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POET'S CORNER.

EXILED.

HER VENGEANCE

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HER VENGEANCE BY E. R. PUNSHON. Author of "The Choice," "The Spin of the Coin," etc., etc. CHAPTER XXIII—THE EXPERIMENT. Still smiling, this strange-featured old man rose to his feet. "My ex peri me ti' is nearly finished now," he said; "but for completion your help is neces- sary. I have found it interesting, though." He turned to Dodd, and took an envelope from his desk and handed it to him. "You can go," he said. Dodd stood for a moment as if hesitating, and there was something strange in the look he gave at Mr. Hetherington and Hugh. Per- haps old Mr Siddle noticed this, for he pointed to the door with a gesture of impatience and command. Clutching fast the envelopo the old man had given him, Dodd left the room; yet once again, on the very threshold, he paused to give his two recent companions an ambigu- ous and yet eager look, :I.S if there was some- thing that even a this last moment be would like to tell them. But without speaking, he closed the door and went, and they heard his steps as he descended the stairs without. Mr. Siddle went to the window and stood there and watched him come ou balow and pass through the two wire fenoes tc where, at the gate of the outer fence, a negro was waiting with a horse and buggy. In this Dodd took his place and drove towards the Dorth-ea.st-not towards Athens—at a great speed. Siddle watched him for a few minutes till the immensity of the prairie had swallowed him up, and then he turned to Hugh, and to Mr. Hetherington, with whom. he was now alone. "I hate a man who will and who won't," he said. "But I have waited a long time for you." "And your experiment?" asked Mr. Hether- ington, unable to disguise his eager impatience. "The experiment is on the verge of comple- tion," returned the old man with his chilling and uncanny smile. "You must go with me to my laboratory now to assist me conclude it. Perhaps you are surprised I chose men of your race to help me, but I have always had a fellow-feeling for negroes. Nature played your people the same 6ort of jest in giving you black faces as she played in giving me no nose." "Is the laboratory through there?" asked Mr. Hetherington, pointing to a doo^ in oo« ««Knar of the room. „ "Patience, patience," smiled Si; "patience for a little time, and thEm-no more need for patience. Yes, I prefer blacks to whites. My own people always thought my deformity-I was born as I am now, noseless—an excellent joke, and when my wife died, and I had no longer a motive for facing the ridicule of the world, I came here where I could work in peace. It is a lonely spot." "I am sure it has been a great misfortune to you," eaid Mr. Hetherington; "but about your experiment we are to help you in 7" "Rather the experiment to which you are a necessity," replied the old man. "It has oniy been waiting for you." He motioned to tnem to follow him, and went into the room adjoining. This was a large apartment, fitted up as a laboratory and provided with many appliances of which neither Hugh nor hie uncle understood much. But in one corner there stood a furnaoe burning with a steady glow. It took the attention of both Hugh and his uncle at once, and Mr. Hether- ington caught hold of Hugh's arm as if to sup- port himself. "Is that it?" he said. "Yes," said Siddle quietly. "I am making diamonds there." "Making diamonds—oh!" muttered Mr Heth- erington, and his mouth was very dry. "Ah, you would never have thought of that, would you?" said Mr. Siddle again with his terrifying smile. Hugh leaned over and whispered in his un- cle's ear. "There is danger here," he said. "Yes, you are making diamonds?" repeated Mr. Hetherington, apparently not even hearing" Hugh's whisper. "I ajn making diamonds," Siddle repeated; •"in that furnace I have diamonds cooking just u a housewife bakes her pies in her oven." "Ah, merciful heavens!" murmured Mr. Hetherington. "It is really true then?" And he staggered as if he had received some heavy blow, for he could hardly endure this near realization of all that he had dreamed of for so long. "But it is not my invention," said Mr Siddle in an absent manner; "it was my son's, who is dead" "We must be careful; this man means mis- chief," Hugh whispered again. "Be quiet, you fool, you!" said Mr Hether- ington in a fierce whisper, and pushed him from him. "Of course, much depends on the heating process," remarked Siddle. "You soo-yoù seem intelligent for mere negro labourers, and perhaps you will understand me—the secret of this process consists partly in the application of enormous pressure within the crucible by means of the expansion of certain chemicals. There is at this moment confined in the crucible in !that furnaoe explosive power enough to destroy us and this whole house and everything near, so that nothing would be left on this side ex- cept a big hole." Hugh smiled at that, for now her thought he understood, and he shifted his position slightly so as to stand between Mr. Siddle and the door. His idea was that Siddle meant to cause eome explosion that would destroy them, he himself taking care to make his escape first. Hugh resolved Siddle should not leave that room till the crucible had been opened. "It is dangerous work, then?" ho observed. "There is danger in everything," said Siddle, moving to the window. Hugh looked at his uncle, absorbed by the furnace and the glow of it, and said to him in A whisper: "I think he means to blow us up somehow. Perhaps this thing is a bomb." "Open the furnace door," said Mr. Siddle from the window, "and rake it out." They obeyed him, and disclosed to view 'a square crucible resting on asbestos supports, so that the flames had burned freely round it. The fuel used had been wood, and apparently a strong draught had been arranged to make the faggots burn freely and with' plenty of flame. "Shall we take it out?" asked Mr. Hether- ington, trembling with eagerness. "It must cool first," replied Siddle. "But there is a tub of water there," said Mr. Hetherington, pointing; "if we put it in that, it would be cooled." "And risk an explosion that would blow us all to nothmgners?" said Mr. Siddle. "No, my impatient son of Ham, you must wait. lrhe shock of such a sudden cooling might be yery dangerous." Mr. Hetherington drew back, though re100- tantly enough, for he could hardly restrain his impatience. And when it is cool and we open it, he said, "what will be IDside "Diamonds," replied Siddle sharply; "dia- jnonds the size of walnuts—perhaps a score of them." "Ah—h! said Mr. Hetherington with a sigh that was almost a. shudder, and Siddlo smiled again. "But it has nothing to do with you; why are you so interested, you nigger?" he said suddenly. "We fed it is a great thing to be present at such an experiment," interposed Hugh sharp- Ily, afraid lest his uncle should prematurely an- nounce their identity. "Really," remarked Mr. Siddle with another of those coldly terrifying smiles that occasion- ally crossed his strange and repulsive visage; "really, I am most fortunate to have found two negroes to take such an intelligent interest in my experiments." "Is it not cool enough yet 7" aeked Mr. Hetherington impatiently. "Not yet," said Siddle looking. "This is my son's process, you know, and one must be care- ful. "Oh, your son," repeated Mr. Hetherington looking up at him, and for tho first time ap- pearing to notioe something besides the cru- cible and the furnace. I » a son; osce," explained Mr. Siddle; I "he went to Europe to pursue his studies, but died there—suddenly. Sad, was it not?" "Very sad," agreed Mr. Hetherington, "but a long time ago." "True, a long time ago," agreed Siddle; "but what does that matter when time is mere- ly a delusion of the. human senses?" Not understanding this remark, Mr. Hether- ington mads no reply to it. But Hugh was now certain that tho old man knew them and was threatening them. "The crucible is cool enough now," said Siddle presently; "take it out and put it in the water "I will do that," said Hugh, for he thought there might be danger in touching the crucible, and he whispered to his uncle to go and stand by Siddle, to watch that he did not attempt to rlay them any trick The old man did not seem to notioe these manoeuvres, and watched gravely while Hugh drew the crucible from the furnace and placed it, hot and hissing, in the water-tank. He half expected eome fearful explosion to result, but nothing happened, and tho crucible lay quietly at the bottom of the tub, still guarding the secret of its contents. "My son," remarked Mr. Siddl-a, "made a mistake in conducting these experiments. He produced one diamond of great size, but of such poor stability and such bad colour, and with so many flaws in it, that it was prac- tically worthless. I have it here," he added, opening a small cupboard and taking out an object about the size of a melon that Hugh at once recognised as the original of the photo- graph and of the model he had seen. "It is the biggest diamond in the world, but I don't suppose it is worth $1,000. It is apt, too. to shiver in pieces at the merest touch. Now I have aimed at making them of a moderate size, but of a good colour and without flaws." "Yes, yes," said Mr. Hetherington, and stooping over the tub he drew out the crucible, which could now be handled. "Tho top unscrews," said Mr. Siddle, himself now, and for the first time, showing some ex- citement. Mr. Hetherington opened it, and shook out on the table a dozen objects about the size of walnuts, dull enough, and rough :n shap?, and yet with something about them that made even Hugh catch his breath. "Diamonds," eaid Mr. Hetherington with a long sigh. "Oh, diamonds—diamonds "Absolute success," said Mr. Siddle; "such success as I have dreamed of—diamonds made in any number I like. Why, now I can fill- a house with diamonds, pave my garden with diamonds; what can I not do?" But though his words were wild, = his manner remained cool, and Hugh saw he smiled at in- rvals. as if he still had secret thoughts. "Diamonds," repeated Mr. Hetherington, fondling and feeling the stones: and, Hugh heard him whisper under his breath, "All the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. Hugh put out his hand and picked one up and i felt it, and then laid it down again. It was wonderful to him that this common, -rather ) dull-looking object could really be a diamond I manufactured by a man, and- yet there was something in the. feel of the stone that con- vinced him it really' was so. Mr Hetherington took out a handkerchief and passed it across his face. He took it away sopping wet. "Tut, tut!" said Mr Siddle co¡dly.. "Why are you two stray nigger labourers I have hired for a dollar a day and your kcep-wh v are you so excited about all this? It is nothing to you, is it?" Mr. Hetherington leaned across the table on which the diamonds were strewn. His hands rested on it and he looked full into the face of Mr. Siddle, who returned hi. burning gaze I I with eyes whose fire matched that of his. So I for a moment they stood motionless, fixed, each i pne's hot gaze intent upon the other, and then j Mr. Hetherington said in a low voice: j "It is time you were told the truth." I "Pilate, jesting, asked what the truth was," said Mr. Riddle; "but you, perhaps, are better informed?" "We are not negro labourers nor negroes at all," said Mr. Hetherington, speaking very 1 slowly, his intent gaze never; wavering. lis my ephew, Mr Hugh Tallentine. I 11m Jnirvs Hetherington, of Messrs. Hetherington, of London and Paris and Berlin. I presume you have heard of me, as I take it it was through your orders I was robbed of the secret formula you have put into practise to-day. But I am not robbed with impunity, and I have come here, and found admittance here- in this disguise in order to claim my just rights. "Of course," said Siddle with his cold and terrifying smile, "of course I do not believe a word of all this." Mr. Hetherington looked rather taken aback, and even Hugh was surprised. It had not occurred to either of them that their disclosure of themselves would be greeted with calm in I credulity. "It is easily proved," said Mr Hetherington quietly. "But now we have seen this experi- ment successful, I suggest it might be as well to come to terms and try to make an amioable arrangement. You must remember the for- mula is really mine, and I can put the law in motion to enforce my rights. But I feel in- clined to compromise on a basis of one quarter of the profits to you, the rest to us; you to superintend the manufacture of the stones, and we to arrange placing them on the market. "I should be inclined to compromise," said Mr. Siddle, "if I believed even a word of what you say. But you lie, you know; you are not Mr. James Hetherington, of London, but just a cursed nigger from St. Louis," "Oh, it is easily proved!" cried Mr. Hether- ington impatiently, and ran to the tub in which the cruoible had been cooled. He dipped his hands in and rubbed them hard, but the colouring matter on his skin was not in the least affected• "What are you doing?" asked Mr. Siddle. "It needs soap," cried Mr. Hetherington; "give me some soap." # "There is some on the shelf behind you," I said Siddle pointing. Mr. Hetberington took a piece and lathered his hands freely. But the soap produoed no ¡ more effect than the water; his handfl remain- ed black and shiny as a nigger's. "This is strange," he said, more puzzled than alarmed. "You lie, you see," said Siddle; "you are just a cursed nigger from St. Louis, and so is your friend." "No, we are white men," declared Hugh. Mr. Hetherington washed his hands fever- ishly. "If you are white men, be white," said Siddle to Hugh; at present you could very easily be mistaken for negroes." "We are not negroes," cried Mr. Hether- ington, still washing unavailingly. "One might easily believe your skin rather than your tongtoe," said Mr. Siddle; "to me you look like negroes." "But we are not," cried Hugh; "it is a dis- guise we adopted to be present at this experi- ment. You have played us some trick; what trick have you played us?" „ "I never saw you before in my life, said Siddle calmlv "and I believe you came here of your own free will, did you not? Anyhow, I take you to be negroes, as you seem, for what is a negro but a. man with a black skin ? And you are men, and you have black skins." "My God, it won't come off," cried Mr. Hetherington, flinging up his soapy and still black hands. "Can the Ethopian change his skin ?, smiled Mr. Siddle. "You have some devil's purpose to serve in this," cried Hugh. "Not a.t all," said Mr. Siddle very politely, "but I notice in the 'Athens Clarion'—edited bv a. violent person named Keene — that a white woman, named Bryan, was murdered near here yesterday. It seems two negroes are suspected. I trust you are not the men?" "Oh, & woman murdered!" Hugh repeated St "It^Lems," said Mr. Siddle slowly, "that Editor Keene is calling on the country to hunt these two strange negroes out andlynch them." are surely txisiq. ened Hugh, with a chill of great horror at his heart. "And when in this great country they lynch negroes suspected of such a crime as murder- ing a white woman." said Mr. Siddle, laughing heartily, "do you know what they do?—why, they burn them alive!" CHAPTER XXIV.-THE LYNCHING PARTY. From the window, high up, from which Noah Siddle had watched Dodd's departure, the prairie looking almost as level as an Eng- lish lawn. But in reality that level-seeming prairie was crossed by many ravines, deep and I

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FUN AND FANCY.

FOR THE YOUNG FOLKS. ^

SKIN-TORTURED FAMILY.

FOR MATRON AND MAID.I

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HER VENGEANCE