Chapter 174020361

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Chapter NumberXXIV
Chapter TitleTHE DON RETURNS.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article174020361
Full Date1899-09-21
Page Number9
Corrections0
Word Count3347
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 - 1952)
Trove TitleThe Last of the Pirates; Or Doom Driven. A Romance of the End of Ocean Outlawry
article text

the tasi of thl ^irates| I

3QOO2ME 33 X& X IT 3B 3XT , - .-..?-. : ? . . ?»?. ., — - _ ?' v^L: ?'-?:?'&??

A Romance of the KncL of Ocean OuitJLifcvi^ryV* w

By Col. Prentiss Ingraham, Author of ' lAerlf tht Muilineet,' to:., ic.^

— ™ CHAPTER XXIV. THE DON RETURNS.

A certain town on the «oast of Spain was suddenly awakened from' its lazy attitude one day, some six months after the scuttling of the Sea Venus by her commander, with her wicked crew on board, by having an important personage appear in its midst.

A grand estate, princely in its mag* nificence, lordly in its surroundings, had been offered for sale, as its owner had gambled away his inheritance and then taken his own life. The grand old castle — for it was nothing more — was the admiration of - the townspeople, and it was said that its halls and numerous chambers had cost a fortune to furnish. The park surrounding it boasted of two-score acres; there were vast flower-gardens, fountains, and arbours inviting to a cool retreat. Then the spacious stables were filled with the finest horses and equipages, and a score of servants were in attendance. When he found that he had got to the end of his tether, the owner had determined not to live a poor roan. He owed debts, an8 the sale ol the estate would no more than pay them. So he calmly wrote bis will that his estate should be sold to the highest bidder for cash, his creditors should be paid in full, and the balance should go to a grand funeral and monument for himself. Having done this, he promptly went out of existence by his own hand. Just at this time there was an agent looking around for the purchase of an estate. Castle Castile just suited him, and he paid cash for it, retained the ser vants and all just as the suicide had left it, in perfect order, and the coming of the personage- for whom he had made the purchase was the cause of excitement in the town. It was a great thing to have a new owner for 'The Castle,' as the place was called, and one who could pay down in cash the very handsome sum which it had brought. It was the fifth day after the death of the suicide, who had thoughtfully taken his life in a tavern, and not at his elegant home, and the day of the funeral (hat on which the new master arrived at the town. lie instantly decided to attend the funeral of the late master of the estate, and did so, driving in grand style to the grave, accompanied by his agent and a friend who had come . as his guest for awhile, it was said. The whole town turned out for the funeral, as much for respect of a man who had paid his -creditors before killing himself, as from curiosity to see the new master of the castle. Every creditor was there, and he had already been paid by the very prompt executor of the suicide's will. The place of honour was, by com mon consent, given to the stranger, who was looked upon as ' chief mourner,' He bore the honour gracefully, and seemed not to care a whit for the gaze of the populace. He was a tall, broad-shouldered, handsome man, with a beardless face, hair cut shoit, and eyes that were * most penetrating, seeming to read the thoughts of the one upon whom they were turned. His agent sat upon the front seat of his carriage, obsequious and smiling, in spite of the funeral, as was proper in a man who represented one worth a fabulous sum, as it was stated the new owner of the castle certainly was. Upon the right hand of the stranger sat his friend and guest, a very handsome, dashing-looking personage, and whom the ladies were fairly fascinated with. Also attending the funeral were a party of naval and army officers of Spain, for the suicide had always been a great favourite with the wearers of swords, brass buttons, and gold lace. In one carriage was the -captain of a vessel-of-war then in the port, and in fact stationed there. He was a. man of middle age, stern faced, and somewhat cruel-looking, and his officers and crew feared him as they did Satan. But he was very rich, lived in grand style in an elegant home not far from the castle, and was a lion in the town, being both feared and yet sought after. By his side sat a woman of exquisite beauty. She was the wife of the naval captain, and nearly a score of years his junior. Very beautiful, very fascinating, she was loved by all who knew her, and no one could gaze into her sad face and not admire her. It was said by those who knew that she had married a rich man she did not love, and had given up a poor one whom she did love, and all for the sake of her parents who had urged the sacrifice. Her husband, a man of wealth and high rank in the navy, was yet not a hero in her eyes, so said those who knew something of the inner life of the two. Yet she was a true wife,, even though he was stern, almost cruel to her, and yet in her heart she had the grave of a buried love.

Immediately behind the carriage of theliew master of the castle, which was next to the hearse by common consent, came that of the naval captain. Both the captain and his beautiful wife felt some curiosity to see the stranger, and yet they had no oppor tunity to dp so, yet must when the grave was reached. Out of the town to the 'City of Jhe Dead' the funeral cortege wound its way, and at last baited near the grave; The priests descended fronx, their carriages, ahe pall-bearers bore the very, elegant coffin from the hearse, heads were Uncovered, and the pro cestion , went on foot to the last resling-place of the suicide. Thgstranger and his guest still led the way, and were given the place of honour on the right of the priests, who had taken their stand at the head ofthegr|ve. The captain and .his bride moved forward and took their position to the left of the priests at the other side of the grave. They were just opposite to the stranger and his guest. Then' the army, and navy officers, the friends of the suicide, and those who had been his creditors and were made happy in his death, ranged themselves about with the oi polloi encircling all. The voices of the priests chanting the funeral ceremonies arose on the air, and all else were silent, with heads bowed, eyes fixed upon the coffin of the suicide and the new master of the castle, for curiosity was about equally divided between the man who was going from their midst and the one who was coming to dwell among them. , Bending slightly towards his guest, the master of the castle said, in a low tone : ' Senor Basila, the man across this open grave is Captain Don Delorme, the man who robbed me of my bride ten years ago. The lady on his arm is the one he robbed me of.' Perhaps his low words caught the ear of the Senora Delorme, for she raised her eyes from the grave, met those of Andrea De Costa, and, with a cry, fell in a swoon at the feet of her husband. CHAPTER XXV. NEMESIS. All who heard the cry of the Senora Delorme — all who saw her fall— gave their deepest sysnpathy. It was supposed that the impressive scene overcame her, for no one had seen her meet the gaze of the new master of ' The Castle.' She had swooned, that was certain, and her husband in alarm and amaze ment bore her away to her carriage. He did not see the face of the man who was his rival. The priests went on with their chanting. Their duty was to the dead, not the living just then. The crowd did not connect the swooning of the senora with the presence of Don Andrea De Costa. They did not know that for years she had mourned over the grave of buried love in her heart. They did not know that she sud denly saw, out of thai grave, spring the face and form of the one she had so madly loved. Day and night the face of Andrea De Costa had been in her thoughts. He had gone from her years before, when she had been forced to marry Captain, then Lieutenant Delorme, .the distinguished and rich naval officer. It had been said that De Costa had taken his own life in his despair. It was said that he had been killed by those who had sought to rob him. What his fate had been, none knew. His home, and Isabel's, the maiden he loved, had been in a distant place. She had mysteriously disappeared — she had married the Senor Delorme, and her place of abode had been in the nearest town to which her husband's vessel was stationed. But, believing him dead, Andrea De Costa had suddenly appeared before ter in the flesh. She could not forget that face. Even in the glance she had of it, she saw that time had made changes upon it — the grey threads were steal ing into his black hair, the sunny smile ever upon his mouth and in his eyes had been transformed into a sinister expression, and a sternness that was cruel, it seemed. And yet it was the same face she had loved ten long years before. He saw that she had grown still more beautiful. Her eyes were filled with touching sadness, and the look hovering about her exquisite mouth proved that she had suffered. But yet it was the face — the grace ful form he had loved in the long ago. And across an open grave they met. It seemed ominous. Don Andrea De Costa meant that it should be so. She fainted, and he smiled. 1 She loves me yet !' he almost hissed forth. * Away from the grave Captain Delorme bore his fainting wife. Still at the grave remained Andrec De Costa and his guest, Senor Basila Bartona.

^^e'Chtintrngpfjth'e^iitaiB'li'prieB^; ended, the suicide Ms buiaejJindtJje large attendance turned ttteir facet Dack towards the town. ... The-gentl itteiiaed -to/ the Hying were looked after, and all eyes jrare; upon the two strangers. They certainly were splendid looking men, and 'won universal ad miration. '.'''?-.; .. 'r.V -'??' ;' '? ? - STbe agent- n»w the furore they created, and ^imagined himself the bfero for bringing the Don to the tofrn^ forgetting that he had received a letter, enclosing a draft, with orders to at one* purchase the finest Home in the place for him. *; W '* » . Back to trie 'Castle' drove the Don and his guest. : ., The servants 'bent obsequiously before them, and the two friends ad journed to the beautiful pleasure gardens for a walk and a talk. , 'You saw her, Senor Basila?' said the Don, as he threw himself into an e«y-chair in an arbour, and lighted a cigar.. ? .?.'-.??- -;. - ;-; ??. ' I did, Don Andrea.' ? ? , : 'And your opinion of her?1 'She is superbly beautiful, and at the same time has a face to love as well as admire.' . i. ''.' ?A fitting compliment, and truthful.' ? '* You saw him ?' 'Oh, yes.' ' And your opinion of him ?' .'A dangerous man when he is thwarted, selfish, cruel, and one who would be a villain if he had been born to different luck.' ? ?You read. human nature as an open hook, my dear Senor Basila. Now, what think you of my home ?' * Elegant beyond compare.' 1 1 am not known here.' ' So it seemed, as you were recog nised by the lady only;' ' She knew me the moment our eyes met.' ' Yes, X saw that, lor my eyes were upon her when she looked at you.* ' She turned white.' ' Her face became livid, she seemed trying to speak, and then she uttired that cry and swooned. 1 hope the shock will not be too much for her.' 'Oh, no; she will come round all right. But now to . meet Captain Delorme.' 1 The army and naval officers, with the aristocratic citizens, will doubtless call upon you.' ' Oh, yes.' ' And Captain Delorme will call.' 1 He will be sure to.' ' Then, Don ?' 'I shall surprise him by my pre sence even more than J did his wife.' 'You will betray him as having caused you to be kidnapped just before you intended to fly 'with the Senorita Isabel and make her your wife ?' ' Not at once. But I shall force him to meet me ; and the service I have to ask of you is that you will be my second.' ?Willingly.' ' I shall kill him, and then I shall marry his wife.' 1 But will she become the wife of the man who has slain her husband, even though she loves you ?' ' I think so.' 1 Better let me quarrel with him, kill him, and then you marry his widow. ' I thank you, my dear Basila, but that would not be my full revenge. I shall kill him, and then make her my wife. She will naturally get his fortune, which is large, and I shall have pleasure in living upon it, along with what I possess. I shall be a very happy man, Senor Basila, in my revenge.' After a long conversation together, the two friends, so strangely met, so strangely bonded together, went to the mansion to dinner. The silver service and china were superb, the edibles were all that heart could desire, and the wine was like nectar. And they enjoyed their luxury with seeniTngly no thought to the cruel lives they had led, the graves they had dug for others on sea and land, and that for every dollar of gold they had gained, tears of death-like anguish had been shed. CHAPTER XXVI. RETRIBUTION. For fully an hour did Senora De lorme lie in the deep swoon into which she bad fallen at the grave. Her husband, who admired her, and loved her in his selfish way, carried her at once to his home. A physician was sent for, and at last when all began to fear she would not rally, she opened her eyes. She shuddered as she met the gaze of her husband. Then she glanced about her, in a slow, reasoning way, and asked faintly : [ ' Tell me just what happened ?' 'The ceremony at the grave was so impressive, it affected you beyond control, senora,' said the physician. Then he told the captain that his wife was again herself, and would need no further care — after which he took his departure. ' Well, senora, you made a fool of yourself to-day, that is certain.' It was the remark of Captain Delorme, who entered the chamber of his wife after the departure of the physician, and dismissed the servants about their business. 1 It seems that I did,' was the low reply. ? I saw nothing in the monotonous chanting of those priests to affect one.' ' You saw not what I saw.1 ' He was a suicide, yes, and ? ' ? That was not the reason.' 1 There is a reason, then ?' 'Yes.' ? Why you fainted ?' 'Yes.' 'What was it?1 ' I care not tell you.' 1 You must.' ' I decline to tell you, senor.

^*But you must tell me, senora. tj Insist upon knowing the cause.1 r' ':-5iye me a few days, ?t least? :??; .--, I-I:.wili4lve_yoil two mys/}- ? .^1 ''-'' Initial time syou mayyourgjplf discover the cause,1 * 1 Your words mystify me, senora.' 'I am sure that a mystery .jpf long standing , is now about to be , cleared'iik Senor- 4)on Captain' MWe* '^ ? V::^- r ' -:'^. . - ;: ^^^Mdtty&iywiT Sttiffis'ttirt'edi'/s T&$pfei. *no i;_. tjam0-j$pMy;&n-z, IjJenjSriSai;:. ' 'j0^0^''i^ti-fiy''- iC*-''' ?? % »JV^|iiK)p ili^uT3je^yp%iN £r e better, and thjsti 1 shedi-i xpect to Jearn 4)ie ciuise, .^ut ^| iwjffihstp ask you # I should not at *-hce call upon this rich stranger who has come into our midst ? I hear he : is worth millions.' . ' Indeed IV '?'?-;? ?;.-.:- * Yes, and I wish to be among the first to pay my respects, as he will doubtless be a pleasant person to ,~ * Do you know aught of him r'' j '* Not even his name? ' I had not heard it either, and I was surprised, to see him at the funeral.*. ' It was a courtesy on his part that . proved him the gentleman; but before I could get a look at him you swooned away, so I do not know even what he looks like.' ?;? . ' I do/ was the meaning response of the beautiful woman.' . -. '\ * You managed to see him then?1' 'Yes, senor.' ' ' Describe him.' -?' ' A tall, well-formed man, with a very handsome face, which indicated' that he was one who had suffered, I thought, for I saw it well in the glance 1 had of Ik' ' Yes ; go on, senora,' .r-~*—rj*» * He was dressed richly and in perfect taste, and in fact reminded me oi one long dead.' 'Who?' * Don Andrea De Costa.' The Spaniard started at her words, and while his face grew black as a thunder-cloud he said, fiercely : ' Have I not commanded you never to mention the name of that man to me ?' 'Yes.' 1 And you dare to disobey me ?' ' You asked me to describe this stranger. ' ' I shall not like him if he looks like that hated man.' 1 Don't be prejudiced before you see him.' The mention of the name of Andrea De Costa served to affect the Spaniard strangely. His face still remained pale, his brow still wore the thunder-cloud look that had come upon- it. Suddenly, without another word, he turned and left the room. As he closed the door, be heard his wife's voice break out in a ringing laugh. He had never heard her laugh like that before. ? Maldito /—she is mad, I fear me,' he muttered, as he passed rapidly on to his own rooms. Once there he began to pace to and fro. ' Curses 1 Why*Tiid she tiot let that name rest ? ' It has completely upset roe. '1 have tried to forget it, tried to bury all remembrance of that man, and of my deed. ' I had hoped that she had forgotten him. ' But she has not. ? Well, if that stranger looks like Andrea De Costa, I shall never care to look him in the face. ' He will be a constant reminder of my crime, and the retribution upon me will be most fearful. ' I hope that was only a random shot of Isabel's. ' But if it is truej if he does look like that man, then I shall at once apply for orders to go elsewhere, for I have haunting memories enough without a reminder of the face of Andrea De Costa ever before me. ' Bah I she is mistaken. But I will call upon him to-morrow, and go alone, ?Then I will see for myself.' To Be Continued.