Weapons of Mystery
Part 3 out of 4
"'You ask me much,' he continued. 'You ask me to give up what is now the
dearest object of my life--except one. But, ah! I am an Eastern. I am
selfish; I cannot sacrifice disinterestedly. There is only one thing for
which I can give up my scheme of vengeance.'
"'Tell me what it is,' she cried.
"'Ah, sweet lady, I dare not tell; and yet I must. It is you. Be my wife,
Miss Forrest; let me call you by your name, and I will wipe the blood
from this knife, I will destroy every evidence of the dark deed. Justin
Blake shall not lie in a prison cell; his name shall not be a synonym
for devilry; he shall not be mentioned with loathing.'"
"And what then?" I cried. "What was her answer?"
"Man, she looked at him with loathing, but he did not see it.
"'Be your wife?' she said.
"'My wife, Miss Forrest,' he replied. 'Love cannot be greater than mine.
I love the very ground on which you walk. Be my wife and I will be your
slave. Your every desire shall be granted, and I will give up that which
is dear to me.'
"'And if I will not?' she said.
"'Ah, if you will not! Then--ah, I am an Eastern, and cannot give up
everything. If I cannot have love, I must have vengeance.'
"'But you have made a mistake. Your friend is alive. It is absurd to
think that Mr. Blake is guilty of such a deed.'
"He pointed with a trembling hand to the bloody knife.
"'I can have no stronger proof than that,' he said, 'and that blood cries
out for vengeance now.'
"'Oh, I cannot,' she said, 'I cannot.'
"'You refuse me?' he said quietly.
"'I must, I must,' she cried. 'It cannot be!'
"He went to the writing-desk that stood near by, and commenced writing.
'If a poor Eastern cannot have love, he can still have vengeance,' he
"'What are you writing?' she cried.
"'I am writing a letter to the superintendent of the nearest police
station, telling him to come with some men to Temple Hall to arrest a
"'Have you no mercy?' she said.
"'Mercy, lady. Only the Great Spirit above knows what I had made up my
mind to give up, when I told you the condition on which I would be
silent. I loved my friend as Jonathan loved David, and he is
dead--murdered by an enemy's hand. Vengeance is one of the sweetest
thoughts to an Eastern, and I meant to be avenged. You begged for his
life, and I offered it--for your love. I asked you to marry me--me, who
would give up everything for you; but you refused. I grieve for you,
lady; but since I cannot have love, I must have revenge.'
"He went on writing, while Miss Forrest clasped her hands as if in
"I am relating this very badly, Justin. I cannot remember many of the
things that were said; I cannot call to mind all the gestures, the tones
of voice, or the awful anguish which seemed to possess them both. I can
only give you a scrappy account of what passed."
I remembered Tom's powers of memory, however, for which he had always
been remarkable at school, and I knew that the account he gave me was
not far from correct, and I begged him to go on.
"At length she turned to him again," continued Tom. "'I am going to
show,' she said, 'that I believe Mr. Blake innocent. You asked me for
love; that I cannot give you. I do not love you, I never shall love you;
but such is my belief in Mr. Blake's innocence that I promise you this:
if he is not proved to be guiltless within a year, I will marry you.'
"He leapt to his feet, as if to embrace her.
"'No,' she said; 'you have not heard all my conditions. Within that year
you are not to see me or communicate with me.'
"'But,' he cried, 'if Kaffar is dead, if these terrible evidences of
murder are real, then in a year--say next Christmas Eve; 'twas on
Christmas Eve we first met in England--then you will promise to be my
"'And your promise shall be irrevocable?'
"She turned on him with scorn. 'The promise of a lady is ever
irrevocable,' she said.
"'Ah!' cried Voltaire, 'love is a stronger passion than vengeance, and my
love will win yours.'
"'Meanwhile,' she went on without noticing this rhapsody, 'if you breathe
one word or utter one sound by which suspicion can fall on Mr. Blake, my
promise is forfeited; if you stay here after to-morrow, or attempt to
see me within this and next Christmas Eve, my promise is also
"'What, am I to leave you at once?'
"He left the room immediately after," said Tom, "while, after saying
'Good-night' to me, she too retired to her bedroom."
To say that I was astonished at the turn things had taken would not give
the slightest idea of my feelings. And yet a great joy filled my heart.
The sword of Damocles, which seemed to hang over my head, possessed no
"Is that all, Tom?" I said at length.
"This morning, as I told you, he arranged for Kaffar's luggage to be
sent to Egypt, while he himself is preparing to depart."
"Where is he going?"
"And Miss Forrest?"
"She, I hope, will stay with us for some time. But, Justin, can you
really give no explanation of these things? Surely you must be able to?"
"I cannot, Tom. I am hedged in on every side. I'm enslaved, and I cannot
tell you how. My life is a mystery, and at times a terror."
"But do you know what has become of Kaffar?"
"No more than that dog barking in the yard. All is dark to me."
Tom left me then, while I, with my poor tired brain, tried to think what
A MESMERIST'S SPELL
I found on entering the breakfast-room that my presence caused no
surprise, neither did any of the guests regard me suspiciously. It had
gone abroad that I had gone out to find Kaffar, but was unable to do so;
and as Voltaire had publicly spoken of Kaffar's luggage being sent to
Cairo, there was, to them, no mystery regarding him.
Several spoke of his going away as being a good riddance, and declared
him to be unfit for respectable society; but I did not answer them, and
after a while the subject dropped.
Voltaire, however, was not in the room; and when, after having
breakfasted, I was wondering where he was, I felt the old terrible
sensation come over me. I tried to resist the influence that was drawing
me out of the room, but I could not. I put on my overcoat and hat, and,
drawn on by an unseen power, I went away towards the fir plantation in
which the summer-house was built.
As I knew I should, I found Voltaire there. He smiled on me and lifted
his hat politely. "I thought I would allow you to have a good breakfast
before summoning you," he said, "especially as this is the last
conversation we shall have for some time."
I thought I detected a look of triumph in his eyes, yet I was sure he
regarded me with intense hatred.
"Yes," I said, "I am come. What is your will now?"
"This. I find that Mr. Temple has told you about an interview which was
held in the library last night."
"Yes; it is true."
"Do you know of what you are in danger?"
"For murdering Kaffar."
"Did I kill him? I remember nothing. What was done was not because of
me, but because of the demon that caused me blindly to act."
"Names are cheap, my man, and I don't mind. Claptrap morality is
nothing to me. Yes, you killed Kaffar--killed him with that knife you
held in your hand. I meant that you should. Kaffar was getting
troublesome to me, and I wanted to get him out of the way. To use you as
I did was killing two birds with one stone. You know that Miss Forrest
has promised to marry me if Kaffar be not forthcoming by next Christmas
Eve. That, of course, can never be, so my beautiful bride is safe;" and
he looked at me with a savage leer.
"Have you brought me here to tell me that?"
"No; but to tell you a little good news. I have decided to hold you as
the slave to my will until the day Miss Gertrude Forrest becomes Mrs.
Herod Voltaire, and then to set you free. Meanwhile, I want to give you
a few instructions."
"What are they?"
"You are not to take one step in trying to prove that Kaffar is alive."
"Ah!" I cried; "you fear I might produce him. Then I have not killed
him, even through you. Thank God! thank God!"
"Stop your pious exclamations," he said. "No, you are wrong. You did
kill Kaffar, and he lies at the bottom of yonder ghostly pool; so that
is not the reason. Why I do not wish you to search for him is that
thereby you might find out things about me that I do not wish you to
do. In such a life as mine there are naturally things that I do not wish
known. In going to my old haunts, trying to unearth Kaffar, you would
learn something about them. And so I command you," he continued, in a
hoarse tone that made me shudder, "that you do not move one step in that
direction. If you do--well, you know my power."
From that moment I felt more enslaved than ever. I shuddered at the
thought of disobeying him; I felt more than ever a lost man. As I felt
at that moment, in spite of my desire to let every one know this man's
power over me, I would rather have pulled out my tongue than have done
"Are those all your commands?" I said humbly.
"Ah! you are cowed at last, are you?" he said mockingly. "You matched
your strength with mine; now you know what it means. You did not think I
could crush you like a grasshopper, did you? Yes, I have one other
command for you. You must go to London to-morrow, and go on with your
old work. You must not hold any communication with Miss Forrest, my
affianced bride. I myself am going to London to-day, and most likely
shall remain there for a while. Perhaps I shall want to see you
occasionally. If I do, you will quickly know. I shall have no need to
tell you my address;" and he laughed a savage laugh.
"Is that all?" I said.
"That is all. You will come to the wedding, Mr. Blake. You shall see her
arrayed for her husband, dressed all in white, as a bride should be. You
shall see her lips touch mine. You shall see us go away together--the
woman you love, and the man who has crushed you as if you were a worm."
This maddened me. By a tremendous effort of will I was free. "That shall
never be. Somehow, some way, I will thwart you," I cried. "I will free
myself from you; I will snap your cruel chain asunder."
"I defy you!" he said. "You can do nothing that I have commanded you not
to do. For the rest I care not a jot."
He went away, leaving me alone, and then all the sensations of the
previous nights came back to me. I remembered what the ghost was
supposed to foretell, and the evil influence the dark pond was said to
have. I saw again the large red hand on the water's surface. I recalled
dimly the struggle, the fighting, the strange feeling I had as my senses
began to leave me. Could I have killed him? If I did, I was guiltless
of crime. It was not my heart that conceived the thought; it was not I
who really did the deed. I had no pangs of conscience, no feeling of
remorse, and yet the thought that I had hurried a man into eternity was
I wandered in the plantation for hours, brooding, thinking, despairing.
No pen can describe what I felt, no words can convey to the mind the
thoughts and pains of my mind and heart. Never did I love Miss Forrest
so much, never was Voltaire's villainy so real; and yet I was to lose
her, and that man--a fiend in human form--was to wed her. I could do
nothing. He had paralyzed my energies. He had set a command before me
which was as ghastly as hell, and yet I dared not disobey. I, a young,
strong man, was a slave--a slave of the worst kind. I was the plaything,
the tool of a villain. I had to do as he told me; I had to refrain from
doing what he told me I was not to do. I had done I knew not what.
Perchance a hangman's rope was hanging near me even now. I could not
tell. And yet I dared not rise from my chains, and see whether the
things I had been accused of doing were true.
I went back to the house. Voltaire was gone, while the guests and family
were having their lunch. I felt that I could not join them, so I went
into the library. I had not been there ten minutes when Miss Forrest
entered. She looked pale and worried. I suppose that I, too, must have
been haggard, for she started when she saw me. She hesitated a moment,
and then spoke.
"The whole party are going for a ride this afternoon. They have just
been making arrangements. They are going to ask you to join them. Shall
you go?" she asked.
"No; I shall not go," I replied.
"Will you come here at three o'clock?"
"Yes," I said, wondering what she meant; but I had not time to ask her,
for two young men came into the room.
I went to my room and tried to think, but I could not. My mind refused
to work. I watched the party ride away--it was comparatively small now,
for several had returned to their homes--and then I found my way to the
I sat for a while in silence, scarcely conscious of my surroundings; and
then I wondered how long Miss Forrest would be before she came, and what
she would tell me. The clock on the mantelpiece began to strike three;
it had not finished when she entered the room.
I placed a chair for her beside my own, which she accepted without a
For a minute neither of us spoke; then she said abruptly, "You told me
you loved me when we rode out together the other day."
"I did," I said, "and I do love you with all the intensity that a human
heart is capable of loving; but it is hopeless now."
"You have promised to marry another man."
"What do you know of this?"
Both of us were very excited. We were moved to talk in an unconventional
"Mr. Temple told me of your interview together last night."
A slight flush came to her face. "But Mr. Temple has told you the
condition of the promise as well," she said.
"Yes; but that condition makes me hopeless."
"What!" she cried. "But no, I will not entertain such a thought. You are
as innocent as I am."
"Yes, I am innocent in thought, in intent, and in heart; but as for the
deed itself, I know not."
"I do not understand you," she said; "you speak in words that convey no
meaning to my mind. Will you explain?"
"I cannot, Miss Forrest. I would give all I possess if I could. I have
nothing that I would keep secret from you, and yet I cannot tell you
that which you would know."
Did she understand me? Did her quick mind guess my condition? I could
not tell, and yet a strange look of intelligence flashed from her eyes.
"Mr. Blake," she said, "my soul loathes the thought of marrying that
man. If ever my promise has to be fulfilled, I shall die the very day on
which he calls me wife."
My heart gave a great throb of joy; her every word gave me hope in spite
"Mr. Blake," she continued, "I never must marry him."
"God grant you may not," I said.
"I must not," she said, "and you must keep me from danger."
"I, Miss Forrest! I would give the world if I could: but how can I? You
do not know the terrible slavery that binds me, neither can I tell you."
"I shall trust in you to deliver me from this man," she went on without
heeding me. "You must prove yourself to be innocent."
"To do that I must bring this man Kaffar. I know nothing of him. I could
never find him. Oh, I tell you, Miss Forrest, a thousand evil powers
seem to rend me when I attempt to do what I long for."
"I shall trust in you," she cried. "Surely you are sufficiently
interested in me to save me from a man like Voltaire?"
"Interested?" I cried. "I would die for you, I love you so. And yet I
can do nothing."
"You can do something; you can do everything. You can save me from him."
"Oh," I cried, "I know I must appear a pitiful coward to you. It is for
me you have placed yourself in this position, while I refuse to try to
liberate you from it. If I only could; if I dared! But I am chained on
"But you are going to break those chains; you are going to be free; you
are going to be happy."
Her words nerved me. The impossible seemed possible, and yet everything
"Only one thing can make me happy," I said, "and that can never be now.
I have lost my strength; I am become a pitiful coward."
"You are going to be happy!" she repeated.
"Miss Forrest," I said, "do not mock me. My life for days has been a
hell. I have had a terrible existence; no light shines in the sky. You
cannot think what your words mean to me, or you would not speak them."
"Will you not, for my sake, if not for your own, exert yourself? Will
you not think of my happiness a little? The thought of marrying that
man is madness."
"Miss Forrest," I cried, "you must think I have lost all manhood, all
self-respect, when you hear what I say; but the only thing that could
make me think of trying to do what is ten thousand times my duty to do,
is that you will give me some hope that, if I should succeed, you will
be the wife of such a poor thing as I am."
She looked at me intently. She was very pale, and her eyes shone like
stars. Beautiful she looked beyond compare, and so grand, so noble. She
was tied down to no conventionalities; whither her pure true heart led
her, she followed.
"If you succeed," she said, "I will be your wife."
"But not simply from a feeling of pity?" I cried. "I could not let you
do that. I have manliness enough for that even yet."
"No," she said proudly, "but because you are the only man I ever did or
For a minute I forgot my woes, my pains. No ghastly deed taunted me with
its memory, no dark cloud hung in the skies. I felt my Gertrude's lips
against mine; I felt that her life was given to me. I was no longer
alone and desolate; a pure, beautiful woman had trusted me so fully, so
truly, that hope dawned in my sky, and earth was heaven.
"Now, Justin," she said, after a few minutes of happy silence, "you must
away. Every hour may be precious. God knows how gladly I would be with
you, but it must not be. But remember, my hope lies in you, and my love
is given to you. God bless you!"
She went away then and left me; while I, without knowing why, prepared
to start for London.
I had a great work to do. I had, if I was to win Gertrude for my wife,
to break and crush Voltaire's power over me. I had to find Kaffar, if he
was to be found, and that to me was an awful uncertainty, and I had to
bring him to Gertrude before the next Christmas Eve.
Away from her the skies were dark again, great heavy weights rested on
my heart, and my life seemed clogged. Still her love had nerved me to do
what I otherwise could never have done. It had nerved me to try; and so,
with her warm kiss burning on my lips, I hurried off to the great
metropolis without any definite idea why I was going.
For the next three months I was an atheist! These are easy words to
write, but terrible to realize. No one but those who know can tell the
terror of a man who has given up belief in an Eternal Goodness, in a
living God that cares for man.
I left Yorkshire with some little hope in my heart--the memory of
Gertrude's words was with me, cheering me during the long ride; but when
once alone in my rooms, nothing but a feeling of utter desolation
possessed my heart. The terrible night on the Yorkshire moors came back
again, the dark forbidding waters, the ghastly red hand, the gleaming
knife, the struggle--all were real. Did I kill him? I did not know.
Possibly I was a murderer in act, if not in thought. I could not bear to
think of it. Who can bear to think of having taken away a
fellow-creature's life? And he might be lying in Drearwater Pond even
Then there was the terrible spell that this man had cast upon me. I felt
it clinging to every fibre of my being. I was not living a true life; I
was living a dual life. A power extraneous to myself, and yet possessing
me, made me a mere machine. As the days and weeks passed away things
became worse. I promised Gertrude to exert myself to find Kaffar, to set
her free from her promise to Voltaire; but I could not do it. His
command was upon me. I felt that it was ever in his mind that I should
not make any efforts, and I had to obey. And his power was evil, his
motives were fiendish, his nature was depraved. Still preachers talked
of a loving God, of the good being stronger than the evil. It could not
"Try! Try! Resist! Resist! Struggle! Struggle!" said hope and duty and
love; and I tried, I resisted, I struggled. And still I was bound in
chains; still I was held by a mysterious occult power.
Then it ceased to feel to be a duty to rid Gertrude of Voltaire. Why
should I struggle and resist? Supposing I succeeded, was I any more fit
to be her husband than he? What was I? At best a poor weak creature, the
plaything of a villain. At any time he could exert his power and make
me his slave. But I might be worse than that. I might, with my own hand,
have sent a man into eternity. How did I know it was Voltaire's power
that made me do the deed? Might not my blind passion have swept me on to
this dark deed? But that could not be. No, no; I could not believe that.
Besides, Voltaire had told me it was because of him. Still, I was not
fit to be her husband.
Then her words came back to me, and her pure influence gave me strength.
She, so pure, so true, had seemed to understand my position, had bid me
hope and be brave. She had told me she loved me--she, whom hundreds of
brave men would love to call their own. I would try again. I _would_
brake the chains Voltaire had forged; I WOULD hurl from me the incubus
that would otherwise crush me.
I tried again, and again; and again, and again I failed.
I did not pray. I could not. If God cared, I thought, He would help the
innocent. I was innocent in thought, and still I was not helped. God did
not care, for He helped me not. Months had passed away, and I had taken
no forward step. I was still enslaved. The preachers were wrong; God did
not care for the beings He had made.
There was no God.
God meant "the good one." "God is eternally good, all-powerful, if there
is a God. But there is not," I said. Evil was rampant. Every day vice
triumphed, every day virtue suffered. Goodness was not the strongest
force. Vice was conquering; evil powers were triumphant. Why should any
exception be made for me? If there is a God, evil would be checked,
destroyed; instead of which, it was conquering every day. There could be
no God; and if no God, good and evil were little more than names. We
were the sport of chance, and chance meant the destruction of anything
like moral responsibility. I could not help being constituted as I was,
neither could Voltaire help his nature. One set of circumstances had
surrounded his life, another mine, and our image and shape were
according to the force of these circumstances. As for a God who loved
us, it was absurd.
And yet who gave us love--made us capable of loving? Was love the result
of chance, which was in reality nothing? And again, whence the idea of
God, whence the longing for Him? Besides, did not the longing for Him
give evidence of His being?
But I will not weary the reader with my mental wanderings; they are
doubtless wearisome enough, and yet they were terribly real to me
Although I have used but a few pages of paper in hinting at them, they
caused me to lie awake through many a weary night.
Still no help came.
I went to a church one Sunday night. There was nothing of importance
that struck me during the service, save the reading of one of the
lessons. It was the story of the youth who was possessed with a devil,
which the disciples could not cast out. The minister was, I should
think, a good man, for he read it naturally, and with a great deal of
power; and when he came to the part where Jesus came and caused the evil
spirit to come out of him, my heart throbbed with joy. Was there hope
for me? Was Jesus Christ still the same wonderful power? Was He here
now--to help, to save?
That was at the end of three months.
I went home and prayed--prayed to be delivered from the evil power which
I might as well have turned my thoughts in another direction for all the
good I could see it did me. The old numbing feeling still possessed me.
My little spark of faith began to die. It was foolishness to think of
God, I said.
A week later, I walked in Hyde Park. An evil influence seemed to draw me
in the direction of the Marble Arch. I had not gone far, when I met
Voltaire. I knew then that I was more in his power than ever. He did not
speak--he only looked; but it was a look of victory, of power.
I got into Oxford Street and got on a 'bus. Mechanically I bought a
paper, one of the leading dailies. Listlessly I opened it, and the first
words that caught my eyes were "Reviews of Books." I glanced down the
column, and saw the words, "David Elginbrod," by George Macdonald. "This
book is one of remarkable power," the paper went on to say, "and will
appeal to the highest class of minds. Its interest is more than
ordinary, because it deals with the fascinating subjects of Animal
Magnetism, Mesmerism, and Spiritualism. Moreover, Dr. Macdonald shows
what enormous power, for evil or for good, may be exerted by it; indeed,
the principal characters in the story are so influenced by it, that the
author is led to make quite a study of these occult sciences."
I did not read the review further; what I had read was sufficient to
determine me to buy the book. Accordingly, on my arrival in the City, I
obtained a copy; and then, with all possible haste, I made my way home,
and, throwing myself in a chair, sat down to read it.
I did not cease reading until I had finished what I regarded then, and
still regard, as one of the finest religious novels of the age. This may
seem to many extravagant praise; but when I remember the influence it
had on my life, I feel inclined to hold to my opinion.
Putting aside the other parts of the book, that in which I was so
fearfully interested might be briefly stated thus:--
Mesmerism and animal magnetism may be regarded as human forces. Those
possessing them, and thereby having the power to mesmerize, may
subjugate the will of those who are susceptible to mesmeric influences,
and hold them in a complete and terrible slavery. The oftener the victim
yields to the will of the mesmerist, the stronger will his power become.
There is only one means by which the person under this influence can be
free. This is by obtaining a strength superior to that of the mesmerist,
which is only to be realized by being in communion with a Higher Life,
and participating in that Life. Only the Divine power in the life of the
victim can make him possess a power superior to the mesmerist's.
Possessing that, he becomes free, because he possesses a life superior
to mere physical or human power.
The victim in the book is led to seek that Divine Life in her, and
although she loses her physical life, she dies freed from the terrible
thraldom which has been cursing her existence.
That is all I need write concerning the book I have mentioned, i.e.
descriptive of its teaching.
It turned my mind into a new channel. The teaching seemed scientific and
reasonable. If there were a God, who was the Source of all life, He
could, by entering into the life of any individual, give him such forces
as would be superior to any other force. This was true, further, because
all evil was in opposition to the laws of the universe, and thus the
good must overcome the evil.
This, however, I clearly saw: if I would possess the power of God in me,
I must submit myself wholly and unreservedly to Him. He had made me a
free agent, and I must allow Him to possess me wholly.
I will not describe what followed. It is too sacred a subject to parade.
We cannot write on paper our deepest feelings; we cannot describe in
words the yearnings and experiences of the soul. Were I to try I could
give no adequate idea of my hopes and fears, my prayers and struggles.
To realize my life, a similar condition must be experienced.
I ask, however, that I may be believed when I say this: a month later I
really believed in God, and soon I began to realize His power. I felt a
new life growing in me, a higher life. I began to be possessed of a
power whereby I could conquer myself, subjugate my own will, and be
master over my passions. The reader may smile as he or she reads this,
but this is true: when I became possessed of a life whereby I became
master of my lower self, I felt free from Voltaire's power. I realized
that to be master over myself meant being a slave to none.
I was free, and I knew it. A fuller, richer life surged within me,
enabling me to rise above the occult forces of our physical and mental
natures. Hope lived within me, and confidence as to the future began to
BEGINNING TO SEARCH
No sooner did I begin to feel freed from Voltaire's power than I began
to exert myself to find Kaffar, if indeed he were to be found. There was
much in my favour. I possessed freedom; I had plenty of money; I had
plenty of time. On the other hand, there was much against me. Was he
alive? Were Voltaire's words true? Had I in my mesmeric condition
yielded to his will in such a degree as to kill the wily Egyptian and
hurl him in the pond? Again, if he were alive, where was he? Who could
tell? Supposing he had gone to Egypt, how could I find him? Possibly he
had a thousand haunts unknown to me.
I determined to go to Yorkshire, and soon found myself within the
hospitable walls of Temple Hall. The house was very quiet, however for
which I was very glad. I wanted to talk quietly with Tom; I wanted to
investigate the whole matter.
When I had finished telling Tom my story, he seemed perfectly astounded.
"What, Justin!" he exclaimed, "do you mean to say that the villain used
such means to get you out of his road and win Miss Forrest for himself?"
"I felt he was unscrupulous when I first met him," I replied. "I am sure
he guessed my secret, and determined to get me out of the way by fair
means or by foul."
We talked long concerning the matter; we tried to recall all that had
been said and done; but, in spite of all, we could not hit upon any plan
"Do you think she will marry Voltaire," I said, after a short silence,
"if I cannot find Kaffar or prove that he is alive?"
"I am sure she will, Justin. Never did I meet with any one who has a
higher sense of honour than she. I believe she would rather die than do
a mean thing."
"And yet," I said wearily, "I am almost certain I did not kill Kaffar. I
can remember nothing distinctly, and yet I have the consciousness that I
never struck him a blow."
"And I, too, am sure you did not do this, Justin," replied Tom. "I felt
that he was acting, in spite of the terrible evidence against you. But
what is the use? If you cannot find the Egyptian, he will marry Miss
Forrest, and after that--well, all seems hopeless."
"It shall not be hopeless," I said. "If he is alive, he shall be found,
and I will bring him back, and she shall see him."
"Ah, yes; and that reminds me, Justin, she bade me tell you that she
would be in her own home at Kensington until after the next new year."
This made me joyful in spite of everything. She still had an interest in
me; she still believed me innocent.
"By the way, Tom," I said, after another short silence, "have you found
out anything in relation to the ghost which appeared here during my
"Nothing definite. Stay, I forgot. Simon Slowden said he had something
particular to tell you when you came to Yorkshire again. I asked him the
subject of this 'something particular,' and he said it was about the
ghost. I tried to make him explain further, but could not."
"I'll see Simon at once," I said. "I cannot afford to let anything pass
without examining it. Any little thing might give a clue to the
I sought Simon in the stable-yard, and found him as grim and platonic as
"Glad to see yer honour," said Simon, hastily. "I've made up my mind
scores of times to write a letter, but I hev had sich bad luck wi'
letters, that I 'adn't the necessary quantity o' pluck, you know."
"Bad luck with your letters, Simon? How?"
"Why, yer see, yer honour, after the doctor experimented on me by
waccinatin' me agin' small-pox, cholera, and the measles, together wi'
'oopin' cough and several other baby complaints as 'ev a hinjurious
effect upon people as 'ev cut their wisdom teeth, you know as I told yer
honour that I caught that 'ere werry disease of small-pox which spiled
my beauty for ever. Well, as I told yer months ago, I went to the
'ousemaid for a mite 'o comfort, and catches 'er a-courtin' wi' the
coachman. So I goes 'ome, and I says I'll write 'er a letter as would
charm a dead duck in a saucepan. So I begins my letter this yer way: 'My
dearest dear,' I says, 'times es bad, and people be glad to catch
anything; so I, thinkin' small-pox better than nothin', catched that.
Forgive me, and I'll never do so no more. I'm cryin' all the day, as
though I got my livin' wi' skinnin' onions. Relieve me, my dear, or my
feelin's will be too much for me. They be fillin' me faster 'n I can
dispose of 'em; and if you don't leave that 'ere coachman and smile on
me, I shall either go up like a baloon, or else there'll be a case of
combustion.' I went on in that 'ere style, yer know, thinkin' she'd melt
like a h'yster in a fryin'-pan, but she didn't; and the next thing I
hears wus that the coachman wur at the willage alehouse readin' my
letter. Since then I've guv up the tender passion and guv up writin'
"Well, you have had bad luck, Simon; but perhaps you'll be more
fortunate next time. Mr. Temple tells me you have something to tell me
about the ghost. What is it?"
"You ain't a-seen that 'ere hinfidel willain since he went away from
'ere, Mr. Blake, have 'ee?"
"I saw him in Hyde Park one day, but have never spoken to him."
"Well, I'm in a fog."
"In a fog! How?"
"Why, I can't understand a bit why that 'ere ghost wur a got up."
"You think it was got up, then?"
"Certain of it, yer honour."
"Well, tell us about it."
"Well, sur, after you left all of a hurry like, we had a big party in
the house, and all the servants 'ad to 'elp; and no sooner did I git in
that 'ere house than I beginned to put two and two together, and then I
see a hindiwidual that I beginned to think wur mighty like that 'ere
"And who was that?"
"Why, that 'ere hancient wirgin, Miss Staggles."
"Ah, what then?"
"Well, I heard somebody tellin' her as 'ow you were gone to London, and
I thought she looked mighty pleased. After dinner, I see her come out of
the drawin'-room, and go away by herself, and I thought I'd watch. She
went up to her room, yer honour, and I got in a convenient place for
watchin' her when she comes out. She weren't a minnit afore she wur out,
Mr. Blake, a-carryin' somethin' in her hands. She looks curiously
'round, and then I see her make straight for your bedroom door, and goes
into your room. In a minnit more she comes out, with nothin' in her
hands. So then I says to myself, 'She's deposited some o' her
combustible matter in Mr. Blake's room.'
"It was a bold and dangerous thing to do, yer honour, but I goes into
your room and looks around. Everything seems right. Then I looks and
sees that the drawer of the wardrobe ain't quite shut, so I takes a step
forward and peeps in."
"And what did you see?"
"Why, I see the trappin's of that 'ere ghost. The shroud, knife, and all
the rest on't."
"Well, sur, I takes it to my shanty, and puts it in my own box, to show
you at 'a convenient season,' as Moses said."
"Is that all?"
"Not quite. The next mornin' I see her a-airin' her sweet self on the
lawn, so I goes up to 'er all familiar like, and I says, 'Top o' the
mornin', Miss Staggles.'
"'Who are you, man?' she says.
"'As nice a chap as you ever see,' I said, 'though I am marked wi'
small-pox. But that ain't my fault, ma'am; it is owin' to the
experimentin' o' a waccinatin' doctor.'
"'What do you want with me, man?' she said.
"'Why, ma'am,' I said, 'I'm young and simple, and I wur frightened wi' a
ghost t'other night, and I thought as how you, bein' purty hancient,
might assist me in findin' things out about it.'
"With that, sur, she looked oal strange, and I thinks I'm on the right
track, and I says again, 'That 'ere ghost wur well got up, mum. I've
played a ghost myself in a theatre, and I could never git up like you
did the other night.'
"'Me get up as a ghost!' she screamed. 'Man, you are mad.'
"'Not so mad,' I says, 'seein' as 'ow I see you carry that 'ere ghost's
wardrobe, and put it in Mr. Blake's room last night.'
"She went off without another word, yer honour, and the next thing I
heard 'bout her was that she'd gone to London."
"And why did you not tell Mr. Temple?"
"Well, Mr. Blake, he didn't know anything 'bout her evenin' rambles wi'
that 'ere hinfidel willain, and wasn't acquainted wi' the things that
you and me hev talked about; besides, I thought as 'ow you wer the one
that ought to know first of all."
I thought long over Simon's words, but could not understand them. Why
should Miss Staggles pose as a ghost, even at the instigation of
Voltaire? There could be nothing gained by it, and yet I was sure that
it was not without meaning. Somehow it was connected with Voltaire's
scheme; of that I was sure, but at the time my mind was too confused to
So far, not one step had been taken to prove whether Kaffar was dead or
alive, and although I knew nothing of a detective's business, I did not
like taking any one into my confidence. I resolved to do all that was to
be done myself.
In spite of everything, I spent a pleasant evening at Temple Hall. We
talked and laughed gaily, especially as Tom was preparing for his
wedding with Miss Edith Gray, and when I told Mrs. Temple how Tom had
popped the question on the landing at midnight, after the appearance of
the famous hall ghost, the merriment knew no bounds.
It was after midnight when I retired to rest, but I could not sleep. I
could not help thinking about this great problem of my life. How could I
find Kaffar? How could I tell whether he were alive or dead? After
tossing about a long time, I hit upon a plan of action, and then my mind
had some little rest.
The next morning I bade good-bye to my friends, and started for the
station. When I arrived all was quiet. Not a single passenger was there,
while the two porters were lolling lazily around, enjoying the warmth of
the bright May sun.
I asked to see the station-master; he was not at the station. Then I
made inquiries for the booking-clerk, who presently made his
appearance. I found that there was a train leaving about midnight, which
travelled northward, one that had been running some years.
"Were you at the booking-office on the day after New Year's Day?" I
"Yes, sir," replied the clerk.
"Do you remember a man coming for a ticket that night who struck you as
"What kind of a man, sir?"
"A foreigner. Small, dark, and wiry, speaking with an accent something
like this," I said, trying to imitate Kaffar.
"No, sir, I don't remember such a person. There were only three
passengers that night--I remember it very well, because my brother was
here with me--and they were all Yorkshire."
"This midnight train is a stopping train?"
"Yes, sir. It stops at every station from Leeds."
"How far is the nearest station in the Leeds direction?"
"Seven miles, sir. The population is rather thin here, sir. It gets
thicker the closer you get to Leeds."
"And how far the other way?"
"Only a matter of three miles northward, sir. There's a little village
there, sir, has sprung up because of Lord ----'s mansion, sir, and the
company has put up a station."
"And how far is the next station beyond that?"
"A long way, sir. It's a junction where some go to catch the night
express to Leeds. It must be eight miles further on. The train is now
due, sir, that goes there."
"And it stops at the next station?"
"Oh yes, sir."
I booked immediately for it, and in a few minutes arrived there. It was,
if possible, more quiet than the one from which I had just come; a more
dreary place one could not well see.
I soon found the man who had issued tickets on the night I have
mentioned. Did he remember such a passenger as I described?
"Yes, sir," he said, "I do remember such a chap; partly because he was
the only passenger, and partly because he looked so strange. He looked
as if he'd been fightin', and yet he was quite sober. He was a funny
chap, sir; one as I shudd'n like much to do wi'."
"And where did he book for?"
"Dingledale Junction, sir."
"And he would be able to catch a train from there?"
"He would have to wait a quarter of an hour for the express to Leeds,"
replied the man.
"And how long will it be before there's another train to Dingledale
Junction?" I asked anxiously.
"Three hours and a half, sir."
This was an awful blow to me. To wait all this time at that roadside
station was weary work, especially as I could do nothing. I found,
however, that I could hire a horse and trap that would take me there in
about two hours. I therefore closed with this offer, and shortly after
I felt sure I had made one step forward. Kaffar was alive. The blunt
Yorkshireman's description of him tallied exactly with the real
appearance of the Egyptian. Of course I was not sure, but this was
strongly in favour of his being alive. There was something tangible for
which to work now, and my heart grew lighter.
Dingledale Junction proved to be rather a busy place. There were two
platforms in the station, and a refreshment room. I found also that Mr.
Smith was actually represented there, in the shape of a small boy, a
dozen novels, and a few newspapers. This, however, did not augur so well
for my inquiries. The officials here would not be so likely to notice
any particular passenger. Still there was something in my favour.
Kaffar would in any circumstances attract attention in a country place.
His appearance was so remarkable, that any countryman would stop for a
second look at him.
After a great many inquiries, I found that Kaffar, or a man strongly
resembling him, had been there on the night in question, and had taken a
ticket for Leeds. He had no luggage, and what made the porter in
attendance remember him so vividly was the fact of his being angry when
asked if he had any luggage to be labelled.
So far, then, my inquiries were successful; so far I might congratulate
myself on making forward steps. And yet I was scarcely satisfied. It
seemed too plain. Would Kaffar have allowed himself to be followed in
such a way? I was not sure. On the one hand, he was very cunning, and,
on the other, he knew but little of the means of detecting people in
I took the next train for Leeds, and there my success ended. I could
find traces of him nowhere. This was scarcely to be wondered at. Leeds
is a great commercial centre, where men of every nationality meet, and
of course Kaffar would be allowed to pass unnoticed. Then I began to
think what the Egyptian would be likely to do, and after weighing the
whole matter in my mind I came to this conclusion: either he was in
London with Voltaire, or he had gone back to Egypt. The first was not
likely. If Kaffar were seen in London, Voltaire's plans would be upset,
and I did not think my enemy would allow that. Of course he might have
means of keeping him there in strict secrecy, or he might have a score
of disguises to keep him from detection. Still I thought the balance
would be heaviest on the side of his returning to Egypt. I naturally
thought he would return to his native land, because I had heard him say
he talked none of the European languages besides English and a
smattering of Turkish.
My next step, therefore, was to return to London, and then go to Dover,
Calais, Newhaven, and Dieppe, to try to see whether Kaffar could be
traced. At the same time, I determined to have a watch set upon
Voltaire, and his every step dogged, so that, if he held any
communication with Kaffar, necessary steps might be taken to prove to
Miss Forrest my innocence, and thus she might at once be freed from the
designs of the man she hated.
No sooner did I arrive in London, however, and took possession of my
easy-chair than I knew Voltaire wanted me to go to him, and I knew, too,
that a month before I should have had to yield to the power he
possessed. I need not say that I did not go. My will was now stronger
than his, and by exercising that will I was able to resist him. Still,
none but those who have been under such a spell can imagine what a
struggle I had even then. God only gives us power to use, and He will
not do for us what we can do for ourselves. For two long hours I felt
this strange influence, and then it ceased. Evidently he had failed in
his design, and, for the time, at all events, had abandoned it.
Next morning, when I was preparing to visit Scotland Yard, a servant
came into my room bearing a card on a tray. I took it and read, "Herod
"Show him up," I said to the servant.
STRUGGLING FOR VICTORY
I confess that I was somewhat excited as I heard him coming up the
stairs. I was sure that every means he could devise to defeat me would
be eagerly used. The man was a villain possessed of a strange and
dangerous power, and that power he would not hesitate to exert in every
possible way. But I was not afraid; my faith in God had given me life,
and so I would dare to defy the wretch.
I did not look at him until the girl had shown him in and left the room;
then our eyes met.
I recognized the steely glitter of those whity-grey orbs, which at times
seemed tinted with green. I knew he was seeking to exert his old
influence, and once I thought I should have to yield. The power he
possessed was something terrible, and I had to struggle to the utmost to
remain unconquered. His efforts were in vain, however, and, for the
time, at all events, the battle was not with him.
"Will you sit down, Mr. Voltaire?" I said, after a minute's perfect
He sat down as if in astonishment.
"Might I ask your business?" I asked as coolly as I could.
This question either aroused his anger, or he began to play a part.
"Yes," he said; "you will know my business at your cost. I thought you
had found out before this that I was not the man either to be disobeyed
or trifled with."
I did not think it wise to speak.
"I have come to tell you," he went on, "that you cannot escape my power,
that you cannot disobey me and not suffer. Remember this: I conquered
you, and you are my slave."
Still I did not think it wise to reply.
"You think," he continued, "because you have realized some immunity from
the power I wield, that I have left you. I have not, and it is greater
than ever. You have dared to leave London; you have dared to do that
which I told you not; and now I have come to tell you that you have
aroused the anger of a man who laughs at conventional laws, and snaps
his fingers at the ordinary usages of society--one who knows nothing
and cares nothing for your claptrap morality, and will not be influenced
"I am sorry if I have angered you," I replied humbly.
"Just so, and you will be more than sorry. Man, I hold your life in the
hollow of my hand. One word from me, and your liberty is gone; you will
be dragged through the streets like a common felon."
"Am I guilty of so much, then?" I said. "Did I really kill that man?"
He looked at me curiously, as if he suspected something. "Kill him?" he
replied. "Of course you did. But even if you did not, it is all the
same. Kaffar cannot be found, or proved alive, and thus my power over
you is absolute."
"I wonder you do not use it," I said quietly.
"I do not use it because it does not pay me to do so. My policy is to be
quiet. Miss Forrest is mine because she knows I am master of your life.
The months are swiftly passing away, Mr. Justin Blake. It is May now; in
December I shall take her to my breast."
"But supposing," I said, "that I find Kaffar; supposing before Christmas
Eve comes I prove I am innocent of his death. What then?"
"It is not to be supposed. You killed my friend; and even if you did
not, you could never find him. You dare not, could not, take any
necessary steps. You have not the power to ask other people to do it.
Even now you cannot rise from your seat and walk across the room."
Without a word I rose from my seat and walked across the room; then I
came back and coolly sat down again.
"What does this mean?" he asked angrily.
"It means," I said, "that you are deceived--mistaken. It means that your
villainous schemes are of no effect; that the man whom you thought you
had entrapped by a juggler's trick to be your tool and dupe is as free
as you are; that he defies your power; that he tells you to do your
I felt that again he was trying to throw me into a kind of trance, that
he was exerting all his power and knowledge; but I resisted, and I was
free. I stood up again and smiled.
Then a strange light lit up his eyes.
"Curse you!" he cried, "you defy me, eh? Well, you'll see what you get
by defying me. In five minutes you will be safe in a policeman's
"If I were you I would try and learn the Englishman's laws before you
appeal to them. The first question that will be asked will be why you
have refrained from telling so long, for he who shelters a criminal by
silence is regarded as an aider and an abettor of that criminal. Then,
man, this case will be sifted to the bottom. That pond will be pumped
dry, and every outlet examined. Besides, what about the booking-clerk
that issued a ticket to Kaffar two hours after you and Mr. Temple found
"It's a lie!" he cried; "Kaffar was never seen."
"Well, then, if you are so sure, give me in charge. It will not be very
much opposed to my wishes, for by so doing you will set the whole
machinery of the law of England on Kaffar's trail, and I promise you it
will find him. English law is hard on murderers, but all evidence is put
through a very fine sieve in an English court of justice. Kaffar is not
an ordinary-looking man, and from Scotland Yard our police authorities
hold communication with all other police authorities in the civilized
world. I tell you, man, your trumped-up story would be torn to pieces in
five minutes, and in the end you would be safely lodged down at Dartmoor
for fourteen years."
He sat silent a minute, as if in deep thought; then he said slowly, "Mr.
Justin Blake, you think you have outwitted Herod Voltaire! Continue to
think so. I shall not give you in charge--not because I believe in
your paltry story, but because I should lose Miss Forrest by so doing,
and I cannot afford to do that, if for nothing else than to spite you.
You think you are free from me. Wait. You think Kaffar is to be
found--well, wait. But, I tell you, you shall repent all this. I will
marry the woman you love, and then I will lead you such a life as you
never conceived. You shall pray to die, and death shall not come. You
shall suffer as never man suffered. The condition of the Christians whom
Nero used as torches shall be heaven to what yours shall be.
All this time he kept looking at me, and his words were uttered with a
nervous force and intensity that was terrible. I felt a strange chilling
sensation creep over me, and involuntarily I sat down. No sooner had I
done so than he gave a savage, exultant yell.
"You are mine again!" he cried.
It was a terrible struggle. His will and mine fought for the
mastery--his strengthened by a knowledge of laws of which I was
ignorant, and constant exertion of it; mine, by a new life which I had
but lately begun to live, by a strength given me through communion with
For a minute I was chained to the seat. My senses were numbed, and, all
the while his terrible glittering eyes rested on mine. Then my strength
began to return, and I again stood up, and in a few seconds I was master
"Coward," I said, "you sought to take me unawares. You have done your
utmost, and I am your master, even now. Now go, and bear this in mind,
that the right and the truth shall be triumphant."
I rung the bell as I spoke, and the servant appeared. "Show this
gentleman out, Mary," I said.
Never shall I forget the look of hatred that gleamed from his eyes as he
left the room. If ever a man looked possessed of an evil spirit, it was
he; but he did not speak. He walked down the stairs without a word, and
then out into the street.
I stood and watched him until he was out of sight, and then tried to
collect my scattered thoughts. On the whole, I was not pleased with the
interview. I had shown my hand. It would have been far better if I could
have allowed him still to think I was in his power, but the temptation
to show him my freedom was too strong. It would now be a trial of skill
between us. If he could have believed that I was unable to do anything
to free myself, I should have, perhaps, caught him unawares. Now he
would be prepared for everything I could do; he would check my every
move. If Kaffar were alive, he would have a thousand means of keeping
him out of my way; if dead--well, then, I did not care much what
happened. If the latter, however, I determined to give up my life for
Miss Forrest, to put myself in the hands of the police authorities, and
tell of the influence Voltaire had exerted over me.
Meanwhile I must act, and that quickly; so I went straight to a private
detective, a man I slightly knew. I refrained from going to Scotland
Yard, as I thought Voltaire would be watching me. I gave this detective
a description of Voltaire, told him his address, which I had ascertained
through his letters to Temple Hall, and explained my wishes to him. He
took up my points very quickly, saw what I wanted without any lengthened
explanations, and expressed a willingness to serve me. So much pleased
was I with this interview, that I had no fear that my enemy would not be
well looked after.
After that I took train for Dover, and prepared to track Kaffar, if
possible, wherever he had gone, not realizing at the time the task I had
proposed for myself.
I thought I made a forward step at Dover, for, on inquiring at an hotel
there, I found that a man answering to Kaffar's description had engaged
a bedroom for one night, and had gone on to Calais by the midday boat,
in time to catch the express for Paris.
"Did this gentleman have any luggage?" I asked.
The hotel proprietor did not think the gentleman carried any luggage,
but he would inquire.
On inquiry of the hotel porter, I found that he carried a Gladstone bag,
rather small and new. This was particularly remembered--first, because
the foreign gentleman seemed very particular about it, and, second,
because there seemed to be nothing in it.
So far so good.
I determined to go on to Paris; it could do no harm, it might do good. I
could speak the French language fairly, and might, by some means, find
out the steps he had taken.
Arrived at Paris, I was completely blocked. He was not remembered in the
Custom House; he was not remembered at some twenty hotels at which I
Again I began to think what he was likely to do. I did not think he
would possess very much money, and a man of his temperament would devise
some means of getting some. How? Work would be a slow process, and not
suited to his nature. Kaffar would get money by gambling. But that did
not help me forward. To search out all the gambling-houses in Paris
would be a hopeless task; besides, would he gamble in Paris, a city of
which he knew nothing? I did not think so. Where, then?
No doubt the reader will smile at my attempts as a private detective,
but, realizing the circumstances by which I was surrounded, there may be
some excuse for my unbusinesslike way of going to work. Besides, I was
not sure that Kaffar was alive; I only had some vague grounds for
thinking he was.
I went to Monte Carlo. I inquired at the hotels; I inquired at the
Casino--without success. I learnt one great lesson there, however, and
that was the evil of gambling. In spite of tinsel and gilt, in spite of
gay attire and loud laughter, in spite of high-sounding titles and
ancient names, never did I see so much real misery as I saw in the
far-renowned gaming palace.
For days I tried to think what to do, without avail. Kaffar had not been
at the Casino; he had not stayed at any of the hotels. Where was he,
I began to entertain the idea that he had gone to Egypt as he had said.
I would do my best to find out. Accordingly, I went to all the seaports
along the coast of France and Italy from which he would be likely to set
sail for Egypt. I was unsuccessful until I came to Brindisi.
Here I found that inquiries could easily be made. There were only two
hotels in the place, one of which was very small. At the smaller of the
two, I found on inquiry that a man answering to my description had
stayed there a day and a night, waiting for the boat for Alexandria. The
hotel proprietor said he should not have remembered him, but that he had
talked Arabic with him. This traveller had also told him he had come
from England, the land of luxury and gold, and was going to Cairo.
He did not remember his name. Egyptians often came to Brindisi, and to
him one name was pretty much like another. He called them all "Howajja,"
and remembered nothing more. He did not keep an hotel register.
Little and poor as this evidence was, I determined to go to Egypt. It
was now June, and terribly hot, even at Brindisi; I knew the heat must
be worse in Cairo, but that was nothing. If I could find this man, I
should be rewarded a thousandfold.
Accordingly the next night, when an Austrian Lloyd steamer stopped at
this little old-fashioned seaport on its way to Alexandria, I secured a
berth and went on board. The voyage was not long, neither was it very
tedious; at night, especially, it was glorious. To sit on deck and gaze
at the smooth sea, which reflected in its deep waters the bright starry
heavens, while the splash of the waters made music on the vessel's side,
was to experience something not easily forgotten.
Arrived in Alexandria, I again set inquiries on foot, but with far less
chance of success. Kaffar was not a marked man here. In this town, where
almost every nationality was to be seen, no notice would be taken of
him. A thousand men answering to Kaffar's description might be seen
every day. Still I did all I could, and then hurried on to Cairo.
I have not tried to give any detailed account of my journeys, nor of the
alternate feelings of hope and despair that possessed me. This must be
left to the imagination of my readers. Let them remember the
circumstances of the story as I have related them, let them think of how
much depended on my discovery of Kaffar, let them also try to fancy
something of my feelings, and then they will be able to guess at my
weary nights and anxious days, they will know how feverishly I hurried
from port to port and from town to town. Anyhow, I will not try to
describe them, for I should miserably fail.
Cairo was comparatively empty. The heat had driven the tourists away to
colder climes. The waiters in the hotels lolled around, with little or
nothing to do. Only a few guests required their attendance. Everything
was very quiet. The burning sun fairly scorched the leaves of the acacia
trees, which grew everywhere. The Nile was exceedingly low, and water
was comparatively scarce. The older part of Cairo was simply unbearable;
the little Koptic community dwelling in the low huts, which reeked with
dirt and vermin, would, one would have thought, have been glad to have
I had no success in Cairo. A dozen times I was buoyed up with hopes, a
dozen times my hopes were destroyed, leaving me more despairing than
ever. In spite of the terrible heat, all that could be done I did.
Recommended by an hotel proprietor, I engaged two of the shrewdest men
in this wonderful city to try and find Kaffar, but they could discover
no trace of him. I went to mosques, to temples, to bazaars--in vain. If
he were in Cairo, he was hiding.
Oh, the weary work, the dreadful uncertainty! Hoping, despairing, ever
toiling, ever searching, yet never achieving! The months were slipping
by. It was now August, and I was no nearer finding him than when I
started. Must I give up, then? Should I renounce my life's love? Should
I yield my darling to Voltaire? Never!
I formed a new resolution. I would go back to England. Doubtless I had
gone clumsily to work, and thus my failure would be explained. When once
back in London, I would engage the cleverest detectives the city could
boast of, and I would state the whole case to them. Perchance they could
do what I had failed to accomplish. This determination I at once carried
into practice, and in a little more than a week I again saw the white
cliffs of Dover. I did not rest. Arriving at Victoria, I drove straight
to Scotland Yard, and in an hour later two of the most highly
recommended officers of the London detective police force were in
possession of all the facts that I could give them that would lead to
the discovery of the Egyptian, providing he lived.
Then I drove back to my rooms in Gower Street, weary and sad, yet not
hopeless. There were four months in which to act. Two clever men were at
work, while, thank God, I was free to act and to think.
Yet the future looked terribly doubtful. Would the inquiries be
successful? would Gertrude be freed from Voltaire? and should I be
USING THE ENEMY'S WEAPONS
Two months passed, and no tidings of Kaffar--at least, none that were
worthy of consideration. The detectives had done all that men could do;
they had made every inquiry possible, they had set on foot dozens of
schemes; but all in vain. Voltaire, who had been closely watched, was
apparently living a quiet, harmless life, and was not, so far as could
be seen, in communication with him. I had done all that I could do
myself. I had followed in England every possible clue, all of which had
ended in failure.
Three months passed. Still no reliable news. One detective fancied he
had detected him in Constantinople; another was equally certain he had,
at the same time, seen him in Berlin. I became almost mad with despair.
The first of December had come, and I was not a step nearer finding the
man whose presence would free me from Voltaire's villainous charge.
That which troubled me most was the fact that I did not know whether he
were alive. Even if I did not kill him, perhaps Voltaire had got him out
of the way so that he might fasten the guilt on me. "What, after all,"
was the thought that maddened me, "if he should be lying at the bottom
of Drearwater Pond?"
There were only twenty-four days now. Three weeks and three days, and I
knew not what to do. If I failed, my love would marry the man who was
worse than a fiend, while I, for whom she was to suffer this torture,
was unable to help her.
And yet I had tried, God alone knows how; but only to fail. Still, there
were twenty-four days; but what were they? Kaffar, if he were alive,
might be in Africa, Australia--no one knew where. I saw no hope.
A week more slipped by. There were only seventeen days left now. I was
sitting in my room, anxiously waiting for the Continental mail, and any
telegrams which might arrive. I heard the postman's knock, and in a
minute more letters were brought in. Eagerly I opened those which came
from the detectives, and feverishly read them. "Still in the dark;
nothing discovered"--that summed up the long reports they sent me. I
read the other letters; there was nothing in them to help me.
Still another week went by. Only ten days were wanting to Christmas Eve,
and I knew no more of Kaffar's whereabouts than I did on the day when I
defied Voltaire and started on my search. Again reports from the
detectives came, and still no news. No doubt, by this, Voltaire was
gloating over his victory, while I was nearly mad with despair.
Only ten days! I must do something. It was my duty, at all hazards, to
free Gertrude Forrest from Voltaire. That was plain. I could not find
the Egyptian, and thus it was probable I had killed him as had been
said. What must I do? This, and this only. I must go to Scotland Yard,
and relate to the authorities my whole story. I must tell them of
Voltaire's influence over me, and that it was probable I had, while held
under a mesmerist's spell, killed the man I had been trying to find.
This was all. It _might_ bring this villain under suspicion, and, if so,
it would hinder him from exacting the fulfilment of Gertrude Forrest's
It was at best but an uncertain venture, but it was all I could do. I
owed it to the woman I loved. It was my duty to make this sacrifice. I
would do it.
I wasted no time; I put on my overcoat and walked to Scotland Yard.
I put my hand upon the door of the room which I knew belonged to one of
the officials, to whom I determined to report my case.
I thought of the words I should say, when--
I am sure I heard that word, clear and distinct. Where it came from I
knew not; but it was plain to me.
An idea flashed into my mind!
Mad, mad, I must have been, never to have thought of it before.
Ten days! Only ten days! But much might be done even yet. I rushed away,
and got into St. James's Park, and there, in comparative quietness, I
began to think.
The clouds began to dispel, the difficulties began to move away. Surely
I had hit upon a plan at last, a plan on which I should have thought at
I walked on towards Westminster Abbey, still working out my newly
conceived idea, and when there jumped into a cab.
Yes, I remembered the address, for I had seen it only the day before, so
I told the cabman to drive to ---- Street, Chelsea.
I was right. There on the door was the name of the man I had hoped to
find--Professor Von Virchow. I paid the cabman, and knocked at the door
with a beating heart.
A sallow-faced girl opened the door, and asked my business.
Was Professor Virchow at home?
Yes, he was at home, but would be engaged for the next quarter of an
hour; after that, he could see me on business connected with his
I was accordingly ushered into a musty room, which sadly wanted light
and air. The quarter of an hour dragged slowly away, when the
sallow-faced girl again appeared, saying that Professor Von Virchow
would be pleased to see me.
I followed her into an apartment that was fitted up like a doctor's
consulting-room. Here I found the man I had come to see.
He was a little man, about five feet four inches high. He had, however,
a big head, a prominent forehead, and keen grey eyes. He wore
gold-rimmed spectacles, and was evidently well fed and on good terms
"You are a professor of mesmerism and clairvoyance, I believe?" I began.
"That is my profession," said the little man, "Then I am in hopes that
you may be able to help me in my difficulty."
"I shall be pleased to help you," he said, still stiffly.
"Can you," I went on, "tell the whereabouts of a man whom I may describe
"That is very vague," was the reply. "Your description may be incorrect,
or a hundred men might answer to it. I would promise nothing under such
"Perhaps I had better tell my story," I said.
"I think you had," said the little professor, quietly.
"On the 2nd of January of the present year," I said, "a man disappeared
in the night from a place in Yorkshire. He is an Egyptian, and easily
distinguished. A great deal depends on finding him at once. Ever since
May, endeavours have been made to track him, but without success."
"Perhaps he is dead," said the professor.
"Perhaps so; but even then it is important to know. Can you help me to
find out his whereabouts?"
"Undoubtedly I can; but I must have a good photograph of him. Have you
"I have not."
"Could you obtain one?"
"I think not."
"But this man has been seen by many people. Could not some one you
know, and who knows him, sketch a faithful likeness from memory?"
"I do not know of any one."
"Then I could not guarantee to find him. You see, I cannot work
miracles. I can only work through certain laws which I have been
fortunate enough either to recognize or discover; but there must ever be
some data upon which to go, and, you see, you give me none that is in
the least satisfactory."
"Perhaps you can," I said, "if I relate to you all the circumstances
connected with what is, I think, a somewhat remarkable story."
I had determined to tell this little man every circumstance which might
lead to Kaffar's discovery, especially those which happened in
Yorkshire. It seemed my only resource, and I felt, that somehow
something would come of it.
I therefore briefly related what I have written in this story.
"That man who mesmerized you is very clever," said the professor
quietly, when I had finished. "It was very unfortunate for you that you
should have matched yourself with such a one. His plot was well worked
out in every respect. He only made a mistake in one thing."
"He thought it impossible that you should ever be freed from his power
without his consent. Still it was a well-planned affair. The story, the
ghost, the quarrel--it was all well done."
"I fail to see what part the ghost had in the matter," I said.
The professor smiled. "No?" he said. "Well, I should not think it was a
vital part of his plan, but it was helpful. He calculated upon the young
lady's superstitious fancies. He knew what the particular form in which
the ghost appeared portended, and it fitted in with his scheme of
murder. Evidently he wanted the young lady to believe in your guilt, and
thus give him greater chance of success. Ah, he is a clever man."
"But," I asked anxiously, "can you tell me Kaffar's whereabouts now?"
"No, I cannot--that is, not to-day."
"I may not be able to do so at all. It all depends on one man."
"Who is he?"
"Simon Slowden, I think you called him."
"Simon Slowden! How can he help us?"
"Evidently he is susceptible to mesmeric influences, and he knows the
man you wish to find. But the difficulty lies here. Is he sufficiently
"Is that the only hope?"
"All I can see at present. I was going to suggest that you be thrown
into a mesmeric sleep; but you could not be depended on. The experiences
which you have had would make you very uncertain."
"Then your advice is--"
"Send for this man at once. If he fails--well, I have another
"May I know what?"
"No, not now."
"Answer me this. Do you think I killed Kaffar, the Egyptian?"
"No, I do not; but your enemy intended you should."
"Why did I not, then?"
"Because the Egyptian also possessed a mesmerist's power, and hindered
you. At any rate, such is my opinion. I am not sure;" and the little man
looked very wise.
"Expect us early to-morrow morning," I said, and then went away to the
nearest telegraph office, with a lighter heart than I had known for many
long months. The little professor had given me some hope. The matter was
still enshrouded in mystery, but still I thought I had found a possible
"_Send Simon Slowden to me at once_" I telegraphed. "_Extremely
important. Wire back immediately the time I may expect him_."
Anxiously I waited for an answer. Although the message was flashed with
lightning speed, it seemed a long time in coming. At length it came, and
I read as follows:
"_Slowden will come by train leaving Leeds 11.38. Meet him at St.
I immediately caught a cab and drove to Gower Street, and, on looking at
my time-table, I found that the train mentioned in the telegram arrived
in London at 5.15. This would do splendidly. I could get Simon to my
room and give him some breakfast, and then, after a little rest, drive
direct to the professor's.
I need not say I was early at St. Pancras the following morning. I had
scarcely slept through the night, and anxiously awaited the appearance
of the train. It swept into the station in good time, and, to my great
relief and delight, I saw Simon appear on the platform, looking as
stolid and imperturbable as ever.
We were not long in reaching Gower Street, where Simon enjoyed a good
breakfast, after which we drew up our chairs before the cheerful fire
and began to talk.
"Did you have a good journey, Simon?" I asked.
"Slept like the seven sleepers of the patriarch, sur, all the way from
"And you don't feel tired now?"
"Not a bit, yer honour."
"Then," I said, "I want to explain to you a few things that must have
Accordingly I told him of Voltaire's influence over me, and what came
out of it.
"Why, sur," said Simon, when I had finished, "that 'ere willain must be
wuss nor a hinfidel; he must be the Old Nick in the garret. And do you
mean to say, sur, that that 'ere beautiful Miss Forrest, who I've put
down for you, is goin' to git married to that 'ere somnamblifyin'
waccinatin' willain, if his dutiful mate ain't a found before Christmas
"Only nine days, Simon."
"But it mustn't be, yer honour."
"So I say, Simon; and that's why I've sent for you."
"But I can't do nothink much, sur. All my wits hev bin waccinated away,
and my blood is puddled like, which hev affected the workin' o' my
brains; and, you see, all your detective chaps have failed."
"But I shan't fail, if you'll help me."
"Help you, Mr. Blake? You know I will!"
"Simon, you offered to be my friend, now nearly a year ago."
"Ay, and this 'ere is a lad as'll stick to his offer, sur, and mighty
proud to do so."
"Well, then, I'm in hopes we shall succeed."
"How, yer honour?"
"By fighting Voltaire with his own weapons."
"By mesmerism and clairvoyance, Simon."
"And who's the chap as hev got to be waccinated--or mesmerized, as you
"You, if you will, Simon."
"Me, sir?" said Simon, aghast.
"If you will."
"Well, I said after that 'ere willain experimented on me in Yorkshire, I
never would again; but if it's for you, sur--why, here goes; I'm purty
tough. But how's it to be done?"
Then I told him of my interview with the professor, and how he had told
me that only he--Simon--could give the necessary help.
"Let's off at once, yer honour," cried Simon. "I'm willin' for anything
if you can git the hupper 'and of that 'ere willain and his other self.
Nine days, sur--only nine days! Let's git to the waccinator. I'd rather
have small-pox a dozen times than you should be knocked overboard by
sich as he."
I was nothing loth, and so, although it was still early, we were soon
in a cab on our way to the professor's. On arriving, we were immediately
shown in, and the little man soon made his appearance.
"Ah! you've brought him?" said he. "I'm glad to see you so prompt. Would
you mind taking this chair, my friend?"--to Simon. "That's it, thank
you. You've been travelling all night and are a little tired, I expect.
No? Well, it's well to be strong and able to bear fatigue. There, look
at me. Ah, that's it!"
With that he put his fingers on Simon's forehead, and my humble friend
was unconscious of what was going on around him.
"He's very susceptible; but I am afraid he has not been under this
influence a sufficient number of times for his vision to be clear.
Still, we'll try.--Simon!"
"That's me," said Simon, sleepily.
"Do you see Kaffar, the Egyptian?"
He looked around as if in doubt. His eyes had a vacant look about them,
and yet there seemed a certain amount of intelligence displayed--at any
rate, it seemed so to me.
"I see lots of people, all dim like," said Simon, slowly; "but I can't
tell no faces. They all seem to be covered wi' a kind o' mist."
"Look again," said the professor. "You can see more clearly now."
Simon peered again and again, and then said, "Yes, I can see him; but he
looks all strange. He's a-shaved off his whiskers, and hev got a sort o'
red cap, like a baisin, on his head."
My heart gave a great bound. Kaffar was not dead. Thank God for that!
"Where is he?"
"I am tryin' to see, but I can't. Everything is misty. There's a black
fog a-comin' up."
"Wait a few minutes," said the professor, "and then we'll try him
Presently he spoke again. "Now," he said, "what do you see?"
But Simon did not reply. He appeared in a deep sleep.
"I thought as much," said the little man. "His nature has not been
sufficiently prepared for such work. I suppose you had breakfast before
you came here?"
I assured him that Simon had breakfasted on kidneys and bacon; after
which he had made considerable inroads into a cold chicken, with
perchance half a pound of cold ham to keep it company. Besides which, he
had taken three large breakfast cups of chocolate.
"Ah, that explains somewhat. Still, I think we have done a fair
morning's work. We've seen that our man is alive."
"But do you think there is any hope of finding him?"
"I'm sure there is, only be patient."
"But what must I do?"
"Well, take this man to see some of the sights of London until three
o'clock, then come home to dinner. After dinner he'll be sleepy. Let him
sleep, if he will, until nine o'clock; then bring him here again; but
let him have no supper until after I have done with him."
"Nine o'clock to-night! Why, do you know, that takes away another day?
There will only want eight clear days to Christmas Eve."
"I can't help that, sir," said the little professor, testily; "you
should have come before. But that is the way. Our science, which is
really the queen of sciences, is disregarded; only one here and there
comes to us, and then we are treated as no other scientific man would be
treated. Never mind, our day will come. One day all the sciences shall
bow the knee to us, for we are the real interpreters of the mysteries of
I apologized for my impatience, which he gravely accepted, and then woke
Simon from his sleep.
"Where am I?" cried Simon. "Where've I been?"
"I can't tell," said the professor; "I wish I could, for then our work
would be accomplished."
"Have you bin a-waccinatin' me?" said Simon.
The little man looked to me for explanation.
"He calls everything mysterious by that name," I said.
"'Cause," continued Simon, "I thought as how you waccinators, or
mesmerists, made passes, as they call 'em, and waved your hands about,
and like that."
"Did that Mr. Voltaire, I think you call him, make passes?" asked the
"He!" said Simon. "He ain't no ordinary man. He's got dealin's with old
Nick, he hev. He didn't come near me, nor touch me, and I wur sleepin'
afore I could think of my grandmother."
"Just so; he is no ordinary man. He's a real student of psychology, he
is. He has gone beyond the elements of our profession. I despise the
foolish things which these quacks of mesmerism make Billy people do in
order to please a gaping-mouthed audience. It is true I call myself a
professor of mesmerism and clairvoyance, but it would be more correct to
call me a practical psychologist. You'll attend to my wishes with
regard to our friend, won't you? Good-morning."
I will not try to describe how I passed the day. It would be wearisome
to the reader to tell him how often I looked at my watch and thought of
the precious hours that were flying; neither will I speak of my hopes
and fears with regard to this idea of finding Kaffar's whereabouts by
means of clairvoyance. Suffice it to say I was in a state of feverish
anxiety when we drove up to the professor's door that night, about
We did not wait a minute before operations were commenced. Simon was
again in a mesmeric sleep, or whatever the reader may be pleased to call
it, in a few seconds after he had sat down.
Von Virchow began by asking the same question he had asked in the
morning: "Do you see Kaffar, the Egyptian?"
I waited in breathless silence for the answer. Simon heaved a deep sigh,
and peered wearily around, while the professor kept his eye steadily
"Do you see Kaffar, the Egyptian?" repeated he.
"Yes, I see him," said Simon at length.
"That's what I'm trying to find out," said Simon. "The place is
strange; the people talk in a strange tongue. I can't make 'em out."
"What do you see now?" said the professor, touching his forehead.
"Oh, ah, I see now," said Simon. "It's a railway station, and I see that
'ere willain there, jest as cunnin' as ever. He's a gettin' in the
train, he is."
"Can you see the name of the station?"
"No, I can't. It's a biggish place it is, and I can't see no name. Stay
a minute, though. I see now."
"Well, what's the name?"
"It's a name as I never see or heard tell on before. B-O-L-O--ah, that's
it; BOLOGNA, that's it. It is a queer name though, ain't it?"
"Well, what now?"
"Why, he's in the train, and it's started, it is."
"Do you know where he's going?"
"But he has a ticket; can't you see it?"
"Course I can't. It's in his pocket, and I can't see through the cloth,
"And what's he doing now?"
"Why, he's in for makin' hisself comfortable, he is. He's got a piller,
and he's stretchin' hisself on the seat and layin' his head on the
piller. There, he's closed his eyes--he's off to sleep."
The professor turned to me. "I am afraid we can do no more to-night," he
said. "Evidently he is on a journey, and we must wait until he arrives
at his destination."
"But can't Slowden remain as he is and watch him?"
"The thing would be at once cruel and preposterous, sir. No, you must
come again in the morning; then, perchance, he will have finished his
journey;" and accordingly he proceeded to awake Simon.
After all, it did not matter so much. It was now ten o'clock, and I
could do nothing that night, in any case.
"I do not know but that I am glad that things are as they are,"
continued the professor. "This second sleep will enable him to see more
clearly to-morrow. Meanwhile, consider yourself fortunate. If the
Egyptian stops anywhere in Italy, it will be possible for you to reach
him and bring him back within the time you mention. Take heart, my
friend. Good-bye for the time. I shall expect you early to-morrow."
No sooner were we in the street than Simon began to ask me what he had
told me, for I found that he was entirely ignorant of the things he had
"Who'd 'a thought it?" he said musingly, when I had told him. "Who'd 'a
thought as 'ow I should hassist in a waccinatin' business like this
'ere! Tell 'ee, yer 'onour, I shall believe in ghosts and sperrits again
soon. Fancy me a-seein' things in Italy and tellin' 'em to you without
knowin' anything about it! Well, but 'twill be grand if we can find 'im,
yer honour, won't it then?"
I spent a sleepless night, harassed by a thousand doubts and fears.
There, in the quiet of my room, all this mesmerism and clairvoyance
seemed only so much hocus-pocus, which no sensible and well-educated man
should have anything to do with. Still, it was my only hope, and it only
wanted eight days to Christmas Eve. Only one little week and a day, that
was all, and then, if I did not produce Kaffar, all was lost. It would
be no use to go to Miss Forrest's house in Kensington and tell her that
Simon Slowden had, while in a mesmeric sleep, seen Kaffar in Italy. No,
no; that would never do. I must produce him, nothing else would suffice.
We were early at the professor's the following morning, and found him
waiting and almost as anxious as we were. Again Simon submitted to the
influence of the little man, and soon answered his questions far more
readily than he had hitherto done.
Did he see Kaffar?
"Yes," was the reply.
"Where is he now?"
He was in a beautiful town. The houses were white, the streets were
white; the town was full of squares, and in these squares were many
statues. Such was Simon's information.
"Do you know what country the town is in?"
"No," said Simon, shaking his head.
"Could you not by any means find out? There's a railway station in the
town; can you not see the name there?"
"Yes, there's a railway station, a fine one. Ah, I see the name now.
T-O-R-I-N-O. TORINO, that's it."
"Torino!" I cried, "Turin! That's a town in Italy, some distance beyond
the French border."
The professor beckoned me to be quiet.
"Kaffar is at Torino, is he?" said the professor.
"What is he doing?"
"Talkin' with a man who keeps an hotel."
"What does he say?"
"It's in a foreign language, and I can't tell."
"Can you repeat what he said?"
"It sounded like this--'_Je restey ici pour kelka jour_;' but I can't
make out what it means."
The professor turned to me.
"He's speaking French. I did not know Kaffar knew French; perhaps he's
learned it lately. The words mean that he will stay there for some
"Can you describe the street in which this hotel is?" continued Von
Simon began to describe, but we could make nothing of it.
"We can't understand," replied the professor. "Can you draw a sketch of
the road to it from the railway station?" and he put a piece of paper
and pencil in Simon's hand.
Without hesitating, Simon drew a sketch, a facsimile of which is given
on the opposite page.
Back to Full Books