Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

10 articles on this Page





HER VENGEANCE BY E. R. PUNSHON. fAIÎihor of "The Choice," "The Spin of the J Coin," etc., etc. CHAPTER XXXI—AND LAST. It was the stinging pain in his cheek that -tabw Hugh back to life, and as his oonscious- n—» returned to him he discovered that some- one was doing something to it, and in dqing 10 was hurting him badly. "You leave that alone," be muttered, lifting hand which was at once caught in one small and cool, while another was laid upon his fore- fcpach "Oh, hush!" a voice said,' "you must let the doctor attend to you." When that voice spoke, Hugh was content to listen. He took the hand that had touched his, and held it, and, looking up, his eyes found Era's pale face, and tnef her deep and search- ing gaze. "Ah, you are safe!" he said. "Theresaid the doctor cheerfully; "a nasty burn, but it will be will be all right soon, and I don't think any scar will remain. The colour- jug is coming off the skin, too." Hugh was, in fact, practically white again bow, the colouring going with some rapidity as soon as it began to fade; indeed, the peculiar phininese it had, and that made the skia with which it was treated so like a negro's, only lasted about. twentv-four hours. But its inven- tor had calculated that that period would be long enough for the consummation of its plans, once he succeeded in getting the dye applied "Tha.t's so," agreed a new voice, "no doubt about his being a white man now, eh, is there, doc ? Hugh recognised this voice also, and sat up- right with a jerk. Behind the doctor, whom he bad been helping, was a man whose face fitill showed traces of a heavy bruise between the eyes, and in whom Hugh at once recog- nised Jabez Hunt. "What does he want? Take him &way!" ex- claimed Hugh quickly. "Now partner," said Jabez, mildly deprecat- ing, "doA't bear ill-will Mistakes will happen, you know, and ail us boys are really con- cerned." "Confound your impudence," said Hugh with some heat. "I know just how you feel," said Jabez sooth- ingly "I don't deny a little feeling on your par' is natural enough, but every man in this county, sir, is bent on being friends, and you can't help yourself about it. Friends we are, aDd friends we will remain, so why not mako the best of it Mr Tallentine?" "Jabez haJ never eleot since—since that even- ing," said ISira softly, "he has been sitting here by you or by Mr. Hetherington, all the time. I think you must try to forgive him." Hugh was going to reply, with temper that be would do nothing of the sort, but on the Contrary complain to the English and American authorities, when he caught a glance from Eira's eyes, at once compelling and appealing "All right, then," he said, with the worst grace in the world; -'I suppose J must look upon the way we were treated as a form of Western hospitality "Western hospitality, sir," said Jabez earnest- 1y, "will never :&-i you from this day hence- forth." "And now you must lie quiet, and try to go to sleep." said Eira, "you have not been very well, you know" He did as she told him, and was content to lie with her hand held in his Presently he fell off into a deep sleep, from which he only awoke for his supper, and then slept again all might, awakening in the morning very much better and stronger. The doctor came and dressed his cheek again, and said he might get pp, and Jabez Hunb eageriy volunteered to come and help him dress. Hugh objected, but Jabez reminds him triumphantly that he had Jorgiven him, and so had his own way Hugh found himself a little weak on the legs, but declined Jabez's offered arm, and went into the next room, where Eira was wait- ing for him, and where there sat an old and feeble man, with sunken cheeks and snow white hair, and at whom he had to look twice before he could recognise hie stalwart uncle. lie greeted Hugh, however, cheerfully enough, and his manner seemed much abow- the same. Hi* eyes, too, showed a good deal of his old vigour, and one of his first questions showed "fchat his old purpose retained its old force, for 'it was about the pa.per containing that secret of the process of diamond-making they had seen r. Siddle put into operation so successfully. "Miss Eira has promised I am to have it if it an be found," he Bfld, "so there may be com pensation yet for aJl I have gone through." "I promised Mr. Hetherington should have it in return for his promising to overlook all that, had happened," said Eira quietly, "but I ,am beginning to be aixaid that it never will be found." „ "So it will," said Jabez, "for every man for miles round is looking for it." "Mr Siddle had it ia his hand," observed Hugh. "I remember his waiving it in the ^fr &nd offering it as the price of"our release." "Oh, yes," said Jabez, "nut that was nothing —he was only trying to bluff us." "How do you know?" asked Hugh. "Because I picked it up to look," said Jabez calmly. "I thought if it said anything about diamonds I would like to read it, but it didn't— never a word. It was not even sense or Eng- lish, it was just a lot of letters jumbled to- gether, not even forming words." "The cipher!" exclaimed Eira. "What did you do with it?" cried Hugh. As for Mr Hetherington, he was incapable of speech, but he lifted both his hands in the &ir< "Why, I lit my pipe with it," said Jabez, "but it weren't no cipher, nor nothing; just a jumble of letters without no meaning. So, wanting a smoke, I lit my pipe with it." Eira and Hugh looked at each other, and Mr. Hetherington rose trembiingly to his feet. "He lit his pipe with it," he stammered, "with a secret that would have changed the .world," and he fell back-wards in a fresh fainting-fit, for he was still too weak to stand against new shocks. Later on, when Mr Hetherington had partly recovered, though still keeping to his bed, Hugh suggested to Eira that he should like a little stroll outside, if she would come with him. Hugh was still weak, it is true, ye one would not like to say it was so absolutely necessary as ,he pretended tha he should have her arm to ,lean on. They were out of sight of the house, and were resting behind a bluff that grew not far away, when Eira, looking at Hugh, said, somewhat abruptly: "You have never asked about Miss Hether- ington." "Why—er," said Hugh, who had almost for- gotten all about poor Delia, "no, where is she ?" "Asleep," said Eira, "she has been nursing her father, day and night, and last night she iell asleep over her supper So we put her to Jbed, and she has been there ever since." "Hum!" said Hugh, pulling his moustache Buco m f o r tabl y. "And now we are here alone," said Eira, "I want to tell you, you must forget anything I said to you—when—during that awful time 11 y Hugh looked obstinate "I have forgotten it," she said, "so must you" "You have forgotten it," he answered, "and I will not" "Ah, you are not kind," she exclaimed. "You spoke the truth once," he said, "when the truth has once been spoken, one cannot go back to lies. That is not possible." "HU5b, you must not speak so," she mur- mured faintly, "everything is different now, and Miss Hethermgton is waiting for you." "This is not different," he said "this is al- ways the same—I love you, Eira." She rose to her feet. "You have no right to say that," she said, her face very pale. "Y ou gave me the right when you risked your life, and so nearly lost it, to save us," he said. "No," she said, and repeated "No." "Very weU," he answered, "I will go and see Delia, and when I come back I shall be free. I never loved her, Eira. there was a horrible mistake. I will go to her, and tell her the truth, and then I will come back to you." "You must tell her the truth, but you must not come back to me." "Why?" he askfed sharply. "I will never marry Delia now; it would be a worse treachery to keep my promise than to break it. Don't you understand that?" "Ah, yes!" she said, "and I do not think you ought to keep a promise you did wrong to make. But it would not be that-, as soon as you have freed yourself from her, you should come back to me. When you part from Delia Hetherington, you Dart from me, too. Your broken promise can never make us happy. You cannot keep your promise to her. Well. But you must not scorn it, and her, by at onoo re- newing it to me." He was beginning a hot proiot, but she checked him. She gave him her hand, and looked at him from grave and serious eyes. "I feel that I am right," she said; "for it would seem you were breaking your word to her just to come to me. Her misery cannot be our happiness." Before Hugh could ply, they heard steps approaching. They had been standing very close together, and the\ jumped aside just in timp. as Delia herself came round the corner of the bluff, accompanied by Mr Tom Waters. They all four looked at each other rather sheepishly, and Hugh felt himself turning pale. He looked at Eira, a.nd saw that her face, on the contrary, was very flushed. Mr. Watenrs had turned his back and was looking abstracted- ly up into the clouds, while Delia was breathing rather more quickly than usual, a danger signal that Hugh knew from of old. Hugh put up his hand to his bandaged and wounded cheek, and was not quite sure he would not have preferred to face the flames again, rather than this interview. He only hoped there would be no soene, but remembering the heat of Delia's temper he felt mortally afraid of what she might do. "They told us you were out this way some- where," Delia began. "Well," Hugh said rather sharply, "anyhow. I am glad you have come, for we ought to have some explanation." "Yes, we must," said Delia, and her breast began to heave. "Let Miss Hetherington understand, first of all," said Eira, "that I am leaving here at onoe. I have some idea of going to the Bast as a missionary—to China, perhaps." "Ah!" muttered Hugh, and gave her a look of despair, but saw her face so inflexible he somehow understood that nothing would shake her resolution. "Very well, he said, turning to Delia, "but that doee not alter what I have to say to you, Delia, now it has beoome im- possible for me to keep the promise I made y°Delie started and looked quickly at Mr. Waters who, for his part, brought his eyes down from the sky to earth again and appeared once more interested in what was passing around him. „ "Well, I never," said Delia, "but how did you find out?" Hugh's pale face Bushed, and Eira started and put up one hand as if to shield herself. "Come, that is a cruel thing to ask," she said with deep feeling. "It does not matter how I have found it out, "I ju^^knew that old man could never keep his tongue still!" cned Delia, turning to Waters- "First time," said Waters, ever knew old Judge Sampson going back on his clients." "When he married us," said Delia, looking as if she were going to cry, "he promised so faith- ful not to say a word, and now I suppose he has just told everyone." "Married you? married who?" cned Hugh bewilderedly. "Marrioo 1" echoed Eira wildly. What do you mean?" "Why, married Tom and me, of course," said Delia; "what else should I mean ?" "Tied us up good and tight," observed Mr. Waters; "did the job in style." "Good heavens!" said Hugh blankly. "Do you mean you and Tom Waters are married?" cried Eira. I thought you said you knew," re- marked Delia, mildly surprised. "Married we are," said Waters. "I've stole a march on you, you see, sir," he added to Hugh. "I'm sure it's very good of you," murmured the dazed Hugh. "And if you feel you must scrap," said Waters, "scrap we will here and now, as you like, sir. But scrap or no scrap, married we are and married we shall remain, for those as the laws of this State in the person of Judge Sampson join together, only the laws of this State in the person of Judge Sampson or rome, other constituted and elected judge can put asunder again So for my part, I don't see no good in scrapping, except as a relief, of course, to your feelings, six." "But are you really married?" asked Hugh, hardly believing it "It seems to take a lot of telling," complain- ed Waters. "But if you didn't know," said Delia, "what did you mean just now?" "Oh, nothing!" said Hugh with an eye on Eira. "Well, Tom and I are married," said Delia decisively; "and while I feel you have been abominably badly treated, Hugh "Oh, pray don't mention that!" murmured Hugh generously. "Can you ever forgive us?" asked Delia earnestly. "If you can," said Waters, quite as earnestly, "we shall know you have the noblest heart of any man now alive, our happiness will be com- plete, and our graititude eternal If you can't, we will have to worry along without, I sup- pose." "My dear Delia. I forgive you from the bot- tom of my heart," said Hugh, shaking hands with her warmly. "Mr. Waters, pray permit me to congratulate you," and he shook hands with him too. "Waters is my name," said that gentleman, "and I perceive that for general nobleness of heart and magnanimity of character you lick creation, sir, and I'm proud to kpow you." "Only it's a secret," added Delia, "till we are able to tell oapa. You won't say anything. Miss Siddle, will you?" she added glancing at Eira. "Oh, no," said Eira., who was very red and very white by turns, and in swift succession. "If Miss Siddle is going to China as a mis- sionary," began Mr. Waters. "I am sure "Oh, that wa, a mistake!" interposed Hugh; "If least, Miss Siddle has changed her mind since then." Both Mr. Waters and the new Mrs. Waters looked a little surprised, but were too busy with their own affairs and their private happi- ness to have any time to spare on thinking of Eira's change of mind. They all turned back towards the house, and Delia, hangipg behind, signed to Hugh to join her while her husband and Eira walked on ahead. "Hugh, I am so sorry," she said penitently. "You have no need to be, I assure you," said Hugh truthfully. "Ah. you are so good and kind," said Delia. Hugh began to feel like a saint, but wished, nevertheless, that Delia would ceMe her com- pliments and give him a chanoe of talking to Eira. He wanted very badly indeed to talk to Eira. "You see," explained Delia, "we were mutu- ally struck with one another as soon as ever we met." "Yes, I remember that," said Hugh. "Tom went away the next morning, but he had to come said Delia happily; "and it happened that when he got back I was just in the most frantio rage possible to imagine, over the way you and pa had dodged off and never told me where you were going. When Tom arrived he found me thrashing the negro porter at the hotel while NJr. Robbina had run for help. I think I had frightened Mr. Rob- bins. I forget what the porter had done," said Delia mroitatively, "but I know be had made me furious, and I just wanted to kill him. So Tom found me thrashing him in the dining. room. Now, you would not have known what to do, and as for papa, he would simply have wondered how much compensation it would cost him." "And what did Mr. Waters do?" asked Hugh. "Why, he took the stick from me and thrashed me," said Delia, wriggling her shoul- ders with a happy sigh, "until the stick broke, and then it was I knew I loved him. And oh, he was so kind afterwards!" "Was he, though?" said Hugh. "But let me understand that every time I hit anyone or threw anything at anyone," Delia continued, "that be would give me twice as much. It is very soothing to feoow that." "I suppose so," agreed Hugh. "I tried it once or twice." Delia. went on, "just to see if he meant it. I found he did," she added thoughtfully. "He seems a man of his word," said Hugh. "Oh, he is," said Delia, beaming at this praise, "and so quick with his hands and such a splendid shot—I miss as often as not and he never does. I feel I have treated you very badly, Hugh, but you see he understands me and you never did.' "That makes a difference, of course," agreed Hugh. "But I wanted to say to yon," Delía. con- tinued, "that I do so hope your life is not utterly blighted." "I'll try not to let it be," Hugh assured her bravely. "Now, there is that nioe girl, Eira Siddle," Delia said, 'why have you sever thought of her, Hugh V- "Why, really, that is rather a, difficult ques- tion to answer," said Hugh. "I declare you are perfectly blind!" cried Delia impatiently "Can't you even eee what a pretty girl she is?—how striking, too, and with such a clever, interesting face. And, Hugh, if nothing else, mere ordinary gratitude for what she did and risked for yóu-" "I'll think about said Hugh. "If I could only bnng you two together," cried Delia, "I should feel my happiness was complete." She wenr forward then to join the other two, and took possession of Eira, sending Waters back to talk to Hugh. Wha4- she had to say, Eira seemed to find very interesting, to judge from the intent way in which she listened to it; and when the next morning Hugh and Kira confessed that the- had become engaged, Delia was as proud as can be well imagined. But for herself there was a troublous moment to be passed through when it should become necessary to inform her father of her mar- riage. it was a shock to the old man—he look- ed, and was, an old man now, with his feeble ways and snow.white hair—but after what he had recently endured he had. no longer the strength to oppose to it the energy of resist- ance he would have shown earlier. Besides, as Delia justly pointed out, the thing was done and could not be undone. Mr. Hetherington objected that he d d not know Mr. Waters, and Mr. Waters observed that this was a mutual difficulty, but that he hoped that now they were relatives they would become better ac- quainted. "As my wife's pa," said Mr. Waters, "I look upon you as my own pa, and I am prepared to show you a filial love a.nd obedience in every single thing that don't matter much." I Mr. Hetherington pointed out that he was himself a rich man, but Mr. Waters, as he un. derstood, was a pauper. Mr. Waters admitted this fact cheerfully, but said he hardly saw how the son-in-law of a reputed millionaire could be called a pauper Mr. Hetherington announced his intention of founding a hospital with his fortune, and Mr Waters cheerfully ad- miited his right to do what he liked with his own. "Only do it on a big scale," he said. T like size—and then when I have made my pile I'll endow if with two dollars for every one of yours. I daresay I could make a dollar or two," he added thoughtfully, "over the contract for putting it up." In the end his new' relative's breezy con-, fidence and superb faith in himself overcame Mr. Hetherington's objections. When he re- turned to Europe, which he did as soon as he was fit to travel, it was with Mr. Waters as his accepted son-in-law; and as his health was still bad, the son-in-law soon became confidential secretary as wel!, in which capacity he showed himself so useful, capable, alert, and enterpris- ing, that Mr. Hetherington asked him to con- tinue in that capacity after their arrival in England. Waters soon made his influence felt throughout the whole business, which began to show itself as alert and enterprising as any of its younger rivals. To-day, Mr. Thomas Waters, junior partner in the firm of Mers. Hetherington and Co., of London, Paris, Benin, New York, Chicago, Ssn Francisco, and Buenos Ayre", ;8 one of the best known I men in the City ,f London. And he is happy at home. where his wife shows him r -oeekly adoring love, which all his indrigenc" of her—for he spoils her as much as the goort American always spoils his wife—never makes in any way exacting. If he can spare her time she is happy, and if he says he is busy she is content to sit a long way away and watch. It is rumoured that she has a temper, but exhibitions of it are now-a-days so rare, one hardly believes the tales told of her past doings. As for Hugh and Eira, they are certainly a good deal less wealthy, but perhaps none the less happy for that. Hugh does not push his affairs with the feverish activity Tom Waters shows, and he and his partner, old Mr. Logan, are content with the sound, steady business, quietly but firmly prosperous, that they have now built up. Hugh feels sometimes as sorry for Tom Waters, rushing from meeting to meeting in the city and only returning home to snatch a, hasty meal before retiring into his study for more work, as Eira often feels for Delia, who, she says, has generallv to content herself with the sight of her husband's coat- tails whisking through a door. On their side, Waters is equally sorry for Hugh, whom he privately considers rather slow. He still has a feeling that Hugh was treated badly, and salved his conscience recent- ly by an offer to amalgamate their two con- cerns, Hugh to be a partner in the joint busi- ness. It was, of course, an exceedingly advan- tageous offer for Hugh, but he guessed the motive that inspired it and declined it with many thanks, though the knowledge that the two firms are in close alliance has often proved useful, possibly to both of them but certainly to the smaller of the two. For the rest, Hugh and Eira have now ft boy and girl. who keep them busy enough; and as Mr. and Mrs. Waters have no children, and as bothtake a great interest in Hugh's two little ones, pr. haps Eira sometimes has dreams concerning the ultimated destination of that huge fortune which Tom Waters gives long nights and laborious days to building up. But these are dreams—dreams such as that past dream of winning from old Mother Nature the intimate secrets she keeps so well guarded; dreams all, whether of wealth or of power or revenge or of terror, like that past dream of an unheard-of doom that long ago threatened her and him who is now her husband; all are dreams together, and in a life that is but a sea of dreams: glad is she to have found a dream so sweet as that of the love which between her and Hugh grows deeper every day. [The End.]



- I How to Destroy the Dandruff…



-------.Y GOLOfN GYMREIG.…