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THE CASTLE BY THE SEA



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Toosey hailed it, and was answered hack




[See page 231] Frontispiece



THE CASTLE BY
THE SEA



By H. B. MARRIOTT WATSON



Author of "Hurricane Island," "The Privateers," etc.




With Illustrations
By HERRMAN PFEIFER



A. L. BURT COMPANY
Publishers New Yoric



Copyright, 1909,
By H. B. Marriott Watsojt.



All rights reserved



Published September, 1909



To
J. B. PINKER

WITH THE MEMORIES OF EIGHTEEN YEARS'
FRIENDSHIP

FROM

H. B. MARRIOTT WATSON



URL



CONTENTS



Chapter

I. The Book in the Gallery .



II. Perdita

III. The Death Watch ....

IV. The Goddess in the Car . .
V. The Council of Perfection . .

VI. To be Sung on the Waters

VII. The Alarm

VIII. On the Traii

IX. Entrance of a Man of the World

X. The Butcher Boy

XL In My Lady's Chamber .

XII. The Leaguer

XIII. The Window Seat

XIV. Andromeda and the Dragon .
XV. The Empty Boat

XVI. "In a Deep Sea like Death 11



Page
1

17

35

47

61

82

95

110

128

141

152

164

178

193

209

222



vi Contents

Chapter Page

XVII. The Havana Cigae 233

XVIII. The Secret of the Caves .... 245

XIX. The Labyrinth 259

XX. The Tide 273

XXI. Love in Death ........ 283

XXII. The Cipher 301



THE

CASTLE BY THE SEA

CHAPTER I

THE BOOK IN THE GALLERY

IT was on the evening of the fifth of May, just before
the day had fully declined into twilight, that I got
my first sight of Norroy Castle. I had taken a fly
at the distant station of Arnconibe, and, to the accom-
paniment of the friendly driver's gossip, had rattled
along the country roads and down the little inlet for a
few miles to Southington, when we made almost a full
right wheel and began to climb the hill. At this stage,
owing to the lessening of the clatter and the dwindling
of the noise of the water, my man and I got on terms of
even closer intimacy. He leaned back to explain to me
points of the scenery, and to indicate features of inter-
est, as he was no doubt wont to do to tourists. I was
not a tourist, but I certainly had the neighborhood as
much at heart as any bird of passage. It was to be my
environment for some three months; and I stood up
occasionally and looked about me.

We were rising slowly but surely now, and below,
the darkling inlet had become a romantic channel of
fancies to my mind. I was glad I had taken Norroy
Castle; glad, too, I had taken it on trust; for this was
my inaugural visit, and I had, so to say, bought a pig
in a poke. However, it was only for the summer, and

1



2 The Castle by the Sea

already I was enchanted by my indiscretion. Indis-
cretion ! I thought, and laughed. Why, it was only so
that Romance got her chance; it was dull reason that
went jog-trot through a humdrum life. As well be
chained to a desk, as well keep your stall in the Augean
stable of full cities, as well —

My mind, poising on the wings of this fine welcome,
had got thus far, when the driver's voice broke upon its
raptures.

"Sir Gilbert — he hasn't been down here since he
was a boy ; has n't been here since he came in for the
title. Can't abide it, they say. It 's dull for him,
maybe, after London."

I think he was still speculating in his slow mind if I
were a tourist; yet my luggage (for I had brought a
few small bags with me) must have puzzled him. I
had no doubt that he wondered if the gentleman were
on a visit to the housekeeper.

I made no answer, thus brought down to mere fact;
and he continued, "'Ere 's the top of the hill, and the
gate."

I stood up again, and, as the carriage crawled up the
last steps of the ascent, looked back once more. The
estuary wavered in twilight, from Arncombe, which was
hidden by the curving shores, to the hamlet at the foot
of the water. Only the roofs of Southington village, a
couple of miles below us, witnessed to human habita-
tion. And then my eyes went seaward — ah, in a
vast surprise.

The prospect took my breath. I had been gazing
backward and downward upon prettiness, the narrow
winding waters, the wooded shores, the comely, crowded
picture of the English landscape. Now my vision fared



The Book in the Gallery i>

forward and outward. The waters of the Channel
roared out yonder; the wind came off it with a savor
like strong wine; the sparkle sprang in my eyes, in my
face, in my heart. This was Norroy Castle; this was
my home. And here was I, trundling along in a ragged
old cab, like that visitor to the housekeeper. The scene
gave me heart ; it inspired me. If I were to write any-
where I could write here, within sound and smell of
that fragrant-blown sea. Oh, it was worth living for,
that early May evening, with the lights fading in heaven,
and the darkling estuary, and the kindling water of the
Channel. I drew in my breath and gave thanks.
What a fool was this Sir Gilbert Norroy who had
visited so glorious a place only a few times since boy-
hood ! What a barbarian ! What a Goth ! I cried in
my heart, and as I did so my eyes were arrested by a
man who was watching me from a little distance.

He was a good-looking fellow, dressed rather scrupu-
lously in a costume of the tourist order, which concluded
most decorously with a Homburg hat; and he was
smoking a cigar.

"These be the gates, sir," remarked my affable
driver again. It was before the gates that the stranger
was standing, and his face caught my curious gaze
even before I regarded the threshold of my new domain.
It was a handsome face, as I have said, the moustache
silky and drooping, the eyes soft and languid, the white
countenance characterized by something almost effemi-
nate. His manners were good, for his gaze dwelled on
me and went by in the fashion of good-breeding.

"One of them visitors at Southington, sir," com-
mented my driver, as we rolled through the gateway
into the gravelled track. I paid no heed, for I was oc-



4 The Castle by the Sea

cupied now with the park. What were all the strangers
of Christendom to me beside my park ?

The drive trailed in a pleasant old-fashioned sweep
through limes of immemorial age, and entered, after a
brief but glorious career of this kind, a shrubbery of
rhododendrons in full bud, of laurels, of fragrant
syringas, and of opening lilac. The cloud of shrubbery
made a little darkness of the twilight; and then we
came out into the open again, where the sward, studded
with trees, led down towards the sea. And here was my
second stranger, — but this time of quite another char-
acter. It was a slim, tall girl, of an exquisite promise
of ripeness, but of years too early for that maturity
which should some day be her glory. She was wan-
dering upon the sward, and, like the stranger at the
gates, cast on me a glance, well-bred like his, but of a
delicacy and shyness that was eloquent of her sex. I
had the rudeness to turn in my seat and watch her
after we had passed, until I lost the last glimpse of her
slender white figure vanishing into the shrubbery.

Once more my domain claimed my attention, and
now with louder voice ; for we were drawing up to the
Castle.

Norroy Castle was a small building, of considerable
antiquity, and of admirable repair. The ravages of
time and conquest were not visible on its seemly face,
which was presented to the brawling sea that lay only
a few hundred yards away. The garden declined
towards this with flower beds and shrubberies, and in-
terspersed lawns and walks ; but I could not discern in
the twilight in what style they had been kept. Beyond,
the sea stormed at the pale in which this castle stood,
but the slow slopes went down to it in tranquil greenery.



The Book in the Gallery 5

Upon the further side, as far as I could make out, there
was a rise in the grounds, and sea-fowl screamed in the
air above low cliffs. I had entered into my kingdom,
and pronounced it good. I was now to enter also into
the Castle itself.

The oaken door, giving upon the gravel, was opened
by a stolid man of middle age in the conventional dress
of a butler. It seemed to me that he stared and stood
for an unnecessarily long time ere he spoke.

"Mr. Brabazon, sir," he asked.
'Yes, and you are Jackman?" I returned^ for that
was the name of the housekeeper I had received from
the solicitors.

'Yes, sir," he said formally, and stepping briskly
over the threshold, set to work on my packages.

I entered, after paying the fly-man, and found myself
in a hall of fair size, lighted with a swinging lamp of
cathedral glass, which revealed, out of the circumjacent
darkness, a gallery above my head. Here a woman's
voice greeted me, and I assumed the owner to be Mrs.
Jackman. ''We did not expect you till to-morrow, sir,"
she said, with some timidity of manner.

"I changed my mind," I explained. "Did my boxes
come?"

"Yes, sir; this morning," she answered, and bustled
away on some feminine errand, maybe connected with
cooking.

I was waiting on my friend, Jackman, who now ap-
peared with his hands full of my small kits, but in-
stinctively I turned to follow the woman.

"Not that way, sir," said the butler hastily, almost
blocking my path in his anxiety lest I should go wrong.
"It goes to the kitchen apartments, sir," he explained



6 The Castle by the Sea

deferentially. I waited till he indicated the door which
I was permitted to pass, and then entered. It was a
small room, brightly lighted, and a wood fire burned in
the open grate. I had a sense of a smell of tobacco,
and tobacco none too fragrant at that ; and I concluded
that Mr. Jackman had been caught unawares by my
inopportune arrival. But I had made up my mind.
This room was for me.

It was lightly furnished, and the corners were squared
off on two sides, so as to give an irregular shape to it.
The window, which was mullioned, looked on a little
sward of its own betwixt projecting buttresses of the
building, and thence across the gravel drive to the more
spacious lawn beyond. Night by this time had swal-
lowed the garden and the woods, but out of that deep-
ening darkness the fret of the ocean beat upon my ears
quite pleasantly.

"This is where I should like my meals, Jackman,"
I said to the waiting butler.

"Certainly, sir," said he, after a momentary pause,
and again there was a pause before he went on. "Mrs.
Jackman prepared the west wing rooms, sir, in case
you should want them."

"Well, I '11 have a look round," I said amiably.
"Meanwhile this will do very well. What 's off that
way?"

"There 's a morning-room giving to the garden, sir,"
said he, "and the old staircase to the first floor."

"And my bedroom?" I inquired.

"Mrs. Jackman prepared the west wing rooms,
sir," he repeated respectfully. "I thought you might
like them all handy. They 're on the ground floor
together."



The Book in the Gallery 7

"Very well," I assented. "I 've no doubt they will
suit me," and so dismissed him to his duties.

The long day in the air had made me agreeably tired,
and I was hungry, so that after the necessary prepara-
tions I was glad to sup and rest. I took some pleasure
in exploring the route to my bedroom, which I did
under Jackman's guidance, and by the light of two
candles. We passed through a lofty room with covered
furniture, into a short passage, and thence into a fine
large chamber which fronted the west, and which, I
gathered, was designed for my use as a drawing-room.
Close to it was my bedroom, rather too large and rather
too lofty, and, I thought, rather too cold. But as I
changed into other clothes, I was aware that there were
delightful possibilities in its dignity, if not in its
prospect.

As I was finishing my toilet, I heard a step on the
stone passage without, which at first I took to be Jack-
man's; but it passed and died away and I heard no
more of it. Yet, as I opened the door to return, the
sound of a creaking above reached me. The wind
darted down the cold alley of stone and sent my flame
guttering; and, shading it with my open palm, I
picked my way back through the silent chambers to my
cosy dining-room. Here I forgot everything save the
satisfaction of my appetite.

The fire burned cheerfully, and a late spring wind
snapped about the mullions. Mrs. Jackman, a thin,
bright-eyed woman, entered in order to make my ac-
quaintance, I am sure. She professed herself anxious
to learn if I were comfortable, and, speaking with a soft
country burr, hoped I should "like myself." Not so, I
was certain, would the immaculate, armor-plated Jack-



8 The Castle by the Sea

man speak. Mrs. Jackman made an approach to con-
versing; Jackman could only answer. But it was the
woman's opportunity, and she made the most of it. I
learned, among other things, that she rejoiced Sir Gil-
bert had let at last; that the house had not been kept
up for years, not since Sir Edmund died; that Sir
Gilbert had been a stranger to it since he was a boy;
that Jackman and she had lived in London a good
deal in Sir Gilbert's service; and that Sir Gilbert was
twenty-nine and unmarried. I gathered on the way
through this that any princess would be fortunate
if she should be chosen by Sir Gilbert. It was alto-
gether a pretty exhibition of the feudal temper.

When she retired, my thoughts went to the bag in
which I had stowed some favorite books, and I opened
it. A flagon of whiskey was on the table, my pipe was
, at my elbow, and I had a choice volume to hand. I
was exceedingly peaceful, but somehow I did not read.
Migration is unsettling to the mind, which settles
down with reluctance after the disturbance of its roots.
A mass of papers, inserted at the last moment in this
particular bag, turned itself out on the carpet, and an
illustrated weekly took my eye. It was one of an
earlier date, which had furnished my introduction to
Norroy Castle. With some curiosity, after the accom-
plished fact, I found the advertisement — of "an old
castle to let furnished for the summer months."

I wondered now why I had been induced to write.
Such lures by agents are none too uncommon. Any-
way, I was here, and in possession. Perhaps it had
been the notion of the environing sea, or of the quie-
tude; or was it the transient flash of some romantic
feeling ? At least the place promised well for my writ-



The Book in the Gallery 9

ing, and if I could not finish my "Studies in Earth ' :
in this retreat, they would probably forever remain a
beautiful dream.

Do you know that officialism of business ? How it
wearies, aggravates, and incenses the ordinary decent
man? "Yours of the 3rd ult. . . ." 'Your esteemed
order. . . ." "Our best services. . . ." Well, I was as-
sured that I should find the house in every way commo-
dious and desirable. But what maggot was in the red
head of the clerk who ought to have known better,
when he hinted about the ghost ? Perhaps under that
rigid exterior he had a soul, some imagination, or a
sense of humor. Perhaps it was even a shrewd and
oily attempt to clinch a "deal," and he had read some-
thing in my eyes. They are the eyes of thirty something,
but I pray they are yet romantic. Anyway, the ghost
emerged from the shadows and exhibited itself mo-
mentarily in the garish light of Pall Mall. Then it
disappeared.

'There 's said to be a ghost in the Castle."
Perhaps, after all, it was mere banality, but I believe
it did rivet the bargain. And here I was with the Castle
on my hands, and the Norroy ghost, if so be tradition
spoke correctly. Why, I had forgotten to ask Mrs.
Jackman about it ! Never mind, the fire soothed, and
the tobacco also. I did not want to move. My eyes
fell again on the book I had not read, and I remembered
something else that the red-headed clerk had mentioned,
— "a fine library and picture-gallery." It had slipped
my memory.

Jackman entered at the moment to inquire if I
needed anything more that night, and I tackled him.

'Yes, sir," he said, with his punctilious interval of



10 The Castle by the Sea

pause, as if he would make sure I had done talking.
"The library is up-stairs, sir, left wing — over your
rooms, sir. The picture-gallery and library are one."

I love old libraries ; and I would go on my travels in
this. I ruminated over glass and pipe till the loud voice
of the bracket clock stirred me from dreams. It struck
ten, and, as I have said, I was tired. Plainly, it should
be my duty as well as my pleasure to go to bed ; and I
went.

I slipped into a slumber, very light and easy, out of
which and into which I drifted again and again with-
out any feeling of discomfort or restlessness. I awoke
and heard the rain that beat on the westward windows ;
I heard steps upon the flagged passageway; I thought
I heard voices. But nothing of that sort troubled me;
it was a whisper that did that. It is odd how the lesser
noise provokes the sleeper, while the voice of cannon
in his ear or thunder in heaven would pass almost un-
remarked. I sat up, listening.

Was it the wind that whispered in the draughty pas-
sage, or was it a human voice? I lit the candle and,
looking at my watch, found it was between twelve and
one. No one should be about at such an hour. I got
up, went to the door and hearkened ; and now I thought
I heard a footstep in the distance. The house was en-
veloped in silence. I opened the door ; then followed a
thin but distinct clatter of some object falling on stone,
and on that an objurgation. I hesitated no longer.
This could hardly be Jackman, and, if it were, he must
be taught the first duties of a servant. With the candle
in my hand, I went down the passage in the direction
of the sound.

As I walked, it seemed to me that the noise retreated ;



The Book in the Gallery 11

certain crepitations came out of the darkness ahead,
which was all the greater darkness because of my
light. I turned into the morning-room on the trail, now
raised to a pitch of some excitement. A foot, as I could
have sworn, stumbled not a dozen paces away. I ran
forward.

"Who is that?" I cried.

Even as I did so, the ghost emerged in my mind.
But ghosts do not stumble on stairs; and that was
what had happened. Nor do ghosts carry pencils, so
far as I know, and it was a pencil I picked up. Jack-
man had spoken of the old staircase, and now I nearly
ran into it. It rose to the first floor from an ante-
chamber, behind the morning-room, and I almost
caught the pencil, as it rolled from stone to stone. It
was the second time that pencil had been dropped, I
was sure, for the same clink saluted my ears.

I went up the staircase as swiftly as I could, and
thought in that moment I had a glimpse of the in-
truder. But just then the candle went out, caught, as
I supposed, by some blast along the upper corridor.
Feet sounded now shamelessly before me, as some one
ran for it. I was following, but was grabbed sharply
by the shoulder and held from behind with two arms.
I wrestled with my assailant at a disadvantage, and for
some minutes there was audible only the noise of the
struggle. Then, with an effort, I threw off my
adversary.

"Help !" he cried, as he sprawled.

Why should a burglar cry for help in the house of
his victim ? I lit a match and peered down. It was
Jackman !

"The devil !" I ejaculated.



12 The Castle by the Sea

"The burglar!" he panted.

I grinned. It was too ridiculous, that we should have
been destroying each other, while the invader got safely
away. But had he ? I assisted Jackman to his feet.

"Never mind. He's gone this way. What rooms
are these?" I asked hurriedly.

"The — the library !" he puffed out. "But — but
he can't be there."

"Oh, well, we'll see," I threw at him, as I strode
quickly down the corridor.

It was not quite true that he could not be in the
library, but it was certainly true that he might be in
one of a dozen places. Four doors opened from the
corridor towards the front of the Castle, and here were
as many hiding-places as rooms. I was conscious of
Jackman panting behind me, and then I gained the
library. The door was wide open, giving promise of
the quarry; and the first gleam of the candle on the
walls told me where I was. It was a long chamber,
stretching, I gathered, along the whole reach of the
west wing on this floor ; and faces in paint stared stiffly
down upon me as I thus roughly intruded on their
quiet. That quiet had endured in some cases for cen-
turies, but I paid no heed to this haughty greeting, and
moved among the bookcases with my detective light.
Darkness lurked in all like an ambuscade, and shadows
leaped out at me. The shifting blackness in which that
gallery lay enveloped started into life and walked with
me. I peered, and heard Jackman's heavy breathing
over my shoulder.

"Are we looking for a ghost, Jackman ?" said I.

"I — I don't know, sir," he panted, and added:
"There is a ghost, sir."



The Book in the Gallery 13

"And he carries pencils," I commented; and came
at the word to a pause.

We had reached one of the huge marble fireplaces half-
way down the room, and my candle disclosed something
upon the bare floor. I stooped and picked it up.

"What — what — ?" chattered Jackman's teeth over
my shoulder, and he put forward a hand as if he would
have grabbed it.

"No," said I, "we've no time;" and I pushed on
swiftly.

In the bays of the library no thief skulked, and the
candle flashing about the room revealed no one. We
reached the north wall at last, which I perceived to be
fronted with oak up to the height of ten feet. An
ancient handle caught my eye, suggesting a door.

"What's this?" I asked Jackman.

"The strong-room," said he, promptly.

I tried the handle, twisted it and tugged at it.

"It 'slocked?" I asked.

"The key is in possession of Sir Gilbert, sir," he
answered.

I meditated; there was no chance of concealment
here then, but the discovery supplied perhaps a motive.
However, that would wait. The urgent matter was to
catch the thief. Jackman had gone to a window.

"This is open, sir," he called. "He must have got
out this way."

I joined him. The windows were casements, and
sure enough one had been cast adrift from its moorings,
and swung lightly to and fro. I gazed down into the
darkness.

"It must be thirty feel," I said. "Not impossible.
Let 's explore the other side."



14 The Castle by the Sea

Jackman's respectful voice urged reasons why the vil-
lain must have escaped this way, but I paid no heed. I
crossed to the other corner, where the window looked
forth on a courtyard, and then noticed a door in the
north wall. It was ajar, and I pushed it wider, dis-
closing a closet of oak, which was empty. But a darker
shadow in the floor took my eye, and I went in. Before
me a narrow stone staircase descended to the ground
floor. I had just made this discovery when, for the
second time, my candle went out abruptly.

I uttered an exclamation of annoyance, and turned,
for I could have sworn that the draught had not come
from below. I groped in the candlestick, but to my
chagrin could not find the box of matches. It must
have fallen, I thought, that time I had been struggling
with Jackman; and then, of a sudden, I remembered
that I had used it to light the candle afterwards. But
anyhow, it had gone, slipping somewhere during our
reconnoitre, no doubt. I carried nothing of course in
my pajamas; but Jackman was properly clothed, and
I called to him.

"Have you any matches?" I called.

There was silence, during which I conceived him to
be fumbling in his pockets, and then he spoke.

"Sorry, sir; no, sir."

I ejaculated my disappointment tersely. "Never
mind," said I, "we must go down all the same. Where
does this lead ?"

"Into the western passage, sir," he returned, "near
your rooms."

I dropped down as lightly as I could, and Jackman's
heavier weight punctuated the silence. Certainly it
would give my burglar notice, for all the world as if it



The Book in the Gallery 15

were policeman's boots that stamped on the stone.
Presently, I touched the lower floor, and put out my
hand, groping till I grazed a wall. It took me several
minutes to find a door, but at last I succeeded, and,
feeling along a passageway, we painfully progressed.

"Where are we now?" I asked at last.

"Back in the room you dined in, sir," said Jackman.

" Good Lord ! I give it up !" I remarked in despair.

There was the sound of a match crackling, and a
spurt of fire issued from Jackman's fingers. "Why,
man, you have matches !" I cried.

"Just got them from the mantelpiece, sir," he ex-
plained. He lit my candle, and we surveyed each
other.

"It's no go, Jackman," I said with resignation.
"We 're done. By the way, what is kept in the strong


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