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The weapons of mystery


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Title:WeaponsofMystery
Author:JosephHocking
ReleaseDate:August10,2004[EBook#13158]
Language:English
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POPULARNOVELS
BY
JOSEPHHOCKING

*****

THESTORYOFANDREWFAIRFAX
JABEZEASTERBROOK
ALLMENARELIARS
FIELDSOFFAIRRENOWN
WEAPONSOFMYSTERY
THEPURPLEROBE
THESCARLETWOMAN
THEBIRTHRIGHT
MISTRESSNANCYMOLESWORTH
LESTWEFORGET
GREATERLOVE
THECOMINGOFTHEKING


ROGERTREWINION
THEPRINCEOFTHISWORLD
GODANDMAMMON
ANENEMYHATHDONETHIS
THERINGOFDESTINY
HEARTSEASE
THETENANTOFCROMLECHCOTTAGE
NANCYTREVANION'SLEGACY
THESIGNOFTHETRIANGLE

TheWeaponsofMystery
byJosephHocking
AUTHOROF"ALLMENARELIARS","THEPURPLEROBE","THESCARLETWOMAN",
ETC.

WARD.LOCK&CO.,LIMITED
LONDONANDMELBOURNEMadeandPrintedinGreatBritainbyWard,
Lock&Co.,Limited,London.
1890

CONTENTS


Chap.
I.INTRODUCESTHEWRITERANDOTHERS
II.CHRISTMASEVE


III.CHRISTMASMORNING
IV.VOLTAIRE'SSTORYOFTHEEAST
V.CHRISTMASNIGHT—THEFORGINGOFTHECHAIN
VI.AFTERWARDS
VII.DREARWATERPOND
VIII.DARKNESSANDLIGHT
IX.THEHALLGHOST
X.THECOMINGOFTHENIGHT
XI.DARKDREAMSANDNIGHTSHADOWS
XII.AMIDNIGHTCONFERENCE
XIII.AMESMERIST'SSPELL
XIV.GOD
XV.BEGINNINGTOSEARCH
XVI.STRUGGLINGFORVICTORY
XVII.USINGTHEENEMY'SWEAPONS
XVIII.NEARINGTHEEND
XIX.THESECONDCHRISTMASEVE


CHAPTERI
INTRODUCESTHEWRITERANDOTHERS

MystorybeginsonthemorningofDecember18,18—,whilesittingat
breakfast.LetitbeunderstoodbeforewegofurtherthatIwasabachelorliving
inlodgings.IhadbeenleftanorphanjustbeforeIcameofage,andwasthus
castupontheworldatatimewhenitisextremelydangerousforyoungmento
bealone.Especiallywasitsoinmycase,owingtothefactthatattwenty-oneI
inheritedaconsiderablefortune.Onethingsavedmefromruin,viz.apassionate
loveforliterature,whichledmetomakeitmyprofession.Ihadatthetimeof
mystorybeenfollowingthebentofmyinclinationsfortwoyearswithafair
amountofsuccess,andwasregardedbythosewhoknewmeasaluckyfellow.
ThatisallIthinkIneedsayconcerningmyselfpriortothetimewhenmystory
opens,excepttotellmyname;butthatwilldropoutverysoon.Ihadnotmade
verygreatinroadsintotheomelettemylandladyhadpreparedformewhenI
heardthepostman'sknock,andsoonafteraservantenteredwithaletter.One
only.Ihadexpectedatleasthalf-a-dozen,butonlyonelayonthetraybeforeme.
"Areyousurethisisall,Jane?"Iasked.
"Quitesure,sir,"saidJane,smiling,andthenwithacurtseyshetookherleave.
Theenvelopewasaddressedinaboldhand-writingto—
JustinM.Blake,Esq.,GowerStreet,London,W.
"SurelyIknowthewriting,"Imused,andthenbegantolookatthepostmarksas
ifaletterweresomethingofveryuncommonoccurrence.Icouldmakenothing
oftheillegiblesmearinthecorner,however,andsoopenedit,andreadas


follows:—
DearoldJustinMartyr,
Isupposeyouhaveaboutforgottenyouroldschoolfellow,TomTemple,andit's
naturalyoushould;buthehasnotforgottenyou.Yousee,youhaverisento
fame,andIhaveremainedinobscurity.Ahwell,suchisthefateofthat
communitycalled'countrygentlemen.'ButthisisnotwhatIwanttowriteabout,
andIamgoingstraighttotherealobjectofthisletter.
We—thatis,mother,thegirls,andmyself—arecontemplatingarealjolly
Christmas.WeareinvitingafewfriendstospendChristmasandNewYearwith
us,andwewishyoutomakeoneofthenumber.Willyoucomeandspenda
fortnightorsoatTempleHall?Ofcourseitisratherquiethere,butwearegoing
todoourbesttomakeitmorelivelythanusual.Theweatherlooksfrosty,and
thatpromisesskating.Wehaveafewgoodhorses,sothatwecanhavesome
ridesacrossthecountry.Thereisalsoplentyofshooting,hunting,etc.,etc.
Altogether,ifyouwillcomeandhelpus;wecanpromiseafairlygoodbillof
fare.Whatdoyousay?Youmustexcusemeforwritinginthisunconventional
strain,butIcan'twriteotherwisetomyoldschoolfellow.
Weshallallbereallydisappointedifyousay'no,'sowriteatonceandtellusyou
willcome,alsowhenwemayexpectyou.Allthenewswhenwemeet.
Yoursincerefriend,
TomTemple.
P.S.—ImightsaythatmostoftheguestswillarriveonChristmasEve.
"Justtheverything,"Iexclaimed."Ihadbeenwonderingwhattodoandwhere
togothisChristmastime,andthisinvitationcomesinsplendidly."
TomTemplelivedinYorkshire,atafineoldcountryhousesomedistancefrom
themetropolisofthatcounty,andwasareallygoodfellow.Asforhismother
andsisters,Iknewbutlittleaboutthem,butIjudgedfromthelettershismother
wrotehimwhenatschool,thatshemustbeatrue,kind-hearted,motherly
woman.


Iaccordinglyturnedtomydesk,wrotetoTom,tellinghimtoexpectmeonthe
24thinst.,andthen,withoutfinishingmybreakfast,endeavouredtogoonwith
mywork.Itwasverydifficult,however.Mythoughtswereeverrunningawayto
Yorkshire,andonthepleasanttimeIhopedtospend.Betweenthelinesonmy
paperIwaseverseeingtheoldbaronialhallthatwasTomTemple'shome,and
thepeoplewhohadbeeninvitedtospendthefestiveseasonthere.PresentlyI
begantochidemyselfformyfoolishness.Whyshouldthethoughtsofa
Christmasholidaysounfitme,astaidoldbachelorofthirty,formyusualwork?
Neverthelessitdid,soIputonmyovercoat,andwentawayinthedirectionof
HydeParkinorder,ifpossible,todispelmyfancies.Ididdispelthem,and
shortlyafterwardsreturnedtomylodgings,anddidagoodmorning'swork.
Nothingofimportancehappenedbetweenthe18thandthe24th,andearlyinthe
afternoonofthelatterdateIfoundmywaytoSt.PancrasStation,andbooked
forthestationnearestTomTemple'shome.AlthoughitwasChristmasEve,I
foundanemptyfirst-classcarriage,andsooncomfortablyensconcedmyself
therein.Idon'tknowwhy,butweEnglishpeoplegenerallytrytogetanempty
carriage,andfeelannoyedwhensomeonecomesintoshareourpossession.I,
liketherestofmycountrymenareapttodoinsuchacase,begantohopeI
mightretaintheentireuseofthecarriage,atleasttoLeeds,whenthedoor
opened,andaporterbroughtanumberofwrapsandshawls,evidentlythe
propertyofalady.
"Botherit!"Imentallyexclaimed,"andsoIsupposeIamtohavesomefidgety
oldwomenformytravellingcompanions."
ThereaderwillimaginefromthisthatIwasnotalady'sman.Atanyrate,such
wasthecase.Ihadlivedmythirtyyearswithouteverbeinginlove;indeed,I
hadfromprincipleavoidedthesocietyofladies,thatis,whentheywereofthe
flirtableormarriageablekind.
Nosoonerhadtheporterlaidthearticlesmentionedonacornerseat,theone
farthestawayfromme,thantheirownerentered,andmyirritationvanished.It
wasayoungladyundertheordinarysize,and,fromwhatIcouldseeofher,
possessedofmorethanordinarybeauty.Herskinwasdarkandclear,hereyes
verydark,hermouthpleasantyetdecided,herchinsquareanddetermined.This
latterfeaturewouldintheeyesofmanydestroyherpretensionstobeauty,butI,
wholikedpersonswithawilloftheirown,admiredthefirmresolutenessthe
featureindicated.


Shetooknonoticeofme,butquietlyarrangedherbelongingsasifshewere
accustomedtotakecareofherself.Shehadonlyjustsatdown,whenshewas
followedbyanotherlady,whoappeared,fromthesignofrecognitionthatpassed
betweenthem,anacquaintance.
Evidently,however,theyoungerladywasnotdelightedattheadventofthe
elder.Alookofannoyancesweptacrossherface,asifshecouldhavevery
comfortablyexcusedherpresence.Ididnotwonderatit.Thissecondcomerwas
awomanofaboutfifty-fiveyearsofage.Shehadyellowwrinkledskin,asquare
uprightforehead,shaggygreyeyebrows,beneathwhich,intwocavernous
sockets,weretwoblackbeady-lookingeyes.Hermouthwaslargeandcoarse,
and,tomakethatfeaturestillmoreobjectionable,twolargeteeth,liketwofangs,
stuckoutataconsiderableanglefromherupperjawandrestedonthelowerlip.
Altogetherthefacewasrepulsive.Addedtothis,shewastallandbony,and
wouldhavepassedanywhereforoneofthewitchesofoldentime.
"Ihavealteredmymind,Gertrude,andamgoingwithyou."Thiswassaidina
harsh,thickvoice.
"Iseeyouarehere,MissStaggles,"saidtheyoungerladyverycoolly.
"Ididnotintendcomingatfirst,butyouraunt,poorsillything,saidyouwould
nottakeyourmaidwithyou,andsoIthoughtitwouldbeasinforayounggirl
likeyoutotravelalonetoYorkshireonadaylikethis."
"Yorkshire?"Ithought."Isthatoldwomantobeinthiscarriagewithmeforfive
orsixlonghours?I'llgetout."
Iwastoolate;atthatmomenttheguard'swhistleblew,andthetrainmoved
slowlyoutofthestation.Atallevents,Ihadtoremainuntilthetrainstopped,so
IcomposedmyselfaswellasIcould,andresolvedtomakethebestofit.
Neitherofthempaidtheslightestattentiontome.Theelderladysatboltupright
oppositetheyounger,andbegantoharangueher.
"Don'tyouknowitwasveryfoolishofyoutothinkofcomingalone?"
"No,"saidtheyoungerlady;"I'mtiredofhavingamaiddoggingmyevery
footstep,asifIwereachildandunabletodoformyself."
"Nevertheless,Gertrude,youshouldhavebroughther;noyoungladyshould


travelalone.However,youwillhaveachaperon,sothedeficiencywillbemore
thanremedied;"andtherewasgrimsatisfactioninthewoman'svoice.
Therewasnosatisfactionintheyounglady'sface,however,andsheturnedwith
whatIthoughtanangrylooktowardsthescrawnyduenna,whohadclaimed
guardianshipoverher,andsaid——
"But,MissStaggles,youareinafalseposition.Youhavereceivedno
invitation."
"No,Ihavenot;butyouraunthadone,poorsillycreature,andso,forduty's
sake,Iambreakingtherulesofetiquette.Thosefinepeopleyouareaboutto
visitdidnotthinkitworththeirwhiletoinviteyouraunt'slatehusband'sstepsister—perhapsbecausesheispoor;butshehasasoulaboveformalities,andso
determinedtocomeandtakecareofherniece."
Theyoungladymadenoreply.
"Youwillbethankful,GertrudeForrest,somedaythatIdocareforyou,"Miss
Stagglescontinued,"althoughIneverexpecttogetanyrewardformykindness."
Bythistimethetrainwasgoingrapidly,andsoloudwastheroaritmadethatI
heardonlythegrowlingofMissStaggles'voicewithoutdistinguishingany
words.Indeed,IwasverygladIcouldnot.Itwasbynomeanspleasanttohave
tositandlistentoherhoarsevoice,soIpulleddownthelapsofmytravelling
capovermyearsand,closingmyeyes,begantothinkwhoGertrudeForrest
was,andwhereshewasgoing.
IdidnotchangecarriagesasIintended.MissStagglesgottiredafterawhile,and
sotherewasreliefinthatquarter,whilemyseatwasmostcomfortable,andIdid
notwanttobedisturbed.Hourafterhourpassedby,untilnightcameon;thenthe
windblewcolder,andIbegantowonderhowsoonthejourneywouldend,when
thecollectorcametotakealltheticketsfromtheLeedspassengers.Shortlyafter
wearrivedattheMidlandstation,forwhichIwastrulythankful.Ididnotwait
therelong;atrainstoodatanotherplatform,whichstoppedatastationsometwo
milesfromTomTemple'shome.Bythistimetherewaseveryevidenceofthe
holidayseason.Thetrainwascrowded,andIwasgladtogetinatall,unmindful
ofcomfort.
WhathadbecomeofmytwotravellingcompanionsIwasnotaware,but


concludedthattheywouldbestayingatLeeds,astheyhadgivenuptheirtickets
atthecollectingstation.Icannotbutadmit,however,thatIwassomewhat
anxiousastothedestinationofGertrudeForrest,forcertainlyshehadmadean
impressionuponmeIwasnotlikelytoforget.StillIgaveuptheideaofever
seeingheragain,andtriedtothinkofthevisitIwasabouttopay.
Arrivedatthestation,IsawTomTemple,whogavemeaheartywelcome,after
whichhesaid,"Justin,myboy,doyouwanttobeintroducedtosomeladiesat
present?"
"Athousandtimesno,"Ireplied."Let'swaittillwegettoTemple
Hall."
"Then,inthatcase,youwillhavetogohomeinacab.Iretainedoneforyou,
knowingyourdisliketothefairsex;for,ofcourse,theywillhavetogointhe
carriage,andImustgowiththem.Stay,though.I'llgoandspeaktothem,and
getthemallsafeinthecarriage,andthen,astherewillbebarelyroomforme,
I'llcomebackandridehomewithyou."
Herushedawayashespoke,andinafewminutescamebackagain."Iamsorry
thoseladieshadtobemaderatheruncomfortable,butguestshavebeenarriving
alltheday,andthusthingsareabitupset.Therearefivepeopleinyoncarriage;
threecamefromthenorth,andtwofromthesouth.Thenortherntrainhasbeen
innearlyhalf-an-hour,sothethreehadtowaitforthetwo.Well,IthinkI've
madethemcomfortable,soIdon'tmindsomuch."
"You'reacapitalhost,Tom,"Isaid.
"AmI,Justin?Well,IhopeIamtoyou,forIhavebeenreallylongingforyouto
come,andIwantyoutohaveajollytime."
"I'msureIshall,"Ireplied.
"Well,Ihopeso;onlyyoudon'tcareforladies'society,andI'mafraidIshall
havetobeawayfromyouagoodbit."
"Naturallyyouwill,oldfellow.Yousee,youaremasterofthehall,andwillhave
tolookafterthecomfortofalltheguests."
"Oh,astothat,motherwilldoallthat'snecessary;butI—thatis—"andTom


stopped.
"Anyparticularguest,Tom?"Iasked.
"Yes,thereis,Justin.Idon'tmindtellingyou,butI'minlove,andIwanttosettle
thematterthisChristmas.She'sanangelofagirl,andI'minhopesthat—Well,I
don'tbelieveshehatesme."
"Good,Tom.Andhername?"
"Hername,"saidTomslowly,"isEdithGray."
Igaveasighofrelief.Icouldnothelpit—whyIcouldnottell;andyetI
trembledlestheshouldmentionanothername.
WereachedTempleHallinduetime,whereIwaskindlywelcomedbyMrs.
Templeandhertwodaughters.TheformerwasjustthekindofladyIhad
picturedher,whilethedaughtersgavepromiseoffollowinginthefootstepsof
theirkind-heartedmother.
Tomtookmetomyroom,andthen,lookingathiswatch,said,"Makehaste,old
fellow.Dinnerhasbeenpostponedonaccountofyoulatearrivals,butitwillbe
readyinhalf-an-hour."
Iwasnotlongovermytoilet,andsoonafterhearingthefirstdinnerbellI
wendedmywaytothedrawing-room,wonderingwhoandwhatkindofpeopleI
shouldmeet,butwasnotpreparedforthesurprisesthatawaitedme.


CHAPTERII
CHRISTMASEVE

JustbeforeIreachedthedrawing-roomdoor,Mrs.Templecameupandtookme
bythearm.
"Weareallgoingtobeveryunceremonious,Mr.Blake,"shesaid,"andIshall
expectmyson'sfriendtomakehimselfperfectlyathome."
Ithankedherheartily,forIbegantofeelalittlestrange.
Weenteredthedrawing-roomtogether,whereIfoundanumberofpeoplehad
gathered.Theyweremostlyyoung,althoughIsawoneortwoancient-looking
dames,who,Isupposed,hadcometotakecareoftheirdaughters.
"Iamgoingtointroduceyoutoeverybody,"continuedtheoldlady,"forthisisto
beafamilygathering,andwemustallknoweachother.IknowImaynotbe
actingaccordingtothepresentusagesofsociety,butthatdoesnottroublemea
littlebit."
Accordingly,withtheutmostgoodtaste,sheintroducedmetoanumberofthe
peoplewhohadbeeninvited.
Ineedmakenospecialmentionofmostofthem.Someoftheyoungladies
simpered,otherswerefrank,somewerefairlygoodlooking,whileotherswere
otherwise,andthatisaboutallthatcouldbesaid.Nonehadsufficient
individualitytomakeadistinctimpressionuponme.Theyoungmenwereabout
onaparwiththeyoungladies.Somelispedandwereaffected,somewere
naturalandmanly;andIbegantothinkthat,asfarasthepeoplewereconcerned,
theChristmasgatheringwouldbeasomewhattameaffair.


Thisthoughthadscarcelyenteredmymindwhentwomenenteredtheroom,
whowerecertainlynotoftheordinarytype,andwillneedafewwordsof
description;forbothweredestined,asmystorywillshow,tohaveconsiderable
influenceovermylife.
Iwilltrytodescribethemorestrikingofthetwofirst.
Hewasayoungman.Notmorethanthirty-five.Hewasfairlytall,wellbuilt,
andhadevidentlyenjoyedtheeducationandadvantagesofamanofwealth.His
hairwasblackastheraven'swings,andwasbrushedinaheavymass
horizontallyacrosshisforehead.Hiseyeswereofacolourthatdidnotaccord
withhisblackhairandswarthycomplexion.Theywereofanextremelylight
grey,andweretintedwithakindofgreen.Theywereplacedveryclosetogether,
and,thebridgeofthenosebeingnarrow,theyappearedsometimesasifonlyone
eyelookeduponyou.Themouthwaswellcut,thelipsratherthin,whichoften
parted,revealingasetofpearlywhiteteeth.Therewassomethingpositively
fascinatingaboutthemouth,andyetitbetrayedmalignity—cruelty.Hewas
perfectlyself-possessed,stoodstraight,andhadasoldier-likebearing.I
instinctivelyfeltthatthiswasamanofpower,onewhowouldendeavourto
makehiswilllaw.Hismovementswereperfectlygraceful,andfromtheflutter
amongtheyoungladieswhenheentered,Ijudgedhehadalreadyspentsome
littletimewiththem,andmadenoslightimpression.
Hiscompanionwasmuchsmaller,andevendarkerthanhewas.Hisevery
featureindicatedthathewasnotanEnglishman.Withsmallwirylimbs,black,
restless,furtiveeyes,rustyblackhair,andasomewhatunhealthycolourinhis
face,heformedagreatcontrasttothemanIhavejusttriedtodescribe.Ididnot
likehim.Heseemedtocarryahundredsecretsaroundwithhim,andeachonea
deadlyweaponhewouldsomedayuseagainstanywhomightoffendhim.He,
too,gaveyoutheideaofpower,butitwasthepowerofasubordinate.
InstinctivelyIfeltthatIshouldhavemoretodowiththesementhanwiththe
restofthecompanypresent.
AlthoughIhaveusedapageofgoodpaperindescribingthem,Iwasonlyavery
fewsecondsinseeingandrealizingwhatIhavewritten.
Bothwalkeduptous,andbothsmiledonMrs.Temple,whereuponshe
introducedthem.Thefirsthadapeculiarname;atleast,soitseemedtome.


"Mr.HerodVoltaire—Mr.JustinBlake,"shesaid;andinstantlywewerelooking
intoeachother'seyes,Ifeelingastrangekindofshiverpassthroughme.
ThenameofthesmallermanwassimplythatofanEgyptian,"AbaWady
Kaffar."TheguestscalledhimMr.Kaffar,andthusmadeitasmuch
Englishaspossible.
Scarcelyhadtheformalitiesofintroductionbeengonethroughbetweenthe
Egyptianandmyself,whenmyeyesweredrawntothedoor,whichwasagain
opening.DowhatIwouldIcouldnotrepressastart,for,tomysurprise,Isaw
mytravellingcompanionsenterwithMissTemple—GertrudeForrestlooking
morecharmingandmorebeautifulthanever,andbesideherMissStaggles,tall,
gaunt,andmoreforbiddingthanwhenintherailwaycarriage.
Itisnousedenyingthefact,formysecretmustsoonerorlaterdropout.My
heartbegantothrobwildly,whilemybrainseemedonfire.Ibegantopicture
myselfinconversationwithher,andbecomingacquaintedwithher,whenI
accidentallylookedatHerodVoltaire.HiseyeswerefixedonMissForrest,asif
heldbyamagnet,andIfanciedIsawafaintcolourtingehischeek.
WhatIamnowgoingtowritemayappearfoolishandunreal,especiallywhen
yourememberthatIwasthirtyyearsofage,butthemomentIsawhisardent,
admiringgaze,Ifeltmadlyjealous.
Theseconddinnerbellrang,andso,mechanicallyofferingmyarmtoalady
whohad,Ithought,beenneglectedonaccountofherplainlooks,Ifollowedthe
gueststothedining-room.
Nothinghappenedthereworthrecording.Wehadanold-fashionedEnglish
dinner,andthatisaboutallIcanremember,exceptthatthetablelooked
exceedinglynice.Idon'tthinktherewasmuchtalking;evidentlytheguestswere
asyetstrangerstoeachother,andwereonlygraduallywearingawaythe
restraintthatnaturallyexisted.IcouldnotseeMissGertrudeForrest,forshewas
sittingonmysideofthetable,butIcouldseethepeculiareyesofHerodVoltaire
constantlylookingatsomeonenearlyoppositehim,whilehescarcelytouched
thevariousdishesthatwereplacedonthetable.
Presentlydinnercametoanend.Theladiesretiredtothedrawing-room,while
thegentlemenpreparedtositovertheirwine.Beinganabstainer,Iaskedleave
toretirewiththeladies.Ididthisfortworeasonsbesidesmyprinciplesof


abstinence.First,Ithoughtthecustomafoolishone,aswellasbeingharmful;
and,second,Ihopedbyenteringthedrawing-roomearly,Imighthaveachance
tospeaktoMissForrest.
Ididnotleavealone.TwoyoungEnglishmenalsodeclaredthemselvestobe
abstainers,andwantedtogowithme,whileHerodVoltairelikewiseaskedleave
toabidebytheruleshehadeverfollowedinthecountriesinwhichhehadlived.
Ofcoursetherewassomelaughingdemuramongthosewhoenjoyedtheirafterdinnerwine,butwefollowedthebentofourinclination,andfoundourwayto
thedrawing-room.
Evidentlytheladieswerenotsorrytoseeus,foralookofpleasureandsurprise
greetedus,andsoontheconversationbecamegeneral.Presently,however,our
attentionwasbydegreesdrawntothatpartoftheroomwhereHerodVoltaire
sat,andIheardhimspeakingfluentlyandsmoothlyonsomesubjecthewas
discussingwithayounglady.
"Yes,MissEmery,"hesaid,"IthinkEuropeaneducationispoor,isone-sided.
Take,forexample,theordinaryEnglisheducation,andwhatdoesitamountto?
Arithmetic,andsometimesalittlemathematics,reading,writing,French,
sometimesGerman,andofcoursemusicanddancing.Nearlyallareeducatedin
onegroove,untilthereisintheEnglishmindanamountofsamenessthat
becomesmonotonous."
"Youarespeakingoftheeducationofladies,Mr.Voltaire?"saidMiss
Emery.
"Yes,moreparticularly,althoughthereisbutlittlemorevariationamongthe
men.TakeyourUniversitydegrees—yourCambridgeandOxfordMasterof
Arts,forexample;whatapooraffairitis!Ihavebeenlookingoverthesubjects
ofexamination,andwhatarethey?Acoupleoflanguages,theliteratureoftwo
orthreecountries,mathematics,andsomethingelsewhichIhaveforgotten
now."
"Youarescarcelycorrect,sir,"saidoneoftheyoungmenwhocameinwithme.
"IhappentohavepassedthroughCambridge,andhavetakenthedegreeyou
mention.Ifounditstiffenough."
"Notsostiff,whenitcanbetakenatyourage,"repliedVoltaire."But,admitting


whatyousay,youareallcastinthesamemould.Youstudythesamesubjects,
andthuswhatoneofyouknows,allknow."
"Andwhatmaybeyourideasconcerningeducation?"saidMissForrest.
HerodVoltaireturnedandlookedadmiringlyonher,andIsawthatablush
tingedboththeircheeks.
"MyideasaresuchaswouldnotfindmuchfavourinordinaryEnglishcircles,"
hesaidsmilingly."ButIshoulddoawaywithmuchofthenonsenseofordinary
Englisheducation,anddealwiththemoreoccultsciences."
"Pardonme,butIdonotquiteunderstandyou."
"Iwillendeavourtomakemymeaningplain.Therearesubjectsrelatingtothe
humanbody,mind,andsoul,whichcannotbesaidtohavebeenreallystudiedat
all,exceptbysomereclusehereandthere,whoisgenerallyconsideredmad.You
dealwiththethingswhichareseen,butthinknotofthegreatunsolvedspiritual
problemsoflife.Forexample,theeffectofminduponmind,animalmagnetism,
mesmerism,biology,andkindredsubjectsareunknowntoyou.Thesecretsof
mindandspiritareleftunnoticedbyyouWesternpeople.Youseeknottosolve
theocculttruthswhichexistinthespiritofallmen.Youshudderattheproblem
ofwhatyoucalldeath,andfancynothingcanbeknownofthespiritwhich
leavestheworldinwhichyoulive;whereasthereisnosuchthingasdeath.The
spiritsoftheso-calleddeadarelivingforcesallaroundus,whocantelltheir
conditiontothosewhounderstandsomeofthesecretsofspiritualism.Nay,more
thanthat.Thereareoccultlawsofthesoulwhich,ifunderstoodbysome
powerfulmind,canbemadetoexplainsomeofthedeepestmysteriesofthe
universe.Forexample,amanversedinthesecretsofthespiritlifecancausethe
soulofanyhumanbeingtoleaveitsclaytenement,andgototheworldof
spirits,andlearnitssecrets;andbythepowersofhissoullife,whichcanbea
thousandtimesstrengthenedbymeansofaknowledgeoftheforcesatthe
commandofall,hecansummonitbacktothebodyagain.OfcourseIcanonly
hintatthesethingshere,asonlytheinitiatedcanunderstandthesesecretlaws;
butthesearethethingsIwouldhavestudied,andthusliftthelifeofmanbeyond
hispoormaterialsurroundings."Bythistimethedrawing-roomwasprettywell
full.Nearlyallthemenhadlefttheirwine,andallwerelisteningintentlytowhat
Voltairewassaying.


"YouhavelivedintheEast?"saidMissForrest,evidentlyfascinatedbythe
strangetalk.
"Forthelasttenyears.IspentayearinCairo,twomoreupbythebanksofthe
Nile,amongtheruinsofancientcities,where,inspiteofthedegradationthat
exists,thereisstilltobefoundthosewhohavesomeofthewisdomofpastages.
FouryearsdidIliveinIndiaamongthesageswhoholdfasttotheteachingof
Buddha.ThethreeremainingyearsIhavespentinArabia,Syria,andChaldea."
"Anddoyoumeantosaythatwhatyouhavementionedexistsinreality?"said
MissForrest.
"Ihaveonlyhintedatwhatreallyexists.Icouldrecordtoyoufactsthatare
strange,beyondtheimaginationofDumas;sowonderful,thatafterwardsyou
couldbelievethestoriestoldbyyourmostrenownedsatirist,DeanSwift."
"Favouruswithone,"Isuggested.
Voltairelookedatmewithhisgreen-tintedeyes,asifhewouldreadmy
innermostthoughts.Evidentlyhisimpressionofmewasnotfavourable,fora
cynicalsmilecurledhislips,andhiseyesgleamedwithasteelyglitter."Onehas
tochoosetimes,occasions,andpropercircumstances,inordertotellsuchfacts,"
hesaid."Ineverspeakofasacredthingjestingly."
Wewereallsilent.Thismanhadbecomethecentreofattraction.Bothmenand
womenhunguponhiseveryword.IlookedaroundtheroomandIsawastrange
interestmanifested,exceptinthefaceoftheEgyptian.AbaWadyKaffarwas
lookingattheceilingasifcalculatinghowmanysquarefeettherewere.
"Perhapsyoufinditdifficulttobelieveme,"wentonVoltaire."Thetruthis,Iam
veryunfortunateinmanyrespects.Mywayofexpressingmythoughtsis
perhapsdistastefultoyou.Yousee,IhavelivedsolongintheEastthatIhave
lostmuchofmyEuropeantraining.Then,mynameisunfortunate.Herodkilled
oneofyourChristiansaints,whileVoltairewasaninfidel.YouEnglishpeople
havestrongprejudices,andthusmystorywouldbeinjuredbythenarrator."
"Nay,Voltaire,"saidTomTemple,"weareallfriendlylistenershere."
"Mygoodhost,"saidVoltaire,"Iamsureyouareafriendlylistener,butIhave
beentellingofEasternknowledge.Oneaspectofthatknowledgeisthatthe


learnedcanreadtheminds,thethoughtsofthosewithwhomtheycomeinto
contact."
Theladiesbegantoexpressanintensedesiretohearastoryofmagicand
mystery,andtoassurehimthathisnamewasadelightfulone.
"ItrustIamnotthediscipleofeitherthemenwhosenameIbear.CertainlyIam
susceptibletotheinfluenceofladies"—andhesmiled,therebyshowinghis
white,shiningteeth—"butIamagreatadmirerofhonestmen,whoeverthey
maybe,orwhateverbetheiropinion.IamnotafollowerofVoltaire,althoughI
admirehisgenius.Hebelievedbutlittleinthepowersofthesoul,orinthespirit
world;I,ontheotherhand,believeittobemorerealthantheworldinwhichwe
live."
"Wearenotaltogetherstrangerstostoriesaboutspiritualismormesmerism
here,"saidMissForrest,"butthevotariesoftheseso-calledscienceshavebeen
andaresuchmiserablespecimensofmankindthateducatedpeopletreatthem
withderision."
Therewasdecisionandenergyinhervoice.Evidentlyshewasnotonetobe
easilydeceivedortrifledwith.
"Counterfeitsprovereality,"saidVoltaire,lookingsearchinglyather;"besides,I
seektoimposenoneofmystoriesonanyone.Iamnotaprofessional
spiritualist,psychologist,orbiologist.Isimplyhappentohavelivedincountries
wherethesemattersarestudied,and,asaconsequence,havelearnedsomeof
theirmysteries.SeeingwhatIhaveseen,andhearingwhatIhaveheard,Ibegto
quoteyourgreatestpoet—
'Therearemorethingsinheavenandearththanaredreamtofinyour
philosophy.'"
"Yourquotationisapropos,"shesaidinreply,"butitsohappensthatIhave
takenconsiderableinterestinthematteraboutwhichyouhavebeenspeaking,
andafterseeingvariousrepresentationsoftheseso-calledoccultsciences,and
carefullyexaminingthem,Ihavecometotheconclusionthattheyareonlyso
manyfairlycleverjugglingtricks,whichhavebeenattemptstodeceive
credulouspeople.Moreover,thesehavebeensooftenexposedbyculturedmen,
thattheyhavenoweightwithpeopleofintelligence."


Hiseyesgleamedsavagely,buthesmileduponher,andsaid,"PerhapsImay
haveanopportunityofundeceivingyou,sometimeinthenearfuture."
"MeanwhileyouwilltellusanEasternstory,"saidoneoftheyoungladies.
"Pardonme,"repliedVoltaire,"buttonightisChristmasEve,andasmystory
mightberegardedasheathenish,Iwillwaitforsomemorefavourabletime,
whenyourmindswillnotbeinfluencedbythememoriesofthebirthofthe
Christianreligion.Besides,Iknowmanyofyouarelongingforother
amusementthanstoriesoftheunseen."
AshespokeIsawhiseyestraveltowardsAbaWadyKaffar,andtheyexchanged
glances;thenhelookedtowardsMissForrest,andagainalookofintelligence
passedbetweenhimandtheEgyptian.
SoonafterKaffarbegantotalkfluentlytooneoftheMissesTemple,while
severalmembersofthepartypreparedforacharade.Then,whentheattentionof
theguestswasdrawntowardsthosewhodisplayedtheirpowersatacting,Isaw
Voltaireriseandgoout,andsoonafterhewasfollowedbyhisfriend.
Actinguponsuddenimpulse,whichIthinkwascausedbytheremembranceof
themeaningglancesthatpassedbetweenthemafterVoltairehadlookedatMiss
Forrest,Ifollowedthemoutintothesilentnight.SomehowIfeltthatthis
fascinatingmandidnotlikeme,whileIwassurehehadbeendeeplyimpressed
bythewomanwhohadthatdaytravelledwithmefromLondon.


CHAPTERIII
CHRISTMASMORNING

WhenIgotoutonthelawn,Iaccusedmyselfofdoingaveryfoolishthing.
"Why,"Ithought,"shouldIfollowthesemen?Iknownothingagainstthem.
TheyhaveasmuchrighthereasIhave,andsurelytwofriendscanleavethe
houseandcomeoutforastrollwithoutbeingwatched?"
WiththisthoughtinmymindIturnedtogobackagain,whenIheardvoices
closebyme.Evidentlytheywerebehindsomelargelaurelbusheswhichhid
themfrommysight.Istoppedagainforaninstant;but,knowingIhadnoright
tolistentowhatmightbeprivateconversation,Istartedasecondtimeforthe
house,whenIheardthenameofGertrudeForrest,andthenIseemedchainedto
theground.
"Youhaveinquiredabouther?"saidavoice,whichIrecognizedasbelongingto
Voltaire.TheanswerwasinArabic,andwasspokenbyKaffar.
FiveyearspriortothetimeofwhichIamwritingIhadbeenengagedinawork
thatrequiredaknowledgeoftheArabiclanguage,andalthoughitcannotbesaid
Ihadbecomeanythinglikeproficientinthattongue,Ihadbeentaughtbyan
Arabian,andcouldenterintoordinaryconversation.ThusIunderstoodthe
Egyptian'sreply.
"WithregardtoMissForrest,"hesaid,"Ianswernotinthelanguagewhich
everyonehereknows.MissForrestmustbeyours,andthatforseveralreasons.
Sheisaflowerinherself.Sheisanorphan.Shehasalargefortune.Shehas
absolutecontroloverit.ShehasafinehouseinEngland'scapital.Shehasa
largeestateandagrandcountrymansioninthesouthofthiscountry.Winher,
HerodVoltaire,andyoucanbealittleking,andIyourprimeminister.Weheard
muchaboutherbeforewecame;butwedidnotthinktofindsuchaqueen.Win


her,man,andourfortunesaremade."
Thiswassaidquickly,andwithallthefervourofanEastern.
"Yes,Kaffar.Itwouldbewellifitcouldbedone.TobeanEnglishgentleman,
withanentreeintothebestEnglishsociety,iswhatIhavelonglongedfor.Itwill
notonlysatisfymytaste,butgivemepower,andpoweriswhatImusthave.Itis
bygoodluckwearehere,butneitherofushavethemeanstopassasEnglish
aristocratsverylong.Asyousay,somethingmustbedone,and,uponmy
honour,Ihaveverynearlyfalleninlovewithher.Butshemustbewon,andwon
fairly.Sheisevidentlystronganddetermined,andcanbeforcedtodonothing."
"Nonsense,"snarledtheEgyptian."Useallyourseductiveartsfirst,andifyou
failtowinherbythose,trustmetoweavesuchachainofeventsasshallmake
herbecomeMrs.Voltaire."
UptothispointIlistenedattentively,andthenaminute'ssilenceontheirpart
arousedmetomyself.Wasitrighttostandlisteningthus?Andyetathousand
thingsjustifiedtheact.
Theymovedonfromthespotwheretheyhadbeenstanding,butIwastoomuch
stunnedtofollowthem.AtthatmomentIrealizedthatIhadgivenmyheartto
GertrudeForrest,andthatanothermanhaddesignsconcerningher.
Thissuddenfallingintolovemayappearfoolish,especiallywhenitis
rememberedthatIhadpassedtheageofboyhood,andyetIhaveknownseveral
casessimilartomyown.Anyhow,I,whohadneverlovedbefore,lovednow—
loved,perhaps,foolishly;forIknewnothingoftheladyIloved,and,ofcourse,
hadnottheslightesthopeofhercaringforme.
ThusitwaswithathrobbingheartthatIstoodtherealoneuponthelawn,with
theknowledgeofmynew-foundlovejustbreakinguponme,and,morethan
that,Ihadeveryreasontofearthatshewastobemadethedupeoftwoclever
villains.
Iturnedtofollowthem,buttheyweregoneIknewnotwhither,andsoIwent
backtothehousedeterminedthat,ifIcouldbenothingelse,IwouldbeMiss
Forrest'sprotector.
Ihadbeenbackinthedrawing-roomperhapstenminutes,whenVoltaireand


Kaffarreturned,andapparentlyenteredwithgreatzestintothefestivitiesofthe
evening.ThereisnonecessitythatIshouldwriteofwhattookplaceduringthe
remainderofChristmasEve.ItwasheldingoodoldEnglishstyle,andtomost,I
amsure,itwasveryenjoyable.IgotanopportunityofspeakingtoMissForrest,
butonlyforaveryshorttime;atthesametime,InoticedthatVoltairetooknot
theslightestnoticeofher.
WhenIawokethefollowingmorningandlookedout,Isawthatthegreat
Yorkshirehillswerecoveredwithsnow,theairwasbitinglycold,andtheleaden
skypromisedussomerealChristmasweather.
Iwassoondressedandreadytogodown,butonlookingatmywatchIfoundI
hadanhourtosparebeforebreakfast.Arrangementshadbeenmadeforusto
breakfastatten,andthusbejustintimeforserviceatthelittlevillagechurch.
Onmywaydown-stairsIsawTomTemple,whotoldmetofindmywaytothe
library,whereIshouldbeabletopassthetimepleasantly.Ienteredtheroom,an
old-fashioneddarkplacelinedoneverysidewithbooks.Ifeltinnomoodfor
lookingatthemjustthen,however,andsowalkedtoawindowandlookedout
onthesnow-drapedlandscapethatstretchedawayoneveryhand.Itwasa
wondrousscene.Thesnowhadfallensteadilyallthroughthenight,andno
breathofwindhadstirredthefeatheryflakes.Thustreesandbusheswereladen
withsnowcrystals,whilethespotlesswhitewasrelievedhereandtherebysome
shiningevergreenleaveswhichpeepedoutamidsttheirsnowymantles.
OrdinarilyIshouldhavebeenimpressedbyit.Now,however,Icouldnothelp
thinkingofothermatters.Onefacewaseverbeforeme,andIconstantly
wonderedwhethershewereinrealdangerfromthesestrangemen,andwhether
Ishouldhaveanypartinthelabourofdeliveringherfromthem.AsyetIcould
donothing.Iknewnothingwrongofthem.Theymightbeimpostors,theymight
bepennilessadventurers,butIcouldnotproveit.NeithercouldItellMiss
ForrestwhatIhadheard,whilecertainlyVoltairehadasmuchrightasIhadto
seektowinheraffections.
Thesethoughtshadscarcelypassedthroughmymindwhen,hearingasound
behindme,IturnedandsawMissForrest,whometmewithabright"Goodmorning"andthecomplimentsoftheseason.Iblushedalmostguiltilyatthe
soundofhervoice—I,whohadforyearsdeclaredthatnowomancouldinterest
meenoughtomakemyheartthrobonewhitthequicker.


"Thisisapleasantsurprise,"Isaid,afterrespondingtohergreeting."Iquite
expectedtobealoneforanhouratleast.Yousee,weallremainedupsolatelast
nightthatitwastomeasettledmatterthatnoneofyouwouldappearuntilitwas
timetostartforchurch."
"IhopeIamnotdisturbingyouinyourmorning'smeditations,Mr.
Blake,"shereplied;"IwouldhavestayedinmyroomhadIthoughtso."
"Ontheotherhand,Iamdelightedtoseeyouhere.Whetheryouknowitornot,
IrodefromLondontoLeedswithyouyesterday,andIhavethoughteversinceI
shouldliketoknowyou."
Shelookedstraightatmeasifshewouldreadmythoughts,andthensaid
pleasantly,"Iwasonthepointofaskingyouwhethersuchwasnotthecase.I
wasnotsure,becauseyouhadyourtravellingcappulledoveryourface."
"Howstrange,though,thatwewerebothboundforthesameplace!"Isaid.
"Yes,itdoesseemremarkable;andyetitisnotsowonderful,afterall.Iaman
oldfriendandschoolfellowofEmilyTemple,whileyou,Iamtold,areanold
friendandschoolfellowofherbrother.Thusnothingismorenaturalthanthatwe
shouldbeinvitedtosuchagatheringasthis."
"Doyouknowanyofthepeoplewhoarehere?"Iasked.
"Ihavemetnearlyalltheyoungladies,butonlytwoofthegentlemen—Mr.
VoltaireandMr.Kaffar.IsawthemontheContinent."
"Indeed?"Isaid,whileIhavenodoubtadarklookpassedovermyface.
"Doyounotlikethem?"sheasked.
"Idonotknowenoughofeither,"Ireplied,"togiveananswerreasonably,either
intheaffirmativeorthenegative.Ithinkmyfailingistoformhastyjudgments
concerningpeople,which,ofcourse,cannotbefair."
Isaidthisratherstammeringly,whileshewatchedmekeenly.
"Thatmeansthatyoudonotlikethem,"shesaid.


"Areyouquitejustifiedinsayingthat?"Ireplied,scarcelyknowingwhatelseto
say.
"Quite,"shesaid."YoufeeltowardsthemjustasIdo.Iwasintroducedtothem
inBerlin.Mr.TomTemplehadformedtheiracquaintancesomehow,andseemed
wonderfullyfascinatedbythem.Iscarcelyspoketothem,however,asIleft
Germanythenextday,andwasrathersurprisedtoseethemherelastnight."
"Mr.Voltaireisaveryfascinatingman,"Isuggested.
"Therecanbenodoubtaboutthat,"washerreply.
"AndyetIfancymuchofhishigh-flowntalkaboutspiritualismwasmere
imagination."
"Iwasinclinedtothinksoatfirst,butIhaveheardstrangethingsabouthim.
However,itisperhapsscarcelyfairtotalkabouthimthus."
Allthistimewehadstoodlookingoutofthewindowuponthewintrylandscape,
andI,atleast,wasoblivioustoallelsebutthefactthatIwastalkingwiththe
womanwhoseinterestformewasparamount,whenalumpofcoalfellfromthe
grateuponthefire-irons.
Webothturned,andsawHerodVoltairestandingbyabookcasewithanopen
volumeinhishand.Adisinterestedpersonmighthavefanciedhehadnotheard
awordofourconversation,butIwassureIsawasteelyglitterinhiseyes,anda
cruelsmileplayingaroundhismouth.
"Thenyougotochurchthismorning?"Isaid,seekingtoturntheconversationas
naturallyasIcould.
"Yes,IalwaysdoonChristmasmorning,"shereplied,asifthankfulIhadgiven
heranopportunityofspeakingaboutothermatters.
"ThenIhopeIshallhavethepleasureofescortingyou,"Ireplied.
OrdinarilyIshouldnothavedaredtomentionsuchamattertoaladyIhadseen
solittleof,buttherequestslippedoutunthinkingly;andshe,nodoubtconfused
bythepresenceofVoltaire,cheerfullyassented.


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