Page:What will he do with it.djvu/637

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WHAT WILL HE DO WITH IT? 627

moment well-nigh stunned him. Meanwhile Darrell had gained the hearth, and snatched from it a large log, half burning. Jas- per, recovering himself, dashed the long matted hair from his eyes, and, seeing undismayed the formidable weapon with which he was menaced, cowered for a second and deadlier spring.

" Stay, stay, stay, parricide and madman ! " cried Darrell, his eye flashing brighter than the brand. " It is not my life I plead for — it is yours. Remember, if I fall by your hand no hope and no refuge are left to you ! In the name of my dead child, and under the eye of avenging Heaven, I strike down the fury that blinds you, and I scare back your soul from the abyss ! "

So ineffably grand were the man's look and gesture — so full of sonorous terror the swell of his matchless, all-conquering voice — that Losely, in his midmost rage stood awed and spell-bound. His breast heaved, his eye fell, his frame collapsed, even his very tongue seemed to cleave to the parched roof of his mouth. Whether the effect so suddenly produced might have continued, or whether the startled miscreant might not have lashed himself into renewed wrath and inexpiable crime, passes out of conject- ure. At that instant siitiultaneously were heard hurried foot- steps in the corridor without, violent blows on the door, and voices exclaiming, " Open, open ! — Darrell, Darrell ! " while the bell at the portals of the old house rang fast and shrill.

" Ho ! — is it so . " growled Losely, recovering himself at those unwelcome sounds. " But do not think that I will be caught thus, like a rat in a trap. No — I will — "

" Hist ! " interrupted Darrell, dropping the brand, and advanc- ing quickly on the ruffian — " Hist ! — let no one know that my daughter's husband came here with a felon's purpose. Sit down — down, I say. It is for my house's honor that you should be safe." And suddenly placing both hands on Lcsely's broad shoulders, he forced him into a seat.

During these few hurried words the strokes at the door and the shouts without had been continued, and the door shook on its yielding hinges.

" The key — the key ! " whispered Darrell.

But the bravo was stupefied by the suddenness with which his rage had been cowed, his design baffled, his position changed from the man dictating laws and threatening life to the man protected by his intended victim. And he was so slow in even comprehending the meaning of Darrell's order, that Darrell had scarcely snatched the keys less from his hand than from the pouch to which he at last mechanically pointed, when the door was burst open, and Lionel Haughton, Alban Morley, and the

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