with marked coolness. I was likely to get on with him very
well, I thought, but the fawning attitude of his wife quite
unhorsed me. If I am to see the devil I'd rather he'd frown
than smile. Cobb had very little to say to us, and left the
room at the first opportunity. In doing so he had shown
scant consideration for his wife, however, as it left a
burden upon her shoulders that must have taxed her strength.
But she was not unequal to it. Her smile broadened after he
had gone, and there was a tone of deeper sincerity in her
expressions of regard. We had been to dinner, and if she
would kindly send a little cold lunch to our room at bedtime
that would be quite sufficient. During her absence for
dinner the reaction came. When my stepmother returned she
seemed to have suddenly grown older, and she looked at us
through haggard and sunken eyes. Surely this was a terrible
punishment she was undergoing, and I pitied her. Mr. Cobb
had an important engagement to keep, she said, and hoped we
would excuse him. Slowly the evening wore away and at ten
o'clock we were shown to our room, greatly fatigued by this
trying experience. It was a room fronting the street on the
third floor, which I had occupied before I left home. The
walls had been painted white since then, with a frieze of
gold along the ceiling. My father used to sleep in the room
directly under it. Rayel had been silent and absent-minded
all the evening, rarely speaking except in reply to some
"I feel sad for some cause I do not understand," said he,
preparing to retire. "I shall be glad when to-morrow comes."
"We will go back in the morning," I said. "You don't feel at
home here, do you?"
He did not seem to hear me, but tried the door, which I had
already bolted, and then got into bed, yawning and
shivering, for the room was cold. I turned down the light,
and, opening the shutters, looked out upon the street, now
deserted save by a solitary man who had just passed the
house and whose slow footsteps were gradually growing less
distinct. I crouched there, listening for some moments to
that fading sound, when it began to grow louder again. The
man had turned about and was coming back. As he passed under
the lamp on the opposite corner I thought I recognized the
slim figure of Mr. Murmurtot. Suddenly I was startled by a
noise in the room adjoining ours, and sprang to my feet in a
tremor. Plague take my imagination! It was somebody going to
bed. I sat down again and for a long time looked out at the
man walking back and forth in front of the house. I was
rapidly getting into a condition of mind unfavorable to rest
and, closing the shutters, I went to bed at once. For hours
I lay tossing restlessly from one side to the other, and
finally fell into a deep sleep. I must have slept a long
time when I suddenly awoke, laboring with nightmare. I had
heard no sound, I had felt no touch, but all at once my eyes
were open and I knew that I was awake. The lamp was burning
dimly on the table beside my bed. How my heart was beating!
And my arm - how it trembled when I tried to raise up on my
elbow and look about the room!
"Who's there?" I whispered. Was it Rayel standing near the
bed, his body swaying backward and forward, or was I yet
asleep? Everything looked dim and weird. I seemed to be in
some silent ghostland between sleeping and waking. I rubbed
my eyes and peered about the half-darkened room. It was
Rayel, and, as I gazed at him, his eyes seemed to shine like
balls of fire. I called to him, but he made no answer. What
had happened since I went to sleep? Alarmed, I threw the
covers aside and leaped out of bed. As I did so he stepped
up close to the opposite wall, and, as his hand moved, I
could hear the grating of a crayon on its surface. In
tremulous haste I turned up the wick of the lamp and tiptoed
toward him, holding it in my hand. He was stepping backward
and excitedly pointing at the wall. He had been drawing a
picture on its white surface - the form of a woman holding
something in her hand. I stepped nearer, still carrying the
lamp. A sharp interjection broke from my lips. The woman
pictured there was my stepmother, and it was a knife that
she held! A man was lying at her feet. Again Rayel stepped
forward, and again I heard the crayon grating on the wall.
Then he stood aside. Great God! There were drops of blood
dripping from the knife now. Rayel sank down upon the floor
and covered his eyes with his hands. I stood there, dumb
with fear and horror, looking first upon him and then upon
The silence of the night was unbroken save by those slow
footsteps in the street to which I had listened before
retiring. But suddenly I heard a low wailing cry in the room
adjoining ours. It so startled me that I came near dropping
the lamp. Strange and weird it sounded, gradually growing
shriller and more terrible to hear! It was the voice of my
stepmother. Was she dreaming? And had Rayel seen the vision
that affrighted her? Was that dagger pricking her brain? In
a moment the swelling cry broke into a sharp scream, such as
might come from one exposed to sudden peril, and ceased.
Then the sound of a bell rang sharply through the house,
followed by loud knocking at the door and a man's shout.
"Open the door, I command you!" he said.
He must have heard that piercing cry. Rayel still lay
motionless upon the floor. Was he asleep? Why did he not
rise? I began to feel numb. I seemed to have lost the power
of motion. I could hear some one rapping at our door, but I
could not move.
"Kendric! Kendric! Kendric!" Was it my stepmother who was
calling me? What a piteous, pleading tone! "Let me speak to
you, Kendric! For God's sake, let me tell you!" I was
reeling: my strength had all left me. Crash! went the lamp
at my feet. There was a great flash of light, which dazzled
my eyes, and I fell heavily upon the floor.
I was in the open air when thought and feeling came back to
me. My hands and face were paining me as if they had been
terribly burned. There were a number of men standing over a
motionless figure that lay beside me.
"The poor lad!" said one of the men "he's nearly roasted.
See here how the clothes have been burned away from his
neck! Can't ye stop the blood? The mon'll die afore the
amb'lance comes ef we don't stop the blood. A brave mon he
is, too. D'ye see 'im coming down the stairs with th' other
one on his back?"
Of whom were they talking? I struggled to my feet - I could
feel no pain now - and bent over that still form which had
been lying beside me. Oh! it was the heaven-blessed face of
Rayel, now bleeding and scarred and ghastly. I raised his
head. The hair fell away where my hand touched it, and a
groan escaped his lips. I could not speak nor weep nor utter
any sound. A strange calmness came over my spirit and I sat
there motionless, bending over him I loved so well, while
the crowd of men looked on in silence. "After His own image
made He man;" these words came to my mind as I looked into
that dear face. Then I prayed in silence - for him. Thank
God! his eyes were open now and his lips were moving. I bent
lower until I could feel his breath upon my cheek.
"Is it you, Kendric?" he whispered. "Did I save you from the
fire? I cannot see you, but I know you are here."
I heard his words distinctly, but I could not answer. The
power of speech seemed to have left me.
"The fire awoke me," he continued, moaning. "We were lying
on the floor. I called to you, but you did not answer. Thank
God! you are safe now."
Returning consciousness brought with it an increasing sense
of his pain, and he began to struggle and groan in dreadful
agony. Suddenly, extending one of his blackened hands until
it touched my face, he shouted in a loud voice:
"Kendric! Kendric! help - help me!"
Then some men laid hold of me and lifted me up. I clung to
Rayel with all my strength, but could not resist them, and
as I was borne away I knew that Rayel and I had parted
After that midnight parting the first thing I can recall was
the touch of a gentle hand upon my face. When my eyes opened
I saw Hester bending over me.
"You are at home now, Kendric," said she. Such a feeling of
weakness came over me that I could not speak. I thought a
nail had been driven into my brain, but the tears that began
rolling down my cheeks and the moans that broke from my lips
seemed to loosen it.
Many days passed before I was able to reflect upon this last
tragic episode in my life or to take any thought of the
morrow. One evening I awoke from a deep sleep feeling a new
interest in life. There were people sitting in the room and
talking in low tones.
"Has he asked for Rayel yet?" said one of them.
"Not yet," was the answer.
"Better not let him know about it yet. There's time enough.
He'll be around soon."
I called to them and they came quickly to my bedside. There
were Hester and Mr. Earl and his good wife, all looking down
upon me with smiling faces.
"You need not be afraid to tell me now. I know that Rayel is
They made no answer.
"I know he is dead, but tell me how it happened," I said.
"There is no danger; I am quite strong now."
Mr. Earl took my hand and told me in a low, calm voice, all
he knew of the tragedy. He only knew, however, that the lamp
had exploded and that Rayel had been horribly burned by the
"I suppose," said he, "that the lamp was on a table near his
bed when it exploded. In a moment the whole room was afire,
and you, no doubt, being asleep at the time, he lifted you
up and ran with you down the stairway and out of the open
door. But in the meantime he had been horribly burned, and
he fell in a faint as soon as he reached the pavement.
Strangely enough you were unconscious for some moments,
although you were not badly burned. Probably it was the
Then no one knows, thought I, what really did happen that
night. The lamp must have fallen almost directly upon
Rayel's head, and the oil had no doubt saturated his hair
"And the house?" I asked. "Is that - "
"In ashes," he replied.
Then every trace of that strange event, which no eye save
mine had witnessed, was wiped out forever. The hideous
secret had better never be told.
"If I was not badly burned, tell me why I have been lying
"Brain fever, my boy," said he. "Too much excitement, I
presume - but you're out of danger now, and will be on your
feet again in a few days."
Fortunately the latter assurance was rightly spoken. The
first day that brought me strength enough to put on my
clothes and walk about the house, Mr. Earl invited me into
the library to talk business. We were no sooner seated than
he unlocked a drawer and handed me a document to read.
It was a deed of all my father's real and personal property.
"They have both confessed," said he.
"Confessed what?" I asked, wondering if the secret of my
father's death had come out.
"The conspiracy against your life. There were two
accomplices - one Count de Montalle, formerly a servant of
Cobb, and now a convict in America, and the other a man
named Fenlon, who is under arrest. These were the men who
tried to take your life. Fenlon came over on the steamer
with you, I believe."
"And my stepmother - where is she?"
"Gone to answer for her sins at a higher court," said he.
"Her last deposition is annexed to the deed. The old hussy
ran into the fire like a miller, and stood there screaming,
'Look at that picture on the wall! Oh, God! do you see it?'
she shouted to the fellow who found her standing in the
smoke and flames. The chap was so excited he really thought
that he did see the picture of a woman holding a knife."
"That is strange, isn't it?" said I. "Who was the man?"
"A detective," said he, "whom I hired to watch the house
that night. He heard some disturbance, it seems, and,
fearing mischief, he immediately forced the door open and
ran pell-mell into your cousin, noble fellow, who was then
bringing you down-stairs. If he had been one moment later
the woman would have been burned to death, and we would
never have got this deposition. Cobb wouldn't have been the
first to weaken, you may be sure of that. But after she had
told the whole story, why, there was no use in holding out.
Badly burned? No, strange to say, she was not badly burned,
but frightened out of her wits. The nervous shock was too
much for her and soon led to fatal results. Cobb will go to
I made no reply. I could not have found words to express the
thoughts that came trooping through my brain.
"I have to tell you," he continued, "that your cousin left a
will bequeathing to you his father's house and a number of
I turned away and burning tears of sorrow came to my eyes.
It was indeed a sad inheritance - the earthly part of his
great riches - and of little moment to me. I could not bear
to think or speak of it then, and I begged my friend to hide
the will from my sight until time might give me strength to
read it with composure.
One evening in early spring Hester and I were walking along
the shore of the Mediterranean at Marseilles. I had been
traveling through southern Europe since my recovery,
accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Earl. Hester had recently joined
us in this ancient city of Provence. The sun was sinking
below the distant horizon of water, and his shafts, glancing
from the western edge of the sea, shot far into the
immeasurable reaches above us. We stood in silence while the
great wall of night loomed into the zenith, and then fell
westward through the luminous slope of heaven. The broad
terrace from which we viewed the scene was quite deserted.
"If it is a hopeless love I cherish, let me know it now,
Hester," I said as we turned to go. "I cannot wait any
"You can wait half an hour longer, I am sure," she said,
hurrying me along. "We will be at home, then."
Some months after Hester had become my wife we received a
call in London from our old friend, Mr. Murmurtot.
"You have been playing in a great life drama," said he to
Hester, "and I, too, have had a part in it. Lest you may
think that it was the fool's part, let me tell you that I am
the man who arrested the Count de Montalle."
"And the man who brought Fenlon to justice?" I asked.
"The same. He confessed within three hours after you were
introduced to him."
* * * * * * *
Every week my wife and I visit Rayel's grave and strew fresh
flowers upon it. A tall shaft of marble marks the spot where
he lies at rest. His name is graven in the stone, and
underneath it are these words: "He was a man without
selfishness or vanity."