Chapter 28 DARKER YET

Leading Eveena from the room, I hastily dictated every precaution that could diminish the danger to her and others. Velna had run risks that could not well be increased, and on her and on myself must devolve what remained to be done. I sent an ambâ to summon Davilo, gathered the garments that Eveena had thrown off, and removed them to the death-chamber. When the first arrangements were made, and I had paid the fee of Astona, the woman-physician, I passed out into the garden, and Davilo met me at the door of the peristyle. A few words explained all that was necessary. It was still almost dark; and as we stood close by the door, speaking in the low tone partly of sadness, partly of precaution, two figures were dimly discernible just inside, and we caught a few broken words.

You have heard,” said a harsh voice, which seemed to be Astona’s, “there is no doubt now. You have your part to play, and can do it quickly and safely.”

I paid little attention to words whose dangerous significance would at another moment have been plain to me. But Davilo, greatly alarmed, laid his hand upon my arm. As he did so, another voice thrilled me with intensest pain and amazement.

Be quick to bear your message,” Eivé said, in rapid guarded tones. “They have means of vengeance certain and prompt, and they never spare.”

Astona departed without seeing us. Eivé closed the door, and Davilo and I, hastily and unperceived, followed the spy to the gate of the enclosure. Some one waited for her there. What passed we could not hear; but, as we saw Astona and another depart, Davilo spoke imprudently aloud—

She has the secret, and she must die. ‘Nay’ (as I would have expostulated), she is spy, traitress, and assassin, and merits her doom most richly.”

Hist!” said I, “your words may have fallen into other ears;” for I thought that beyond the wall I discerned a crouching figure. If that of a man, however, it was too far off, and dressed in colours too dark, to be clearly seen; and in another instant it had certainly vanished.

Remember,” he urged, “you have heard that one quite as dangerous is under your own roof; and, once more, it is not only your life that is at stake. What you call courage, what seems to us sheer folly, may cost you and others what you value far more than your life. An error of softness now may make your future existence one long and useless remorse.”

Half-an-hour later, having warned the women to their rooms—ordering a variety of disinfecting measures in which Martial science excelled while they were needed there—I opened the door of the death chamber to those who carried in a coffer hollowed out of a dark, exceedingly dense natural stone, and half-filled with a liquid of enormous destructive power. Then I lifted tenderly the lifeless form, laid it on cushions arranged therein, kissed the lips, and closed the coffer. Two of Davilo’s attendants had meantime adjusted the electric machinery. We carried the coffer into the apartment where this worked to heat the stove, to keep the lights burning, to raise, warm, and diffuse the water through the house, and perform many other important household services. Two strong bars of conducting metal were attached to the apparatus, and fitted into two hollows of the coffer. A flash, a certain hissing sound, followed. After a few moments the coffer was opened, and Davilo, carefully gathering a few handfuls of solid white material, something resembling pumice stone in appearance, placed them in a golden chest about twelve inches cube, which was then soldered down by the heat derived from the electric power. Then all infected clothes and the contents of the death chamber were carried out for destruction; while, with a tool adjusted to the machinery, one of the attendants engraved a few characters upon the chest. Whatever the risk, I could not part with every relic of her we had lost; and, after passing them through such chemical purification as Martial science suggested, I took the three long chestnut locks I had preserved. Velna’s quick fingers wove them into plaits, one of which I left with her, one bound around my own neck, and one reserved for Eveena. As soon as the sun had risen, I had despatched a message to the Prince, explaining the danger of infection to which I had been subjected, and asking permission notwithstanding to wait upon him. The emergency was so pressing that neither sorrow nor peril would allow me to neglect an embassy on which the lives of hundreds, and perhaps the safety of his kingdom, might depend. Passing Eivé as I turned towards Eveena’s room, and fevered with intense thirst, I bade her bring me thither a cup of the carcarâ. I need not dwell on the terribly painful moments in which I bound round Eveena’s arm a bracelet prized above all the choicest ornaments she possessed. To calm her agitation and my own by means of the charny, I sought the keys. They were not at my belt, and I asked, “Have I returned them to you?”

Certainly not,” said Eveena, startled. “Can you not find them?”

At this moment Eivé entered the room and presented me with the cup for which I had asked. It struck me with surprise, even at that moment, that Eveena took it from my hand and carried it first to her own lips. Eivé had turned to leave the room; but before she had reached the threshold Eveena had sprung up, placed her foot upon the spring that closed the door, and snatching the test-stone from my watch chain dipped it into the cup. Her face turned white as death, while she held up to my eyes the discoloured disc which proved the presence of the deadliest Martial poison.

Be calm,” she said, as a cry of horror burst from my lips. “The keys!”

You have them,” Eivé said with a gasp, her face still averted.

I took them from Eveena myself,” I answered sternly. “Stand back into that corner, Eivé,” as I opened the door and called sharply the other members of the household. When they entered, unable to stand, I had fallen back upon a chair, and called Eivé to my side. As I laid my hand on her arm she threw herself on the floor, screaming and writhing like a terrified child rather than a woman detected in a crime, the conception and execution of which must have required an evil courage and determination happily seldom possessed by women.

Stand up!” I said. “Lift her, then, Enva and Eiralé. Unfasten the shoulder-clasps and zone.”

As her outer robe dropped, Eivé snatched at an object in its folds, but too late; and the electric keys, which gave access to all my cases, papers, and to the medicine-chest above all, lay glittering on the ground.

That cup Eivé brought to me. Which of you saw her?”

I did,” said Enva quietly, all feelings of malice and curiosity alike awed into silence by the evidence of some terrible, though as yet to them unknown, secret. “She mixed it and brought it hither herself.”

And,” I said, “it contains a poison against which, had I drunk one-half the draught, no antidote could have availed—a poison to which these keys only could have given access.”

Again the test-stone was applied, and again the discoloration testified to the truth of the charge.

You have seen?” I said.

We have seen,” answered Enva, in the same tone of horror, too deep to be other than quiet.

We all left the room, closing the door upon the prisoner. Dismissing the girls to their own chambers, with strict injunctions not to quit them unpermitted, I was left alone with Eveena. We were silent for some minutes, my own heart oppressed with mingled emotions, all intensely painful, but so confused that, while conscious of acute suffering, I scarcely realised anything that had occurred. Eveena, who knelt beside me, though deeply horror-struck, was less surprised and was far less agitated than I. At last, leaning forward with her arms on my knee and looking up in my face, she was about to speak. But the touch and look seemed to break a spell, and, shuddering from head to foot, I burst into tears like those of an hysterical girl. When, with the strongest effort that shame and necessity could prompt, aided by her silent soothing, I had somewhat regained my self-command, Eveena spoke, in the same attitude and with the same look:—

You said once that you could pardon such an attempt. That you should ever forgive at heart cannot be. That punishment should not follow so terrible a crime, even I cannot desire. But for my sake, do not give her up to the doom she has deserved. Do you know” (as I was silent) “what that doom is?”

Death, I suppose.”

Yes!” she said, shuddering, “but death with torture—death on the vivisection-table. Will you, whatever the danger—can you, give up to such a fate, to such hands, one whom your hand has caressed, whose head has rested on your heart?”

It needs not that, Eveena,” I answered; “enough that she is woman. I would face that death myself rather than, for whatever crime, send a woman, above all a young girl, to such an end. I would rather by far slay my worst enemy with my own hand than consign him to a death of torture. But, more than that, my conscience would not permit me to call on the law to punish a household treason, where household authority is so strong and so arbitrary as here. Assassination is the weapon of the oppressed and helpless; and it is not for me so to be judge in my own cause as to pronounce that Eivé has had no provocation.”

Shame upon her!” said Eveena indignantly. “No one under your roof ever had or could have reason to raise a hand, I do not say against your life, but to give you a moment’s pain. I do not ask, I do not wish you to spare her; only I am glad to think you will deal with her yourself—remember she has herself removed all limit to your power—and not by the shameless and merciless hands to which the law would give her.”

We returned to Eveena’s chamber. The scene that followed I cannot bear to recall. Enough that Eivé knew as well as Eveena the law she had broken and the penalty she had incurred; and, petted darling as she had been, she utterly lacked all faith in the tenderness she had known so well, or even in the mercy to which Eveena had confidently appealed. Understanding at last that she was safe from the law, the expression of her gratitude was as vehement as her terror had been intense. But the new phase of passion was not the less repugnant. Not that there was anything strange in the violent revulsion of feeling. Born and trained among a race who fear to forgive, Eivé was familiar by report at least with the merciless vengeance of cowards. Whatever they might have done later, few would have promised mercy in the very moment of escape to an ordinary assassin; and if Eivé understood any aspect of my character, that she could best appreciate was the outraged tenderness which forbade me to look on hers as ordinary guilt. Acutely sensitive to pain and fear, she had both known the better to what terror might prompt the injured, and was the more appalled by the prospect. Her eagerness to accept by anticipation whatever degradation and pain domestic power could inflict, when released by the terrible alternative of legal prosecution from its usual limits, breathed more of doubt and terror than of shame or penitence. But at first it keenly affected me. It was with something akin to a bodily pang that I heard this fragile girl, so easily subdued by such rebuke or menace as her companions would scarcely have affected to fear, now pleading for punishment such as would have quelled the pride and courage of the most high-spirited of her sex. I felt the deepest pity, not so much for the fear with which she still trembled as for the agony of terror she must have previously endured. Eveena averted from her abject supplications a face in which I read much pain, but more of what would have been disgust in a less intensely sympathetic nature. And ere long I saw or felt in Eivé’s manner that which caused me suddenly to dismiss Eveena from the room, as from a presence unfit for her spotless purity and exquisite delicacy. Finding in me no sign of passionate anger, no readiness, but reluctance to visit treason with physical pain, Eivé’s own expression changed. Unable to conceive the feeling that rendered the course she had at first expected simply impossible to me, a nature I had utterly misconceived caught at an idea few women, not experienced in the worst of life’s lessons, would have entertained. The tiny fragile form, the slight limbs whose delicate proportions seemed to me almost those of infancy, their irrepressible quivering plainly revealed by the absence of robe and veil, no man worthy of the name could have beheld without intense compassion. But such a feeling she could not realise. As her features lost the sincerity of overwhelming fear, as the drooping lids failed for one moment to conceal a look of almost assured exultation in the dark eyes, my soul was suddenly and thoroughly revolted. I had forgiven the hand aimed at a heart that never throbbed with a pulse unkind to her. I might have forgotten the treason that requited tenderness and trust by seeking my life; but I could never forget, never recover, that moment’s insight into thoughts that so outraged an affection which, if my conscience belied me not, was absolutely stainless and unselfish.

It cost a strong persistent effort of self-control to address her again. But a confession full and complete my duty to others compelled me to enforce. The story of the next hour I never told or can tell. To one only did I give a confidence that would have rendered explanation natural; and that one was the last to whom I could have spoken on this subject. Enough that the charming infantine simplicity had disguised an elaborate treachery of which I reluctantly learned that human nature is capable. The caressed and caressing child had sold my life, if not her own soul, for the promise of wealth that could purchase nothing I denied her, and of the first place among the women of her world. That promise I soon found had not been warranted, directly or indirectly, by him who alone could at present fulfil it. Needless to relate the details either of the confession or its extortion. Enough that Eivé learnt at last perforce that though I had, as it seemed to her, been fool enough to spare her the vengeance of the law, and to spare her still as far as possible, her power to fool me further was gone for ever. Needless to speak of the lies repeated and sustained, till truth was wrung from quivering lips and sobbing voice; of the looks that appealed long and incredulously to a love as utterly forfeited as misunderstood. To the last Eivé could not comprehend the nature that, having spared her so much, would not spare wholly; the mercy felt for the weakness, not for the charms of youth and sex. Shamed, grieved, wounded to the quick, I quitted the presence of one who, I fear, was as little worth the anguish I then endured for her, as the tenderness she had so long betrayed; and left the late darling of my house a prisoner under strict guard, necessary for the safety of others than ourselves.

Finding a message awaiting me, I sought at once the interview which the Sovereign fearlessly granted.

I see,” said the Prince with much feeling, as he received my salute, “that you have gone through deeper pain than such domestic losses can well cause to us. I am sorry that you are grieved. I can say no more, and perhaps the less I say the less pain I shall give. Only permit me this remark. Since I have known you, it has seemed to me that the utter distinction between our character and yours, showing as it does at so many points, springs from some single root-difference. We, so careful of our own life and comfort, care little for those of others. We, so afraid of pain, are indifferent to its infliction, unless we have to witness it, and only some of us flinch from the sight. The softness of heart you show in this trouble seems in some strange way associated with the strength of heart which you have proved in dangers, the least of which none of us would have encountered willingly, and which, forced on us, would have unnerved us all. I am glad to prove to you that to some extent I depart from my national character and approach, however, distantly, to yours. I can feel for a friend’s sorrow, and I can face what you seem to consider a real danger. But you had a purpose in asking this audience. My ears are open—your lips are unsealed.”

Prince,” I replied, “what you have said opens the way to that I wished to ask. You say truly that courage and tenderness have a common root, as have the unmanly softness and equally unmanly hardness common among your subjects. Those for whom death ends all utterly and for ever will of necessity, at least as soon as the training of years and of generations has rendered their thought consistent, dread death with intensest fear, and love to brighten and sweeten life with every possible enjoyment. Animal enjoyment becomes the most precious, since it is the keenest. Higher pleasures lose half their value, when the distinction between the two is reduced to the distinction between the sensations of higher and lower nerve centres. Thus men care too much for themselves to care for others; and after all, strong deep affection, entwined with the heartstrings, can only torture and tear the hearts for which death is a final parting. Such love as I have felt for woman—even such love as I felt for her, your gift, whom I have lost—would be pain intolerable if the thought were ever present that one day we must, and any day we might, part for ever. I put the knife against my breast, my life in your hand, when I say this, and I ask of you no secrecy, no favour for myself; but that, as I trust you, you will guard the life that is dearest to me if you take from me the power to guard it… . There are those among your subjects who are not the cowards you find around your throne, who are not brutal in their households, not incapable of tenderness and sacrifice for others.”

As I spoke I carefully watched the Prince’s face, on which no shade of displeasure was visible; rather the sentiment of one who is somewhat gratified to hear a perplexing problem solved in a manner agreeable to his wishes.

And the reason is,” I continued, “that these men and women believe or know that they are answerable to an eternal Sovereign mightier than yourself, and that they will reap, not perhaps here, but after death as they shall have sown; that if they do not forfeit the promise by their own deed, they shall rejoin hereafter those dearest to them here.”

There are such?” he said. “I would they were known to me. I had not dreamed that there were in my realm men who would screen the heart of another with their own palm.”

Prince,” I replied earnestly, “I as their ambassador as one of their leaders, appeal to you to know and to protect them. They can defend themselves at need, and, it may be, might prevail though matched one against a thousand. For their weapons are those against which no distance, no defences, no numbers afford protection. But in such a strife many of their lives must be lost, and infinite suffering and havoc wrought on foes they would willingly spare. They are threatened with extermination by secret spite or open force; but open force will be the last resort of enemies well aware that those who strike at the Star have ever been smitten by the lightning.”

A slight change in his countenance satisfied me that the Emblem was not unknown to him.

You say,” he replied, “that there is an organised scheme to destroy these people by force or fraud?”

The scheme, Prince, was confessed in my own hearing by one of its instruments; and in proof thereof, my own life, as a Chief of the Order, was attempted this morning.”

The Prince sprang to his feet in all the passion of a man who for the first time receives a personal insult; of an Autocrat stung to the quick by an unprecedented outrage to his authority and dignity.

Who has dared?” he said. “Who has taken on himself to make law, or form plans for carrying out old law, without my leave? Who has dared to strike at the life over which I have cast the shadow of my throne? Give me their names, my guest, and, before the evening mist closes in to-morrow, pronounce their doom.”

I cannot obey your royal command. I have no proof against the only man who, to my knowledge, can desire my death. Those who actually and immediately aimed at my life are shielded by the inviolable weakness of sex from the revenge and even the justice of manhood.”

Each man,” returned the Prince, but partially conceiving my meaning, “is master at home. I wish I were satisfied that your heart will let you deal justly and wisely with the most hateful offspring of the most hateful of living races—a woman who betrays the life of her lord. But those who planned a general scheme of destruction—a purpose of public policy—without my knowledge, must aim also at my life and throne; for even were their purpose such as I approved, attempted without my permission, they know I would never pardon the presumption. I do not sit in Council with dull ears, or silent lips, or empty hands; and it is not for the highest more than for the lowest under me to snatch my sceptre for a moment.”

Guard then your own,” I said. “Without your leave and in your lifetime, open force will scarcely he used against us; and if against secret murder or outrage we appeal to the law, you will see that the law does justice?”

I will,” he replied; “and I pardon your advice to guard my own, because you judge me by my people. But a Prince’s life is the charge of his guards; the lives of his people are his care.”

He was silent for a few minutes, evidently in deep reflection.

I thank you,” he said at last, “and I give you one warning in partial return for yours. There is a law which can be used against the members of a secret society with terrible effect. Not only are they exposed to death if detected, but those who strike them are legally exempt from punishment. I will care that that law shall not menace you long. Whilst it remains guard yourselves; I am powerless to break it.”

As I quitted the Palace, Ergimo joined me and mounted my carriage. Seizing a moment when none were within sight or hearing, he said—

Astona was found two hours ago dead, as an enemy or a traitor dies. She was seen to fall from the roof of her house, and none was near her when she fell. But Davilo has already been arrested as her murderer, on the ground that he was heard before sunrise this morning to say that she must die.”

Who heard that must have heard more. Let this news be quickly known to whom it concerns.”

I checked the carriage instantly, and turned into a road that conducted us in ten minutes to a public telegraph office.

Come with me,” I said, “quickly. As an officer of the Camptâ your presence may ensure the delivery of letters which might otherwise be stopped.”

He seized the hint at once, and as we approached a vacant desk he said to the nearest officer, “In the Camptâ’s name;” a form which ensured that the most audacious and curious spy, backed by the highest authority save that invoked, dared neither stop nor search into a message so warranted. Before I left the desk every Chief of the Zinta at his several post had received, through that strange symbolic language of which I have already given samples, from me advice of what had occurred and from Esmo warning to meet at an appointed place and time.

The day at whose close we should meet was that of Davilo’s trial. I mingled with the crowd around the Court doors, a crowd manifesting bitter hostility to the prisoner and to the Order, of whose secrets a revelation was eagerly expected. Easily forcing my way through the mass, I felt on a sudden a touch, a sign; and turning my eyes saw a face I had surely never looked on before. Yet the sign could only have been given by a colleague. That which followed implied the presence of the Signet itself.

I told you,” whispered a voice I knew well, “how completely we can change even countenance at will.”

It was so; but though acquainted with the process, I had never believed that the change could be so absolute. By help of my strength and height, still more perhaps by the subtle influence of his own powerful will acting none the less imperiously on minds unconscious of its influence, Esmo made his way with me into the Court.

Around five sides of the hexagon were seats, tier above tier, appropriated to the public who wish to see as well as hear. The phonograph reported every word uttered to hundreds of distant offices. Against the sixth side were placed the seats of the seven judges; in front, at an equal elevation, the chair of the prisoner, the seats of the advocates on right and left, and the place from which each witness must deliver his testimony in full view and within easy hearing both of the bench, the bar, and the audience. Davilo sat in his chair unguarded, but in an attitude strangely constrained and motionless. Only his bright eyes moved freely, and his head turned a little from side to side. He recognised us instantly, and his look expressed no trace of fear.

The quârry” whispered Esmo, observing my perplexity.

It paralyses the nerves of motion, leaving those of sensation active; and is administered to a prisoner on the instant of his arrest, so as to keep him absolutely helpless till his sentence is executed, or till on his acquittal an antidote is administered.”

The counsel for the prosecution stated in the briefest possible words the story of Astona, from the moment when she left my house to that at which she was found dead, and the method of her death; related Davilo’s words, and then proceeded to call his witnesses. Of course the one vital question was whether by possibility Davilo, who had never left my premises since the words were uttered, could have brought about a death, evidently accidental in its immediate cause, at a distance of many miles. His words were attested by one whom I recognised as an officer of Endo Zamptâ, and I was called to confirm or contradict them. The presiding judge, as I took my place, read a brief telling terrible menace, expounding the legal penalties of perjury.

You will speak the truth,” he said, “or you know the consequences.”

As he spoke, he encountered Esmo’s eyes, and quailed under the gaze, sinking back into his seat motionless as the bird under the alleged fascination of the serpent. I admitted that the words in question had been addressed to me; and I proved that Davilo had been busily engaged with me from that moment until an hour later than that of the fatal accident. There being thus no dispute as to the facts, a keen contest of argument proceeded between the advocates on either side. The defenders of the prisoner ridiculed with an affectation of scientific contempt—none the less effective because the chief pleader was himself an experienced member of our Order—the idea that the actions or fate of a person at a distance could be affected by the mere will of another; and related, as absurd and incredible traditions of old to this purport, some anecdotes which had been communicated to me as among the best attested and most striking examples of the historical exercise of the mystic powers. The able and bigoted sceptics, who prosecuted this day in the interests of science, insisted, with equal inconsistency and equal skill, on the innumerable recorded and attested instances of some diabolical power possessed by certain supposed members of a detested and malignant sect. A year ago the judges would probably have sided unanimously with the former. But the feeling that animated the conspiracy, if it should be so called, against the Zinta, had penetrated all Martial society; and in order to destroy the votaries of religion, Science, in the persons of her most distinguished students, was this day ready to abjure her character, and forswear her most cherished tenets. As has often happened in Mars, and may one day happen on Earth as the new ideas come into greater force, proven fact was deliberately set against logical impossibility; and for once—what probably had not happened in Mars for ten thousand years—proven fact and common sense carried the day against science and “universal experience;” but, unhappily, against the prisoner. After retiring separately for about an hour, the Judges returned. Their brief and very confused decisions were read by the Secretary. The reasons were seldom intelligible, each contradicting himself and all his colleagues, and not one among the judgments having even the appearance of cohesion and consistency. But, by six to one, they doomed the prisoner to the vivisection-table. As he was carried forth his eyes met ours, and the perfect calm and steadiness of their glance astounded me not a little.

My natural thought prompted, of course, an appeal to the mercy of the Throne. In every State a power of giving effect in the law’s despite to public policy, or of commanding that, in certain strange and unforeseen circumstances, common sense and practical justice shall override a sentence which no court bound by the letter of the law can withhold, must rest with the Sovereign. But in Mars the prerogative of mercy, in the proper sense of the word—judicial rather than political mercy—is exercised less by the Prince himself than by a small council of judges advising him and pronouncing their decision in his name. Even if we could have relied on the Camptâ with absolute confidence, there were many reasons against an appeal which would, in fact, have asked him to declare himself on our side. While such a declaration might, in the existing state of public feeling, have caused revolt or riot, it would have put on their guard, perhaps driven to a premature attempt which he was not prepared to meet, the traitors whose scheme against his life the Prince felt confident that he should speedily detect and punish.

All these considerations were brought before our Council, whose debate was brief but not hurried or excited. The supreme calm of Esmo’s demeanour communicated itself to all the eleven, in not one of whom could I recognise till they spoke my colleagues of our last Council. The order went forth that a party should attend Esmo’s orders at a point about half a mile distant from the studio in which, for the benefit of a great medical school, my unhappy friend was to be put to torture indescribable.

Happily,” said Esmo, “the first portion of the experiment will be made by the Vivisector-General alone, and will commence at midnight. Half an hour before that time our party will be assembled.”

I had insisted on being one of the band, and Esmo had very reluctantly yielded to the unanimous approval of colleagues who thought that on this occasion physical strength might render essential service at some unforeseen crisis. Moreover, the place lying within my geographical province, several of those engaged looked up to me as their immediate chief, and it was thought well to place me on such an occasion at their head.

The night was, as had been predicted, absolutely dark, but the roads were brilliantly lighted. Suddenly, however, as we drew towards the point of meeting, the lights went out, an accident unprecedented in Martial administration.

But they will be relighted!” said one of my companions.

Can human skill relight the lamps that the power of the Star has extinguished?” was the reply of another.

We fell in military order, with perfect discipline and steadiness, under the influence of Esmo’s silent will and scarcely discernible gestures. The wing of the college in which the dissection was to take place was guarded by some forty sentinels, armed with the spear and lightning gun. But as we came close to them, I observed that each stood motionless as a statue, with eyes open, but utterly devoid of sight.

I have been here before you,” murmured Esmo. “To the left.”

The door gave way at once before the touch of some electric instrument or immaterial power wielded by his hand. We passed in, guided by him, through one or two chambers, and along a passage, at the end of which a light shone through a crystal door. Here proof of Esmo’s superior judgment was afforded. He would fain have had the party much smaller than it was, and composed exclusively of the very few old and experienced members of the Zinta within reach at the moment. We were nearly a score in number, some even more inexperienced than myself, half the party my own immediate followers; and I remembered far better the feelings of a friend and a soldier than the lessons of the college or the Shrine. As the door opened, and we caught sight of our friend stretched on the vivisection table, the younger of the company, hurried on by my own example, lost their heads and got, so to speak, out of hand. We rushed tumultuously forward and fell on the Vivisector and two assistants, who stood motionless and perhaps unconscious, but with glittering knives just ready for their fiendish work. Before Esmo could interpose, these executioners were cut down with the “crimson blade” (cold steel); and we bore off our friend with more of eagerness and triumph than at all befitted our own consciousness of power, or suited the temper of our Chief.

Never did Esmo speak so sharply or severely as in the brief reprimand he gave us when we reassembled; the justice of which. I instinctively acknowledged, as he ceased, by the salute I had given so often at the close of less impressive and less richly deserved reprimands on the parade ground or the march. Uninjured, and speedily relieved from the effects of the quârry, Davilo was carried off to a place of temporary concealment, and we dispersed.

Eveena heard my story with more annoyance than interest, mortified not a little by the reproof I had drawn upon myself and my followers; and, despite her reluctance to seem to acknowledge a fault in me, apparently afraid that a similar ebullition of feeling might on some future occasion lead to serious disaster.