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Nora's Peril

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CIIAPTER VI. A fortulght had now elapsed since the dispatch of the Colonel's miasive, and ho expected to have a reply in another week ; ho apologized for the delay caused by hls lawyer, who6e movements, he told the Count, were always of the most leisurely uature. Day after öay passed as before, the only variation in our boating arrangements belng that the Counl had brougUt f rom the yacht a email boat, called a "dingy," capable of containing two pcraons only ; I was therefore able to reeume my sent in the Colonel's boat, but thougli Kathlecn was both intelligent and agreeable, my attraction was gone. In this small boat the Count and Noiah speut the greater part of eaeh eveniug, rowiug about close to the shore, but not venturing f arther north tlian the low promontory or point of land which sheltured the bay on that side. The "Guiñare" lay at anchor in the bay, sbifting her position with the tide only, and was visited daily by her owner. I observed one day that the gnowy-white sails whlcb she carrle'd on her arrival had been replaced by others of a dark brown color, and on asking the Count the reason of the o.hange he replied that he sometimos went on iishiug excursions tor a week or two in the Mediterranean, and ahvays put aside the white clotbing on these occasions, to save war and Ujar, as it was much more expensive than the dark, and, having to he lmporfed fr.m England, was more dillicult to replaee. This exphmation appeared so satisfactory tlmt I dismissed the subject from my thoughts. The day of my appointment with Dennis had now come round, and, having requested my host to excuse my absence from that evening's excursión, I repairedto the place of rendezvous, where I found him waiting me. He told me that the "ould modther" was "as frish as a daisy," and that he had provided for her comfort during the winter. He had not, he said, ' been as yet on board the yacht, and was awaiting the pinnace, which came ashore every evening for water, and would arrive in less tnan an hour. He had observed the change of canvass, and said, - "Yer honor, he's for goin' soou ; thim's the eails we.came over wid as far as Queenstowu, where we bint the white ones; the brown's the strongest and bist for a long voyage ; an' Uiat's what'6 lip." I told Dennis that for reasons of my owh ] was anxious to know her destination when she gatled, and having satisfled myself that he could witte legibly, I gave him an envelope, with a card and peucil cnclosed, and we arranged that in case of the "Gulnare's" sudden departure he 6hould write the name of the porl on it, and leave it in a place of eoncealment which we solected. "I can asily do that, yer honyur," said he; "she can't sail widout wathcr; i'll try to finO out where she's bound for au' ivfsee the casks goin' ashore I'll offer to go an' helpto fil! thim, an' I'll lave the litter where we've sittled." "Now, Dennis," said I, "when the 'Gulnare' arrivés at the port she sails for, if you can manage to go ashore and leave another letter for me at the office of the British consul, to let me know where she has next sailed to, it is lust possible that you may do me and our old landlord, the Colonel, a good service, andif nothing comes of it I'll expect to see you always when you come home." "Long Ufe to yer honor," he replied, "I'll do yer biddin'." "There's jnst one thing more," I continued; "be careful about talking to the Count or the mate, and never mention my name, for eoinehow he and I are not very warm friends, and if he knew of our acquaiutance it might do you no good." ''Is't rae, yerhonour, - catcli a wasil asleep- an', begorra, what's more, av it worn't for a notlon I have that, I may be able to earve the ould masther and yersell' an' thim sweet lovely young ladies, I'd glve the Count leg-bail, an' nivor set a íoot aboord liis vessel agiu ; but yer honour," said he, "I see the boat comin' ofE for wather; the well'e close by here, an' you'd bettcr be off, for she'll soon be roun' the point." 1 took leave of Dennis warmly, offering hira a eouple of sovereigns, which he rejcetedwith great disdain. "I took the goold last toime," Bald he, "bekase I waute-d it tor the ould inodther; but it's iiot for pay l'm goin' to sarve ycz, - it's íor the eake o' the ould days afore the Colouel sowld U8 - but l'm tould he couldn't help it, and maybe he'll buy us agin yit." I then retreated, and not a moment ton soon, for the pinnace's bow was just rounding the point, and I had to run quickly to keep out o Ï sigbt of hcr keen-eycd crew. After an evening epent iu our customary agrecable manner, as we rostí to retire, Colonel De Burgho said, - lI thiuk, Count, I may expeet to receive your papers in a day or two, and, by the way, whíle I think of it, 1 see some signs of a change of weather; when the wind blows from the west there is a heavv ground swell in this bay, aud I s hou ld recommend you to moor your vessel iu a more eheltered position." "Thanks, Colouel De Burgho," the Count replied; "but the tishermen here teil my crew that if there be any change the wind will be more off shore than at preeent, and that Is Juat what 1 should like." "Well," said the Colonel, "I hope they are right, for if it lie otherwtee our boating excursión must be discontinued for the preeent." The Count aud the tishermen were right ; durIftg the uight the wind shifted to nearly due east, and thongh there was more sea outsido tlie hay, the latter was as calm as a lake. That afternoon the "Gulnare" lay at her moorings, with her bows toward shore, and her sails, wliich had been dryiug all day, loosely llappiug to the breezc; towards eveuing the tide turned and was ebbiug rapidly, when I, while on my way to the place where I had met Dennif., saw the "diugy" with the Count aud Norah, as usual on board, paddllng slowly toward the point on the north of the bay ; when ncarlng it the pinnaee put off, and ou meeting the "dingy" took it in tow and pulled rapidly for the vacht ; I saw Norah carried ou deck, and at the same moment heard the "click" of the windlass, and saw the anchor "atrip." I saw them getting the mainsail on her, and the jlb stopped out ; the foresail was run up, sheets let draw, and the beautiful vessel paid gracefully off, and, rapidly gathering headway, left lier mooriugs under a cloud of cauvas. "I rushed to the place of conceahnent, found the envelope which Dennis had left, put it unopened Inte my pocket, and ran at my utmost epeed homeward ; but before I could reach the Castle the "Gulnare" was rapidly dieappearing in the twilight gloom. I sought Colonel De Burgho In the llbrary, and found him opening a ïargc packet, wliich he said had just arrived by post. "llere, "he eaid, "are, no doubt, the Count's papers returned , let us eee what my friend's dispateh contains." "Colonel,'' I replied, "I grieve to say that a more urgent matter now requires your instant attention." I then briefly and rapidly told him what had taken place, and shall never forget the look of blank dismay and despair whieh overspread hls countenanee; he groaned aloud, and covering nis face with bis hands, exelaimed, - "I have been mueh to blame, Mervyu, iu this business; my affeetion for Norah, and my desire to gratify her wish, has blinded me to the risk I was iucurring in advances of a total stranger; but this is no time for vain regrets, but for actiou; what is to be done?" "The Count, sir," I said, "must be pursued without a momeut'a delay. I belleve I know hls destination." I then opened the envelope left by Dennis, which containedonlyoneword - "Naypils," and explained to Colonel De Burgho that, havlug latterly feit uneasy, I had secured the aid of Dennis in case of eed. "You have secured a most valuable ana faithful ally," he replied. I kuow the man's family well ; they were tenants on the estáte Iw obllged to sell, for hundreds of years, and I ave the utmost rellance on the lldrlity of your riend Providence eurely placed him In your tav. You have shown great forethought and udgment in what you have done, and I thank ou ironi the bottom of my heart.' I could not theu teil Colonel De Burcho liow leep and intense a feeling had urged me to ratchfulness, and simply said,- "I have endeavoured to do my duty, sir; the afety of any inember of your family must be a natter of much concern to me." "Thauk you, Mervyn," he replied; "you lave testified by your conduct and activity tue rarmth of your friendship; but let us examine he dispatch before we determine upon auy ourso ; perhaps it may throw some light upon his painful subject." As 1 saw that the Colonel, although bearing ip against this terrible blow with the manly ortitude of a eoidier, was suffering intense anTiish, I volunteered to read the dispatch, an Her for which he thanked me hcartily. Ihe acket contained the Count's title deeds, and u ong letter, which was as follows : Livokxo, August, 180- . 'Deau Fbiend,- t "On receipt of your letter and enclosure 1 vent at once to Genoa, and retained the cervices of the principal notary thcre. I ain sorry ;o say that I fear what I have to communicate vill cause you much anxiety. "Your frlend, Count Albano, is a Count, ;hat is to eay, he some two ycars ago purchased U Rome a patent of nobility, which vou are iware is, in this country, grantcd without much, or any, aeruttuy into the antecedent ot the applicant. He is the sou of a former intendant of the Duke of Medina Sldoma, and ivas brought up and educated with tlie Duke s sons, in whose society he no doubt acquired tbc manner and accomplishments of which you apeak. Some eigbt ycars ago, when about seveuteen, the Duke's interest procured for him a commission in the Italian navy, in whicn he served for three years, and was then caslncred for complieity in a duel, to which was attached suspicion of foul play. His father dying about this time, he became possessed of a considerable sum of money, with part of which he purchased the yacht you mention, and equipped her at a large expense. She is considered, and indeed has proved herself to be the fastest sailer in these seas ; he carries a small gun at the bow; and is also, I flnd, fltted for carrying a long stern chascr, which, however, is never mounted when the yacht is on this coast, but is supposed to be stiipped and unshipped elsewhere. Rumor says that the Count has some other place of abode in the Orecian Islands, besides his castle at Porto Fino, which, by the way, is uot his property, as alleged, but is merely rented for a trifling sum, the place having a bad reputation as tho resort of banditti and smugglers. "The notary hae examlued the papers you sent, and whieh are returned; hc etates that they are all propcrly and oflicially drawn up, attested, and registered ; but, on enquiry, we fiud that the estates named in them have no exietence except on paper; there areno such places as tbose mentioned, except Porto Fino, nd the deeds are entirely lictitious. "With this money and accomplisliments it was not difllcult for the Count to get into soci ety in this country, and the possession of a crack yaeht assisted him in this; but of late he had become suspected of piracy on the high 6eas. No absolute proof could be obtained, but the numbers of his crew, their character, and the equipmeut of the yacht, attracted the attention of the naval department. Some months ago the topmast of a sunken vcssel was observed in the bay of Talona; divers were employed, and they reported that the vess'.l had evidently been scuttled; every article of value in the cabins havlDg been removed; and Ihat, horrible to relate, the bodies of the captain and crew, six in number, were found nianacled in the hold, leadiug to the conclusión that they had been deliberatcly sunk witli the vessel. A strict watch watch was Kept upon the "GÓInare," but her sailing qualities euabled her to distance all comiianions, and no evideuce of her pirática) pursuit could be procurad. About a tnonth ago she disappeaml trom thls coast, and was not heard of uutil I received your letter. "I am sorry to have to make such an alarming report report regarding your f riend ; and in addition, I must inention that about two years ago, while his vacht was lying in the Gulf of Salerno, a young lady to whom he had been paying attentions suddenly disappeared, and has never been beard of 6ince; so that you will do well to watch closely the proceediugs of this adventurer, if not pirate, while in your vicinity. for there can be no doubt that he earried oír the young lady in question. "I need not say that if I can be of any f urther use in this matter, do not scruple to cali upon me, as nothing in this world will giveme greater pleasure than to be of service to so old and valued a friend." "There is no doubt, Mervyn," said Colouel De Burgho, "that I have been outwitted by a most consummate scouudrel, and have not a moment to lose in pursuing him, and rescuing Norah. Fast as is his yacht, steam and rail are equally so ; and if we can only ascertain where he has carried her to, I have strong hopes of suecess ; but I must leave at once - I will go and communicate to Kathleen what you have told me. I fear she will be deeply grievcd, for more attached sisters could not exist. As 1 must travel with such speed, I cannot think of being encumbered by taking her with me, and I shall leave her in Mary's care during my absence, and leave everything here in your charge." "Colonel," said i,"it is my duty to obcy your instructions, but I have the strongest repugnance to allowing you to start upon this dangerous inission alone - for dangcrous I fear it will prove. It would, in my opinión, be impossible for any one man to accómplish, unassisted, the rescuo of your daughter, and I shall fcel deeply grieved if you refuse ine the privilege of accompanying you; indeed, to speak the truth, I fear that any injunction laid upon me to remain here wonld soon be disregarded, as I should feel miserable, and a coward, in staying behiud when I feit, as I should daily and nightly feel, that you were incurring danger alone. Tou will excuse roe, Colonel," I continued, "but if you do not grant me the favor of goiug with you, I will on the spot resign my position as your agent, and shall then be free to volunteer my assistance." "You have already, Mervyn, acted so judiciously," said the Colonel, "that I cauuot refuse what you ask ; and I feel, indeed, that the assistance of a younger man than myself is a necessity in this case ; therefore we may consider the matter settled. Kathleeu's grief was, as her father expected, pitiable to witness; she pleaded carnestly to be allowed to accompany us, but the Colonel w6 inexorable. "My dear," he said, "Mr. Mervyn and I wil travel day and night coutinuously for at least ten days; it is impossible that you could undergo such fatigue ; you will remain here, and I trust we shall soon return with our lost dove. Employ yourself at once in assistiug ÍS in prepar'ations for our departure ; for we rnust leave at daylight to-morrow, in order to reach Dublin in time for the sailing of the mail boat f rom Kiugstown." Exacting from me a promisc that I would writc at every opportunity, and inform her of our progresa, and of her fatlicr's state of health, Kathleen submitted to his wishes, and retired to assist Mary in her anxious efforts to provide for the colonel'8 wants during the journey. "Now, Mervyn," he, "let us goto the library ; I have íortunately preserved some continental itinerarles, and wc will eketch out our course: it will save us much trouble, and many inquirles on our ioui'ney, for which we sliould not have time." We spent an bour in examining these, and wrotedown our "route" with military precisión; which precaution, we afterwards íound, expedited our progresa by at least a day. TO 1(E CONT1NUEI.


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