“And expose us both!” replied Maxwell, in much alarm.
“True,—on reflection, it would not be wise, and it would be best for you and I not to be seen together. But finish the will; the colonel will not relish my long absence. A word more: do not say anything about this will. The colonel has a fancy to keep it secret, and this fancy will be the salvation of our scheme.”
But we will not follow the conversation any further. The reader has obtained a sufficient knowledge of these worthies from their own mouths, to believe them capable of any villany they may be called upon to perpetrate.
The plot was further arranged in all its details. A meeting with De Guy was fixed for the next day, when all parties were to be prepared to act their parts.
“He is a man,
setting his fate aside,
Of comely virtues;
Nor did he soil the fact with cowardice,
But with a noble fury and a fair spirit
He did oppose his foe.”
Colonel Dumont’s melancholy forebodings proved to be too well grounded, for in ten days after the departure of Henry Carroll he breathed his last, not fully ripe in years, but mature in the stature of a good man. His worldly affairs had all been arranged, and with his mind at peace with God and man he bade a final adieu to his weeping daughter and dissembling brother, and calmly resigned his spirit to its Author.
The mansion of Colonel Dumont had been the abode of happiness. Cheerfulness and contentment—rare visitors at the home of opulence—dwelt gracefully amid the luxurious splendor of this house. But now a heavy stroke of affliction had come upon the devoted Emily. The ruthless hand of death had struck down her father in the midst of prosperity and happiness. She felt that she was alone in the world. Her unsympathizing uncle seemed not to feel the loss, but appeared even more cold and churlish than ever. She could not expect from him the offices of kindness and sympathy. She was an orphan, but not till she was prepared to combat with the trials of life. Recognizing the hand of Providence in this visitation of the Angel of Death, she bowed meekly and submissively to the Master Will, and was even cheerful and happy in her tears.
It was about ten o’clock on the night succeeding the funeral of Colonel Dumont that a small canoe, containing a single individual, touched at the bank of the river near the now gloomy mansion. Leaping from the canoe, which was nearly swamped by the act, the person it had contained drew the frail bark beyond the reach of the rapid current, and ascended the steep bank. Following the smooth shell road through the long vista of negro huts, he reached the little grove of tropical trees which surrounded the proprietary mansion. Casting an anxious glance around him, to satisfy himself that he was not watched, he cautiously approached the only illuminated window on that side of the house, upon which, after a close scrutiny of the interior of the room, he gave several light taps. This signal was answered by Jaspar Dumont, who, with a word of caution, opened the window. The stranger, with a light spring which belied his apparent years, gained the interior of the room, which was the library of the late owner.