Capitola The Madcap
Emma D. E. N. Southworth
Part 3 out of 7
at eventide from his daily work. Traverse was far away at St. Louis
undergoing the cares and trials of a friendless young physician
trying to get into practice. Six months had passed since he took
leave of her, and there was as yet no hope of his returning even, to
pay a visit.
So Marah sat very still and sad, bending over her needlework without
ever turning her head in the direction of the door. True, he wrote
to her every week. No Wednesday ever passed without bringing her a
letter written in a strong. buoyant and encouraging strain. Still
she missed Traverse very sadly. It was dreary to rise up in the
empty house every morning; dreary to sit down to her solitary meals,
and drearier still to go to bed in her lonely room without having
received her boy's kiss and heard his cheerful good-night. And it
was her custom every night to read over Traverse's last letter
before retiring to bed.
It was getting on toward ten o'clock when she folded up her work and
put it away and drew her boy's latest epistle from her bosom to
read. It ran as follows:
St. Louis, Dec. 1st, 184--.
My dearest Mother--I am very glad to hear that you continue in
good health, and that you do not work too hard, or miss me too
sadly. It is the greatest comfort of my life to hear good news
of you, sweet mother. I count the days from one letter to
another, and read every last letter over daily until I get a
new one. You insist upon my telling you how I am getting on,
and whether I am out of money. I am doing quite well, ma'am,
and have some funds left! I have quite a considerable
practice. It is true that my professional services are in
request only among the very poor, who pay me with their thanks
and good wishes. But I am very glad to be able to pay off a
small part of the great debt of gratitude I owe to the
benevolent of this world by doing all that I can in my turn
for the needy. And even if I had never myself been the object
of a good man's benevolence, I should still have desired to
serve the indigent; "for whoso giveth to the poor lendeth to
the Lord," and I "like the security." Therefore, sweet mother
of mine, be at ease; for I am getting on swimmingly--with one
exception. Still I do not hear from our Clara! Six months have
now passed, during which, despite of her seeming silence, I
have written to her every week; but not one letter or message
have I received from her in return! And now you tell me also
that you have not received a single letter from her either! I
know not what to think. Anxiety upon her account is my one
sole trouble! Not that I wrong the dear girl by one instant's
doubt of her constancy--no! my soul upon her truth! if I could
do that, I should be most unworthy of her love! No, mother,
you and I know that Clara is true! But ah, we do not know to
what sufferings she may be subjected by Le Noir, who I firmly
believe has intercepted all our letters. Mother, I am about to
ask a great, perhaps an unreasonable, favor of you! It is to
go down into the neighborhood of the Hidden House and make
inquiries and try to find out Clara's real condition. If it be
possible, put yourself into communication with her, and tell
her that I judge her heart by my own, and have the firmest
faith in her constancy, even though I have written to her
every week for six months without ever having received an
answer. I feel that I am putting you to expense and trouble,
but my great anxiety about Clara, which I am sure you share,
must be my excuse. I kiss your dear and honored hands, and
remain ever your loving son and faithful servant.
"I must try to go. It will be an awful expense, because I know no
one down there, and I shall have to board at the tavern at Tip Top
while I am making inquiries--for I dare not approach the dwelling of
Gabriel Le Noir!" said Marah Rocke, as she folded up her letter and
replaced it in her bosom.
Just at that moment she heard the sound of wheels approach and a
vehicle of some sort draw up to the gate and some one speaking
She went to the door, and, listening, heard a girlish voice say:
"A dollar? Yes, certainly here it is. There, you may go now."
She recognized the voice, and with a cry of joy jerked the door open
just as the carriage rolled away. And the next instant Clara Day was
in her arms.
"Oh, my darling! my darling! my darling! is this really you? Really,
really you, and no dream?" cried Marah Rocke, all in a flutter of
excitement, as she strained Clara to her bosom.
"Yes, it is I, sweet friend, come to stay with you a long time,
perhaps," said Clara, softly, returning her caresses.
"Oh, my lamb! my lamb! what a joyful surprise! I do think I shall go
crazy! Where did you come from, my pet? Who came with you? When did
you start? Did Le Noir consent to your coming? And how did it all
happen? But, dear child, how worn and weary you look! You must be
very tired! Have you had supper? Oh, my darling, come and lie down
on this soft lounge while I put away your things and get you some
refreshment," said Marah Rocke, in a delirium of joy, as she took
off Clara's hat and sack and laid her down to rest on the lounge,
which she wheeled up near the fire.
"Oh, my sweet, we have been so anxious about you! Traverse and
myself! Traverse is still at St. Louis, love, getting on slowly. He
has written to you every week, and so, indeed have I, but we neither
of us have had so much as one letter in reply. And yet neither of us
ever doubted your true heart, my child. We knew that the letters
must have been lost, miscarried or intercepted," said Marah, as she
busied herself putting on the tea-kettle.
"They must, indeed, since my experience in regard to letters exactly
corresponds with yours! I have written every week to both of you,
yet never received one line in reply from either," said Clara.
"We knew it! We said so! Oh, those Le Noirs! Those Le Noirs! But, my
darling, you are perfectly exhausted, and though I have asked you a
half an hundred questions you shall not reply to one of them, nor
talk a bit more until you have rested and had refreshment. Here, my
love; here is Traverse's last letter. It will amuse you to lie and
read it while I am getting tea," said Marah, taking the paper from
her bosom and handing it to Clara, and then placing the stand with
the light near the head of her couch that she might see to read it
And while Clara, well pleased perused and smiled over her lover's
letter, Marah Rocke laid the cloth and spread a delicate repast of
tea, milk toast and poached eggs, of which she tenderly pressed her
visitor to partake.
And when Clara was somewhat refreshed by food and rest, she said:
"Now, dear mamma, you will wish to hear how it happens that I am
with you to-night."
"Not unless you feel quite rested, dear girl."
"I am rested sufficiently for the purpose; besides, I am anxious to
tell you. And oh, dear mamma! I could just now sit in your lap and
lay my head upon your kind, soft bosom so willingly!"
"Come, then, Clara! Come, then, my darling." said Marah, tenderly,
holding out her arms.
"No, no, mamma; you are too little; it would be a sin!" said Clara,
smiling; "but I will sit by you and put my hand in yours and rest my
head against your shoulder while I tell you all about it."
"Come, then, my darling!" said Marah Rocke.
Clara took the offered seat, and when she was fixed to her liking
she commenced and related to her friend a full history of all that
had occurred to her at the Hidden House from the moment that she had
first crossed its threshold to the hour in which, through the
courage and address of Capitola, she was delivered from imminent
"And now," said Clara, in conclusion, "I have come hither in order
to get Doctor Williams to make one more appeal for me to the
Orphans' Court. And when it is proved what a traitor my guardian has
been to his trust I have no doubt that the judge will appoint some
one else in his place, or at least see that my father's last wish in
regard to my residence is carried into effect."
"Heaven grant it, my child! Heaven grant it! Oh, those Le Noirs!
those Le Noirs! Were there ever in the world before such ruthless
villains and accomplished hypocrites?" said Marah Rocke, clasping
her hands in the strength of her emotions.
A long time yet they talked together, and then they retired to bed,
and still talked until they fell asleep in each other's arms.
The next morning the widow arose early, gazed a little while with
delight upon the sleeping daughter of her heart, pressed a kiss upon
her cheek so softly as not to disturb her rest, and then, leaving
her still in the deep, sweet sleep of wearied youth, she went down-
stairs to get a nice breakfast.
Luckily a farmer's cart was just passing the road before the cottage
on its way to market.
Marah took out her little purse from her pocket, hailed the driver
and expended half her little store in purchasing two young chickens,
some eggs and some dried peaches, saying to herself:
"Dear Clara always had a good appetite, and healthy young human
nature must live substantially in spite of all its little heart-
While Marah was preparing the chicken for the gridiron the door at
the foot of the stairs opened and Clara came in, looking, after her
night's rest, as fresh as a rosebud.
"What! up with the sun, my darling?" said Marah, going to meet her.
"Yes, mamma! Oh! it is so good to be here with you in this nice,
quiet place, with no one to make me shudder! But you must let me
help you, mamma! See! I will set the table and make the toast!"
"Oh, Miss Clara--"
"Yes, I will! I have been ill used and made miserable, and now you
must pet me, mamma, and let me have my own way and help you to cook
our little meals and to make the house tidy and afterward to work
those buttonholes in the shirts you were spoiling your gentle eyes
over last night. Oh! if they will only let me stay here with you and
be at peace, we shall be very happy together, you and I!" said
Clara, as she drew out the little table and laid the cloth.
"My dear child, may the Lord make you as happy as your sweet
affection would make me!" said Marah.
"We can work for our living together," continued Clara, as she gaily
flitted about from the dresser to the table, placing the cups and
saucers and plates. "You can sew the seams and do the plain hemming,
and I can work the buttonholes and stitch the bosoms, collars and
wristbands! And 'if the worst comes to the worst,' we can hang out
our little shingle before the cottage gate, inscribed with:"
MRS. ROCKE AND DAUGHTER.
Orders executed with neatness and dispatch.
"We'd drive a thriving business, mamma, I assure you," said Clara,
as she sat down on a low stool at the hearth and began to toast the
"I trust in heaven that it will never come to that with you, my
"Why? Why, mamma? Why should I not taste of toil and care as well as
others a thousand times better than myself? Why should not I work as
well as you and Traverse, mamma? I stand upon the broad platform of
human rights, and I say I have just as good a right to work as
others!" said Clara, with a pretty assumption of obstinacy, as she
placed the plate of toast upon the board.
"Doubtless, dear Clara, you may play at work just as much as you
please; but heaven forbid you should ever have to work at work!"
replied Mrs, Rocke as she placed the coffee pot and the dish of
broiled chicken on the table.
"Why, mamma, I do not think that is a good prayer at all! That is a
wicked, proud prayer, Mrs. Marah Rocke! Why shouldn't your daughter
really toil as well as other people's daughters, I'd like to be
informed?" said Clara, mockingly, as they both took their seats at
"I think, dear Clara, that you must have contracted some of your
eccentric little friend Capitola's ways, from putting on her habit!
I never before saw you in such gay spirits!" said Mrs. Rocke, as she
poured out the coffee.
"Oh, mamma; it is but the glad rebound of the freed bird! I am so
glad to have escaped from that dark prison of the Hidden House and
to be here with you. But tell me, mamma, is my old home occupied?"
"No, my dear; no tenant has been found for it. The property is in
the hands of an agent to let, but the house remains quite vacant and
"Why is that?" asked Clara.
"Why, my love, for the strangest reason! The foolish country people
say that since the doctor's death the place has been haunted!"
"Yes, my dear, so the foolish people say, and they get wiser ones to
"What exactly do they say? I hope--I hope they do not trifle with my
dear father's honored name and memory?"
"Oh, no, my darling! no! but they say that although the house is
quite empty and deserted by the living strange sights and sounds are
heard and seen by passers-by at night. Lights appear at the upper
windows from which pale faces look out."
"How very strange!" said Clara.
"Yes, my dear, and these stories have gained such credence that no
one can be found to take the house."
"So much the better, dear mamma, for if the new judge of the
Orphans' Court should give a decision in our favor, as he must, when
he hears the evidence, old and new, you and I can move right into it
and need not then enter the shirt-making line of business!"
"Heaven grant it, my dear! But now, Clara, my love, we must lose no
time in seeing Doctor Williams, lest your guardian should pursue you
here and give you fresh trouble."
Clara assented to this, and they immediately arose from the table,
cleared away the service, put the room in order and went up-stairs
to put on their bonnets, Mrs. Rocke lending Clara her own best
bonnet and shawl. When they were quite ready they locked up the
house and set out for the town.
It was a bright, frosty, invigorating winter's morning, and the two
friends walked rapidly until they reached Doctor Williams' house.
The kind old man was at home, and was much surprised and pleased to
see his visitors. He invited them into his parlor, and when he had
heard their story, he said: "This is a much more serious affair than
the other. We must employ counsel. Witnesses must be brought from
the neighborhood of the Hidden House. You are aware that the late
judge of the Orphans' Court has been appointed to a high office
under the government at Washington. The man that has taken his place
is a person of sound integrity, who will do his duty. It remains
only for us to prove the justice of our cause to his satisfaction,
and all will be well."
"Oh, I trust in heaven that it will be," said Marah, fervently.
"You two must stay in my house until the affair is decided. You
might possibly be safe from real injury; but you could not be free
from molestation in your unprotected condition at the cottage," said
Clara warmly expressed her thanks.
"You had better go home now and pack up what you wish to bring, and
put out the fire and close up the house and come here immediately.
In the mean time I will see your dear father's solicitor and be
ready with my report by the time you get back," said Doctor
Williams, promptly taking his hat to go.
Mrs. Rocke and Clara set out for the cottage, which they soon
Throwing off her bonnet and shawl, Clara said:
"Now, mamma, the very first thing I shall do will be to write to
Traverse, so that we can send the letter by to-day's mail and set
his mind at rest. I shall simply tell him that our mutual letters
have failed to reach their destination, but that I am now on a visit
to you, and that while I remain here nothing can interrupt our
correspondence. I shall not speak of the coming suit until we see
how it will end."
Mrs. Rocke approved this plan, and placed writing materials on the
table. And while the matron employed herself in closing up the
rooms, packing up what was needful to take with them to the doctor's
and putting out the fire, Clara wrote and sealed her letter. They
then put on their bonnets, locked up the house, and set out. They
called at the post-office just in time to mail their letter, and
they reached the doctor's house just as he himself walked up to the
door, accompanied by the lawyer. The latter greeted the daughter of
his old client and her friend, and they all went into the house
In the doctor's study the whole subject of Clara's flight and its
occasion was talked over, and the lawyer agreed to commence
CAP "RESTS ON HER LAURELS" AND "SPOILS FOR A FIGHT"
'Tis hardly in a body's power,
To keep at times frae being sour,
To see how things are shared;
How best o' chiels are whiles in want,
While coofs on countless thousands rant,
And ken na how to wear't.
Leaving Clara Day and Marah Rocke in a home of safety, plenty and
kindness, in the old doctor's house, we must run down to Hurricane
Hall to see what mischief Cap has been getting into since we left
her! In truth, none! Cap had had such a surfeit of adventures that
she was fain to lie by and rest upon her laurels. Besides, there
seemed just now nothing to do--no tyrants to take down, no robbers
to capture, no distressed damsels to deliver, and Cap was again in
danger of "spoiling for a fight." And then Herbert Greyson was at
the Hall--Herbert Greyson whom she vowed always did make a Miss
Nancy of her! And so Cap had to content herself for a week with
quiet mornings of needlework at her workstand, with Herbert to read
to or talk with her; sober afternoon rides, attended by Herbert and
Old Hurricane; and humdrum evenings at the chess board, with the
same Herbert, while Major Warfield dozed in a great "sleepy hollow"
of an armchair.
One afternoon when they were out riding through the woods beyond the
Demon's Run, a Sheriff's officer rode up, and bowing to the party,
presented a suspicious-looking document to Capitola and a similar
one to Herbert Greyson. And while Old Hurricane stared his eyes half
out, the parties most interested opened the papers, which they found
to be rather pressing invitations to be present at a certain
solemnity at Staunton. In a word, they were subpoenaed to give
testimony in the case of Williams vs. Le Noir.
"Here's a diabolical dilemma!" said Old Hurricane to himself, as
soon as he learned the purport of these documents.
"Here I shall have to bring Cap into court face to face with that
demon to bear witness against him! Suppose losing one ward, he
should lay claim to another! Ah, but he can't, without foully
criminating himself! Well, well, we shall see!"
While Old Hurricane was cogitating Cap was exulting.
"Oh, won't I tell all I know! Yes, and more, too!" she exclaimed, in
"'More, too!' Oh, hoity-toity! Never say more, too!" said Herbert
"I will, for I'll tell all I suspect!" said Cap, galloping on ahead,
in her eagerness to get home and pack up for her journey.
The next day Old Hurricane, Herbert Greyson, Capitola, Pitapat and
Wool went by stage to Staunton. They put up at the Planters' and
Farmers' Hotel, whence Herbert Greyson and Capitola soon sallied
forth to see Clara and Mrs. Rocke. They soon found the doctor's
house, and were ushered into the parlor in the presence of their
The meeting between Capitola and Clara and between Mrs. Rocke and
Herbert was very cordial. And then Herbert introduced Capitola to
Mrs. Rocke and Cap presented Herbert to Clara. And they all entered
into conversation upon the subject of the coming lawsuit, and the
circumstances that led to it. And Clara and Capitola related to each
other all that had happened to each after their exchanging clothes
and parting. And when they had laughed over their mutual adventures
and misadventures, Herbert and Capitola took leave and returned to
Herbert Greyson was the most serious of the whole family. Upon
reaching the hotel he went to his own room and fell into deep
reflection. And this was the course of his thought:
"Ira Warfield and Marah Rocke are here in the same town--brought
hither upon the same errand--to-morrow to meet in the same court-
room! And yet not either of them suspects the presence of the other!
Mrs. Rocke does not know that in Capitola's uncle she will behold
Major Warfield! He does not foresee that in Clara's matronly friend
he will behold Marah Rocke! And Le Noir, the cause of all their
misery, will be present also! What will be the effect of this
unexpected meeting? Ought I not to warn one or the other? Let me
think--no! For were I to warn Major Warfield he would absent
himself. Should I drop a hint to Marah she would shrink from the
meeting! No, I will leave it all to Providence--perhaps the sight of
her sweet, pale face and soft, appealing eyes, so full of constancy
and truth, may touch that stern old heart! Heaven grant it may!"
concluded Herbert Greyson.
The next day the suit came on.
At an early hour Doctor Williams appeared, having in charge Clara
Day, who was attended by her friend Mrs. Rocke. They were
accommodated with seats immediately in front of the judge.
Very soon afterward Major Warfield, Herbert Greyson and Capitola
entered, and took their places on the witness's bench, at the right
side of the court-room.
Herbert watched Old Hurricane, whose eyes were spellbound to the
bench where sat Mrs. Rocke and Clara. Both were dressed in deep
mourning, with their veils down and their faces toward the judge.
But Herbert dreaded every instant that Marah Rocke should turn her
head and meet that fixed, wistful look of Old Hurricane. And he
wondered what strange instinct it could be that riveted the old
man's regards to that unrecognized woman.
At last, to Herbert's great uneasiness, Major Warfield turned and
commenced questioning him:
"Who is that woman in mourning?"
"Hem--m--that one with the flaxen curls under her bonnet is Miss
"I don't mean the girl, I mean the woman sitting by her?"
"That is--hem--hem--that is Doctor Williams sitting--"
Old Hurricane turned abruptly around and favored his nephew with a
severe, scrutinizing gaze, demanding:
"Herbert, have you been drinking so early in the morning? Demmy,
sir, this is not the season for mint juleps before breakfast! Is
that great, stout, round-bodied, red-faced old Doctor Williams a
little woman? I see him sitting on the right of Miss Day. I didn't
refer to him! I referred to that still, quiet little woman sitting
on her left, who has never stirred hand or foot since she sat down
there. Who is she?"
"That woman? Oh, she?--yes--ah, let me see--she is a--Miss Day's
companion!" faltered Herbert.
"To the demon with you! Who does not see that? But who is she? What
is her name?" abruptly demanded Old Hurricane.
"Her name is a--a--did you ever see her before, sir?"
"I don't know! That is what I am trying to remember; but, sir, will
you answer my question?"
"You seem very much interested in her."
"You seem very much determined not to let me know who she is! Hang
it, sir, will you or will you not tell me that woman's name?"
"Certainly," said Herbert. "Her name is"--He was about to say Marah
Rocke, but moral indignation overpowered him and he paused.
"Well, well, her name is what?" impatiently demanded Old Hurricane.
"Mrs. Warfield!" answered Herbert, doggedly.
And just at that unfortunate moment Marah turned her pale face and
beseeching eyes around and met the full gaze of her husband!
In an instant her face blanched to marble and her head sank upon the
railing before her bench. Old Hurricane was too dark to grow pale,
but his bronzed cheek turned as gray as his hair, which fairly
lifted itself on his head. Grasping his walking stick with both his
hands, he tottered to his feet, and, muttering:
"I'll murder you for this, Herbert!" he strode out of the court-
Marah's head rested for about a minute on the railing before her and
when she lifted it again her face was as calm and patient as before.
This little incident had passed without attracting attention from
any one except Capitola, who, sitting on the other side of Herbert
Greyson, had heard the little passage of words between him and her
uncle, and had seen the latter start up and go out, and who now,
turning to her companion, inquired:
"What is the meaning of all this, Herbert?"
"It means--Satan! And now attend to what is going on! Mr. Sauter has
stated the case, and now Stringfellow, the attorney for the other
side, is just telling the judge that he stands there in the place of
his client, Lieutenant-Colonel Le Noir, who, being ordered to join
General Taylor in Mexico, is upon the eve of setting out and cannot
be here in person!"
"And is that true? Won't he be here?"
"It seems not. I think he is ashamed to appear after what has
happened, and just takes advantage of a fair excuse to absent
"And is he really going to Mexico?"
"Oh, yes! I saw it officially announced in this morning's papers.
And, by the bye, I am very much afraid he is to take command of our
regiment, and be my superior officer!"
"Oh, Herbert, I hope and pray not! I think there is wickedness
enough packed up in that man's body to sink a squadron or lose an
"Well, Cap, such things will happen. Attention! There's Sauter,
ready to call his witnesses!" And, in truth, the next moment
Capitola Black was called to the stand.
Cap took her place and gave her evidence con amore, and with such
vim and such expressions of indignation, that Stringfellow reminded
her she was there to give testimony, and not to plead the cause.
Cap rejoined that she was perfectly willing to do both! And so she
continued not only to tell the acts, but to express her opinions as
to the motives of Le Noir, and give her judgment as to what should
be the decision of the court.
Stringfellow, the attorney for Colonel Le Noir, evidently thought
that in this rash, reckless, spirited witness he had a fine subject
for sarcastic cross-examination! But he reckoned "without his host."
He did not know Cap! He, too, "caught a Tartar." And before the
cross-examination was concluded, Capitola's apt and cutting replies
had overwhelmed him with ridicule and confusion, and done more for
the cause of her friend than all her partisans put together!
Other witnesses were called, to corroborate the testimony of
Capitola, and still others were examined to prove the last expressed
wishes of the late William Day, in regard to the disposal of his
daughter's person during the period of her minority.
There was no effective rebutting evidence, and after some hard
arguing by the attorneys on both sides, the case was closed, and the
judge deferred his decision until the third day thereafter.
The parties then left the court and returned to their several
Old Hurricane gave no one a civil word that day. Wool was an
atrocious villain, an incendiary scoundrel, a cut-throat, and a
black demon. Cap was a beggar, a vagabond and a vixen. Herbert
Greyson was another beggar, besides being a knave, a fop and an
impudent puppy. The inn-keeper was a swindler, the waiters thieves,
the whole world was going to ruin, where it well deserved to go, and
all mankind to the demon--as he hoped and trusted they would!
And all this tornado of passion and invective arose just because he
had unexpectedly met in the court-room the purient face and
beseeching eyes of a woman, married and forsaken, loved and lost,
Was it strange that Herbert, who had so resented his treatment of
Marah Rocke, should bear all his fury, injustice and abuse of
himself and others with such compassionate forbearance? But he not
only forbore to resent his own affronts, but so besought Capitola to
have patience with the old man's temper and apologised to the host
by saying that Major Warfield had been very severely tried that day,
and when calmer would be the first to regret the violence of his own
Marah Rocke returned with Clara to the old doctor's house. She was
more patient, silent and quiet than before. Her face was a little
paler, her eyes softer, and her tones lower--that was the only
visible effect of the morning's unexpected encounter.
The next day but one all the parties concerned assembled at the
court-house to hear the decision of the judge. It was given, as had
been anticipated, in favor of Clara Day, who was permitted, in
accordance with her father's approved wishes, to reside in her
patrimonial home under the care of Mrs. Rocke. Colonel Le Noir was
to remain trustee of the property, with directions from the court
immediately to pay the legacies left by the late Doctor Day to Marah
Rocke and Traverse Rocke, and also to pay to Clara Day, in quarterly
instalments, from the revenue of her property, an annual sum of
money sufficient for her support.
This decision filled the hearts of Clara and her friends with joy.
Forgetting time, and place, she threw herself into the arms of Marah
Rocke and wept with delight. All concerned in the trial then sought
Clara and Mrs. Rocke returned to the cottage to make preparations
for removing to Willow Heights.
Doctor Williams went to the agent of the property to require him to
give up the keys, which he did without hesitation.
Old Hurricane and his party packed up to be ready for the stage to
take them to Tip-Top the next day.
But that night a series of mysterious events were said to have taken
place at the deserted house at Willow Heights that filled the whole
community with superstitious wonder. It was reported by numbers of
gardeners and farmers, who passed that road, on their way to early
market, that a perfect witches' sabbath had been held in that empty
house all night; that lights had appeared, flitting from room to
room; that strange, weird faces had looked out from the windows; and
wild screams had pierced the air!
The next day when this report reached the ears of Clara, and she was
asked by Doctor Williams whether she would not be afraid to live
there, she laughed gaily and bade him try her.
Cap, who had come over to take leave of Clara, joined her in her
merriment, declared that she, for her part, doted on ghosts, and
that after Herbert Greyson's departure she should come and visit
Clara and help her to entertain the specters.
Clara replied that she should hold her to her promise. And so the
friends kissed and separated.
That same day saw several removals.
Clara and Mrs. Rocke took up their abode at Willow Heights and
seized an hour even of that busy time to write to Traverse and
apprise him of their good fortune.
Old Hurricane and his party set out for their home, where they
arrived before nightfall.
And the next day but one Herbert Greyson took leave of his friends
and departed to join his company on their road to glory.
Feared, shunned, belied ere youth had lost her force,
He hated men too much to feel remorse,
And thought the vice of wrath a sacred call,
To pay the injuries of some on all.
There was a laughing devil in his sneer,
That caused emotions both of rage and fear:
And where his frown of hatred darkly fell,
Hope, withering fled and mercy sighed farewell!
Herbert Greyson had been correct in his conjecture concerning the
cause of Colonel Le Noir's conduct in absenting himself from the
trial, or appearing there only in the person of his attorney. A
proud, vain, conceited man, full of Joseph Surfacisms, he could
better have borne to be arraigned upon the charge of murder than to
face the accusation of baseness that was about to be proved upon
him. Being reasonably certain as to what was likely to be the
decision of the Orphan's Court, he was not disappointed in hearing
that judgment had been rendered in favor of his ward and her
friends. His one great disappointment had been upon discovering the
flight of Clara. For when he had ascertained that she had fled, he
knew that all was lost--and lost through Capitola, the hated girl
for whose destruction he had now another and a stronger motive--
In this mood of mind three days before his departure to join his
regiment he sought the retreat of the outlaw. He chose an early hour
of the evening as that in which he should be most likely to find
It was about eight o'clock when he wrapped his large cloak around
his tall figure, pulled his hat low over his sinister brow and set
out to walk alone to the secret cavern in the side of the Demon's
The night was dark and the path dangerous; but his directions had
been careful, so that when he reached the brink of that awful abyss
he knew precisely where to begin his descent with the least danger
of being precipitated to the bottom.
And by taking a strong hold upon the stunted saplings of pine and
cedar that grew down through the clefts of the ravine, and placing
his feet firmly upon the points of projecting rocks, he contrived to
descend the inside of that horrible abyss, which from the top seemed
to be fraught with certain death to any one daring enough to make
When about half-way down the precipice he reached the clump of cedar
bushes growing in the deep cleft, and concealing the hole that
formed the entrance to the cavern.
"Here he paused, and, looking through the entrance into a dark and
apparently fathomless cavern, he gave the peculiar signal whistle,
which was immediately answered from within by the well-known voice
of the outlaw chief, saying:"
"All right, my colonel! Give us your hand! Be careful, now, the
floor of this cavern is several feet below the opening."
Le Noir extended his hand into the darkness within and soon felt it
grasped by that of Black Donald, who, muttering; "Slowly, slowly, my
colonel!" succeeded in guiding him down the utter darkness of the
subterranean descent until they stood upon the firm bottom of the
They were still in the midst of a blackness that might be felt,
except that from a small opening in the side of the rock a light
gleamed. Toward this second opening Black Donald conducted his
And stooping and passing before him, led him into an inner cavern,
well lighted and rudely fitted up. Upon a large natural platform of
rock, occupying the center of the space, were some dozen bottles of
brandy or whisky, several loaves of bread and some dried venison.
Around this rude table, seated upon fragments of rock, lugged
thither for the purpose, were some eight or ten men of the band, in
various stages of intoxication. Along the walls were piles of
bearskins, some of which served as couches for six or seven men, who
had thrown themselves down upon them in a state of exhaustion or
"Come, boys, we have not a boundless choice of apartments here, and
I want to talk to my colonel! Suppose you take your liquor and bread
and meat into the outer cavern and give us the use of this one for
an hour," said the outlaw.
The men sullenly obeyed and began to gather up the viands. Demon
Dick seized one of the lights to go after them.
"Put down the glim! Satan singe your skin for you! Do you want to
bring a hue and cry upon us? Don't you know a light in the outer
cavern can be seen from the outside?" roared Black Donald.
Dick sulkily set down the candle and followed his comrades.
"What are you glummering about, confound you! You can see to eat and
drink well enough and find your way to your mouth, in the dark, you
brute!" thundered the captain. But as there was no answer to this
and the men had retreated and left their chief with his visitor
alone, Black Donald turned to Colonel Le Noir and said:
"Well, my patron, what great matter is it that has caused you to
leave the company of fair Clara Day for our grim society?"
"Ah, then, it appears you are not aware that Clara Day has fled from
us--has made a successful appeal to the Orphans' Court, and been
taken out of our hands?" angrily replied Colonel Le Noir.
"Whe--ew! My colonel, I think I could have managed that matter
better! I think if I had had that girl in my power as you had, she
should not have escaped me! "
"Bah! bah! bah! Stop boasting, since it was through your neglect--
yours! yours! that I lost this girl!"
"Mine!" exclaimed Black Donald, in astonishment.
"Aye, yours! for if you had done your duty, performed your
engagement, kept your word, and delivered me from this fatal
Capitola, I had not lost my ward, nor my son his wealthy bride!"
exclaimed Le Noir, angrily.
"Capitola! Capitola again! What on earth had she to do with the loss
of Clara Day?" cried Black Donald, in wonder.
"Everything to do with it, sir! By a cunning artifice she delivered
Clara from our power--actually set her free and covered her flight
until she was in security!"
"That girl again! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho ho, ho!" laughed
and roared Black Donald, slapping his knees.
Le Noir ground and gnashed his teeth in rage, muttering hoarsely:
"Yes, you may laugh, confound you, since it is granted those who win
to do so! You may laugh; for you have done me out of five thousand
dollars, and what on earth have you performed to earn it?"
"Come, come, my colonel, fair and easy! I don't know which is
vulgarest, to betray loss of temper or love of money, and you are
doing both. However, it is between friends. But how the demon did
that girl, that capital Capitola, get Clara off from right under
"By changing clothes with her, confound you! I will tell you all
about it," replied Le Noir, who thereupon commenced and related the
whole stratagem by which Capitola freed Clara, including the manner
in which she accompanied them to the church and revealed herself at
Black Donald threw himself back and roared with laughter, vigorously
slapping his knees and crying:
"That girl! that capital Capitola! I would not sell my prospect of
possessing her for double your bribe."
"Your 'prospect!' Your prospect is about as deceptive as a fata
morgana! What have you been doing, I ask you again, toward realizing
this prospect and earning the money you have already received?"
"Fair and easy, my colonel! Don't let temper get the better of
justice! What have I been doing toward earning the money you have
already paid me? In the first place, I lost time and risked my
liberty watching around Hurricane Hall. Then, when I had identified
the girl and the room she slept in by seeing her at the window, I
put three of my best men in jeopardy to capture her. Then, when she,
the witch, had captured them, I sacrificed all my good looks,
transmogrifying myself into a frightful old field preacher, and went
to the camp-meeting to watch, among other things, for an opportunity
of carrying her off. The sorceress! she gave me no such opportunity.
I succeeded in nothing except in fooling the wiseacres and getting
admitted to the prison of my comrades, whom I furnished with
instruments by which they made their escape. Since that time we have
had to lie low--yes, literally to lie low--to keep out of sight, to
burrow under ground; in a word, to live in this cavern."
"And since which you have abandoned all intention of getting the
girl and earning the five thousand dollars," sneered Le Noir.
"Earning the remaining five thousand, you mean, colonel. The first
five thousand I consider I have already earned. It was the last five
thousand that I was to get when the girl should be disposed of."
"Well, I have not given up either the intention of earning the money
or the hope of getting the girl; in truth, I had rather lose the
money than the girl. I have been on the watch almost continually;
but, though I suppose she rides out frequently, I have not yet
happened to hit upon her in any of her excursions. At last, however,
I have fixed upon a plan for getting the witch into my power. I
shall trust the execution of my plan to no one but myself. But I
must have time."
"Time! perdition, sir! delay in this matter is fraught with danger!
Listen, sir! How Warfield got possession of this girl or the
knowledge of her history I do not know, except that it was through
the agency of that accursed hag Nancy Grewell. But that he has her
and that he knows all about her is but too certain. That he has not
at present legal proof enough to establish her identity and her
rights before a court of justice I infer from the fact of his
continuing inactive in the matter. But who can foresee how soon he
may obtain all the proof that is necessary to establish Capitola's
claims and wrest the whole of this property from me? Who can tell
whether he is not now secretly engaged in seeking and collecting
such proof? Therefore, I repeat that the girl must immediately be
got rid of! Donald, rid me of that creature and the day that you
prove to me her death I will double your fee!"
"Agreed, my colonel, agreed! I have no objection to your doubling,
or even quadrupling, my fee. You shall find me in that, as in all
other matters, perfectly amenable to reason. Only I must have time.
Haste would ruin us. I repeat that I have a plan by which I am
certain to get the girl into my possession--a plan the execution of
which I will entrust to no other hands but my own. But I conclude as
I began--I must have time."
"And how much time?" exclaimed Le Noir, again losing his patience.
"Easy, my patron. That I cannot tell you. It is imprudent to make
promises, especially to you, who will take nothing into
consideration when they cannot be kept," replied Black Donald,
"But, sir, do you not know that I am ordered to Mexico, and must
leave within three days? I would see the end of this before I go,"
angrily exclaimed Le Noir.
"Softly, softly, my child the colonel! 'Slow and sure!' 'Fair and
easy goes far in a day!'"
"In a word, will you do this business for me and do it promptly?"
"Surely, surely, my patron! But I insist upon time."
"But I go to Mexico in three days."
"All honor go with you, my colonel. Who would keep his friend from
the path of glory?"
"Perdition, sir, you trifle with me."
"Perdition, certainly, colonel; there I perfectly agree with you.
But the rest of your sentence is wrong; I don't trifle with you."
"What in the fiend's name do you mean?"
"Nothing in the name of any absent friend of ours. I mean simply
that you may go to--Mexico!"
"--Can be done just as well, perhaps better, without you. Recollect,
if you please, my colonel, that when you were absent with Harrison
in the West your great business was done here without you! And done
better for that very reason! No one even suspected your agency in
that matter. The person most benefited by the death of Eugene Le
Noir was far enough from the scene of his murder."
"Hush! Perdition seize you! Why do you speak of things so long
past?" exclaimed Le Noir, growing white to his very lips.
"To jog your worship's memory and suggest that your honor is the
last man who ought to complain of this delay, since it will be very
well for you to be in a distant land serving your country at the
time that your brother's heiress, whose property you illegally hold,
is got out of your way."
"There is something in that," mused Le Noir.
"There is all in that!"
"You have a good brain, Donald."
"What did I tell you? I ought to have been in the cabinet--and mean
to be, too! But, colonel, as I mean to conclude my part of the
engagement, I should like, for fear of accidents, that you conclude
yours--and settle with me before you go."
"What do you mean?"
"That you should fork over to me the remaining five thousand."
"I'll see you at the demon first," passionately exclaimed Le Noir.
"No, you won't, for in that case you'd have to make way with the
girl yourself, or see Old Hurricane make way with all your fortune."
"Wretch that you are!"
"Come, come, colonel, don't let's quarrel. The Kingdom of Satan
divided against itself cannot stand. Do not let us lose time by
falling out. I will get rid of the girl. You, before you go, must
hand over the tin, lest you should fall in battle and your heirs
dispute the debt! Shell out, my colonel! Shell out and never fear!
Capitola shall be a wife and Black Donald a widower before many
weeks shall pass."
"I'll do it! I have no time for disputation, as you know, and you
profit by the knowledge. I'll do it, though under protest," muttered
Le Noir, grinding his teeth.
"That's my brave and generous patron!" said Black Donald, as he
arose to attend Le Noir from the cavern; "that's my magnificent
colonel of cavalry! The man who runs such risks for you should be
very handsomely remunerated!"
"What Alexander sighed for,
What Caesar's soul possessed,
What heroes, saints have died for,
Within three days after his settlement with Black Donald, Colonel Le
Noir left home to join his regiment, ordered to Mexico.
He was accompanied by his son Craven Le Noir as far as Baltimore,
from which port the reinforcements were to sail for New Orleans, en
route for the seat of war.
Here, at the last moment, when the vessel was about to weigh anchor,
Craven Le Noir took leave of his father and set out for the Hidden
And here Colonel Le Noir's regiment was joined by the company of new
recruits in which Herbert Greyson held a commission as lieutenant,
and thus the young man's worst forebodings were realized in having
for a traveling companion and superior officer the man of whom he
had been destined to make a mortal enemy, Colonel Le Noir. However,
Herbert soon marked out his course of conduct, which was to avoid Le
Noir as much as was consistent with his own official duty, and, when
compelled to meet him, to deport himself with the cold ceremony of a
subordinate to a superior officer.
Le Noir, on his part, treated Herbert with an arrogant scorn
amounting to insult, and used every opportunity afforded him by his
position to wound and humiliate the young lieutenant.
After a quick and prosperous voyage they reached New Orleans, where
they expected to be farther reinforced by a company of volunteers
who had come down the Mississippi river from St. Louis. These
volunteers were now being daily drilled at their quarters in the
city, and were only waiting the arrival of the vessel to be enrolled
in the regiment.
One morning, a few days after the ship reached harbor, Herbert
Greyson went on shore to the military rendezvous to see the new
recruits exercised. While he stood within the enclosure watching
their evolutions under the orders of an officer, his attention
became concentrated upon the form of a young man of the rank and
file who was marching in a line with many others having their backs
turned toward him. That form and gait seemed familiar--the
circumstances in which he saw them again--painfully familiar. And
yet he could not identify the man. While he gazed, the recruits, at
the word of command, suddenly wheeled and faced about. And Herbert
could scarcely repress an exclamation of astonishment and regret.
That young man in the dress of a private soldier was Clara Day's
betrothed, the widow's only son, Traverse Rocke! While Herbert
continued to gaze in surprise and grief, the young recruit raised
his eyes, recognized his friend, flushed up to his very temples and
cast his eyes down again. The rapid evolutions soon wheeled them
around, and the next order sent them into their quarters.
Herbert's time was also up, and he returned to his duty.
The next day Herbert went to the quarters of the new recruits and
sought out his young friend, whom he found loitering about the
grounds. Again Traverse blushed deeply as the young lieutenant
approached. But Herbert Greyson, letting none of his regret appear,
since now it would be worse than useless in only serving to give
pain to the young private, went up to him cordially and shook his
"Going to serve your country, eh, Traverse? Well, I am heartily glad
to see you, at any rate."
"But heartily sorry to see me here, enlisted as a private in a
company of raw recruits, looking not unlike Falstaff's ragged
"Nay; I did not say that, Traverse. Many a private in the ranks has
risen to be a general officer," replied Herbert, encouragingly.
Traverse laughed good humoredly, saying:
"It does not look much like that in my case. This dress," he said,
looking down at his coarse, ill-fitting uniform, cowhide shoes,
etc.; "this dress, this drilling, these close quarters, coarse food
and mixed company are enough to take the military ardor out of any
"Traverse, you talk like a petit maitre, which is not at all your
character. Effeminacy is not your vice."
"Nor any other species of weakness, do you mean? Ah, Herbert, your
aspiring hopeful, confident old friend is considerably taken down in
his ideas of himself, his success and life in general! I went to the
West with high hopes. Six months of struggling against indifference,
neglect and accumulated debts lowered them down! I carried out
letters and made friends, but their friendship began and ended in
wishing me well. While trying to get into profitable practice I got
into debt. Meanwhile I could not hear from my betrothed in all those
months. An occasional letter from her might have prevented this
step. But troubles gathered around me, debts increased and--"
"--Creditors were cruel. It is the old story; my poor boy!"
"No; my only creditors were my landlady and my laundress, two poor
widows who never willingly distressed me, but who occasionally asked
for 'that little amount' so piteously that my heart bled to lack it
to give them. And as victuals and clean shirts were absolute
necessaries of life, every week my debts increased. I could have
faced a prosperous male creditor, and might, perhaps, have been
provoked to bully such an one, had he been inclined to be cruel; but
I could not face poor women who, after all, I believe, are generally
the best friends a struggling young man can have; and so, not to
bore a smart young lieutenant with a poor private's antecedents--"
"--I will even make an end of my story. 'At last there came a weary
day when hope and faith beneath the weight gave way.' And, hearing
that a company of volunteers was being raised to go to Mexico, I
enlisted, sold my citizen's wardrobe and my little medical library,
paid my debts, made my two friends, the poor widows, some acceptable
presents, sent the small remnant of the money to my mother, telling
her that I was going farther south to try my fortune, and--here I
"You did not tell her that you had enlisted?"
"Oh, Traverse, how long ago was it that you left St. Louis?"
"Just two weeks."
"Ah! if you had only had patience for a few days longer!" burst
unaware from Herbert's bosom. In an instant he was sorry for having
spoken thus, for Traverse, with all his soul in his eyes, asked
"Why--why, Herbert? What do you mean?"
"Why, you should know that I did not come direct from West Point,
but from the neighborhood of Staunton and Hurricane Hall."
"Did you? Oh, did you? Then you may be able to give me news of Clara
and my dear mother," exclaimed Traverse, eagerly.
"Yes, I am--pleasant news," said Herbert, hesitating in a manner
which no one ever hesitated before in communicating good tidings.
"Thank heaven! oh, thank heaven! What is it, Herbert? How is my dear
mother getting on? Where is my best Clara?"
"They are both living together at Willow Heights, according to the
wishes of the late Doctor Day. A second appeal to the Orphans' Court
made in behalf of Clara by her next friend, Doctor Williams, about a
month ago, proved more successful. And if you had waited a few days
longer before enlisting and leaving St. Louis, you would have
received a letter from Clara to the same effect, and one from Doctor
Williams apprizing you that your mother had received her legacy, and
that the thousand dollars left you by Doctor Day had been paid into
the Agricultural Bank, subject to your orders."
"Oh, heaven! had I but waited three days longer!" exclaimed
Traverse, in such acute distress that Herbert hastened to console
him by saying:
"Do not repine, Traverse; these things go by fate. It was your
destiny--let us hope it will prove a glorious one."
"It was my impatience!" exclaimed Traverse. "It was my impatience!
Doctor Day always faithfully warned me against it; always told me
that most of the errors, sins and miseries of this world arose from
simple impatience, which is want of faith. And now I know it! and
now I know it! What had I, who had an honorable profession, to do
with becoming a private soldier?"
"Well, well, it is honorable at least to serve your country," said
"If a foreign foe invaded her shores, yes; but what had I to do with
invading another's country?--enlisting for a war of the rights and
wrongs of which I know no more than anybody else does? Growing
impatient because fortune did not at once empty her cornucopia upon
my head! Oh, fool!"
"You blame yourself too severely, Traverse. Your act was natural
enough and justifiable enough, much as it is to be regretted," said
"Come, come, sit on this plank bench beside me--if you are not
ashamed to be seen with a private who is also a donkey--and tell me
all about it. Show me the full measure of the happiness I have so
recklessly squandered away," exclaimed Traverse, desperately.
"I will sit beside you and tell you everything you wish to know, on
condition that you stop berating yourself in a manner that fills me
with indignation," replied Herbert, as they went to a distant part
of the dusty enclosure and took their seats upon a rude bench.
"Oh, Herbert, bear with me; I could dash my wild, impatient head
against a stone wall!"
"That would not be likely to clear or strengthen your brains," said
Herbert, who thereupon commenced and told Traverse the whole history
of the persecution of Clara Day at the Hidden House; the
interception of her letters; the attempt made to force her into a
marriage with Craven Le Noir; her deliverance from her enemies by
the address and courage of Capitola; her flight to Staunton and
refuge with Mrs. Rocke; her appeal to the court, and finally her
success and her settlement under the charge of her matronly friend
at Willow Heights.
Traverse had not listened patiently to this account. He heard it
with many bursts of irrepressible indignation and many involuntary
starts of wild passion. Toward the last he sprang up and walked up
and down, chafing like an angry lion in his cage.
"And this man," he exclaimed, as Herbert concluded; "this demon!
this beast! is now our commanding officer--the colonel of our
"Yes," replied Herbert, "but as such you must not call him names;
military rules are despotic; and this man, who knows your person and
knows you to be the betrothed of Clara Day, whose hand and fortune
he covets for his son? will leave no power with which his command
invests him untried to ruin and destroy you! Traverse, I say these
things to you that being 'forewarned' you may be 'forearmed.' I
trust that you will remember your mother and your betrothed, and for
their dear sakes practise every sort of self-control, patience and
forbearance under the provocations you may receive from our colonel.
And in advising you to do this I only counsel that which I shall
myself practise. I, too, am under the ban of Le Noir for the part I
played in the church in succoring Capitola, as well as for happening
to be 'the nephew of my uncle,' Major Warfield, who is his mortal
"I? Will I not be patient, after the lesson I have just learned upon
the evils of the opposite? Be easy on my account, dear old friend, I
will be as patient as Job, meek as Moses and long-suffering as--my
own sweet mother!" said Traverse, earnestly.
The drum was now heard beating to quarters, and Traverse, wringing
his friend's hand, left him.
Herbert returned to his ship full of one scheme, of which he had not
spoken to Traverse lest it should prove unsuccessful. This scheme
was to procure his free discharge before they should set sail for
the Rio Grande. He had many influential friends among the officers
of his regiment, and he was resolved to tell them as much as was
delicate, proper and useful for them to know of the young recruit's
private history, in order to get their cooperation.
Herbert spent every hour of this day and the next, when off duty, in
this service of his friend. He found his brother officers easily
interested, sympathetic and propitious. They united their efforts
with his own to procure the discharge of the young recruit, but in
vain; the power of Colonel Le Noir was opposed to their influence
and the application was peremptorily refused.
Herbert Greyson did not sit down quietly under this disappointment,
but wrote an application embodying all the facts of the case to the
Secretary of War, got it signed by all the officers of the regiment
and despatched it by the first mail.
Simultaneously he took another important step for the interest of
his friend. Without hinting any particular motive, he had begged
Traverse to let him have his photograph taken, and the latter, with
a laugh at the lover-like proposal, had consented. When the likeness
was finished Herbert sent it by express to Major Warfield,
accompanied by a letter describing the excellent character and
unfortunate condition of Traverse, praying the major's interest in
his behalf and concluding by saying:
"You cannot look upon the accompanying photograph of my friend and
any longer disclaim your own express image in your son."
How this affected the action of Old Hurricane will be seen
Traverse, knowing nothing of the efforts that had been and were
still being made for his discharge, suffered neither disappointment
for failure of the first nor anxiety for the issue of the last.
He wrote to his mother and Clara, congratulating them on their good
fortune; telling them that he, in common with many young men of St.
Louis, had volunteered for the Mexican War; that he was then in New
Orleans, en route for the Rio Grande, and that they would be pleased
to know that their mutual friend, Herbert Greyson, was an officer in
the same regiment of which he himself was at present a private, but
with strong hopes of soon winning his epaulettes. He endorsed an
order for his mother to draw the thousand dollars left him by Doctor
Day, and he advised her to re-deposit the sum in her own name for
her own use in case of need. Praying God's blessing upon them all,
and begging their prayers for himself, Traverse concluded his
letter, which he mailed the same evening.
And the next morning the company was ordered on board and the whole
expedition set sail for the Rio Grande.
Now, we might just as easily as not accompany our troops to Mexico
and relate the feats of arms there performed with the minuteness and
fidelity of an eye-witness, since we have sat at dinner-tables where
the heroes of that war have been honored guests, and where we have
heard them fight their battles o'er till "thrice the foe was slain
and thrice the field was won."
We might follow the rising star of our young lieutenant, as by his
own merits and others' mishaps he ascended from rank to rank,
through all the grades of military promotion, but need not because
the feats of Lieutenant--Captain--Major and Colonel Greyson, are
they not written in the chronicles of the Mexican War?
We prefer to look after our little domestic heroine, our brave
little Cap, who, when women have their rights, shall be a
lieutenant-colonel herself. Shall she not, gentlemen?
* * * * * * *
In one fortnight from this time, while Mrs. Rocke and Clara were
still living comfortably at Willow Heights and waiting anxiously to
hear from Traverse, whom they still supposed to be practising his
profession at St Louis, they received his last letter written on the
eve of his departure for the seat of war. At first the news
overwhelmed them with grief, but then they sought relief in faith,
answered his letter cheerfully and commended him to the infinite
mercy of God.
CAP CAPTIVATES A CRAVEN.
"He knew himself a villain, but he deemed
The rest no better than the thing he seemed;
And scorned the best as hypocrites who hid
Those deeds the bolder spirits plainly did.
He knew himself detested, but he knew
The hearts that loathed him crouched and--dreaded, too."
The unregenerate human heart is, perhaps, the most inconsistent
thing in all nature; and in nothing is it more capricious than in
the manifestations of its passions; and in no passion is it so
fantastic as in that which it miscalls love, but which is really
often only appetite.
From the earliest days of manhood Craven Le Noir had been the votary
of vice, which he called pleasure. Before reaching the age of
twenty-five he had run the full course of dissipation, and found
himself ruined in health, degraded in character and disgusted with
Yet in all this experience his heart had not been once agitated with
a single emotion that deserved the name of passion. It was colder
than the coldest.
He had not loved Clara, though, for the sake of her money, he had
courted her so assiduously. Indeed, for the doctor's orphan girl he
had from the first conceived a strong antipathy. His evil spirit had
shrunk from her pure soul with the loathing a fiend might feel for
an angel. He had found it repugnant and difficult, almost to the
extent of impossibility, for him to pursue the courtship to which he
was only reconciled by a sense of duty to--his pocket.
It was reserved for his meeting with Capitola at the altar of the
Forest Chapel to fire his clammy heart, stagnant blood and sated
senses with the very first passion that he had ever known. Her
image, as she stood there at the altar with flashing eyes and
flaming cheeks and scathing tongue defying him, was ever before his
mind's eye. There was something about that girl so spirited, so
piquant and original that she impressed even his apathetic nature as
no other woman had ever been able to do. But what most of all
attracted him to Capitola was her diablerie. He longed to catch that
little savage to his bosom and have her at his mercy. The aversion
she had exhibited toward him only stimulated his passion.
Craven Le Noir, among his other graces, was gifted with inordinate
vanity. He did not in the least degree despair of over-coming all
Capitola's dislike to his person and inspiring her with a passion
equal to his own.
He knew well that he dared not present himself at Hurricane Hall,
but he resolved to waylay her in her rides and there to press his
suit. To this he was urged by another motive almost as strong as
He had gathered thus much from his father, that Capitola Black was
supposed to be Capitola Le Noir, the rightful heiress of all that
vast property in land, houses, iron and coal mines, foundries and
furnaces, railway shares, etc., and bank stocks, from which his
father drew the princely revenue that supported them both in their
lavish extravagance of living.
As the heiress--or, rather, the rightful owner--of all this vast
fortune. Capitola was a much greater "catch" than poor Clara, with
her modest estate, had been. And Mr. Craven Le Noir was quite
willing to turn the tables on his father by running off with the
great heiress, and step from his irksome position of dependent upon
Colonel Le Noir's often ungracious bounty to that of the husband of
the heiress and the master of the property. Added to that was
another favorable circumstance--namely, whereas he had had a strong
personal antipathy to Clara he had as strong an attraction to
Capitola, which would make his course of courtship all the
In one word, he resolved to woo, win and elope with, or forcibly
abduct, Capitola Le Noir, marry her and then turn upon his father
and claim the fortune in right of his wife. The absence of Colonel
Le Noir in Mexico favored his projects, as he could not fear
Meanwhile our little madcap remained quite unconscious of the honors
designed her. She had cried every day of the first week of Herbert's
absence; every alternate day of the second; twice in the third; once
in the fourth; not at all in the fifth, and the sixth week she was
quite herself again, as full of fun and frolic and as ready for any
mischief or deviltry that might turn up.
She resumed her rides, no longer followed by Wool, because Old
Hurricane, partly upon account of his misadventure in having had the
misfortune inadvertently "to lose sight of" his mistress upon that
memorable occasion of the metamorphosis of Cap into Clara and partly
because of the distant absence of Le Noir, did not consider his
favorite in danger.
He little knew that a subtle and unscrupulous agent had been left
sworn to her destruction, and that another individual, almost
equally dangerous, had registered a secret vow to run off with her.
Neither did poor Cap when, rejoicing to be free from the dogging
attendance of Wool, imagine the perils to which she was exposed; nor
is it even likely that if she had she would have cared for them in
any other manner than as promising piquant adventures. From
childhood she had been inured to danger, and had never suffered
harm; therefore, Cap, like the Chevalier Bayard, was "without fear
and without reproach."
Craven Le Noir proceeded cautiously with his plans, knowing that
there was time enough and that all might be lost by haste. He did
not wish to alarm Capitola.
The first time he took occasion to meet her in her rides he merely
bowed deeply, even to the flaps of his saddle and, with a melancholy
smile, passed on.
"Miserable wretch! He is a mean fellow to want to marry a girl
against her will, no matter how much he might have been in love with
her, and I am very glad I balked him. Still, he looks so ill and
unhappy that I can't help pitying him," said Cap, looking
compassionately at his white cheeks and languishing eyes, and little
knowing that the illness was the effect of dissipation and that the
melancholy was assumed for the occasion.
A few days after this Cap again met Craven Le Noir, who again, with
a deep bow and sad smile, passed her.
"Poor fellow! he richly deserves to suffer, and I hope it may make
him better, for I am right-down sorry for him; it must be so
dreadful to lose one we love; but it was too base in him to let his
father try to compel her to have him. Suppose, now, Herbert Greyson
was to take a fancy to another girl, would I let uncle go to him and
put a pistol to his head and say, 'Cap is fond of you, you varlet!
and demmy, sir, you shall marry none but her, or receive an ounce of
lead in your stupid brains'? No, I'd scorn it; I'd forward the other
wedding; I'd make the cake and dress the bride and--then maybe I'd
break--no, I'm blamed if I would! I'd not break my heart for
anybody. Set them up with it, indeed! Neither would my dear,
darling, sweet, precious Herbert treat me so, and I'm a wretch to
think of it!" said Cap, with a rich, inimitable unction as,
rejoicing in her own happy love, she cheered Gyp and rode on.
Now, Craven Le Noir had been conscious of the relenting and
compassionate looks of Capitola, but he did not know that they were
only the pitying regards of a noble and victorious nature over a
vanquished and suffering wrong-doer. However, he still determined to
be cautious, and not ruin his prospects by precipitate action, but
to "hasten slowly."
So the next time he met Capitola he raised his eyes with one deep,
sad, appealing gaze to hers, and then, bowing profoundly, passed on,
"Poor man," said Cap to herself, "he bears no malice toward me for
depriving him of his sweetheart; that's certain. And, badly as he
behaved, I suppose it was all for love, for I don't know how any one
could live in the same house with Clara and not be in love with her.
I should have been so myself if I'd been a man, I know!"
The next time Cap met Craven and saw again that deep, sorrowful,
appealing gaze as he bowed and passed her, she glanced after him,
saying to herself:
"Poor soul, I wonder what he means by looking at me in that piteous
manner? I can do nothing to relieve him. I'm sure if I could I
would. But 'the way of the transgressor is hard,' Mr. Le Noir, and
he who sins must suffer."
For about three weeks their seemingly accidental meetings continued
in this silent manner, so slowly did Craven make his advances. Then,
feeling more confidence, he made a considerably long step forward.
One day, when he guessed that Capitola would be out, instead of
meeting her as heretofore, he put himself in her road and, riding
slowly toward a five-barred gate, allowed her to overtake him.
He opened the gate and, bowing, held it open until she had passed.
She bowed her thanks and rode on; but presently, without the least
appearance of intruding, since she had overtaken him, he was at her
side and, speaking with downcast eyes and deferential manner, he
"I have long desired an opportunity to express the deep sorrow and
mortification I feel for having been hurried into rudeness toward an
estimable young lady at the Forest Chapel. Miss Black, will you
permit me now to assure you of my profound repentance of that act
and to implore your pardon?"
"Oh, I have nothing against you, Mr. Le Noir. It was not I whom you
were intending to marry against my will; and as for what you said
and did to me, ha! ha! I had provoked it, you know, and I also
afterwards paid it in kind. It was a fair fight, in which I was the
victor, and victors should never be vindictive," said Cap, laughing,
for, though knowing him to have been violent and unjust, she did not
suspect him of being treacherous and deceitful, or imagine the base
designs concealed beneath his plausible manner. Her brave, honest
nature could understand a brute or a despot, but not a traitor.
"Then, like frank enemies who have fought their fight out, yet bear
no malice toward each other, we may shake hands and be friends, I
hope," said Craven, replying in the same spirit in which she had
"Well, I don't know about that, Mr. Le Noir. Friendship is a very
sacred thing, and its name should not be lightly taken on our
tongues. I hope you will excuse me if I decline your proffer," said
Cap, who had a well of deep, true, earnest feeling beneath her
"What! you will not even grant a repentant man your friendship, Miss
Black?" asked Craven, with a sorrowful smile.
"I wish you well, Mr. Le Noir. I wish you a good and, therefore, a
happy life; but I cannot give you friendship, for that means a great
"Oh, I see how it is! You cannot give your friendship where you
cannot give your esteem. Is it not so?"
"Yes," said Capitola; "that is it; yet I wish you so well that I
wish you might grow worthy of higher esteem than mine."
"You are thinking of my--yes, I will not shrink from characterizing
that conduct as it deserves--my unpardonable violence toward Clara.
Miss Black, I have mourned that sin from the day that I was hurried
into it until this. I have bewailed it from the very bottom of my
heart," said Craven, earnestly, fixing his eyes with an expression
of perfect truthfulness upon those of Capitola.
"I am glad to hear you say so," said Cap.
"Miss Black, please hear this in palliation--I would not presume to
say in defense--of my conduct: I was driven to frenzy by a passion
of contending love and jealousy as violent and maddening as it was
unreal and transient. But that delusive passion has subsided, and
among the unmerited mercies for which I have to be thankful is that,
in my frantic pursuit of Clara Day, I was not cursed with success!
For all the violence into which that frenzy hurried me I have deeply
repented. I can never forgive myself, but--cannot you forgive me?"
"Mr. Le Noir, I have nothing for which to forgive you. I am glad
that you have repented toward Clara and I wish you well, and that is
really all that I can say."
"I have deserved this and I accept it," said Craven, in a tone so
mournful that Capitola, in spite of all her instincts, could not
choose but pity him.
He rode on, with his pale face, downcast eyes and melancholy
expression, until they reached a point at the back of Hurricane
Hall, where their paths diverged.
Here Craven, lifting his hat and bowing profoundly, said, in a sad
"Good evening, Miss Black," and, turning his horse's head, took the
path leading down into the Hidden Hollow.
"Poor young fellow! he must be very unhappy down in that miserable
place; but I can't help it. I wish he would go to Mexico with the
rest," said Cap, as she pursued her way homeward.
Not to excite her suspicion, Craven Le Noir avoided meeting Capitola
for a few days, and then threw himself in her road and, as before,
allowed her to overtake him.
Very subtly he entered into conversation with her, and, guarding
every word and look, took care to interest without alarming her. He
said no more of friendship, but a great deal of regret for wasted
years and wasted talents in the past and good resolutions for the
And Cap listened good humoredly. Capitola, being of a brave, hard,
firm nature, had not the sensitive perceptions, fine intuitions and
true insight into character that distinguished the more refined
nature of Clara Day--or, at least, she had not these delicate
faculties in the same perfection. Thus, her undefined suspicions of
Craven's sincerity were overborne by a sort of noble benevolence
which determined her to think the best of him which circumstances
Craven, on his part, having had more experience, was much wiser in
the pursuit of his object. He also had the advantage of being in
earnest. His passion for Capitola was sincere, and not, as it had
been in the case of Clara, simulated. He believed, therefore, that,
when the time should be ripe for the declaration of his love, he
would have a much better prospect of success, especially as
Capitola, in her ignorance of her own great fortune, must consider
his proposal the very climax of disinterestedness.
After three more weeks of riding and conversing with Capitola he
had, in his own estimation, advanced so far in her good opinion as
to make it perfectly safe to risk a declaration. And this he
determined to do upon the very first opportunity.
Chance favored him.
One afternoon Capitola, riding through the pleasant woods skirting
the back of the mountain range that sheltered Hurricane Hall, got a
fall, for which she was afterwards inclined to cuff Wool.
It happened in this way: She had come to a steep rise in the road
and urged her pony into a hard gallop, intending as she said to
herself, to "storm the height," when suddenly, under the violent
strain, the girth, ill-fastened, flew apart and Miss Cap was on the
ground, buried under the fallen saddle.
With many a blessing upon the carelessness of grooms, Cap picked
herself up, put the saddle on the horse, and was engaged in drawing
under the girth when Craven Le Noir rode up, sprang from his horse
and, with anxiety depicted on his countenance, ran to the spot
"What is the matter? No serious accident, I hope and trust, Miss
"No; those wretches in uncle's stables did not half buckle the
girth, and, as I was going in a hard gallop up the steep, it flew
apart and gave me a tumble; that's all," said Cap, desisting a
moment from her occupation to take breath.
"You were not hurt?" inquired Craven, with deep interest in his
"Oh, no; there is no harm done, except to my riding skirt, which has
been torn and muddied by the fall," said Cap, laughing and resuming
her efforts to tighter the girth.
"Pray permit me," said Craven, gently taking the end of the strap
from her hand; "this is no work for a lady, and, besides, is beyond
Capitola, thanking him, withdrew to the side of the road, and,
seating herself upon the trunk of a fallen tree, began to brush the
dirt from her habit.
Craven adjusted and secured the saddle with great care, patted and
soothed the pony and then, approaching Capitola in the most
deferential manner, stood before her and said: "Miss Black, you will
pardon me, I hope, if I tell you that the peril I had imagined you
to be in has so agitated my mind as to make it impossible for me
longer to withhold a declaration of my sentiments--" Here his voice,
that had trembled throughout this disclosure, now really and utterly
Capitola looked up with surprise and interest; she had never in her
life before heard an explicit declaration of love from anybody. She
and Herbert somehow had always understood each other very well,
without ever a word of technical love-making passing between them;
so Capitola did not exactly know what was coming next.
Craven recovered his voice, and encouraged by the favorable manner
in which she appeared to listen to him, actually threw himself at
her feet and, seizing one of her hands, with much ardor and
earnestness and much more eloquence than any one would have credited
him with, poured forth the history of his passion and his hopes.
"Well, I declare!" said Cap, when he had finished his speech and was
waiting in breathless impatience for her answer; "this is what is
called a declaration of love and a proposal of marriage, is it? It
is downright sentimental, I suppose, if I had only sense enough to
appreciate it! It is as good as a play; pity it is lost upon me!"
"Cruel girl! how you mock me!" cried Craven, rising from his knees
and sitting beside her.
"No, I don't; I'm in solemn earnest. I say it is first rate. Do it
again; I like it!"
"Sarcastic and merciless one, you glory in the pain you give! But if
you wish again to hear me say I love you, I will say it a dozen--
yes, a hundred--times over if you will only admit that you could
love me a little in return."
"Don't; that would be tiresome; two or three times is quite enough.
Besides, what earthly good could my saying 'I love you' do?"
"It might persuade you to become the wife of one who will adore you
to the last hour of his life."
"Meaning me; the most devoted of your admirers."
"That isn't saying much, since I haven't got any but you."
"Thank fortune for it! Then I am to understand, charming Capitola,
that at least your hand and your affections are free," cried Craven,
"Well, now, I don't know about that! Really, I can't positively say;
but it strikes me, if I were to get married to anybody else, there's
somebody would feel queerish!"
"No doubt there are many whose secret hopes would be blasted, for so
charming a girl could not have passed through this world without
having won many hearts who would keenly feel the loss of hope in her
marriage. But what if they do, my enchanting Capitola? You are not
responsible for any one having formed such hopes."
"Fudge!" said Cap, "I'm no belle; never was; never can be; have
neither wealth, beauty nor coquetry enough to make me one. I have no
lovers nor admirers to break their hearts about me, one way or
another; but there is one honest fellow--hem! never mind; I feel as
if I belonged to somebody else; that's all. I am very much obliged
to you, Mr. Le Noir, for your preference, and even for the beautiful
way in which you have expressed it, but--I belong to somebody else."
"Miss Black," said Craven, somewhat abashed but not discouraged. "I
think I understand you. I presume that you refer to the young man
who was your gallant champion in the Forest Chapel."
"The one that made your nose bleed," said the incorrigible Cap.
"Well, Miss Black, from your words it appears that this is by no
means an acknowledged but only an understood engagement, which
cannot be binding upon either party. Now, a young lady of your
acknowledged good sense--"
"I never had any more good sense than I have had admirers,"
"I would not hear your enemy say that," he replied; then, resuming
his argument, he said:
"You will readily understand, Miss Black, that the vague engagement
of which you speak, where there is want of fortune on both sides, is
no more prudent than it is binding. On the contrary, the position
which it is my pride to offer you is considered an enviable one;
even apart from the devoted love that goes with it. You are aware
that I am the sole heir of the Hidden House estate, which, with all
its dependencies, is considered the largest property, as my wife
would be the most important lady, in the county."
Cap's lip curled a little; looking askance at him she answered:
"I am really very much obliged to you Mr. Le Noir, for the
distinguished honor that you designed for me. I should highly
appreciate the magnanimity of a young gentleman, the heir of the
wealthiest estate in the neighborhood who deigns to propose marriage
to the little beggar that I acknowledge myself to be. I regret to be
obliged to refuse such dignities, but--I belong to another," said
Capitola, rising and advancing toward her horse.
Craven would not risk his success by pushing his suit further at
Very respectfully lending his assistance to put Capitola into her
saddle, he said he hoped at some future and more propitious time to
resume the subject. And then, with a deep bow, he left her, mounted
his horse and rode on his way.
He did not believe that Capitola was more than half in earnest, or
that any girl in Capitola's circumstances would do such a mad thing
as to refuse the position he offered her.
He did not throw himself in her way often enough to excite her
suspicion that their meetings were preconcerted on his part, and
even when he did overtake her or suffer her to overtake him, he
avoided giving her offense by pressing his suit until another good
opportunity should offer. This was not long in coming.
One afternoon he overtook her and rode by her side for a short
distance when, finding her in unusually good spirits and temper, he
again renewed his declaration of love and offer of marriage.
Cap turned around in her saddle and looked at him with astonishment
for a full minute before she exclaimed: "Why, Mr. Le Noir, I gave
you an answer more than a week ago. Didn't I tell you 'No'? What on
earth do you mean by repeating the question?"
"I mean, bewitching Capitola, not to let such a treasure slip out of
my grasp if I can help it."
"I never was in your grasp, that I know of," said Cap, whipping up
her horse and leaving him far behind.
Days passed before Craven thought it prudent again to renew and
press his suit. He did so upon a fine September morning, when he
overtook her riding along the banks of the river. He joined her and
in the most deprecating manner besought her to listen to him once
more. Then he commenced in a strain of the most impassioned
eloquence and urged his love and his proposal.
Capitola stopped her horse, wheeled around and faced him, looking
him full in the eyes while she said:
"Upon my word, Mr. Le Noir, you remind me of an anecdote told of
young Sheridan. When his father advised him to take a wife and
settle, he replied by asking whose wife he should take. Will nobody
serve your purpose but somebody else's sweetheart? I have told you
that I belong to a brave young soldier who is fighting his country's
battles in a foreign land, while you are lazing here at home, trying
to undermine him. I am ashamed of you, sir, and ashamed of myself
for talking with you so many times! Never do you presume to accost
me on the highway or anywhere else again! Craven by name and Craven
by nature, you have once already felt the weight of Herbert's arm!
Do not provoke its second descent upon you! You are warned!" and
with that Capitola, with her lips curled, her eyes flashing and her
cheeks burning, put whip to her pony and galloped away.
Craven Le Noir's thin, white face grew perfectly livid with passion.
"I will have her yet! I have sworn it, and by fair means or by foul
I will have her yet!" he exclaimed, as he relaxed his hold upon his
bridle and let his horse go on slowly, while he sat with his brows
gathered over his thin nose, his long chin buried in his neckcloth
and his nails between his teeth, gnawing like a wild beast, as was
his custom when deeply cogitating.
Presently he conceived a plan so diabolical that none but Satan
himself could have inspired it! This was to take advantage of his
acquaintance and casual meetings with Capitola so to malign her
character as to make it unlikely that any honest man would risk his
honor by taking her to wife; that thus the way might be left clear
for himself; and he resolved, if possible, to effect this in such a
manner--namely, by jests, innuendos and sneers--that it should never
be directly traced to a positive assertion on his part. And in the
mean time he determined to so govern himself in his deportment
toward Capitola as to arouse no suspicion, give no offense and, if
possible, win back her confidence.
It is true that even Craven Le Noir, base as he was, shrank from the
idea of smirching the reputation of the woman whom he wished to make
a wife; but then he said to himself that in that remote neighborhood
the scandal would be of little consequence to him, who, as soon as
he should be married, would claim the estate of the Hidden House in
right of his wife, put it in charge of an overseer and then, with
his bride, start for Paris, the paradise of the epicurean, where he
designed to fix their principal residence.
Craven Le Noir was so pleased with his plan that he immediately set
about putting it in execution. Our next chapter will show how he
Is he not approved to the height of a villain, who hath
slandered, scorned, dishonored thy kinswoman. Oh! that I
were a man for his sake, or had a friend who would be
one for mine!
Autumn brought the usual city visitors to Hurricane Hall to spend
the sporting season and shoot over Major Warfield's grounds. Old
Hurricane was in his glory, giving dinners and projecting hunts.
Capitola also enjoyed herself rarely, enacting with much
satisfaction to herself and guests her new role of hostess, and not
unfrequently joining her uncle and his friends in their field
Among the guests there were two who deserve particular attention,
not only because they had been for many years annual visitors of
Hurricane Hall, but more especially because there had grown up
between them and our little madcap heroine, a strong mutual
confidence and friendship. Yet no three persons could possibly be
more unlike than Capitola and the two cousins of her soul, as she
called these two friends. They were both distant relatives of Major
Warfield, and in right of this relationship invariably addressed
Capitola as "Cousin Cap."
John Stone, the elder of the two, was a very tall, stout, squarely
built young man, with a broad, good-humored face, fair skin, blue
eyes and light hair. In temperament he was rather phlegmatic, quiet
and lazy. In character he was honest, prudent and good-tempered. In
circumstances he was a safe banker, with a notable wife and two
healthy children. The one thing that was able to excite his quiet
nerves was the chase, of which he was as fond as he could possibly
be of any amusement. The one person who agreeably stirred his rather
still spirits was our little Cap, and that was the secret of his
friendship for her.
Edwin Percy, the other, was a young West Indian, tall and delicately
formed, with a clear olive complexion, languishing dark hazel eyes
and dark, bright chestnut hair and beard. In temperament he was
ardent as his clime. In character, indolent, careless and self-
indulgent. In condition he was the bachelor heir of a sugar
plantation of a thousand acres. He loved not the chase, nor any
other amusement requiring exertion. He doted upon swansdown sofas
with springs, French plays, cigars and chocolate. He came to the
country to find repose, good air and an appetite. He was the victim
of constitutional ennui that yielded to nothing but the exhilaration
of Capitola's company; that was the mystery of his love for her, and
doubtless the young Creole would have proposed for Cap, had he not
thought it too much trouble to get married, and dreaded the bustle
of a bridal. Certainly Edwin Percy was as opposite in character to
John Stone, as they both were to Capitola, yet great was the
relative attraction among the three. Cap impartially divided her
kind offices as hostess between them.
John Stone joined Old Hurricane in many a hard day's hunt, and
Capitola was often of the party.
Edwin Percy spent many hours on the luxurious lounge in the parlor,
where Cap was careful to place a stand with chocolate, cigars, wax
matches and his favorite books.
One day Cap had had what she called "a row with the governor," that
is to say, a slight misunderstanding with Major Warfield; a very
uncommon occurrence, as the reader knows, in which that temperate
old gentleman had so freely bestowed upon his niece the names of
"beggar, foundling, brat, vagabond and vagrant," that Capitola, in
just indignation, refused to join the birding party, and taking her
game bag, powder flask, shot-horn and fowling piece, and calling her
favorite pointer, walked off, as she termed it, "to shoot herself."
But if Capitola's by no means sweet temper had been tried that
morning, it was destined to be still more severely tested before the
day was over.
Her second provocation came in this way: John Stone, another
deserter of the birding party had that day betaken himself to Tip-
top upon some private business of his own. He dined at the Antlers
in company with some sporting gentlemen of the neighborhood, and
when the conversation naturally turned upon field sports, Mr. John
Stone spoke of the fine shooting that was to be had around Hurricane
Hall, when one of the gentlemen,, looking straight across the table
to Mr. Stone, said:
"Ahem! That pretty little huntress of Hurricane Hall--that niece or
ward, or mysterious daughter of Old Hurricane, who engages with so
much enthusiasm in your field sports over there, is a girl of very
free and easy manners I understand--a Diana in nothing but her love
of the chase!"
"Sir, it is a base calumny! And the man who endorses it is a
shameless slanderer! There is my card! I may be found at my present
residence, Hurricane Hall," said John Stone, throwing his pasteboard
across the table, and rising to leave it.
"Nay, nay," said the stranger, laughing and pushing the card away.
"I do not endorse the statement--I know nothing about it! I wash my
hands of it," said the young man. And then upon Mr. Stone's
demanding the author of the calumny, he gave the name of Mr. Craven
Le Noir, who, he said, had "talked in his cups," at a dinner party
recently given by one of his friends.
"I pronounce--publicly, in the presence of all these witnesses, as I
shall presently to Craven Le Noir himself--that he is a shameless
miscreant, who has basely slandered a noble girl! You, sir, have
declined to endorse those words; henceforth decline to repeat them!
For after this I shall call to a severe account any man who
ventures, by word, gesture or glance to hint this slander, or in any
other way deal lightly with the honorable name and fame of the lady
in question. Gentlemen, I am to be found at Hurricane Hall, and I
have the honor of wishing you a more improving subject of
conversation, and--a very good afternoon," said John Stone, bowing
and leaving the room.
He immediately called for his horse and rode home.
Back to Full Books