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Utu: A Story of Love, Hate and Revenge

To — Eleanor Comtesse De Pignerolles — with compliments

Eleanor Comtesse De Pignerolles
with compliments.

Ma foi! Permit me, Madame, the honour of opening the packet,’ and in another instant the unfastened wrappings discovered a pretty casket in delicately illuminated vellum, and upon its cover a letter lying. He held the pretty toy before her temptingly. read the superscription of the letter, then with a strangely compounded expression playing over his dark face handed both over to her.

Mechanically she received them, and opening the letter, ran her bewildered eyes over its brief contents. Then, in a dazed yet excited way, she lifted the casket lid, and for some frightful seconds stood petrified with horror, for then amid snowy shavings, all stained and clotted with blood, lay a human heart transfixed by a slender silver stiletto.

Slowly she raised her head. The infernal glow in the demon face before her told its own tale. Her parched lips essayed to move, her all but paralysed tongue to speak:

‘Hellhound—this—this is your work!’ she articulated, hoarsely, and with a shriek which pierced to the chamber of the bedridden uncle and start led the domestics gossiping below stairs, she sank to the floor in strong convulsions, still grasping the pretty vellum casket, whose gory contents were scattered hither and thither as she fell.

* * * * * * * * *

‘It is nothing,’ said the master of Radcliffe Hall—for such he still was to the domestics—and his bland composure was reassuring. ‘Your mistress was alarmed by a wasp, that is all. Return to your duties; she requires nothing,’ and the venturesome enquirers who had hurried to offer assistance returned without even seeing their lady, who lay writhing unconsciously upon the library sofa, while her fiendish partner composedly prepared a small but potent draught intended to assuage all her sufferings.

He had never meant to shed her blood. That would have been t dangerous there in the library. A potion such as her father had swallowed was a much safer quietus. He mixed it carefully, administered page 65 it deliberately, and presently a gurgling in her throat assured him that his work of vengeance was complete.

Gathering up the ghastly contents of the casket, he carefully rewrapped and carried them away. Then, passing softly out of the hall door, entered a coach which had been long in waiting, and before dusk, that evening was chatting pleasantly to a fellow passenger on board the Calais mail packet.

‘Drive like the devil. Tom!’ he had said to the coachman on entering. ‘I have an appointments,’ and as the vehicle dashed off he lay back in the cushions and chuckled.

‘Well done, Jacques, mon ami. Thou hast bamboozled the whole crew. But haste thee now, for Pierre de Loup is on thy track, and the witch mother has found thee out. Ha! ha! They will both be too late. Thou wast an excellent tutor. Pierre, but thy pupil has outwitted thee. We were to divide the spoil, mon ami, but pardieu! I need it all, for thy impatience has lost me a fortune, le diabl, t' importe! A week longer, one little week, and the uncle would have been under the sod. But thy itching palms could not wait, it seems, perdition seize thee! And the witch has made discoveries. Would that I could have seen the she-devil when she found that her pretended nephew was a cheat, and all her good offices and precious documents thrown away upon a stranger, Ha, ha! It is an excellent comedy. But the last act was the best. Yet the girl bore herself well, and showed the spirit of the I Rom. 'Twas almost a pity—Bah! Jacques le Blanc! Art thou growing soft-hearted, thou? But she bore up well, saprisli! Yet the claim to kindred tried her. It was good to see her on the rack. Ha! ha! The credulity of these English. They never question. Ha! ha! She did question though, nom de chien! But that was the gipsy strain. Our people believe naught. She, However, believed like her of a father—when I said we were brother and sister. The credulous simpletons! Ha! ha! And she suffered, ay, suffered, la belle, painthers. But it was the last straw that did the business. Ha! That touched her. That Scabbed her proud heart, as I stabbed her accursed lovers, and as she scrupled not in her pride to stab mine. I was a menial, therefore a stock, a stone, a block of wood, without heart, without feeling, without the power of resentment. Ha! ha! Well, I have had my revenge. But, haste thee. Jacques. Thou hast still much to do. How slowly the coach moves—Faster. Tom, Faster!—Thou must change thy garb and thy mien, thy name and thy speech, mon ami, and get thee to Monaco, and break the bank ere Pierre le Loup can track thee, and then—Faster, Tom Faster!—then—come what will. What matter? Let us do what we will—eat, drink, lose, play, revenge—to-morrow we die. Bah! What is death? A long sleep. What comes after? Naught? Who cares for death? Not I. diableFaster, Tom, Faster!’

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He mixed it carefully, administered it deliberating, and presently a gurgling in her throat assured him that his work of vengrance was complete.

He mixed it carefully, administered it deliberating, and presently a gurgling in her throat assured him that his work of vengrance was complete.