Press enter after choosing selection

Thrice Warned

Thrice Warned image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The circunistance that I ain about tq relate is of snch an extraordinary nar ture that it will be better for me to give a short sketch of my birth and antecedents, in order that the reader may be ' able the better to judge of it for himself. I am not about to attempt an j tion, for the endeavor to explain the supernatural is bound to. end in fog and failure. I will merely state the plain faets of the case as they happened, without comment, and then, as I said before, the reader can judge for himselt. JJA J T vJiyiH Z To commence with, I am a ; lander by birth, and my father was noted as the descendant of - - ; but my fatlier has íiothing to do with the present narrativo, so I will pass him by. My mother was noted foimiles"aróund for the possession of thnrt marvel ons ' faculty of second sight for which so maay of my country have. been famed. ■ In faet, she foretold hor own death, which ocourred shortly after the arrival of my brother and myself, who were twins. My father spon followed his wife, and Bobert and I were left alone, two aelpless ehildren. An unele, however, who reaided in Aberdeen, having lieard of i the death of his brother, undertook the charge of na, and we were removed to ' liis house and brought up by hini. There wis always a wonderful afñnity between my ■' brother and myKclf. It was ■ moro thiin afl'cction; itwas a mysteiipus attraction that caused us to be uneasy j unless we were in one another's society, and anything that affected one of us, even if he were miles away, was sure to j le feit by the other. Time went on;" and when we were lfi oiir unele considered that we were old enough to enter his office, where wet were accordingly placed as clerks. From the first this never suited Bobort. He was not fitted for the rough, every-day drudgery and routine of a place of business, and, although he never once complained, I could perceive and feel what torture and agony it was to bis proud spirit to depeend to the dnll ■ slavery of tlie desk. In a few months this became more perceptible, and his clieeks, ahvays palé, grew more so, bis eyes became large and feverisb, and bis breath short and difficult to draw. The reader must forgive iny lingering over this, for Robert was my only brotlior, I and I loved bim. , At Jength it booamó. evident to all j that he was ill, and he.was put to bed, and medical aid was called in. But it was then too late. The death warrant bad been signed, and my brother was going. I was permitted to stay with ! bini, as my preseneo appeared to soothe I and give him ease. It was 'A o'clook one moraing; the cburch bells all over the town had just í struck the liour, as I was sitting in his room by his bedside. He had been slumberjng, but suddonly awokc and said: "Douglas, mybrother, I have just seen our mother, and my time is up in half an liour. Do not grieve, brother ; I am glad. My nature was not suitedfor this world ; yours is different. And I may be able to assist you where I am going." I was not 17, and I could not restrain my tears, as I cried : " Do not go, Robert, and leave me all ! alone in the cold, heartless world !" "Hxish, my brothor!" he replied. "T must obey, but this I .will.proiaifse you : ! if I am permitted it, I will revisit you ; and, sbould I be allowed the power, I will always warn you of roming (langer. And now, farewell, brother ; my time is nifíh. I can feel the weakness coming tb:it precedes removal. Farewull, brother, until we meetagnin! Fare - " ïlie half Kour stvuek out, and Itobert feil back dead. My cries aroused the house, and in a tow minutes the ordinary mirsc, the servants and my uncle had entered the room. I was led away, in spite of my entreaties to be left, and placed, in my own room. Lyittg across thü foot of my bed, I feit as tiiongh my heart would break ; but, fortunately, my grief found reiief in tears, and in a short time I had wept myself to sleep. . I know not how long I had slept, when I awoke suddenly with a feoling of intense happiness. As I opened my yí) I perceived that my dead brother Eobért was standing by my side. Ho looked radiant and pleased, as, holding up one hand, as if to demand silente, he naid : "All is well, dear Donglas, and I am permitted to giiard thee frorn harm." No sooner had he finished speaking than hc melted away into the gray dusk of the approaching dawn. I immodiately arosë, and, pulling up the blind before my window, looked forth. It was not yèt daybreak, thongh that röfey! appearance that gonerally comes before Sttnrïsè was apparent. Thcn I lay down, and once more feil asleep. By the end of the week my brother was and I was alone in the world. Years passed on. My tincle died,and left the wealth he Ikv.1 aecumulated to his wife's family. i AVitïi a new head to the flrm thero canie new rules, regnlations and staff, and I liad to fmd a fresh occupatión. Fortunately, without being long out of employment, I obtained a situation in an insurance company's office, where I managed get along very well, liking my superiors and being liked by them. Ono morning, as. I was making an entry in my ledger, the manager passed my desk aud. beckoued me to f olio w liim. I did so into his private office, whore he told me to seat nayself. Having fehiit the door, taken p a position in front of the fire and Jifted his coattails, he began : " I have called you in here to offer you a rather hazardoús piece of business, which, however, if you fill properly and to oiir satisfaction, will no doubt ultimately be the means'of making your fortune." Of course I intimated my pleasure at the honor, and was about toinquire into the nature of the business, when the manager went on : " You have now been with us some years, and we feel that we ean place implicit confldence in you ; in fact, I was ■j'equested to piek outtwonüdentialnian, and one I conld depend upon, and I have chosen you.'' I bowed and murmurcd my thanks. " The nature of the business you would be employed upon is this : In this town is a firm of sliip-pwners wlio are in the habit of insm-ing thrfr ships and oargoes for extremely large. sums, and lately ] they have been very unfortunate, or, rather, I should say, fortúnate. comprehend me ?" " Not nuite. sir." '■ Wh-y, within the last year tliey have lost, in mid-ocean; two ships andabrig, and have received the insnrance money on them. We have lately received an intimation that, in the first place, the cargoes are not what they pnrport to be, and that the eraft they have lost are not only old and wovn-out tubs that Jiavie been f3old for breaking up, but also that in two cases, at least, these ships have been scuttled for the sake of the insurance upon them." The List worda the manager spoke nearly in a whisper, and pausad, as if to givc ine time to take in the enormity of the offense. Then he continued : "Now we wish to discover them, if possible, in the very act - as I jpay say, in flagrante dejictu," and he puffed out his oheeks niift'looked very rmvnhgerial indeed. " Consequently, we have decided on sending out in agent in their next craft, in order to discov,er whether these reporta be tiue or not, and that agent, sir, will be yon." L, I was frilly arfare of the dangfrous nature of the job offered me, but ut the same time I had so little to care for that, without hesitation, T immediately accepted the duty. . ■ - "Very good, Dougjas- vpxy. good!' remarked the manager, evidently rnuol pleased. "I am glad to see that I havi not been disappointed or mistaken in my estimate of your character. You cai now return to your work, and later m " will see you again, and explain what the nature of your duty wiU be. In the meantime," he added, as I was leaving the roomj' be careful not to hint a worc 1 of what I have mentioned to you." Of eourse I prómised to besilënt,'ani it would have been better for me i every one else had been is silent as my j self on the subject. i A day or-two passed, and thon the ! manager informeel me that the time had come. The lirm previously alluded to had insured a brig named the Ealcon, , bound to Mauritius with au assorted cargo. He then went on to teil me tliat I must obtain a passage in the Falcon nnder tlie plea of beïng nnable to pay tlie fare in the ordinary rnail-boat ; and then, once on board, I was to kuo my eyes open, and write a daily di&iy of cverytliing that ocourred, particnlarly if at all of a suspicious nature. One of the. seamen, it appeared, had also been engaged by tho insurance company - the ouc, I beJievc, who liad first raised their suspicions - and I as told hia name was Jack Allen. Furthermore, lie entered into particulars rcspecting remunoration, increase of pay afterwurd, and a manager's place at a branch office iñ case of my cónducting the investigation to the satisfaction of the board. After recevving my instructions and a check for expenses, T bado the manager good-by, for I was not to return to the office, for fear of aroiisiiig-Huspicion, and j took my departure. Having obtained chango for the cheek, I went to my lodging, and, -putting on i snit of old clothes, made my way down to the harbor. I I had not ïnvroh ditüculty in finding the , Falcon. She was a hice-looking brig, jand Ippeared quite newjjt all evenfs 1 slié"Wfls newly painted, and thftt in imich the same thing to a landsman. A gang way-board stretched across from the I shore to her deck, and, walking across this, I was soon on board. A boy was busily employed doing nothing, and, having asked töéê'the Captain, that party appeared 0:1 doek. He was not a bad-looking man, but had that loose, vollioking, shifty expregsion enerally to bofound with lack of concientiousness. "Goocl-day, Captain!" I observcd. I hear you'are bound for Port Louis, Mauritius. If tbat's ao, could you mange to give a poor fellow a lift on the neap?" "Ou the cheap, cli?" replied he, takng stock of me up and down. "Tliat Iepen ds. What do you cali clieap ?" . "Well, I've gotalittlecoin," I replied. But I can't afford tbose mail-boats - hey're too mueh altogether ; besides, I vant to keep a trine, in case I don 't get hc work I oxpect when I get out here." "Well, will L25 lmvf yon?" askod the I feigned to be horrified, and offered L15 ; but at length we arranged for L2.0, and he was to flnd me in everything, I messing with him at his table. Having effected this, I promised to be on board by the Tlmrsdny evenhig, for he was to leavo harbor on Friday morning. By tlie appointed time I was down at he port with my modest luggage.wlui-h vas soon triinsferred to a little cabin in he Falcon that I was to occupy. The Captain was not on board when I oined, so I took possession of my little bedroom, and, putting things td rights as well as I oonld, turned in, and went ;o sleep. The next morning I was ai'oused by a ound of trampling overhead, heavy ropes being thrown about, loud voices, swearing, and all the usual accompaniments considered necessary by náutica! leople to the proper clearing of a vessel out of harbor. In about twenty minutes the noise had succumbed, and there was a gontle leaving motion; so I went on deck, and found that We were at sea - fust leaving the mouth of bonny Dee behind, together with the city of granite. Then, at the Captain's invitation, I accomwanted him into the cabin to lireakfast. He now intrpduced me to he first mate, who was to iW'.s with us. He was a dark, surly-looking" fellow, whose appearance I disliked at once, even before he opened his mouth. And, when he commenced to speak, his conversation conñrmed my first impression. He hardly ever -spoke without an oath or a etirse of some kind. " Well, we've got off all clear, that's one good thing! " observed the mate. " Yes ; now let's have the ' wind that blows; ' we've ' the:ship that goos,' md, I dare say, one of us has ' the lass that loves a sailor ! ' " Matters went on in the usual lmmdrum way they always appear to me to do at sea for some time, and I began to think that the company had sent me out on a wild-gOose chase. But I soon discovered my mistake. I don't know whereabouts we were, because I take 110 interest in nautical matters, and understand very little about latitude and lsiigitude ; but it was about ;i week after we got into warm weather liat, after dinnor, I lay down on the lockers d the stern of the cabin to have forty winks. I liarl not lain thero; long, however, whéii the Captain and tne mate came in. " To-night will be the very time, Hodge," exclaimed the mate. " The weathev's calm ; we're just in such a position that we conkt reach (some place I couldn't catch the name of) " in the boats in a couple of days."' " I don't agree with you, Sharpe," replied the Captain. " ín the first place, I should like it to be blowing just a docent galc. It would bc very flshy for a craft like this to go to the bottoin in a nicc breeze only ; and then, again, in a week's time we ahall be getting near the Cape de Verd islands." " Just as you like, slapper. Only, if you take my advice, you'll do it at once, and get it over. Hallo ! here's this longshore chap! Let nim look out if líete been listening ! " " Hush ! " said Hodge ; " I expect ho's asleep. Don't wake him." And they approached me, in order to see if I were awake or uo. That was a very unpleasant five minutes. I could feel that they were gazing at me, and counting my pulsations, as it vero, and yet I had to lie ijuiet and calm. " He's all right! " at length exeïaimed the Captain. " We'd botter go on deck again." " I hope bc is," said the mate. " It'll be bad for him if he ain't, his eyes ! " And they retired to the other end of the cabin, and apparently went up the ladder on to the deck. Nevertheless, I thought it better to keep my eyes still closed, and myself in the same position. It was well I did, for at the close of another five minutes I heard one of them, who had stayed behind, leave the cabin aiid go on deck. Although no more was said or done respecting this, 1 had an idea that they snspected me after that, and watched me about in conseqnence. Two or three days passed away, when one evening I had been writing np my diary as usual, and replaced it, as I thought, in the private pocket where it was usTially kept. By some accident it must have fallen to the deck, for in about half an lionr the steward camo up, and, with the Captain's complimonts, wotlld I join him, wifch the mate, over a glass of grog? I accórdingly descended, and, innocently enough, walked up to where the two men were sitting. " This book wás picked up a quarter of an honr ago, and brought to me," exclaimed the Captain, holding up my mihappy diary. " Is it yours V "' It was no good prevarieating or attempting to evade, so I determined to lead off with a bold in ove. "It does belong to me," I replied; and at the same time snatched it out of his hand. "And now wliat have you to say?" " That yoii are a spy! " eKOlaiaixad the mato. " Now, tho qnestion is, how much do yon know, and how are we to be sure that you will not peach on U8?"said Hodgo. 'i " The question is nothing of tho kind ! " I replied, as bold as brass. " The qxiestion in. I kiiow (immgh to givc you fel lows penal ervitude. Ydu daré no touch me; and now wh'at are you going to do, in order to save yourselvcti from punishmcut ? " Hodge loókéd rather blank at this And then, in a minute, bc t in'd to the mate " Sharpe, come fov'uni :iliit; wc mus talk this over." Aeeordingly thoy went away out o earshot and begati arguing, the mate in sisting uijoii soiae tïiing the Captain would not agree to. At leïgth they returned, and Hodg said, "Well, Sharpö and I can 't quit agree yet. We must talk it over again And, ju the meautinie, you must alloi yourself to be put Tinder arrest in your oabin'. No harm is intended you." I didnot desire that the matter should come to a free flght, especially as I thought ïiuivo than onco that I eould perceive the butt of apistol peepiug out of Sharpe's pocket; so I consented, and in tíve minutos was bolted in my cabin. At suppaï time the mato brought me a good plate of food and my usual glass ui' grog. I ate the meat - I think itwas sea-pie - and drank the grog, and then prepared to read. But all at onco an overwhelming sensation of drowshu'ss carne over me. In vain I struggied against it. With my eycs closing in spite of myself, I feil back-across my bunk asleep. " Douglas, awake, my brother. Save yourself." Half asleep and half awake, I heard my brotlier's voice, and replied, "All right, Robert ; I'll get up directly." And then I was going off again. "Douglas, awake, my brother. Save yourself." This time the yoice roused me more, and I was thoroughly awake, but still . under the infiuence of' the narcotie with wliieh I had been drugged. "Douglas, awake, my brother. Save yourself." The third warning in my losij brotlier's well-known voice completely restored me. I jumped off the bunk in the dark, and discovered that the cabin contained over a foot and a half of water. Then I saw the plot. The design of the Captain and mate had evidently been that I should go to the bottom with the scuttled ship. With great difficulty and a hearty shove I succeeded in breaking open the door, and in another minute I was on deck. It was nearly flüsh with the water, and as I jumped up I could perceive that the three boats belonging to the brig were in the water and nianned. "But where'sthe passenger? " I heard somebody say. "I ain't going to shove off without hun." "He's dead drunk," replied the mate. "We haven't got time to wait for him." "That's false, James Sharpe! " I sang out, as I approached the gangway. "You either didn't give me enough, or else you gave me too much. Which is Jack Allen?" . "Here you are, sir; jump in." And the third boat which it appeared was steered by Allen, who had been inquiring for me, came alongside and took me off. " That nigbó wo had a stiff galo of wind, the three boats separated, and the two commanded by the Captain and the mate were never heard of. Af ter som e very hard work, and being wet through nearly all the time, we were picked up. In less than a month we were once more in the channel, and then it did not tako us long to reach London, when we took the train to Aberdeen. The evidence was most conclusive; for, in addition to what I had heard, Allen had actually watched the two villains down the hold, and saw them boring the holes which ultimately scuttled the Falcon. With regard to the company, they kept their word toward me, and I shall never go to sea again. The reader has now heard 'my narrativo of the three warnings, and can form his own opinión.


Old News
Michigan Argus