Hide Articles List

9 articles on this Page

Advertising

POET'S CORNER.

HER VENGEANCE

Advertising

FUN AND FANCY.

FOR THE YOUNG FOLKS."

-0...._-----__.----=-__-------FOR…

Advertising

HER VENGEANCE

News
Cite
Share

hood. her sex, be* rac? everything that they held "You pnek of fool*. ba a- Hugh ai the top of his V01' ho got. no further, for the man Jabez promptly aimed a heavy blow at him. Hugh forded it with his arm and so avoid-ed the full force of it, but it struck liitn I down all the same. "Bring them along," said Editor Keene. Men seized hold of them and hurried them to the spot where those 1.Ie stout poets had been fixed upright in the ground. Another wagon laden with wood had joined the first that had issued from the bush. Both wore quickly approaching behind, a third was visible, loaded; too, with dry wood. In the west t: ? lo,;ing rim of the sun just dipped beneath the horizon. CHAPTER XXVIII .-DEATH AT THE STAKE. Each one of the prisoners was hurried in the oentë, oi a. group of ""ptor#, and none of them «. Dnld see what was happening to the others. Hugh, a little dazed by blow he had just reserved, found himself pushed with his back against one of the tall, thick posts, whose t1'1 1-oS had wondered concerning. One man held h;(l1 there by th-* throat, and he could not resist for others held his arms. He felt something and tight drawn round his waist, and there was a sound of someone ham- mering behind: He could feel his post against which be wa.s Vld Iuivering with the force of the blows. "What aTA "ou doing?" he said, and then, "I am an Englx-hm?.n and you will have to an- swer for this." One of them struck him across the face, but they made no other ars*ver. Tlj-en they drew away from him. He was left standing alone, leaning against the pcsx behind him, and look- ing down he realised b," "as secured to it by a iron chain, passed round his middlo and fastened behind. The sbcck of this called him to himself. It was as though a kind of veil had fallen from before hie eyes, and he ilaw and understood everything with preternatural clearness. Be- hind everything else in he mind was a vivid recollection of a picture he had known as a child in Faxe's 'Book of Martyrs," represent- ing two of the Protestant reformers in the sixteenth century chained t;) stakes and on the point of being burnt alive His brain roeled as he now clearly understood that, this sso.rtve awful fate was now to be hie and thai o; his Tompanions. He strove iVr ? against the iron links that bound l; the was wet! and truly fastercn, post itself stout and driven dp into 1, -wlb. Not if he had had the strength of r, of old in all his fury could he have ri.:mseif or loosened himself by so much as t" inch. He turned his head. On h's right was an- other, p-ost, and to that Mr- Hetherington was fastened in like manner. He seemed to have swooned and was hanging down, doubled over the chain securing him. Jesting coarsely, one of the lynchers was fastening a cord llnd-T his shoulders, so as to hold him in an upright posi- tion. On Hugh's left, as h" well knew, there was another post. but at this atfirst he dared not look. Then by a great effort he turned his head and looked. There it was and, most horrible to see, there Eira stood against it, ehe, too, sacur- ed bv a chain drawn fast about her waist. She was very pale, but she held herself upright, with her hands clasped before her and her face turned upwards. She had herself, in order to avoid being handled, walked to the stake, plac- ed herself in position with hal- to it, and had with her own hands adj ;-1 the chain about her slender body. She knew at once when Hugh looked at her, and glancing to- wards him, she made him a slight sign, to which he could give no reply. A wagon was drawn up near her, and men had begun piling dry wood around her, so that already she stood knee deep in faggots. But she seemed to heed very little wha.t they did; and even her executioners, though they loathed and abhorred what they believed she had done, yet were forced to admire the calm and quiet courage that the showed. — Another wagon drew up beside Hugh. Two men threw the pile of dry wood down from it; men threw the pile of dry wood down from it; others arranged it about him. For the first time despair seized on him and made him its sad prey. He was aware of an impulsa to open his mouth and scream, and scream, and scream, and never cease. To the preternatural clearness with which the mo- ment before he had Fn and understood every- thing there now f jeered "v dull hazeot horror, through which seemed to see the mon about him, like moving to and fyo- He could not. b?Ii«vo iu the reality of what was ^"Vfhat^are you doing with that wood? ho said to the men busy about bun. They looked at him s^de.vays, but non of them answered. They were very pzle and silent, but very resolute, He his eyes to tbe heaven aljpve with a belief that from there som voice must come, some sign sh°"I1Vto save them from a fate so awnil. But the sky, soft with the shades of evening, showed notn ing, and the wood the men piling aoout him reached now above his middle. From the »kv his eves turned to search ove. the prairie, for he thought he might see an army there, marching to their rescuc. Bat a i that was visible upon its va«t expanse was a few buggies and wagons, and two men on horse- back and a woman riding. Most of these wero just sutlers ot the neighbourhood hastening lost thSy should be late for a rare spectacle But all were not, for one of the foremost was an old man with a strange, noseless face, who rode wildly; and behind him, a long way be- hind him, the one woman rode desperately too a? if with some purpose other than the mere fascination of horrible things. Hugh turned his eyes away from the prairie and looked towards his uncle. Mr. Hethering- ton was siMI unconscious, and Hugh envied him. Then the thought struck him to wonder what his colleagues, of the London Stock Ex- change, those respectable, top-hatted, frock- coated men, would think if they could see the senior partner in Messrs. Hetherington, Financiers, Lombard-street, in his present po- sition. The incongruity of the thing seemed to him so wild that he laughed. "Hullo," said Jabez Hunt., who was one ot those arranging the dry wood about lum, glad you see the fun of the thing. "Got to answer for this to England, hey, Mr. Britisher?"' said* another. „ "Why, no," said Hugh, "to God. I think. Thev locked a little uncomfortable at that, but said nothing. Their work finished they went away, and Hugh was left standing breast high in carefully arranged faggots of wooa He turned his head and looked towards Eira. Wood was piled so high about her that only her head was visible, but seeing him looking shf again waved her hand to him. He knew the gesture meant he was to be brave, and he marvelled afresh at the calm courage she showed. "Just look." said one of the men near, hor- rified. "she is making signs to the young negro. Absolutely shameless, isn't she" "I don't believe she can be a white woman at all declared another; "it don't seem credible. Can she be a quadroon, do you think "If so, she ought to be release.d, said the fint man- "if she were coloured, she would just have ehown herself clear grit. It is only because she is white that what she did was so abominable." xi "The abomination of desolation, the unpar- donable sin," said a third man, a deacon of the local Baptist church. "Editor Keene, are we not ready? It is getting dar." "There will be plenty of light soon," replied ^"Bovs," shouted someone from the back- ground, "here is old Noah Siddle coming to see his pet niggers burnt. In fact, it was Noah Siddle who, riding wildly on a aaddlelesa horse, now drove his way into the oentre of the crowd, and in the centre of it fell rather than jumped to thc ground. "Mr. Siddle! Mr. Siddle!" shouted Hugh, striving against his chain, "tell them we are white men and innocent." "Take that old man away, said Editor Keene. "What are you coming interfering for, Noah Siddle? These negroes have been tried and condemned by Judge Lynch; and if you value your safety, you won't try to interfere. Noah looked wildly round. Another wagon laden with dry wood had just been drawn up close to the stake to which Eira was fastened, so that she was hidden from her grandfather's hasty glance round. "Do what you like with those two black vil- lains," panted Noah "they deserve it all." "Oh, you know we are white men—you know it!" cried Hugh despairingly. "You are two black cursed niggers, said Noah with a gesture of inextinguishable hatred towards the 6till half-conscious Mr. Hethering- ton. "But where is Eira, mv granddaughter? Someone told me Eira—but that's clean impos- sible. Please tell me whre she is, for she is a good girl, you know." Although np one answered him, he saw how they all looked in one direction, and he moved his position and looked that way, too, past the loaded wagon. Now he saw Eira, looking at him palely over the piled wood that sur- I rounded her, and at that he gave a great and lamentable cry. "She is the worst of them all," said Keene. "These brute beasts only followed their own beastly nature; but she is a white womt^.her- self. and yet she helped them——" "You fools, you blind fools!" the old man cried. "Why, she had nothing to do with it— free her at once! Why, I never meant her," he said thickly, with one hand to his throat. "Take him away," said Keene. "Give me that can of oil. Has anyone a box of matches?" Some of the men took hold of Siddle, but he resisted. They exerted greater force; he still resisted, screaming incoherent things. At last, by a greater effort than they had expected from so old a man. he broke-away from them. "V ou must not hurt her!" he shouted wild- ly. "I never meant her, my own boy's child, my Eira. Just listen: these two men are not negroes, they are white men—they are English- men." I:> ( "That is a pretty thio yarn at the best of times," said Keene coldly "and I guess we are all about tired of leanng. it this trip—it's only a dodge to gain time. Take him awuv." But Noah drew a pistol from his pocket and threatened those who approached him, so that, taken by surprise, they drew back. "God have mercy!" Siddle screamed, "I planned all this—for years I planned it against that roan Hetherington. but now it has struck Eira too. Every one, listsu to mo You are isii jw eymVu 2 & Uuu j v, .4' ranged every single thing you have done to- day these two men are white men and are innocent; my girl is innocent; lrs. Bryan has never been murdered at all. Do you hear. "Mrs Bryan not murdered at .all? repeated fhe Baptist deacon. "Why, I helped to get the bodv out of the flames myselt "We are his puppets, «re .• sawl Jabe* Hunt laughing. "Thalfc is a ;ood-s:zed cla.lm, ain't it, boys? ) f "He is either plu^n-crazy -r ^xcs \l-5f fools," said Editor Kettle dr.y^ns a pistol fiom his nccket. "Hands Vp, old m»n Unheeding this demand No-ih heid up in on hand a paper, and fluttered it hkc a flag in the W1"Li5ten to this, then!" he cried. cret here that will make every nl""°fhy°^et —I'll give it you to let my Eira go—the secret of making diamonds^ "He certainly does take us .or fools, said Editor Keene. "Hands up, old man, or 111 plug -a No.* swung round fiercely on him. Each had his pistol levelled a. the other, each fired at the same moment, neither miss. With a bullet through his "tormy and unquiet brain Editor Keene leaped up into the air three feet high, and then fell down m & ?rumP^ heap that looked most strangely small, bho* through the body, his lungs Pureed INoah Siddle fell forward on us knees ) face. The Baptist. deacon ran and lifted him "My revenge," No&.h Si<;ldle uttered, ralS. UP"My revenge," Noah Siddle muttered, rais- ins- himself and looking with Winded eyes to- wards Eira. "I've planned it the6C fill years and thought out every detail of it, and now I've got it' -and a suaden rush of bkod choked him thai; he died. -_j His body and that of Keene were earned it.and that tern, wrought-up oro^dot .uen, unawed by the tragedy they hadjustw.t ne=<d. set themselves to carry outthetemble thev firmly anc'i honestly belicved be ■their duty. It was Jabez Hunt who P10^ the can of oil from where Keene s dead hand had dropped it. had dropped it.. "I have matches,be said. urtl,+ He went towards F:ugh and poured out about a pint of oil on some small sticks, arranged all readv at the base of the pile of wood. He struck a match. The ?mall dame burnt steadily in the cX evening »r Every eye was fixed upon this small flame. It seemed the 00'^ thing that lived and moved so still were all things else, men and nature together Bo m tense the silence upon that strange and dread ful scene. Stooping, Jaboz put the rn^a to the oil. A flame leaped up at once And ^ew upon the fuel ready for it. There was no smoke only a small and very bright flame, and a crackling of wood that sounded like thunder to those who one; that's done," said Jaboz Hunt, •^CDping backwards. (To be continued.)