So there’s the whole story in a nutshell

Full of vague alarm, blent with a little trembling hope of she knew not
what, Bonnibel ran to the window, which was fortunately not fastened
down, pushed up the sash and peered down into the night. The moon had
not fully risen yet, and there was but a faint light in the clear sky,
but down in the dark shrubbery below she fancied she could see a human
form and a white face upturned to the window.

Yes, she was right. In a moment a low and cautious, but perfectly
audible voice, floated up to her ears.

“Oh! my _dear_ Miss Bonnibel,” was what it said, “is that you?”

Bonnibel put her hand to her heart as if the shock of joy were too
great to be borne.

It was the voice of the poor girl over whose unknown fate her heart had
ached for many weary days–the welcome voice of faithful Lucy Moore.

“Yes, it is Bonnibel,” she murmured gently back, fearing that her
voice might be heard by Dolores Dupont, who slept on a couch in the
dressing-room to be near her mistress.

“Are you alone?” inquired Lucy, softly.

“Yes, quite alone,” was answered back.

“Miss Bonnibel, I have a rope-ladder down here. I am going to throw
it up to you. Try and catch it, and fasten it to your window strongly
enough for me to climb up to you.”

Bonnibel leaned forward silently. A twisted bundle was skillfully
thrown up, and she caught it in her hands. Stepping back into the room
she uncoiled a light yet strong ladder of silken rope.

“Fasten it into the hooks that are used to secure the window-shutters,”
said Lucy’s voice from below.

Trembling with joy, Bonnibel fastened the ends strongly as directed,
and threw the rope down to Lucy. In a few moments the girl had climbed
up to the window, sprang over the sill, and had her young mistress in
her arms.

“One kiss, you darling!” she said, in a voice of ecstasy, “then I must
pull up the rope, for I fear discovery, and I have much to tell you
before I take you away with me!”

Bonnibel’s heart gave a quick bound of joy.

“Oh! Lucy, will you really take me away?” she exclaimed, pressing the
girl’s hand fondly.

“That’s what I am here for,” answered Lucy, withdrawing her mistress
into the darkest corner of the room, after having drawn her rope up and
dropped the curtains over the coil as it lay upon the floor.

“Lucy, how did you ever find me?” exclaimed Bonnibel, gladly, as they
sat down together on a low divan, mutually forgetting the difference in
their position as mistress and maid in the joy of their re-union.

“I’ve never lost track of you, Miss Bonnibel, since the night your
husband turned me into the cold, dark street.”

“Cruel!” muttered Bonnibel, with a shudder.

“Yes, it was cruel,” said Lucy, “but I didn’t spend the night in
the streets! Pierre, the hall-servant, let me in again unbeknownst
to Colonel Carlyle, and I slept in my old room that night, though I
couldn’t get to speak to you because he had locked you into your room
and kept the key. At daylight I went away and secured a lodging near
you–you know I had plenty of money, Miss Bonnibel, because you were
always very generous! That evening when Colonel Carlyle took you away,
along with that hateful furrin maid, I followed after, you may be
sure, and I’ve been in Naples ever since trying to get speech of you;
but though I’ve tried bribery, and corruption, and cunning, too, I’ve
always failed until to-night.”

She paused to take breath, and Bonnibel silently pressed her hand.

“So there’s the whole story in a nutshell,” continued Lucy, after
a minute; “I ain’t got time to spin it out, for you and me, Miss
Bonnibel, has to get away from here as quick as ever we can! Do you
think you can climb down my ladder of rope?”

Bonnibel smiled at the anxious tone of the girl’s question.

“Of course I can, Lucy,” she said, confidently, “I wish there were
nothing harder in life than that.”

“Miss Bonnibel,” said the girl, in a low voice, “we must be going in a
minute or two, now. Can you get a dark suit to put on? And have you any
money you can take with you? For it will take more money than I have in
my purse, perhaps, to carry us home to New York.”

“To New York–are we going back there?” faltered the listener.

“As fast as wind and water can carry us!” answered the girl. “You and
me are needed there in a hurry, my darling mistress. At least _you_
are, for I feel almost sure that a man’s life is hanging on your

“Lucy, what can you mean?” exclaimed Bonnibel, in amazement.

“Ah! I see they have told you nothing!” answered Lucy.

Bonnibel caught her arm and looked anxiously into her face.

“No one has told me anything,” she said. “What should they have told

“Much that you never knew, perhaps,” said the girl, shaking her head

“Then tell it me yourself,” said Bonnibel. “Do not keep me in suspense,
my good girl.”

“May I ask you a question first, Miss Bonnibel?”

“As many as you please, Lucy!”

“You remember the night poor old master was murdered?” said the girl,
as if reluctant to recall that painful subject.

“As if I could ever forget it,” shuddered the listener.

“You were down at the shore until late that night,” pursued the
girl, “and when you got back you found your uncle dead–murdered!
Miss Bonnibel, was Mr. Dane with you that night on the sands? I have
sometimes been athinkin’ he might a been.”

“Lucy, what are you trying to get at?” gasped the listener.

“I only asked you the question,” said Lucy, humbly.

“And I cannot understand why you ask it, Lucy, but I will answer it
truly. Leslie Dane was with me every moment of the time.”

“I thought so,” said Lucy, fervently. “Thank God!”

“Lucy, please explain yourself,” said Bonnibel anxiously. “You frighten
me with your mysterious looks and words. What has gone wrong?”

“I am going to tell you as fast as I can, my dear young mistress. Try
and bear it as bravely as you can, for you must go back to America to
right a great wrong.”

“A great wrong!” repeated the listener, helplessly.

“You were so sick after Mr. Arnold died,” said Lucy, continuing her
story, “that the doctors kept the papers and all the news that was
afloatin’ around, away from you; so it happened that we never let you
know that your friend, Mr. Leslie Dane, was charged with the murder of
your uncle.”

There was a minute’s shocked silence; then, with a smothered moan
of horror, Bonnibel slid from her place and fell on the floor in a
helpless heap at Lucy’s feet.

“Oh! Miss Bonnibel, rouse yourself–oh, for God’s sake don’t you faint!
Oh, me! oh, me! what a born fool I was to tell you that before I got
you away from this place!” cried Lucy in terror, kneeling and lifting
the drooping head upon her arm.

“Oh! Miss Bonnibel, please don’t you faint now!” she reiterated, taking
a bottle of smelling salts from her pocket and applying it to the young
lady’s nostrils.

Thus vehemently adjured, Bonnibel opened her blue eyes and looked up
into the troubled face of her attendant.

“We have got to be going now,” urged the girl, “you must keep all your
strength to get away from here.”

“I will,” said Bonnibel, struggling to a sitting posture in Lucy’s
supporting arms. “I am quite strong, Lucy, I shall not faint, I give
you my word, I will not! Go on with your story!”

“I mustn’t–you can’t stand it,” answered the girl, hesitating.

“Go on,” Bonnibel said, with a certain little authoritative ring in her
voice that Lucy had always been wont to obey.

“If I must then,” said Lucy, reluctantly, “but there’s but little more
to tell. Mr. Dane got away and they never caught him till the night of
your grand masquerade ball when Colonel Carlyle recognized him. The
next day he had him arrested and put in a French prison on the charge
of murder.”

“And now?” asked Bonnibel, in horror-struck accents.

“And they all sailed for the United States more than two weeks ago,”
answered Lucy, sadly. “Mr. Dane to his trial, and Colonel Carlyle, Mrs.
Arnold and Miss Felise Herbert to testify against him.”

“More than two weeks ago,” repeated Bonnibel like one dazed.

“I heard some men talking about it,” Lucy went on, “and they said that
if Mr. Dane couldn’t prove his absence at the time of the murder he
would certainly get hung.”

A moan was Bonnibel’s only response.

“So you see, my dear young mistress, that his only chance rests on your
evidence, and we must start right away if we are to get there to save

Bonnibel sprang to her feet, trembling all over.

“Let us go this moment,” she said, feverishly; “oh, what if we should
be too late!”

Wild with horror she set about her preparations. Her one thought now
was to save Leslie Dane though the whole world should know the shameful
secret she tried so hard to keep from its knowledge.