“So far good,” replied Duffel; “but are you sure the act was undiscovered and undiscoverable?”
“Quite sure, your honor; it was dark at the time, and no one near, and therefore impossible that any one should know of the transaction.”
“Very well, I am pleased with your promptness and dispatch in the execution of this plot. You shall have your reward for the diligence and faithfulness of your labors. But just now I have another affair on hand, in which I shall need your aid.”
“We are your men.”
“I know I can rely upon you, and that is the reason I have chosen you from among all the other members of the League to assist me.”
“And you shall never regret the choice. What is the nature of the work you would have us perform?”
“I have heretofore spoken to you concerning its principal feature. It relates to a lady, and you may remember what was formerly said in regard to the matter.”
“Oh, yes, perfectly well.”
“Well, I wish the young lady to be taken—kidnapped—and brought to this place. Can I rely upon you to do the deed?”
“We have already pledged ourselves to that effect.”
“So you did, I had forgotten. I shall soon need your services, if all things proceed as present appearances indicate that they will. When everything is ripe for action, I will inform you of particulars, and give you the necessary instructions. Till, then, meet me every day in the ‘swamp,’ for I may wish your aid at any moment.”
“All right; we’ll be there.”
And thus the conference of the villains ended.
THE INTERVIEW—THE PLOT—THE ABDUCTION.
Before proceeding to extremities, Duffel resolved to try the effect of smooth words and persuasive eloquence on the mind of Eveline. For this purpose he called upon her with the express intention of urging his claims to her hand in a personal interview. She received him, as she had been accustomed to do of late, with cold politeness. Had he been a real lover, actuated by pure motives, he would have been deterred from prosecuting his suit, or even mentioning the object of his visit, for he could not but perceive that he was not warmly received. But he had resolved upon a course of action, and was determined that nothing should influence him to turn aside from the line of conduct he had marked out for himself. After a little conversation on commonplace matters, he attempted to introduce the subject uppermost in his thoughts, but finding no encouragement, addressed his companion thus:
“Why this coldness, Miss Mandeville? would that I dared to call you, Eveline! You have ears for others, for me you have none; you have smiles for others, but on me you never bestow a gladdening look; and yet, of all the world, I most long for a smile, for the privilege to talk to you as a friend.”