chance of becoming his wife, and leading a happy life with him, was destroyed; and, finally, another point had not been overlooked by Deena. She did not hate Freda with the hatred she felt for her own daughter-she had scarcely seen her for years-but Freda's happy enjoyment of life, which Deena well remembered, prompted a wish that the girl's future might be irreparably ruined. Perhaps her remark that Freda was considered the prettiest girl on the island would lead to this result, and so Deena, well satisfied with the seed she had strewn, sat with a dull, stupid stare in the lamp-lit parlour. At last she grew hungry; it was long past the usual supper-time, but no one came in for it. So she fetched from the kitchen the remains of the dinner and ate the food greedily alone.

On the other side of the island Roeluf and Tyalka had returned to the cottage and sat consulting how, on the arrival of helpers from the ship, they might best set to work to capture the Frenchmen. Though sparing of their words, the two men were quite at one in their national character and their devoted attachment to their country. The seaman's thoughts ran irresistibly upon Walmot, to whom he referred, saying that, little as he had seen of her, he had never met with such a woman in all his life before.

'That be very true,' said Roeluf; 'there's nubbod like her.' Tyalka further asked his companion what was the name he had received from his father before he had been compelled to adopt a family name. On hearing the reply, 'Roeluf Hemmen,' he stared at the speaker in amazement.

'What be ya gaäzin' at ?' said the latter. afoor, I reckons ?'

'Ya hev 'eärd on me

'Noä,' said Tyalka, with a shake of the head; 'it mun hev beën summon else.'

But Roeluf calmly rejoined:

'If ya're lookin' oot fur the wussest o' men, 'ere I be, an' ya needn't look no färther. It be all along o' 'er that I be sich a won naw moor. I desarved es she shud stan' lookin' on whilst that I was a beëin' torn in pieces, an' noo she 'as maäde me that I darse look in her faäce wonst moor. It be a long taäle, and not easy to understan'. 'Ow that coom to pass nobbut but she knaws-that heärt o' hern which she hev in 'er breäst. we mun talk 'ow to ketch them Frenchers.'


It was important to know in which room of the parsonage

the officer slept, and Roeluf turned round to inquire of Teda. She had been sitting on a chair near the wall, but as his look now sought the corner, she was no longer there; she must have just got up and gone into the kitchen. Roeluf went after her, in order to obtain the desired information; but she was not in the kitchen either. He now went outside, and called her by name; it was of no use, the wind blew in his face, and no

answer came.

Teda was already at some distance from the house, and running straight on as fast as ever she could.

For the last hour every pulse in her frame had swayed to and fro under the most sudden and rudest shocks; at one moment she felt as though every drop of blood were turned to ice, the next moment it was rushing through her veins like a flood of fire. She was unable to think. In her head and in her breast, there was a ceaseless hammering, which at length drove her forth. She had a dim consciousness of having had similar excitement many times before, even when she was a child, but never had passion so completely overpowered her, swallowing up every other thought. Something within her still strove to defend her from its violence; but the warning was crushed like a withered branch reft by the storm. She felt as though she must suffocate unless she cried aloud; but all voice was gone. And thus she ran across the little neck of land that joined the two halves of the island. The tide was high, and the water had overflowed on both sides, only a narrow slip of dry land was left, but this her knowledge of the place enabled her instinctively to find.

There were others, however, who were evidently unable to find the passage, and were vainly seeking for it along the edge of the water, for men's voices suddenly struck the ear of Teda. She listened; a violent shock passed through her frame as she recognised the tones of the Frenchman. Egide de Walcourt and his soldiers were coming from the parsonage, and trying to find the road to Walmot's cottage.

Suddenly a dark figure flew towards the officer and grasped with one hand the sash across his breast, as though in need of support, in order to avoid sinking to the ground. There was just light enough for him to recognise the face of Teda, which, pale as death, almost brushed his own. She strove to speak, but not a sound came forth; he only felt the breath from her quivering lips. She stood there like a sphinx, which the

presence of his two subordinates prevented him from at once trying to question. She had undoubtedly come of her own free will to seek him, and so he said:

'Has my Madonna found out that I am the more devoted worshipper of her beauty?'

She now drew him forcibly aside from his men. Her mind had grasped one thought, and her lips had found words : Danger threatens you!' she exclaimed. 'Promise me one thing, and I will tell you what it is.'

'Danger?-from whom?' The words escaped the officer, but he immediately added: 'A beautiful woman is the only danger I know of, and her I do not fear.' Thereupon he tried to clasp Teda in his arms. She disengaged herself from him :

'Not now; there is no time.

perhaps your life.'

De Walcourt's arm sank.

Your liberty is at stake,

'Diable! Do you really mean it?'

'Will you swear to give me what I ask in return?'

'If it is not opposed to my faith or that I am not to worship the Madonna.'

'No-to-morrow-nothing from me

'Ma parole d'honneur—that is as good as an oath.' 'You are to be surprised to-night.'

In breathless haste Teda told him of the English vessel that was lying at anchor near; of the landing of the cargo on the uninhabited isle, and what she knew of the designs of the crew against the Frenchmen. A few muttered curses from the Walloon alone interrupted the narrative; his tone and manner plainly indicated that under these circumstances there was indeed no time to-night to think of paying worship to his 'Madonna.' On the other hand, he now felt sure of her. She had evidently sought him herself, and if she had before eluded him, it had been but the coyness of a silly girl. Why else should she have come to warn him of this impending danger? He knew no fear; cannon-balls had flown around him on many a battle-field.

'And what do you ask in return?' he inquired. Teda hesitated a moment; then she replied:

'I will tell you afterwards. They may be here in a few hours. A girl has gone across to summon them—the girl who brought you the money this morning, and who this evening,

when I was still such a simpleton, helped me to escape-fool that I was!-by holding fast the church-door.'

Yes, she had then been indeed nothing but a blind fool; the admission fell with full conviction from her lips.

The officer put on it another interpretation and uttered a curse of rage.

'Enfer et damnation! It was the fair-haired girl, was it? If I catch her, I'll make her pay for it!'

But the first question now was how to escape the impending danger, and combat it with success. The purposed landing of a costly ship's cargo also appeared to De Walcourt in a very different light to what it had done before, when he had left Deena's mention of it quite unheeded. He now felt that nothing must be left undone to gain possession of this cargo, which could not fail to bring him a rich reward. On the one hand, a share of the captured booty, and on the other, some mark of distinction which the Emperor would no doubt bestow upon anyone who hindered a breach of the Continental blockade.

The feverish excitement that had hitherto overpowered the Walloon was in no way diminished, though arising now from a different cause; he promptly formed his plan, then bent his way with Teda to the parsonage.

The pastor had by this time returned. De Walcourt hastened to the study, and Teda also followed. Pastor Remmert explained that he had been vainly seeking in the village for the officer, to warn him of a possibly approaching danger; he now heard with surprise that the latter was already acquainted with the matter and possessed of the fullest details.

With shrewdly chosen words De Walcourt alluded to the spiritual duty of the pastor to hinder all violation of the laws of his earthly sovereign, and to use his influence with the islanders for the protection of the representative of government against the purposed night attack.

With some surprise he heard Teda also support his request. 'It is not a question of worldly gain,' she said, 'but of punishing unbelievers in this life, so as to save the erring for the life to come.'

But the pastor needed no reminder of his duty:

'It is the will of God, and as His servant I have already acted in obedience to His command. May His grace continue to help me to complete the work which the urgency of the times imposes on my weak and sorely tempted human heart!'

He drew De Walcourt aside, and whispered to him a few words; a gleam of triumphant surprise shot from the eyes of the Walloon, and he exclaimed:

'Your creed may be heretical, but verily you are an instrument in the hand of God.'

Hastily glancing at his watch, he added:

'But we must see to our immediate business, and arm ourselves for the early arrival of the seamen.'

He then quitted the house with the pastor, and Teda with dogged resolution followed them closely into the village.



THE night had not become any darker than it was at first; even now, though it was long past midnight, a faint gleam lay over land and sea. On the other hand, the wind had waxed more and more boisterous, not as yet arousing any anxiety in those who were wont to plough the deep, but a novice would undoubtedly have called it stormy. In the course of a few hours the wind had veered with unusual rapidity from the west and was now blowing directly southwards, with that strange hollow moan peculiar to this wind, and which sounds like the deadened vibrations of the pipes of an organ.

It blew now in face of the flood, or, rather, it drove the waters of the ebb-tide, now beginning from the mainland, against the islands and also back again from the northern coast of the latter. With break of day there must assuredly be an extraordinarily high tide. And just as in the evening the wind had made it very difficult for a boat to advance towards the northwest, so now it made a return from thence in the face of the retreating waves a still more arduous struggle.

In spite of this, a little boat was pressing towards the island, its oars handled by Walmot with dauntless skill.

After a long fatiguing row, she and Freda had reached the sea-gulls' isle, where the men from the English brig were still busied in unshipping the chests and bales of their cargo. As Uwen on his landing had been greatly surprised at this un

« ForrigeFortsett »