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The morning dawned cheerless and
gloomy. A storm was setting in. The
dull gray clouds weighed upon the hori
zon even as my dreadful discover}1 op
pressed my heart.
life seemed intolerable. As I sat at
breakfast and studied Portia's face-the
face of a murderer-it was at times
.with difficulty that I kept from scream
ing aloud. I did not allow Daphne to
go out of my sight, but kept her with
me, amusing her in every possible way
with toys and story books.
I was conscious, too, that Portia was
watching rae. She evidently possessed
half defined suspicions,for once she asked
me in a careless manner, which was pal
pably assumed, whether I had hoard
any unusual sounds about the house the
night before. I said "no" and in return
asked the reason of her inquiry. She
replied she had slept lightly and would
have said that once she heard the hall
"She is sounding me," I reflected and
forthwith grew as cunning as my inter
"No," I said indifferently. "I heard
It was nearly noon when a carriage
dashed up to the piazza, and a tall, fash
ionably dressed man alighted, looked
about with some curiosity, paid tho
driver and then ran lightly up the front
steps. Presently the great knocker re
sounded through the hall.
"A visitor," I said, with some interest,
for visitors were not numerous at
Tom, the butler, came into the library
carrying a card on a silver salver. Por
tia was lying on a broad couch drawn
up before the open fire, sleeping or feign
ing sleep. She $ ad not seen the car
riage drive np and opened her big eyes
lazily as Tom approached her.
" What is it?" sae murmured languidly.
"A gem'man, missis."
Portia took the card and read it. Sae
stared at the name before her in a dazed
manner. At iast sue turned her .blood- j
less face toward mc.
"Prudence," she said, wearil}- passing
her hand over her head.
"Yes. Portia," I answered, leaving
Daphne in the window with her dolls
and going over to her mother.
"Read that name-aloud." she com
manded, thrusting the card in my hand.
I read, "Maurice Raymond."'
"I could not see-tuen he has come,"
Portia muttered in incoherent, wander
ing fashion. Then sharply lo Tom, "I
will not see him."
Tom bowed gravely and \ra> al>ont to
go, when I said: "Portia, is not this the
guest you have been expecting? What
would Colonel Marchmont say if you
were to send such a message as that?
Had you not better reconsider?"
"You see him, Prudence," she begged
In an almost childish fashion. "I cannot
looking about after the first gratings
As diplomatically as possible I ex
plained her absence. But a dark look
crossed her husband's face, and ringing
for a maid h9 ordered her to tell her mis
tress that Colonel Marchmont desired
her presence at once in the drawing room.
In a few minutes the soft swish of
Portia's silken skirts was heard. She
came in with bowed head and toying
nervously with a dainty fan she held.
She did not look her cousin in the eyes
as she extended her lhnp hand and
turned coldly away as quickly as possi
ble after her little speech of welcome
uttered in perfunctory fashion.
I cordd see that Mr. Raymond was
both puzzled anc. disappointed with his
reception. He watched his cousin curi
ously, though he did not address much
She stared at the name before her.
of his conversation to her, but chatted
with the colonel on various topics, occa
sionally turning to me with a swift, raro
smile which brightened his rather severe
Portia preserved her attitude of con
strained defiance. When questions were
directed to her, she answered them
briefly, but kept her eyes fixed upon the
floor. Colonel Marchmont was greatly
annoyed, but did his best to cover his
wife's delinquencies in entertaining. Wo
were all relieved when luncheon was an
At tho table the constraint was not
quito so marked. Once or twice Portia
lifted her heavy lids and shot scrutiniz
ing glances at her cousin. But Mr. Ray
mond's faco was inscrutable and sphinx
like. He had lost tho puzzled air he at
first wore, and no ono could possihly
have read what was passing in his mind.
He complimented Portia upon tho
preservation of her beauty; ho petted
Daphne; he charmed the colonel. How
did he affect me?
Maurice Raymond fascinated me. I
had never met a man at once so brilliant
and kindly. A beautiful, strong soul
looked out of his keen gray eyes. His
conversation was intellectual and re
freshing. I studied him constantly, al
ways recalling the words I had heard
at the gate tho night before, "Dangeh
comin from de souf-awful."
If the prophecy of old Jezebel should
come to pass-if indeed the danger which
threatened Portia were coming through
her cousin-she well had need to trem
ble, for in this keen, observant, brainy
man she would meet an adversar}'
worthy of her skill.
A SLIGHT ENCOUNTER.
After luncheon the colonel took hii>
guest out to view the plantation, and we
did not see them again until dinner.
Portia was absolutely dazzling when
she swept in and took her Beat at the
head of the table. She was dressed in
scarlet from head to foot. Her superb
shoulders rose from folds of fiery silk,
and the little feet that wandered in and
out beneath her skirts were shod in the
same lurid hue. She looked a veritable
daughter of Mephisto. Her eyes spar
kled dangerously, and on her face was
an expression of audacity. Evidently
833.BY AMERICAN PRCSS ASSOCIATION.
go in now. I must go up stairs, dre
and compose myself."
"Yery well, Portia. I will do my be
to entertain him until you are ready
relieve me. But do not tax me too long
Portia did not reply, but rose and lc
the room. She appeared confused ai
helpless. Suddenly I recalled the prop
eey of the old negress-"Dangeh is com
from de souf." Ah, perhaps the pei
which had menaced Portia was at han
As I entered the drawing room the vi
itor rose quickly and came forward I
greet me. What most impressed me i
this first meeting with Maurice Ra;
mond *vas the atmosphere of latei
power which seemed to emanate from h
personality. He was not a baudson
man, though his fae was good, his dec
set eyes keen, his nose straight. H
lips were not hidden by beard or mu
tache, and in their firm lines I read tl
positive character of the man. He ca:
ried himself like a prince, with graf,
and hauteur. His general appearanc
was impressive and commanding.
"You are not Mrs. Marchmont?'' li
said half in inquiry as he took my liane
"No, indeed," I replied-"Mrs. Marci
mont's friend, Prudence Mason. Mri
Marchmont is not feeliug well an
hopes yon will excuse her for a littl
"And the colonel:'' asked the visitor.
"He is somewhere about the planta
tion, but will soon bo in fur luncheon."
"I have arrived a few days ahead c
time," said Mr. Raymond, "butlfmishe
my business in Atlanta sooner than
had anticipated and so hurried on.
? was so anxious to see the country ii
which I passed my boyhood, and abov
all to see niy dear cousin again, who?
I remember as thc idol of ni}'3'outh-;
beautiful and lovely girl."
"Mrs. Marchmont is a very beautifu
woman," I said gravely.
"There is a child, I believe," said Mr
Raymond. I called Daphne from the li
brary, glad of an excuse to have her ono
more in my sight. She came running in
delighted to see a stranger, anti was soot
on very good terms with the visitor.
Presently Colonel Marchmont entered
profuse with apologies and extending ;
genuine southern welcome to his guest.
"W?iv VP norn in p.-.rr? :\''" lir?.u.ny>ni"?<..1
she had nerved herself for the oncoming
contest which was in the air.
When Maurice saw her. ho coolly aw
deliberately ran his eyes over her cos
tn me and ?hen said nonchalantly asl?
shook out his napkin, "Evidently yoi
have overcome that intense dislike oJ
scarlet which was one of your market
traits as a girl, belle cousine."
Portia did not answer, but lookec
straight at him.
"It was mest extraordinary," contin
ued Maurice. "I never knew any ene tc
hate a particular color as yon hated red,
Do you remember what you used tc
"2%o," said Portia.
"A nigger color," replied Maurice,
"and declared it only fit for the quad
A great pallor overspread Portia's face,
but she laughed and lifted her glass of
sherry io her lips.
"How absurd!" she said. "Well, other
times, other manners."
"Yes," said Raymond as he lifted his
glass to her, "I myself adore scarlet. It
is vibrant with life and action."
"Do you remember, cousin," he went
on as he set down his glass, "do you re
member the day your pony ran away
and threw you? I can see you nov.* lying
white and cold on the moss and-and
why, what tho deuce was your pony's
name?-the one your father brought
from Atlanta and to whom yon were so
devoted. Astonishing that I can't rc
member-I know tho name of that par
ticular nag as weil as I do my own.
Surely, cousin, you can help me."
"No, I do not remember," said Portia
in a low voice.
"The chestnut with the while mane
and tail. Jacko-no-ah! was ii not
"Oh, yes!" cried Portia, as if greatly
"No, no, cousin,"said Maurice. "Why,
no; Jacqueline was the pony your father
got after the runaway-a black one. But
the chestnut-how amazing that neither
one of us can recall her name!"
"I have such a wretched memory," be
"There, too, you have changed," rat
tled on Maurice. "Why, Portia, I used
to boast of your remarkable memory.
The dates, tho names, the numbers, you
would dash off were astounding. I re
member it was rather a trial to me that
your memory should be so superior to
I could see that Portia was worried,
and also that for some reason Mr. Ray
mond was trying to trap her. But to
what purpose? Was this his revenge
for the frigid reception she had given
All through dinner he was constantly
reminding her of some of their youthful
experiences. Occasionally, she answered
him 'understandingly, but as a rule her
replies were wide of the mark. Ono
would have said that so far as that period
of her life was concerned Mrs. March
mont'8 memory was a blank.
When we entered tho drawing room,
Maurice opened thc grand piano, and
turning to Portia said with great ami
"Dear cousin, I am longing to hear
your sweet voice again. Sing some of
:hoso dear old songs."
1 looked at Portia. Would she sing
;it his bidding? Again and again during
my stay had I asked her to sing for me,
but siio bad always refused on one pre
text or another.
"You will excuso me, cousin," she
said coldly. "I gave up singing long
since. I found my voico was growing
thin and metallic and could not endure
"That is absurd," said Colonel March
mont, suddenly rising and coming over
to us. "oho sang just as well as she
ever did before I went to England. On
my return she refused to sing and has
persisted in that determination ever
since. One of lier many caprices."
"How long were you in England,
Marchmont?" nsked Mr. Raymond qui
"A year," replied tho colonel. "I was
detained on business. I was sent for as
tho heir to property near Nottingham,
and after I got there a pretender turned
np. Well, you know the law's delay,
especially in that slow going country.
Tho result was, I was away from
Swamplands for over a twelvemonth."
"And during that time you were lady
of the manor," said Mr. Raymond to
Portia, "What an interminable absence!"
he continued, fumbling the music, "but
then tho reunion-how delightful!"
Colonel Marchmont looked embar
rassed, while Portia was very pale. What
manner of man was this who appeared
to play upon their heart strings? It was
not possible that FO I !:.. rv-rt - . - ::l
or Human "nature" c?iTlcl havo failed to
remark the cool relations existing be
tween the husband and wife. No. Mr.
Raymond was simply drawing them
/ saw him roughly seize her arm,
out. The situation was becoming
strained, when I broke the ice by sitting
down at the piano and playing a few se
lections in my amateur fashion.
I was conscious that Colonel March
mont left the room after a few minutes
and that Portia and her guest were alone.
Just over the piano hung a huge old
fashioned mirror, and glancing in it 1
saw an extraordinary scene. I saw our
polished, courtly visitor suddenly ap
proach his hostess, who shrank back with
a look of absolute terror on her face. I
saw him roughly seize her arm and push
back the loosely flowing sleeve and in
tently scrutinize the lovely bare flesh.
In vain she silently struggled to free her
self. He held her firmly and examined
her arm asa scientist might study an in
sect under a microscope. Suddenly he
raised his eyes from her arm to her face
and smiled so tauntingly, so malevolent
ly, that Portia gave a faint little mean
and fell back in her chair.
"Miss Mason," said Mr. Raymond, "I
fear Mrs. Marchmont is ill."
I sprang co her side and lifted her head.
Portia had fainted!
A BATTLE ROYAL,
In reading over what I have written I
find I appear more or less in the role of
an accidental eavesdropper. I nm now
about to describe a scene to which I was
an intentional listener.
Let me excuse myself. I had become
firmly convinced that Portia was plot
ty.ig harm to Daphne; that she was visit
ing tho old hag of Dead Man's swamp
to urge her to hasten the destruction of
tho child, for whom, through some un
accountable madness, she had conceived
a violent hatred.
I felt myself, then, quite justified in
frustrating her wicked schemes. I con
.stituted myself a detective and watched
Portia unceasingly. I determined tir?t
at tho first .'j;is; icio?s movement ? would
report everything to Colonel Marehmoul
and leave bim to act.
Lut Maurice Raymond! He was al
most as great a mystery io mc as his
cousin. And my instinct warned me,
that he, too. was studying and watching
Portia. His puzzled air at first sight of
her, his quizzing and leading questions,
and above nil that inexplicable examina*
tion of her arm in so rude and masterly a
fashion were all mystifying and vexing.
How I wished to penetrate his thoughts,
to road what was passing behind the
impassive face! At times I was prompt
ed to seek him and confide all the de
tails which were so troubling me, but
ruy natural timidity and reticence for
bade this step.
Portia was like a caged tigress these
days. She fumed and stormed and
lashed herself into tempests of rage.
She feared and hated this cool, calm, in
scrutible man, who was for some reason
dissecting and analyzing her. She tried
to avoid him, but it was useless. He
was ever at her side. Did she lounge in
ono of the great bamboo piazza chairs,
Mr. Raymond took the one next her. If
she snatched a shawl and fled down one
of tho garden paths, Maurico at once
lighted a cigar and followed, keeping at
a respectful distance enough, but allow
ing her to see she was under his constant
His manner, too, when he addressed
her was peculiar. It was a combination
of authority and mocking courtesy. She
winced perceptibly when he spoke-to
her and seemed relieved when his utter-.
anco was not a question concerning the
I marveled greatly that Colonel March
mont did not mark the comedy-or was
it a tragedy?-that was being enacted
under his eyes. But he appeared to live
apart, wrapped in sorrowful and gloomy
thoughts, and rousing only when his
child sprang upon his knee and cuddled
closely to his heart.
But to return to the scene of which I
was at first an involuntary, then inten
tional listener. Ono dreary, rainy after
noon I was sitting in the window seat of
the library, the heavy curtains shutting
me in and completely concealing me from
view. I knew Daphne was asleep in
the nurseiy with Sophie watching her.
The colonel had driven to tho neighbor
ing town. Portia had shut herself in her
rooms after luncheon and refused to ad
mit mo when I knocked. I supposed Mr.
Raymond to be in the smoking room at
the end of the hall. Presently, however,
I heard a man's tread, and peering be
tween the curtains saw him come in the
library, throw himself down in a big
easy chair in the corner by the fire and
fall to studying the glowing coals.
I reflected whether I should speak to
hun. but decided not. "Ile will gosoon,"
I thought, "and in any event ho would
not care to talk to me."
The door softly opened, and Portia
came in. Sho wore a long white dress
ing gown, and her heavy braids of hair
wero tumbling down. She appeared
half asleep and did not Kee her cousin.
Crossing to the bookshelves, she selected
a novel, and turning prepared to leave
tho room, but with the quick, stealthy
spring of a tiger Maurice was before
her. He locked the door, and turning
gave her a terribie .smile.
"Huw dare you?" she panted.
"Thc stereotyped question of a woman
when she is vanquished," sneered he.
"Dear cousin, why do you not go in for
"Open that door." she fumed, "and
let mo go."
"1 will'not," ho retorted. "Do you
think after all tho skirmishing between
us since my arrival now that it has
cometo battle that you aro to escape
me? That may be your modo uf fight
ing-to run away; 1 think it very likely
-but it does not please inc."
Sho turned toward the bell rope, evi
dently with the ?nteut?on of summoning
help. With a cruel laugh, he whipped
out his knife and cut tho rope and
tossed it contemptuously at her feet
"Ring for your servants, do." ho said
I began to bo frightened. Ought I to
make my presence known? While I hes
itated Portia spoke:
"1 am not afraid of you, you coward."
"Oh. yes, you are." he retorted lightly.
.'You have been afraid of mo ever since
J came-before I came. I do not won
"Maurice, Maurice," she cried wildly.
"Don't dare to call mo Maurice when
we are alone,"' he said, "you may keep
up the farce before others a little long
"Farce!" hhc cried. "Enbnirh. I will
not bo insulted any longer. Upen tnat
?loor, Mr. Raymond, and let me go, or 1
will rouse the whole house."
He# simply burst out into a fit of the
most* mocking laughter I have ever
heard. It maddened Portia, and she
flew at him like a fury. Ho caught her
.hands and pushed her way.
"Sit down." ho said sternly, "and lis
ten to me. You have not imposed upon
me. I have recognized your infamy.
You have deluded everybody but me,
though I think the little northern girl
suspects you. She is not a fool. Y'ou
aro clever and cunning, but you have
gone too far. Y"our inhumanity to that
poor innocent child shall be avenged. I
"Open lliat door," she fumed, "and let
know more than you suspect. I know
the key yon carry which will only un
lock one door. I know of your midnight
walks. I know your friends in Dead
Portia staggered to her feet.
"Have mercy I Have pi ty !" she moaned.
"The mercy you have shown to the in
nocent shall be yours." he .?aid. with
flashing eyes. "You are not a woman
but a yampire. Go now," and he un
locked the door. "Go, but do not for
one moment think you can escape me.
You are as much my prisoner as though
chained in a cell. Go to yonr rooom
and stay there until I send for you."
Moaning, shivering and cowed, Portia
rushed by tiii:j terrible man. I heard
her lagging footsteps 03ccnd thc stairs
and the sound of her moaning dio along
tho corridor. ' ' "
.Then I parted the curtains and stepped
KORTI) A.\"L? SOUTH.
I think for once in his life Mr. M-inrice
Raymond was nonplused.. However,
he speedilj* recovered.
"Ah!*' h-cri".1., "yon riv little Puri
tan, eavesdropping were you? Do 3'ou
think that is a nico trick for good little
"?ir!" I said .stiifly, "I :-.::i neither a
Puritan nor a good li! tie girl"
"No?" heaskedgood [mmorejjjly, "are
yon.then a pagan and a bad little girl?"
"Please reinen?ber I am not on the
witness stand," ! retorted, "and do not
try lo muddle me with vain questions.'"
At this he shouted with laughter.
"1 nm glad you lind me amusing," I
sni<!, with considerable sev< ri ty.
"I do," he cried. "You are delicious
with 3'our prim little ways, and your
still little speeches, and your dear little
"Sir!" I exploded.
"Pardon me, my child. I have no
right to speak of you in that way. But
come," catching my hands in his and
drawing me away from the window,
"tell mc, how came you to be spying
"I was not spying," I sputtered indig
nantly. "I was reading there when you
came in. I wish now I had ma p,^yr^
presence known, and that I had not been
a witness of your unpardonable severity
to that poor, wretched, half mad wo
"Ohl She is half mad, is she?" he
asked, assuming his puzzled and ques
"Why, cannot you see her condition
for yourself?" I asked. "And I must say
that while it is just as well she should
know that you have remarked her cruel
ty toward Daphno I think you might
have been less harsh with her. Poor Por
tia is uot to blame. She is the victim of
some dreadful spell cast over her by those
vilo creatures, thoso voodoos in Dead
Mr. Raymond caught me by tho shoul
ders and bent Iiis head to scrutinizo my
"What do you know, child," he mut
tered, "of Dead Man's swamp and the
people there? You couldn't have been in
that ghastly place."
"Iso," I replied, "I have not been there,
but I know enough about it and the bale
ful influence it has exerted on my poor
friend's life. My desire is to save Por
tia, to see her restored to her right mind
and bring her once more to her husband
"Why, so is mine," ho answered, with
a curious expression.
"Well, this is no way to go about it,"
Isaid, "to fly at a crazy woman, call her
a vampire, taunt her, alarm her, talk
about chaining her in a cell and all that.
To be sure, it's just like a man. You are
not to blame, I suppose, for your
brusquerie, which amounts almost to
to"- I hesitated.
"Well, well, out with it! Let's hear
the dreadful word," ho cried.
"Brutality!" I said.
"So I was brutal, was I?" he asked.
"Indeed you were. I liad no idea that
a courteous gentleman could behave so
villainously to a suffering woman."
"Well, now, tell me," said Mr. Ray
mond quite solicitously I fancied, "how
.should 1 have approached Portia?"
"It is quite right to be firm and de
cided with her," I answered. "I think
myself she needs a strong hand. You
can see for yourself how little attention
her husband pays to her, and I blame
Colonel Marchmont greatly for this de
plorable state of affairs. He neglects
his wife, treats her with contempt and
coldness. What can a man expect?
Why, 1 heard him say a dreadful thing
to her one evening. She was dancing in
the hall-somewhat boisterously, to be
jure"-the blood rushed to my faco as I
recalled that abandoned dance-"and he
told her that her dancing was mon: suit
aide to thc orgies of Dead Man's swamp
than to a gentleman's house."
"Quite right, too," interposed Mr.
"Oh, you .aro as bad as he," I said, and
it suddenly occurring to mc that Mau
rice was still holding my hands I tried to
draw they away, but he only tightened
"Don't, Prudence," he said very quiet
ly, "don't take your hands away. Poor
little fragile claws," looking down on
them, "I could easily crush them, but
they arc good hands." He suddenly bent
his head and kissed them.
It was the first caress I had ever re
ceived from any ono eave Portia and
Daphne, I trembled, and with an effort
released myself and left him, going over
to tho fire.
Mr. Raymond followed, but did not at
tempt to touch me. Ue took up his
station opposite mo on the rug, and
leaning his arin on tho mantel said:
"Possibly I was too severe with her;
but, cs yon say, she needs a strong hand.
She must not be allowed to harm little
Daphne, must she?"
"Ci no account," I replied quickly.
MV.t niu'ht I hr.ro watched and
. <*A-LCV1 trio CA?I?\I CWI?D mu UL j.
"Since what night?" ho asked care
I hesitated. 1 was conscious that he
was, trying R. Iraw me ont. Should 1
tell him? Io Luew of the closed gate:
he knew w .'qrtia's visit to the swamp:
why should he not know of this? I
studied his face before speaking. Candor
and honesty were written there. He
might be severe, but he was just. Yes. 1
would tell him.
I then as briefly as possible recited the
story of that night. When I spoke of
the knife she carried, and which she held
so long as if in invocation toward the
moon, he gave a perceptive art. And
when I repeated tho e relation with
old Jezebel at the gate ;-. ?va3 again vis
ibly affected. Once he ground his teeth
and stamped his foot in rage, and more
than once the strong white fingers
clinched as if they ached to throttle
Then, growing more confidential, 1
told him of my first night in the house
and of Portia's stealthy survey of me
through the window; the experience in
the arbor; her anger when I tried the
"Tlicy arc ijmul haiuls"
closed gate, and at last of that awful
cry in the night which had welled up
from tho interior of Dead Man's swamp.
His face grew tense and white with
suppressed passion, and the veius stood
out on his neck like cords.
"Uh, Portia. Portia!" he cried aa I fin
ished, "my poor tortured girl. It is
time for me to act. Yes. it is time for
mo to act."
"Can we ?ave her?" 1 asked tremu
"Can wer" he said, rousing from the
study in which he was. plnnged. "Yes.
we will." *
Then once more, taking ruy not too
ahwilling hands iu his. ho said gently
ind almost tenderly:
"Little woman. I believe yon to he nf
-.he Bfcnff of which fighters are made.
Fhere must be a drop of Bunker Hill
blood i:i yonr veins. I believe you to ba
loyal, honest and brave. Yon are cour
igeous? Yes, I know you aro. 1 want
)*ou to trust your.-elf to me, to go
sbrongh a terrible experience. To what
.-lid? you will ask. To this: We will
?ave Portia. Will you help me?"
"With all my heart."
"Very well. Say nothing to a soul,
gut prepare lo go with mc at midnight
:o Dead Man's swamp."
A MIDNIGHT MISSION.
I started. To Dead Man's swamp! To
enter that uncanny, mysterious place at
midnight was a prospect which might
well daunt the most courageous of wom
en. What could be Maurice's motive in
visiting thai spot? How was Portia to
be benefited by such an adventure?
As if he read my thoughts. Mr. Ray
"Yes, little woman, you hesitate. 1
expected that, but you need have no.
fear. Yon will bc amply protected, and
[ want your assistance and presence. I
need you. Will yon come?"
A thrill shot through me at these
words. I raised my eyes and saw in
his only tho kindest and tenderest ex
"Come," he said again, holding out
I would have followed him to the
ends of tho earth had he so bidden me.
I put my hand in his.
"I will go." I said.
At nightfall the rain ceased, but tba
sky was black and overcast. I shudder
ed as I drew back tho curtains and look
ed out and thought of the dense tangles
and thickets of the gloomy swamp. How
black, how awful, how impenetrable,
seemed those dusky recesses I remem
bered! What was I to see-to hear on
this wild midnight quest? I scarcely
dared ask myself.
But I resolved there should be no mis
givings, no faint heartedness. I had put
my hand to the plow, and I would not
turn back. To save Portia, Maurice
had said. Ah, yes! if by any sacrifice
of creature comfort I could exorcise the
evil influences surrounding my poor
friend, how gladly would I make that
But what did it mean? Had Maurice
in any way discovered that Portia in
tended to pay one of her nocturnal visits
to the swamp? Was it his plan to follow
her and plead, threaten or command her
to give over forever her association with
the half human devotees of that hellish
But of what avail were questionings?
I found no answers to the many riddles
puzzling my mind. I trusted Maurice
with the blind, unreasoning trust which
every woman gives to the man she loves.
For I had acknowledged the fact to
my lonely heart that I loved this bril
liant, intellectual, masterful man.
Though my superior in every way, I yet
lifted my eyes to him as a weed clings
to tho base of a mighty tree. Did he
love me? It seemed absolute folly to
think so, and yet I could not banish the
look in his eyes, the ring in his voice nor
the magnetic pressure of his lips upon
my hands. "Good little hands," ho had
said, looking down on them. And now
as I looked down on them, too, and re
membered his words I was thankful they
had never been stained with evil, and
that though small they were strong and
could help him on his mission, whatever
it might be.
Portia did not appear at dinner, send
ing down a message that she was not
well. I knocked at thc door, but she
would not admit mc.
Colonel Marchmont appeared to be
plunged in deeper gloom than ever. He
scarcely noticed Mr. Raymond or ?ny
self. Daphne only could rouse him from
; ic lethargy which surrounded and en
veloped him. It was painful to see him
so depressed, so unhappy. When spoken
to, his gaze wandered, and his answers
"You are not well, dear fellow," said
Maurice aa wo Wt (ho flinins room.
"i canner ciccp. i nave not slept tor
two nights," returned thc colonel.
""When I close my eyes, 1 ECO her as she
used to he, not as she is now-oh, God!"
wildly breaking o?r.
"Listen. Jtrniyn," said Maurice in a
low voice. "Your troubles ave nearly
at an end. No, do not ask one question
now. Before another day dawns yonr
doubts, your sorrows, will be dispelled.
All I ask of yon is to go to the library
and remain there until I come. Do not
leave the room cr house! Wait there for
me if you wait until daybreak. Do you
Colonel Marchmont stared at Ray
mond in a dazed fashion.
"Trust me, Jcnnyu," said Maurice,
"and premiso me."
"I promise," said the colonel in a
Overhearing this, I marveled mor*
than ever. Was it possible that Mau
rice intended, after bringing Portia from
her rendezvous with the voodoos, to lead
her into her husband's presence and
oblige her to beg his forgiveness? Igrew
more and more mystified.
The evening dragged away. Daphne
was sent to bed, Sophie receiving or
ders from Maurice, who seemed to have
assumed command of everything, not to
leave the child for one moment during
Eleven o'clock. I sat in the drawing
room waiting for Maurice, as we had
agreed to meet there. The great house
was still. There wero lights in the li
brary, where the unhappy husband kept
his vigil. But everywhere else darkness
brooded over the mansion. The silence,
the hour, the nervous expectancy pos
sessing mo grew almost unbearable.
"Where is he? Why does he not come?"
I cried to myself.
Suddenly I heard stealthy footsteps in
the hall above, on the stairs, then the
rustle of a woman's dress.
Stepping softly to the drawing room
door, I looked out. A figure wrapped in
black was descending the stairs. It was
! Portia. Clinging to the stair rail with
one hand, with the other she was draw
ing a long black lace scarf over her face,
which in the dim light was ghastly and
terrible to see.
Just as she reached the lower stairs a
man stepped quickly out from the cor
ner of the hall. Maurice!
Without a word he confronted her.
She stared at him fur an instant with "
dilating eyes; then, evidently realizing
her helplessness, with, a gasp fell for
ward. He caught her in his arms and
carried her np the stairs. I Heard the
door of the room open and in another
moment shut. Then a key softly clicked
in a lock, and presently Maurice came
down thc stairs again.
He came into the drawing room.
"Prudence,"' he said in a low voice, "are
?.Yes," I responded, going toward him.
"Are von ready?"
"Grive me your hand. Ahl Pulse all
right, nerves steady. Good. Come."
?Well, what of lier?"
"She is ?II. I ought to go to her."
"She will scoa he better. It is nothing
serious. Von can help her more by going
to the swamp than in any other way."
He drew me out upon the piazza,
wrapped my shawl closer about 1110, aud
tucking my baud under his arm led the
way down the path toward the swamp.
There was no conversation. We
walked in utter silence. Once or twice
he turned and looked back. I had a
fancy that he was looking to see if we
Just as wo came to the wall and the
closed gate a dark figure rose huddeuly
up, it seemed to me, from the earth.
I suppressed a faint shriek.
"Don't bo alarmed," said Maurice.
"Jake, is that you?"
"Yes," answered the big overseer. ?
"You have your rifle?"
"Are the boys at hand?'
"Yes, 6ir; here they are," as two
brawny negroes stepped out of the dark
"That's ail right. Now, I don't appre
hend any trouble; still there may be
some. I wish the lady to bo protected
in any event. You remain here close by
the gate. If you hear my pistol, come:
otherwise wait for tis."
"All right, sir," replied Jake.
Mr. Raymond drew a key from his
pocket and opened the gate.
He held out his hand.
"Come, Prudence,'' he said.
We stepped through the gate. He did
not lock it behind us.
"Remember, Jake," he said in a low
tone, "if you hear my pistol, lose no
Black, slimy and filthy stretched the
morass about us. We wero in Dead
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