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- A Fascinating Traitor - 50/66 -
mingling the names of Berthe Louison and Harry Hardwicke. "Will Justine be true to her oath?" she faltered, as she drifted into the blessed release of dreamland.
As the night wore on, Justine Delande, tossing on her bed in the Royal Victoria Hotel, waited for the dawn, to sail for Granville. She had telegraphed in curt words her dismissal, and she burned to reach Geneva, for to her the sight of Alan Hawke's face was the one oasis in her desert of sorrow.
Long after Nadine Johnstone had closed her tired eyelids, stern old Andrew Fraser cowered below, glowering over his library fire, clad in a huge plaid dressing gown. His greedy eyes watched the dancing flames, and he rubbed the thin palms in triumph, while he sipped his nightly glass of Highland whisky grog. It had been a famous secret campaign for the surviving brother.
"If all goes on well; all goes well!" he crooned. "There's Douglas, gone for good! The boy is young and soft-like. He might fall into this pert minx's hands as young Douglas with Queen Mary of old. And, thank God, he knows nothing of the packet of jewels! Not a soul knows in the wide world! Why should I not save them for myself and turn them into gold? Yes, save them for myself. For the boy? But he never must know! Ah! I must hide them well! This stubborn girl knows nothing! That is right! Janet Fairbarn will be here in two days, and I'll have another man to keep watch; yes, and a good dog, too! For the gallants must never cross my wall!"
"He! He! She'll no fule with Janet Fairbarn," he gloated, "and the will gives me every power. I must find a place of safety for the jewels," he mused. "I'm glad that I burned Hughie's letter, as he told me. There's nothing now to show for them. The bank would not be safe. Never must they go out of my hands. And, I can write a sealed letter for Douglas, to be opened by him alone, if I should be called away. I can put it in the bank, and take a receipt and send the boy the receipt. But, no human being must know that I have them." He tottered away to his sleep murmuring, "But safer still, to turn them into yellow gold. There's a deal of them. I must find out in time how to dispose of them, but never till the lass above is gone and my accounts all discharged." And the old miser, who had already robbed his dead brother, slept softly in love with his own exceeding cunning.
Of all the loungers on the wind-swept wharf at Granville-sur-Mer next day, decidedly the most natty was Jules Victor, who was now awaiting the return of the little St. Helier's packet, to engage a special cabin for himself, with all a Gaul's horror of the stormy passage. He sprang forward, in a genuine surprise, as Mademoiselle Justine Delande, aided by the stout Swiss maid, tottered over the gangplank. "Madame is ill, a la bonne heure! Let me conduct you to the Hotel Croix d'Or, where Madame Louison is even now awaiting the Paris train." The ex-zouave was a miracle of politeness and, he proudly conducted Justine to a waiting fiacre, having deftly reserved himself the choice of staterooms. With the skill of his artful kind, Jules hastened upstairs at the Hotel Croix d'Or, to announce to his mistress the lucky find of a windy afternoon on Granville quay.
That night, when Justine Delande reached Paris, she was assured in her heart that her own future fortunes were safe, and that her sister would surely be the recipient of Nadine Johnstone's future bounty. For Madame Berthe Louison, ever armed against possible treachery, announced her own instant departure for Poland. "But, I leave Jules in charge in Paris, and he will find the way to deliver your letters to your young friend."
When Justine Delande was safely escorted to the train by the smiling Madame Berthe Louison, she proceeded to register a packet for London, addressed to "Major Harry Hardwicke."
That young officer's heart was light, three days later, when he received the letter of Nadine which Madame Louison had cajoled easily from the Swiss woman. And the happy Major's heart was no lighter than Nadine's for the watchful Janet Fairbarn, now on duty, with her selected subordinates, wondered to see the pale-faced girl laugh merrily as she chatted over the garden wall with a strolling French peddler. "I may trade at the gate, may I not, Miss Janet," said Nadine, "or is that one of the crimes?" But Jules Victor had brought her a new life. She whispered, "He will come!"
AN ASIATIC LION IN HIDING.
Madame Alixe Delavigne sat alone in her snug apartment of the Hotel Croix d'Or, at Granville-sur-Mer, four days after Justine Delande had been driven forth from the Banker's Folly! The perusal of a long letter from Jules Victor was interrupted by the arrival of a telegram from that rising young soldier, Captain Anson Anstruther. It needed but a single glance to call the resolute woman to action.
Smartly ringing the bell, she ordered the maid, her bill, and a voiture to convey her to the Boulogne station. "So, Hardwicke and Captain Murray are safely in London! Major Hawke is at Geneva, and I am to hide at Rosebank Villa until he has reported and been sent away on his continental tour of the great jewel dealers!"
With flying fingers the lady soon penned a letter addressed to "Monsieur Alois Vautier, Marchand-en-petit, Hotel Bellevue, St. Aubin, Jersey." "He can telegraph to me at Richmond, and one of us will soon be on the ground to aid him! Now, 'the longest way round is the nearest way home!'" laughed the ci-devant Madame Louison, as she departed for Boulogne, an hour later, having carefully mailed her letter personally, and sent a brief telegram to the active Jules Victor.
The ex-Zouave had easily made the rounds of the pretty islet of Jersey, in his capacity of merchant of small wares, long before Alixe Delavigne, braving the stormy channel, had proceeded from Folkestone directly to Richmond, and hidden herself in the leafy bowers of Rosebank Villa. Smiling, gay and debonnair with all the women servants, he had a pinch of snuff, a cigar of fair quality, or a pipe full of tabac for coachman and groom, supplemented with many a petit verre from his capacious flask. His Gallic gallantry, with the gift of a trinket or ribbon, made him welcome with simple milk-maid or pert house "slavey," and the dapper little Frenchman was already an established favorite in the wine-room of the Hotel Bellevue.
His greatest triumph, however, was the secret demonstration of the cheapness of Jersey prices to the London sewing woman and smart lady's maid, now chafing under Janet Fairbarn's iron rule at the "Banker's Folly." "Norn d'un pipe! But I have to make shameful rabaissements de prix," muttered Jules, as he adroitly worked upon the susceptibilities of the two new maid servants. While one or the other of these women always accompanied Miss Nadine Johnstone in her daily wanderings through the splendid gardens of the Folly, the merry voice of Jules Victor was often heard by them singing on his way down the road. The gift of a famous brule guenle had propitiated the simple Jersey gardener, whose stout boy rejoiced in a new leather jacket, almost a gift, and the second man, Andrew Fraser's reinforcement, a famous drinker, was soon a nightly companion of "Alois Vautier" at the one little "public," down under the scarped hill at Rizel Bay.
Andrew Fraser, closeted with the London lawyer, had almost forgotten the existence of Nadine Johnstone.
A formal interview as to the filing of her father's will, a mere mute exhibition of perfunctory courtesy, released Nadine to her own devices, while Professor Andrew Fraser returned to his afternoon studies with that famous young Yankee savant, Professor Alaric Hobbs, of Waukesha University.
The beautiful captive was now happy in dissembling her contentment, for, though the sharp-featured Scotch housekeeper, Janet Fairbarn, keenly watched all her outgoings, sending always one of the women as an "outside guard," the heiress had learned some of woman's secret arts quickly. The peddler, Alois Vautier, brought to her letters and messages which made her lonely heart light, even in her stately semi-durance. And the epistles of Major Harry Hardwicke left her with a heart trembling in delight after their perusal.
And so it fell out that four days after Alixe Delavigne had returned to Rosebank Villa, that a packet of important letters was smuggled past the droning Professor's picket line, one of which caused Nadine Johnstone to hide her tell-tale blushes in her room.
"To-morrow I will come by, to deliver some little purchases of the maids! Have your answers all ready. I will be here at ten, at the garden gate!" Long after the Yankee Professor had left the "Folly" for St. Heliers that night, the lonely girl bent her beautiful head over the pages, destined to safely reach her lover's eyes in fair London town. And to Berthe Louison, she now poured out her loving heart, for she knew that her protecting friends would soon be near her.
"We are waiting, watching, and planning," wrote Alixe Delavigne. "Be cheerful--silent--watchful! I must be near you, I must see you, face to face, to tell you all the story of the past! I will then tell you, my own darling child, of the mother whom you have never known. But, first, Major Hardwicke must open a way to your side! Beware of the schemes of Alan Hawke! He will be here to-morrow, and he may steal over to Jersey, though his duty takes him for a month to the Continent! You will surely see Major Hardwicke before you see me for Andrew Fraser might take alarm at a sight of my face and so hide you away from us all!"
Miss Mildred Anstruther was a delicate symphony in gray, as she gracefully presided the next evening over the dinner table at which Alixe Delavigne, Captain Anstruther, Major Hardwicke, and Captain Murray merrily discussed the sudden hastening of Captain Eric Murray's nuptials. Hardwicke's duty as "best man" was now the only bar to the beginning of a campaign destined to foil Andrew Fraser's Loch Leven tactics of imprisoning his niece and ward.
"You will have but a brief honeymoon, Eric!" laughed Hardwicke.
"You have promised to stand by me, Harry," replied his friend. "See me married to-morrow, then a week's honeymoon at Jersey is all that I ask! I can bestow my wife there with a dear friend, who has the
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