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The Beautiful White Devil online

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my old friend Samuel Baker again, you see! So I adopted this disguise.
By the way, it may surprise you to learn that every one who enters or
leaves this house is watched and followed. If you go to the window you
will see a man leaning against the lamp post on the other side of the
street. He is a police agent. But let us proceed to business."

"With all my heart," I said. "I'm sick with longing to know how our
preparations are proceeding!"

"Nothing could be more satisfactory," he answered. "The case, as you
well know, will not be called on till the afternoon. The instant it
_is_ over the man I cabled to America for, and in whom I have the most
perfect trust, will drive a pair of vicious horses, purchased
yesterday, out of a livery stable yard in the direction in which the
van will travel. When he sees it ahead of him he will act in such a
manner as to lead people to suppose him to be drunk; he will also
begin to lash his animals, who will certainly run away. He is one of
the finest whips living, and will drive those horses crash into the
team of the van, and by so doing will, we sincerely trust, cause such
damage as will delay their arrival for at least half an hour. In the
meantime our own van will be in readiness, and the instant the case is
over will drive into the yard, and after the necessary preliminaries,
all of which I have personally worked out and arranged, the prisoner
will be put into it, the door locked, and the van will then drive off
to us. We shall be awaiting its arrival; you, madam, in your nurse's
dress, and you, Dr. De Normanville, as I shall prepare you to act the
part of a middle-aged naval man whose one hobby in life is yachting.
Arriving at the house we shall carry the patient, wrapped up to the
eyes, to an invalid carriage in the front street, and drive off to the
station, there to catch the afternoon express for Portsmouth. I have
secured a Pullman car; the house is also engaged, and has been partly
furnished in order to deceive the neighbours: I have settled that the
invalid carriage shall be at the door earlier than it will be wanted,
and the yacht, which I have chartered for six months, will be in
readiness to get under weigh the instant we're aboard!"

"And what will become of the van and horses?"

"The horses will be taken away from the yard within an hour of our
departure. The van can remain there as long as it pleases. We will
hope by the time they find it we shall be far away from England."

"And does Alie understand your arrangements?" asked Janet.

"Perfectly. I called at the gaol this morning, disguised as a
solicitor's clerk, saw her, and told her all. You need have no fear
for her, she will play her part to perfection."

"Then everything is settled, I suppose, and there is nothing for us to
do but to wait patiently for to-morrow?"

"Nothing but that! Now, with your permission, I will be going. I don't
suppose I shall see you again till we meet at the house."

"Good-bye, and God bless you, Walworth, for all you have done."

After he had left us Janet and I sat talking late into the night, and
when we separated at her bedroom door, it was with a heartfelt wish
that "good luck" might attend us on the morrow.

Next morning the long hours seemed as if they would never pass. All my
personal arrangements had been made some days before, and my luggage
sent off to the yacht at Portsmouth, labelled "Captain R. Wakeman," so
there was absolutely nothing at all for me to do to kill the time till
we were due at the house. At twelve o'clock, sharp to the minute,
Janet and I had lunch, and at half-past, set off in different
directions, taking particular care to see that we were not followed.

We reached the house almost simultaneously and were received at the
door by an irreproachable maid-servant, who did not seem in the least
surprised to see us. Walworth we found in a room at the back, this
time irreproachably got up as an old family butler. My sister was
already dressed in her nurse's apparel, and very sweet and womanly she
looked in it. In the passage, outside the one room which had been made
habitable, was a curious sort of stretcher, the use of which I could
not determine.

"That is the bed place upon which we shall carry your poor invalid
wife out to the carriage," said Walworth. "You see it is quite ready
for use."

"I see. And when am I to make my toilette? I have brought the clothes
you mentioned with me, in this parcel."

"That's right. I was half afraid you might bring a hand-bag, which
would have had to be left behind and would very possibly have been
recognised. Now I think you had better come into the other room and
let me make you up at once."

I followed him, and when I emerged again a quarter of an hour later, I
might very well have stood for a portrait of a representative
middle-aged English naval man on the retired list. My hair was iron
gray, as also were my close cropped beard and moustache; the very cut
of my clothes and the fashion of my neck cloth seemed to set forth my
calling as plain as any words could speak. In this get-up I had not
the least fear that any one would recognise me. By this time it was
nearly two o'clock, and the case was to commence at half-past.

"Is everything prepared?" I asked Walworth, for about the hundredth
time, as we adjourned to the sitting-room.

"Everything," he answered, with the same patient equanimity. "Come
into the yard and see them harness the horses."

I followed him out into the back regions, where we found two stalwart
policemen busily occupied attaching a couple of horses to an enormous
Black Maria. They touched their hats to me with as little concern as
if the business they were engaged to carry out was one of the very
smallest importance. Somehow their stolidity did not seem reassuring
to me, and I accordingly called Walworth on one side.

"Are you perfectly sure you can trust these men?" I asked anxiously.

"Absolutely," he answered. "I know them of old, and I can tell you we
are extremely lucky to get them. Besides, they know that if they get
the prisoner safely away they will each receive a thousand pounds. If
they don't they get nothing. Don't be afraid. You may depend
implicitly on them. Now come inside. I have had the telephone put in
the house on purpose for this moment, and we must watch it."

We returned to the sitting-room and waited. The minutes seemed long as
hours, and so horrible was the suspense that I began to conjure up all
sorts of calamities. Perhaps I may be laughed at for owning myself
such a coward, but let the pluckiest man living try the ordeal I was
then passing through, and see if he would be braver. No! I was in a
condition of complete terror, and I'll own it!

Suddenly, with a noise that echoed down the empty corridor and braced
us to action like a trumpet call, the telephone bell rang out. Both
Walworth and I jumped to our feet at the same instant and appropriated
the ear trumpets. Then a tiny voice inside the instrument said

"The case is adjourned and the crowd is dispersing."

With a step as steady and a voice as firm as if he were ordering his
carriage for an airing in the Park, Walworth went to the back door, I
following close at his heels. He gave a signal and then crossed the
yard to the gates, which he began to open.

"Are you ready?" he cried to the men.

"Quite ready," the taller of the pair answered, climbing on the box.

"Papers and everything handy?"

"Aye, aye, sir," said the guard on the seat at the back.

"Very well then, go ahead, and good luck go with you!"

The gates were thrown open and the van rolled out into the
half-deserted street.

"Now come with me," cried Walworth, "and see if the carriage is at the
other door."

We went inside, passed through the house, and out to the front. Yes!
The peculiar-shaped hospital car, with the door opening at the end to
admit the stretcher, was already pacing up and down. By this time I
could do nothing, my teeth were chattering in my head with simple

"Come, come," said Walworth, observing my condition, "you mustn't let
yourself go like this. Let me give you a drop of spirit."

He took a flask from his pocket and poured me out half a tumbler of
whiskey. I drank it off neat and, I am prepared to assert, did not
taste it any more than if it had been so much water. He offered a
little to Janet, who sat in the corner in a listening attitude, and
when she refused it, screwed on the top again and replaced it in his

Again we sat in dumb, almost terrified expectancy. Times out of number
I thought I heard the van roll into the yard, and sprang to my feet,
only to find that it was some cart passing in the street. Its
non-arrival in the time we had given it found me almost too frightened
to think coherently. I conjured up all sorts of catastrophes in my
mind. I saw the horses fall, the driver tumble from his box, I saw our
policemen suspected and the plot found out. Then suddenly in the
middle of it all I heard the roll of wheels, they came closer and
closer, then they stopped, the gates were thrown open, and a second or
two later the van rolled into the yard. Before I could have counted
ten the guard was down from his perch, the gates were closed again,
the door of the van was opened, and Alie ran down the steps. Then,
forgetting those about us, I rushed out and took her in my arms. But
Walworth would have no delay.

"Come inside quickly," he said. "There is not a second to lose! They
may be after us already!"

We followed him into the house, and then for the first time I saw that
Alie had dressed herself in the van for the part she had to play.
Throwing herself down upon the stretcher, she pulled the coverlet
across her, donned a wig with corkscrew curls, drew a veil over her
face, and announced herself ready. Janet picked up her reticule,
smelling salts, shawls, fans, etc.; the maid brought an armful of
rugs; I took one end of the stretcher, Walworth the other, and so we
went down the steps to the carriage. Then the invalid was hoisted in,
Janet and I stepped in and seated ourselves beside her, Walworth
sprang onto the box beside the coachman, and away we went for Waterloo
as fast as our spirited horse could trot.

Not a word was spoken all the way, and in less than ten minutes we had
rattled up the causeway and were disembarking our precious load upon
the platform. As the porters came crowding around us, I thought this a
fitting opportunity for assuming the r√іle I had elected to play. So
calling upon two of them to take up "Mrs. Wakeman" and be very careful
not to shake her, I led the way toward the Pullman which had been
specially reserved for us. Walworth, in his capacity of family
servant, had mounted guard at the door, and, when we were inside, went
off to his own carriage. A minute later the guard waved his flag, the
whistle sounded, and the train steamed slowly out of the station. So
far we were safe. But oh! what an awful risk we had run.

Fortunately the train by which we were travelling was an express, and
did not stop anywhere until it reached Eastleigh; so that as soon as
we were under weigh Alie could remove her wig and bedclothes, and sit

"Alie," I whispered, taking her hand and looking into her beautiful
eyes, "can you believe that, so far, you are safe?"

"Hardly," she said. "But we must not relax any of our precautions. By
this time the police will have learned the truth, and I shouldn't be
at all surprised if the train is searched at Eastleigh. They're
certain to telegraph in every direction to stop us."

"But surely they won't suspect _us_?"

"I hope not, but we must not make too sure." Here she crossed the
carriage and took my sister's hand. "Janet, what could George have been
thinking of to allow you to run this risk? Why did you do it?"

In reply Janet patted her hand, and looked affectionately into her

"If you really want to know the reason, it was because we both love

"You are too good to me," Alie answered, her dear eyes swimming with
tears, "far too good."

"Hush, you must not say that. Let us be thankful that our venture has
prospered as it has done."

Mile after mile sped by, and soon we had passed Winchester and were
drawing close to Eastleigh. Then Alie resumed her wig and veil, and,
having done so, laid herself down once more upon her couch. Closer and
closer we came, till presently we entered the station itself, and,
with a great rattle and roar of brakes, drew up at the platform. Then
ensued the usual scurrying of passengers, the "by your leave" of
porters with trucks of luggage, after that the gradual subsidence of
bustle, and in three minutes all was ready for proceeding upon our way
once more. But just as the guard was about to give his signal the
station master stayed his hand. Next moment an inspector of police,
accompanied by a sergeant and two or three constables appeared upon
the scene and began slowly to inspect the various carriages. I leaned
out of the window and watched them, outwardly calm, but inwardly
trembling. Every moment they were drawing nearer to our carriage. I
looked behind me. Janet was seated by Alie's side slowly fanning her.
From them I turned and glanced down the platform again. The police
were already at the next carriage and in a minute would be at my door.
What should I do? What should I say? But I dared not think. I felt I
must leave it all to chance. A moment later the inspector arrived, and
was about to turn the handle.

"Excuse me," I said, pretending to mistake his meaning, "but this
carriage is engaged! I think you will find room in the next

"I'm not looking for a seat," the officer replied, civilly enough,
"I'm looking for an escaped criminal."

"Hush! Hush! My good sir, not so loud for mercy's sake," I whispered,
as if in an ecstacy of fear. "I have my wife inside dangerously ill.
She must not be frightened."

"I beg your pardon, sir," he answered. "I'm sorry I spoke so loud!"
Then, as I moved aside to admit him: "Don't trouble, sir, I don't
think I need come in, thank you!"

"I'm glad of that," I replied. "And pray who is this escapee you are
looking for?"

"The woman there has been such a talk about lately, 'The Beautiful
White Devil.' She managed to effect an escape on the way to Holloway
Gaol this afternoon. But I am keeping the train. I must get on! Good
afternoon and thank you, sir!"

"Good afternoon."

I sat down with an inarticulate expression of my gratitude to Heaven,
and, a minute or so later, the train continued its journey, not to
stop again until we were in Portsmouth town.

When we arrived at the docks, Walworth and I carried Alie down the
steps to the wharf, and as soon as this was accomplished my faithful
friend went off in search of the launch which, it had been arranged,
should meet and take us out to the yacht, then lying in the harbour.
When he had discovered it, we lifted our precious burden on board, and
steamed out to where our craft lay. Ten minutes later we had Alie
aboard and safely in her own cabin, and were proceeding down the
Solent under a full head of steam. _Our rescue was accomplished._

The yacht was a large one, of perhaps three hundred tons; she was also
a good sea boat, and, what was better still, a fast one. By nightfall
we had left the Isle of Wight behind us, and brought Swanage almost
abeam. Then we stood further out into the Channel and in the gathering
darkness lost sight of land altogether. At seven o'clock we dined
together in the saloon - the skipper, an old shellback whom Walworth
had picked up, sitting down with us. At first he seemed a little
surprised at Alie's sudden convalescence, but when I informed him that
it was nothing but nerves, he accepted the explanation and said no

After the meal was over we left the rather stuffy cabin and went on
deck. It was a glorious night. In the west a young moon was dropping
on to the horizon, the sea was as smooth as a mill pond, and the air
just cool enough to make exercise pleasant. Leaving Walworth and Janet
to fight the battle of our escape over and over again on the port side
of the deck, we paced the starboard, only to find ourselves aft at our
favourite spot, the taffrail.

"George, dear," said Alie softly, when we had been standing there a
few moments. "What a lot has happened since we last stood like this,
looking out across the sea."

"Yes, darling; a great deal has indeed occurred to us both," I
answered. Then, after a little pause, "Alie, do you know if you had
not escaped to-day I should never have been able to forgive myself,
for remember it was I who was the means of bringing you home."

"You must not say that!"

"But I must say it; it is true."

"Then I will forgive you on one condition! Will you make a bargain
with me?"

"What is it?"

"That - that - - " Here a little fit of modesty overcame her. "That we
put into Madeira and you marry me there."

"Alie, darling, do you mean it?" I cried, delighted beyond all measure
at the proposal.

"Of course I mean it."

"But would it be safe, think you?"

"Perfectly! They will never dream of looking for us there. You must
allow the skipper to understand that it is a runaway match. That will
remove his scruples, and make it all plain sailing."

"And you will really be my wife then, Alie?"

"Have I not already been bold enough to ask you to marry me?"

"Then, please God, we will put into Madeira and do as you suggest!"

And that's how it was settled!



I am drawing near the end of my long story now, and, when two more
circumstances connected with our flight have been reported, I shall be
able to lay down my pen and feel that the story of the one and only
romance of my life has been written.

The first of the two circumstances to be recorded is my marriage. On
July 18th, seven days exactly after saying good-bye to England, we
reached Madeira. Previously to sighting the island, Walworth, in a
conversation with the captain, had allowed him to suppose that Alie
was a great heiress, and that ours was a runaway match. His nautical
spirit of romance was stirred, and he found early occasion to inform
me that he would do everything in his power to further the ends we had
in view.

As soon, therefore, as we were at anchor in harbour, and the necessary
formalities had been complied with, I went ashore, hunted up the
proper authorities, and obtained a special license. A parson was the
next person required, and when I had discovered him in the little
vicarage next door to his church, on the outskirts of the town, our
wedding was arranged for the following day at ten o'clock.

Accordingly next morning after breakfast a boat was manned, and Alie,
Janet, Walworth, the captain, and myself went ashore. To avert
suspicion we separated on landing, but met again at the church door
half an hour later. It was a lovely morning, a heavy dew lay upon the
grass, and when the sun came out and smiled upon us, the world looked
as if it were decked with diamonds in honour of our wedding.

While we were waiting in the little porch and the clerk was opening
the doors, Walworth went off and hunted up the parson. Five minutes
afterwards they returned together, and then, before the bare little
altar, with the sun streaming in through the open door, George De
Normanville and Alie Dunbar were made man and wife. The register was
then signed and witnessed, and having feed the clergyman and tipped
the clerk, we all went back to the town again. It had all been most
satisfactorily managed, and I had not the slightest doubt but that the
half-imbecile old clergyman had forgotten our names almost before he
had discarded his surplice in the vestry.

An hour later we were back on board the yacht, which had by this time
replenished her supply of coal; steam was immediately got up, and by
three o'clock we were safely out of sight of land once more. Now we
had nothing to be afraid of save being stopped and overhauled by a
man-of-war. But that was most unlikely, and even in the event of one
heaving in sight and desiring to stop us, I had no doubt in my own
mind that we possessed sufficiently quick heels to enable us to escape

But I am reminded that I have said nothing yet as to the joy and
happiness which was mine in at last having Alie for my wife. I have
also omitted, most criminally, to give you a full account of the
wedding breakfast, which was held with becoming ceremony in the saloon
of the yacht, as soon as we had got safely on our way once more. The
captain's attempt at speech-making has not been reported, nor have I
told you what a singular ass I made of myself, and how I nearly broke
down when I rose to reply to the toast of our healths. No! an account
of those things, however interesting to those who actually took part
in them, could be of little or no concern to anyone else. So for that
reason, if for no other, I will be prudent and hold my tongue.

Of the rest of the voyage to the Mascarenhas, there is little to
chronicle, save, perhaps, that we sighted Table Mountain in due
course, rounded the Cape of Good Hope safely - though we had some
choppy, nasty weather in doing so, - and passing into the Indian Ocean,
eventually arrived off the island of Reunion an hour before daybreak.

I was on deck before it was light, waiting eagerly for the first signs
of day. Not a breath of wind was stirring and as we were only under
the scantiest sail our progress was hardly discernible. Then little by
little dawn broke upon us, a clear, pearl-gray light, in which the
world appeared so silent and mysterious a place that one almost feared
to breathe in it. While I was watching, I heard someone come across
the deck behind me, and next moment a little hand stole into mine. It
was Alie, my wife.

"Can you discern any sign of the schooner?" she asked.

Before answering I looked round the horizon, but there was not a sign
of any sail at all. To port showed up the dim outline of the island,
with a few small fishing boats coming out to meet the rising sun, but
in every other direction, there was nothing but grey sea softly

"No, darling," I answered, "I can see nothing of her. But we must not
be too impatient. There is plenty of time for her to put in an
appearance yet."

Five minutes later Walworth came up the companion ladder and joined
us. Alie turned to him.

"I hope Captain Patterson thoroughly understood your instructions, Mr.
Walworth?" she said.

"I wired to him to be here a week ago," Walworth answered; "he was to
expect us to-day, but, in case of our non-arrival, to continue
cruising about in these waters until the end of the month."

"Then we need have no fear," she replied confidently; "we shall sight
him before very long, I feel sure."

We then fell to pacing the deck together, talking of the future and
all it promised for us.

Half an hour later the lookout whom the captain had sent into the fore
crosstrees to report anything he might see, sang out, "Sail ho!"

"How does she bear?" cried the skipper from the deck.

"Dead ahead, sir!" was the man's reply.

"What does she look like?"

"A big topsail schooner, painted white."

"The _Lone Star_ for certain, then," said Alie, taking my hand again.

As she spoke, the breakfast bell sounded and we went below to our
meal. When we returned to the deck the distance between the two boats
had diminished considerably, and we could make out the schooner quite
distinctly. She was little more than five miles away now, and there
could be no possible doubt about her identity. Then, as we watched,
she went slowly about and next moment we saw a string of signals break
out at her masthead.

Walworth took up a glass from the deck chair and reported that she
was anxious to know our name and where we hailed from.

"Shall I answer?" he inquired.

"By all means," Alie replied; "did you bring the signals with you?"

"I have them in my berth," he answered, and dived below, to reappear a
moment later with a bundle of bunting under his arms.

Having asked the skipper's permission, he bent them on to the
halliards and ran them up to the gaff end. They streamed out upon the
breeze, and as he watched them Walworth cried to Alie, with the first
and only sign of excitement I have ever known him show:

"That will let them know that you are safe aboard!"

"Do you wish me to bring the yacht as close alongside as I can?" asked
our skipper, who had been made aware of our intention to say good-bye
to him immediately we sighted the _Lone Star_.

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