Elizabeth Missing Sewell.

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staff on the Headland, as it was seen through an
opening in the trees.

Rachel drew near : " Look, Ronald ; there is a
light on the Point. Is it any one moving ? "

" It is a fire, not a lantern."

"A fire there! What for?"

" Never mind ; there are often fires on the Point."

Rachel continued : " Some one said one day that
they were always lighted by smugglers ; will it have
any thing to do with Clement?"

He made no reply.

" May we come on, Ronald ? Miss Campbell will
be so tired and frightened."

" Yes ; I had forgotten ;" and he went on quickly,
still, however, looking towards the Point.


" Are you very much afraid for Clement, Ronald ?"

" I don't know ; I hope not. See, Rachel, there
is the cottage. Should you mind going to the door

" I would rather not, if you don't care;" and she
drew nearer to him. " If Hardman should be out,
or Miss Campbell shouldn't be there, what should
I do?"

"But I would wait for you here ; I would be
within sight."

" Hark ! there is a voice — -papa's voice ; and there
he is at the door, and Miss Campbell Avith him. He
must have come by the Cleve coach. Mrs. Robinson
went to tell him about Clement."

" Mrs. Robinson ! Did she know ? "

" Yes, about his having gone with the smugglers.
I don't know how she heard it. Please let me go;"
and she would have sprung forward, but Ronald
kept her back.

" Listen, Rachel. I can't see Mr. Lester. Tell
him what I said. He must Avatch for Clement on the
beach. Say to him that I will Avatch too. Say to
Miss Campbell that I remember my promise, and " —
his voice failed him — "good-by'e, Rachel. I shall
never forget this evening."

" Good-by'e, and thank you so very, very much,

She ran to the cottage, and Ronald turned into a
narrow track in the wood.



The day closed ominously, tliougli the upper part of
the sky was clear, for thick masses of vapour were
collecting in the horizon, and gusts of wind rushed
threateningly over the chafed weaves.

Captain Vivian, wrapped in a rough seaman's coat,
watched the failing light from the shelter of the
rocks gathered around Dark Head Point. Immovable
as he stood for a long time, lie could scarcely have
been distinguished from them ; yet, as the glimmer
became fainter and more f\iint, he might have been
seen slowly ascending the rough path cut in the
cliffs, till he stood before the passage entrance to the
cave, in which he and Ronald had met that morning.
The light yet lingered within, forcing its way through
apertures in the rock ; and flinging himself upon the
ground, so as to command the entrance, Captain
Vivian placed a pistol by his side, lighted his cigar,
and waited, as it appeared, with tolerable tranquillity
the course of coming events.

His watchfulness, however, was not chiefly directed
to the entrance of the cave; more frequently he
turned his head towards the large stone near the
rough hearth, and several times he took his cigar
from his mouth and listened. He grew impatient at


length, and rose and paced the cave ; and once he
touched the stone, as if to move it ; but then some-
thing checked him, and he sat down again near, still

The long, low whistle so familiar to him was
heard at last, very faint, coming, as it seemed, from
within the rock. Captain Vivian answered it, and
immediately pushed aside the stone, rolling it from
him with the strength of a giant. Behind it only
the side of the cave was discovered ; but the surface
was uneven, and pieces of the rock had been de-
tached one from the other, and heaped together
against it. Some of these Captain Vivian removed
carefully, and a small opening was seen behind it.
He put his head close to it : " Goff!"

"Ay, Captain!"

It was but the work of a minute to remove a few
more of the stones, and an opening was made large
enough to admit the body of a man ; and through
this opening crept GofF.

" Better close our door, only not too close," said
Captain Vivian. He pushed the stone a^^jalnst the
opening, but without building it up as before.

GofF sat down on the wooden bench without

" Successful ? " said Captain Vivian.

He nodded his head.

" What! in earnest?" and a gleam of wild exulta-
tion shot across Captain Vivian's face.

" What else should a man be but in earnest ! They
may search to the poles now for the bits of their pre-
cious paper."


Captain Vivian drew a deep breath : " One of ten
thousand ! Did she give it ? "

" Give it ! she'd have fought single-handed first ;
but it's quick work with a woman."

" You have done her no harm ! " exclaimed Captain
Vivian, quickly.

GoiF laughed : " Frightened her little wits out of
her, no more. You might have done the same if
you'd had but a grain more of pluck in you. But
now to business."

Captain Vivian sat silent ; and Goff spoke again :
" The work's not done, — remember that, Captain."

He started. The mood of thought had passed
away, and the first success stimulated his longing for
greater. " I'm ready," he said ; " the time draws
near. Mr. Lester and Edward Vivian are returned."

" You have seen them ? "

" I watched amongst the brushwood, after we
parted, till they were in sight. They came by the
Cleve road, and went straight to Hardman's cottage.
I came off to the shore then. If they had an inkling
of the state of affairs, their object must have been to
get help."

" Then they will be here soon," said Goff.

" I care not," Avas the reply. " Edward Vivian is
in my power now. I will meet him, and make him
yield to any terms of silence as to the past."

" Wlien and where ? "

" Here on the shore. I will watch for him. You
have sent abroad the report of the landing ? "

" It's over the village by this time," replied Goff.
" A hint I gave to the boy Styles has set it going. The


preventives are on the look-out ; and the woman at
the Farm has been spreading the tale at the Hall. I
heard Bertha Campbell and Rachel Lester talking of it,
as I followed them when they first came out of the
Hall grounds. They little thought I was so near."

" We light the beacon then, and the vessel makes
to shore."

" Yes. When the first fire burns, she tacks in ;
at the second, she sends off the boat with Clement
on board. Between the two, therefore, is the time
for Edward Vivian, if you still keep your purpose."

" Keep to it ! It will be my triumph or my re-

" There might be a surer one," muttered GofF,
handling his pistol. "But as you will — safe's safe,
all the world over. But how if Edward Vivian re-
fuses to give in ? "

" Then let the boy meet his fate ; and for ourselves
— there's the boat and escape to the vessel, and a
run on the coast opposite till we see the turn things
take. There's no fear."

" Fear ! " and Goff laughed scornfully. " If I had
feared, I should never have ventured myself into the
deep waters with you, Captain : you are the last to
lend a helping hand to get one out. But it's settled

"Yes, settled — certain. We keep near the boat,
and can be off at a moment's warning if necessary.
It's waiting by the East bay ; I took care it should be
in readiness before I joined you just now on the

" The beacon must be lighted," said Goff, surlily.


Captain Vivian was silent.

" Do you repent, Captain ? Will you leave it to me
to settle?"

" Repent ! when we have triumphed ! " There
was scorn but no triumph in Captain Vivian's tone ;
perhaps he thought of Ronald.

Goff spoke more lightly : " Stop a minute then,
whilst I light the beacon which will bring the little
craft to her duty; and we'll go along the beach
towards the boat. We shall have a watch over Ed-
ward Vivian at the same time, for he'll be down before
another half hour is over."

GoiF left the cave as he had entered it, and in a
few minutes returned again. " It burns bravely," he
said. " We'll leave the passage open — with only the
door shut, I mean. It may be useful." He pushed the
stone again into its place. " Now for the boat."

They went down the cliff together ; as they reached
the bottom. Captain Vivian approached his companion,
and drew him within the shadow of the rocks : " Hist !
hist ! d'ye see ? "

Three men were walking at a little distance along
the shore. They exactly intercepted the course which
must be taken to reach the boat.

"Preventives!" whispered Captain Vivian. "They'll
not disturb us yet."

" I'm not sure ; the middle one has something like
Edward Vivian's stalk."

The men drew nearer, then turned again : they
were evidently keeping watch.

" Risk it, and go by," muttered Captain Vivian.

" Not safe. We don't know what he may be up to ;


and we must catcli Lim alone for your purpose — and
for mine too," was added in an under tone.

They stood still deliberating. Goff looked up at
the cliff, considering whether it were possible to scale
it. It was rugged, but not by any means inaccessible ;
yet he seemed unwilling to attempt it. " It's safest
where we are," he said: "keep down amongst the
rocks, and bide your time. He must pass this way ; if
not, I'll give him a hint that will send him. Leave
me to look after the boat : when needed, it shall be in
the inner bay. Yet stay ; — how is the second blaze
to be cared for ? I said it should be lighted at the
East Point."

" If Edward Vivian comes I will take him there.
The boat will then be below us, ready."

" Good ! Then you set the second light yourself."

" Ay, and Edward Vivian's obstinacy shall kindle
it ; and when it blazes, it shall destroy his hopes for
his boy for ever."

An hour and a half later the moon had risen ; but
her light was obscured by passing clouds, and the
wind was still moaning sadly, and occasionally rising
into shrill, prolonged howls. But it was a land wind,
and the sea was as yet sufficiently calm to enable a
boat to approach the shore.

The little smuggling vessel was riding at anchor at
a considerable distance to the west of the Headland.
The sands were covered, for it was recently high tide ;
and heavy waves crashed upon the stones of the beach,
and tossed themselves against the sea-weed covered

There were no signs of any one upon the beach ;


but once, as the moon glided forth from the clouds,
her light touched a figure moving high up along the
face of the cliiF, to the east of the Headland; and
then, in a sudden lull of the wind, came the rush of
loose stones detached from their j)osition.

The flash of a dark lantern was seen from behind
the rocks below the Smugglers' cave ; and two men in
the dress of the coast guard advanced and looked
up towards the cliif.

" They've not given us the slip, surely ? "

" Not they ; and if they have, there are enough
waiting for them. 'Twas but a fall after the rains."

The man who had spoken first stepped cautiously
over the rocks to a little distance, and then returned.

" They've help waiting for them, Ryan," he said :
"I heard a call above there, behind us."

" A call ! — for us perhaps."

" No, no ; I saw them away to the right. Now
look, they are moving."

A very keen sight might perceive the objects
pointed out, but they were now stationary again.
Ryan seemed certain that they belonged to the coast-
guard, though he kept his attention directed towards

"Why! Dennis, man," he said, "the landing was
to be made to the west, so their friends would be
away beyond the Point ! "

"I don't hold all that for Gospel," replied Dennis.
" Ten to one but the hint we had was putting out a
false light ; I thought so at the time. Now, don't you
see? Tliey're creeping along again."

Four persons could now clearly be distinguished near



the edge of the cliff, but the dim light was not at all
sufficient to determine their dress ; and a rather eager
discussion began in an under tone between Ryan and
Dennis, — the latter insisting that they should move
to the east side of the Point, and keep guard upon
the movements of the suspicious individuals above ;
Ryan as firmly holding to his determination to re-
main where he had been placed, according to a hint
given through a boy in the village, known to be con-
nected with the smugglers, that the landing would be
made, if possible, west of the Headland.

" A few steps up the cliff would settle the matter
quietly," said Dennis, tired at length of endeavouring
to persuade his comrade of a fact of which he him-
self was firmly convinced. " Keep your stand here,
man, if you will ; I shall be with you in half a second,
if there's need."

Without waiting for an assent, he climbed up
several feet, and threw himself with a spring
upon a square projecting rock, standing forth like
a table, from which his eye could reach any objects
moving either to the right or left along the cliffs,
besides commanding an extensive reach of the coast.

Voices sounded above, but they were not dis-
tinguishable. The cliff was in this place tolerably
easy of ascent, for it was worn into ledges ; and the
preventive man, accustomed to scale it under all cir-
cumstances, found no difficulty in approaching still
nearer, so as at length to be very near the summit,
yet not himself within view.

Mr. Lester's voice was the first recognised : " The
coast-guard fellows are away beyond the Point ;
that ousrht to be our direction."



Hardman, the gamekeeper, answered : " They are
all along, Sir. Three of them have been upon the
shore, near the boat house, for the last hour, so John
Price here says. He saw them as he came back,
after taking Miss Campbell and Miss Rachel home.
We might ask them what they are after."

" No, no," interposed another voice, stopped sud-
denly by Mr. Lester.

"Impossible to ask them, Hardman. They have
their duty to perform, without respect of persons. It
must be our own work."

A slide of stones, as Dennis retreated down the
cliff to give the information he had gained to his
companion, startled the little party into silence.

Mr. Lester drew Mr. Vivian aside : •' Once more,
Vivian, think : this can be no work for you."

"If it is not mine it is no one's. I am resolved.
And I can defend myself now : I am armed."

" No protection from a pistol bullet ; but you are
wilful;" and Mr. Lester turned to Hardman. "We
had better separate ; the cliffs for you, the shore for
us. If the landing is made safely, and Clement is of
the party, you have but to meet him and force him
to return with you ; if there should be an affray,
twenty pounds reward to each, if you succeed in
saving him from being engaged in it."

" Twenty pounds ! Forty! fifty! a hundred!" ex-
claimed Mr. Vivian ; then seeing the men's start of
surprise, he checked himself, and added, " What sum
can be too great to save General Vivian's grandson
from public disgrace ?"

The men touched their hats in silence, and moved
s 2


on along the cliffs. Mr. Vivian and Mr. Lester took
a more difficult path downwards.

The descent was about half made when Mr. Vivian
stopped : " I know a better road than the shore,
Lester. The tide is high, and we shall have hard
work to get on. There is a ledge along the cliff —
or there used to be in the old days."

" It passes the cave ; I know it."

"Above or below, as we wilL It will carry us
round the Point if needful, and if your head is firm ;
and we shall command the shore."

"My head will carry me wherever your heart
carries you, Vivian."

They moved on slowly for some distance. The
ledge was narrow and uneven — in some places the
cliff sank perpendicularly below them to the depth of
a hundred and fifty feet ; in others it was more a
path over fallen rocks and projections.

" Look ! Lester " — Mr. Vivian delayed for an
instant — " one of the preventive men in his hiding-
place." He pointed to some large rocks, brought
out into strong relief by the passing of the moon
from amongst the clouds. It was just possible to
distinguish a man crouching behind them.

" Yes ; that seems as if the landing would be on
this side." The figure below stood up in a listening
attitude. " We had better not make ourselves re-
marked," whispered Mr. Lester, and they drew back
from the edge ; but Mr. Vivian seemed inclined to

" I might get something out of him," he said, " if I
were down on the beach alone. None of them know


me ; and a few chance questions might help us a
good deal as to the point at which these fellows will
land. Wait here, and I will see what I can do."

Mr. Lester demurred to the separation; but
Mr. Vivian's eagerness would not stand opposition,
and he immediately began the descent. It was much
more difficult in this spot than he had expected ; and,
in trying to find a safe footing, he was led away from
the place where he had, as he thought, seen the
preventive man hiding ; and when at length he
stood upon the beach, the rocks appeared heaped one
upon another in such confusion that, without insti-
tuting a regular search, it would have been impos-
sible to discover him.

Feeling provoked with himself for his useless
trouble, Mr. Vivian walked along the shore to the
East Point, under the idea that he should probably
meet the other preventive men of whom Hardman
had spoken. His thoughts were painfully busy, and
his attention in a measure withdrawn from the
purpose before him. That rolling, tossing sea was
as the image of a remorseless fate ; its dark, green,
glassy hollows were types of the dangers which had
opened in his own path, and seemed now about to
engulf his boy. And on it came, — pitiless, irre-
sistible, foaming in its mocking brightness, tossing
itself in the pride of its tremendous power. Could
there be the hope of success in struggling against it?
Mr. Vivian's heart failed him for the moment, for in
the keenness of his fears for his boy, he forgot that
to the tide of life's dangers, as to the flow of the great
ocean, the decree has been pronounced, " Hitherto
s 3


shalt thou go, and no farther." He wandered on to
the East Point. A boat was lying close under the
cliff, upon a point of sand left by the tide, which had
just begun to ebb, but there were no signs of the
preventive men ; and it seemed better to make his
way back to Mr. Lester. He turned ; but suddenly
found himself confronted by a square-built man,
wearing a slouched hat very much drawn over his
face, and a shaggy sailor's coat. They stopped as
by mutual consent.

" Rather a rough evening," remarked Mr. Vivian.

"Rough now, and likely to be rougher before
nightfall," was the reply. The words were uttered
in a tone of careless boldness, and they struck
Mr. Vivian's ears with a painful shock of recollec-
tion ; yet he was not certain, and he dreaded to
betray himself. The man placed himself directly in
his way, and continued, " Are you going farther ? "

" I thought of reaching Dark Head Point yonder.
There is no way of ascent here."

" An easier one than you think for ; " and the
man struck his foot upon a little step cut in the cliff.
" These steps will carry you to the top direct, and
from thence it's plain sailing to the Point."

" Thank you, but I prefer the shore." ]\Ir. Vivian
would have passed on.

" We don't part quite so quickly" — the slouched
hat was pushed back, and the speaker stood forth in
the moonlight : " Edward Vivian, there is no dis-
guise from me ; I know you, and I would have a word
with you."

" John ! — at last ! " and Mr. Vivian instinctively
looked round to see if they were alone.


" At last met, and well met !"

" Well met — never ! There is that between us
which it were wise the ocean should bury."

" Perhaps so ; yet old ocean herself cannot always
keep her secrets."

" I have business on my hands which cannot wait,"
said Mr. Vivian. " Since you know me, you will
know also that I am likely to give you many more
opi^ortunities of explanation."

" Were it the business of the united world, it must
wait my pleasure ; and for once" — and Captain Vivian
laughed bitterly — "our interests are the same. I
would speak to you of Clement."

"Clement! — my boy!" Mr. Vivian started for-
ward, and his voice was lowered with intense eager-
ness : " John ! you have done many a deadly deed to

me and mine, but help me to save him, and " ho


That very evening, when he had met Bertha at the
cottage, he had heard, in hurried words, interrupted
by anxiety for Clement, the suspicions, almost the
certainty, of his cousin's deep treachery. He dared
not promise to forgive.

"And what? — what offer of good will Edward
Vivian make to the man whom he basely de-
ceived — whom he robbed of all that his heart de-

'•Deceived! — robbed! — but you have the strong
hand over me, John. Say what you will, we will
seek another occasion for that tale."

" This night's meeting is our first and last. Do
you suppose that I intend to wait tamely, and witness
s 4


my enemy's triumph ? I must be a different man
now from what I was eighteen years ago for that
to be!"

" The questions between yourself and me are too
complicated, and lie too far back, to be reached at a
time like this," replied Mr. Vivian. " They concern
not my present need ; • and be the consequences what
they may, I will not enter upon them." He would
have passed on.

" The questions between yourself and me do indeed
lie far back," replied Captain Yivtan, placing himself
again in his way, and setting his teeth firmly to-
gether ; " but if they are not remedied now they will
never be ; and, what is more, the hour will come —
yes, even before this night has passed over your head
— when you will wish that the sea had sunk you in
its depths, rather than you had refused to listen to

" If your words apply to my unhappy boy," replied
Mr. Vivian, " I say again, you have the strong hand
over me. Speak your will."

" Not here ; we may be interrupted. The pre-
ventive men are on the look-out, and will be
coming by."

" Here, or nowhere. From this point I keep watch
over the shore, and may aid my boy when he may not
be able to aid himself"

" Pshaw ! the boy's fate is in my hands. Till I
lift my finger, not a shadow of harm can happen to

" You ! " Mr. Vivian drew back from him, and
murmured, " Can revenge be carried so far "i "


" So far ! ay, and much farther ! Will you come ?"
He placed one foot upon the cliff.

Mr. Vivian hesitated.

" Trust me or we part instantly, and Clement's
fate is fixed."

" I follow you ;" but Mr. Vivian laid his hand upon
his pistols.

Captain Vivian saw the movement, and laughed :
" Coward ! " he exclaimed ; " if I had willed you mis-
chief, could I not carry out my purpose now, even
here as we stand ? But even in the days when you
did me the deepest wrong, your life was safe in my

" You are right ! " was Mr. Vivian's bitter reply ;
" the life of the body was always safe ; — it was the
life of the heart at which you aimed ! But go on ;
we are at least equal in power;" and silently and
hastily he followed Captain Vivian up the rugged

They stood together on the top of a cliff which
had a lower elevation than Dark Head Point, yet, like
it, commanded a wide view over the sea. The little
smuggling vessel was still at anchor to the west of
the Point. There were no lights on board, nor any
signs of movement. On the summit of the Headland
several figures were indistinctly seen, and two were
pacing up and down at some distance from the East
Point. Captain Vivian cast a hasty glance around
him, and then drew near a pile of dried fern, furze,
and brushwood, collected, as it might have appeared,
accidentally, or perhaps with the intention of being
carried away for fuel.


" We are safe from interruption here," he said.
" The preventives have gathered together after their
prey yonder" — and he pointed to the Headland.
" Tliey may wait to-night, and to-morrow night, and
the next, if I will it, — or rather if you will it."

" Let us have few words, John : for what purpose
have you brought me here ? "

" To give you the opportunity of saving your boy
from disgrace and deadly peril. He is on board that
vessel yonder : when I raise my signal he will come
on shore. Would you know who are after him ?
Three men on the Headland — three on the shore —
others waiting within call. But the smugglers are

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Online LibraryElizabeth Missing SewellCleve Hall (Volume 2) → online text (page 16 of 26)