversleep himself in the morning, they trooped down the stairs and,
so, away to their respective lodgings.

"Now," said Granger, when all the Beau's visitors were gone but he,
"now get you to bed, and be ready betimes to-morrow. Also drink no
more. Remember this must not fall through."

"I have drunk nothing--or scarce nothing," Beau Bufton replied. "Am I
a fool that I should carouse away my chance of a fortune and an estate
when it is in my grasp, when in nine hours--yes, nine hours! think of
it, ye gods!--it will be mine."

Then, with his eyes on Granger, and with the point of his chin
in his hand, he cried, "You are strangely sober to-night, too, Lewis.
I have known the time when these," and he pointed to the half or
three-quarter drained flasks of Tokay and champagne which stood about
the table, "would have been too much for you to resist. When they
would have been on the table, but without a drop in them, and
you--well! you would have been beneath it."

"Do you taunt me with my infirmities!" exclaimed Granger. "Taunt
me--your jackal, your tool--with being sober! Have I not also
something to induce me to sobriety? Your marriage means much to me.
Almost as much as it does to you." And he regarded the other with a
strange fixity of gaze.

"Five thousand guineas?" said the Beau, interrogatively. "Humph!"

"Ay--it means--well! just so. Gad! you see everything. You are a
monstrous clever man."

"So, so," said the Beau. "So, so. Anyway, I have brought my pigs to a
good market. Eh?"

"You have. In solemn truth, you have. Now, good-night. I shall be with
you to-morrow to breakfast early. To bed. To bed." And with a nod he
left the room.

It was a wet, warm July night, or rather morning, for the summer dawn
was coming as he left the house, yet he seemed in no hurry to seek his
own bed, wherever it might happen to be. Instead, he peered up and
down the street as though searching for a hackney carriage or chair;
but, seeing none, walked fast up the Haymarket until he came to a
night house which was still open, and in which were still many
dissolute people of both sexes, drinking and carousing. Then he called
for a dram, and ordering the woman who was waiting to bring pen,
paper, and sand, sat down and wrote a short note--a note which, when
he had sealed and addressed it to "Lord John Dallas," he dropped into
his pocket, after which he paid his reckoning and went forth, finding
now a chair and two men waiting for a fare outside.

"Carry me," he said, "to Park Place. Then I shall need you to take me
to King Street, Covent Garden. A crown will do your business, eh?"

The men answering that it would, he stepped in, and they went off as
fast as their state of semi-drunkenness (in which London chair-men
generally were at that time in the morning) would allow, and
eventually they reached Park Place, whereon, alighting, Lewis Granger
walked down the narrow street regardless of the drizzle, until he
stood before No. 13, when, taking from his pocket the letter he had
written at the night house, he dropped it into the gaping dolphin's
mouth in bronze which formed the entrance to the letter-box.

"If Dallas loves his mother, as I have heard tell," he said to
himself, "that should do his business, and prevent him from
interrupting us to-morrow. Our hymeneal ceremony needs no
disturbance--until it is over."

After which he went back to his chair and was conveyed to his own
lodgings in King Street. Yet when in them--or rather, in "it," since
his abode consisted of but a small, meanly furnished room on the third
floor--he still seemed disinclined for rest, and appeared to be,
indeed, more disposed towards meditation and reflection than aught
else; while, as food for such reflection, two pieces of paper which he
drew from his pocket appeared to furnish it since he regarded them
long and steadily. Each was a bill properly drawn and accepted, yet
unlike. For the first, which had written across it the signature
"Glastonbury," had also stamped on it in rough, coarse letters, though
very plain ones, the word "Counterfeit," while the other was a bill
for five thousand guineas, payable to Lewis Granger and signed by
Algernon Bufton.

"Yet," muttered Granger to himself, as he regarded the latter, "you
are useless; you will never be paid. Nevertheless, I will keep
you--keep you safe. You may some day become a witness, if not a
principal."

After which he laughed softly to himself, and continued to do so until
he was in bed.



CHAPTER VI.

LOVE'S CONTEST.

   "If I possess him, I may be unhappy,
    But, if I lose him, I am surely so."


Meanwhile a different scene was being enacted earlier in Cowley
Street, Lambeth, or, as it was more often termed, Cowley Street,
Westminster--a spot now quaint and old, but then almost fresh and new;
a street to which, then as now, there would come from the river a
wafted scent of new-mown hay (especially in the warm days of
harvest-time, when windows were open), brought up or down the river in
great cumbrous barges for sale in London; a quiet place which was then
as peaceful and tranquil as the streets of old country towns are now.

All through the day which preceded that night when Beau Bufton had
celebrated his last hours of bachelor freedom, as he had cynically
termed the conclusion of his unwedded life, Ariadne Thorne had either
sat in the great parlour on the lower floor--a floor raised some
three or four feet above the level of the road and narrow footway
outside--had sat glancing eagerly out of the long windows which faced
the walls that enclosed the grounds of the Abbey, or, pacing the
spacious room, had given herself up to uneasy thoughts.

"Will he ever come?" she whispered to herself again and again, "or,
coming, ever forgive me for what I have done--am about to do? I pray
God he may."

Then, almost distraught, she would seize the long bell-rope and summon
Mrs. Pottle to her presence, who, entering with a look of strange,
hard determination on her strong features, would stand before her
mistress ready to answer, for the twentieth time, any questions that
might be asked her, and ready also to dispel any doubts which might
exist in the girl's perturbed mind.

"He must have received my letter," Ariadne would then say; "must have
had it in his hands by yesterday morning at the latest. Must he not,
Pottle?"

"In truth he must," her old nurse and attendant from the first would
say; "he must indeed, deary."

"And, receiving it, would come. Surely he would come, Rebecca,"
addressing the woman now, as most often she did, by her Christian
name.

"I think so, dear heart; that is, if the frigate ain't----"

"Sailed! Oh, my God!" Ariadne cried, "if it has done that! If it has
gone to join Admiral Boscawen's fleet in the West Indies. If it has
done that! Then--then my heart is broken."

"P'r'aps, it ain't sailed after all. Don't weep, sweet one. P'r'aps it
ain't. Look at that vane out there on the Abbey. The wind is west--doo
west. He won't get out o' the Channel ag'in that, let alone off to the
Injies. I remember when we were going in the _R'yal Suverin_----"

"If he would only come. Only come once--for an hour--half an
hour--so--so--that I could make all clear to him. Could sue to him for
pardon and for pity."

"Humph!" Mrs. Pottle exclaimed, with a snort, "he ain't got so
very much to pardon nor to pity, I don't think. Pardon and pity!
Hoity-toity! You've writ him, ain't you?"

"Ay, indeed I have! Yet I could not tell him all then--could not do so
until he stands here before me. Oh! Rebecca, Rebecca, what have I
done! What have we done!"

"Done what we oughter. That is, I have; what I agreed to do, if things
turn out well. You ain't done nothin' as you oughtn't to do, and 'ave
been an angel, as you always was. And cheer up, missy, he'll come; I
know as how he will."

"I pray God," Ariadne said again, "I pray God he will."

A few days before this conversation took place, the girl, after
considerable communing with herself, had despatched a letter addressed
to Captain Sir Geoffrey Barry on board H.M.S. _Mignonne_ at
Portsmouth; a letter cold in tone, it is true, and one in which there
was no acknowledgment, as well as no denial, of her having been false
to him, or of her having received a visit from the person whom he had
encountered in the lime-tree avenue of her estate. For neither, she
knew, would weigh anything with him--he would disbelieve her denial,
while, on the other hand, her confession that such was the case would
prevent him from ever speaking to her again. And she so much desired
to see him before to-morrow; to see him before he sailed, as she had
heard he was about to do, to join Admiral Boscawen's squadron.

"If you will not come to me before you quit England for the West
Indies," she wrote, "you will have put away from both of us for ever
any prospect of our being aught but strangers. I have been a wicked,
weak girl, perhaps, though never have I regarded myself as such until
now, and I should have told you all that I had done on the night when
you parted from me; then, at least, you would have forgiven me. Now, I
ask you, I beseech you, to come to me at once on receipt of this; I
implore you to do so on the strength of the love that has been between
us, and in memory of the love of our early years. If you will do that,
then--then--you shall know all. No action on my part shall be hidden
from you."

"Will he come?" she said, "will he come?" And, thinking of the letter
she had written, she told herself that he would do so. Surely he
would!

Meanwhile, below, Mrs. Pottle was engaged in the homely occupation of
sewing and of ironing, and of other feminine pursuits that are dear to
the hearts of women of her class. Upon a huge table were spread out a
number of garments such as would befit a young lady who was about to
make a clandestine marriage--a marriage which, since it must
necessarily be without the accompaniment of a large and fashionable
gathering of friends, would be but simple, yet a ceremony in which the
bride would, nevertheless, be expected to make a proper appearance. To
wit, there was a flowered brocade covered with Italian posies,
myrtles, jessamine sprigs, and pinks; as well as a lace apron and
stomacher, more than one fan, and several articles of _lingerie_. And
upon another table was an enormous hat such as Gainsborough loved to
paint, and with which an earlier master, Rembrandt, frequently adorned
the pictures of his cavaliers.

"Fit for any lady to go to the altar in," Mrs. Pottle muttered to
herself as she fingered all these things. "Fit even for the Princess
'Melie. And worth money too--good money; that will be of use, come
what come may. Worth money; ay! that's something; and I've 'ad fifty
guineas from Bufton--damn him!--I'll get no more arter he's led his
bride to church to-morrow."

Then she walked to a cupboard and, taking out a thick black bottle and
a small glass, helped herself to a dram, old customs of her stormy
seafaring life being strong upon her still; while, as she drank so she
still continued to muse, sitting down near all this finery, and
occasionally regarding it.

"P'r'aps, arter all," she murmured, "I done wrong; p'r'aps I oughter
not to--to let 'er 'ave him. Yet 'er 'art's on it. 'I will go through
with it,' she said last night--only last night 'though the devil stood
a-tween him and me. You know from the time I come back from Tunbridge
I was set upon it.' And so she 'ave been set upon it. Ah, well! he
oughter to 'ave 'er. And now he must 'ave 'er. Well, so be it."

After which, her eye falling again upon the clothes laid out near her,
she murmured, "Worth money; that's something."

The house in which she now sat below stairs, while Ariadne Thorne was
upstairs in the parlour, was one that the gentry of the county of
Hampshire were in the habit of using when in London, it being an
instance of the numerous better class of lodgings which were to be
obtained in the town at the end of the reign of George II. It also was
near the House of Commons, and had been handy for General Thorne
during the time he sat in that assembly. But now that Parliament was
not sitting, and when Ariadne had come to London, ostensibly with a
view to visiting the mercers and other furnishers of ladies'
necessaries, there were no other occupants of the house but herself
and those who had accompanied her.

Presently Mrs. Pottle roused herself from a nap to which she had
succumbed--perhaps owing to the heat of the summer day!--and regarded
a clock that ticked in the parlour which she used in common with other
ladies' servants and gentlemen's gentlemen when the house had lodgers.

"Five o'clock," she muttered, "five o'clock, and the Portsmouth coach
is doo in the city by now. If Sir Geoffrey's coming, he'll be here by
this, or soon. His frigate ain't started on no voyage, I'll go bail;
not with that wind a-blowing. Will he come? Will he? He see that
villain, Bufton, sure enough in the avenue, and he heerd her say to me
as 'ow he had seen him. Pity! Pity! Might 'a' spoilt all. Lawk's
sakes, what will she tell him when he do see her?"

Again she dozed, sitting in her chair; then, when perhaps she had
slumbered peacefully for some quarter of an hour, she sprang to her
feet wide awake, for, above, she had heard a hackney coach rumble up
to the door. And, a moment later, had also heard the rush of feet
across the room, and knew, divined, with woman's instinct, that
Ariadne had flown to the window to peer out from behind the heavy
curtains and to observe if he for whom she was waiting had come.

In another instant, Mrs. Pottle was running up the narrow stairs from
below to open the door in answer to an imperious summons that sounded
through the house.

With almost a look of guilt, a half look of terror, on her face, she
answered the question of Sir Geoffrey Barry as to whether her mistress
was within; she seeing, as she glanced at him, that he was very
pale--as pale as he who was so bronzed could be--and that on his face
was a stern look.

"Your mistress," he said, "has sent for me. I am here in answer to her
summons. Where is she?"

"She is 'ere, Sir Jaffray," Mrs. Pottle said, opening the door of the
parlour and announcing him. And then those two who had loved each
other so fondly and so long were alone face to face.

"How lovely she is!" Geoffrey thought, observing the sad, pale face of
the girl and her soft eyes as they were fixed on him; observing, too,
however, how one white hand was pressed to her heart as though to
still the tumult beneath. "How lovely, and--how false."

"Geoffrey!" Ariadne cried now. "Oh, Geoffrey! you have come to me. I
knew you would. Knew it so well. You could not stay away from me," she
said, sinking her voice so that the gentle tones of it sounded even
more sweet than usual, "when I wanted you to come. Oh, Geoffrey!" she
sighed.

"Actress!" he said inwardly, his face white--almost, it seemed, drawn.
"Actress!" Then cursed himself for being there--for, in solemn truth
being drawn to her against his will! But aloud, he said, so coldly
that the tone struck like ice to her heart:

"I am here because you desired to see me again; because, too, Heaven
help me! you conjured me, lured me with those cunning words you wrote
in your letter, 'the memory of the love of our early years.' Ay, our
_early_ love. You did well to speak of that. That, at least, has
been."

"And can there be no other? Not when----"

"Not until," he cried, his voice ringing clearly through the room,
"not until you deal truthfully with me, if ever; not until you answer
my question fairly as to that man--that bedizened fop--I encountered
in your avenue!"

"What do you ask? What do you desire to know?"

"That you know as well as I. Yet once again. I ask you, did that man
come to Fanshawe Manor; was he there by--my God!--by appointment with
the Manor's owner: was he there to see--Ariadne Thorne?"

For a moment the pure clear eyes gazed into his, then they dropped and
sought the floor.

"Yes," she whispered slowly, hesitatingly, "yes, he went there--to
see--Ariadne Thorne----"

"Ah!" he cried, "ah! I knew it. Knew it well from the moment I heard
your whispered words to your woman. I knew it. Oh!" and now he, too,
lifted his hand towards his heart as though to still it. "Oh! then
thus all ends; thus I bid farewell to all our love. It is enough.
To-morrow I resign my command----"

"No! no!" she cried, and now she came swiftly towards him. "No! no!
To-morrow! Not to-morrow! Until to-morrow at least is past--do
nothing. Geoffrey! Geoffrey! I love you; fondly, madly! Not to-morrow,
of all days! not to-morrow!"


                        *    *    *    *    *    *    *


"A long talk," muttered Mrs. Pottle, below stairs, "a long talk,"
and she glanced at the clock, which now struck seven even as
she did so. "A long talk. She must 'a' bin telling of 'im all. Ah!
poor sweet, I'll go bail she finds it pretty 'ard to do. Yet they're
quiet, too. I don't hear no walking about. Surely they ain't
a-quarrelling--surely"--for now her melodramatic mind, a mind
perhaps attuned to such things by her own stormy life, imagined the
worst--"he hasn't refused to believe her! hasn't--oh! oh! that's too
terrible to think on."

"I'll go up," she whispered to herself a moment later; "I will. I'll
find an excuse for busting in upon them. I'm getting the 'orrors what
with Sir Jaffray being 'ere and what with thinking of all that's to do
to-morrow."

Whereon, slowly, she went towards the stairs, and began to creep up
them noiselessly; but, when she reached where they turned towards the
passage, she paused astonished.

For the door of the parlour opened, and Sir Geoffrey came forth--yet
not alone.

By his side was Ariadne, her fair, lovely face radiant with a look of
happiness extreme, her hand upon his sleeve. While, as they reached
the hall door and she put up her other hand to unfasten the latch,
Mrs. Pottle saw, with wonder-staring eyes, that he, bending forward
now, took that hand and raised it to his lips, kissing it fervently.

Then, ere he went, Ariadne being still behind the half-open door, he
did even more, for now he held his arms open before her and drew her
into them, and kissed her long and tenderly, after which, murmuring
"Adieu, sweetheart," loudly enough for Mrs. Pottle to hear, he went
forth into the street.



CHAPTER VII.

THE CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE.


"And that it may be better known, there is a porch at the door like a
country church porch."

Thus advertised the redoubtable Keith (at this time languishing in
Newgate, and represented by deputies), the reverend divine who, by
license, performed more clandestine marriages among the upper classes
than any other clergyman had ever done in London. Of course, the "scum
and offal of the clergy," as Keith had more than once termed his rival
practitioners in the Fleet, had, before the passing of the Marriage
Act, united hundreds more couples than he had ever done; but, as he
said, "What would you have? They marry drunken sailors to demireps,
shopboys to their masters' daughters, who, as often as not, must
secure a husband by hook or by crook, and that at once; rich
tradesmen's widows to decayed gentlemen, _et id genus omne_. But I, I
am a gentleman of ancient family myself, and I will meddle with none
but those of my own kidney."

While, since a certain date, namely, February 14, 1752, Keith had been
so puffed up and vainglorious that it seemed as though, henceforth,
nothing short of peers and heiresses, or peeresses and handsome young
men, were considered by him fit for entanglement in his net; and
certain it is that from that date his fees went up. For on that day he
had tied together in bonds, never to be loosened--and which were never
sought to be loosened--James, sixth Duke of Hamilton, to Elizabeth,
second daughter of John Gunning, of Castle Coote, County Roscommon,
who married _en secondes noces_, John Campbell, fifth Duke of Argyll,
and was likewise created a peeress in her own right.

Indeed, he became so puffed up, that gradually he discontinued his
advertisements in the papers, including the above directions, as well
as his charge of a guinea, "inclusive of the license on a crown stamp
and minister's and clerk's fees," and began to squabble and chaffer
for three guineas and five guineas, and sometimes even ten, before he
would perform his office.

Therefore it was five guineas which by his orders his deputy, Peter
Symson, officiating in his stead, had extorted from Beau Bufton when
consenting, on the day before the marriage, to put his chapel and his
clerk and himself at that gentleman's service the next morning.

"So long," said Bufton, "as it ties me tight, I care not. That is the
needful thing. That there can be no breaking of the knot."

"Be very sure there cannot," said Symson; "very sure. This is no
hole-and-corner marriage shop where rakes and libertines can possess
themselves of women's persons and properties, and, after having grown
tired of their wives and abused their wealth, can get relief. Oh, no!
And no tricks can be played here. No marrying under a false name, and
claiming exemption thereby; none of that. Your name may not be
Algernon Bufton, as you tell me it is, and your lady's name may not be
Ariadne Thorne; but, still, that will not serve."

"It will not be required to do so," said Bufton, thrusting out his
long chin at the parson and favouring him with his sneer; "we come
here to get closely padlocked, not to be tied together with a piece of
easily breakable thread."

"That is well; the class of marriages which I, on behalf of my
suffering and injured employer, alone perform. Very well, because,
once I have done my office, you are united until death you do part.
You have sworn to me that your name is Algernon Bufton, and the lady's
Ariadne Thorne; and though your name may be truly John Nokes, and hers
Joan Stokes, as Algernon Bufton and Ariadne Thorne you will be united,
and united you will have to remain. I, too, can swear oaths when
necessary. Now, fail not to be here at your time to-morrow. I have
another union to make at half after ten, also another at half after
eleven. Fail not."

After which lengthy and iterative oration, the deputy parson of the
May Fair Chapel edged the Beau out of the vestry wherein their
conversation had taken place, and wherein, also, the former had
pouched his five guineas, he being cautious to be always paid
beforehand.

Beau Bufton did take care to be there in time, while, to make
assurance double sure, he arrived with his bride, she and Mrs. Pottle
having been fetched by him from the corner of a street hard by the end
of Cowley Street. The girl was very nervous, as he could see plainly,
as well as recognise by the manner in which her hand trembled on his
arm; also, she was white and with no bloom of natural colour on her
cheeks, although Mrs. Pottle had, in its place, carefully applied the
contents of the rouge-pot to them that morning. Otherwise, she was all
that became a bride who did not wish to proclaim her position too
distinctly. For the flowered brocade (which the Beau's eyes, astute in
everything pertaining to clothes and gauds, noticed was not quite new
and fresh, but had indeed been a little worn) was suitable enough to a
young lady going out for a day's jaunt; the great Rembrandt-like hat
matched it well enough, and the fringed gloves, which were brand-new,
gave a pleasing set-off to the remainder of her apparel.

Behind the happy pair, as now they descended from the hackney coach
and entered the chapel, came Lewis Granger, he having on his arm Mrs.
Pottle, while testifying by his countenance that he scarcely
appreciated the honour of being that lady's escort. Yet he had
arranged everything as became the jackal of the lion; he had sworn
deeply, and with many vows, to assist in bringing this marriage to a
successful issue; even the indignity of Mrs. Pottle's company could
not daunt him nor turn him from his resolution. The companionship of
this stern and determined-looking woman at his side must be borne with
for the next quarter of an hour. Though still he cast a glance of
dismay, almost of shame, at two or three of the Beau's overnight
guests who were already assembled and looked brave enough in their
scarlet coats, as they all passed up with Mrs. Pottle to the spot
where Keith's deputy was ready to perform the ceremony.

This deputy, Peter Symson by name, licensed by the Bishop of Salisbury
as priest, seemed by his appearance to verify that which Bufton had
said the evening before with regard to his habits. His face was
extremely red, and the critical might have opined that it had neither
been washed nor shaved this morning; his voice was hoarse and
indistinct as he mumbled hastily the words of the irrevocable
ceremony, as though anxious to get all concluded as soon as possible.
In actual truth, he never performed the marriage ceremony without
great fear that, at some moment of it, the myrmidons of Henry
Fielding's successor at Bow Street might rush in on him and serve him
with a warrant charging him with illegal practices.

Proudly, with a self-satisfied air--the air of one who has fought and
conquered and is now reaping the spoils of victory--Beau Bufton went
through with his marriage, that smile, which Granger thought so
hateful, being on his lips while he uttered his responses clearly and
audibly to all--as who would not do who was wedding a hundred thousand
guineas? His bride also seemed to take courage as the end drew near,
and ceased to shiver and shake as she had done at the commencement.
She looked, too, more than once with a self-satisfied glance at the
three boon companions who were by the door, as well as at Mrs. Pottle,
and--once!--she looked at Granger.

"Sign the book!" exclaimed Symson now, as he closed his own, from
which he had been reading in a gabbling, hurried manner. "Sign the
book. Isaac, pass over the register to those whom the Lord hath joined
together. There is no further fee, yet generous bridegrooms may still
offer the minister a gift if they are so disposed. The clerk, too,
would accept of something if it were tendered."

But Beau Bufton was deaf to these suggestions. He had paid his five
guineas yesterday out of the remnants of the small stock of money left
to him; he was not going to squander any of that new fortune which he
had now secured. Wherefore, having signed his own name, and indicated
with his finger the spot at which his wife should also sign hers, he
turned a deaf ear to the reverend gentleman's suggestions, while, he
turned on Granger a look of triumph--the proud glance of a successful
man.

Then, as he did so, and as still the newly made wife bent over the
greasy register, he heard a voice: it was that of the friend whose
absence he had noticed regretfully as he entered the chapel; the voice
of Lord John Dallas, saying:

"Ariadne Thorne! Ariadne Thorne! That Ariadne Thorne! My God!" While
at the same time Bufton saw that the new-comer--the man who had but
just arrived upon the scene--was making his way to where he and his
wife stood. He saw, too, a strange look upon his face.

"Mrs. Algernon Bufton now," he said, regarding the young man with
surprise; "Ariadne Thorne a quarter of an hour ago."

"Ariadne Thorne! never!" Lord John exclaimed, and, to the Beau's
horror, he saw a glance of recognition pass between him and the woman
at his side, who, to his further astonishment, now trembled no more,
but, instead, stood erect and with a look of defiance on her face.
"Never Ariadne Thorne. I knew it. Knew it. She loves Geoffrey Barry
too well! Ariadne Thorne," he repeated. "Nay! Anne Tremlett, the
actress--the singer at booths--the stroller. God! what have you done?"

"Tremlett! Ah!" and Bufton gasped. "Tremlett."

White as a ghost now; himself shaking, as the woman he had married had
shaken before; his face terrible to behold, Bufton turned round,
observing as he did so that all eyes were on him, while, pushing his
wife on one side, he glared at the name she had inscribed in the
register. Yet, it was not Anne Tremlett--a name of hideous memories to
him--but, instead, "Anne Pottle."

"What does it mean?" he cried hoarsely, his voice changed so as to be
utterly unrecognisable. "Speak! Say, wanton! Speak! I say, or I will
kill you!" he continued, almost in a shriek.

"Be still," cried Granger, clasping his arm, "be still; this is a
church."

"I will know all. Speak, I say, or----" and he made as though he would
tear to pieces the woman who stood by his side. "Speak, damn you!"

"Begone from out this house!" cried Symson now. "Though not a duly
consecrated edifice, it shall not be polluted by you. Begone, I say!"

"I will not go," the wretched man snarled, "till I have an explanation
of why I have been trapped, hoodwinked like this. I will know,
or----" and he made a snatch at the register as though to seize the
leaf which recorded his marriage with Anne Pottle. An attempt
frustrated by Symson, who, big and brawny, thrust himself between it
and the duped Beau.

"Let us do as he bids, let us go," his wife said now, her voice calm,
and upon her face a look of intense hatred. Yet she did not go, but,
standing by her mother's side, said, while all who were present
listened open-mouthed--even the curiosity of the Rev. Peter Symson
being aroused:

"Let me speak now. My sister and I--she was nigh blind--came to London
three years ago, I to earn a living by my voice, she to be dependent
on me, since mother could not ask Miss Ariadne to keep us all, though
God knows she would have done so willingly; and this snake--this
thing whom I have married for retaliation--he--well, he deceived her,
ruined her--so--that--she slew herself. Oh, God! my sister--my dead
sister--my little helpless sister!

"It was under the name of Tremlett, my mother's maiden name," she went
on, recovering somewhat from her emotion, "that I earned my living by
singing at Vauxhall and Ranelagh, and, to save trouble and
explanation, she, too, went by that name; while he, meeting her
at the latter place, where she ever waited for me, persuaded her to
evil--ruined her, cursed her life, caused her to kill herself." And
now the newly made wife wept. Then, suddenly, again recovering
herself, she cried:

"Do you think, all you who are here, that when I met him by chance at
Tunbridge at a masquerade, and learnt that he meditated villainy of a
different kind, to another woman whom I loved dearly, to that Ariadne
Thorne for whom he took me, I would spare him? Never! She was there,
too, at Tunbridge, though not at the masquerade, and she lent me
clothes, fallals, laces, even a fan, to go and make merry myself. Ah!"
she cried, "I am avenged! Avenged! This betrayer of innocent women,
this fortune-hunter, is fooled to the top of his bent----Till death us
do part!" she exclaimed, with a bitter laugh, breaking off, "Till
death us do part!"

"This is no marriage," Beau Bufton said now, addressing Symson, "no
marriage. You know that!"

"I know that it will give you much trouble to break it," the reverend
gentleman said, with a leer of contempt. "I tie all tight. You were
warned yesterday that false names would not save you. And, since she
openly avows her name is Anne Pottle, in the name of Anne Pottle you
are wed. Now, I require you to be gone. Observe, there is another
ceremony to be performed."

While as he spoke he pointed to the door, through which a second
wedding party was entering.

"I renounce her!" Bufton cried now, "renounce her for ever. It is a
trick played by a wanton!" he cried. "A trick that shall never
succeed. You shall be laid by the heels in Newgate--you--you--you
hedge priest--Great God!" he almost screamed, breaking off, "what
brings _you_ here too?" And in his rage he made an attempt to draw his
sword.

For, behind that other small party which had entered the chapel, he
saw the form of a man which he remembered well--had good cause to
remember--the form of Sir Geoffrey Barry, with, leaning upon his arm,
a young and beautiful woman.

"I am here," the new-comer said, "to present you to a lady whom I wish
you to know. Pardon me," he continued, addressing the incoming wedding
party which he had followed, "if I delay your ceremony for a short
moment. But I am desirous of introducing this newly made happy man to
my future wife--Miss Ariadne Thorne."



CHAPTER VIII.

FOREBODINGS.


If ever a marriage was performed amidst extraordinary surroundings, it
was that second marriage which Symson was now conducting, or rather
the third that morning, since already a happy couple had been united
before Beau Bufton and Anne Pottle had been joined together. A
marriage this (between an actual heiress in a small way and an officer
of Rich's Dragoons) hurried through by Symson after he had muttered,
"Nigh midday, nigh midday, quick! or there will be no ceremony,"
while, from without, and from the neighbourhood of the porch, there
came cries and jeers--these being from some idlers who had gathered
outside--the hoarse voice of Bufton hurling imprecations, and the
deeper one of Lewis Granger bidding him hold his peace. And once, a
shriek--from Ariadne.

For, as Geoffrey Barry, with contempt in his cold voice, and contempt,
too, upon his handsome features, had calmly presented the Beau to the
real Ariadne Thorne, the other had become almost beside himself--had,
indeed, exhibited so awful a picture of a man transformed by rage and
despair as to appal all those who looked upon him, various as their
characters and experiences of life were.

"You!" he cried. "You!" addressing Sir Geoffrey, his features
distorted, his lower jaw working horribly above that monstrous chin,
"You in it, too! You beggarly sailor! You! You!" Then, before any
could suspect to what length his fury would carry him, he had wrenched
the dress sword he carried by his side from out its sheath, and would
have made a pass at the other--indeed, did half do so. But, swift as
lightning, that pass was thwarted--by two people! By his newly made
wife, who seized his arm even as he would have plunged the blade into
Sir Geoffrey's breast, she being aided by Lewis Granger, who, with his
hat, which he still carried in his hand, although they were by now
outside the church, struck it up--he knocking it from out his hand, so
that it fell clattering on the stones at his feet.

"Madman! Fool!" Granger whispered in his ear, "do you wish to finish
your morning's work with murder? To end your days at Tyburn?" Then,
turning to one of the friends of overnight, he said: "For God's sake
help me to get him into the coach. He is mad."

Somehow it was done; in some way the deluded rogue was pushed and
hustled into the carriage which had brought him in triumph from the
spot where he had met Mrs. Pottle and Anne, and half-delirious with
rage, Bufton was borne away. Yet not before he had shrieked such awful
objurgations, such curses and blasphemies on the heads of all around
him, including Ariadne and her lover, combined with such terrible
threats of vengeance, that more than one of the women present stopped
their ears.

"Now," said Geoffrey, "now, let us begone, too. Come, Ariadne, I will
take you home."

Then he turned to Mrs. Pottle and Anne--who stood close by her
mother's side--and bade them also return to the house in Westminster.

"Yet, my poor girl," he said to the latter, "I fear it is but coals of
fire you have heaped on your own head. Your revenge for your sister's
wrongs has been terrible, nay, supreme; but at what a price to you!
What a price! You have closed the door against your own happiness for
ever."

"I care not," Anne said. "Care not at all. When her body--poor little
Kate's body--was taken from out the river--oh, mother! you remember--I
swore that if ever the chance came, I would avenge her. Ah! Sir
Geoffrey, Sir Geoffrey, if you had known how she besought him
to fulfil his promise--to marry her--to make her an honest
woman--then--you--would not----"

"I am not surprised," Geoffrey Barry answered, "knowing all, as I do
now, from Miss Thorne. Yet, I fear you have paid too dearly for it."

"She would do it, Sir Jaffray," Mrs. Pottle moaned between her sobs.
"She would do it, though I told her there was no call. Oh! why, why,
should that monster have had two of my daughters for his victims? One
of whom he undone and drove to her death, the other who can never be
no honest man's wife now."

"At least," said Ariadne, "you know, Rebecca, that never will she want
for aught. You know that, and you, too, Anne. Now, let us hasten to
Cowley Street and away from this horrid place."

Perhaps it need scarcely be set down here that overnight, when the
meeting between Ariadne and her lover had taken place, all had been
explained and made clear to the latter. Indeed the girl had more than
once, during the passage of that fortnight since he had parted with
her at Fawnshawe Manor, resolved to write to him telling everything,
only, on each occasion, her pride had stepped in. "For," she had
whispered to herself, again and again, "if he loves me, as he has said
so oft, then surely he cannot doubt. He was enraged at the time,
deeming, in truth, that that vile fop and knave could have come in
search of none but me. But, surely, reflection must convince him it
was not so. Surely--surely." And then, still stirred by womanly pride,
she determined that she would put the depth of his love to the test.
She would summon him to her side, and, if he came, would tell him all.
But she was impelled to send that summons without delay, when there
reached her ears the terrible rumour that his frigate was to proceed
to join the squadron of Admiral Boscawen.

Then he had come, and she had told him all, with the result which has
been described.

"And so," he said now, as they sat in the parlour wherein she had
yesterday listened so eagerly and with beating heart for that coming,
"I should not have been sent for, only it was thought I might be off
and away to the West Indies. That is it, eh?" and, from where they sat
side by side on the great couch, he stroked her hair.

"No," she answered, softly, "you would have been sent for anyhow,
only, perhaps, that news hastened the despatch of my message," and she
looked fondly at him. "You doubted me, sir," she continued, "you know
you did, and you had to be punished."

"What could I think? I heard you say those fateful words to Mrs.
Pottle: 'Then he has seen him.'" Then, he added, "But, still, after
what we have witnessed this morning, I wish it had not been. I wish
that you had not let it happen."

"Oh, Geoffrey!" she cried, "do not reproach me, do not be angry with
me. Anne was so resolute, so determined. She loved that little sister
whom he ruined and drove to her death; loved her fondly. I remember
after it had happened last year, when the poor child drowned herself
after he cast her off, that Anne was demented. Do you know, she
meditated tracking him in the streets and pistolling him with her own
hands, until I persuaded her to desist from such a crime?"

"Yet now," said Geoffrey, with unconscious humour, "she has married
him."

"That thought came to her when she found out that he was at Tunbridge
intent on pursuing me. His valet told her that his master was there to
obtain the hand of Miss Thorne, the heiress, if possible--the man not
knowing that she was in attendance on me--and that decided her. She
vows she would have done it even though he had not ruined her sister,
as a punishment for his presumption in aspiring to me."

"Yet if he knew this poor girl through her waiting at Vauxhall and
Ranelagh for Anne, how is it he should not know Anne herself?"

"It was not surprising. Anne always sang and danced arrayed in some
fantastic costume, sometimes as Arlequina with a vizard, another time
as a Turkish dancing girl, and, as often as not, as a shepherdess with
white wig and patches. And he persuaded the poor child, poor little
Kate, to say nothing to her more worldly sister, nor ever to let them
come into contact."

"It is a deadly vengeance, as deadly to her as to him. Yet, I vow, he
at least deserves to suffer from it. But how could she ever think of,
how devise, it?"

For a moment Ariadne paused; so that it seemed to him that there was
something which she had not told even now. It appeared that she had
not divulged all of the plot. For Ariadne whispered now, or almost
whispered, "She had a helpmate, a confederate. A man----"

"A man!" Geoffrey exclaimed. "A man! Surely not young Lord John
Dallas--he who arrived at the end of the marriage--when it was too
late! He who exposed her?"

"Nay; instead, one whom he has deeply injured and wronged almost as
much as he wronged and ruined her sister. Whose life he blasted----"

"Ariadne! who is he?"

"The man who pretends to serve him as his creature, his hireling. He
who stood by his side at the marriage; his best man."

"Great God! what duplicity, what vengeance! How has Bufton wronged
any man so much that the other should do this thing? Forgive me,
Ariadne, I would not say aught to wound you, nor aught against your
sex, but--but--such vengeance is a woman's, not a man's."

"Yet I do think the scheme was more his than hers. Oh, Geoffrey!" she
cried, suddenly, "I am terrified; terrified at what has happened, and
doubly terrified at what will, I fear, happen yet. Oh! why, why, did I
let it continue? Yet Geoffrey, upon my honour as a woman, I did not
know all; had I done so before we came to London, I would have striven
to prevent it. But, now, I fear----"

"Fear what?"

"Something worse that remains behind. For she laughs--she laughed but
now when we returned here after that terrible scene, and when she was
upstairs with me--laughs and says that, if she is truly tied to him by
the laws, yet it will not be for long. She says, too, that the other
man has not finished his business yet."

"What has this man, this Bufton, done to him, then? Surely he had no
sister to be betrayed also. What can it be?"

"That she does not know, or swears she does not. But that they have
met before, that he helped her to plan this scheme, I feel assured.
Oh, Geoffrey, how can we put an end to further mischief?"

"Pity 'tis that it was ever begun. And, though I say it not unkindly,
that you ever countenanced it."

"Nay, nay!" Ariadne cried, "misjudge me not; I never knew what was
being done until the last moment. You must believe that, Geoffrey,
or--or--there is no happiness in store for us. I never heard that they
had met at Tunbridge, and that he was deceived into thinking she was
Ariadne Thorne. I never knew, until a quarter of an hour before you
came on that night, that he had been in the lime-tree avenue. And I
should not have known it then but by an accident."

"An accident?"

"Yes. I was awaiting you as ever, was wondering why you were late,
when I saw--it was easy enough to distinguish in the glow of the
sunset--a scarlet coat in the avenue. And then--then--Anne came in
hurriedly a little later, with her cloak and hood on."

"The hood I saw lying there. The one I thought you had worn, and which
made me doubly suspicious."

"The same. She removed it from her head while talking to me, and,
laying it down, forgot it. I asked her who the man could be who was
wearing that scarlet coat, and then she told me all, or, at least,
almost all. But, knowing you were coming, and wishing to tell her
mother who was heart and soul in this scheme of vengeance, she left me
and forgot that hood."

"Thank Heaven!" Sir Geoffrey said, "that you knew so little; as well
as that you had no part in the plot. Knave, vagabond as the fellow is,
I should not have liked my Ariadne to have had part in hoodwinking
him."

And the girl seeing, understanding by his words, that he believed her,
was happy.

After this they were silent a little while, though each was thinking,
in a different way, upon the same thing. He, of what a thousand pities
it was that a brave girl such as Anne Pottle should have ruined her
future to obtain revenge; she, of what the future might bring--a
future that, she could scarcely have told why, she dreaded and looked
forward to with extreme fear.

"There are two persons," she whispered now, unconsciously drawing a
little closer to her lover's arm even as she did so, "two persons
whom, if he had the power to injure, he would. Geoffrey, you know
those two?"

"You and I, sweetheart, is't not so? Well, what can he do--this
discredited, ruined rogue? What! We shall be man and wife soon now,
since there is no truth in the report that I take my ship to join
Boscawen; since, too, it seems likely that she and I are doomed to
inaction. Ah! if Admiral Hawke could but bring the French to action
nearer home and I might be with him. Then--then--there would be a
bright future before me."

As he spoke of their being man and wife the girl's heart gave a great
leap. Surely, she thought, he must know how much she, too, desired
that; and still, as thus she thought, she drew closer to him. But,
even as she did so, she whispered:

"How that man can injure you or me I know not, my own. Yet--yet--I saw
his face to-day, saw the look, the hideous look of rage and spite, he
cast at you--and--oh! oh! my love," she wailed, "I fear, I fear."

"Fear nothing," he whispered back. "Fear nothing. He is a broken,
bankrupt knave, and I am a king's officer; while you are to be my
wife. He is harmless."



CHAPTER IX.

THE END OF THE FIRST ACT.


"The question now is," said Lewis Granger to Beau Bufton that night,
"what is to be done? How are you, and I, which latter is perhaps of
more considerable importance, to continue to exist? I have had no
money for a long time, and in a short time you also will have none.
What do you intend to do?"

As he spoke, he cast his eyes upon the man who now sat the picture of
despair in his rooms in the Haymarket, and was, in truth, in about as
miserable a frame of mind as it was possible for any person to be.
Miserable and broken down in more ways than one; through lack of money
as well as a lack of knowledge of where any was to come from;
miserable also through the certainty that by to-morrow all
London would ring with the manner in which he had been tricked and
deceived. While, which was perhaps the worst of all disasters, his
long-meditated plan of espousing some heiress or another was now and
for ever impossible. Who would marry him, a man who might or might not
be the husband of the singing, dancing girl of Ranelagh, Vauxhall, and
Marylebone Gardens; what heiress, even though he could get free of
Anne Pottle, would not know him in his true colours: those of a
fortune-hunter?

There was no gibe nor jeer left in him now, not even of that
lower-form schoolboy order, which Granger had so often derided with
savage contempt. How could he ever jeer and jest at others henceforth?
He, who had stood so pitiful and exposed a fool before others that
morning. In the future, whatever became of him, he could sneer or
scoff no more, for fear that in his teeth should be thrown his own
idiocy.

But, in place of the little quips and contemptuous insolence he had
been wont to pride himself upon, there had come now into his heart a
passion, black and venomous, that had taken the place of those other
qualities which once he had considered all-sufficient--a passion that
was a thirst, a determination for revenge. Yet, against whom it was to
be exercised he scarcely knew, even now. His wife, if she were his
wife, perhaps; and then--afterwards--against all who had aided and
abetted her, all who, knowing what was to be done, had stood by and
had not interfered in the doing thereof. Undoubtedly there were two
such persons, if no more. Surely the real Ariadne Thorne had known;
surely, too, the man who had proclaimed himself as her future husband.
The man who, on the two occasions when they had come together, had
treated him with icy contempt and scorn; who had driven him from the
avenue with ignominy; and had spoken to him as though he were dirt
beneath his feet. Who had spoken thus to him!--to him!--whose whole
system had been to treat others so.

"You do not answer me," said Lewis Granger, filling his glass as he
spoke. "I have asked you what is to be done. How are you and I to
live? You owe me five thousand pounds, which, as you have not married
the lady who possesses twenty times that amount, I presume it is
little use dunning you for. But the wherewithal to live, that is the
question of the moment."

"I am ruined," Bufton said. "The Fleet Prison will ere long be my
home----"

"Tush! tush!" exclaimed Granger. "Never. What! A bold cock of the walk
like Algernon Bufton languish in the Fleet? Never, I say. Are there
not the clubs, the gaming-houses, the credit given by dupes? You are
skilful at--well--sleight of hand----"

"Clubs! gaming-houses! credit!" exclaimed Bufton. "Who will give me
credit now; who play with me? Man, I am ruined. Lost. Sunk. I have but
thirty gold pieces in the world."

"You will have but thirty in an hour or so, when you have shared what
you possess with me; but at present you have sixty, or had when you
went to your wedding to-day, and you have spent nothing since then."

"Curse you!" cried Bufton angrily. "Before God, I think you are my
evil genius."

"As I was when you were at Cambridge, eh? In the Glastonbury affair?"

"No! no! I meant not that. But--but--Lewis, what is to become of me?"

"Make money. If you cannot enter clubs here, or gamble, you
can do so elsewhere. There is Bath--Tunbridge I do not suggest, for
reasons--painful reasons--but there is Bath. Your cleverness with
your--well!--fingers and hands--should stand you in good stead."

"It will be known at Bath as well as in London. I can show my face
nowhere."

"What then to do? What are you thinking of? You are burdened with me,
you see; you have to keep me for ever--until, at least, the
Glastonbury affair is wiped away. You do it devilish ill; I live in a
garret, you in sumptuous rooms; yet it is something. Am I to keep
myself henceforth? Wherefore again I say, what are you thinking of
doing?"

"At present I think but of one thing. Revenge! A terrible revenge!"

"On whom?"

"On him. That man, Barry. The man who is to marry the true Ariadne
Thorne; the man who, since he appeared at the church, knew very well
what was taking place and let me fall into the snare like a rat into a
trap."

"It will be hard to do. He is a sea-captain, a brave, stalwart-looking
fellow, and--he has beaten you once. He may do so again. Moreover, I
do not think he would meet you if you challenged him."

"There are other ways. Men can be hired even nowadays to do the work.
A month ago Lord D'Amboise's nose was slit to the bone--perhaps his
Ariadne would not like Sir Geoffrey so much if he were equally
disfigured! There are many ways if one will pay----"

"But you cannot pay," said Granger, with a swift glance at him, which
the other saw well enough; "that is, unless you have a secret store.
You would be like enough to have one, and keep the knowledge from me."

"I have nothing; nothing but what you know of."

"Humph! perhaps. 'But what I know of!' Well, at least I know of your
sixty guineas which you had when you went to your marriage this
morning--your wedding with the heiress," Granger said emphatically,
observing how the other winced at the word "marriage"; "I know of
that. Well! come, let us decide. You say you can support me no longer,
therefore I must now support myself. We must part, grievous as so
doing will be to me."

"Part! You and I! When we have been so much to each other. Part! Oh,
no! I--I might find a little more money somehow yet--if--if--a letter
were sent to my mother saying that I was dying--now--she might
consent. She----"

"I do not doubt you will find more money somewhere," Granger replied,
with a very profound look of disgust for the knave on his face, "no
more than I doubt that, in some way, you will wheedle the wherewithal
to live out of your mother. But--you must do it by yourself. We part
now. I can earn my living in a fashion. Come, divide."

"Not now; you will not take all at once--the full half? Think of my
debts."

"Damn your debts! Though I have confidence in your powers, Bufton; you
will by some means discover how to avoid their payment. Divide, I
say."

By strong persuasion, by the force of some hold which Granger had over
the Beau, the latter was at last induced to draw forth his purse, and
to divide into two heaps the sum of sixty guineas which it contained,
though not without much protest on his side, nor without, indeed,
almost a whimper at parting with both his money and his friend. But
the latter was inexorable, and he took the thirty guineas.

"And we shall meet no more?" Bufton said, "after so long a friendship.
Oh! it is hard. And how--how are you going to make a living? Can you
not put me in the way of doing so too?"

As he asked the question, the other started. Put him in the way of
making a living! In the way of making a living! Rather, he thought
suddenly to himself, put him in the way of going to a more utter ruin
than that which had yet fallen on him. He must think of this. His
whole life for two years had been devoted towards ruining, crushing
this man who had ruined his own career at the outset of it; and,
although by tricking him into the marriage made that day he had gone
far towards fulfilling his purpose, he was not yet content. Anne
Pottle had spoken truthfully when she told Ariadne that he had not
finished his business with Bufton yet.

"It might be," he said more gently now, and speaking in a friendlier
tone, "that I could put you in such a way--later. Perhaps! It may be
so. We will see. You must, in truth, disappear from the Beau Monde for
a time; where, therefore, can news be found of you?"

"Are we not to meet again?" Bufton asked, his face haggard from all he
had gone through that day; and, perhaps--since, although half-knave
and half-fool, he was still human--feeling doubly wretched at this
withdrawal of his principal ally and bottle-comrade.

"Not yet. I, too, leave this part of the town now. The other, the east
of the city, will be my portion for some time to come."

"What is it?" almost whispered Bufton, "what? What have you found?"

"A commercial pursuit," the other answered; "one connected with the
sea and the colonies of America. Enough! No more as yet. Say, where
shall I write you if aught arises that may be of benefit?"

"Send word to the 'Rummer'--no! no! they know me there. Instead, give
me a house to which I may send to you. I pray you do so."

For a moment Granger paused, meditating; turning over in his mind more
matters than one. Then he said, "Write to the 'Czar of Muscovy' on
Tower Hill. It will find me. And," he added to himself, "it is not too
near." Then, aloud, he exclaimed finally, "Now, farewell!"

And so these two men parted for the time.

That night, as Granger sat alone in his garret, while he occupied
himself with flinging hastily into a valise a second suit of clothes
which he possessed, some odd linen, and other necessaries, he muttered
more than once to himself:

"The first act is played out, and so far it is successful. He
is married to that girl, and much I doubt if he will ever free
himself from the yoke. Yet it is not enough. Enough--my God! What
can ever be enough? What can repay me for my own wasted life; my
mother's death; the loss of the woman who loved me; and--Heaven help
us both!--believed in me? Enough! What can be enough?" While, even as
he mused thus, he went to a cupboard and took from out of it a bottle.
"Still half full," he whispered, "still half full. Ah, well! it will
be empty ere day breaks."

He sat down after he had brought forth a glass also, into which he
poured a dram of spirit, and, supping it, continued his meditations,
though still they were on the same subject, and still, therefore, full
of bitterness.

"Some men," he whispered to himself, "would stop here--would be
content. Yet I will not stop--will never stop so long as Sophy's face
rises before me every night--aye, and rises more plainly as I drink
more; so long as there rises, too, the dank, reeking churchyard into
which I stole at night--the night after my mother's burial. I will
never stop," he continued, as he poured more spirits into the glass;
"never. Only--what to do? how to go on? None would believe me
now--none. None believed then that I was an innocent man and he the
guilty one. None! My mother died with her heart broken, Sophy married
the man whom she thought I had tried to rob. Curse him! I will never
stop."

Again he emptied the glass of spirits down his throat; yet, fiery as
the drams were, they did not make him drunk. Instead, only the more
resolute, the more hard, if the set look upon his face was any index
to his mind.

"He is ruined," he said to himself now. "Ruined. Still--that is not
enough. Yet, how to do more? How! how! Short of murder I cannot slay
him. There is no way. And I have sworn to slay him--his soul, if not
his body. I have sworn to slay him, and there are no means. None. I
shall never stamp on those grinning features; I can do nothing now."

Sitting there, with on one side of him the glass--again empty, and
soon again to be refilled--and on the other a guttering rushlight
which imparted to his face a sickly, cadaverous appearance, he
continued racking his brain as to how more calamity might be made to
fall upon Beau Bufton, the man who, if his meditations might be taken
as a clue to the past, had once brought terrible ruin to him. He
wondered if this man Barry (who was, beyond all doubt, the future
husband of the woman, the heiress, whom he and Anne Pottle had
contrived to make their tool believe he was himself about to marry)
could in any way be used as a means to the end; he pondered this, and
then discarded that idea as worthless. "Sir Geoffrey Barry is a
gentleman, an officer," he said. "Bufton is now an outcast. It is
impossible. Impossible. Barry would not condescend to kick him."

Again he drank--the bottle being almost empty by this time--and still
his mind did not become clouded; still he was able to think and plot
and scheme. And once he muttered, "He wishes to participate in my new
method of earning a living, not even knowing what that method is. Ah!"
he exclaimed, springing to his feet and knocking over the miserable
rushlight as he did so, whereby he was now in the dark, "he wishes
that. He wishes that! Oh, my God!" he cried, gesticulating in that
darkness, "he wishes that to be. And so it shall! So it shall! He
shall participate. Somehow, I will do it. He shall participate, even
as the sheep--which his accursed, gibbering face is something
like--participates with the butcher in the shambles to which it is
led. He shall indeed participate."

Then, in the darkness, and half-frenzied both with the drink he had
already partaken of--which was not the first that day--as well as with
the thoughts of a new scheme which had suddenly dawned in his mind, he
put out his hand and, groping for the bottle, found it, and drained
the last remnants of its contents.

After which he stumbled towards where his bed was and sought oblivion
in sleep--an oblivion that, however, was not altogether complete--that
was disturbed by dreams and visions of a girl's face, a girl's form
shaken with piteous sobs; and, also, of a newly made grave in a
country churchyard, on which the rain poured without cessation through
the night.



CHAPTER X.

"THE MIGNONNE."


Eight months had passed; March of the year 1759 had come, and a
bitterly cold east wind blew up Bugsby's Reach, causing the pennons on
countless barges and frigates and brigs, to say nothing of great ships
of war lying in that classic piece of water, to stream out like
pointing fingers towards where, above all else, there glistened in the
wintry afternoon sunlight the cross surmounting St. Paul's. It
whistled, too, through the shrouds of a French-built frigate, one that
in earlier days would have been spoken of as "a tall, rakehelly bark,"
a fabric that was beautiful in all her lines, in her yacht-like bows
and rounded stern, in her lofty masts, stayed with supreme precision;
in her shining afterdeck brasswork, her wheel carved and decorated as
though the hands of dead-and-gone Grinling Gibbons might have been at
work at it; upon, too, her brass capstan and binnacle. A French
frigate pierced also with gun ports below, and bearing for her
figurehead the face and bust of a smiling, blue-eyed child, which
figurehead represented the name she bore upon her bows, _Mignonne_.

Yet French as she was, and as any Jack Tar would have informed you in
a moment had you not known--after he had run a fierce eye along her
shape and marked other things about her as well--there flew above
her no flag proclaiming that she was owned by Louis le Bien-aimé
(Bien-aimé by countless women, perhaps, but never, surely, by the
subjects whom he taxed and ground to the soil they sweated over). For
instead, streaming out from her mainmast there flew, because it was
war-time and she lay in the King's chief river, the Royal Standard of
England; from her foremast, the Anchor of Hope, the flag of the Lord
High Admiral; and from her mizzen, the white flag, with the red St.
George's cross; also she flew the same flag from her jack-staff.

French though she may have been, none who saw those noble ensigns
could doubt what she was now.

In fact, she was a capture, taken by an English ship, which in her
turn had once been French--_Le Duc d'Acquitaine_--and she lay, on this
wild, tempestuous March day, off Blackwall and the historic Bugsby's
Hole, under the temporary command of Captain Sir Geoffrey Barry. There
are ironies in the life of other things besides human beings--in
ships, perhaps, more especially than amongst other inanimate
creatures--and the _Mignonne_ was an example that such was the case.
In her thirty years of existence she had been fighting fiercely on
behalf of France against her hereditary foe--England; now she lay in
the Thames, serving as a vessel into which were brought scores of
impressed men, as well as scores of others who were burning to fight
as willing sailors against her former owners.

For at this time there was a hot press wherever men could be found;
all along and around the coast of England it was going on; every
vessel of war was being stuffed full of Englishmen who, willingly or
unwillingly, had to take part in the deeds that were doing and that
still had to be done.

Were not privateers and merchantmen being taken daily? Was not
Boscawen raging the seas like a devouring lion; Sir Edward Hawke
hurling insults at the French fleet in an attempt to bring them to
action; Rodney bombarding their coast? Were not those French also
swearing that, ere long, their invasion of England should take place,
and should be final, decisive, and triumphant?

No wonder, therefore, that sailors were wanted--and found! No wonder
that husbands were torn from their wives, and fathers from their
children; that men disappeared from their homes and were never more
heard of, since, often not more than a month later, they were lying at
the bottom of the sea, after having been sunk with their ships in some
great naval fight, or, having been slain on board those ships, had
next been flung over their sides--legless, armless, headless.

Geoffrey Barry was not alone in the _Mignonne_. With him, as sharer of
that old after-cabin, with its deep stern walk, whereon she sat
sometimes for hours regarding all the traffic of the great and busy
river, was his wife, sweet Ariadne, who (until the _Mignonne's_ anchor
should have been catted and fished, and her canvas sheeted home as she
set out on her voyage round England, to distribute the men she had
gathered to the various great ships of war in need of them) would
remain ever by his side. For she could not tear herself away from him
to whom she was but newly wedded; she could not look with aught but
tearful apprehension to the moment, the hour that must inevitably
come, when, for the last time, she would feel his arms about her and
his lips pressed to hers. The hour when he would go forth to
distribute those men, and would then, after putting his own ship into
fighting trim, join either Rodney, Boscawen, or Hawke, as their
Lordships might see fit to direct.

"Oh, Geoff! oh, Geoff!" she cried, as now on this afternoon she sat by
his side, their dinner and their dish of tea both over, "oh, Geoff!
who that did not love him fondly, madly, would be a sailor's wife? But
three months married are we, and the time has come, is close at hand,
for us to part. What will become of me?"

"Heart up, sweet one," her husband said in answer, even as, while he
spoke, he glanced through the quaint square ports, across which were
pulled back the prettily flowered dimity curtains that had adorned the
windows of the _Mignonne_ when a French captain had sat in the
selfsame cabin, with, perhaps, his own wife by his side. "Heart up,
mine own. 'Tis glory, my flag, I go to win. Glory for thee and me.
What! shall my Lady Barry give precedence to any in our old Hampshire,
where for many a long day the Barrys have ruled the roast. You must be
an admiral's wife, sweet; an admiral's wife."

"Alas! 'tis you I want, not rank nor precedence. My poor father died a
sailor, and--and--it broke my mother's heart later, I think. So, too,
will mine break if now husband follows father."

"Tush, dearest, tush! Your father was a gallant seaman, your
mother should have lived long to love his memory. A sailor's wife
must be brave. Why! look, now, at Mrs. Pottle. She, too, lost her
husband, yet she hath not succumbed. And," discontinuing his bluff
heartiness--assumed only to solace his girl-wife, and not truly
felt--"I will not be slain. Fortune is not my foe--I know it, feel
it--I shall not follow Henry Thorne nor Ezra Pottle. Be cheered, my
dear."

But still Ariadne could not be cheered, knowing that he was going from
her side, though she made strenuous efforts and smiled wanly through
her tears; while she said she would behave as became a seaman's wife.
Yet, all the same, she could not refrain from asking him timorously,
though hoping all the time that his answer would be in the negative,
whether he had yet found all the seamen necessary for the ships he was
told off to provision with them.

"Why, see now, Ariadne!" he exclaimed, as he took from an inner cabin
his boat-cloak, holding it over his arm as he talked, "they do not
come in fast. In honest truth, I do think I have drained all this fair
neighbourhood of its men. Down there," and he nodded his head forward,
towards the forecastle, "I have a hundred and a half of old sea-dogs
who will fight till the flesh is hacked from off their bones."

Here Ariadne shuddered, while he continued, "God knows, in many cases
they have not much left to hack, most of 'em having fought a hundred
fights under Lestock, Martin and Knowles, and two even under Vernon.
But for others I know not what to do. Drunken swabs are brought
to me by the crimps; young boys from citizens' offices offer
themselves--ofttimes they have robbed their masters and hope thus to
evade the gallows; husbands who are sick of their wives; or, better
still, men who would make houses for the women they love. But all of
the right sort do not come my way as fast as the King and I would
wish."

"Thereby," said Ariadne, "you cannot yet sail. Not yet. Ah!" And
beneath her breath she said, "Thank God."

"Thereby," he replied with a smile, understanding well enough her
mind, "I cannot yet sail. But, dear heart, it must be soon, whether I
have gotten all I want or not. At least, I have some. Yes, it must be,
for De la Clue is about, and Conflans broods ever on a descent. We
must check them. We must. We must!"

"What do you go to seek now?" Ariadne asked, as, approaching the cabin
stairs he summoned his coxswain and bade him call the gig away. "What?
More citizens' boys, or--or--" and she laughed a little at the words
and blushed, "drunken swabs, as you term them?"

"Not," he answered, "if I can get others, though even those can use a
match-tub if their hands shake not too much, and can put their puny
weight on to a halyard. But there are others. There is a fellow hard
by, ashore, in Jamaica Court, who, I do hear, can find what is wanted.
Likewise--and this is better if it can but be accomplished--lying
further down the river is a schooner a-filling up with indented
servants for our American colonies. There should be pickings there,
and _they_ will cost the King nothing. Not a groat."

"Why?" asked Ariadne, open-eyed, "why? Can the King get men without
paying the two pounds press-money that you say he gives?"

"He can get these," Geoffrey replied, with a laugh, "if I take
them. I, or any other of his officers. Because, you see, these are
hocus-pocussed men; fellows who have been made, or found, drunk by the
crimps, and sold on board to the master. He has paid for them, and
'tis illegal. Wherefore the King--represented in my person--will set
'em free to serve him. God bless him! His service is better than that
in the plantations."

"Is it honest to do this, Geoff?" Ariadne asked, a look of doubt on
her young face.

"Honest, my dear! Why, child, there is no spot of honesty in't at all.
Honest, i'faith! Is it honest to buy men's bodies as one buys dogs and
cattle? honest to drench and drug men with gin, and then fling them
aboard as one would fling a side of beef aboard? Nay, 'tis honest to
rescue such, to give them a chance of serving King and country; to
have a mort of food and rum into them two and three times a day, as
much 'baccy as they can smoke, and many a guinea to spend on Sal and
Sukie when they get ashore. _That's_ honest, my dear, and what the
sky-pilots call 'Christian.'"

"If they ever do get ashore to see Sal and Sukie; if the French do not
kill them," said Ariadne.

"Well! come what may, _I_ must get ashore," said Geoffrey, as now he
saw his gig tossing on the turbulent waves of the windswept river;
"so fare ye well, sweetheart, until to-night. You have that
new-fangled novel thing to read, and Anne and her mother are with you,
wherefore you will not be dull till bedtime."

Then, changing his blustering, good-natured tone for one more serious
as he stooped and kissed her; while noticing again, as he held her in
his arms, as he had often noticed before, how slight and delicate a
thing his child-wife was, he whispered:

"Oh! my love, my love, how I do worship thee. Sweetheart, will the
hours be long till I come back?"

"As ever and always they are," she whispered too, her arms around his
neck and her cheek against his. "As ever and always they are."

"You do not regard me as only a rude, rough sailor," he asked now;
"one ruthless in his duty? Nor cruel?"

"Nay, nay, never; but as the man of my heart--my only love, my
husband."

"So! that is well. Again, farewell till to-night. Farewell, dear one,"
and, reaching the deck, he grasped the manropes when, entering his
gig, he was rowed ashore.

Arrived at Brunswick Stairs, he sent back his boat, giving orders for
the coxswain to return in two hours, "For," said he, "I need no
accompaniment to-day. What I have to do I can do very well by myself."
After which he set out from the river inland towards Stepney,
threading, as he did so, some quaint old streets and lanes in which
each floor of the houses overlapped the one below it, so that, at
last, the top floors almost touched each other. As he progressed
he noticed, as often enough he had observed before, with what
disfavour he was regarded by all the idlers in the place, including
slatternly-looking women leaning against doorposts; rough-looking men
who shrunk away, however, directly his eye lighted on them (they,
perhaps, thinking that he was appraising their value as "food for the
Frenchmen"); and miserable, cadaverous-looking young fellows, some of
whom had no hesitation in instantly disappearing into the passages of
houses, they being generally those in which they did not happen to
live.

For all knew that this stalwart young captain, who wore the undress of
the new uniform of the Royal Navy (new now for some ten years); whose
sword-handle had a gold knot to it, and whose three-cornered hat had
in it a gold cockade, was he who, aided by his myrmidons, tore them
away from their wives and mothers to roam the seas as well as to
fight, and, probably, be killed by some of Conflans' Frenchmen. They
knew him well enough for the captain of the "_Migniong_," as they
called his craft, and they hated and feared him in consequence.

"May he be blasted!" said one hideous, blear-eyed old woman as he
passed by, she taking no trouble to lower her voice; "he's got my
Jenny's man in his cussed fock'sle even now. And she married to George
but two months! He've got a young wife of his own--I seen her ashore
with him but yesterday--a sweet young thing too. How'd she like it if
som-un ravished 'im away from her!"

"Curse him!" said a man, who regarded Geoffrey from behind a blind, he
being afraid to show himself, knowing well enough that the captain of
the _Mignonne_ would be as like as not to make a mental note of the
house if he saw him. "Curse him and his King, too, and all the Lords
and Commons. Why should we fight and die for them? They wouldn't do it
for us."

And he heard much of their mutterings, knew how he was regarded, and
regretted that such should be so. But, he told himself, it was duty.
It must be done.



CHAPTER XI.

THE COLONISTS.


"The hag spoke truth," Geoffrey thought, as he progressed towards his
destination, Jamaica Court, "spoke only too true. If something should
tear me away from my sweet Ariadne, how would she feel? Alas! that it
must be so with these poor souls. Alas! Alas! Yet how else is it to be
done? France has never beaten us, and never must. Even though against
their will, against their happiness, all must go. They talk now of a
press for the army as well as for us. Yet the sea forces need men more
than those of the land. It must indeed be so."

He had arrived at Jamaica Court in Stepney by now, a little narrow
place in which there were shops whose trade was principally devoted to
supplying marine wants--one was a ship's chandler's; the second was a
slop-shop, the owner of which announced himself as a marine store
dealer; a third shopkeeper was a rope, tar and twine "merchant,"
while, also, there were brass-plates on two doors announcing that
pilots lived within. And, at the entrance, there was a dram-shop,
having for sign, "The Spanysh Galleon," with, painted rudely on a
board outside, the hideous words, "Here you may have good London gin
for tuppence, and be drunk for sixpence."

None of these was, however, that which Geoffrey Barry sought; instead,
he made his way towards a house, over the full diamond-paned window of
which, on the ground floor, there were inscribed the words, "Lewis and
partner, ship's furnishers," and into this place he entered,
descending two steps into the room as he did so.

"I am," he said, seeing that a man sat at a high desk by the window,
with his back towards him, "the captain of the _Mignonne_, and I
require men for His Majesty. It is told me that you can find them. Is
that so?"

As he spoke the man at the desk turned round--a young man, with
a short-cropped beard--while, regarding Geoffrey, he said
quietly, "That is part of my affairs. How many do you want? But do you
desire--well!--willing sailors or the 'kids'?"--the latter word being
the usual expression for shore men who were obtained as sailors by any
means, no matter how foul.

This person spoke calmly enough, yet, while he did so, there came a
flush into his face as he regarded his visitor; a flush that tinged
all of his cheeks that was visible and uncovered by hair.

"I must have them," the captain of the _Mignonne_ said, "somehow, by
hook or by---- Why!" he exclaimed, "who are you? I have seen you--we
have met--before."

"Yes, we have," the other said, very calmly now. "At Keith's Chapel
last summer. When Mr. Bufton espoused Anne Pottle. I was," and he
laughed a little, "his best man."

For answer, Geoffrey stared curiously at the other across the oak
counter that ran between them--stared for some moments very fixedly;
then he replied:

"Ay, and so indeed you were, when the sorry rogue thought he was
espousing the lady who is now my wife. Yet your beard prevented me
recognising you before as one who played that part. But----"

"But," said the other, who now flushed again, and even more deeply
than before. "But what?"

"If the beard you wear now prevented me from recognising you as that
fellow's groomsman, it has led to my recognising you, or rather
remembering your face, in some other situation. Sir, have you not been
a sailor?"

"I have been a sailor," the other said, with what was truly marvellous
calm, considering the feelings within him, "and once bore the King's
commission."

"I felt sure. Yet I cannot recall--I cannot----"

"Let me do so for you. You formed one of the Court-martial on board
the _Warwick_ which broke me, drove me from out the sea service. Do
you remember now?"

Then, in a voice as cold as ice, Geoffrey, after regarding the man
before him for another minute, said--

"Ay, I remember. Your name is Lewis Granger. I remember very well. I
remember the Glastonbury affair."

"I was innocent. Though found guilty."

"Innocent! Innocent! Though you restored----"

"I was innocent, I say!" the other cried loudly. "But enough! Lewis
Granger is no more. The man you are talking to is called Lewis. Well,
you want men! How many, and what will you pay?"

"The King's price. Two pounds for experienced sailors; two pounds for
willing men; one pound for landlubbers--'kids.'"

"It is not enough. There are no more sailors to be had, and the
willing hands are all taken, by you and others. As for 'kids'--yes.
But at the price of sailors--my price, not theirs--three pounds. Two
for them, one for me."

"I shall not pay it. There are still others hereabouts whom I can
take."

"If you mean the schooner which is lying off the Marshes, you are
mistaken. She flies the Dutch colours; you cannot touch her. That is
not my affair, however; take her and welcome, if you will. She has my
stuff on board, and--has paid for it."

"We will see for that. If the order comes, I must have her. Meanwhile,
have you nothing?"

"Something. Not much, though. The schooner has gotten them all. Come
and see if you choose."

"So be it. Where are they?"

For answer Lewis Granger, or, as he now said he desired to be termed,
Lewis, lifted up the flap of the counter and signalled to Sir Geoffrey
to come behind it. And this being done, the former led the way through
a passage to the back of the house and then up a pair of stairs,
arriving at a room still farther back, from which, as he and the
captain of the _Mignonne_ approached, there came an indescribable
hubbub. A noise of singing and shouting, a yelling from other voices,
and, in one or two cases, cries, as though some were fighting.

"One man at least in there has been a sailor," Sir Geoffrey said.
"That lingo has never been learned ashore. But the others, who are
they?"

"All sorts. Some good, some bad. One fellow is so desperate to get
away to sea that I doubt not the runners are after him. 'Tis he who
sings. Listen!" While, as he spoke, above all the hubbub there arose a
voice singing--


    "And was she not frank and free,
     And was she not kind to me?
     To lock up her cat in the cupboard,
     And give her key to me--to me.
     To lock up her cat in the cupboard,
     And give her key--e to me--e."


"Ha! ha!" the voice cried, "to me. She gave the key to me. My God! I
wonder what she's a-doing of now!"

"A-giving the key to another, you fool," answered a hoarser, more
rasping voice. "Damme! didst ever know a woman who kept all for one!
Drink some more and cease thy croaking."

"Ah, no! No," cried a young voice within; one soft and rich. "Ah, no!
Abuse not women. They are true. True ever--or else we are sunk. Shall
we not think often of them when we are far away in the colonies,
a-making of a home for those we love?" Whereon the owner of this voice
also began to sing, in tones silvery and sweet--


    "I did but look and love awhile,
       'Twas but for one half-hour;
     Then to resist I had no will,
       And now I have no power.
     To sigh and wish is all my ease,
       Sighs which do heat impart
     Enough to melt the coldest ice,
       Yet cannot warm your heart."


Evidently this song was more to the liking of the company than the
ribald one of the former singer, since now there were cries and yells
for another stave from many voices. But, at that moment, Granger,
drawing a key from his pocket, put it in the lock and opened the door,
ushering in Geoffrey.

It was a strange sight which met the latter's eyes, or would have been
had he not in the past month seen several such at the establishments
of various crimps in the neighbourhood to which his duty had forced
him to resort. For, within the room, there were some twenty men of all
ages and descriptions, and all, unhappily, more or less drunk. Mostly,
they sat upon the floor, their backs against the dirty whitewashed
walls, their vests apart and their shirts open, as though to give air
to their heated throats. And, between the legs of each, were cans,
either full or empty, of beer or spirits, a few having liquor still in
them, though they were for the most part dry. Of all ages and
descriptions were these men, old and young. One there was, a monstrous
great fellow, herculean in size, and with a huge head like a bull's,
his grizzled hair curling all about it, while his arms, which were
visible (since his coat was off--it being used now as a cushion to his
back--and his sleeves rolled up), were seen to be tattooed all over
with weird as well as quaint devices. Devices such as a snake with red
eyes striking its fangs into a heart, a mermaid ogling an imaginary
person, and the usual anchor, flags, and so forth.

"The fellow that has been a sailor," said Sir Geoffrey to Lewis. "One
cannot doubt."

"Ay, a sailor. Worth having, he. He is the last I can get of that
sort."

"Ay, a sailor!" roared the man, hearing Lewis Granger's words. "Ay, a
sailor, damme! such as you do not see now. A sailor, noble captain,"
he went on, recognising Geoffrey's gold cockade and saluting with a
huge hand, "such as there ain't many like. Sir, I sailed with Anson in
'40--ain't that enough? Ho! With Anson. You know. In the _Centurion_.
Ain't that enough, I say? When we took the _Acapulco_ ship--the
plate ship. And what takings there was! Sir, we sailors was the first
that ever made the gals eat bank-notes--twenty-pun notes--there
weren't no others then--a-tween their bread and butter. What cared we
for money? We had won it, and the gals were kind."

"Yet," said Geoffrey, "you are now here, when you should be serving
your King, getting more money for the girls. Why is this, when the
_Mignonne_ lies close by, waiting for such as you; when all the
Admirals are calling out for sailors who know their duty?"

"He took me," the man cried, nodding his head towards Granger; "his
men took me when I was drunk. Had I not been, fifty crimps couldn't
a-done it. Now I'm in this place, a-waiting to be sold, like a great
black nigger in the Injies."

"How much does he owe?" asked Geoffrey of the man by his side--the
crimp who had once worn the King's uniform as he himself now wore
it--and speaking with disdain, "how much?"

"I want his press-money--that and another guinea would suffice. He
will not go in the Dutchman to the colonies, otherwise I would have
fifteen pounds or nothing."

"Will you serve the King again," asked Geoffrey, "if I buy you off?"

"At what rating? I was foretop-man with Anton. And later, with Captain
Howe."

"And perhaps may be that again. Come, I will have you."

"Have me, then, and welcome. Get me out of this hole, anyway."

"Finish your drink, then, and stand up. Down with it. It's the last
ashore. Stand up; what is your name?"

"George Redway."

"So be it. Now," turning to Granger, "have you any more?"

"You see them. Take your choice or leave 'em. The Dutchman still wants
more."

Geoffrey did see them as he looked round, his eyes noting that amongst
the number there might be metal for the ships of war. The youth with
the sweet-toned voice who had sung the love-ballad of past days, was,
he observed, endeavouring to evade his glance, whereby he judged that
he was hoping to go to the colonies and thus to become eventually (as
the young man doubtless supposed) a prosperous farmer or dealer. Only,
because Geoffrey knew well enough what his real fate would be, he
determined that he would have him too, and said so to Granger (as we
will still call him) loud enough for the other to hear.

"No! no!" the latter cried, learning what his lot was. "No! no! Not
that. I have offered myself voluntarily to this man to be sent to
Massachusetts. I want a home--to make a home for Dolly; my Dolly. I
want to be a colonist."

"My lad," said Geoffrey, "you are deceived. Never will you be a
colonist. Once you are in that ship which is lying off the Marshes,
you will go to the colonies, it is true, but not as you think.
Instead, as an indented sla----"

"For Heaven's sake," whispered Granger, "do not ruin my last chance of
a livelihood. I have been ruined once, and--I was innocent. Have some
mercy."

For a moment the captain of the _Mignonne_ looked at him coldly,
contemptuously, as an honourable man looked in those days at a crimp,
even though he did not hesitate to avail himself of his services in
the cause of his duty; as, in those and these days, too, an honourable
man looks at one whom he knows to have been disgraced; then, scarcely
understanding what secret feeling moved him, he murmured to Granger,
"So be it"; while, turning to the young fellow, he said, "I cannot
spare you for the colonies. You must serve your country against its
enemies. I choose you, too"; and heedless of the other's cries and
remonstrances, he bade Granger name the price.

He took also three others, all of whom he marshalled outside Jamaica
Court under the superintendence of the ex-foretop-man, George Redway,
and so marched them off to the landing-steps where the boat was to
come for him.

Yet, as they went along, he was not thinking of them, but of the man,
Lewis Granger, whom he had once more come face to face with that day.

"Innocent!" he said to himself. "Innocent! he protests. Yet in our
eyes, in the eyes of all of us--his brother sailors!--his guilt was
proved up to the hilt. But to-day--to-day--there was a look in the
man's face--a tone in his voice--oh! my God, if, after all, it were
so! If it were so! Then, indeed, has Fortune been his foe!"



CHAPTER XII.

VENGEANCE IS SWEET.


During the passage of those eight months from the time when Bufton had
fallen into the snare set for him by Anne Pottle and Lewis Granger
(who had recognised the former as the singing girl of half the gardens
round London the instant he set eyes on her at Tunbridge Wells, they
having met before), the latter had more than once encountered his old
enemy; that enemy with whom--in a manner which would quite have suited
with the ethics of more modern, of present, days--he had lived on an
apparent footing of friendship while planning a scheme of vengeance
for a cruel wrong done to him earlier. He had visited Bufton in the
southern suburb of the town, where the man once known as "Beau Bufton"
now lived a miserable kind of life upon money sent to him by his
mother from Devonshire, and also upon anything which he could pick up
at cock-fights, racecourses, and similar places, he being always
careful to avoid the West End. For, like many others who imagine that
they are masters of the art of ridicule, he dreaded, winced under
ridicule himself, especially when that ridicule had a very substantial
base from which to operate, as any that might be hurled against him
must have had at this present moment.

Bufton had also himself paid a visit to Stepney more than once to see
his quondam confederate--a visit which, although made under the garb
of friendship, had really for its object the desire of finding out
what Lewis Granger was doing, how he was living, and (which was the
principal thing), whether there was any likelihood of his being able
to obtain a share in such prosperity as might have fallen in Granger's
way.

Now, it happened--as so often it will happen in real life, in spite of
the jeers of imbeciles who regard, or profess to regard, coincidences
as things which occur only in the more or less hard-bound brains of
dramatists and romancists--that on the evening previous to the
rencounter between Sir Geoffrey Barry and Granger, Bufton had written
to the latter that he intended to be in Stepney on that night. And he
informed him that, from an unexpected source, he had gotten some
little money together, and, if Lewis pleased, he might possibly be
able to join him in his "affairs."

Wherefore, at eight o'clock on this boisterous March night, the two
men who had once been friends were again seated together; this time in
Granger's house in the East End instead of in Bufton's fashionable
lodgings of the days of his prosperity.

"And so," said the host--as he passed over to his guest some spirits
and water, he having stated, without apology and with a fine sneer on
his lip, that tokay and champagne, such as had once flowed freely (on
credit) in the old apartments of the Haymarket, were beyond his
means--"and so you have found some money, eh? How have you done it?
_Trickeries des Grecs_--'packing,' 'marking,' 'substitution,' or what
not? Or has Madame la mère been kind? Has she consented to a little
more blood-letting? Eh!"

"Nay, nay," Bufton replied. He looked more like his old self now than
when Granger had seen him last, since, doubtless owing to the welcome
advent of a little ready money, he was adorned in a manner better
corresponding with the old style than he had been lately.

To wit, he wore now a neat brown frock, a brown silk waistcoat,
and black velvet breeches, while upon the table by his side lay a
brand-new three-cornered hat, neatly fringed.

"Nay, but sometimes fortune befriends us. I have been a-racing at
Drayton, and--and--well, I have won a few score guineas!"

"Wherefore, I presume," said Lewis Granger, "you have come here to pay
me some of them. I should be rich--that is, rich for me--if I had all
you owe me. All," he added emphatically, "that I hold your
acknowledgment for."

"Oh! I protest, my friend----" exclaimed the other.

"Protest nothing. But, instead, remember. Recall two years ago. There
is a sum of two thousand pounds for Glastonbury's bill; two thousand
pounds, and my ruined life; for which latter I do not hold any
acknowledgment, though, also, I do not forget."

And he regarded Bufton with so strange a glance that the visitor
looked uneasy.

"Lewis," he said, "I have repented of that. You--you--know I have. And
at my mother's death it will be paid. I can do no more," and he rubbed
his chin as he spoke, which action, for some reason that Granger could
not have explained, irritated him as much as ever. Perhaps it did so
because it recalled other instances when he had sat and watched him
doing the same thing.

"Then," continued Granger, he repeating with emphasis, "there is the
bond for five thousand guineas--the marriage bond--the marriage bond.
I worked hard in that matter----"

"Curse the marriage bond!" cried Bufton. "Curse it, and the marriage,
and all concerned with it. That has sunk me, ruined me for ever. Oh!
Lewis," he went on, "do you know what I live for now? Now! now!"

"Annulling it; breaking it, I imagine."

"No!" the other almost shrieked, "no! it cannot be broken; they say I
am bound, tied for ever! No! it is not that, but vengeance on the cat
who snared me, and--and--vengeance on the man who has married the true
heiress. He insulted me in her park, he defeated me; me--I who knew
every trick of fence; and he drove me forth. And I do believe he was
aware of that scheme while, if he did not aid in it, he at least did
not prevent it."

"You ruined Anne's sister, drove her to her death. You have much to
answer for," Granger said, his voice hard and stern; so hard and stern
that almost it would seem as if he were egging the man on to frenzy
for a purpose.

"Bah!" cried Bufton, "I would have provided well for the girl--have
done all except marry her. That was impossible. I needed an heiress,
and I got that other. That thing; that dancing, singing thing; fit
only to be the wife of her mistress's coachman, or some porter."

"Wherefore you desire vengeance?"

"Vengeance! Oh, my God! if I could but have that on her and him--this
insolent, supercilious sailor. If I could. If I could."

"Yet you were always an admirer of superciliousness yourself."

"Bah!" he cried again, "amongst wits and men of fashion, yes! There
it is suitable. But this fellow, this broken-down, impoverished man of
birth, who can do no better than go a-sailing. And to be supercilious
to me!"

"Vengeance, eh?" said Lewis Granger, meditating--pretending to
meditate. "Vengeance."

"Ay, vengeance on both; but I know not how to obtain it."

"Do you know," said Granger quietly--softly, indeed--"that both are in
this neighbourhood? Not two miles away from where we now sit."

"What!" cried Bufton, full of astonishment. "What! Both here; two
miles away! It is impossible."

"Nevertheless it is true. Sir Geoffrey is in command of a French prize
called the _Mignonne_, which lies off Bugsby's Hole. Anne--Bufton,"
with his eyes full on the man before him, "is in attendance on her
mistress, Lady Barry."

"Oh! And Anne--Bufton. Damn you! Why call her that? Why----"

"You say your wedding is unbreakable. Therefore she is--Anne Bufton."

"How do you know all this? Do not play with me. Answer me truthfully,
in God's name!"

"I know it well. Barry has been with me, trying to get men for the
fleets. But," and now the clear tones in which he always spoke became,
if possible, more distinct than ordinary, more--if the term may be
used--metallic, "I have a better market than supplying the fleets with
men. There is a Dutch schooner--the _Nederland_--lying further down
the river, whose skipper pays me higher. She is in truth a--well! a
kidnapper. Those who get on board of her, men and--and--yes!--and
women--she takes women too!--think that they are going out to become
planters, farmers, people to whom land is granted. That is, the men
think so, while the women--oh! it is in truth cruel----"

"The women. Yes, the women! What of them?"

"They think they will find husbands. But they, too, are sold. All are
sold to the plantations, or as good as sold; they are indented for a
term of years. They are, in solemn fact, slaves--slaves herding with
those whose death-warrants have been commuted, with the scum and offal
of the old world. The women die fast, the labour is terrible. Their
hearts are broken."

"But how do you, how does the Dutch skipper get such?" Bufton asked,
his eyes glistening. Already there was a hideous idea dawning in his
mind, accompanied by a horrible vision of "women dying fast, their
hearts broken," in the slavery of the colonies.

"It is not hard to do," Granger said, still speaking slowly and very
calmly. "Some are enticed with flowery promises, some are made drunk,
while some--poor rustics these--going along lonely ways near the
river, have been set upon and carried, gagged, to a boat, and sent off
to the _Nederland_. You scorn me," he said, with an appearance of
frankness as well as of self-depreciation, "for being concerned in
such a trade as this! Yet, remember, I am a ruined, degraded man.
Remember also by whom, and so forgive and pity me."

"I do! I do!" Bufton exclaimed with heartiness, thinking, even as he
did thus exclaim, what a fool this old tool and creature of his was to
so expose his method of business. Yet he had something else to think
about now besides Granger's simplicity--something of far more vital
importance than that to meditate upon.

"How," he asked, "did you tell me it was done? How? With, let us say,
the women. Will the master of this ship receive any taken to him?
And--and--is he not in danger of being overhauled? How can he slip
away to sea past the guns of Woolwich and Tilbury?"

"They let him come up the river," said Granger, "why not, therefore,
let him go down and out to sea? For his papers are examined when he
_comes_, when he is empty of such stuff as he departs with. And till
he is at sea, they--his cattle--are under hatches."

"Under hatches," Bufton muttered, his long chin stuck out before him,
"under hatches. So that screams--the screams of women--oh! yes--they
could not be heard. Of women wrenched away from----"

"Loving husbands, eh?" said Granger while controlling his features,
which he feared would betray him.

"Bah! Loving husbands. No! Who cares for loving husbands? None! none,
you fool!" and now there came upon the man's face that hateful sneer
which always made Granger's blood boil, and, as of old, a desire to
strike him on those curling lips arose. "No, dolt! I am thinking of
the screams of women wrenched from those whom they have snared into a
noose, those whom they have tricked and hoodwinked. My friend, you are
but a simpleton."

"Oh!" exclaimed Granger coldly, with a well-assumed air of
indifference, "oh! that's it, is it? It is only Anne--Bufton--you seek
vengeance on?"

"Only Anne! Only Anne Bufton, as you elect to term her. Who else, in
God's name, should I seek to vent vengeance on--in such a way?"

"I know not," Granger said, with an inimitable shrug of his shoulders,
while at the same time he turned up the backs of his fingers and
appeared to be regarding his nails with interest, "if you do not know
yourself."

"What do you mean? Speak. There is something in your mind. What is
it?"

"I thought," Granger replied, "that you sought revenge on Barry, too."

"On Barry! What can I do with him? Damme! The Dutchman would not take
him, the captain of a King's ship, would he? Even if we could get him
there."

"Perhaps he would, if he did not know who he was: if he were disguised
and did not appear as a naval officer. Such things have been. Yet it
was not of him I thought."

"In Heaven's name, who then?"

"I fear 'tis you, Algernon, who are the dolt, the idiot, not I; or
perhaps your own marriage made you forget that he too has lately
entered into the holy bonds. He, too, has a wife, on board the
_Mignonne_."

"My God!" Bufton exclaimed. "My God! You have thought of that!
You--you whom but a moment ago I derided. Ay! ay! you are right, 'tis
I who am the fool. Oh! what a vengeance. Oh! oh! On him, this haughty
bully, this blustering sailor. But--oh no! no! no!" he cried, "it is
impossible; it could never be. Get her out of an armed vessel and sell
her into slavery in the colonies. It is impossible! Impossible!"

"Doubtless it is impossible," Granger agreed. "'Tis true. It is not to
be thought on. I am a fool. Yet," he continued, again speaking very
slowly and incisively, "she will get herself out of it, out of
the _Mignonne_, ere long. He sails in a day or so, and then she,
Ariadne--the heiress whom you by rights should have had--comes ashore
with Anne and her mother, the woman Pottle. They cannot go in his
craft."

"How do you know this?"

"Partly from what Barry said to-day, after he had got men from me;
partly from encountering his wife by Stepney Church a day or so ago.
She speaks kindly of you now, Bufton; protests she thinks often of
you--and--would pass her life by your side if you would have her."

One must not write down the horrible exclamations that issued from
Bufton's lips as he heard these words--the execrations on the woman
who had entrapped and ruined him. Yet even when he was calmer, he
continued wildly--

"'Thinks kindly of me!' 'Would pass her life by my side!' Ay! she
shall think kindly of me--in the colonies. In the fields, where she
shall toil till her heart bursts, till she drops dead. Lewis! Lewis!
Can it be done? Can it? Can it? And you have power here; have men at
your call. I will pay. I have two hundred guineas. Help me, and we
will ensnare them both. Oh! what a vengeance on that wanton and on
Barry! Help me, Lewis!"

"I will help you," the other said; "vengeance _is_ sweet."



CHAPTER XIII.

A BROKEN SWORD.


Ariadne had been happy for five days beyond the time she had expected
to be--five days beyond the one when her husband selected those men
out of Lewis Granger's house to go forth and serve the King. For
Geoffrey, still looking about in likely quarters, while sending
also a press-gang ashore under the command of an old grey-haired
lieutenant who had never found promotion--a man old enough to be
Geoffrey's father--and still another gang under the command of his
master-at-arms, had been enabled to thus long delay his departure. But
now--now--the time had come to part; he had the full complement of men
their Lordships had directed him to procure, and from their Lordships
also had come a message by an Admiralty tender, bidding him sail for
the fleets at once.

Wherefore poor Ariadne, tearful and woebegone, was now superintending
the preparations necessary for quitting the _Mignonne_, while Geoffrey
was intent on comforting her in every way in his power.

"Yet, cheer up, dear heart," he said again and again to her.
"Remember, 'tis not for long at present. Once I have delivered these
men into the ships requiring them (and some are no farther off than
the Nore), then back I come to seek for more. We shall not fight
Conflans yet; he advances not in spite of all his threats to invade
us. So, heart up, mine own; in a week the _Mignonne_ will be anchored
here once more, and thou on board with thy fond husband."

"But a week, Geoff--a week! Alas! to me it seems an eternity. And then
to think of what is to follow. And they say that that corsair, Thurot,
is at the mouth of the river. If that should be so!"

"I hope it may. If I could but seize him now, what a feather in my cap
'twould be. He is a brave sea-dog, although he is a Frenchman."

"I shall be distracted during thy absence. I know not what to do. Oh,
Geoff, what is to become of me!"

"You are to stay in the lodgings, my dear one," her husband said,
"which we have chosen over there;" and he nodded his head towards the
shore. "They are sweet and clean, and you can observe our anchorage.
Therefore, you will see the _Mignonne_ sail. Also," he added, with a
happy thought, "you will see her return. Think on that."

Ariadne did think on it in the hours after he had left her, her
husband going on board at midnight in preparation for his departure at
dawn. Think on it--ay! indeed she did--as also on his last kiss
pressed to her lips before he left, and of many, many others he had
given her as the hours flew by and evening turned into night. She
thought on it each time she crept from her bed to the window of the
lodgings he had taken for her, to see if yet the daybreak was at hand
(though she knew well enough that it could not come for still some
hours); if yet the ship that held her husband, her lover, was making
ready to depart. And always by her side stood Anne, who had been
bidden to come and sleep with Ariadne on this the first night of her
desolation since she had been married; Anne, who had long since
determined never to part from her mistress again.

She had done it once when--in the exuberance of her youthful spirits,
and proud of the possession of a good voice, which she knew how to
manage in the _bravura_ style, as well as a considerable facility for
dancing in a manner fitted to obtain popular applause--she had left
her home at Fanshawe Manor to earn her own living in London as a
public performer. But, alas! what had been the result? Her little
sister who had gone with her as companion, after both had pleaded long
and frequently to her mistress and their mother for permission to do
so, had encountered ruin at the hands of a scoundrel, and death as the
result of her shame; while, for herself, what had happened? What! A
life destroyed through her impetuous determination to exact a terrible
atonement from the villain who had done her sister to death; an
existence destroyed and rendered barren, loveless, and blank, through
her tempestuous desire for vengeance.

She had left her mistress once; now she vowed often that never would
she do it again. Never again.

"I have indeed made myself an Iphigenia, as Sir Geoffrey calls me,"
she would say to Ariadne during the passage of those eight months, "by
wandering from your and mother's side; but, no more. Henceforth I stay
with you, if you will let me."

And the two girls, who had never been parted since they were children,
except for that year of a wild life on Anne's part in London: the two
girls, of whom one had now become a happy wife, and the other a wife
loathing and despising the man whom she had trepanned into marrying
her--the man on whom, if chance came in her way, she would exercise
still further vengeance--had kissed and embraced each other, and vowed
that they would always remain together. For, although Anne called
Ariadne her mistress, and was spoken of as the latter's maid and
servant, they had from infancy been always more like sisters than
aught else, and had grown up together loving each other fondly, while
Anne's three extra years of age had made her like the elder and graver
sister.

Now, together and alone--since Mrs. Pottle had departed some day or
two before to Fanshawe Manor, to which they were to follow later, when
the _Mignonne_ would have sailed on her final cruise to join the fleet
and take part in fighting France--they watched for the dawn to come;
watched knowing that, with it, the lights on the frigate's masts would
be put out, the sails be bent, and then--then--Ariadne would be
desolate.

At last, the dayspring was at hand. Towards the east, beneath the dark
blue and windswept heavens, they saw the primrose hue coming; soon
they knew that there would appear a brighter, more vivid yellow, and
then the sun, and with that sun, departure. Already poor Ariadne could
see, even without the perspective glass which Geoffrey had left behind
for her use, that all was excitement and bustle aboard the ship. For
by now the pipes were sounding, they could hear the hawsers coming on
board, and the men singing too; and then Ariadne, her hand clutching
Anne's arm, saw the outer jib loosed to the light south-westerly
breeze which was blowing from where London lay.

"Oh, Anne!" she whispered, "it is the first time he has left me since
we were wed. The first time, and now he is going. Look at those
hateful sails, and--oh! how can they sing?"

"Be brave," said Anne, whose husband was not going away to sea; Anne,
who, had he been doing so, would certainly have felt no regret; "heart
up, you are a sailor's wife."

But that did not comfort the girl, who watched now, without
understanding, everything taking place; for--although she knew not the
meaning of fore and main top-gallant sails and spankers, nor anything
of mainsails, nor mainroyals and mizzen top-gallants, nor staysails
and jibs--she could see that the _Mignonne_ was moving, going down the
river towards where the sea was, with on it, perhaps, the great French
fleet and also the dreaded Thurot who was reported to be lurking near.

"He sees me!" she cried; "he sees me! Oh, God! he waves a handkerchief
from--what is it?--the waist! He sees me--ah! Anne--Anne--look--oh!"
she cried, "the ship is passing round that point. Oh! Anne, she is
gone."

"Heart up," again said Anne, comforting, yet still resolute. "'Tis but
for a week. He will come back, my dear."

Then she led the girl to her bed, and, getting into it herself, took
her in her arms and caressed and soothed her.


                        *    *    *    *    *    *    *


Meanwhile, not more than a mile off from where the two women were,
Lewis Granger was himself preparing to begin a new day. It was
necessary that here, he who in London had rarely left his bed until
the morning was almost gone, should rise early, for he had much
business to attend to besides that of trafficking in what he termed
his "cattle" business, such as supplying all kinds of vessels with
flour and meat and provisions of every sort. He was not actually the
owner of this concern which he conducted, but, instead, only the
superintendent or manager of it for a very wealthy man whom he had
known when he was himself a gentleman--a wealthy man who, having lost
his former superintendent and meeting Granger by accident about the
time of Bufton's marriage, suggested that, as the latter said his
circumstances were low, he should take the position.

"You have been a sailor yourself, you know; you are also an Essex
man," this person remarked, as they sat in a coffee-house; "therefore
you understand something about the requisites of the sea. And you may
make some money. There is, of course, a good percentage, and, in
absolute fact, you can grow well-to-do." After which he explained to
Granger what his occupation would be.

Whereon he, knowing that, henceforth, even the beggarly keeping which
he had received from the man who had once ruined him was certain to
come to an end after the latter had been tricked into marrying Anne
Pottle, took the position. It would at least be food, he told himself.

And now he was indeed growing well-to-do; in those eight months which
had gone by since the day he had parted from Bufton he had been making
money fast, both for himself and his master; making money by ways
which once he would have scorned and have reviled himself for--by
crimping and kidnapping, by hocus-pocussing men and making them drunk,
by inducing simpletons to believe they were going to freedom and
wealth in Delaware and Virginia and Massachusetts, or in Jamaica or
Barbadoes, when in truth they were going to slavery, and as often as
not to death. But also helping to fit out ships which, calling on the
West African coast, should purchase from one successful tribe of
negroes the prisoners they had taken from another they had defeated,
and, transporting those who lived--the dead, as well as the sickly
ones, being flung over to the sharks--should sell them also into
slavery.

He was growing well-to-do, was putting by money, even while he stifled
his conscience as to the way in which it was acquired; almost he had
begun to forget that he, a gentleman, a King's sailor, with no worse
faults originally than those of dissipation and a love for gambling,
had been ruined, degraded, disgraced by a scheming scoundrel. And,
also, almost was he forgetting that he had sworn to have an awful
vengeance on this scoundrel, this man who had deprived him of the
woman he loved and had caused her to cast him off. He came nigh to
forgetting that his mother died of a broken heart--a heart broken by
his ruin and disgrace.

"Ay," he said to himself, as now he dressed in preparation for his
day's work, "ay! I had almost forgotten. Almost! And then he must
needs find his way here, as full of evil as before. And the bait
took--he swallowed it greedily. Anne's sister--I--my mother--the woman
I worshipped, are not enough. He is a cormorant of cruelty, and seeks
still more victims. Well--there shall be more. His craft and devilish
subtlety shall find another. Yet how--how--how is it to be done? I
must think."

It was still early, not yet seven o'clock, but because of evil habits
which he had contracted of late years, and which he could not now
break off, much as he endeavoured to do so, he went to a side table
where, taking up a dram bottle--a thing always to his hand now--he
drank from it.

"It nerves me," he muttered. "It will serve me till it kills me at the
last. And it clears my mind. Others it makes drunk, but me it
fortifies--at present!"

He did not drink again, however; did not pour down glass after
glass--such an act as that was reserved for the nights when he
stupefied himself regularly ere seeking that sleep which never came
easily; instead, he put the bottle away, after standing regarding it
fixedly.

"Strange," he muttered, "strange. Glastonbury is drinking himself to
death at Ratisbon, they say, because he possesses Sophy, but not her
love; I am drinking myself to death here because she loved me--perhaps
loves me now--and I have lost her. Through him, that venomous snake;
that reptile!"

An onlooker might almost have thought, could one have been present,
that the wretched, broken man had taken his dram and was indulging in
such thoughts with a view to strengthening himself in some resolve
that he had made. Would have thought so could he, that observer, have
seen Lewis Granger go to a cupboard next, and, plunging his hand in,
draw forth a sword in its scabbard. A naval sword, the handle of which
he grasped, bringing out from the sheath, as he did so, but half a
blade--a blade broken short off halfway down. The onlooker might have
thought so if he had seen the man turn up the scabbard now, and let
the other half of the weapon fall out with a clang to the floor.

"I broke it," he whispered once more, and from his eyes the tears
welled forth and rolled down his cheeks, "on that night, the night
after I saw its point towards me when they led me back to the main
cabin of the _Warwick_ to learn my doom. That I was condemned! I broke
it as my life was broken--my future--my all. Ruined by him."

Then he replaced the two pieces of the blade in the sheath and
returned the latter to the cupboard, kissing the former ere he did so.
"I loved you so," he whispered again, his lips trembling, "I hoped so
much from you; that you would bring me honour and renown; make my
mother proud that she had borne me, Sophy proud to be my wife. And
now. Now!"

He closed the cupboard after thrusting the weapon back, and prepared
to descend to his room below. Yet, by this time his mood had changed
again; again he was the Lewis Granger of everyday life--sullen,
evil-looking. And he wept no more. But instead, there was upon his
face the sardonic expression most usual to it.

"Barry did believe yesterday--at last--not that I was innocent, but
that I might by some strange chance be so. He did, he did! I saw it in
his softer look, heard it in his gentler speech. And, for reward, I am
about to send his fair young wife and Bufton's own wife to worse than
death. I am about to do that!"

Whereon he laughed so loud and long at this thought that the crone
preparing his breakfast below shook her head ominously and wondered if
her master was beginning a fresh day with a fresh drinking bout.



CHAPTER XIV.

BUFTON IS IMPLACABLE.


The _Nederland_, the Dutch schooner--she was a two-topsail one--would
have been out of the river some day or so ago--and would have slipped
down past Woolwich and Tilbury and the Nore on one of these dark,
moonless nights, and with no more lights showing than necessary, had
it not been for three facts. One was that her master was not at all
sure that the infernal captain of the _Mignonne_ might not see fit at
any moment to slip after her and make an inspection of what she
contained, if he observed the slightest sign of her departing in a
more or less mysterious manner--although the aforesaid person did not
think Barry would dare to board her while she lay in the river, and
was consequently under the protection of the colours she flew. Another
reason was that "Mr. Lewis," who was a great help to the worthy
master, had requested him not to hurry his departure more than was
necessary, as the former considered he might be able to provide the
latter with further suitable merchandise; while, also, there was still
a third and more powerful reason behind the other two. This was that
François Thurot, of Boulogne, who had been a licensed corsair, but was
now a naval officer of the French King, was reported to be cruising
outside in the Channel, and would be as likely as not to seize on any
ship coming out of the Thames, no matter what flag she flew. For it
was Thurot's system to attack anything he observed leaving English
waters, on the plea that he mistrusted all vessels found in them (or
quitting them) sailing under false colours, and if he discovered he
was wrong, it was easy to allow them to proceed on their voyage. Nor;
as a matter of fact, did he often find himself wrong, he being well
served by his spies, especially by a despatch-boat he owned called the
_Faucon_, and another called the _Homard_, nor would he have done so
in this case.

For, in absolute fact (as any one, no matter whether it were Sir
Geoffrey Barry or François Thurot, would soon have known, had they
gone on board the schooner), though she might be called the
_Nederland_ at the present moment and might be sailing under the Dutch
flag, she was nothing of the kind, but was instead the _Amarynth_ of
Plymouth, in Massachusetts, her captain being an Englishman, that is
to say, a colonist.

None had, however, up to now, attempted to molest the ship in the
Thames, since all connected with the navy were otherwise busily
employed in preparing to resist the threatened attack of Conflans; and
the master was now only waiting to hear from "Mr. Lewis" to depart.
That is, to depart if he should also get the information that the
dreaded Thurot was anywhere else than where he was at present reported
to be. But, whether he got it or not, he would have to go ere long.
For his "merchandise" was an eating and drinking cargo, and,
consequently, an expensive one.

He stood on his poop on this present morning, after having seen the
_Mignonne_ glide down the river under a pretty full spread of canvas,
and after having respectfully dipped his ensign; but now it was two
hours later than that occurrence, and he was watching a shore-boat
sailing out under a lugsail, and undoubtedly making for his ship. A
shore-boat which he did not put himself to the trouble of hailing, or
causing to be hailed, since he recognised its occupant and passenger
as "Mr. Lewis."

"Good-morning, sir," he said, with due down East emphasis, as now the
boat came alongside his schooner. "Good-morning, sir. I thought I
should see you again before I up'd."

"Ay," said Granger, "I thought so too. I felt sure you wouldn't have
up'd and gone away without seeing me. Don't you require my services
any more?"

"Oh! well--why, yes. There's more room in the hold yet, you know. All
the same, sir, I've got a cargo, and I may as well be getting along
with it. Come into the saloon." Whereon he led the way to a cabin
under the poop which he kept for his own private use. While, as he
went, he asked, "Where is that Thurot?"

"You're safe enough from him," replied Granger, "if all accounts be
true. They say he is at Gottenburg victualling. And there are too many
of our ships of war about. The _Mignonne_ went out, too, this
morning."

"I saw her. I'll go out also--afore she comes back. A week I suppose,
eh?"

"Indeed, it may not be so much. Barry, her captain, bade me have some
more men ready for him by Sunday night, and this is Tuesday. That's
not a week."

"I'll shift," said the master of the so-called _Nederland_; "I'll
shift afore he comes back. I don't want him taking any of my children
away from me. They're valyble."

"Do you want any more?" asked Granger, looking at the master over the
glass which he now held in his hand, the Puritan colonist having
produced liquid refreshment from a locker, "Could you avail yourself
of two--or even one--more?"

"The trouble is a-making of 'em com-_fort_-able till I get 'em to sea.
Then it is of no account. But if they aren't com-_fort_-able till
we're away they might suspect. However, p'r'aps I could make shift
with one or two. Dos't know any, friend Lewis?"

"I might do so. Perhaps, as you say, one or two. Yet," he said, after
thinking a moment, "it could not be till Monday night."

"Till Monday night! Why! sir, that will never do. By then the captain
will be back. And I am mortal afeard of him. If he boarded me," he
said, sinking his voice to a husky whisper, "he'd find seventy on 'em
below! Seventy thirties is over two thousand. Two thousand guineas'
worth of stuff, male and female. A mort o' money."

"He will not board you. I know a way to prevent him. I will tell him
that I can provide all he wants further and--and--well, the flag
protects you. England will never quarrel with the Dutch; at this
time--even now--the Government hopes they will join her against
France."

"They eat a fearful deal," the Puritan said, with an eye cast down
to the lower decks, "_now_. Later they won't eat so much. I must
away--unless--unless I could be certain of getting something."

"You shall get something. I promise you. Only your men must fetch it.
Send your quarter-boat ashore on Saturday night and, if there is
nothing for her then, do so again on Sunday night; and I guarantee you
something. Only, by Monday morning, by midnight of Sunday, you must be
off and away."

"What will it be," the skipper asked, "a he or a she?"

"It might be either. But--this is good stuff that I shall send you.
Listen. That which will come will not do so willingly; there is a
family feud in this matter, such as has often been gratified before in
similar ways. If it is a man, he may show fight, protest it is all a
mistake, cry for help and make a disturbance; if it is a woman, she
will weep and scream. Your ruf--your men must be prepared for a
scuffle, as well as to silence all."

"Trust me," the skipper replied, with a loathsome wink. "If a female,
we know how to stop all cries. If a man--ha!--so long as we don't kill
him all is well. He will have the sea voyage to recover in. That's
good for broken crowns to heal in."

"So, so. Now listen. The man you get--or both, if I can send two, but
at least one--must be sold so that he finds no chance of ever
returning to England. His family hate him; he is--well! no matter.
What can you do?"

"I can go bail he never gets back. Only--only--thus! he will not be
worth much to me. How can I pay you for what is no good, or very
little?"

"The family pays me. I shall not want the 'usual' from you.
And--if--when next you revisit us you can tell me that his relations
are never likely to be troubled with him again, why--then--there will
be something for you."

The New Englander thrust out a brawny freckled and sunburnt hand, and
seized that of Granger, then he said--

"So be it. The family of this--this--'tis I suppose some flyblow--may
be at ease. And--as you may send more than one--I will be very sure to
treat all alike. I shall put into Charleston for the sale of some
goods I have, and your men, or man, or woman shall be sold to a buyer
from the French possessions. He will not let him, or them, ever return
to England. All, or one. Is that it?"

"Ay, all or one," Granger said; "do that, and there will be no
confusion." Though to himself he added, "There can be no confusion.
There is no 'all.'"

"And the place?" the skipper said; "the place is--where? The same as
before! In the Marshes, eh?"

"In the Marshes; that is it. Plaistow Level is best, this side of the
creek. 'Tis bare and desolate even by day; at night not even a
solitary gunner seeking for snipe is about. And--and--along the road
that follows the river bank the stuff will come. Be ready with your
boat and men on the night I warn you of. Thus you shall snare your
bird."

"You will warn me, and it will most like be Sunday?"

"It will most like be Sunday. The hour you shall know. As well as how
to distinguish your prize. And then you will away to Charleston. Be
ready to sail at once with the cattle who are for the French
colonies."

"Fear me not. I will be ready. Ere Monday morning comes we shall be
out of the river."

They shook hands on this, the skipper filling the glasses once more,
and so they parted, Granger dropping into the boat and being rowed
ashore after having again promised to warn his confederate of the
certain hour and day when his new victim might be expected.

"And," he repeated in a whisper, so that none of the crew who stood
near should hear, "remember, this is a prize. You pay nothing for it;
and if, when you return, you can give me good news for the family, you
will have--well, I dare to say--fifty--a hundred guineas. Is't
enough?"

"It is enough, I shall not fail."

In less than an hour Granger was once more back in his office
attending to his master's business, checking accounts brought in to
him by dealers and ships' furnishers; paying money and receiving it.
But, ever and again, his eyes glanced at the clock which hung above
the fireplace, while he muttered to himself, "He should be awake by
now."

Bufton had been accommodated with a bed that night by his "friend,"
there being a spare room in the house, and now, since it was eleven
o'clock, the latter went up to arouse him. He found him, however,
leaving the apartment at that moment, and, after some banter as to the
late hours he kept, Granger escorted him to the parlour, where he took
his own meals and sat when not occupied in his office.

"Well!" he said, when some breakfast had been put before his guest,
"Well! I have been about your business to-day--your great revenge;
and--and all is arranged. Only I have one fear--that you will repent;
that your heart will turn to kindness."

"Will it, think you?" said Bufton, with a cruel sneer. "Will it! Never
fear. Yet tell me, what is it that is to be done?"

"They are to be inveigled, those two helpless women--they are very
helpless, remember!--in some way to Plaistow Level. How that is to be
done, you--we--must think over; then, once there, they will be seized
upon by a boat's crew from the _Nederland_ and carried on board. Being
in the ship--well! you know the rest."

"But when? When, man? That cannot be done in a moment. We must have
time wherein to inveigle them. When is it to be?"

"I have thought of that. Of how to give you time. Only, it must be
done before the husband returns, and that is on Wednesday." (Surely
Granger's memory was failing him!) "On Wednesday--to-morrow week. What
say you, therefore, to Sunday night? By then, some scheme can be
contrived to lure those two helpless women to their doom."

"Contrived! Contrived! Faith! my mind is not quite so quick as it was.
Contrived! But how?"

"It may be done, perhaps. Yet, Bufton, think of what you condemn them
to. Think, I say. To what is slavery, though not called by that
name--to misery, despair. And both are young and both are fair. If
they fall into the hands of unscrupulous planters, or of the French
colonists in the South, then--then!--well! one is your wife, Bufton,
while the other is an innocent gentlewoman, though your enemy's wife.
Think on it."

If Lewis Granger was, indeed, trying to arouse some sentiment of
humanity in Bufton's heart, he had taken the very worst way to do it;
while, if he was but working on one of the worst sides of the man's
nature--if, indeed, he was laying a spark to a train of fire already
prepared--he had taken the surest way. For, now, with his most evil
look upon his face, and with a glance that was revolting to Granger,
he said--

"What in the devil's name care I what befalls them? Anne Pottle was
merciless to me; let her die in the colonies, or go to the first
Southern planter's arms that open to her. Either way it quits me of
her. While for that other--that white-faced wife of the insolent
sailor--well! he will have missed his heiress as much as I have done.
And," he continued, chuckling, "if both of us lose our wives, maybe we
can find others."

"You are implacable."

"I am implacable. Curse them all, have they not ruined me between
them!"

"With Anne I could, perhaps, understand your desire; but with the
other--she has not wronged you. And--you have a sword--there is
another revenge open to you."

"Help me, or don't help me," Bufton cried, rapping his fist upon the
table; "but curse your infernal preaching! Only, if you refuse, never
now shall you have one farthing of that money at my mother's death.
Never; never."

"I will help you once again. But this is for the last time. I have
helped you too often, have ruined myself for you once. It is for the
last time."

"Ay! for the last time. I swear it."

"So," said Granger inwardly to himself, "do I. For the last time."

After which they put their heads together as to how Ariadne and Anne
were to be entrapped to Plaistow Marshes, and to the spot where the
boat would be waiting to convey them to the schooner, and afterwards
to slavery, or disgrace, or death.



CHAPTER XV.

PLOT AND COUNTERPLOT.


"A letter is the way," Granger said, as they continued their
discourse; "a little letter. Only, who is to write it? Your Anne--your
wife," he added, observing Bufton wince, "knows your handwriting. You
used to pen some charming _billets-doux_ to 'A. T.,' you remember.
Unfortunately it was the wrong 'A. T.' But then we did not know that."

As he spoke, his eyes, which now missed nothing, saw Bufton's hands
close on the knife and fork which were in each, as though he would
commit murder with them--on one person, at least!--and he knew that
the poison of madness which he was distilling was sinking into the
rogue's soul. Sinking in, and doing its work!

"And," he continued, "although neither of our 'A's '--neither the true
heiress, whom Barry has gotten; nor the false, whom you possess--know
my handwriting, Barry himself does so, and he might find the precious
thing when the women are gone. Yet, somehow, a letter--a lure--must be
written."

"But how? How? Who is to write it, then?" and Bufton's voice seemed
hoarse, raucous with emotion, as he spoke. "You have a clerk. Is
he----"

"Bah! And let him know our secret! To sell it to Barry, and--and--land
us at Execution Dock! No, let me think." Whereon he thought, or
appeared to think, and to be sunk in meditation. Yet, if he were only
now working out a further strain of his revenge, it was somewhat
remarkable! Then, presently, he spoke again--

"There is," he said, "hard by here a man who keeps a small shop and
sells necessaries to the sailors. And, because they are ignorant
creatures--not one in fifty can read or write--he indites letters for
them to their wives and mothers ere they sail; sends their fond love
to their Mollys and Pollys. Since he knows me, I scarce can ask him
to----"

"Write a letter for you," Bufton interrupted. "And can I, with a coat
like this?" and he touched his sleeve. "With my appearance? He would
suspect."

"I will prevent him from suspecting," Granger replied, his eyes upon
the other. "You have finished your breakfast, I see. Therefore a
little walk will refresh you. You shall go and ask him to write you a
letter." Saying which, Granger rose from the table and, going to a
sea-chest in the corner of the room, took out a large roll of linen
for bandages, such as he sold amongst other things to skippers of
ships and surgeons' mates. This he twisted into the usual shape of a
sling for a wounded arm and bade Bufton bend his elbow, while the
latter muttered, "I do not understand this tomfoolery."

"You will," said Granger, while, as he spoke, he enveloped the other's
right hand in a swathing of the stuff.

"Now," he said, with an easily assumed smile, "away with you. The
fellow's name is Gibbs, the place he lives in is Orange Row. And you
are a gentleman who has arrived from Harwich, whose arm is injured.
You have a sprained wrist--a whitlow on your thumb--anything will do.
And you must have a letter written at once, since you cannot write it
yourself. At once. You understand."

"My God, Granger!" the other exclaimed, "you are too clever." And
there was such a look in the man's face as he spoke--a look almost of
consternation at the other's scheming mind--that Granger began to fear
Bufton would become alarmed at his astuteness, especially as the
latter added, "What trick can you not devise?"

"Nay. Nay," cried Granger, with heartiness, "'tis for a friend, an
injured friend--misjudge me not. Remember, too, the money that is to
be repaid me at your mother's death. I work for that--friendship
apart. Now be off to Gibbs."

"But what can I say? What to have written?

"Ha! I protest, almost had I forgotten. I am but a sorry schemer after
all. Let me think." And again he pretended to be immersed in thought.

"Say," he went on, a moment or so later, "say--only mention no
names--not one--my clerk shall address the letter; say that--that the
captain's ship is aground near the Creek. That, also, he is injured
sorely--an arm broken--a fracture--therefore that he cannot come nor
write, but wishes--to--see--his wife. Tell her the road is through
Plaistow Marshes; that if she follows it--the road that runs by the
river bank--'twill bring her to where the ship is aground. That will
be sufficient. She will take Anne with her for a surety; thus we nab
both."

"But will she not know that Barry cannot yet be back?"

"Nay! We do not send it to-day. He will not be back until Tuesday or
Wednesday, though to appease her qualms, he has told her he comes on
Sunday. Dos't see? On Sunday afternoon she will get that letter. On
Sunday night by dark--it still gets dark early, Bufton--she will be in
the Marshes. We can easily silence their jarvey, and--and--by Monday
morning, if the wind is good, they will be out to sea. While, if
it is not, they will still be on their way. The tide--which I have
studied--will take them."

"You forget nothing."

"I never forget anything. Now, since your wounds are dressed," and
again Granger laughed, "and since you are equipped, as well go on to
Gibbs. You know what to say. Can you remember?"

"Every word. Fear not my memory. And--no name mentioned."

"No. No. Gibbs. Orange Row. That's the man. And tell him to sign the
letter in the name of Bertram Norris."

"Bertram Norris. Who is he?"

"The first lieutenant. The officer who would write in such a case."

Whereupon, having received his last instructions, Bufton departed.

When he was gone, Granger threw himself into a deep chair by the
fireside, and, to his astonishment, found that he was in a slight
tremor, that there was a palpitation going on within his frame.

"So!" he thought to himself, as he sat there, "this will not do. I, am
a long, long way off success yet; a long, long way from the end of
what I have set myself to do, and already my nerves are ajar. I must
quiet them. In the old way, the old cursed way that grows on me day by
day."

Whereupon, as he had done so frequently, he did again, and finding his
bottle, drank a dram. "If I could do without it," he whispered to
himself. "If I could do without it! Yet, why should I? It brings
oblivion, forgetfulness. It shuts out the picture of my mother's
grave, of Sophy's face."

It was now the time of day when few people visited his place of
business--for in this region all the world dined at midday--and he sat
on and on waiting for Bufton to return with the letter. Sat on
meditating, thinking always.

"I did not like the look he gave me as I disclosed my ruse for getting
that letter written," he reflected; "almost I feared I had scared him,
alarmed him with my astuteness. I must not do that! No. No. For if he
once takes fright I lose him and--the chance is gone forever. I must
not do that."

He looked at the bottle eagerly--wistfully--then, strong in his
determination, rose from his seat and thrust it almost violently away
from him into the place where he kept it.

"Later, when all is accomplished," he muttered, "when there is no more
to be done, I can drink myself to death. And--with satisfaction.

"Pity, pity," he continued now, still musing, "that it could not take
place to-night or to-morrow night. Yet that must not be. Barry must be
back, as he will be on Sunday night. It must be Barry whom he attacks
in the Marshes, or, at least, thinks he will attack. That will make
assurance double sure. Double sure. Oh! my God," he cried, "let me
make no mistake now. None!" While as the unhappy man uttered this cry
he sprang from the chair on which he sat, and commenced to pace up and
down the room.

"If Anne aids me," he whispered, "if she is staunch, we have got him
in the net. He is ours. She will be free, and I--no--no--not I!--but
those two women whom I loved better than my life, avenged."

Later that evening, when Bufton had returned to his end of London,
leaving in Granger's hands the letter which the writer, Gibbs, had
penned at the former's request and for the sum of a shilling; and
leaving also the entire management of the whole of their scheme to the
other, Granger set out to walk towards the place where Ariadne and
Anne were installed in their lodgings. He had not, however, let his
confederate, or, for such he was--his victim--depart without a few
words of impressive counsel to him.

"If," he said, "you fail to be back here again on Saturday night, and
ready for your part in Sunday night's work, namely, to assist the
Dutchman's sailors in carrying the women off in their boat--and also
to assist in identifying them to his men--your last chance is gone.
You will never get rid of Anne, and you will have had no revenge on
Sir Geoffrey Barry. I shall be unable to help you farther."

"Never fear. I shall not fail if I am alive: Yet one thing troubles
me."

"What is it?"

"This. Even though that wanton, Anne, goes to the colonies, it does
not free me. She may live for years there if she falls into good
hands--she might even live to return."

"Might she?" said Granger, in a low voice, while as he spoke he
directed a glance into the other's eyes that spoke as plainly as a
thousand words would have done. Then, sinking that voice lower, he
said, "I know the master of the _Nederland_. I have had transactions
with him before. You understand?"

"Yes," whispered Bufton, fascinated, as the eyes of the other seemed
to pierce him with the fire they emitted. "Yes--my God!--I
understand." Then, a moment later, after a pause, and while still held
by that glance, "Yes--I understand. _How much?_"

"Bring," Granger said hoarsely, "a bag of fifty guineas; he shall
know that you will hand it to the coxswain in command of the boat,
and--and--and you will be a wid----"

"Soon?"

"The first dark night at sea. She will throw herself overboard in
despair."

"Throw herself overboard! Throw herself over---- Ah! Yes. Yes. I
comprehend. Throw herself overboard!" And, laughing and chuckling,
Bufton departed, though not without muttering once more, "Throw
herself overboard."

And now, rejoicing over the dust he had cast in the man's eyes--while
wondering, too, how he could ever himself have been tricked and ruined
by so easy a knave and fool as Bufton was, Granger went on towards
Blackwall steps, and, when there, stood listening for eight o'clock to
sound from Stepney Church. Then, as he heard the hour strike, he
walked swiftly towards a woman dressed in black who was approaching
him.

"Well!" she exclaimed, coming close up to him and letting her veil
fall away from her face. "Well? Does he take? Is the trap set?"

"Ay, with his own bait, Anne. See here," and he took a paper from his
pocket and held it out to her; "'tis his own ratsbane with which he
has set his own springe. And he paid a shilling for it."

The girl took the paper and read it beneath the light of an oil lamp
shining hard by, while laughing a little in that soft, musical voice
of hers as she did so; then she gave it back to him, whereon he tore
the letter into shreds and, walking to the quay-side, dropped it into
the water. "It was a shilling wasted," she said, as he came back to
her.

"Nay, a shilling well spent. While deluding him with the idea that he
has set a snare for you and Lady Barry, it induces him to walk into it
himself."

"And," she asked, her bright, wicked-looking eyes glistening beneath
the sickly rays of the lamp, "what is to do next? What will happen?"

"Terrible things. Amongst others, you will be so overwhelmed with your
horrid fate that you will fling yourself overboard one dark night at
sea. Lady Barry, too, will become the prey of a licentious Southern
planter. Sir Geoffrey will perhaps go mad with despair. Is it not
terrifying?"

"Nay, do not bite," she answered, while still she laughed softly. "But
tell me what is to be done--with him?"

"He will await you in the Marshes with the Dutch skipper's men.
Only--you will not come. Instead, Sir Geoffrey will do so. At least, I
hope he will do so. And our good friend, who will learn that by some
ill fate you cannot meet him, must be content with having Barry set
upon and transported to the colonies."

"A likely tale!" Anne said. "Can you make him believe that?"

"I think so. I can induce him to lead Sir Geoffrey to his doom. All
depends, however, on Barry getting back. If he returns not by Sunday
afternoon we may fail."

"He will return," Anne said. "A Redriff lugger which he met outside at
sea has come in with a letter from him, saying that he has distributed
almost all his men amongst the ships of war at the Nore and Chatham;
that soon he will be back. Perhaps before Sunday."

"So! That is well. There is, however, one other thing to do. Namely,
to get Barry to the Marshes, so that thereby we may secure the other.
Or rather _keep_ him in them. For if you and your lady came not he
might take alarm and thus depart himself."

"But will he not go there expecting us, and, waiting, be seized upon?
Cannot that be done?"

"It is impossible. At once he would suspect. No, he must go with me to
the Marshes; then, but not before, he must know that you are not
coming, but that Barry is. And he must make sure of Barry before he
will approach anywhere near where the boat's crew is. Anne, we must
get your master there somehow. Remember, we have a coward to deal
with; a man who, if he is half a fool, is also wholly knave. We know
that."

"God knows we do," sighed Anne, laughing no more as she thought of her
dead sister. "Well! how is it to be done? Neither Ariadne nor Sir
Geoffrey would join in any further plot. She regrets the other
one--the plot of the marriage."

"Somehow," said Granger, "it must be done. This is our chance. If we
miss it now it will never come again. And we have three clear days
still to meditate upon it. Meet me here again in forty-eight hours; by
then I will have devised some means."



CHAPTER XVI.

WEAVING THE NET.


Ariadne was happy again; happy once more for a short time. The
_Mignonne_ lay at her old anchorage on the Saturday night following
the events just detailed, and in her stateroom, or main cabin,
Geoffrey sat at the head of his table, and she was opposite to him.
The solitary lodgings were discarded for a time--if they were ever to
be occupied again, which was not likely, since, when the frigate went
to join Hawke's fleet, Ariadne would retire to Fanshawe Manor, there
to wait and wait and watch for his return, and pray to God that that
return might be allowed. The lodgings were therefore given up now, and
for ever, and she was with her husband. Oh! how happy she would be,
she said again and again, if only they had never more to part, or,
parting, that he had not to go forth upon so perilous an enterprise as
that of fighting the French.

But to-night, as they sat together, she would not allow even this sad
prospect to distract her. To-night she was resolved to be gay and
bright, and to make her husband's return to what she called "home" a
happy and cheerful one.

"For," she said to him, "who knows but that, after all, you may
not have to go to the fleet, that you may not have to fight the
French----"

"Hush, Ariadne, hush," he said. "No more of this, I beseech you, if
you are a true wife of mine. What! I a sailor, with war going on, and
not take part in it. Great heavens! what kind of a sailor then should
I be, and what likelihood of ever obtaining my flag? Nay, Ariadne, my
sweet, never speak like that."

"Forgive me, oh! forgive me, Geoff. But I love you so, so fond and
true. And it breaks my heart to part from you even for an hour. Yet,
alas! I know that it must be, will be, until you are a great man. Oh!
I wish you were an Admiral. Then you would have all you desire."

"Then," he replied, "I should be commanding fleets instead of single
ships. Ariadne, you must be brave."

He was very gentle to her as he spoke; gentle always, not only because
he loved her, but because he knew what a sad lot was that of a
sailor's wife in those days. The whole world was one more plunged in
war, although but two great Powers, England and France, were the
principal combatants; and between those two it was war to the knife.
One side or other had to triumph, and the triumph would be final for
many years to come. We were determined to possess ourselves of Canada,
the American fisheries, the sugar trade of Guadeloupe, and the whole
of the African trade at last if it could be done, and, already, we
were fast possessing ourselves of India; while, to draw off our
attention from those far-off places, Conflans was meditating an
invasion of England herself. The year, which was afterwards to be
termed and known as the "Great '59," was indeed likely to prove a
stormy one. And, amidst this storm, none would play a greater part
than the Navy of England. Hawke, Dennis, Boscawen, Speke, and
Keppel--the most illustrious names of the time--were all upon the
seas; men were being sought for everywhere and obtained by every means
possible, through crimps and impressment, by large bounty and offers
of increased pay. Even now, Geoffrey Barry had returned with the
_Mignonne_ empty of all the men he had taken away with him five days
before, and an Admiralty tender had brought him instructions to
procure more and more. And what he was doing was being done by scores
of naval captains in other parts of England.

He recognised, indeed, that the lot of the sailor's wife was a hard
one in those days--a mournful, heart-breaking one. For loving women
might be parted from their husbands for months and years, even
supposing that the latter lived through the storm and stress of their
careers; while even this was, after all, the brightest side of both
the sailor's and the sailor's wife's existence. The reverse side was a
violent death at any moment; or, which was perhaps almost as bad,
captivity of considerable duration in a French prison, and with no
knowledge of that captivity coming to those at home who were waiting
for the loved one's return.

Even now, as Geoffrey sat in his own cabin facing the wife whom he
worshipped so fondly and truly, he knew that ere long he would have to
leave her side for months--to return, it might be, a successful
conqueror; but, as was equally likely, a crippled, wounded man. Or,
which also was equally probable, never to return at all.

"I have to find a hundred more men somewhere," he said to her, "to
take away from here next week. And how to do it I do not know. I
wonder if that man Granger, or Lewis, as he now calls himself, can be
of any further assistance."

He had told Ariadne, before he went on the short cruise from which he
had this morning returned, of his discovery of Granger, the man who,
she would remember, had been Bufton's best man at the marriage into
which he had been entrapped by Anne Pottle; and he had also told her
of how this man had once been an officer in his own service, from
which he had been court-martialled and removed for scandalous
behaviour. And he had stated that the man had again asserted his
innocence, as he had asserted it on the day of his trial, and that, at
last, he was inclined to believe in his assertion.

"For," he said, "there was something in his manner, something in the
ring of his voice, that had the appearance of truth. My God! if he was
innocent he has been cruelly dealt with."

But, now, the very mention of Bufton's name caused Ariadne
considerable agitation--agitation of so extreme a nature as to remove
from her mind any feeling of interest or compassion which she might
otherwise have felt in Granger's fate.

"Oh! Geoffrey," she exclaimed. "That man! That man! Your mention of
him recalls to my mind what I meant to tell you. I saw him here, in
this neighbourhood, but the other day. The day on which you sailed.
What can he--that beau--that fop--be doing here?"

"You saw him here! In this locality!" her husband exclaimed in
astonishment. Yet only in astonishment for the first moment, since he
added instantly--

"Yet perhaps it is not so strange either. Those two, Lewis and he,
were fast friends."

"Friends! How could they be friends, Geoffrey? Have you not said that
this man, Lewis, or Granger, accused him of being the absolute
scoundrel in that affair for which he was ruined and disgraced?
And, also, Anne says that it was Granger who assisted her in the
self-sacrificing vengeance which she exacted from  him. How can they
be friends?"

For a moment Geoffrey sat meditating deeply, then he replied--

"In truth, it does seem impossible they should be so. Unless--unless
this man Granger also considers that he too was avenged by Anne's
act--or--or--not being satisfied with that, still seeks for more."

"What further vengeance can he take on him?"

"Heaven alone knows. Yet one thing I can imagine, can guess from
Granger's manner. He is a strong, resolute man, as is easy to see. If,
as I do believe is the case, that other ruined him, he would never
forgive. He helped to lead him towards Anne's vengeance; he would not
falter in exacting his own."

"Yet what could he do against Bufton here? In such a place as this?"

"I cannot guess. Indeed, all I can hazard is but guess-work. Still, I
cannot understand that fellow being here."

"Suppose," said Ariadne, "that he himself, this man Bufton, were here
on a mission of revenge. Against----"

"Against whom, child?"

"Against Anne. Doubtless he has never forgiven her for what he must
regard as the ruin of his existence. Suppose that! And, perhaps, he
hates you for obtaining the wife he thought he was himself going to
possess."

But at this latter Geoffrey laughed loud and long. Was he not, he
asked his wife, the most powerful man in the neighbourhood at the
present moment? Did not the _Mignonne_ lie armed in the river, and was
she not manned by a stalwart crew?

"As well," he said, "might the rogue meditate harm against the old
Tower of London lying farther up the stream. While as for Anne," he
continued; "well! Anne is aboard my ship, and, when ashore, is able to
take her own part, especially as she never goes on land at night. And,
dear heart," he concluded, "this is not Naples nor any part of Italy,
where people can be hired for a handful of silver pieces to take the
lives of others."

Yet, all the same, his girl-wife was not convinced, and although she
would not say so, she dreaded the time when she and Anne should be
left behind, and Geoffrey gone to join the fleet. Meanwhile, not a
mile away from where the frigate lay, namely, at Granger's house, a
different conversation was taking place between that person and
Algernon Bufton, who (true to his word and his deep desire for
revenge, which he had been brooding over ever since he had had the
idea instilled into his mind) had now returned to the neighbourhood of
Blackwall. And here he meant to remain, or, at least, in the locality,
though farther down the river, until midnight next day (Sunday). By
which time he hoped to see the topsails of the _Nederland_ fill, and
the schooner depart with, on board of her, Anne Pottle, his wife, and
Lady Barry, her mistress, bound for the American plantations.

"All is arranged, all settled now," said Granger. "I protest,"
and he laughed a little as he spoke, "that you in your most brilliant
days--and you were good at schemes in those days--never could have
arranged anything more cleverly."

"Tell me the scheme," Bufton almost growled now, wishing at the same
time that his old dupe would not for ever be harping upon his whilom
aptitude for tricking other people. "Tell it to me," he said.
"Though," he continued, "I must aver that, if I was once good at
schemes, I found an apt pupil in you. You have profited by my
instructions."

"The scheme is this," Granger said. "The letter will be delivered to
Lady Barry by a sure hand when she comes out of church to-morrow. And
you may be very confident she will lose no time. Be sure that she,
with her companion--your beloved wife!--will hasten towards the point
named, where the creek runs into the river. And the boat will be there
to take them off, no matter how they resist."

"One thing alone I fear," said Bufton. "Supposing that she, the
mistress, proclaims her rank and position; declares that she is known
to be his wife--is Lady Barry. Will the master not be afraid?"

"Never. Not he! His sails will be bent, he will be ready to drop down
the river at once. For," he added, "I have taken good care to warn him
that, whatever protest may be made by the victim or victims--no heed
shall be paid to it. No heed paid to any statement as to position or
rank. The master is warned that they will be lies."

"Good," chuckled Bufton. "Good. All lies. No heed will be paid to
them."

"None at all," Granger said, with emphasis. "They will be absolutely
useless. Likewise it is a common thing for persons brought on board to
make such protestations. Women often enough declare themselves to be
people of position, ladies of rank, in the hopes of being released;
and men call themselves gentlemen, noblemen. But never are such things
of avail."

"Good. Good," cried Bufton again, snapping his fingers in ecstasy.
"Oh! good. So that there is no chance! No hope!"

"None. Once on board that schooner there is no hope until America is
reached. Instead, such despair that----"

"That people sometimes throw themselves overboard," Bufton
interrupted, rubbing his chin, and with a baleful look in his eyes.

"Ay--'tis so. But," and now Granger's eyes seemed to pierce those of
the other, "the master expects those fifty guineas we spoke of."

"He shall have them," said Bufton. "Oh! he shall. Alas! poor Anne. I
fear she will be driven to the despair you spoke of. Later, I shall
assume mourning for her--when I have heard the news. 'Twill be but
decorous perhaps."

"I _know_ she will be so driven. Now, listen to what you have to do.
It would be best that you keep here until to-morrow afternoon. Then,
when dusk is coming, we will proceed towards the creek (pray Heaven
the _Mignonne_ returns not first!), having taken care to have the
letter delivered, and there we will await their coming. Once they
arrive at the spot, 'tis done in a moment."

"You are a marvellous man!" cried Bufton. "Oh! a marvellous one. We
shall succeed. We shall. I know we shall."

"We cannot fail. Now let us to bed. Tomorrow we have much to do."

Bufton would not, however, go to bed at once, declaring that on this
night they must drink success to their great scheme; to his revenge
and freedom, as he termed it. But at last Granger induced him to do
so, and led him to a room at the back of the house, from the windows
of which a fair view down the river could be obtained. He had also
another spare room that looked up the river, and from which all the
shipping lying in it was to be observed; but to put Bufton there would
not have done. For amongst other masts and yards might have been seen
towering the tall top-gallant yards of the _Mignonne_, with, flying
above them, her streaming pennon. That would not, indeed, have done,
since, thus, the deluded man might have understood that Sir Geoffrey
Barry was back, and that, consequently, the letter he supposed was
about to be sent to Ariadne on the morrow would be useless.

"Sleep well," said Granger, "sleep well; and wake up brisk and hearty
in good time. And when you gaze out on to the Marshes in the morning,
pray Heaven that you do not see the _Mignonne_ coming up stream." With
which benediction, and turning his face away from the candle's gleam
so that Bufton should not observe it, he quitted the room.



CHAPTER XVII.

A DISCOVERY.


The March wind died down during the night, so that, when the dawn
came, the whole neighbourhood was enveloped in one of the many
exhalations which are constantly arising from the Marshes hard by.
And, all through the day, there was still an absence of breeze, so
that the fog and mist remained hanging like a pall over the locality,
and shrouding everything from observation which was more than a few
yards distant.

"You see," said Granger, as now he and Bufton made their way on foot
early, and not waiting for the afternoon--on foot, because thus
attention would be less likely to be attracted--"how fortune favours
us. A better day it would be impossible to desire. Until the victims
are near at hand, close to where the boat will be alongside the shore,
all will be invisible. Yet not that it matters much, for down where
that will lie none ever come after dark, and not many by daylight."

They neared now an inn which, in the days of George II., and those of
his successor--at this time so close at hand--stood in the Marshes. It
was a low-roofed, one-storied place; whitewashed so that, it was said,
vessels coming up the river might discern it as a landmark; and it was
used for more than one nefarious practice. For smuggling purposes it
was not particularly well adapted, since, by the time vessels had got
so far up as to be off it in the river, they had little enough in them
which had escaped the revenue officers; yet, even then, they
occasionally had something to dispose of. Sometimes it was a small
barrel of spirits inside a larger one, the space between the two being
filled up with fresh water, whereby, if tapped, the latter fluid alone
ran out, leaving that which was more valuable intact in its case;
sometimes, too, bottles of cheap common wine on which a small duty had
been paid, but which, below the first and second layers, contained
things far more valuable and subject to a higher duty, such as
Mechlin, Brussels, Valenciennes, and Château Thierry lace stuffed into
them; and also other matters. There was not, however, as has been
said, much to be done in this way, the place being so far inland and
twenty miles from the sea as the crow flies, and it was more in the
traffic of human beings than aught else that the landlord of the "Red
Rover" made his money. For many a man had been taken off drunk from
his house (who had come into it perfectly sober, and meaning only to
have "one half-pint" before continuing his journey) to some ship lying
hard by; many a girl and woman now slaving their hearts out in the
colonies had been inveigled into the inn by pretended lovers and sold
in the same way. Thus the landlord had done a roaring trade, and still
did one--or would have done if men had been forthcoming--by supplying
sailors to His Majesty's fleet; while, to add as well to his income,
the fellow was under the rose a fence of the worst description, and
over and over again the proceeds of successful housebreaking in the
surrounding counties--proceeds such as silver salvers, coffee-pots,
and antique tankards--had, after lying in his vaults or being buried
in his _fumier_ at the back of the house for some time, gone to grace
the sideboards of Carolina or Virginia planters.

"Here," said Granger, "you can rest at your ease until night comes.
The house is of none too good repute, yet 'twill serve your purpose.
Also, the landlord is away. I protest we are a strange people in this
England of ours! Vagabond as the man is, he is now serving on a jury
at Chelmsford, where it should be strange if he does not help to try
many of his own kidney. Strange, too, 'twill be if, some day, he is
not tried himself."

"What will you do?" asked Bufton, when they had been shown into a
private parlour, a fire had been lighted, and something brought to
warm them, he ignoring Granger's description of the landlord's present
occupation. "You must help me, you know; I rely on you."

"Have I ever failed?" Granger asked, with a fierce glance--a glance of
assumed fierceness. "And--as to what I have to do! Why, man, countless
things. First, to warn the master of the schooner that he must be
ready to drop down the river at any time after six this evening. Next,
to get the letter delivered, and also to see that the women set out.
That is, unless now, even at the last, you resolve to spare them."

"Spare them!" repeated Bufton contemptuously, fiercely. "Let us not
talk folly."

"So be it, since you are resolute. Well! I must away. Now, keep close
and snug; but quit not this room. No questions will be asked: though,
should any arise, you are a gentleman, a planter, taking passage to
Delaware. That will suffice."

"You think of everything! Granger, at my mother's death you shall be
paid in full----"

"No matter for that now. Evilly as you once treated me, I know that I
shall be paid in full," the other said, hoping, even as he did so,
that he had not emphasised his words too strongly.

"I will sleep, and eat, and drink," said Bufton; "thus the time will
pass. And I did not sleep very well last night; to-night, when all is
accomplished, I shall rest. I shall be content."

"Doubtless! I hope so." With which words Granger turned and left the
other. Yet, as he reached the door he uttered another word or two--

"The master of the _Nederland_ will expect that fifty guineas," he
said, "if--if--Anne is--to--well! to fling herself overboard. You
understand?"

"Ay, I understand. And I have them here," touching his breast pocket.
"When will he desire to receive them?"

"As they go on board, as they are taken on board. To-night, when I
return, hand them to me. Then, since you will scarce desire to appear
too prominently, I will give them to the man in the boat."

"I have a vizard mask," whispered Bufton.

"So, too, have I. Yet I may not need it. Now, till to-night,
farewell."

After which Granger went away, leaving Bufton to his reflections.

He went away, that is to say, so far as to descend the stairs with the
intention of at once departing for Blackwall, there to have an
interview with Anne. For, although the girl had told him that he must
contrive to inveigle Bufton into the neighbourhood of where the
schooner was lying without any assistance from her, he still hoped
that such assistance might be obtained. Otherwise, he knew that Bufton
would depart from the "Red Rover" by the time night had come, and the
last chance would then indeed be gone. Nothing, he knew also, would
have drawn the man to the Marshes but the hope of wreaking his
vengeance on his wife and on--through Ariadne--Sir Geoffrey Barry.

Granger paused now, however, to take a glass of spirits before setting
out to walk the two other miles of his journey, and, indeed, the
atmosphere which prevailed outside would have justified any one on
those Marshes in doing so, on such a day as this. For the raw, damp
mist had by now turned into a thicker, more raw and clammy fog, so
that one could scarcely see thirty yards ahead, while, in the house
itself, it seemed to be creeping along the passages and into rooms,
and up the flight of stairs which led to the next and only floor
above.

"If it continues like this," Granger muttered to himself, as now he
pushed open the door of a bar-parlour, and went into the room, "it
will serve our--my purpose. That is, if at night one can see at all."

The bar was attended by a slatternly-looking girl, the one who had lit
the fire in the sitting-room above and served Granger and Bufton with
what they had called for; though, because it was early in the morning,
she had no customers to draw for. Whereupon, after giving Granger the
drink he desired, she locked up the bottles and glasses in their
cupboard and went away, leaving him alone. Alone, and as was ever the
case when he found himself so, meditating deeply on the past. Yet
now--and he was surprised at the feelings which had taken possession
of him--on this morning of all others--when his last act of revenge
was close at hand and Bufton was about to pay for the ruin he had
brought upon him--now it almost seemed as if he had grown listless in
his desire for that vengeance; as if he scarcely cared to go on with
what he had hitherto pursued with such eagerness and tenacity.

"What is it?" he asked himself, as he stood with the glass in his
hand, looking over the red blind of a window in the bar-parlour which
gave on to the passage; a window at which the landlord sometimes
passed hours in the observation of those who entered and quitted his
house--"what is it that is influencing me, slackening my desires?"
And, being no student of ethics, he was not altogether able to tell
himself how often listlessness comes, accompanied by a cessation of
desire, when, at last, that which we have striven for so hard is
within our grasp; is to be had for the taking. Nevertheless, he
continued his musings, saying again, "What is it? Am I forgetting my
hatred of the man above, forgetting all my vows of retaliation because
I am growing well-to-do and am making money fast by my loathsome
calling? Is that possible--or does the passion for revenge die out at
last, as every other passion we possess dies in time? Shall I spare
him now, at the last moment? Or tell him to-night that the plot he
imagines I have concocted has failed--and--let him go free? Shall I do
that, or must I force myself to think of my dead mother again, of my
lost love, thereby to spur myself on to finish what I have begun?"

Meditating thus, Lewis Granger was at his best; his worst--which was
what Fate and a scoundrel had made him--was away falling into the
background. He was at his best! and that best was triumphing, was
triumphant. He became resolved; to-night Bufton should be told that
nothing could be done, that neither Ariadne nor Anne could come, that
their trick had failed since the _Mignonne_ had returned. Thus the man
himself should be spared. Bufton should go free and his own vengeance
sleep for ever. Truly Granger was at his best!

Deciding thus, determined that even now--at once--he would return to
the room above and tell its occupant that this had happened, he was
about to turn away from the window through which he was still glancing
heedlessly as he ruminated, when he saw a man enter the passage, and,
after looking round and about the place in a cautious manner, proceed,
with an evident attempt to avoid observation if possible, towards the
foot of the stairs.

"Where have I seen that fellow before?" he thought, even as he edged
himself to the blind so that, thereby, he Could follow the newcomer's
movements along the passage. "Where? I know him, have seen him lately.
That bulldog-looking form and those earrings are familiar to me!"

Then, in a moment, he recalled who the man was. He remembered that he
was the mate of the _Nederland_, and that he had observed him at work
on the deck of the schooner, and giving orders to the sailors as to
the bestowal of casks and bales in the hold only a day or so ago when
he had visited the master.

Not knowing, or scarcely knowing, why this man's presence here should
surprise him, or why, indeed, he should feel any surprise at all,
except at the stealthy, cautious way in which he skulked along the
passage in so surreptitious a manner--since the "Red Rover" was the
only place of call on this side of the river for some mile or so--he
determined to see where the man was going. Whereon, opening the door
of the bar-parlour as quietly as might be, he looked out into the
passage and was in time to observe the back of the mate vanishing
round the landing of the stairs.

"Strange," he thought to himself; "strange. What business can he have
up there? He is not, cannot be, living ashore in the house; who then
can he desire to see, or what desire to do?"

While, as he so thought, he heard a slight rap given on a door above
and a voice call out, "Who is it?"

The voice of Bufton.

Then, standing at the foot of the stairs, but sheltered from
observation overhead by the dirty ceiling beneath the landing
floor--sheltered too from observation by the fog that now filled the
house--Granger heard the door of the room Bufton was in opened, and a
whispered question and answer. After which the door was closed to
again, and he heard no more. The visitor had been admitted.

"So," Granger said to himself, "I am not to have it all my own way, it
would seem. The good Bufton has evidently two strings to his bow. Yet
how in Heaven's name has he done it! How has he formed an intimacy
with any one on board the schooner? Later, perhaps, I shall know, as
well as his reason for doing so. At least let me try for the means of
knowing as soon as possible."

The means he took were to proceed at once up the stairs himself, doing
so very quietly and as stealthily as he who had gone before him had
done; and then, when on the unclean stone passage, he went quietly
past the door of the room where the men were until he came to another
door next to it.

"This may do," he said. "I think it may. I have slept in most of these
rooms when my affairs required my presence here. And if I remember
aright--nay! as I know it is, there are communicating doors between
these two rooms. I should indeed learn something."

With every precaution that it was possible to take, he opened now the
door of the second room, seeing at once as he did so that it had not
been let nor occupied overnight; then he shut it, and, finding the key
within, locked it. After which, sitting down upon the bedside, he drew
off his shoes and laid them on the bed.

"If no one comes to this room for a quarter of an hour," he thought,
"as no one is likely to come, since it requires no attention, I ought
to hear all I desire."

Upon which he crept quietly to the communicating door, and listened to
the conversation that was already being carried on upon the other side
of it.



CHAPTER XVIII.

RUSE CONTRE RUSE.


"If it could be done," Granger heard Bufton say, those being the first
words he caught, "it would ease me for ever. He is a weight upon my
existence, and I would pay you well. Have you thought of it since we
met two days ago across the water at Charlton?"

"Across the water! At Charlton! So," muttered Granger, "that is it.
While I supposed my friend was in London, he has been on the other
side planning his own schemes. And who is the man who is a weight upon
his existence? Who? Can I guess? Perhaps!"

"Yes, I have thought of it," he heard the voice of the mate reply, and
he knew at once that the owner of that voice was neither Englishman
nor English colonist, in spite of his speaking the tongue well.
Perhaps, instead, a Swede or Salzburger, such as the colony of Georgia
was much peopled with. "Yes, I have thought of it. Very much I have.
But it is hard. You see he is a friend of the master's. He sells him
many men and women. The master knows him well."

"So do I," Granger whispered. "So do I know him well. I know the man
who is a weight on your existence, Bufton!" And, even as he thus
mused, his hand dropped into the pocket by his side and touched the
butt of a pistol in it. Though at the same time he muttered between
his teeth, "Not yet. Let me hear more.

"That would not matter," Bufton said now, his voice low, but still
distinct enough to be heard by the listener in the next room. "Would
not matter much. He would lie in the 'tween decks during the
voyage--is't not so? And if he did not, what matter--when once you are
at sea?"

"He would come back," the mate said, "in two--three--four--months.
What good that?"

"He might," said Bufton, "_throw himself overboard_ in despair. I
have--heard--of such--things--happening--on dark nights. Such things
are done--will--perhaps be done by others; by one of the women you
will take to-night. If--he--did do so--if you brought me the news when
you visit England again, there would be a purse for you."

"Devil," whispered Granger on the other side of the door. "Devil
incarnate, you have learnt your lesson well." And again he felt for
the pistol, withdrawing, however, his hand quickly, in fear that his
passion would overmaster him and cause him to precipitate matters.

"Oh yes! he might," the mate replied, with a deep gurgling laugh. "He
might. Such things are done----"

"Have happened," interposed Bufton.

"Yes. Oh yes! Have happened. It could be done--could 'happen.' But
that is not all. The master will see him brought on board. He sees all
before they go below."

"He will be masked. We have provided ourselves with them, so that the
women shall not know us. He will be masked as well as I. And, in the
fog and the darkness of the night, how can the skipper recognise him?
Turn him face downwards, too, and say that he is drunk. None will know
that he has been stunned instead."

The white-faced listener on the other side of the door--white-faced
not from fear, but from passion--muttered nothing now. Instead, he
nodded his head reflectively, as though conning weighty matters; but
still he never took his ear from the door.

"That might pass," the mate said, "that might pass. Only how to get
him?"

"This way. Listen. The women come first----"

"_Do they?_ thought Granger.

"Then, when they are secured and sent to the boat (the sailors who go
with them saying that a man is also being brought from the spot two or
three hundred yards away), I will start to follow, bidding him come
after me when he has discharged the carriage. Therefore, your men will
know whom to take. It will be the second man."

"The second man," repeated the mate.

And Granger also repeated (but to himself), "The second man."

"Ay, the second man. Both being masked."

"We can attempt it," the sailor said now. "But though we shall
doubtless get him on board and down below, I would be sworn the master
will discover all when we are at sea. He will inspect his live-stock,
and then----"

"Then," said Bufton, "there will be the accident which will
follow--the casting of himself into the sea in despair. Will there
not, my friend?"

"Perhaps," the other answered, in a voice that sounded like a dubious
one. "But--but--these things----"

"Are worth money. True. Yet listen. He will have a bag of fifty
guineas on him which I shall have handed over to him for another
purpose."

"Fifty guineas!"

"Ay. And when you return to England another fifty for you, if
he--has--fallen overboard. Also still another fifty----"

"Another fifty! Making a hundred!"

"Making a hundred, if a woman on board that ship has also--by
accident--or through despair--fallen over. A woman calling herself
Anne Bufton."

"Why! That is your name!"

"Calling herself by my name. You understand?"

"Yes. I understand. And about the money too. Fifty guineas in the
man's pocket; a hundred more when I return if--if--these accidents, or
suicides, have happened. And it will be the second man."

"The second man. Masked."

"Shake hands," said the mate, and Granger heard a smart clasp given,
or rather the contact of their hands when brought together. The
compact was made.

"And I had faltered in my purpose," Granger whispered to himself, "had
resolved to spare this man. To bury the past!"

He drew on his shoes again now, feeling sure that the interview in the
next room was concluded, or almost concluded; and knowing that he must
be gone either before the mate came forth or wait until he had
departed. Yet, while he was doing so he still heard the others
talking--his ears having grown accustomed by now (as well as
quickened) to catch their words easily. He heard Bufton ask--

"How long--if they, the woman calling herself by my name, and this man
who is my evil genius, do not kill themselves at sea--how long are
they bound for in the colonies?"

"Four years," the mate replied. "Four years. The planters will not
have them for longer now. They say they are worn out by then. And so
indeed they are. By the climate, by labour, and by hard usage."

"Do they use them hardly, then?"

"Often, though not always. Yet they do not spare them much. I have
seen a redemptioner at death's-point digging the grave he was soon to
fill, so that his owner should get the last piece of work out of him
that he would ever obtain. But now people begin to talk, to curse the
King here for letting such things be. There is a man out there who
says King George should have nests of rattlesnakes sent him in return
for the convicts and 'kids' that are sent over to the colonies."

Bufton muttered something in reply to this which Granger could not
catch, but a moment later he did hear him say, "Well, one more sup
before you go. The bottle is not empty," and his words were followed a
moment later by the sound of glasses clinking.

"This is my time," the latter thought. "I must go. There is much to do
ere night." Whereon, unlocking the door gently, he stole out into the
damp and reeking corridor, and through the fog that had penetrated
into all the house, and so away downstairs and out into the Marshes.

He knew the road and could have found it blindfolded in spite of all
the gloom that was around him, and he sped along it as fast as he
could go without running. For now it was all-important, vital, that he
should see Anne; that he should get her to help him, as he had helped
her in the scheme of vengeance which had formed the first and least
important part of his own plot. To help him in what, this morning, he
had decided to abandon. But now--now--he swore to himself--he would
never abandon it; to-night it should be brought to completion.

"The second man," he muttered as he went along, and once or twice he
laughed aloud even as he so muttered "the second man." But beyond
those words he said little else.

Arrived at the Brunswick Stairs, he scribbled a note to Anne, which he
sent off to the _Mignonne_ by a waterman, and then retreated from the
raw fog and damp into a tavern where he was well known, when, ordering
a private room, to which he gave orders she should be shown at once,
he sat awaiting her coming.

"She will do it," he told himself again and again. "She will do it, I
know. And thus we win at last."

Presently Anne arrived, anxious to hear what had happened, and if
anything had arisen to, in any way, circumvent their doing that which
they had decided on. Though, if she had been nervous as to whether
some impediment might have cropped up to prevent the fulfilment of
their schemes, that nervousness vanished as Granger told her almost in
a whisper--for even in this private room he was cautious as to how he
used his voice--of the conversation he had overheard at the "Red
Rover." And, when he came to the description of how "the second
man"--who was himself--was to be betrayed into an ambuscade, and,
whispering even lower still, said something else to her, her bright
eyes glistened, and she laughed wickedly.

"Oh! Granger," she said, "I protest you are a schemer, a plotter.
Next, you must try the theatre----"

"Mock not," he said; "be serious. To-night ends all our woes. And, as
to theatres, where are your clothes? That apparel in which you figured
when you played----"

"Alas!" she said, "all are at Fanshawe Manor, locked up by my mother
in her old sea-chest. She would have burnt them in her rage, had I not
begged them off."

He thought a moment, evidently pondering deeply, then she saw his face
brighten, and he said he could contrive very well, only she must come
to his house with him.

"You are a fine, upstanding girl," he said, "and as tall as I am, I
being none too lofty myself. Come with me at once, will you, Anne?"

"Ay," she answered, "or go to--well--no matter where--to do this
thing. For God's sake, let us not fail. I think ever of my little
murdered sister, not of myself."

"Nor I of  myself. But of others slain through his cursed
machinations. And to-day, this very day, when I would have let all
sink into oblivion, when I would have buried the past, he was again
scheming to ruin me once and for all. My girl, we will not fail. Come,
Anne."

As they went along she told him, however, that what they had to do
must be accomplished as early in the evening as possible, so that she
should get back to the frigate to be with Ariadne.

"For," she said, "I do think--nay, am very positive, that my mistress
will be alone this night. Granger," she continued, "Sir Geoffrey means
to take a boarding-party down to that schooner and capture some of her
live cargo. The sailors heard him say that it would be at midnight."

"That," Granger answered, "would ruin all. Yet I doubt his being in
time. The boat will be ashore for the 'victims'--for you, Anne, and
for your mistress, and for the 'man'--for me, it seems now"--and he
smiled wanly--"as soon after nightfall as may be. Yet," he asked, "why
this sudden determination?"

"A tender came from the Admiralty this morning. The fleet is to sail
almost at once, in a few days, for Minorca, and Sir Edward Hawke
requires more men. If Sir Geoffrey boards the schooner, or catches
her, he will take all the able-bodied men he can obtain."

"Some--_I_, for instance, if I get knocked on the head--will not be
very able-bodied," he said, with a quick glance at the girl.

"_Not if the blow should kill_," she replied, with another glance
equally as significant.

They reached the house now, and, since time was pressing, he took her
into a room, and, when there, bade her cast her eyes around and see
if she could find that which was necessary. While the girl, glancing
into the cupboards and at pegs on which hung various garments, put her
hand first on a long cloak--a boat-cloak, much frayed and worn--and
then on a slouching, sombrero hat, that would, hang well over the
features of the wearer; a hat vastly different from the stiff, felt,
three-cornered ones of the day.

"I have seen you wear these," she said, looking at him.

"Ay, you have. And so have others, too." Whereon, with a hurried
reiteration of some directions which he had already given her, he went
away, telling the old woman that the lady above was not to be
disturbed, and was to be provided with a meal when she required it.

Two or three hours later, he burst into the room where Bufton sat--he
having passed the interval in a visit to the _Nederland_, and in
warning the captain that he was to be ready to depart the moment his
victim was on board, and in telling him, too, that there would be no
female captives since his plot had fallen through--burst in, and,
without any premeditation, said--

"Bufton, we are undone. I doubt much if the women can come. The
_Mignonne_ is back, she has passed up the river in this accursed fog."

"Not come!" Bufton exclaimed. "Not come. What, then, is to be done?"

"Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. How can they come,
if Sir Geoffrey is back? They will know the letter was a lie, a
concoction."

"What to do? What to do now?" almost whined Bufton, his hand to chin.

"There is but one thing to do! They might have got away before he
moored--have been on their road. The frigate could not be seen till
she was close to her anchorage. We must go to the spot where they were
to be attacked, and wait their coming."

"Ah!" exclaimed Bufton, and, try as he might, could not prevent a look
of exultation from appearing on his face. "Yes, we must do that."

While Granger, seeing that look--what was there he would not have
seen on the features of the man he had watched like a lynx for so
long?--said--

"Yet, 'tis a pity, too. Not to have one victim--not one!"

"Ay, not one," Bufton repeated aloud, though to himself he said, "All
the same, there will be one. And one that must be made sure of!"



CHAPTER XIX.

THE SECOND MAN.


The evening had come; it was seven o'clock. Towards where London lay,
something--a murky, grimy-looking ball, had sunk away half an hour
ago, its disappearance being followed after a very short interval by
darkness and an increase of the fog, so that those who were out in the
night could not see thirty paces ahead of them. Nor of artificial
light was there any hereabouts in these gloomy, miserable marshes,
except a glimmer that shone from one window of the "Red Rover." Yet,
nevertheless, another light was dawning that, later, served to
brighten somewhat the dense mist and to make it possible by degrees to
see objects fifty yards away, but no further. The light of a moon
approaching her second quarter and consequently rising at this time.

Nearer to London than where the inn was--nearer by some three or four
hundred paces--and upon the bank close by, where there was a rough
causeway running out into the river and down to the point which the
lowest tide touched, two men paced slowly--Algernon Bufton and Lewis
Granger. Each was now wrapped in a long cloak, that which the latter
wore being almost the counterpart of the one that Anne had laid her
hand upon that morning in his house--nay, in the mist and grime
through which the sickly light of the moon shone fully, it was the
counterpart, Bufton's being very similar to it. Each, too, held in his
hand, though he had not yet assumed it, a vizard mask.

"You hear that sound?" Granger said to his companion, as now upon his
accustomed ear, if not upon the other's, there came a deep grunting
noise, a noise as regular as the ticking of a clock. "You hear it and
know what it is?"

"I hear nothing yet. Ah! yes; now I catch it. What is the noise?"

"The thumping of oars in rowlocks. It is the quarter-boat of the
schooner coming ashore for its victims. And, alas! I fear now that it
will get none."

"I fear so, too," said Bufton, glancing under the flap of his hat at
the other, who was peering forward along the river-bank as though he
might be imagining that still there was a hope of Ariadne and Anne
coming. "I fear so, too," Bufton repeated, though as he spoke he knew
that nothing could now well prevent there being one victim.

"No time must be wasted," Granger said. "The schooner sails to-night
as soon as the boat returns to her. Empty or full, that boat must go
back within half an hour."

"What shall we do?" Bufton asked, feeling that he was trembling with
excitement.

"Best go on a hundred yards or so up the road they should come. Then,
after a quarter of an hour, bid the boat put off. Tell them that we
are unable to provide what was expected."

"Yes. Yes. Quick. Let us do that," his companion said, while as he
spoke they heard the keel of the boat grate against the causeway. They
heard also a whistle given.

"A quarter of an hour," cried Granger, casting his voice towards the
spot where the sound had come, "a quarter of an hour. Wait so long,"
and, doubtless because of the filthy reek and mist around, that voice
sounded different in Bufton's ears from usual.

"Ay, ay," was called back hoarsely, in a subdued tone, from the boat.
"Shall we come ashore? Shall we be needed?"

"What shall I say?" asked Granger, appearing to hesitate. "What need
of----"

"Nay," his companion replied, feverishly it seemed, and in great
agitation. "Tell them to do so. To--do so. They may be needed. The
women may come."

"So be it." Then Granger called back, "Ay, get ashore, and be ready.
You know your work."

"We know it."

"The fool!" thought Bufton. "He has signed his own death-warrant--or
as good as a death-warrant."

"Come," said Granger now. "Let us go on a few hundred yards. Then, if
nothing appears when ten minutes are past, 'tis very certain we have
lost them."

"Ay, of course. Come."

So they walked forward those few hundred yards--they were, indeed, but
three hundred--when Granger stopped near a dry dyke, along the bank of
which some stunted, miserable bushes grew that, in summer, had sparse
leaves upon them, but were now dank and dripping, and said--

"'Tis useless waiting. All is still as death; if wheels were coming we
should hear them, as well as the jangle of harness or crack of whip.
'Tis useless. Best go back and send the boat away."

Bufton was trembling even more than before with excitement by
this time, and could scarcely stammer, "Yet--yet--'tis best that
one--should wait. One go back--to--the boat--and--one wait. They
may--they--the women--may come yet."

"'Tis so. Well, go you back! If Anne should see you!--if--go back, I
say--I--will--follow--I will follow;" and he, ordinarily so cool and
collected, stammered somewhat himself.

"So be it. You will follow? Soon! Will you not?"

"Ere you have gone a hundred yards, half the distance. Go. Go.
Walk slowly--to--to--give--them--the women time even now to come.
Yet--stay--those guineas--for--the master."

"He has not earned them," Bufton said, appearing to hesitate about
parting with his money. "He has not earned them. He----"

"No matter! Give them to me. When I come up to you we will send
them off by the man in charge of the boat. The master will earn
them--later. When he returns to England."

With still an affectation of disliking to part with the money, Bufton,
nevertheless, drew a silken purse forth and handed it to the other,
chuckling inwardly to himself at how Granger, who was now to be the
"second man," would carry upon his own person the price of his
enslavement--of his doom.

Then he prepared to set forth towards the causeway, where the boat
was.

"Walk slowly, there is no hurry," Granger whispered; "the quarter of
an hour is not yet passed. And pause once or twice--look--back; may
wish you to return--to assist, if--if--at the last moment I should
hear them coming."

"I will," Bufton said, "I will"; and added to himself, "I will walk
slowly, and look back more than once--to make sure of you."

Whereon he set out.

As he did so, and before he had gone thirty paces Granger went off
swiftly at left angles to the path the man was following--off into the
mist and fog, so that none on that path, not even Bufton could see
him. Yet, still, there was a figure standing where he had stood--a
figure enshrouded in a long cloak, with, hanging over its brows, a
flapping broad-brimmed hat--a figure that, as Granger vanished,
stepped out from behind the bush by the dyke's side and stood there
for some moments.

And that figure saw the man ahead turn back and look at it, while,
when Bufton had done so a second time, it called out in a gruff,
fog-choked voice, "Hist! I am coming now. 'Tis useless."

"Ay, come on," replied Bufton. "Come on now. 'Tis useless."

While, as he spoke, he went on himself.

Yet, because of the state of the atmosphere, he did not know that
ahead of him a "first man" (who had been listening with straining ears
for his oncoming footsteps--who had, by a detour, come panting to the
spot sixty yards ahead of where he was) was now walking along towards
the causeway. A figure, masked as those behind him were, which,
hearing a deep, husky voice close by say, "You are the 'first.' Is the
'second' coming?" answered from beneath the folds of the cloak he held
across his mouth, doubtless to keep out the fog--

"Ay, he is coming."

"And--he is to be taken at all hazards?"

"At all hazards."

In truth the other was coming, though still turning and turning again,
to see that his supposed victim was following him. And he did see that
that supposed victim was following in his footsteps. Then he turned
for the last time, gloating in his triumph, rejoicing that now--in a
few moments--Granger would be gone from out his path for ever; turned
to find himself confronted by three shadowy forms close to him, which,
ere he could utter a cry, had sprung at him; one, the biggest and most
burly, almost choking the life out of him with the brawny hands that
were clenched upon his windpipe. Yet now he struggled to be free, as
the rat in the trap, the panther caged, will struggle for freedom when
snared and doomed; struggled so, that, at last, one of those figures
struck him on the head with a bludgeon, and knocked him senseless.

"Away," that burly figure cried now. "Away with him to the boat. The
time is past. Hark to the anchor cable grating through the hawse-hole;
they are making ready. Away with him."

Whereupon they bore the miserable man off to the causeway, carrying
him face downwards, and with still upon his face the vizard over which
blood streamed now from the wound upon his crown, when, throwing him
into the boat, they made off for the _Nederland_.

Then Granger stepped out from the dark obscurity to which he had
retreated after speaking to the sailor who had greeted him as the
"first man" and had asked if the second was coming, and went back to
meet that other shrouded figure which had taken his place.

"He is gone," he said; "we are avenged and you are free. You heard?"
Then, suddenly, he cried, as he saw Anne reel towards him, "What is
it? You do not regret, surely?"

"Nay," the girl replied, falling almost fainting into his arms. "Nay.
There is no regret, and he deserves his fate--whatsoever it may be.
Yet--yet--actress as I have been--the strain was too much. Granger,
help me now to get back to your house to change my clothes, and, next,
to get on board the _Mignonne_."

"First come to the 'Red Rover' and have something to revive you.
Come."

"Hark," she said, pausing in the step she had taken towards the inn,
"hark. What is that out there in the river? That shouting?"

"It is the men's cries as they haul on to the halyards, so as to be
ready when the wind comes. Yet the schooner has enough tide beneath
her to carry her swiftly down to the open. Listen, Anne, their voices
are becoming fainter.

"I hear. They are moving."

"They are moving. In ten minutes they will be gone."

As they sat together later, and he ministered to her wants,
recognising well that, without her bravery to assist him, he could
never have turned the tables so thoroughly upon Bufton's villainous
scheme as he had done, he remembered the fifty guineas which the
latter had handed over to him at the last moment. Whereupon he passed
them over to the girl.

"They are yours, Anne. You are his lawful wife--soon, doubtless, you
will be his executrix. He has still money about him, which I make no
doubt the skipper of the _Nederland_ will appropriate. He will land a
beggar. Heaven help him!"

"You say that?" Anne exclaimed, "Heaven help him! Help him who ruined
you. You can say that?"

"No," he cried savagely. "No. I do not say it. I retract. Damn him! he
forged Lord Glastonbury's name, but passed the bill to me, since he
owed me one-half the sum, and I paid it into Child's bank. Then, when
Glastonbury caused me to be arrested on board the ship I served in,
and I stated where I had obtained the bill, that craven hound now
going to his fate swore he knew nought about it--that my story was a
fabrication. But that his lordship and I loved the same woman, and she
sacrificed herself to save my neck--unknown to me--as well as paid the
money to the bankers, I should have swung at Tyburn."

"Wherefore," said Anne, "you forgave him for the time--with an end in
view."

"With an end in view. An end, my determination to reach which never
slackened. And it is reached. Anne, it is borne in on me that he will
never come back. If he does, then----"

"He never will return," said Anne. "It is also borne in on me. Now let
us go," and she moved towards the door, throwing over her the great
cloak which she had removed after the drawer had quitted the room, and
replacing the hat.

"You have forgotten the guineas," said Granger, noticing that she had
let them lie unheeded where he had originally placed them.

"The guineas!" the girl cried. "The guineas! His money! I will never
take them--never touch them. Except," she cried, seizing on the
packet, "to fling them into the river. Never! Never!"

"Be not foolish. They are yours. Can you devise no means to which you
can put them?"

"Ay," she said a moment later, and after thinking deeply while she
stood gazing down at the table. "Ay, I can. Kitty's grave is a lonely,
desolate one. Now it shall be brightened and made cheerful with the
money of the man who drove her to death. Come," and as she spoke she
took the packet and dropped it into her pocket. "Come, I must get
back."

So Lewis Granger took the girl back to Brunswick Stairs and sent her
off by a shore boat to the _Mignonne_, he learning on shore, and she
when she, stepped on board the frigate, that Sir Geoffrey had set out
an hour ago to board the _Nederland_, so as to take from out of her
some of the men who were now so much required.

"For," said Ariadne, whom she found in the state cabin, "Sir Edward
Hawke sails in a fortnight for Torbay, thence to set out and attack
the French. And, Anne, the _Mignonne_ goes as one of the frigates. Oh,
Anne!"

"It must be so. Be brave, darling. Sir Geoffrey is a sailor, as your
father and my father were. It is duty. But--Ariadne--be cheered also
with one small thing. Sir Geoffrey will be back to-night in an hour."

"In an hour?"

"Ay, in an hour. The _Nederland_ has sailed."

"Sailed! With all those wretched trepanned creatures on board!"

"With them all. And with one other besides, trepanned as he would have
trepanned you and me had he had his will, and as he would have done to
Lewis Granger, too."

Whereon she told her foster-sister everything.



CHAPTER XX.

ARIADNE'S COMPASSION.


That Sir Geoffrey Barry should be in a considerable state of
exasperation when he returned with his boarding-party from their
frustrated intention to capture the _Nederland_, and take from her as
many able-bodied men as he required, was no more than natural. For now
he scarcely knew where to turn to procure the extra men whom the
Admiralty continued to strenuously instruct him to obtain, and he
began to fear that the great fleet preparing to go to sea and attack
Conflans would not owe much more to his endeavours. Yet, exasperated
as he might be, astonishment obtained the mastery over that feeling
when Ariadne--who had refused to go to bed till he came back--informed
him of what had happened in the Marshes that night.

"Great heavens!" he cried, in his first surprise, "this is too awful.
What a vengeance! What a vengeance! And Anne in it, too. Yet," he
continued, "she could scarcely have taken a more effective way of
ridding herself of the man. The schooner will be captured beyond all
doubt by Thurot, or Boisrose, or some of those French sailors, half
corsairs and half naval officers. And then--well! then--at best it
will be months, nay, perhaps years, of detention in a French
fortress."

"And at worst?" asked Ariadne.

"At worst! Why--this," and he pointed downwards to the deck. "That,
with perhaps a broadside into them."

"I pity the others," said Ariadne; "him I cannot pity. Oh! he was
willing to undertake such a fiendish scheme to smuggle Anne and me
into that loathsome ship, and would have succeeded had not Mr.
Granger, who hoodwinked him into believing that he would help him,
found means to catch him in a trap instead."

Whereon, in answer to Geoffrey's desire to be told all, his wife
related everything that Anne had divulged on her return.

Extreme as Geoffrey's anger was--and in that anger he felt almost
inclined to go ashore and punish Granger in some way for having
dared use his wife's name as a means whereby to lure Bufton to his
doom--surprise once more took possession of him when he heard Ariadne
say--

"Poor Mr. Granger! What a sad fate has been his. Oh! Geoffrey, why did
not you tell me before that, Lady Glastonbury was--was----"

"Tell you, child! Why, how could I tell you anything I did not know?
'Lady Glastonbury!' What was she to him that you speak thus?"

"Sophy Jervis was my dearest friend once at Gosport, and--as you
know--she married Lord Glastonbury."

"Well! Ariadne."

"And Sophy Jervis was loved by, and herself loved madly, Lewis
Granger."

"My God! And sacrificed herself to save him. Is that it?"

"It is, as I know now. Though not until to-night, when Anne told me
all and enabled me to put one thing with another. And to-morrow,"
she continued, "I will show you her letters to me. Short of saying
what the name of the man whom she loved was, she has told me all."

In the morning she did as she had said she would, and put in her
husband's hands a small packet of letters which he read later, not
without a man's compassion for the wrecked love of the unhappy pair,
and with, too, much, doubt upon his part as to whether these letters
from one woman to another should not have been sacred from any man's
eyes. Yet, also, ere he had concluded the perusal, he understood that
it was well that Ariadne had shown them to him.

For in these letters the whole story was narrated, as Granger had
briefly told it to Anne overnight in the "Red Rover"; the story of the
girl's mad love for the handsome young lieutenant and of his for her;
of the delirious bliss of the earliest days of that love; days full of
softest wishes and tenderest fears and hopes of happy years to come.
Of happy years with him who, so cold to and disdainful of all others,
was to her a slave--a slave, but a loving one! Then, while Geoffrey
read on--knowing that, as he did so, the tears were in his eyes--the
tale was told of how the blow had fallen; of how the man she loved was
ruined and disgraced; and that he had committed a crime which would
drive him forth from the society of all honest men, and out of the
service he belonged to--nay! worse, might bring him to the gallows.
Yet she saved him, saved him at last, at the cost of her own happiness
in this world; by the perdition of her own soul. The man he had
robbed, or attempted to rob, was, by Fortune's favour, one who had
wooed her long and unsuccessfully; now he would spare him upon one
condition. The condition that she resigned the man she loved, and
wedded the man who loved her.

"And then," the last letter went on, "oh! my God, then, Ariadne, when
I had been Lord Glastonbury's wife for six months, we learnt that the
man I had loved was innocent, and that he was the tool of a designing
villain. We learnt it through a letter written to my husband by a
woman who had been the friend of that villain and was cognizant of the
robbery he was meditating; by a woman who, discarded and cast off, had
found means to communicate with Glastonbury, she imagining that the
theft had succeeded. And, darling," the unhappy writer concluded, "my
husband, though dissolute, is an honourable man; if he could find my
unhappy lover he would tell him all, he would send him that woman's
letter. It might yet go far to restore him to his proper place in the
world. Meanwhile, he intends to write to the Lords of the Admiralty."

Geoffrey called Ariadne to him when he had finished the perusal of the
letters, and told her that he had done so; then he said quietly--

"It was a pity Lady Glastonbury never mentioned her lover's name to
you. By chance (since I have spoken of him so much of late) we should
have been able to help him. Now, it is too late."

"Geoffrey!" she exclaimed, after a moment's meditation, "let me see
him. Perhaps--perhaps--if I let him hear those letters read it might
do much to reclaim him, low as he has fallen, and horrible as is the
calling he follows."

"Yet the calling which I profit by," her husband made answer.
"Therefore is he little worse, if any, than we who employ him. But,"
he continued, "what use in seeing him, Ariadne? What can you do?"

"If I told him all that Sophy has written; if I should plead with him
to lead a better life--now that he has exacted so horrible a vengeance
on the man who destroyed him--might I not prevail?"

"Prevail! What is there for him to do?"

"God knows! Yet something better than that which he does now. Surely!
surely!"

For a moment Geoffrey stood reflecting. He was profoundly impressed by
all that he had learnt, as it was most natural he should be. Had not
he himself sat upon the very court-martial which condemned Lewis
Granger to ignominy; had not all upon that awful tribunal regarded him
as a common knave; had not all refused to listen to his protestations
of innocence? Yet now--now!--he was innocent. Everything proved it.
Not only the letters of his lost love, but surely, also, the terrible
retribution he had exacted from him who had so ruined him. If--if by a
pure, good woman's pleading he could be induced to lead a better and
more honourable calling, should he stand in the way of helping him to
do so, even though that woman was his own wife?

Later that day, as Geoffrey inspected some men who had been brought
off from the shore--they having been taken by a press-gang overnight
after a hard fight--a boat came away from the stairs with, seated in
it, Lewis Granger. He had come in answer to a summons from Geoffrey,
in which the latter simply said that he wished to speak to him in
connection with something in his past life in which they had both
played a part. But he had added at the foot another line: "I wish to
make you acquainted with Lady Barry."

And now the unhappy man was close at hand, his mind filled with wonder
at the strange summons.

"To make me acquainted with his wife," he had whispered to himself a
dozen times--nay! a hundred times, since receiving the message. "I!
the exposed forger--the man driven out of the Navy for an ignoble
crime--the crimp of to-day. And this in connection with something in my
past, of which her husband knows as well as I! What does it mean?"

Yet, soon, he was himself to know. At once! The boat had reached the
side of the ship, the manropes were in his hands; above stood Sir
Geoffrey Barry, watching him coming on board, with, upon his face, a
pleasant glance.

"My God!" Lewis Granger thought to himself, "he looks as once he might
have looked at a comrade across the mess-cabin table; as he has never
looked yet at me before. And--and--I am to be made acquainted with his
wife!"

Geoffrey held out his hand to Granger when he reached the deck, noting
as he did that the man had come as a gentleman to visit a lady. He was
clad now in a quiet but good black costume; he was also clean-shaven
and neat, which he had not been before. His wig was new and freshly
powdered, and his lace was faultless. A different person this from the
one who sat day by day in Jamaica Court, consigning drunkards and
kidnapped men to their fate.

"Granger, I sent for you to tell you some news that has come to me.
Through my wife, who has heard it from a lady--from----"

"Sophy!" the other whispered, divining all--or, perhaps it was not a
whisper, his lips alone forming the word, though uttering no sound.
While as they did so, he turned white as death.

"Yes. She has heard--her husband has heard--strange news. Nay,
Granger, be steady," he said, breaking off as he saw the other put out
his hand and touch a gun-carriage as though he feared to fall.

"What has--she--heard?" the latter asked a moment later, his voice
almost inaudible.

"That--that--we who sat in judgment on you--that--that--all were
wrong. I think it can be proved."

"It is too late," Granger said. "Too late. I have fallen too low. Do
you know that since it all happened I--God help me!--have been
drinking myself to death? That, now I have avenged myself on the man
who ruined me, I shall do so even more furiously? To end all."

"No! No! Think! Think still on what may be. If--if their Lordships are
but satisfied that you were misjudged--I do not know--but--perhaps--it
might be possible in these times of war to reinstate you. I do not
know, I repeat. But it may be."

"Could that restore to me the woman I loved--the woman whom, Heaven
help me, I love madly still? Can anything do that?"

"No," Geoffrey answered, his tone low yet full of sympathy. "No.
Nothing can do that. But it might make her happy, might ease some of
her pain. If she could know that you were righted in the world's
eyes, if she knew that the shame which has covered you was swept away
for ever--could not that make her happy?"

"It would perhaps make our lot easier to bear," Granger answered. Then
in a clearer voice, he said, "I knew that Lady Barry and Sophy--had
been friends from girlhood. That was one, though but one reason why I
helped Anne to ensnare that scheming scoundrel."

"For that at least I thank you--for punishing him for his vile and
wicked insolence. Now, tell me, did he in truth design to put
her--great heavens! to think of it--on board the _Nederland?_"

"He swallowed the bait I held out to him; jumped at it. He was so
eager to see the plan carried out that, thus, he fell into my power.
Yes, even at the last, and meditating further a double treachery, he
fell into my power. You have heard that?"

"Yes. I have heard all. But--how can I pity him? Now come and see my
wife," and Geoffrey made a step towards the cabin aft.

"Not yet. Not yet. Give me one moment to recover myself. To meet
her--Sophy's friend--will be an ordeal to me. Let me collect myself."

Geoffrey busied himself about the deck, giving orders for the bestowal
of raffle and other things until he thought Granger might feel
sufficiently calm to meet Ariadne, then, turning to where the latter
still stood with his eyes fixed on the river, he said again--

"Come. She desires so much to see you."

"Go on. Lead me to her."

Whereon, conducting Granger past the sentry and through the outer
cabin, or office, he tapped gently on the door of the saloon, and
opening it, said--

"Ariadne, Mr. Granger is here," while, motioning the other to enter,
he closed the door, not going in himself.

"'Tis best that they should be alone," he thought, his mind delicate
and manly as ever. "Far better. It is indeed an ordeal for him."

And Granger, entering that saloon--while thinking how long it was
since he had been admitted as a visitor to such a place--how long
since he had stood face to face and on terms of equality with a
gentle, refined woman!--knew that before him, and gazing pityingly at
him, was Ariadne Barry, the dearest friend of the woman whom he had
loved and lost.



CHAPTER XXI.

A DIVINE DESPAIR.


At first he did not dare to raise his eyes to the slim girlish figure
standing there, his emotion being too great. Nor, if he saw it, had he
dared to take the hand held out to him, but dropped a moment later at
its owner's side.

But then, at last, he lifted his bowed head and gazed at her, seeing
at one glance that she also was looking full at him. Seeing, too, that
the sweet, delicate mouth was trembling, and that the pure, clear eyes
were welling over with tears. And he observed also that, as he became
witness of her emotion and deep sympathy for him and his despair, she
turned her face away, while, moving towards a chair, she made a sign
for him to also be seated.

"God bless you," she heard him mutter in a low, deep voice. "God bless
you for your womanly compassion."

"Mr. Granger," she said a moment later, and still the sweet mouth
trembled and her eyes were full of tears, "I have sent for--asked you
to come to me--because I know so much of your past--your hopes. So
much, too, of your unhappiness. Oh! Mr. Granger, I was Sophy Jervis's
greatest friend."

"I know it," he murmured. "I know it. She told you all: Of my
love--nay--it was not love, but idolatry!--of its too bitter ending.
Though it is not, never can be ended."

"Ah! Mr. Granger, now you must live for other things. Live to see your
wrongs redressed, your honour restored, your name cleared. You have
heard from my husband that there is proof of your innocence."

"Yes," he said. "Yes, I have heard." But, still with his head bent, he
whispered the same words he had said to Sir Geoffrey outside on the
quarterdeck, "It is too late."

"No. No. It is not too late. Geoffrey and I have talked together, and
to-morrow he will go to see their Lordships. Oh! Mr. Granger, if you
could return to your old calling, if you could once more serve the
King in these troublous times, even in a subordinate position, yet
with hope before you, would you not do so? Would you not lead a
different life?"

"God knows I would, bankrupt as are all my hopes, all my future.
Yet--you are aware of what I have been? Of what I am?"

"Yes, I know," and, although he could not see it, there was in her
face a look of sublime pity for him. Pity that this man, still young
and handsome--how handsome he must have been when first he won Sophy's
love she could well understand, even though judging only of him now as
he sat before her in his desolation and abasement!--should have fallen
to what he had.

"There is," he went on, "no baser thing in all this world than he who
traffics in his fellow-men. Yet I elected to do it in my despair and
bitterness. I might have earned a living otherwise, but this consorted
with what I was, with what I had become."

"It is not too late. Will you not leave this life for--for--in memory
of Sophy?"

"Yes," he whispered, "if you bid me do so for her sake--her memory.
Yes. If my honour is cleared, but not otherwise, for otherwise it
would be useless. If Sir Geoffrey, or any other captain, will take me,
I will go back, even though as a seaman before the mast. I will do it
for her sake, in return for your gracious pity of me."

"Thank God!" she cried. "Oh, thank God!" Then she rose and went to the
'scrutoire and, opening it, took out the packet of letters that she
had shown her husband. "Read them; do with them what you will. Read
them now, if you desire." Whereon she put the little parcel in his
hand, and, leaving him alone, went into the next cabin.

"My love, my lost love," he murmured, as he glanced at them hurriedly,
not knowing that she had gone away to give him ample time for their
perusal. "My sweet. And we are parted for ever. For ever! To all
eternity. Nothing can bring you back to me."

That he had wept she knew when she returned, yet a man's tears for her
whom he has loved and lost need no pardon from another woman's heart;
and so she gently bade him take the letters and keep them, extorting
only from him a promise that he would in no way endeavour to
communicate with Lady Glastonbury.

"For that," she said, "must never be. Neither sorrow nor trouble must
ever come to her again. Have I your promise?"

"On my word of honour. As a man--who was once a gentleman--I swear it,
yet, oh God! it is hard. Hard to think that I can look upon her
handwriting again and the words that are not addressed to me, although
concerning me. It is so long," he added, his voice deep and broken,
"since a line has come from her. Yet I have promised, and I will keep
my word."

"I know it. I take and believe your word."

"But," Granger continued, "if--when you write to her, you could tell
her that--that--born of these letters," and he touched his breast as
he spoke, he having placed them there, "has come the promise of a
better life for me--a life loveless, but no longer smirched and
blemished--then I know she would be happier. If you could promise
that!"

"I will do it," Ariadne answered, the tears again rushing to her eyes,
and all her emotions thrilling at the sorrow and despair of the man
before her. "I will do it."

And, now, Granger turned away, knowing there was no more to be said,
yet inwardly blessing her who had that day been as a ministering angel
to him.

"Farewell, madam," he said; "I cannot thank you--but--but----" Then,
seeing that now she held out her hand again to him, and in such a
manner that this time he could not fail to perceive her action, he
took it in his own. And, o'ermastered by her womanliness and supreme
sympathy, he raised it to his lips.

"God bless and keep you and yours," he whispered again as he had
whispered before; "God bless you for your sweet compassion."


                        *    *    *    *    *    *    *


Outside, Sir Geoffrey Barry was still engaged with the manifold duties
pertaining to a ship which was soon to take part in a war that would
doubtless be long, and must be deadly--as was and is ever the case
when England and France contend for mastery. Already many things on
deck were being stowed away which, when the time came, would be
encumbrances. The cutter, too, had just come off from shore, bringing
with it, this time, some willing sailors. Sailors who, having been
paid off from a disabled privateer, and having spent all their
money on sickening debauches on shore, were only too ready to
again go to sea and earn some more. A fine band of brawny, dissolute
men were these whom George Redway--now installed as captain of the
cutter--brought on board with him; men who on shore were nothing but
maddened and intoxicated devils, but who, when the enemy hove in sight
and when they were at close quarters, would become heroes, nay, almost
demigods. For then the old English blood became roused to its fullest
and best; then woe betide those who encountered these men.

"A brisk crew of sea-dogs," said Sir Geoffrey, observing the traces of
recent emotion on Granger's face but making no remark for the moment.
"If I had not my full complement, these are the fellows I should wish
to keep."

"There is one at least whom you can keep if you so please," Granger
said; "one who will work like, live with, those men there," and he
pointed to where half a dozen sailors were swabbing the deck.

"Yourself!" exclaimed Geoffrey, his face lighting. "Yourself! She has
spoken to you of a different life?"

"She has spoken to me. In her mercy and goodness! And I have
promised."

"Thank God! The trade I found you at a few days ago might well become
the man you were supposed to be, not the man you are."

"That trade ends to-day. To-night, I tell the man who employs me that
he must seek another tool. Almost directly, if you will have me; I can
join your ship."

"We can perhaps do better than you say. Yet, to-morrow, I must speak
to their Lordships. As an officer you cannot of course go----"

"I--an officer! I do not dream of that."

"But," Geoffrey continued, "the _Resolution_ wants a gunner's mate. If
I can transfer mine to her, you could come in this ship. If I cannot,
then the _Resolution_ must have you."

"What can I say? How utter----"

"Say nothing. Granger," he continued, "you have suffered deeply,
and--and--we have been brother sailors. If I who sat in judgment on
you once and wronged you unwittingly can now help to right you, I will
do it." And he laid his hand upon the other's arm as a firm friend
might do. "I want to see you once more the Lewis Granger who was known
and spoken enviously of when he was in the _Revenge_," he continued.
"I want to see my gunner's mate--if I can have him--back again in his
old place amongst us when this coming war is over."

For a moment Lewis Granger stood there looking at the man before
him--the man whose life was so bright and prosperous, yet, who,
nevertheless, could feel such pity for one whose existence had been so
broken.

"You forget," he whispered; "you forget. My disgrace, my ruin was not
all. That, it seems, may be wiped out for ever. But what of the rest
of my life? What have I been? Even during the past months. And--and--I
have sent that man to death, a death in life, if nothing else."

"That counts not. What would he have done? To you--to Anne--to
Ariadne! My God! Granger, you have instead saved him--from me. Had he
been here now, were he within my reach, I would slay him myself as I
would slay a snake."

"Yet I suggested the scheme to him, meaning thereby that he should
fall into the trap."

"But not meaning that it should be carried out. He was the villain,
and his villainy has recoiled on his own head. Dismiss all
recollection of that. Live now to be prosperous and happy."

"Happy--never! Happiness and I are parted; henceforth our ways are far
asunder. Let me go," he said, turning towards the side where the boat
he had come in was waiting for him, "and if you can do what you say,
if you can take me with you, let me know to-morrow after you have seen
their Lordships. I shall be ready ere long."

"Farewell," said Geoffrey, with one hand grasping that of Granger, the
other on his arm--and on his face the look of noble compassion that
not often, but sometimes, passes between man and man--"farewell!
To-morrow you shall hear from me--and--fear not. We sail together as
comrades yet. I know it. Feel it."

Whatever Lewis Granger had to do to free himself from the hateful life
which he had lived for the last few months was quickly done; and, ere
another day had passed, he--in spite of protestations and
remonstrances from the man whom he served--had cast that life behind
him for ever. But still there remained one other thing to do, a
journey to make.

He took the coach as the afternoon drew on, and so proceeded some
dozen miles into the heart of the country, when, quitting it, he made
his way on foot towards a village lying a mile or two from a great
town. A little village that, here, rose upon a slight hill and was
surmounted by an old church built of flint stones which, in the late
March gloom of evening, stood up hoar and grim. And, striding through
the village in which now lights were beginning to twinkle through the
diamond-paned windows of thatched cottages, Lewis Granger made his way
to the wicket-gate that opened into the churchyard, and so round to
the farther side, and to a grave--a grave over which was a stone,
having inscribed on it the words that told how, very suddenly, the
Lady Hortensia Granger had died two years before.

"Ay," her son murmured to himself, as he stood there in the desolate
place and felt the night wind rising over the flat country around.
"Ay. Suddenly! The blow killed her as it fell--perhaps in God's mercy.
Yet, if I could have seen her ere she went--surely, surely, she must
have believed my vows that I was innocent. And now, she can never
know."

That is the bitterness of it! The bitterness that those who have gone
can never know what we would have told them had we not been too late.
That that which has happened after they have gone can never be told
now. And such bitterness had come to the racked heart of Lewis
Granger: the grief and misery of knowing that, of the only two
creatures in the world whom he could love, the one had died of horror
engendered by belief in his shame; the other had not died, but she,
too, had believed.

"Oh, God!" he muttered, standing there in the swift-coming darkness,
"if they could only have trusted me; if they could have waited
patiently in that trust."

A bitter cry this from an overcharged heart, yet one that has found an
echo in thousands of others, and in other circumstances. "If they
would only have had faith in us: would only have waited patiently in
that faith!" Or, better still, if we who erred and felt and suffered
had not scorned to justify ourselves in their eyes; had not defied the
present and trusted to the future to right us, and had not taught
ourselves to laugh at doubts and be willing to love and lose and leave
it to the morrow to make amends. The morrow that is never to be; the
future that is never to come! For there is neither future nor morrow
on this earth for the loved ones whose ears are dead and cold, and
cannot hear our bitter plaint--nor ever any future for us either. The
word has not been said--and it is too late! Too late! and only because
that word, which would have righted all, has not been uttered. We were
innocent, and scorned to proclaim our innocence; we loved and cloaked
our love with assumed indifference, with pretended infidelity; we
worshipped, and were ashamed to acknowledge our worship. And, now,
those are gone who hungered for the avowal, and to whom it would
have sounded as the sweetest music ever heard, and we are left,
and--again!--it is too late.



CHAPTER XXII.

"AS YE SOW."

To roam the seas for months, storm-beaten and tempest-tossed, chilled
to the bone with cold at one moment, burnt black by the sun at others;
without food sometimes, and sometimes without drink--such has often
been the lot of the English seamen in voyages and war-time, and so it
was now in "The Wonderful Year," the year 1759.

Only with, perhaps, more added miseries and discomforts during the
present hostilities than had been present in earlier times, since, in
those days of the past, our enemy--our one great and implacable enemy,
with whom it seemed almost that God created us to strive--had ever
sought us as eagerly as we sought him. Yet, now, all appeared changed.
The more we sought him the more he evaded us; upon the open sea we
could never bring him--or very rarely bring him--to battle with us;
and, vaunt as he might his determination to crush us, to invade our
land, to sink us into a third-rate Power, yet, when we put forth to
seek him, he was never to be found. Instead his fleets were in harbour
and his ships far up inland rivers; the sight of our topsails was
sufficient to cause his own to instantly disappear beneath the
horizon. Yet that, at this period, there had been innumerable
encounters was still true. Had not Boscawen shattered De la Clue off
Cape Lagos, Pocock defeated the French in the East Indies, and
countless ships of war and frigates been captured by us? But still the
great action--the one that was to be decisive--seemed as far off as
ever when "The Wonderful Year" was drawing to its close, and when,
after many returns to English ports, Sir Edward Hawke once more put to
sea from Torbay, on November 14th, to find, if possible, the great
fleet of Conflans, which was known to be lurking somewhere in the
neighbourhood of Belleisle.

November, 1759! a month of terrible storm and stress--yet, what is
storm or stress to the seaman bent on finding his foe and vanquishing
him?--a month when tempest after tempest howled across the seas, when
days broke late and nights came early, when land-fogs and sea-fogs
enveloped all for hours, so that inaction was forced to prevail. Yet,
through all those furies of the elements the gallant fleet went forth,
the Royal George (she flying proudly the Admiral's flag) leading
twenty-three ships of the line and many frigates and bomb-ketches. It
went forth, to be joined later by numerous other vessels, including
amongst them the _Mignonne_, under the command of Captain Sir Geoffrey
Barry.

On board the old French capture was Lewis Granger, too, again a
sailor, though not yet again an officer; that, Geoffrey said, would
come--after the war was over.

"After the war is over," Granger would repeat to himself; while
sometimes he would repeat the words aloud as the captain uttered them,
"After the war is over."

Then he would turn away, saluting his superior if with him, or
uttering some muttered ejaculation if alone.

He was not all unhappy now; the work which he had been allowed to
resume occupied him sufficiently to distract his memories, and, for
the rest, he had fallen easily into his duties. Moreover, he was
better situated than he might have hoped to be. Their Lordships had
made no objection to his being borne on the books of the _Mignonne_
after hearing her captain's story of the man's innocence, more
especially as that captain was one whose destiny seemed of great
promise; and so Granger had gone on board the frigate ere she sailed
from the Thames. Though that was months ago now--months spent, as told
above, in scouring the seas, in hardships, and sometimes disaster.
But, during those months, an accident had placed Lewis Granger in an
even better position than that which he had at first assumed.

The master-gunner had been killed in a conflict between the _Mignonne_
and a French corvette, which the former was chasing, and Granger had
stepped into his shoes. And, though such promotion was not much to one
who had once worn the uniform of a commissioned officer, yet it was
something. It gave him a cabin to himself where he could brood and
meditate--as he did too often!--it enabled him to take his meals alone
and be alone. And so, with his various duties, his charge of the
ordnance and ordnance stores, his long hours devoted to the
instruction of the raw hands who as yet scarcely understood the
gunnery exercises, and a thousand other matters, he passed those
months away. Passed them thus--and in forgetting, or, rather, in
striving to forget.

For he could not forget. That was the curse laid on him and beneath
which he had to bow.

"If I could do that," he would say to himself, again and again; and
most often when he lay awake for hours in his berth--"if I could do
that. If, at last, her sweet, innocent face, her braided chestnut
hair, the look of love that never failed to greet me as I drew near,
might vanish for ever from my memory! If, too, I could think that she
also forgets--then--some day, I might obtain peace. But--I know
it!--she no more forgets than I."

Stubbornly, doggedly, as it ever is when a man wrestles with himself,
so he wrestled now. And it was all of no avail. It was useless! But
one woman had ever dawned a star above his existence; the woman
who--star-like!--had fallen away from him for ever.

"Such love should never have been," he would continue musing, "never
have been, or, coming into my life, should have stayed always with me.
Other men knew better what to do than I--could fool women, for a
pastime, into loving them, could lead them on to madness and then grow
weary and fling them contemptuously aside. And I despised such men. Do
I despise them now?"

But only a moment later he would find his own answer to his own
question, and would whisper to himself, "Yes. Even as it is, ours was
the fonder, better love."

Keeping much to himself--as much as could be in a ship of war full of
action, and chasing sometimes a vessel of the enemy's that hove in
sight, or fleeing on others from two or three of their ships with
which it would have been madness to risk an encounter--he went about
his duties, performing each and all as though he lived for them alone;
as though, too, his frame was impervious to fatigue or the burden of a
rough, hard life. With Sir Geoffrey he could hold but little
communion--that, considering the different positions each was now
filling, would have been impossible!--though sometimes they could be
together in the captain's cabin for a short time. And then the latter
would say words to the other of approbation and approval, as well as
comfort, which, had it not been that all his future was blank and
hopeless, must have cheered him. But, because such was the case, those
words could not do so, and murmuring again, as he had murmured so
often, "It is too late," he would withdraw to his solitude.

Yet, now, every day brought it more home to those in the English fleet
that, at last, the great conflict was drawing near. Before they had
been two days out of Torbay on this their last putting to sea, a
French bilander had been captured, from which the Admiral obtained
some news of Conflans, while, on the morning of the 17th, the
_Magnanime_ (also a capture) let fly her top-gallant sheets as a
signal that she had sighted something that might be, or might belong
to, the enemy. And a moment later the _Mignonne_--which had been
abreast of the lee line--was signalled to stand to the north to see
what she could discover. What she did discover, when under full sail
she had set forth in the direction ordered, was a French privateer
making off as fast as she could go in the direction of the French
coast. Also, ahead of her, some two or three miles away, was a fleet
of vessels, which, cruelly enough, did not stand by to assist their
slower sister.

"She must be ours," cried Sir Geoffrey now, as, flinging the waves off
from her forefoot contemptuously, the _Mignonne_, with every sheet
fisted home, tore through the turbulent waters. "She must be ours. We
gain upon her, too." Then he cried to the master, "Lay me alongside of
her, as soon as possible. And tell the master-gunner to be ready."

That the privateer knew she was outpaced was evident from the manner
in which she tacked--as the hare tacks and twists before the hound
unleashed; while she showed that she did not mean to yield without a
fight if she yielded at all. Coming round suddenly when the _Mignonne_
was almost close upon her, she fired three of her lower deck guns, the
English vessel only escaping being hit by the tossing of the waves
which carried her high upon their crests, while the balls passed
harmlessly beneath her.

That Granger was at his place was evident a moment later, when, from
the gun-deck of the frigate, there poured forth a broadside that, as
it struck the privateer, sent her keeling over to her larboard side.
Then, as she recovered herself and the _Mignonne_ came round on the
wind, another broadside belched forth.

"That has done it," cried Geoffrey. "Fire no more. She will sink in
ten minutes. Lower away there to save as many as may be. They are
taking to the water already."

However many might be taking to the water, as he said, it was certain
that none would escape in the privateer's boats. For now she lay over
so much that it was impossible any such should be lowered from her;
and that she would founder in a few moments, sucking down with her
everything in the immediate neighbourhood, was not to be doubted.
There remained nothing, consequently, but for those in the ship to
throw themselves into the sea and to take their chance of either being
picked up by the _Mignonne's_ boats, or of being engulfed by the
sinking vessel, or--which was equally likely--have the breath beaten
out of them by the waves that ran mountains high.

Of such who were picked up at last, there were only three--one, a
young man, who swam towards the _Mignonne's_ boats with all the vigour
of despair; the others being two middle-aged men. As for the privateer
herself, she was gone for ever, leaving behind her no traces except a
flag tossed on the water, some floating barrels, and a few coops full
of drowned fowls.

"Bring brandy," cried Sir Geoffrey, as these men were carried over the
side of the _Mignonne_, more dead than alive, and with one alone, the
sturdy swimmer, still conscious. "Bring brandy, and pour it down their
throats. They must not die. They can tell much, and tell they shall."

Then, to his astonishment, the mam who had swam so stoutly--the
youngest of the three--opened his eyes and looked up at him, saying in
English--

"What is it you would have us tell?"

"First," said Sir Geoffrey, "what was the name of that privateer?
Next, how you, an Englishman; came in her? You, an Englishman, in a
French ship at such a time! Man, do you know what may be your fate?"

"The privateer was _La Baleine_, of Dunkirk. As for myself and scores
of others, we were not there willingly. We were bound for the
colonies, and taken out of a schooner called the _Amarynth_ some
months ago, and kept----"

"The _Amarynth_," said a voice--deep and low as ever--in Sir
Geoffrey's ear, "was the right name of the _Nederland_."

"Great heaven!" said Sir Geoffrey, turning round suddenly on Granger,
and himself speaking in a whisper now, so that the officers and men
who were about should not hear him. "Great heaven! The _Nederland!_
The ship that carried that scoundrel who, had he had his will, would
have placed Ariadne and Anne in her."

"Ay," replied Granger, "if he had had his will. He who would have
kidnapped them and me."

"Speak," said Sir Geoffrey now, "speak and tell all. How has this
thing happened?"

"Thus," said the man, looking up defiantly at his questioner: "Some
were kidnapped into her, some went willingly. Bah! you both know that:
both of you, sailors though you be. You were the one who led and
encouraged the press-gang, who came to _his_ house for men; that other
by your side was----"

"Silence!" said Sir Geoffrey, white, and speaking sternly--though
hating himself for having to do so. "Silence! and continue your
narrative. I command here, and desire no opinion on my conduct. And I,
at least, did not press you. Go on."

"We were half across the Atlantic," the fellow said moodily, "when her
captain, a Frenchman called Boisrose, took us, and, after fighting
contrary winds for weeks, was nearing France to hand us over as
prizes. Now--well? now, you have altered all that. What are you going
to do with us?"

"That you will know later. At present, thank your God that you
are saved--from death, if not worse. At least you are in an English
ship. You shall be well cared for. Take them below," he said to the
master-at-arms, "and give them food and dry clothes."

"Yet first," said Granger, "answer me one question: There was a man on
board named Bufton. Was he _there?_" and he directed his eyes to the
spot beneath which the privateer had sunk.

"There was no man of that name to my knowledge."

"A man whom one could not mistake. A man with a strangely long and
pointed chin."

"Oh! He! Oh! yes, he was there. But he was a cur. He could not stand
his fate. He had been a dandy, it seems, whose heart was burst."

"Why?" asked Granter, in an even deeper voice, "why? What did he do?"

"Threw himself overboard in despair one dark, rough night--as they
told us--a week before Boisrose captured the schooner."

Instinctively Geoffrey and Lewis Granger both turned away at the same
time, the latter looking at the other with hollow eyes.

"Take heart," whispered the former, "it was the fate he had prepared
for--for----"

"Ay, it was. Yet still his death is on my soul."

"Had they not slain him, his death would have been at my hands. For he
would have been killed to-day. He who would have killed others. Take
heart. Take heart."



CHAPTER XXIII.

QUIBERON.


The storm was at its height, the darkness was intense, and from the
black heavens the rain poured down in torrents. Yet, by now, all those
who for thirty-one weeks had been on board their ships had become
inured to toil and travail, to wet and cold and misery, relieved only
by an occasional putting in to Torbay or Plymouth before going out
again.

They had once more been at sea for some days, and, though driven to
the westward by rough south-easterly winds, were, with pressed sails,
directing their course towards Brest--towards Quiberon. For it was the
night of November 19th which was passing away amidst darkness, cold
and storm; it was the dawn of the 20th which was coming. And, although
none in the great English fleet knew it for certain--though many
suspected such to be the case!--that dawn was to herald one of those
great English triumphs which are to be for ever blazoned on her scroll
of fame--a victory which, if not as great as that of La Hogue in the
past, nor of Trafalgar yet to come, was to take a worthy place beside
them in our annals.

Ere that horrible night which was to usher in the great day had
fallen, the fleet had been joined by frigates left behind to bring the
last words from England--the _Maidstone_ and _Coventry_ being amongst
them--and, if there was aught that could add to the happiness of all
on board, it was the news of how, with official despatches, letters
had come for some few amongst the number--bringing news from home.
Letters from loving wives and mothers, all breathing prayers for
safety and a happy future; letters full of sadness, yet which, though
bitter, were sweet, too, to those who received them.

Amongst the recipients of such correspondence was Sir Geoffrey Barry,
who, when he could snatch a moment from his duties, retired to his
cabin to peruse that which had come to him--from his beloved and
darling Ariadne! Need one write down for those to read who have
themselves wandered across the seas, or taken part in storm or stress
of battle, with what joy such a letter would be eagerly perused, or
how, from the pen of the woman who wrote it would fall the words of
gentle regret at the adored one's absence, as well as the hopes of
bright and happy days to come and to be passed for ever side by side
with those they loved? No need to tell these words, yet all were
there--as we who have been parted from the one we value most in the
world know well. We who have been parted, if even for a week or less!

But there were other matters besides--matters strange and full of
significance, to one at least in that ship.

"Lord Glastonbury is dead," Ariadne wrote; "he was found dead and cold
in his bed. And, oh! Geoffrey, she is free. Is it wicked of me to
write like this, and as though I rejoiced in it? I hope not, yet I
think ever of poor Sophy's broken happiness, of Mr. Granger's sad lot.
Now they can be--but I will say no more. It is too soon."

The first impulse that rose to Geoffrey Barry's mind was to at once
send for Granger and inform him of the tidings that had come. But,
then, after a moment's reflection, he decided that it would be best
not to do so. To-night, to-morrow, at any moment, they might be in
conflict with the enemy, whom all knew now to be in their
neighbourhood. After the victory which none doubted they would
achieve, it would be time to tell him. Therefore he would not disturb
Granger at his duty, nor agitate him with thoughts best not indulged
in while there was work to do. So, for the present, he held his peace.

That there was work to do was soon apparent, when, at last, the dawn
broke. Some English transports had been fallen in with a day or so
before, and from them Hawke learnt that the French squadron of
twenty-four sail had been seen several leagues west of Belleisle, and
that there could be no doubt that this was the Brest fleet under
Conflans. Now, at daybreak, all knew that this information was
correct, for, as the full light came, the whole French squadron was
observed chasing some English frigates and bomb-ketches in the hopes
of destroying them. Then, when the enemy saw the English fleet so
near, they desisted from the chase, and, although they formed a line
to receive Hawke's attack, a moment later they ran before the wind to
seek safety.

In an instant there flew the signal from the _Royal George_ for every
ship to make her way towards the enemy, no regard being paid to the
line of battle; the first to engage the French being the _Warspite_
and the _Dorsetshire_, while from almost every vessel might be seen
the strange sight of men tossing their caps overboard in defiance of
that enemy. And from each ship was heard ringing cheers as the fleets
drew near to one another. The battle had begun.

Amidst the tempest and fury, amidst the strife of the elements
themselves, that battle commenced, while, so thick was the reek and
smoke of the powder, that soon neither the white flag spangled with
lilies nor the Union Jack could be distinguished as they flew from
their respective masts and staffs. Yet each knew where his enemy was,
and towards that enemy each pushed upon the rolling, tossing waves.

Amongst those distinguishing themselves upon this fateful day was that
great ship of honoured and long-transmitted name, the _Swiftsure_.
Never did any noble vessel that had served to make England's fame
widespread perform greater feats of valour than did she upon this
occasion. Forcing her way towards the enemy, she encountered Conflans'
flagship, the _Soleil Royal_--a name of evil omen to France, as some
recalled who brought to their recollection another _Soleil Royal_,
crushed and destroyed at La Hogue--attended by two great French
seventy-fours; and in an instant the _Swiftsure_ had flown at them as
flies the gallant hound at treble the number of wolves. Broadside upon
broadside she poured from her seventy guns--above their roaring being
heard the ringing cheers from those on board her as well as the howls
of contempt and hideous oaths of the British bull-dogs; and so she
fought and fought till her guns were almost too hot to touch. Yet
still she fought, not with the courage of despair, nor with the doomed
energy of one o'ermastered, but with the spirit of some wild and
savage tigress, recking neither of death nor wounds nor destruction to
herself, so that, amidst them, she tore and mangled and destroyed,
while still thirsting for more death and destruction. Tossed on the
rolling seas, hurled backwards and forwards as were those other three
with whom she strove, she poured forth her deadly venom, until at
last, outnumbered, with her main topmast shot through, her main
top-gallant mast gone, and her tiller-ropes cut away, she broached-to
in the tempest, the three enemies rushing forward to encounter next
the English Admiral in his flagship.

That all the rest were fighting with grim determination, be very sure.
The _Resolution_ was pouring a terrible cannonade into the
_Formidable_ (flagship of the French Rear-Admiral); the _Royal George_
had been laid alongside the _Soleil Royal_ by now; the _Torbay_ was
sinking the _Thesée_--with an awful cry from all on board, the latter
went down amidst the turbulent waves! the _Magnanime_ was destroying
for ever the _Héros_. Meanwhile the _Royal George_ was driving the
_Soleil Royal_ from out the fray, she being followed by the _Tonnant_
and three others. The _Superbe_ had drawn the _Royal George's_ fire
next, receiving the whole of the latter's broadsides, and was sinking
close by her victress. And because of how she, this gallant French
ship, had fought; because she was a foe worthy of England's best shot
and steel; because she bore bravely the hell of fire rained into her
by the great English vessel as she went down with her colours flying,
there arose from her enemy's decks a long and ringing cheer of
applause. She was a conquered foe, but still a noble one, and the
hardy British throats could not refuse to her the tribute she had so
nobly won.

And then there came the greatest incident of this terrible fight. Upon
the _Royal George_ there sprang seven great French ships, and they
surrounded her while pouring their broadsides out from all their guns,
so that those in her consorts, because of the vessels which hedged her
round, could do nought to help her--could, indeed, do nought but
bewail her sad fate and gnash their teeth with rage. Yet, too,
Providence watched over her: the guns that should have sunk her were
not well served, the enemy were in a terrible state of discomposure,
and the turbulence of the sea was now such as to make their broadsides
uncertain. It almost seems a miracle to relate, but of all the balls
hurled against her, not more than fifty struck the mark, and not one
was below the water-line. But there were others of her own side
crowding to her assistance now--amongst them was the _Mignonne_, with
her captain shot through the arm, yet giving his orders as calmly from
the quarterdeck as though he were upon some tranquil cruise, as well
as the _Hero_, the _Mars_, and the _Union_; while, to leave England
the conqueror in this great fray, there was something else coming.

That something was the night. And the French, taking advantage of it,
sheered off--they had had enough! The _Soleil Royal_ soon ran ashore
with the _Héros_, when both were burnt. The _Juste_ was on the rocks
and overturned; beneath the water were several others, and a dozen
more were aground. Well might the ten thousand French spectators
ashore who had witnessed the great fight turn white and weep as night
closed in on all around.

Of our losses the principal were the _Resolution_ and the _Essex_; the
remainder were not important.

And so the great fleet which was to have invaded England was utterly
destroyed, Conflans' threats were idle and empty now, France had
received another death-blow to her ambitions, and Hawke's peerage was
assured.

It was enough.


                        *    *    *    *    *    *    *


In the darkness of the November night they called the roll on board
all the English vessels and wrote down the names of the dead and
dying, as well as of the missing.

In the _Mignonne_ they were doing it now, as slowly, with her topmast
shot away, she followed in her turn. Two of her lieutenants did not
answer to their names--never again would they reply to them!--and her
master also was silent.

"Mr. Granger," next called out the quartermaster, himself uninjured.

But neither to his name was any answer given.

"Is he dead or wounded?" asked Sir Geoffrey Barry, pale from his
wound.

"Who's seen him?" roared the quartermaster. "Has any one seen the
master-gunner?"

"I saw him," cried a man, himself wounded and bleeding, "not half an
hour ago. He was at his post then--where he've been all day."

"Call his name again," said Sir Geoffrey.

But still no answer was returned, as indeed no answer was returned to
over forty names similarly called.

Then, later, they set forth to go the rounds of the ship and find
those who had not replied, the captain going first, accompanied by a
midshipman with a lanthorn. And many were found dead at their posts
before, at last, they came to Lewis Granger.

He was lying upon his side by the middle-deck port-sills with his face
turned downwards, while all around and beneath where his head lay was
a great pool of blood--his own and others--that slowly drained towards
the scuppers and so ran out to mingle with the heaving waves beneath.

"Is he dead?" asked Sir Geoffrey, gazing down at him while the
midshipman held the lanthorn so that they could see his face. "Is he
dead?" And as he spoke there were tears in his voice.

Was this to be the end of all, he thought; the end of the man's hopes
for a better life, the end of his unchanging, unchangable love for the
woman who, even now, was free?

"He is not dead, sir," the boatswain answered, kneeling by Granger's
side and supporting his head above his own knee, "but he is dying;
must surely die. Observe the great wound in his throat."

"Granger," said Geoffrey, kneeling by his side, "Granger--do you know
me?"

Then the dying man opened his eyes and looked up at the other, who by
that glance understood that he did know him.

"Shall I tell him?" thought Geoffrey. "Shall I tell him now, at the
last moment? Will it make him happier? What is best to do?"

"He is going, sir," the boatswain whispered, "he is going. His heart
is getting more feeble, growing fainter."

"Granger," then whispered Barry, "can you hear me--understand me?
Listen, ah! listen, and so part happily. She whom you love is
free--free now to come to you. Does that in truth make you happier?"

"It--is--too--late," the dying man muttered hoarsely, for the last
time!

His head lay even heavier now than before upon the rough sailor's
knee; while the man, with a glance at his captain, put up his hand and
removed the cap he wore--he being followed in the action by all
present.

Yet, still, Granger was not quite dead; still some life was left in
the strong, suffering heart. Once again he spoke.

"Tell her," he whispered, as Geoffrey bent his ear,
"that--I--died--blessing--loving her--to--the--last. Tell her--I never
loved but one; and that--my first--love was my last. Also--in your
mercy--leave her picture upon my--breast--where it has always lain
since--I lost--her."



THE END.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fortune's My Foe - A Romance" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home