Benita, an African romance eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 230 pages of information about Benita, an African romance.

Thrice did this message appear to repeat itself in the consciousness of Benita.  Then, suddenly as she had slept, she woke again with every letter of it imprinted on her mind.  Doubtless it was a dream, nothing but a dream bred by the fact that her arms were clasping the feet of the crucifix.  What did it say?  “Draw them to the left.”

She did so, but nothing stirred.  Again she tried, and still nothing stirred.  Of course it was a dream.  Why had such been sent to mock her?  In a kind of mad irritation she put out all her remaining strength and wrestled with those stony feet. They moved a little—­then of a sudden, without any further effort on her part, swung round as high as the knees where drapery hung, concealing the join in them.  Yes, they swung round, revealing the head of a stair, up which blew a cold wind that it was sweet to breathe.

Benita rose, gasping.  Then she seized her lantern and ran to the little tent where her father lay.

XXII

THE VOICE OF THE LIVING

Mr. Clifford was awake again now.

“Where have you been?” he asked querulously in a thin voice.  “I wanted you.”  Then as the light from the candle shone upon it, he noted the change that had come over her pale face, and added:  “What has happened?  Is Meyer dead?  Are we free?”

Benita shook her head.  “He was alive a few hours ago, for I could hear him raving and shouting outside the wall we built.  But, father, it has all come back to me; I believe that I have found it.”

“What has come back?  What have you found?  Are you mad, too, like Jacob?”

“What something told me when I was in the trance which afterwards I forgot, but now remember.  And I have found the passage which leads to where they hid the gold.  It begins behind the crucifix, where no one ever thought of looking.”

This matter of the gold did not seem to interest Mr. Clifford.  In his state all the wealth beneath the soil of Africa would not have appealed to him.  Moreover, he hated the name of that accursed treasure, which was bringing them to such a miserable end.

“Where does the passage run?  Have you looked?” he asked.

“Not yet, but the voice in me said—­I mean, I dreamed—­that it goes down to the river-side.  If you leant on me do you think that you could walk?”

“Not one inch,” he answered.  “Here where I am I shall die.”

“No, no, don’t talk like that.  We may be saved now that I have found a way.  Oh, if only you could—­if only you could walk, or if I had the strength to carry you!” and she wrung her hands and began to weep, so weak was she.

Her father looked at her searchingly.  Then he said: 

“Well, love, I cannot, so there’s an end.  But you can, and you had better go.”

“What!  And leave you?  Never.”

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Benita, an African romance from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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