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The Beautiful White Devil online

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at some pains to secure?

The house was packed from pit to gallery, and I noticed that more than
one glass was levelled at the beautiful girl who took her place at
Janet's side in the front of the box. Alie herself, however, seemed
quite unconscious of the admiration she excited, and throughout the
piece kept her eyes fixed upon the stage with never failing
earnestness. What the play was I have not the very vaguest

In the middle of the first act I noticed that three gentlemen entered
the box opposite us, and from the vociferous nature of their applause,
gathered that they had evidently been dining, not wisely, but too
well. After a while their glasses were so continually brought to bear
on our box that I began to feel myself, foolishly enough, becoming
excessively annoyed. The face of one of them struck me as familiar,
and during the next interval, seeing that they had left their box, I
made an excuse and went out to endeavour to discover who he was and
where I had seen his face before. For a little while I was
unsuccessful in my search, then, just as the next act was commencing,
I turned a corner and almost ran into their arms. The man whose face I
had been puzzling about was furthest from me, but I knew him
instantly. _It was Barkmansworth!_ My heart seemed to stand still with
terror, and when I recovered my wits he was gone.

What was I to do? I dared not tell Alie before my sister and Mrs.
Barker, and yet I knew, if Barkmansworth had recognised her, not an
instant must be lost in getting her out of harm's way. For a moment I
stood in the vestibule feeling more sick and giddy than I have ever
felt before or since, and all the time trying vainly to think how to
act. Then, when I took my seat again and saw that the occupants of the
box opposite had left, I resolved to put off all consideration of the
matter for that evening and to call and tell Alie first thing in the
morning. Oh, that little bit of indecision! How fatal were its

When I had conveyed my fair charges home I made a severe headache an
excuse, and bidding them good-night, set off on foot for my own abode.
But my brain was too full of anxiety to entertain any idea of bed, so,
turning off from the direct route, I wandered down to the Green Park
and on to the Embankment, thence through Lincoln's Inn Fields to
Oxford Street, and so round to Cavendish Square. By the time I let
myself into my house it was nearly three o'clock and a beautiful
morning. Passing along the hall, I went into my consulting room and
lit the gas. A letter lay upon the table, addressed in my sister's
handwriting, and marked "Immediate." With a sickening fear in my
heart, I tore it open and read:


Come to me at once, without an instant's delay. Alie has
been arrested.

Your frantic sister,

The blow had fallen! My little shirking of an unpleasant duty had
ruined the woman I loved. Oh, how bitterly I reproached myself for my
delay in reporting my discovery. But if I had hesitated then, I did
not do so now. A second or two later I had let myself out again and
was off, as fast as I could go, on my way back to South Kensington.



Never shall I forget the misery of that walk back from Cavendish
Square to South Kensington; I seemed to be tramping for ever, and all
the time the words "Alie has been arrested!" "Alie has been arrested!"
were singing and drumming in my ears with relentless reiteration. When
I reached the house the sun was above the roof tops and I was wearied
almost to the point of dropping. I rang the bell, and the peal had not
died away before poor, heavy-eyed Janet had opened the door to me.
Without a word she led me into her morning-room, the room where I had
first told her of my love for Alie, and, having made me sit down,
would not let me speak until I had partaken of some refreshment. I
filled my glass, but pushed my plate away from me; I could drink, but
I was far too miserable to eat.

"Janet," I cried, "for Heaven's sake tell me, as quickly as you can,
all that has happened!"

"My poor George," she said; "as I told you in my note, Alie has been
arrested. You had not left the house more than a quarter of an hour
before two men called and asked to be allowed to see me on most
important business. They were shown in here and, when we were alone,
requested permission to see Alie. I went to fetch her and brought her
down with me. Then one of the men advanced towards her with a paper in
his hand and said 'Alie Dunbar, in the Queen's name I arrest you on a
charge of piracy upon the High Seas.' Oh! it was horrible, and I can
see it all now!"

"And what did my poor girl say?"

"Nothing! She was just as calm and collected as she always is. She
simply took the paper from the man's hand and looked at it, after
which she said: 'There must be some mistake; however, you are only
doing your duty, I suppose. Where do you wish to take me?' 'To
Scotland Yard first, madam,' the man said, 'then on to Bow Street.'
Hearing that, Alie turned to me, and putting her arms round my neck,
said: 'You will soften this blow as much as you can for George, won't
you, Janet?' and then announced that as soon as she had changed her
dress, and procured her hat and cloak, she would be ready to accompany
them. These changes in her costume she was permitted to make, and,
when they were accomplished, we set off, but not before I had written
that note to you. We expected you would follow us at once, and be able
to arrange the matter of bail."

"I did not get your letter until after three o'clock. I was in such a
strange state of mind last night that I went for a long walk after
leaving you. Janet, it is all my fault. Did you notice those men in
the box opposite us at Drury Lane? If so, you may have observed that
they continually stared at Alie through their glasses?"

"I _did_ notice them, and very ill-bred fellows I thought them. I
think Alie must have thought so too! But what have they to do with
this matter?"

"Why, the man at the back of the box was none other than the person
mentioned in that last newspaper paragraph about the Beautiful White
Devil. He was the man, Barkmansworth, in fact, whom the Beautiful
White Devil took from the mail boat and flogged in mid-ocean."

"But what has this to do with Alie?"

"Why, simply that, - no there can be no shirking it now, it must come
out, and I know it is perfectly safe for me to tell you, - simply,
Janet, because Alie _is_ the Beautiful White Devil."

"Oh, George, my dear old brother; is this terrible thing true?"

"Perfectly true, Janet!"

"And you, of all men, were going to marry the Beautiful White Devil?"

"Don't say 'were,' say 'are'! Janet, it is only half-past five now. An
hour and a half must elapse before I can do any good at the police
station. If you will listen I will tell you the story of Alie's
singular life, and how I became mixed up with her. Then, remembering
what you have seen of her yourself, you will be able to judge what
sort of woman the Beautiful White Devil really is!"

Thereupon I set to work and told her all my adventures. I described
Alie's father's treatment by his government; his setting up a kingdom
for himself in the Pacific; the events which followed his death and
Alie's accession to the throne; the feud between herself and the
Eastern Governments; her acts of justice and retribution; the outbreak
of small-pox in her settlement, and her sending for me; what I saw on
the island, and how I first came to love her. It was a long story, and
by the time I had finished it was nearly seven o'clock. Then I looked
at Janet, and found big tears standing in her eyes.

"What do you think of the Beautiful White Devil now?" I asked.

"I think that, come what may, George, we must save her."

"Of course we must, and now I'm going off to see her. May I give her
any message from you?"

"Give her my fondest love, and tell her that, come what may, she shall
be saved."

"It will cheer her to know that, in spite of what has happened, you
believe in her. Good-bye!"

"Good-bye, my poor George."

I left the house, and hurrying down to Gloucester Road, took the
underground train for the Temple, walking thence to Bow Street. On
entering the police station I asked to see the officer in charge. To
this grim official I stated the nature of my business, and begged to
be permitted an interview with his prisoner. This he granted with a
very civil grace; the jailer was accordingly called and I was led down
a long corridor.

"Seeing that she is a lady," that official said, as he unlocked a door
on the right, "we have given her a somewhat better room than we
usually allow our prisoners. I have orders to permit you a quarter of
an hour together."

He opened the door and I went in. With a little cry of joy, Alie, who
had been sitting on a sofa at the further end, sprang to her feet and
ran towards me, crying as she did so:

"Oh, George, dear, I knew you would come to me as soon as you could."

I took her in my arms and kissed her again and again; her dear eyes
were flooded with tears when I released her, but she brushed them away
and tried to look brave for my sake. Then I led her back to the sofa
and sat down beside her.

"Alie," I said softly, "this is all my fault. I saw Barkmansworth at
Drury Lane last night and ought to have warned you. I intended to have
done so this morning, but it was too late."

"Hush!" she answered, "you must not blame yourself. I, too, recognised
him last night and should have spoken to you about it to-day. It is
too late _now_, as you say."

"Can nothing be done, Alie?"

"I cannot say yet. I have been too much upset since my arrival here to
think. But you must find me a lawyer at once, George, who will defend
me at the preliminary examination, and if it looks as if the case will
go against me you must find some means by which I can escape."

"Escape? Alie, you do not realise how impossible that is."

"Nothing is impossible when one has brains enough to devise a plot and
sufficient money to work it out."

"If I could only feel as you do about it. But have you any scheme to

"Not yet, but I shall devote my whole attention to it and it will go
hard with me if I cannot hit on something. Would you have the courage
to dare very much for my sake, George?"

"I would dare anything under the sun for you, Alie, and though you
asked me such a question, I do not think you feel any doubt as to
what answer I would give."

"I had no doubt. Do not think that. And now, George, tell me what your
sister says, now that she knows who I am?"

"Janet is more your friend than ever. I told her your story this
morning, and she bade me give you her love and tell you we would save
you yet."

Again the tears rose in Alie's eyes.

"What will the East say when it hears that the Beautiful White Devil
is caught at last?"

"I don't know, and I don't care. One thing I'm certain of, however,
and that is that I should like to have five minutes with Mr.
Barkmansworth alone. I think then he'd know that - - "

But what I was going to say was interrupted by the entrance of the
officer who had brought me to the room.

"Time's up, I'm sorry to say, sir."

I rose immediately and turned to say good-bye! Being a good-hearted
fellow, the man left us alone together for another moment, and during
that time I was able to whisper an assurance to my sweetheart that no
stone should be left unturned to secure her release. Then bidding her
be of good cheer, I passed out, feeling as if the bolts clanging
behind me were closing on my heart.

It was well after eight o'clock before I left Bow Street and turned
homewards; the shops, in most cases, had their shutters down, but
though I looked for a newspaper board, it was some time before I
sighted one. Then for the first time I saw the headline I had been

_"Sensational Arrest of the Notorious Beautiful White Devil."_

I stopped and bought a paper and then continued my journey, pausing at
a telegraph office to send a wire to my old chum, Brandwon, in which I
asked him, as he valued our friendship, to come to me without a
moment's delay. When I got home I changed my clothes - had a cold bath,
which restored me somewhat, and then ordered breakfast, which I felt I
could not touch, and while it was preparing, sat down to read the
account of the arrest. It was but a short report and published the
barest details.

Nine o'clock had just struck when a cab drew up at the door and
Brandwon jumped out. I opened the front door to him myself, and, as I
did so, felt as if we were one step at least on the road to Alie's

"Look here, my friend," he said, as I led him across the hall to my
dining-room. "This is all very well, you know, but what in the name of
fortune makes you send for me at this unearthly hour. Have you
poisoned a patient and find yourself in need of me to square matters,
or have you been jilted and hope to bring an action for the damage
done to your broken heart? Out with it. But forgive my chaff if it's
anything more serious."

He must have seen by my face that something was very wrong, for his
jocular manner suddenly left him and he sat down all seriousness.

"There is something very much the matter, Brandwon," I said; "read

I handed him the morning paper and pointed to the paragraph detailing
the arrest. He read it through and then, seating himself at the
breakfast table, poured himself out a cup of coffee and buttered a
piece of toast, before he spoke. When he did so, he said solemnly, "I
think I understand. You are interested in this lady and want me to
undertake her defence - is that so?"

"That is exactly what I want. I was at my wit's end to know what to
do, when suddenly it flashed through my brain, 'Send for Edward
Brandwon.' I sent that wire accordingly, and here you are. If there is
any man living who can save the woman I love, you are he."

"I'll do my best, you may be sure, for your sake, old boy. Now, where
is she?"

"At Bow Street. She is to be brought before the court this morning at
twelve o'clock."

He took out his watch and looked at it.

"Well, I've none too much time. I'll go down and have an interview
with her at once. Keep up your heart, old chap, we'll do our best and
nobody can do more!"

I wrung his hand, and then, hailing a cab, he jumped into it and set
off for the police station.

Long before twelve o'clock I was in the court, waiting for the
examination to come on. The news of the case must have gone abroad,
for the hall was densely packed with people anxious to catch a glimpse
of the famous Beautiful White Devil, whose exploits were almost as
well known in England as in the East. Every rank of life seemed to be
represented and, when the magistrate took his seat on the bench, I
noticed that the chairs on either side of him were occupied by two
illustrious personages whose dignity should have prevented them from
giving such an exhibition of idle curiosity. Seeing the rush there was
to stare at my poor unfortunate sweetheart, I could have found it in
my heart to hit out like a madman at those round me.

Precisely at twelve o'clock the door on the right hand side of the
court opened, and Alie stepped into the hall and ascended the iron
dock. She walked with her usual queenly step, held her head high, and
when she reached her place, looked proudly round the dingy hall. Such
was the effect of her wonderful beauty upon those present, that,
despite the efforts of the officers of the court to prevent it, a loud
buzz of admiration came from the spectators. She was dressed entirely
in black, a colour which, as I have said before, displayed her white
skin and beautiful hair to the very best advantage. Having taken her
place, she bowed politely to the presiding magistrate, who returned
her salute, and then the examination commenced. The first proceeding
was for the police to make a statement of their case to the court. It
was then shown that, although a warrant had long been out for her
arrest, the Beautiful White Devil had evaded justice for many years.
Indeed, it was only for the reason that information had been supplied
to the London police within the last few days, that they had become
aware that the Beautiful White Devil had left the East and arrived in
England. Inquiries were instantly made, and on the strength of them
the prisoner now in the dock had been arrested. They, the police, did
not propose to call witnesses at this preliminary hearing, but would
merely ask that the information should be read over, the evidence of
arrest given, and then a remand granted in order that the arrival of
an officer from Singapore might be awaited and further inquiries made.

At this point Brandwon rose to his feet, and, adopting a quiet, sober
attitude of respectful remonstrance, begged to be allowed to place
before the court what he considered and would unhesitatingly call a
deliberate and cruel injustice. He pointed out the small likelihood
there was of the charge being true, he dilated upon the facts of
Alie's arrival from Australia, of her quiet, lady-like demeanour,
spoke of her impending marriage with a gentleman, a personal friend of
his own, well known and universally respected in London, and brought
his remarks to a close by declaring it a monstrous thing that, in this
nineteenth century and in this land of which we pretend to be so
proud, it should be within the power of a public body like the police,
without a tittle of evidence at their back to bear their case out, to
bring so shameful a charge against an innocent girl, who might
possibly have to suffer from the effects of it all her life. He would
not ask the court to consent to a remand; on the contrary, he would
ask His Worship to dismiss the case altogether, and, at the same time,
to issue a stinging and well-merited rebuke to the police for their
officiousness and quite uncalled-for action in the matter.

Clever and impressive as his harangue was, it, however, failed utterly
in its purpose. The magistrate had evidently carefully considered the
case beforehand and determined upon his course of action. The decision
given, therefore, was "remanded for a week. Bail refused."

I saw Alie bow gravely to the court, the policeman open the door of
the dock, and a moment later, feeling quite sick and giddy, I was in
the throng leaving the court. By the time I reached the street my
darling was on her way to Holloway.

That afternoon, at three o'clock, Janet and I drove out to the prison,
and, having shown our authorities, were instantly conducted to the
room in which prisoners are permitted to interview their friends.

What the two women I loved best in the world said to each other during
that interview I cannot remember. I only know that Janet kissed Alie
and cried over her, and that Alie received it all with that gentle
graciousness which was so wonderfully becoming to her. When we had
discussed the events which had led up to the arrest, I asked Alie if
she were quite comfortable.

"Perfectly," she answered. "My cell is by no means an unpleasant one.
I have some books and writing materials, and I have arranged to have
my meals brought in to me from a restaurant outside."

"What did you think of Brandwon's speech this morning?" I then asked

"I thought it very clever and impressive," she answered, "but I was
not surprised when it proved of no avail. No! There is very little
chance as far as I can see. In a month the officer from Singapore will
be in London, and, unless something happens to prevent it, I shall be
sent out East to stand my trial."

"Something must prevent it," whispered Janet.

"But what? You cannot escape so easily in England, I find," she
answered. "These stone walls are very strong and the discipline is so

"But tell me, Alie," I broke in, "what Brandwon thinks of your
chance. You have of course told him everything?"

"He says my only hope is their not being able to prove identity.
Barkmansworth's evidence unsupported will not go for very much, he
thinks, and, Ebbington and Vesey being dead, there only remain the two
native princes, and the man-of-war's men who by chance may not be
called. I fear it is a hopeless business, however."

"No! No! You must not think that. Be sure we will find a way to get
you off. Trust us." Then dropping my voice, "And if we can't do it
legally we'll do it illegally."

"You must run no risk for my sake, George; I could not allow that."

"If only Walworth were here. His wit would hit on something."

"Walworth unfortunately is ten thousand miles away. So it is no use
thinking of him. But see, here is the warder - your time is up.
Good-bye, dear Janet. I pray that you may find it in your heart to
forgive me for having brought this trouble upon you."

But Janet, who by this time had learned to love this fascinating girl
with all her heart, would listen to no such talk. When the door
opened, like the kind sister she was, she went out first, thus
permitting us an opportunity of saying farewell alone. When I joined
her again I had a little note in my waistcoat pocket that seemed
somehow to make me a happier man than I had been for hours past.

From the prison I drove Janet to her own house and then went back to
Cavendish Square.

When I had dismissed the cabman I let myself in and proceeded to my
consulting room. Opening the door, I walked in, only to come to a
sudden halt before a man sitting in my own armchair. He was small and
queerly built, wore a long coat that reached nearly to his heels, had
gray hair, a ferociously curled moustache, and a short, closely
cropped white beard. The effect, when he looked at me over the edge of
the paper he was perusing, was most comical. For a moment I stood
bewildered, but I was destined to be even more so when he rose and
came toward me, holding out his hand, and saying:

"Bon jour, Monsieur!" Then in broken English, "Pray, do you not
remember your very old friend?"

I thought and thought, but for the life of me could not recollect ever
having seen his face before. I was about to speak when he stopped me,
and changing his voice said in excellent English:

"No! I can see you don't." Then pulling off his wig: "Well! Do you

_It was Walworth!_



Directly I realised who my guest was, I rushed forward and seized his
hand with a show of delight greater than, I believe, I have ever felt
at meeting a man before or since. If I had been given the pick of all
men in the world at that particular juncture in my life's history, I
believe I should have declared for _him_.

"We had no idea that you were in England," I said when the first
excitement had somewhat subsided. "Both Alie and I thought you were
ten thousand miles away. You have heard the awful news, I suppose."

"How could I help it when every board in the streets sets it forth,
and all the paper boys are bellowing the latest news of the capture of
the Beautiful White Devil. But I want to know the real facts."

"You shall know everything directly. But first tell me what has
brought you home in this providential manner?"

"I came because I heard that Barkmansworth was coming. I received a
warning from Hong Kong that he had applied for leave, and I knew that
if he found out her ladyship was in England he would lose no
opportunity of revenging himself for that affair outside Singapore.
But he got away before me, and my welcome to London yesterday was the
news of her ladyship's arrest. You did not see me at the preliminary
examination this morning, I suppose?"

"No! I certainly did not. And I thought I scanned every face."

"And yet I was standing beside you all the time!"

"Good gracious, how do you mean?"

"Pray tell me who stood next to you? Wasn't it a medium sized
military-looking man in a much worn frock coat with a velvet collar?"

"Now I come to think of it, it was!"

"Well, I was that man. I'm beginning to think my disguises are
artistic after all."

"But _why_ all this disguise? What are you afraid of in London?"

"I am afraid of our friend Barkmansworth, if you want to know. I was
the man who took him off the mail boat, remember, and my face must be
unpleasantly familiar to him. If he saw me, I should be arrested
within an hour, and whatever happens, seeing the work that lies before
us, that must not!"

"Do you think you can be of use to her ladyship in her defence then?"

"It must never come to a defence. It would be fatal to allow her to be

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Online LibraryGuy BoothbyThe Beautiful White Devil → online text (page 15 of 19)