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THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; OR, TWICE WED. CHAPTER XYLI.—(Continued). SAUL saw hi,u leave the house by the back entrance and shut-to the door, then he returned to the upper tooDl, and busied himself noisily with apparent pre- parations for bpd. Now and again he approached the window, at some distance from which he had placed the light, and gated Out anxiously. But all was still, and no sign appeared for some time of his subordinate. Saul grew impatient, and was about to leave the roem, when a low whistle outside drew his attention Once more to the window, and he beheld Mat Yaw- j&an8 from out tne shadow of the lean-to, whoBtretched Awards him his empty hands, and beckoned eagerly. Hastily catching up the light, with a glance at the bed, Saul quitted the room, and opening the back door, met his man upon the threshold. What! he exclaimed. Heavens" was the simultaneous exclamation of each. What have you been about—where is the brat ? Ctiecl Saul. "Not there!" retorted the other; I broke my shin, and damaged my nose for nought What do you mean ?" cried Saul, increasing in Wrath. There's no child therethe mate also roared;" a fool's errand, capt'n, I do like to have something for my pains." With an oath, Meghorn rushed up the stairs, and Y the bedside. At a grasp, he flung back the clothes, the pillows, the bed, and scattered them to the floor. His sudden cry of astonishment brought up the mate. She is gone!" exclaimed Saul; "gone! and the Child with her!" He turned with fury on the other. She has heard of it—how ? She must have learned Illy plan. Have you dared Me, capt'n!" and the burst of indignation with which injured innocence repelled the implication felled somewhat of the other's wrath. "Then what has she done it for? Where is she gone T' be repeated. "Mayn't she be at a neighbour's?" suggested Mat. "Neighbour'sI and till midnight? I tell you, Inan, she's learned our plan, and was off before we entered this night, unless-help here, to search, xawmans In a few minutes the whole upper storey was turned topsy-turvy. In such blind rage did the baffled lIlan pursue his search, he plunged his cutlass into dark corners, slashed hangings and coverlidB, severed the bolsters, and scattered their contents, with fearful oaths, vowing what vengeance he would take upon his hapless victim. They are gone—both of them!" he said, as they halted, breathless, from their search. It's clear enough she has listened somewhere— heard the plan. What more besides, who knows! t'awmans, they must be found-brought back A woman's tongue has hanged many a good fellow high as "Hold y "nr prating," cried the urbane com- Zander, "u. <1 listen tome." "You ni'irt help me, we shall find them before flaw n. F>).r or five hours' start as she had, or even toore, she c t t have made much distance with the child. She can't even have reached the town, for there are fe v carts ever the way this day of the week. Once hit on the track, we should be down upon them. Quick, my life on it, I'll have the woman and the brat here in this very room by daybreak." May she be in hiding, capt'n, with some friend or another ?" suggested Yawmans, as he hastily inducted himself into his garments. "friends!' retorted the other, scornfully; "am Dot I her husband ? I would like to see those who'd keep my wife in hiding." Not another word was spoken. Both dreesed quickly, took a last pull at the brandy-flask, Saul stamped down the embers, blew out the lamps, and they stood in the waste behind the house, within twenty minutes after the first alarm. You go by the Ohine, I'll take the valley; keep you the cliff path over the village, I by the woods and so on. Meet me at the 'Trouble House,' at the eross roads! Without another word, they started on their errand Saul's last act, as he quitted the house, was to slip his cutlass into the belt he strapped on. Yet he was only on the track of a helpless woman feeble child. But in the surmise he uttered to Yawmans, Meghorn had expressed but a portion of his own convictions and there was that in his mind Which-stronger than desire for vengeance, or re- covery of his wife—urged him to pursue and capture her at all hazards. he game was a desperate one,and nonetheless that he—playing in the dark—was ignorant even Whether she knew of all at stake. his If the fierce curses uttered by him, as he sped on Way, had had power to blight, what desolation Would have strewn the path he took. His hot blood boiled with wrath at her desertion; his hands clutched as he would have grasped her-again he deviled her ingratitude for all his passionate love, and with fierce contempt cursed his own folly, and east it to the winds—even while he meditated new devices for humbling her to his will, or for extorting her tenderness. Satan himself might have borne Saul Meghorn com- pany in his walk that night. As for Yawmans, no such emotions lent ajzest to his Bhare of the pursuit. Villain as be was, and apt at the track, there was something not wholly displeasing to him in the chance that the Daredevil should not be degraded by the presence of one of the inferior portions of humanity. He would bless the misadventure that should knock the captain's maggot on the head yet there was a something decidedly congenial to his bloodhound Mature in the quest, and he joined in it with vigour, ardently heping that it might fall to his lot to restore the during fugitives to their lawful tyrant, "if so be as they was to be found." the two, I doubt not but Mat fulfilled his duty "he most efficiently, Saul frequently rushing forward a giant strides past, many a fitting hiding-spot, eturmng to cut and thrust and lay bare, or with a raory and murderous glare passing them by. Now a now descending into a ravine, with the peed and hot excitement of a maniac, as if he beheld prey in sight. v- j chill hour, when Nature with a shudder to the embraces of the dawn, they stood, r and man, before the Trouble House." ,w.aa a Public-house so called (our friends the j.eT. a ers would consider aptly), of no stainless inlui e' yet Ruilelesa of any definite and affixed vict.: it stood on its ovrn defence by con- fab accusers of envy solely. And it was a suoh |^° » too, by many far and near, that no Trouble°ljWflS to be had within miles, as that of the central00? ^e junction of six roads. Perhaps the othf-r dw ^°.r the solitary position, there being no Whetlf within at least seven miles. pervertse« 0r not its singular cognomen had been «ed from the XXX ale for which it was famous, I will not take on me to decide. The landlord said so, and he should know. Certainly, the name was by no means an unsuitable one for the luw-browed, shambling, irregular build- ing, surrounded by a suspicious fraternity of out- houses, barns, lean-tos, and gable ends-black, tumble down, dilapidated, and ill-affected generally. Saul arrived some few minutes before his mate at the trysting-place. He eagerly awaited the coming of the other, but mutual disappointment was the greet- ing of both. Day is breaking," said Saul, gloomily "1 cannot give up this matter, but you must be abroad, Yaw- mans, and betimes." They've got help some way, capt'n, rm thinking, unbeknown to you. It's a poor chance, to my mind." I must find her, I tell you It's life and death — I shall find her, and before night. I will be aboard at nightfall, and with all I seek, too." Ay, ay, yer honour; as you say, so you'll do," returned the other. There's a light in the house," said Saul. Ay, sir, a great funeral set out, I take it, going by one of the roads, and the fellows stop to bait." We'll go in for awhile, Yawmans; I want to talk to you, and from this you'll take the nearest road to Fergus Bay." Ay, ay, sir, and welcome I'll be with you, capt'n, in a moment." Saul had gone forward towards the house, and was in the act of knocking at the door, when a hand was laid upon his shoulder. Avast, capt'n!" cried Yawmans, in a hoarse whisper at his ear, just a minute; this way—softly, capt'n, softly Megborn followed, as the other led the way to a deserted cow-shed, that lay behind some out offices in the rear of the house. The entrance was closed by a rude lattice-door the floor was strewn with rotting straw and refuse of all kinds. The roof was almost open to the sky, and the first blush of day made visible the noisome hole within. Visible, too, to Saul—as, following the indication of his companion, he peeped through the aperture— his wife and child. In a far corner, upon a few garments heaped to- gether, little Ida slept. Upon the ground beside her, and huddling round, as if to shield her child from the cold, the mother sat. Her head was turned from them, but, by her motion- less posture, they concluded she slept. A suppressed exclamation burst from Saul. Yawmans had lain his hand upon the gate, but Meghorn stayed him quickly. Let them be, let them be! they are worn out, they will sleep on; I have them safe enough, and can seize them in the trap. Here," he added, in a whisper, help me lift this timber against the door; so, now they are secure. So, my dame, there's an end to your run We will finish up such a good night's work; come, my lad—and, Yawmans, not a word in here. I want not all my affairs made public in a tavern, and you know what a woman's tongue is." Ay, has hanged many a man," was the agreeable rejoinder of the mate, as he followed the pirate within the doors of the Trouble House." CHAPTER XVIII. THE GUESTS OF THE TROUBLE HOUSE. OPENING the door which frequenters of the public- house were accustomed to use, Saul and his companian entered at once into a dense atmosphere of tobacco smoke, amidst which a high piping voice seemed to have inextricably involved itself, without hope of re- gaining the owner who had ambitiously sent it forth in execution of a pretentious trilL The opening of the door, with the accompanying puff of outer air, had the effect of bringing to a termination what appeared to be the concluding stave of a sentimental ditty. It was followed by an immense amount of loud clapping, rattling of glasses and pipe stems, in token of approval-all was conjec- ture as far as the new comers were concerned; for, as yet, they could see nothing. Meghorn frowned, as these evidences of a numerous company met his oar; he would have retreated, and had already half closed the door, when the figure of a man loomed from out the fog, and as be perceived who were his visitors, came out to them hastily Who are they 7" said Saul, gruffly, still standing outside the door. Strangers, capt'n, every one, the landlord of the Trouble House replied, in an under-tone. "They're undertakers from Keresley, been to a berryin' of some great man or another, and stopped here to bait the horseB—they'll be off now in a few minutes-" The other still hesitated. "There's a jolly fire "-thA landlord wont on- and I've as prime a ham and cheese in cut—and your owu keg There, there, that will do," said Meghorn, im- patiently, I suppose wojnay as well." He entered, followed close by Yawmans, and the two seated themselves by a small table in the chimney nook, which the high-backed settle screened off from the view of the general company, though those who occupied it had a tolerably good sight of the rest of the room. While they awaited the execution of their orders, Yawmans availed himself of this advantage to as- certain the quality of their neighbours, but Saul, much too pre-occupied by his own thoughts to care foraught else, leaned his elbows on the table, and sat with his face covered by his hands. In the few moments which had elapsed since the unexpected discovery made by Yawmans, he had come to the determination that his capture of the fugitives must be made without witnesses. The dread which had at first but vat uely indicated itself to his mind had grown during his pursuit of his wife. He felt convinced that her flight had some other founda- tion than in his treatment of her, and that she had by some means gained possession of, or a clue to, facts, which, if she were driven to desperation, in the pre- sence of others, she would assuredly use in her own defence and to his destruction. The first fruit of this conviction had been to defer his capture of her; meanwhile, making all secure against escape. The final result was that he must get rid of his mate, await the opportunity of the house being clear, and seize his victims. He knew how far, in case of necessity, he could rely upon the inmates of the Trouble House, and that from them he need fear no untimely opposition or mistrust of his motives, as he might choose to represent them. So decided, he turned to the table which the host had just spread, according to his knowledge of his patron's tastes, and invited Yawmans to fall to. With quite a zest imparted by the contemplation of assured triumph and vengeance, Mat complied, with a grin upon his face, called up by the last song which had been given, and which, though quite congenial to the tastes of the outlaw and to some members of the sable fraternity, failed, it seemed, to give universal appro- bation.. It grows light, oaul said to Yawmans, growing impatient with the prolonged festivities of the under- takers. You had best be going now. Go by this door; it opens on the side nearest the road you take. You understand my plans ?" Mat assented. You will await me at the old cave in Deepgang, or I shall be there before you. Any way, all will be right. See that on board everything is ready for a moment's notice." „ Ay, ay, capt'n I wish your honour success. ( There is no fear of it. So this way. Remember. He opened the door softly, and watched his follower as he sped swiftly away in the opposite direction to that they had come. The dawn was spreading rapidly up the horizon, tinging the blue skies with violet; and the timid day, like a young queen, blushed at the prospect of the mighty office she was shortly to assume. Casting his eyes to the front of the bouse, they fell upon a dark object standing motionless before its front entrance. It was the hearse, which had taken a part in the last pageant the bad, rich man could ever have any portion in upon earth. The mourning carriages had gone, each its separate way, conveying home the guests and friends (sad mockery of the sacred word!); and the men in charge of the hearse had stayed upon their journey of some ten miles home, to recruit themselves and the horses. These last-four Bplendid animals, whose wants were sooner satisfied than those of their masters— now stood, carefully covered, at intervals pawing the ground, or proudly tossing aloft their plaited manes but else still as the brazen horse of the sombre statue knight. With a muttered curse at the tardiness of these men, Meghorn returned to his place of concealment to await their departure. They had ordered fresh drink, and appeared newly settled down to joviality and free. communication. A desperate exclamation of impatience and a loud blow upon the table in the corner suddenly inter- rupted the speakers, and brought the listeners to their feet, staring at each osher in terrified amaze- ment. At that moment the host hurried from behind the settle. I've no wish to hurry you, sirs, indeed 1 haven t; but the air is turned very chill, and the horses, sir, if they be to stand longer, I had best take them out, maybe.' A shudder ran through the whole party as the un- compromising air of the morning struck upon their heated frames. There was some slight jangling as they ascended to their seats, but Ohob soon made all right; in another quarter of an hour all was still. "Confound the fools!" cried Saul, as he came forth; I thought they would stay all day! I believe you would have let them!" he said, angrily to the host, who stood ready to obey his commands. Bring me a lantern." It was quickly brought. That will do; if I want you Fit call." He hurried through the labryinth of ruin, filth, and offal, to the deserted cow-house. The logs lay as he had left them before the door. He moved them slowly and with deliberation, gloating mean- while over the terror and dismay his appearance would occasion. He entered, raided his lantern and looked round. Ha! what is this ? The place is empty!" He rushed out, surveyed the outside-it was the same. There lay the straw, here was the hole in the roof, there the logs! But they were gone, and not a trace, not a sign by which to track them. In his rage he shouted aloud then, as the host appeared in answer to his voice, with curses he ordered him back. Unable to account for the escape, dreading to excite suspicion or inquiry, he returned to the Trouble House—after vainly searching every out- house, nook, and hole in its vicinity—there to take fresh counsel with himself for the pursuit and re- covery of those whose fresh baffling of his search had but rendered him more determined to hold them once more within his power. (To be continued.)



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