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Take a lesson in flattery from Percie, Mr. Tyrell, and be
satisfied with your bliss in my society without asking for explanations.
I would fain have the use of my tongue (to swallow) for
ten minutes, and I see you making up your mouth for a question.
Try this pilau! It is made by a Greek cook, who fries, boils,
and stews, in a kitchen with a river for a chimney.”

“Precisely what I was going to ask you. I was wondering
how you cook without smoking your snow-white roof.”

“Yes, the river is a good slave, and steals wood as well. We
have only to cut it by moonlight and commit it to the current.”

“The kitchen is down stream, then?”

“Down stream; and down stream lives jolly Perdicaris the
cook, who having lost his nose in a sea-fight, is reconciled to forswear
sunshine and mankind and cook rice for pirates.”

“Is it true then that Yvain held command on the sea?”

“No, not Yvain, but Tranchcœur—his equal in command
over this honest confederacy. By the way, he is your countryman,
Mr. Tyrell, though he fights under a nom de guerre. You
are very likely to see him, too, for his bark is at Trieste, and he
is the only human being besides myself (and my company here)
who can come and go at will in this robber's paradise. He is a


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lover of mine, parbleu! and since Yvain's death, Heaven knows
what fancy he may bring hither in his hot brain! I have armed
Percie for the hazard!”

The thin nostrils of my friend from Cranbourne-alley dilated
with prophetic dislike of a rival thus abruptly alluded to,
and there was that in his face which would have proved,
against all the nurses' oaths in Christendom, that the spirit
of a gentleman's blood ran warm through his heart. Signor
Tranchcœur must be gentle in his suit, I said to myself, or
he will find what virtue lies in hair-triggers! Percie had
forgot to eat since the mention of the pirate's name, and sat with
folded arms and his right hand on his pistol.

A black slave brought in an omelette souffleé, as light and delicate
as the chef-d'œuvre of an artiste in the Palais Royal. Iminild
spoke to him in Greek, as he knelt and placed it before her.

“I have a presentiment,” she said, looking at me as the slave
disappeared, “that Tranchcœur will be here presently. I have
ordered another omelette on the strength of the feeling, for he
is fond of it, and may be soothed by the attention.”

“You fear him, then?”

“Not if I were alone, for he is as gentle as a woman when
he has no rival near him—but I doubt his relish of Percie.
Have you dined?”


“Then come and look at my garden, and have a peep at old
Perdicaris. Stay here, Percie, and finish your grapes, monmignon!
I have a word to say to Mr. Tyrell.”

We walked across the platform, and passing between two of
the sparry columns forming its boundary, entered upon a low
passage which led to a large opening, resembling singularly


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a garden of low shrubs turned by some magic to sparkling

Two or three hundred of these stalagmite cones, formed by the
dripping of calcareous water from the roof (as those on the roof
were formed by the same fluid which hardened and pondered),
stood about in the spacious area, every shrub having an answering
cone on the roof, like the reflection of the same marble garden in
a mirror. One side of this singular apartment was used as a
treasury for the spoils of the band, and on the points of the white
cones hung pitchers and altar lamps of silver, gold drinking-cups,
and chains, and plate and jewelery of every age and description.
Farther on were piled, in unthrifty confusion, heaps of velvets
and silks, fine broadcloths, French gloves, shoes and slippers,
brocades of Genoa, pieces of English linen, damask curtains
still fastened to their cornices, a harp and mandolin, cases of
damaged bons-bons, two or three richly-bound books, and (last
and most valuable in my eyes), a miniature bureau, evidently the
plunder of some antiquary's treasure, containing in its little
drawers antique gold coins of India, carefully dated and arranged,
with a list of its contents half torn from the lid.

“You should hear Tranchcœur's sermons on these pretty
texts,” said the countess, trying to thrust open a bale of Brusa
silk with her Turkish slipper. “He will beat off the top of
a stalagmite with his sabre-hilt, and sit down and talk
over his spoils and the adventures they recall, till morning

“And how is that discovered in this sunless cave?”

“By the perfume. The river brings news of it, and fills the
cavern with the sun's first kisses. Those violets `kiss and tell,'
Mr. Tyrell! Apropos des bottes, let us look into the kitchen.”


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We turned to the right, keeping on the same level, and a few
steps brought us to the brow of a considerable descent, forming
the lower edge of the carpeted platform, but separated from it by
a wall of close stalactites. At the bottom of the descent ran
the river, but just along the brink, forming a considerable crescent,
extended a flat rock, occupied by all the varied implements
of a kitchen, and lighted by the glare of two or three different
fires blazing against the perpendicular limit of the cave. The
smoke of these followed the inclination of the wall, and was
swept entirely down with the current of the river. At the nearest
fire stood Perdicaris, a fat, long-haired and sinister-looking
rascal, his noseless face glowing with the heat, and at his side
waited, with a silver-dish, the Nubian slave who had been sent
for Tranchcœur's omelette.

“One of the most bloody fights of my friend the rover,” said
Iminild, “was with an armed slaver, from whom he took these
six pages of mine. They have reason enough to comprehend
an order, but too little to dream of liberty. They are as contented
as tortoises, ici-bas.

“Is there no egress hence but by the iron door?”

“None that I know of, unless one could swim up this swift river
like a salmon. You may have surmised by this time, that we monopolize
an unexplored part of the great cave of Adelsberg. Common
report says it extends ten miles under ground, but common
report has never burrowed as far as this, and I doubt whether
there is any communication. Father Krakenpate's clock conceals
an entrance, discovered first by robbers, and handed down
by tradition, Heaven knows how long. But—hark! Tranchcœur,
by Heaven! my heart foreboded it!”

I sprang after the countess, who with her last exclamation,


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darted between two of the glittering columns separating us from
the platform, and my first glance convinced me that her fullest
anticipations of the pirate's jealousy were more than realized.
Percie stood with his back to a tall pillar on the farther side, with
his pistol levelled, calm and unmovable as a stalactite; and with
his sabre drawn and his eyes flashing fire, a tall, powerfully-built
man in a sailor's dress, was arrested by Iminild in the act of
rushing on him. “Stop! or you die, Tranchcœur!” said the
countess in a tone of trifling command. “He is my guest!”

“He is my prisoner, madame!” was the answer, as the pirate
changed his position to one of perfect repose, and shot his sabre
into his sheath, as if a brief delay could make little difference.

“We shall see that,” said the countess once more, with as soft
a voice as was ever heard in a lady's boudoir; and stepping to
the edge of the platform, she touched with her slipper a suspended
gong, which sent through the cavern a shrill reverberation heard
clearly over the rushing music of the river.

In an instant the click of forty muskets from the other side
fell on our ears; and, at a wave of her hand, the butts rattled on
the rocks, and all was still again.

“I have not trusted myself within your reach, Monsieur
Tranchcœur,” said Iminild, flinging herself carelessly on an ottoman,
and motioning Percie to keep his stand, “without a score
or two of my free-riders from Mount Semering to regulate your
conscience. I am mistress here, sir! You may sit down!”

Tranchcœur had assumed an air of the most gentlemanly
tranquillity, and motioning to one of the slaves for his pipe,
he politely begged pardon for smoking in the countess's presence,
and filled the enamelled bowl with Shiraz tobacco.


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“You heard of Yvain's death?” she remarked after a moment,
passing her hand over her eyes.

“Yes, at Venice.”

“With his dying words, he gave me and mine in charge to
this Englishman. Mr. Tyrell, Monsieur Tranchcœur.”

The pirate bowed.

“Have you been long from England?” he asked, with an accent
and voice that even in that brief question, savored of the nonchalant
English of the west end.

“Two years!” I answered.

“I should have supposed much longer from your chivalry in
St. Etienne, Mr. Tyrell. My countrymen generally are less
hasty. Your valet there,” he continued, looking sneeringly at
Percie, “seems as quick on the trigger as his master.”

Percie turned on his heel, and walked to the edge of the platform
as if uneasy at the remark, and Iminild rose to her feet.

“Look you, Tranchcœur! I'll have none of your sneers.
That youth is as well-born and better bred than yourself, and
with his consent, shall have the authority of the holy church ere
long to protect my property and me. Will you aid me in this,
Mr. Tyrell?”

“Willingly, countess!”

“Then, Tranchcœur, farewell! I have withdrawn from the
common stock Yvain's gold and jewels, and I trust to your sense
of honor to render me at Venice whatever else of his private property
may be concealed in the island.”

“Iminild!” cried the pirate, springing to his feet, “I did not
think to show a weakness before this stranger, but I implore you
to delay!”

His bosom heaved with strong emotion as he spoke, and the


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color fled from his bronzed features as if he were struck with a
mortal sickness.

“I cannot lose you, Iminild! I have loved you too long.
You must —”

She motioned to Percie to pass on.

“By Heaven, you shall!” he cried, in a voice suddenly become
hoarse with passion; and reckless of consequences, he leaped
across the heaps of cushion, and, seizing Percie by the throat,
flung him with terrible and headlong violence into the river.

A scream from Iminild, and the report of a musket from the
other side, rang at the same instant through the cavern, and as I
rushed forward to seize the pistol which he had struck from
Percie's hand, his half-drawn sabre slid back powerless into the
sheath, and Tranchcœur dropped heavily on his knee.

“I am peppered, Mr. Tyrell!” he said, waving me off with
a difficult effort to smile, “look after the boy, if you care for him!
A curse on her German wolves!”

Percie met me on the bridge, supporting Iminild, who hung on
his neck, smothering him with kisses.

“Where is that dog of a pirate?” she cried, suddenly snatching
her ataghan from the sheath and flying across the platform.

Her hand was arrested by the deadly pallor and helpless attitude
of the wounded man, and the weapon dropped as she stood
over him.

“I think it is not mortal,” he said, groaning as he pressed his
hand to his side, “but take your boy out of my sight! Iminild!”

“Well, Tranchcœur!”

“I have not done well—but you know my nature—and my


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love! Forgive me, and farewell! Send Bertram to stanch this
blood—I get faint! A little wine, Iminild!”

He took the massive flagon from her hand, and drank a long
draught, and then drawing to him a cloak which lay near, he
covered his head and dropped on his side as if to sleep.

Iminild knelt beside him and tore open the shirt beneath his
jacket, and while she busied herself in stanching the blood, Perdicaris,
apparently well prepared for such accidents, arrived with
a surgeon's probe, and, on examination of the wound, assured
Iminild that she might safely leave him. Washing her hands in
the flagon of wine, she threw a cloak over the wet and shivering
Percie, and, silent with horror at the scene behind us, we made
our way over the bridge, and in a short time, to my infinite relief,
stood in the broad moonlight on the portico of Mynheer

My carriage was soon loaded with the baggage and treasure of
the countess, and with the same swift horses that had brought us
from Planina, we regained the post-road and sped on toward
Venice by the Friuli. We arrived on the following night at the
fair city so beloved of romance, and with what haste I might, I
procured a priest and married the Countess Iminild to gentleman

As she possessed now a natural guardian, and a sufficient
means of life, I felt released from my death vow to Yvain, and
bidding farewell to the “happy couple,” I resumed my quiet
habit of travel, and three days after my arrival at Venice, was on
the road to Padua by the Brenta.