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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about Hatchie, the Guardian Slave; or, The Heiress of Bellevue.

“But how is it, Maxwell, about this will?  You have never told me about it,” said Vernon, who, ruffian as he was, believed in fair play.

“I will tell you another time; cut these ropes, and let us be off.”

“But let me tell you, my fine fellow, that though I can rob a man who has enough, I would not be concerned in such a dirty game as this,” said Vernon, as he severed the ropes which bound the attorney.  “If you have been helping old Dumont to wrong his niece, may I be hanged, as that nigger would have served you, if I don’t blow the whole affair!”

“You know nothing about it; but, let me tell you, I am not concerned in the affair.  The girl, I have no doubt, is a slave.”

The confederates now made all haste to depart from their proximity to such dangers as both had incurred, and, by a circuitous way, reached the river, where, taking a boat, they rowed under the banks down stream.

Hatchie was disappointed, on his return, to find his prisoner had escaped.  A diligent search, by the precaution of the confederates, was rendered fruitless.

CHAPTER XVIII.

     “Why should my curiosity excite me
     To search and pry into the affairs of others,
     Who have to employ my thoughts so many cares
     And sorrows of my own?” LILLO.

Jaspar Dumont sat in the library at Bellevue.  It was the evening after his return from Vicksburg.  Near him, engaged in examining a heap of papers, was his new overseer, Dalhousie.

Jaspar was musing over the late turn his affairs had taken; and, while he congratulated himself on his present triumphant position, he could but regard with apprehension the future, which seemed to smile only to lure him on to certain destruction.  The trite saying, “There is no peace for the wicked,” is literally and universally true.  The lowering brow, the threatening scowl, the suspicious glance, of the wicked uncle, were as reliable evidences of his misery as his naked soul, torn with doubt and anguish, could have been.  Every new paper the overseer turned over produced a start of apprehension, lest it might contain evidence of his villany.  His nerves had suffered terribly beneath the vision of guilt and punishment that constantly haunted him.  His new overseer, whom he had partially admitted to his bosom as a confidant, had secured a strong hold upon his fears.  His presence seemed necessary to cheer him in his lonely hours, to chase away the phantoms of vengeance that pursued him.  Harassed by doubts and fears, his constitution was, in some degree, impaired, and his mind, losing the pillar upon which it rested, was prone to yield also.

Dalhousie examined with minuteness the papers to which his attention had been directed.  Before him was a heap of documents of various kinds, all in confusion,—­bills and bonds, letters and deeds, were thrown promiscuously together.  His purpose was to sort and file them away for future reference.  This confusion among the papers was not the work of Colonel Dumont; he had been strictly methodical and accurate in all his business affairs.  This fact was attested by the occasional strips of pasteboard, on which were marked various descriptions of papers, as well as by bits of red tape that had secured the bundles.

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