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   Chapter 18 FIREWORKS AND JOAN OF ARC

The Mystery of the Sea By Bram Stoker Characters: 8893

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


For some time I did not sleep. Things were hurrying on so fast; and so many new events and facts and dangers were coming to light, that I hardly knew where to begin to think. Of course all things concerning Marjory, principally her safety, took the first place. What could be this Spanish plot; what could be its method or its purpose? At first when Adams had told me of it, I had not been much concerned; it seemed so far away, so improbable, that I fear I did not take it with sufficient gravity. I had not thought at the time that the two nations were actually at war, and that already, both before the war and during it, deeds of desperate treachery had been done, the memory of which were not even obliterated by the valour and chivalry which had been shown by the nobler of America's foes. "Remember The Maine" was still a watchword and war cry. There were many scoundrels, such as chiefly come to the surface in war time, who would undertake any work, however deadly, however brutal, however dangerous. Such villains might be at work even now! With a bound I was out upon the floor. In that moment of concrete thought of danger to Marjory I realised to the full the danger of my own ignorance of her situation, and even of the locality where she might be. This impotence to do anything was simply maddening; when I felt it I could not but understand the annoyance of Adams in feeling a measure of the same impotence, with what looked like my obstinacy added. But think how I would, I could do nothing till I should see Marjory or hear from her. With this thought, which, under the circumstances, was more than harrowing, I went back to bed.

I was waked by the knocking of Adams who in reply to my "Come," slipped in and shut the door behind him.

"They are gone!"

"Who?" I asked mechanically, though I well knew.

"Miss Drake and her friend. They went away last night, just after you came back from the station. By the way, I thought you dined with them?" he said interrogatively, and with a dash of suspicion in his tone.

"I was to dine with them;" I answered "but they were not there." He made a long pause.

"I don't understand!" he said. I felt that as the time which I was to cover had passed, I might speak; for all sakes I wanted to avoid collision with Adams or the appearance of deceiving him. So I said:

"I can tell you now, Sam. I was asked to dine last night with Mrs. Jack and Miss Anita-Miss Drake. When I came down to the room I found a letter saying that they had to go away and making a special request that I would dine alone, just as though they were there. I was not to say a word to any one about their being away. Please understand, my dear fellow-and I must ask you to take it that this is only a hint which you must accept and not attempt to follow up-that there are reasons why I should act on any request of Miss Drake's, blindfold. I told you last night that my hands were tied; this was one of the cords. To-day I hold myself free to explain I may now also tell you more. Last night I could do nothing. I could take no step myself, nor could I help you to take one; simply for the reason that I do not know where Miss Drake is staying. She is I know stopping, or was till lately, somewhere on the eastern side of Aberdeen County; but where the place is I have not the faintest idea. I expect to know very shortly; and the moment I know I will try to inform you, unless I am forbidden. You will know in time that I have spoken exact truth; though you may have found my words or meaning hard to understand. I am more than anxious to put Marjory on guard. When you left me last night, the whole deadly seriousness of the matter grew on me, till I was as miserable as a man can be." His face lightened as I spoke.

"Well," he said "at least we are one in the matter; that is something. I feared you were, and would be, working against me. Now look here, I have been thinking the matter over, and I daresay I have come nearer to understanding your position than you imagine. I don't want to limit or hamper you in working in your own way for Miss Drake's good; but I may tell you this. I mean to find her if I can, and in my own way. I am not fettered anywhere, except by the necessary secrecy. Outside of this I am free to act. I shall keep you advised at Cruden."

Before I was dressed I had another visitor. This time it was Cathcart who, with considerable diffidence and all the shamefaced

embarrassment of an Englishman when doing a kindly action in which he may be taken as intruding, offered me his services. I tried to set him at ease by the heartiness of my thanks. Upon which he expanded enough to say:

"From something Adams let drop-in all confidence believe me-I gather you are or may be in trouble about some friend. If this should be, and from my heart I trust it may not, I hope you will bear in mind that I am a friend, and unattached. I am pretty well alone in the world so far as family is concerned, and there is no one to interfere with me. Indeed there are some who would be happy, for testamentary reasons, to attend my funeral. I hope you will remember this, old chap, if there is any fun going." Then he went away, easy of carriage and debonair as usual. It was in such wise that this gallant gentleman made me a proffer of his life. It moved me more than I can tell.

I went down to Cruden by the next train, and arranged with the postmaster to send on to me at once by messenger or wire any telegram that might come directed as I had told Adams.

Towards dusk a letter was brought to me. It was in Marjory's hand, and on my asking at once how it had come, I was told that it was brought by a mounted man who on handing it in had said "no answer" and had ridden away.

With hope and joy and misgiving mingled I opened it. All these feelings were justified by the few words it contained:

"Meet me to-morrow at eleven at Pircappies."

I passed the night with what patience I could, and rose early. At ten I took a light boat and rowed by myself from Port Erroll across the bay. I hung round outside the Skares, ostensibly fishing but keeping watch for any sign of Marjory; for from this point I could see the road to Whinnyfold and the path by the beach. A little before eleven I saw a woman wheeling a bicycle down the Whinnyfold laneway. Taking in my lines, I pulled, quietly and avoiding any appearance of hurry, for I knew not whether any one might see us, into the tiny harbour behind the jutting rock. Marjory arrived just at the same time, and I rejoiced to see that her face bore no mark or sign of care. As yet nothing had happened. We met with a slight hand shake; but there was a look in her eyes which made my heart leap. For the past thirty-six hours my anxiety for her had put aside every other feeling. I had not thought of myself, and therefore not of my love for her; but now my selfish instinct woke again in full force. In her presence, and in the jubilance of my own heart, fear in all forms seemed as impossible to realise as that the burning sun above us should be blotted out with falling snow. With one of her mysterious signs of silence she pointed to the rock that here stretches out into the sea, and whose top is crowned with long sea grass. Together we climbed the face of the cliff, and bearing across the narrow promontory passed over the top of the rock. We found a cosy nest hidden behind it. Here we were absolutely isolated from the world; out of earshot of every one, and out of sight except from beyond the stretch of rocky sea. In a demure way she acknowledged my satisfaction.

"Isn't it a nice place. I chose it out yesterday when I was here!" For an instant I felt as though she had struck me. Just to think that she had been here yesterday, whilst I was waiting for her only across the bay, eating my heart out. However, there was no use looking back. She was with me now, and we were alone. The whole delight of the thing swept away every other feeling. With a pretty little motion of settling herself comfortably, and which to me seemed to prelude a long talk, she began:

"I suppose you know a lot about me now?"

"How do you mean?"

"Come now, don't prevaricate. I saw Sam Adams in Aberdeen, and of course he told you all about me." I interrupted:

"No he didn't." The very tone of my voice enlightened her. With a smile she said:

"Then some one else did. Answer me some questions. What is my name?"

"Marjory Anita Drake."

"Am I poor?"

"In the way of money, no."

"Right! Why did I leave America?"

"To run away from the fireworks and the Joan of Arc business."

"Right again; but that sounds mighty like Sam Adams. Well, that's all right; now we may begin. I want to tell you something which you don't know." She paused. Half in delight and half in fear, for her appearance of purpose alarmed me, I set myself to listen.

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