The Ruby of Kishmoor
I. Jonathan Rugg
II. The Mysterious Lady with the Silver Veil
III. The Terrific Encounter with the One-eyed Little Gentleman in Black
IV. The Momentous Adventure with the Stranger with the Silver Ear-rings
V. The Unexpected Encounter with the Sea-captain with the Broken Nose
VI. The Conclusion of the Adventure with the Lady with the Silver Veil
A very famous pirate of his day was Captain Robertson Keitt.
Before embarking upon his later career of infamy, he was, in the
beginning, very well known as a reputable merchant in the island of
Jamaica. Thence entering, first of all, upon the business of the
African trade, he presently, by regular degrees, became a pirate, and
finally ended his career as one of the most renowned freebooters of
The remarkable adventure through which he at once reached the pinnacle
of success, and became in his profession the most famous figure of his
day, was the capture of the Rajah of Kishmoor's great ship, The Sun of
the East. In this vessel was the Rajah's favorite Queen, who, together
with her attendants, were set upon a pilgrimage to Mecca. The court of
this great Oriental potentate was, as may be readily supposed, fairly
a-glitter with gold and jewels, so that, what with such personal
adornments that the Queen and her attendants had fetched with them,
besides an ample treasury for the expenses of the expedition, an
incredible prize of gold and jewels rewarded the freebooters for their
Among the precious stones taken in this great purchase was the splendid
ruby of Kishmoor. This, as may be known to the reader, was one of the
world's greatest gems, and was unique alike both for its prodigious
size and the splendor of its color. This precious jewel the Rajah of
Kishmoor had, upon a certain occasion, bestowed upon his Queen, and at
the time of her capture she wore it as the centre-piece of a sort of a
coronet which encircled her forehead and brow.
The seizure by the pirate of so considerable a person as that of the
Queen of Kishmoor, and of the enormous treasure that he found aboard
her ship, would alone have been sufficient to have established his
fame. But the capture of so extraordinary a prize as that of the
ruby—which was, in itself, worth the value of an entire Oriental
kingdom—exalted him at once to the very highest pinnacle of renown.
Having achieved the capture of this incredible prize, our captain
scuttled the great ship and left her to sink with all on board. Three
Lascars of the crew alone escaped to bear the news of this tremendous
disaster to an astounded world.
As may readily be supposed, it was now no longer possible for Captain
Keitt to hope to live in such comparative obscurity as he had before
enjoyed. His was now too remarkable a figure in the eyes of the world.
Several expeditions from various parts were immediately fitted out
against him, and it presently became no longer compatible with his
safety to remain thus clearly outlined before the eyes of the world.
Accordingly, he immediately set about seeking such security as he might
now hope to find, which he did the more readily since he had now, and
at one cast, so entirely fulfilled his most sanguine expectations of
good-fortune and of fame.
Thereafter, accordingly, the adventures of our captain became of a more
apocryphal sort. It was known that he reached the West Indies in
safety, for he was once seen at Port Royal and twice at Spanish Town,
in the island of Jamaica. Thereafter, however, he disappeared; nor was
it until several years later that the world heard anything concerning
One day a certain Nicholas Duckworthy, who had once been gunner aboard
the pirate captain's own ship, The Good Fortune, was arrested in the
town of Bristol in the very act of attempting to sell to a merchant of
that place several valuable gems from a quantity which he carried with
him tied up in a red bandanna handkerchief.
In the confession of which Duckworthy afterward delivered himself he
declared that Captain Keitt, after his great adventure, having sailed
from Africa in safety, and so reached the shores of the New World, had
wrecked The Good Fortune on a coral reef off the Windward Islands; that
he then immediately deserted the ship, and together with Duckworthy
himself, the sailing-master (who was a Portuguese), the captain of a
brig The Bloody Hand (a consort of Keitt's), and a villainous rascal
named Hunt (who, occupying no precise position among the pirates, was
at once the instigator of and the partaker in the greatest part of
Captain Keitt's wickednesses), made his way to the nearest port of
safety. These five worthies at last fetched the island of Jamaica,
bringing with them all of the jewels and some of the gold that had been
captured from The Sun of the East.
But, upon coming to a division of their booty, it was presently
discovered that the Rajah's ruby had mysteriously disappeared from the
collection of jewels to be divided. The other pirates immediately
suspected their captain of having secretly purloined it, and, indeed,
so certain were they of his turpitude that they immediately set about
taking means to force a confession from him.
In this, however, they were so far unsuccessful that the captain,
refusing to yield to their importunities, had suffered himself to die
under their hands, and had so carried the secret of the hiding-place of
the great ruby—if he possessed such a secret—along with him.
Duckworthy concluded his confession by declaring that in his opinion he
himself, the Portuguese sailing-master, the captain of The Bloody Hand,
and Hunt were the only ones of Captain Keitt's crew who were now alive;
for that The Good Fortune must have broken up in a storm, which
immediately followed their desertion of her; in which event the entire
crew must inevitably have perished.
It may be added that Duckworthy himself was shortly hanged, so that, if
his surmise was true, there was now only three left alive of all that
wicked crew that had successfully carried to its completion the
greatest adventure which any pirate in the world had ever, perhaps,
I. Jonathan Rugg
You may never know what romantic aspirations may lie hidden beneath the
most sedate and sober demeanor.
To have observed Jonathan Rugg, who was a tall, lean, loose-jointed
young Quaker of a somewhat forbidding aspect, with straight, dark hair
and a bony, overhanging forehead set into a frown, a pair of small,
deep-set eyes, and a square jaw, no one would for a moment have
suspected that he concealed beneath so serious an exterior any appetite
for romantic adventure.
Nevertheless, finding himself suddenly transported, as it were, from
the quiet of so sober a town as that of Philadelphia to the tropical
enchantment of Kingston, in the island of Jamaica, the night brilliant
with a full moon that swung in an opal sky, the warm and luminous
darkness replete with the mysteries of a tropical night, and burdened
with the odors of a land breeze, he suddenly discovered himself to be
overtaken with so vehement a desire for some unwonted excitement that,
had the opportunity presented itself, he felt himself ready to embrace
any adventure with the utmost eagerness, no matter whither it would
have conducted him.
At home (where he was a clerk in the counting-house of a leading
merchant, by name Jeremiah Doolittle), should such idle fancies have
come to him, he would have looked upon himself as little better than a
fool, but now that he found himself for the first time in a foreign
country, surrounded by such strange and unusual sights and sounds, all
conducive to extravagant imaginations, the wish for some extraordinary
and altogether unusual experience took possession of him with a
singular vehemence to which he had heretofore been altogether a
In the street where he stood, which was of a shining whiteness and
which reflected the effulgence of the moonlight with an incredible
distinction, he observed, stretching before him, long lines of white
garden walls, overtopped by a prodigious luxuriance of tropical foliage.
In these gardens, and set close to the street, stood several
pretentious villas and mansions, the slatted blinds and curtains of the
windows of which were raised to admit of the freer entrance of the cool
and balmy air of the night. From within there issued forth bright
lights, together with the exhilarating sound of merry voices laughing
and talking, or perhaps a song accompanied by the tinkling music of a
spinet or of a guitar. An occasional group of figures, clad in light
and summer-like garments, and adorned with gay and startling colors,
passed him through the moonlight; so that what with the brightness and
warmth of the night, together with all these unusual sights and sounds,
it appeared to Jonathan Rugg that he was rather the inhabitant of some
extraordinary land of enchantment and unreality than a dweller upon
that sober and solid world in which he had heretofore passed his entire
Before continuing this narrative the reader may here be informed that
our hero had come into this enchanted world as the supercargo of the
ship SUSANNA HAYES, of Philadelphia; that he had for several years
proved himself so honest and industrious a servant to the merchant
house of the worthy Jeremiah Doolittle that that benevolent man had
given to his well-deserving clerk this opportunity at once of
gratifying an inclination for foreign travel and of filling a position
of trust that should redound to his individual profit. The SUSANNA
HAYES had entered Kingston Harbor that afternoon, and this was
Jonathan's first night spent in those tropical latitudes, whither his
fancy and his imagination had so often carried him while he stood over
the desk filing the accounts of invoices from foreign parts.
It might be finally added that, had he at all conceived how soon and to
what a degree his sudden inclination for adventure was to be gratified,
his romantic aspirations might have been somewhat dashed at the
prospect that lay before him.
II. The Mysterious Lady with the Silver Veil
At that moment our hero suddenly became conscious of the fact that a
small wicket in a wooden gate near which he stood had been opened, and
that the eyes of an otherwise concealed countenance were observing him
with the utmost closeness of scrutiny.
He had hardly time to become aware of this observation of his person
when the gate itself was opened, and there appeared before him, in the
moonlight, the bent and crooked figure of an aged negress. She was
clad in a calamanco raiment, and was further adorned with a variety of
gaudily colored trimmings, vastly suggestive of the tropical world of
which she was an inhabitant. Her woolly head was enveloped, after the
fashion of her people, in the folds of a gigantic and flaming red
turban constructed of an entire pocket-handkerchief. Her face was
pock-pitted to an incredible degree, so that what with this deformity,
emphasized by the pouting of her prodigious and shapeless lips, and the
rolling of a pair of eyes as yellow as saffron, Jonathan Rugg thought
that he had never beheld a figure at once so extraordinary and so
It occurred to our hero that here, maybe, was to overtake him such an
adventure as that which he had just a moment before been desiring so
ardently. Nor was he mistaken; for the negress, first looking this way
and then that, with an extremely wary and cunning expression, and
apparently having satisfied herself that the street, for the moment,
was pretty empty of passers, beckoned to him to draw nearer. When he
had approached close enough to her she caught him by the sleeve, and,
instantly drawing him into the garden beyond, shut and bolted the gate
with a quickness and a silence suggestive of the most extravagant
At the same moment a huge negro suddenly appeared from the shadow of
the gatepost, and so placed himself between Jonathan and the gate that
any attempt to escape would inevitably have entailed a conflict, upon
our hero's part, with the sable and giant guardian.
Says the negress, looking very intently at our hero: "Be you afeard,
"Why, no," quothed Jonathan; "for to tell thee the truth, friend,
though I am a man of peace, being of that religious order known as the
Society of Friends, I am not so weak in person nor so timid in
disposition as to warrant me in being afraid of any one. Indeed, were I
of a mind to escape, I might, without boasting, declare my belief that
I should be able to push my way past even a better man than thy large
friend who stands so threateningly in front of yonder gate."
At these words the negress broke into so prodigious a grin that, in the
moonlight, it appeared as though the whole lower part of her face had
been transformed into shining teeth. "You be a brave Buckra," says
she, in her gibbering English. "You come wid Melina, and Melina take
you to pretty lady, who want you to eat supper wid her."
Thereupon, and allowing our hero no opportunity to decline this
extraordinary invitation, even had he been of a mind to do so, she took
him by the hand, and led him toward the large and imposing house which
commanded the garden. "Indeed," says Jonathan to himself, as he
followed his sable guide—himself followed in turn by the gigantic
negro—"indeed, I am like to have my fill of adventure, if anything is
to be judged from such a beginning as this."
Nor did the interior sumptuousness of the mansion at all belie the
imposing character of its exterior, for, entering by way of an
illuminated veranda, and so coming into a brilliantly lighted hallway
beyond, Jonathan beheld himself to be surrounded by such a wealth of
exquisite and well-appointed tastefulness as it had never before been
his good-fortune to behold.
Candles of clarified wax sparkled like stars in chandeliers of crystal.
These in turn, catching the illumination, glittered in prismatic
fragments with all the varied colors of the rainbow, so that a mellow
yet brilliant radiance filled the entire apartment. Polished mirrors of
a spotless clearness, framed in golden frames and built into the walls,
reflected the waxed floors, the rich Oriental carpets, and the
sumptuous paintings that hung against the ivory-tinted paneling, so
that in appearance the beauties of the apartment were continued in
bewildering vistas upon every side toward which the beholder directed
Bidding our hero to be seated, which he did with no small degree of
embarrassment and constraint, and upon the extreme edge of the gilt and
satin-covered chair, the negress who had been his conductor left him
for the time being to his own contemplation.
Almost before he had an opportunity to compose himself into anything
more than a part of his ordinary sedateness of demeanor, the silken
curtains at the doorway at the other end of the apartment were suddenly
divided, and Jonathan beheld before him a female figure displaying the
most exquisite contour of mould and of proportion. She was clad
entirely in white, and was enveloped from head to foot in the folds of
a veil of delicate silver gauze, which, though hiding her countenance
from recognition, nevertheless permitted sufficient of her beauties to
be discerned to suggest the extreme elegance and loveliness of her
lineaments. Advancing toward our hero, and extending to him a tapering
hand as white as alabaster, the fingers encircled with a multitude of
jewelled rings, she addressed him thus:
"Sir," she said, speaking in accents of the most silvery and musical
cadence, "you are no doubt vastly surprised to find yourself thus
unexpectedly, and almost as by violence, introduced into the house of
one who is such an entire stranger to you as myself. But though I am
unknown to you, I must inform you that I am better acquainted with my
visitor, for my agents have been observing you ever since you landed
this afternoon at the dock, and they have followed you ever since,
until a little while ago, when you stopped immediately opposite my
garden gate. These agents have observed you with a closeness of
scrutiny of which you are doubtless entirely unaware. They have even
informed me that, owing doubtless to your extreme interest in your new
surroundings, you have not as yet supped. Knowing this, and that you
must now be enjoying a very hearty appetite, I have to ask you if you
will do me the extreme favor of sitting at table with me at a repast
which you will doubtless be surprised to learn has been hastily
prepared entirely in your honor."
So saying, and giving Jonathan no time for reply, she offered him her
hand, and with the most polite insistence conducted him into an
exquisitely appointed dining room adjoining.
Here stood a table covered with a snow-white cloth, and embellished
with silver and crystal ornaments of every description. Having seated
herself and having indicated to Jonathan to take the chair opposite to
her, the two were presently served with a repast such as our hero had
not thought could have existed out of the pages of certain
extraordinary Oriental tales which one time had fallen to his lot to
This supper (which in itself might successfully have tempted the taste
of a Sybarite) was further enhanced by several wines and cordials
which, filling the room with the aroma of the sunlit grapes from which
they had been expressed, stimulated the appetite, which without them
needed no such spur. The lady, who ate but sparingly herself,
possessed herself with patience until Jonathan's hunger had been
appeased. When, however, she beheld that he weakened in his attacks
upon the dessert of sweets with which the banquet was concluded, she
addressed him upon the business which was evidently entirely occupying
"Sir," said she, "you are doubtless aware that every one, whether man
or woman, is possessed of an enemy. In my own case I must inform you
that I have no less than three who, to compass their ends, would gladly
sacrifice my life itself to their purposes. At no time am I safe from
their machinations, nor have I any one," cried she, exhibiting a great
emotion, "to whom I may turn in my need. It was this that led me to
hope to find in you a friend in my perils, for, having observed through
my agents that you are not only honest in disposition and strong in
person, but that you are possessed of a considerable degree of energy
and determination, I am most desirous of imposing upon your good-nature
a trust of which you cannot for a moment suspect the magnitude. Tell
me, are you willing to assist a poor, defenceless female in her hour of
"Indeed, friend," quoth Jonathan, with more vivacity than he usually
exhibited, with a lenity to which he had heretofore in his lifetime
been a stranger—being warmed into such a spirit, doubtless, by the
generous wines of which he had partaken—"indeed, friend, if I could
but see thy face it would doubtless make my decision in such a matter
the more favorable, since I am inclined to think from the little I can
behold of it, that thy appearance must be extremely comely to the eye."
"Sir," said the lady, exhibiting some amusement at this unexpected
sally, "I am, you must know, as God made me. Sometime, perhaps, I may
be very glad to satisfy your curiosity, and exhibit to you my poor
countenance such as it is. But now"—and here she reverted to her more
serious mood—"I must again put it to you: are you willing to help an
unprotected woman in a period of very great danger to herself? Should
you decline the assistance which I solicit, my slaves shall conduct you
to the gate through which you entered, and suffer you to depart in
peace. Should you, upon the other hand, accept the trust, you are to
receive no reward therefor, except the gratitude of one who thus
appeals to you in her helplessness."
For a few moments Jonathan fell silent, for here, indeed, was he
entering into an adventure which infinitely surpassed any anticipation
that he could have formed. He was, besides, of a cautious nature, and
was entirely disinclined to embark into any affair so obscure and
tangled as that in which he now found himself becoming involved.
"Friend," said he, at last, "I may tell thee that thy story has so far
moved me as to give me every inclination to help thee in thy
difficulties, but I must also inform thee that I am a man of caution,
having never before entered into any business of this sort. Therefore,
before giving any promise that may bind my future actions, I must, in
common wisdom, demand to know what are the conditions that thou hast in
mind to impose upon me."
"Indeed, sir," cried the lady, with great vivacity and with more
cheerful accents—as though her mind had been relieved of a burden of
fear that her companion might at once have declined even a
consideration of her request—"indeed, sir, you will find that the
trust which I would impose upon you is in appearance no such great
matter as my words may have led you to suppose.
"You must know that I am possessed of a little trinket which, in the
hands of any one who, like yourself, is a stranger in these parts,
would possess no significance, but which while in my keeping is fraught
with infinite menace to me."
Hereupon, and having so spoken, she clapped her hands, and an attendant
immediately entered, disclosing the person of the same negress who had
first introduced Jonathan into the strange adventure in which he now
found himself involved. This creature, who appeared still more
deformed and repulsive in the brilliantly lighted room than she had in
the moonlight, carried in her hands a white napkin, which she handed to
her mistress. This being opened, disclosed a small ivory ball of about
the bigness of a lime. Nodding to the negress to withdraw, the lady
handed him the ivory ball, and Jonathan took it with no small degree of
curiosity and examined it carefully. It appeared to be of an exceeding
antiquity, and of so deep a yellow as to be almost brown in color. It
was covered over with strange figures and characters of an Oriental
sort, which appeared to our hero to be of Chinese workmanship.
"I must tell you, sir," said the lady, after she had permitted her
guest to examine this for a while in silence, "that though this appears
to you to be of little worth, it is yet of extreme value. After all,
however, it is nothing but a curiosity that any one who is interested
in such matters might possess. What I have to ask you is this: Will
you be willing to take this into your charge, to guard it with the
utmost care and fidelity—yes, even as the apple of your eye—during
your continuance in these parts, and to return it to me in safety the
day before your departure. By so doing you will render me a service
which you may neither understand nor comprehend, but which shall make
me your debtor for my entire life."
By this time Jonathan had pretty well composed his mind for a reply.
"Friend," said he, "such a matter as this is entirely out of my
knowledge of business, which is, indeed, that of a clerk in the
mercantile profession. Nevertheless, I have every inclination to help
thee, though I trust thou mayest have magnified the dangers that beset
thee. This appears to me to be a little trifle for such an ado;
nevertheless, I will do as thou dost request. I will keep it in safety
and will return it to thee upon this day a week hence, by which time I
hope to have discharged my cargo and be ready to continue my voyage to
At these words the lady, who had been watching him all the time with a
most unaccountable eagerness, burst forth into words of such heart-felt
gratitude as to entirely overwhelm our hero. When her transports had
been somewhat assuaged she permitted him to depart, and the negress
conducted him back through the garden, whence she presently showed him
through the gate whither he had entered and out into the street.
III. The Terrific Encounter with the One-eyed Little Gentleman in Black
Finding himself once more in the open street, Jonathan Rugg stood for a
while in the moonlight, endeavoring to compose his mind into somewhat
of that sobriety that was habitual with him; for, indeed, he was not a
little excited by the unexpected incidents that had just befallen him.
From this effort at composure he was aroused by observing that a little
gentleman clad all in black had stopped at a little distance away and
was looking very intently at him. In the brightness of the moonlight
our hero could see that the little gentleman possessed but a single
eye, and that he carried a gold-headed cane in his hand. He had hardly
time to observe these particulars, when the other approached him with
every appearance of politeness and cordiality.
"Sir," said he, "surely I am not mistaken in recognizing in you the
supercargo of the ship SUSANNA HAYES, which arrived this afternoon at
"Indeed," said Jonathan, "thou art right, friend. That is my
occupation, and that is whence I came."
"To be sure!" said the little gentleman. "To be sure! To be sure!
The SUSANNA HAYES, with a cargo of Indian-corn meal, and from dear good
friend Jeremiah Doolittle, of Philadelphia. I know your good master
very well—very well indeed. And have you never heard him speak of his
friend Mr. Abner Greenway, of Kingston, Jamaica?"
"Why, no," replied Jonathan, "I have no such recollection of the name
nor do I know that any such name hath ever appeared upon our books."
"To be sure! To be sure!" repeated the little gentleman, briskly, and
with exceeding good-nature. "Indeed, my name is not likely to have
ever appeared upon his books, for I am not a business correspondent,
but one who, in times past, was his extremely intimate friend. There
is much I would like to ask about him, and, indeed, I was in hopes that
you would have been the bearer of a letter from him. But I have
lodgings at a little distance from here, so that if it is not
requesting too much of you maybe you will accompany me thither, so that
we may talk at our leisure. I would gladly accompany you to your ship
instead of urging you to come to my apartments, but I must tell you I
am possessed of a devil of a fever, so that my physician hath forbidden
me to be out of nights."
"Indeed," said Jonathan, whom, you may have observed, was of a very
easy disposition—"indeed, I shall be very glad to accompany thee to
thy lodgings. There is nothing I would like better than to serve any
friend of good Jeremiah Doolittle's."
And thereupon, and with great amity, the two walked off together, the
little one-eyed gentleman in black linking his arm confidingly into
that of Jonathan's, and tapping the pavement continually with his cane
as he trotted on at a great pace. He was very well acquainted with the
town (of which he was a citizen), and so interesting was his discourse
that they had gone a considerable distance before Jonathan observed
they were entering into a quarter darker and less frequented than that
which they had quitted. Tall brick houses stood upon either side,
between which stretched a narrow, crooked roadway, with a kennel
running down the centre.
In front of one of these houses—a tall and gloomy structure—our
hero's conductor stopped and, opening the door with a key, beckoned for
him to enter. Jonathan having complied, his new-found friend led the
way up a flight of steps, against which Jonathan's feet beat noisily in
the darkness, and at length, having ascended two stairways and having
reached a landing, he opened a door at the end of the passage and
ushered Jonathan into an apartment, unlighted, except for the
Moonshine, which, coming in through a partly open shutter, lay in a
brilliant patch of light upon the floor.
His conductor having struck a light with a flint and steel, our hero by
the illumination of a single candle presently discovered himself to be
in a bedchamber furnished with no small degree of comfort, and even
elegance, and having every appearance of a bachelor's chamber.
"You will pardon me," said his new acquaintance, "if I shut these
shutters and the window, for that devilish fever of which I spoke is of
such a sort that I must keep the night air even out from my room, or
else I shall be shaking the bones out of my joints and chattering the
teeth out of my head by to-morrow morning."
So saying he was as good as his word, and not only drew the shutters
to, but shot the heavy iron bolt into its place. Having accomplished
this he bade our hero to be seated, and placing before him some
exceedingly superior rum, together with some equally excellent tobacco,
they presently fell into the friendliest discourse imaginable. In the
course of their talk, which after awhile became exceedingly
confidential, Jonathan confided to his new friend the circumstances of
the adventure into which he had been led by the beautiful stranger, and
to all that he said concerning his adventure his interlocutor listened
with the closest and most scrupulously riveted attention.
"Upon my word," said he, when Jonathan had concluded, "I hope that you
may not have been made the victim of some foolish hoax. Let me see what
it is she has confided to you."
"That I will," replied Jonathan. And thereupon he thrust his hand into
his breeches-pocket and brought forth the ivory ball.
No sooner did the one eye of the little gentleman in black light upon
the object than a most singular and extraordinary convulsion appeared
to seize upon him. Had a bullet penetrated his heart he could not have
started more violently, nor have sat more rigidly and breathlessly
Mastering his emotion with the utmost difficulty as Jonathan replaced
the ball in his pocket, he drew a deep and profound breath and wiped
the palm of his hand across his forehead as though arousing himself
from a dream.
"And you," he said, of a sudden, "are, I understand it, a Quaker. Do
you, then, never carry a weapon, even in such a place as this, where at
any moment in the dark a Spanish knife may be stuck betwixt your ribs?"
"Why, no," said Jonathan, somewhat surprised that so foreign a topic
should have been so suddenly introduced into the discourse. "I am a man
of peace and not of blood. The people of the Society of Friends never
carry weapons, either of offence or defence."
As Jonathan concluded his reply the little gentleman suddenly arose
from his chair and moved briskly around to the other side of the room.
Our hero, watching him with some surprise, beheld him clap to the door
and with a single movement shoot the bolt and turn the key therein.
The next instant he turned to Jonathan a visage transformed as suddenly
as though he had dropped a mask from his face. The gossiping and
polite little old bachelor was there no longer, but in his stead a man
with a countenance convulsed with some furious and nameless passion.
"That ball!" he cried, in a hoarse and raucous voice. "That ivory
ball! Give it to me upon the instant!"
As he spoke he whipped out from his bosom a long, keen Spanish knife
that in its every appearance spoke without equivocation of the most
The malignant passions that distorted every lineament of the
countenance of the little old gentleman in black filled our hero with
such astonishment that he knew not whether he were asleep or awake; but
when he beheld the other advancing with the naked and shining knife in
his hand his reason returned to him like a flash. Leaping to his feet,
he lost no time in putting the table between himself and his sudden
"Indeed, friend," he cried, in a voice penetrated with terror—"indeed,
friend, thou hadst best keep thy distance from me, for though I am a
man of peace and a shunner of bloodshed, I promise thee that I will not
stand still to be murdered without outcry or without endeavoring to
defend my life!"
"Cry as loud as you please!" exclaimed the other. "No one is near this
place to hear you! Cry until you are hoarse; no one in this
neighborhood will stop to ask what is the matter with you. I tell you
I am determined to possess myself of that ivory ball, and have it I
shall, even though I am obliged to cut out your heart to get it!" As
he spoke he grinned with so extraordinary and devilish a distortion of
his countenance, and with such an appearance of every intention of
carrying out his threat as to send the goose-flesh creeping like icy
fingers up and down our hero's spine with the most incredible rapidity
Nevertheless, mastering his fears, Jonathan contrived to speak up with
a pretty good appearance of spirit. "Indeed, friend," he said, "thou
appearest to forget that I am a man of twice thy bulk and half thy
years, and that though thou hast a knife I am determined to defend
myself to the last extremity. I am not going to give thee that which
thou demandest of me, and for thy sake I advise thee to open the door
and let me go free as I entered, or else harm may befall thee."
"Fool!" cried the other, hardly giving him time to end. "Do you, then,
think that I have time to chatter with you while two villains are lying
in wait for me, perhaps at the very door? Blame your own self for your
death!" And, gnashing his teeth with an indescribable menace, and
resting his hand upon the table, he vaulted with incredible agility
clean across it and upon our hero, who, entirely unprepared for such an
extraordinary attack, was flung back against the wall, with an arm as
strong as steel clutching his throat and a knife flashing in his very
eyes with dreadful portent of instant death.
With an instinct to preserve his life, he caught his assailant by the
wrist, and, bending it away from himself, set every fibre of his body
in a superhuman effort to guard and protect himself. The other, though
so much older and smaller, seemed to be composed entirely of fibres of
steel, and, in his murderous endeavors, put forth a strength so
extraordinary that for a moment our hero felt his heart melt within him
with terror for his life. The spittal appeared to dry up within his
mouth, and his hair to creep and rise upon his head. With a vehement
cry of despair and anguish, he put forth one stupendous effort for
defence, and, clapping his heel behind the other's leg, and throwing
his whole weight forward, he fairly tripped his antagonist backward as
he stood. Together they fell upon the floor, locked in the most
desperate embrace, and overturning a chair with a prodigious clatter in
their descent—our hero upon the top and the little gentleman in black
As they struck the floor the little man in black emitted a most
piercing and terrible scream, and instantly relaxing his efforts of
attack, fell to beating the floor with the back of his hands and
drubbing with his heels upon the rug in which he had become entangled.
Our hero leaped to his feet, and with dilating eyes and expanding brain
and swimming sight stared down upon the other like one turned to a
He beheld instantly what had occurred, and that he had, without so
intending, killed a fellow-man. The knife, turned away from his own
person, had in their fall been plunged into the bosom of the other, and
he now lay quivering in the last throes of death. As Jonathan gazed he
beheld a thin red stream trickle out from the parted and grinning lips;
he beheld the eyes turn inward; he beheld the eyelids contract; he
beheld the figure stretch itself; he beheld it become still in death.
IV. The Momentous Adventure with the Stranger with the Silver Ear-rings
So our hero stood stunned and bedazed, gazing down upon his victim,
like a man turned into a stone. His brain appeared to him to expand
like a bubble, the blood surged and bummed in his ears with every
gigantic beat of his heart, his vision swam, and his trembling hands
were bedewed with a cold and repugnant sweat. The dead figure upon the
floor at his feet gazed at him with a wide, glassy stare, and in the
confusion of his mind it appeared to Jonathan that he was, indeed, a
What monstrous thing was this that had befallen him who, but a moment
before, had been so entirely innocent of the guilt of blood? What was
he now to do in such an extremity as this, with his victim lying dead
at his feet, a poniard in his heart? Who would believe him to be
guiltless of crime with such a dreadful evidence as this presented
against him? How was he, a stranger in a foreign land, to totally
defend himself against an accusing of mistaken justice? At these
thoughts a developed terror gripped at his vitals and a sweat as cold
as ice bedewed his entire body. No, he must tarry for no explanation or
defense! He must immediately fly from this terrible place, or else,
should he be discovered, his doom would certainly be sealed!
At that moment, and in the very extremity of his apprehensions, there
fell of a sudden a knock upon the door, sounding so loud and so
startling upon the silence of the room that every shattered nerve in
our hero's frame tingled and thrilled in answer to it. He stood
petrified, scarcely so much as daring to breathe; and then, observing
that his mouth was agape, he moistened his dry and parching lips, and
drew his jaws together with a snap.
Again there fell the same loud, insistent knock upon the panel,
followed by the imperative words: "Open within!"
The wretched Jonathan flung about him a glance at once of terror and of
despair, but there was for him no possible escape. He was shut tight
in the room with his dead victim, like a rat in a trap. Nothing
remained for him but to obey the summons from without. Indeed, in the
very extremity of his distraction, he possessed reason enough to
perceive that the longer he delayed opening the door the less innocent
he might hope to appear in the eyes of whoever stood without.
With the uncertain and spasmodic movements of an ill-constructed
automaton, he crossed the room, and stepping very carefully over the
prostrate body upon the floor, and with a hesitating reluctance that he
could in no degree master, he unlocked, unbolted, and opened the door.
The figure that outlined itself in the light of the candle, against the
blackness of the passageway without was of such a singular and foreign
aspect as to fit extremely well into the extraordinary tragedy of which
Jonathan was at once the victim and the cause.
It was that of a lean, tall man with a thin, yellow countenance,
embellished with a long, black mustache, and having a pair of
forbidding, deeply set, and extremely restless black eyes. A crimson
handkerchief beneath a lace cocked hat was tied tightly around the
head, and a pair of silver earrings, which caught the light of the
candle, gleamed and twinkled against the inky darkness of the
This extraordinary being, without favoring our hero with any word of
apology for his intrusion, immediately thrust himself forward into the
room, and stretching his long, lean, bird-like neck so as to direct his
gaze over the intervening table, fixed a gaping and concentrated stare
upon the figure lying still and motionless in the centre of the room.
"Vat you do dare," said he, with a guttural and foreign accent, and
thereupon, without waiting for a reply, came forward and knelt down
beside the dead man. After thrusting his hand into the silent and
shrunken bosom, he presently looked up and fixed his penetrating eyes
upon our hero's countenance, who, benumbed and bedazed with his
despair, still stood like one enchained in the bonds of a nightmare.
"He vas dead!" said the stranger, and Jonathan nodded his head in reply.
"Vy you keel ze man?" inquired his interlocutor.
"Indeed," cried Jonathan, finding a voice at last, but one so hoarse
that he could hardly recognize it for his own, "I know not what to make
of the affair! But, indeed, I do assure thee, friend, that I am
entirely innocent of what thou seest."
The stranger still kept his piercing gaze fixed upon our hero's
countenance, and Jonathan, feeling that something further was demanded
of him, continued: "I am, indeed, a victim of a most extravagant and
extraordinary adventure. This evening, coming an entire stranger to
this country, I was introduced into the house of a beautiful female,
who bestowed upon me a charge that appeared to me to be at once
insignificant and absurd. Behold this little ivory ball," said he,
drawing the globe from his pocket, and displaying it between his thumb
and finger. "It is this that appears to have brought all this disaster
upon me; for, coming from the house of the young woman, the man whom
thou now beholdest lying dead upon the floor induced me to come to this
place. Having inveigled me hither, he demanded of me to give him at
once this insignificant trifle. Upon my refusing to do so, he
assaulted me with every appearance of a mad and furious inclination to
deprive me of my life!"
At the sight of the ivory ball the stranger quickly arose from his
kneeling posture and fixed upon our hero a gaze the most extraordinary
that he had ever encountered. His eyes dilated like those of a cat,
the breath expelled itself from his bosom in so deep and profound an
expiration that it appeared as though it might never return again. Nor
was it until Jonathan had replaced the ball in his pocket that he
appeared to awaken from the trance that the sight of the object had
sent him into. But no sooner had the cause of this strange demeanor
disappeared into our hero's breeches-pocket than he arose as with an
electric shock. In an instant he became transformed as by the touch of
magic. A sudden and baleful light flamed into his eyes, his face grew
as red as blood, and he clapped his hand to his pocket with a sudden
and violent motion. "Ze ball!" he cried, in a hoarse and strident
voice. "Ze ball! Give me ze ball!" And upon the next instant our
hero beheld the round and shining nozzle of a pistol pointed directly
against his forehead.
For a moment he stood as though transfixed; then in the mortal peril
that faced him, he uttered a roar that sounded in his own ears like the
outcry of a wild beast, and thereupon flung himself bodily upon the
other with the violence and the fury of a madman.
The stranger drew the trigger, and the powder flashed in the pan. He
dropped the weapon, clattering, and in an instant tried to draw another
from his other pocket. Before he could direct his aim, however, our
hero had caught him by both wrists, and, bending his hand backward,
prevented the chance of any shot from taking immediate effect upon his
person. Then followed a struggle of extraordinary ferocity and
frenzy—the stranger endeavoring to free his hand, and Jonathan
striving with all the energy of despair to prevent him from effecting
his murderous purpose.
In the struggle our hero became thrust against the edge of the table.
He felt as though his back were breaking, and became conscious that in
such a situation he could hope to defend himself only a few moments
longer. The stranger's face was pressed close to his own. His hot
breath, strong with the odor of garlic, fanned our hero's cheek, while
his lips, distended into a ferocious and ferine grin, displayed his
sharp teeth shining in the candlelight.
"Give me ze ball!" he said, in a harsh and furious whisper.
At the moment there rang in Jonathan's ears the sudden and astounding
detonation of a pistol-shot, and for a moment he wondered whether he
had received a mortal wound without being aware of it. Then suddenly
he beheld an extraordinary and dreadful transformation take place in
the countenance thrust so close to his own; the eyes winked several
times with incredible rapidity, and then rolled upward and inward; the
jaws gaped into a dreadful and cavernous yawn; the pistol fell with a
clatter to the floor, and the next moment the muscles, so rigid but an
instant before, relaxed into a limp and listless flaccidity. The
joints collapsed, and the entire man fell into an indistinguishable
heap upon and across the dead figure stretched out upon the floor,
while at the same time a pungent and blinding cloud of gunpowder smoke
filled the apartment. For a few moments the hands twitched
convulsively; the neck stretched itself to an abominable length; the
long, lean legs slowly and gradually relaxed, and every fibre of the
body gradually collapsed into the lassitude of death. A spot of blood
appeared and grew upon the collar at the throat, and in the same degree
the color ebbed from the face leaving it of a dull and leaden pallor.
All these terrible and formidable changes of aspect our hero stood
watching with a motionless and riveted attention, and as though they
were to him matters of the utmost consequence and importance; and only
when the last flicker of life had departed from his second victim did
he lift his gaze from this terrible scene of dissolution to stare about
him, this way and that, his eyes blinded, and his breath stifled by the
thick cloud of sulphurous smoke that obscured the objects about him in
a pungent cloud.
V. The Unexpected Encounter with the Sea-captain with the Broken Nose
If our hero had been distracted and bedazed by the first catastrophe
that had befallen, this second and even more dreadful and violent
occurrence appeared to take away from him, for the moment, every power
of thought and of sensation. All that perturbation of emotion that had
before convulsed him he discovered to have disappeared, and in its
stead a benumbed and blinded intelligence alone remained to him. As he
stood in the presence of this second death, of which he had been as
innocent and as unwilling an instrument as he had of the first, he
could observe no signs either of remorse or of horror within him. He
picked up his hat, which had fallen upon the floor in the first
encounter, and, brushing away the dust with the cuff of his coat sleeve
with extraordinary care, adjusted the beaver upon his head with the
utmost nicety. Then turning, still stupefied as with the fumes of some
powerful drug, he prepared to quit the scene of tragic terrors that had
thus unexpectedly accumulated upon him.
But ere he could put his design into execution his ears were startled
by the sound of loud and hurried footsteps which, coming from below,
ascended the stairs with a prodigious clatter and bustle of speed. At
the landing these footsteps paused for a while, and then approached,
more cautious and deliberate, toward the room where the double tragedy
had been enacted, and where our hero yet stood silent and inert.
All this while Jonathan made no endeavor to escape, but stood passive
and submissive to what might occur. He felt himself the victim of
circumstances over which he himself had no control. Gazing at the
partly opened door, he awaited for whatever adventure might next befall
him. Once again the footsteps paused, this time at the very threshold,
and then the door was slowly pushed open from without.
As our hero gazed at the aperture there presently became disclosed to
his view the strong and robust figure of one who was evidently of a
seafaring habit. From the gold braid upon his hat, the seals dangling
from the ribbon at his fob, and a certain particularity of custom, he
was evidently one of no small consideration in his profession. He was
of a strong and powerful build, with a head set close to his shoulders,
and upon a round, short bull neck. He wore a black cravat, loosely
tied into a knot, and a red waistcoat elaborately trimmed with gold
braid; a leather belt with a brass buckle and hanger, and huge
sea-boots completed a costume singularly suggestive of his occupation
in life. His face was round and broad, like that of a cat, and a
complexion stained, by constant exposure to the sun and wind, to a
color of newly polished mahogany. But a countenance which otherwise
might have been humorous, in this case was rendered singularly
repulsive by the fact that his nose had been broken so flat to his face
that all that remained to distinguish that feature were two circular
orifices where the nostrils should have been. His eyes were by no
means so sinister as the rest of his visage, being of a light-gray
color and exceedingly vivacious—even good-natured in the merry
restlessness of their glance—albeit they were well-nigh hidden beneath
a black bush of overhanging eyebrows. When he spoke, his voice was so
deep and resonant that it was as though it issued from a barrel rather
than from the breast of a human being.
"How now, my hearty!" cried he, in stentorian tones, so loud that they
seemed to stun the tensely drawn drums of our hero's ears. "How now, my
hearty! What's to-do here? Who is shooting pistols at this hour of
the night?" Then, catching sight of the figures lying in a huddle upon
the floor, his great, thick lips parted into a gape of wonder and his
gray eyes rolled in his head like two balls, so that what with his flat
face and the round holes of his nostrils he presented an appearance
which, under other circumstances, would have been at once ludicrous and
"By the blood!" cried he, "to be sure it is murder that has happened
"Not murder!" cried Jonathan, in a shrill and panting voice. "Not
murder! It was all an accident, and I am as innocent as a baby."
The new-comer looked at him and then at the two figures upon the floor,
and then back at him again with eyes at once quizzical and cunning.
Then his face broke into a grin that might hardly be called of
drollery. "Accident!" quoth he. "By the blood! d'ye see 'tis a
strange accident, indeed, that lays two men by the heels and lets the
third go without a scratch!" Delivering himself thus, he came forward
into the room, and, taking the last victim of Jonathan's adventure by
the arm, with as little compunction as he would have handled a sack of
grain he dragged the limp and helpless figure from where it lay to the
floor beside the first victim. Then, lifting the lighted candle, he
bent over the two prostrate bodies, holding the illumination close to
the lineaments first of one and then of the other. He looked at them
very carefully for a long while, with the closest and most intent
scrutiny, and in perfect silence. "They are both as dead," says he,
"as Davy Jones, and, whoever you be, I protest that you have done your
business the most completest that I ever saw in all of my life."
"Indeed," cried Jonathan, in the same shrill and panting voice, "it was
themselves who did it. First one of them attacked me and then the
other, and I did but try to keep them from murdering me. This one fell
on his knife, and that one shot himself in his efforts to destroy me."
"That," says the seaman, "you may very well tell to a dry-lander, and
maybe he will believe you; but you cannot so easily pull the wool over
the eyes of Captain Benny Willitts. And what, if I may be so bold as
for to ask you, was the reason for their attacking so harmless a man as
you proclaim yourself to be?"
"That I know not," cried Jonathan; "but I am entirely willing to tell
thee all the circumstances. Thou must know that I am a member of the
Society of Friends. This day I landed here in Kingston, and met a
young woman of very comely appearance, who intrusted me with this
little ivory ball, which she requested me to keep for her a few days.
The sight of this ball—in which I can detect nothing that could be
likely to arouse any feelings of violence—appears to have driven these
two men entirely mad, so that they instantly made the most ferocious
and murderous assault upon me. See! wouldst thou have believed that so
small a thing as this would have caused so much trouble?" And as he
spoke he held up to the gaze of the other the cause of the double
tragedy that had befallen. But no sooner had Captain Willitts's eyes
lighted upon the ball than the most singular change passed over his
countenance. The color appeared to grow dull and yellow in his ruddy
cheeks, his fat lips dropped apart, and his eyes stared with a fixed
and glassy glare. He arose to his feet and, still with the expression
of astonishment and wonder upon his face, gazed first at our hero and
then at the ivory ball in his hands, as though he were deprived both of
reason and of speech. At last, as our hero slipped the trifle back in
his pocket again, the mariner slowly recovered himself, though with a
prodigious effort, and drew a deep and profound breath as to the very
bottom of his lungs. He wiped, with the corner of his black silk
cravat, his brow, upon which the sweat appeared to have gathered.
"Well, messmate," says he, at last, with a sudden change of voice, "you
have, indeed, had a most wonderful adventure." Then with another deep
breath: "Well, by the blood! I may tell you plainly that I am no poor
hand at the reading of faces. Well, I think you to be honest, and I am
inclined to believe every word you tell me. By the blood! I am
prodigiously sorry for you, and am inclined to help you out of your
"The first thing to do," he continued, "is to get rid of these two dead
men, and that is an affair I believe we shall have no trouble in
handling. One of them we will wrap up in the carpet here, and t'other
we can roll into yonder bed-curtain. You shall carry the one and I the
other, and, the harbor being at no great distance, we can easily bring
them thither and tumble them overboard, and no one will be the wiser of
what has happened. For your own safety, as you may easily see, you can
hardly go away and leave these objects here to be found by the
first-comer, and to arise up in evidence against you."
This reasoning, in our hero's present bewildered state, appeared to him
to be so extremely just that he raised not the least objection to it.
Accordingly, each of the two silent, voiceless victims of the evening's
occurrences were wrapped into a bundle that from without appeared to be
neither portentous nor terrible in appearance.
Thereupon, Jonathan shouldering the rug containing the little gentleman
in black, and the sea-captain doing the like for the other, they
presently made their way down the stairs through the darkness, and so
out into the street. Here the sea-captain became the conductor of the
expedition, and leading the way down several alleys and along certain
by-streets—now and then stopping to rest, for the burdens were both
heavy and clumsy to carry—they both came out at last to the harbor
front, without any one having questioned them or having appeared to
suspect them of anything wrong. At the water-side was an open wharf
extending a pretty good distance out into the harbor. Thither the
captain led the way and Jonathan followed. So they made their way out
along the wharf or pier, stumbling now and then over loose boards,
until they came at last to where the water was of a sufficient depth
for their purpose. Here the captain, bending his shoulders, shot his
burden out into the dark, mysterious waters, and Jonathan, following
his example, did the same. Each body sank with a sullen and leaden
splash into the element where, the casings which swathed them becoming
loosened, the rug and the curtain rose to the surface and drifted
slowly away with the tide.
As Jonathan stood gazing dully at the disappearance of these last
evidences of his two inadvertent murders, he was suddenly and
vehemently aroused by feeling a pair of arms of enormous strength flung
about him from behind. In their embrace his elbows were instantly
pinned tight to his side, and he stood for a moment helpless and
astounded, while the voice of the sea-captain, rumbling in his very
ear, exclaimed: "Ye bloody, murthering Quaker, I'll have that ivory
ball, or I'll have your life!"
These words produced the same effect upon Jonathan as though a douche
of cold water had suddenly been flung over him. He began instantly to
struggle to free himself, and that with a frantic and vehement violence
begotten at once of terror and despair. So prodigious were his efforts
that more than once he had nearly torn himself free, but still the
powerful arms of his captor held him as in a vise of iron. Meantime,
our hero's assailant made frequent though ineffectual attempts to
thrust a hand into the breeches-pocket where the ivory ball was hidden,
swearing the while under his breath with a terrifying and monstrous
string of oaths. At last, finding himself foiled in every such
attempt, and losing all patience at the struggles of his victim, he
endeavored to lift Jonathan off of his feet, as though to dash him
bodily upon the ground. In this he would doubtless have succeeded had
he not caught his heel in the crack of a loose board of the wharf.
Instantly they both fell, violently prostrate, the captain beneath and
Jonathan above him, though still encircled in his iron embrace. Our
hero felt the back of his head strike violently upon the flat face of
the other, and he heard the captain's skull sound with a terrific crack
like that of a breaking egg upon some post or billet of wood, against
which he must have struck. In their frantic struggles they had
approached extremely near the edge of the wharf, so that the next
instant, with an enormous and thunderous splash, Jonathan found himself
plunged into the waters of the harbor, and the arms of his assailant
loosened from about his body.
The shock of the water brought him instantly to his senses, and, being
a fairly good swimmer, he had not the least difficulty in reaching and
clutching the cross-piece of a wooden ladder that, coated with slimy
sea-moss, led from the water-level to the wharf above.
After reaching the safety of the dry land once more, Jonathan gazed
about him as though to discern whence the next attack might be
delivered upon him. But he stood entirely alone upon the dock—not
another living soul was in sight. The surface of the water exhibited
some commotion, as though disturbed by something struggling beneath;
but the sea-captain, who had doubtless been stunned by the tremendous
crack upon his head, never arose again out of the element that had
The moonlight shone with a peaceful and resplendent illumination, and,
excepting certain remote noises from the distant town not a sound broke
the silence and the peacefulness of the balmy, tropical night. The
limpid water, illuminated by the resplendent moonlight, lapped against
the wharf. All the world was calm, serene, and enveloped in a profound
and entire repose.
Jonathan looked up at the round and brilliant globe of light floating
in the sky above his head, and wondered whether it were, indeed,
possible that all that had befallen him was a reality and not some
tremendous hallucination. Then suddenly arousing himself to a renewed
realization of that which had occurred, he turned and ran like one
possessed, up along the wharf, and so into the moonlit town once more.
VI. The Conclusion of the Adventure with the Lady with the Silver Veil
Nor did he check his precipitous flight until suddenly, being led
perhaps by some strange influence of which he was not at all the
master, he discovered himself to be standing before the garden-gate
where not more than an hour before he had first entered upon the series
of monstrous adventures that had led to such tremendous conclusions.
People were still passing and repassing, and one of these groups—a
party of young ladies and gentlemen—paused upon the opposite side of
the street to observe, with no small curiosity and amusement, his
dripping and bedraggled aspect. But only one thought and one intention
possessed our hero—to relieve himself as quickly as possible of that
trust which he had taken up so thoughtlessly, and with such monstrous
results to himself and to his victims. He ran to the gate of the
garden and began beating and kicking upon it with a vehemence that he
could neither master nor control. He was aware that the entire
neighborhood was becoming aroused, for he beheld lights moving and loud
voices of inquiry; yet he gave not the least thought to the disturbance
he was creating, but continued without intermission his uproarious
pounding upon the gate.
At length, in answer to the sound of his vehement blows, the little
wicket was opened and a pair of eyes appeared thereat. The next
instant the gate was cast ajar very hastily, and the pock-pitted
negress appeared. She caught him by the sleeve of his coat and drew
him quickly into the garden. "Buckra, Buckra!" she cried. "What you
doing? You wake de whole town!" Then, observing his dripping
garments: "You been in de water. You catch de fever and shake till you
"Thy mistress!" cried Jonathan, almost sobbing in the excess of his
emotion; "take me to her upon the instant, or I cannot answer for my
not going entirely mad!"
When our hero was again introduced to the lady, he found her clad in a
loose and an elegant negligee, infinitely becoming to her graceful
figure, and still covered with the veil of silver gauze that had before
"Friend," he cried, vehemently, approaching her and holding out toward
her the little ivory ball, "take again this which thou gavest me! It
has brought death to three men, and I know not what terrible fate may
befall me if I keep it longer in my possession.
"What is it you say?" cried she, in a piercing voice. "Did you say it
hath caused the death of three men? Quick! Tell me what has happened,
for I feel somehow a presage that you bring me news of safety and
release from all my dangers."
"I know not what thou meanest!" cried Jonathan, still panting with
agitation. "But this I do know: that when I went away from thee I
departed an innocent man, and now I come back to thee burdened with the
weight of three lives, which, though innocent I have been instrumental
"Explain!" exclaimed the lady, tapping the floor with her foot.
"Explain! explain! explain!"
"That I will," cried Jonathan, "and as soon as I am able! When I left
thee and went out into the street I was accosted by a little gentleman
clad in black."
"Indeed!" cried the lady; "and had he but one eye, and did he carry a
"Exactly," said Jonathan; "and he claimed acquaintance with friend
"He never knew him!" cried the lady, vehemently; "and I must tell you
that he was a villain named Hunt, who at one time was the intimate
consort of the pirate Keitt. He it was who plunged a deadly knife into
his captain's bosom, and so murdered him in this very house. He
himself or his agents, must have been watching my gate when you went
"I know not how that may be," said Jonathan, "but he took me to his
apartment, and there, obtaining a knowledge of the trust thou didst
burden me with, he demanded it of me, and upon my refusing to deliver
it to him he presently fell to attacking me with a dagger. In my
efforts to protect my life I inadvertently caused him to plunge the
knife into his own bosom and to kill himself."
"And what then?" cried the lady, who appeared well-nigh distracted
with her emotions.
"Then," said Jonathan, "there came a strange man—a foreigner—who upon
his part assaulted me with a pistol, with every intention of murdering
me and thus obtaining possession of that same little trifle."
"And did he," exclaimed the lady, "have long, black mustachios, and did
he have silver ear-rings in his ears?"
"Yes," said Jonathan, "he did."
"That," cried the lady, "could have been none other than Captain
Keitt's Portuguese sailing-master, who must have been spying upon Hunt!
Tell me what happened next!"
"He would have taken my life," said Jonathan, "but in the struggle that
followed he shot himself accidentally with his own pistol, and died at
my very feet. I do not know what would have happened to me if a
sea-captain had not come and proffered his assistance."
"A sea-captain!" she exclaimed; "and had he a flat face and a broken
"Indeed he had," replied Jonathan.
"That," said the lady, "must have been Captain Keitt's pirate
partner—Captain Willitts, of The Bloody Hand. He was doubtless spying
upon the Portuguese."
"He induced me," said Jonathan, "to carry the two bodies down to the
wharf. Having inveigled me there—where, I suppose, he thought no one
could interfere—he assaulted me, and endeavored to take the ivory ball
away from me. In my efforts to escape we both fell into the water, and
he, striking his head upon the edge of the wharf, was first stunned and
"Thank God!" cried the lady, with a transport of fervor, and clasping
her jewelled hands together. "At last I am free of those who have
heretofore persecuted me and threatened my very life itself! You have
asked to behold my face; I will now show it to you! Heretofore I have
been obliged to keep it concealed lest, recognizing me, my enemies
should have slain me." As she spoke she drew aside her veil, and
disclosed to the vision of our hero a countenance of the most
extraordinary and striking beauty. Her luminous eyes were like those
of a Jawa, and set beneath exquisitely arched and pencilled brows. Her
forehead was like lustrous ivory and her lips like rose-leaves. Her
hair, which was as soft as the finest silk, was fastened up in masses
of ravishing abundance. "I am," said she, "the daughter of that
unfortunate Captain Keitt, who, though weak and a pirate, was not so
wicked, I would have you know, as he has been painted. He would,
doubtless, have been an honest man had he not been led astray by the
villain Hunt, who so nearly compassed your own destruction. He
returned to this island before his death, and made me the sole heir of
all that great fortune which he had gathered—perhaps not by the most
honest means—in the waters of the Indian Ocean. But the greatest
treasure of all that fortune bequeathed to me was a single jewel which
you yourself have just now defended with a courage and a fidelity that
I cannot sufficiently extol. It is that priceless gem known as the
Ruby of Kishmoor. I will show it to you." Hereupon she took the
little ivory ball in her hand, and, with a turn of her beautiful
wrists, unscrewed a lid so nicely and cunningly adjusted that no eye
could have detected where it was joined to the parent globe. Within was
a fleece of raw silk containing an object which she presently displayed
before the astonished gaze of our hero. It was a red stone of about
the bigness of a plover's egg, and which glowed and flamed with such an
exquisite and ruddy brilliancy as to dazzle even Jonathan's
inexperienced eyes. Indeed, he did not need to be informed of the
priceless value of the treasure, which he beheld in the rosy palm
extended toward him. How long he gazed at this extraordinary jewel he
knew not, but he was aroused from his contemplation by the sound of the
lady's voice addressing him. "The three villains," said she, "who have
this day met their deserts in a violent and bloody death, had by an
accident obtained knowledge that this jewel was in my possession.
Since then my life has hung upon a thread, and every step that I have
taken has been watched by these enemies, the most cruel and relentless
that it was ever the lot of any unfortunate to possess. From the
mortal dangers of their machinations you have saved me, exhibiting a
courage and a determination that cannot be sufficiently applauded. In
this you have earned my deepest admiration and regard. I would
rather," she cried, "intrust my life and my happiness to you than into
the keeping of any man whom I have ever known! I cannot hope to reward
you in such a way as to recompense you for the perils into which my
necessities have thrust you; but yet"—and here she hesitated, as
though seeking for words in which to express herself—"but yet if you
are willing to accept of this jewel, and all of the fortune that
belongs to me, together with the person of poor Evaline Keitt herself,
not only the stone and the wealth, but the woman also, are yours to
dispose of as you see fit!"
Our hero was so struck aback at this unexpected turn that he knew not
upon the instant what reply to make. "Friend," said he, at last, "I
thank thee extremely for thy offer, and, though I would not be
ungracious, it is yet borne in upon me to testify to thee that as to
the stone itself and the fortune—of which thou speakest, and of which
I very well know the history—I have no inclination to receive either
the one or the other, both the fruits of theft, rapine, and murder.
The jewel I have myself beheld three times stained, as it were, with
the blood of my fellow-man, so that it now has so little value in my
sight that I would not give a peppercorn to possess it. Indeed, there
is no inducement in the world that could persuade me to accept it, or
even to take it again into my hand. As to the rest of thy generous
offer, I have only to say that I am, four months hence, to be married
to a very comely young woman of Kensington, in Pennsylvania, by name
Martha Dobbs, and therefore I am not at all at liberty to consider my
inclinations in any other direction."
Having so delivered himself, Jonathan bowed with such ease as his stiff
and awkward joints might command, and thereupon withdrew from the
presence of the charmer, who, with cheeks suffused with blushes and
with eyes averted, made no endeavor to detain him.
So ended the only adventure of moment that ever happened to him in all
his life. For thereafter he contented himself with such excitement as
his mercantile profession and his extremely peaceful existence might
In conclusion it may be said that when the worthy Jonathan Rugg was
married to Martha Dobbs, upon the following June, some mysterious
friend presented to the bride a rope of pearls of such considerable
value that when they were realized into money our hero was enabled to
enter into partnership with his former patron the worthy Jeremiah
Doolittle, and that, having made such a beginning, he by-and-by arose
to become, in his day, one of the leading merchants of his native town