Although the conspirators spoke in a low tone, Hatchie heard and understood the whole plot. The voice of Maxwell he recognized, and, although the name of the lady against whom his designs were meditated was not mentioned, he comprehended who she was.
The confederated scoundrels having finished their conference, Vernon drew from his pocket a small screw-driver, and proceeded to remove the screws from one of the boxes, which, to Hatchie’s great relief, was not the one occupied by himself. After much labor, for the boxes were carefully constructed, to bear the rough usage of transportation, he succeeded in removing the lid, and deposited the bag of money between the coffin and the case which enclosed it.
Having effected the object which brought them to the hold, the two ascended again, and made their way to the cabin.
In addition to the knowledge of the plot, Hatchie was made acquainted with a fact which afforded him much pleasure—that Henry Carroll, in defence of his mistress, had knocked Maxwell down. This was evidence in his favor. He also heard something of the preference she had bestowed upon him, and that on this account, more than for the blow, he was to be the victim of Maxwell’s vengeance. But he resolved to foil both schemes.
“He must be taught to know
he has presumed
To stand in competition with me.
—You will not kill him?” SHIRLEY.
—To comfort you, and bring you joyful news.”
On the second night of the Chalmetta’s voyage, as Henry was about to retire, the steward handed him a note. An hour before he had struck a “fashionable” man a severe blow, and he conjectured at once that it had called forth this note. On opening the billet, his supposition proved to be correct. It was a challenge from Maxwell.
We are very much opposed to duels and duelling, and we regret that faithfulness to the facts of history compels us to record that Captain Carroll accepted the challenge. He had moral courage enough to resist the promptings of that artificial spirit of honor which encourages duels, but there was “a lady in the case,”—a lady whom he fondly loved. He felt that the insult which she had received was not sufficiently punished. Besides, there was an audacity about the man which deserved to be punished, and he resolved to punish it. Poor human nature! Henry never reflected that he might be shot himself, and the persecutor of innocence escape unharmed. No, he felt that the blow he had struck in defence of innocence was a just retribution, as far as it went; and that he should fall, he who had espoused the cause of innocence, why it was simply impossible!
He accepted the challenge, and requested a brother officer to act as his “friend.” The two seconds—Major Brunn on the part of Henry, and Vernon on the part of Maxwell—arranged the preliminaries.