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They Looked and Loved By Mrs. Alex McVeigh Miller Characters: 11109

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Nita gazed with joyful eyes and a wildly throbbing heart at the graceful yacht lightly skimming the blue waters of the beautiful bay, as it glided into harbor at the island. He was near her now, her own love. Surely he would come to her rescue, for it must have been Heaven's own guiding that had brought him to Fortune's Bay-Heaven that had saved her from the perils of the stormy deep, and that was still watching over her fate.

She thought with a shudder of the temptation that had assailed her just now to break the oath of silence sworn on the dead hand in the miser's gold vault. No, no, she must not. An oath was a solemn thing, and she had been desperate with despair, or she would not have dreamed of breaking it.

And what would it avail her enemy to know the tragic death that had befallen the woman whose fate he had sought to know. He had loved her, he said. Would it not break his heart to know how she had suffered and died? Surely, it was a mercy to Donald Kayne to keep him in uncertainty.

"Lizette, what if we wave our handkerchiefs from the window? Perhaps some one on the yacht might notice it and make inquiries," she exclaimed.

They spent some time at this, but of no avail, although they could see moving figures on the deck. But no one noticed or recognized the frantic signals from the window of the far-off stone house.

"Lizette, can you make out any of the men on her deck? My eyes are so weak, the glare of the light blinds them," murmured Nita.

"No, dearie; they seem like little black specks to me. If I had some glasses we could make them out plainly. I'll go and ask the old woman to lend us a pair," and Lizette hurried down-stairs on her errand.

Mrs. Rhodus, the fisherman's wife, looked at her with suspicion when she made her request.

"What do you want with them?" she asked roughly.

"My mistress wants to watch the ships upon the sea."

"Hain't got no glasses-never had none," replied the woman nonchalantly.

"Where's your husband?"

"Out in his boat."

"And Mr. Kayne?"

"He went for a walk just now."

"And is there no one here but you?"

"No, not a soul; but don't go for to think you can get away from me. I'm as strong as two men; besides, there's a big dog out in the yard that 'ud tear you both in pieces if you went outside."

Lizette smiled scornfully.

"How could we get away, and my mistress too weak to walk?" she exclaimed.

While she was haranguing the woman Nita continued to gaze eagerly toward the trim little yacht in the offing, her heart throbbing wildly with the burning desire to see Dorian again.

"He is there-there, so near me, and yet so far, believing me dead," she sobbed. "Oh, how his heart must be torn with anguish at the thought! How strange and sad a fate is mine."

Her weak eyes, tired with the glare of the light and sun, drooped wearily to the ground, and a cry of wonder and dismay broke from her lips.

Directly beneath her window stood a large, tall man in sailor garb gazing up into her face. But it was not the mere proximity of the man that had so startled the young girl. It was the fact that she had recognized in him the son of old Meg, the fortune-teller-a man who had once madly loved her, and from whose unwelcome love she had fled in fear and loathing.

For more than three years Nita had not looked upon the face of Jack Dineheart, and when she saw him gazing up at her with eager eyes, she could not repress a cry of surprise at sight of this ghost from the past.

Jack Dineheart had a bronzed, handsome, sullen face, seamed with the lines of thirty-five years or more, and his big brown eyes snapped with triumph now at the girl's low cry of recognition.

"So it is you, Nita?"

"Yes it is I, Mr. Dineheart," answered the girl, with a sudden wild hope that she might move his heart to pity.

"What are you doing up there behind bolts and bars like a prisoner?" he continued, his heart leaping wildly at sight of the lovely face.

"I am a prisoner," she answered sorrowfully. "Oh, Jack-Mr. Dineheart-do help me to escape, won't you?"

"But I don't understand. Who brought you here? Who is keeping you shut up?"

"A New York gentleman-a Mr. Donald Kayne."

"Wants to marry you, I s'pose?" with an angry, jealous frown.

"No, no, he hates me, but he wants to know a secret that I hold, and he swears he will never let me go free until I tell it; but-but I will never tell, never, not if I die here."

"Must be a very important secret," commented the sailor curiously.

And he saw a look of terror leap in the lovely eyes; but she answered carelessly:

"No, no, it is not much, only I will not tell it. I will tell no one. Oh, Jack Dineheart, have pity on me, and help me to escape, and I will make you rich."

"A likely story. When did you come into a fortune?" cried the sailor eagerly.

"No matter, but I am rich, and I will give you half my fortune, Jack, if you will do one little errand for me. Do you see that yacht that has just come into the harbor yonder? Look, you can just make out her name-Nita. Go there, Jack Dineheart, and tell the owner of the yacht that I was not drowned when the storm swept me with my maid from off the deck of the yacht. Tell him Donald Kayne lives, and that he saved my life and Lizette's, and that he is keeping us in prison here until I reveal a secret. Oh, go, go, go, I pray you, and do this errand, and my prison doors will fly open, and you shall be made rich, while my blessings shall follow you throughout your whole life."

She paused,

panting and exhausted, her small upraised hands clasped in pathetic pleading. Jack Dineheart looked up at her with sullen curiosity.

"This man who is to open your prison doors-the owner of the yacht-what is his name?"

"Dorian Mountcastle," answered Nita.

And the very tone in which she spoke, the lingering cadence of her voice, betrayed her love. Jack Dineheart caught the sound of her heart in her voice. His face paled under its bronze, and his big eyes flashed with anger.

"Dorian Mountcastle! I've heard of him before. Rich New York swell. Owns one of the fastest yachts a-going. Well, and what is Dorian Mountcastle to you, my girl?" he demanded hoarsely.

"He is my husband," Nita answered proudly; then recoiled in terror, for an angry cry, coupled with an oath, burst from the sailor's lips.

"It is a lie, by --!"

Nita gazed appalled at his dark features, and realized with terror that the old, fierce love lived in Jack Dineheart's heart yet. She drew back from the window, and the man beneath it raved on in fury until spent with passion, then called ardently:

"Nita! Tell me that it is not true. You know how I've worshiped you, and wanted to marry you! I've hunted you everywhere, and now, here you are at last, and you say you're married to that rich swell! I'll not believe it. He would not marry a poor girl like you."

"Oh, but it is true. He loved me, and we were married two weeks ago. Oh, Jack, don't be angry. You have no right, for I always said I couldn't marry you. And I ran away, you know. But I love Dorian, and he loves me! Oh, be generous, and go and send him to me here!"

His face, when he looked up at her again, was murderous in its expression, and he hissed, in savage rage:

"Send Dorian Mountcastle to you? Yes, I'll send his black soul to hades within the hour, and make you a widow!"

Whipping a long-bladed knife from his pocket, Jack Dineheart flashed it before her eyes, adding wildly:

"This blade will soon find the traitor's heart!"

Then he rushed away madly toward the yacht.

"Oh, Heaven, save my husband!" shrieked Nita, and fell back unconscious.

There Lizette found her on returning from an unsuccessful attempt to bribe Mrs. Rhodus, and, being ignorant of Nita's interview with the sailor, she vehemently blamed herself for having taken her young mistress from the bed and leaving her in the chair at the window.

"She was too weak, poor darling, and could not bear it," she sighed, as she applied restoratives, and got Nita back into bed.

It was some time before Nita recovered, and then her voice failed her when she tried to speak. The shock of Jack Dineheart's threat had almost killed her, and Lizette hung over her despairingly.

"Oh, it is my own fault, my own fault! I ought not to have told her the yacht was coming. It makes her suspense all the more terrible," she murmured self-reproachfully.

Suddenly Nita's closed eyes opened, and she moaned sadly:

"Dorian will be murdered by the sailor with the terrible knife! Oh, Lizette, save him! save him!"

Lizette's heart gave a muffled thump of terror.

"My mistress is raving," she exclaimed. "Oh, Heaven, if I could only get away to the yacht and tell Mr. Mountcastle his wife is alive! I do not believe there is any big dog outside, as that woman says, for I have never heard one bark, and I've a great mind to try to get away and--"

But she did not finish her speech, for there was a rap at the door, and she opened it to admit Donald Kayne-Donald Kayne with a pale, startled face and glittering gray eyes.

"I have but just come in, and Mrs. Rhodus said you wanted me," he began, with cold courtesy.

"Yes, Mr. Kayne; I wanted to tell you that Mrs. Mountcastle's husband came to Fortune's Bay this afternoon. Look through those iron bars there, and you will see his yacht."

But he did not look from the window; he was gazing with troubled eyes at Nita's pale, excited face as it lay upon the pillow.

"I have seen the yacht, and I know that Dorian Mountcastle has come," he answered, in a strained voice, and added: "I have been told that he is very ill on board the yacht, and that his heart is breaking over the loss of his bride!"

Nita did not seem to be aware of the presence of her foe, although her brilliant eyes were wide open and staring. She threw out her hands with a desperate gesture, and cried out, in a voice of agony:

"The sailor will murder Dorian! See his knife, how it flashes in the air! Oh, Heaven, save my husband!"

Donald Kayne started and trembled with emotion.

"My mistress raves!" cried Lizette reproachfully. "Oh, sir, for pity's sake, release us, restore her to her husband's arms!"

"Never, until she confesses where she found the serpent ring!" he exclaimed, and, almost as though fearing that Nita's ravings might move him to pity, he rushed out of the room.

The hours wore on toward night, and Nita slept under the influence of an opiate administered by the maid.

Night fell and the moon and stars came out and shone through the iron bars that held Lizette a prisoner with her hapless mistress. The faithful maid watched patiently till midnight by the restless invalid.

Suddenly she fancied she heard a slight noise outside the window, and hastened to look out. She saw a man in sailor garb climbing up a strong ladder placed against the house. At sight of her startled face he held up a warning hand, whispering:

"Hist! Not a word! I am come to save you and Nita. Wait till I wrench off these iron bars."

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