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Title: Rookwood
Author: Ainsworth, William Harrison, 1805-1882
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rookwood" ***

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 "The immortal Ainsworth." _Thackeray._


                 NOVELS

                   BY

       WILLIAM HARRISON AINSWORTH


               _ROOKWOOD_


  "Gives a vivid picture of the times
   and places with which he dealt."
                 _The New York Herald._


         THE RITTENHOUSE PRESS
              PHILADELPHIA



[Illustration: DICK TURPIN CLEARS HORNSEY TOLL-GATE]



 PRINTED IN U.S.A. BY ARRANGEMENT WITH
 GEORGE BARRIE'S SONS



Transcriber's Note:

    Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Archaic
    and dialect spellings have been retained. Greek text appears as
    originally printed.

    A table of contents, though not present in the original publication,
    has been provided below:

      MEMOIR

      TO MY MOTHER

      PREFACE

      BOOK I. THE WEDDING RING
           I. The Vault
          II. The Skeleton Hand
         III. The Park
          IV. The Hall
           V. Sir Reginald Rookwood
          VI. Sir Piers Rookwood
         VII. The Return
        VIII. An Irish Adventurer
          IX. An English Adventurer
           X. Ranulph Rookwood
          XI. Lady Rookwood
         XII. The Chamber of Death
        XIII. The Brothers

      BOOK II. THE SEXTON
           I. The Storm
          II. The Funeral Oration
         III. The Churchyard
          IV. The Funeral
           V. The Captive
          VI. The Apparition

      BOOK III. THE GIPSY
           I. A Morning Ride
          II. A Gipsy Encampment
         III. Sybil
          IV. Barbara Lovel
           V. The Inauguration
          VI. Eleanor Mowbray
         VII. Mrs. Mowbray
        VIII. The Parting
          IX. The Philter
           X. Saint Cyprian's Cell
          XI. The Bridal
         XII. Alan Rookwood
        XIII. Mr. Coates
         XIV. Dick Turpin

      BOOK IV. THE RIDE TO YORK
           I. The Rendezvous at Kilburn
          II. Tom King
         III. A Surprise
          IV. The Hue and Cry
           V. The Short Pipe
          VI. Black Bess
         VII. The York Stage
        VIII. Roadside Inn
          IX. Excitement
           X. The Gibbet
          XI. The Phantom Steed
         XII. Cawood Ferry

      BOOK V. THE OATH
           I. The Hut on Thorne Waste
          II. Major Mowbray
         III. Handassah
          IV. The Dower of Sybil
           V. The Sarcophagus

      L'ENVOY

      NOTES



_MEMOIR_


William Harrison Ainsworth was born in King Street, Manchester, February
4, 1805, in a house that has long since been demolished. His father was
a solicitor in good practice, and the son had all the advantages that
educational facilities could afford. He was sent to the Manchester
grammar-school, and in one of his early novels has left an interesting
and accurate picture of its then condition, which may be contrasted with
that of an earlier period left by the "English opium-eater." At sixteen,
a brilliant, handsome youth, with more taste for romance and the drama
than for the dry details of the law, he was articled to a leading
solicitor of Manchester. The closest friend of his youth was a Mr. James
Crossley, who was some years older, but shared his intellectual taste
and literary enthusiasm. A drama written for private theatricals, in his
father's house was printed in _Arliss's Magazine_, and he also
contributed to the _Manchester Iris_, the _Edinburgh Magazine_, and the
_London Magazine_. He even started a periodical, which received the name
of _The Bœotian_, and died at the sixth number. Many of the fugitive
pieces of these early days were collected in volumes now exceedingly
rare: "December Tales" (London, 1823), which is not wholly from his pen;
the "Works of Cheviot Tichburn" (London, 1822; Manchester, 1825),
dedicated to Charles Lamb; and "A Summer Evening Tale" (London, 1825).

"Sir John Chiverton" appeared in 1826, and for forty years was regarded
as one of his early works; but Mr. John Partington Aston has also
claimed to be its author. In all probability, both of these young men
joined in the production of the novel which attracted the attention of
Sir Walter Scott. On the death of his father, in 1824, Ainsworth went to
London to finish his legal education, but whatever intentions he may
have formed of humdrum study and determined attention to the details of
a profession in which he had no interest, were dissipated by contact
with the literary world of the metropolis. He made the acquaintance of
Mr. John Ebers, who at that time combined the duties of manager of the
Opera House with the business of a publisher. He it was who issued "Sir
John Chiverton," and the verses forming its dedication are understood to
have been addressed to Anne Frances ("Fanny") Ebers, whom Ainsworth
married October 11, 1826. Ainsworth had then to decide upon a career,
and, acting upon the suggestion of Ebers, his father-in-law, he began
business as a publisher; but after an experience of about eighteen
months he abandoned it. In this brief interval he introduced the Hon.
Mrs. Norton, and Ude, the cook, to the discerning though unequal
admiration of the British public. He was introduced to Sir Walter Scott,
who wrote the "Bonnets of Bonnie Dundee" for an annual issued by him.
Ainsworth gave him twenty guineas for it, which Sir Walter accepted, but
laughingly handed over to the little daughter of Lockhart, in whose
London house they had met. Ainsworth's literary aspirations still burned
with undiminished ardor, and several plans were formed only to be
abandoned, and when, in the summer of 1830, he visited Switzerland and
Italy, he was as far as ever from the fulfilment of his desires. In 1831
he visited Chesterfield and began the novel of "Rookwood," in which he
successfully applied the method of Mrs. Radcliffe to English scenes and
characters. The finest passage is that relating Turpin's ride to York,
which is a marvel of descriptive writing. It was written, apparently in
a glow of inspiration, in less than a day and a half. "The feat," he
says, "for feat it was, being the composition of a hundred novel pages
in less than twenty-four hours, was achieved at 'The Elms,' a house I
then occupied at Kilburn." The success of "Rookwood" was marked and
immediate. Ainsworth at a bound reached popularity. This was in 1834,
and in 1837 he published "Crichton," which is a fine piece of historical
romance. The critics who had objected to the romantic glamor cast over
the career of Dick Turpin were still further horrified at the manner in
which that vulgar rascal, Jack Sheppard, was elevated into a hero of
romance. The outcry was not entirely without justification, nor was it
without effect on the novelist, who thenceforward avoided this perilous
ground. "Jack Sheppard" appeared in _Bentley's Miscellany_, of which
Ainsworth became editor in March, 1840, at a monthly salary of £51. The
story is powerfully written. In 1841 he received £1000 from the _Sunday
Times_ for "Old St. Paul's," and he, in 1848, had from the same source
another £1000 for the "Lancashire Witches." In 1841 he began the
publication of _Ainsworth's Magazine_, which came to an end in 1853,
when he acquired the _New Monthly Magazine_, which he edited for many
years. This was the heyday of Ainsworth's reputation alike in
literature and in society. His home at Kensal Manor House became famous
for its hospitality, and Dickens, Thackeray, Landseer, Clarkson
Stanfield, Talfourd, Jerrold, and Cruikshank were among his guests. The
list of his principal historical novels, with their dates of issue, may
now be given: "Rookwood," 1834; "Crichton," 1837; "Jack Sheppard," 1839;
"Tower of London," 1840; "Guy Fawkes," 1841; "Old St. Paul's, a Tale of
the Plague and the Fire of London," 1841; "Windsor Castle," 1843; "St.
James, or the Court of Queene Anne," 1844; "Star Chamber," 1854;
"Constable of the Tower," 1861; "The Lord Mayor of London," 1862;
"Cardinal Pole," 1863; "John Law, the Projector," 1864; "The Constable
de Bourbon," 1866; "Talbot Harland," 1870; "Boscobel," 1872; "The
Manchester Rebels, or the Fatal '45," 1873; and "The Goldsmith's Wife,"
1874. These novels all met with a certain amount of success, but those
of later years did not attain the striking popularity of his earlier
efforts. Many have been translated into various modern languages, and
the editions of his various works are so numerous that some twenty-three
pages of the British Museum catalogue are devoted to his works. The
scenery and history of his native country had a perennial interest for
him, and a certain group of his novels--that is, the "Lancashire
Witches," "Guy Fawkes," "The Manchester Rebels," etc.--may almost be
said to form a novelist's history of Lancashire from the pilgrimage of
grace until the early part of the present century.

Probably no more vivid account has been written of the great fire and
plague of London than that given in "Old St. Paul's." The charm of
Ainsworth's novels is not at all dependent upon the analysis of motives
or subtle description of character. Of this he has little or nothing,
but he realizes vividly a scene or an incident, and conveys the
impression with great force and directness to the reader's mind.
Ainsworth came upon the reading world at a happy moment. People were
weary of the inanities of the fashionable novel, and were ready to
listen to one who had a power of vivacious narrative. In 1881, when he
was in his seventy-seventh year, a pleasant tribute of respect and
admiration was paid to him in his native town. The Mayor of Manchester
entertained him at a banquet in the town hall September 15, 1881, "as an
expression of the high esteem in which he is held by his fellow-townsmen
and of his services to literature." In proposing Mr. Ainsworth's health,
the mayor gave a curious instance of the popularity of his writings. "In
our Manchester public free libraries there are two hundred and fifty
volumes of Mr. Ainsworth's different works. During the last twelve
months these volumes have been read seven thousand six hundred and sixty
times, mostly by the artisan class of readers. And this means that
twenty volumes of his works are being perused in Manchester by readers
of the free libraries every day all the year through." It was well that
this pleasant recognition was not longer delayed. The contrast was
pathetically great between the tall, handsome, dandified figure
presented in the portraits of him by Pickersgill and Maclise, and the
bent and feeble old man who stood by and acknowledged the plaudits of
those who had assembled to honor him. His last published work was
"Stanley Brereton," which he dedicated to his hospitable entertainer.
He died at Reigate January 3, 1882, leaving a widow and also three
daughters by his first marriage. He was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery.
With the exception of George Gleig, he was the last survivor of the
brilliant group who wrote for the early numbers of _Fraser's Magazine_,
and, though he died in harness, had outlived nearly all the associates
of the days when he first achieved fame.



_TO MY MOTHER_


When I inscribed this Romance to you, my dear Mother, on its first
appearance, I was satisfied that, whatever reception it might meet with
elsewhere, at your hands it would be sure of indulgence. Since then, the
approbation your partiality would scarcely have withheld has been
liberally accorded by the public; and I have the satisfaction of
reflecting, that in following the dictates of affection, which prompted
me to select the dearest friend I had in the world as the subject of a
dedication, I have not overstepped the limits of prudence; nor, in
connecting your honored name with this trifling production, involved you
in a failure which, had it occurred, would have given you infinitely
more concern than myself. After a lapse of three years, during which my
little bark, fanned by pleasant and prosperous breezes, has sailed, more
than once, securely into port, I again commit it to the waters, with
more confidence than heretofore, and with a firmer reliance that, if it
should be found "after many days," it may prove a slight memorial of the
warmest filial regard.

Exposed to trials of no ordinary difficulty, and visited by domestic
affliction of no common severity, you, my dear Mother, have borne up
against the ills of life with a fortitude and resignation which those
who know you best can best appreciate, but which none can so well
understand, or so thoroughly appreciate, as myself. Suffering is the lot
of all. Submission under the dispensation is permitted to few. And it is
my fervent hope that my own children may emulate your virtues, if they
are happily spared your sorrows.



_PREFACE_


During a visit to Chesterfield, in the autumn of the year 1831, I first
conceived the notion of writing this story. Wishing to describe,
somewhat minutely, the trim gardens, the picturesque domains, the
rook-haunted groves, the gloomy chambers, and gloomier galleries, of an
ancient Hall with which I was acquainted, I resolved to attempt a story
in the bygone style of Mrs. Radcliffe,--which had always inexpressible
charms for me,--substituting an old English squire, an old English
manorial residence, and an old English highwayman, for the Italian
marchese, the castle, and the brigand of the great mistress of Romance.

While revolving this subject, I happened, one evening, to enter the
spacious cemetery attached to the church with the queer, twisted
steeple, which, like the uplifted tail of the renowned Dragon of
Wantley, to whom "houses and churches were as capons and turkeys," seems
to menace the good town of Chesterfield with destruction. Here an
incident occurred, on the opening of a vault, which it is needless to
relate, but which supplied me with a hint for the commencement of my
romance, as well as for the ballad entitled "The Coffin." Upon this hint
I immediately acted; and the earlier chapters of the book, together with
the description of the ancestral mansion of the Rookwoods, were
completed before I quitted Chesterfield.

Another and much larger portion of the work was written during a
residence at Rottingdean, in Sussex, in the latter part of 1833, and
owes its inspiration to many delightful walks over the South Downs.
Romance-writing was pleasant occupation then.

The Ride to York was completed in one day and one night. This feat--for
a feat it was, being the composition of a hundred ordinary novel pages
in less than twenty-four hours--was achieved at "The Elms," a house I
then occupied at Kilburn. Well do I remember the fever into which I was
thrown during the time of composition. My pen literally scoured over the
pages. So thoroughly did I identify myself with the flying highwayman,
that, once started, I found it impossible to halt. Animated by kindred
enthusiasm, I cleared every obstacle in my path with as much facility as
Turpin disposed of the impediments that beset his flight. In his
company, I mounted the hill-side, dashed through the bustling village,
swept over the desolate heath, threaded the silent street, plunged into
the eddying stream, and kept an onward course, without pause, without
hindrance, without fatigue. With him I shouted, sang, laughed, exulted,
wept. Nor did I retire to rest till, in imagination, I heard the bell of
York Minster toll forth the knell of poor Black Bess.

The supernatural occurrence, forming the groundwork of one of the
ballads which I have made the harbinger of doom to the house of
Rookwood, is ascribed, by popular superstition, to a family resident in
Sussex; upon whose estate the fatal tree--a gigantic lime, with mighty
arms and huge girth of trunk, as described in the song--is still
carefully preserved. Cuckfield Place, to which this singular piece of
timber is attached, is, I may state, for the benefit of the curious, the
real Rookwood Hall; for I have not drawn upon imagination, but upon
memory, in describing the seat and domains of that fated family. The
general features of the venerable structure, several of its chambers,
the old garden, and, in particular, the noble park, with its spreading
prospects, its picturesque views of the Hall, "like bits of Mrs.
Radcliffe,"--as the poet Shelley once observed of the same scene,--its
deep glades, through which the deer come lightly tripping down, its
uplands, slopes, brooks, brakes, coverts, and groves, are carefully
delineated.

The superstition of a fallen branch affording a presage of approaching
death is not peculiar to the family I have mentioned. Many other old
houses have been equally favored: in fact, there is scarcely an ancient
family in the kingdom without a boding sign. For instance, the Breretons
of Brereton, in Cheshire, were warned by the appearance of stocks of
trees floating, like the swollen bodies of long-drowned men, upon the
surface of a sombre lake--called Blackmere, from the inky color of its
waters--adjoining their residence; and numerous other examples might be
given. The death-presage of the Breretons is alluded to by Drayton in
the "_Polyolbion_."

It has been well observed by Barry Cornwall, "that the songs which occur
in dramas are more natural than those which proceed from the author in
person." With equal force does the reasoning apply to the romance, which
may be termed the drama of the closet. It would seem strange, on a first
view, that an author should be more at home in an assumed character than
his own. But experience shows the position to be correct. Conscious he
is no longer individually associated with his work, the writer proceeds
with all the freedom of irresponsibility. His idiosyncrasy is merged in
that of the personages he represents. He thinks with their thoughts,
sees with their eyes, speaks with their tongues. His strains are such as
he himself--_per se_--would not, perhaps could not, have originated. In
this light he may be said to bring to his subject not one mind, but
several; he becomes not one poet, but many; for each actor in his drama
has a share, and an important share, in the lyrical _estro_ to which he
gives birth. This it is which has imparted any verve, variety, or
dramatic character they possess, to the ballads contained in this
production. Turpin I look upon as the real songster of "Black Bess;" to
Jerry Juniper I am unquestionably indebted for a flash melody which,
without his hint, would never have been written, while to the sexton I
owe the solitary gleam of light I have been enabled to throw upon the
horrors and mystery of the churchyard.

As I have casually alluded to the flash song of Jerry Juniper, I may,
perhaps, be allowed to make a few observations upon this branch of
versification. It is somewhat curious, with a dialect so racy,
idiomatic, and plastic as our own cant, that its metrical capabilities
should have been so little essayed. The French have numerous _chansons
d'argot_, ranging from the time of Charles Bourdigné and Villon down to
that of Vidocq and Victor Hugo, the last of whom has enlivened the
horrors of his "_Dernier Jour d'un Condamné_" by a festive song of this
class. The Spaniards possess a large collection of _Romances de
Germania_, by various authors, amongst whom Quevedo holds a
distinguished place. We, on the contrary, have scarcely any slang songs
of merit. With a race of depredators so melodious and convivial as our
highwaymen, this is the more to be wondered at. Had they no bards
amongst their bands? Was there no minstrel at hand to record their
exploits? I can only call to mind one robber who was a poet,--Delany,
and _he_ was an Irishman. This barrenness, I have shown, is not
attributable to the poverty of the soil, but to the want of due
cultivation. Materials are at hand in abundance, but there have been few
operators. Dekker, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Ben Jonson have all dealt
largely in this jargon, but not lyrically; and one of the earliest and
best specimens of a canting-song occurs in Brome's "_Jovial Crew_;" and
in the "_Adventures of Bamfylde Moore Carew_" there is a solitary ode,
addressed by the mendicant fraternity to their newly-elected monarch;
but it has little humor, and can scarcely be called a genuine
canting-song. This ode brings us down to our own time; to the effusions
of the illustrious Pierce Egan; to Tom Moore's Flights of "_Fancy_;" to
John Jackson's famous chant, "_On the High Toby Spice Flash the
Muzzle_," cited by Lord Byron in a note to "_Don Juan_;" and to the
glorious Irish ballad, worth them all put together, entitled "_The Night
Before Larry Was Stretched_." This facetious performance is attributed
to the late Dean Burrowes, of Cork. It is worthy of note that almost all
modern aspirants to the graces of the _Musa Pedestris_ are Irishmen. Of
all rhymesters of the "_Road_," however, Dean Burrowes is, as yet, most
fully entitled to the laurel. Larry is quite "the potato!"

And here, as the candidates are so few, and their pretensions so humble,

    I can't help putting in my claim for praise.

I venture to affirm that I have done something more than has been
accomplished by my predecessors, or contemporaries, with the significant
language under consideration. I have written a purely flash song, of
which the great and peculiar merit consists in its being utterly
incomprehensible to the uninformed understanding, while its meaning must
be perfectly clear and perspicuous to the practised _patterer_ of
_Romany_, or _Pedlar's French_. I have, moreover, been the first to
introduce and naturalize amongst us a measure which, though common
enough in the Argotic minstrelsy of France, has been hitherto utterly
unknown to our _pedestrian_ poetry. Some years afterwards, the song
alluded to, better known under the title of "_Nix My Dolly, Pals,--Fake
Away!_" sprang into extraordinary popularity, being set to music by
Rodwell, and chanted by glorious Paul Bedford and clever little Mrs.
Keeley.

Before quitting the subject of these songs, I may mention that they
probably would not have been written at all if one of the earliest of
them--a chance experiment--had not excited the warm approbation of my
friend, Charles Ollier, author of the striking romance of "Ferrers."
This induced me to prosecute the vein accidentally opened.

Turpin was the hero of my boyhood. I had always a strange passion for
highwaymen, and have listened by the hour to their exploits, as narrated
by my father, and especially to those of "Dauntless Dick," that "chief
minion of the moon." One of Turpin's adventures in particular, the ride
to Hough Green, which took deep hold of my fancy, I have recorded in
song. When a boy, I have often lingered by the side of the deep old road
where this robbery was committed, to cast wistful glances into its
mysterious windings; and when night deepened the shadows of the trees,
have urged my horse on his journey, from a vague apprehension of a visit
from the ghostly highwayman. And then there was the Bollin, with its
shelvy banks, which Turpin cleared at a bound; the broad meadows over
which he winged his flight; the pleasant bowling-green of the pleasant
old inn at Hough, where he produced his watch to the Cheshire squires,
with whom he was upon terms of intimacy; all brought something of the
gallant robber to mind. No wonder, in after-years, in selecting a
highwayman for a character in a tale, I should choose my old favorite,
Dick Turpin.

In reference to two of the characters here introduced, and drawn from
personages living at the time the tale was written, it may be mentioned
that poor Jerry Juniper met his death from an accident at Chichester,
while he was proceeding to Goodwood races; and that the knight of
Malta,--Mr. Tom, a brewer of Truro, the self-styled Sir William
Courtenay, who played the strange tricks at Canterbury chronicled in a
song given in these pages,--after his release from Banning Heath Asylum,
was shot through the head while leading on a mob of riotous Kentish
yeomen, whom he had persuaded that he was the Messiah!

If the design of Romance be, what it has been held, the exposition of a
useful truth by means of an interesting story, I fear I have but
imperfectly fulfilled the office imposed upon me; having, as I will
freely confess, had, throughout, an eye rather to the reader's
amusement than his edification. One wholesome moral, however, may, I
trust, be gathered from the perusal of this Tale; namely, that, without
due governance of the passions, high aspirations and generous emotions
will little avail their possessor. The impersonations of the Tempter,
the Tempted, and the Better Influence may be respectively discovered, by
those who care to cull the honey from the flower, in the Sexton, in
Luke, and in Sybil.

The chief object I had in view in making the present essay was to see
how far the infusion of a warmer and more genial current into the veins
of old Romance would succeed in reviving her fluttering and feeble
pulses. The attempt has succeeded beyond my most sanguine expectation.
Romance, if I am not mistaken, is destined shortly to undergo an
important change. Modified by the German and French writers--by Hoffman,
Tieck, Hugo, Dumas, Balzac, and Paul Lecroix (_le Bibliophile
Jacob_)--the structure commenced in our own land by Horace Walpole, Monk
Lewis, Mrs. Radcliffe, and Maturin, but left imperfect and inharmonious,
requires, now that the rubbish which choked up its approach is removed,
only the hand of the skilful architect to its entire renovation and
perfection.

And now, having said my say, I must bid you, worthy reader, farewell.
Beseeching you, in the words of old Rabelais, "to interpret all my
sayings and doings in the perfectest sense. Reverence the cheese-like
brain that feeds you with all these jolly maggots; and do what lies in
you to keep me always merry. Be frolic now, my lads! Cheer up your
hearts, and joyfully read the rest, with all ease of your body, and
comfort of your reins."

 KENSAL MANOR-HOUSE,
 _December 15, 1849_.



ROOKWOOD



_BOOK I_


_THE WEDDING RING_

    It has been observed, and I am apt to believe it is an observation
    which will generally be found true, that before a terrible truth
    comes to light, there are certain murmuring whispers fly before it,
    and prepare the minds of men for the reception of the truth itself.

                                             _Gallick Reports:
                                       Case of the Count Saint Geran._



_CHAPTER I_

_THE VAULT_

    Let me know, therefore, fully the intent
    Of this thy dismal preparation--
    This talk fit for a charnel.

                                                              WEBSTER.


Within a sepulchral vault, and at midnight, two persons were seated. The
chamber was of singular construction and considerable extent. The roof
was of solid stone masonry, and rose in a wide semicircular arch to the
height of about seventeen feet, measured from the centre of the ceiling
to the ground floor, while the sides were divided by slight
partition-walls into ranges of low, narrow catacombs. The entrance to
each cavity was surrounded by an obtusely-pointed arch, resting upon
slender granite pillars; and the intervening space was filled up with a
variety of tablets, escutcheons, shields, and inscriptions, recording
the titles and heraldic honors of the departed. There were no doors to
the niches; and within might be seen piles of coffins, packed one upon
another, till the floor groaned with the weight of lead. Against one of
the pillars, upon a hook, hung a rack of tattered, time-out-of-mind
hatchments; and in the centre of the tomb might be seen the effigies of
Sir Ranulph de Rokewode, the builder of the mausoleum, and the founder
of the race who slept within its walls. This statue, wrought in black
marble, differed from most monumental carved-work, in that its posture
was erect and lifelike. Sir Ranulph was represented as sheathed in a
complete suit of mail, decorated with his emblazoned and gilded surcoat,
his arm leaning upon the pommel of a weighty curtal-axe. The attitude
was that of stern repose. A conically-formed helmet rested upon the
brow; the beaver was raised, and revealed harsh but commanding features.
The golden spur of knighthood was fixed upon the heel; and, at the feet,
enshrined in a costly sarcophagus of marble, dug from the same quarry as
the statue, rested the mortal remains of one of "the sternest knights to
his mortal foe that ever put speare in the rest."

Streaming in a wavering line upon the roof, the sickly flame of a candle
partially fell upon the human figures before alluded to, throwing them
into darkest relief, and casting their opaque and fantastical shadows
along the ground. An old coffin upon a bier, we have said, served the
mysterious twain for a seat. Between them stood a bottle and a glass,
evidences that whatever might be the ulterior object of their stealthy
communion, the immediate comfort of the creature had not been altogether
overlooked. At the feet of one of the personages were laid a mattock, a
horn lantern--from which the candle had been removed--, a crowbar, and a
bunch of keys. Near to these implements of a vocation which the reader
will readily surmise, rested a strange superannuated terrier with a wiry
back and frosted muzzle; a head minus an ear, and a leg wanting a paw.
His master, for such we shall suppose him, was an old man with a lofty
forehead, covered with a singularly shaped nightcap, and clothed, as to
his lower limbs, with tight, ribbed, gray worsted hose, ascending
externally, after a bygone fashion, considerably above the knee. The old
man's elbow rested upon the handle of his spade, his wrist supported his
chin, and his gray glassy eyes, glimmering like marsh-meteors in the
candle-light, were fixed upon his companion with a glance of searching
scrutiny.

The object of his investigation, a much more youthful and interesting
person, seemed lost in reverie, and alike insensible to time, place, and
the object of the meeting. With both hands grasped round the barrel of a
fowling-piece, and his face leaning upon the same support, the features
were entirely concealed from view; the light, too, being at the back,
and shedding its rays over, rather than upon his person, aided his
disguise. Yet, even thus imperfectly defined, the outline of the head,
and the proportions of the figure, were eminently striking and
symmetrical. Attired in a rough forester's costume, of the mode of 1737,
and of the roughest texture and rudest make, his wild garb would have
determined his rank as sufficiently humble in the scale of society, had
not a certain loftiness of manner, and bold, though reckless deportment,
argued pretensions on the part of the wearer to a more elevated station
in life, and contradicted, in a great measure, the impression produced
by the homely appearance of his habiliments. A cap of shaggy brown fur,
fancifully, but not ungracefully fashioned, covered his head, from
beneath which, dropping, in natural clusters over his neck and
shoulders, a cloud of raven hair escaped. Subsequently, when his face
was more fully revealed, it proved to be that of a young man, of dark
aspect, and grave, melancholy expression of countenance, approaching
even to the stern, when at rest; though sufficiently animated and
earnest when engaged in conversation, or otherwise excited. His features
were regular, delicately formed, and might be characterized as
singularly handsome, were it not for a want of roundness in the contour
of the face which gave the lineaments a thin, worn look, totally
distinct, however, from haggardness or emaciation. The nose was delicate
and fine; the nostril especially so; the upper lip was short, curling,
graceful, and haughtily expressive. As to complexion, his skin had a
truly Spanish warmth and intensity of coloring. His figure, when raised,
was tall and masculine, and though slight, exhibited great personal
vigor.

We will now turn to his companion, the old man with the great gray
glittering eyes. Peter Bradley, of Rookwood--comitatû Ebor--, where he
had exercised the vocation of sexton for the best part of a life already
drawn out to the full span ordinarily allotted to mortality, was an odd
caricature of humanity. His figure was lean, and almost as lank as a
skeleton. His bald head reminded one of a bleached skull, allowing for
the overhanging and hoary brows. Deep-seated, and sunken within their
sockets, his gray orbs gleamed with intolerable lustre. Few could endure
his gaze; and, aware of his power, Peter seldom failed to exercise it.
He had likewise another habit, which, as it savored of insanity, made
him an object of commiseration with some, while it rendered him yet more
obnoxious to others. The habit we allude to, was the indulgence of wild
screaming laughter at times when all merriment should be checked; and
when the exhibition of levity must proceed from utter disregard of human
grief and suffering, or from mental alienation.

Wearied with the prolonged silence, Peter at length condescended to
speak. His voice was harsh and grating as a rusty hinge.

"Another glass?" said he, pouring out a modicum of the pale fluid.

His companion shook his head.

"It will keep out the cold," continued the sexton, pressing the liquid
upon him: "and you, who are not so much accustomed as I am to the damps
of a vault, may suffer from them. Besides," added he, sneeringly, "it
will give you courage."

His companion answered not. But the flash of his eye resented the
implied reproach.

"Nay, never stare at me so hard, Luke," continued the sexton; "I doubt
neither your courage nor your firmness. But if you won't drink, I will.
Here's to the rest eternal of Sir Piers Rookwood! You'll say amen to
that pledge, or you are neither grandson of mine, nor offspring of his
loins."

"Why should I reverence his memory," answered Luke, bitterly, refusing
the proffered potion, "who showed no fatherly love for me? He disowned
_me_ in life: in death I disown _him_. Sir Piers Rookwood was no father
of mine."

"He was as certainly your father, as Susan Bradley, your mother, was my
daughter," rejoined the sexton.

"And, surely," cried Luke, impetuously, "_you_ need not boast of the
connection! 'Tis not for you, old man, to couple their names
together--to exult in your daughter's disgrace and your own dishonor.
Shame! shame! Speak not of them in the same breath, if you would not
have me invoke curses on the dead! _I_ have no reverence--whatever _you_
may have--for the seducer--for the murderer of my mother."

"You have choice store of epithets, in sooth, good grandson," rejoined
Peter, with a chuckling laugh. "Sir Piers a murderer!"

"Tush!" exclaimed Luke, indignantly, "affect not ignorance. You have
better knowledge than I have of the truth or falsehood of the dark tale
that has gone abroad respecting my mother's fate; and unless report has
belied you foully, had substantial reasons for keeping sealed lips on
the occasion. But to change this painful subject," added he, with a
sudden alteration of manner, "at what hour did Sir Piers Rookwood die?"

"On Thursday last, in the night-time. The exact hour I know not,"
replied the sexton.

"Of what ailment?"

"Neither do I know that. His end was sudden, yet not without a warning
sign."

"What warning?" inquired Luke.

"Neither more nor less than the death-omen of the house. You look
astonished. Is it possible you have never heard of the ominous
Lime-Tree, and the Fatal Bough? Why, 'tis a common tale hereabouts, and
has been for centuries. Any old crone would tell it you. Peradventure,
you _have_ seen the old avenue of lime-trees leading to the hall, nearly
a quarter of a mile in length, and as noble a row of timber as any in
the West Riding of Yorkshire. Well, there is one tree--the last on the
left hand before you come to the clock-house--larger than all the
rest--a huge piece of timber, with broad spreading branches, and of I
know not what girth in the trunk. That tree is, in some mysterious
manner, connected with the family of Rookwood, and immediately previous
to the death of one of that line, a branch is sure to be shed from the
parent stem, prognosticating his doom. But you shall hear the legend."
And in a strange sepulchral tone, not inappropriate, however, to his
subject, Peter chanted the following ballad:

    THE LEGEND OF THE LIME-TREE

    Amid the grove o'er-arched above with lime-trees old and tall
    --The avenue that leads unto the Rookwood's ancient hall--,
    High o'er the rest its towering crest one tree rears to the sky,
    And wide out-flings, like mighty wings, its arms umbrageously.

    Seven yards its base would scarce embrace--a goodly tree I ween,
    With silver bark, and foliage dark, of melancholy green;
    And mid its boughs two ravens house, and build from year to year,
    Their black brood hatch--their black brood watch--then screaming
              disappear.

    In that old tree when playfully the summer breezes sigh,
    Its leaves are stirred, and there is heard a low and plaintive cry;
    And when in shrieks the storm blast speaks its reverend boughs among,
    Sad wailing moans, like human groans, the concert harsh prolong.

    But whether gale or calm prevail, or threatening cloud hath fled,
    By hand of Fate, predestinate, a limb that tree will shed;
    A verdant bough--untouched, I trow, by axe or tempest's breath--
    To Rookwood's head an omen dread of fast-approaching death.

    Some think that tree instinct must be with preternatural power.
    Like 'larum bell Death's note to knell at Fate's appointed hour;
    While some avow that on its bough are fearful traces seen,
    Red as the stains from human veins, commingling with the green.

    Others, again, there are maintain that on the shattered bark
    A print is made, where fiends have laid their scathing talons dark;
    That, ere it falls, the raven calls thrice from that wizard bough;
    And that each cry doth signify what space the Fates allow.

    In olden days, the legend says, as grim Sir Ranulph view'd
    A wretched hag her footsteps drag beneath his lordly wood.
    His bloodhounds twain he called amain, and straightway gave her chase;
    Was never seen in forest green, so fierce, so fleet a race!

    With eyes of flame to Ranulph came each red and ruthless hound,
    While mangled, torn--a sight forlorn!--the hag lay on the ground;
    E'en where she lay was turned the clay, and limb and reeking bone
    Within the earth, with ribald mirth, by Ranulph grim were thrown.

    And while as yet the soil was wet with that poor witch's gore,
    A lime-tree stake did Ranulph take, and pierced her bosom's core;
    And, strange to tell, what next befell!--that branch at once took root,
    And richly fed, within its bed, strong suckers forth did shoot.

    From year to year fresh boughs appear--it waxes huge in size;
    And, with wild glee, this prodigy Sir Ranulph grim espies.
    One day, when he, beneath that tree, reclined in joy and pride,
    A branch was found upon the ground--the next, Sir Ranulph died!

    And from that hour a fatal power has ruled that Wizard Tree,
    To Ranulph's line a warning sign of doom and destiny:
    For when a bough is found, I trow, beneath its shade to lie,
    Ere suns shall rise thrice in the skies a Rookwood sure shall die!

"And such an omen preceded Sir Piers's demise?" said Luke, who had
listened with some attention to his grandsire's song.

"Unquestionably," replied the sexton. "Not longer ago than Tuesday
morning, I happened to be sauntering down the avenue I have just
described. I know not what took me thither at that early hour, but I
wandered leisurely on till I came nigh the Wizard Lime-Tree. Great
Heaven! what a surprise awaited me! a huge branch lay right across the
path. It had evidently just fallen, for the leaves were green and
unwithered; the sap still oozed from the splintered wood; and there was
neither trace of knife nor hatchet on the bark. I looked up among the
boughs to mark the spot from whence it had been torn by the hand of
Fate--for no human hand had done it--and saw the pair of ancestral
ravens perched amid the foliage, and croaking as those carrion fowl are
wont to do when they scent a carcass afar off. Just then a livelier
sound saluted my ears. The cheering cry of a pack of hounds resounded
from the courts, and the great gates being thrown open, out issued Sir
Piers, attended by a troop of his roystering companions, all on
horseback, and all making the welkin ring with their vociferations. Sir
Piers laughed as loudly as the rest, but his mirth was speedily checked.
No sooner had his horse--old Rook, his favorite steed, who never swerved
at stake or pale before--set eyes upon the accursed branch, than he
started as if the fiend stood before him, and, rearing backwards, flung
his rider from the saddle. At this moment, with loud screams, the wizard
ravens took flight. Sir Piers was somewhat hurt by the fall, but he was
more frightened than hurt; and though he tried to put a bold face on the
matter, it was plain that his efforts to recover himself were fruitless.
Dr. Titus Tyrconnel and that wild fellow Jack Palmer--who has lately
come to the hall, and of whom you know something--tried to rally him.
But it would not do. He broke up the day's sport, and returned
dejectedly to the hall. Before departing, however, he addressed a word
to me in private, respecting you; and pointed, with a melancholy shake
of the head, to the fatal branch. '_It is my death-warrant_,' said he,
gloomily. And so it proved; two days afterwards his doom was
accomplished."

"And do you place faith in this idle legend?" asked Luke, with affected
indifference, although it was evident, from his manner, that he himself
was not so entirely free from a superstitious feeling of credulity as he
would have it appear.

"Certes," replied the sexton. "I were more difficult to be convinced
than the unbelieving disciple else. Thrice hath it occurred to my own
knowledge, and ever with the same result: first, with Sir Reginald;
secondly, with thy own mother; and lastly, as I have just told thee,
with Sir Piers."

"I thought you said, even now, that this death omen, if such it be, was
always confined to the immediate family of Rookwood, and not to mere
inmates of the mansion."

"To the heads only of that house, be they male or female."

"Then how could it apply to my mother? Was _she_ of that house? Was
_she_ a wife?"

"Who shall say she was _not_?" rejoined the sexton.

"Who shall say she _was_ so?" cried Luke, repeating the words with
indignant emphasis--"who will avouch _that_?"

A smile, cold as a wintry sunbeam, played upon the sexton's rigid lips.

"I will bear this no longer," cried Luke; "anger me not, or look to
yourself. In a word, have you anything to tell me respecting her? if
not, let me begone."

"I have. But I will not be hurried by a boy like you," replied Peter,
doggedly. "Go, if you will, and take the consequences. My lips are
sealed forever, and I have much to say--much that it behoves you to
know."

"Be brief, then. When you sought me out this morning, in my retreat with
the gipsy gang at Davenham Wood, you bade me meet you in the porch of
Rookwood Church at midnight. I was true to my appointment."

"And I will keep my promise," replied the sexton. "Draw closer, that I
may whisper in thine ear. Of every Rookwood who lies around us--and all
that ever bore the name, except Sir Piers himself--who lies in state at
the hall--, are here--not one--mark what I say--not one male branch of
the house but has been suspected----"

"Of what?"

"Of murder!" returned the sexton, in a hissing whisper.

"Murder!" echoed Luke, recoiling.

"There is one dark stain--one foul blot on all. Blood--blood hath been
spilt."

"By all?"

"Ay, and _such_ blood! theirs was no common crime. Even murder hath its
degrees. Theirs was of the first class."

"Their wives!--you cannot mean that?"

"Ay, their wives!--I do. You have heard it, then? Ha! ha! 'tis a trick
they had. Did you ever hear the old saying?

    _No mate ever brook would
    A Rook of the Rookwood!_

A merry saying it is, and true. No woman ever stood in a Rookwood's way
but she was speedily removed--that's certain. They had all, save poor
Sir Piers, the knack of stopping a troublesome woman's tongue, and
practised it to perfection. A rare art, eh?"

"What have the misdeeds of his ancestry to do with Sir Piers," muttered
Luke, "much less with my mother?"

"Everything. If he could not rid himself of his wife--and she is a match
for the devil himself--, the _mistress_ might be more readily set
aside."

"Have you absolute knowledge of aught?" asked Luke, his voice tremulous
with emotion.

"Nay, I but hinted."

"Such hints are worse than open speech. Let me know the worst. Did he
kill her?" And Luke glared at the sexton as if he would have penetrated
his secret soul.

But Peter was not easily fathomed. His cold, bright eye returned Luke's
gaze steadfastly, as he answered, composedly:

"I have said all I know."

"But not all you _think_."

"Thoughts should not always find utterance, else we might often endanger
our own safety, and that of others."

"An idle subterfuge--and, from you, worse than idle. I will have an
answer, yea or nay. Was it poison--was it steel?"

"Enough--she died."

"No, it is not enough. When? Where?"

"In her sleep--in her bed."

"Why, that was natural."

A wrinkling smile crossed the sexton's brow.

"What means that horrible gleam of laughter?" exclaimed Luke, grasping
the shoulder of the man of graves with such force as nearly to
annihilate him. "Speak, or I will strangle you. She died, you say, in
her sleep?"

"She did so," replied the sexton, shaking off Luke's hold.

"And was it to tell me that I had a mother's murder to avenge, that you
brought me to the tomb of her destroyer--when he is beyond the reach of
my vengeance?"

Luke exhibited so much frantic violence of manner and gesture, that the
sexton entertained some little apprehension that his intellects were
unsettled by the shock of the intelligence. It was, therefore, in what
he intended for a soothing tone that he attempted to solicit his
grandson's attention.

"I will hear nothing more," interrupted Luke, and the vaulted chamber
rang with his passionate lamentations. "Am I the sport of this mocking
fiend?" cried he, "to whom my agony is derision--my despair a source of
enjoyment--beneath whose withering glance my spirit shrinks--who, with
half-expressed insinuations, tortures my soul, awakening fancies that
goad me on to dark and desperate deeds? Dead mother! upon thee I call.
If in thy grave thou canst hear the cry of thy most wretched son,
yearning to avenge thee--answer me, if thou hast the power. Let me have
some token of the truth or falsity of these wild suppositions, that I
may wrestle against this demon. But no," added he, in accents of
despair, "no ear listens to me, save his to whom my wretchedness is food
for mockery."

"Could the dead hear thee, thy mother might do so," returned the sexton.
"She lies within this space."

Luke staggered back, as if struck by a sudden shot. He spoke not, but
fell with a violent shock against a pile of coffins, at which he caught
for support.

"What have I done?" he exclaimed, recoiling.

A thundering crash resounded through the vault. One of the coffins,
dislodged from its position by his fall, tumbled to the ground, and,
alighting upon its side, split asunder.

"Great Heavens! what is this?" cried Luke, as a dead body, clothed in
all the hideous apparel of the tomb, rolled forth to his feet.

"It is your mother's corpse," answered the sexton, coldly; "I brought
you hither to behold it. But you have anticipated my intentions."

"_This_ my mother?" shrieked Luke, dropping upon his knees by the body,
and seizing one of its chilly hands, as it lay upon the floor, with the
face upwards.

The sexton took the candle from the sconce.

"Can this be death?" shouted Luke. "Impossible! Oh, God! she stirs--she
moves. The light!--quick. I see her stir! This is dreadful!"

"Do not deceive yourself," said the sexton, in a tone which betrayed
more emotion than was his wont. "'Tis the bewilderment of fancy. She
will never stir again."

And he shaded the candle with his hand, so as to throw the light full
upon the face of the corpse. It was motionless, as that of an image
carved in stone. No trace of corruption was visible upon the rigid, yet
exquisite tracery of its features. A profuse cloud of raven hair,
escaped from its swathements in the fall, hung like a dark veil over the
bosom and person of the dead, and presented a startling contrast to the
waxlike hue of the skin and the pallid cereclothes. Flesh still adhered
to the hand, though it mouldered into dust within the gripe of Luke, as
he pressed the fingers to his lips. The shroud was disposed like
night-gear about her person, and from without its folds a few withered
flowers had fallen. A strong aromatic odor, of a pungent nature, was
diffused around; giving evidence that the art by which the ancient
Egyptians endeavored to rescue their kindred from decomposition had been
resorted to, to preserve the fleeting charms of the unfortunate Susan
Bradley.

A pause of awful silence succeeded, broken only by the convulsive
respiration of Luke. The sexton stood by, apparently an indifferent
spectator of the scene of horror. His eye wandered from the dead to the
living, and gleamed with a peculiar and indefinable expression, half
apathy, half abstraction. For one single instant, as he scrutinized the
features of his daughter, his brow, contracted by anger, immediately
afterwards was elevated in scorn. But otherwise you would have sought in
vain to read the purport of that cold, insensible glance, which dwelt
for a brief space on the face of the mother, and settled eventually upon
her son. At length the withered flowers attracted his attention. He
stooped to pick up one of them.

"Faded as the hand that gathered ye--as the bosom on which ye were
strewn!" he murmured. "No sweet smell left--but--faugh!" Holding the dry
leaves to the flame of the candle, they were instantly ignited, and the
momentary brilliance played like a smile upon the features of the dead.
Peter observed the effect. "Such was thy life," he exclaimed; "a brief,
bright sparkle, followed by dark, utter extinction!"

Saying which, he flung the expiring ashes of the floweret from his hand.



_CHAPTER II_

_THE SKELETON HAND_

    _Duch._ You are very cold.
            I fear you are not well after your travel.
            Ha! lights.----Oh horrible!

    _Fer._  Let her have lights enough.

    _Duch._ What witchcraft doth he practise, that he hath left
            A dead hand here?

                                                   _Duchess of Malfy._


The sexton's waning candle now warned him of the progress of time, and
having completed his arrangements, he addressed himself to Luke,
intimating his intention of departing. But receiving no answer, and
remarking no signs of life about his grandson, he began to be
apprehensive that he had fallen into a swoon. Drawing near to Luke, he
took him gently by the arm. Thus disturbed, Luke groaned aloud.

"I am glad to find you can breathe, if it be only after that melancholy
fashion," said the sexton; "but come, I have wasted time enough already.
You must indulge your grief elsewhere."

"Leave me," sighed Luke.

"What, here? It were as much as my office is worth. You can return some
other night. But go you must, now--at least, if you take on thus. I
never calculated upon a scene like this, or it had been long ere I
brought you hither. So come away; yet, stay;--but first lend me a hand
to replace the body in the coffin."

"Touch it not," exclaimed Luke; "she shall not rest another hour within
these accursed walls. I will bear her hence myself." And, sobbing
hysterically, he relapsed into his former insensibility.

"Poh! this is worse than midsummer madness," said Peter; "the lad is
crazed with grief, and all about a mother who has been four-and-twenty
years in her grave. I will e'en put her out of the way myself."

Saying which, he proceeded, as noiselessly as possible, to raise the
corpse in his arms, and deposited it softly within its former tenement.
Carefully as he executed his task, he could not accomplish it without
occasioning a slight accident to the fragile frame. Insensible as he
was, Luke had not relinquished the hold he maintained of his mother's
hand. And when Peter lifted the body, the ligaments connecting the hand
with the arm were suddenly snapped asunder. It would appear afterwards,
that this joint had been tampered with, and partially dislocated.
Without, however, entering into further particulars in this place, it
may be sufficient to observe that the hand, detached from the socket at
the wrist, remained within the gripe of Luke; while, ignorant of the
mischief he had occasioned, the sexton continued his labors
unconsciously, until the noise which he of necessity made in stamping
with his heel upon the plank, recalled his grandson to sensibility. The
first thing that the latter perceived, upon collecting his faculties,
were the skeleton fingers twined within his own.

"What have you done with the body? Why have you left this with me?"
demanded he.

"It was not my intention to have done so," answered the sexton,
suspending his occupation. "I have just made fast the lid, but it is
easily undone. You had better restore it."

"Never," returned Luke, staring at the bony fragment.

"Pshaw! of what advantage is a dead hand? 'Tis an unlucky keepsake, and
will lead to mischief. The only use I ever heard of such a thing being
turned to, was in the case of Bow-legged Ben, who was hanged in irons
for murder, on Hardchase Heath, on the York Road, and whose hand was cut
off at the wrist the first night to make a Hand of Glory, or Dead Man's
Candle. Hast never heard what the old song says?" And without awaiting
his grandson's response, Peter broke into the following wild strain:

    THE HAND OF GLORY[1]

    From the corse that hangs on the roadside tree
    --A murderer's corse it needs must be--,
    Sever the right hand carefully:--
    Sever the hand that the deed hath done,
    Ere the flesh that clings to the bones be gone;
    In its dry veins must blood be none.
    Those ghastly fingers white and cold,
    Within a winding-sheet enfold;
    Count the mystic count of seven:
    Name the Governors of Heaven.[2]
    Then in earthen vessel place them,
    And with dragon-wort encase them,
    Bleach them in the noonday sun,
    Till the marrow melt and run,
    Till the flesh is pale and wan,
    As a moon-ensilvered cloud,
    As an unpolluted shroud.
    Next within their chill embrace
    The dead man's Awful Candle place;
    Of murderer's fat must that candle be
    --You may scoop it beneath the roadside tree--,
    Of wax, and of Lapland sisame.
    Its wick must be twisted of hair of the dead,
    By the crow and her brood on the wild waste shed.
    Wherever that terrible light shall burn
    Vainly the sleeper may toss and turn;
    His leaden lids shall he ne'er unclose
    So long as that magical taper glows.
    Life and treasures shall he command
    Who knoweth the charm of the Glorious Hand!
    But of black cat's gall let him aye have care,
    And of screech-owl's venomous blood beware!

"Peace!" thundered Luke, extending his mother's hand towards the sexton.
"What seest thou?"

"I see something shine. Hold it nigher the light. Ha! that is strange,
truly. How came that ring there?"

"Ask of Sir Piers! ask of her _husband_!" shouted Luke, with a wild
burst of exulting laughter. "Ha! ha! ha! 'tis a wedding-ring! And look!
the finger is bent. It must have been placed upon it in her lifetime.
There is no deception in this--no trickery--ha!"

"It would seem not; the sinew must have been contracted in life. The
tendons are pulled down so tightly, that the ring could not be withdrawn
without breaking the finger."

"You are sure that coffin contains her body?"

"As sure as I am that this carcass is my own."

"The hand--'tis hers. Can any doubt exist?"

"Wherefore should it? It was broken from the arm by accident within this
moment. I noticed not the occurrence, but it must have been so."

"Then it follows that she was wedded, and I am not----"

"Illegitimate. For your own sake I am glad of it."

"My heart will burst. Oh! could I but establish the fact of this
marriage, her wrongs would be indeed avenged."

"Listen to me, Luke," said the sexton, solemnly. "I told you, when I
appointed this midnight interview, I had a secret to communicate. That
secret is now revealed--that secret was your mother's marriage."

"And it was known to you during her lifetime?"

"It was. But I was sworn to secrecy."

"You have proofs then?"

"I have nothing beyond Sir Piers's word--and he is silent now."

"By whom was the ceremony performed?"

"By a Romish priest--a Jesuit--one Father Checkley, at that time an
inmate of the hall; for Sir Piers, though he afterwards abjured it, at
that time professed the Catholic faith, and this Checkley officiated as
his confessor and counsellor; as the partner of his pleasures, and the
prompter of his iniquities. He was your father's evil genius."

"Is he still alive?"

"I know not. After your mother's death he left the hall. I have said he
was a Jesuit, and I may add, that he was mixed up in dark political
intrigues, in which your father was too feeble a character to take much
share. But though too weak to guide, he was a pliant instrument, and
this Checkley knew. He moulded him according to his wishes. I cannot
tell you what was the nature of their plots. Suffice it, they were such
as, if discovered, would have involved your father in ruin. He was
saved, however, by his wife."

"And her reward----" groaned Luke.

"Was death," replied Peter, coldly. "What Jesuit ever forgave a
wrong--real or imaginary? Your mother, I ought to have said, was a
Protestant. Hence there was a difference of religious opinion--the worst
of differences that can exist between husband and wife--. Checkley vowed
her destruction, and he kept his vow. He was enamored of her beauty.
But while he burnt with adulterous desire, he was consumed by fiercest
hate--contending, and yet strangely-reconcilable passions--as you may
have reason, hereafter, to discover."

"Go on," said Luke, grinding his teeth.

"I have done," returned Peter. "From that hour your father's love for
his supposed mistress, and unacknowledged wife, declined; and with his
waning love declined her health. I will not waste words in describing
the catastrophe that awaited her union. It will be enough to say, she
was found one morning a corpse within her bed. Whatever suspicions were
attached to Sir Piers were quieted by Checkley, who distributed gold,
largely and discreetly. The body was embalmed by Barbara Lovel, the
Gipsy Queen."

"My foster-mother!" exclaimed Luke, in a tone of extreme astonishment.

"Ah," replied Peter, "from her you may learn all particulars. You have
now seen what remains of your mother. You are in possession of the
secret of your birth. The path is before you, and if you would arrive at
honor you must pursue it steadily, turning neither to the right nor to
the left. Opposition you will meet at each step. But fresh lights may be
thrown upon this difficult case. It is in vain to hope for Checkley's
evidence, even should the caitiff priest be living. He is himself too
deeply implicated--ha!"

Peter stopped, for at this moment the flame of the candle suddenly
expired, and the speakers were left in total darkness. Something like a
groan followed the conclusion of the sexton's discourse. It was evident
that it proceeded not from his grandson, as an exclamation burst from
him at the same instant. Luke stretched out his arm. A cold hand seemed
to press against his own, communicating a chill like death to his frame.

"Who is between us?" he ejaculated.

"The devil!" cried the sexton, leaping from the coffin-lid with an
agility that did him honor. "Is aught between us?"

"I will discharge my gun. Its flash will light us."

"Do so," hastily rejoined Peter. "But not in this direction."

"Get behind me," cried Luke. And he pulled the trigger.

A blaze of vivid light illumined the darkness. Still nothing was
visible, save the warrior figure, which was seen for a moment, and then
vanished like a ghost. The buck-shot rattled against the further end of
the vault.

"Let us go hence," ejaculated the sexton, who had rushed to the door,
and thrown it wide open. "Mole! Mole!" cried he, and the dog sprang
after him.

"I could have sworn I felt something," said Luke; "whence issued that
groan?"

"Ask not whence," replied Peter. "Reach me my mattock, and spade, and
the lantern; they are behind you. And stay, it were better to bring away
the bottle."

"Take them, and leave me here."

"Alone in the vault?--no, no, Luke, I have not told you half I know
concerning that mystic statue. It is said to move--to walk--to raise its
axe--be warned, I pray."

"Leave me, or abide, if you will, my coming, in the church. If there is
aught that may be revealed to my ear alone, I will not shrink from it,
though the dead themselves should arise to proclaim the mystery. It may
be--but--go--there are your tools." And he shut the door, with a jar
that shook the sexton's frame.

Peter, after some muttered murmurings at the hardihood and madness, as
he termed it, of his grandson, disposed his lanky limbs to repose upon a
cushioned bench without the communion railing. As the pale moonlight
fell upon his gaunt and cadaverous visage, he looked like some unholy
thing suddenly annihilated by the presiding influence of that sacred
spot. Mole crouched himself in a ring at his master's feet. Peter had
not dozed many minutes, when he was aroused by Luke's return. The latter
was very pale, and the damp stood in big drops upon his brow.

"Have you made fast the door?" inquired the sexton.

"Here is the key."

"What have you seen?" he next demanded.

Luke made no answer. At that moment, the church clock struck two,
breaking the stillness with an iron clang. Luke raised his eyes. A ray
of moonlight, streaming obliquely through the painted window, fell upon
the gilt lettering of a black mural entablature. The lower part of the
inscription was in the shade, but the emblazonment, and the words--

    Orate pro anima Reginaldi Rookwood equitis aurati,

were clear and distinct. Luke trembled, he knew not why, as the sexton
pointed to it.

"You have heard of the handwriting upon the wall," said Peter. "Look
there!--'His kingdom hath been taken from him.' Ha, ha! Listen to me. Of
all thy monster race--of all the race of Rookwood I should say--no demon
ever stalked the earth more terrible than him whose tablet you now
behold. By him a brother was betrayed; by him a brother's wife was
dishonored. Love, honor, friendship, were with him as words. He regarded
no ties; he defied and set at naught all human laws and obligations--and
yet he was religious, or esteemed so--received the _viaticum_, and died
full of years and honors, hugging salvation to his sinful heart. And
after death he has yon lying epitaph to record his virtues. _His_
virtues! ha, ha! Ask him who preaches to the kneeling throng gathering
within this holy place what shall be the murderer's portion--and he will
answer--_Death!_ And yet Sir Reginald was long-lived. The awful
question, 'Cain, where is thy brother?' broke not his tranquil slumbers.
Luke, I have told you much--but not all. You know not, as yet--nor shall
you know your destiny; but you shall be the avenger of infamy and
blood. I have a sacred charge committed to my keeping, which, hereafter,
I may delegate to you. You _shall_ be Sir Luke Rookwood, but the
conditions must be mine to propose."

"No more," said Luke; "my brain reels. I am faint. Let us quit this
place, and get into the fresh air." And striding past his grandsire he
traversed the aisles with hasty steps. Peter was not slow to follow. The
key was applied, and they emerged into the churchyard. The grassy mounds
were bathed in the moonbeams, and the two yew-trees, throwing their
black jagged shadows over the grave hills, looked like evil spirits
brooding over the repose of the righteous.

The sexton noticed the deathly paleness of Luke's countenance, but he
fancied it might proceed from the tinge of the sallow moonlight.

"I will be with you at your cottage ere daybreak," said Luke. And
turning an angle of the church, he disappeared from view.

"So," exclaimed Peter, gazing after him, "the train is laid; the spark
has been applied; the explosion will soon follow. The hour is fast
approaching when I shall behold this accursed house shaken to dust, and
when my long-delayed vengeance will be gratified. In that hope I am
content to drag on the brief remnant of my days. Meanwhile, I must not
omit the stimulant. In a short time I may not require it." Draining the
bottle to the last drop, he flung it from him, and commenced chanting,
in a high key and cracked voice, a wild ditty, the words of which ran as
follow:

    THE CARRION CROW

    The Carrion Crow is a sexton bold.
    He raketh the dead from out the mould;
    He delveth the ground like a miser old,
    Stealthily hiding his store of gold.
                              _Caw! Caw!_

    The Carrion Crow hath a coat of black,
    Silky and sleek like a priest's to his back;
    Like a lawyer he grubbeth--no matter what way--
    The fouler the offal, the richer his prey.
                              _Caw! Caw! the Carrion Crow!_
                              _Dig! Dig! in the ground below!_

    The Carrion Crow hath a dainty maw,
    With savory pickings he crammeth his craw;
    Kept meat from the gibbet it pleaseth his whim,
    It can never _hang_ too long for him!
                              _Caw! Caw!_

    The Carrion Crow smelleth powder, 'tis said,
    Like a soldier escheweth the taste of cold lead;
    No jester, or mime, hath more marvellous wit,
    For, wherever he lighteth, he maketh a hit!
                              _Caw! Caw! the Carrion Crow!_
                              _Dig! Dig! in the ground below!_

Shouldering his spade, and whistling to his dog, the sexton quitted the
churchyard.

Peter had not been gone many seconds, when a dark figure, muffled in a
wide black mantle, emerged from among the tombs surrounding the church;
gazed after him for a few seconds, and then, with a menacing gesture,
retreated behind the ivied buttresses of the gray old pile.



_CHAPTER III_

_THE PARK_

    _Brian._ Ralph! hearest thou any stirring?

    _Ralph._ I heard one speak here, hard by, in the hollow. Peace!
    master, speak low. Nouns! if I do not hear a bow go off, and the
    buck bray, I never heard deer in my life.

    _Bri._ Stand, or I'll shoot.

    _Sir Arthur._ Who's there?

    _Bri._ I am the keeper, and do charge you stand.
           You have stolen my deer.

                                            _Merry Devil of Edmonton._


Luke's first impulse had been to free himself from the restraint imposed
by his grandsire's society. He longed to commune with himself. Leaping
the small boundary-wall, which defended the churchyard from a deep green
lane, he hurried along in a direction contrary to that taken by the
sexton, making the best of his way until he arrived at a gap in the
high-banked hazel hedge which overhung the road. Heedless of the
impediments thrown in his way by the undergrowth of a rough ring fence,
he struck through the opening that presented itself, and, climbing over
the moss-grown paling, trod presently upon the elastic sward of Rookwood
Park.

A few minutes' rapid walking brought him to the summit of a rising
ground crowned with aged oaks and, as he passed beneath their broad
shadows, his troubled spirit, soothed by the quietude of the scene, in
part resumed its serenity.

Luke yielded to the gentle influence of the time and hour. The stillness
of the spot allayed the irritation of his frame, and the dewy chillness
cooled the fever of his brow. Leaning for support against the gnarled
trunk of one of the trees, he gave himself up to contemplation. The
events of the last hour--of his whole existence--passed in rapid review
before him. The thought of the wayward, vagabond life he had led; of the
wild adventures of his youth; of all he had been; of all he had _done_,
of all he had endured--crowded his mind; and then, like the passing of a
cloud flitting across the autumnal moon, and occasionally obscuring the
smiling landscape before him, his soul was shadowed by the remembrance
of the awful revelations of the last hour, and the fearful knowledge he
had acquired of his mother's fate--of his father's guilt.

The eminence on which he stood was one of the highest points of the
park, and commanded a view of the hall, which might be a quarter of a
mile distant, discernible through a broken vista of trees, its whitened
walls glimmering in the moonlight, and its tall chimney spiring far from
out the round masses of wood in which it lay embosomed. The ground
gradually sloped in that direction, occasionally rising into swells,
studded with magnificent timber--dipping into smooth dells, or
stretching out into level glades, until it suddenly sank into a deep
declivity, that formed an effectual division, without the intervention
of a haw-haw, or other barrier, between the chase and the home-park. A
slender stream strayed through this ravine, having found its way thither
from a small reservoir, hidden in the higher plantations to the left;
and further on, in the open ground, and in a line with the hall, though,
of course, much below the level of the building, assisted by many local
springs, and restrained by a variety of natural and artificial
embankments, this brook spread out into an expansive sheet of water.
Crossed by a rustic bridge, the only communication between the parks,
the pool found its outlet into the meads below; and even at that
distance, and in that still hour, you might almost catch the sound of
the brawling waters, as they dashed down the weir in a foaming cascade;
while, far away, in the spreading valley, the serpentine meanderings of
the slender current might be traced, glittering like silvery threads in
the moonshine. The mild beams of the queen of night, then in her
meridian, trembled upon the topmost branches of the tall timber,
quivering like diamond spray upon the outer foliage; and, penetrating
through the interstices of the trees, fell upon the light wreaths of
vapor then beginning to arise from the surface of the pool, steeping
them in misty splendor, and lending to this part of the picture a
character of dreamy and unearthly beauty.

All else was in unison. No sound interrupted the silence of Luke's
solitude, except the hooting of a large gray owl, that, scared at his
approach, or in search of prey, winged its spectral flight in continuous
and mazy circles round his head, uttering at each wheel its startling
whoop; or a deep, distant bay, that ever and anon boomed upon the ear,
proceeding from a pack of hounds kennelled in a shed adjoining the pool
before mentioned, but which was shrouded from view by the rising mist.
No living objects presented themselves, save a herd of deer, crouched in
a covert of brown fern beneath the shadow of a few stunted trees,
immediately below the point of land on which Luke stood; and although
their branching antlers could scarcely be detected from the
ramifications of the wood itself, they escaped not his practised ken.

"How often," murmured Luke, "in years gone by, have I traversed these
moonlit glades, and wandered amidst these woodlands, on nights heavenly
as this--ay, and to some purpose, as yon thinned herd might testify!
Every dingle, every dell, every rising brow, every bosky vale and
shelving covert, have been as familiar to my track as to that of the
fleetest and freest of their number: scarce a tree amidst the thickest
of yon outstretching forest with which I cannot claim acquaintance; 'tis
long since I have seen them. By Heavens! 'tis beautiful! and it is all
my own! Can I forget that it was here I first emancipated myself from
thraldom? Can I forget the boundless feeling of delight that danced
within my veins when I first threw off the yoke of servitude, and roved
unshackled, unrestrained, amidst these woods? The wild intoxicating
bliss still tingles to my heart. And they are all my own--my own!
Softly, what have we there?"

Luke's attention was arrested by an object which could not fail to
interest him, sportsman as he was. A snorting bray was heard, and a
lordly stag stalked slowly and majestically from out the copse. Luke
watched the actions of the noble animal with great interest, drawing
back into the shade. A hundred yards, or thereabouts, might be between
him and the buck. It was within range of ball. Luke mechanically grasped
his gun; yet his hand had scarcely raised the piece half way to his
shoulder, when he dropped it again to its rest.

"What am I about to do?" he mentally ejaculated. "Why, for mere pastime,
should I take away yon noble creature's life, when his carcass would be
utterly useless to me? Yet such is the force of habit, that I can scarce
resist the impulse that tempted me to fire; and I have known the time,
and that not long since, when I should have shown no such self-control."

Unconscious of the danger it had escaped, the animal moved forward with
the same stately step. Suddenly it stopped, with ears pricked, as if
some sound had smote them. At that instant the click of a gun-lock was
heard, at a little distance to the right. The piece had missed fire. An
instantaneous report from another gun succeeded; and, with a bound high
in air, the buck fell upon his back, struggling in the agonies of death.
Luke had at once divined the cause; he was aware that poachers were at
hand. He fancied that he knew the parties; nor was he deceived in his
conjecture. Two figures issued instantly from a covert on the right, and
making to the spot, the first who reached it put an end to the animal's
struggles by plunging a knife into its throat. The affrighted herd took
to their heels, and were seen darting swiftly down the chase.

One of the twain, meantime, was occupied in feeling for the deer's fat,
when he was approached by the other, who pointed in the direction of the
house. The former raised himself from his kneeling posture, and both
appeared to listen attentively. Luke fancied he heard a slight sound in
the distance; whatever the noise proceeded from, it was evident the
deer-stealers were alarmed. They laid hold of the buck, and, dragging it
along, concealed the carcass among the tall fern; they then retreated,
halting for an instant to deliberate, within a few yards of Luke, who
was concealed from their view by the trunk of the tree, behind which he
had ensconced his person. They were so near, that he lost not a word of
their muttered conference.

"The game's spoiled this time, Rob Rust, any how," growled one, in an
angry tone; "the hawks are upon us, and we must leave this brave buck to
take care of himself. Curse him!--who'd 'a' thought of Hugh Badger's
quitting his bed to-night? Respect for his late master might have kept
him quiet the night before the funeral. But look out, lad. Dost see
'em?"

"Ay, thanks to old Oliver--yonder they are," returned the other.
"One--two--three--and a muzzled bouser to boot. There's Hugh at the head
on 'em. Shall we stand and show fight? I have half a mind for it."

"No, no," replied the first speaker; "that will never do, Rob--no
fighting. Why run the risk of being grabb'd for a haunch of venison? Had
Luke Bradley or Jack Palmer been with us, it might have been another
affair. As it is, it won't pay. Besides, we've that to do at the hall
to-morrow night that may make men of us for the rest of our nat'ral
lives. We've pledged ourselves to Jack Palmer, and we can't be off in
honor. It won't do to be snabbled in the nick of it. So let's make for
the prad in the lane. Keep in the shade as much as you can. Come along,
my hearty." And away the two worthies scampered down the hill-side.

"Shall I follow," thought Luke, "and run the risk of falling into the
keeper's hand, just at this crisis, too? No, but if I am found here, I
shall be taken for one of the gang. Something must be done--ha!--devil
take them, here they are already."

Further time was not allowed him for reflection. A hoarse baying was
heard, followed by a loud cry from the keepers. The dog had scented out
the game; and, as secrecy was no longer necessary, his muzzle had been
removed. To rush forth now were certain betrayal; to remain was almost
equally assured detection; and, doubting whether he should obtain
credence if he delivered himself over in that garb and armed, Luke at
once rejected the idea. Just then it flashed across his recollection
that his gun had remained unloaded, and he applied himself eagerly to
repair this negligence, when he heard the dog in full cry, making
swiftly in his direction. He threw himself upon the ground, where the
fern was thickest; but this seemed insufficient to baffle the sagacity
of the hound--the animal had got his scent, and was baying close at
hand. The keepers were drawing nigh. Luke gave himself up for lost. The
dog, however, stopped where the two poachers had halted, and was there
completely at fault: snuffing the ground, he bayed, wheeled round, and
then set off with renewed barking upon their track. Hugh Badger and his
comrades loitered an instant at the same place, looked warily round, and
then, as Luke conjectured, followed the course taken by the hound.

Swift as thought, Luke arose, and keeping as much as possible under
cover of the trees, started in a cross line for the lane. Rapid as was
his flight, it was not without a witness: one of the keeper's
assistants, who had lagged behind, gave the view-halloo in a loud voice.
Luke pressed forward with redoubled energy, endeavoring to gain the
shelter of the plantation, and this he could readily have accomplished,
had no impediment been in his way. But his rage and vexation were
boundless, when he heard the keeper's cry echoed by shouts immediately
below him, and the tongue of the hound resounding in the hollow. He
turned sharply round, steering a middle course, and still aiming at the
fence. It was evident, from the cheers of his pursuers, that he was in
full view, and he heard them encouraging and directing the dog.

Luke had gained the park palings, along which he rushed, in the vain
quest of some practicable point of egress, for the fence was higher in
this part of the park than elsewhere, owing to the inequality of the
ground. He had cast away his gun as useless. But even without that
incumbrance, he dared not hazard the delay of climbing the palings. At
this juncture a deep breathing was heard close behind him. He threw a
glance over his shoulder. Within a few yards was a ferocious bloodhound,
with whose savage nature Luke was well acquainted; the breed, some of
which he had already seen, having been maintained at the hall ever since
the days of grim old Sir Ranulph. The eyes of the hound were glaring,
blood-red; his tongue was hanging out, and a row of keen white fangs was
displayed, like the teeth of a shark. There was a growl--a leap--and the
dog was close upon him.

Luke's courage was undoubted. But his heart failed him as he heard the
roar of the remorseless brute, and felt that he could not avoid an
encounter with the animal. His resolution was instantly taken: he
stopped short with such suddenness, that the dog, when in the act of
springing, flew past him with great violence, and the time, momentary as
it was, occupied by the animal in recovering himself, enabled Luke to
drop on his knee, and to place one arm, like a buckler, before his face,
while he held the other in readiness to grapple his adversary. Uttering
a fierce yell, the hound returned to the charge, darting at Luke, who
received the assault without flinching; and in spite of a severe
laceration of the arm, he seized his foe by the throat, and hurling him
upon the ground, jumped with all his force upon his belly. There was a
yell of agony--the contest was ended, and Luke was at liberty to pursue
his flight unmolested.

Brief as had been the interval required for this combat, it had been
sufficient to bring the pursuers within sight of the fugitive. Hugh
Badger, who from the acclivity had witnessed the fate of his favorite,
with a loud oath discharged the contents of his gun at the head of its
destroyer. It was fortunate for Luke that at this instant he stumbled
over the root of a tree--the shot rattled in the leaves as he fell, and
the keeper, concluding that he had at least winged his bird, descended
more leisurely towards him. As he lay upon the ground, Luke felt that he
was wounded; whether by the teeth of the dog, from a stray shot, or from
bruises inflicted by the fall, he could not determine. But, smarting
with pain, he resolved to wreak his vengeance upon the first person who
approached him. He vowed not to be taken with life--to strangle any who
should lay hands upon him. At that moment he felt a pressure at his
breast. It was the dead hand of his mother!

Luke shuddered. The fire of revenge was quenched. He mentally cancelled
his rash oath; yet he could not bring himself to surrender at
discretion, and without further effort. The keeper and his assistants
were approaching the spot where he lay, and searching for his body. Hugh
Badger was foremost, and within a yard of him.

"Confound the rascal!" cried Hugh, "he's not half killed; he seems to
breathe."

The words were scarcely out of his mouth ere the speaker was dashed
backwards, and lay sprawling upon the sod. Suddenly and unexpectedly, as
an Indian chief might rush upon his foes, Luke arose, dashing himself
with great violence against Hugh, who happened to stand in his way, and
before the startled assistants, who were either too much taken by
surprise, or unwilling to draw a trigger, could in any way lay hands
upon him, exerting all the remarkable activity which he possessed, he
caught hold of a projecting branch of a tree, and swung himself, at a
single bound, fairly over the paling.

Hugh Badger was shortly on his legs, swearing lustily at his defeat.
Directing his men to skirt alongside the fence, and make for a
particular part of the plantation which he named, and snatching a loaded
fowling-piece from one of them, he clambered over the pales, and guided
by the crashing branches and other sounds conveyed to his quick ear, he
was speedily upon Luke's track.

The plantation through which the chase now took place was not, as might
be supposed, a continuation of the ring fence which Luke had originally
crossed on his entrance into the park, though girded by the same line of
paling, but, in reality, a close pheasant preserve, occupying the banks
of a ravine, which, after a deep and tortuous course, terminated in the
declivity heretofore described as forming the park boundary. Luke
plunged into the heart of this defile, fighting his way downwards, in
the direction of the brook. His progress was impeded by a thick
undergrowth of brier, and other matted vegetation, as well as by the
entanglements thrown in his way by the taller bushes of thorn and hazel,
the entwined and elastic branches of which, in their recoil, galled and
fretted him, by inflicting smart blows on his face and hands. This was a
hardship he usually little regarded. But, upon the present occasion, it
had the effect, by irritating his temper, of increasing the thirst of
vengeance raging in his bosom.

Through the depths of the ravine welled the shallow stream before
alluded to, and Hugh Badger had no sooner reached its sedgy margin than
he lost all trace of the fugitive. He looked cautiously round, listened
intently, and inclined his ear to catch the faintest echo. All was
still: not a branch shook, not a leaf rustled. Hugh looked aghast. He
had made sure of getting a glimpse, and, perhaps, a stray shot at the
"poaching rascal," as he termed him, "in the open space, which he was
sure the fellow was aiming to reach; and now, all at once, he had
disappeared, like a will-o'-the-wisp or a boggart of the clough."
However, he could not be far off, and Hugh endeavored to obtain some
clue to guide him in his quest. He was not long in detecting recent
marks deeply indented in the mud on the opposite bank. Hugh leaped
thither at once. Further on, some rushes were trodden down, and there
were other indications of the course the fugitive had taken.

"Hark forward!" shouted Hugh, in the joy of his heart at this discovery;
and, like a well-trained dog, he followed up with alacrity the scent he
had opened. The brook presented still fewer impediments to expedition
than the thick copse, and the keeper pursued the wanderings of the petty
current, occasionally splashing into the stream. Here and there, the
print of a foot on the soil satisfied him he was in the right path. At
length he became aware, from the crumbling soil, that the object of his
pursuit had scaled the bank, and he forthwith moderated his pace.
Halting, he perceived what he took to be a face peeping at him from
behind a knot of alders that overhung the steep and shelving bank
immediately above him. His gun was instantly at his shoulder.

"Come down, you infernal deer-stealing scoundrel," cried Hugh, "or I'll
blow you to shivers."

No answer was returned: expostulation was vain; and, fearful of placing
himself at a disadvantage if he attempted to scale the bank, Hugh fired
without further parley. The sharp discharge rolled in echoes down the
ravine, and a pheasant, scared by the sound, answered the challenge from
a neighboring tree. Hugh was an unerring marksman, and on this occasion
his aim had been steadily taken. The result was not precisely such as he
had anticipated. A fur cap, shaken by the shot from the bough on which
it hung, came rolling down the bank, proclaiming the _ruse_ that had
been practised upon the keeper. Little time was allowed him for
reflection. Before he could reload, he felt himself collared by the iron
arm of Luke.

Hugh Badger was a man of great personal strength--square-set,
bandy-legged, with a prodigious width of chest, and a frame like a
Hercules, and, energetic as was Luke's assault, he maintained his ground
without flinching. The struggle was desperate. Luke was of slighter
proportion, though exceeding the keeper in stature by the head and
shoulders. This superiority availed him little. It was rather a
disadvantage in the conflict that ensued. The gripe fastened upon
Hugh's throat was like that of a clenched vice. But Luke might as well
have grappled the neck of a bull, as that of the stalwart keeper.
Defending himself with his hobnail boots, with which he inflicted
several severe blows upon Luke's shins, and struggling vehemently, Hugh
succeeded in extricating himself from his throttling grasp; he then
closed with his foe, and they were locked together, like a couple of
bears at play. Straining, tugging, and practising every sleight and
stratagem coming within the scope of feet, knees, and thighs--now
tripping, now jerking, now advancing, now retreating, they continued the
strife, but all with doubtful result. Victory, at length, seemed to
declare itself in favor of the sturdy keeper. Aware of his opponent's
strength, it was Luke's chief endeavor to keep his lower limbs
disengaged, and to trust more to skill than force for ultimate success.
To prevent this was Hugh's grand object. Guarding himself against every
feint, he ultimately succeeded in firmly grappling his agile assailant.
Luke's spine was almost broken by the shock, when he suddenly gave way;
and, without losing his balance, drew his adversary forward, kicking his
right leg from under him. With a crash like that of an uprooted oak,
Hugh fell, with his foe upon him, into the bed of the rivulet.

Not a word had been spoken during the conflict. A convulsive groan burst
from Hugh's hardy breast. His hand sought his girdle, but in vain; his
knife was gone. Gazing upwards, his dancing vision encountered the
glimmer of the blade. The weapon had dropped from its case in the fall.
Luke brandished it before his eyes.

"Villain!" gasped Hugh, ineffectually struggling to free himself, "you
will not murder me?" And his efforts to release himself became
desperate.

"No," answered Luke, flinging the uplifted knife into the brook. "I will
not do _that_, though thou hast twice aimed at my life to-night. But I
will silence thee, at all events." Saying which, he dealt the keeper a
blow on the head that terminated all further resistance on his part.

Leaving the inert mass to choke up the current, with whose waters the
blood, oozing from the wound, began to commingle, Luke prepared to
depart. His perils were not yet past. Guided by the firing, the report
of which alarmed them, the keeper's assistants hastened in the direction
of the sound, presenting themselves directly in the path Luke was about
to take. He had either to retrace his steps, or face a double enemy. His
election was made at once. He turned and fled.

For an instant the men tarried with their bleeding companion. They then
dragged him from the brook, and with loud oaths followed in pursuit.

Threading, for a second time, the bosky labyrinth, Luke sought the
source of the stream. This was precisely the course his enemies would
have desired him to pursue; and when they beheld him take it, they felt
confident of his capture.

The sides of the hollow became more and more abrupt as they advanced,
though they were less covered with brushwood. The fugitive made no
attempt to climb the bank, but still pressed forward. The road was
tortuous, and wound round a jutting point of rock. Now he was a fair
mark--no, he had swept swiftly by, and was out of sight before a gun
could be raised. They reached the same point. He was still before them,
but his race was nearly run. Steep, slippery rocks, shelving down to the
edges of a small, deep pool of water, the source of the stream, formed
an apparently insurmountable barrier in that direction. Rooted--Heaven
knows how!--in some reft or fissure of the rock, grew a wild ash,
throwing out a few boughs over the solitary pool; this was all the
support Luke could hope for, should he attempt to scale the rock. The
rock was sheer--the pool deep--yet still he hurried on. He reached the
muddy embankment; mounted its sides; and seemed to hesitate. The keepers
were now within a hundred yards of him. Both guns were discharged. And,
sudden as the reports, with a dead, splashless plunge, like a diving
otter, the fugitive dropped into the water.

The pursuers were at the brink. They gazed at the pool. A few bubbles
floated upon its surface, and burst. The water was slightly discolored
with sand. No ruddier stain crimsoned the tide; no figure rested on the
naked rock; no hand clung to the motionless tree.

"Devil take the rascal!" growled one; "I hope he harn't escaped us,
arter all."

"Noa, noa, he be fast enough, never fear," rejoined the other; "sticking
like a snig at the bottom o' the pond; and, dang him! he deserves it,
for he's slipped out of our fingers like a snig often enough to-night.
But come, let's be stumping, and give poor Hugh Badger a helping hand."

Whereupon they returned to the assistance of the wounded and discomfited
keeper.



_CHAPTER IV_

_THE HALL_

    I am right against my house--seat of my ancestors.

                                                  _Yorkshire Tragedy._


Rookwood Place was a fine, old, irregular pile, of considerable size,
presenting a rich, picturesque outline, with its innumerable gable-ends,
its fantastical coigns, and tall crest of twisted chimneys. There was no
uniformity of style about the building, yet the general effect was
pleasing and beautiful. Its very irregularity constituted a charm.
Nothing except convenience had been consulted in its construction:
additions had from time to time been made to it, but everything dropped
into its proper place, and, without apparent effort or design, grew into
an ornament, and heightened the beauty of the whole. It was, in short,
one of those glorious manorial houses that sometimes unexpectedly greet
us in our wanderings, and gladden us like the discovery of a hidden
treasure. Some such ancestral hall we have occasionally encountered, in
unlooked-for quarters, in our native county of Lancaster, or in its
smiling sister shire; and never without feelings of intense delight,
rejoicing to behold the freshness of its antiquity, and the greenness of
its old age. For, be it observed in passing, a Cheshire or Lancashire
hall, time-honored though it be, with its often renovated black and
white squares, fancifully filled up with trefoils and quatrefoils,
rosettes, and other figures, seems to bear its years so lightly, that
its age, so far from detracting from its beauty, only lends it a grace;
and the same mansion, to all outward appearance, fresh and perfect as it
existed in the days of good Queen Bess, may be seen in admirable
preservation in the days of the youthful Victoria. Such is Bramall--such
Moreton, and many another we might instance; the former of these houses
may, perhaps, be instanced as the best specimen of its class,--and its
class in our opinion, _is_ the best--to be met with in Cheshire,
considered with reference either to the finished decoration of its
exterior, rich in the chequered coloring we have alluded to, preserved
with a care and neatness almost Dutch, or to the consistent taste
exhibited by its possessor to the restoration and maintenance of all its
original and truly national beauty within doors. As an illustration of
old English hospitality--that real, hearty hospitality for which the
squirearchy of this country was once so famous--Ah! why have they
bartered it for other customs less substantially _English_?--it may be
mentioned, that a road conducted the passenger directly through the
great hall of this house, literally "of entertainment," where, if he
listed, strong ale, and other refreshments, awaited his acceptance and
courted his stay. Well might old King, the Cheshire historian, in the
pride of his honest heart, exclaim, "_I know divers men, who are but
farmers, that in their housekeeping may compare with a lord or baron,
in some countries beyond the seas;--yea, although I named a higher
degree, I were able to justify it._" We have no such "golden farmers" in
these degenerate days!

The mansion, was originally built by Sir Ranulph de Rookwood--or, as it
was then written, Rokewode--the first of the name, a stout Yorkist, who
flourished in the reign of Edward IV., and received the fair domain and
broad lands upon which the edifice was raised, from his sovereign, in
reward for good service; retiring thither in the decline of life, at the
close of the Wars of the Roses, to sequestrate himself from scenes of
strife, and to consult his spiritual weal in the erection and endowment
of the neighboring church. It was of mixed architecture, and combined
the peculiarities of each successive era. Retaining some of the sterner
features of earlier days, the period ere yet the embattled manor-house
peculiar to the reigns of the later Henrys had been merged into the
graceful and peaceable hall, the residence of the Rookwoods had early
anticipated the gentler characteristics of a later day, though it could
boast little of that exuberance of external ornament, luxuriance of
design, and prodigality of beauty, which, under the sway of the Virgin
Queen, distinguished the residence of the wealthier English landowner;
and rendered the hall of Elizabeth, properly so called, the pride and
boast of our domestic architecture.

The site selected by Sir Ranulph for his habitation had been already
occupied by a vast fabric of oak, which he in part removed, though some
vestiges might still be traced of that ancient pile. A massive edifice
succeeded, with gate and tower, court and moat complete; substantial
enough, one would have thought, to have endured for centuries. But even
this ponderous structure grew into disuse, and Sir Ranulph's successors,
remodelling, repairing, almost rebuilding the whole mansion, in the end
so metamorphosed its aspect, that at last little of its original and
distinctive character remained. Still, as we said before, it was a fine
old house, though some changes had taken place for the worse, which
could not be readily pardoned by the eye of taste: as, for instance,
the deep embayed windows had dwindled into modernized casements, of
lighter construction; the wide porch, with its flight of steps leading
to the great hall of entrance, had yielded to a narrow door; and the
broad quadrangular court was succeeded by a gravel drive. Yet, despite
all these changes, the house of the Rookwoods, for an old house--and,
after all, what is like an old house?--was no undesirable or uncongenial
abode for any worshipful country gentleman "who had a great estate."

The hall was situated near the base of a gently declining hill,
terminating a noble avenue of limes, and partially embosomed in an
immemorial wood of the same timber, which had given its name to the
family that dwelt amongst its rook-haunted shades. Descending the
avenue, at the point of access afforded by a road that wound down the
hill-side, towards a village distant about half a mile, as you advanced,
the eye was first arrested by a singular octagonal turret of brick, of
more recent construction than the house; and in all probability
occupying the place where the gateway stood of yore. This tower rose to
a height corresponding with the roof of the mansion; and was embellished
on the side facing the house with a flamingly gilt dial, peering, like
an impudent observer, at all that passed within doors. Two apartments,
which it contained, were appropriated to the house-porter. Despoiled of
its martial honors, the gateway still displayed the achievements of the
family--the rook and the fatal branch--carved in granite, which had
resisted the storms of two centuries, though stained green with moss,
and mapped over with lichens. To the left, overgrown with ivy, and
peeping from out a tuft of trees, appeared the hoary summit of a
dovecot, indicating the near neighborhood of an ancient barn,
contemporary with the earliest dwelling-house, and of a little world of
offices and outbuildings buried in the thickness of the foliage. To the
right was the garden--the pleasaunce of the place--formal, precise,
old-fashioned, artificial, yet exquisite!--for commend us to the
bygone, beautiful English garden--_really a garden_--not that mixture of
park, meadow, and wilderness[3], brought up to one's very
windows--which, since the days of the innovators, Kent, and his "bold
associates," Capability Brown and Co., has obtained so largely--this
_was_ a garden! There might be seen the stately terraces, such as
Watteau, and our own Wilson, in his earlier works, painted--the trim
alleys exhibiting all the triumphs of topiarian art--

                    _The sidelong walls
    Of shaven yew; the holly's prickly arms,
    Trimm'd into high arcades; the tonsile box,
    Wove in mosaic mode of many a curl,
    Around the figured carpet of the lawn;_[4]

the gayest of parterres and greenest of lawns, with its admonitory
sun-dial, its marble basin in the centre, its fountain, and conched
water-god; the quaint summer-house, surmounted with its gilt vane; the
statue, glimmering from out its covert of leaves; the cool cascade, the
urns, the bowers, and a hundred luxuries besides, suggested and
contrived by Art to render Nature most enjoyable, and to enhance the
recreative delights of home-out-of-doors--for such a garden should be--,
with least sacrifice of indoor comfort and convenience.

    _When Epicurus to the world had taught,
    That pleasure was the chiefest good;
      --And was perhaps i' th' right, if rightly understood,
    His life he to his doctrine brought--
    And in his garden's shade that sovereign pleasure sought._[5]

All these delights might once have been enjoyed. But at the time of
which we write, this fair garden was for the most part a waste.
Ill-kept, and unregarded, the gay parterres were disfigured with weeds;
grass grew on the gravel walk; several of the urns were overthrown; the
hour upon the dial was untold; the fountain was choked up, and the
smooth-shaven lawn only rescued, it would seem, from the general fate,
that it might answer the purpose of a bowling-green, as the implements
of that game, scattered about, plainly testified.

Diverging from the garden to the house, we have before remarked that the
more ancient and characteristic features of the place had been, for the
most part, destroyed; less by the hand of time than to suit the tastes
of different proprietors. This, however, was not so observable in the
eastern wing, which overlooked the garden. Here might be discerned many
indications of its antiquity. The strength and solidity of the walls,
which had not been, as elsewhere, masked with brickwork; the low, Tudor
arches; the mullioned bars of the windows--all attested its age. This
wing was occupied by an upper and lower gallery, communicating with
suites of chambers, for the most part deserted, excepting one or two,
which were used as dormitories; and another little room on the
ground-floor, with an oriel window opening upon the lawn, and commanding
the prospect beyond--a favorite resort of the late Sir Piers. The
interior was curious for his honeycomb ceiling, deeply moulded in
plaster, with the arms and alliances of the Rookwoods. In the centre was
the royal blazon of Elizabeth, who had once honored the hall with a
visit during a progress, and whose cipher E. R. was also displayed upon
the immense plate of iron which formed the fire-grate.

To return, for a moment, to the garden, which we linger about as a bee
around a flower. Below the lawn there was another terrace, edged by a
low balustrade of stone, commanding a lovely view of park, water, and
woodland. High hanging-woods waved in the foreground, and an extensive
sweep of flat champaign country stretched out to meet a line of blue,
hazy hills bounding the distant horizon.



_CHAPTER V_

_SIR REGINALD ROOKWOOD_

    A king who changed his wives as easily as a woman changes her dress.
    He threw aside the first, cut off the second's head, the third he
    disemboweled: as for the fourth, he pardoned her, and simply turned
    her out of doors, but to make matters even, cut off the head of
    number five.--VICTOR HUGO: _Marie Tudor_.


From the house to its inhabitants the transition is natural. Besides the
connexion between them, there were many points of resemblance; many
family features in common; there was the same melancholy grandeur, the
same character of romance, the same fantastical display. Nor were the
secret passages, peculiar to the one, wanting to the history of the
other. Both had their mysteries. One blot there was in the otherwise
proud escutcheon of the Rookwoods, that dimmed its splendor, and made
pale its pretensions: their sun was eclipsed in blood from its rising to
its meridian; and so it seemed would be its setting. This foul reproach
attached to all the race; none escaped it. Traditional rumors were
handed down from father to son, throughout the county, and, like all
other rumors, had taken to themselves wings, and flown abroad; their
crimes became a by-word. How was it they escaped punishment? How came
they to evade the hand of justice? Proof was ever wanting; justice was
ever baffled. They were a stern and stiff-necked people, of indomitable
pride and resolution, with, for the most part, force of character
sufficient to enable them to breast difficulties and dangers that would
have overwhelmed ordinary individuals. No quality is so advantageous to
its possessor as firmness; and the determined energy of the Rookwoods
bore them harmless through a sea of trouble. Besides, they were
wealthy; lavish even to profusion; and gold will do much, if skilfully
administered. Yet, despite all this, a dark, ominous cloud settled over
their house, and men wondered when the vengeance of Heaven, so long
delayed, would fall and consume it.

Possessed of considerable landed property, once extending over nearly
half the West Riding of Yorkshire, the family increased in power and
importance for an uninterrupted series of years, until the outbreak of
that intestine discord which ended in the civil wars, when the espousal
of the royalist party, with sword and substance, by Sir Ralph Rookwood,
the then lord of the mansion--a dissolute, depraved personage, who,
however, had been made a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Charles
I.--, ended in his own destruction at Naseby, and the wreck of much of
his property; a loss which the gratitude of Charles II., on his
restoration, did not fail to make good to Sir Ralph's youthful heir,
Reginald.

Sir Ralph Rookwood left two sons, Reginald and Alan. The fate of the
latter was buried in obscurity. It was even a mystery to his family. He
was, it was said, a youth of much promise, and of gentle manners; who,
having made an imprudent match, from jealousy, or some other motive,
deserted his wife, and fled his country. Various reasons were assigned
for his conduct. Amongst others, it was stated that the object of Alan's
jealous suspicions was his elder brother, Reginald; and that it was the
discovery of his wife's infidelity in this quarter which occasioned his
sudden disappearance with his infant daughter. Some said he died abroad.
Others, that he had appeared again for a brief space at the hall. But
all now concurred in a belief of his decease. Of his child nothing was
known. His inconstant wife, after enduring for some years the agonies of
remorse, abandoned by Sir Reginald, and neglected by her own relatives,
put an end to her existence by poison. This is all that could be
gathered of the story, or the misfortunes of Alan Rookwood.

The young Sir Reginald had attended Charles, in the character of page,
during his exile; and if he could not requite the devotion of the son,
by absolutely reinstating the fallen fortunes of the father, the monarch
could at least accord him the fostering influence of his favor and
countenance; and bestow upon him certain lucrative situations in his
household, as an earnest of his good-will. And thus much he did.
Remarkable for his personal attractions in youth, it is not to be
wondered at that we should find the name of Reginald Rookwood recorded
in the scandalous chronicles of the day, as belonging to a cavalier of
infinite address and discretion, matchless wit, and marvellous
pleasantry; and eminent beyond his peers for his successes with some of
the most distinguished beauties who ornamented that brilliant and
voluptuous court.

A career of elegant dissipation ended in matrimony. His first match was
unpropitious. Foiled in his attempts upon the chastity of a lady of
great beauty and high honor, he was rash enough to marry her; rash, we
say, for from that fatal hour all became as darkness; the curtain fell
upon the comedy of his life, to rise to tragic horrors. When, passion
subsided, repentance awoke, and he became anxious for deliverance from
the fetters he had so heedlessly imposed on himself, and on his
unfortunate dame.

The hapless lady of Sir Reginald was a fair and fragile creature,
floating on the eddying current of existence, and hurried in destruction
as the summer gossamer is swept away by the rude breeze, and lost
forever. So beautiful, so gentle was she, that if,

            Sorrow had not made
    Sorrow more beautiful than Beauty's self,

it would have been difficult to say whether the charm of softness and
sweetness was more to be admired than her faultless personal
attractions. But when a tinge of melancholy came, saddening and shading
the once smooth and smiling brow; when tears dimmed the blue beauty of
those deep and tender eyes; when hot, hectic flushes supplied the place
of healthful bloom, and despair took possession of her heart, then was
it seen _what_ was the charm of Lady Rookwood, if charm that could be
called which was a saddening sight to see, and melted the beholder's
soul within him. All acknowledged, that exquisite as she had been
before, the sad, sweet lady was now more exquisite still.

Seven moons had waned and flown--seven bitter, tearful moons--and each
day Lady Rookwood's situation claimed more soothing attention at the
hand of her lord. About this time his wife's brother, whom he hated,
returned from the Dutch wars. Struck with his sister's altered
appearance, he readily divined the cause; indeed, all tongues were eager
to proclaim it to him. Passionately attached to her, Lionel Vavasour
implored an explanation of the cause of his sister's griefs. The
bewildered lady answered evasively, attributing her woe-begone looks to
any other cause than her husband's cruelty; and pressing her brother, as
he valued her peace, her affection, never to allude to the subject
again. The fiery youth departed. He next sought out his brother-in-law,
and taxed him sharply with his inhumanity, adding threats to his
upbraidings. Sir Reginald listened silently and calmly. When the other
had finished, with a sarcastic obeisance, he replied: "Sir, I am much
beholden for the trouble you have taken in your sister's behalf. But
when she entrusted herself to my keeping, she relinquished, I conceive,
all claim on _your_ guardianship: however, I thank you for the trouble
you have taken; but, for your own sake, I would venture to caution you
against a repetition of interference like the present."

"And I, sir, caution _you_. See that you give heed to my words, or, by
the heaven above us! I will enforce attention to them."

"You will find me, sir, as prompt at all times to defend my conduct, as
I am unalterable in my purposes. Your sister is my wife. What more would
you have? Were she a harlot, you should have her back and welcome. The
tool is virtuous. Devise some scheme, and take her with you hence--so
you rid _me_ of her I am content."

"Rookwood, you are a villain." And Vavasour spat upon his brother's
cheek.

Sir Reginald's eyes blazed. His sword started from its scabbard. "Defend
yourself!" he exclaimed, furiously attacking Vavasour. Pass after pass
was exchanged. Fierce thrusts were made and parried. Feint and appeal,
the most desperate and dexterous, were resorted to. Their swords glanced
like lightning flashes. In the struggle, the blades became entangled.
There was a moment's cessation. Each glanced at the other with deadly,
inextinguishable hate. Both were admirable masters of the art of
defence. Both were so brimful of wrath as to be regardless of
consequences. They tore back their weapons. Vavasour's blade shivered.
He was at the mercy of his adversary--an adversary who knew no mercy.
Sir Reginald passed his rapier through his brother's body. The hilt
struck against his ribs.

Sir Reginald's ire was kindled, not extinguished, by the deed he had
done. Like the tiger, he had tasted blood--like the tiger, he thirsted
for more. He sought his home. He was greeted by his wife. Terrified by
his looks, she yet summoned courage sufficient to approach him. She
embraced his arm--she clasped his hand. Sir Reginald smiled. His smile
was cutting as his dagger's edge.

"What ails you, sweetheart?" said he.

"I know not; your smile frightens me."

"My smile frightens you--fool! be thankful that I frown not."

"Oh! do not frown. Be gentle, my Reginald, as you were when first I knew
you. Smile not so coldly, but as you did then, that I may, for one
instant, dream you love me."

"Silly wench! There--I _do_ smile."

"That smile freezes me. Oh, Reginald, could you but know what I have
endured this morning, on your account. My brother Lionel has been here."

"Indeed!"

"Nay, look not so. He insisted on knowing the reason of my altered
appearance."

"And no doubt you made him acquainted with the cause. You told him
_your_ version of the story."

"Not a word, as I hope to live."

"A lie!"

"By my truth, no."

"A lie, I say. He avouched it to me himself."

"Impossible! He could not--would not disobey me."

Sir Reginald laughed bitterly.

"He would not, I am sure, give utterance to any scandal," continued Lady
Rookwood. "You say this but to try me, do you not?--ha! what is this?
Your hand is bloody. You have not harmed him? Whose blood is this?"

"Your brother spat upon my check. I have washed out the stain," replied
Sir Reginald, coldly.

"Then it _is_ his blood!" shrieked Lady Rookwood, pressing her hand
shuddering before her eyes. "Is he dead?"

Sir Reginald turned away.

"Stay," she cried, exerting her feeble strength to retain him, and
becoming white as ashes, "abide and hear me. You have killed me, I feel,
by your cruelty. I am sinking fast--dying. I, who loved you, only you;
yes, one besides--my brother, and you have slain _him_. Your hands are
dripping in his blood, and I have kissed them--have clasped them! And
now," continued she, with an energy that shook Sir Reginald, "I hate
you--I renounce you--forever! May my dying words ring in your ears on
your death-bed, for that hour _will_ come. You cannot shun _that_. Then
think of _him_! think of _me_!"

"Away!" interrupted Sir Reginald, endeavoring to shake her off.

"I will _not_ away! I will cling to you--will curse you. My unborn child
shall live to curse you--to requite you--to visit my wrongs on you and
yours. Weak as I am, you shall not cast me off. You shall learn to fear
even _me_."

"I fear nothing living, much less a frantic woman."

"Fear the _dead_, then."

There was a struggle--a blow--and the wretched lady sank, shrieking,
upon the floor. Convulsions seized her. A mother's pains succeeded
fierce and fast. She spoke no more, but died within the hour, giving
birth to a female child.

Eleanor Rookwood became her father's idol--her father's bane. All the
love he had to bestow was centred in her. She returned it not. She fled
from his caresses. With all her mother's beauty, she had all her
father's pride. Sir Reginald's every thought was for his daughter--for
her aggrandizement. In vain. She seemed only to endure him, and while
his affection waxed stronger, and entwined itself round her alone, she
withered beneath his embraces as the shrub withers in the clasping folds
of the parasite plant.

She grew towards womanhood. Suitors thronged around her--gentle and
noble ones. Sir Reginald watched them with a jealous eye. He was
wealthy, powerful, high in royal favor; and could make his own election.
He did so. For the first time, Eleanor promised obedience to his wishes.
They accorded with her own humor. The day was appointed. It came. But
with it came not the bride. She had fled, with the humblest and the
meanest of the pretenders to her hand--with one upon whom Sir Reginald
supposed she had not deigned to cast her eyes. He endeavored to forget
her, and, to all outward seeming, was successful in the effort. But he
felt that the curse was upon him; the undying flame scorched his heart.

Once, and once only, they met again, in France, whither she had
wandered. It was a dread encounter--terrible to both; but most so to
Sir Reginald. He spoke not of her afterwards.

Shortly after the death of his first wife, Sir Reginald had made
proposals to a dowager of distinction, with a handsome jointure, one of
his early attachments, and was, without scruple, accepted. The power of
the family might then be said to be at its zenith; and but for certain
untoward circumstances, and the growing influence of his enemies, Sir
Reginald would have been elevated to the peerage. Like most reformed
spend-thrifts, he had become proportionately avaricious, and his mind
seemed engrossed in accumulating wealth. In the meantime, his second
wife followed her predecessor, dying, it was said, of vexation and
disappointment.

The propensity to matrimony, always a distinguishing characteristic of
the Rookwoods, largely displayed itself in Sir Reginald. Another dame
followed--equally rich, younger, and far more beautiful than her
immediate predecessor. She was a prodigious flirt, and soon set her
husband at defiance. Sir Reginald did not condescend to expostulate. It
was not his way. He effectually prevented any recurrence of her
indiscretions. She was removed, and with her expired Sir Reginald's
waning popularity. So strong was the expression of odium against him,
that he thought it prudent to retire to his mansion, in the country, and
there altogether seclude himself. One anomaly in Sir Reginald's
otherwise utterly selfish character was uncompromising devotion to the
house of Stuart; and shortly after the abdication of James II., he
followed that monarch to Saint Germain, having previously mixed largely
in secret political intrigues; and only returned from the French court
to lay his bones with those of his ancestry, in the family vault at
Rookwood.



_CHAPTER VI_

_SIR PIERS ROOKWOOD_

    My old master kept a good house, and twenty or thirty tall
    sword-and-buckler men about him; and in faith his son differs not
    much; he will have metal too; though he has no store of cutler's
    blades, he will have plenty of vintners' pots. His father kept a
    good house for honest men, his tenants that brought him in part; and
    his son keeps a bad house with knaves that help to consume all: 'tis
    but the change of time: why should any man repine at it? Crickets,
    good, loving, and lucky worms, were wont to feed, sing, and rejoice
    in the father's chimney; and now carrion crows build in the son's
    kitchen.

                             WILKINS: _Miseries of Enforced Marriage_.


Sir Reginald died, leaving issue three children: a daughter, the
before-mentioned Eleanor--who, entirely discountenanced by the family,
had been seemingly forgotten by all but her father--, and two sons by
his third wife. Reginald, the eldest, whose military taste had early
procured him the command of a company of horse, and whose politics did
not coalesce with those of his sire, fell, during his father's lifetime,
at Killiecrankie, under the banners of William. Piers, therefore, the
second son, succeeded to the title.

A very different character, in many respects, from his father and
brother, holding in supreme dislike courts and courtiers, party warfare,
political intrigue, and all the subtleties of Jesuitical diplomacy,
neither having any inordinate relish for camps or campaigns, Sir Piers
Rookwood yet displayed in early life one family propensity, viz.,
unremitting devotion to the sex. Among his other mistresses was the
unfortunate Susan Bradley, in whom by some he was supposed to have been
clandestinely united. In early youth, as has been stated, Sir Piers
professed the faith of Rome, but shortly after the death of his
beautiful mistress--or wife, as it might be--, having quarreled with his
father's confessor, Checkley, he publicly abjured his heresies. Sir
Piers subsequently allied himself to Maud, only daughter of Sir Thomas
D'Aubeny, the last of a line as proud and intolerant as his own. The
tables were then turned. Lady Rookwood usurped sovereign sway over her
lord and Sir Piers, a cipher in his own house, scarce master of himself,
much less of his dame, endured an existence so miserable, that he was
often heard to regret, in his cups, that he had not inherited, with the
estate of his forefathers, the family secret of shaking off the
matrimonial yoke, when found to press too hardly.

At the onset, Sir Piers struggled hard to burst his bondage. But in
vain--he was fast fettered; and only bruised himself, like the caged
lark, against the bars of his prison-house. Abandoning all further
effort at emancipation, he gave himself up to the usual resource of a
weak mind, debauchery; and drank so deeply to drown his cares, that, in
the end, his hale constitution yielded to his excesses. It was even
said, that remorse at his abandonment of the faith of his fathers had
some share in his misery; and that his old spiritual, and if report
spoke truly, sinful adviser, Father Checkley, had visited him secretly
at the hall. Sir Piers was observed to shudder whenever the priest's
name was mentioned.

Sir Piers Rookwood was a good-humored man in the main, had little of the
old family leaven about him, and was esteemed by his associates. Of
late, however, his temper became soured, and his friends deserted him;
for, between his domestic annoyances, remorseful feelings, and the
inroads already made upon his constitution by constant inebriety, he
grew so desperate and insane in his revels, and committed such fearful
extravagances, that even his boon companions shrank from his orgies.
Fearful were the scenes between him and Lady Rookwood upon these
occasions--appalling to the witnesses, dreadful to themselves. And it
was, perhaps, their frequent recurrence, that, more than anything else,
banished all decent society from the hall.

At the time of Sir Piers's decease, which brings us down to the date of
our story, his son and successor, Ranulph, was absent on his travels.
Shortly after the completion of his academical education, he had
departed to make the tour of the Continent, and had been absent rather
better than a year. He had quitted his father in displeasure, and was
destined never again to see his face while living. The last intelligence
received of young Rookwood was from Bordeaux, whence it was thought he
had departed for the Pyrenees. A special messenger had been despatched
in search of him, with tidings of the melancholy event. But, as it was
deemed improbable by Lady Rookwood that her son could return within any
reasonable space, she gave directions for the accomplishment of the
funeral rites of her husband on the sixth night after his decease--it
being the custom of the Rookwoods ever to inter their dead at
midnight,--intrusting their solemnization entirely to the care of one of
Sir Piers's hangers-on--Dr. Titus Tyrconnel,--for which she was greatly
scandalized in the neighborhood.

Ranulph Rookwood was a youth of goodly promise. The stock from which he
sprang would on neither side warrant such conclusion. But it sometimes
happens that from the darkest elements are compounded the brightest and
subtlest substances; and so it occurred in this instance. Fair, frank,
and free--generous, open, unsuspicious--he seemed the very opposite of
all his race--their antagonizing principle. Capriciously indulgent, his
father had allowed him ample means, neither curbing nor restraining his
expenditure; acceding at one moment to every inclination, and the next
irresolutely opposing it. It was impossible, therefore, for him, in such
a state of things, to act decidedly, without incurring his father's
displeasure; and the only measure he resolved upon, which was to absent
himself for a time, was conjectured to have brought about the result he
had endeavored to avoid. Other reasons, however, there were, which
secretly influenced him, which it will be our business in due time to
detail.



_CHAPTER VII_

_THE RETURN_

    _Flam._ How croaks the raven?
            Is our good Duchess dead?

    _Lod._  Dead.

                                                              WEBSTER.


The time of the sad ceremonial drew nigh. The hurrying of the domestics
to and fro; the multifarious arrangements for the night; the
distribution of the melancholy trappings, and the discussion of the
"funeral-baked meats," furnished abundant occupation within doors.
Without, there was a constant stream of the tenantry, thronging down the
avenue, mixed with an occasional horseman, once or twice intercepted by
a large lumbering carriage, bringing friends of the deceased, some
really anxious to pay the last tribute of regard, but the majority
attracted by the anticipated spectacle of a funeral by torchlight. There
were others, indeed, to whom it was not matter of choice; who were
compelled, by a vassal tenure of their lands, held of the house of
Rookwood, to lend a shoulder to the coffin, and a hand to the torch, on
the burial of its lord. Of these there was a plentiful muster collected
in the hall; they were to be marshalled by Peter Bradley, who was deemed
to be well skilled in the proceedings, having been present at two
solemnities of the kind. That mysterious personage, however, had not
made his appearance--to the great dismay of the assemblage. Scouts were
sent in search of him, but they returned with the intelligence that the
door of his habitation was fastened, and its inmate apparently absent.
No other tidings of the truant sexton could be obtained.

It was a sultry August evening. No breeze was stirring in the garden; no
cool dews refreshed the parched and heated earth; yet from the
languishing flowers rich sweets exhaled. The plash of a fountain fell
pleasantly upon the ear, conveying in its sound a sense of freshness to
the fervid air; while deep and drowsy murmurs hummed heavily beneath the
trees, making the twilight slumberously musical. The westering sun,
which filled the atmosphere with flame throughout the day, was now
wildly setting; and, as he sank behind the hall, its varied and
picturesque tracery became each instant more darkly and distinctly
defined against the crimson sky.

At this juncture a little gate, communicating with the chase, was thrown
open, and a young man entered the garden, passing through the shrubbery,
and hurrying rapidly forward till he arrived at a vista opening upon the
house. The spot at which the stranger halted was marked by a little
basin, scantily supplied with water, streaming from a lion's kingly
jaws. His dress was travel-soiled, and dusty; and his whole appearance
betokened great exhaustion from heat and fatigue. Seating himself upon
an adjoining bench, he threw off his riding-cap, and unclasped his
collar, displaying a finely-turned head and neck; and a countenance
which, besides its beauty, had that rare nobility of feature which
seldom falls to the lot of the aristocrat, but is never seen in one of
an inferior order. A restless disquietude of manner showed that he was
suffering from over-excitement of mind, as well as from bodily exertion.
His look was wild and hurried; his black ringlets were dashed heedlessly
over a pallid, lofty brow, upon which care was prematurely written;
while his large melancholy eyes were bent, with a look almost of agony,
upon the house before him.

After a short pause, and as if struggling against violent emotions, and
some overwhelming remembrance, the youth arose, and plunged his hand
into the basin, applying the moist element to his burning brow.
Apparently becoming more calm, he bent his steps towards the hall, when
two figures, suddenly issuing from an adjoining copse, arrested his
progress; neither saw him. Muttering a hurried farewell, one of the
figures disappeared within the shrubbery, and the other, confronting the
stranger, displayed the harsh features and gaunt form of Peter Bradley.
Had Peter encountered the dead Sir Piers in corporeal form, he could not
have manifested more surprise than he exhibited, for an instant or two,
as he shrunk back from the stranger's path.



_CHAPTER VIII_

_AN IRISH ADVENTURER_

    _Scapin._ A most outrageous, roaring fellow, with a swelled red face
    inflamed with brandy.--_Cheats of Scapin._


An hour or two prior to the incident just narrated, in a small, cosy
apartment of the hall, nominally devoted to justiciary business by its
late owner, but, in reality, used as a sanctum, snuggery, or
smoking-room, a singular trio were assembled, fraught with the ulterior
purpose of attending the obsequies of their deceased patron and friend,
though immediately occupied in the discussion of a magnum of excellent
claret, the bouquet of which perfumed the air, like the fragrance of a
bed of violets.

This little room had been poor Sir Piers's favorite retreat. It was, in
fact, the only room in the house that he could call his own; and thither
would he often, with pipe and punch, beguile the flagging hours, secure
from interruption. A snug, old-fashioned apartment it was; wainscoted
with rich black oak; with a fine old cabinet of the same material, and a
line or two of crazy, worm-eaten bookshelves, laden with sundry dusty,
unconsulted law tomes, and a light sprinkling of the elder divines,
equally neglected. The only book, indeed, Sir Piers ever read, was the
"Anatomie of Melancholy;" and he merely studied Burton because the
quaint, racy style of the learned old hypochondriac suited his humor at
seasons, and gave a zest to his sorrows, such as the olives lent to his
wine.

Four portraits adorned the walls: those of Sir Reginald Rookwood and his
wives. The ladies were attired in the flowing drapery of Charles the
Second's day, the snow of their radiant bosoms being somewhat sullied by
over-exposure, and the vermeil tinting of their cheeks darkened by the
fumes of tobacco. There was a shepherdess, with her taper crook, whose
large, languishing eyes, ripe pouting lips, ready to melt into kisses,
and air of voluptuous abandonment, scarcely suited the innocent
simplicity of her costume. She was portrayed tending a flock of downy
sheep, with azure ribbons round their necks, accompanied by one of those
invaluable little dogs whose length of ear and silkiness of skin evinced
him perfect in his breeding, but whose large-eyed indifference to his
charge proved him to be as much out of character with his situation as
the refined and luxuriant charms of his mistress were out of keeping
with her artless attire. This was Sir Piers's mother, the third wife, a
beautiful woman, answering to the notion of one who had been somewhat of
a flirt in her day. Next to her was a magnificent dame, with the throat
and arm of a Juno, and a superb bust--the bust was then what the bustle
is now--a paramount attraction; whether the modification be an
improvement, we leave to the consideration of the lovers of the
beautiful--this was the dowager. Lastly, there was the lovely and
ill-fated Eleanor. Every gentle grace belonging to this unfortunate lady
had been stamped in undying beauty on the canvas by the hand of Lely,
breathing a spell on the picture, almost as powerful as that which had
dwelt around the exquisite original. Over the high carved mantelpiece
was suspended the portrait of Sir Reginald. It had been painted in
early youth; the features were beautiful, disdainful,--with a fierceness
breaking through the courtly air. The eyes were very fine, black as
midnight, and piercing as those of Cæsar Borgia, as seen in Raphael's
wonderful picture in the Borghese Palace at Rome. They seemed to
fascinate the gazer--to rivet his glances--to follow him whithersoever
he went--and to search into his soul, as did the dark orbs of Sir
Reginald in his lifetime. It was the work likewise of Lely, and had all
the fidelity and graceful refinement of that great master; nor was the
haughty countenance of Sir Reginald unworthy the patrician painter.

No portrait of Sir Piers was to be met with. But in lieu thereof,
depending from a pair of buck's horns, hung the worthy knight's stained
scarlet coat--the same in which he had ridden forth, with the intent to
hunt, on the eventful occasion detailed by Peter Bradley,--his velvet
cap, his buck-handled whip, and the residue of his equipment for the
chase. This attire was reviewed with melancholy interest and unaffected
emotion by the company, as reminding them forcibly of the departed, of
which it seemed a portion.

The party consisted of the vicar of Rookwood, Dr. Polycarp Small; Dr.
Titus Tyrconnel, an emigrant, and empirical professor of medicine, from
the sister isle, whose convivial habits had first introduced him to the
hall, and afterwards retained him there; and Mr. Codicil Coates, clerk
of the peace, attorney-at-law, bailiff, and receiver. We were wrong in
saying that Tyrconnel was retained. He was an impudent, intrusive
fellow, whom, having once gained a footing in the house, it was
impossible to dislodge. He cared for no insult; perceived no slight; and
professed, in her presence, the profoundest respect for Lady Rookwood:
in short, he was ever ready to do anything but depart.

Sir Piers was one of those people who cannot dine alone. He disliked a
solitary repast almost as much as a _tête-à-tête_ with his lady. He
would have been recognized at once as the true Amphitryon, had any one
been hardy enough to play the part of Jupiter. Ever ready to give a
dinner, he found a difficulty arise, not usually experienced on such
occasions--there was no one upon whom to bestow it. He had the best of
wine; kept an excellent table; was himself no niggard host; but his own
merits, and those of his _cuisine_, were forgotten in the invariable
_pendant_ to the feast; and the best of wine lost its flavor when the
last bottle found its way to the guest's head. Dine alone Sir Piers
would not. And as his old friends forsook him, he plunged lower in his
search of society; collecting within his house a class of persons whom
no one would have expected to meet at the hall, nor even its owner have
chosen for his companions, had any choice remained to him. He did not
endure this state of things without much outward show of discontent.
"Anything for a quiet life," was his constant saying; and, like the
generality of people with whom those words form a favorite maxim, he led
the most uneasy life imaginable. Endurance, to excite commiseration,
must be uncomplaining--an axiom the aggrieved of the gentle sex should
remember. Sir Piers endured, but he grumbled lustily, and was on all
hands voted a bore; domestic grievances, especially if the husband be
the plaintiff, being the most intolerable of all mentionable miseries.
No wonder that his friends deserted him; still there was Titus
Tyrconnel; his ears and lips were ever open to pathos and to punch; so
Titus kept his station. Immediately after her husband's demise, it had
been Lady Rookwood's intention to clear the house of all the "vermin,"
so she expressed herself, that had so long infested it; and forcibly to
eject Titus, and one or two other intruders of the same class. But in
consequence of certain hints received from Mr. Coates, who represented
the absolute necessity of complying with Sir Piers's testamentary
instructions, which were particular in that respect, she thought proper
to defer her intentions until after the ceremonial of interment should
be completed, and, in the mean time, strange to say, committed its
arrangement to Titus Tyrconnel; who, ever ready to accommodate,
accepted, nothing loth, the charge, and acquitted himself admirably well
in his undertaking: especially, as he said, "in the aiting and drinking
department--the most essential part of it all." He kept open house--open
dining-room--open cellar; resolved that his patron's funeral should
emulate as much as possible an Irish burial on a grand scale, "the
finest sight," in his opinion, "in the whole world."

Inflated with the importance of his office, inflamed with heat, sat
Titus, like a "robustious periwig-pated" alderman after a civic feast.
The natural rubicundity of his countenance was darkened to a deep purple
tint, like that of a full-blown peony, while his ludicrous dignity was
augmented by a shining suit of sables, in which his portly person was
invested.

The first magnum had been discussed in solemn silence; the cloud,
however, which hung over the conclave, disappeared under the genial
influence of "another and a better" bottle, and gave place to a denser
vapor, occasioned by the introduction of the pipe and its
accompaniments.

Ensconced in a comfortable old chair--it is not every old chair that
_is_ comfortable,--with pipe in mouth, and in full unbuttoned ease, his
bushy cauliflower wig laid aside, by reason of the heat, reposed Dr.
Small. Small, indeed, was somewhat of a misnomer, as applied to the
worthy doctor, who, besides being no diminutive specimen of his kind,
entertained no insignificant opinion of himself. His height was
certainly not remarkable; but his width of shoulder--his sesquipedality
of stomach--and obesity of calf--these were unique! Of his origin we
know nothing; but presume he must, in some way or other, have been
connected with the numerous family of "the Smalls," who, according to
Christopher North, form the predominant portion of mankind. In
appearance, the doctor was short-necked and puffy, with a sodden, pasty
face, wherein were set eyes whose obliquity of vision was, in some
measure, redeemed by their expression of humor. He was accounted a man
of parts and erudition, and had obtained high honors at his university.
Rigidly orthodox, he abominated the very names of Papists and Jacobites,
amongst which heretical herd he classed his companion, Mr. Titus
Tyrconnel--Ireland being with him synonymous with superstition and
Catholicism--and every Irishman rebellious and schismatical. On this
head he was inclined to be disputatious. His prejudices did not prevent
him from passing the claret, nor from laughing, as heartily as a
plethoric asthma and sense of the decorum due to the occasion would
permit, at the quips and quirks of the Irishman, who, he admitted,
notwithstanding his heresies, was a pleasant fellow in the main. And
when, in addition to the flattery, a pipe had been insinuated by the
officious Titus, at the precise moment that Small yearned for his
afternoon's solace, yet scrupled to ask for it; when the door had been
made fast, and the first whiff exhaled, all his misgivings vanished, and
he surrendered himself to the soft seduction. In this Elysian state we
find him.

"Ah! you may say that, Dr. Small," said Titus, in answer to some
observation of the vicar, "that's a most original apothegm. We all of us
hould our lives by a thrid. Och! many's the sudden finale I have seen.
Many's the fine fellow's heels tripped up unawares, when least expected.
Death hangs over our heads by a single hair, as your reverence says,
precisely like the sword of Dan Maclise,[6] the flatterer of Dinnish
what-do-you-call-him, ready to fall at a moment's notice, or no notice
at all--eh?--Mr. Coates. And that brings me back again to Sir
Piers--poor gentleman--ah! we sha'n't soon see the like of him again!"

"Poor Sir Piers!" said Mr. Coates, a small man, in a scratch wig, with a
face red and round as an apple, and almost as diminutive. "It is to be
regretted that his over-conviviality should so much have hastened his
lamented demise."

"Conviviality!" replied Titus; "no such thing--it was
apoplexy--extravasation of _sarum_."

"Extra vase-ation of rum and water, you mean," replied Coates, who, like
all his tribe, rejoiced in a quibble.

"The squire's ailment," continued Titus, "was a sanguineous effusion, as
we call it--positive determination of blood to the head, occasioned by a
low way he got into, just before his attack--a confirmed case of
hypochondriasis, as that _ould_ book Sir Piers was so fond of terms the
blue devils. He neglected the bottle, which, in a man who has been a
hard drinker all his life, is a bad sign. The lowering system never
answers--never. Doctor, I'll just trouble you"--for Small, in a fit of
absence, had omitted to pass the bottle, though not to help himself.
"Had he stuck to _this_"--holding up a glass, ruby bright--"the elixir
vitæ--the grand panacea--he might have been hale and hearty at this
present moment, and as well as any of us. But he wouldn't be advised. To
my thinking, as that was the case, he'd have been all the better for a
little of your reverence's sperretual advice; and his conscience having
been relieved by confession and absolution, he might have opened a fresh
account with an aisy heart and clane breast."

"I trust, sir," said Small, gravely withdrawing his pipe from his lips,
"that Sir Piers Rookwood addressed himself to a higher source than a
sinning creature of clay like himself for remission of his sins; but, if
there was any load of secret guilt that might have weighed heavy upon
his conscience, it is to be regretted that he refused the last offices
of the church, and died incommunicate. I was denied all admittance to
his chamber."

"Exactly my case," said Mr. Coates, pettishly. "I was refused entrance,
though my business was of the utmost importance--certain
dispositions--special bequests--matter connected with his sister--for
though the estate is entailed, yet still there are charges--you
understand me--very strange to refuse to see _me_. Some people may
regret it--may live to regret it, I say--that's all. I've just sent up
a package to Lady Rookwood, which was not to be delivered till after Sir
Piers's death. Odd circumstance that--been in my custody a long
while--some reason to think Sir Piers meant to alter his will--ought to
have seen _me_--sad neglect!"

"More's the pity. But it was none of poor Sir Piers's doing!" replied
Titus; "he had no will of his own, poor fellow, during his life, and the
devil a will was he likely to have after his death. It was all Lady
Rookwood's doing," added he, in a whisper. "I, his medical adviser and
confidential friend, was ordered out of the room; and, although I knew
it was as much as his life was worth to leave him for a moment in that
state, I was forced to comply: and, would you believe it, as I left the
room, I heard high words. Yes, doctor, as I hope to be saved, words of
anger from her at that awful juncture."

The latter part of this speech was uttered in a low tone, and very
mysterious manner. The speakers drew so closely together, that the bowls
of their pipes formed a common centre, whence the stems radiated. A
momentary silence ensued, during which each man puffed for very life.
Small next knocked the ashes from his tube, and began to replenish it,
coughing significantly. Mr. Coates expelled a thin, curling stream of
vapor from a minute orifice in the corner of his almost invisible mouth,
and arched his eyebrows in a singular manner, as if he dared not trust
the expression of his thoughts to any other feature. Titus shook his
huge head, and, upon the strength of a bumper which he swallowed,
mustered resolution enough to unburden his bosom.

"By my sowl," said he, mysteriously, "I've seen enough lately to
frighten any quiet gentleman out of his senses. I'll not get a wink of
sleep, I fear, for a week to come. There must have been something
dreadful upon Sir Piers's mind; sure--nay, there's no use in mincing the
matter with _you_--in a word, then, some crime too deep to be divulged."

"Crime!" echoed Coates and Small, in a breath.

"Ay, crime!" repeated Titus. "Whist! not so loud, lest any one should
overhear us. Poor Sir Piers, he's dead now. I'm sure you both loved him
as I did, and pity and pardon him if he was guilty; for certain am I
that no soul ever took its flight more heavily laden than did that of
our poor friend. Och! it was a terrible ending. But you shall hear _how_
he died, and judge for yourselves. When I returned to his room after
Lady Rookwood's departure, I found him quite delirious. I knew death was
not far off then. One minute he was in the chase, cheering on the
hounds. 'Halloo! tallyho!' cried he: 'who clears that fence?--who swims
that stream?' The next, he was drinking, carousing, and hurrahing, at
the head of his table. 'Hip! hip! hip!'--as mad, and wild, and frantic
as ever he used to be when wine had got the better of him; and then all
of a sudden, in the midst of his shouting, he stopped, exclaiming,
'What! here again?--who let her in?--the door is fast--I locked it
myself. Devil! why did you open it?--you have betrayed me--she will
poison me--and I cannot resist. Ha! another! Who--who is that?--her face
is white--her hair hangs about her shoulders. Is she alive again? Susan!
Susan! why that look? You loved me well--too well. You will not drag me
to perdition! You will not appear against me! No, no, no--it is not in
your nature--you whom I doted on, whom I loved--whom I--but I
repented--I sorrowed--I prayed--prayed! Oh! oh! no prayers would avail.
Pray for me, Susan--for ever! _Your_ intercession may avail. It is not
too late. I will do justice to all. Bring me pen and ink--paper--I will
confess--_he_ shall have all. Where is my sister? I would speak with
her--would tell her--tell her. Call Alan Rookwood--I shall die before I
can tell it. Come hither,' said he to me. 'There is a dark, dreadful
secret on my mind--it must forth. Tell my sister--no, my senses
swim--Susan is near me--fury in her eyes--avenging fury--keep her off.
What is this white mass in my arms? what do I hold? is it the corpse by
my side, as it lay that long, long night? It is--it is. Cold, stiff,
stirless as then. White--horribly white--as when the moon, that would
not set, showed all its ghastliness. Ah! it moves, embraces me, stifles,
suffocates me. Help! remove the pillow. I cannot breathe--I choke--oh!'
And now I am coming to the strangest part of my story--and, strange as
it may sound, every word is as true as Gospel."

"Ahem!" coughed Small.

"Well, at this moment--this terrible moment--what should I hear but a
tap against the wainscot. Holy Virgin! how it startled me. My heart
leapt to my mouth in an instant, and then went thump, thump, against my
ribs. But I said nothing, though you may be sure I kept my ears wide
open--and then presently I heard the tap repeated somewhat louder, and
shortly afterwards a third--I should still have said nothing, but Sir
Piers heard the knock, and raised himself at the summons, as if it had
been the last trumpet. 'Come in,' cried he, in a dying voice; and Heaven
forgive me if I confess that I expected a certain person, whose company
one would rather dispense with upon such an occasion, to step in.
However, though it wasn't the ould gentleman, it was somebody near akin
to him; for a door I had never seen, and never even dreamed of, opened
in the wall, and in stepped Peter Bradley--ay, you may well stare,
gentlemen; but it was Peter, looking as stiff as a crowbar, and as blue
as a mattock. Well, he walked straight up to the bed of the dying man,
and bent his great, diabolical gray eyes upon him, laughing all the
while--yes, laughing--you know the cursed grin he has. To proceed. 'You
have called me,' said he to Sir Piers; 'I am here. What would you with
me?'--'We are not alone,' groaned the dying man. 'Leave us, Mr.
Tyrconnel--leave me for five minutes--only five, mark me.'--'I'll go,'
thinks I, 'but I shall never see you again alive.' And true enough it
was--I never did see him again with breath in his body. Without more
ado, I left him, and I had scarcely reached the corridor when I heard
the door bolted behind me. I then stopped to listen: and I'm sure you'll
not blame me when I say I clapped my eye to the keyhole; for I suspected
something wrong. But, Heaven save us! that crafty gravedigger had taken
his precautions too well. I could neither see nor hear anything, except
after a few minutes, a wild unearthly screech. And then the door was
thrown open, and I, not expecting it, was precipitated head foremost
into the room, to the great damage of my nose. When I got up, Peter had
vanished, I suppose, as he came; and there was poor Sir Piers leaning
back upon the pillow with his hands stretched out as if in supplication,
his eyes unclosed and staring, and his limbs stark and stiff!"

A profound silence succeeded this narrative. Mr. Coates would not
venture upon a remark. Dr. Small seemed, for some minutes, lost in
painful reflection; at length he spoke: "You have described a shocking
scene, Mr. Tyrconnel, and in a manner that convinces me of its fidelity.
But I trust you will excuse me, as a friend of the late Sir Piers, in
requesting you to maintain silence in future on the subject. Its
repetition can be productive of no good, and may do infinite harm by
giving currency to unpleasant reports, and harrowing the feelings of the
survivors. Every one acquainted with Sir Piers's history must be aware,
as I dare say you are already, of an occurrence which cast a shade over
his early life, blighted his character, and endangered his personal
safety. It was a dreadful accusation. But I believe, nay, I am sure, it
was unfounded. Dark suspicions attach to a Romish priest of the name of
Checkley. He, I believe, is beyond the reach of human justice. Erring
Sir Piers was, undoubtedly. But I trust he was more weak than sinful. I
have reason to think he was the tool of others, especially of the wretch
I have named. And it is easy to perceive how that incomprehensible
lunatic, Peter Bradley, has obtained an ascendancy over him. His
daughter, you are aware, was Sir Piers's mistress. Our friend is now
gone, and with him let us bury his offences, and the remembrance of
them. That his soul was heavily laden, would appear from your account of
his last moments; yet I fervently trust that his repentance was sincere,
in which case there is hope of forgiveness for him. 'At what time soever
a sinner shall repent him of his sins, from the bottom of his heart, I
will blot out all his wickedness out of my remembrance, saith the Lord.'
Heaven's mercy is greater than man's sins. And there is hope of
salvation even for Sir Piers."

"I trust so, indeed," said Titus, with emotion; "and as to repeating a
syllable of what I have just said, devil a word more will I utter on the
subject. My lips shall be shut and sealed, as close as one of Mr.
Coates's bonds, for ever and a day: but I thought it just right to make
you acquainted with the circumstances. And now, having dismissed the bad
for ever, I am ready to speak of Sir Piers's good qualities, and not few
they were. What was there becoming a gentleman that he couldn't do, I'd
like to know? Couldn't he hunt as well as ever a one in the county? and
hadn't he as good a pack of hounds? Couldn't he shoot as well, and fish
as well, and drink as well, or better?--only he couldn't carry his wine,
which was his misfortune, not his fault. And wasn't he always ready to
ask a friend to dinner with him? and didn't he give him a good dinner
when he came, barring the cross-cups afterwards? And hadn't he
everything agreeable about him, except his wife? which was a great
drawback. And with all his peculiarities and humors, wasn't he as
kind-hearted a man as needs be? and an Irishman at the core? And so, if
he wern't dead, I'd say long life to him! But as he is, here's peace to
his memory!"

At this juncture, a knocking was heard at the door, which some one
without had vainly tried to open. Titus rose to unclose it, ushering in
an individual known at the hall as Jack Palmer.



_CHAPTER IX_

_AN ENGLISH ADVENTURER_

    _Mrs. Peachem._ Sure the captain's the finest gentleman on the road.

                                                     _Beggar's Opera._


Jack Palmer was a good-humored, good-looking man, with immense bushy,
red whiskers, a freckled, florid complexion, and sandy hair, rather
inclined to scantiness towards the scalp of the head, which garnished
the nape of his neck with a ruff of crisp little curls, like the ring on
a monk's shaven crown. Notwithstanding this tendency to baldness, Jack
could not be more than thirty, though his looks were some five years in
advance. His face was one of those inexplicable countenances, which
appear to be proper to a peculiar class of men--a regular Newmarket
physiognomy--compounded chiefly of cunning and assurance; not low
cunning, nor vulgar assurance, but crafty sporting subtlety, careless as
to results, indifferent to obstacles, ever on the alert for the main
chance, game and turf all over, eager, yet easy, keen, yet quiet. He was
somewhat showily dressed, in such wise that he looked half like a fine
gentleman of that day, half like a jockey of our own. His nether man
appeared in well-fitting, well-worn buckskins, and boots with tops, not
unconscious of the saddle; while the airy extravagance of his
broad-skirted, sky-blue riding coat, the richness of his vest--the
pockets of which were beautifully exuberant, according to the mode of
1737--the smart luxuriance of his cravat, and a certain curious taste in
the size and style of his buttons, proclaimed that, in his own esteem at
least, his person did not appear altogether unworthy of decoration; nor,
in justice to Jack, can we allow that he was in error. He was a model
of a man for five feet ten; square, compact, capitally built in every
particular, excepting that his legs were slightly imbowed, which defect
probably arose from his being almost constantly on horseback; a sort of
exercise in which Jack greatly delighted, and was accounted a superb
rider. It was, indeed, his daring horsemanship, upon one particular
occasion, when he had outstripped a whole field, that had procured him
the honor of an invitation to Rookwood. Who he was, or whence he came,
was a question not easily answered--Jack, himself, evading all solution
to the inquiry. Sir Piers never troubled his head about the matter: he
was a "deuced good fellow--rode well, and stood on no sort of ceremony;"
that was enough for him. Nobody else knew anything about him, save that
he was a capital judge of horseflesh, kept a famous black mare, and
attended every hunt in the West Riding--that he could sing a good song,
was a choice companion, and could drink three bottles without feeling
the worse for them.

Sensible of the indecorum that might attach to his appearance, Dr. Small
had hastily laid down his pipe, and arranged his wig. But when he saw
who was the intruder, with a grunt of defiance he resumed his
occupation, without returning the bow of the latter, or bestowing
further notice upon him. Nothing discomposed at the churchman's
displeasure, Jack greeted Titus cordially, and carelessly saluting Mr.
Coates, threw himself into a chair. He next filled a tumbler of claret,
and drained it at a draught.

"Have you ridden far, Jack?" asked Titus, noticing the dusty state of
Palmer's azure attire.

"Some dozen miles," replied Palmer; "and that, on such a sultry
afternoon as the present, makes one feel thirstyish. I'm as dry as a
sandbed. Famous wine this--beautiful tipple--better than all your red
fustian. Ah, how poor Sir Piers used to like it! Well, that's all
over--a glass like this might do him good in his present quarters! I'm
afraid I'm intruding. But the fact is, I wanted a little information
about the order of the procession, and missing you below, came hither in
search of you. You're to be chief mourner, I suppose, Titus--_rehearsing_
your part, eh?"

"Come, come, Jack, no joking," replied Titus; "the subject's too
serious. I am to be chief mourner--and I expect you to be a mourner--and
everybody else to be mourners. We must all mourn at the proper time.
There'll be a power of people at the church."

"There _are_ a power of people here already," returned Jack, "if they
all attend."

"And they all _will_ attend, or what is the eating and drinking to go
for? I sha'n't leave a soul in the house."

"Excepting one," said Jack, archly. "Lady Rookwood won't attend, I
think."

"Ay, excepting her ladyship and her ladyship's abigail. All the rest go
with me, and form part of the procession. You go too."

"Of course. At what time do you start?"

"Twelve precisely. As the clock strikes, we set out--all in a line, and
a long line we'll make. I'm waiting for that ould coffin-faced rascal,
Peter Bradley, to arrange the order."

"How long will it all occupy, think you?" asked Jack, carelessly.

"That I can't say," returned Titus; "possibly an hour, more or less. But
we shall start to the minute--that is, if we can get all together, so
don't be out of the way. And hark ye, Jack, you must contrive to change
your toggery. That sky-blue coat won't do. It's not the thing at all, at
all."

"Never fear that," replied Palmer. "But who were those in the
carriages?"

"Is it the last carriage you mean? Squire Forester and his sons. They're
dining with the other gentlefolk, in the great room up-stairs, to be out
of the way. Oh, we'll have a grand _berrin'_. And, by St. Patrick! I
must be looking after it."

"Stay a minute," said Jack; "let's have a cool bottle first. They are
all taking care of themselves below, and Peter Bradley has not made his
appearance, so you need be in no hurry. I'll go with you presently.
Shall I ring for the claret?"

"By all means," replied Titus.

Jack accordingly arose; and a butler answering the summons, a
long-necked bottle was soon placed before them.

"You heard of the affray last night, I presume?" said Jack, renewing the
conversation.

"With the poachers? To be sure I did. Wasn't I called in to examine Hugh
Badger's wounds the first thing this morning; and a deep cut there was,
just over the eye, besides other bruises."

"Is the wound dangerous?" inquired Palmer.

"Not exactly mortal, if you mean that," replied the Irishman;
"dangerous, certainly."

"Humph!" exclaimed Jack; "they'd a pretty hardish bout of it, I
understand. Anything been heard of the body?"

"What body?" inquired Small, who was half-dozing.

"The body of the drowned poacher," replied Jack; "they were off to
search for it this morning."

"Found it--not they!" exclaimed Titus. "Ha, ha!--I can't help laughing,
for the life and _sowl_ of me; a capital trick he played
'em,--capital--ha, ha! What do you think the fellow did? Ha, ha!--after
leading 'em the devil's dance, all around the park, killing a hound as
savage as a wolf, and breaking Hugh Badger's head, which is as hard and
thick as a butcher's block, what does the fellow do but dive into a
pool, with a great rock hanging over it, and make his way to the other
side, through a subterranean cavern, which nobody knew anything about,
till they came to drag it, thinking him snugly drowned all the
while--ha, ha!"

"Ha, ha, ha!" chorused Jack; "bravo! he's a lad of the right sort--ha,
ha!"

"He! who?" inquired the attorney.

"Why, the poacher, to be sure," replied Jack; "who else were we talking
about?"

"Beg pardon," returned Coates; "I thought you might have heard some
intelligence. We've got an eye upon him. We know who it was."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Jack; "and who was it?"

"A fellow known by the name of Luke Bradley."

"Zounds!" cried Titus, "you don't say it was he? Murder in Irish! that
bates everything; why, he was Sir Piers's----"

"Natural son," replied the attorney; "he has not been heard of for some
time--shockingly incorrigible rascal--impossible to do anything with
him."

"You don't say so?" observed Jack. "I've heard Sir Piers speak of the
lad; and, by his account, he's as fine a fellow as ever crossed tit's
back; only a little wildish and unreasonable, as the best of us may be;
wants breaking, that's all. Your skittish colt makes the best horse, and
so would he. To speak the truth, I'm glad he escaped."

"So am I," rejoined Titus; "for, in the first place, I've a foolish
partiality for poachers, and am sorry when any of 'em come to hurt; and,
in the second, I'd be mighty displeased if any ill had happened to one
of Sir Piers's flesh and blood, as this young chap appears to be."

"Appears to be!" repeated Palmer; "there's no _appearing_ in the case, I
take it. This Bradley's an undoubted offshoot of the old squire. His
mother was a servant-maid at the hall, I rather think. You sir,"
continued he, addressing Coates, "perhaps, can inform us of the real
facts of the case."

"She was something better than a servant," replied the attorney, with a
slight cough and a knowing wink. "I remember her quite well, though I
was but a boy then; a lovely creature, and so taking, I don't wonder
that Sir Piers was smitten with her. He was mad after the women in those
days, and pretty Sue Bradley above all others. She lived with him quite
like his lady."

"So I've heard," returned Jack; "and she remained with him till her
death. Let me see, wasn't there something rather odd in the way in which
she died, rather suddenish and unexpected,--a noise made about it at the
time, eh?"

"Not that I ever heard," replied Coates, shaking his head, and appearing
to be afflicted with an instantaneous ignorance; while Titus affected
not to hear the remark, but occupied himself with his wine-glass. Small
snored audibly. "I was too young, then, to pay any attention to idle
rumors," continued Coates. "It's a long time ago. May I ask the reason
of your inquiry?"

"Nothing further than simple curiosity," replied Jack, enjoying the
consternation of his companions. "It is, as you say, a long while since.
But it's singular how that sort of thing is remembered. One would think
people had something else to do than talk of one's private affairs for
ever. For my part, I despise such tattle. But there _are_ persons in the
neighborhood who still say it was an awkward business. Amongst others,
I've heard that this very Luke Bradley talks in pretty plain terms about
it."

"Does he, indeed?" said Coates. "So much the worse for him. Let me once
lay hands upon him, and I'll put a gag in his mouth that shall spoil his
talking in the future."

"That's precisely the point I desire to arrive at," replied Jack; "and I
advise you by all means to accomplish that, for the sake of the family.
Nobody likes his friends to be talked about. So I'd settle the matter
amicably, were I you. Just let the fellow go his way; he won't return
here again in a hurry, I'll be bound. As to clapping him in quod, he
might prattle--turn stag."

"Turn stag!" replied Coates, "what the deuce is that? In my opinion, he
has 'turned stag' already. At all events, he'll pay _deer_ for his
night's sport, you may depend upon it. What signifies it what _he_ says?
Let me lay hands upon him, that's all."

"Well, well," said Jack, "no offence. I only meant to offer a
suggestion. I thought the family, young Sir Ranulph, I mean, mightn't
like the story to be revived. As to Lady Rookwood, she don't, I suppose,
care much about idle reports. Indeed, if I've been rightly informed, she
bears this youngster no particular good-will to begin with, and has
tried hard to get him out of the country. But, as you say, what _does_
it signify what he says? he can _only_ talk. Sir Piers is dead and
gone."

"Humph!" muttered Coates, peevishly.

"But it does seem a little hard, that a lad should swing for killing a
bit of venison in his own father's park."

"Which he'd a _nat'ral_ right to do," cried Titus.

"He had no natural right to bruise, violently assault, and endanger the
life of his father's, or anybody else's gamekeeper," retorted Coates. "I
tell you, sir, he's committed a capital offence, and if he's taken----"

"No chance of that, I hope," interrupted Jack.

"That's a wish I can't help wishing myself," said Titus: "on my
conscience, these poachers are fine boys, when all's said and done."

"The finest of all boys," exclaimed Jack, with a kindred enthusiasm,
"are those birds of the night, and minions of the moon, whom we call,
most unjustly, poachers. They are, after all, only _professional
sportsmen_, making a business of what we make a pleasure; a nightly
pursuit of what is to us a daily relaxation; there's the main
distinction. As to the rest, it's all in idea; they merely thin an
overstocked park, as _you_ would reduce a plethoric patient, doctor; or
as _you_ would work a moneyed client, if you got him into Chancery,
Mister Attorney. And then how much more scientifically and
systematically they set to work than we amateurs do! how noiselessly
they bag a hare, smoke a pheasant, or knock a buck down with an air-gun!
how independent are they of any license, except that of a good eye, and
a swift pair of legs! how unnecessary is it for them to ask permission
to shoot over Mr. So-and-so's grounds, or my Lord That's preserves!
they are free of every cover, and indifferent to any alteration in the
game laws. I've some thoughts, when everything else fails, of taking to
poaching myself. In my opinion, a poacher's a highly respectable
character. What say you, Mr. Coates?" turning very gravely to that
gentleman.

"Such a question, sir," replied Coates, bridling up, "scarcely deserves
a serious answer. I make no doubt you will next maintain that a
highwayman is a gentleman."

"Most undoubtedly," replied Palmer, in the same grave tone, which might
have passed for banter, had Jack ever bantered. "I'll maintain and prove
it. I don't see how he can be otherwise. It is as necessary for a man to
be a gentleman before he can turn highwayman, as it is for a doctor to
have his diploma, or an attorney his certificate. Some of the finest
gentlemen of their day, as Captain Lovelace, Hind, Hannum, and Dudley,
were eminent on the road, and they set the fashion. Ever since their day
a real highwayman would consider himself disgraced, if he did not
conduct himself in every way like a gentleman. Of course, there are
pretenders in this line, as in everything else. But these are only
exceptions, and prove the rule. What are the distinguishing
characteristics of a fine gentleman?--perfect knowledge of the
world--perfect independence of character--notoriety--command of
cash--and inordinate success with the women. You grant all these
premises? First, then, it is part of a highwayman's business to be
thoroughly acquainted with the world. He is the easiest and pleasantest
fellow going. There is Tom King, for example: he is the handsomest man
about town, and the best-bred fellow on the road. Then whose
inclinations are so uncontrolled as the highwayman's, so long as the
mopuses last? who produces so great an effect by so few words?--'STAND
AND DELIVER!' is sure to arrest attention. Every one is captivated by an
address so _taking_. As to money, he wins a purse of a hundred guineas
as easily as you would the same sum from the faro table. And wherein
lies the difference? only in the name of the game. Who so little need
of a banker as he? all he has to apprehend is a check--all he has to
draw is a trigger. As to the women, they dote upon him: not even your
red-coat is so successful. Look at a highwayman mounted on his flying
steed, with his pistols in his holsters, and his mask upon his face.
What can be a more gallant sight? The clatter of his horse's heels is
like music to his ear--he is in full quest--he shouts to the fugitive
horseman to stay--the other flies all the faster--what chase can be half
so exciting as that? Suppose he overtakes his prey, which ten to one he
will, how readily his summons to deliver is obeyed! how satisfactory is
the appropriation of a lusty purse or corpulent pocket-book!--getting
the brush is nothing to it. How tranquilly he departs, takes off his hat
to his accommodating acquaintance, wishes him a pleasant journey, and
disappears across the heath! England, sir, has reason to be proud of her
highwaymen. They are peculiar to her clime, and are as much before the
brigand of Italy, the contrabandist of Spain, or the cut-purse of
France--as her sailors are before all the rest of the world. The day
will never come, I hope, when we shall degenerate into the footpad, and
lose our _Night Errantry_. Even the French borrow from us--they have
only one highwayman of eminence, and he learnt and practised his art in
England."

"And who was he, may I ask?" said Coates.

"Claude Du-Val," replied Jack; "and though a Frenchman, he was a deuced
fine fellow in his day--quite a tip-top macaroni--he could skip and
twirl like a figurant, warble like an opera-singer, and play the
flageolet better than any man of his day--he always carried a lute in
his pocket, along with his snappers. And then his dress--it was quite
beautiful to see how smartly he was rigg'd out, all velvet and lace; and
even with his vizard on his face, the ladies used to cry out to see him.
Then he took a purse with the air and grace of a receiver-general. All
the women adored him--and that, bless their pretty faces! was the best
proof of his gentility. I wish he'd not been a Mounseer. The women
never mistake. _They_ can always discover the true gentlemen, and they
were all, of every degree, from the countess to the kitchen-maid, over
head and ears in love with him."

"But he was taken, I suppose?" asked Coates.

"Ay," responded Jack, "the women were his undoing, as they've been many
a brave fellow's before, and will be again." Touched by which
reflection, Jack became for once in his life sentimental, and sighed.
"Poor Du-Val! he was seized at the Hole-in-the-Wall in Chandos-street by
the bailiff of Westminster, when dead drunk, his liquor having been
drugged by his dells--and was shortly afterwards hanged at Tyburn."

"It was thousand pities," said Mr. Coates, with a sneer, "that so fine a
gentleman should come to so ignominious an end!"

"Quite the contrary," returned Jack. "As his biographer, Doctor Pope,
properly remarks, 'Who is there worthy of the name of man, that would
not prefer such a death before a mean, solitary, inglorious life?'
By-the-by, Titus, as we're upon the subject, if you like I'll sing you a
song about highwaymen."

"I should like it of all things," replied Titus, who entertained a very
favorable opinion of Jack's vocal powers, and was by no means an
indifferent performer; "only let it be in a minor key."

Jack required no further encouragement, but disregarding the hints and
looks of Coates, sang with much unction the following ballad to a good
old tune, then very popular--the merit of which "nobody can deny."

    A CHAPTER OF HIGHWAYMEN

    Of every rascal of every kind,
    The most notorious to my mind,
    Was the Cavalier Captain, gay JEMMY HIND![7]
                                        _Which nobody can deny._

    But the pleasantest coxcomb among them all
    For lute, coranto, and madrigal,
    Was the galliard Frenchman, CLAUDE DU-VAL![8]
                                        _Which nobody can deny._

    And Tobygloak never a coach could rob,
    Could lighten a pocket, or empty a fob,
    With a neater hand than OLD MOB, OLD MOB![9]
                                        _Which nobody can deny._

    Nor did housebreaker ever deal harder knocks
    On the stubborn lid of a good strong box,
    Than that prince of good fellows, TOM COX, TOM COX![10]
                                        _Which nobody can deny._

    A blither fellow on broad highway,
    Did never with oath bid traveller stay,
    Than devil-may-care WILL HOLLOWAY![11]
                                        _Which nobody can deny._

    And in roguery naught could exceed the tricks
    Of GETTINGS and GREY, and the five or six
    Who trod in the steps of bold NEDDY WICKS![12]
                                        _Which nobody can deny._

    Nor could any so handily break a lock
    As SHEPPARD, who stood on the Newgate dock,
    And nicknamed the jailers around him "_his flock_!"[13]
                                        _Which nobody can deny._

    Nor did highwaymen ever before possess
    For ease, for security, danger, distress,
    Such a mare as DICK TURPIN'S Black Bess! Black Bess!
                                        _Which nobody can deny._

"A capital song, by the powers!" cried Titus, as Jack's ditty came to a
close. "But your English robbers are nothing at all, compared with our
Tories[14] and Rapparees--nothing at all. They were the _raal_
gentlemen--they were the boys to cut a throat _aisily_."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Jack, in disgust, "the gentlemen I speak of never
maltreated any one, except in self-defence."

"Maybe not," replied Titus; "I'll not dispute the point--but these
Rapparees were true brothers of the blade, and gentlemen every inch.
I'll just sing you a song I made about them myself. But meanwhile don't
let's forget the bottle--talking's dry work. My service to you, doctor!"
added he, winking at the somnolent Small. And tossing off his glass,
Titus delivered himself with much joviality of the following ballad; the
words of which he adapted to the tune of the _Groves of the Pool_:

    THE RAPPAREES

    Let the Englishman boast of his Turpins and Sheppards, as cocks of
              the walk,
    His Mulsacks, and Cheneys, and Swiftnecks[15]--it's all botheration
              and talk;
    Compared with the robbers of Ireland, they don't come within half a
              mile,
    There never were yet any rascals like those of my own native isle!

    First and foremost comes REDMOND O'HANLON, allowed the first thief
              of the world,[16]
    That o'er the broad province of Ulster the Rapparee banner unfurled;
    Och! he was an elegant fellow, as ever you saw in your life,
    At fingering the blunderbuss trigger, or handling the throat-cutting
              knife.

    And then such a dare-devil squadron as that which composed REDMOND'S
              _tail_!
    Meel, Mactigh, Jack Reilly, Shan Bernagh, Phil Galloge, and Arthur
              O'Neal;
    _Shure_ never were any boys like 'em for rows, _agitations_, and
              sprees,
    Not a _rap_ did they leave in the country, and hence they were
              called _Rap_parees.[17]

    Next comes POWER, the great Tory[18] of Munster, a gentleman born
              every inch,
    And strong JACK MACPHERSON of Leinster, a horse-shoe who broke at a
              pinch;
    The last was a fellow so _lively_, not death e'en his courage could
              damp,
    For as he was led to the gallows, he played his own "march to the
              camp."[19]

    PADDY FLEMING, DICK BALF, and MULHONI, I think are the next on my list,
    All adepts in the beautiful science of giving a pocket a twist;
    JEMMY CARRICK must follow his leaders, _ould_ PURNEY who put in a huff,
    By dancing a hornpipe at Tyburn, and bothering the hangman for snuff.

    There's PAUL LIDDY, the curly-pate Tory, whose noddle was stuck on a
              spike,
    And BILLY DELANEY, the "_Songster_,"[20] we never shall meet with
              his like;
    For his neck by a witch was anointed, and warranted safe by her charm,
    No hemp that was ever yet twisted his wonderful throttle could harm.

    And lastly, there's CAHIR NA CAPPUL, the handiest rogue of them all,
    Who only need whisper a word, and your horse will trot out of his
              stall;
    Your tit is not safe in your stable, though you or your groom should
              be near,
    And devil a bit in the paddock, if CAHIR gets _hould_ of his ear.

    Then success to the Tories of Ireland, the generous, the gallant,
              the gay!
    With them the best _Rumpads_[21] of England are not to be named the
              same day!
    And were further proof wanting to show what precedence we take with
              our _prigs_,
    Recollect that _our_ robbers are Tories, while those of _your_
              country are Whigs.

"Bravissimo!" cried Jack, drumming upon the table.

"Well," said Coates, "we've had enough about the Irish highwaymen, in
all conscience. But there's a rascal on our side of the Channel, whom
you have only incidentally mentioned, and who makes more noise than them
all put together."

"Who's that?" asked Jack, with some curiosity.

"Dick Turpin," replied the attorney: "he seems to me quite as worthy of
mention as any of the Hinds, the Du-Vals, or the O'Hanlons, you have
either of you enumerated."

"I did not think of him," replied Palmer, smiling; "though, if I had, he
scarcely deserves to be ranked with those illustrious heroes."

"Gads bobs!" cried Titus; "they tell me Turpin keeps the best nag in the
United Kingdom, and can ride faster and further in a day than any other
man in a week."

"So I've heard," said Palmer, with a glance of satisfaction. "I should
like to try a run with him. I warrant me, I'd not be far behind."

"I should like to get a peep at him," quoth Titus.

"So should I," added Coates. "Vastly!"

"You may both of you be gratified, gentlemen," said Palmer. "Talking of
Dick Turpin, they say, is like speaking of the devil, he's at your elbow
ere the word's well out of your mouth. He may be within hearing at this
moment, for anything we know to the contrary."

"Body o' me!" ejaculated Coates, "you don't say so? Turpin in Yorkshire!
I thought he confined his exploits to the neighborhood of the
metropolis, and made Epping Forest his headquarters."

"So he did," replied Jack, "but the cave is all up now. The whole of the
great North Road, from Tottenham Cross to York gates, comes within
Dick's present range; and Saint Nicholas only knows in which part of it
he is most likely to be found. He shifts his quarters as often and as
readily as a Tartar; and he who looks for him may chance to catch a
Tartar--ha!--ha!"

"It's a disgrace to the country that such a rascal should remain
unhanged," returned Coates, peevishly. "Government ought to look to it.
Is the whole kingdom to be kept in a state of agitation by a single
highwayman?--Sir Robert Walpole should take the affair into his own
hands."

"Fudge!" exclaimed Jack, emptying his glass.

"I have already addressed a letter to the editor of the _Common Sense_
on the subject," said Coates, "in which I have spoken my mind pretty
plainly: and I repeat, it is perfectly disgraceful that such a rascal
should be suffered to remain at large."

"You don't happen to have that letter by you, I suppose," said Jack, "or
I should beg the favor to hear it?--I am not acquainted with the
newspaper to which you allude;--I read _Fog's Journal_."

"So I thought," replied Coates, with a sneer; "that's the reason you are
so easily mystified. But luckily I have the paper in my pocket; and you
are quite welcome to my opinions. Here it is," added he, drawing forth a
newspaper. "I shall waive my preliminary remarks, and come to the point
at once."

"By all means," said Jack.

"'I thank God,'" began Coates, in an authoritative tone, "'that I was
born in a country that hath formerly emulated the Romans in their public
spirit; as is evident from their conquests abroad, and their struggles
for liberty at home.'"

"What has all this got to do with Turpin?" interposed Jack.

"You will hear," replied the attorney--"no interruptions if you please.
'But this noble principle,'" continued he, with great emphasis, "'though
not utterly lost, I cannot think at present so active as it ought to be
in a nation so jealous of her liberty.'"

"Good!" exclaimed Jack. "There is more than '_common sense_' in that
observation, Mr. Coates."

"'My suspicion,'" proceeded Coates, "'is founded on a late instance. I
mean the flagrant, undisturbed success of the notorious TURPIN, who hath
robb'd in a manner scarce ever known before for several years, and is
grown so insolent and impudent as to threaten particular persons, and
become openly dangerous to the lives as well as fortunes of the people
of England.'"

"Better and better," shouted Jack, laughing immoderately. "Pray go on,
sir."

"'That a fellow,'" continued Coates, "'who is known to be a thief by the
whole kingdom, shall for so long a time continue to rob us, and not only
rob us, but make a jest of us----'"

"Ha--ha--ha--capital! Excuse me, sir," roared Jack, laughing till the
tears ran down his cheeks--"pray, pray, go on."

"I see nothing to laugh at," replied Coates, somewhat offended;
"however, I will conclude my letter, since I have begun it--'not only
rob us, but make a jest of us, shall defy the laws, and laugh at
justice, argues a want of public spirit, which should make every
particular member of the community sensible of the public calamity, and
ambitious of the honor of extirpating such a notorious highwayman from
society, since he owes his long successes to no other cause than his
immoderate impudence, and the sloth and pusillanimity of those who ought
to bring him to justice.' I will not deny," continued Coates, "that,
professing myself, as I do, to be a staunch new Whig, I had not some
covert political object in penning this epistle.[22] Nevertheless,
setting aside my principles----"

"Right," observed Jack; "you Whigs, new or old, always set aside your
principles."

"Setting aside any political feeling I may entertain," continued Coates,
disregarding the interruption, "I repeat, I am ambitious of extirpating
this modern Cacus--this Autolycus of the eighteenth century."

"And what course do you mean to pursue?" asked Jack, "for I suppose you
do not expect to catch this '_ought-to-lick-us_,' as you call him, by a
line in the newspapers."

"I am in the habit of keeping my own counsel, sir," replied Coates,
pettishly; "and to be plain with you, I hope to finger all the reward
myself."

"Oons, is there a reward offered for Turpin's apprehension?" asked
Titus.

"No less than two hundred pounds," answered Coates, "and that's no
trifle, as you will both admit. Have you not seen the king's
proclamation, Mr. Palmer?"

"Not I," replied Jack, with affected indifference.

"Nor I," added Titus, with some appearance of curiosity; "do you happen
to have _that_ by you too?"

"I always carry it about with me," replied Coates, "that I may refer to
it in case of emergency. My father, Christopher, or Kit Coates, as he
was familiarly called, was a celebrated thief-taker. He apprehended
Spicket, and Child, and half a dozen others, and always kept their
descriptions in his pocket. I endeavor to tread in my worthy father's
footsteps. I hope to signalize myself by capturing a highwayman.
By-the-by," added he, surveying Jack more narrowly, "it occurs to me
that Turpin must be rather like you, Mr. Palmer?"

"Like me," said Jack, regarding Coates askance; "like me--how am I to
understand you, sir, eh?"

"No offence; none whatever, sir. Ah! stay, you won't object to my
comparing the description. That _can_ do no harm. Nobody would take you
for a highwayman--nobody whatever--ha! ha! Singular resemblance--he--he.
These things _do_ happen sometimes: not very often, though. But here is
Turpin's description in the _Gazette_, _June 28th_, A.D. 1737:--'_It
having been represented to the King that Richard Turpin did, on
Wednesday, the 4th of May last, rob on his Majesty's highway Vavasour
Mowbray, Esq., Major of the 2d troop of Horse Grenadiers_'--that Major
Mowbray, by-the-by, is a nephew of the late Sir Piers, and cousin of the
present baronet--'_and commit other notorious felonies and robberies
near London, his Majesty is pleased to promise his most gracious pardon
to any of his accomplices, and a reward of two hundred pounds to any
person or persons who shall discover him, so as he may be apprehended
and convicted_.'"

"Odsbodikins!" exclaimed Titus, "a noble reward! I should like to lay
hands upon Turpin," added he, slapping Palmer's shoulder: "I wish he
were in your place at this moment, Jack."

"Thank you!" replied Palmer, shifting his chair.

"'_Turpin_,'" continued Coates, "'_was born at Thacksted, in Essex; is
about thirty_'--you, sir, I believe, are about thirty?" added he,
addressing Palmer.

"Thereabouts," said Jack, bluffly. "But what has my age to do with that
of Turpin?"

"Nothing--nothing at all," answered Coates; "suffer me, however, to
proceed:--'_Is by trade a butcher_,'--you, sir, I believe, never had any
dealings in that line?"

"I have some notion how to dispose of a troublesome calf," returned
Jack. "But Turpin, though described as a butcher, is, I understand, a
lineal descendant of a great French archbishop of the same name."

"Who wrote the chronicles of that royal robber Charlemagne; I know him,"
replied Coates--"a terrible liar!--The modern Turpin '_is about five
feet nine inches high_'--exactly your height, sir--exactly!"

"I am five feet ten," answered Jack, standing bolt upright.

"You have an inch, then, in your favor," returned the unperturbed
attorney, deliberately proceeding with his examination--"'_he has a
brown complexion, marked with the smallpox_.'"

"My complexion is florid--my face without a seam," quoth Jack.

"Those whiskers would conceal anything," replied Coates, with a grin.
"Nobody wears whiskers nowadays, except a highwayman."

"Sir!" said Jack, sternly. "You are personal."

"I don't mean to be so," replied Coates; "but you must allow the
description tallies with your own in a remarkable manner. Hear me out,
however--'_his cheek bones are broad--his face is thinner towards the
bottom--his visage short--pretty upright--and broad about the
shoulders_.' Now I appeal to Mr. Tyrconnel if all this does not sound
like a portrait of yourself."

"Don't appeal to me," said Titus, hastily, "upon such a delicate point.
I can't say that I approve of a gentleman being likened to a highwayman.
But if ever there was a highwayman I'd wish to resemble, it's either
Redmond O'Hanlon or Richard Turpin; and may the devil burn me if I know
which of the two is the greater rascal!"

"Well, Mr. Palmer," said Coates, "I repeat, I mean no offence.
Likenesses are unaccountable. I am said to be like my Lord North;
whether I am or not, the Lord knows. But if ever I meet with Turpin I
shall bear you in mind--he--he! Ah! if ever I _should_ have the good
luck to stumble upon him, I've a plan for his capture which couldn't
fail. Only let me get a glimpse of him, that's all. You shall see how
I'll dispose of him."

"Well, sir, we _shall_ see," observed Palmer. "And for your own sake, I
wish you may never be nearer to him than you are at this moment. With
his friends, they say Dick Turpin can be as gentle as a lamb; with his
foes, especially with a limb of the law like yourself, he's been found
but an ugly customer. I once saw him at Newmarket, where he was collared
by two constable culls, one on each side. Shaking off one, and dealing
the other a blow in the face with his heavy-handled whip, he stuck spurs
into his mare, and though the whole field gave chase, he distanced them
all, easily."

"And how came you not to try your pace with him, if you were there, as
you boasted a short time ago?" asked Coates.

"So I did, and stuck closer to him than any one else. We were neck and
neck. I was the only person who could have delivered him to the hands of
justice, if I'd felt inclined."

"Zounds!" cried Coates; "If I had a similar opportunity, it should be
neck or nothing. Either he or I should reach the scragging-post first.
I'd take him, dead or alive."

"_You_ take Turpin?" cried Jack, with a sneer.

"I'd engage to do it," replied Coates. "I'll bet you a hundred guineas I
take him, if I ever have the same chance."

"Done!" exclaimed Jack, rapping the table at the same time, so that the
glasses danced upon it.

"That's right," cried Titus. "I'll go you halves."

"What's the matter--what's the matter?" exclaimed Small, awakened from
his doze.

"Only a trifling bet about a highwayman," replied Titus.

"A highwayman!" echoed Small. "Eh! what? there are none in the house, I
hope."

"I hope not," answered Coates. "But this gentleman has taken up the
defence of the notorious Dick Turpin in so singular a manner, that----"

"_Quod factu fœdum est, idem est et Dictu Turpe_," returned Small.
"The less said about that rascal the better."

"So I think," replied Jack. "The fact is as you say, sir--were Dick
here, he would, I am sure, take the _freedom to hide 'em_."

Further discourse was cut short by the sudden opening of the door,
followed by the abrupt entrance of a tall, slender young man, who
hastily advanced towards the table, around which the company were
seated. His appearance excited the utmost astonishment in the whole
group: curiosity was exhibited in every countenance--the magnum remained
poised midway in the hand of Palmer--Dr. Small scorched his thumb in the
bowl of his pipe; and Mr. Coates was almost choked, by swallowing an
inordinate whiff of vapor.

"Young Sir Ranulph!" ejaculated he, as soon as the syncope would permit
him.

"Sir Ranulph here?" echoed Palmer, rising.

"Angels and ministers!" exclaimed Small.

"Odsbodikins!" cried Titus, with a theatrical start; "this is more than
I expected."

"Gentlemen," said Ranulph, "do not let my unexpected arrival here
discompose you. Dr. Small, you will excuse the manner of my greeting;
and you, Mr. Coates. One of the present party, I believe, was my
father's medical attendant, Dr. Tyrconnel."

"I had that honor," replied the Irishman, bowing profoundly--"I am Dr.
Tyrconnel, Sir Ranulph, at your service."

"When, and at what hour, did my father breathe his last, sir?" inquired
Ranulph.

"Poor Sir Piers," answered Titus, again bowing, "departed this life on
Thursday last."

"The hour?--the precise minute?" asked Ranulph, eagerly.

"Troth, Sir Ranulph, as nearly as I can recollect, it might be a few
minutes before midnight."

"The very hour!" exclaimed Ranulph, striding towards the window. His
steps were arrested as his eye fell upon the attire of his father,
which, as we have before noticed, hung at that end of the room. A slight
shudder passed over his frame. There was a momentary pause, during which
Ranulph continued gazing intently at the apparel. "The very dress, too!"
muttered he; then turning to the assembly, who were watching his
movements with surprise; "Doctor," said he, addressing Small, "I have
something for your private ear. Gentlemen, will you spare us the room
for a few minutes?"

"On my conscience," said Tyrconnel to Jack Palmer, as they quitted the
sanctum, "a mighty fine boy is this young Sir Ranulph!--and a chip of
the ould block!--he'll be as good a fellow as his father."

"No doubt," replied Palmer, shutting the door. "But what the devil
brought him back, just in the nick of it?"



_CHAPTER X_

_RANULPH ROOKWOOD_

     _Fer._ Yes, Francisco,
            He hath left his curse upon me.

    _Fran._ How?

     _Fer._ His curse I dost comprehend what that word carries?
            Shot from a father's angry breath? Unless
            I tear poor Felisarda from my heart,
            He hath pronounced me heir to all his curses.

                                              SHIRLEY: _The Brothers_.


"There is nothing, I trust, my dear young friend, and quondam pupil,"
said Dr. Small, as the door was closed, "that weighs upon your mind,
beyond the sorrow naturally incident to an affliction, severe as the
present. Forgive my apprehensions if I am wrong. You know the
affectionate interest I have ever felt for you--an interest which, I
assure you, is nowise diminished, and which will excuse my urging you to
unburden your mind to me; assuring yourself, that whatever may be your
disclosure, you will have my sincere sympathy and commiseration. I may
be better able to advise with you, should counsel be necessary, than
others, from my knowledge of your character and temperament. I would not
anticipate evil, and am, perhaps, unnecessarily apprehensive. But I own,
I am startled at the incoherence of your expressions, coupled with your
sudden and almost mysterious appearance at this distressing conjuncture.
Answer me: has your return been the result of mere accident? is it to be
considered one of those singular circumstances which almost look like
fate, and baffle our comprehension? or were you nearer home than we
expected, and received the news of your father's demise through some
channel unknown to us? Satisfy my curiosity, I beg of you, upon this
point."

"Your curiosity, my dear sir," replied Ranulph, gravely and sadly, "will
not be decreased, when I tell you, that my return has neither been the
work of chance,--for I came, fully anticipating the dread event, which I
find realized,--nor has it been occasioned by any intelligence derived
from yourself, or others. It was only, indeed, upon my arrival here that
I received full confirmation of my apprehensions. I had another, a more
terrible summons to return."

"What summons? you perplex me!" exclaimed Small, gazing with some
misgiving into the face of his young friend.

"I am myself perplexed--sorely perplexed," returned Ranulph. "I have
much to relate; but I pray you bear with me to the end. I have that on
my mind which, like guilt, must be revealed."

"Speak, then, fearlessly to me," said Small, affectionately pressing
Ranulph's hand, "and assure yourself, beforehand, of my sympathy."

"It will be necessary," said Ranulph, "to preface my narrative by some
slight allusion to certain painful events--and yet I know not why I
should call them painful, excepting in their consequences--which
influenced my conduct in my final interview between my father and
myself--an interview which occasioned my departure for the
Continent--and which was of a character so dreadful, that I would not
even revert to it, were it not a necessary preliminary to the
circumstance I am about to detail.

"When I left Oxford, I passed a few weeks alone, in London. A college
friend, whom I accidentally met, introduced me, during a promenade in
St. James's Park, to some acquaintances of his own, who were taking an
airing in the Mall at the same time--a family whose name was Mowbray,
consisting of a widow lady, her son, and daughter. This introduction was
made in compliance with my own request. I had been struck by the
singular beauty of the younger lady, whose countenance had a peculiar
and inexpressible charm to me, from its marked resemblance to the
portrait of the Lady Eleanor Rookwood, whose charms and unhappy fate I
have so often dwelt upon and deplored. The picture is there," continued
Ranulph, pointing to it: "look at it, and you have the fair creature I
speak of before you; the color of the hair--the tenderness of the eyes.
No--the expression is not so sad, except when----but no matter! I
recognized her features at once.

"It struck me, that upon the mention of my name, the party betrayed some
surprise, especially the elder lady. For my own part, I was so attracted
by the beauty of the daughter, the effect of which upon me seemed rather
the fulfilment of a predestined event, originating in the strange
fascination which the family portrait had wrought in my heart, than the
operation of what is called 'love at first sight,' that I was insensible
to the agitation of the mother. In vain I endeavored to rally myself; my
efforts at conversation were fruitless; I could not talk--all I could do
was silently to yield to the soft witchery of those tender eyes; my
admiration increasing each instant that I gazed upon them.

"I accompanied them home. Attracted as by some irresistible spell, I
could not tear myself away; so that, although I fancied I could perceive
symptoms of displeasure in the looks of both the mother and the son,
yet, regardless of consequences, I ventured, uninvited, to enter the
house. In order to shake off the restraint which I felt my society
imposed, I found it absolutely necessary to divest myself of
bashfulness, and to exert such conversational powers as I possessed. I
succeeded so well that the discourse soon became lively and animated;
and what chiefly delighted me was, that _she_, for whose sake I had
committed my present rudeness, became radiant with smiles. I had been
all eagerness to seek for some explanation of the resemblance to which I
have just alluded, and the fitting moment had, I conceived, arrived. I
called attention to a peculiar expression in the features of Miss
Mowbray, and then instanced the likeness that subsisted between her and
my ancestress. 'It is the more singular,' I said, turning to her mother,
'because there could have been no affinity, that I am aware of, between
them, and yet the likeness is really surprising.'--'It is not so
singular as you imagine,' answered Mrs. Mowbray; 'there _is_ a close
affinity. That Lady Rookwood was my mother. Eleanor Mowbray _does_
resemble her ill-fated ancestress.'

"Words cannot paint my astonishment. I gazed at Mrs. Mowbray,
considering whether I had not misconstrued her speech--whether I had not
so shaped the sounds as to suit my own quick and passionate conceptions.
But no! I read in her calm, collected countenance--in the downcast
glance, and sudden sadness of Eleanor, as well as in the changed and
haughty demeanor of the brother, that I had heard her rightly. Eleanor
Mowbray was my cousin--the descendant of that hapless creature whose
image I had almost worshipped.

"Recovering from my surprise, I addressed Mrs. Mowbray, endeavoring to
excuse my ignorance of our relationship, on the plea that I had not been
given to understand that such had been the name of the gentleman she had
espoused. 'Nor was it,' answered she, 'the name he bore at Rookwood;
circumstances forbade it then. From the hour I quitted that house until
this moment, excepting one interview with my--with Sir Reginald
Rookwood--I have seen none of my family--have held no communication with
them. My brothers have been strangers to me; the very name of Rookwood
has been unheard, unknown; nor would you have been admitted here, had
not accident occasioned it.' I ventured now to interrupt her, and to
express a hope that she would suffer an acquaintance to be kept up,
which had so fortunately commenced, and which might most probably bring
about an entire reconciliation between the families. I was so earnest in
my expostulations, my whole soul being in them, that she inclined a
more friendly ear to me. Eleanor, too, smiled encouragement. Love lent
me eloquence; and at length, as a token of my success, and her own
relenting, Mrs. Mowbray held forth her hand: I clasped it eagerly. It
was the happiest moment of my life.

"I will not trouble you with any lengthened description of Eleanor
Mowbray. I hope, at some period or other, you may still be enabled to
see her, and judge for yourself; for though adverse circumstances have
hitherto conspired to separate us, the time for a renewal of our
acquaintance is approaching, I trust, for I am not yet altogether
without hope. But this much I may be allowed to say, that her rare
endowments of person were only equalled by the graces of her mind.

"Educated abroad, she had all the vivacity of our livelier neighbors,
combined with every solid qualification which we claim as more
essentially our own. Her light and frolic manner was French, certainly;
but her gentle, sincere heart was as surely English. The foreign accent
that dwelt upon her tongue communicated an inexpressible charm, even to
the language which she spoke.

"I will not dwell too long upon this theme. I feel ashamed of my own
prolixity. And yet I am sure you will pardon it. Ah, those bright brief
days! too quickly were they fled! I could expatiate upon each
minute--recall each word--revive each look. It may not be. I must hasten
on. Darker themes await me.

"My love made rapid progress--I became each hour more enamored of my
new-found cousin. My whole time was passed near her; indeed, I could
scarcely exist in absence from her side. Short, however, was destined to
be my indulgence in this blissful state. One happy week was its extent.
I received a peremptory summons from my father to return home.

"Immediately upon commencing this acquaintance, I had written to my
father, explaining every particular attending it. This I should have
done of my own free will, but I was urged to it by Mrs. Mowbray.
Unaccustomed to disguise, I had expatiated upon the beauty of Eleanor,
and in such terms, I fear, that I excited some uneasiness in his breast.
His letter was laconic. He made no allusion to the subject upon which I
had expatiated when writing to him. He commanded me to return.

"The bitter hour was at hand. I could not hesitate to comply. Without my
father's sanction, I was assured Mrs. Mowbray would not permit any
continuance of my acquaintance. Of Eleanor's inclinations I fancied I
had some assurance; but without her mother's consent, to whose will she
was devoted, I felt, had I even been inclined to urge it, that my suit
was hopeless. The letter which I had received from my father made me
more than doubt whether I should not find him utterly adverse to my
wishes. Agonized, therefore, with a thousand apprehensions, I presented
myself on the morning of my departure. It was then I made the
declaration of my passion to Eleanor; it was then that every hope was
confirmed, every apprehension realized. I received from her lips a
confirmation of my fondest wishes; yet were those hopes blighted in the
bud, when I heard, at the same time, that their consummation was
dependent on the will of two others, whose assenting voices, she feared,
could never be obtained. From Mrs. Mowbray I received a more decided
reply. All her haughtiness was aroused. Her farewell words assured me,
that it was indifferent to her whether we met again as relatives or as
strangers. Then was it that the native tenderness of Eleanor displayed
itself, in an outbreak of feeling peculiar to a heart keenly sympathetic
as hers. She saw my suffering--the reserve natural to her sex gave
way--she flung herself into my arms--and so we parted.

"With a heavy foreboding I returned to Rookwood, and, oppressed with the
gloomiest anticipations, endeavored to prepare myself for the worst. I
arrived. My reception was such as I had calculated upon; and, to
increase my distress, my parents had been at variance. I will not pain
you and myself with any recital of their disagreement. My mother had
espoused my cause, chiefly, I fear, with the view of thwarting my poor
father's inclinations. He was in a terrible mood, exasperated by the
fiery stimulants he had swallowed, which had not indeed, drowned his
reason, but roused and inflamed every dormant emotion to violence. He
was as one insane. It was evening when I arrived. I would willingly have
postponed the interview till the morrow. It could not be. He insisted
upon seeing me.

"My mother was present. You know the restraint she usually had over my
father, and how she maintained it. On this occasion she had none. He
questioned me as to every particular; probed my secret soul; dragged
forth every latent feeling, and then thundered out his own determination
that Eleanor never should be bride of mine; nor would he receive, under
his roof, her mother, the discountenanced daughter of his father. I
endeavored to remonstrate with him. He was deaf to my entreaties. My
mother added sharp and stinging words to my expostulations. 'I had her
consent,' she said; 'what more was needed? The lands were entailed. I
should at no distant period be their master, and might then please
myself.' This I mention in order to give you my father's strange answer.

"'Have a care, madam,' replied he, 'and bridle your tongue; they _are_
entailed, 'tis true, but I need not ask _his_ consent to cut off that
entail. Let him dare to disobey me in this particular, and I will so
divert the channel of my wealth, that no drop shall reach him. I
will--but why threaten?--let him do it, and approve the consequences.'

"On the morrow I renewed my importunities, with no better success. We
were alone.

"'Ranulph,' said he, 'you waste time in seeking to change my resolution.
It is unalterable. I have many motives which influence me; they are
inexplicable, but imperative. Eleanor Mowbray never can be yours. Forget
her as speedily as may be, and I pledge myself, upon whomsoever else
your choice may fix, I will offer no obstacle.'

"'But why,' exclaimed I, with vehemence, 'do you object to one whom you
have never beheld? At least, consent to see her.'

"'Never!' he replied, 'The tie is sundered, and cannot be reunited; my
father bound me by an oath never to meet in friendship with my sister; I
will not break my vow, I will not violate its conditions, even in the
second degree. We never can meet again. An idle prophecy which I have
heard has said "_that when a Rookwood shall marry a Rookwood the end of
the house draweth nigh_." That I regard not. It may have no meaning, or
it may have much. To me it imports nothing further, than that, if you
wed Eleanor, every acre I possess shall depart from you. And assure
yourself this is no idle threat. I can, and will do it. My curse shall
be your sole inheritance.'

"I could not avoid making some reply, representing to him how
unjustifiable such a procedure was to me, in a case where the happiness
of my life was at stake; and how inconsistent it was with the charitable
precepts of our faith, to allow feelings of resentment to influence his
conduct. My remonstrances, as in the preceding meeting, were
ineffectual. The more I spoke, the more intemperate he grew. I therefore
desisted, but not before he had ordered me to quit the house. I did not
leave the neighborhood, but saw him again on the same evening.

"Our last interview took place in the garden. I then told him that I had
determined to go abroad for two years, at the expiration of which period
I proposed returning to England; trusting that his resolution might then
be changed, and that he would listen to my request, for the fulfilment
of which I could never cease to hope. Time, I hoped, might befriend me.
He approved of my plan of travelling, requesting me not to see Eleanor
before I set out; adding, in a melancholy tone--'We may never meet
again, Ranulph, in this life; in that case, farewell forever. Indulge no
vain hopes. Eleanor never can be yours, but upon one condition, and to
that you would never consent!'--'Propose it!' I cried; 'there is no
condition I could not accede to.'--'Rash boy!' he replied, 'you know not
what you say; that pledge you would never fulfil, were I to propose it
to you; but no--should I survive till you return, you shall learn it
then--and now, farewell.'--'Speak now, I beseech you!' I exclaimed;
'anything, everything--what you will!'--'Say no more,' replied he,
walking towards the house; 'when you return we will renew this subject;
farewell--perhaps forever!' His words were prophetic--that parting _was_
forever. I remained in the garden till nightfall. I saw my mother, but
_he_ came not again. I quitted England without beholding Eleanor."

"Did you not acquaint her by letter with what had occurred, and your
consequent intentions?" asked Small.

"I did," replied Ranulph; "but I received no reply. My earliest
inquiries will be directed to ascertain whether the family are still in
London. It will be a question for our consideration, whether I am not
justified in departing from my father's expressed wishes, or whether I
should violate his commands in so doing."

"We will discuss that point hereafter," replied Small; adding, as he
noticed the growing paleness of his companion, "you are too much
exhausted to proceed--you had better defer the remainder of your story
to a future period."

"No," replied Ranulph, swallowing a glass of water; "I am exhausted, yet
I cannot rest--my blood is in a fever, which nothing will allay. I shall
feel more easy when I have made the present communication. I am
approaching the sequel of my narrative. You are now in possession of the
story of my love--of the motive of my departure. You shall learn what
was the occasion of my return.

"I had wandered from city to city during my term of exile--consumed by
hopeless passion--with little that could amuse _me_, though surrounded
by a thousand objects of interest to others, and only rendering life
endurable by severest study or most active exertion. My steps conducted
me to Bordeaux;--there I made a long halt, enchanted by the beauty of
the neighboring scenery. My fancy was smitten by the situation of a
villa on the banks of the Garonne, within a few leagues of the city. It
was an old château, with fine gardens bordering the blue waters of the
river, and commanding a multitude of enchanting prospects. The house,
which had in part gone to decay, was inhabited by an aged couple, who
had formerly been servants to an English family, the members of which
had thus provided for them on their return to their own country. I
inquired the name. Conceive my astonishment to find that this château
had been the residence of the Mowbrays. This intelligence decided me at
once--I took up my abode in the house; and a new and unexpected source
of solace and delight was opened to me, I traced the paths she had
traced; occupied the room she had occupied; tended the flowers she had
tended; and, on the golden summer evenings, would watch the rapid
waters, tinged with all the glorious hues of sunset, sweeping past my
feet, and think how _she_ had watched them. Her presence seemed to
pervade the place. I was now comparatively happy, and, anxious to remain
unmolested, wrote home that I was leaving Bordeaux for the Pyrenees, on
my way to Spain."

"That account arrived," observed Small.

"One night," continued Ranulph--"'tis now the sixth since the occurrence
I am about to relate--I was seated in a bower that overlooked the river.
It had been a lovely evening--so lovely, that I lingered there, wrapped
in the heavenly contemplation of its beauties. I watched each rosy tint
reflected upon the surface of the rapid stream--now fading into
yellow--now shining silvery white. I noticed the mystic mingling of
twilight with darkness--of night with day, till the bright current on a
sudden became a black mass of waters. I could scarcely discern a
leaf--all was darkness--when lo! another change! The moon was up--a
flood of light deluged all around--the stream was dancing again in
reflected radiance, and I still lingering at its brink.

"I had been musing for some moments, with my head resting upon my hand,
when, happening to raise my eyes, I beheld a figure immediately before
me. I was astonished at the sight, for I had perceived no one
approach--had heard no footstep advance towards me, and was satisfied
that no one besides myself could be in the garden. The presence of the
figure inspired me with an undefinable awe! and, I can scarce tell why,
but a thrilling presentiment convinced me that it was a supernatural
visitant. Without motion--without life--without substance, it seemed;
yet still the outward character of life was there. I started to my feet.
God! what did I behold? The face was turned to me--my father's face! And
what an aspect, what a look! Time can never efface that terrible
expression; it is graven upon my memory--I cannot describe it. It was
not anger--it was not pain: it was as if an eternity of woe were stamped
upon its features. It was too dreadful to behold, I would fain have
averted my gaze--my eyes were fascinated--fixed--I could not withdraw
them from the ghastly countenance. I shrank from it, yet stirred not--I
could not move a limb. Noiselessly gliding towards me, the apparition
approached. I could not retreat. It stood obstinately beside me. I
became as one half-dead. The phantom shook its head with the deepest
despair; and as the word 'Return!' sounded hollowly in my ears, it
gradually melted from my view. I cannot tell how I recovered from the
swoon into which I fell, but daybreak saw me on my way to England. I am
here. On that night--at that same hour, my father died."

"It was, after all, then, a supernatural summons that you received?"
said Small.

"Undoubtedly," replied Ranulph.

"Humph!--the coincidence, I own, is sufficiently curious," returned
Small, musingly; "but it would not be difficult, I think, to discover a
satisfactory explanation of the delusion."

"There was no delusion," replied Ranulph, coldly; "the figure was as
palpable as your own. Can I doubt, when I behold this result? Could any
deceit have been practised upon me, at that distance?--the precise time,
moreover, agreeing. Did not the phantom bid me return?--I _have_
returned--he is dead. I have gazed upon a being of another world. To
doubt were impious, after that look."

"Whatever my opinions may be, my dear young friend," returned Small,
gravely, "I will suspend them for the present. You are still greatly
excited. Let me advise you to seek some repose."

"I am easier," replied Ranulph; "but you are right, I will endeavor to
snatch a little rest. Something within tells me all is not yet
accomplished. What remains?--I shudder to think of it. I will rejoin you
at midnight. I shall myself attend the solemnity. Adieu!"

Ranulph quitted the room. Small sighingly shook his head, and having
lighted his pipe, was presently buried in a profundity of smoke and
metaphysical speculation.



_CHAPTER XI_

_LADY ROOKWOOD_

    _Fran. de Med._ Your unhappy husband
                    Is dead.

    _Vit. Cor._              Oh, he's a happy husband!
                    Now he owes nature nothing.

    _Mon._          And look upon this creature as his wife.
                    She comes not like a widow--she comes armed
                    With scorn and impudence. Is this a mourning habit?

                                                    _The White Devil._


The progress of our narrative demands our presence in another apartment
of the hall--a large, lonesome chamber, situate in the eastern wing of
the house, already described as the most ancient part of the
building--the sombre appearance of which was greatly increased by the
dingy, discolored tapestry that clothed its walls; the record of the
patience and industry of a certain Dame Dorothy Rookwood, who flourished
some centuries ago, and whose skilful needle had illustrated the
slaughter of the Innocents, with a severity of _gusto_, and sanguinary
minuteness of detail, truly surprising in a lady so amiable as she was
represented to have been. Grim-visaged Herod glared from the ghostly
woof, with his shadowy legions, executing their murderous purposes,
grouped like a troop of Sabbath-dancing witches around him. Mysterious
twilight, admitted through the deep, dark, mullioned windows, revealed
the antique furniture of the room, which still boasted a sort of
mildewed splendor, more imposing, perhaps, than its original gaudy
magnificence; and showed the lofty hangings, and tall, hearse-like
canopy of a bedstead, once a couch of state, but now destined for the
repose of Lady Rookwood. The stiff crimson hangings were embroidered in
gold, with the arms and cipher of Elizabeth, from whom the apartment,
having once been occupied by that sovereign, obtained the name of the
"Queen's Room."

The sole tenant of this chamber was a female, in whose countenance, if
time and strong emotion had written strange defeatures, they had not
obliterated its striking beauty and classical grandeur of expression. It
was a face majestical and severe. Pride was stamped in all its lines;
and though each passion was, by turns, developed, it was evident that
all were subordinate to the sin by which the angels fell. The contour of
her face was formed in the purest Grecian mould, and might have been a
model for Medea; so well did the gloomy grandeur of the brow, the severe
chiselling of the lip, the rounded beauty of the throat, and the
faultless symmetry of her full form, accord with the beau ideal of
antique perfection. Shaded by smooth folds of raven hair, which still
maintained its jetty dye, her lofty forehead would have been displayed
to the greatest advantage, had it not been at this moment knit and
deformed by excess of passion, if that passion can be said to deform
which only calls forth strong and vehement expression. Her figure, which
wanted only height to give it dignity, was arrayed in the garb of
widowhood; and if she exhibited none of the desolation of heart which
such a bereavement might have been expected to awaken, she was evidently
a prey to feelings scarcely less harrowing. At the particular time of
which we speak, Lady Rookwood, for she it was, was occupied in the
investigation of the contents of an escritoire. Examining the papers
which it contained with great deliberation, she threw each aside, as
soon as she had satisfied herself of its purport, until she arrived at a
little package, carefully tied up with black ribbon, and sealed. This,
Lady Rookwood hastily broke open, and drew forth a small miniature. It
was that of a female, young and beautiful, rudely, yet faithfully,
executed--faithfully, we say, for there was an air of sweetness and
simplicity--and, in short, a look of reality and nature about the
picture (it is seldom, indeed, that we mistake a likeness, even if we
are unacquainted with the original) that attested the artist's fidelity.
The face was as radiant with smiles as a bright day with sunbeams. The
portrait was set in gold, and behind it was looped a lock of the darkest
and finest hair. Underneath the miniature was written, in Sir Piers's
hand, the words "_Lady Rookwood_." A slip of folded paper was also
attached to it.

Lady Rookwood scornfully scrutinized the features for a few moments, and
then unfolded the paper, at the sight of which she started, and turned
pale. "Thank God!" she cried, "this is in my possession--while I hold
this, we are safe. Were it not better to destroy this evidence at once?
No, no, not _now_--it shall not part from me. I will abide Ranulph's
return. This document will give me a power over him such as I could
never otherwise obtain." Placing the marriage certificate, for such it
was, within her breast, and laying the miniature upon the table, she
next proceeded, deliberately, to arrange the disordered contents of the
box.

All outward traces of emotion had, ere this, become so subdued in Lady
Rookwood, that although she had, only a few moments previously,
exhibited the extremity of passionate indignation, she now, apparently
without effort, resumed entire composure, and might have been supposed
to be engaged in a matter of little interest to herself. It was a dread
calm, which they who knew her would have trembled to behold. "From these
letters I gather," exclaimed she, "that their wretched offspring knows
not of his fortune. So far, well. There is no channel whence he can
derive information, and my first care shall be to prevent his obtaining
any clue to the secret of his birth. I am directed to provide for
him--ha! ha! I will provide--a grave! There will I bury him and his
secret. My son's security and my own wrong demand it. I must choose
surer hands--the work must not be half-done, as heretofore. And now, I
bethink me, he is in the neighborhood, connected with a gang of
poachers--'tis as I could wish it."

At this moment a knock at the chamber-door broke upon her meditations.
"Agnes, is it you?" demanded Lady Rookwood.

Thus summoned, the old attendant entered the room.

"Why are my orders disobeyed?" asked the lady, in a severe tone of
voice. "Did I not say, when you delivered me this package from Mr.
Coates, which he himself wished to present, that I would not be
disturbed?"

"You did, my lady, but----"

"Speak out," said Lady Rookwood, somewhat more mildly, perceiving, from
Agnes's manner, that she had something of importance to communicate.
"What is it brings you hither?"

"I am sorry," returned Agnes, "to disturb your ladyship, but--but----"

"But what?" interrupted Lady Rookwood, impatiently.

"I could not help it, my lady--he would have me come; he said he was
resolved to see your ladyship, whether you would or not."

"Would see me, ha! is it so? I guess his errand, and its object--he has
some suspicion. No, that cannot be; he would not dare to tamper with
these seals. Agnes, I will _not_ see him."

"But he swears, my lady, that he will not leave the house without seeing
you--he would have forced his way into your presence, if I had not
consented to announce him."

"Insolent!" exclaimed Lady Rookwood, with a glance of indignation;
"force his way! I promise you he shall not display an equal anxiety to
repeat the visit. Tell Mr. Coates I will see him."

"Mr. Coates! Mercy on us, my lady, it's not he. He'd never have intruded
upon you unasked. No such thing. He knows his place too well. No, no;
it's not Mr. Coates----"

"If not he, who is it?"

"Luke Bradley; your ladyship knows whom I mean."

"He here--now?----"

"Yes, my lady; and looking so fierce and strange, I was quite frightened
to see him. He looked so like his--his----"

"His father, you would say. Speak out."

"No, my lady, his grandfather--old Sir Reginald. He's the very image of
him. But had not your ladyship better ring the alarm-bell? and when he
comes in, I'll run and fetch the servants--he's dangerous, I'm sure."

"I have no fears of him. He _will_ see me, you say----"

"Ay, _will_!" exclaimed Luke, as he threw open the door, and shut it
forcibly after him, striding towards Lady Rookwood, "nor abide longer
delay."

It was an instant or two ere Lady Rookwood, thus taken by surprise,
could command speech. She fixed her eyes with a look of keen and angry
inquiry upon the bold intruder, who, nothing daunted, confronted her
glances with a gaze as stern and steadfast as her own.

"Who are you, and what seek you?" exclaimed Lady Rookwood, after a brief
pause, and, in spite of herself, her voice sounded tremulously. "What
would you have, that you venture to appear before me at this season and
in this fashion?"

"I might have chosen a fitter opportunity," returned Luke, "were it
needed. My business will not brook delay--you must be pleased to
overlook this intrusion on your privacy, at a season of sorrow like the
present. As to the fashion of my visit, you must be content to excuse
it. I cannot help myself. I may amend hereafter. Who I am, you are able,
I doubt not, to divine. What I seek, you shall hear, when this old woman
has left the room, unless you would have a witness to a declaration that
concerns you as nearly as myself."

An indefinite feeling of apprehension had, from the first instant of
Luke's entrance crossed Lady Rookwood's mind. She, however, answered,
with some calmness:

"What you can have to say is of small moment to me--nor does it signify
who may hear it. It shall not, however, be said that Lady Rookwood
feared to be alone, even though she endangered her life."

"I am no assassin," replied Luke, "nor have sought the destruction of my
deadliest foe--though 'twere but retributive justice to have done so."

Lady Rookwood started.

"Nay, you need not fear me," replied Luke; "my revenge will be otherwise
accomplished."

"Go," said Lady Rookwood to Agnes; "yet--stay without, in the
antechamber."

"My lady," said Agnes, scarcely able to articulate, "shall I----"

"Hear me, Lady Rookwood," interrupted Luke. "I repeat, I intend you no
injury. My object here is solely to obtain a private conference. You can
have no reason for denying me this request. I will not abuse your
patience. Mine is no idle mission. Say you refuse me, and I will at once
depart. I will find other means of communicating with you--less direct,
and therefore less desirable. Make your election. But we _must_ be
alone--undisturbed. Summon your household--let them lay hands upon me,
and I will proclaim aloud what you would gladly hide, even from
yourself."

"Leave us, Agnes," said Lady Rookwood. "I have no fear of this man. I
can deal with him myself, should I see occasion."

"Agnes," said Luke, in a stern, deep whisper, arresting the ancient
handmaiden as she passed him, "stir not from the door till I come forth.
Have you forgotten your former mistress!--my mother? Have you forgotten
Barbara Lovel, and _that night_?"

"In Heaven's name, hush!" replied Agnes, with a shudder.

"Let that be fresh in your memory. Move not a footstep, whatever you may
hear," added he, in the same tone as before.

"I will not--I will not." And Agnes departed.

Luke felt some wavering in his resolution when he found himself alone
with the lady, whose calm, collected, yet haughty demeanor, as she
resumed her seat, prepared for his communication, could not fail to
inspire him with a certain degree of awe. Not unconscious of her
advantage, nor slow to profit by it, Lady Rookwood remained perfectly
silent, with her eyes steadily fixed upon his face, while his
embarrassment momentarily increased. Summoning, at length, courage
sufficient to address her, and ashamed of his want of nerve, he thus
broke forth:

"When I entered this room, you asked my name and object. As to the
first, I answer to the same designation as your ladyship. I have long
borne my mother's name. I now claim my father's. My object is, the
restitution of my rights."

"Soh!--it is as I suspected," thought Lady Rookwood, involuntarily
casting her large eyes down. "Do I hear you rightly?" exclaimed she,
aloud; "your name is----"

"Sir Luke Rookwood. As my father's elder born; by right of _his_ right
to that title."

If a glance could have slain him, Luke had fallen lifeless at the lady's
feet. With a smile of ineffable disdain, she replied, "I know not why I
hesitate to resent this indignity, even for an instant. But I would see
how far your audacity will carry you. The name you bear is Bradley?"

"In ignorance I have done so," replied Luke. "I am the son of her whose
maiden name was Bradley. She was----"

"'Tis false--I will not hear it--she was _not_," cried Lady Rookwood,
her vehemence getting the master of her prudence.

"Your ladyship anticipates my meaning," returned Luke. "Susan Bradley
was the first wife of Sir Piers Rookwood."

"His minion--his mistress if you will; nought else. Is it new to you,
that a village wench, who lends herself to shame, should be beguiled by
such shallow pretences? That she was so duped, I doubt not. But it is
too late now to complain, and I would counsel you not to repeat your
idle boast. It will serve no other purpose, trust me, than to blazon
forth your own--your mother's dishonor."

"Lady Rookwood," sternly answered Luke, "my mother's fame is as free
from dishonor as your own. I repeat, she was the first wife of Sir
Piers; and that I, her child, am first in the inheritance; nay, sole
heir to the estates and title of Rookwood, to the exclusion of your son.
Ponder upon that intelligence. Men say they fear you, as a thing of ill.
_I_ fear you not. There _have_ been days when the Rookwoods held their
dames in subjection. Discern you nought of that in me?"

Once or twice during this speech Lady Rookwood's glances had wandered
towards the bell-cord, as if about to summon aid; but the intention was
abandoned almost as soon as formed, probably from apprehension of the
consequences of any such attempt. She was not without alarm as to the
result of the interview, and was considering how she could bring it to a
termination without endangering herself, and, if possible, secure the
person of Luke, when the latter, turning sharply round upon her, and
drawing a pistol, exclaimed,--

"Follow me!"

"Whither?" asked she, in alarm.

"To the chamber of death!"

"Why there? what would you do? Villain! I will not trust my life with
you. I will _not_ follow you."

"Hesitate not, as you value your life. Do aught to alarm the house, and
I fire. Your safety depends upon yourself. I would see my father's body
ere it be laid in the grave. I will not leave you here."

"Go," said Lady Rookwood; "if that be all, I pledge myself you shall not
be interrupted."

"I will not take your pledge; your presence shall be my surety. By my
mother's unavenged memory, if you play me false, though all your
satellites stand around you, you die upon the spot! Obey me, and you are
safe. Our way leads to the room by the private staircase--we shall pass
unobserved--you see I know the road. The room, by your own command, is
vacant--save of the dead. We shall, therefore, be alone. This done, I
depart. You will then be free to act. Disobey me, and your blood be upon
your own head."

"Lead on!" said Lady Rookwood, pressing towards the antechamber.

"The door I mean is there," pointing to another part of the room--"that
panel,--"

"Ha! how know you that?"

"No matter; follow."

Luke touched a spring, and the panel flying open, disclosed a dim
recess, into which he entered; and, seizing Lady Rookwood's hand,
dragged her after him.



_CHAPTER XII_

_THE CHAMBER OF DEATH_

    It is the body--I have orders given
    That here it should be laid.

                                                        _De Montfort._


The recess upon which the panel opened had been a small oratory, and,
though entirely disused, still retained its cushions and its crucifix.
There were two other entrances to this place of prayer, the one
communicating with a further bedchamber, the other leading to the
gallery. Through the latter, after closing the aperture, without
relinquishing his grasp, Luke passed.

It was growing rapidly dark, and at the brightest seasons this gloomy
corridor was but imperfectly lighted from narrow, painted, and
wire-protected windows that looked into the old quadrangular courtyard
below; and as they issued from the oratory a dazzling flash of
lightning--a storm having suddenly arisen--momentarily illumined the
whole length of the passage, disclosing the retreating figure of a man,
wrapped in a large sable cloak, at the other extremity of the gallery.
Lady Rookwood uttered an outcry for assistance; but the man, whoever he
might be, disappeared in the instantaneously succeeding gloom, leaving
her in doubt whether or not her situation had been perceived. Luke had
seen this dark figure at the same instant; and, not without
apprehensions lest his plans should be defeated, he griped Lady
Rookwood's arm still more strictly, and placing the muzzle of the pistol
to her breast, hurried her rapidly forwards.

All was now in total obscurity; the countenance of neither could be
perceived as they trod the dark passage; but Luke's unrelaxed grasp
indicated no change in his purposes, nor did the slow, dignified march
of the lady betray any apprehension on her part. Descending a spiral
staircase, which led from the gallery to a lower story, their way now
lay beneath the entrance-hall, a means of communication little used.
Their tread sounded hollowly on the flagged floor; no other sound was
heard. Mounting a staircase, similar to the one they had just descended,
they arrived at another passage. A few paces brought them to the door.
Luke turned the handle, and they stood within the chamber of the dead.

The room which contained the remains of poor Sir Piers was arrayed in
all that mockery of state which, vainly attempting to deride death, is
itself a bitter derision of the living. It was the one devoted to the
principal meals of the day; a strange choice, but convenience had
dictated its adoption by those with whom this part of the ceremonial had
originated, and long custom had rendered its usage, for this purpose,
almost prescriptive. This room, which was of some size, had originally
formed part of the great hall, from which it was divided by a thick
screen of black, lustrously varnished oak, enriched with fanciful
figures carved in bold relief. The walls were panelled with the same
embrowned material, and sustained sundry portraits of the members of the
family, in every possible costume, from the steely gear of Sir Ranulph,
down to the flowing attire of Sir Reginald. Most of the race were ranged
around the room; and, seen in the yellow light shed upon their features
by the flambeaux, they looked like an array of stern and silent
witnesses, gazing upon their departed descendant. The sides of the
chamber were hung with black cloth, and upon a bier in the middle of the
room rested the body. Broad escutcheons, decked out in glowing colors
pompously set forth the heraldic honors of the departed. Tall lights
burned at the head and feet, and fragrant perfumes diffused their odors
from silver censers.

The entrance of Luke and his unwilling companion had been abrupt. The
transition from darkness to the glare of light was almost blinding, and
they had advanced far into the room ere Lady Rookwood perceived a man,
whom she took to be one of the mutes, leaning over the bier. The
coffin-lid was entirely removed, and the person, whose back was towards
them appeared to be wrapped in mournful contemplation of the sad
spectacle before him. Suddenly bursting from Luke's hold, Lady Rookwood
rushed forward with a scream, and touched the man's shoulder. He started
at the summons, and disclosed the features of her son!

Rapidly as her own act, Luke followed. He levelled a pistol at her head,
but his hand dropped to his side as he encountered the glance of
Ranulph. All three seemed paralyzed by surprise. Ranulph, in
astonishment, extended his arm to his mother, who, placing one arm over
his shoulder, pointed with the other to Luke; the latter stared sternly
and inquiringly at both--yet none spoke.



_CHAPTER XIII_

_THE BROTHERS_

                                   We're sorry
    His violent act has e'en drawn blood of honor,
    And stained our honors;
    Thrown ink upon the forehead of our fame,
    Which envious spirits will dip their pens into
    After our death, and blot us in our tombs;
    For that which would seem treason in our lives,
    Is laughter when we're dead. Who dares now whisper,
    That dares not then speak out; and even proclaim,
    With loud words, and broad pens, our closest shame?

                                             _The Revenger's Tragedy._


With that quickness of perception which at once supplies information on
such an emergency, Luke instantly conjectured who was before him.
Startled as he was, he yet retained his composure, abiding the result
with his arms folded upon his breast.

"Seize him!" cried Lady Rookwood, as soon as she could command her
speech.

"He rushes on his death if he stirs," exclaimed Luke, pointing his
pistol.

"Bethink you where you are, villain!" cried Ranulph; "you are entrapped
in your own toils. Submit yourself to our mercy--resistance is vain, and
will not secure your safety, while it will aggravate your offence.
Surrender yourself----"

"Never!" answered Luke. "Know you whom you ask to yield?"

"How should I?" answered Ranulph.

"By that instinct which tells me who _you_ are. Ask Lady Rookwood--she
can inform you, if she will."

"Parley not with him--seize him!" cried Lady Rookwood. "He is a robber,
a murderer, who has assailed my life."

"Beware!" said Luke to Ranulph, who was preparing to obey his mother's
commands; "I am no robber--no murderer. Do not you make me a
fratricide."

"Fratricide!" echoed Ranulph.

"Heed him not," ejaculated Lady Rookwood. "It is false--he dares not
harm thee, for his soul. I will call assistance."

"Hold, mother!" exclaimed Ranulph, detaining Lady Rookwood; "this man
may be what he represents himself. Before we proceed to extremities, I
would question him. I would not have mentioned it in your hearing could
it have been avoided, but my father had another son."

Lady Rookwood frowned. She would have checked him, but Luke rejoined--

"You have spoken the truth; he had a son--I am he. I----"

"Be silent, I command you!" said Lady Rookwood.

"Death!" cried Luke, in a loud voice. "Why should I be silent at your
bidding--at _yours_--who regard no laws, human or divine; who pursue
your own fell purposes, without fear of God or man? Waste not your
frowns on me--I heed them not. Do you think I am like a tame hound, to
be cowed to silence? I _will_ speak. Ranulph Rookwood, the name you bear
is mine, and by a right as good as is your own. From his loins, who lies
a corpse before us, I sprang. No brand of shame is on my birth. I am
your father's son--his first-born--your _elder_ brother. Hear me!" cried
he, rushing to the bier. "By this body, I swear that I have avouched the
truth--and though to me the dead Sir Piers Rookwood hath never been what
a father should be to a son--though I have never known his smile, felt
his caresses, or received his blessing, yet now be all forgiven, all
forgotten." And he cast himself with frantic violence upon the coffin.

It is difficult to describe the feelings with which Ranulph heard Luke's
avowal. Amazement and dread predominated. Unable to stir, he stood
gazing on in silence. Not so Lady Rookwood. The moment for action was
arrived. Addressing her son in a low tone, she said, "Your prey is
within your power. Secure him."

"Wherefore?" rejoined Ranulph; "if he be my brother, shall I raise my
hand against him?"

"Wherefore not?" returned Lady Rookwood.

"'Twere an accursed deed," replied Ranulph. "The mystery is resolved.
'Twas for this that I was summoned home."

"Ha! what say you? summoned! by whom?"

"My father!"

"Your father?" echoed Lady Rookwood, in great surprise.

"Ay, my dead father! He has appeared to me since his decease."

"Ranulph, you rave--you are distracted with grief--with astonishment."

"No, mother; but I will not struggle against my destiny."

"Pshaw! your destiny is Rookwood, its manors, its lands, its rent-roll,
and its title; nor shall you yield it to a base-born churl like this.
Let him prove his rights. Let the law adjudge them to him, and we will
yield--but not till then. I tell thee he has _not_ the right, nor can he
maintain it. He is a deluded dreamer, who, having heard some idle tale
of his birth, believes it, because it chimes with his wishes. I treated
him with the scorn he deserved. I would have driven him from my
presence, but he was armed, as you see, and forced me hither, perhaps to
murder me; a deed he might have accomplished had it not been for your
intervention. His life is already forfeit, for an attempt of the same
sort last night. Why else came he hither? for what else did he drag me
to this spot? Let him answer that!"

"I _will_ answer it," replied Luke, raising himself from the bier.

His face was ghastly as the corpse over which he leaned. "I had a deed
to do, which I wished you to witness. It was a wild conception. But the
means by which I have acquired the information of my rights were wild.
Ranulph, we are both the slaves of fate. You have received your summons
hither--I have had mine. Your father's ghost called you; my mother's
spectral hand beckoned me. Both are arrived. One thing more remains, and
my mission is completed." Saying which, he drew forth the skeleton hand;
and having first taken the wedding-ring from the finger, he placed the
withered limb upon the left breast of his father's body. "Rest there,"
he cried, "for ever."

"Will you suffer that?" said Lady Rookwood, tauntingly, to her son.

"No," replied Ranulph; "such profanation of the dead shall not be
endured, were he ten times my brother. Stand aside," added he, advancing
towards the bier, and motioning Luke away. "Withdraw your hand from my
father's body, and remove what you have placed upon it."

"I will neither remove it nor suffer it to be removed," returned Luke.
"'Twas for that purpose I came hither. 'Twas to that hand he was united
in life, in death he shall not be divided from it."

"Such irreverence shall not be!" exclaimed Ranulph, seizing Luke with
one hand, and snatching at the cereclothes with the other. "Remove it,
or by Heaven----"

"Leave go your hold," said Luke, in a voice of thunder; "you strive in
vain."

Ranulph ineffectually attempted to push him backwards; and, shaking away
the grasp that was fixed upon his collar, seized his brother's wrist, so
as to prevent the accomplishment of his purpose. In this unnatural and
indecorous strife the corpse of their father was reft of its covering
and the hand discovered lying upon the pallid breast.

And as if the wanton impiety of their conduct called forth an immediate
rebuke, even from the dead, a frown seemed to pass over Sir Piers's
features, as their angry glances fell in that direction. This startling
effect was occasioned by the approach of Lady Rookwood, whose shadow,
falling over the brow and visage of the deceased, produced the
appearance we have described. Simultaneously quitting each other, with a
deep sense of shame, mingled with remorse, both remained, their eyes
fixed upon the dead, whose repose they had violated.

Folding the graveclothes decently over the body, Luke prepared to
depart.

"Hold!" cried Lady Rookwood; "you go not hence."

"My brother Ranulph will not oppose my departure," returned Luke; "who
else shall prevent it?"

"That will I!" cried a sharp voice behind him; and, ere he could turn to
ascertain from whom the exclamation proceeded, Luke felt himself
grappled by two nervous assailants, who, snatching the pistol from his
hold, fast pinioned his arms.

This was scarcely the work of a moment, and he was a prisoner before he
could offer any resistance. A strong smile of exultation evinced Lady
Rookwood's satisfaction.

"Bravo, my lads, bravo!" cried Coates, stepping forward, for he it was
under whose skilful superintendence the seizure had been effected:
"famously managed; my father the thief-taker's runners couldn't have
done it better--hand me that pistol--loaded, I see--slugs, no doubt--oh,
he's a precious rascal--search him--turn his pockets inside out, while I
speak to her ladyship." Saying which, the brisk attorney, enchanted with
the feat he had performed, approached Lady Rookwood with a profound bow,
and an amazing smirk of self-satisfaction. "Just in time to prevent
mischief," said he; "hope your ladyship does not suffer any
inconvenience from the alarm--beg pardon, annoyance I meant to
say--which this horrible outrage must have occasioned; excessively
disagreeable this sort of thing to a lady at any time, but at a period
like this more than usually provoking. However, we have the villain safe
enough. Very lucky I happened to be in the way. Perhaps your ladyship
would like to know how I discovered----"

"Not now," replied Lady Rookwood, checking the volubility of the man of
law. "I thank you, Mr. Coates, for the service you have rendered me; you
will now add materially to the obligation by removing the prisoner with
all convenient despatch."

"Certainly, if your ladyship wishes it. Shall I detain him a close
prisoner in the hall for the night, or remove him at once to the lock-up
house in the village?"

"Where you please, so you do it quickly," replied Lady Rookwood,
noticing, with great uneasiness, the agitated manner of her son, and
apprehensive lest, in the presence of so many witnesses, he might say or
do something prejudicial to their interests. Nor were her fears
groundless. As Coates was about to return to the prisoner, he was
arrested by the voice of Ranulph, commanding him to stay.

"Mr. Coates," said he, "however appearances may be against this man, he
is no robber--you must, therefore, release him."

"Eh day, what's that? release him, Sir Ranulph?"

"Yes, sir; I tell you he came here neither with the intent to rob nor to
offer violence."

"That is false, Ranulph," replied Lady Rookwood. "I was dragged hither
by him at the peril of my life. He is Mr. Coates's prisoner on another
charge."

"Unquestionably, your ladyship is perfectly right; I have a warrant
against him for assaulting Hugh Badger, the keeper, and for other
misdemeanors."

"I will myself be responsible for his appearance to that charge,"
replied Ranulph. "Now, sir, at once release him."

"At your peril!" exclaimed Lady Rookwood.

"Well, really," muttered the astonished attorney, "this is the most
perplexing proceeding I ever witnessed."

"Ranulph," said Lady Rookwood, sternly, to her son, "beware how you
thwart me!"

"Yes, Sir Ranulph, let me venture to advise you, as a friend, not to
thwart her ladyship," whispered the attorney; "indeed, she is in the
right." But seeing his advice unheeded, Coates withdrew to a little
distance.

"I will not see injustice done to my father's son," replied Ranulph, in
a low tone. "Why would you detain him?"

"Why?" returned she, "our safety demands it--our honor."

"Our honor demands his instant liberation; each moment he remains in
those bonds sullies its purity. I will free him myself from his
fetters."

"And brave my curse, foolish boy? You incurred your miserable father's
anathema for a lighter cause than this. Our honor cries aloud for his
destruction. Have I not been injured in the nicest point a woman can be
injured? Shall I lend my name to mockery and scorn, by base
acknowledgment of such deceit, or will you? Where would be my honor,
then, stripped of my fair estates--my son--myself--beggars--dependent on
the bounty of an upstart? Does honor ask you to bear this? It is a
phantom sense of honor, unsubstantial as your father's shade, of which
you just now spoke, that would prompt you to do otherwise."

"Do not evoke his awful spirit, mother," cried Ranulph, with a shudder;
"do not arouse his wrath."

"Do not arouse _my_ wrath," returned Lady Rookwood. "I am the more to be
feared. Think of Eleanor Mowbray; the bar between your nuptials is
removed. Would you raise up a greater impediment?"

"Enough, mother; more than enough. You have decided, though not
convinced me. Detain him within the house, if you will, until the
morrow; in the meantime, I will consider over my line of conduct."

"Is this, then, your resolve?"

"It is. Mr. Coates," said Ranulph, calling the attorney, who had been an
inquisitive spectator, though, luckily, not an auditor of this
interview, "unbind the prisoner, and bring him hither."

"Is it your ladyship's pleasure?" asked Mr. Coates, who regretted
exceedingly that he could not please both parties.

Lady Rookwood signified her assent by a slight gesture in the
affirmative.

"Your bidding shall be done, Sir Ranulph," said Coates, bowing and
departing.

"_Sir_ Ranulph!" echoed Lady Rookwood, with strong emphasis; "marked you
that?"

"Body o' me," muttered the attorney, "this is the most extraordinary
family, to be sure. Make way, gentlemen, if you please," added he,
pushing through the crowd, towards the prisoner.

Having described what took place between Lady Rookwood and her son in
one part of the room, we must now briefly narrate some incidental
occurrences in the other. The alarm of a robber having been taken spread
with great celerity through the house, and almost all its inmates rushed
into the room, including Dr. Small, Titus Tyrconnel, and Jack Palmer.

"Odsbodikins! are you there, honey?" said Titus, who discovered his
ally; "the bird's caught, you see."

"Caught be d--d," replied Jack, bluffly; "so I see; all his own fault;
infernal folly to come here, at such a time as this. However, it can't
be helped now; he must make the best of it. And as to that sneaking,
gimlet-eyed, parchment-skinned quill-driver, if I don't serve him out
for his officiousness one of these days, my name's not Jack Palmer."

"Och! cushlamacree! did I ever? why, what's the boy to you, Jack? Fair
play's a jewel, and surely Mr. Coates only did his duty. I'm sorry he's
captured, for his relationship to Sir Piers, and because I think he'll
be tucked up for his pains; and, moreover, I could forgive the poaching;
but as to the breaking into a house on such an occasion as this, och!
It's a plaguy bad look. I'm afraid he's worse than I thought him."

A group of the tenantry, many of whom were in a state of intoxication,
had, in the meantime, formed themselves round the prisoner. Whatever
might be the nature of his thoughts, no apprehension was visible in
Luke's countenance. He stood erect amidst the assemblage, his tall form
towering above them all, and his eyes fixed upon the movements of Lady
Rookwood and her son. He had perceived the anguish of the latter, and
the vehemence of the former, attributing both to their real causes. The
taunts and jeers, threats and insolent inquiries, of the hinds who
thronged around him, passed unheeded; yet one voice in his ear, sharp as
the sting of a serpent, made him start. It was that of the sexton.

"You have done well," said Peter, "have you not? Your fetters are, I
hope, to your liking. Well! a wilful man must have his own way, and
perhaps the next time you will be content to follow my advice. You must
now free yourself, the best way you can, from these Moabites, and I
promise you it will be no easy matter. Ha, ha!"

Peter withdrew into the crowd; and Luke, vainly endeavoring to discover
his retreating figure, caught the eye of Jack Palmer fixed upon himself,
with a peculiar and very significant expression.

At this moment Mr. Coates made his appearance.

"Bring forward the prisoner," said the man of law to his two assistants;
and Luke was accordingly hurried along, Mr. Coates using his best
efforts to keep back the crowd. It was during the pressure that Luke
heard a voice whisper in his ear, "Never fear; all's right!" and turning
his head, he became aware of the propinquity of Jack Palmer. The latter
elevated his eyebrows with a gesture of silence, and Luke passed on as
if nothing had occurred. He was presently confronted with Lady Rookwood
and her son; and, notwithstanding the efforts of Mr. Coates, seconded by
some few others, the crowd grew dense around them.

"Remove his fetters," said Ranulph. And his manacles were removed.

"You will consent to remain here a prisoner till to-morrow?"

"I consent to nothing," replied Luke; "I am in your hands."

"He does not deserve your clemency, Sir Ranulph," interposed Coates.

"Let him take his own course," said Lady Rookwood; "he will reap the
benefit of it anon."

"Will you pledge yourself not to depart?" asked Ranulph.

"Of course," cried the attorney; "to be sure he will. Ha, ha!"

"No," returned Luke, haughtily, "I will not--and you will detain me at
your proper peril."

"Better and better," exclaimed the attorney. "This is the highest joke I
ever heard."

"I shall detain, you, then, in custody, until proper inquiries can be
made," said Ranulph. "To your care, Mr. Coates, and to that of Mr.
Tyrconnel, whom I must request to lend you his assistance, I commit the
charge; and I must further request, that you will show him every
attention which his situation will permit. Remove him. We have a sacred
duty to the dead to fulfil, to which even justice to the living must
give way. Disperse this crowd, and let instant preparations be made for
the completion of the ceremonial. You understand me, sir."

"Ranulph Rookwood," said Luke, sternly, as he departed, "you have
another--a more sacred office to perform. Fulfil your duty to your
father's son."

"Away with him!" cried Lady Rookwood. "I am out of all patience with
this trilling. Follow me to my chamber," added she to her son, passing
towards the door. The concourse of spectators, who had listened to this
extraordinary scene in astonishment, made way for her instantly, and she
left the room, accompanied by Ranulph. The prisoner was led out by the
other door.

"Botheration!" cried Titus to Mr. Coates, as they followed in the wake,
"why did he choose out me? I'll lose the funeral entirely by his
arrangement."

"That you will," replied Palmer. "Shall I be your deputy?"

"No, no," returned Coates. "I will have no other than Mr. Tyrconnel. It
was Sir Ranulph's express wish."

"That's the devil of it," returned Titus; "and I, who was to have been
chief mourner, and have made all the preparations, am to be omitted. I
wish Sir Ranulph had stayed till to-morrow--what could bring him here,
to spoil all?--it's cursedly provoking!"

"Cursed provoking!" echoed Jack.

"But then there's no help, so I must make the best of it," returned the
good-humored Irishman.

"Body o' me," said Coates, "there's something in all this that I can't
fathom. As to keeping the prisoner _here_, that's all moonshine. But I
suppose we shall know the whole drift of it to-morrow."

"Ay," replied Jack, with a meaning smile, "to-morrow!"



_BOOK II_


_THE SEXTON_

    _Duchess._ Thou art very plain.

    _Bosola._ My trade is to flatter the dead--not the living--I am a
    tomb-maker.

                                                              WEBSTER.



_CHAPTER I_

_THE STORM_

    Come, list, and hark! the bell doth towle,
    For some but now departing sowle;
    And was not that some ominous fowle?
    The bat, the night-crow, or screech-owle?
    To these I hear the wild wolf howle,
    In this dark night that seems to scowle;--
    All these my blacke-booke shall enrowle,
    For hark! still hark! the bell doth towle
    For some but new-departed sowle!

                                           HAYWOOD: _Rape of Lucrece_.


The night was wild and stormy. The day had been sultry, with a lurid,
metallic-looking sky, hanging like a vast galvanic plate over the face
of nature. As evening drew on, everything betokened the coming tempest.
Unerring indications of its approach were noted by the weatherwise at
the hall. The swallow was seen to skim the surface of the pool so
closely that he ruffled its placid mirror as he passed; and then,
sharply darting round and round, with twittering scream, he winged his
rapid flight to his clay-built home, beneath the barn eaves. The kine
that had herded to the margin of the water, and sought, by splashing, to
relieve themselves from the keen persecution of their myriad insect
tormentors, wended stallwards, undriven, and deeply lowing. The deer,
that at twilight had trooped thither also for refreshment, suddenly,
"with expanded nostrils, snuffed the air," and bounded off to their
coverts, amidst the sheltering fernbrake. The rooks "obstreperous of
wing, in crowds combined," cawed in a way that, as plainly as words
could have done, bespoke their apprehension; and were seen, some
hovering and beating the air with flapping pinion, others shooting
upwards in mid space, as if to reconnoitre the weather; while others,
again, were croaking to their mates, in loud discordant tone, from the
highest branches of the lime-trees; all, seemingly, as anxious and as
busy as mariners before a gale of wind. At sunset, the hazy vapors,
which had obscured the horizon throughout the day, rose up in spiral
volumes, like smoke from a burning forest, and, becoming gradually
condensed, assumed the form of huge, billowy masses, which, reflecting
the sun's light, changed, as the sinking orb declined, from purple to
flame-color, and thence to ashy, angry gray. Night rushed onwards, like
a sable steed. There was a dead calm. The stillness was undisturbed,
save by an intermittent, sighing wind, which, hollow as a murmur from
the grave, died as it rose. At once the gray clouds turned to an inky
blackness. A single, sharp, intensely vivid flash, shot from the bosom
of the rack, sheer downwards, and struck the earth with a report like
that of a piece of ordnance. In ten minutes it was dunnest night, and a
rattling thunder-storm.

The progress of the storm was watched with infinite apprehension by the
crowd of tenantry assembled in the great hall; and loud and frequent
were the ejaculations uttered, as each succeeding peal burst over their
heads. There was, however, one amongst the assemblage who seemed to
enjoy the uproar. A kindred excitement appeared to blaze in his glances,
as he looked upon the storm without. This was Peter Bradley. He stood
close by the window, and shaded not his eyes, even before the fiercest
flashes. A grin of unnatural exhilaration played upon his features, and
he seemed to exult in, and to court, the tempestuous horrors, which
affected the most hardy amongst his companions with consternation, and
made all shrink, trembling, into the recesses of the room. Peter's
conduct was not unobserved, nor his reputation for unholy dealing
forgotten. To some he was almost as much an object of dread as the storm
itself.

"Didst ever see the like o' that?" said Farmer Burtenshaw--one of the
guests, whose round, honest face good wine had recently empurpled, but
fear had now mottled white,--addressing a neighbor. "Didst ever hear of
any man that were a Christian laughing in the very face o' a
thunder-storm, with the lightnin' fit to put out his eyes, and the
rattle above ready to break the drums o' his ears? I always thought
Peter Bradley was not exactly what he ought to be, and now I am sure on
it."

"For my part, I think, Neighbor Burtenshaw," returned the other, "that
this great burst of weather's all of his raising, for in all my born
days I never see'd such a hurly-burly, and hope never to see the like of
it again. I've heard my grandfather tell of folk as could command wind
and rain; and, mayhap, Peter may have the power--we all know he can do
more nor any other man."

"We know, at all events," replied Burtenshaw, "that he lives like no
other man; that he spends night after night by himself in that dreary
churchyard; that he keeps no living thing, except an old terrier dog, in
his crazy cottage; and that he never asks a body into his house from one
year's end to another. I've never crossed his threshold these twenty
years. But," continued he mysteriously, "I happened to pass the house
one dark, dismal night, and there what dost think I see'd through the
window?"

"What--what didst see?"

"Peter Bradley sitting with a great book open on his knees; it were a
Bible, I think, and he crying like a child."

"Art sure o' that?"

"The tears were falling fast upon the leaves," returned Burtenshaw; "but
when I knocked at the door, he hastily shut up the book, and ordered me
to be gone, in a surly tone, as if he were ashamed of being caught in
the fact."

"I thought no tear had ever dropped from his eye," said the other. "Why,
he laughed when his daughter Susan went off at the hall; and, when she
died, folks said he received hush-money to say nought about it. _That_
were a bad business, anyhow; and now that his grandson Luke be taken in
the fact of housebreaking, he minds it no more, not he, than if nothing
had happened."

"Don't be too sure of that," replied Burtenshaw; "he may be scheming
summat all this time. Well, I've known Peter Bradley now these
two-and-fifty years, and, excepting that one night, I never saw any good
about him, and never heard of nobody who could tell who he be, or where
he do come from."

"One thing's certain, at least," replied the other farmer--"he were
never born at Rookwood. How he came here the devil only knows. Save us!
what a crash!--this storm be all of his raising, I tell 'ee."

"He be--what he certainly will be," interposed another speaker, in a
louder tone, and with less of apprehension in his manner than his
comrade, probably from his nerves being better fortified with strong
liquor. "Dost thou think, Samuel Plant, as how Providence would entrust
the like o' him with the command of the elements? No--no, it's rank
blasphemy to suppose such a thing, and I've too much of the true
Catholic and apostate church about me, to stand by and hear that said."

"Maybe, then, he gets his power from the Prince of Darkness," replied
Plant; "no man else could go on as he does--only look at him. He seems
to be watching for the thunderbowt."

"I wish he may catch it, then," returned the other.

"That's an evil wish, Simon Toft, and thou mayst repent it."

"Not I," replied Toft; "it would be a good clearance to the neighborhood
to get rid o' th' old croaking curmudgeon."

Whether or not Peter overheard the conversation, we pretend not to say,
but at that moment a blaze of lightning showed him staring fiercely at
the group.

"As I live, he's overheard you, Simon," exclaimed Plant. "I wouldn't be
in your skin for a trifle."

"Nor I," added Burtenshaw.

"Let him overhear me," answered Toft; "who cares? he shall hear summat
worth listening to. I'm not afraid o' him or his arts, were they as
black as Beelzebuth's own; and to show you I'm not, I'll go and have a
crack with him on the spot."

"Thou'rt a fool for thy pains, if thou dost, Friend Toft," returned
Plant, "that's all I can say."

"Be advised by me, and stay here," seconded Burtenshaw, endeavoring to
hold him back.

But Toft would not be advised--

    Kings may be blest, but he was glorious,
    O'er all the ills of life victorious.

Staggering up to Peter, he laid a hard grasp upon his shoulder, and,
thus forcibly soliciting his attention, burst into a loud horse-laugh.

But Peter was, or affected to be, too much occupied to look at him.

"What dost see, man, that thou starest so?"

"It comes, it comes--the rain--the rain--a torrent--a deluge--ha, ha!
Blessed is the corpse the rain rains on. Sir Piers may be drenched
through his leaden covering by such a downfall as that--splash,
splash--fire and water and thunder, all together--is not that fine?--ha,
ha! The heavens will weep for him, though friends shed not a tear. When
did a great man's heir feel sympathy for his sire's decease? When did
his widow mourn? When doth any man regret his fellow? Never! He
rejoiceth--he maketh glad in his inmost heart--he cannot help it--it is
nature. We all pray for--we all delight in each other's destruction. We
were created to do so; or why else should we act thus? I never wept for
any man's death, but I have often laughed. Natural sympathy!--out on the
phrase! The distant heavens--the senseless trees--the impenetrable
stones--shall regret you more than man shall bewail your death with more
sincerity. Ay, 'tis well--rain on--splash, splash: it will cool the
hell-fever. Down, down--buckets and pails, ha, ha!"

There was a pause, during which the sexton, almost exhausted by the
frenzy in which he had suffered himself to be involved, seemed
insensible to all around him.

"I tell you what," said Burtenshaw to Plant, "I have always thought
there was more in Peter Bradley nor appears on the outside. He is not
what he seems to be, take my word on it. Lord love you! do you think a
man such as he pretends to be could talk in that sort of way--about
nat'ral simpering?--no such thing."

When Peter recovered, his insane merriment broke out afresh, having only
acquired fury by the pause.

"Look out, look out!" cried he; "hark to the thunder--list to the rain!
Marked ye that flash--marked ye the clock-house--and the bird upon the
roof? 'tis the rook--the great bird of the house, that hath borne away
the soul of the departed. There, there--can you not see it? it sits and
croaks through storm and rain, and never heeds at all--and wherefore
should it heed? See, it flaps its broad black wings--it croaks--ha, ha!
It comes--it comes."

And driven, it might be by the terror of the storm, from more secure
quarters, a bird, at this instant, was dashed against the window, and
fell to the ground.

"That's a call," continued Peter; "it will be over soon, and we must set
out. The dead will not need to tarry. Look at that trail of fire along
the avenue; dost see yon line of sparkles, like a rocket's tail? That's
the path the corpse will take. St. Hermes's flickering fire, Robin
Goodfellow's dancing light, or the blue flame of the corpse-candle,
which I saw flitting to the churchyard last week, was not so pretty a
sight--ha, ha! You asked me for a song a moment ago--you shall have one
now without asking."

And without waiting to consult the inclinations of his comrades, Peter
broke into the following wild strain with all the fervor of a
half-crazed improvisatore:

    THE CORPSE-CANDLE

    Lambere flamma ταφος et circum funera pasci.

    Through the midnight gloom did a pale blue light
    To the churchyard mirk wing its lonesome flight:--
    Thrice it floated those old walls round--
    Thrice it paused--till the grave it found.
    Over the grass-green sod it glanced,
    Over the fresh-turned earth it danced,
    Like a torch in the night-breeze quivering--
    Never was seen so gay a thing!
    Never was seen so blithe a sight
    As the midnight dance of that blue light!

    Now what of that pale blue flame dost know?
    Canst tell where it comes from, or where it will go?
    Is it the soul, released from clay,
    Over the earth that takes its way,
    And tarries a moment in mirth and glee
    Where the corse it hath quitted interred shall be?
    Or is it the trick of some fanciful sprite,
    That taketh in mortal mischance delight,
    And marketh the road the coffin shall go,
    And the spot where the dead shall be soon laid low?
    Ask him who can answer these questions aright;
    I know not the cause of that pale blue light!

"I can't say I like thy song, Master Peter," said Toft, as the sexton
finished his stave, "but if thou _didst_ see a corpse-candle, as thou
call'st thy pale blue flame, whose death doth it betoken?--eh!"

"Thine own," returned Peter, sharply.

"Mine! thou lying old cheat--dost dare to say that to my face? Why, I'm
as hale and hearty as ever a man in the house. Dost think there's no
life and vigor in this arm, thou drivelling old dotard?"

Upon which, Toft seized Peter by the throat with an energy that, but for
the timely intervention of the company, who rushed to his assistance,
the prophet might himself have anticipated the doom he prognosticated.

Released from the grasp of Toft, who was held back by the bystanders,
Peter again broke forth into his eldritch laugh; and staring right into
the face of his adversary, with eyes glistening, and hands uplifted, as
if in the act of calling down an imprecation on his head, he screamed,
in a shrill and discordant voice, "Soh! you will not take my warning?
you revile me--you flout me! 'Tis well! your fate shall prove a warning
to all unbelievers--_they_ shall remember this night, though _you_ will
not. Fool! fool!--your doom has long been sealed! I saw your wraith
choose out its last lodgment on Halloween; I know the spot. Your grave
is dug already--ha, ha!" And, with renewed laughter, Peter rushed out of
the room.

"Did I not caution thee not to provoke him, friend Toft?" said Plant;
"it's ill playing with edge-tools; but don't let him fly off in that
tantrum--one of ye go after him."

"That will I," replied Burtenshaw; and he departed in search of the
sexton.

"I'd advise thee to make it up with Peter so soon as thou canst,
neighbor," continued Plant; "he's a bad friend, but a worse enemy."

"Why, what harm can he do me?" returned Toft, who, however, was not
without some misgivings. "If I must die, I can't help it--I shall go
none the sooner for him, even if he speak the truth, which I don't think
he do; and if I must, I sha'n't go unprepared--only I think as how, if
it pleased Providence, I could have wished to keep my old missus company
some few years longer, and see those bits of lasses of mine grow up
into women, and respectably provided for. But His will be done. I
sha'n't leave 'em quite penniless, and there's one eye at least, I'm
sure, won't be dry at my departure." Here the stout heart of Toft gave
way, and he shed some few "natural tears," which, however, he speedily
brushed away. "I'll tell you what, neighbors," continued he, "I think we
may all as well be thinking of going to our own homes, for, to my mind,
we shall never reach the churchyard to-night."

"That _you_ never will," exclaimed a voice behind him; and Toft, turning
round, again met the glance of Peter.

"Come, come, Master Peter," cried the good-natured farmer, "this be ugly
jesting--ax pardon for my share of it--sorry for what I did--so give us
thy hand, man, and think no more about it."

Peter extended his claw, and the parties were, apparently, once more
upon terms of friendship.



_CHAPTER II_

_THE FUNERAL ORATION_

    In northern customs duty was exprest
    To friends departed by their funeral feast;
    Though I've consulted Hollingshed and Stow,
    I find it very difficult to know,
    Who, to refresh the attendants to the grave,
    Burnt claret first, or Naples' biscuit gave.

                                               KING: _Art of Cookery_.

    Ceterum priusquam corpus humo injectâ contegatur, defunctus oratione
    funebri laudabatur.--DURAND.


A supply of spirits was here introduced; lights were brought at the same
time, and placed upon a long oak table. The party gathering round it,
ill-humor was speedily dissipated, and even the storm disregarded, in
the copious libations that ensued. At this juncture, a loiterer appeared
in the hall. His movements were unnoticed by all excepting the sexton,
who watched his proceedings with some curiosity. The person walked to
the window, appearing, so far as could be discovered, to eye the storm
with great impatience. He then paced the hall rapidly backwards and
forwards, and Peter fancied he could detect sounds of disappointment in
his muttered exclamations. Again he returned to the window, as if to
ascertain the probable duration of the shower. It was a hopeless
endeavor; all was pitch-dark without; the lightning was now only seen at
long intervals, but the rain still audibly descended in torrents.
Apparently seeing the impossibility of controlling the elements, the
person approached the table.

"What think you of the night, Mr. Palmer?" asked the sexton of Jack, for
he was the anxious investigator of the weather.

"Don't know--can't say--set in, I think--cursed unlucky--for the
funeral, I mean--we shall be drowned if we go."

"And drunk if we stay," rejoined Peter. "But never fear, it will hold
up, depend upon it, long before we can start. Where have they put the
prisoner?" asked he, with a sudden change of manner.

"I know the room, but can't describe it; it's two or three doors down
the lower corridor of the eastern gallery."

"Good. Who are on guard?"

"Titus Tyrconnel and that swivel-eyed quill-driver, Coates."

"Enough."

"Come, come, Master Peter," roared Toft, "let's have another stave. Give
us one of your odd snatches. No more corpse-candles, or that sort of
thing. Something lively--something jolly--ha, ha!"

"A good move," shouted Jack. "A lively song from _you_--lillibullero
from a death's-head--ha, ha!"

"My songs are all of a sort," returned Peter; "I am seldom asked to
sing a second time. However, you are welcome to the merriest I have."
And preparing himself, like certain other accomplished vocalists, with a
few preliminary hems and haws, he struck forth the following doleful
ditty:

    THE OLD OAK COFFIN

    Sic ego componi versus in ossa velim.--TIBULLUS.

    In a churchyard, upon the sward, a coffin there was laid,
    And leaning stood, beside the wood, a sexton on his spade.
    A coffin old and black it was, and fashioned curiously,
    With quaint device of carved oak, in hideous fantasie.

    For here was wrought the sculptured thought of a tormented face,
    With serpents lithe that round it writhe, in folded strict embrace.
    Grim visages of grinning fiends were at each corner set,
    And emblematic scrolls, mort-heads, and bones together met.

    "Ah, welladay!" that sexton gray unto himself did cry,
    "Beneath that lid much lieth hid--much awful mysterie.
    It is an ancient coffin from the abbey that stood here;
    Perchance it holds an abbot's bones, perchance those of a frere.

    "In digging deep, where monks do sleep, beneath yon cloister shrined,
    That coffin old, within the mould, it was my chance to find;
    The costly carvings of the lid I scraped full carefully,
    In hope to get at name or date, yet nothing could I see.

    "With pick and spade I've plied my trade for sixty years and more,
    Yet never found, beneath the ground, shell strange as that before;
    Full many coffins have I seen--have seen them deep or flat,
    Fantastical in fashion--none fantastical as that."

    And saying so, with heavy blow, the lid he shattered wide,
    And, pale with fright, a ghastly sight that sexton gray espied;
    A miserable sight it was, that loathsome corpse to see,
    The last, last, dreary, darksome stage of fall'n humanity.

    Though all was gone, save reeky bone, a green and grisly heap,
    With scarce a trace of fleshly face, strange posture did it keep.
    The hands were clenched, the teeth were wrenched, as if the wretch
              had risen,
    E'en after death had ta'en his breath, to strive and burst his prison.

    The neck was bent, the nails were rent, no limb or joint was straight;
    Together glued, with blood imbued, black and coagulate.
    And, as the sexton stooped him down to lift the coffin plank,
    His fingers were defiled all o'er with slimy substance dank.

    "Ah, welladay!" that sexton gray unto himself did cry,
    "Full well I see how Fate's decree foredoomed this wretch to die;
    A living man, a breathing man, within the coffin thrust,
    Alack! alack! the agony ere he returned to dust!"

    A vision drear did then appear unto that sexton's eyes;
    Like that poor wight before him straight he in a coffin lies.
    He lieth in a trance within that coffin close and fast;
    Yet though he sleepeth now, he feels he shall awake at last.

    The coffin, then, by reverend men, is borne with footsteps slow,
    Where tapers shine before the shrine, where breathes the requiem low;
    And for the dead the prayer is said, for the soul that is _not_ flown--
    Then all is drowned in hollow sound, the earth is o'er him thrown!

    He draweth breath--he wakes from death to life more horrible;
    To agony! such agony! no living tongue may tell.
    Die! die he must, that wretched one! he struggles--strives in vain;
    No more Heaven's light, nor sunshine bright, shall he behold again.

    "Gramercy, Lord!" the sexton roared, awakening suddenly,
    "If this be dream, yet doth it seem most dreadful so to die.
    Oh, cast my body in the sea! or hurl it on the shore!
    But nail me not in coffin fast--no grave will I dig more."

It was not difficult to discover the effect produced by this song, in
the lengthened faces of the greater part of the audience. Jack Palmer,
however, laughed loud and long.

"Bravo, bravo!" cried he; "that suits my humor exactly. I can't abide
the thoughts of a coffin. No deal box for me."

"A gibbet might, perhaps, serve your turn as well," muttered the sexton;
adding aloud, "I am now entitled to call upon you;--a song!--a song!"

"Ay, a song, Mr. Palmer, a song!" reiterated the hinds. "Yours will be
the right kind of thing."

"Say no more," replied Jack. "I'll give you a chant composed upon Dick
Turpin, the highwayman. It's no great shakes, to be sure, but it's the
best I have." And, with a knowing wink at the sexton, he commenced, in
the true nasal whine, the following strain:

    ONE FOOT IN THE STIRRUP

    OR TURPIN'S FIRST FLING

    Cum esset proposita fuga _Turpi_(n)_s_.--CICERO.

    "One foot in the stirrup, one hand in the rein,
    And the noose be my portion, or freedom I'll gain!
    Oh! give me a seat in my saddle once more,
    And these bloodhounds shall find that the chase is not o'er!"
    Thus muttered Dick Turpin, who found, while he slept,
    That the Philistines old on his slumbers had crept;
    Had entrapped him as puss on her form you'd ensnare,
    And that gone were his snappers--and gone was his mare.
                                                      _Hilloah!_

    How Dick had been captured is readily told,
    The pursuit had been hot, though the night had been cold,
    So at daybreak, exhausted, he sought brief repose
    Mid the thick of a corn-field, away from his foes.
    But in vain was his caution--in vain did his steed,
    Ever watchful and wakeful in moments of need,
    With lip and with hoof on her master's cheek press--
    He slept on, nor heeded the warning of Bess.
                                                      _Hilloah!_

    "Zounds! gem'men!" cried Turpin, "you've found me at fault,
    And the highflying highwayman's come to a halt;
    You have turned up a trump--for I weigh well my weight,--
    And the _forty is yours_, though the halter's _my_ fate.
    Well, come on't what will, you shall own when all's past,
    That Dick Turpin, the Dauntless, was game to the last.
    But, before we go further, I'll hold you a bet,
    That one foot in my stirrup you won't let me set.
                                                      _Hilloah!_

    "A hundred to one is the odds _I_ will stand,
    A hundred to one is the odds _you_ command;
    Here's a handful of goldfinches ready to fly!
    May I venture a foot in my stirrup to try?"
    As he carelessly spoke, Dick directed a glance
    At his courser, and motioned her slyly askance:--
    You might tell by the singular toss of her head,
    And the prick of her ears, that his meaning she read.
                                                      _Hilloah!_

    With derision at first was Dick's wager received,
    And his error at starting as yet unretrieved;
    But when from his pocket the shiners he drew,
    And offered to "make up the hundred to two,"
    There were havers in plenty, and each whispered each,
    The same thing, though varied in figure of speech,
    "Let the fool act his folly--the stirrup of Bess!
    He has put his foot _in it_ already, we guess!"
                                                      _Hilloah!_

    Bess was brought to her master--Dick steadfastly gazed
    At the eye of his mare, then his foot quick upraised;
    His toe touched the stirrup, his hand grasped the rein--
    He was safe on the back of his courser again!
    As the clarion, fray-sounding and shrill, was the neigh
    Of Black Bess, as she answered his cry "Hark-away!"
    "Beset me, ye bloodhounds! in rear and in van;
    My foot's in the stirrup and catch me who can!"
                                                      _Hilloah!_

    There was riding and gibing mid rabble and rout,
    And the old woods re-echoed the Philistines' shout!
    There was hurling and whirling o'er brake and o'er brier,
    But the course of Dick Turpin was swift as Heaven's fire.
    Whipping, spurring, and straining would nothing avail,
    Dick laughed at their curses, and scoffed at their wail;
    "My foot's in the stirrup!"--thus rang his last cry;
    "Bess has answered my call; now her mettle we'll try!"
                                                      _Hilloah!_

Uproarious applause followed Jack's song, when the joviality of the
mourners was interrupted by a summons to attend in the state-room.
Silence was at once completely restored; and, in the best order they
could assume, they followed their leader, Peter Bradley. Jack Palmer
was amongst the last to enter, and remained a not incurious spectator of
a by no means common scene.

Preparations had been made to give due solemnity to the ceremonial. The
leaden coffin was fastened down, and enclosed in an outer case of oak,
upon the lid of which stood a richly-chased massive silver flagon,
filled with burnt claret, called the grace-cup. All the lights were
removed, save two lofty wax flambeaux, which were placed to the back,
and threw a lurid glare upon the group immediately about the body,
consisting of Ranulph Rookwood and some other friends of the deceased.
Dr. Small stood in front of the bier; and, under the directions of Peter
Bradley, the tenantry and household were formed into a wide half-moon
across the chamber. There was a hush of expectation, as Dr. Small looked
gravely round; and even Jack Palmer, who was as little likely as any man
to yield to an impression of the kind, felt himself moved by the scene.

The very orthodox Small, as is well known to our readers, held
everything savoring of the superstitions of the Scarlet Woman in supreme
abomination; and, entertaining such opinions, it can scarcely be
supposed that a funeral oration would find much favor in his eyes,
accompanied, as it was, with the accessories of censer, candle, and cup;
all evidently derived from that period when, under the three-crowned
pontiff's sway, the shaven priest pronounced his benediction o'er the
dead, and released the penitent's soul from purgatorial flames, while he
heavily mulcted the price of his redemption from the possessions of his
successor. Small resented the idea of treading in such steps, as an
insult to himself and his cloth. Was he, the intolerant of Papistry, to
tolerate this? Was he, who could not endure the odor of Catholicism, to
have his nostrils thus polluted--his garments thus defiled by actual
contact with it? It was not to be thought of: and he had formally
signified his declination to Mr. Coates, when a little conversation with
that gentleman, and certain weighty considerations therein held
forth--the advowson of the church of Rookwood residing with the
family--and represented by him, as well as the placing in juxtaposition
of penalties to be incurred by refusal, that the scruples of Small gave
way; and, with the best grace he could muster, very reluctantly promised
compliance.

With these feelings, it will be readily conceived that the doctor was
not in the best possible frame of mind for the delivery of his
exhortation. His spirit had been ruffled by a variety of petty
annoyances, amongst the greatest of which was the condition to which the
good cheer had reduced his clerk, Zachariah Trundletext, whose reeling
eye, pendulous position, and open mouth proclaimed him absolutely
incapable of office. Zachariah was, in consequence, dismissed, and Small
commenced his discourse unsupported. But as our recording it would not
probably conduce to the amusement of our readers, whatever it might to
their edification, we shall pass it over with very brief mention.
Suffice it to say, that the oration was so thickly interstrewn with
lengthy quotations from the fathers,--Chrysostomus, Hieronymus,
Ambrosius, Basilius, Bernardus, and the rest, with whose recondite
Latinity, notwithstanding the clashing of their opinions with his own,
the doctor was intimately acquainted, and which he moreover delighted to
quote,--that his auditors were absolutely mystified and perplexed, and
probably not without design. Countenances of such amazement were turned
towards him, that Small, who had a keen sense of the ludicrous, could
scarcely forbear smiling as he proceeded; and if we could suspect so
grave a personage of waggery, we should almost think that, by way of
retaliation, he had palmed some abstruse, monkish epicedium upon his
astounded auditors.

The oration concluded, biscuits and confectionery were, according to old
observance, handed to such of the tenantry as chose to partake of them.
The serving of the grace-cup, which ought to have formed part of the
duties of Zachariah, had he been capable of office, fell to the share
of the sexton. The bowl was kissed, first by Ranulph, with lips that
trembled with emotion, and afterward by his surrounding friends; but no
drop was tasted--a circumstance which did not escape Peter's
observation. Proceeding to the tenantry, the first in order happened to
be Farmer Toft. Peter presented the cup, and as Toft was about to drain
a deep draught of the wine, Peter whispered in his ear, "Take my advice
for once, Friend Toft, and don't let a bubble of the liquid pass your
lips. For every drop of the wine you drain, Sir Piers will have one sin
the less, and you a load the heavier on your conscience. Didst never
hear of sin-swallowing? For what else was this custom adopted? Seest
thou not the cup's brim hath not yet been moistened? Well, as you
will--ha, ha!" And the sexton passed onwards.

His work being nearly completed, he looked around for Jack Palmer, whom
he had remarked during the oration, but could nowhere discover him.
Peter was about to place the flagon, now almost drained of its contents,
upon its former resting-place, when Small took it from his hands.

"_In poculi fundo residuum non relinque_, admonisheth Pythagoras," said
he, returning the empty cup to the sexton.

"My task here is ended," muttered Peter, "but not elsewhere. Foul
weather or fine, thunder or rain, I must to the church."

Bequeathing his final instructions to certain of the household who were
to form part of the procession, in case it set out, he opened the hall
door, and, the pelting shower dashing heavily in his face, took his way
up the avenue, screaming, as he strode along, the following congenial
rhymes:

    EPHIALTES

    I ride alone--I ride by night
    Through the moonless air on a courser white!
    Over the dreaming earth I fly,
    Here and there--at my fantasy!
    My frame is withered, my visage old,
    My locks are frore, and my bones ice cold.
    The wolf will howl as I pass his lair,
    The ban-dog moan, and the screech-owl stare.
    For breath, at my coming, the sleeper strains,
    And the freezing current forsakes his veins!
    Vainly for pity the wretch may sue--
    Merciless Mara no prayers subdue!
                        _To his couch I flit--
                        On his breast I sit!
                            Astride! astride! astride!
                        And one charm alone
                        --A hollow stone!--[23]
                            Can scare me from his side!_

    A thousand antic shapes I take;
    The stoutest heart at my touch will quake.
    The miser dreams of a bag of gold,
    Or a ponderous chest on his bosom rolled.
    The drunkard groans 'neath a cask of wine;
    The reveller swelts 'neath a weighty chine.
    The recreant turns, by his foes assailed,
    To flee!--but his feet to the ground are nailed.
    The goatherd dreams of his mountain-tops,
    And, dizzily reeling, downward drops.

    The murderer feels at his throat a knife,
    And gasps, as his victim gasped, for life!
    The thief recoils from the scorching brand;
    The mariner drowns in sight of land!
    Thus sinful man have I power to fray,
    Torture, and rack, but not to slay!
    But ever the couch of purity,
    With shuddering glance, I hurry by.
                        _Then mount! away!
                        To horse! I say,
                            To horse! astride! astride!
                        The fire-drake shoots--
                        The screech-owl hoots--
                            As through the air I glide!_



_CHAPTER III_

_THE CHURCHYARD_

    Methought I walked, about the mid of night,
    Into a churchyard.

                                           WEBSTER: _The White Devil_.


Lights streamed through the chancel window as the sexton entered the
churchyard, darkly defining all the ramified tracery of the noble Gothic
arch, and illumining the gorgeous dyes of its richly-stained glass,
profusely decorated with the armorial bearings of the founder of the
fane, and the many alliances of his descendants. The sheen of their
blazonry gleamed bright in the darkness, as if to herald to his last
home another of the line whose achievements it displayed. Glowing
colorings, checkered like rainbow tints, were shed upon the broken
leaves of the adjoining yew-trees, and upon the rounded grassy tombs.

Opening the gate, as he looked in that direction, Peter became aware of
a dark figure, enveloped in a large black cloak, and covered with a
slouched hat, standing at some distance, between the window and the
tree, and so intervening as to receive the full influence of the stream
of radiance which served to dilate its almost superhuman stature. The
sexton stopped. The figure remained stationary. There was something
singular both in the costume and situation of the person. Peter's
curiosity was speedily aroused, and, familiar with every inch of the
churchyard, he determined to take the nearest cut, and to ascertain to
whom the mysterious cloak and hat belonged. Making his way over the
undulating graves, and instinctively rounding the headstones that
intercepted his path, he quickly drew near the object of his inquiry.
From the moveless posture it maintained, the figure appeared to be
unconscious of Peter's approach. To his eyes it seemed to expand as he
advanced. He was now almost close upon it, when his progress was
arrested by a violent grasp laid on his shoulder. He started, and
uttered an exclamation of alarm. At this moment a vivid flash of
lightning illumined the whole churchyard, and Peter then thought he
beheld, at some distance from him, two other figures, bearing upon their
shoulders a huge chest, or, it might be, a coffin. The garb of these
figures, so far as it could be discerned through the drenching rain, was
fantastical in the extreme. The foremost seemed to have a long white
beard descending to his girdle. Little leisure, however, was allowed
Peter for observation. The vision no sooner met his glance than it
disappeared, and nothing was seen but the glimmering tombstones--nothing
heard but the whistling wind and the heavily-descending shower. He
rubbed his eyes. The muffled figure had vanished, and not a trace could
be discovered of the mysterious coffin-bearers, if such they were.

"What have I seen?" mentally ejaculated Peter: "is this sorcery or
treachery, or both? No body-snatchers would visit this place on a night
like this, when the whole neighborhood is aroused. Can it be a vision I
have seen? Pshaw! shall I juggle myself as I deceive these hinds? It was
no bearded demon that I beheld, but the gipsy patrico, Balthazar. I knew
him at once. But what meant that muffled figure; and whose arm could it
have been that griped my shoulder? Ha! what if Lady Rookwood should have
given orders for the removal of Susan's body? No, no; that cannot be.
Besides, I have the keys of the vault; and there are hundreds now in the
church who would permit no such desecration. I am perplexed to think
what it can mean. But I will to the vault." Saying which, he hastened to
the church porch, and after wringing the wet from his clothes, as a
water-dog might shake the moisture from his curly hide, and doffing his
broad felt hat, he entered the holy edifice. The interior seemed one
blaze of light to the sexton, in his sudden transition from outer
darkness. Some few persons were assembled, probably such as were engaged
in the preparations; but there was one group which immediately caught
his attention.

Near the communion-table stood three persons, habited in deep mourning,
apparently occupied in examining the various monumental carvings that
enriched the walls. Peter's office led him to that part of the church.
About to descend into the vaults, to make the last preparations for the
reception of the dead, with lantern in hand, keys, and a crowbar, he
approached the party. Little attention was paid to the sexton's
proceedings, till the harsh grating of the lock attracted their notice.

Peter started as he beheld the face of one of the three, and relaxing
his hold upon the key, the strong bolt shot back in the lock. There was
a whisper amongst the party. A light step was heard advancing towards
him; and ere the sexton could sufficiently recover his surprise, or
force open the door, a female figure stood by his side.

The keen, inquiring stare which Peter bestowed upon the countenance of
the young lady so much abashed her, that she hesitated in her purpose of
addressing him, and hastily retired.

"She here!" muttered Peter; "nay, then, I must no longer withhold the
dreaded secret from Luke, or Ranulph may, indeed, wrest his possessions
from him."

Reinforced by her companions, an elderly lady and a tall, handsome man,
whose bearing and deportment bespoke him to be a soldier, the fair
stranger again ventured towards Peter.

"You are the sexton," said she, addressing him in a voice sweet and
musical.

"I am," returned Peter. It was harmony succeeded by dissonance.

"You, perhaps, can tell us, then," said the elderly lady, "whether the
funeral is likely to take place to-night? We thought it possible that
the storm might altogether prevent it."

"The storm is over, as nearly as maybe," replied Peter. "The body will
soon be on its way. I am but now arrived from the hall."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the lady. "None of the family will be present, I
suppose. Who is the chief mourner?"

"Young Sir Ranulph," answered the sexton. "There will be more of the
family than were expected."

"Is Sir Ranulph returned?" asked the young lady, with great agitation of
manner. "I thought he was abroad--that he was not expected. Are you sure
you are rightly informed?"

"I parted with him at the hall not ten minutes since," replied Peter.
"He returned from France to-night most unexpectedly."

"Oh, mother!" exclaimed the younger lady, "that this should be--that I
should meet him here. Why did we come?--let us depart."

"Impossible!" replied her mother; "the storm forbids it. This man's
information is so strange, I scarce can credit it. Are you sure you have
asserted the truth?" said she, addressing Peter.

"I am not accustomed to be doubted," answered he. "Other things as
strange have happened at the hall."

"What mean you?" asked the gentleman, noticing this last remark.

"You would not need to ask the question of me, had you been there,
amongst the other guests," retorted Peter. "Odd things, I tell you, have
been done there this night, and stranger things may occur before the
morning."

"You are insolent, sirrah! I comprehend you not."

"Enough! I can comprehend _you_," replied Peter, significantly; "I know
the count of the mourners invited to this ceremonial, and I am aware
that there are three too many."

"Know you this saucy knave, mother?"

"I cannot call him to mind, though I fancy I have seen him before."

"My recollection serves me better, lady," interposed Peter. "I remember
one who was once the proud heiress of Rookwood--ay, proud and beautiful.
Then the house was filled with her gallant suitors. Swords were crossed
for her. Hearts bled for her. Yet she favored none, until one hapless
hour. Sir Reginald Rookwood _had_ a daughter; Sir Reginald _lost_ a
daughter. Ha!--I see I am right. Well, he is dead and buried; and
Reginald, his son, is dead likewise; and Piers is on his road hither;
and you are the last, as in the course of nature you might have been the
first. And, now that they are all gone, you do rightly to bury your
grievances with them."

"Silence, sirrah!" exclaimed the gentleman, "or I will beat your brains
out with your own spade."

"No; let him speak, Vavasour," said the lady, with an expression of
anguish--"he has awakened thoughts of other days."

"I have done," said Peter, "and must to work. Will you descend with me,
madam, into the sepulchre of your ancestry? All your family lie
within--ay, and the Lady Eleanor, your mother, amongst the number."

Mrs. Mowbray signified her assent, and the party prepared to follow him.

The sexton held the lantern so as to throw its light upon the steps as
they entered the gloomy receptacle of the departed. Eleanor half
repented having ventured within its dreary limits, so much did the
appearance of the yawning catacombs, surcharged with mortality, and,
above all, the ghostly figure of the grim knight, affect her with dread,
as she looked wistfully around. She required all the support her
brother's arm could afford her; nor was Mrs. Mowbray altogether unmoved.

"And all the family are here interred, you say?" inquired the latter.

"All," replied the sexton.

"Where, then, lies Sir Reginald's younger brother?"

"Who?" exclaimed Peter, starting.

"Alan Rookwood."

"What of him?"

"Nothing of moment. But I thought you could, perhaps, inform me. He died
young."

"He did," replied Peter, in an altered tone--"very young; but not before
he had lived to an old age of wretchedness. Do you know his story,
madam?"

"I have heard it."

"From your father's lips?"

"From Sir Reginald Rookwood's--never. Call him not my father, sirrah;
even _here_ I will not have him named so to me."

"Your pardon, madam," returned the sexton. "Great cruelty was shown to
the Lady Eleanor, and may well call forth implacable resentment in her
child; yet methinks the wrong he did his brother Alan was the foulest
stain with which Sir Reginald's black soul was dyed."

"With what particular wrong dost thou charge Sir Reginald?" demanded
Major Mowbray. "What injury did he inflict upon his brother Alan?"

"He wronged his brother's honor," replied the sexton; "he robbed him of
his wife, poisoned his existence, and hurried him to an untimely grave."

Eleanor shudderingly held back during this horrible narration, the
hearing of which she would willingly have shunned, had it been possible.

"Can this be true?" asked the major.

"Too true, my son," replied Mrs. Mowbray, sorrowfully.

"And where lies the unfortunate Alan?" asked Major Mowbray.

"'Twixt two cross roads. Where else should the suicide lie?"

Evading any further question, Peter hastily traversed the vault,
elevating the light so as to reveal the contents of each cell. One
circumstance filled him with surprise and dismay--he could nowhere
perceive the coffin of his daughter. In vain he peered into every
catacomb--they were apparently undisturbed; and, with much internal
marvelling and misgiving, Peter gave up the search. "That vision is now
explained," muttered he; "the body is removed, but by whom? Death! can I
doubt? It must be Lady Rookwood--who else can have any interest in its
removal. She has acted boldly. But she shall yet have reason to repent
her temerity." As he continued his search, his companions silently
followed. Suddenly he stopped, and, signifying that all was finished,
they not unwillingly quitted this abode of horror, leaving him behind
them.

"It is a dreadful place," whispered Eleanor to her mother; "nor would I
have visited it, had I conceived anything of its horrors. And that
strange man! who or what is he?"

"Ay, who is he?" repeated Major Mowbray.

"I recollect him now," replied Mrs. Mowbray; "he is one who has ever
been connected with the family. He had a daughter, whose beauty was her
ruin: it is a sad tale; I cannot tell it now: you have heard enough of
misery and guilt: but that may account for his bitterness of speech. He
was a dependent upon my poor brother."

"Poor man!" replied Eleanor; "if he has been unfortunate, I pity him. I
am sorry we have been into that dreadful place. I am very faint: and I
tremble more than ever at the thought of meeting Ranulph Rookwood again.
I can scarcely support myself--I am sure I shall not venture to look
upon him."

"Had I dreamed of the likelihood of his attending the ceremony, rest
assured, dear Eleanor, we should not have been here: but I was informed
there was no possibility of his return. Compose yourself, my child. It
will be a trying time to both of us; but it is now inevitable."

At this moment the bell began to toll. "The procession has started,"
said Peter, as he passed the Mowbrays. "That bell announces the setting
out."

"See yonder persons hurrying to the door," exclaimed Eleanor, with
eagerness, and trembling violently. "They are coming. Oh! I shall never
be able to go through with it, dear mother."

Peter hastened to the church door, where he stationed himself, in
company with a host of others, equally curious. Flickering lights in the
distance, shining like stars through the trees, showed them that the
procession was collecting in front of the hall. The rain had now
entirely ceased; the thunder muttered from afar, and the lightning
seemed only to lick the moisture from the trees. The bell continued to
toll, and its loud booming awoke the drowsy echoes of the valley. On the
sudden, a solitary, startling concussion of thunder was heard; and
presently a man rushed down from the belfry, with the tidings that he
had seen a ball of fire fall from a cloud right over the hall. Every ear
was on the alert for the next sound; none was heard. It was the crisis
of the storm. Still the funeral procession advanced not. The strong
sheen of the torchlight was still visible from the bottom of the avenue,
now disappearing, now brightly glimmering, as if the bearers were
hurrying to and fro amongst the trees. It was evident that much
confusion prevailed, and that some misadventure had occurred. Each man
muttered to his neighbor, and few were there who had not in a measure
surmised the cause of the delay. At this juncture, a person without his
hat, breathless with haste and almost palsied with fright, rushed
through the midst of them and, stumbling over the threshold, fell
headlong into the church.

"What's the matter, Master Plant? What has happened? Tell us! Tell us!"
exclaimed several voices simultaneously.

"Lord have mercy upon us!" cried Plant, gasping for utterance, and not
attempting to raise himself. "It's horrible! dreadful! oh!--oh!"

"What has happened?" inquired Peter, approaching the fallen man.

"And dost _thou_ need to ask, Peter Bradley? thou, who foretold it all?
but I will not say what I think, though my tongue itches to tell thee
the truth. Be satisfied, thy wizard's lore has served thee right--he is
dead."

"Who? Ranulph Rookwood? Has anything befallen him, or the prisoner, Luke
Bradley?" asked the sexton, with eagerness.

A scream here burst forth from one who was standing behind the group;
and, in spite of the efforts of her mother to withhold her, Eleanor
Mowbray rushed forward.

"Has aught happened to Sir Ranulph?" asked she.

"Noa--noa--not to Sir Ranulph--he be with the body."

"Heaven be thanked for that!" exclaimed Eleanor. And then, as if ashamed
of her own vehemence, and, it might seem, apparent indifference to
another's fate, she inquired who was hurt.

"It be poor neighbor Toft, that be killed by a thunderbolt, ma'am,"
replied Plant.

Exclamations of horror burst from all around.

No one was more surprised at this intelligence than the sexton. Like
many other seers, he had not, in all probability, calculated upon the
fulfilment of his predictions, and he now stared aghast at the extent of
his own foreknowledge.

"I tell 'ee what, Master Peter," said Plant, shaking his bullet-head,
"it be well for thee thou didn't live in my grandfather's time, or
thou'dst ha' been ducked in a blanket; or may be burnt at the stake,
like Ridley and Latimer, as we read on--but however that may be, ye
shall hear how poor Toft's death came to pass, and nobody can tell 'ee
better nor I, seeing I were near to him, poor fellow, at the time. Well,
we thought as how the storm were all over--and had all got into order of
march, and were just beginning to step up the avenue, the coffin-bearers
pushing lustily along, and the torches shining grandly, when poor Simon
Toft, who could never travel well in liquor in his life, reeled to one
side, and staggering against the first huge lime-tree, sat himself down
beneath it--thou knowest the tree I mean."

"The tree of fate," returned Peter. "I ought, methinks, to know it."

"Well, I were just stepping aside to pick him up, when all at once there
comes such a crack of thunder, and, whizzing through the trees, flashed
a great globe of red fire, so bright and dazzlin', it nearly blinded me;
and when I opened my eyes, winkin' and waterin', I see'd that which
blinded me more even than the flash--that which had just afore been poor
Simon, but which was now a mass o' black smouldering ashes, clean
consumed and destroyed--his clothes rent to a thousand tatters--the
earth and stones tossed up, and scattered all about, and a great
splinter of the tree lying beside him."

"Heaven's will be done!" said the sexton; "this is an awful judgment."

"And Sathan cast down; for this is a spice o' his handiwork," muttered
Plant; adding, as he slunk away, "If ever Peter Bradley do come to the
blanket, dang me if I don't lend a helpin' hand."



_CHAPTER IV_

_THE FUNERAL_

    How like a silent stream, shaded by night,
    And gliding softly with our windy sighs,
    Moves the whole frame of this solemnity!
    Tears, sighs, and blacks, filling the simile!
    Whilst I, the only murmur in this grove
    Of death, thus hollowly break forth.

                                                    _The Fatal Dowry._


Word being given that the funeral train was fast approaching, the church
door was thrown open, and the assemblage divided in two lines, to allow
it admission.

Meanwhile, a striking change had taken place, even in this brief period,
in the appearance of the night. The sky, heretofore curtained with
darkness, was now illumined by a serene, soft moon, which, floating in a
watery halo, tinged with silvery radiance the edges of a few ghostly
clouds that hurried along the deep and starlit skies. The suddenness of
the change could not fail to excite surprise and admiration, mingled
with regret that the procession had not been delayed until the present
time.

Slowly and mournfully the train was seen to approach the churchyard,
winding, two by two, with melancholy step, around the corner of the
road. First came Dr. Small; then the mutes, with their sable panoply;
next, the torch-bearers; next, those who sustained the coffin, bending
beneath their ponderous burden, followed by Sir Ranulph and a long line
of attendants, all plainly to be distinguished by the flashing
torchlight. There was a slight halt at the gate, and the coffin changed
supporters.

"Ill luck betide them!" ejaculated Peter; "could they find no other
place except that to halt at? Must Sir Piers be gatekeeper till next
Yule! No," added he, seeing what followed; "it will be poor Toft, after
all."

Following close upon the coffin came a rude shell, containing, as Peter
rightly conjectured, the miserable remains of Simon Toft, who had met
his fate in the manner described by Plant. The bolt of death glanced
from the tree which it first struck, and reduced the unfortunate farmer
to a heap of dust. Universal consternation prevailed, and doubts were
entertained as to what course should be pursued. It was judged best by
Dr. Small to remove the remains at once to the charnel-house. Thus
"unanointed, unaneled, with all his imperfections on his head," was poor
Simon Toft, in one brief second, in the twinkling of an eye, plunged
from the height of festivity to the darkness of the grave, and so
horribly disfigured, that scarce a vestige of humanity was discernible
in the mutilated mass that remained of him. Truly may we be said to walk
in blindness, and amidst deep pitfalls.

The churchyard was thronged by the mournful train. The long array of
dusky figures--the waving torchlight gleaming ruddily in the white
moonshine--now glistening upon the sombre habiliments of the bearers,
and on their shrouded load, now reflected upon the jagged branches of
the yew-trees, or falling upon the ivied buttresses of the ancient
church, constituted no unimpressive picture. Over all, like a lamp hung
in the still sky, shone the moon, shedding a soothing, spiritual lustre
over the scene.

The organ broke into a solemn strain as the coffin was borne along the
mid-aisle--the mourners following, with reverent step, and slow. It was
deposited near the mouth of the vault, the whole assemblage circling
around it. Dr. Small proceeded with the performance of that magnificent
service appointed for the burial of the dead, in a tone as remarkable
for its sadness as for its force and fervor. There was a tear in every
eye--a cloud on every brow.

Brightly illumined as was the whole building, there were still some
recesses which, owing to the intervention of heavy pillars, were thrown
into shade; and in one of these, supported by her mother and brother,
stood Eleanor, a weeping witness of the scene. She beheld the coffin
silently borne along; she saw one dark figure slowly following; she knew
those pale features--oh, how pale they were! A year had wrought a
fearful alteration; she could scarce credit what she beheld. He must,
indeed, have suffered--deeply suffered; and her heart told her that his
sorrows had been for her.

Many a wistful look, besides, was directed to the principal figure in
this ceremonial, Ranulph Rookwood. He was a prey to unutterable anguish
of soul; his heart bled inwardly for the father he had lost.
Mechanically following the body down the aisle, he had taken his station
near it, gazing with confused vision upon the bystanders; had listened,
with a sad composure, to the expressive delivery of Small, until he
read--"_For man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in
vain; he heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather them._"

"Verily!" exclaimed a deep voice; and Ranulph, looking round, met the
eyes of Peter Bradley fixed full upon him. But it was evidently not the
sexton who had spoken.

Small continued the service. He arrived at this verse: "_Thou hast set
our misdeeds before thee; and our secret sins in the light of thy
countenance._"

"Even so!" exclaimed the voice; and as Ranulph raised his eyes in the
direction of the sound, he thought he saw a dark figure, muffled in a
cloak, disappear behind one of the pillars. He bestowed, however, at the
moment, little thought upon this incident. His heart melted within him;
and leaning his face upon his hand, he wept aloud.

"Command yourself, I entreat of you, my dear Sir Ranulph," said Dr.
Small, as soon as the service was finished, "and suffer this melancholy
ceremonial to be completed." Saying which, he gently withdrew Ranulph
from his support, and the coffin was lowered into the vault.

Ranulph remained for some time in the extremity of sorrow. When he in
part recovered, the crowd had dispersed, and few persons were remaining
within the church; yet near him stood three apparent loiterers. They
advanced towards him. An exclamation of surprise and joy burst from his
lips.

"Eleanor!"

"Ranulph!"

"Is it possible? Do I indeed behold you, Eleanor?"

No other word was spoken. They rushed into each other's arms. Oh!
sad--sad is the lover's parting--no pang so keen; but if life hath a
zest more exquisite than others--if felicity hath one drop more racy
than the rest in her honeyed cup, it is the happiness enjoyed in such a
union as the present. To say that he was as one raised from the depths
of misery by some angel comforter, were a feeble comparison of the
transport of Ranulph. To paint the thrilling delight of Eleanor--the
trembling tenderness--the fond abandonment which vanquished all her
maiden scruples, would be impossible. Reluctantly yielding--fearing, yet
complying, her lips were sealed in one long, loving kiss, the
sanctifying pledge of their tried affection.

"Eleanor, dear Eleanor," exclaimed Ranulph, "though I hold you within my
arms--though each nerve within my frame assures me of your
presence--though I look into those eyes, which seem fraught with greater
endearment than ever I have known them wear--though I see and feel and
know all this, so sudden, so unlooked for is the happiness, that I could
almost doubt its reality. Say to what blessed circumstance I am indebted
for this unlooked-for happiness."

"We are staying not far hence, with friends, dear Ranulph; and my
mother, hearing of Sir Piers Rookwood's death, and wishing to bury all
animosity with him, resolved to be present at the sad ceremony. We were
told you could not be here."

"And would my presence have prevented your attendance, Eleanor?"

"Not that, dear Ranulph; but----"

"But what?"

At this moment the advance of Mrs. Mowbray offered an interruption to
their further discourse.

"My son and I appear to be secondary in your regards, Sir Ranulph," said
she, gravely.

"_Sir_ Ranulph!" mentally echoed the young man. "What will _she_ think
when she knows that that title is not mine? I dread to tell her." He
then added aloud, with a melancholy smile, "I crave your pardon, madam;
the delight of a meeting so unexpected with your daughter must plead my
apology."

"None is wanting, Sir Ranulph," said Major Mowbray. "I who have known
what separation from my sister is, can readily excuse your feelings. But
you look ill."

"I have, indeed, experienced much mental anxiety," said Ranulph, looking
at Eleanor; "it is now past, and I would fain hope that a brighter day
is dawning." His heart answered, 'twas but a hope.

"You were unlooked for here to-night, Sir Ranulph," said Mrs. Mowbray;
"by us, at least: we were told you were abroad."

"You were rightly informed, madam," replied Ranulph. "I only arrived
this evening from Bordeaux."

"I am glad you are returned. We are at present on a visit with your
neighbors, the Davenhams, at Braybrook, and trust we shall see you
there."

"I will ride over to-morrow," replied Ranulph; "there is much on which I
would consult you all. I would have ventured to request the favor of
your company at Rookwood, had the occasion been other than the present."

"And I would willingly have accepted your invitation," returned Mrs.
Mowbray; "I should like to see the old house once more. During your
father's lifetime I could not approach it. You are lord of broad lands,
Sir Ranulph--a goodly inheritance."

"Madam!"

"And a proud title, which you will grace well, I doubt not. The first,
the noblest of our house, was he from whom you derive your name. You are
the third Sir Ranulph; the first founded the house of Rookwood; the next
advanced it; 'tis for you to raise its glory to its height."

"Alas! madam, I have no such thought."

"Wherefore not? you are young, wealthy, powerful. With such domains as
those of Rookwood--with such a title as its lord can claim, naught
should be too high for your aspirations."

"I aspire to nothing, madam, but your daughter's hand; and even that I
will not venture to solicit until you are acquainted with----" And he
hesitated.

"With what?" asked Mrs. Mowbray, in surprise.

"A singular, and to me most perplexing event has occurred to-night,"
replied Ranulph, "which may materially affect my future fortunes."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Mrs. Mowbray. "Does it relate to your mother?"

"Excuse my answering the question now, madam," replied Ranulph; "you
shall know all to-morrow."

"Ay, to-morrow, dear Ranulph," said Eleanor; "and whatever that morrow
may bring forth, it will bring happiness to me, if you are bearer of the
tidings."

"I shall expect your coming with impatience," said Mrs. Mowbray.

"And I," added Major Mowbray, who had listened thus far in silence,
"would offer you my services in any way you think they would be useful.
Command me as you think fitting."

"I thank you heartily," returned Ranulph. "To-morrow you shall learn
all. Meanwhile, it shall be my business to investigate the truth or
falsehood of the statement I have heard, ere I report it to you. Till
then, farewell."

As they issued from the church it was gray dawn. Mrs. Mowbray's carriage
stood at the door. The party entered it; and accompanied by Dr. Small,
whom he found within in the vestry, Ranulph walked towards the hall,
where a fresh surprise awaited him.



_CHAPTER V_

_THE CAPTIVE_

    _Black Will._ Which is the place where we're to be concealed?

    _Green._      This inner room.

    _Black Will._ 'Tis well. The word is, "Now I take you."

                                                 _Arden of Feversham._


Guarded by the two young farmers who had displayed so much address in
seizing him, Luke, meanwhile, had been conveyed in safety to the small
chamber in the eastern wing, destined by Mr. Coates to be his place of
confinement for the night. The room, or rather closet, opening from
another room, was extremely well adapted for the purpose, having no
perceptible outlet; being defended, on either side, by thick partition
walls of the hardest oak, and at the extremity by the solid masonry of
the mansion. It was, in fact, a remnant of the building anterior to the
first Sir Ranulph's day; and the narrow limits of Luke's cell had been
erected long before the date of his earliest progenitor. Having seen
their prisoner safely bestowed, the room was carefully examined, every
board sounded, every crevice and corner peered into by the curious eye
of the little lawyer; and nothing being found insecure, the light was
removed, the door locked, the rustic constables dismissed, and a brace
of pistols having been loaded and laid on the table, Mr. Coates
pronounced himself thoroughly satisfied and quite comfortable.

Comfortable! Titus heaved a sigh as he echoed the word. He felt anything
but comfortable. His heart was with the body all the while. He thought
of the splendor of the funeral, the torches, the illumined church, his
own dignified march down the aisle, and the effect he expected to
produce amongst the bewildered rustics. He thought of all these things,
and cursed Luke by all the saints in the calendar. The sight of the
musty old apartment, hung round with faded arras, which, as he said,
"smelt of nothing but rats and ghosts, and suchlike varmint," did not
serve to inspirit him; and the proper equilibrium of his temper was not
completely restored until the appearance of the butler, with all the
requisites for the manufacture of punch, afforded him some prospective
solace.

"And what are they about now, Tim?" asked Titus.

"All as jolly as can be," answered the domestic; "Dr. Small is just
about to pronounce the funeral 'ration."

"Devil take it," ejaculated Titus, "there's another miss! Couldn't I
just slip out, and hear that?"

"On no account," said Coates. "Consider, Sir Ranulph is there."

"Well, well," rejoined Titus, heaving a deep sigh, and squeezing a
lemon; "are you sure this is _biling_ water, Tim? You know, I'm mighty
particular."

"Perfectly aware of it, sir."

"Ah, Tim, do you recollect the way I used to brew for poor Sir Piers,
with a bunch of red currants at the bottom of the glass? And then to
think that, after all, I should be left out of his funeral--it's the
height of barbarity. Tim, this rum of yours is poor stuff--there's no
punch worth the trouble of drinking, except whisky-punch. A glass of
right potheen, straw-color, peat-flavor, ten degrees over proof, would
be the only thing to drown my cares. Any such thing in the cellar? There
used to be an odd bottle or so, Tim--in the left bin, near the door."

"I've a notion there be," returned Timothy. "I'll try the bin your
honor mentions, and if I can lay hands upon a bottle you shall have it,
you may depend."

The butler departed, and Titus, emulating Mr. Coates, who had already
enveloped himself, like Juno at the approach of Ixion, in a cloud,
proceeded to light his pipe.

Luke, meanwhile, had been left alone, without light. He had much to
meditate upon, and with naught to check the current of his thoughts, he
pensively revolved his present situation and future prospects. The
future was gloomy enough--the present fraught with danger. And now that
the fever of excitement was passed, he severely reproached himself for
his precipitancy.

His mind, by degrees, assumed a more tranquil state; and, exhausted with
his great previous fatigue, he threw himself upon the floor of his
prison-house, and addressed himself to slumber. The noise he made
induced Coates to enter the room, which he did with a pistol in each
hand, followed by Titus with a pipe and candle; but finding all safe the
sentinels retired.

"One may see, with half an eye, that you're not used to a feather-bed,
my friend," said Titus, as the door was locked. "By the powers, he's a
tall chap, anyhow--why his feet almost touch the door. I should say that
room was a matter of six feet long, Mr. Coates."

"Exactly six feet, sir."

"Well, that's a good guess. Hang that ugly rascal, Tim; he's never
brought the whisky. But I'll be even with him to-morrow. Couldn't you
just see to the prisoner for ten minutes, Mr. Coates?"

"Not ten seconds. I shall report you, if you stir from your post."

Here the door was opened, and Tim entered with the whisky.

"Arrah! by my soul, Tim, and here you are at last--uncork it, man, and
give us a thimbleful--blob! there goes the stopper--here's a
glass"--smacking his lips--"whist, Tim, another drop--stuff like this
will never hurt a body. Mr. Coates, try it--no--I thought you'd be a man
of more taste."

"I must limit you to a certain quantity," replied Coates, "or you will
not be fit to keep guard--another glass must be the extent of your
allowance."

"Another glass! and do you think I'll submit to any such iniquitous
proposition?"

"Beg pardon, gentlemen," said Tim, "but her ladyship desires me to tell
you both, that she trusts you will keep the strictest watch upon the
prisoner. I have the same message also from Sir Ranulph."

"Do you hear that?" said Coates.

"And what are they all about now, Tim?" groaned Titus.

"Just starting, sir," returned Tim; "and, indeed, I must not lose my
time gossiping here, for I be wanted below. You must be pleased to take
care of yourselves, gentlemen, for an hour or so, for there will be only
a few women-kind left in the house. The storm's just over, and the men
are all lighting their torches. Oh, it's a grand sight!" And off set
Tim.

"Bad luck to myself, anyhow," ejaculated Titus; "this is more than I can
bear--I've had enough of this watch and ward business--if the prisoner
stirs, shoot him, if you think proper--I'll be back in an hour."

"I tell you what, Mr. Tyrconnel," said Coates, coolly taking up the
pistol from the table, "I'm a man of few words, but those few are, I
hope, to the purpose, and I'd have you to know if you stir from that
chair, or attempt to leave the room, damme but I'll send a brace of
bullets after you. I'm serious, I assure you." And he cocked the pistol.

By way of reply to this menace, Titus deliberately filled a stiff glass
of whisky-and-water.

"That's your last glass," said the inexorable Coates.

To return once more to Luke. He slept uneasily for some short space,
and was awakened by a sound which reached his dreaming ears and
connected itself with the visions that slumber was weaving around him.
It was some moments before he could distinctly remember where he was. He
would not venture to sleep again, though he felt overwhelmed by
drowsiness--there was a fixed pain at his heart, as if circulation were
suspended. Changing his posture, he raised himself upon one arm; he then
became aware of a scratching noise, somewhat similar to the sound he had
heard in his dream, and perceived a light gleaming through a crevice in
the oaken partition. His attention was immediately arrested, and placing
his eye close to the chink, he distinctly saw a dark lantern burning,
and by its light a man filing some implement of housebreaking. The light
fell before the hard features of the man, with whose countenance Luke
was familiar; and although only one person came within the scope of his
view, Luke could make out, from a muttered conversation that was carried
on, that he had a companion. The parties were near to him, and though
speaking in a low tone, Luke's quick ear caught the following:

"What keeps Jack Palmer, I wonder?" said he of the file. "We're all
ready for the fakement--pops primed--and I tell you what, Rob Rust, I've
made my clasp-knife as sharp as a razor, and damme, if Lady Rookwood
offers any resistance, I'll spoil her talking in future, I promise you."

Suppressed laughter from Rust followed this speech. That laugh made
Luke's blood run cold within his veins.

"Harkee, Dick Wilder, you're a reg'lar out-and-outer, and stops at
nothing, and curse me if I'd think any more of it than yourself. But
Jack's as squeamish of bloodshed as young Miss that cries at her cut
finger. It's the safer plan. Say what you will, nothing but _that_ will
stop a woman's tongue."

"I shall make short work with her ladyship to-night, anyhow. Hist! here
Jack comes."

A footstep crossed in the room, and, presently afterwards, exclamations
of surprise and smothered laughter were heard from the parties.

"Bravo, Jack! famous! that disguise would deceive the devil himself."

"And now, my lads," said the newcomer, "is all right?"

"Right and tight."

"Nothing forgotten?"

"Nothing."

"Then off with your stamps, and on with your list slippers; not a word.
Follow me, and, for your lives, don't move a step but as I direct you.
The word must be, '_Sir Piers Rookwood calls_.' We'll overhaul the swag
here. This crack may make us all for life; and if you'll follow my
directions implicitly, we'll do the trick in style. This slum must be
our rendezvous when all's over; for hark ye, my lads, I'll not budge an
inch till Luke Bradley be set free. He's an old friend, and I always
stick by old friends. I'd do the same for one of you if you were in the
same scrape, so, damn you, no flinching; besides, I owe that
spider-shanked, snivelling split-cause Coates, who stands sentry, a
grudge, and I'll pay him off, as Paul did the Ephesians. You may crop
his ears, or slit his tongue as you would a magpie's, or any other
chattering varmint; make him sign his own testament, or treat him with a
touch of your _Habeas Corpus_ Act, if you think proper, or give him a
taste of blue plumb. One thing only I stipulate, that you don't hurt
that fat, mutton-headed Broganeer, whatever he may say or do; he's a
devilish good fellow. And now to business."

Saying which, they noiselessly departed. But carefully as the door was
closed, Luke's ear could detect the sound. His blood boiled with
indignation; and he experienced what all must have felt who have been
similarly situated, with the will, but not the power, to assist
another--a sensation almost approaching to torture. At this moment a
distant scream burst upon his ears--another--he hesitated no longer.
With all his force he thundered at the door.

"What do you want, rascal?" cried Coates, from without.

"There are robbers in the house."

"Thank you for the information. There is one I know of already."

"Fool, they are in Lady Rookwood's room. Run to her assistance."

"A likely story, and leave you here."

"Do you hear that scream?"

"Eh, what--what's that? I do hear something." Here Luke dashed with all
his force against the door. It yielded to the blow, and he stood before
the astonished attorney.

"Advance a footstep, villain," exclaimed Coates, presenting both his
pistols, "and I lodge a brace of balls in your head."

"Listen to me," said Luke; "the robbers are in Lady Rookwood's
chamber--they will plunder the place of everything--perhaps murder her.
Fly to her assistance, I will accompany you--assist you--it is your only
chance."

"_My_ only chance--_your_ only chance. Do you take me for a greenhorn?
This is a poor subterfuge; could you not have vamped up something
better? Get back to your own room, or I shall make no more of shooting
you than I would of snuffing that candle."

"Be advised, sir," continued Luke. "There are three of them--give me a
pistol, and fear nothing."

"Give _you_ a pistol! Ha, ha!--to be its mark myself. You are an amusing
rascal, I will say."

"Sir, I tell you not a moment is to be lost. Is life nothing? Lady
Rookwood may be murdered."

"I tell _you_, once for all, it won't do. Go back to your room, or take
the consequences."

"By the powers! but it shall do, anyhow," exclaimed Titus, flinging
himself upon the attorney, and holding both his arms; "you've bullied me
long enough. I'm sure the lad's in the right."

Luke snatched the pistols from the hands of Coates.

"Very well, Mr. Tyrconnel; very well, sir," cried the attorney, boiling
with wrath, and spluttering out his words. "Extremely well, sir. You are
not perhaps aware, sir, what you have done; but you will repent this,
sir--repent, I say--repent was my word, Mr. Tyrconnel."

"Poh!--poh!" replied Titus. "I shall never repent a good-natured
action."

"Follow me," cried Luke; "settle your disputes hereafter. Quick, or we
shall be too late."

Coates bustled after him, and Titus, putting the neck of the forbidden
whisky bottle to his lips, and gulping down a hasty mouthful, snatched
up a rusty poker, and followed the party with more alacrity than might
have been expected from so portly a personage.



_CHAPTER VI_

_THE APPARITION_

    _Gibbet._ Well, gentlemen, 'tis a fine night for our enterprise.

    _Hounslow._ Dark as hell.

    _Bagshot._ And blows like the devil.

    _Boniface._ You'll have no creature to deal with but the ladies.

    _Gibbet._ And I can assure you, friend, there's a great deal of
    address, and good manners, in robbing a lady. I am the most of a
    gentleman, that way, that ever travelled the road.

                                                    _Beaux Stratagem._


Accompanied by her son, Lady Rookwood, on quitting the chamber of the
dead, returned to her own room. She then renewed all her arguments; had
recourse to passionate supplications--to violent threats, but without
effect. Ranulph maintained profound silence. Passion, as it ever doth,
defeated its own ends; and Lady Rookwood, seeing the ill effect her
anger would probably produce, gradually softened the asperity of her
manner, and suffered him to depart.

Left to herself, and to the communings of her own troubled spirit, her
fortitude, in a measure, forsook her, under the pressure of the
difficulties by which she was environed. There was no plan she could
devise--no scheme adopt, unattended with peril. She must act alone--with
promptitude and secrecy. To win her son over was her chief desire, and
that, at all hazards, she was resolved to do. But how? She knew of only
one point on which he was vulnerable--his love for Eleanor Mowbray. By
raising doubts in his mind, and placing fresh difficulties in his path,
she might compel him to acquiesce in her machinations, as a necessary
means of accomplishing his own object. This she hoped to effect. Still
there was a depth of resolution in the placid stream of Ranulph's
character which she had often noticed with apprehension. Aware of his
firmness, she dreaded lest his sense of justice should be stronger than
his passion.

As she wove these webs of darkness, fear, hitherto unknown, took
possession of her soul. She listened to the howling of the wind--to the
vibration of the rafters--to the thunder's roar, and to the hissing
rain--till she, who never trembled at the thought of danger, became
filled with vague uneasiness. Lights were ordered; and when her old
attendant returned. Lady Rookwood fixed a look so wistful upon her, that
Agnes ventured to address her.

"Bless you, my lady," said the ancient handmaiden, trembling, "you look
very pale, and no wonder. I feel sick at heart, too. Oh! I shall be glad
when they return from the church, and happier still when the morning
dawns. I can't sleep a wink--can't close my eyes, but I think of him."

"Of _him_?"

"Of Sir Piers, my lady; for though he's dead, I don't think he's gone."

"How?"

"Why, my lady, the corruptible part of him's gone, sure enough. But the
incorruptible, as Dr. Small calls it--the sperrit, my lady. It might be
my fancy, your ladyship; but as I'm standing here, when I went back into
the room just now for the lights, as I hope to live, I thought I saw Sir
Piers in the room."

"You are crazed, Agnes."

"No, my lady, I'm not crazed; it was mere fancy, no doubt. Oh, it's a
blessed thing to live with an easy conscience--a thrice blessed thing to
_die_ with an easy one, and that's what I never shall, I'm afeard. Poor
Sir Piers! I'd mumble a prayer for him, if I durst."

"Leave me," said Lady Rookwood, impatiently.

And Agnes quitted the room.

"What if the dead can return?" thought Lady Rookwood. "All men doubt it,
yet all men believe it. _I_ would not believe it, were there not a
creeping horror that overmasters me, when I think of the state beyond
the grave--that intermediate state, for such it must be, when the body
lieth mouldering in the ground, and the soul survives, to wander,
unconfined, until the hour of doom. And doth the soul survive when
disenthralled? Is it dependent on the body? Does it perish with the
body? These are doubts I cannot resolve. But if I deemed there was no
future state, this hand should at once liberate me from my own
weaknesses--my fears--my life. There is but one path to acquire that
knowledge, which, once taken, can never be retraced. I am content to
live--while living, to be feared--it may be, hated; when dead, to be
contemned--yet still remembered. Ha! what sound was that? A stifled
scream! Agnes!--without there! She is full of fears. I am not free from
them myself, but I will shake them off. This will divert their channel,"
continued she, drawing from her bosom the marriage certificate. "This
will arouse the torpid current of my blood--'_Piers Rookwood to Susan
Bradley_.' And by whom was it solemnized? The name is Checkley--Richard
Checkley. Ha! I bethink me--a Papist priest--a recusant--who was for
some time an inmate of the hall. I have heard of this man--he was
afterwards imprisoned, but escaped--he is either dead or in a foreign
land. No witnesses--'tis well! Methinks Sir Piers Rookwood did well to
preserve this. It shall light his funeral pyre. Would he could now
behold me, as I consume it!"

She held the paper in the direction of the candle; but, ere it could
touch the flame, it dropped from her hand. As if her horrible wish had
been granted, before her stood the figure of her husband! Lady Rookwood
started not. No sign of trepidation or alarm, save the sudden stiffening
of her form, was betrayed. Her bosom ceased to palpitate--her
respiration stopped--her eyes were fixed upon the apparition.

The figure appeared to regard her sternly. It was at some little
distance, within the shade cast by the lofty bedstead. Still she could
distinctly discern it. There was no ocular deception; it was attired in
the costume Sir Piers was wont to wear--a hunting dress. All that her
son had told her rushed to her recollection. The phantom advanced. Its
countenance was pale, and wore a gloomy frown.

"What would you destroy?" demanded the apparition, in a hollow tone.

"The evidence of----"

"What?"

"Your marriage."

"With yourself, accursed woman?"

"With Susan Bradley."

"What's that I hear?" shouted the figure, in an altered tone. "Married
to her! then Luke _is_ legitimate, and heir to this estate!" Whereupon
the apparition rushed to the table, and laid a very substantial grasp
upon the document. "A marriage certificate!" ejaculated the spectre;
"here's a piece of luck! It ain't often in our lottery life we draw a
prize like this. One way or the other, it must turn up a few cool
thousands."

"Restore that paper, villain," exclaimed Lady Rookwood, recovering all
the audacity natural to her character the instant she discovered the
earthly nature of the intruder--"restore it, or, by Heaven, you shall
rue your temerity."

"Softly, softly," replied the pseudo-phantom, with one hand pushing back
the lady, while the other conveyed the precious document to the custody
of his nether man--"softly," said he, giving the buckskin pocket a
slap--"two words to that, my lady. I know its value as well as yourself,
and must make my market. The highest offer has me, your ladyship; he's
but a poor auctioneer that knocks down his ware when only one bidder is
present. Luke Bradley, or, as I find he now is, Sir Luke Rookwood, may
come down more handsomely."

"Who are you, ruffian, and to what end is this masquerade assumed? If
for the purpose of terrifying me into compliance with the schemes of
that madman, Luke Bradley, whom I presume to be your confederate, your
labor is misspent--your stolen disguise has no more weight with me than
his forged claims."

"Forged claims! Egad, he must be a clever hand to have forged that
certificate. Your ladyship, however, is in error. Sir Luke Rookwood is
no associate of mine; I am his late father's friend. But I have no time
to bandy talk. What money have you in the house? Be alive."

"You _are_ a robber, then?"

"Not I. I'm a tax-gatherer--a collector of Rich-Rates--ha, ha! What
plate have you got? Nay, don't be alarmed--take it quietly--these things
can't be helped--better make up your mind to do it without more
ado--much the best plan--no screaming, it may injure your lungs, and can
alarm nobody. Your maids have done as much before--it's beneath your
dignity to make so much noise. So, you will not heed me? As you will."
Saying which, he deliberately cut the bell-cord, and drew out a brace of
pistols at the same time.

"Agnes!" shrieked Lady Rookwood, now seriously alarmed.

"I must caution your ladyship to be silent," said the robber, who, as
our readers will no doubt have already conjectured, was no other than
the redoubted Jack Palmer. "Agnes is already disposed of," said he,
cocking a pistol. "However like your deceased 'lord and master' I may
appear, you will find you have got a very different spirit from that of
Sir Piers to deal with. I am naturally the politest man breathing--have
been accounted the best-bred man on the road by every lady whom I have
had the honor of addressing; and I should be sorry to sully my
well-earned reputation by anything like rudeness. I must use a little
force, of the gentlest kind. Perhaps you will permit me to hand you to a
chair. Bless me! what a wrist your ladyship has got. Excuse me if I hurt
you, but you are so devilish strong. What ho! 'Sir Piers Rookwood
calls--'"

"Ready," cried a voice.

"That's the word," rejoined another; "ready;" and immediately two men,
their features entirely hidden by a shroud of black crape, accoutred in
rough attire, and each armed with pistols, rushed into the room.

"Lend a hand," said Jack.

Even in this perilous extremity Lady Rookwood's courage did not desert
her. Anticipating their purpose, ere her assailants could reach her she
extricated herself from Palmer's grasp, and rushed upon the foremost so
unexpectedly, that, before the man could seize her, she snatched a
pistol from his hand, and presented it at the group with an aspect like
that of a tigress at bay--her eye wandering from one to the other, as if
selecting a mark.

There was a pause of a few seconds, in which the men glanced at the
lady, and then at their leader. Jack looked blank.

"Hem!" said he, coolly; "this is something new--disarmed--defied by a
petticoat. Hark ye, Rob Rust, the disgrace rests with you. Clear your
character, by securing her at once. What! afraid of a woman?"

"A woman!" repeated Rust, in a surly tone; "devilish like a woman,
indeed. Few men could do what she has done. Give the word, and I fire.
As to seizing her, that's more than I'll engage to do."

"You are a coward," cried Jack. "I will steer clear of blood--if I can
help it. Come, madam, surrender, like the more sensible part of your
sex, at discretion. You will find resistance of no avail." And he
stepped boldly towards her.

Lady Rookwood pulled the trigger. The pistol flashed in the pan. She
flung away the useless weapon without a word.

"Ha, ha!" said Jack, as he leisurely stooped to pick up the pistol, and
approached her ladyship; "the bullet is not yet cast that is to be my
billet. Here," said he, dealing Rust a heavy thump upon the shoulder
with the butt-end of the piece, "take back your snapper, and look you
prick the touchhole, or your barking-iron will never bite for you. And
now, madam, I must take the liberty of again handing you to a seat. Dick
Wilder, the cord--quick. It distresses me to proceed to such lengths
with your ladyship--but safe bind, safe find, as Mr. Coates would say."

"You will not bind me, ruffian."

"Your ladyship is very much mistaken--I have no alternative--your
ladyship's wrist is far too dexterous to be at liberty. I must
furthermore request of your ladyship to be less vociferous--you
interrupt business, which should be transacted with silence and
deliberation."

Lady Rookwood's rage and vexation at this indignity were beyond all
bounds. Resistance, however, was useless, and she submitted in silence.
The cord was passed tightly round her arms, when it flashed upon her
recollection for the first time that Coates and Tyrconnel, who were in
charge of her captive in the lower corridor, might be summoned to her
assistance. This idea no sooner crossed her mind than she uttered a loud
and prolonged scream.

"'Sdeath!" cried Jack; "civility is wasted here. Give me the gag, Rob."

"Better slit her squeaking-pipe at once," replied Rust, drawing his
clasped knife; "she'll thwart everything."

"The gag, I say, not _that_."

"I can't find the gag," exclaimed Wilder, savagely. "Leave Rob Rust to
manage her--he'll silence her, I warrant you, while you and I rummage
the room."

"Ay, leave her to me," said the other miscreant. "Go about your
business, and take no heed. Her hands are fast--she can't scratch. I'll
do it with a single gash--send her to join her lord, whom she loved so
well, before he's under ground. They'll have something to see when they
come home from the master's funeral--their mistress _cut and dry_ for
another. Ho, ho!"

"Mercy, mercy!" shrieked Lady Rookwood.

"Ay, ay, I'll be merciful," said Rust, brandishing his knife before her
eyes. "I'll not be long about it. Leave her to me--I'll give her a taste
of Sir Sydney."

"No, no, Rust; no bloodshed," said Jack, authoritatively; "I'll find
some other way to gag the jade."

At this moment a noise of rapid footsteps was heard within the passage.

"Assistance comes," screamed Lady Rookwood. "Help! help!"

"To the door!" cried Jack. The words were scarcely out of his mouth
before Luke dashed into the room, followed by Coates and Tyrconnel.

Palmer and his companions levelled their pistols at the intruders, and
the latter would have fired, but Jack's keen eye having discerned Luke
amongst the foremost, checked further hostilities for the present. Lady
Rookwood, meanwhile, finding herself free from restraint, rushed towards
her deliverers, and crouched beneath Luke's protecting arms, which were
extended, pistol in hand, over her head. Behind them stood Titus
Tyrconnel, flourishing the poker, and Mr. Coates, who, upon the sight of
so much warlike preparation, began somewhat to repent having rushed so
precipitately into the lion's den.

"Luke Bradley!" exclaimed Palmer, stepping forward.

"Luke Bradley!" echoed Lady Rookwood, recoiling and staring into his
face.

"Fear nothing, madam," cried Luke. "I am here to assist you--I will
defend you with my life."

"_You_ defend _me_!" exclaimed Lady Rookwood, doubtfully.

"Even _I_," cried Luke, "strange as it may sound."

"Holy powers protect me!" ejaculated Titus. "As I live, it is Sir Piers
himself."

"Sir Piers!" echoed Coates, catching the infection of terror, as he
perceived Palmer more distinctly. "What! is the dead come to life again?
A ghost, a ghost!"

"By my soul," cried Titus, "it's the first ghost I ever heard of that
committed a burglary in its own house, and on the night of the body's
burial, too. But who the devil are these? maybe they're ghosts
likewise."

"They are," said Palmer, in a hollow tone, mimicking the voice of Sir
Piers, "attendant spirits. We are come for this woman; her time is out;
so no more palavering, Titus. Lend a hand to take her to the churchyard,
and be hanged to you."

"Upon my conscience, Mr. Coates," cried Titus, "it's either the devil,
or Sir Piers. We'll be only in the way here. He's only just settling his
old scores with his lady. I thought it would come to this long ago. We'd
best beat a retreat."

Jack took advantage of the momentary confusion created by this
incidental alarm at his disguise to direct Rust towards the door by
which the new comers had entered; and, this being accomplished, he burst
into a loud laugh.

"What! not know me?" cried he--"not know your old friend with a new
face, Luke? Nor you, Titus? Nor you, who can see through a millstone,
lawyer Coates, don't you recognize----"

"Jack Palmer, as I'm a sinner!" cried Titus. "Why, this beats Banaghan.
Arrah! Jack, honey, what does this mean? Is it yourself I see in such
company? You're not robbing in earnest?"

"Indeed but I am, friend Titus," exclaimed Jack; "and _it is_ my own
self you see. I just took the liberty of borrowing Sir Piers's old
hunting-coat from the justice-room. You said my toggery wouldn't do for
the funeral. I'm no other than plain Jack Palmer, after all."

"With half a dozen aliases at your back, I dare say," cried Coates. "_I_
suspected you all along. All your praise of highwaymen was not lost upon
me. No, no; I _can_ see into a millstone, be it ever so thick."

"Well," replied Jack, "I'm sorry to see you here, friend Titus. Keep
quiet, and you shall come to no harm. As to you, Luke Bradley, you have
anticipated my intention by half an hour; I meant to set you free. For
you, Mr. Coates, you may commit all future care of your affairs to your
executors, administrators, and assigns. You will have no further need to
trouble yourself with worldly concerns," added he, levelling a pistol at
the attorney, who, however, shielded himself, in an agony of
apprehension, behind Luke's person. "Stand aside, Luke."

"I stir not," replied Luke. "I thank you for your good intention, and
will not injure you--that is, if you do not force me to do so. I am here
to defend her ladyship."

"What's that you say?" returned Jack, in surprise--"_defend_ her
ladyship?"

"With my life," replied Luke. "Let me counsel you to depart."

"Are you mad? Defend her--Lady Rookwood--your enemy--who would hang you?
Tut, tut! Stand aside, I say, Luke Bradley, or look to yourself."

"You had better consider well ere you proceed," said Luke. "You know me
of old. I have taken odds as great, and not come off the vanquished."

"The odds are even," cried Titus, "if Mr. Coates will but show fight.
I'll stand by you to the last, my dear boy. You're the right son of your
father, though on the wrong side. Och! Jack Palmer, my jewel, no wonder
you resemble Dick Turpin."

"You hear this?" cried Luke.

"Hot-headed fool!" muttered Jack.

"Why don't you shoot him on the spot?" said Wilder.

"And mar my own chance," thought Jack. "No, that will never do; his life
is not to be thrown away. Be quiet," said he, in a whisper to Wilder;
"I've another card to play, which shall serve us better than all the
plunder here. No harm must come to that youngster; his life is worth
thousands to us." Then, turning to Luke, he continued, "I'm loth to hurt
you; yet what can I do? You must have the worst of it if we come to a
pitched battle. I therefore advise you, as a friend, to draw off your
forces. We are three to three, it is true; but two of _your_ party are
unarmed."

"Unarmed!" interrupted Titus. "Devil burn me! this iron shillelah shall
convince you to the contrary, Jack, or any of your friends."

"Make ready then, my lads," cried Palmer.

"Stop a minute," exclaimed Coates. "This gets serious; it will end in
homicide--in murder. We shall all have our throats cut to a certainty;
and though these rascals will as certainly be hanged for it, that will
be poor satisfaction to the sufferers. Had we not better refer the
matter to arbitration?"

"I'm for fighting it out," said Titus, whisking the poker round his head
like a flail in action. "My blood's up. Come on, Jack Palmer, I'm for
you."

"I should vote for retreating," chattered the attorney, "if that cursed
fellow had not placed a _ne exeat_ at the door."

"Give the word, captain," cried Rust, impatiently.

"Ay, ay," echoed Wilder.

"A skilful general always parleys," said Jack. "A word in your ear,
Luke, ere that be done which cannot be undone."

"You mean me no treachery?" returned Luke.

Jack made no answer, but uncocking his pistols, deposited them within
his pockets.

"Shoot him as he advances," whispered Coates; "he is in your power now."

"Scoundrel!" replied Luke, "do you think me as base as yourself?"

"Hush, hush! for God's sake don't expose me," said Coates.

Lady Rookwood had apparently listened to this singular conference with
sullen composure, though in reality she was racked with anxiety as to
its results; and, now apprehending that Palmer was about to make an
immediate disclosure to Luke, she accosted him as he passed her.

"Unbind me!" cried she, "and what you wish shall be
yours--money--jewels----"

"Ha! may I depend?"

"I pledge my word."

Palmer untied the cord, and Lady Rookwood, approaching a table whereon
stood the escritoire, touched a spring, and a secret drawer flew open.

"You do this of your own free will?" asked Luke. "Speak, if it be
otherwise."

"I do," returned the lady, hastily.

Palmer's eyes glistened at the treasures exposed to his view.

"They are jewels of countless price. Take them, and rid me," she added
in a whisper, "of _him_."

"Luke Bradley?"

"Ay."

"Give them to me."

"They are yours freely on those terms."

"You hear that, Luke," cried he, aloud; "you hear it, Titus; this is no
robbery. Mr. Coates--'Know all men by these _presents_'--I call you to
witness, Lady Rookwood gives me these pretty things."

"I do," returned she; adding, in a whisper, "on the terms which I
proposed."

"Must it be done at once?"

"Without an instant's delay."

"Before your own eyes?"

"I fear not to look on. Each moment is precious. He is off his guard
now. You do it, you know, in self-defence."

"And you?"

"For the same cause."

"Yet he came here to aid you?"

"What of that?"

"He would have risked his life for yours?"

"I cannot pay back the obligation. He must die!"

"The document?"

"Will be useless then."

"Will not that suffice; why aim at life?"

"You trifle with me. You fear to do it."

"_Fear!_"

"About it, then; you shall have more gold."

"I will about it," cried Jack, throwing the casket to Wilder, and
seizing Lady Rookwood's hands. "I am no Italian bravo, madam--no
assassin--no remorseless cut-throat. What are you--devil or woman--who
ask me to do this? Luke Bradley, I say."

"Would you betray me?" cried Lady Rookwood.

"You have betrayed yourself, madam. Nay, nay, Luke, hands off. See, Lady
Rookwood, how you would treat a friend. This strange fellow would blow
out my brains for laying a finger upon your ladyship."

"I will suffer no injury to be done to her," said Luke; "release her."

"Your ladyship hears him," said Jack. "And you, Luke, shall learn the
value set upon your generosity. You will not have _her_ injured. This
instant she has proposed, nay, paid for _your_ assassination."

"How?" exclaimed Luke, recoiling.

"A lie, as black as hell," cried Lady Rookwood.

"A truth, as clear as heaven," retained Jack. "I will speedily convince
you of the fact." Then, turning to Lady Rookwood, he whispered, "Shall I
give him the marriage document?"

"Beware!" said Lady Rookwood.

"Do I avouch the truth, then?"

She was silent.

"I am answered," said Luke.

"Then leave her to her fate," cried Jack.

"No," replied Luke; "she is still a woman, and I will not abandon her to
ruffianly violence. Set her free."

"You are a fool," said Jack.

"Hurrah, hurrah!" vociferated Coates, who had rushed to the window.
"Rescue, rescue! they are returning from the church; I see the
torchlight in the avenue; we are saved!"

"Hell and the devil!" cried Jack; "not an instant is to be lost. Alive,
lads; bring off all the plunder you can; be handy!"

"Lady Rookwood, I bid you farewell," said Luke, in a tone in which scorn
and sorrow were blended. "We shall meet again."

"We have not parted yet," returned she; "will you let this man pass? A
thousand pounds for his life."

"Upon the nail?" asked Rust.

"By the living God, if any of you attempt to touch him, I will blow his
brains out upon the spot, be he friend or foe," cried Jack. "Luke
Bradley, _we_ shall meet again. You shall hear from me."

"Lady Rookwood," said Luke, as he departed, "I shall not forget this
night."

"Is all ready?" asked Palmer of his comrades.

"All."

"Then budge."

"Stay!" cried Lady Rookwood, in a whisper to him. "What will purchase
that document?"

"Hem!"

"A thousand pounds?"

"Double it."

"It _shall_ be doubled."

"I will turn it over."

"Resolve me now."

"You shall hear from me."

"In what manner?"

"I will find speedy means."

"Your name is Palmer?"

"Palmer is the name he goes by, your ladyship," replied Coates, "but it
is the fashion with these rascals to have an alias."

"Ha! ha!" said Jack, thrusting the ramrod into his pistol-barrel, "are
you there, Mr. Coates? Pay your wager, sir."

"What wager?"

"The hundred we bet that you would take me if ever you had the chance."

"Take _you_!--it was Dick Turpin I betted to take."

"_I_ am DICK TURPIN--that's my alias!" replied Jack.

"Dick Turpin! then I'll have a snap at you at all hazards," cried
Coates, springing suddenly towards him.

"And I at you," said Turpin, discharging his pistol right in the face of
the rash attorney; "there's a quittance in full."



_BOOK III_


_THE GIPSY_

    Lay a garland on my hearse
      Of the dismal yew;
    Maidens, willow branches bear,
      Say I died true.
    My love was false, but I was firm
      From my hour of birth;
    Upon my buried body lie
      Lightly, gentle earth.

                                                BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.



_CHAPTER I_

_A MORNING RIDE_

      I had a sister, who among the race
    Of gipsies was the fairest. Fair she was
    In gentle blood, and gesture to her beauty.

                                                                BROME.


On quitting Lady Rookwood's chamber, Luke speeded along the gloomy
corridor, descended the spiral stairs, and, swiftly traversing sundry
other dark passages, issued from a door at the back of the house. Day
was just beginning to break. His first object had been to furnish
himself with means to expedite his flight; and, perceiving no one in the
yard, he directed his hasty steps towards the stable. The door was
fortunately unfastened; and, entering, he found a strong roan horse,
which he knew, from description, had been his father's favorite hunter,
and to the use of which he now considered himself fully entitled. The
animal roused himself as he approached, shook his glossy coat, and
neighed, as if he recognized the footsteps and voice.

"Thou art mistaken, old fellow," said Luke; "I am not he thou thinkest;
nevertheless, I am glad thy instinct would have it so. If thou bearest
my father's son as thou hast borne thy old master, o'er many a field for
many a day, he need not fear the best mounted of his pursuers. Soho!
come hither, Rook."

The noble steed turned at the call. Luke hastily saddled him, vaulted
upon his back, and, disregarding every impediment in the shape of fence
or ditch, shaped his course across the field towards the sexton's
cottage, which he reached just as its owner was in the act of unlocking
his door. Peter testified his delight and surprise at the escape of his
grandson, by a greeting of chuckling laughter.

"How?--escaped!" exclaimed he. "Who has delivered you from the hands of
the Moabites? Ha, ha! But why do I ask? Who could it have been but Jack
Palmer?"

"My own hands have set me free," returned Luke. "I am indebted to no man
for liberty; still less to _him_. But I cannot tarry here; each moment
is precious. I came to request you to accompany me to the gipsy
encampment. Will you go, or not?"

"And mount behind you?" replied Peter; "I like not the manner of
conveyance."

"Farewell, then." And Luke turned to depart.

"Stay; that is Sir Piers's horse, old Rook. I care not if I do ride
him."

"Quick, then; mount."

"I will not delay you a moment," rejoined the sexton, opening his door,
and throwing his implements into the cottage. "Back, Mole; back, sir,"
cried he, as the dog rushed out to greet him. "Bring your steed nigh
this stone, grandson Luke--there--a little nearer--all's right." And
away they galloped.

The sexton's first inquiries were directed to ascertain how Luke had
accomplished his escape; and, having satisfied himself in this
particular, he was content to remain silent; musing, it might be, on the
incidents detailed to him.

The road Luke chose was a rough, unfrequented lane, that skirted, for
nearly a mile, the moss-grown palings of the park. It then diverged to
the right, and seemed to bear towards a range of hills rising in the
distance. High hedges impeded the view on either hand; but there were
occasional gaps, affording glimpses of the tract of country through
which he was riding. Meadows were seen steaming with heavy dews,
intersected by a deep channelled stream, whose course was marked by a
hanging cloud of vapor, as well as by a row of melancholy
pollard-willows, that stood like stripped, shivering urchins by the
river side. Other fields succeeded, yellow with golden grain, or bright
with flowering clover--the autumnal crop--colored with every shade, from
the light green of the turnip to the darker verdure of the bean, the
various products of the teeming land. The whole was backed by round
drowsy masses of trees.

Luke spoke not, nor abated his furious course, till the road began to
climb a steep ascent. He then drew in the rein, and from the heights of
the acclivity surveyed the plain over which he had passed.

It was a rich agricultural district, with little picturesque beauty, but
much of true English endearing loveliness to recommend it. Such a quiet,
pleasing landscape, in short, as one views, at such a season of the
year, from every eminence in every county of our merry isle. The picture
was made up of a tract of land filled with corn ripe for the sickle, or
studded with sheaves of the same golden produce, enlivened with green
meadows, so deeply luxuriant as to claim the scythe for the second time;
each divided from the other by thick hedgerows, the uniformity of which
was broken ever and anon by some towering elm, tall poplar, or
wide-branching oak. Many old farmhouses, with their broad barns and
crowded haystacks--forming little villages in themselves--ornamented the
landscape at different points, and by their substantial look evidenced
the fertility of the soil, and the thriving condition of its
inhabitants. Some three miles distant might be seen the scattered hamlet
of Rookwood; the dark russet thatch of its houses scarcely perceptible
amidst the embrowned foliage of the surrounding timber. The site of the
village was, however, pointed out by the square tower of the antique
church, that crested the summit of the adjoining hill; and although the
hall was entirely hidden from view, Luke readily traced out its locality
amidst the depths of the dark grove in which it was embosomed.

This goodly prospect had other claims to attention in Luke's eyes
besides its agricultural or pictorial merit. It was, or he deemed it
was, his own. Far as his eye ranged, yea, even beyond the line of
vision, the estates of Rookwood extended.

"Do you see that house below us in the valley?" asked Peter of his
companion.

"I do," replied Luke; "a snug old house--a model of a farm. Everything
looks comfortable and well to do about it. There are a dozen lusty
haystacks, or thereabouts; and the great barn, with its roof yellowed
like gold, looks built for a granary; and there are stables,
kine-houses, orchards, dovecots, and fishponds, and an old circular
garden, with wall-fruit in abundance. He should be a happy man, and a
wealthy one, who dwells therein."

"He dwells therein no longer," returned Peter; "he died last night."

"How know you that? None are stirring in the house as yet."

"The owner of that house, Simon Toft," replied Peter, "was last night
struck by a thunderbolt. He was one of the coffin-bearers at your
father's funeral. They are sleeping within the house, you say. 'Tis
well. Let them sleep on--they will awaken too soon, wake when they
may--ha, ha!"

"Peace!" cried Luke; "you blight everything--even this smiling landscape
you would turn to gloom. Does not this morn awaken a happier train of
thoughts within your mind? With me it makes amends for want of sleep,
effaces resentment, and banishes every black misgiving. 'Tis a joyous
thing thus to scour the country at earliest dawn; to catch all the
spirit and freshness of the morning; to be abroad before the lazy world
is half awake; to make the most of a brief existence; and to have spent
a day of keen enjoyment, almost before the day begins with some. I like
to anticipate the rising of the glorious luminary; to watch every line
of light changing, as at this moment, from shuddering gray to blushing
rose! See how the heavens are dyed! Who would exchange yon gorgeous
spectacle," continued he, pointing towards the east, and again urging
his horse to full speed down the hill, endangering the sexton's seat,
and threatening to impale him upon the crupper of the saddle--"who would
exchange that sight, and the exhilarating feeling of this fresh morn,
for a couch of eiderdown, and a headache in reversion?"

"I for one," returned the sexton, sharply, "would willingly exchange it
for that, or any other couch, provided it rid me of this accursed
crupper, which galls me sorely. Moderate your pace, grandson Luke, or I
must throw myself off the horse in self-defence."

Luke slackened his charger's pace, in compliance with the sexton's wish.

"Ah! well," continued Peter, restored in a measure to comfort; "now I
can contemplate the sunrise, which you laud, somewhat at mine ease. 'Tis
a fine sight, I doubt not, to the eyes of youth; and, to the sanguine
soul of him upon whom life itself is dawning, is, I dare say,
inspiriting: but when the heyday of existence is past; when the blood
flows sluggishly in the veins; when one has known the desolating storms
which the brightest sunrise has preceded, the seared heart refuses to
trust its false glitter; and, like the experienced sailor, sees oft in
the brightest skies a forecast of the tempest. To such a one, there can
be no new dawn of the heart; no sun can gild its cold and cheerless
horizon; no breeze can revive pulses that have long since ceased to
throb with any chance emotion. I am too old to feel freshness in this
nipping air. It chills me more than the damps of night, to which I am
accustomed. Night--midnight! is my season of delight. Nature is instinct
then with secrets dark and dread. There is a language which he who
sleepeth not, but will wake, and watch, may haply learn. Strange organs
of speech hath the invisible world; strange language doth it talk;
strange communion hold with him who would pry into its mysteries. It
talks by bat and owl--by the grave-worm, and by each crawling thing--by
the dust of graves, as well as by those that rot therein--but ever doth
it discourse by night, and specially when the moon is at the full. 'Tis
the lore I have then learned that makes that season dear to me. Like
your cat, mine eye expands in darkness. I blink at the sunshine, like
your owl."

"Cease this forbidding strain," returned Luke; "it sounds as harshly as
your own screech-owl's cry. Let your thoughts take a more sprightly
turn, more in unison with my own and the fair aspect of nature."

"Shall I direct them to the gipsies' camp, then?" said Peter, with a
sneer. "Do your own thoughts tend thither?"

"You are not altogether in the wrong," replied Luke. "I _was_ thinking
of the gipsies' camp, and of one who dwells amongst its tents."

"I knew it," replied Peter. "Did you hope to deceive me by attributing
all your joyousness of heart to the dawn? Your thoughts have been
wandering all this while upon one who hath, I will engage, a pair of
sloe-black eyes, an olive skin, and yet withal a clear one--'black, yet
comely, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon'--a mesh of
jetty hair, that hath entangled you in its network--ripe lips, and a
cunning tongue--one of the plagues of Egypt.--Ha, ha!"

"You have guessed shrewdly," replied Luke; "I care not to own that my
thoughts were so occupied."

"I was assured of it," replied the sexton. "And what may be the name of
her towards whom your imagination was straying?"

"Sibila Perez," replied Luke. "Her father was a Spanish Gitano. She is
known amongst her people by her mother's name of Lovel."

"She is beautiful, of course?"

"Ay, very beautiful!--but no matter! You shall judge of her charms
anon."

"I will take your word for them," returned the sexton; "and you love
her?"

"Passionately."

"You are not married?" asked Peter, hastily.

"Not as yet," replied Luke; "but my faith is plighted."

"Heaven be praised! The mischief is not then irreparable. I would have
you married--though not to a gipsy girl."

"And whom would you select?"

"One before whom Sybil's beauty would pale as stars at day's approach."

"There lives not such a one."

"Trust me there does. Eleanor Mowbray is lovely beyond parallel. I was
merely speculating upon a possibility when I wished her yours--it is
scarcely likely she would cast her eyes upon you."

"I shall not heed her neglect. Graced with my title, I doubt not, were
it my pleasure to seek a bride amongst those of gentle blood, I should
not find all indifferent to my suit."

"Possibly not. Yet what might weigh with others, would not weigh with
her. There are qualities you lack which she has discovered in another."

"In whom?"

"In Ranulph Rookwood."

"Is _he_ her suitor?"

"I have reason to think so."

"And you would have me abandon my own betrothed love, to beguile from my
brother his destined bride? That were to imitate the conduct of my
grandsire, the terrible Sir Reginald, towards _his_ brother Alan."

The sexton answered not, and Luke fancied he could perceive a quivering
in the hands that grasped his body for support. There was a brief pause
in their conversation.

"And who is Eleanor Mowbray?" asked Luke, breaking the silence.

"Your cousin. On the mother's side a Rookwood. 'Tis therefore I would
urge your union with her. There is a prophecy relating to your house,
which seems as though it would be fulfilled in your person and in hers:

    When the stray Rook shall perch on the topmost bough,
    There shall be clamor and screaming, I trow;
    But of right, and of rule, of the ancient nest,
    The Rook that with Rook mates shall hold him possest."

"I place no faith in such fantasies," replied Luke; "and yet the lines
bear strangely upon my present situation."

"Their application to yourself and Eleanor Mowbray is unquestionable,"
replied the sexton.

"It would seem so, indeed," rejoined Luke; and he again sank into
abstraction, from which the sexton did not care to arouse him.

The aspect of the country had materially changed since their descent of
the hill. In place of the richly-cultivated district which lay on the
other side, a broad brown tract of waste land spread out before them,
covered with scattered patches of gorse, stunted fern, and low
brushwood, presenting an unvaried surface of unbaked turf. The shallow
coat of sod was manifested by the stones that clattered under the
horse's hoofs as he rapidly traversed the arid soil, clearing with ease
to himself, though not without discomfort to the sexton, every gravelly
trench, natural chasm, or other inequality of ground that occurred in
his course. Clinging to his grandson with the tenacity of a bird of
prey, Peter for some time kept his station in security; but, unluckily,
at one dike rather wider than the rest, the horse, owing possibly to the
mismanagement, intentional or otherwise, of Luke, swerved; and the
sexton, dislodged from his "high estate," fell at the edge of the
trench, and rolled incontinently to the bottom.

Luke drew in the rein to inquire if any bones were broken; and Peter
presently upreared his dusty person from the abyss, and without
condescending to make any reply, yet muttering curses, "not loud, but
deep," accepted his grandson's proffered hand, and remounted.

While thus occupied, Luke fancied he heard a distant shout, and noting
whence the sound proceeded--the same quarter by which he had approached
the heath--he beheld a single horseman spurring in their direction at
the top of his speed; and to judge from the rate at which he advanced,
it was evident he was anything but indifferently mounted. Apprehensive
of pursuit, Luke expedited the sexton's ascent; and that accomplished,
without bestowing further regard upon the object of his solicitude, he
resumed his headlong flight. He now thought it necessary to bestow more
attention on his choice of road, and, perfectly acquainted with the
heath, avoided all unnecessary hazardous passes. In spite of his
knowledge of the ground, and the excellence of his horse, the stranger
sensibly gained upon him. The danger, however, was no longer imminent.

"We are safe," cried Luke; "the limits of Hardchase are past. In a few
seconds we shall enter Davenham Wood. I will turn the horse loose, and
we will betake ourselves to flight amongst the trees. I will show you a
place of concealment. He cannot follow us on horseback, and on foot I
defy him."

"Stay," cried the sexton. "He is not in pursuit--he takes another
course--he wheels to the right. By Heaven! it is the Fiend himself upon
a black horse, come for Bow-legged Ben. See, he is there already."

The horseman had turned, as the sexton stated, careering towards a
revolting object at some little distance on the right hand. It was a
gibbet, with its grisly burden. He rode swiftly towards it, and, reining
in his horse, took off his hat, bowing profoundly to the carcase that
swung in the morning breeze. Just at that moment a gust of air catching
the fleshless skeleton, its arms seemed to be waved in reply to the
salutation. A solitary crow winged its flight over the horseman's head
as he paused. After a moment's halt, he wheeled about, and again shouted
to Luke, waving his hat.

"As I live," said the latter, "it is Jack Palmer."

"Dick Turpin, you mean," rejoined the sexton. "He has been paying his
respects to a brother blade. Ha, ha! Dick will never have the honor of a
gibbet; he is too tender of the knife. Did you mark the crow? But here
he comes." And in another instant Turpin was by their side.



_CHAPTER II_

_A GIPSY ENCAMPMENT_

    I see a column of slow-rising smoke
    O'ertop the lofty wood, that skirts the wild.

                                                   COWPER: _The Task_.


"The top of the morning to you, gem'men," said Turpin, as he rode up at
an easy canter. "Did you not hear my halloo? I caught a glimpse of you
on the hill yonder. I knew you both, two miles off; and so, having a
word or two to say to you, Luke Bradley, before I leave this part of the
country, I put Bess to it, and she soon brought me within hail. Bless
her black skin," added he, affectionately patting his horse's neck,
"there's not her match in these parts, or in any other; she wants no
coaxing to do her work--no bleeders for her. I should have been up with
you before this had I not taken a cross cut to look at poor Ben.

    One night, when mounted on my mare.
    To Bagshot Heath I did repair,
    And saw Will Davies hanging there,
    Upon the gibbet bleak and bare,
                  _With a rustified, fustified, mustified air._

Excuse my singing. The sight of a gibbet always puts me in mind of the
Golden Farmer. May I ask whither you are bound, comrades?"

"Comrades!" whispered the sexton to Luke; "you see _he_ does not so
easily forget his old friends."

"I have business that will not admit of delay," rejoined Luke; "and to
speak plainly----"

"You want not my society," returned Turpin; "I guessed as much. Natural
enough! You have got an inkling of your good fortune. You have found out
you are a rich man's heir, not a poor wench's bastard. No offence; I'm a
plain spoken man, as you will find, if you know it not already. I have
no objection to your playing these fine tricks on others, though it
won't answer your turn to do so with me."

"Sir!" exclaimed Luke, sharply.

"Sir to you," replied Turpin--"Sir Luke--as I suppose you would now
choose to be addressed. I am aware of all. A nod is as good as a wink to
me. Last night I learned the fact of Sir Piers's marriage from Lady
Rookwood--ay, from her ladyship. You stare--and old Peter, there, opens
his ogles now. She let it out by accident; and I am in possession of
what can alone substantiate your father's first marriage, and establish
your claims to the property."

"The devil!" cried the sexton; adding, in a whisper to Luke, "You had
better not be precipitate in dropping so obliging an acquaintance."

"You are jesting," said Luke to Turpin.

"It is ill jesting before breakfast," returned Dick: "I am seldom in the
mood for a joke so early. What if a certain marriage certificate had
fallen into my hand?"

"A marriage certificate!" echoed Luke and the sexton simultaneously.

"The only existing proof of the union of Sir Piers Rookwood with Susan
Bradley," continued Turpin. "What if I had stumbled upon such a
document--nay more, if I knew where to direct you to it?"

"Peace!" cried Luke to his tormentor; and then addressing Turpin, "if
what you say be true, my quest is at an end. All that I need, you appear
to possess. Other proofs are secondary to this. I know with whom I have
to deal. What do you demand for that certificate?"

"We will talk about the matter after breakfast," said Turpin. "I wish to
treat with you as friend with friend. Meet me on those terms, and I am
your man; reject my offer, and I turn my mare's head, and ride back to
Rookwood. With me now rest all your hopes. I have dealt fairly with you,
and I expect to be fairly dealt with in return. It were idle to say, now
I have an opportunity, that I should not turn this luck to my account. I
were a fool to do otherwise. You cannot expect it. And then I have Rust
and Wilder to settle with. Though I have left them behind, they know my
destination. We have been old associates. I like your spirit--I care not
for your haughtiness; but I will not help you up the ladder to be kicked
down myself. Now you understand me. Whither are you bound?"

"To Davenham Priory, the gipsy camp."

"The gipsies are your friends?"

"They are."

"I am alone."

"You are safe."

"You pledge your word that all shall be on the square. You will not
mention to one of that canting crew what I have told you?"

"With one exception, you may rely upon my secrecy."

"Whom do you except?"

"A woman."

"Bad! never trust a petticoat."

"I will answer for her with my life."

"And for your granddad there?"

"He will answer for himself," said Peter. "You need not fear treachery
in me. Honor among thieves, you know."

"Or where else should you seek it?" rejoined Turpin; "for it has left
all other classes of society. Your highwayman is your only man of honor.
I will trust you both; and you shall find you may trust me. After
breakfast, as I said before, we will bring the matter to a conclusion.
Tip us your daddle, Sir Luke, and I am satisfied. You shall rule in
Rookwood, I'll engage, ere a week be flown; and then---- But so much
parleying is dull work; let's make the best of our way to breakfast."

And away they cantered.

A narrow bridle-road conducted them singly through the defiles of a
thick wood. Their route lay in the shade, and the air felt chilly amidst
the trees, the sun not having attained sufficient altitude to penetrate
its depths, while overhead all was warmth and light. Quivering on the
tops of the timber, the horizontal sunbeams created, in their
refraction, brilliant prismatic colorings, and filled the air with motes
like golden dust. Our horsemen heeded not the sunshine or the shade.
Occupied each with his own train of thought, they silently rode on.

Davenham Wood, through which they urged their course, had, in the olden
time, been a forest of some extent. It was then an appendage to the
domains of Rookwood, but had passed from the hands of that family to
those of a wealthy adjoining landowner and lawyer, Sir Edward Davenham,
in the keeping of whose descendants it had ever after continued. A noble
wood it was, and numbered many patriarchal trees. Ancient oaks, with
broad, gnarled limbs, which the storms of five hundred years had vainly
striven to uproot, and which were now sternly decaying; gigantic beech
trees, with silvery stems shooting smoothly upwards, sustaining branches
of such size, that each, dissevered, would in itself have formed a tree,
populous with leaves, and variegated with rich autumnal tints; the
sprightly sycamore, the dark chestnut, the weird wych-elm, the majestic
elm itself, festooned with ivy, every variety of wood, dark, dense, and
intricate, composed the forest through which they rode; and so
multitudinous was the timber, so closely planted, so entirely filled up
with a thick, matted vegetation, which had been allowed to collect
beneath, that little view was afforded, had any been desired by the
parties, into the labyrinth of the grove. Tree after tree, clad in the
glowing livery of the season, was passed, and as rapidly succeeded by
others. Occasionally a bough projected over their path, compelling the
riders to incline their heads as they passed; but, heedless of such
difficulties, they pressed on. Now the road grew lighter, and they
became at once sensible of the genial influence of the sun. The
transition was as agreeable as instantaneous. They had opened upon an
extensive plantation of full-grown pines, whose tall, branchless stems
grew up like a forest of masts, and freely admitted the pleasant
sunshine. Beneath those trees, the soil was sandy and destitute of all
undergrowth, though covered with brown, hair-like fibres and dry cones,
shed by the pines. The agile squirrel, that freest denizen of the grove,
starting from the ground as the horsemen galloped on, sprang up the
nearest tree, and might be seen angrily gazing at the disturbers of his
haunts, beating the branches with his fore feet, in expression of
displeasure; the rabbit darted across their path; the jays flew
screaming amongst the foliage; the blue cushat, scared at the clatter of
the horses' hoofs, sped on swift wing into quarters secure from their
approach; while the parti-colored pies, like curious village gossips,
congregated to peer at the strangers, expressing their astonishment by
loud and continuous chattering. Though so gentle of ascent as to be
almost imperceptible, it was still evident that the path they were
pursuing gradually mounted a hill-side; and when at length they reached
an opening, the view disclosed the eminence they had insensibly won.
Pausing for a moment upon the brow of the hill, Luke pointed to a stream
that wound through the valley, and, tracing its course, indicated a
particular spot amongst the trees. There was no appearance of a
dwelling house--no cottage roof, no white canvas shed, to point out the
tents of the wandering tribe whose abode they were seeking. The only
circumstance betokening that it had once been the haunt of man were a
few gray monastic ruins, scarce distinguishable from the stony barrier
by which they were surrounded; and the sole evidence that it was still
frequented by human beings was a thin column of pale blue smoke, that
arose in curling wreaths from out the brake, the light-colored vapor
beautifully contrasting with the green umbrage whence it issued.

"Our destination is yonder," exclaimed Luke, pointing in the direction
of the vapor.

"I am glad to hear it," cried Turpin, "as well as to perceive there is
some one awake. That smoke holds out a prospect of breakfast. No smoke
without fire, as old Lady Scanmag said; and I'll wager a trifle that
fire was not lighted for the fayter fellows to count their fingers by.
We shall find three sticks, and a black pot with a kid seething in it,
I'll engage. These gipsies have picked out a prettyish spot to quarter
in--quite picturesque, as one may say--and but for that tell-tale smoke,
which looks for all the world like a Dutch skipper blowing his morning
cloud, no one need know of their vicinity. A pretty place, upon my
soul."

The spot, in sooth, merited Turpin's eulogium. It was a little valley,
in the midst of wooded hills, so secluded, that not a single habitation
appeared in view. Clothed with timber to the very summits, excepting on
the side where the party stood, which verged upon the declivity, these
mountainous ridges presented a broken outline of foliage, variegated
with tinted masses of bright orange, timber, and deepest green. Four
hills hemmed in the valley. Here and there a gray slab of rock might be
discerned amongst the wood, and a mountain-ash figured conspicuously
upon a jutting crag immediately below them. Deep sunken in the ravine,
and concealed in part from view by the wild herbage and dwarf shrubs,
ran a range of precipitous rocks, severed, it would seem, by some
diluvial convulsion, from the opposite mountain side, as a corresponding
rift was there visible, in which the same dip of strata might be
observed, together with certain ribbed cavities, matching huge bolts of
rock which had once locked these stony walls together. Washing this
cliff, swept a clear stream, well known and well regarded, as it waxed
in width, by the honest brethren of the angle, who seldom, however,
tracked it to its rise amongst these hills. The stream found its way
into the valley through a chasm far to the left, and rushed thundering
down the mountain side in a boiling cascade. The valley was approached
in this direction from Rookwood by an unfrequented carriage-road, which
Luke had, from prudential reasons, avoided. All seemed consecrated to
silence--to solitude--to the hush of nature; yet this quiet scene was
the chosen retreat of lawless depredators, and had erstwhile been the
theatre of feudal oppression. We have said that no habitation was
visible; that no dwelling tenanted by man could be seen; but following
the spur of the furthest mountain hill, some traces of a stone wall
might be discovered; and upon a natural platform of rock stood a stern
square tower, which had once been the donjon of the castle, the lords of
which had called the four hills their own. A watch-tower then had
crowned each eminence, every vestige of which had, however, long since
disappeared. Sequestered in the vale stood the Priory before alluded
to--a Monastery of Gray Friars, of the Order of St. Francis--some of the
venerable walls of which were still remaining; and if they had not
reverted to the bat and the owl, as is wont to be the fate of such
sacred structures, their cloistered shrines were devoted to beings whose
natures partook, in some measure, of the instincts of those creatures of
the night--a people whose deeds were of darkness, and whose eyes shunned
the light. Here the gipsies had pitched their tent; and though the place
was often, in part, deserted by the vagrant horde, yet certain of the
tribe, who had grown into years--over whom Barbara Lovel held queenly
sway--made it their haunt, and were suffered by the authorities of the
neighborhood to remain unmolested--a lenient piece of policy, which, in
our infinite regard for the weal of the tawny tribe, we recommend to the
adoption of all other justices and knights of the shire.

Bidding his grandsire have regard to his seat, Luke leaped a high bank;
and, followed by Turpin, began to descend the hill. Peter, however, took
care to provide for himself. The descent was so perilous, and the
footing so insecure, that he chose rather to trust to such conveyance as
nature had furnished him with, than to hazard his neck by any false step
of the horse. He contrived, therefore, to slide off from behind, shaping
his own course in a more secure direction.

He who has wandered amidst the Alps must have often had occasion to
witness the wonderful surefootedness of that mountain pilot, the mule.
He must have remarked how, with tenacious hoof, he will claw the rock,
and drag himself from one impending fragment to another, with perfect
security to his rider; how he will breast the roaring currents of air,
and stand unshrinking at the verge of almost unfathomable ravines. But
it is not so with the horse: fleet on the plain, careful over rugged
ground, he is timid and uncertain on the hill-side, and the risk
incurred by Luke and Turpin, in their descent of the almost
perpendicular sides of the cliff, was tremendous. Peter watched them in
their descent with some admiration, and with much contempt.

"He will break his neck, of a surety," said he; "but what matters it? As
well now as hereafter."

So saying, he approached the verge of the precipice, where he could see
them more distinctly.

The passage along which Luke rode had never before been traversed by
horse's hoof. Cut in the rock, it presented a steep zigzag path amongst
the cliffs, without any defence for the foot traveller, except such as
was afforded by a casual clinging shrub, and no protection whatever
existed for a horseman; the possibility of any one attempting the
passage not having, in all probability, entered into the calculation of
those who framed it. Added to this, the steps were of such unequal
heights, and withal so narrow, that the danger was proportionately
increased.

"Ten thousand devils!" cried Turpin, staring downwards, "is this the
best road you have got?"

"You will find one more easy," replied Luke, "if you ride for a quarter
of a mile down the wood, and then return by the brook side. You will
meet me at the priory."

"No," answered the highwayman, boldly; "if you go, I go too. It shall
never be said that Dick Turpin was afraid to follow where another would
lead. Proceed."

Luke gave his horse the bridle, and the animal slowly and steadily
commenced the descent, fixing his fore legs upon the steps, and drawing
his hinder limbs carefully after him. Here it was that the lightness and
steadiness of Turpin's mare was completely shown. No Alpine mule could
have borne its rider with more apparent ease and safety. Turpin
encouraged her by hand and word; but she needed it not. The sexton saw
them, and, tracking their giddy descent, he became more interested than
he anticipated. His attention was suddenly drawn towards Luke.

"He is gone," cried Peter. "He falls--he sinks--my plans are all
defeated--the last link is snapped. No," added he, recovering his wonted
composure, "his end is not so fated."

Rook had missed his footing. He rolled stumbling down the precipice a
few yards. Luke's fate seemed inevitable. His feet were entangled in the
stirrup, he could not free himself. A birch tree, growing in a chink of
the precipice, arrested his further fall. But for this timely aid all
had been over. Here Luke was enabled to extricate himself from the
stirrup and to regain his feet; seizing the bridle, he dragged his
faulty steed back again to the road.

"You have had a narrow escape, by Jove," said Turpin, who had been
thunderstruck with the whole proceeding. "Those big cattle are always
clumsy; devilish lucky it's no worse."

It was now comparatively smooth travelling; but they had not as yet
reached the valley, and it seemed to be Luke's object to take a
circuitous path. This was so evident that Turpin could not help
commenting upon it.

Luke evaded the question. "The crag is steep there," said he; "besides,
to tell you the truth, I want to surprise them."

"Ho, ho!" laughed Dick. "Surprise them, eh? What a pity the birch tree
was in the way; you would have done it properly then. Egad, here's
another surprise."

Dick's last exclamation was caused by his having suddenly come upon a
wide gully in the rock, through which dashed a headlong torrent, crossed
by a single plank.

"You must be mad to have taken this road," cried Turpin, gazing down
into the roaring depths in which the waterfall raged, and measuring the
distance of the pass with his eye. "So, so, Bess!--Ay, look at it,
wench. Curse me, Luke, if I think your horse will do it, and, therefore,
turn him loose."

But Dick might as well have bidden the cataract to flow backwards. Luke
struck his heels into his horse's sides. The steed galloped to the
brink, snorted, and refused the leap.

"I told you so--he can't do it," said Turpin. "Well, if you are
obstinate, a wilful man must have his way. Stand aside, while I try it
for you." Patting Bess, he put her to a gallop. She cleared the gulf
bravely, landing her rider safely upon the opposite rock.

"Now then," cried Turpin, from the other side of the chasm.

Luke again urged his steed. Encouraged by what he had seen, this time
the horse sprang across without hesitation. The next instant they were
in the valley.

For some time they rode along the banks of the stream in silence. A
sound at length caught the quick ears of the highwayman.

"Hist!" cried he; "some one sings. Do you hear it?"

"I do," replied Luke, the blood rushing to his cheeks.

"And could give a guess at the singer, no doubt," said Turpin, with a
knowing look. "Was it to hear yon woodlark that you nearly broke your
own neck, and put mine in jeopardy?"

"Prithee be silent," whispered Luke.

"I am dumb," replied Turpin; "I like a sweet voice as well as another."

Clear as the note of a bird, yet melancholy as the distant dole of a
vesper-bell, arose the sound of that sweet voice from the wood. A
fragment of a Spanish gipsy song it warbled: Luke knew it well. Thus ran
the romance:

    LA GITANILLA

      By the Guadalquivir,
        Ere the sun be flown,
      By that glorious river
        Sits a maid alone.
      Like the sunset splendor
        Of that current bright,
      Shone her dark eyes tender
        As its witching light.
    Like the ripple flowing,
      Tinged with purple sheen,
    Darkly, richly glowing,
      Is her warm cheek seen.
          'Tis the Gitanilla
            By the stream doth linger,
          In the hope that eve
            Will her lover bring her.

      See, the sun is sinking;
        All grows dim, and dies;
      See, the waves are drinking
        Glories of the skies.
      Day's last lustre playeth
        On that current dark;
      Yet no speck betrayeth
        His long looked-for bark.
    'Tis the hour of meeting!
      Nay, the hour is past;
    Swift the time is fleeting!
      Fleeteth hope as fast.
          Still the Gitanilla
            By the stream doth linger,
          In the hope that night
            Will her lover bring her.

The tender trembling of a guitar was heard in accompaniment of the
ravishing melodist.

The song ceased.

"Where is the bird?" asked Turpin.

"Move on in silence, and you shall see," said Luke; and keeping upon the
turf, so that his horse's tread became inaudible, he presently arrived
at a spot where, through the boughs, the object of his investigation
could plainly be distinguished, though he himself was concealed from
view.

Upon a platform of rock, rising to the height of the trees, nearly
perpendicularly from the river's bed, appeared the figure of the gipsy
maid. Her footstep rested on the extreme edge of the abrupt cliff, at
whose base the water boiled in a deep whirlpool, and the bounding
chamois could not have been more lightly poised. One small hand rested
upon her guitar, the other pressed her brow. Braided hair, of the
jettiest dye and sleekest texture, was twined around her brow in endless
twisted folds:

    Rowled it was in many a curious fret,
    Much like a rich and curious coronet,
    Upon whose arches twenty Cupids lay,
    And were as tied, or loth to fly away.[24]

And so exuberant was this rarest feminine ornament, that, after
encompassing her brow, it was passed behind, and hung down in long thick
plaits almost to her feet. Sparkling, as the sunbeams that played upon
her dark yet radiant features, were the large, black, Oriental eyes of
the maiden, and shaded with lashes long and silken. Hers was a Moorish
countenance, in which the magnificence of the eyes eclipses the face, be
it ever so beautiful--an effect to be observed in the angelic pictures
of Murillo,--and the lovely contour is scarcely noticed in the gaze
which those long, languid, luminous orbs attract. Sybil's features were
exquisite, yet you looked only at her eyes--they were the loadstars of
her countenance. Her costume was singular, and partook, like herself, of
other climes. Like the Andalusian dame, her choice of color inclined
towards black, as the material of most of her dress was of that sombre
hue. A bodice of embroidered velvet restrained her delicate bosom's
swell; a rich girdle, from which depended a silver chain, sustaining a
short poniard, bound her waist; around her slender throat was twined a
costly kerchief; and the rest of her dress was calculated to display her
slight, yet faultless, figure to the fullest advantage.

Unconscious that she was the object of regard, she raised her guitar,
and essayed to touch the chords. She struck a few notes, and resumed her
romance:

    Swift that stream flows on,
      Swift the night is wearing,--
    Yet she is not gone,
      Though with heart despairing.

Her song died away. Her hand was needed to brush off the tears that were
gathering in her large dark eyes. At once her attitude was changed. The
hare could not have started more suddenly from her form. She heard
accents well known concluding the melody:

    Dips an oar-plash--hark!--
      Gently on the river;
    'Tis her lover's bark.
      On the Guadalquivir.
    Hark! a song she hears!
      Every note she snatches;
    As the singer nears,
      Her own name she catches.
          Now the Gitanilla
            Stays not by the water,
          For the midnight hour
            Hath her lover brought her.

It was her lover's voice. She caught the sound at once, and, starting,
as the roe would arouse herself at the hunter's approach, bounded down
the crag, and ere he had finished the refrain, was by his side.

Flinging the bridle to Turpin, Luke sprang to her, and caught her in his
arms. Disengaging herself from his ardent embrace, Sybil drew back,
abashed at the sight of the highwayman.

"Heed him not," said Luke; "it is a friend."

"He is welcome here then," replied Sybil. "But where have you tarried so
long, dear Luke?" continued she, as they walked to a little distance
from the highwayman. "What hath detained you? The hours have passed
wearily since you departed. You bring good news?"

"Good news, my girl; so good, that I falter even in the telling of it.
You shall know all anon. And see, our friend yonder grows impatient. Are
there any stirring? We must bestow a meal upon him, and that forthwith:
he is one of those who brook not much delay."

"I came not to spoil a love meeting," said Turpin, who had
good-humoredly witnessed the scene; "but, in sober seriousness, if there
is a stray capon to be met with in the land of Egypt, I shall be glad to
make his acquaintance. Methinks I scent a stew afar off."

"Follow me," said Sybil; "your wants shall be supplied."

"Stay," said Luke; "there is one other of our party whose coming we must
abide."

"He is here," said Sybil, observing the sexton at a distance. "Who is
that old man?"

"My grandsire, Peter Bradley."

"Is that Peter Bradley?" asked Sybil.

"Ay, you may well ask whether that old dried-up _otomy_, who ought to
grin in a glass case for folks to stare at, be kith and kin of such a
bang-up cove as your fancy man, Luke," said Turpin, laughing--"but i'
faith he is."

"Though he is your grandsire, Luke," said Sybil, "I like him not. His
glance resembles that of the Evil Eye."

And, in fact, the look which Peter fixed upon her was such as the
rattlesnake casts upon its victim, and Sybil felt like a poor fluttering
bird under the fascination of that venomous reptile. She could not
remove her eyes from his, though she trembled as she gazed. We have said
that Peter's orbs were like those of the toad. Age had not dimmed their
brilliancy. In his harsh features you could only read bitter scorn or
withering hate; but in his eyes resided a magnetic influence of
attraction or repulsion. Sybil underwent the former feeling in a
disagreeable degree. She was drawn to him as by the motion of a
whirlpool, and involuntarily clung to her lover.

"It is the Evil Eye, dear Luke."

"Tut, tut, dear Sybil; I tell you it is my grandsire."

"The girl says rightly, however," rejoined Turpin; "Peter has a
confounded ugly look about the ogles, and stares enough to put a modest
wench out of countenance. Come, come, my old earthworm, crawl along, we
have waited for you long enough. Is this the first time you have seen a
pretty lass, eh?"

"It is the first time I have seen one so beautiful," said Peter; "and I
crave her pardon if my freedom has offended her. I wonder not at your
enchantment, grandson Luke, now I behold the object of it. But there is
one piece of counsel I would give to this fair maid. The next time she
trusts you from her sight, I would advise her to await you at the
hill-top, otherwise the chances are shrewdly against your reaching the
ground with neck unbroken."

There was something, notwithstanding the satirical manner in which Peter
delivered this speech, calculated to make a more favorable impression
upon Sybil than his previous conduct had inspired her with; and, having
ascertained from Luke to what his speech referred, she extended her hand
to him, yet not without a shudder, as it was enclosed in his skinny
grasp. It was like the fingers of Venus in the grasp of a skeleton.

"This is a little hand," said Peter, "and I have some skill myself in
palmistry. Shall I peruse its lines?"

"Not now, in the devil's name!" said Turpin, stamping impatiently. "We
shall have Old Ruffin himself amongst us presently, if Peter Bradley
grows gallant."

Leading their horses, the party took their way through the trees. A few
minutes' walking brought them in sight of the gipsy encampment, the spot
selected for which might be termed the Eden of the valley. It was a
small green plain, smooth as a well-shorn lawn, kept ever verdant--save
in the spots where the frequent fires had scorched its surface--by the
flowing stream that rushed past it, and surrounded by an amphitheatre of
wooded hills. Here might be seen the canvas tent with its patches of
varied coloring; the rude-fashioned hut of primitive construction; the
kettle slung

    Between two poles, upon a stick transverse;

the tethered beasts of burden, the horses, asses, dogs, carts, caravans,
wains, blocks, and other movables and immovables belonging to the
wandering tribe. Glimmering through the trees, at the extremity of the
plain, appeared the ivy-mantled walls of Davenham Priory. Though much
had gone to decay, enough remained to recall the pristine state of this
once majestic pile, and the long, though broken line of Saxon arches,
that still marked the cloister wall; the piers that yet supported the
dormitory; the enormous horse-shoe arch that spanned the court; and,
above all, the great marigold, or circular window, which terminated the
chapel, and which, though now despoiled of its painted honors, retained,
like the skeleton leaf, its fibrous intricacies entire,--all eloquently
spoke of the glories of the past, while they awakened reverence and
admiration for the still enduring beauty of the present.

Towards these ruins Sybil conducted the party.

"Do you dwell therein?" asked Peter, pointing towards the priory.

"That is my dwelling," said Sybil.

"It is one I should covet more than a modern mansion," returned the
sexton.

"I love those old walls better than any house that was ever fashioned,"
replied Sybil.

As they entered the Prior's Close, as it was called, several swarthy
figures made their appearance from the tents. Many a greeting was
bestowed upon Luke, in the wild jargon of the tribe. At length an
uncouth dwarfish figure, with a shock head of black hair, hopped towards
them. He seemed to acknowledge Luke as his master.

"What ho! Grasshopper," said Luke, "take these horses, and see that they
lack neither dressing nor provender."

"And hark ye, Grasshopper," added Turpin; "I give you a special charge
about this mare. Neither dress nor feed her till I see both done myself.
Just walk her for ten minutes, and if you have a glass of ale in the
place, let her sip it."

"Your bidding shall be done," chirped the human insect, as he fluttered
away with his charges.

A motley assemblage of tawny-skinned varlets, dark-eyed women and
children, whose dusky limbs betrayed their lineage, in strange costume,
and of wild deportment, checked the path, muttering welcome upon welcome
into the ear of Luke as he passed. As it was evident he was in no mood
for converse, Sybil, who seemed to exercise considerable authority over
the crew, with a word dispersed them, and they herded back to their
respective habitations.

A low door admitted Luke and his companions into what had once been the
garden, in which some old moss-encrusted apple and walnut-trees were
still standing, bearing a look of antiquity almost as venerable as that
of the adjoining fabric.

Another open door gave them entrance to a spacious chamber, formerly the
eating-room or refectory of the holy brotherhood, and a goodly room it
had been, though now its slender lanceolated windows were stuffed with
hay to keep out the air. Large holes told where huge oaken rafters had
once crossed the roof, and a yawning aperture marked the place where a
cheering fire had formerly blazed. As regarded this latter spot, the
good old custom was not, even now, totally abrogated. An iron plate,
covered with crackling wood, sustained a ponderous black caldron, the
rich steam from which gratefully affected the olfactory organs of the
highwayman.

"That augurs well," said he, rubbing his hands.

"Still hungering after the fleshpots of Egypt," said the sexton, with a
ghastly smile.

"We will see what that kettle contains," said Luke.

"Handassah--Grace!" exclaimed Sybil, calling.

Her summons was answered by two maidens, habited not unbecomingly, in
gipsy gear.

"Bring the best our larder can furnish," said Sybil, "and use despatch.
You have appetites to provide for, sharpened by a long ride in the open
air."

"And by a night's fasting," said Luke, "and solitary confinement to
boot."

"And a night of business," added Turpin--"and plaguy perplexing business
into the bargain."

"And the night of a funeral too," doled Peter; "and that funeral a
father's. Let us have breakfast speedily, by all means. We have rare
appetites."

An old oaken table--it might have been the self-same upon which the holy
friars had broken their morning fast--stood in the middle of the room.
The ample board soon groaned beneath the weight of the savory caldron,
the unctuous contents of which proved to be a couple of dismembered
pheasants, an equal proportion of poultry, great gouts of ham,
mushrooms, onions, and other piquant condiments, so satisfactory to Dick
Turpin, that, upon tasting a mouthful, he absolutely shed tears of
delight. The dish was indeed the triumph of gipsy cookery; and so
sedulously did Dick apply himself to his mess, and so complete was his
abstraction, that he perceived not he was left alone. It was only when
about to wash down the last drumstick of the last fowl with a can of
excellent ale that he made this discovery.

"What! all gone? And Peter Bradley, too? What the devil does this mean?"
mused he. "I must not muddle my brain with any more Pharaoh, though I
have feasted like a king of Egypt. That will never do. Caution, Dick,
caution. Suppose I shift yon brick from the wall, and place this
precious document beneath it. Pshaw! Luke would never play me false. And
now for Bess! Bless her black skin! she'll wonder where I've been so
long. It's not my way to leave her to shift for herself, though she can
do that on a pinch."

Soliloquizing thus, he arose and walked towards the door.



_CHAPTER III_

_SYBIL_

    The wiving vine, that round the friendly elm
    Twines her soft limbs, and weaves a leafy mantle
    For her supporting lover, dares not venture
    To mix her humble boughs with the embraces
    Of the more lofty cedar.

                                   GLAPTHORNE: _Albertus Wallenstein_.


Beneath a moldering wall, whither they had strayed, to be free from
interruption, and upon a carpet of the greenest moss, sat Sybil and her
lover.

With eager curiosity she listened to his tale. He recounted all that had
befallen him since his departure. He told her of the awful revelations
of the tomb; of the ring that, like a talisman, had conjured up a
thousand brilliant prospects; of his subsequent perils; his escapes; his
rencontre with Lady Rookwood; his visit to his father's body; and his
meeting with his brother. All this she heard with a cheek now flushed
with expectation, now made pale with apprehension; with palpitating
bosom, and suppressed breath. But when taking a softer tone, love,
affection, happiness inspired the theme, and Luke sought to paint the
bliss that should be theirs in his new estate; when he would throw his
fortune into her lap, his titles at her feet, and bid her wear them with
him; when, with ennobled hand and unchanged heart, he would fulfil the
troth plighted in his outcast days; in lieu of tender, grateful
acquiescence, the features of Sybil became overcast, the soft smile
faded away, and, as spring sunshine is succeeded by the sudden shower,
the light that dwelt in her sunny orbs grew dim with tears.

"Why--why is this, dear Sybil?" said Luke, gazing upon her in
astonishment, not unmingled with displeasure. "To what am I to attribute
these tears? You do not, surely, regret my good fortune?"

"Not on your own account, dear Luke," returned she, sadly. "The tears I
shed were for myself--the first, the only tears that I have ever shed
for such cause; and," added she, raising her head like a flower
surcharged with moisture, "they shall be the last."

"This is inexplicable, dear Sybil. Why should you lament for yourself,
if not for me? Does not the sunshine of prosperity that now shines upon
me gild you with the same beam? Did I not even now affirm that the day
that saw me enter the hall of my forefathers should dawn upon our
espousals?"

"True; but the sun that shines upon you, to me wears a threatening
aspect. The day of those espousals will never dawn. You cannot make me
the Lady of Rookwood."

"What do I hear?" exclaimed Luke, surprised at this avowal of his
mistress, sadly and deliberately delivered. "Not wed you! And wherefore
not? Is it the rank I have acquired, or hope to acquire, that displeases
you? Speak, that I may waste no further time in thus pursuing the
shadows of happiness, while the reality fleets from me."

"And _are_ they shadows; and _is_ this the reality, dear Luke? Question
your secret soul, and you will find it otherwise. You could not forego
your triumph; it is not likely. You have dwelt too much upon the proud
title which will be yours to yield it to another, when it may be won so
easily. And, above all, when your mother's reputation, and your own
stained name, may be cleared by one word, breathed aloud, would you fail
to utter it? No, dear Luke, I read your heart; you would not."

"And if I could _not_ forego this, wherefore is it that you refuse to be
a sharer in my triumph? Why will you render my honors valueless when I
have acquired them? You love me not."

"Not love you, Luke?"

"Approve it, then."

"I do approve it. Bear witness the sacrifice I am about to make of all
my hopes, at the shrine of my idolatry to you. Bear witness the agony of
this hour. Bear witness the horror of the avowal, that I never can be
yours. As Luke Bradley, I would joyfully--oh, how joyfully!--have been
your bride. As Sir Luke Rookwood"--and she shuddered as she pronounced
the name--"I never can be so."

"Then, by Heaven! Luke Bradley will I remain. But wherefore--wherefore
not as Sir Luke Rookwood?"

"Because," replied Sybil, with reluctance--"because I am no longer your
equal. The gipsy's low-born daughter is no mate for Sir Luke Rookwood.
Love cannot blind me, dear Luke. It cannot make me other than I am; it
cannot exalt me in my own esteem, nor in that of the world, with which
you, alas! too soon will mingle, and which will regard even me as--no
matter what!--it shall not scorn me as your bride. I will not bring
shame and reproach upon you. Oh! if for me, dear Luke, the proud ones of
the earth were to treat you with contumely, this heart would break with
agony. For myself, I have pride sufficient--perchance too much.
Perchance 'tis pride that actuates me now. I know not. But for you I am
all weakness. As you were heretofore, I would have been to you the
tenderest and truest wife that ever breathed; as you are now----"

"Hear me, Sybil."

"Hear _me_ out, dear Luke. One other motive there is that determines my
present conduct, which, were all else surmounted, would in itself
suffice. Ask me not what that is. I cannot explain it. For your own
sake; I implore you, be satisfied with my refusal."

"What a destiny is mine!" exclaimed Luke, striking his forehead with his
clenched hand. "No choice is left me. Either way I destroy my own
happiness. On the one hand stands love--on the other, ambition; yet
neither will conjoin."

"Pursue, then, ambition," said Sybil, energetically, "if you _can_
hesitate. Forget that I have ever existed; forget you have ever loved;
forget that such a passion dwells within the human heart, and you may
still be happy, though you are great."

"And do you deem," replied Luke, with frantic impatience, "that I _can_
accomplish this; that I _can_ forget that I have loved you; that I _can_
forget you? Cost what it will, the effort shall be made. Yet by our
former love, I charge you tell me what has wrought this change in you!
Why do you _now_ refuse me?"

"I have said you are Sir Luke Rookwood," returned Sybil, with painful
emotion. "Does that name import nothing?"

"Imports it aught of ill?"

"To me, everything of ill. It is a fated house. Its line are all
predestined."

"To what?" demanded Luke.

"To _murder_!" replied Sybil, with solemn emphasis. "To the murder of
their wives. Forgive me, Luke, if I have dared to utter this. Yourself
compelled me to it."

Amazement, horror, wrath, kept Luke silent for a few moments. Starting
to his feet, he cried:

"And can you suspect me of a crime so foul? Think you, because I shall
assume the name, that I shall put on the nature likewise of my race? Do
you believe me capable of aught so horrible?"

"Oh, no, I believe it not. I am sure you would not do it. Your soul
would reject with horror such a deed. But if Fate should guide your
hand, if the avenging spirit of your murdered ancestress should point to
the steel, you could not shun it then."

"In Heaven's name! to what do you allude?"

"To a tradition of your house," replied Sybil. "Listen to me, and you
shall hear the legend." And with a pathos that produced a thrilling
effect upon Luke, she sang the following ballad:

    THE LEGEND OF THE LADY OF ROOKWOOD

    Grim Ranulph home hath at midnight come, from the long wars of the
              Roses,
    And the squire, who waits at his ancient gates, a secret dark
              discloses;
    To that varlet's words no response accords his lord, but his visage
              stern
    Grows ghastly white in the wan moonlight, and his eyes like the lean
              wolf's burn.

    To his lady's bower, at that lonesome hour, unannounced, is Sir
              Ranulph gone;
    Through the dim corridor, through the hidden door, he glides--she is
              all alone!
    Full of holy zeal doth his young dame kneel at the meek Madonna's feet,
    Her hands are pressed on her gentle breast, and upturned is her aspect
              sweet.

    Beats Ranulph's heart with a joyful start, as he looks on her
              guiltless face;
    And the raging fire of his jealous ire is subdued by the words of
              grace;
    His own name shares her murmured prayers--more freely can he breathe;
    But ah! that look! Why doth he pluck his poniard from its sheath?

    On a footstool thrown, lies a costly gown of saye and of minevere
    --A mantle fair for the dainty wear of a migniard cavalier,--
    And on it flung, to a bracelet hung, a picture meets his eye;
    "By my father's head!" grim Ranulph said, "false wife, thy end draws
              nigh."

    From off its chain hath the fierce knight ta'en that fond and fatal
              pledge;
    His dark eyes blaze, no word he says, thrice gleams his dagger's edge!
    Her blood it drinks, and, as she sinks, his victim hears his cry:
    "For kiss impure of paramour, adult'ress, dost thou die!"

    Silent he stood, with hands embrued in gore, and glance of flame,
    As thus her plaint, in accents faint, made his ill-fated dame:
    "Kind Heaven can tell, that all too well, I've loved thee, cruel lord;
    But now with hate commensurate, assassin, thou'rt abhorred.

    "I've loved thee long, through doubt and wrong; I've loved thee and
              no other;
    And my love was pure for my paramour, for alas! he was my brother!
    The Red, Red Rose, on _thy_ banner glows, on _his_ pennon gleams the
              White,
    And the bitter feud, that ye both have rued, forbids ye to unite.

    "My bower he sought, what time he thought thy jealous vassals slept,
    Of joy we dreamed, and never deemed that watch those vassals kept;
    An hour flew by, too speedily!--that picture was his boon:
    Ah! little thrift to me that gift: he left me all too soon!

    "Wo worth the hour! dark fates did lower, when our hands were first
              united,
    For my heart's firm truth, 'mid tears and ruth, with death hast thou
              requited:
    In prayer sincere, full many a year of my wretched life I've spent;
    But to hell's control would I give my soul to work thy chastisement!"

    These wild words said, low drooped her head, and Ranulph's
              life-blood froze,
    For the earth did gape, as an awful shape from out its depths arose:
    "Thy prayer is heard, Hell hath concurred," cried the fiend, "thy
              soul is mine!
    Like fate may dread each dame shall wed with Ranulph or his line!"

    Within the tomb to await her doom is that hapless lady sleeping,
    And another bride by Ranulph's side through the livelong night is
              weeping.
    _This_ dame declines--a third repines, and fades, like the rest, away;
    Her lot she rues, whom a Rookwood woos--_cursed is her Wedding Day_!

"And this is the legend of my ancestress?" said Luke, as Sybil's strains
were ended.

"It is," replied she.

"An idle tale," observed Luke, moodily.

"Not so," answered Sybil. "Has not the curse of blood clung to all your
line? Has it not attached to your father--to Sir Reginald--Sir
Ralph--Sir Ranulph--to all? Which of them has escaped it? And when I
tell you this, dear Luke; when I find you bear the name of this accursed
race, can you wonder if I shudder at adding to the list of the victims
of that ruthless spirit, and that I tremble for you? I would die _for_
you willingly--but not by your hand. I would not that my blood, which I
would now pour out for you as freely as water, should rise up in
judgment against you. For myself I have no tears--for _you_, a thousand.
My mother, upon her death-bed, told me I should never be yours. I
believed her not, for I was happy then. She said that we never should be
united; or, if united----?"

"What, in Heaven's name?"

"That you would be my destroyer. How could I credit her words then? How
can I doubt them now, when I find you are a Rookwood? And think not,
dear Luke, that I am ruled by selfish fears in this resolution. To
renounce you may cost me my life; but the deed will be my own. You may
call me superstitious, credulous: I have been nurtured in credulity. It
is the faith of my fathers. There are those, methinks, who have an
insight into futurity; and such boding words have been spoken, that, be
they true or false, I will not risk their fulfilment in my person. I may
be credulous; I may be weak; I may be erring; but I am steadfast in
this. Bid me perish at your feet, and I will do it. I will not be your
Fate. I will not be the wretched instrument of your perdition. I will
love, worship, watch, serve, perish for you--but I'll not wed you."

Exhausted by the vehemence of her emotion, she would have sunk upon the
ground, had not Luke caught her in his arms. Pressing her to his bosom,
he renewed his passionate protestations. Every argument was unavailing.
Sybil appeared inflexible.

"You love me as you have ever loved me?" said she, at length.

"A thousand-fold more fervently," replied Luke; "put it to the test."

"How if I dare to do so? Consider well: I may ask too much."

"Name it. If it be not to surrender you, by my mother's body I will obey
you."

"I would propose an oath."

"Ha!"

"A solemn, binding oath, that; if you wed me not, you will not wed
another. Ha! do you start? Have I appalled you?"

"I start? I will take it. Hear me--by----"

"Hold!" exclaimed a voice behind them. "Do not forswear yourself." And
immediately afterwards the sexton made his appearance. There was a
malignant smile upon his countenance. The lovers started at the ominous
interruption.

"Begone!" cried Luke.

"Take not that oath," said Peter, "and I leave you. Remember the counsel
I gave you on our way hither."

"What counsel did he give you, Luke?" inquired Sybil, eagerly, of her
lover.

"We spoke of you, fond girl," replied Peter. "I cautioned him against
the match. I knew not your sentiments, or I had spared myself the
trouble. You have judged wisely. Were he to wed you, ill would come of
it. But he _must_ wed another."

"MUST!" cried Sybil, her eyes absolutely emitting sparkles of
indignation from their night-like depths; and, unsheathing as she spoke
the short poniard which she wore at her girdle, she rushed towards
Peter, raising her hand to strike.

"_Must_ wed another! And dare you counsel this?"

"Put up your dagger, fair maiden," said Peter, calmly. "Had I been
younger, your eyes might have had more terrors for me than your weapon;
as it is, I am proof against both. You would not strike an old man like
myself, and of your lover's kin?"

Sybil's uplifted hand fell to her side.

"'Tis true," continued the sexton, "I dared to give him this advice; and
when you have heard me out, you will not, I am persuaded, think me so
unreasonable as, at first, I may appear to be. I have been an unseen
listener to your converse; not that I desire to pry into your
secrets--far from it; I overheard you by accident. I applaud your
resolution; but if you are inclined to sacrifice all for your lover's
weal, do not let the work be incomplete. Bind him not by oaths which he
will regard as spiders' webs, to be burst through at pleasure. You see,
as well as I do, that he is bent on being lord of Rookwood; and, in
truth, to an aspiring mind, such a desire is natural, is praiseworthy.
It will be pleasant, as well as honorable, to efface the stain cast upon
his birth. It will be an act of filial duty in him to restore his
mother's good name; and I, her father, laud his anxiety on that score;
though, to speak truth, fair maid, I am not so rigid as your nice
moralists in my view of human nature, and can allow a latitude to love
which their nicer scruples will not admit. It will be a proud thing to
triumph over his implacable foe; and this he may accomplish----"

"Without marriage," interrupted Sybil, angrily.

"True," returned Peter; "yet not maintain it. May win it, but not wear
it. You have said truly, the house of Rookwood is a fated house; and it
hath been said likewise, that if he wed not one of his own kindred--that
if Rook mate not with Rook, his possessions shall pass away from his
hands. Listen to this prophetic quatrain:

    When the stray Rook shall perch on the topmost bough,
    There shall be clamor and screeching, I trow;
    But of right to, and rule of the ancient nest,
    The Rook that with Rook mates shall hold him possest.

You hear what these quaint rhymes say. Luke is, doubtless, the stray
rook, and a fledgeling hath flown hither from a distant country. He must
take her to his mate, or relinquish her and 'the ancient nest' to his
brother. For my own part, I disregard such sayings. I have little faith
in prophecy and divination. I know not what Eleanor Mowbray, for so she
is called, can have to do with the tenure of the estates of Rookwood.
But if Luke Rookwood, after he has lorded it for awhile in splendor, be
cast forth again in rags and wretchedness, let him not blame his
grandsire for his own want of caution."

"Luke, I implore you, tell me," said Sybil, who had listened,
horror-stricken, to the sexton, shuddering, as it were, beneath the
chilly influence of his malevolent glance, "is this true? Does your fate
depend upon Eleanor Mowbray? Who is she? What has she to do with
Rookwood? Have you seen her? Do you love her?"

"I have never seen her," replied Luke.

"Thank Heaven for that!" cried Sybil. "Then you love her not?"

"How were that possible?" returned Luke. "Do I not say I have not seen
her?"

"Who is she, then?"

"This old man tells me she is my cousin. She is betrothed to my brother
Ranulph."

"How?" ejaculated Sybil. "And would you snatch his betrothed from your
brother's arms? Would you do him this grievous wrong? Is it not enough
that you must wrest from him that which he has long deemed his own? And
if he has falsely deemed it so, it will not make his loss the less
bitter. If you do thus wrong your brother, do not look for happiness; do
not look for respect; for neither will be your portion. Even this
stony-hearted old man shrinks aghast at such a deed. His snake-like eyes
are buried on the ground. See, I have moved even _him_."

And in truth Peter did appear, for an instant, strangely moved.

"'Tis nothing," returned he, mastering his emotion by a strong effort.
"What is all this to me? I never had a brother. I never had aught--wife,
child, or relative, that loved me. And I love not the world, nor the
things of the world, nor those that inhabit the world. But I know what
sways the world and its inhabitants; and that is, SELF! AND
SELF-INTEREST! Let Luke reflect on this. The key to Rookwood is Eleanor
Mowbray. The hand that grasps hers, grasps those lands; thus saith the
prophecy."

"It is a lying prophecy."

"It was uttered by one of your race."

"By whom?"

"By Barbara Lovel," said Peter, with a sneer of triumph.

"Ha!"

"Heed him not," exclaimed Luke, as Sybil recoiled at this intelligence.
"I am yours."

"Not mine! not mine!" shrieked she; "but, oh! not _hers_!"

"Whither go you?" cried Luke, as Sybil, half bewildered, tore herself
from him.

"To Barbara Lovel."

"I will go with you."

"No! let me go alone. I have much to ask her; yet tarry not with this
old man, dear Luke, or close your ears to his crafty talk. Avoid him.
Oh, I am sick at heart. Follow me not; I implore you, follow me not."

And with distracted air she darted amongst the mouldering cloisters,
leaving Luke stupefied with anguish and surprise. The sexton maintained
a stern and stoical composure.

"She is a woman, after all," muttered he; "all her high-flown resolves
melt like snow in the sunshine at the thought of a rival. I congratulate
you, grandson Luke; you are free from your fetters."

"Free!" echoed Luke. "Quit my sight; I loathe to look upon you. You have
broken the truest heart that ever beat in woman's bosom."

"Tut, tut," returned Peter; "it is not broken yet. Wait till we hear
what old Barbara has got to say; and, meanwhile, we must arrange with
Dick Turpin the price of that certificate. The knave knows its value
well. Come, be a man. This is worse than womanish."

And at length he succeeded, half by force and half by persuasion, in
dragging Luke away with him.



_CHAPTER IV_

_BARBARA LOVEL_

    Los Gitanos son encantadores, adivinos, magos, chyromanticos, que
    dicen por las rayas de las manos lo Futuro, que ellos llaman
    Buenaventura, y generalmente son dados à toda supersticion.

                                   DOCTOR SANCHO DE MONCADA.
                            _Discurso sobre Espulsion de los Gitanos._


Like a dove escaped from the talons of the falcon, Sybil fled from the
clutches of the sexton. Her brain was in a whirl, her blood on fire. She
had no distinct perception of external objects; no definite notion of
what she herself was about to do, and glided more like a flitting spirit
than a living woman along the ruined ambulatory. Her hair had fallen in
disorder over her face. She stayed not to adjust it, but tossed aside
the blinding locks with frantic impatience. She felt as one may feel who
tries to strain his nerves, shattered by illness, to the endurance of
some dreadful, yet necessary pain.

Sybil loved her granddame, old Barbara; but it was with a love tempered
by fear. Barbara was not a person to inspire esteem or to claim
affection. She was regarded by the wild tribe which she ruled as their
queen-elect, with some such feeling of inexplicable awe as is
entertained by the African slave for the Obeah woman. They acknowledged
her power, unhesitatingly obeyed her commands, and shrank with terror
from her anathema, which was indeed seldom pronounced; but when uttered,
was considered as doom. Her tribe she looked upon as her flock, and
stretched her maternal hand over all, ready alike to cherish or
chastise; and having already survived a generation, that which
succeeded, having from infancy imbibed a superstitious veneration for
the "cunning woman," as she was called, the sentiment could never be
wholly effaced. Winding her way, she knew not how, through roofless
halls, over disjointed fragments of fallen pillars, Sybil reached a
flight of steps. A door, studded with iron nails, stayed her progress;
it was an old, strong oaken frame, surmounted by a Gothic arch, in the
keystone of which leered one of those grotesque demoniacal faces with
which the fathers of the church delighted to adorn their shrines. Sybil
looked up--her glance encountered the fantastical visage. It recalled
the features of the sexton, and seemed to mock her--to revile her. Her
fortitude at once deserted her. Her fingers were upon the handle of the
door. She hesitated: she even drew back, with the intention of
departing, for she felt then that she dared not face Barbara. It was too
late--she had moved the handle. A deep voice from within called to her
by name. She dared not disobey that call--she entered.

The room in which Sybil found herself was the only entire apartment now
existing in the priory. It had survived the ravages of time; it had
escaped the devastation of man, whose ravages outstrip those of time.
Octagonal, lofty, yet narrow, you saw at once that it formed the
interior of a turret. It was lighted by a small oriel window, commanding
a lovely view of the scenery around, and paneled with oak, richly
wrought in ribs and groins; and from overhead depended a molded ceiling
of honeycomb plaster-work. This room had something, even now, in the
days of its desecration, of monastic beauty about it. Where the odor of
sanctity had breathed forth, the fumes of idolatry prevailed; but
imagination, ever on the wing, flew back to that period--and a tradition
to that effect warranted the supposition--when, perchance, it had been
the sanctuary and the privacy of the prior's self.

Wrapped in a cloak composed of the skins of various animals, upon a low
pallet, covered with stained scarlet cloth, sat Barbara. Around her head
was coiffed, in folds like those of an Asiatic turban, a rich, though
faded shawl, and her waist was encircled with the magic zodiacal
zone--proper to the sorceress--the _Mago Cineo_ of the Cingara--whence
the name Zingaro, according to Moncada--which Barbara had brought from
Spain. From her ears depended long golden drops, of curious antique
fashioning; and upon her withered fingers, which looked like a coil of
lizards, were hooped a multitude of silver rings, of the purest and
simplest manufacture. They seemed almost of massive unwrought metal. Her
skin was yellow as the body of a toad; corrugated as its back. She might
have been steeped in saffron from her finger tips, the nails of which
were of the same hue, to such portions of her neck as were visible, and
which was puckered up like the throat of a turtle. To look at her, one
might have thought the embalmer had experimented her art upon herself.
So dead, so bloodless, so blackened seemed the flesh, where flesh
remained, leather could scarce be tougher than her skin. She seemed like
an animated mummy. A frame so tanned, appeared calculated to endure for
ages; and, perhaps, might have done so. But, alas! the soul cannot be
embalmed. No oil can re-illumine that precious lamp! And that Barbara's
vital spark was fast waning, was evident from her heavy, blood-shot
eyes, once of a swimming black, and lengthy as a witch's, which were now
sinister and sunken.

The atmosphere of the room was as strongly impregnated as a museum with
volatile odors, emitted from the stores of drugs with which the shelves
were loaded, as well as from various stuffed specimens of birds and wild
animals. Barbara's only living companion was a monstrous owl, which,
perched over the old gipsy's head, hissed a token of recognition as
Sybil advanced. From a hook, placed in the plaster roof, was suspended a
globe of crystal glass, about the size and shape of a large gourd,
filled with a pure pellucid liquid, in which a small snake, the Egyptian
aspic, described perpetual gyrations.

Dim were the eyes of Barbara, yet not altogether sightless. The troubled
demeanor of her grandchild struck her as she entered. She felt the hot
drops upon her hand as Sybil stooped to kiss it; she heard her
vainly-stifled sobs.

"What ails you, child?" said Barbara, in a voice that rattled in her
throat, and hollow as the articulation of a phantom. "Have you heard
tidings of Luke Bradley? Has any ill befallen him? I said you would
either hear of him or see him this morning. He is not returned, I see.
What have you heard?"

"He _is_ returned," replied Sybil, faintly; "and no ill hath happened to
him."

"He _is_ returned, and you are here," echoed Barbara. "No ill hath
happened to _him_, thou sayest--am I to understand there is--to _you_?"

Sybil answered not. She could not answer.

"I see, I see," said Barbara, more gently, her head and hand shaking
with paralytic affection: "a quarrel, a lover's quarrel. Old as I am, I
have not forgotten my feelings as a girl. What woman ever does, if she
be woman? and you, like your poor mother, are a true-hearted wench. She
loved her husband, as a husband should be loved, Sybil; and though she
loved me well, she loved him better, as was right. Ah! it was a bitter
day when she left me for Spain; for though, to one of our wandering
race, all countries are alike, yet the soil of our birth is dear to us,
and the presence of our kindred dearer. Well, well, I will not think of
that. She is gone. Nay, take it not so to heart, wench. Luke has a hasty
temper. 'Tis not the first time I have told you so. He will not bear
rebuke, and you have questioned him too shrewdly touching his absence.
Is it not so? Heed it not. Trust me, you will have him seek your
forgiveness ere the shadows shorten 'neath the noontide sun."

"Alas! alas!" said Sybil, sadly, "this is no lover's quarrel, which may,
at once, be forgotten and forgiven--would it were so!"

"What is it, then?" asked Barbara; and without waiting Sybil's answer,
she continued, with vehemence, "has he wronged you? Tell me, girl, in
what way? Speak, that I may avenge you, if your wrong requires revenge.
Are you blood of mine, and think I will not do this for you, girl? None
of the blood of Barbara Lovel were ever unrevenged. When Richard Cooper
stabbed my first-born, Francis, he fled to Flanders to escape my wrath.
But he did not escape it. I pursued him thither. I hunted him out; drove
him back to his own country, and brought him to the gallows. It took a
power of gold. What matter? Revenge is dearer than gold. And as it was
with Richard Cooper, so it shall be with Luke Bradley. I will catch him,
though he run. I will trip him, though he leap. I will reach him, though
he flee afar. I will drag him hither by the hair of his head," added
she, with a livid smile, and clutching at the air with her hands, as if
in the act of pulling some one towards her. "He shall wed you within the
hour, if you will have it, or if your honor need that it should be so.
My power is not departed from me. My people are yet at my command. I am
still their queen, and woe to him that offendeth me!"

"Mother! mother!" cried Sybil, affrighted at the storm she had
unwittingly aroused, "he has not injured me. 'Tis I alone who am to
blame, not Luke."

"You speak in mysteries," said Barbara.

"Sir Piers Rookwood is dead."

"Dead!" echoed Barbara, letting fall her hazel rod. "Sir Piers dead!"

"And Luke Bradley----"

"Ha!"

"Is his successor."

"Who told you that?" asked Barbara, with increased astonishment.

"Luke himself. All is disclosed." And Sybil hastily recounted Luke's
adventures. "He is now Sir Luke Rookwood."

"This is news, in truth," said Barbara; "yet not news to weep for. You
should rejoice, not lament. Well, well, I foresaw it. I shall live to
see all accomplished; to see my Agatha's child ennobled; to see her
wedded; ay, to see her well wedded."

"Dearest mother!"

"I can endow you, and I will do it. You shall bring your husband not
alone beauty, you shall bring him wealth."

"But, mother----"

"My Agatha's daughter shall be Lady Rookwood."

"Never! It cannot be."

"What cannot be?"

"The match you now propose."

"What mean you, silly wench? Ha! I perceive the meaning of those tears.
The truth flashes upon me. He has discarded you."

"No, by the Heaven of Heavens, he is still the same--unaltered in
affection."

"If so, your tears are out of place."

"Mother, it is not fitting that I, a gipsy born, should wed with him."

"Not fitting! Ha! and you my child! Not fitting! Get up, or I will spurn
you. Not fitting! This from you to me! I tell you it _is_ fitting; you
shall have a dower as ample as that of any lady in the land. Not
fitting! Do you say so, because you think that he derives himself from a
proud and ancient line--ancient and proud--ha, ha! I tell you, girl,
that for his one ancestor I can number twenty; for the years in which
his lineage hath flourished, my race can boast centuries, and was a
people--a kingdom!--ere the land in which he dwells was known. What! if,
by the curse of Heaven, we were driven forth, the curse of hell rests
upon his house."

"I know it," said Sybil; "a dreadful curse, which, if I wed him, will
alight on me."

"No; not on you; you shall avoid that curse. I know a means to satisfy
the avenger. Leave that to me."

"I dare not, as it never can be; yet, tell me--you saw the body of
Luke's ill-fated mother. Was she poisoned? Nay, you may speak. Sir
Piers's death releases you from your oath. How died she?"

"By strangulation," said the old gipsy, raising her palsied hand to her
throat.

"Oh!" cried Sybil, gasping with horror. "Was there a ring upon her
finger when you embalmed the body?"

"A ring--a wedding-ring! The finger was crookened. Listen, girl, I could
have told Luke the secret of his birth long ago, but the oath imposed by
Sir Piers sealed fast my lips. His mother was wedded to Sir Piers; his
mother was murdered by Sir Piers. Luke was entrusted to my care by his
father. I have brought him up with you. I have affianced you together;
and I shall live to see you united. He is now Sir Luke. He is your
husband."

"Do not deceive yourself, mother," said Sybil, with a fearful
earnestness. "He is not yet Sir Luke Rookwood; would he had no claim to
be so! The fortune that has hitherto been so propitious may yet desert
him. Bethink you of a prophecy you uttered."

"A prophecy? Ha!"

And with slow enunciation Sybil pronounced the mystic words which she
had heard repeated by the sexton.

As she spoke, a gloom, like that of a thunder-cloud, began to gather
over the brow of the old gipsy. The orbs of her sunken eyes expanded,
and wrath supplied her frame with vigor. She arose.

"Who told you that?" cried Barbara.

"Luke's grandsire, Peter Bradley."

"How learnt he it?" said Barbara. "It was to one who hath long been in
his grave I told it; so long ago, it had passed from my memory. 'Tis
strange! old Sir Reginald had a brother, I know. But there is no other
of the house."

"There is a cousin, Eleanor Mowbray."

"Ha! I see; a daughter of that Eleanor Rookwood who fled from her
father's roof. Fool, fool. Am I caught in my own toils? Those words were
words of truth and power, and compel the future and 'the will be' as
with chains of brass. They must be fulfilled, yet not by Ranulph. He
shall never wed Eleanor."

"Whom then shall she wed?"

"His elder brother."

"Mother!" shrieked Sybil. "Do you say so? Oh! recall your words."

"I may not; it is spoken. Luke shall wed her."

"Oh God, support me!" exclaimed Sybil.

"Silly wench, be firm. It must be as I say. He shall wed her--yet shall
he wed her not. The nuptial torch shall be quenched as soon as lighted;
the curse of the avenger shall fall--yet not on thee."

"Mother," said Sybil, "if sin must fall upon some innocent head, let it
be on mine--not upon hers. I love him, I would gladly die for him. She
is young--unoffending--perhaps happy. Oh! do not let her perish."

"Peace, I say!" cried Barbara, "and mark me. This is your birthday.
Eighteen summers have flown over your young head--eighty winters have
sown their snows on mine. _You_ have yet to learn. Years have brought
wrinkles--they have brought wisdom likewise. To struggle with Fate, I
tell you, is to wrestle with Omnipotence. We may foresee, but not avert
our destiny. What will be, shall be. This is your eighteenth birthday,
Sybil: it is a day of fate to you; in it occurs your planetary hour--an
hour of good or ill, according to your actions. I have cast your
horoscope. I have watched your natal star; it is under the baleful
influence of Scorpion, and fiery Saturn sheds his lurid glance upon it.
Let me see your hand. The line of life is drawn out distinct and
clear--it runs--ha! what means that intersection? Beware--beware, my
Sybil. Act as I tell you, and you are safe. I will make another trial,
by the crystal bowl. Attend."

Muttering some strange words, sounding like a spell, Barbara, with the
bifurcate hazel staff which she used as a divining-rod, described a
circle upon the floor. Within this circle she drew other lines, from
angle to angle, forming seven triangles, the bases of which constituted
the sides of a septilateral figure. This figure she studied intently for
a few moments. She then raised her wand and touched the owl with it. The
bird unfolded its wings, and arose in flight; then slowly circled round
the pendulous globe. Each time it drew nearer, until at length it
touched the glassy bowl with its flapping pinions.

"Enough!" ejaculated Barbara. And at another motion from her rod the
bird stayed its flight and returned to its perch.

Barbara arose. She struck the globe with her staff. The pure lymph
became instantly tinged with crimson, as if blood had been commingled
with it. The little serpent could be seen within, coiled up and knotted,
as in the struggles of death.

"Again I say, beware!" ejaculated Barbara, solemnly. "This is ominous of
ill."

Sybil had sunk, from faintness, on the pallet. A knock was heard at the
door.

"Who is without?" cried Barbara.

"'Tis I, Balthazar," replied a voice.

"Thou mayest enter," answered Barbara; and an old man with a long beard,
white as snow, reaching to his girdle, and a costume which might be said
to resemble the raiment of a Jewish high priest, made his appearance.
This venerable personage was no other than the patrico, or hierophant of
the Canting Crew.

"I come to tell you that there are strangers--ladies--within the
priory," said the patrico, gravely. "I have searched for you in vain,"
continued he, addressing Sybil; "the younger of them seems to need your
assistance."

"Whence come they?" exclaimed Barbara.

"They have ridden, I understand, from Rookwood," answered the patrico.
"They were on their way to Davenham, when they were prevented."

"From Rookwood?" echoed Sybil. "Their names--did you hear their names?"

"Mowbray is the name of both; they are a mother and a daughter; the
younger is called----"

"Eleanor?" asked Sybil, with an acute foreboding of calamity.

"Eleanor is the name, assuredly," replied the patrico, somewhat
surprised. "I heard the elder, whom I guess to be her mother, so address
her."

"Gracious God! She here!" exclaimed Sybil.

"Here! Eleanor Mowbray here," cried Barbara; "within my power. Not a
moment is to be lost. Balthazar, hasten round the tents--not a man must
leave his place--above all, Luke Bradley. See that these Mowbrays are
detained within the abbey. Let the bell be sounded. Quick, quick; leave
this wench to me; she is not well. I have much to do. Away with thee,
man, and let me know when thou hast done it." And as Balthazar departed
on his mission, with a glance of triumph in her eyes, Barbara exclaimed,
"Soh, no sooner hath the thought possessed me, than the means of
accomplishment appear. It shall be done at once. I will tie the knot. I
will untie, and then retie it. This weak wench must be nerved to the
task," added she, regarding the senseless form of Sybil. "Here is that
will stimulate her," opening the cupboard, and taking a small phial;
"this will fortify her; and this," continued she, with a ghastly smile,
laying her hand upon another vessel, "this shall remove her rival when
all is fulfilled; this liquid shall constrain her lover to be her
titled, landed husband. Ha, ha!"



_CHAPTER V_

_THE INAUGURATION_

    _Beggar._ Concert, sir! we have musicians, too, among us. True,
    merry beggars, indeed, that, being within the reach of the lash for
    singing libellous songs at London, were fain to fly into one cover,
    and here they sing all our poets' ditties. They can sing anything,
    most tunably, sir, but psalms. What they may do hereafter, under a
    triple tree, is much expected; but they live very civilly and
    genteelly among us.

    _Spring._ But what is here--that solemn old fellow, that neither
    speaks of himself, or any for him?

    _Beggar._ O, sir, the rarest man of all: he is a prophet. See how he
    holds up his prognosticating nose. He is divining now.

    _Spring._ How, a prophet?

    _Beggar._ Yes, sir; a cunning man, and a fortune-teller; a very
    ancient stroller all the world over, and has travelled with gipsies:
    and is a patrico.

                                                  _The Merry Beggars._


In consequence of some few words which the sexton let fall in the
presence of the attendants, during breakfast, more perhaps by design
than accident, it was speedily rumored throughout the camp that the
redoubted Richard Turpin was for the time its inmate. This intelligence
produced some such sensation as is experienced by the inhabitants of a
petty town on the sudden arrival of a prince of the blood, a
commander-in-chief, or other illustrious and distinguished personage,
whose fame has been vaunted abroad amongst his fellowmen by Rumor, "and
her thousand tongues;" and who, like our highwayman, has rendered
himself sufficiently notorious to be an object of admiration and
emulation amongst his contemporaries.

All started up at the news. The upright man, the chief of the crew,
arose from his chair, donned his gown of state, a very ancient brocade
dressing-gown, filched, most probably, from the wardrobe of some
strolling player, grasped his baton of office, a stout oaken truncheon,
and sallied forth. The ruffler, who found his representative in a very
magnificently equipped, and by no means ill-favored knave, whose chin
was decorated with a beard as lengthy and as black as Sultan Mahmoud's,
together with the dexterous hooker, issued forth from the hovel which
they termed their boozing ken, eager to catch a glimpse of the prince of
the high-tobygloaks. The limping palliard tore the bandages from his
mock wounds, shouldered his crutch, and trudged hastily after them. The
whip-jack unbuckled his strap, threw away his timber leg, and "leapt
exulting, like the bounding roe." "With such a sail in sight," he said,
"he must heave to, like the rest." The dummerar, whose tongue had been
cut out by the Algerines, suddenly found the use of it, and made the
welkin ring with his shouts. Wonderful were the miracles Dick's advent
wrought. The lame became suddenly active, the blind saw, the dumb spoke;
nay, if truth must be told, absolutely gave utterance to "most
vernacular execrations." Morts, autem morts, walking morts, dells,
doxies, kinching morts, and their coes, with all the shades and grades
of the Canting Crew, were assembled. There were, to use the words of
Brome--

    ----Stark, errant, downright beggars. Ay,
    Without equivocation, statute beggars,
    Couchant and passant, guardant, rampant beggars;
    Current and vagrant, stockant, whippant beggars![25]

Each sunburnt varlet started from his shed; each dusky dame, with her
brown, half-naked urchins, followed at his heels; each "ripe young
maiden, with the glossy eye," lingered but to sleek her raven tresses,
and to arrange her straw bonnet, and then overtook the others; each
wrinkled beldame hobbled as quickly after as her stiffened joints would
permit; while the ancient patrico, the priest of the crew--who joined
the couples together by the hedge-side, "with the nice custom of dead
horse between"[26]--brought up the rear; all bent on one grand object,
that of having a peep at the "foremost man of all this prigging world!"

Dick Turpin, at the period of which we treat, was in the zenith of his
reputation. His deeds were full blown; his exploits were in every man's
mouth; and a heavy price was set upon his head. That he should show
himself thus openly, where he might be so easily betrayed, excited no
little surprise among the craftiest of the crew, and augured an excess
of temerity on his part. Rash daring was the main feature of Turpin's
character. Like our great Nelson, he knew fear only by name; and when he
thus trusted himself in the hands of strangers, confident in himself and
in his own resources, he felt perfectly easy as to the result. He relied
also in the continuance of his good fortune, which had as yet never
deserted him. Possessed of the belief that his hour was not yet come, he
cared little or nothing for any risk he might incur; and though he
might, undoubtedly, have some presentiment of the probable termination
of his career, he never suffered it to militate against his present
enjoyment, which proved that he was no despicable philosopher.

Turpin was the _ultimus Romanorum_, the last of a race, which--we were
almost about to say we regret--is now altogether extinct. Several
successors he had, it is true, but no name worthy to be recorded after
his own. With him expired the chivalrous spirit which animated
successively the bosoms of so many knights of the road; with him died
away that passionate love of enterprise, that high spirit of devotion to
the fair sex, which was first breathed upon the highway by the gay,
gallant Claude Du-Val, the Bayard of the road--_Le filou sans peur et
sans reproche_--but which was extinguished at last by the cord that tied
the heroic Turpin to the remorseless tree. It were a subject well worthy
of inquiry, to trace this decline and fall of the empire of the tobymen
to its remoter causes; to ascertain the why and the wherefore, that with
so many half-pay captains; so many poor curates; so many lieutenants, of
both services, without hopes of promotion; so many penny-a-liners, and
fashionable novelists; so many damned dramatists, and damning critics;
so many Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviewers; so many detrimental brothers,
and younger sons; when there are horses to be hired, pistols to be
borrowed, purses to be taken, and mails are as plentiful as
partridges--it were worth serious investigation, we repeat, to ascertain
why, with the best material imaginable for a new race of highwaymen, we
have none, not even an amateur. Why do not some of these choice spirits
quit the _salons_ of Pall-Mall, and take to the road? the air of the
heath is more bracing and wholesome, we should conceive, than that of
any "hell" whatever, and the chances of success incomparably greater. We
throw out this hint, without a doubt of seeing it followed up. Probably
the solution of our inquiry may be, that the supply is greater than the
demand; that, in the present state of things, embryo highwaymen may be
more abundant than purses; and then, have we not the horse-patrol? With
such an admirably-organized system of conservation, it is vain to
anticipate a change. The highwaymen, we fear, like their Irish brothers,
the Rapparees, went out with the Tories. They were averse to reform, and
eschewed emancipation.

Lest any one should think we have overrated the pleasures of the
highwayman's existence, they shall hear what "the right villainous" Jack
Hall, a celebrated tobyman of his day, has got to say on the subject.
"His life--the highwayman's--has, generally, the most mirth and the
least care in it of any man's breathing, and all he deals for is clear
profit: he has that point of good conscience, that he always sells as
he buys, a good pennyworth, which is something rare, since he trades
with so small a stock. The _fence_[27] and he are like the devil and the
doctor, they live by one another; and, like traitors, 'tis best to keep
each other's counsel. He has this point of honesty, that he never robs
the house he frequents"--Turpin had the same scruples respecting the
Hall of Rookwood in Sir Piers's lifetime--; "and perhaps pays his debts
better than some others, for he holds it below the dignity of his
employment to commit so ungenteel a crime as insolvency, and loves to
pay nobly. He has another quality, not much amiss, that he takes no more
than he has occasion for"--Jack, we think, was a little mistaken here--;
"which he verifies this way: he craves no more while that lasts. He is a
less nuisance in a commonwealth than a miser, because the money he
engrosses all circulates again, which the other hoards as though 'twere
only to be found again at the day of judgment. He is the tithe-pig of
his family, which the gallows, instead of the parson, claims as its due.
He has reason enough to be bold in his undertakings, for, though all the
world threaten him, he stands in fear of but one man in it, and that's
the hangman; and with him, too, he is generally in fee: however, I
cannot affirm he is so valiant that he dares look any man in the face,
for in that point he is now and then, a little modest. Newgate may be
said to be his country-house, where he frequently lives so many months
in the year; and he is not so much concerned to be carried thither for a
small matter, if 'twere only for the benefit of renewing his
acquaintance there. He holds a petit larceny as light as a nun does
auricular confession, though the priest has a more compassionate
character than the hangman. Every man in this community is esteemed
according to his particular quality, of which there are several degrees,
though it is contrary often to public government; for here a man shall
be valued purely for his merit, and rise by it too, though it be but to
a halter, in which there is a great deal of glory in dying like a hero,
and making a decent figure in the cart to the last two staves of the
fifty-first psalm."[28]

This, we repeat, is the plain statement of a practical man, and again we
throw out the hint for adoption. All we regret is, that we are now
degenerated from the grand tobyman to the cracksman and the sneak, about
whom there are no redeeming features. How much lower the next generation
of thieves will dive it boots not to conjecture:

    Ætas parentum pejor avis tulit,
    Nos nequiores; mox daturos,
    Progeniem vitiosiorem.

"Cervantes laughed Spain's chivalry away," sang Byron; and if Gay did
not extinguish the failing flame of our _night_ errantry--unlike the
"Robbers" of Schiller, which is said to have inflamed the Saxon youth
with an irrepressible mania for brigandage--, the "Beggar's Opera"
helped not to fan the dying fire. That laugh was fatal, as laughs
generally are. Macheath gave the highwayman his _coup de grâce_.

The last of this race--for we must persist in maintaining that he _was_
the last--, Turpin, like the setting sun, threw up some parting rays of
glory, and tinged the far highways with a luster that may yet be traced
like a cloud of dust raised by his horse's retreating heels. Unequalled
in the command of his steed, the most singular feat that the whole race
of the annals of horsemanship has to record, and of which we may have
more to say hereafter, was achieved by him. So perfect was his
jockeyship, so clever his management of the animal he mounted, so
intimately acquainted was he with every cross-road in the neighborhood
of the metropolis--a book of which he constructed, and carried
constantly about his person--, as well as with many other parts of
England, particularly the counties of Chester, York, and Lancaster, that
he outstripped every pursuer, and baffled all attempts at capture. His
reckless daring, his restless rapidity--for so suddenly did he change
his ground, and renew his attacks in other quarters, that he seemed to
be endowed with ubiquity,--his bravery, his resolution, and, above all,
his generosity, won for him a high reputation amongst his compatriots,
and even elicited applauses from those upon whom he levied his
contributions.

Beyond dispute, he ruled as master of the road. His hands were, as yet,
unstained with blood; he was ever prompt to check the disposition to
outrage, and to prevent, as much as lay in his power, the commission of
violence by his associates. Of late, since he had possessed himself of
his favorite mare, Black Bess, his robberies had been perpetrated with a
suddenness of succession, and at distances so apparently impracticable,
that the idea of all having been executed by one man, was rejected as an
impossibility; and the only way of reconciling the description of the
horse and rider, which tallied in each instance, was the supposition
that these attacks were performed by confederates similarly mounted and
similarly accoutred.

There was, in all this, as much of the "_famæ sacra fames_" as of the
"_auri_;" of the hungering after distinction, as well as of the appetite
of gain. Enamored of his vocation, Turpin delighted to hear himself
designated as the Flying Highwayman; and it was with rapturous triumph
that he found his single-handed feats attributed to a band of marauders.
But this state of things could not long endure; his secret was blown;
the vigilance of the police was aroused; he was tracked to his haunts;
and, after a number of hairbreadth 'scapes, which he only effected by
miracle, or by the aid of his wonder-working mare, he reluctantly
quitted the heathy hills of Bagshot, the Pampas plains of Hounslow--over
which like an archetype of the galloping Sir Francis Head, he had so
often scoured,--the gorsy commons of Highgate, Hampstead, and Finchley,
the marshy fields of Battersea, almost all of which he had been known to
visit in a single night, and leaving these beaten tracks to the
occupation of younger and less practised hands, he bequeathed to them,
at the same time, his own reversionary interest in the gibbets thereupon
erected, and betook himself to the country.

After a journey of more or less success, our adventurer found himself at
Rookwood, whither he had been invited after a grand field-day by its
hospitable and by no means inquisitive owner. Breach of faith and good
fellowship formed no part of Turpin's character; he had his lights as
well as his shades; and as long as Sir Piers lived, his purse and
coffers would have been free from molestation, except, "so far," Dick
said, "as a cog or two of dice went. My dice, you know, are longs for
odd and even, a bale of bar'd cinque deuces," a pattern of which he
always carried with him; beyond this, excepting a take-in at a steeple
chase, Rookwood church being the mark, a "do" at a leap, or some such
trifle, to which the most scrupulous could not raise an objection, Dick
was all fair and above-board. But when poor Sir Piers had "put on his
wooden surtout," to use Dick's own expressive metaphor, his
conscientious scruples evaporated into thin air. Lady Rookwood was
nothing to him; there was excellent booty to be appropriated--

    The wise _convey_ it call.

He began to look about for hands; and having accidentally encountered
his old comrades, Rust and Wilder, they were let into the business,
which was imperfectly accomplished in the manner heretofore described.

To return from this digression. When Turpin presented himself at the
threshold of the door, on his way to inquire after his mare, to his
astonishment he found it closely invested. A cheering shout from the
tawny throng, succeeded by a general clapping of hands, and attended by
a buzzing susurration of applause, such as welcomes the entrance of a
popular actor upon the stage, greeted the appearance of the highwayman.
At the first sight of the crowd he was a little startled, and
involuntarily sought for his pistols. But the demonstrations of
admiration were too unequivocal to be for a moment mistaken; his hand
was drawn from his pocket to raise his hat from his brow.

Thunders of applause.

Turpin's external man, we have before said, was singularly
prepossessing. It was especially so in the eyes of _the_ sex--fair we
certainly cannot say upon the present occasion--, amongst whom not a
single dissentient voice was to be heard. All concurred in thinking him
a fine fellow; could plainly read his high courage in his bearing; his
good breeding in his débonnaire deportment; and his manly beauty in his
extravagant red whiskers. Dick saw the effect that he produced. He was
at home in a moment. Your true highwayman has ever a passion for effect.
This does not desert him at the gallows; it rises superior to death
itself, and has been known to influence the manner of his dangling from
the gibbet! To hear some one cry, "There goes a proper handsome man,"
saith our previously quoted authority, Jack Hall, "somewhat ameliorates
the terrible thoughts of the meagre tyrant death; and to go in a dirty
shirt were enough to save the hangman a labor, and make a man die with
grief and shame at being in that deplorable condition." With a gracious
smile of condescension, like a popular orator--with a look of blarney
like that of O'Connell, and of assurance like that of Hume--he surveyed
the male portion of the spectators, tipped a knowing wink at the
prettiest brunettes he could select, and finally cut a sort of fling
with his well-booted legs, that brought down another appeal of rapturous
applause.

"A rank scamp!"[29] cried the upright man; and this exclamation, however
equivocal it may sound, was intended, on his part, to be highly
complimentary.

"I believe ye," returned the ruffler, stroking his chin--"one may see
that he's no half swell by the care with which he cultivates the best
gifts of nature, his whiskers. He's a rank nib."[30]

"Togged out to the ruffian, no doubt," said the palliard, who was
incomparably the shabbiest rascal in the corps. "Though a needy mizzler
mysel, I likes to see a cove vot's vel dressed. Jist twig his swell
kickseys and pipes;[31] if they ain't the thing, I'm done. Lame Harry
can't dance better nor he--no, nor Jerry Juniper neither."

"I'm dumb founded," roared the dummerar, "if he can't patter romany[32]
as vel as the best on us! He looks like a rum 'un."

"And a rum 'un he be, take my word for it," returned the whip-jack, or
sham sailor. "Look at his rigging--see how he flashes his
sticks[33]--those are the tools to rake a three-decker. He's as clever a
craft as I've seen this many a day, or I'm no judge."

The women were equally enchanted--equally eloquent in the expression of
their admiration.

"What ogles!" cried a mort.

"What pins!" said an autem mort, or married woman.

"Sharp as needles," said a dark-eyed dell, who had encountered one of
the free and frolicsome glances which our highwayman distributed so
liberally among the petticoats.

It was at this crisis Dick took off his hat. Cæsar betrayed his
baldness.

"A thousand pities!" cried the men, compassionating his thinly covered
skull, and twisting their own ringlets, glossy and luxuriant, though
unconscious of Macassar. "A thousand pities that so fine a fellow should
have a sconce like a cocoanut!"

"But then his red whiskers," rejoined the women, tired of the uniformity
of thick black heads of hair; "what a warmth of coloring they impart to
his face; and then only look how beautifully bushy they make his cheeks
appear!"

La Fosseuse and the court of the Queen of Navarre were not more smitten
with the Sieur de Croix's jolly pair of whiskers.

The hawk's eye of Turpin ranged over the whole assemblage. Amidst that
throng of dark faces there was not one familiar to him.

Before him stood the upright man, Zoroaster--so was he called--, a
sturdy, stalwart rogue, whose superior strength and stature--as has not
unfrequently been the case in the infancy of governments that have risen
to more importance than is likely to be the case with that of Lesser
Egypt--had been the means of his elevation to his present dignified
position. Zoroaster literally _fought_ his way upwards, and had at first
to maintain his situation by the strong arm; but he now was enabled to
repose upon his hard-won laurels, to smoke "the calumet of peace," and
quaff his tipple with impunity. For one of gipsy blood, he presented an
unusually jovial, liquor-loving countenance: his eye was mirthful; his
lip moist, as if from oft potations; his cheek mellow as an Orleans
plum, which fruit, in color and texture, it mightily resembled. Strange
to say, also, for one of that lithe race, his person was heavy and
hebetudinous; the consequence, no doubt, of habitual intemperance. Like
Cribb, he waxed obese upon the championship. There was a kind of mock
state in his carriage, as he placed himself before Turpin, and with his
left hand twisted up the tail of his dressing-gown, while the right
thrust his truncheon into his hip, which was infinitely diverting to the
highwayman.

Turpin's attention, however, was chiefly directed towards his neighbor,
the ruffler, in whom he recognized a famous impostor of the day, with
whose history he was sufficiently well acquainted to be able at once to
identify the individual. We have before stated, that a magnificent
coal-black beard decorated the chin of this worthy; but this was not
all--his costume was in perfect keeping with his beard, and consisted of
a very theatrical-looking tunic, upon the breast of which was
embroidered, in golden wire, the Maltese cross; while over his shoulders
were thrown the folds of an ample cloak of Tyrian hue. To his side was
girt a long and doughty sword, which he termed, in his knightly phrase,
Excalibur; and upon his profuse hair rested a hat as broad in the brim
as a Spanish sombrero.

Exaggerated as this description may appear, we can assure our readers
that it is not overdrawn; and that a counterpart of the sketch we have
given of the ruffler certainly "strutted his hour" upon the stage of
human life, and that the very ancient and discriminating city of
Canterbury--to which be all honor--was his theatre of action. His
history is so far curious, that it exemplifies, more strongly than a
thousand discourses could do, how prone we are to be governed by
appearances, and how easily we may be made the dupes of a plausible
impostor. Be it remembered, however, that we treat of the eighteenth
century, before the march of intellect had commenced; we are much too
knowing to be similarly practised upon in these enlightened times. But
we will let the knight of Malta, for such was the title assumed by the
ruffler, tell his own story in his own way hereafter; contenting
ourselves with the moral precepts we have already deduced from it.

Next to the knight of Malta stood the whip-jack, habited in his sailor
gear--striped shirt and dirty canvas trousers; and adjoining him was the
palliard, a loathsome tatterdemalion, his dress one heap of rags, and
his discolored skin one mass of artificial leprosy and imposthumes.

As Turpin's eye shifted from one to another of these figures, he chanced
upon an individual who had been long endeavoring to arrest his
attention. This personage was completely in the background. All that
Dick could discern of him was a brown curly head of hair, carelessly
arranged in the modern mode; a handsome, impudent, sun-freckled face,
with one eye closed, and the other occupied by a broken bottle-neck,
through which, as a substitute for a lorgnette, the individual
reconnoitered him. A cocked hat was placed in a very _dégagée_ manner
under his arm, and he held an ebony cane in his hand, very much in the
style of a "_fassionable_," as the French have it, of the present day.
This glimpse was sufficient to satisfy Turpin. He recognized in this
whimsical personage an acquaintance.

Jerry Juniper was what the classical Captain Grose would designate a
"gentleman with three outs," and, although he was not entirely without
wit, nor, his associates avouched, without money, nor, certainly, in his
own opinion, had that been asked, without manners; yet was he assuredly
without shoes, without stockings, without shirt. This latter deficiency
was made up by a voluminous cravat, tied with proportionately large
bows. A jaunty pair of yellow breeches, somewhat faded; a waistcoat of
silver brocade, richly embroidered, somewhat tarnished and lack-lustre;
a murrey-colored velvet coat, somewhat chafed, completed the costume of
this beggar Brummell, this mendicant macaroni!

Jerry Juniper was a character well known at the time, as a constant
frequenter of all races, fairs, regattas, ship-launches, bull-baits, and
prize-fights, all of which he attended, and to which he transported
himself with an expedition little less remarkable than that of Turpin.
You met him at Epsom, at Ascot, at Newmarket, at Doncaster, at the
Roodee of Chester, at the Curragh of Kildare. The most remote as well as
the most adjacent meeting attracted him. The cock-pit was his constant
haunt, and in more senses than one was he a _leg_. No opera-dancer could
be more agile, more nimble; scarcely, indeed, more graceful, than was
Jerry, with his shoeless and stockingless feet; and the manner in which
he executed a pirouette, or a pas, before a line of carriages, seldom
failed to procure him "golden opinions from all sorts of dames." With
the ladies, it must be owned, Jerry was rather upon too easy terms; but
then, perhaps, the ladies were upon too easy terms with Jerry; and if a
bright-eyed fair one condescended to jest with him, what marvel if he
should sometimes slightly transgress the laws of decorum. These
aberrations, however, were trifling; altogether he was so well known,
and knew everybody else so well, that he seldom committed himself; and,
singular to say, could on occasions even be serious. In addition to his
other faculties, no one cut a sly joke, or trolled a merry ditty, better
than Jerry. His peculiarities, in short, were on the pleasant side, and
he was a general favorite in consequence.

No sooner did Jerry perceive that he was recognized, than, after kissing
his hand, with the air of a _petit-maître_, to the highwayman, he strove
to edge his way through the crowd. All his efforts were fruitless; and,
tired of a situation in the rear rank, so inconsistent, he conceived,
with his own importance, he had recourse to an expedient often practised
with success in harlequinades, and not unfrequently in real life, where
a flying leap is occasionally taken over our heads. He ran back a few
yards to give himself an impetus, returned, and, placing his hands upon
the shoulders of a stalwart vagabond near to him, threw a summerset upon
the broad cap of a palliard, who was so jammed in the midst that he
could not have stirred to avoid the shock; thence, without pausing, he
vaulted forwards, and dropped lightly upon the ground in front of
Zoroaster, and immediately before the highwayman.

Dick laughed immoderately at Jerry's manœuvre. He shook his old chum
cordially by the hand, saying, in a whisper, "What the devil brings you
here, Jerry?"

"I might retort, and ask you that question, Captain Turpin," replied
Jerry, _sotto voce_. "It is odd to see me here, certainly--quite out of
my element--lost amongst this _canaille_--this Canting Crew--all the
fault of a pair of gipsy eyes, bright as a diamond, dark as a sloe. You
comprehend--a little affair, ha! Liable to these things. Bring your ear
closer, my boy; be upon your guard--keep a sharp look out--there's a
devil of a reward upon your head--I won't answer for all those rascals."

"Thank you for the hint, Jerry," replied Dick, in the same tone. "I
calculated my chances pretty nicely when I came here. But if I should
perceive any symptoms of foul play--any attempt to snitch or nose,
amongst this pack of peddlers--I have a friend or two at hand, who won't
be silent upon the occasion. Rest assured I shall have my eye upon the
gnarling scoundrels. I won't be sold for nothing."

"Trust you for that," returned Juniper, with a wink. "Stay," added he;
"a thought strikes me. I have a scheme _in petto_ which may, perhaps,
afford you some fun, and will, at all events, insure your safety during
your stay."

"What is it?" asked Dick.

"Just amuse yourself with a flirtation for a moment or two with that
pretty damsel, who has been casting her ogles at you for the last five
minutes without success, while I effect a master-stroke."

And as Turpin, nothing loth, followed his advice, Jerry addressed
himself to Zoroaster. After a little conference, accompanied by that
worthy and the knight of Malta, the trio stepped forward from the line,
and approached Dick, when Juniper, assuming some such attitude as our
admirable Jones, the comedian, is wont to display, delivered himself of
the following address. Turpin listened with the gravity of one of the
distinguished persons alluded to, at the commencement of the present
chapter, upon their receiving the freedom of the city at the hands of a
mayor and corporation. Thus spoke Jerry:

"Highest of High-Tobymen! rummest of rum Padders, and most scampish of
Scampsmen! We, in the name of Barbara, our most tawny queen; in the name
of Zoroaster, our Upright Man, Dimber Damber, or Olli Campolli, by all
which titles his excellency is distinguished; in our own respective
names, as High Pads and Low Pads, Rum Gills and Queer Gills, Patricos,
Palliards, Priggers, Whip-Jacks, and Jarkmen, from the Arch Rogue to the
Needy Mizzler, fully sensible of the honor you have conferred upon us in
gracing Stop-Hole Abbey with your presence; and conceiving that we can
in no way evince our sense of your condescension so entirely as by
offering you the freedom of our crew, together with the privileges of an
Upright Man,[34] which you may be aware are considerable, and by
creating you an honorary member of the Vagrant Club, which we have
recently established; and in so doing, we would fain express the
sentiments of gratification and pride which we experience in enrolling
among our members one who has extended the glory of roguery so widely
over the land, and who has kicked up such a dust upon the highways of
England, as most effectually to blind the natives--one who is in himself
a legion--of highwaymen! Awaiting, with respectful deference, the
acquiescence of Captain Richard Turpin, we beg to tender him the freedom
of our crew."

"Really, gentlemen," said Turpin, who did not exactly see the drift of
this harangue, "you do me a vast deal of honor. I am quite at a loss to
conceive how I can possibly have merited so much attention at your
hands; and, indeed, I feel myself so unworthy----" Here Dick received an
expressive wink from Juniper, and therefore thought it prudent to alter
his expression. "Could I suppose myself at all deserving of so much
distinction," continued the modest speaker, "I should at once accept
your very obliging offer; but----"

"None so worthy," said the upright man.

"Can't hear of a refusal," said the knight of Malta.

"Refusal--impossible!" reiterated Juniper.

"No; no refusal," exclaimed a chorus of voices. "Dick Turpin must be one
of us. He shall be our dimber damber."

"Well, gentlemen, since you are so pressing," replied Turpin, "even so
be it. I _will_ be your dimber damber."

"Bravo! bravo!" cried the mob, _not_ "of gentlemen."

"About it, pals, at once," said the knight of Malta, flourishing
Excalibur. "By St. Thomas à Becket, we'll have as fine a scene as I
myself ever furnished to the Canterbury lieges."

"About what?" asked Dick.

"Your matriculation," replied Jerry. "There are certain forms to be
gone through, with an oath to be taken, merely a trifle. We'll have a
jolly booze when all's over. Come bing avast, my merry pals; to the
green, to the green: a Turpin! a Turpin! a new brother!"

"A Turpin! a Turpin! a new brother!" echoed the crew.

"I've brought you through," said Jerry, taking advantage of the uproar
that ensued to whisper to his chum; "none of them will dare to lift a
finger against you now. They are all your friends for life."

"Nevertheless," returned Turpin, "I should be glad to know what has
become of Bess."

"If it's your prancer you are wanting," chirped a fluttering creature,
whom Turpin recognized as Luke's groom, Grasshopper, "I gave her a fresh
loaf and a stoup of stingo, as you bade me, and there she be, under yon
tree, as quiet as a lamb."

"I see her," replied Turpin; "just tighten her girths, Grasshopper, and
bring her after me, and thou shalt have wherewithal to chirp over thy
cups at supper."

Away bounded the elfin dwarf to execute his behest.

A loud shout now rent the skies, and presently afterwards was heard the
vile scraping of a fiddle, accompanied by the tattoo of a drum.
Approaching Turpin, a host of gipsies elevated the highwayman upon their
shoulders, and in this way he was carried to the centre of the green,
where the long oaken table, which had once served the Franciscans for
refection, was now destined for the stage of the pageant.

Upon this table three drums were placed; and Turpin was requested to
seat himself on the central one. A solemn prelude, more unearthly than
the incantation in the Freyschütz, was played by the orchestra of the
band, conducted by the Paganini of the place, who elicited the most
marvellous notes from his shell. A couple of shawms[35] emitted
sepulchral sounds, while the hollow rolling of a drum broke ever and
anon upon the ear. The effect was prodigiously fine. During this
overture the patrico and the upright man had ascended the rostrum, each
taking his place; the former on the right hand of Turpin, the latter
upon his left. Below them stood the knight of Malta, with Excalibur
drawn in his hand, and gleaming in the sunshine. On the whole, Dick was
amused with what he saw, and with the novel situation in which he found
himself placed. Around the table were congregated a compact mass of
heads; so compact, indeed, that they looked like one creature--an Argus,
with each eye upturned upon the highwayman. The idea struck Turpin that
the restless mass of parti-colored shreds and patches, of vivid hues and
varied tintings, singularly, though accidentally, disposed to produce
such an effect, resembled an immense tiger-moth, or it might be a Turkey
carpet spread out upon the grass!

The scene was a joyous one. It was a brilliant sunshiny morning.
Freshened and purified by the storm of the preceding night, the air
breathed a balm upon the nerves and senses of the robber. The wooded
hills were glittering in light; the brook was flowing swiftly past the
edge of the verdant slope, glancing like a wreathed snake in the
sunshine--its "quiet song" lost in the rude harmony of the mummers, as
were the thousand twitterings of the rejoicing birds; the rocks bared
their bosoms to the sun, or were buried in deep-cast gloom; the shadows
of the pillars and arches of the old walls of the priory were projected
afar, while the rose-like ramifications of the magnificent marigold
window were traced, as if by a pencil, upon the verdant tablet of the
sod.

The overture was finished. With the appearance of the principal figures
in this strange picture the reader is already familiar. It remains only
to give him some idea of the patrico. Imagine, then, an old
superannuated goat, reared upon its hind legs, and clad in a white
sheet, disposed in folds like those of a simar about its limbs, and you
will have some idea of Balthazar, the patrico. This resemblance to the
animal before mentioned was rendered the more striking by his huge,
hanging, goat-like under lip, his lengthy white beard, and a sort of
cap, covering his head, which was ornamented with a pair of horns, such
as are to be seen in Michael Angelo's tremendous statue of Moses.
Balthazar, besides being the patrico of the tribe, was its principal
professor of divination, and had been the long-tried and faithful
minister of Barbara Lovel, from whose secret instructions he was
supposed to have derived much of his magical skill.

Placing a pair of spectacles upon his "prognosticating nose," and
unrolling a vellum skin, upon which strange characters were written,
Balthazar, turning to Turpin, thus commenced in a solemn voice:

    Thou who wouldst our brother be,
    Say how we shall enter thee?
    Name the name that thou wilt bear
    Ere our livery thou wear?

"I see no reason why I should alter my designation," replied the
noviciate; "but as popes change their titles on their creation, there
can be no objection to a scampsman following so excellent an example.
Let me be known as the Night Hawk."

"The Night Hawk--good," returned the hierophant, proceeding to register
the name upon the parchment. "Kneel down," continued he.

After some hesitation, Turpin complied.

"You must repeat the 'salamon,' or oath of our creed, after my
dictation," said the patrico; and Turpin, signifying his assent by a
nod, Balthazar propounded the following abjuration:

    OATH OF THE CANTING CREW

    I, Crank-Cuffin, swear to be
    True to this fraternity;
    That I will in all obey
    Rule and order of the lay.
    Never blow the gab, or squeak;
    Never snitch to bum or beak;
    But religiously maintain
    Authority of those who reign
    Over Stop-Hole Abbey Green,
    Be they tawny king, or queen.
    In their cause alone will fight;
    Think what they think, wrong or right;
    Serve them truly, and no other,
    And be faithful to my brother;
    Suffer none, from far or near,
    With their rights to interfere;
    No strange Abram, ruffler crack,
    Hooker of another pack,
    Rogue or rascal, frater, maunderer,
    Irish toyle, or other wanderer;
    No dimber damber, angler, dancer,
    Prig of cackler, prig of prancer;
    No swigman, swaddler, clapperdudgeon;
    Cadge-gloak, curtal, or curmudgeon;
    No whip-jack, palliard, patrico;
    No jarkman, be he high or low;
    No dummerar, or romany;
    No member of "_the Family_;"
    No ballad-basket, bouncing buffer,
    Nor any other, will I suffer;
    But stall-off now and for ever,
    All outliers whatsoever:
    And as I keep to the foregone,
    So may help me Salamon![36]

"So help me Salamon!" repeated Turpin, with emphasis.

"Zoroaster," said the patrico to the upright man, "do thy part of this
ceremonial."

Zoroaster obeyed; and, taking Excalibur from the knight of Malta,
bestowed a hearty thwack with the blade upon the shoulders of the
kneeling highwayman, assisting him afterwards to arise.

The inauguration was complete.

"Well," exclaimed Dick, "I'm glad it's all over. My leg feels a little
stiffish. I'm not much given to kneeling. I must dance it off;" saying
which, he began to shuffle upon the boards. "I tell you what," continued
he, "most reverend patrico, that same 'salmon' of yours has a cursed
long tail. I could scarce swallow it all, and it's strange if it don't
give me an indigestion. As to you, sage Zory, from the dexterity with
which you flourish your sword, I should say you had practised at court.
His majesty could scarce do the thing better, when, slapping some fat
alderman upon the shoulder, he bids him arise Sir Richard. And now,
pals," added he, glancing round, "as I am one of you, let's have a booze
together ere I depart, for I don't think my stay will be long in the
land of Egypt."

This suggestion of Turpin was so entirely consonant to the wishes of the
assemblage, that it met with universal approbation; and upon a sign from
Zoroaster, some of his followers departed in search of supplies for the
carousal. Zoroaster leaped from the table, and his example was followed
by Turpin, and more leisurely by the patrico.

It was rather early in the day for a drinking bout. But the Canting Crew
were not remarkably particular. The chairs were removed, and the
jingling of glasses announced the arrival of the preliminaries of the
matutine symposion. Poles, canvas, and cords were next brought; and in
almost as short a space of time as one scene is substituted for another
in a theatrical representation, a tent was erected. Benches, stools, and
chairs appeared with equal celerity, and the interior soon presented an
appearance like that of a booth at a fair. A keg of brandy was broached,
and the health of the new brother quaffed in brimmers.

Our highwayman returned thanks. Zoroaster was in the chair, the knight
of Malta acting as croupier. A second toast was proposed--the tawny
queen. This was drunk with a like enthusiasm, and with a like allowance
of the potent spirit; but as bumpers of brandy are not to be repeated
with impunity, it became evident to the president of the board that he
must not repeat his toasts quite so expeditiously. To create a
temporary diversion, therefore, he called for a song.

The dulcet notes of the fiddle now broke through the clamor; and, in
answer to the call, Jerry Juniper volunteered the following:

    JERRY JUNIPER'S CHANT

    In a box[37] of the stone jug[38] I was born,
    Of a hempen widow[39] the kid forlorn.
                                _Fake away,_
    And my father, as I've heard say,
                                _Fake away._
    Was a merchant of capers[40] gay,
    Who cut his last fling with great applause,
                                _Nix my doll pals, fake away._[41]

    Who cut his last fling with great applause,[42]
    To the tune of a "hearty choke with caper sauce."
                                _Fake away._
    The knucks in quod[43] did my schoolmen play,
                                _Fake away,_
    And put me up to the time of day;
    Until at last there was none so knowing,
                                _Nix my doll pals, fake away._

    Until at last there was none so knowing,
    No such sneaksman[44] or buzgloak[45] going.
                                _Fake away._
    Fogles[46] and fawnies[47] soon went their way,
                                _Fake away_,
    To the spout[48] with the sneezers[49] in grand array.
    No dummy hunter[50] had forks[51] so fly;
                                _Nix my doll pals, fake away_.

    No dummy hunter had forks so fly,
    No knuckler[52] so deftly could fake a cly,[53]
                                _Fake away._
    No slour'd hoxter[54] my snipes[55] could stay,
                                _Fake away._
    None knap a reader[56] like me in the lay.
    Soon then I mounted in swell-street high.
                                _Nix my doll pals, fake away._

    Soon then I mounted in swell-street high,
    And sported my flashiest toggery[57],
                                _Fake away._
    Firmly resolved I would make my hay,
                                _Fake away,_
    While Mercury's star shed a single ray;
    And ne'er was there seen such a dashing prig,[58]
                                _Nix my doll pals, fake away._

    And ne'er was there seen such a dashing prig,
    With my strummel faked in the newest twig.[59]
                                _Fake away._
    With my fawnied famms,[60] and my onions gay,[61]
                                _Fake away;_
    My thimble of ridge[62], and my driz kemesa[63];
    All my togs were so niblike[64] and splash,
                                _Nix my doll pals, fake away._

    All my togs were so niblike and splash,
    Readily the queer screens I then could smash;[65]
                                _Fake away._
    But my nuttiest blowen,[66] one fine day,
                                _Fake away,_
    To the beaks[67] did her fancy man betray,
    And thus was I bowled out at last[68]
                                _Nix my doll pals, fake away._

    And thus was I bowled out at last,
    And into the jug for a lag was cast;[69]
                                _Fake away._
    But I slipped my darbies[70] one morn in May,
                                _Fake away,_
    And gave to the dubsman[71] a holiday.
    And here I am, pals, merry and free,
    A regular rollicking romany.[72]
                                _Nix my doll pals, fake away._

Much laughter and applause rewarded Jerry's attempt to please; and
though the meaning of his chant, even with the aid of the numerous notes
appended to it, may not be quite obvious to our readers, we can assure
them that it was perfectly intelligible to the Canting Crew. Jerry was
now entitled to a call; and happening, at the moment, to meet the fine
dark eyes of a sentimental gipsy, one of that better class of mendicants
who wandered about the country with a guitar at his back, his election
fell upon him. The youth, without prelude, struck up a

    GIPSY SERENADE

    Merry maid, merry maid, wilt thou wander with me?
    We will roam through the forest, the meadow, and lea;
    We will haunt the sunny bowers, and when day begins to flee,
    Our couch shall be the ferny brake, our canopy the tree.
            _Merry maid, merry maid, come and wander with me!
            No life like the gipsy's, so joyous and free!_

    Merry maid, merry maid, though a roving life be ours,
    We will laugh away the laughing and quickly fleeting hours;
    Our hearts are free, as is the free and open sky above,
    And we know what tamer souls know not, how lovers ought to love.
            _Merry maid, merry maid, come and wander with me!
            No life like the gipsy's so joyous and free!_

Zoroaster now removed the pipe from his upright lips to intimate his
intention of proposing a toast.

A universal knocking of knuckles by the knucklers[73] was followed by
profound silence. The sage spoke:

"The city of Canterbury, pals," said he; "and may it never want a knight
of Malta."

The toast was pledged with much laughter, and in many bumpers.

The knight, upon whom all eyes were turned, rose, "with stately bearing
and majestic motion," to return thanks.

"I return you an infinitude of thanks, brother pals," said he, glancing
round the assemblage; and bowing to the president, "and to you, most
upright Zory, for the honor you have done me in associating my name with
that city. Believe me, I sincerely appreciate the compliment, and echo
the sentiment from the bottom of my soul. I trust it never _will_ want
a knight of Malta. In return for your consideration, but a poor one you
will say, you shall have a ditty, which I composed upon the occasion of
my pilgrimage to that city, and which I have thought proper to name
after myself."

    THE KNIGHT OF MALTA

    _A Canterbury Tale_[74]

    Come list to me, and you shall have, without a hem or haw, sirs,
    A Canterbury pilgrimage, much better than old Chaucer's.
    'Tis of a hoax I once played off upon that city clever,
    The memory of which, I hope, will stick to it for ever.
                            _With my coal-black beard, and purple cloak,
                                jack-boots, and broad-brimmed castor,
                                      Hey-ho! for the knight of Malta!_

    To execute my purpose, in the first place, you must know, sirs,
    My locks I let hang down my neck--my beard and whiskers grow, sirs;
    A purple cloak I next clapped on, a sword lagged to my side, sirs,
    And mounted on a charger black, I to the town did ride, sirs.
                            _With my coal-black beard, &c._

    Two pages were there by my side, upon two little ponies,
    Decked out in scarlet uniform, as spruce as macaronies;
    Caparisoned my charger was, as grandly as his master,
    And o'er my long and curly locks, I wore a broad-brimmed castor.
                            _With my coal-black beard, &c._

    The people all flocked forth, amazed to see a man so hairy,
    Oh I such a sight had ne'er before been seen in Canterbury!
    My flowing robe, my flowing beard, my horse with flowing mane, sirs!
    They stared--the days of chivalry, they thought, were come again, sirs!
                            _With my coal-black beard, &c._

    I told them a long rigmarole romance, that did not halt a
    Jot, that they beheld in me a real knight of Malta!
    Tom à Becket had I sworn I was, that saint and martyr hallowed,
    I doubt not just as readily the bait they would have swallowed.
                            _With my coal-black beard, &c._

    I rode about, and speechified, and everybody gullied,
    The tavern-keepers diddled, and the magistracy bullied;
    Like puppets were the townsfolk led in that show they call a raree;
    The Gotham sages were a joke to those of Canterbury.
                            _With my coal-black beard, &c._

    The theatre I next engaged, where I addressed the crowd, sirs,
    And on retrenchment and reform I spouted long and loud, sirs;
    On tithes and on taxation I enlarged with skill and zeal, sirs,
    Who so able as a Malta knight, the malt tax to repeal, sirs.
                            _With my coal-black beard, &c._

    As a candidate I then stepped forth to represent their city,
    And my non-election to that place was certainly a pity;
    For surely I the fittest was, and very proper, very,
    To represent the wisdom and the wit of Canterbury.
                            _With my coal-black beard, &c._

    At the trial of some smugglers next, one thing I rather queer did,
    And the justices upon the bench I literally _bearded_;
    For I swore that I some casks did see, though proved as clear as
              day, sirs,
    That I happened at the time to be some fifty miles away, sirs.
                            _With my coal-black beard, &c._

    This last assertion, I must own, was somewhat of a blunder,
    And for perjury indicted they compelled me to knock under;
    To my prosperous career this slight error put a stop, sirs,
    And thus _crossed_, the knight of Malta was at length obliged to
              _hop_, sirs.
                            _With his coal-black beard, and purple cloak,
                                jack-boots, and broad-brimmed castor,
                                      Good-by to the knight of Malta._

The knight sat down amidst the general plaudits of the company.

The party, meanwhile, had been increased by the arrival of Luke and the
sexton. The former, who was in no mood for revelry, refused to comply
with his grandsire's solicitation to enter, and remained sullenly at the
door, with his arms folded, and his eyes fixed upon Turpin, whose
movements he commanded through the canvas aperture. The sexton walked up
to Dick, who was seated at the post of honor, and, clapping him upon
the shoulder, congratulated him upon the comfortable position in which
he found him.

"Ha, ha! Are you there, my old death's-head on a mop-stick?" said
Turpin, with a laugh. "Ain't we merry mumpers, eh? Keeping it up in
style. Sit down, old Noah--make yourself comfortable, Methusalem."

"What say you to a drop of as fine Nantz as you ever tasted in your
life, old cove?" said Zoroaster.

"I have no sort of objection to it," returned Peter, "provided you will
all pledge my toast."

"That I will, were it old Ruffin himself," shouted Turpin.

"Here's to the three-legged mare," cried Peter. "To the tree that bears
fruit all the year round, and yet has neither bark nor branch. You won't
refuse that toast, Captain Turpin?"

"Not I," answered Dick; "I owe the gallows no grudge. If, as Jerry's
song says, I must have a 'hearty choke and caper sauce' for my breakfast
one of these fine mornings, it shall never be said that I fell to my
meal without appetite, or neglected saying grace before it. Gentlemen,
here's Peter Bradley's toast: 'The scragging post--the three-legged
mare,' with three times three."

Appropriate as this sentiment was, it did not appear to be so inviting
to the party as might have been anticipated, and the shouts soon died
away.

"They like not the thoughts of the gallows," said Turpin to Peter. "More
fools they. A mere bugbear to frighten children, believe me; and never
yet alarmed a brave man. The gallows, pshaw! One can but die once, and
what signifies it how, so that it be over quickly. I think no more of
the last leap into eternity than clearing a five-barred gate. A rope's
end for it! So let us be merry, and make the most of our time, and
that's true philosophy. I know you can throw off a rum chant," added he,
turning to Peter. "I heard you sing last night at the hall. Troll us a
stave, my antediluvian file, and, in the meantime, tip me a gage of
fogus,[75] Jerry; and if that's a bowl of huckle-my-butt[76] you are
brewing, Sir William," added he, addressing the knight of Malta, "you
may send me a jorum at your convenience."

Jerry handed the highwayman a pipe, together with a tumbler of the
beverage which the knight had prepared, which he pronounced excellent;
and while the huge bowl was passed round to the company, a prelude of
shawms announced that Peter was ready to break into song.

Accordingly, after the symphony was ended, accompanied at intervals by a
single instrument, Peter began his melody, in a key so high, that the
utmost exertions of the shawm-blower failed to approach its altitudes.
The burden of his minstrelsy was

    THE MANDRAKE[77]

    Μῶλύ δέ μιν καλέουσι θεοί, χαλνπὸν δέ τ' ὀρύσσειν
    Ἀνδράσι γε θνητοισι θεοι, δέ τε πάντα δύνανται.
                                                              HOMERUS.

    The mandrake grows 'neath the gallows-tree,
    And rank and green are its leaves to see;
    Green and rank, as the grass that waves
    Over the unctuous earth of graves;
    And though all around it lie bleak and bare,
    Freely the mandrake flourisheth there.
                                _Maranatha--Anathema!
                        Dread is the curse of mandragora!
                                                Euthanasy!_

    At the foot of the gibbet the mandrake springs;
    Just where the creaking carcase swings;
    Some have thought it engendered
    From the fat that drops from the bones of the dead;
    Some have thought it a human thing;
    But this is a vain imagining.
                                _Maranatha--Anathema!
                        Dread is the curse of mandragora!
                                                Euthanasy!_

    A charnel leaf doth the mandrake wear,
    A charnel fruit doth the mandrake bear;
    Yet none like the mandrake hath such great power,
    Such virtue resides not in herb or flower;
    Aconite, hemlock, or moonshade, I ween,
    None hath a poison so subtle and keen.
                                _Maranatha--Anathema!
                        Dread is the curse of mandragora!
                                                Euthanasy!_

    And whether the mandrake be create
    Flesh with the power incorporate,
    I know not; yet, if from the earth 'tis rent,
    Shrieks and groans from the root are sent;
    Shrieks and groans, and a sweat like gore
    Oozes and drops from the clammy core.
                                _Maranatha--Anathema!
                        Dread is the curse of mandragora!
                                                Euthanasy!_

    Whoso gathereth the mandrake shall surely die;
    Blood for blood is his destiny.
    Some who have plucked it have died with groans,
    Like to the mandrake's expiring moans;
    Some have died raving, and some beside--
    With penitent prayers--but _all_ have died.
                        _Jesu! save us by night and day!
                    From the terrible death of mandragora!
                                                Euthanasy!_

"A queer chant that," said Zoroaster, coughing loudly, in token of
disapprobation.

"Not much to my taste," quoth the knight of Malta. "We like something
more sprightly in Canterbury."

"Nor to mine," added Jerry; "don't think it's likely to have an encore.
'Pon my soul, Dick, you must give us something yourself, or we shall
never cry Euthanasy at the Triple Tree."

"With all my heart," replied Turpin. "You shall have--but what do I see,
my friend Sir Luke? Devil take my tongue, Luke Bradley, I mean. What,
ho! Luke--nay, nay, man, no shrinking--stand forward; I've a word or two
to say to you. We must have a hob-a-nob glass together for old
acquaintance sake. Nay, no airs, man; damme you're not a lord yet, nor a
baronet either, though I do hold your title in my pocket; never look
glum at me. It won't pay. I'm one of the Canting Crew now; no man shall
sneer at me with impunity, eh, Zory? Ha, ha! here's a glass of Nantz;
we'll have a bottle of black strap when you are master of your own. Make
ready there, you gut-scrapers, you shawm-shavers; I'll put your lungs in
play for you presently. In the meantime--charge, pals, charge--a toast,
a toast! Health and prosperity to Sir Luke Rookwood! I see you are
surprised--this, gemmen, is Sir Luke Rookwood, somewhile Luke Bradley,
heir to the house of that name, not ten miles distant from this. Say,
shall we not drink a bumper to his health?"

Astonishment prevailed amongst the crew. Luke himself had been taken by
surprise. When Turpin discovered him at the door of the tent, and
summoned him to appear, he reluctantly complied with the request; but
when, in a half-bantering vein, Dick began to rally him upon his
pretensions, he would most gladly have retreated, had it been in his
power. It was then too late. He felt he must stand the ordeal. Every eye
was fixed upon him with a look of inquiry.

Zoroaster took his everlasting pipe from his mouth.

"This ain't true, sure_ly_?" asked the perplexed Magus.

"He has said it," replied Luke; "I may not deny it."

This was sufficient. There was a wild hubbub of delight amongst the
crew, for Luke was a favorite with all.

"Sir Luke Rookwood!" cried Jerry Juniper, who liked a title as much as
Tommy Moore is said to dote upon a lord. "Upon my soul I sincerely
congratulate you; devilish fortunate fellow. Always cursed unlucky
myself. I could never find out my own father, unless it were one
Monsieur des Capriolles, a French dancing-master, and _he_ never left
anything behind him that I could hear of, except a broken kit and a
hempen widow. Sir Luke Rookwood, we shall do ourselves the pleasure of
drinking your health and prosperity."

Fresh bumpers and immense cheering.

Silence being in a measure restored, Zoroaster claimed Turpin's promise
of a song.

"True, true," replied Dick; "I have not forgotten it. Stand to your
bows, my hearties."

    THE GAME OF HIGH TOBY

    Now Oliver[78] puts his black nightcap on,
      And every star its glim[79] is hiding,
    And forth to the heath is the scampsman[80] gone,
      His matchless cherry-black[81] prancer riding;
    Merrily over the common he flies,
      Fast and free as the rush of rocket,
    His crape-covered vizard drawn over his eyes,
      His tol[82] by his side, and his pops[83] in his pocket.

    CHORUS

              _Then who can name
              So merry a game,
              As the game of all games--high toby?_[84]

    The traveller hears him, away! away!
      Over the wide wide heath he scurries;
    He heeds not the thunderbolt summons to stay,
      But ever the faster and faster he hurries.
    But what daisy-cutter can match that black tit?
      He is caught--he must "stand and deliver;"
    Then out with the dummy[85], and off with the bit,[86]
      Oh! the game of high toby for ever!

    CHORUS

              _Then who can name
              So merry a game,
              As the game of all games--high toby?_

    Believe me, there is not a game, my brave boys,
      To compare with the game of high toby;
    No rapture can equal the tobyman's joys,
      To blue devils, blue plumbs[87] give the go-by;
    And what if, at length, boys, he come to the crap![88]
      Even rack punch has _some_ bitter in it,
    For the mare-with-three-legs[89], boys, I care not a rap,
      'Twill be over in less than a minute.

    GRAND CHORUS

              _Then hip, hurrah!
              Fling care away!
              Hurrah for the game of high toby!_

"And now, pals," said Dick, who began to feel the influence of these
morning cups, "I vote that we adjourn. Believe me I shall always bear in
mind that I am a brother of your band. Sir Luke and I must have a little
chat together ere I take my leave. Adieu!"

And taking Luke by the arm, he walked out of the tent. Peter Bradley
rose, and followed them.

At the door they found the dwarfish Grasshopper with Black Bess.
Rewarding the urchin for his trouble, and slipping the bridle of his
mare over his hand, Turpin continued his walk over the green. For a few
minutes he seemed to be lost in rumination.

"I tell you what, Sir Luke," said he; "I should like to do a generous
thing, and make you a present of this bit of paper. But one ought not to
throw away one's luck, you know--there is a tide in the affairs of
thieves, as the player coves say, which must be taken at the flood, or
else----no matter! Your old dad, Sir Piers--God help him!--had the
gingerbread, _that_ I know; he was, as we say, a regular rhino-cerical
cull. You won't feel a few thousands, especially at starting; and
besides, there are two others, Rust and Wilder, who row in the same boat
with me, and must therefore come in for their share of the reg'lars.
All this considered, you can't complain, I think if I ask five thousand
for it. That old harridan, Lady Rookwood, offered me nearly as much."

"I will not talk to you of fairness," said Luke; "I will not say that
document belongs of right to me. It fell by accident into your hands.
Having possessed yourself of it, I blame you not that you dispose of it
to the best advantage. I must, perforce, agree to your terms."

"Oh, no," replied Dick, "it's quite optional; Lady Rookwood will give as
much, and make no mouths about it. Soho, lass! What makes Bess prick her
ears in that fashion?--Ha! carriage-wheels in the distance! that jade
knows the sound as well as I do. I'll just see what it's like!--you will
have ten minutes for reflection. Who knows if I may not have come in for
a good thing here?"

At that instant the carriage passed the angle of a rock some three
hundred yards distant, and was seen slowly ascending the hill-side.
Eager as a hawk after his quarry, Turpin dashed after it.

In vain the sexton, whom he nearly overthrew in his career, called after
him to halt. He sped like a bolt from the bow.

"May the devil break his neck!" cried Peter, as he saw him dash through
the brook; "could he not let them alone?"

"This must not be," said Luke; "know you whose carriage it is?"

"It is a shrine that holds the jewel that should be dearest in your
eyes," returned Peter; "haste, and arrest the spoiler's hand."

"Whom do you mean?" asked Luke.

"Eleanor Mowbray," replied Peter. "She is there. To the rescue--away."

"Eleanor Mowbray!" echoed Luke--"and Sybil?----"

At this instant a pistol-shot was heard.

"Will you let murder be done, and upon your cousin?" cried Peter, with a
bitter look. "You are not what I took you for."

Luke answered not, but, swift as the hound freed from the leash, darted
in the direction of the carriage.



_CHAPTER VI_

_ELEANOR MOWBRAY_

                                ----Mischiefs
    Are like the visits of Franciscan friars,
    They never come to prey upon us single.

                                                   _Devil's Law Case._


The course of our tale returns now to Eleanor Mowbray. After she had
parted from Ranulph Rookwood, and had watched him disappear beneath the
arches of the church porch, her heart sank, and, drawing herself back
within the carriage, she became a prey to the most poignant affliction.
In vain she endeavored to shake off this feeling of desolation. It would
not be. Despair had taken possession of her; the magic fabric of delight
melted away, or only gleamed to tantalize, at an unreachable distance. A
presentiment that Ranulph would never be hers had taken root in her
imagination, and overshadowed all the rest.

While Eleanor pursued this train of reflection, the time insensibly wore
away, until the sudden stoppage of the carriage aroused the party from
their meditation. Major Mowbray perceived that the occasion of the halt
was the rapid advance of a horseman, who was nearing them at full speed.
The appearance of the rider was somewhat singular, and might have
created some uneasiness as to the nature of his approach, had not the
major immediately recognized a friend; he was, nevertheless, greatly
surprised to see him, and turned to Mrs. Mowbray to inform her that
Father Ambrose, to his infinite astonishment, was coming to meet them,
and appeared, from his manner, to be the bearer of unwelcome tidings.

Father Ambrose was, perhaps, the only being whom Eleanor disliked. She
had felt an unaccountable antipathy towards him, which she could neither
extirpate nor control, during their long and close intimacy. It may be
necessary to mention that her religious culture had been in accordance
with the tenets of the Romish Church, in whose faith--the faith of her
ancestry--her mother had continued; and that Father Ambrose, with whom
she had first become acquainted during the residence of the family near
Bordeaux, was her ghostly adviser and confessor. An Englishman by birth,
he had been appointed pastor to the diocese in which they dwelt, and
was, consequently, a frequent visitor, almost a constant inmate of the
château; yet though duty and respect would have prompted her to regard
the father with affection, Eleanor could never conquer the feelings of
dislike and distrust which she had at first entertained towards him; a
dislike which was increased by the strange control in which he seemed to
hold her mother, who regarded him with a veneration approaching to
infatuation. It was, therefore, with satisfaction that she bade him
adieu. He had, however, followed his friends to England under a feigned
name as--being a recusant Romish priest, and supposed to have been
engaged in certain Jesuitical plots, his return to his own country was
attended with considerable risk--, and had now remained domesticated
with them for some months. That he had been in some way, in early life,
connected with a branch of the house of Rookwood, Eleanor was aware--she
fancied he might have been engaged in political intrigue with Sir
Reginald, which would have well accorded with his ardent, ambitious
temperament--, and the knowledge of this circumstance made her doubly
apprehensive lest the nature of his present communication should have
reference to her lover, towards whose cause the father had never been
favorable, and respecting whose situation he might have made some
discovery, which she feared he might use to Ranulph's disadvantage.

Wrapped in a long black cloak, with a broad-brimmed hat drawn closely
over his brows, it was impossible to distinguish further of the priest's
figure and features beyond the circumstance of his height, which was
remarkable, until he had reached the carriage window, when, raising his
hat, he disclosed a head that Titian might have painted, and which,
arising from the dark drapery, looked not unlike the visage of some
grave and saturnine Venetian. There was a venerable expanse of forehead,
thinly scattered with hair, towering over black pent-house-like brows,
which, in their turn, shadowed keen penetrating eyes; the temples were
hollow, and blue veins might be traced beneath the sallow skin; the
cheek-bones were high, and there was something in the face that spoke of
self-mortification; while the thin livid lips, closely compressed, and
the austere and sinister expression of his countenance, showed that his
self-abasement, if he had ever practised it, had scarcely prostrated the
demon of pride, whose dominion might still be traced in the lines and
furrows of his haughty physiognomy. The father looked at Mrs. Mowbray,
and then glanced suspiciously at Eleanor. The former appeared to
understand him.

"You would say a word to me in private," said Mrs. Mowbray; "shall I
descend?"

The priest bowed assent.

"It is not to you alone that my mission extends," said he, gravely; "you
are all in part concerned; your son had better alight with you."

"Instantly," replied the major. "If you will give your horse in charge
to the postilion, we will attend you at once."

With a feeling of renewed apprehension, connected, she knew not why,
with Ranulph, Eleanor beheld her relatives descend from the carriage;
and, in the hope of gaining some clue from their gestures to the subject
of their conversation, she watched their motions as narrowly as her
situation permitted. From the earnest manner of the priest, and the
interest his narrative seemed to excite in his hearers, it was evident
that his communication was of importance.

Presently, accompanied by Father Ambrose, Mrs. Mowbray returned to the
carriage, while the major, mounting the priest's horse, after bidding a
hasty adieu to his sister, adding, with a look that belied the
consolation intended to be conveyed by his words, that "all was well,"
but without staying to offer her any explanation of the cause of his
sudden departure, rode back the way they had just traversed, and in the
direction of Rookwood. Bereft of the only person to whom she could have
applied for information, though dying with curiosity and anxiety to know
the meaning of this singular interview and of the sudden change of plans
which she felt so intimately concerned herself, Eleanor was constrained
to preserve silence, as, after their entrance into the carriage, her
mother again seemed lost in painful reflection, and heeded her not; and
the father, drawing from his pocket a small volume, appeared intently
occupied in its perusal.

"Dear mother," said Eleanor, at length, turning to Mrs. Mowbray, "my
brother is gone----"

"To Rookwood," said Mrs. Mowbray, in a tone calculated to check further
inquiry; but Eleanor was too anxious to notice it.

"And wherefore, mother?" said she. "May I not be informed?"

"Not as yet, my child--not as yet," replied Mrs. Mowbray. "You will
learn all sufficiently early."

The priest raised his cat-like eyes from the book to watch the effect of
this speech, and dropped them instantly as Eleanor turned towards him.
She had been about to appeal to him, but having witnessed this look, she
relinquished her scarce-formed purpose, and endeavored to divert her
tristful thoughts by gazing through the glimmering medium of her tears
upon the soothing aspect of external nature--that aspect which, in
sunshine or in storm, has ever relief in store for a heart embittered by
the stormy coldness of the world.

The road, meanwhile, led them through a long woody valley, and was now
climbing the sides of a steep hill. They were soon in the vicinity of
the priory, and of the gipsies' encampment. The priest leaned forward,
and whispered something in Mrs. Mowbray's ear, who looked towards the
ruined shrine, part of the mouldering walls being visible from the road.

At the moment the clatter of a horse's hoofs, and the sound of a loud
voice, commanding the postilion, in a menacing tone, to stop,
accompanied by a volley of imprecations, interrupted the conference, and
bespoke the approach of an unwelcome intruder, and one whom all, too
truly, feared would not be readily dismissed. The postilion did his best
to rid them of the assailant. Perceiving a masked horseman behind him,
approaching at a furious rate, he had little doubt as to his intentions,
and Turpin, for it was our highwayman, soon made his doubts certainties.
He hallooed to him to stop; but the fellow paid no attention to his
command, and disregarded even the pistol which he saw, in a casual
glimpse over his near side, presented at his person. Clapping spurs into
his horse's flanks, he sought succor in flight. Turpin was by his side
in an instant. As the highwayman endeavored to catch his reins, the lad
suddenly wheeled the carriage right upon him, and but for the dexterity
of Turpin, and the clever conduct of his mare, would inevitably have
crushed him against the roadside. As it was, his left leg was slightly
grazed. Irritated at this, Turpin fired over the man's head, and with
the butt-end of the pistol felled him from his seat. Startled by the
sound, and no longer under the governance of their rider, the horses
rushed with frantic violence towards a ditch that bounded the other side
of the highway, down which the carriage was precipitated, and at once
overturned. Turpin's first act, after he had ascertained that no
mischief had been occasioned to those within, beyond the alarm incident
to the shock, was to compel the postilion, who had by this time gained
his legs, to release the horses from their traces. This done, with the
best grace he could assume, and, adjusting his mask, he opened the
carriage, and proceeded to liberate the captives.

"Beg pardon, ma'am," said he, as soon as he had released Mrs. Mowbray;
"excessively sorry, upon my soul, to have been the cause of so much
unnecessary alarm to you--all the fault, I assure you, of that rascal of
a postilion; had the fellow only pulled up when I commanded him, this
botheration might have been avoided. You will remember that, when you
pay him--all his fault, I assure you, ma'am."

Receiving no reply, he proceeded to extricate Eleanor, with whose beauty
the inflammable highwayman was instantly smitten. Leaving the father to
shift for himself, he turned to address some observation of coarse
gallantry to her; but she eluded his grasp, and flew to her mother's
side.

"It is useless, sir," said Mrs. Mowbray, as Turpin drew near them, "to
affect ignorance of your intentions. You have already occasioned us
serious alarm; much delay and inconvenience. I trust, therefore, that
beyond our purses, to which, though scantily supplied, you are welcome,
we shall sustain no molestation. You seem to have less of the ruffian
about you than the rest of your lawless race, and are not, I should
hope, destitute of common humanity."

"Common humanity!" replied Turpin: "bless you, ma'am, I'm the most
humane creature breathing--would not hurt a fly, much less a lady.
Incivility was never laid to my charge. This business may be managed in
a few seconds; and as soon as we have settled the matter, I'll lend your
stupid jack-boy a hand to put the horses to the carriage again, and get
the wheels out of the ditch. You have a banker, ma'am, I suppose, in
town--perhaps in the country; but I don't like country bankers; besides,
I want a little ready cash in Rumville--beg pardon, ma'am, London I
mean. My ears have been so stunned with those Romany patterers, I
almost _think_ in flash. Just draw me a check; I've pen and ink always
ready: a check for fifty pounds, ma'am--only fifty. What's your banker's
name? I've blank checks of all the best houses in my pocket; that and a
kiss from the pretty lips of that cherry-cheeked maid," winking to
Eleanor, "will fully content me. You see you have neither an exorbitant
nor uncivil personage to deal with."

Eleanor shrank closer towards her mother. Exhausted by previous
agitation of the night, greatly frightened by the shock which she had
just sustained, and still more alarmed by the words and gestures of the
highwayman, she felt that she was momentarily in danger of fainting, and
with difficulty prevented herself from falling. The priest, who had
succeeded in freeing himself from the carriage, now placed himself
between Turpin and the ladies.

"Be satisfied, misguided man," said the father, in a stern voice,
offering a purse, which Mrs. Mowbray hastily extended towards him, "with
the crime you have already committed, and seek not to peril your soul by
deeper guilt; be content with the plunder you now obtain, and depart;
for, by my holy calling, I affirm to you, that if you advance one
footstep towards the further molestation of these ladies, it shall be at
the hazard of your life."

"Bravo!" exclaimed Turpin. "Now this is what I like; who would have
thought the old autem-bawler had so much pluck in him? Sir, I commend
you for your courage, but you are mistaken. I am the quietest man
breathing, and never harm a human being; in proof of which, only look at
your rascal of a postilion, whom any one of my friends would have sent
post-haste to the devil for half the trouble he gave me. Easy as I am, I
never choose to be balked in my humors. I must have the fifty and the
buss, and then I'm off, as soon as you like; and I may as well have the
kiss while the old lady signs the check, and then we shall have the seal
as well as the signature. Poh--poh--no nonsense! Many a pretty lass has
thought it an honor to be kissed by Turpin."

Eleanor recoiled with deepest disgust, as she saw the highwayman thrust
aside the useless opposition of the priest, and approach her. He had
removed his mask; his face, flushed with insolent triumph, was turned
towards her. Despite the loathing, which curdled the blood within her
veins, she could not avert her eyes. He drew near her; she uttered a
shrill scream. At that moment a powerful grasp was laid upon Turpin's
shoulder; he turned and beheld Luke.

"Save me! save me," cried Eleanor, addressing the new comer.

"Damnation!" said the highwayman, "what has brought _you_ here? one
would think you were turned assistant to all distressed damsels. Quit
your hold, or, by the God above us, you will repent it."

"Fool!" exclaimed Luke, "talk thus to one who heeds you." And as he
spoke he hurled Turpin backwards with so much force that, staggering a
few yards, the highwayman fell to the ground.

The priest stood like one stunned with surprise at Luke's sudden
appearance and subsequent daring action.

Luke, meanwhile, approached Eleanor. He gazed upon her with curiosity
mixed with admiration, for his heart told him she was very fair. A
deathlike paleness had spread over her cheeks; yet still, despite the
want of color, she looked exquisitely beautiful, and her large blue eyes
eloquently thanked her deliverer for her rescue. The words she wanted
were supplied by Mrs. Mowbray, who thanked him in appropriate terms,
when they were interrupted by Turpin, who had by this time picked
himself up, and was drawing near them. His countenance wore a fierce
expression.

"I tell you what," said he, "Luke Bradley, or Luke Rookwood, or whatever
else you may call yourself, you have taken a damned unfair advantage of
me in this matter, and deserve nothing better at my hands than that I
should call you to instant account for it--and curse me, if I don't
too."

"Luke Bradley!" interrupted Mrs. Mowbray--"are you that individual?"

"I have been so called, madam," replied Luke.

"Father Ambrose, is this the person of whom you spoke?" eagerly asked
the lady.

"So I conclude," returned the priest, evasively.

"Did he not call you Luke Rookwood?" eagerly demanded Eleanor. "Is that
also your name?"

"Rookwood is my name, fair cousin," replied Luke, "if I may venture to
call you so."

"And Ranulph Rookwood is----"

"My brother."

"I never heard he had a brother," rejoined Eleanor, with some agitation.
"How can that be?"

"I am his brother, nevertheless," replied Luke, moodily--"his ELDER
BROTHER!"

Eleanor turned to her mother and the priest with a look of imploring
anguish; she saw a confirmation of the truth of this statement in their
glances. No contradiction was offered by either to his statement; both,
indeed, appeared in some mysterious manner prepared for it. This, then,
was the dreaded secret. This was the cause of her brother's sudden
departure. The truth flashed with lightning swiftness across her brain.

Chagrined and mortified, Luke remarked that glance of inquiry. His pride
was hurt at the preference thus naturally shown towards his brother. He
had been struck, deeply struck, with her beauty. He acknowledged the
truth of Peter's words. Eleanor's loveliness was without parallel. He
had seen naught so fair, and the instant he beheld her, he felt that for
_her_ alone could he cancel his vows to Sybil. The spirit of rivalry and
jealousy was instantly aroused by Eleanor's exclamations.

"His elder brother!" echoed Eleanor, dwelling upon his words, and
addressing Luke--"then you must be--but no, you are not, you cannot
be--it is Ranulph's title--it is not yours--you are not----"

"I am Sir Luke Rookwood," replied Luke, proudly.

Ere the words were uttered Eleanor had fainted.

"Assistance is at hand, madam, if you will accept it, and follow me,"
said Luke, raising the insensible girl in his arms, and bearing her down
the hill towards the encampment, whither he was followed by Mrs. Mowbray
and the priest, between whom, during the hurried dialogue we have
detailed, very significant glances had been exchanged. Turpin, who, as
it may be supposed, had not been an incurious observer of the scene
passing, burst into his usual loud laugh on seeing Luke bear away his
lovely burden.

"Cousin! Ha, ha!" said he. "So the wench is his cousin. Damme, I half
suspect he has fallen in love with his new-found cousin; and if so, Miss
Sybil, or I'm mistaken, will look as yellow as a guinea. If that little
Spanish devil gets it into her pretty jealous pate that he is about to
bring home a new mistress, we shall have a tragedy-scene in the
twinkling of a bed-post. However, I shan't lose sight of Sir Luke until
I have settled my accounts with him. Hark ye, boy," continued he,
addressing the postilion; "remain where you are; you won't be wanted yet
awhile, I imagine. There's a guinea for you, to drink Dick Turpin's
health."

Upon which he mounted his mare, and walked her easily down the hill.

"And so that be Dick Turpin, folks talk so much about," soliloquized the
lad, looking curiously after him; "well, he's as civil-speaking a chap
as need be, blow my boots if he ain't! and if I'd had a notion it were
he, I'd have pulled up at first call, without more ado. Nothing like
experience--I shall know better another time," added he, pocketing the
douceur.

Rushing swiftly down the hill, Luke tarried at the river's brink, to
sprinkle some of the cool element upon the pale brow of Eleanor. As he
held her in his arms, thoughts which he fain would have stifled in their
birth took possession of his heart. "Would she were mine!" murmured he.
"Yet no! the wish is unworthy." But that wish returned unbidden.

Eleanor opened her eyes. She was still too weak to walk without support,
and Luke, raising her once more in his arms, and motioning Mrs. Mowbray
to follow, crossed the brook by means of stepping-stones, and conducted
his charge along a bypath towards the priory, so as to avoid meeting
with the crew assembled upon the green.

They had gained one of the roofless halls, when he encountered
Balthazar. Astonished at the sight of the party, the patrico was about
to address the priest as an acquaintance, when his more orthodox brother
raised his finger to his lips, in token of caution. The action passed
unobserved.

"Hie thee to Sybil," said Luke to the patrico. "Bid her haste hither.
Say that this maiden--that Miss Mowbray is here, and requires her aid.
Fly! I will bear her to the refectory."

As Balthazar passed the priest, he pointed with a significant glance
towards a chasm in the wall, which seemed to be an opening to some
subterraneous chamber. The father again made a gesture of silence, and
Balthazar hastened upon his mission.

Luke led them to the refectory. He brought a chair for Eleanor's
support; but so far from reviving, after such attention as could be
afforded her, she appeared to become weaker. He was about to issue forth
in search of Sybil, when to his surprise he found the door fastened.

"You cannot pass this way," said a voice, which Luke instantly
recognized as that of the knight of Malta.

"Not pass!" echoed Luke. "What does this mean?"

"Our orders are from the queen," returned the knight.

At this instant the low tone of a muffled bell was heard.

"Ha!" exclaimed Luke; "some danger is at hand."

His heart smote him as he thought of Sybil, and he looked anxiously
towards Eleanor.

Balthazar rushed into the room.

"Where is Sybil?" cried Luke. "Will she not come?"

"She will be here anon," answered the patrico.

"I will seek her myself, then," said Luke. "The door by which you
entered is free."

"It is _not_ free," replied Balthazar. "Remain where you are."

"Who will prevent my going forth?" demanded Luke, sternly.

"I will," said Barbara Lovel, as she suddenly appeared in the doorway.
"You stir not, excepting at my pleasure. Where is the maiden?" continued
she, looking around with a grim smile of satisfaction at the
consternation produced by her appearance. "Ha! I see; she faints. Here
is a cordial that shall revive her. Mrs. Mowbray, you are welcome to the
gipsies' dwelling--you and your daughter. And you, Sir Luke Rookwood, I
congratulate you upon your accession of dignity." Turning to the priest,
who was evidently overwhelmed with confusion, she exclaimed, "And you
too, sir, think you I recognize you not? We have met ere this, at
Rookwood. Know you not Barbara Lovel? Ha, ha! It is long since my poor
dwelling has been so highly honored. But I must not delay the remedy.
Let her drink of this," said she, handing a phial to Mrs. Mowbray. "It
will instantly restore her."

"It is poison," cried Luke. "She shall not drink it."

"Poison!" reiterated Barbara. "Behold!" and she drank of the liquid. "I
would not poison your bride," added she, turning to Luke.

"My bride!" echoed Luke.

"Ay, your bride," repeated Barbara.

Luke recoiled in amazement. Mrs. Mowbray almost felt inclined to believe
she was a dreamer, so visionary did the whole scene appear. A dense
crowd of witnesses stood at the entrance. Foremost amongst them was the
sexton. Suddenly a shriek was heard, and the crowd opening to allow her
passage, Sybil rushed forward.



_CHAPTER VII_

_MRS. MOWBRAY_

    Well, go thy ways, old Nick Machiavel, there will never be the peer
    of thee for wholesome policy and good counsel: thou took'st pains to
    chalk men out the dark paths and hidden plots of murther and deceit,
    and no man has the grace to follow thee. The age is unthankful, thy
    principles are quite forsaken, and worn out of memory.

                                      SHAKERLEY MARMION'S _Antiquary_.


Sybil's sudden entrance filled the group that surrounded Miss Mowbray
with new dismay. But she saw them not. Her soul seemed riveted by
Eleanor, towards whom she rushed; and while her eye wandered over her
beauty, she raised the braided hair from her brow, revealing the clear,
polished forehead. Wonder, awe, devotion, pity, usurped the place of
hatred. The fierce expression that had lit up her dark orbs was
succeeded by tender commiseration. She looked an imploring appeal at
Barbara.

"Ay, ay," returned the old gipsy, extending at the same time the phial;
"I understand. Here is that will bring the blood once more into her
pallid cheeks, and kindle the fire within her eyes. Give her of this."

The effect of the potion was almost instantaneous, amply attesting
Barbara's skill in its concoction. Stifled respiration first proclaimed
Eleanor's recovery. She opened her large and languid eyes; her bosom
heaved almost to bursting; her pulses throbbed quickly and feverishly;
and as the stimulant operated, the wild lustre of excitement blazed in
her eyes.

Sybil took her hand to chafe it. The eyes of the two maidens met. They
gazed upon each other steadfastly and in silence. Eleanor knew not whom
she regarded, but she could not mistake that look of sympathy; she could
not mistake the tremulous pressure of her hand; she felt the silent
trickling tears. She returned the sympathizing glance, and gazed with
equal wonder upon the ministering fairy, for such she almost seemed,
that knelt before her. As her looks wandered from the kindly glance of
Sybil to the withered and inauspicious aspect of the gipsy queen, and
shifted thence to the dusky figures of her attendants, filled with
renewed apprehension, she exclaimed, "Who are these, and where am I?"

"You are in safety," replied Luke. "This is the ruined priory of St.
Francis; and those strange personages are a horde of gipsies. You need
fear no injury from them."

"My deliverer!" murmured Eleanor; when all at once the recollection that
he had avowed himself a Rookwood, and the elder brother of Ranulph,
flashed across her memory. "Gipsies! did you not say these people were
gipsies? Your own attire is the same as theirs. You are not, cannot be,
the brother of Ranulph."

"I do not boast the same mother," returned Luke, proudly, "but my father
was Sir Piers Rookwood, and I am his elder born."

He turned away. Dark thoughts swept across his brain. Maddened by the
beauty of Eleanor, stung by her slights, and insensible to the silent
agony of Sybil, who sought in vain to catch his eye, he thought of
nothing but of revenge, and the accomplishment of his purposes. All
within was a wild and fearful turmoil. His better principles were
stifled by the promptings of evil. "Methinks," cried he, half aloud, "if
the Tempter were near to offer the maiden to me, even at the peril of my
soul's welfare, I could not resist it."

The Tempter _was_ at hand. He is seldom absent on occasions like the
present. The sexton stood beside his grandson. Luke started. He eyed
Peter from head to foot, almost expecting to find the cloven foot,
supposed to be proper to the fiend. Peter grinned in ghastly derision.

"Soh! you would summon hell to your aid; and lo! the devil is at your
elbow. Well, she is yours."

"Make good your words," cried Luke, impatiently.

"Softly--softly," returned Peter. "Moderate yourself, and your wishes
shall be accomplished. Your own desires chime with those of others; nay,
with those of Barbara. _She_ would wed you to Miss Mowbray. You stare.
But it is so. This is a cover for some deeper plot; no matter. It shall
go hard, despite her cunning, if I foil her not at her own weapons.
There is more mischief in that old woman's brain than was ever hatched
within the crocodile's egg; yet she shall find her match. Do not thwart
her; leave all to me. She is about it now," added he, noticing Barbara
and Mrs. Mowbray in conference together. "Be patient--I will watch her."
And he quitted his grandson for the purpose of scanning more closely the
manœuvres of the old gipsy.

Barbara, meanwhile, had not remained inactive.

"You need fear no relapse in your daughter; I will answer for that,"
said the old gipsy to Mrs. Mowbray; "Sybil will tend her. Quit not the
maiden's side," continued she, addressing her grandchild, adding, in a
whisper, "Be cautious--alarm her not--mine eye will be upon you--drop
not a word."

So saying, she shuffled to a little distance with Mrs. Mowbray, keeping
Sybil in view, and watching every motion, as the panther watches the
gambols of a fawn.

"Know you who speaks to you?" said the old crone, in the peculiar low
and confidential tone assumed by her tribe to strangers. "Have you
forgotten the name of Barbara Lovel?"

"I have no distinct remembrance of it," returned Mrs. Mowbray.

"Think again," said Barbara; "and though years are flown, you may
perchance recall the black gipsy woman, who, when you were surrounded
with gay gallants, with dancing plumes, perused your palm, and whispered
in your ear the favored suitor's name. Bide with me a moment, madam,"
said Barbara, seeing that Mrs. Mowbray shrank from the recollection thus
conjured up; "I am old--very old; I have survived the shows of flattery,
and being vested with a power over my people, am apt, perchance, to take
too much upon myself with others." The old gipsy paused here, and then,
assuming a more familiar tone, exclaimed, "The estates of Rookwood are
ample----"

"Woman, what mean you?"

"They should have been yours, lady, and would have been, but for that
marriage. You would have beseemed them bravely. Sir Reginald was wilful,
and erased the daughter's name to substitute that of his son. Pity it is
that so fair a creature as Miss Mowbray should lack the dower her beauty
and her birth entitle her to expect. Pity that Ranulph Rookwood should
lose his title, at the moment when he deemed it was dropping into his
possession. Pity that those broad lands should pass away from you and
your children, as they will do, if Ranulph and Eleanor are united."

"They never shall be united," replied Mrs. Mowbray, hastily.

"'Twere indeed to wed your child to beggary," said Barbara.

Mrs. Mowbray sighed deeply.

"There is a way," continued the old crone, in a deep whisper, "by which
the estates might still be hers and yours."

"Indeed!" said Mrs. Mowbray, eagerly.

"Sir Piers Rookwood had two sons."

"Ha!"

"The elder is here."

"Luke--Sir Luke. He brought us hither."

"He loves your daughter. I saw his gaze of passion just now. I am old
now, but I have some skill in lovers' glances. Why not wed her to him? I
read hands--read hearts, you know. They were born for each other. Now,
madam, do you understand me?"

"But," returned Mrs. Mowbray, with hesitation, "though I might wish
for--though I might sanction this, Eleanor is betrothed to Ranulph--she
loves him."

"Think not of _her_, if _you_ are satisfied. She cannot judge so well
for herself as you can for her. She is a child, and knows not what she
loves. Her affection will soon be Luke's. He is a noble youth--the image
of his grandfather, your father, Sir Reginald; and if your daughter be
betrothed to any one, 'twas to the heir of Rookwood. That was an
essential part of the contract. Why should the marriage not take place
at once, and here?"

"Here! How were that possible?"

"You are within sacred walls. I will take you where an altar stands.
There is no lack of holy priest to join their hands together. Your
companion, Father Ambrose, as you call him, will do the office
fittingly. He has essayed his clerkly skill already on others of your
house."

"To what do you allude, mysterious woman?" asked Mrs. Mowbray, with
anxiety.

"To Sir Piers and Susan Bradley," returned Barbara. "That priest united
them."

"Indeed! He never told me this."

"He dared not do so; he had an oath which bound him to concealment. The
time is coming when greater mysteries will be revealed."

"'Tis strange I should not have heard of this before," said Mrs.
Mowbray, musingly; "and yet I might have guessed as much from his
obscure hints respecting Ranulph. I see it all now. I see the gulf into
which I might have been plunged; but I am warned in time. Father
Ambrose," continued she, to the priest, who was pacing the chamber at
some little distance from them, "is it true that my brother was wedded
by you to Susan Bradley?"

Ere the priest could reply the sexton presented himself.

"Ha, the very father of the girl!" said Mrs. Mowbray, "whom I met within
our family vault, and who was so strangely moved when I spoke to him of
Alan Rookwood. Is he here likewise?"

"Alan Rookwood!" echoed Barbara, upon whom a light seemed suddenly to
break; "ha! what said he of him?"

"Ill-boding raven," interposed Peter, fiercely, "be content with what
thou knowest of the living, and trouble not the repose of the dead. Let
them rest in their infamy."

"The dead!" echoed Barbara, with a chuckling laugh; "ha! ha! he is dead,
then; and what became of his fair wife--his brother's minion? 'Twas a
foul deed, I grant, and yet there was expiation. Blood flowed--blood----"

"Silence, thou night hag!" thundered Peter, "or I will have thee burned
at the stake for the sorcery thou practisest. Beware," added he, in a
deep tone--"I am thy friend."

Barbara's withered countenance exhibited for an instant the deepest
indignation at the sexton's threat. The malediction trembled on her
tongue; she raised her staff to smite him, but she checked the action.
In the same tone, and with a sharp, suspicious look, she replied, "My
_friend_, sayest thou? See that it prove so, or beware of _me_."

And, with a malignant scowl, the gipsy queen slowly shuffled towards her
satellites, who were stationed at the door.



_CHAPTER VIII_

_THE PARTING_

    No marriage I esteem it, where the friends
    Force love upon their children; where the virgin
    Is not so truly given as betrayed.
    I would not have betrothed people--for
    I can by no means call them lovers--make
    Their rites no wedlock, but a sacrifice.

                                      _Combat of Love and Friendship._


Eleanor Mowbray had witnessed her mother's withdrawal from her side with
much uneasiness, and was with difficulty prevented by Sybil from
breaking upon her conference with the gipsy queen. Barbara's dark eye
was fixed upon them during the whole of the interview, and communicated
an indefinite sense of dread to Eleanor.

"Who--who is that old woman?" asked Eleanor, under her breath. "Never,
even in my wildest dreams, have I seen aught so terrible. Why does she
look so at us? She terrifies me; and yet she cannot mean me ill, or my
mother--we have never injured her?"

"Alas!" sighed Sybil.

"You sigh!" exclaimed Eleanor, in alarm. "Is there any real danger,
then? Help us to avoid it. Quick, warn my mother; she seems agitated.
Oh, let me go to her."

"Hush!" whispered Sybil, maintaining an unmoved demeanor under the
lynx-like gaze of Barbara. "Stir not, as you value your life; you know
not where you are, or what may befall you. Your safety depends upon your
composure. Your life is not in danger; but what is dearer than life,
your love, is threatened with a fatal blow. There is a dark design to
wed you to another."

"Heavens!" ejaculated Eleanor, "and to whom?"

"To Sir Luke Rookwood."

"I would die sooner! Marry _him_? They shall kill me ere they force me
to it!"

"Could you not love him?"

"Love him! I have only seen him within this hour. I knew not of his
existence. He rescued me from peril. I would thank him. I would love
him, if I could, for Ranulph's sake; and yet for Ranulph's sake I hate
him."

"Speak not of him thus to me," said Sybil, angrily. "If _you_ love him
not, _I_ love him. Oh! forgive me, lady; pardon my impatience--my heart
is breaking, yet it has not ceased to beat for him. You say you will die
sooner than consent to this forced union. Your faith shall not be so
cruelly attested. If there must be a victim, I will be the sacrifice.
God grant I may be the only one. Be happy! as happy as I am wretched.
You shall see what the love of a gipsy can do."

As she spoke, Sybil burst into a flood of passionate tears. Eleanor
regarded her with the deepest commiseration; but the feeling was
transient; for Barbara, now advancing, exclaimed: "Hence to your mother.
The bridegroom is waiting: to your mother, girl!" And she motioned
Eleanor fiercely away. "What means this?" continued the old gipsy. "What
have you said to that girl? Did I not caution you against speech with
her? and you have dared to disobey me. You, my grandchild--the daughter
of my Agatha, with whom my slightest wish was law. I abandon you! I
curse you!"

"Oh, curse me not!" cried Sybil. "Add not to my despair."

"Then follow my advice implicitly. Cast off this weakness; all is in
readiness. Luke shall descend into the vaulted chapel, the ceremony
shall there take place--there also shall Eleanor _die_--and there again
shall you be wedded. Take this phial, place it within the folds of your
girdle. When all is over, I will tell you how to use it. Are you
prepared? Shall we set out?"

"I am prepared," replied Sybil, in accents hollow as despair; "but let
me speak with Luke before we go."

"Be brief, then--each moment is precious. Keep a guard upon your tongue.
I will to Mrs. Mowbray. You have placed the phial in safety. A drop will
free you from your troubles."

"'Tis in that hope I guard it," replied Sybil, as she departed in the
direction of Luke. Barbara watched her join him, and then turned shortly
towards Mrs. Mowbray and her daughter.

"You are ill, dear Luke," said Sybil, who had silently approached her
faithless lover; "very ill."

"Ill!" echoed Luke, breaking into frantic laughter. "Ill! Ha, ha!--upon
my wedding-day. No, I am well--well. Your eyes are jaundiced by
jealousy."

"Luke, dear Luke, laugh not thus. It terrifies me. I shall think you
insane. There, you are calmer--you are more like yourself--more human.
You looked just now--oh God! that I should say it of you--as if you were
possessed by demons."

"And if I were possessed, what then?"

"Horrible! hint not at it. You almost make me credit the dreadful tales
I have heard, that on their wedding-day the Rookwoods are subject to the
power of the 'Evil One.'"

"Upon their wedding-day--and _I_ look thus?"

"You do--you do. Oh! cast this frenzy from you."

"She is mine--she is mine! I care not though fiends possess me, if it is
my wedding-day, and Eleanor is my bride. And you say I look like a
Rookwood. Ha, ha!"

"That wild laughter again. Luke, I implore you, hear me one word--my
last----"

"I will not bear reproaches."

"I mean not to reproach you. I come to bless you--to forgive you--to bid
you farewell. Will you not say farewell?"

"Farewell."

"Not so--not so. Mercy! my God! compassionate him and me! My heart will
break with agony. Luke, if you would not kill me, recall that word. Let
not the guilt of my death be yours. 'Tis to save you from that remorse
that I die!"

"Sybil, you have said rightly, I am not myself. I know not what demons
have possession of my soul, that I can behold your agonies without
remorse; that your matchless affection should awaken no return. Yet so
it is. Since the fatal moment when I beheld yon maid, I have loved her."

"No more. _Now_ I can part with you. Farewell!"

"Stay, stay! wretch that I am. Stay, Sybil! If we must part--and that it
_must_ be so I feel--let me receive your pardon, if you can bestow it.
Let me clasp you once more within my arms. May you live to happier
days--may you----"

"Oh, to die thus!" sobbed Sybil, disengaging herself from his embrace.
"Live to happier days, said you? When have _I_ given you reason to
doubt, for an instant, the sincerity of _my_ love, that you should
insult me thus?"

"Then live with me--live for me."

"If you can love me still, I will live as your slave, your minion, your
wife; aught you will have me be. You have raised me from wretchedness.
Oh!" continued she in an altered tone, "have I mistaken your meaning?
Did you utter those words in false compassion for my sufferings?--Speak,
it is not yet too late--all may be well. My fate--my life is in your
hands. If you love me yet--if you can forsake Eleanor, speak--if not, be
silent."

Luke averted his head.

"Enough!" continued Sybil, in a voice of agony; "I understand. May God
forgive you! Fare you well! We shall meet no more."

"Do we part for ever?" asked Luke, without daring to regard her.

"FOR EVER!" answered Sybil.

Before her lover could reply, she shot from his side, and plunging
amidst the dark and dense assemblage near the door, disappeared from
view. An instant after, she emerged into the open air. She stood within
the roofless hall. It was filled with sunshine--with the fresh breath of
morn. The ivied ruins, the grassy floor, the blue vault of heaven,
seemed to greet her with a benignant smile. All was _riant_ and
rejoicing--all, save her heart. Amid such brightness, her sorrow seemed
harsh and unnatural; as she felt the glad influence of day, she was
scarcely able to refrain from tears. It was terrible to leave this
beautiful world, that blue sky, that sunshine, and all she loved--so
young, so soon.

Entering a low arch that yawned within the wall, she vanished like a
ghost at the approach of morn.



_CHAPTER IX_

_THE PHILTER_

    Thou hast practised on her with foul charms--
    Abused her delicate youth with drugs and minerals.

                                                SHAKSPEARE: _Othello_.


To return to Eleanor Mowbray. In a state of mind bordering upon
distraction, she rushed to her mother, and, flinging her arms wildly
round her neck, besought her to protect her. Mrs. Mowbray gazed
anxiously upon the altered countenance of her daughter, but a few
moments relieved her from much of her uneasiness.--The expression of
pain gradually subsided, and the look of vacuity was succeeded by one of
frenzied excitement. A film had, for an instant or two, dimmed her eyes;
they now gleamed with unnatural lustre. She smiled--the smile was
singular; it was not the playful, pleasurable lighting up of the face
that it used to be; but it _was_ a smile, and the mother's heart was
satisfied.

Mrs. Mowbray knew not to what circumstance she could attribute this
wondrous change. She looked at the priest. He was more apt in divining
the probable cause of the sudden alteration in Eleanor's manner.

"What if she has swallowed a love-powder?" said he, approaching Mrs.
Mowbray, and speaking in a whisper. "I have heard of such abominable
mixtures; indeed, the holy St. Jerome himself relates an instance of
similar sorcery, in his life of Hilarius; and these people are said to
compound them."

"It may be so," replied Mrs. Mowbray, in the same tone. "I think that
the peculiar softness in the eye is more than natural."

"I will at least hazard an experiment, to attest the truth or fallacy of
my supposition," returned the father. "Do you see your destined
bridegroom yonder?" continued he, addressing Eleanor.

She followed with her eyes in the direction which Father Ambrose
pointed. She beheld Luke. We know not how to describe the sensations
which now possessed her. She thought not of Ranulph; or, if she did, it
was with vague indifference. Wrapped in a kind of mental trance, she
yielded to the pleasurable impulse that directed her unsettled fancies
towards Luke. For some moments she did not take her eyes from him. The
priest and Mrs. Mowbray watched her in silence.

Nothing passed between the party till Luke joined them. Eleanor
continued gazing at him, and the seeming tenderness of her glance
emboldened Luke to advance towards her. The soft fire that dwelt in
those orbs was, however, cold as the shining wing of the luciola.

Luke approached her; he took her hand--she withdrew it not. He kissed
it. Still she withdrew it not, but gazed at him with gently-glimmering
eyes.

"My daughter is yours, Sir Luke Rookwood," exclaimed Mrs. Mowbray.

"What says the maid herself?" asked Luke.

Eleanor answered not. Her eyes were still fixed on him.

"She will not refuse me her hand," said Luke.

The victim resisted not.

"To the subterranean shrine," cried Barbara. And she gave the
preconcerted signal to the band.

The signal was repeated by the gipsy crew. We may here casually note,
that the crew had been by no means uninterested or silent spectators of
passing events, but had, on the contrary, indulged themselves in a
variety of conjectures as to their probable issue. Several bets were
pending as to whether it would be a match or not after all. Zoroaster
took long odds that the match was off--offering a _bean_ to
_half-a-quid_--in other words, a guinea to a half-guinea--that Sybil
would be the bride. His offer was taken at once by Jerry Juniper, and
backed by the knight of Malta.

"Ha! there's the signal," cried the knight; "I'll trouble you for the
bean."

"And I," added Jerry Juniper, "for another."

"See 'em fairly spliced first," replied the Magus; "that's vot I
betted."

"Vell, vell, a few minutes will settle that. Come, pals, to the autem
ken. Avay. Mind and obey orders."

"Ay, ay," answered the crew.

"Here's a torch for the altar of Hymen," said the knight, flashing his
torch in the eyes of the patrico as he passed him.

"For the halter of Haman, you might say," returned Balthazar, sulkily.
"It's well if some of us don't swing for it."

"You don't say," rejoined the perplexed Magus, "swing! Egad I fear it's
a ticklish business. But there's no fighting shy, I fear, with Barbara
present; and then there's that infernal autem-bawler; it will be so
cursedly regular. If you had done the job, Balty, it would not have
signified a brass farden. Luckily there will be no vitnesses to snitch
upon us. There will be no one in the vault besides ourselves."

"There will be a silent and a solemn witness," returned Balthazar, "and
one whom you expect not."

"Eh! Vot's that you say? a spy?"

But the patrico was gone.

"Make way there--make way, pals, for the bride and bridegroom," cried
the knight of Malta, drawing Excalibur, and preparing to lead the way to
the vault.

The train began to move. Eleanor leaned upon the arm of her mother.
Beside them stalked Barbara, with an aspect of triumph. Luke followed
with the priest. One by one the assemblage quitted the apartment.

The sexton alone lingered. "The moment is at hand," said he, musingly,
"when all shall be consummated."

A few steps brought him into the court. The crowd was there still. A
brief delay had taken place. The knight of Malta then entered the mouth
of the vault. He held his torch so as to reveal a broken flight of
steps, conducting, it would seem, to regions of perpetual night. So
thought Eleanor, as she shudderingly gazed into the abyss. She
hesitated; she trembled; she refused. But her mother's entreaties, and
Barbara's threatening looks, induced, in the end, reluctant compliance.
At length the place was empty. Peter was about to follow, when the sound
of a horse's hoofs broke upon his ear. He tarried for an instant, and
the mounted figure of the highwayman burst within the limits of the
court.

"Ha, ha! old earthworm," cried Dick, "my Nestor of the churchyard,
alone! Where the devil are all the folks gone? Where's Sir Luke and his
new-found cousin, eh?"

Peter hastily explained.

"A wedding under ground? famous! the thing of all others I should like
to see. I'll hang Bess to this ivy tod, and grub my way with you
thither, old mole."

"You must stay here, and keep guard," returned Peter.

"May I be hanged if I do, when such fun is going on."

"Hanged, in all probability, you will be," returned Peter; "but I should
not, were I you, desire to anticipate my destiny. Stay here you must,
and shall--that's peremptory. You will be the gainer by it. Sir Luke
will reward you nobly. I will answer for him. You can serve him most
effectually. Ranulph Rookwood and Major Mowbray are expected here."

"The devil they are. But how, or why----"

"I have not time to explain. In case of a surprise, discharge a pistol;
they must not enter the vault. Have you a whistle? for you must play a
double part, and we may need your assistance below."

"Sir Luke may command me. Here's a pipe as shrill as the devil's own
cat-call."

"If it will summon you to our assistance below, 'tis all I need. May we
rely on you?"

"When did Dick Turpin desert his friends? Anywhere on this side the Styx
the sound of that whistle will reach me. I'll ride about the court, and
stand sentry."

"Enough," replied the sexton, as he dived under ground.

"Take care of your shins," shouted Dick. "That's a cursed ugly turn, but
he's used to the dark. A surprise, eh! I'll just give a look to my
snappers--flints all safe. Now I'm ready for them, come when they like."
And, having made the circuit of the place, he halted near the mouth of
the subterranean chapel, to be within hearing of Peter's whistle, and,
throwing his right leg lazily over his saddle, proceeded coolly to light
a short pipe--the luxury of the cigar being then unknown,--humming the
while snatches of a ballad, the theme of which was his own calling.

    THE SCAMPSMAN

                          Quis verè rex?
                                             SENECA.

    There is not a king, should you search the world round,
    So blithe as the king of the road to be found;
    His pistol's his sceptre, his saddle's his throne,
    Whence he levies supplies, or enforces a loan.
                                                _Derry down._

    To this monarch the highway presents a wide field,
    Where each passing subject a tribute must yield;
    His palace--the tavern!--receives him at night,
    Where sweet lips and sound liquor crown all with delight.
                                                _Derry down._

    The soldier and sailor, both robbers by trade,
    Full soon on the shelf, if disabled, are laid;
    The one gets a patch, and the other a peg,
    But, while luck lasts, the highwayman shakes a loose leg!
                                                _Derry down._

    Most fowl rise at dawn, but the owl wakes at e'en,
    And a jollier bird can there nowhere be seen;
    Like the owl, our snug scampsman his snooze takes by day,
    And, when night draws her curtain, scuds after his prey!
                                                _Derry down._

    As the highwayman's life is the fullest of zest,
    So the highwayman's death is the briefest and best;
    He dies not as other men die, by _degrees_!
    But AT ONCE! without wincing, and quite at his ease!
                                                _Derry down._

And thus, for the present, we leave him. O rare Dick Turpin!



_CHAPTER X_

_SAINT CYPRIAN'S CELL_

    Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch' entrate.

                                                                DANTE.


Cyprian de Mulverton, fifth prior of the monastery of Saint Francis, a
prelate of singular sanctity, being afflicted, in his latter days, with
a despondency so deep that neither penance nor fasting could remove it,
vowed never again to behold, with earthly eyes, the blessed light of
heaven, nor to dwell longer with his fellowmen; but, relinquishing his
spiritual dignity, "the world forgetting, by the world forgot," to
immure himself, while living, within the tomb.

He kept his vow. Out of the living rock that sustained the saintly
structure, beneath the chapel of the monastery, was another chapel
wrought, and thither, after bidding an eternal farewell to the world,
and bestowing his benediction upon his flock, whom he committed to the
care of his successor, the holy man retired.

Never, save at midnight, and then only during the performance of masses
for his soul's repose, did he ascend from his cell: and as the sole
light allowed within the dismal dungeon of his choice was that of a
sepulchral lamp, as none spoke with him when in his retreat, save in
muttered syllables, what effect must the lustre emanating from a
thousand tapers, the warm and pungent odors of the incense-breathing
shrine, contrasted with the earthy vapors of his prison-house, and the
solemn swell of the Sanctus, have had upon his excited senses? Surely
they must have seemed like a foretaste of the heaven he sought to gain!

Ascetic to the severest point to which nature's endurance could be
stretched, Cyprian even denied himself repose. He sought not sleep, and
knew it only when it stole on him unawares. His couch was the flinty
rock; and long afterwards, when the zealous resorted to the sainted
prior's cell, and were shown those sharp and jagged stones, they
marvelled how one like unto themselves could rest, or even recline upon
their points without anguish, until it was explained to them that,
doubtless, He who tempereth the wind to the shorn lamb had made that
flinty couch soft to the holy sufferer as a bed of down. His limbs were
clothed in a garb of horsehair of the coarsest fabric; his drink was the
dank drops that oozed from the porous walls of his cell; and his
sustenance, such morsels as were bestowed upon him by the poor--the only
strangers permitted to approach him. No fire was suffered, where
perpetual winter reigned. None were admitted to his nightly vigils;
none witnessed any act of penance; nor were any groans heard to issue
from that dreary cave; but the knotted, blood-stained thong, discovered
near his couch, too plainly betrayed in what manner those long lone
nights were spent. Thus did a year roll on. Traces of his sufferings
were visible in his failing strength. He could scarcely crawl; but he
meekly declined assistance. He appeared not, as had been his wont, at
the midnight mass; the door of his cell was thrown open at that hour;
the light streamed down like a glory upon his reverend head; he heard
the distant reverberations of the deep _Miserere_; and breathed odors as
if wafted from Paradise.

One morn it chanced that they who sought his cell found him with his
head upon his bosom, kneeling before the image of the virgin patroness
of his shrine. Fearing to disturb his devotions, they stood reverently
looking on; and thus silently did they tarry for an hour; but, as in
that space he had shown no signs of motion, fearing the worst, they
ventured to approach him. He was cold as the marble before which he
knelt. In the act of humblest intercession--it may be, in the hope of
grace--had Cyprian's spirit fled.

"Blessed are they who die in the Lord," exclaimed his brethren,
regarding his remains with deepest awe. On being touched, the body fell
to the ground. It was little more than a skeleton.

Under the cloisters of the holy pile were his bones interred, with a
degree of pomp and ostentation that little accorded with the lowliness
and self-abasement of this man of many sorrows.

This chapel, at the time of which we treat, was pretty much in the same
condition as it existed in the days of its holy inmate. Hewn out of the
entrails of the rock, the roof, the vaults, the floor, were of solid
granite. Three huge cylindrical pillars, carved out of the native rock,
rough as the stems of gnarled oak-trees, lent support to the ceiling.
Support, however, was unneeded; an earthquake would scarce have shaken
down those solid rafters. Only in one corner, where the water welled
through a crevice of the rock, in drops that fell like tears, was decay
manifest. Here the stone, worn by the constant dripping, had, in some
places, given way. In shape, the vault was circular. The integral
between each massive pillar formed a pointed arch. Again, from each
pillar sprang other arches, which, crossed by diagonal, ogive branches,
weaving one into the other, and radiating from the centre, formed those
beautifully intricate combinations upon which the eye of the
architectural enthusiast loves to linger. Within the ring formed by
these triple columns, in which again the pillars had their own web of
arches, was placed an altar of stone, and beside it a crucifix of the
same rude material. Here also stood the sainted image of her who had
filled the prior with holy aspirations, now a shapeless stone. The dim
lamp, that, like a star struggling with the thick gloom of a wintry
cell, had shed its slender radiance over the brow of the Virgin Thecla,
was gone. But around the keystone of the central arches, whence a chain
had once depended, might be traced in ancient characters, half effaced
by time, the inscription:

    STA. THECLA ORA PRO NOBIS.

One outlet only was there from the chapel--that which led by winding
steps to the monastery; one only recess--the prior's cell. The former
faced the altar; the latter yawned like the mouth of a tomb at its back.
Altogether it was a dreary place. Dumb were its walls as when they
refused to return the murmured orisons of the anchorite. One uniform sad
coloring prevailed throughout. The gray granite was grown hoar with age,
and had a ghostly look; the columns were ponderous, and projected heavy
shadows. Sorrow and superstition had their tale, and a moral gloom
deepened the darkness of the spot. Despair, which had inspired its
construction, seemed to brood therein. Hope shunned its inexorable
recesses.

Alone, within this dismal sanctuary, with hands outstretched towards the
desecrated image of its tutelar saint, knelt Sybil. All was darkness.
Neither the heavy vapors that surrounded her, nor the shrine before
which she bent, were visible; but, familiar with the dreary spot, she
knew that she had placed herself aright. Her touch had satisfied her
that she bowed before the altar of stone; that her benighted vision was
turned towards the broken image of the saint, though now involved in
gloom the most profound; and with clasped hands and streaming eyes, in
low and mournful tones, she addressed herself in the following hymn to
the tutelar saint of the spot:

    HYMN TO SAINT THECLA

    In my trouble, in my anguish,
      In the depths of my despair,
    As in grief and pain I languish,
      Unto thee I raise my prayer.
    Sainted virgin! martyr'd maiden!
      Let thy countenance incline
    Upon one with woes o'erladen,
      Kneeling lowly at thy shrine;
    That in agony, in terror,
      In her blind perplexity,
    Wandering weak in doubt and error,
      Calleth feebly upon thee.
    Sinful thoughts, sweet saint, oppress me,
      Thoughts that will not be dismissed;
    Temptations dark possess me,
      Which my strength may not resist.
    I am full of pain, and weary
      Of my life; I fain would die:
    Unto me the world is dreary;
      To the grave for rest I fly.
    For rest!--oh! could I borrow
      Thy bright wings, celestial dove!
    They should waft me from my sorrow,
      Where peace dwells in bowers above.
          Upon one with woes o'erladen,
            Kneeling lowly at thy shrine;
          Sainted virgin! martyr'd maiden!
            Let thy countenance incline!
                    _Mei miserere Virgo,
                      Requiem æternam dona!_

    By thy loveliness, thy purity,
      Unpolluted, undefiled,
    That in serene security
      Upon earth's temptations smiled;--
    By the fetters that constrain'd thee,
      By thy flame-attested faith,
    By the fervor that sustain'd thee,
      By thine angel-ushered death;--
    By thy soul's divine elation,
      'Mid thine agonies assuring
    Of thy sanctified translation
      To beatitude enduring;--
    By the mystic interfusion
      Of thy spirit with the rays,
    That in ever bright profusion
      Round the Throne Eternal blaze;--
    By thy portion now partaken,
      With the pain-perfected just;
    Look on one of hope forsaken,
      From the gates, of mercy thrust.
          Upon one with woes o'erladen,
            Kneeling lowly at thy shrine,
          Sainted virgin! martyr'd maiden!
            Let thy countenance incline!
                    _Ora pro me mortis horâ!
                    Sancta Virgo, oro te!
                            Kyrie Eleison!_

The sweet, sad voice of the singer died faintly away. The sharpness of
her sorrow was assuaged. Seldom, indeed, is it that fervent
supplication fails to call down solace to the afflicted. Sybil became
more composed. She still, however, trembled at the thoughts of what
remained to be done.

"They will be here ere my prayer is finished," murmured she--"ere the
end is accomplished for which I came hither alone. Let me, oh! let me
make my peace with my Creator, ere I surrender my being to His hands,
and then let them deal with me as they will." And she bowed her head in
lowly prayer.

Again raising her hands, and casting her eyes towards the black ceiling,
she implored, in song, the intercession of the saintly man who had
bequeathed his name to the cell.

    HYMN TO SAINT CYPRIAN

    Hear! oh! hear me, sufferer holy,
      Who didst make thine habitation
    'Mid these rocks, devoting wholly
      Life to one long expiation
    Of thy guiltiness, and solely
      By severe mortification
    Didst deliver thee. Oh! hear me!
      In my dying moments cheer me.
              By thy penance, self-denial,
              Aid me in the hour of trial.

    May, through thee, my prayers prevailing
      On the Majesty of Heaven,
    O'er the hosts of hell, assailing
      My soul, in this dark hour be driven!
    So my spirit, when exhaling,
      May of sinfulness be shriven,
    And His gift unto the Giver
      May be rendered pure as ever!
              By thy own dark, dread possession,
              Aid me with thine intercession!

Scarcely had she concluded this hymn, when the torch of the knight of
Malta in part dissipated the gloom that hung around the chapel.



_CHAPTER XI_

_THE BRIDAL_

    _Cari._        I will not die; I must not. I am contracted
                   To a young gentleman.

    _Executioner._ Here's your wedding-ring.

                                                   _Duchess of Malfy._


Slowly did the train descend; solemnly and in silence, as if the rites
at which they were about to assist had been those of funereal, and not
of nuptial, solemnization. Indeed, to look upon those wild and fierce
faces by the ruddily-flashing torchlight, which lent to each a stern and
savage expression; to see those scowling visages surrounding a bride
from whose pallid cheeks every vestige of color, and almost of
animation, had fled; and a bridegroom, with a countenance yet more
haggard, and demeanor yet more distracted--the beholder must have
imagined that the spectacle was some horrible ceremonial, practised by
demons rather than human beings. The arched vault, the pillars, the
torchlight, the deep shadows, and the wild figures, formed a picture
worthy of Rembrandt or Salvator.

"Is Sybil within the chapel?" asked Barbara.

"I am here," returned a voice from the altar.

"Why do we tarry?" said the gipsy queen. "We are all assembled. To the
altar."

"To the altar!" shrieked Eleanor. "Oh! no--no----"

"Remember my threat, and obey," muttered Barbara. "You are in my power
now."

A convulsive sob was all the answer Eleanor could make.

"Our number is not complete," said the priest, who had looked in vain
for the sexton. "Peter Bradley is not with us."

"Ha!" exclaimed Barbara. "Let him be sought for instantly."

"Their search need not extend beyond this spot," said Peter, stepping
forward.

The knight of Malta advanced towards the altar. The torchlight reddened
upon the huge stone pillars. It fell upon the shrine, and upon the
ghastly countenance of Sybil, who stood beside it. Suddenly, as the
light approached her, an object, hitherto hidden from view, was
revealed. Sybil uttered a prolonged and fearful shriek; the knight
recoiled likewise in horror; and a simultaneous cry of astonishment
burst from the lips of the foremost of the group. All crowded forwards,
and universal consternation prevailed amongst the assemblage. Each one
gazed at his neighbor, anxious to learn the occasion of this tumult, and
vague fears were communicated to those behind, from the terrified
glances, which were the only answers returned by their comrades in
front.

"Who has dared to bring that body here?" demanded Barbara, in a tone in
which anger struggled with apprehension, pointing at the same time to
the ghastly corpse of a female, with streaming hair, at the altar's
feet. "Who has dared to do this, I say? Quick! remove it. What do you
stare at? Cravens! is this the first time you have looked upon a corpse,
that you should shrink aghast--that you tremble before it? It is a
clod--ay, less than a clod. Away with it! away, I say."

"Touch it not," cried Luke, lifting a cloud of black hair from off the
features; "it is my mother's body."

"My daughter!" exclaimed the sexton.

"What!" vociferated Barbara, "is that your daughter--is that the first
Lady Rookwood? Are the dead arisen to do honor to these nuptials? Speak!
you can, perchance, explain how she came hither."

"I know not," returned Peter, glancing fiercely at Barbara; "I may,
anon, demand that question of you. How came this body here?"

"Ask of Richard Checkley," said Barbara, turning to the priest. "He can,
perchance, inform you. Priest," added she, in a low voice, "this is your
handiwork."

"Checkley!" screamed Peter. "Is that Richard Checkley? is that----"

"Peace!" thundered Barbara; "will none remove the body? Once more I ask
you, do you fear the dead?"

A murmur arose. Balthazar alone ventured to approach the corpse.

Luke started to his feet as he advanced, his eyes glaring with tiger
fury.

"Back, old man," cried he, "and dare not, any of you, to lay a
sacrilegious finger on her corse, or I will stretch him that advances as
lowly as lies my mother's head. When or how it came hither matters not.
Here, at the altar, has it been placed, and none shall move it hence.
The dead shall witness my nuptials. Fate has ordained it--_my_ fate!
o'er which the dead preside. Her ring shall link me to my bride. I knew
not, when I snatched it from her death-cold finger, to what end I
preserved it. I learn it now. It is here." And he held forth a ring.

"'Tis a fatal boon, that twice-used ring," cried Sybil; "such a ring my
mother, on her death-bed, said should be mine. Such a ring she said
should wed me----"

"Unto whom?" fiercely demanded Luke.

"UNTO DEATH!" she solemnly rejoined.

Luke's countenance fell. He turned aside, deeply abashed, unable further
to brook her gaze; while in accents of such wildly touching pathos as
sank into the hearts of each who heard her--hearts, few of them framed
of penetrable stuff--the despairing maiden burst into the following
strain:

    THE TWICE-USED RING

    "Beware thy bridal day!"
      On her death-bed sighed my mother;
    "Beware, beware, I say,
      Death shall wed thee, and no other.
          Cold the hand shall grasp thee,
          Cold the arms shall clasp thee,
      Colder lips thy kiss shall smother!
              Beware thy bridal kiss!

    "Thy wedding ring shall be
      From a clay-cold finger taken;
    From one that, like to thee,
      Was by her love forsaken.
          For a twice-used ring
          Is a fatal thing;
      Her griefs who wore it are partaken--,
              Beware that fatal ring!

    "The altar and the grave
      Many steps are not asunder;
    Bright banners o'er thee wave,
      Shrouded horror lieth under.
          Blithe may sound the bell,
          Yet 'twill toll thy knell;
      Scathed thy chaplet by the thunder--
              Beware that blighted wreath!"

    Beware my bridal day!
      Dying lips my doom have spoken;
    Deep tones call me away;
      From the grave is sent a token.
          Cold, cold fingers bring
          That ill-omen'd ring;
      Soon will a _second_ heart be broken;
              _This_ is my bridal day.

There was a deep, profound silence as the last melancholy cadence died
away, and many a rugged heart was melted, even to tears. Eleanor,
meanwhile, remained in a state of passive stupefaction, vacantly gazing
at Sybil, upon whom alone her eyes were fixed, and appearing
indistinctly to apprehend the meaning of her song.

"This is my bridal day," murmured she, in a low tone, when Sybil had
finished. "Said not that sweet voice so? I know 'tis my bridal day. What
a church you have chosen, mother! A tomb--a sepulchre--but 'tis meet for
such nuptials as mine--and what wedding guests! Was that pale woman in
her shroud-like dress invited here by you? Tell me that, mother."

"My God, her senses are gone!" cried Mrs. Mowbray. "Why did I venture
into this horrible place?"

"Ask not _why_ now, madam," rejoined the priest. "The hour for
consideration is past. We must act. Let the marriage proceed, at all
hazards; we will then take means to extricate ourselves from this
accursed place."

"Remove that horrible object," said Mrs. Mowbray; "it fascinates the
vision of my child."

"Lend me your hand, Richard Checkley," said Peter, sternly regarding the
priest.

"No, no," replied the priest, shuddering; "I will not, cannot touch it.
Do you alone remove it."

Peter approached Luke. The latter now offered no further opposition, and
the body was taken away. The eyes of Eleanor followed it into the dark
recesses of the vault; and when she could no longer distinguish the
white flutter of the cereclothes, her laboring bosom seemed torn asunder
with the profound sigh that burst from it, and her head declined upon
her shoulder.

"Let me see that ring," said the priest, addressing Luke, who still held
the wedding-ring between his fingers.

"I am not naturally superstitious," said Mrs. Mowbray; "whether my mind
be affected with the horrors of this place, I know not; but I have a
dread of that ring. She shall not use it."

"Where no other can be found," said the priest, with a significant and
peculiar look at Mrs. Mowbray, "I see no reason why this should be
rejected. I should not have suspected you, madam, of such weakness.
Grant there were evil spell, or charm, attached to it, which, trust me,
there is _not_--as how should there be, to a harmless piece of gold?--my
benediction, and aspersion with holy lymph, will have sufficient power
to exorcise and expel it. To remove your fears it shall be done at
once."

A cup containing water was brought, together with a plate of salt--which
condiment the devil is said to abhor, and which is held to be a symbol
of immortality and of eternity; in that, being itself incorruptible, it
preserves all else from corruption,--and, with the customary Romish
formula of prayer and exorcism, the priest thrice mingled the crystal
particles with the pure fluid; after which, taking the ring in his hand
with much solemnity, he sprinkled it with a few drops of the water which
he had blessed; made the sign of the cross upon the golden circlet;
uttered another and more potent exorcism to eradicate and expel every
device of Satan, and delivered it back to Luke.

"She may wear it now in safety," said the sexton, with strong contempt.
"Were the snake himself coiled round that consecrated bauble, the
prayers of the devout Father Checkley would unclasp his lithest folds.
But wherefore do we tarry now? Naught lies between us and the altar. The
path is clear. The bridegroom grows impatient."

"And the bride?" asked Barbara.

"Is ready," replied the priest. "Madam, delay not longer. Daughter, your
hand."

Eleanor gave her hand. It was clammy and cold. Supported by her mother,
she moved slowly towards the altar, which was but a few steps from where
they stood. She offered no resistance, but did not raise her head. Luke
was by her side. Then for the first time did the enormity of the cruel,
dishonorable act he was about to commit, strike him with its full
force. He saw it in its darkest colors. It was one of those terrible
moments when the headlong wheel of passion stands suddenly still.

"There is yet time," groaned he. "Oh! let me not damn myself
perpetually! Let me save her; save Sybil; save myself."

They were at the altar--that wild wedding train. High over head the
torch was raised. The red light flashed on bridegroom and on bride,
giving to the pale features of each an almost livid look; it fell upon
the gaunt aspect of the sexton, and lit up the smile of triumphant
malice that played upon his face; it fell upon the fantastical
habiliments of Barbara, and upon the haughty but perturbed physiognomy
of Mrs. Mowbray; it fell upon the salient points of the Gothic arches;
upon one molded pillar; upon the marble image of the virgin Thecla; and
on the scarcely less marble countenance of Sybil who stood behind the
altar, silent, statue-like, immovable. The effect of light and shade on
other parts of the scene, upon the wild drapery, and harsh lineaments of
many of the group, was also eminently striking.

Just as the priest was about to commence the marriage service, a yelling
chorus, which the gipsies were accustomed to sing at the celebration of
the nuptials of one of their own tribe, burst forth. Nothing could be
more horribly discordant than their song.

    WEDDING CHORUS OF GIPSIES

              Scrape the catgut! pass the liquor!
              Let your quick feet move the quicker.
                                              Ta-ra-la!

              Dance and sing in jolly chorus,
              Bride and bridegroom are before us,
              And the patrico stands o'er us.
                                              Ta-ra-la!

              To unite their hands he's ready;
              For a moment, pals, be steady;
                  Cease your quaffing,
                  Dancing, laughing;
                  Leave off riot,
                  And be quiet,
                  While 'tis doing.
                    'Tis begun,
                  All is over!
                    Two are ONE!
              The patrico has link'd 'em;
              Daddy Hymen's torch has blink'd 'em.
                    Amen!
                    To 't again!
                    Now for quaffing,
                    Now for laughing,
                    Stocking-throwing,
                    Liquor flowing;
    For our bridals are no bridles, and our altars never alter;
    From the flagon never flinch we, in the jig we never falter.
              No! that's not _our_ way, for _we_
              Are staunch lads of Romany.
                For our wedding, then, hurrah!
                Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!

This uncouth chorus ended, the marriage proceeded. Sybil had
disappeared. Had she fled? No! she was by the bride. Eleanor
mechanically took her place. A faint voice syllabled the responses. You
could scarcely have seen Miss Mowbray's lips move. But the answers were
given, and the priest was satisfied.

He took the ring, and sprinkled it once again with the holy water, in
the form of the cross. He pronounced the prayer: "_Benedic, Domine,
annulum hunc, quem nos in tuo nomine benedicimus, ut quæ eum gestaverit,
fidelitatem integram suo sponso tenens, in pace et voluntate tua
permaneat atque in mutua charitate semper vivat._"

He was about to return the ring to Luke, when the torch, held by the
knight of Malta, was dashed to the ground by some unseen hand, and
instantly extinguished. The wild pageant vanished as suddenly as the
figures cast by a magic-lantern upon a wall disappear when the glass is
removed. A wild hubbub succeeded. Hoarsely above the clamor arose the
voice of Barbara.

"To the door, quickly!--to the door! Let no one pass, I will find out
the author of this mishap anon. Away!"

She was obeyed. Several of the crew stationed themselves at the door.

"Proceed now with the ceremony," continued Barbara. "By darkness, or by
light, the match shall be completed."

The ring was then placed upon the finger of the bride; and as Luke
touched it, he shuddered. It was cold as that of the corpse which he had
clasped but now. The prayer was said, the blessing given, the marriage
was complete.

Suddenly there issued from the darkness deep dirge-like tones, and a
voice solemnly chanted a strain, which all knew to be the death-song of
their race, hymned by wailing women over an expiring sister. The music
seemed to float in the air.

    THE SOUL-BELL

    Fast the sand of life is falling,
    Fast her latest sigh exhaling,
                      Fast, fast, is she dying.

    With death's chills her limbs are shivering,
    With death's gasp the lips are quivering,
                      Fast her soul away is flying.

    O'er the mountain-top it fleeteth,
    And the skyey wonders greeteth,
    Singing loud as stars it meeteth
                      On its way.

    Hark! the sullen Soul-bell tolling,
    Hollowly in echoes rolling,
                      Seems to say--

    "She will ope her eyes--oh, never!
    Quenched their dark light--gone for ever!
                      She is dead."

The marriage group yet lingered near the altar, awaiting, it would seem,
permission from the gipsy queen to quit the cell. Luke stirred not.
Clasped in his own, the cold hand of his bride detained him; and when he
would have moved, her tightened grasp prevented his departure.

Mrs. Mowbray's patience was exhausted by the delay. She was not
altogether free from apprehension. "Why do we linger here?" she
whispered to the priest. "Do you, father, lead the way."

"The crowd is dense," replied Checkley. "They resist my effort."

"Are we prisoners here?" asked Mrs. Mowbray, in alarm.

"Let me make the attempt," cried Luke, with fiery impatience. "I will
force a passage out."

"Quit not your bride," whispered Peter, "as you value her safety. Heed
not aught else. She alone is in danger. Suffer her not to be withdrawn
from your hand, if you would not lose her. Remain here. I will bring the
matter to a speedy issue."

"Enough," replied Luke; "I stir not hence." And he drew his bride closer
towards him. He stooped to imprint a kiss upon her lips. A cold shudder
ran through her frame as he touched them, but she resisted not his
embrace.

Peter's attempt to effect an egress was as unsuccessful as that of the
priest. Presenting Excalibur at his bosom, the knight of Malta
challenged him to stand.

"You cannot pass," exclaimed the knight; "our orders are peremptory."

"What am I to understand by this?" said Peter, angrily. "Why are we
detained?"

"You will learn all anon," returned Barbara. "In the meantime you are my
prisoners--or, if you like not the phrase, my wedding guests."

"The wedding is complete," returned the sexton; "the bride and
bridegroom are impatient to depart, and we, the guests--albeit some of
us may be no foes to darkness--desire not to hold our nuptial revels
here."

"Sybil's wedding has not taken place," said Barbara; "you must tarry for
that."

"Ha! now it comes," thought Peter. "And who, may I ask," said he, aloud,
"amongst this goodly company, is to be her bridegroom?"

"The best amongst them," returned Barbara--"Sir Luke Rookwood."

"He has a bride already," replied Peter.

"She may be _removed_," said Barbara, with bitter and peculiar emphasis.
"Dost understand my meaning now?"

"I will not understand it," said Peter. "You cannot mean to destroy her
who now stands at the altar?"

"She who now stands at the altar must make way for a successor. She who
grasps the bridegroom's hand shall die. I swear it by the oath of my
tribe."

"And think you, you will be allowed to execute your murderous intention
with impunity?" shrieked Mrs. Mowbray, in an agony of terror. "Think you
that I will stand by and see my child slaughtered before my face; that
my friends will suffer it? Think you that even your own tribe will dare
to execute your horrible purpose? They will not. They will side with us.
Even now they murmur. What can you hope to gain by an act so wild and
dreadful? What object can you have?"

"The same as your own," reiterated Barbara--"the advancement of my
child. Sybil is as dear to me as Eleanor is to you. She is my child's
child, the daughter of my best beloved daughter. I have sworn to marry
her to Sir Luke Rookwood. The means are in my power. I will keep my vow;
I will wed her to him. You did not hesitate to tear your daughter from
the man she loved, to give her to the man she hated; and for what? For
gold--for power--for rank. I have the same motive. I love my child, and
she loves Sir Luke--has loved him long and truly; therefore shall she
have him. What to me is _your_ child, or _your_ feelings, except they
are subservient to my wishes? She stands in my way. I remove her."

"Who placed her in your path?" asked the sexton. "Did you not lend a
helping hand to create that obstacle yourself?"

"I did," replied Barbara. "Would you know wherefore? I will tell you. I
had a double motive for it. There is a curse upon the house of Rookwood,
that kills the first fair bride each generation leads to the altar. Have
you never heard of it?"

"I have! And did that idle legend sway you?"

"And do you call it idle? _You!_ Well--I had another motive--a
prophecy."

"By yourself uttered," replied Peter.

"Even so," replied Barbara. "The prophecy is fulfilled. The stray rook
is found. The rook hath with rook mated. Luke hath wedded Eleanor. He
will hold possession of his lands. The prophecy is fulfilled."

"But _how_?" asked Peter; "will your art tell you how and why he shall
now hold possession? Can you tell me that?"

"My art goes not so far. I have predicted the event. It has come to
pass. I am satisfied. He has wedded her. Be it mine to free him from
that yoke." And Barbara laughed exultingly.

The sexton approached the old crone, and laid his hand with violence
upon her shoulder.

"Hear _me_," cried he, "and I will tell you that which your juggling art
refuses to reveal. Eleanor Mowbray is heir to the lands of Rookwood! The
estates are _hers_! They were bequeathed to her by her grandsire, Sir
Reginald."

"She was unborn when he died," cried Mrs. Mowbray.

"True," replied Peter; "but the lands were left to your issue _female_,
should such issue be born."

"And did Sir Piers, my brother, know of this? did he see this will,"
asked Mrs. Mowbray, with trembling impatience.

"He did; and withheld the knowledge of it from you and yours."

"Ah! why knew I not this before? Why did you not tell me ere that was
done which cannot be undone? I have sacrificed my child."

"Because it did not chime with my purposes to tell you," replied Peter,
coldly.

"It is false--it is false," cried Mrs. Mowbray, her anger and vexation
getting the better of her fears. "I will not believe it. Who are you,
that pretend to know the secrets of our house?"

"One of that house," replied the sexton.

"Your name?"

"Would you know my name?" answered Peter, sternly. "The time is come
when I will no longer conceal it. I am Alan Rookwood."

"My father's brother!" exclaimed Mrs. Mowbray.

"Ay, Alan Rookwood. The sworn enemy of your father--of you--of all of
ye: your fate--your destiny--your curse. I am that Alan Rookwood whose
name you breathed in the vault. I am he, the avenger--the avenged. I saw
your father die. I heard his groans--_his groans!_--ha, ha! I saw his
sons die: one fell in battle--I was with him there. The other expired in
his bed. I was with Sir Piers when he breathed his last, and listened to
his death agonies. 'Twas I who counselled him to keep the lands from you
and from your child, and he withheld them. One only amongst the race,
whose name I have cast off, have I loved; and him--because," added he,
with something like emotion--"because he was my daughter's child--Luke
Rookwood. And even he shall minister to my vengeance. He will be your
curse--your daughter's curse--for he loves her not. Yet he is her
husband, and hath her land;--ha, ha!" And he laughed till he became
convulsed with the paroxysm of fiendish exultation.

"Mine ears are stunned," cried Mrs. Mowbray.

"The bride is mine; relinquish her to me," said Barbara. "Advance and
seize her, my children."

Alan Rookwood--for so we shall henceforth denominate the
sexton--suddenly grew calm: he raised the whistle to his lips, and blew
a call so loud and shrill, that those who were advancing hung back
irresolute.

There was a rush at the door of the vault. The sentinels were struck
down; and with pistols in each hand, and followed by two assistants,
Dick Turpin sprang into the thick of the crew.

"Here we are," cried he, "ready for action. Where is Sir Luke Rookwood?
where my churchyard pal, Peter?"

"Here," cried the sexton and Luke simultaneously.

"Then stand aside," cried Dick, pushing in the direction of the sounds,
and bearing down all opposition. "Have a care there--these triggers are
ticklish. Friend or foe, he who touches me shall have a bullet in his
gizzard. Here I am, pal Peter; and here are my two chums, Rust and
Wilder. Cut the whid."

"Have we license to pass scathless now?" asked the sexton; "or shall we
make good our way?"

"You shall not pass," cried Barbara, furiously. "Think you to rob me of
my prey? What, cowards! do you hesitate? Ha!"

"Kindle the torches," cried several voices. "We fight not in the dark."

A pistol was flashed. The torch again blazed. Its light fell upon a
tumultuous group.

"Seize the bride," cried Barbara.

"Hold!" exclaimed a voice from the altar. The voice was that of Sybil.

Her hand was clasped in that of Luke. Eleanor had fainted in the arms of
the gipsy girl Handassah.

"Are you my bride?" ejaculated Luke, in dismay.

"Behold the ring upon my finger! Your own hand placed it there."

"Betrayed!" screamed Alan, in a voice of anguish. "My schemes
annihilated--myself undone--my enemies triumphant--lost! lost! All is
destroyed--all!"

"Joy! joy!" exclaimed Mrs. Mowbray: "my child is saved."

"And _mine_ destroyed," groaned Barbara. "I have sworn by the cross to
slay the bride--and Sybil is that bride."



_CHAPTER XII_

_ALAN ROOKWOOD_

    The wolf shall find her grave, and scrape it up;
    Not to devour the corse, but to discover
    The horrid murther.

                                                              WEBSTER.


"Bravo! capital!" cried Turpin, laughing loud and long as an Olympian
deity; "has this simple wench outwitted you all; turned the tables upon
the whole gang of plotters, eh? Excellent! ha, ha, ha! The next time you
wed, Sir Luke, let me advise you not to choose a wife in the dark. A man
should have all his senses about him on these occasions. Make love when
the liquor's in; marry when it's out, and, above all, with your eyes
open. This beats cock-fighting--ha, ha, ha!--you must excuse me; but,
upon my soul, I can't help it." And his laughter seemed
inextinguishable.

"Take your men without," whispered Alan Rookwood; "keep watch as before,
and let the discharge of a pistol bespeak the approach of danger as
agreed upon; much yet remains to be done here."

"How so?" asked Dick; "it seems to me the job's entirely settled--if not
to _your_ satisfaction. I'm always ready to oblige my friend, Sir Luke;
but curse me if I'd lend my help to any underhand work. Steer clear of
foul play, or Dick Turpin holds no hand with you. As to that poor wench,
if you mean her any harm, curse me if I will----"

"No harm is intended her," replied Alan. "I applaud your magnanimity,"
added he, sarcastically; "such sentiments are, it must be owned, in
excellent keeping with your conduct."

"In keeping or not," replied Turpin, gravely, "cold-blooded murder is
altogether out of my line, and I wash my hands of it. A shot or two in
self defence is another matter; and when----"

"A truce to this," interrupted Alan; "the girl is safe. Will you mount
guard again?"

"If that be the case, certainly," replied Dick. "I shall be glad to get
back to Bess. I couldn't bring her with me into this black hole. A
couple of shots will tell you 'tis Ranulph Rookwood. But mind, no harm
to the gipsy girl--to Lady Rookwood, I should say. She's a jewel, take
my word for it, which Sir Luke must be mad to throw away." And calling
his companions, he departed.

Alan Rookwood bent his steps towards the gipsy queen. Dark thoughts
gathered quickly o'er his brow. He smiled as he drew nigh to Barbara--a
smile it was

    That wrinkled up his skin even to the hair.

Barbara looked at him at first with distrust; but as he developed his
secret purposes, that smile became reflected upon her own features.
Their conference took place apart. We willingly leave them to return to
the altar.

Mrs. Mowbray and the priest were still there. Both were occupied in
ineffectual endeavors to restore Eleanor to consciousness. She recovered
from her swoon; but it was evident her senses still wandered; and vainly
did Mrs. Mowbray lavish her tenderest caresses upon her child. Eleanor
returned them not.

Luke, meanwhile, had given vent to the wildest fury. He shook away
Sybil's grasp; he dashed her from him; he regarded her with withering
glances; he loaded her with reproaches. She bore his violence with
meekest submission; she looked imploringly--but she replied not to his
taunts. Again she clung to the hem of his garment when cast aside. Luke
appeared unmoved; what passed within we pause not to examine. He grew
calmer; his calmness was more terrible to Sybil than his previous wrath
had been.

"You are my wife," said he; "what then? By fraud, by stratagem, you have
obtained that title, and, perforce, must keep it. But the title _only_
shall you retain. No rights of wife shall ever be yours. It will be in
your power to call yourself Lady Rookwood--you will be so in name--in
nothing else."

"I shall not bear it long," murmured Sybil.

Luke laughed scornfully, "So you said before," replied he; "and yet I
see not why you are likely to abandon it. The event will show. Thus far
you have deceived me, and I place no further faith in your assertions.
My hand was yours; you refused it. When I would give it to another, you
grasp it clandestinely. Am I to believe you now? The wind will
change--the vane veer with it."

"It will not veer from you," she meekly answered.

"Why did you step between me and my bride?"

"To save her life; to lay down mine for hers."

"An idle subterfuge. You know well that you run no risk of being called
upon to do so. Your life is in no danger. The sacrifice was unnecessary.
I could have dispensed with _your_ assistance; my own arm would have
sufficed to protect Eleanor."

"Your single arm would not have prevailed against numbers: they would
have killed you likewise."

"Tush!" said Luke, fiercely. "Not only have you snatched from me my
bride, you have robbed me of my fair estates, of all, save of my barren
title, and that, even _that_, you have tarnished."

"True, true," sighed Sybil. "I knew not that the lands were hers, else
had I never done it."

"False, false," cried Luke; "false as the rest. _They_ will be
Ranulph's. _She_ will be Ranulph's. I shall still be an outcast, while
Ranulph will riot in my halls--will press her to his bosom. Cling not to
me. Hence! or I will spurn you from me. I am undone, undone by you,
accursed one."

"Oh, curse me not! your words cut deep enough."

"Would they could kill you," cried Luke, with savage bitterness. "You
have placed a bar between me and my prospects, which nothing can now
remove--nothing but--ha!" and his countenance assumed a deadly hue and
fearful expression. "By Heaven, you almost rouse the fell spirit which
it is said dwells within the breast of my devoted race. I feel as if I
could stab thee."

"No, no!" shrieked Sybil; "for mercy's sake, for your own sake, do not
stab me. It is not too late. I will repair my wrong!"

"Ever deceiving! you would again delude me. You cannot repair it. One
way alone remains, and that----"

"I will pursue," responded Sybil, sadly, but firmly.

"Never!" cried Luke; "you shall not. Ha!" exclaimed he, as he found his
arms suddenly pinioned behind him. "What new treachery is this? By whose
orders am I thus fettered?"

"By mine," said Alan Rookwood, stepping forward.

"By yours?" echoed Luke. "And wherefore? Release me."

"Be patient," replied Alan. "You will hear all anon. In the meantime you
must be content to remain my prisoner. Quit not your hold," added he,
addressing the gipsies, who kept charge of Luke.

"Their lives shall answer for their obedience," said Barbara.

Upon a further signal from Alan, Eleanor was torn from her mother's
arms, and a bandage passed so suddenly over Mrs. Mowbray's face, that,
before she could raise a cry of alarm, all possibility of utterance was
effectually prevented. The priest alone was left at liberty.

Barbara snatched the hand of Eleanor. She dragged her to Sybil.

"You are Lady Rookwood," whispered she; "but she has your domains. I
give her to you."

"She is the _only bar_ between thy husband and his rights," whispered
Alan Rookwood, in a tone of horrible irony; "_it is not too late to
repair your wrong_."

"Away, tempter!" cried Sybil, horror-stricken. "I know you well. Yet,"
continued she, in an altered tone, "I will risk all for him. I have done
him wrong. One mode of atonement remains; and, horrible though it be, I
will embrace it. Let me not pause. Give her to me." And she seized upon
the unresisting hand of Eleanor.

"Do you need my aid?" asked Barbara.

"No," replied Sybil; "let none approach us. A clapping of hands will let
you know when all is over." And she dragged her passive victim deeper
into the vault.

"Sybil, Sybil!" cried Luke, struggling with frantic violence to liberate
himself; "hurt her not. I was rash. I was mad. I am calmer now. She
hears me not--she will not turn. God of heaven! she will murder her. It
will be done while I speak. I am the cause of all. Release me, villains!
Would that I had died ere I had seen this day."

At a signal from the sexton, Luke also was blindfolded. He ceased to
struggle. But his laboring breast told of the strife within.

"Miscreants!" exclaimed the priest, who had hitherto witnessed the
proceedings in horror. "Why do not these rocks fall in, and crush you
and your iniquities? Save her! oh, save her! Have you no pity for the
innocent?"

"Such pity have we," replied Alan Rookwood, "as you showed my daughter.
She was as innocent as Eleanor Mowbray, and yet you did not pity _her_."

"Heaven is my witness," exclaimed the priest, "that I never injured
her."

"Take not Heaven's name in vain," cried Alan. "Who stood by while it was
doing? Whose firmer hand lent aid to the murderer's trembling efforts?
Whose pressure stifled her thrilling screams, and choked her cries for
mercy? Yours--yours; and now you prate to me of pity--you, the slayer of
the sleeping and the innocent!"

"'Tis false!" exclaimed the priest, in extremity of terror.

"False!" echoed Alan. "I had Sir Piers's own confession. He told me all.
You had designs upon Sir Piers, which his wife opposed; you hated her;
you were in the confidence of both--how did you keep that confidence? He
told me _how_, by awakening a spirit of jealousy and pride, that
o'ermastered all his better feelings. False! He told me of your hellish
machinations; your Jesuitical plots; your schemes. He was too weak, too
feeble an instrument to serve you. You left him, but not before _she_
had left him. False! ha, I have that shall instantly convict you. The
corpse is here, within this cell. Who brought it hither?"

The priest was silent: he seemed confounded by Alan's violence.

"I will answer that question," said Barbara. "It was brought hither by
that false priest. His agent, Balthazar, has betrayed him. It was
brought hither to prevent the discovery of Sir Luke Rookwood's
legitimacy. He meant to make his own terms about it. It has come hither
to proclaim his guilt--to be a fearful witness against him." Then,
turning to Checkley, she added, "You have called Heaven to witness your
innocence: you shall attest it by oath upon that body; and should aught
indicate your guilt, I will hang you as I would a dog, and clear off one
long score with justice. Do you shrink from this?"

"No," replied the priest, in a voice hollow and broken. "Bring me to the
body."

"Seize each an arm," said Barbara, addressing Zoroaster and the knight
of Malta, "and lead him to the corse."

"I will administer the oath," said Alan Rookwood, sternly.

"No, not you," stammered the priest.

"And wherefore not?" asked Alan. "If you are innocent, you need fear
nothing from her."

"I fear nothing from the _dead_," replied Checkley; "lead on."

We will now return to Sybil. She was alone with her victim. They were
near the mouth of the cell which had been Prior Cyprian's flinty
dormitory, and were almost involved in darkness. A broken stream of
light glanced through the pillars. Eleanor had not spoken. She suffered
herself to be dragged thither without resistance, scarcely conscious, it
would seem, of her danger. Sybil gazed upon her for some minutes with
sorrow and surprise. "She comprehends not her perilous situation,"
murmured Sybil. "She knows not that she stands upon the brink of the
grave. Oh! would that she could pray. Shall I, her murderess, pray for
her? My prayers would not be heard. And yet, to kill her unshriven will
be a twofold crime. Let me not look on her. My hand trembles. I can
scarce grasp the dagger. Let me think on all he has said. I have wronged
him. I am his bane, his curse! I have robbed him of all: there is but
one remedy--'tis _this_!--Oh, God! she recovers. I cannot do it now."

It was a fearful moment for Eleanor's revival, when the bright steel
flashed before her eyes. Terror at once restored her. She cast herself
at Sybil's feet.

"Spare, spare me!" cried she. "Oh! what a dream I have had. And to waken
thus, with the dagger's point at my breast. You will not kill me--you,
gentle maid, who promised to preserve me. Ah, no, I am sure you will
not."

"Appeal no more to me," said Sybil, fiercely. "Make your peace with
Heaven. Your minutes are numbered."

"I cannot pray," said Eleanor, "while you are near me."

"Will you pray if I retire and leave you?"

"No, no. I dare not--cannot," shrieked Eleanor, in extremity of terror.
"Oh! do not leave me, or let me go."

"If you stir," said Sybil, "I stab you to the heart."

"I will not stir. I will kneel here forever. Stab me as I kneel--as I
pray to you. You cannot kill me while I cling to you thus--while I kiss
your hands--while I bedew them with my tears. Those tears will not sully
them like my blood."

"Maiden," said Sybil, endeavoring to withdraw her hand, "let go your
hold--your sand is run."

"Mercy!"

"It is in vain. Close your eyes."

"No, I will fix them on you thus--you cannot strike then. I will cling
to you--embrace you. Your nature is not cruel--your soul is full of
pity. It melts--those tears--you will be merciful. You cannot
deliberately kill me."

"I cannot--I cannot!" said Sybil, with a passionate outburst of grief.
"Take your life on one condition."

"Name it."

"That you wed Sir Luke Rookwood."

"Ah!" exclaimed Eleanor, "all rushes back upon me at that name; the
whole of that fearful scene passes in review before me."

"Do you reject my proposal?"

"I dare not."

"I must have your oath. Swear by every hope of eternity that you will
wed none other than him."

"By every hope, I swear it."

"Handassah, you will bear this maiden's oath in mind, and witness its
fulfilment."

"I will," replied the gipsy girl, stepping forward from a recess, in
which she had hitherto remained unnoticed.

"Enough. I am satisfied. Tarry with me. Stir not--scream not, whatever
you may see or hear. Your life depends upon your firmness. When I am no
more----"

"No more?" echoed Eleanor, in horror.

"Be calm," said Sybil. "When I am dead, clap your hands together. They
will come to seek you--they will find me in your stead. Then rush to
him--to Sir Luke Rookwood. He will protect you. Say to him hereafter
that I died for the wrong I did him--that I died, and blessed him."

"Can you not live, and save me?" sobbed Eleanor.

"Ask it not. While I live, your life is in danger. When I am gone, none
will seek to harm you. Fare you well! Remember your oath, and you, too,
remember it, Handassah. Remember also--ha! that groan!"

All started, as a deep groan knelled in their ears.

"Whence comes that sound?" cried Sybil. "Hist!--a voice?"

"It is that of the priest," cried Eleanor. "Hark! he groans. They have
murdered him! Kind Heaven, receive his soul!"

"Pray for me," cried Sybil: "pray fervently; avert your face; down on
your knees--down--down! Farewell, Handassah!" And breaking from them,
she rushed into the darkest recesses of the vault.

We must now quit this painful scene for another scarcely less painful,
and return to the unfortunate priest.

Checkley had been brought before the body of Susan Rookwood. Even in the
gloom, the shimmer of the white cereclothes, and the pallid features of
the corpse, were ghastly enough. The torchlight made them terrible.

"Kneel!" said Alan Rookwood. The priest complied. Alan knelt beside him.

"Do you know these features?" demanded he. "Regard them well. Fix your
eyes full upon them. Do you know them?"

"I do."

"Place your hand upon her breast. Does not the flesh creep and shrink
beneath your touch? Now raise your hand--make the cross of your faith
upon her bosom. By that faith you swear you are innocent."

"I do," returned the priest; "are you now satisfied?"

"No," replied Alan. "Let the torch be removed. Your innocence must be
more deeply attested," continued he, as the light was withdrawn. "This
proof will not fail. Entwine your fingers round her throat."

"Have I not done enough?"

"Your hesitation proves your guilt," said Alan.

"That proof is wanting, then?" returned the priest; "my hand is upon her
throat--what more?"

"As you hope for mercy in your hour of need, swear that you never
conspired against her life, or refused her mercy."

"I swear it."

"May the dead convict you of perjury if you have forsworn yourself,"
said Alan; "you are free. Take away your hand!"

"Ha! what is this?" exclaimed the priest. "You have put some jugglery
upon me. I cannot withdraw my hand. It sticks to her throat, as though
'twere glued by blood. Tear me away. I have not force enough to liberate
myself. Why do you grin at me? The corpse grins likewise. It is
jugglery. I am innocent. You would take away my life. Tear me away, I
say: the veins rise; they blacken; they are filling with new blood. I
feel them swell; they coil like living things around my fingers. She is
alive."

"And you are innocent?"

"I am--I am. Let not my ravings convict me. For Jesu's sake, release
me."

"Blaspheme not, but arise. I hold you not."

"You do," groaned the priest. "Your grasp tightens round my throat; your
hard and skinny fingers are there--I strangle--help!"

"Your own fears strangle you. My hand is at my side," returned Alan
calmly.

"Villain, you lie. Your grasp is like a vice. The strength of a thousand
devils is in your hand. Will none lend help? I never pressed so hard.
Your daughter never suffered this torture--never--never. I
choke--choke--oh!" And the priest rolled heavily backwards.

There was a deep groan; a convulsive rattle in the throat; and all was
still.

"He is dead--strangled," cried several voices, holding down the torch.
The face of the priest was blackened and contorted; his eyeballs
protruded from their sockets; his tongue was nearly bitten through in
the desperate efforts he had made to release himself from Alan's gripe;
his hair was erect with horror. It was a ghastly sight.

A murmur arose amongst the gipsies. Barbara deemed it prudent to appease
them.

"He was guilty," cried she. "He was the murderer of Susan Rookwood."

"And I, _her father_, have avenged her," said Alan, sternly.

The dreadful silence that followed this speech was broken by the report
of a pistol. The sound, though startling, was felt almost as a relief.

"We are beset," cried Alan. "Some of you fly to reconnoitre."

"To your posts," cried Barbara.

Several of the crew flocked to the entrance.

"Unbind the prisoners," shouted Alan.

Mrs. Mowbray and Luke were accordingly set free.

Two almost simultaneous reports of a pistol were now heard.

"'Tis Ranulph Rookwood," said Alan; "that was the preconcerted signal."

"Ranulph Rookwood," echoed Eleanor, who caught the exclamation: "he
comes to save me."

"Remember your oath," gasped a dying voice. "He is no longer yours."

"Alas! alas!" sobbed Eleanor, tremblingly.

A moment afterwards a faint clapping of hands reached the ears of
Barbara.

"All is over," muttered she.

"Ha!" exclaimed Alan Rookwood, with a frightful look. "Is it done?"

Barbara motioned him towards the further end of the vault.



_CHAPTER XIII_

_MR. COATES_

    _Grimm._ Look, captain, here comes one of the bloodhounds of justice.

    _Schw._  Down with him. Don't let him utter a word.

    _Moor._  Silence, I will hear him.

                                              SCHILLER: _The Robbers_.


Gladly do we now exchange the dank atmosphere of Saint Cyprian's cell,
and the horrors which have detained us there so long, for balmy air,
genial sunshine, and the boon companionship of Dick Turpin. Upon
regaining the verdant ruins of the ancient priory, all appeared pretty
much as our highwayman had left it. Dick wended towards his mare. Black
Bess uttered an affectionate whinnying sound as he approached her, and
yielded her sleek neck to his caresses. No Bedouin Arab ever loved his
horse more tenderly than Turpin.

"'Twill be a hard day when thou and I part!" murmured he, affectionately
patting her soft and silky cheeks. Bess thrust her nose into his hand,
biting him playfully, as much as to say, "That day will never arrive."
Turpin, at least, understood the appeal in that sense; he was skilled in
the language of the Houyhnhnms. "I would rather lose my right hand than
_that_ should happen," sighed he; "but there's no saying: the best of
friends must part; and thou and I may be one day separated: thy
destination is the knacker--mine, perhaps, the gibbet.--We are neither
of us cut out for old age, that's certain. Curse me if I can tell how it
is; since I've been in that vault, I've got some queer crotchet into my
head. I can't help likening thee to that poor gipsy wench, Sybil; but
may I be scragged if I'd use thee as her lover has used her. Ha!"
exclaimed he, drawing a pistol with a suddenness that made his
companions, Rust and Wilder, start, "we are watched. See you not how yon
shadow falls from behind the wall?"

"I do," replied Rust.

"The varmint shall be speedily unearthed," said Wilder, rushing to the
spot.

In another instant the shadow manifested itself in a substantial little
personage, booted, spurred, and mud-bespattered. He was brought before
our highwayman, who had, meanwhile, vaulted into his saddle.

"Mr. Coates!" cried Dick, bursting into a loud laugh at the ridiculous
figure presented to his view, "or the mud deceives me."

"It does not deceive you, Captain Turpin," replied the attorney; "you
do, indeed, behold that twice unfortunate person."

"What brings you here?" asked Dick. "Ah! I see, you are come to pay me
my wager."

"I thought you gave me a _discharge_ for that," rejoined Coates, unable,
even in his distress, to resist the too-tempting quibble.

"True, but it was _in blank_," replied Turpin readily; "and that don't
hold good in law, you know. You have thrown away a second chance. Play
or pay, all the world over. I shan't _let you off_ so easily this time,
depend upon it. Come, post the pony, or take your measure on that sod.
No more replications or rejoinders, sir, down with the dust. Fake his
clies, pals. Let us see what he has about him."

"In the twinkling of a bed-post," replied Rust. "We'll turn him inside
out. What's here?" cried he, searching the attorney's pockets. "A brace
of barkers," handing a pair of pistols to Turpin, "a haddock, stuffed
with nothing, I'm thinking; one quid, two coach-wheels, half a bull,
three hogs, and a kick; a d--d dicky concern, captain."

"Three hogs and a kick," muttered Coates; "the knave says true enough."

"Is there nothing else?" demanded Dick.

"Only an old snuffy fogle and a pewter sneezer."

"No reader?[90] Try his hoxter."[91]

"Here's a pit-man,[92] captain."

"Give it me. Ah! this will do," cried Dick, examining the contents of
the pocket-book. "This is a glorious windfall indeed; a bill of exchange
for 500_l._, payable _on demand_, eh, Mr. Coates? Quick! indorse it,
sir. Here's pen and ink. Rascal! if you attempt to tear the bill, I'll
blow your brains out. Steady, sir, sign. Good!" added he, as Coates most
reluctantly indorsed the bill. "Good! good! I'll be off with this bill
to London to-night, before you can stop it. No courier can beat
Bess--ha, ha! Eh! what's this?" continued Dick, as, unfolding another
leaf of the pocket-book, he chanced upon a letter; "My Lady Rookwood's
superscription! Excuse me, Mr. Coates, I must have a peep at her
ladyship's billet-doux. All's safe with me--man of honor. I must detain
your _reader_ a moment longer."

"You should take charge of yourself, then," replied Coates, sulkily.
"_You_ appear to be my reader."

"Bravo!" cried Turpin. "You may jest now with impunity, Mr. Coates. You
have paid dear enough for your jokes; and when should a man be allowed
to be pleasant, if not at his own expense?--ha, ha! What's this?"
exclaimed he, opening the letter. "A ring, as I'm awake! and from her
ladyship's own fair finger, I'll be sworn, for it bears her cipher,
ineffaceably impressed as your image upon her heart--eh, Coates? Egad!
you are a lucky dog, after all, to receive _such_ a favor from _such_ a
lady--ha, ha! Meantime, I'll take care of it for you," continued Dick,
slipping the ring on his little finger.

Turpin, we have before remarked, had a turn for mimicry; and it was with
an irresistible feeling of deferential awe creeping over him that Coates
heard the contents of Lady Rookwood's epistle delivered with an
enunciation as peremptory and imperious as that of her ladyship's self.
The letter was hastily indited, in a clear, firm hand, and partook of
its writer's decision of character. Dick found no difficulty in
deciphering it. Thus ran the missive:

    "Assured of your devotion and secrecy, I commit my own honor, and
    that of my son, to your charge. Time will not permit me to see you,
    or I would not write. But I place myself entirely in your hands. You
    will not dare to betray my confidence. To the point:--A Major
    Mowbray has just arrived here with intelligence that the body of
    Susan Bradley--you will know to whom I allude--has been removed from
    our family vault by a Romish priest and his assistants. How it came
    there, or why it has been removed, I know not; it is not my present
    purpose to inquire. Suffice it, that it now lies in a vault beneath
    the ruins of Davenham Priory. My son, Sir Ranulph, who has lent a
    credulous ear to the artful tales of the impostor who calls this
    woman mother, is at present engaged in arming certain of the
    household, and of the tenantry, to seize upon and bring away this
    body, as resistance is apprehended from a horde of gipsies who
    infest the ruins. Now, mark me. THAT BODY MUST NOT BE FOUND! Be it
    your business to prevent its discovery. Take the fleetest horse you
    can procure; spare neither whip nor spur. Haste to the priory;
    procure by any means, and at any expense, the assistance of the
    gipsies. Find out the body; conceal it, destroy it--do what you
    will, so my son find it not. Fear not his resentment; I will bear
    you harmless of the consequences with him. You will act upon my
    responsibility. I pledge my honor for your safety. Use all despatch,
    and calculate upon due requital from

                                              "MAUD ROOKWOOD.

    "Haste, and God speed you!"

"God speed you!" echoed Dick, in his own voice, contemptuously. "The
devil drive you! would have been a fitter postscript. And it was upon
this precious errand you came, Mr. Coates?"

"Precisely," replied the attorney; "but I find the premises preoccupied.
Fast as I have ridden, you are here before me."

"And what do you now propose to do?" asked Turpin.

"Bargain with you for the body," replied Coates, in an insinuating tone.

"With _me_!" said Dick; "do you take me for a resurrection cove; for a
dealer in dead stock, eh! sirrah?"

"I take you for one sufficiently _alive_, in a general way, to his own
interests," returned Coates. "These gentlemen may not, perhaps, be quite
so scrupulous, when they hear my proposals."

"Be silent, sir," interrupted Turpin. "Hist! I hear the tramp of horses'
hoofs without. Hark! that shout."

"Make your own terms before they come," said Coates. "Leave all to me.
I'll put 'em on a wrong scent."

"To the devil with your terms," cried Turpin; "the signal!" And he
pulled the trigger of one of Coates's pistols, the shot of which rang in
the ears of the astounded attorney as it whizzed past him. "Drag him
into the mouth of the vault," thundered Turpin: "he will be a capital
cover in case of attack. Look to your sticks, and be on the
alert;--away!"

Vainly did the unfortunate attorney kick and struggle, swear and scream;
his hat was pushed over his eyes; his bob-wig thrust into his mouth; and
his legs tripped from under him. Thus blind, dumb, and half-suffocated,
he was hurried into the entrance of the cell.

Dick, meanwhile, dashed to the arched outlet of the ruin. He there drew
in the rein, and Black Bess stood motionless as a statue.



_CHAPTER XIV_

_DICK TURPIN_

    Many a fine fellow with a genius extensive enough to have effected
    universal reformation has been doomed to perish by the halter. But
    does not such a man's renown extend through centuries and tens of
    centuries, while many a prince would be overlooked in history were
    it not the historian's interest to increase the number of his pages?
    Nay, when the traveller sees a gibbet, does he not exclaim, "That
    fellow was no fool!" and lament the hardship of the
    times?--SCHILLER: _The Robbers_.


Turpin's quick eye ranged over the spreading sward in front of the
ancient priory, and his brow became contracted. The feeling, however,
was transient. The next instant saw him the same easy, reckless being he
had been before. There was a little more paleness in his cheek than
usual; but his look was keener, and his knees involuntarily clasped the
saddle more firmly. No other symptom of anxiety was perceptible. It
would be no impeachment to Dick's valor were it necessary to admit that
a slight tremor crossed him as he scanned the formidable array of his
opponents. The admission is needless. Dick himself would have been the
last man to own it; nor shall we do the memory of our undaunted
highwayman any such injustice. Turpin was intrepid to a fault. He was
rash; apt to run into risks for the mere pleasure of getting out of
them: danger was his delight, and the degree of excitement was always in
proportion to the peril incurred. After the first glance, he became, to
use his own expressive phrase, "as cool as a cucumber;" and continued,
as long as they permitted him, like a skilful commander, calmly to
calculate the numerical strength of his adversaries, and to arrange his
own plan of resistance.

This troop of horsemen, for such it was, might probably amount in the
aggregate to twenty men, and presented an appearance like that of a
strong muster at a rustic fox-chase, due allowance being made for the
various weapons of offence; to-wit: naked sabers, firelocks, and a world
of huge horse-pistols, which the present _field_ carried along with
them. This resemblance was heightened by the presence of an old huntsman
and a gamekeeper or two, in scarlet and green jackets, and a few yelping
hounds that had followed after them. The majority of the crew consisted
of sturdy yeomen; some of whom, mounted upon wild, unbroken colts, had
pretty lives of it to maintain their seats, and curvetted about in "most
admired disorder;" others were seated upon more docile, but quite as
provoking specimens of the cart-horse breed, whose sluggish sides,
reckless alike of hobnailed heel or ash sapling, refused to obey their
riders' intimations to move; while others again, brought stiff,
wrong-headed ponies to the charge--obstinate, impracticable little
brutes, who seemed to prefer revolving on their own axis, and describing
absurd rotatory motions, to proceeding in the direct and proper course
pointed out to them. Dick could scarcely forbear laughing at these
ridiculous manœuvres; but his attention was chiefly attracted towards
three individuals, who were evidently the leaders of this warlike
expedition. In the thin, tall figure of the first of these he recognized
Ranulph Rookwood. With the features and person of the second of the
group he was not entirely unacquainted, and fancied--nor incorrectly
fancied--that his military bearing, or, as he would have expressed it,
"the soldier-like cut of his jib," could belong to no other than Major
Mowbray, whom he had once eased of a purse on Finchley Common. In the
round, rosy countenance and robustious person of the last of the trio he
discovered his ancient ally, Titus Tyrconnel.

"Ah, Titus, my jewel, are you there?" exclaimed Dick, as he
distinguished the Irishman. "Come, I have _one_ friend among them whom I
may welcome. So, they see me now. Off they come, pell-mell. Back, Bess,
back!--slowly, wench, slowly--there--stand!" And Bess again remained
motionless.

The report of Turpin's pistol reached the ears of the troop; and as all
were upon the alert, he had scarcely presented himself at the gateway,
when a loud shout was raised, and the whole cavalcade galloped towards
him, creating, as may be imagined, the wildest disorder; each horseman
yelling, as he neared the arch, and got involved in the press occasioned
by the unexpected concentration of forces at that point, while oaths and
blows, kicks and cuffs, were reciprocated with such hearty good-will,
that, had Turpin ever read Ariosto or Cervantes, or heard of the discord
of King Agramante's camp, this _mêlée_ must have struck him as its
realization. As it was, entertaining little apprehension of the result,
he shouted encouragement to them. Scarcely, however, had the foremost
horseman disentangled himself from the crowd, and, struggling to the
door, was in the act of levelling his pistol at Turpin's head, when a
well-directed ball pierced the brain of his charger, and horse and man
rolled to the ground. Vowing vengeance, a second succeeded, and was in
like manner compelled to bite the dust.

"That will let Old Peter know that Ranulph Rookwood is at hand,"
exclaimed Dick. "I shan't throw away another shot."

The scene at the archway was now one of complete confusion. Terrified by
the shots, some of the boors would have drawn back, while others, in
mid career, advanced, and propelled them forwards. It was like the
meeting of two tides. Here and there, regardless of the bit, and scared
by the firing, a wild colt broke all bounds, and, hurling his rider in
the air, darted off into the green; or, in another case, rushed forward,
and encountering the prostrate cattle cumbering the entrance to the
priory hall, stumbled, and precipitated his master neck-over-heels at
the very feet of his enemy. During all this tumult, a few shots were
fired at the highwayman, which, without doing him a jot of mischief,
tended materially to increase their own confusion.

The voice of Turpin was now heard above the din and turmoil to sound a
parley; and as he appeared disposed to offer no opposition, some of his
antagonists ventured to raise themselves from the ground, and to
approach him.

"I demand to be led to Sir Ranulph Rookwood," said Turpin.

"He is here," said Ranulph, riding up. "Villain, you are my prisoner."

"As you list, Sir Ranulph," returned Dick, coolly; "but let me have a
word in private with you ere you do aught you may repent hereafter."

"No words, sir--deliver up your arms, or----"

"My pistols are at your service," replied Dick. "I have just discharged
them."

"You may have others. We must search you."

"Hold!" cried Dick; "if you will not listen to me, read that paper." And
he handed Ranulph his mother's letter to Mr. Coates. It was without the
superscription, which he had thrown aside.

"My mother's hand!" exclaimed Ranulph, reddening with anger, as he
hastily perused its contents. "And she sent this to you? You lie,
villain--'tis a forgery."

"Let this speak for me," returned Dick, holding out the finger upon
which Lady Rookwood's ring was placed. "Know you that cipher?"

"You have stolen it," retorted Ranulph. "My mother," added he, in a
deep, stern whisper, articulated only for Turpin's hearing, "would never
have entrusted her honor to a highwayman's keeping."

"She has entrusted more--her life," replied Dick, in a careless tone.
"She would have bribed me to do murder."

"Murder!" echoed Ranulph, aghast.

"Ay, to murder your brother," returned Dick; "but let that pass. You
have read that note. I have acted solely upon your mother's
responsibility. Lady Rookwood's _honor_ is pledged for my safety. Of
course her son will set me free."

"Never!"

"Well, as you please. Your mother is in my power. Betray me, and you
betray her."

"No more!" returned Ranulph, sternly. "Go your ways. You are free."

"Pledge me your word of honor I am safe." Ranulph had scarcely given his
pledge, when Major Mowbray rode furiously up. A deep flush of anger
burnt upon his cheeks; his sword was drawn in his hand. He glanced at
Turpin, as if he would have felled him from his saddle.

"This is the ruffian," cried the major, fiercely, "by whom I was
attacked some months ago, and for whose apprehension the reward of three
hundred pounds is offered by his majesty's proclamation, with a free
pardon to his accomplices. This is Richard Turpin. He has just added
another crime to his many offences. He has robbed my mother and sister.
The postboy knew him the moment he came up. Where are they, villain?
Whither are they gone?--answer!"

"I know not," replied Turpin, calmly. "Did not the lad tell you they
were rescued?"

"Rescued!--by whom?" asked Ranulph, with great emotion.

"By one who calls himself Sir Luke Rookwood," answered Turpin, with a
meaning smile.

"By him!" ejaculated Ranulph. "Where are they now?"

"I have already answered that question," said Dick. "I repeat, I know
not."

"You are my prisoner," cried the major, seizing Turpin's bridle.

"I have Sir Ranulph's word for my safety," rejoined Turpin. "Let go my
rein."

"How is this?" asked Major Mowbray, incredulously.

"Ask me not. Release him," replied Ranulph.

"Ranulph," said the major, "you ask an impossibility. My honor--my
duty--is implicated in this man's capture."

"The honor of all of us is involved in his deliverance," returned
Ranulph, in a whisper. "Let him go. I will explain all hereafter. Let us
search for them--for Eleanor. Surely, after this, you will help us to
find them," added he, addressing Turpin.

"I wish, with all my soul, I could do so," replied the highwayman.

"I see'd the ladies cross the brook, and enter these old ruins,"
interposed the postboy, who had now joined the party. "I see'd 'em from
where I stood on the hill-side; and as I kept a pretty sharp look-out,
and have a tolerably bright eye of my own, I don't think as how they
ever comed out again."

"Some one is hidden within yon fissure in the wall," exclaimed Ranulph;
"I see a figure move."

And he flung himself from his horse, rushing towards the mouth of the
cell. Imitating his example, Major Mowbray followed his friend, sword in
hand.

"The game begins now in right earnest," said Dick to himself; "the old
fox will be soon unearthed. I must look to my snappers." And he thrust
his hand quietly into his pocket in search of a pistol.

Just as Ranulph and the major reached the recess they were startled by
the sudden apparition of the ill-fated attorney.

"Mr. Coates!" exclaimed Ranulph, in surprise. "What do you here, sir?"

"I--I--that is--Sir Ranulph--you must excuse me, sir--particular
business--can't say," returned the trembling attorney; for at this
instant his eye caught that of Turpin, and the ominous reflexion of a
polished-steel barrel, held carelessly towards him. He was aware, also,
that on the other hand he was, in like manner, the mark of Rust and
Wilder; those polite gentlemen having threatened him with a brace of
slugs in his brain if he dared to betray their hiding-place. "It is
necessary that I should be _guarded_ in my answers," murmured he.

"Is there any one within that place besides yourself?" said the major,
making a movement thither.

"No, sir, nobody at all," answered Coates, hastily, fancying at the same
time that he heard the click of the pistol that was to be his
death-warrant.

"How came you here, sir?" demanded Ranulph.

"Do you mean in this identical spot?" replied Coates, evasively.

"You can have no difficulty in answering that question," said the major,
sternly.

"Pardon me, sir. I find considerable difficulty in answering any
question, situated as I am."

"Have you seen Miss Mowbray?" asked Ranulph, eagerly.

"Or my mother?" said the major, in the same breath.

"Neither," replied Coates, rather relieved by these questions.

"I suspect you are deceiving us, sir," said the major. "Your manner is
confused. I am convinced you know more of this matter than you choose to
explain; and if you do not satisfy me at once, fully and explicitly, I
vow to Heaven----" and the major's sword described a glittering circle
round his head.

"Are you privy to their concealment?" asked Ranulph. "Have you seen
aught of them, or of Luke Bradley?"

"Speak, or this moment is your last," said the major.

"If it _is_ my last, I _cannot_ speak," returned Coates. "I can make
neither head nor tail of your questions, gentlemen."

"And you positively assure me you have not seen Mrs. Mowbray and her
daughter?" said Ranulph.

Turpin here winked at Coates. The attorney understood him.

"I don't positively assert that," faltered he.

"How!--you _have_ seen them?" shouted Ranulph.

"Where are they?--in safety--speak!" added the major.

Another expressive gesture from the highwayman communicated to the
attorney the nature of his reply.

"Without, sir--without--yonder," he replied. "I will show you myself.
Follow, gentlemen, follow." And away scampered Coates, without once
venturing to look behind him.

In an instant the ruined hall was deserted, and Turpin alone left
behind. In the excitement of the moment his presence had been forgotten.
In an instant afterwards the _arena_ was again occupied by a company
equally numerous. Rust and Wilder issued from their hiding-places,
followed by a throng of the gipsy crew.

"Where is Sir Luke Rookwood?" asked Turpin.

"He remains below," was the answer returned.

"And Peter Bradley?"

"Stays there likewise."

"No matter. Now make ready, pals. Give 'em one shout--Hurrah!"

"Hurrah!" replied the crowd, at the top of their voices.

Ranulph Rookwood and his companions heard this shout. Mr. Coates had
already explained the stratagem practised upon them by the wily
highwayman, as well as the perilous situation in which he himself had
been placed; and they were in the act of returning to make good his
capture, when the loud shouts of the crew arrested them. From the
clamor, it was evident that considerable reinforcement must have arrived
from some unlooked-for quarter; and, although burning to be avenged
upon the audacious highwayman, the major felt it would be a task of
difficulty, and that extreme caution could alone ensure success. With
difficulty restraining the impatience of Ranulph, who could scarcely
brook these few minutes of needful delay, Major Mowbray gave particular
instructions to each of the men in detail, and caused several of them to
dismount. By this arrangement Mr. Coates found himself accommodated with
a steed and a pair of pistols, with which latter he vowed to wreak his
vengeance upon some of his recent tormentors. After a short space of
time occupied in this manner, the troop slowly advanced towards the
postern, in much better order than upon the previous occasion; but the
stoutest of them quailed as they caught sight of the numerous gipsy-gang
drawn out in battle array within the abbey walls. Each party scanned the
other's movements in silence and wonder, anxiously awaiting, yet in a
measure dreading, their leader's signal to begin. That signal was not
long delayed. A shot from the ranks of Rookwood did instant and bitter
execution. Rob Rust was stretched lifeless upon the ground. Nothing more
was needed. The action now became general. Fire arms were discharged on
both sides, without much damage to either party. But a rush being made
by a detachment of horse, headed by Major Mowbray, the conflict soon
became more serious. The gipsies, after the first fire, threw aside
their pistols, and fought with long knives, with which they inflicted
desperate gashes, both on men and horses. Major Mowbray was slightly
wounded in the thigh, and his steed receiving the blow intended for
himself, stumbled and threw his rider. Luckily for the major, Ranulph
Rookwood was at hand, and with the butt-end of a heavy-handled pistol
felled the ruffian to the earth, just as he was upon the point of
repeating the thrust.

Turpin, meanwhile, had taken comparatively a small share in the
conflict. He seemed to content himself with acting upon the defensive,
and except in the case of Titus Tyrconnel, whom, espying amidst the
crowd, he had considerably alarmed by sending a bullet through his wig,
he did not fire a single shot. He also succeeded in unhorsing Coates, by
hurling, with great dexterity, the empty pistol at his head. Though
apparently unconcerned in the skirmish, he did not flinch from it, but
kept his ground unyieldingly. "A charmed life" he seemed to bear; for
amid the shower of bullets, many of which were especially aimed at
himself, he came off unhurt.

"He that's born to be hanged will never be drowned, that's certain,"
said Titus. "It's no use trying to bring him down. But, by Jasus! he's
spoiled my best hat and wig, anyhow. There's a hole in my beaver as big
as a crown piece."

"Your own crown's safe, and that's some satisfaction," said Coates;
"whereas mine has a bump on it as large as a swan's egg. Ah! if we could
only get behind him."

The strife continued to rage without intermission; and though there were
now several ghastly evidences of its fury, in the shape of wounded men
and slaughtered or disabled horses, whose gaping wounds flooded the turf
with gore, it was still difficult to see upon which side victory would
eventually declare herself. The gipsies, though by far the greater
sufferers of the two, firmly maintained their ground. Drenched in the
blood of the horses they had wounded, and brandishing their long knives,
they presented a formidable and terrific appearance, the effect of which
was not at all diminished by their wild yells and savage gesticulations.
On the other hand, headed by Major Mowbray and Ranulph, the troop of
yeomen pressed on undauntedly; and where the sturdy farmers could get a
firm gripe of their lithe antagonists, or deliver a blow with their
ox-like fists, they seldom failed to make good the advantages which
superior weight and strength gave them. It will thus be seen that as yet
they were pretty well matched. Numbers were in favor of the gipsies, but
courage was equally distributed, and, perhaps, what is emphatically
called "bottom," was in favor of the rustics. Be this as it may, from
what had already occurred, there was every prospect of a very serious
termination to the fray.

From time to time Turpin glanced to the entrance of the cell, in the
expectation of seeing Sir Luke Rookwood make his appearance; and, as he
was constantly disappointed in his expectation, he could not conceal his
chagrin. At length he resolved to despatch a messenger to him, and one
of the crew accordingly departed upon this errand. He returned presently
with a look of blank dismay.

In our hasty narrative of the fight we have not paused to particularize,
neither have we enumerated, the list of the combatants. Amongst them,
however, were Jerry Juniper, the knight of Malta, and Zoroaster.
Excalibur, as may be conceived, had not been idle; but that trenchant
blade had been shivered by Ranulph Rookwood in the early stage of the
business, and the knight left weaponless. Zoroaster, who was not merely
a worshipper of fire, but a thorough milling-cove, had engaged to some
purpose in a pugilistic encounter with the rustics; and, having fought
several rounds, now "bore his blushing honors thick upon him." Jerry,
like Turpin, had remained tolerably quiescent. "The proper moment," he
said, "had not arrived." A fatality seemed to attend Turpin's immediate
companions. Rust was the first who fell; Wilder also was now among the
slain. Things were precisely in this condition when the messenger
returned. A marked change was instantly perceptible in Turpin's manner.
He no longer looked on with indifference. He seemed angry and
distrustful. He gnawed his lip, ever a sign with him of vexation.
Addressing a few words to those about him, he then spoke more loudly to
the rest of the crew. Being in the jargon of the tawny tribe, his words
were not intelligible to the opposite party; but their import was soon
made known by the almost instant and total relinquishment of the field
by the gipsies. They took to their heels at once, to a man, leaving only
a few desperately wounded behind them; and, flying along the intricate
ruins of the priory, baffled all pursuit, wherever it was attempted.
Jerry Juniper was the last in the retreat; but, upon receiving a hint
from Dick, he vaulted like a roe over the heads of his adversaries, and
made good his escape. Turpin alone remained. He stood like a lion at
bay, quietly regarding the huntsmen hurtling around him. Ranulph
Rookwood rode up and bade him surrender.

"Detain me not," cried he, in a voice of thunder. "If you would save her
who is dear to you, descend into that vault. Off, I say."

And Turpin shook away, with ease, the grasp that Ranulph had laid upon
him.

"Villain! you do not escape me this time," said Major Mowbray,
interposing himself between Turpin and the outlet.

"Major Mowbray, I would not have your blood upon my head," said Dick.
"Let me pass," and he levelled a pistol.

"Fire, if you dare!" said the major, raising his sword. "You pass not. I
will die rather than allow you to escape. Barricade the door. Strike him
down if he attempts to pass. Richard Turpin, I arrest you in the king's
name. You hear, my lads, in his majesty's name. I command you to assist
me in this highwayman's capture. Two hundred pounds for his head."

"Two hundred devils!" exclaimed Dick, with a laugh of disdain. "Go, seek
your mother and sister within yon vault, Major Mowbray; you will find
employment enough there."

Saying which, he suddenly forced Bess to back a few yards; then,
striking his heels sharply into her sides, ere his purpose could be
divined by the spectators, charged, and cleared the lower part of the
mouldering priory walls. This feat was apparently accomplished with no
great effort by his admirable and unequalled mare.

"By the powers!" cried Titus, "and he's given us the slip after all. And
just when we thought to make sure of him, too. Why, Mr. Coates, that
wall must be higher than a five-barred gate, or any stone wall in my own
country. It's just the most extraordinary lepp I ever set eyes on!"

"The devil's in the fellow, certainly, or in his mare," returned Coates;
"but if he escapes me, I'll forgive him. I know whither he's bound. He's
off to London with my bill of exchange. I'll be up with him. I'll track
him like a bloodhound, slowly and surely, as my father, the thief-taker,
used to follow up a scent. Recollect the hare and the tortoise. The race
is not always to the swift. What say you? 'Tis a match for five hundred
pounds; nay, for five thousand: for there is a certain marriage
certificate in the way--a glorious golden venture! You shall go halves,
if we win. We'll have him, dead or alive. What say you for London, Mr.
Tyrconnel? Shall we start at once?"

"With all my sowl," replied Titus. "I'm with you." And away this _par
nobile_ scoured.

Ranulph, meantime, plunged into the vault. The floor was slippery, and
he had nigh stumbled. Loud and deep lamentations, and a wailing sound,
like that of a lament for the dead, resounded in his ears. A light at
the further extremity of the vault attracted his attention. He was
filled with terrible forebodings; but the worst reality was not so
terrible as suspense. He rushed towards the light. He passed the massive
pillars, and there, by the ruddy torch flame, discovered two female
figures. One was an old woman, fantastically attired, wringing her
hands, and moaning, or gibbering wild strains in broken, discordant, yet
pathetic tones. The other was Mrs. Mowbray. Both were images of despair.
Before them lay some motionless object. He noticed not that old woman;
he scarcely saw Mrs. Mowbray; he beheld only that object of horror. It
was the lifeless body of a female. The light fell imperfectly upon the
face; he could not discern the features, but the veil in which it was
swathed: that veil was Eleanor's! He asked no more.

With a wild cry he rushed forward. "Eleanor, my beloved!" shrieked he.

Mrs. Mowbray started at his voice, but appeared stunned and helpless.

"She is dead," said Ranulph, stooping towards the body. "Dead--dead!"

"Ay," echoed the old woman, in accents of equal anguish--"dead--dead!"

"But this is _not_ Eleanor," exclaimed he, as he viewed the features
more closely. "This face, though beautiful, is not hers. This
dishevelled hair is black. The long lashes that shade her cheek are of
the same hue. She is scarce dead. The hand I clasp is yet warm--the
fingers are pliant."

"Yet she is dead," said the old woman, in a broken voice, "she is
slain."

"Who hath slain her?" asked Ranulph.

"I--I--her mother, slew her."

"You!" exclaimed Ranulph, horror-stricken. "And where is Eleanor?" asked
he. "Was she not here?"

"Better she were here now, even though she were as that poor maid,"
groaned Mrs. Mowbray, "than where she is."

"Where is she, then?" asked Ranulph, with frantic eagerness.

"Fled. Whither I know not."

"With whom?"

"With Sir Luke Rookwood--with Alan Rookwood. They have borne her hence.
Ranulph, you are too late."

"Gone!" cried Ranulph, fiercely springing to his feet. "How escaped
they? There appears to be but one entrance to this vault. I will search
each nook and cranny."

"'Tis vain," replied Mrs. Mowbray. "There is another outlet through yon
cell. By that passage they escaped."

"Too true, too true," shouted Ranulph, who flew to examine the cell.
"And wherefore followed you not?"

"The stone rolled to its mouth, and resisted my efforts. I could not
follow."

"Torture and death! She is lost to me for ever!" cried Ranulph,
bitterly.

"No!" exclaimed Barbara, clutching his arm. "Place your trust in me, and
I will find her for you."

"You!" ejaculated Ranulph.

"Even I," replied Barbara. "Your wrongs shall be righted--my Sybil be
avenged."



_BOOK IV_


_THE RIDE TO YORK_

    Then one halloo, boys! one loud cheering halloo!
    To the swiftest of coursers, the gallant, the true,
    For the sportsman unborn shall the memory bless
    Of the horse of the highwayman, bonny Black Bess.

                                                       RICHARD TURPIN.



_CHAPTER I_

_THE RENDEZVOUS AT KILBURN_

    _Hind._ Drink deep, my brave boys, of the bastinado;
            Of stramazons, tinctures, and slié passatas;
            Of the carricado, and rare embrocado;
            Of blades, and rapier-hilts of surest guard;
            Of the Vincentio and Burgundian ward.
            Have we not bravely tossed this bombast foil-button?
            Win gold and wear gold, boys, 'tis we that merit it.

                                            _Prince of Prigs' Revels._

    _An excellent Comedy, replete with various conceits and Tarltonian
    mirth._


The present straggling suburb at the north-west of the metropolis, known
as Kilburn, had scarcely been called into existence a century ago, and
an ancient hostel, with a few detached farmhouses, were the sole
habitations to be found in the present populous vicinage. The place of
refreshment for the ruralizing cockney of 1737 was a substantial-looking
tenement of the good old stamp, with great bay windows, and a balcony in
front, bearing as its ensign the jovial visage of the lusty knight, Jack
Falstaff. Shaded by a spreading elm, a circular bench embraced the aged
trunk of the tree, sufficiently tempting, no doubt, to incline the
wanderer on those dusty ways to "rest and be thankful," and to cry
_encore_ to a frothing tankard of the best ale to be obtained within the
chimes of Bow bells.

Upon a table, green as the privet and holly that formed the walls of the
bower in which it was placed, stood a great china bowl, one of those
leviathan memorials of bygone wassailry which we may sometimes
espy--reversed in token of its desuetude--perched on the top of an old
japanned closet, but seldom, if ever, encountered in its proper position
at the genial board. All the appliances of festivity were at hand.
Pipes and rummers strewed the board. Perfume, subtle, yet mellow, as of
pine and lime, exhaled from out the bowl, and, mingling with the scent
of a neighboring bed of mignonette and the subdued odor of the Indian
weed, formed altogether as delectable an atmosphere of sweets as one
could wish to inhale on a melting August afternoon. So, at least,
thought the inmates of the arbor; nor did they by any means confine
themselves to the gratification of a single sense. The ambrosial
contents of the china bowl proved as delicious to the taste as its
bouquet was grateful to the smell; while the eyesight was soothed by
reposing on the smooth sward of a bowling-green spread out immediately
before it, or in dwelling upon gently undulating meads, terminating, at
about a mile's distance, in the woody, spire-crowned heights of
Hampstead.

At the left of the table was seated, or rather lounged, a slender,
elegant-looking young man, with dark, languid eyes, sallow complexion,
and features wearing that peculiarly pensive expression often
communicated by dissipation; an expression which, we regret to say, is
sometimes found more pleasing than it ought to be in the eyes of the
gentle sex. Habited in a light summer riding-dress, fashioned according
to the taste of the time, of plain and unpretending material, and rather
under than overdressed, he had, perhaps, on that very account, perfectly
the air of a gentleman. There was, altogether, an absence of pretension
about him, which, combined with great apparent self-possession,
contrasted very forcibly with the vulgar assurance of his showy
companions. The figure of the youth was slight, even to fragility,
giving little outward manifestation of the vigor of frame he in reality
possessed. This spark was a no less distinguished personage than Tom
King, a noted high-tobygloak of his time, who obtained, from his
appearance and address, the _sobriquet_ of the "Gentleman Highwayman."

Tom was indeed a pleasant fellow in his day. His career was brief, but
brilliant: your meteors are ever momentary. He was a younger son of a
good family; had good blood in his veins, though not a groat in his
pockets. According to the old song--

    When he arrived at man's estate,
      It was _all the estate_ he had;

and all the estate he was ever likely to have. Nevertheless, if he had
no income, he contrived, as he said, to live as if he had the mines of
Peru at his control--a miracle not solely confined to himself. For a
moneyless man, he had rather expensive habits. He kept his three nags;
and, if fame does not belie him, a like number of mistresses; nay, if we
are to place any faith in certain scandalous chronicles to which we have
had access, he was for some time the favored lover of a celebrated
actress, who, for the time, supplied him with the means of keeping up
his showy establishment. But things could not long hold thus. Tom was a
model of infidelity, and that was the only failing his mistress could
not overlook. She dismissed him at a moment's notice. Unluckily, too, he
had other propensities which contributed to involve him. He had a taste
for the turf--a taste for play--was well known in the hundreds of Drury,
and cut no mean figure at Howell's, and the faro tables there-anent. He
was the glory of the Smyrna, D'Osyndar's, and other chocolate houses of
the day; and it was at this time he fell into the hands of certain
dexterous sharpers, by whom he was at first plucked and subsequently
patronized. Under their tuition he improved wonderfully. He turned his
wit and talent to some account. He began to open his eyes. His nine
days' blindness was over. The dog saw. But, in spite of his quickness,
he was at length discovered, and ejected from Howell's in a manner that
left him no alternative. He must either have called out his adversary,
or have gone out himself. He preferred the latter, and took to the road;
and in his new line he was eminently successful. Fortunately, he had no
scruples to get over. Tom had what Sir Walter Scott happily denominates
"an indistinct notion of _meum_ and _tuum_," and became confirmed in the
opinion that everything he could lay hands upon constituted lawful
spoil. And then, even those he robbed, admitted that he was the most
gentlemanlike highwayman they had ever the fortune to meet with, and
trusted they might always be so lucky. So popular did he become upon the
road, that it was accounted a distinction to be stopped by him; he made
a point of robbing none but gentlemen, and--Tom's shade would quarrel
with us were we to omit them--ladies. His acquaintance with Turpin was
singular, and originated in a rencontre. Struck with his appearance,
Dick presented a pistol, and bade King deliver. The latter burst into a
laugh, and an explanation immediately ensued. Thenceforward they became
sworn brothers--the Pylades and Orestes of the road; and though seldom
seen together in public, had many a merry moonlight ride in company.

Tom still maintained three mistresses, his valet, his groom--tiger, we
should have called him,--"and many a change of clothes besides," says
his biographer, "with which he appeared more like a lord than a
highwayman." And what more, we should like to know, would a lord wish to
have? Few younger sons, we believe, can boast so much; and it is chiefly
on their account, with some remote view to the benefit of the unemployed
youth of all professions, that we have enlarged so much upon Tom King's
history. The road, we must beg to repeat, is still open; the chances are
greater than they ever were; we fully believe it is _their_ only road to
preferment, and we are sadly in want of highwaymen!

Fancy Tom lounging at D'Osyndar's, carelessly tapping his boots on the
steps; there he stands! Is he not a devilish good-looking, gentlemanlike
sort of fellow? You could never have taken him for a highwayman but for
our information. A waiter appears--supper is ordered at twelve--a
broiled chicken and a bottle of Burgundy--his groom brings his nags to
the door--he mounts. It is his custom to ride out on an evening--he is
less liable to interruption.[93] At Marylebone Fields--now the Regent's
Park,--his groom leaves him. He has a mistress in the neighborhood. He
is absent for a couple of hours, and returns gay or dispirited, as his
luck may have turned out. At twelve he is at supper, and has the night
before him. How very easy all this seems. Can it be possible we have no
Tom Kings?

To return to Tom as he was in the arbor. Judging from his manner, he
appeared to be almost insensible to the presence of his companions, and
to be scarcely a partaker in their revelry. His back was towards his
immediate neighbor; his glass sparkled untouched at his elbow; and one
hand, beautifully white and small, a mark of his birth and
breeding--_crede_ Byron--rested upon the edge of the table, while his
thin, delicate digits, palpably demonstrative of his faculty of
adaptation--_crede_ James Hardy Vaux--were employed with a silver
toothpick. In other respects, he seemed to be lost in reverie, and was,
in all probability, meditating new exploits.

Next to King sat our old friend Jerry Juniper; not, however, the Jerry
of the gipsies, but a much more showy-looking personage. Jerry was no
longer a gentleman of "three _outs_"--the difficulty would now have been
to say what he was "without." Snakelike he had cast his slough, and
rejoiced in new and brilliant investiture. His were "speaking garments,
speaking pockets too." His linen was of the finest, his hose of the
smartest. Gay rings glittered on his fingers; a crystal snuff-box
underwent graceful manipulation; a handsome gold repeater was sometimes
drawn from its location with a monstrous bunch of onions--_anglicè_,
seals--depending from its massive chain. Lace adorned his wrists, and
shoes--of which they had been long unconscious,--with buckles nearly as
large as themselves, confined his feet. A rich-powdered peruke and
silver-hilted sword completed the gear of the transmogrified Jerry, or,
as he now chose to be designated, Count Albert Conyers. The fact was,
that Jerry, after the _fracas_, apprehensive that the country would be
too hot for him, had, in company with Zoroaster, quitted the ranks of
the Canting Crew, and made the best of his way to town. A lucky _spice_
on the road set them up; and having some acquaintance with Tom King, the
party, on their arrival, sought him out at his customary haunt,
D'Osyndar's, and enlisted under his banners.

Tom received them with open arms, gave them unlimited use of his
wardrobe, and only required a little trifling assistance in return. He
had a grand scheme _in petto_, in the execution of which they could
mainly assist him. Jerry was a _Greek_ by nature, and could _land_ a
flat as well as the best of them. Zoroaster was just the man to _lose_ a
fight; or, in the language of the _Fancy_, to _play a cross_. No two
_legs_ could serve Tom's purposes better. He welcomed them with
fraternal affection.

We will now proceed to reconnoitre Jerry's opposite neighbor, who was,
however, no other than that Upright Man,

    The Magus Zoroaster, that great name.

Changed as was Juniper, the Magus was yet more whimsically
metamorphosed. Some traces of Jerry still remained, but not a vestige
was left of the original Dimber Damber. His tawny mother had not known
her son. This alteration, however, was not owing to change of dress; it
was the result of the punishment he had received at the "_set-to_" at
the priory. Not a feature was in its place; his swollen lip trespassed
upon the precincts of his nose; his nose trod hard upon his cheek; while
his cheek again, not to be behind the rest, rose up like an
apple-dumpling under his single eye,--single, we say--for, alas! there
was no speculation in the other. His dexter daylight was utterly
darkened, and, indeed, the orb that remained was as sanguinary a
luminary as ever struggled through a London fog at noonday. To borrow a
couplet or so from the laureate of the _Fancy_:

    --------One of his peepers was put
    On the bankruptcy list, with his shop windows shut,
    While the other made nearly as tag-rag a show,
    All rimmed round with black like the _Courier_ in woe.

One black patch decorated his rainbow-colored cheek; another adorned his
chin; a grinder having been dislodged, his pipe took possession of the
aperture. His toggery was that of a member of the prize-ring; what we
now call a "belcher" bound his throat; a spotted _fogle_ bandaged his
_jobbernowl_, and shaded his right peeper, while a white beaver crowned
the occiput of the Magus. And though, at first sight, there would appear
to be some incongruity in the association of such a battered character
as the Upright Man with his smart companions, the reader's wonder will
rapidly diminish, when he reflects that any distinguished P. C. man can
ever find a ready passport to the most exclusive society. Viewed in this
light, Zoroaster's familiarity with his _swell_ acquaintance occasioned
no surprise to old Simon Carr, the bottle-nosed landlord of the
Falstaff, who was a man of discernment in his way, and knew a thing or
two. Despite such striking evidences to the contrary, the Magus was
perfectly at his ease, and sacrificing as usual to the god of flame. His
mithra, or pipe, the symbol of his faith, was zealously placed between
his lips, and never did his Chaldean, Bactrian, Persian, Pamphylian,
Proconnesian, or Babylonian namesake, whichever of the six was the true
Zoroaster--_vide_ Bayle,--respire more fervently at the altar of fire,
than our Magus at the end of his enkindled tube. In his creed we believe
Zoroaster was a dualist, and believed in the co-existence and mystical
relation of the principles of good and ill; his pipe being his Yezdan,
or benign influence; his empty pouch his Ahreman, or the devil. We shall
not pause to examine his tenets; we meddle with no man's religious
opinions, and shall leave the Magus to the enjoyment of his own
sentiments, be they what they may.

One guest alone remains, and him we shall briefly dismiss. The reader,
we imagine, will scarcely need to be told who was the owner of those
keen gray eyes; those exuberant red whiskers; that airy azure frock. It
was

    Our brave co-partner of the roads.
    Skilful surveyor of highways and hedges;

in a word--Dick Turpin!

Dick had been called upon to act as president of the board, and an
excellent president he made, sedulously devoting himself to the due
administration of the punch-bowl. Not a rummer was allowed to stand
empty for an instant. Toast, sentiment, and anacreontic song, succeeded
each other at speedy intervals; but there was no speechifying--no
politics. He left church and state to take care of themselves. Whatever
his politics might be, Dick never allowed them to interfere with his
pleasures. His maxim was to make the most of the passing moment; the
_dum vivimus vivamus_ was never out of his mind; a precautionary measure
which we recommend to the adoption of all gentlemen of the like, or any
other precarious profession.

Notwithstanding all Dick's efforts to promote conviviality, seconded by
the excellence of the beverage itself, conversation, somehow or other,
began to flag; from being general it became particular. Tom King, who
was no punch-bibber, especially at that time of day, fell into a deep
reverie; your gamesters often do so; while the Magus, who had smoked
himself drowsy, was composing himself to a doze. Turpin seized this
opportunity of addressing a few words on matters of business to Jerry
Juniper, or, as he now chose to be called, Count Conyers.

"My dear count," said Dick, in a low and confidential tone, "you are
aware that my errand to town is accomplished. I have _smashed_ Lawyer
Coates's _screen_, pocketed the _dimmock_--here 'tis," continued he,
parenthetically, slapping his pockets,--"and done t'other trick in prime
twig for Tom King. With a cool thousand in hand, I might, if I chose,
rest awhile on my oars. But a quiet life don't suit me. I must be
moving. So I shall start to Yorkshire to-night."

"Indeed!" said the _soi-disant_ count, in a languid tone--"so soon?"

"I have nothing to detain me," replied Dick. "And, to tell you the
truth, I want to see how matters stand with Sir Luke Rookwood. I should
be sorry if he went to the wall for want of any assistance I can render
him."

"True," returned the count; "one would regret such an occurrence,
certainly. But I fear your assistance may arrive a little too late. He
is pretty well done up, I should imagine, by this time."

"That remains to be seen," said Turpin. "His case is a bad one, to be
sure, but I trust not utterly hopeless. With all his impetuosity and
pride, I like the fellow, and will help him, if I can. It will be a
difficult game to set him on his legs, but I think it may be done. That
underground marriage was sheer madness, and turned out as ill as such a
scheme might have been expected to do. Poor Sybil! if I could pipe an
eye for anything, it should be for her. I can't get her out of my head.
Give me a pinch of snuff. Such thoughts unman one. As to the priest,
that's a totally different affair. If he strangled his daughter, old
Alan did right to take the law into his own hands, and throttle him in
return. I'd have done the same thing myself; and, being a proscribed
Jesuit, returned, as I understand, without the king's license for so
doing, why Father Checkley's murder--if it must be so called, I can't
abide hard terms--won't lie very heavy at Alan's door. That, however,
has nothing to do with Sir Luke. He was neither accessory nor
principal. Still he will be in danger, at least from Lady Rookwood. The
whole county of York, I make no doubt, is up in arms by this time."

"Then why go thither?" asked the count, somewhat ironically; "for my
part, I've a strange fancy for keeping out of harm's way as long as
possible."

"Every man to his taste," returned Turpin; "I love to confront danger.
Run away! pshaw! always meet your foe."

"True," replied the count, "half-way! but you go the whole distance.
What prudent man would beard the lion in his den?"

"I never was a prudent man," rejoined Dick, smiling; "I have no
superfluous caution about me. Come what will, I shall try to find out
this Luke Rookwood, and offer him my purse, such as it is, and it is now
better lined than usual; a hand free to act as he lists; and a head
which, imprudent though it be, can often think better for others than
for its own master."

"Vastly fine!" exclaimed the count, with an ill-disguised sneer. "I hope
you don't forget that the marriage certificate which you hold is
perfectly valueless now. The estates, you are aware----"

"Are no longer Sir Luke's. I see what you are driving at, count,"
returned Dick, coldly. "But he will need it to establish his claim to
the title, and he shall have it. While he was Sir Luke, with ten
thousand a year, I drove a hard bargain, and would have stood out for
the last stiver. Now that he is one of '_us_', a mere Knight of the
Road, he shall have it and welcome."

"Perhaps Lady Rookwood, or Mrs. Mowbray, might be inclined to treat,"
maliciously insinuated the count; "the title may be worth something to
Ranulph."

"It is worth more to Luke; and if it were _not_, he gets it. Are you
satisfied?"

"Perfectly," replied the count, with affected _bonhomie_; "and I will
now let you into a secret respecting Miss Mowbray, from which you may
gather something for your guidance in this matter; and if the word of a
woman is at all to be trusted, though individually I cannot say I have
much faith in it, Sir Luke's planetary hour is not yet completely
overcast."

"That's exactly what I wish to know, my dear fellow," said Turpin,
eagerly. "You have already told me you were witness to a singular
interview between Miss Mowbray and Sir Luke after my departure from the
priory. If I mistook you not, the whole business will hinge upon that.
What occurred? Let me have every particular. The whole history and
mystery."

"You shall have it with pleasure," said the count; "and I hope it may
tend to your benefit. After I had quitted the scene of action at the
priory, and at your desire left the Rookwood party masters of the field,
I fled with the rest of the crew towards the rocks. There we held a
council of war for a short time. Some were for returning to the fight;
but this was negatived entirely, and in the end it was agreed that those
who had wives, daughters, and sisters, should join them as speedily as
possible at their retreat in the Grange. As I happened to have none of
these attractive ties, and had only a troublesome mistress, who I
thought could take care of herself, I did not care to follow them, but
struck deeper into the wood, and made my way, guided by destiny, I
suppose, towards the cave."

"The cave!" cried Dick, rubbing his hands; "I delight in a cave. Tom
King and I once had a cave of our own at Epping, and I'll have another
one of these fine days. A cave is as proper to a high-tobyman as a
castle to a baron. Pray go on."

"The cave I speak of," continued the count, "was seldom used, except
upon great emergencies, by any of the Stop Hole Abbey crew. It was a
sort of retiring den of our old lioness Barbara, and, like all
belonging to her, respected by her dupes. However, the cave is a good
cave for all that; is well concealed by brushwood, and comfortably
lighted from a crevice in the rock above; it lies near the brink of the
stream, amongst the woods just above the waterfall, and is somewhat
difficult of approach."

"I know something of the situation," said Turpin.

"Well," returned the count, "not to lose time, into this den I crept,
and, expecting to find it vacant, you may imagine my surprise on
discovering that it was already occupied, and that Sir Luke Rookwood,
his granddad, old Alan, Miss Mowbray, and, worst of all, the very person
I wished most to avoid, my old flame Handassah, constituted the party.
Fortunately, they did not perceive my entrance, and I took especial care
not to introduce myself. Retreat, however, was for the moment
impracticable, and I was compelled to be a listener. I cannot tell what
had passed between the parties before my arrival, but I heard Miss
Mowbray implore Sir Luke to conduct her to her mother. He seemed half
inclined to comply with her entreaties; but old Alan shook his head. It
was then Handassah put in a word; the minx was ever ready at that. 'Fear
not,' said she, 'that she will wed Sir Ranulph. Deliver her to her
friends, I beseech you, Sir Luke, and woo her honorably. She will accept
you.' Sir Luke stared incredulously, and grim old Alan smiled. 'She has
sworn to be yours,' continued Handassah; 'sworn it by every hope of
heaven, and the oath has been sealed by blood--by Sybil's blood.'--'Does
she speak the truth?' asked Sir Luke, trembling with agitation. Miss
Mowbray answered not. 'You will not deny it, lady,' said Handassah. 'I
heard that oath proposed. I saw it registered. You cannot deny it.'--'I
do not,' replied Miss Mowbray, with much anguish of manner; 'if he claim
me, I am his.'--'And he will claim you,' said Alan Rookwood,
triumphantly. 'He has your oath, no matter how extorted--you must fulfil
your vow.'--'I am prepared to do so,' said Eleanor. 'But if you would
not utterly destroy me, let this maid conduct me to my mother, to my
friends.'--'To Ranulph?' asked Sir Luke, bitterly.--'No, no,' returned
Miss Mowbray, in accents of deepest despair, 'to my mother--I wish not
to behold him again.'--'Be it so,' cried Sir Luke; 'but remember, in
love or hate, you are mine; I shall claim the fulfilment of your oath.
Farewell. Handassah will lead you to your mother.' Miss Mowbray bowed
her head, but returned no answer, while, followed by old Alan, Sir Luke
departed from the cavern."

"Whither went they?" demanded Turpin.

"That I know not," replied Jerry. "I was about to follow, when I was
prevented by the abrupt entrance of another party. Scarcely, I think,
could the two Rookwoods have made good their retreat, when shouts were
heard without, and young Ranulph and Major Mowbray forced their way,
sword in hand, into the cave. Here was a situation--for _me_, I mean--to
the young lady, I make no doubt, it was pleasant enough. But my neck was
in jeopardy. However, you know I am not deficient in strength, and, upon
the present occasion, I made the best use of the agility with which
nature has endowed me. Amidst the joyous confusion--the sobbings, and
embracings, and congratulations that ensued--I contrived, like a wild
cat, to climb the rocky sides of the cave, and concealed myself behind a
jutting fragment of stone. It was well I did so, for scarcely was I
hidden, when in came old Barbara, followed by Mrs. Mowbray, and a dozen
others."

"Barbara!" ejaculated Dick. "Was she a prisoner?"

"No," replied Jerry; "the old hell-cat is too deep for that. She had
betrayed Sir Luke, and hoped they would seize him and his granddad. But
the birds were flown."

"I'm glad she was baulked," said Dick. "Was any search made after them?"

"Can't say," replied Jerry. "I could only indistinctly catch the sounds
of their voices from my lofty retreat. Before they left the cavern, I
made out that Mrs. Mowbray resolved to go to Rookwood, and to take her
daughter thither--a proceeding to which the latter demurred."

"To Rookwood," said Dick, musingly. "Will she keep her oath, I wonder?"

"That's more than I can say," said Jerry, sipping his punch. "'Tis a
deceitful sex!"

"'Tis a deceitful sex, indeed," echoed Dick, tossing off a tumbler. "For
one Sybil we meet with twenty Handassahs, eh, count?"

"Twenty!--say rather a hundred," replied Jerry. "'Tis a vile sex."



_CHAPTER II_

_TOM KING_

    _Grimm._ How gloriously the sun sets to-night.

    _Moor._ When I was a boy, my favorite thought was, that I should
    live and die like yonder glorious orb. It was a boyish thought.

    _Grimm._ True, captain.

                                                        _The Robbers._


"Peace, base calumniators," exclaimed Tom King, aroused from his
toothpick reverie by these aspersions of the best part of creation.
"Peace, I say. None shall dare abuse that dear devoted sex in the
hearing of their champion, without pricking a lance with him in their
behalf. What do you, either of you, who abuse woman in that wholesale
style, know of her? Nothing--less than nothing; and yet you venture,
upon your paltry experience, to lift up your voices and decry the sex.
Now I _do_ know her; and upon my own experience avouch, that, as a sex,
woman, compared with man, is as an angel to a devil. As a sex, woman is
faithful, loving, self-sacrificing. _We_ 'tis that make her otherwise;
_we_, selfish, exacting, neglectful men; we teach her indifference, and
then blame her apt scholarship. We spoil our own hand, and then blame
the cards. No abuse of women in my hearing. Give me a glass of grog,
Dick. 'The sex!--three times three!'--and here's a song for you into the
bargain." Saying which, in a mellow, plaintive tone, Tom gave the
following:

    PLEDGE OF THE HIGHWAYMAN

    Come, fill up a bumper to Eve's fairest daughters,
      Who have lavished their smiles on the brave and the free;
    Toast the sweethearts of DUDLEY, HIND, WILMOT, and WATERS,[94]
      Whate'er their attraction, whate'er their degree.
    Pledge! pledge in a bumper, each kind-hearted maiden,
      Whose bright eyes were dimmed at the highwayman's fall;
    Who stood by the gallows with sorrow o'erladen,
      Bemoaning the fate of the gallant DU-VAL!

    Here's to each lovely lass chance of war bringeth near one,
      Whom, with manner impassioned, we tenderly stop;
    And to whom, like the lover addressing his dear one,
      In terms of entreaty _the question_ we pop.
    How oft, in such case, rosy lips have proved sweeter
      Than the rosiest book, bright eyes saved a bright ring;
    While that _one other_ kiss has brought off a _repeater_,
      And a bead as a _favor_--the _favorite_ string.

    With our hearts ready rifled, each pocket we rifle,
      With the pure flame of chivalry stirring our breasts;
    Life's risk for our _mistress's praise_ is a trifle;
      And each purse as a _trophy_ our _homage_ attests.
    Then toss off your glasses to all girls of spirit,
      Ne'er with names, or with number, your memories vex;
    Our toast, boys, embraces each woman of merit,
      And, for fear of omission, we'll drink the WHOLE SEX.

"Well," replied Dick, replenishing King's rummer, while he laughed
heartily at his ditty, "I shan't refuse your toast, though my heart
don't respond to your sentiments. Ah, Tom! the sex you praise so much
will, I fear, prove your undoing. Do as you please, but curse me if ever
I pin my life to a petticoat. I'd as soon think of neglecting the four
cautions."

"The four cautions," said King; "what are they?"

"Did you never hear them?" replied Dick. "Attend, then, and be edified."

    THE FOUR CAUTIONS

    Pay attention to these cautions four,
    And through life you will need little more,
    Should you dole out your days to threescore
    Beware of a pistol before!
                        Before! before!
    Beware of a pistol before!

    And when backward his ears are inclined,
    And his tail with his ham is combined,
    Caution two you will bear in your mind:
    Beware of a prancer behind!
                        Behind! behind!
    Beware of a prancer behind!

    Thirdly, when in the park you may ride,
    On your best bit of blood, sir, astride,
    Chatting gay to your old friend's young bride:
    Beware of a coach at the side!
                        At the side! at the side!
    Beware of a coach at the side!

    Lastly, whether in purple or gray,
    Canter, ranter, grave, solemn, or gay,
    Whate'er he may do or may say,
    Beware of a priest every way!
                        Every way! every way!
    Beware of a priest every way!

"Well," said Tom King, "all you can sing or say don't alter my good
opinion of the women. Not a secret have I from the girl of my heart. She
could have sold me over and over again if she had chosen, but my sweet
Sue is not the wench to do that."

"It is not too late," said Dick. "Your Delilah may yet hand you over to
the Philistines."

"Then I shall die in a good cause," said King; "but

        The Tyburn Tree
        Has no terrors for me,
    Let better men swing--I'm at liberty.

I shall never come to the scragging-post, unless you turn topsman, Dick
Turpin. My nativity has been cast, and the stars have declared I am to
die by the hand of my best friend--and that's you--eh? Dick?"

"It sounds like it," replied Turpin; "but I advise you not to become too
intimate with Jack Ketch. He may prove your best friend, after all."

"Why, faith, that's true," replied King, laughing; "and if I must ride
backwards up Holborn Hill, I'll do the thing in style, and honest Jack
Ketch shall never want his dues. A man should always die game. We none
of us know how soon our turn may come; but come when it will, _I_ shall
never flinch from it.

    As the highwayman's life is the fullest of zest,
    So the highwayman's death is the briefest and best;
    He dies not as other men die, by degrees,
    But at once! without flinching--and quite at his ease!

as the song you are so fond of says. When I die it will not be of
consumption. And if the surgeon's knife must come near me, it will be
after death. There's some comfort in that reflection, at all events."

"True," replied Turpin, "and, with a little alteration, my song would
suit you capitally:

    There is not a king, should you search the world round,
    So blithe as the king's king, TOM KING, to be found;
    Dear woman's his empire, each girl is his own,
    And he'd have a long reign if he'd let 'em alone.

Ha, ha!"

"Ha, ha!" laughed Tom. "And now, Dick, to change the subject. You are
off, I understand, to Yorkshire to-night. 'Pon my soul, you are a
wonderful fellow--an _alibi_ personified!--here and everywhere at the
same time--no wonder you are called the flying highwayman. To-day in
town--to-morrow at York--the day after at Chester. The devil only knows
where you will pitch your quarters a week hence. There are rumors of you
in all counties at the same moment. This man swears you robbed him at
Hounslow; that on Salisbury Plain; while another avers you monopolize
Cheshire and Yorkshire, and that it isn't safe even to _hunt_ without
pops in your pocket. I heard some devilish good stories of you at
D'Osyndar's t'other day; the fellow who told them to me little thought I
was a brother blade."

"You flatter me," said Dick, smiling complacently; "but it's no merit of
mine. Black Bess alone enables me to do it, and hers be the credit.
Talking of being everywhere at the same time, you shall hear what she
once did for me in Cheshire. Meantime, a glass to the best mare in
England. You won't refuse that toast, Tom. Ah! if your mistress is only
as true to you as my nag to me, you might set at naught the tightest
hempen cravat that was ever twisted, and defy your best friend to hurt
you. Black Bess! and God bless her! And now for the song." Saying which,
with much emotion, Turpin chanted the following rhymes:

    BLACK BESS

    Let the lover his mistress's beauty rehearse,
    And laud her attractions in languishing verse;
    Be it mine in rude strains, but with truth to express,
    The love that I bear to my bonny Black Bess.

    From the west was her dam, from the east was her sire,
    From the one came her swiftness, the other her fire;
    No peer of the realm better blood can possess
    Than flows in the veins of my bonny Black Bess.

    Look! Look! how that eyeball grows bright as a brand!
    That neck proudly arches, those nostrils expand!
    Mark! that wide flowing mane! of which each silky tress
    Might adorn prouder beauties--though none like Black Bess.

    Mark! that skin sleek as velvet, and dusky as night,
    With its jet undisfigured by one lock of white;
    That throat branched with veins, prompt to charge or caress
    Now is she not beautiful?--bonny Black Bess!

    Over highway and by-way, in rough and smooth weather,
    Some thousands of miles have we journeyed together;
    Our couch the same straw, and our meal the same mess
    No couple more constant than I and Black Bess.

    By moonlight, in darkness, by night, or by day,
    Her headlong career there is nothing can stay;
    She cares not for distance, she knows not distress:
    Can you show me a courser to match with Black Bess?

"Egad! I should think not," exclaimed King; "you are as sentimental on
the subject of your mare, as I am when I think of my darling Susan. But
pardon my interruption. Pray proceed."

"Let me first clear my throat," returned Dick; "and now to resume:"

    Once it happened in Cheshire, near Dunham, I popped
    On a horseman alone, whom I speedily stopped;
    That I lightened his pockets you'll readily guess--
    Quick work makes Dick Turpin when mounted on Bess.

    Now it seems the man knew me; "Dick Turpin," said he,
    "You shall swing for this job, as you live, d'ye see;"
    I laughed at his threats and his vows of redress;
    I was sure of an _alibi_ then with Black Bess.

    The road was a hollow, a sunken ravine,[95]
    Overshadowed completely by wood like a screen;
    I clambered the bank, and I needs must confess,
    That one touch of the spur grazed the side of Black Bess.

    Brake, brook, meadow, and plough'd field, Bess fleetly bestrode,
    As the crow wings her flight we selected our road;
    We arrived at Hough Green in five minutes, or less--
    My neck it was saved by the speed of Black Bess.

    Stepping carelessly forward, I lounge on the green,
    Taking excellent care that by all I am seen;
    Some remarks on time's flight to the squires I address,
    But I say not a word of the flight of Black Bess.

    I mention the hour--it was just about four--
    Play a rubber at bowls--think the danger is o'er;
    When athwart my next game, like a checkmate at chess,
    Comes the horsemen in search of the rider of Bess.

    What matter details? Off with triumph I came;
    He swears to the hour, and the squires swear the same;
    I had robbed him at _four_!--while at four _they_ profess
    I was quietly bowling--all thanks to Black Bess!

    Then one halloo, boys, one loud cheering halloo!
    To the swiftest of coursers, the gallant, the true!
    For the sportsman unborn shall the memory bless
    Of the horse of the highwayman, bonny Black Bess!

Loud acclamations rewarded Dick's performance. Awakened from his doze,
Zoroaster beat time to the melody, the only thing, Jerry said, he was
capable of _beating_ in his present shattered condition. After some
little persuasion, the Magus was prevailed upon to enliven the company
with a strain, which he trolled forth after a maudlin manner:

    THE DOUBLE CROSS

    Though all of us have heard of _crost_ fights,
    And certain _gains_, by certain _lost_ fights,
    I rather fancies that it's news,
    How in a mill, _both_ men should _lose_;
    For vere the _odds_ are thus made _even_,
    It plays the dickens with the _steven_;[96]
    Besides, against all rule they're sinning,
    Vere _neither_ has _no_ chance of vinning.
                                        _Ri, tol, lol, &c._

    Two _milling coves_, each vide avake,
    Vere backed to fight for heavy stake:
    But in the mean time, so it vos,
    Both _kids_ agreed to _play a cross_;
    Bold came each _buffer_[97] to the _scratch_,
    To make it look a _tightish match_;
    They _peeled_[98] in style, and bets vere making,
    'Tvos six to four, but few vere _taking_.
                                        _Ri, tol, lol, &c._

    Quite cautiously the mill began,
    For neither knew the other's plan;
    Each _cull_[99] completely in the _dark_,
    Of vot might be his neighbor's _mark_;
    Resolved his _fibbing_[100] not to mind,
    Nor yet to _pay him back in kind_;
    So on each other _kept they tout_,[101]
    And _sparred_ a bit, and _dodged_ about,
                                        _Ri, tol, lol, &c._

    Vith _mawleys_[102] raised, Tom bent his back,
    As if to _plant_ a heavy thwack:
    Vile Jem, with neat left-handed _stopper_,
    Straight threatened Tommy with a _topper_;
    'Tis all my eye! no _claret_ flows,
    No _facers_ sound--no smashing blows--
    Five minutes pass, yet not a _hit_,
    How can it end, pals?--vait a bit.
                                        _Ri, tol, lol, &c._

    Each cove vas _teazed_ with double duty,
    To please his backers, yet _play booty_;[103]
    Ven, luckily for Jem, a _teller_
    Vos planted right upon his _smeller_;
    Down dropped he, stunned; ven time vas called,
    Seconds in vain the _seconds_ bawled;
    The _mill_ is o'er, the crosser _crost_,
    The loser's _von_, the vinner's _lost_!
                                        _Ri, tol, lol, &c._

The party assumed once more a lively air, and the glass was circulated
so freely, that at last a final charge drained the ample bowl of its
contents.

"The best of friends must part," said Dick; "and I would willingly order
another whiff of punch, but I think we have all had _enough to satisfy
us_, as you milling coves have it, Zory! Your one eye has got a drop in
it already, old fellow; and, to speak the truth, I must be getting into
the saddle without more delay, for I have a long ride before me. And
now, friend Jerry, before I start, suppose you tip us one of your merry
staves; we haven't heard your pipe to-day, and never a cross cove of us
all can throw off so prime a chant as yourself. A song! a song!"

"Ay, a song!" reiterated King and the Magus.

"You do me too much honor, gemmen," said Jerry, modestly, taking a pinch
of snuff; "I am sure I shall be most happy. My chants are all of a sort.
You must make all due allowances--hem!" And, clearing his throat, he
forthwith warbled

    THE MODERN GREEK

    (_Not_ translated from the Romaic.)

    Come, gemmen, name, and make your game,
      See, round the ball is spinning.
    Black, red, or blue, the colors view,
      _Une_, _deux_, _cinque_, 'tis beginning,
                  Then make your game,
                  The color name,
            While round the ball is spinning.

    This sleight of hand my _flat_ shall _land_
      While _covered_ by my _bonnet_,[104]
    I _plant_ my ball, and boldly call,
      Come make your game upon it!
                  Thus rat-a-tat!
                  I land my flat!
            'Tis black--not red--is winning.

    At gay _roulette_ was never met
      A lance like mine for _bleeding_!
    I'm ne'er _at fault_, at nothing halt,
      All other _legs_ preceding.
                  To all awake,
                  I never shake
            A _mag_[105] unless I nip it.

    _Blind-hookey_ sees how well I squeeze
      The _well-packed_ cards in shuffling.
    Ecarté, whist, I never missed,
      A nick the _broads_[106] while ruffling.
                  Mogul or loo,
                  The same I do,
            I am down to trumps as trippet!

    _French hazard_ ta'en, _I nick the main_,
      Was ne'er so prime a _caster_.
    No _crabs_ for me, I'm fly, d'ye see;
      The bank shall change its master.
                  Seven _quatre_, _trois_,
                  The stakes are high!
            Ten _mains_! ten _mains_ are mine, pals!

    At _Rouge et Noir_, you _hellite_[107] choir
      I'll make no bones of stripping;
    One glorious _coup_ for me shall _do_,
      While they may deal each _pip_ in.
                  _Trente-un-après_
                  Ne'er clogs my way;
            The game--the game's divine, pals.

    At billiards set, I make my bet,
      I'll _score_ and win the _rub_, pals;
    I miss my _cue_, my _hazard_, too,
      But yet my foe I'll drub, pals.
                  That _cannon-twist_,
                  I ne'er had missed,
            Unless to suit my views, pals.

    To make all right, the match look _tight_,
      This trick, you know, is done, pals;
    But now be gay, I'll _show_ my play--
      Hurrah! the game is won, pals.
                  No hand so fine,
                  No wrist like mine,
            No odds I e'er refuse, pals.

    Then choose your game; whate'er you name,
      To me alike all offers;
    Chic-hazard, whist, whate'er you list,
      Replenish quick your coffers.
                  Thus, rat-a-tat!
                  I _land_ my _flat_!
            To every purse I _speak_, pals.

    _Cramped boxes_ 'ware, all's right and fair,
      _Barred balls_ I _bar_ when goaded;
    The deuce an ace is out of place!
      The deuce a die is _loaded_!
                  Then make your game,
                  Your color name;
            Success attend the _Greek_, pals.

"Bravo, Jerry--bravissimo!" chorused the party.

"And now, pals, farewell!--a long farewell!" said Dick, in a tone of
theatrical valediction. "As I said before, the best friends must
separate. We may soon meet again, or we now may part forever. We cannot
command our luck; but we can make the best of the span allotted to us.
You have your game to play. I have mine. May each of us meet with the
success he deserves."

"Egad! I hope not," said King. "I'm afraid, in that case, the chances
would be against us."

"Well, then, the success we anticipate, if you prefer it," rejoined
Dick. "I have only to observe one thing more, namely, that I must insist
upon standing Sam upon the present occasion. Not a word. I won't hear a
syllable. Landlord, I say--what oh!" continued Dick, stepping out of the
arbor. "Here, my old Admiral of the White, what's the reckoning?--what's
to pay, I say?"

"Let ye know directly, sir," replied mine host of the Falstaff.

"Order my horse--the black mare," added Dick.

"And mine," said King, "the sorrel colt. I'll ride with you a mile or
two on the road, Dick; perhaps we may stumble upon something."

"Very likely."

"We meet at twelve, at D'Osyndar's, Jerry," said King, "if nothing
happens."

"Agreed," responded Juniper.

"What say you to a rubber at bowls, in the mean time?" said the Magus,
taking his everlasting pipe from his lips.

Jerry nodded acquiescence. And while they went in search of the
implements of the game, Turpin and King sauntered gently on the green.

It was a delicious evening. The sun was slowly declining, and glowed
like a ball of fire amid the thick foliage of a neighboring elm.
Whether, like the robber Moor, Tom King was touched by this glorious
sunset, we pretend not to determine. Certain it was that a shade of
inexpressible melancholy passed across his handsome countenance, as he
gazed in the direction of Harrow-on-the Hill, which, lying to the west
of the green upon which they walked, stood out with its pointed spire
and lofty college against the ruddy sky. He spoke not. But Dick noticed
the passing emotion.

"What ails you, Tom?" said he, with much kindness of manner--"are you
not well, lad?"

"Yes, I am well enough," said King; "I know not what came over me, but
looking at Harrow, I thought of my school days, and what I was _then_,
and that bright prospect reminded me of my boyish hopes."

"Tut--tut," said Dick, "this is idle--you are a man now."

"I know I am," replied Tom, "but I _have_ been a boy. Had I any faith in
presentiments, I should say this is the last sunset I shall ever see."

"Here comes our host," said Dick, smiling. "I've no presentiment that
this is the last bill I shall ever pay."

The bill was brought and settled. As Turpin paid it, the man's conduct
was singular, and awakened his suspicions.

"Are our horses ready?" asked Dick, quickly.

"They are, sir," said the landlord.

"Let us be gone," whispered Dick to King; "I don't like this fellow's
manner. I thought I heard a carriage draw up at the inn door just
now--there may be danger. Be fly!" added he to Jerry and the Magus.
"Now, sir," said he to the landlord, "lead the way. Keep on the alert,
Tom."

Dick's hint was not lost upon the two bowlers. They watched their
comrades; and listened intently for any manifestation of alarm.



_CHAPTER III_

_A SURPRISE_

    Was this well done, Jenny?--_Captain Macheath._


While Turpin and King are walking across the bowling-green, we will see
what has taken place outside the inn. Tom's presentiments of danger were
not, it appeared, without foundation. Scarcely had the ostler brought
forth our two highwaymen's steeds, when a post-chaise, escorted by two
or three horsemen, drove furiously up to the door. The sole occupant of
the carriage was a lady, whose slight and pretty figure was all that
could be distinguished, her face being closely veiled. The landlord, who
was busied in casting up Turpin's account, rushed forth at the summons.
A word or two passed between him and the horsemen, upon which the
former's countenance fell. He posted in the direction of the garden; and
the horsemen instantly dismounted.

"We have him now, sure enough," said one of them, a very small man, who
looked, in his boots, like Buckle equipped for the Oaks.

"By the powers! I begin to think so," replied the other horseman. "But
don't spoil all, Mr. Coates, by being too precipitate."

"Never fear that, Mr. Tyrconnel," said Coates; for it was the gallant
attorney: "he's sure to come for his mare. That's a _trap_ certain to
catch him, eh, Mr. Paterson? With the chief constable of Westminster to
back us, the devil's in it if we are not a match for him."

"And for Tom King, too," replied the chief constable; "since his
blowen's peached, the game's up with him, too. We've long had an eye
upon him, and now we'll have a finger. He's one of your dashing trouts
to whom we always give a long line, but we'll _land_ him this time,
anyhow. If you'll look after Dick Turpin, gemmen, I'll make sure of
Tom."

"I'd rather you would help _us_, Mr. Paterson," said Coates; "never mind
Tom King; another time will do for him."

"No such thing," said Paterson; "one _weighs_ just as much for that
matter as t'other. I'll take Tom to myself, and surely you two, with the
landlord and ostler, can manage Turpin amongst you."

"I don't know that," said Coates, doubtfully; "he's a devil of a fellow
to deal with."

"Take him quietly," said Paterson. "Draw the chaise out of the way, lad.
Take our tits to one side, and place their nags near the door, ostler.
Shall you be able to see him, ma'am, where you are?" asked the chief
constable, walking to the carriage, and touching his hat to the lady
within. Having received a satisfactory nod from the bonnet and veil, he
returned to his companions. "And now, gemmen," added he, "let's step
aside a little. Don't use your fire-arms too soon."

As if conscious of what was passing around her, and of the danger that
awaited her master, Black Bess exhibited so much impatience, and plunged
so violently, that it was with difficulty the ostler could hold her.
"The devil's in the mare," said he; "what's the matter with her? She was
quiet enough a few minutes since. Soho! lass, stand."

Turpin and King, meanwhile, walked quickly through the house, preceded
by the host, who conducted them, and not without some inward
trepidation, towards the door. Arrived there, each man rushed swiftly to
his horse. Dick was in the saddle in an instant, and stamping her foot
on the ostler's leg, Black Bess compelled the man, yelling with pain, to
quit his hold of the bridle. Tom King was not equally fortunate. Before
he could mount his horse, a loud shout was raised, which startled the
animal, and caused him to swerve, so that Tom lost his footing in the
stirrup, and fell to the ground. He was instantly seized by Paterson,
and a struggle commenced, King endeavoring, but in vain, to draw a
pistol.

"Flip him,[108] Dick; fire, or I'm taken," cried King. "Fire! damn you,
why don't you fire?" shouted he, in desperation, still struggling
vehemently with Paterson, who was a strong man, and more than a match
for a light weight like King.

"I can't," cried Dick; "I shall hit you, if I fire."

"Take your chance," shouted King. "Is _this_ your friendship?"

Thus urged, Turpin fired. The ball ripped up the sleeve of Paterson's
coat, but did not wound him.

"Again!" cried King. "Shoot him, I say. Don't you hear me? Fire again!"

Pressed as he was by foes on every side, himself their mark, for both
Coates and Tyrconnel had fired upon him, and were now mounting their
steeds to give chase, it was impossible that Turpin could take sure aim;
added to which, in the struggle, Paterson and King were each moment
changing their relative positions. He, however, would no longer
hesitate, but again, at his friend's request, fired. The ball lodged
itself in King's breast! He fell at once. At this instant a shriek was
heard from the chaise: the window was thrown open, and her thick veil
being drawn aside, the features of a very pretty female, now impressed
with terror and contrition, were suddenly exhibited.

King fixed his glazing eyes upon her.

"Susan!" sighed he, "is it you that I behold?"

"Yes, yes, 'tis she, sure enough," said Paterson. "You see, ma'am, what
you and such like have brought him to. However, you'll lose your reward;
he's going fast enough."

"Reward!" gasped King; "reward! Did she betray me?"

"Ay, ay, sir," said Paterson, "she blowed the gaff, if it's any
consolation to you to know it."

"Consolation!" repeated the dying man; "perfidious!--oh!--the
prophecy--my best friend--Turpin--I die by his hand."

And vainly striving to raise himself, he fell backwards and expired.
Alas, poor Tom!

"Mr. Paterson! Mr. Paterson!" cried Coates; "leave the landlord to look
after the body of that dying ruffian, and mount with us in pursuit of
the living rascal. Come, sir; quick! mount! despatch! You see he is
yonder; he seems to hesitate; we shall have him now."

"Well, gemmen, I'm ready," said Paterson; "but how the devil came you to
let him escape?"

"Saint Patrick only knows!" said Titus; "he's as slippery as an
eel--and, like a cat, turn him which way you will, he is always sure to
alight upon his legs. I wouldn't wonder but we lose him now, after all,
though he has such a small start. That mare flies like the wind."

"He shall have a tight run for it, at all events," said Paterson,
putting spurs into his horse. "I've got a good nag under me, and you are
neither of you badly mounted. He's only three hundred yards before us,
and the devil's in it if we can't run him down. It's a three hundred
pound job, Mr. Coates, and well worth a race."

"You shall have another hundred from me, sir, if you take him," said
Coates, urging his steed forward.

"Thank you, sir, thank you. Follow my directions, and we'll make sure of
him," said the constable. "Gently, gently, not so fast up the hill--you
see he's breathing his horse. All in good time, Mr. Coates--all in good
time, sir."

And maintaining an equal distance, both parties cantered leisurely up
the ascent now called Windmill Hill. We shall now return to Turpin.

Aghast at the deed he had accidentally committed, Dick remained for a
few moments irresolute; he perceived that King was mortally wounded, and
that all attempts at rescue would be fruitless; he perceived, likewise,
that Jerry and the Magus had effected their escape from the
bowling-green, as he could detect their figures stealing along the
hedge-side. He hesitated no longer. Turning his horse, he galloped
slowly off, little heeding the pursuit with which he was threatened.

"Every bullet has its billet," said Dick; "but little did I think that I
really should turn poor Tom's executioner. To the devil with this
rascally snapper," cried he, throwing the pistol over the hedge. "I
could never have used it again. 'Tis strange, too, that he should have
foretold his own fate--devilish strange! And then that he should have
been betrayed by the very blowen he trusted! that's a lesson, if I
wanted any. But trust a woman!--not I, the length of my little finger."



_CHAPTER IV_

_THE HUE AND CRY_

    Six gentlemen upon the road
      Thus seeing Gilpin fly,
    With postboy scampering in the rear,
      They raised the hue and cry:

    Stop thief! stop thief! a highwayman!
      Not one of them was mute;
    And all and each that passed that way
      Did join in the pursuit.

                                                        _John Gilpin._


Arrived at the brow of the hill, whence such a beautiful view of the
country surrounding the metropolis is obtained,[109] Turpin turned for
an instant to reconnoitre his pursuers. Coates and Titus he utterly
disregarded; but Paterson was a more formidable foe, and he well knew
that he had to deal with a man of experience and resolution. It was
then, for the first time, that the thoughts of executing his
extraordinary ride to York first flashed across him; his bosom throbbed
high with rapture, and he involuntarily exclaimed aloud, as he raised
himself in the saddle, "By God! I will do it!"

He took one last look at the great Babel that lay buried in a world of
trees beneath him; and as his quick eye ranged over the magnificent
prospect, lit up by that gorgeous sunset, he could not help thinking of
Tom King's last words. "Poor fellow!" thought Dick, "he said truly. He
will never see another sunset." Aroused by the approaching clatter of
his pursuers, Dick struck into a lane which lies on the right of the
road, now called Shoot-up-hill Lane, and set off at a good pace in the
direction of Hampstead.

"Now," cried Paterson, "put your tits to it, my boys. We must not lose
sight of him for a second in these lanes."

Accordingly, as Turpin was by no means desirous of inconveniencing his
mare in this early stage of the business, and as the ground was still
upon an ascent, the parties preserved their relative distances.

At length, after various twistings and turnings in that deep and devious
lane; after scaring one or two farmers, and riding over a brood or two
of ducks; dipping into the verdant valley of West End, and ascending
another hill, Turpin burst upon the gorsy, sandy, and beautiful heath of
Hampstead. Shaping his course to the left, Dick then made for the lower
part of the heath, and skirted a path that leads towards North End,
passing the furze-crowned summit which is now crested by a clump of
lofty pines.

It was here that the chase first assumed a character of interest. Being
open ground, the pursued and pursuers were in full view of each other;
and as Dick rode swiftly across the heath, with the shouting trio hard
at his heels, the scene had a very animated appearance. He crossed the
hill--the Hendon Road--passed Crackskull Common--and dashed along the
cross road to Highgate.

Hitherto no advantage had been gained by the pursuers; they had not lost
ground, but still they had not gained an inch, and much spurring was
required to maintain their position. As they approached Highgate, Dick
slackened his pace, and the other party redoubled their efforts. To
avoid the town, Dick struck into a narrow path at the right, and rode
easily down the hill.

His pursuers were now within a hundred yards, and shouted to him to
stand. Pointing to a gate which seemed to bar their further progress,
Dick unhesitatingly charged it, clearing it in beautiful style. Not so
with Coates's party; and the time they lost in unfastening the gate,
which none of them chose to leap, enabled Dick to put additional space
betwixt them. It did not, however, appear to be his intention altogether
to outstrip his pursuers: the chase seemed to give him excitement, which
he was willing to prolong as much as was consistent with his safety.
Scudding rapidly past Highgate, like a swift-sailing schooner, with
three lumbering Indiamen in her wake, Dick now took the lead along a
narrow lane that threads the fields in the direction of Hornsey. The
shouts of his followers had brought others to join them, and as he
neared Crouch End, traversing the lane which takes its name from Du-Val,
and in which a house frequented by that gayest of robbers stands, or
stood, "A highwayman! a highwayman!" rang in his ears, in a discordant
chorus of many voices.

The whole neighborhood was alarmed by the cries, and by the tramp of
horses: the men of Hornsey rushed into the road to seize the fugitive,
and women held up their babes to catch a glimpse of the flying
cavalcade, which seemed to gain number and animation as it advanced.
Suddenly three horsemen appear in the road--they hear the uproar and the
din. "A highwayman! a highwayman!" cry the voices: "stop him, stop him!"
But it is no such easy matter. With a pistol in each hand, and his
bridle in his teeth, Turpin passed boldly on. His fierce looks--his
furious steed--the impetus with which he pressed forward, bore down all
before him. The horsemen gave way, and only served to swell the list of
his pursuers.

"We have him now--we have him now!" cried Paterson, exultingly. "Shout
for your lives. The turnpike man will hear us. Shout again--again! The
fellow has heard it. The gate is shut. We have him. Ha, ha!"

The old Hornsey toll-bar was a high gate, with chevaux-de-frise on the
upper rail. It may be so still. The gate was swung into its lock, and,
like a tiger in his lair, the prompt custodian of the turnpike trusts,
ensconced within his doorway, held himself in readiness to spring upon
the runaway. But Dick kept steadily on. He coolly calculated the height
of the gate; he looked to the right and to the left--nothing better
offered; he spoke a few words of encouragement to Bess, gently patted
her neck, then struck his spurs into her sides, and cleared the spikes
by an inch. Out rushed the amazed turnpike man, thus unmercifully
bilked, and was nearly trampled to death under the feet of Paterson's
horse.

"Open the gate, fellow, and be expeditious," shouted the chief
constable.

"Not I," said the man, sturdily, "unless I gets my dues. I've been done
once already. But strike me stupid if I'm done a second time."

"Don't you perceive that's a highwayman? Don't you know that I'm chief
constable of Westminster?" said Paterson, showing his staff. "How dare
you oppose me in the discharge of my duty?"

"That may be, or it may not be," said the man, doggedly. "But you don't
pass, unless I gets the blunt, and that's the long and short on it."

Amidst a storm of oaths, Coates flung down a crown piece, and the gate
was thrown open.

Turpin took advantage of this delay to breathe his mare; and, striking
into a by-lane at Duckett's Green, cantered easily along in the
direction of Tottenham. Little repose was allowed him. Yelling like a
pack of hounds in full cry, his pursuers were again at his heels. He had
now to run the gauntlet of the long straggling town of Tottenham, and
various were the devices of the populace to entrap him. The whole place
was up in arms, shouting, screaming, running, dancing, and hurling every
possible description of missile at the horse and her rider. Dick merrily
responded to their clamor as he flew past, and laughed at the brickbats
that were showered thick as hail, and quite as harmlessly, around him.

A few more miles' hard riding tired the volunteers, and before the chase
reached Edmonton most of them were "_nowhere_." Here fresh relays were
gathered, and a strong field was again mustered. John Gilpin himself
could not have excited more astonishment amongst the good folks of
Edmonton, than did our highwayman as he galloped through their town.
Unlike the men of Tottenham, the mob received him with acclamations,
thinking, no doubt, that, like "the citizens of famous London town," he
rode for a wager. Presently, however, borne on the wings of the blast,
came the cries of "Turpin! Dick Turpin!" and the hurrahs were changed to
hootings; but such was the rate at which our highwayman rode, that no
serious opposition could be offered to him.

A man in a donkey-cart, unable to get out of the way, drew himself up in
the middle of the road. Turpin treated him as he had done the _dub_ at
the _knapping jigger_, and cleared the driver and his little wain with
ease. This was a capital stroke, and well adapted to please the
multitude, who are ever taken with a brilliant action. "Hark away,
Dick!" resounded on all hands, while hisses were as liberally bestowed
upon his pursuers.



_CHAPTER V_

_THE SHORT PIPE_

    The Peons are capital horsemen, and several times we saw them, at a
    gallop, throw the rein on the horse's neck, take from one pocket a
    bag of loose tobacco, and, with a piece of paper, or a leaf of
    Indian corn, make a cigar, and then take out a flint and steel and
    light it.

                                                 HEAD'S _Rough Notes_.


Away they fly past scattered cottages, swiftly and skimmingly, like
eagles on the wing, along the Enfield highway. All were well mounted,
and the horses, now thoroughly warmed, had got into their paces, and did
their work beautifully. None of Coates's party lost ground, but they
maintained it at the expense of their steeds, which were streaming like
water-carts, while Black Bess had scarcely turned a hair.

Turpin, the reader already knows, was a crack rider; he was _the_ crack
rider of England of his time, and, perhaps, of any time. The craft and
mystery of jockeyship was not so well understood in the eighteenth as it
is in the nineteenth century; men treated their horses differently, and
few rode them as well as many ride now, when every youngster takes to
the field as naturally as if he had been bred a Guacho. Dick Turpin was
a glorious exception to the rule, and anticipated a later age. He rode
wonderfully lightly, yet sat his saddle to perfection, distributing the
weight so exquisitely that his horse scarcely felt his pressure; he
yielded to every movement made by the animal, and became, as it were,
part and parcel of itself; he took care Bess should be neither strained
nor wrung. Freely, and as lightly as a feather, was she borne along;
beautiful was it to see her action--to watch her style and temper of
covering the ground; and many a first-rate Meltonian might have got a
wrinkle from Turpin's seat and conduct.

We have before stated that it was not Dick's object to _ride away_ from
his pursuers--he could have done that at any moment. He liked the fun of
the chase, and would have been sorry to put a period to his own
excitement. Confident in his mare, he just kept her at such speed as
should put his pursuers completely _to it_, without in the slightest
degree inconveniencing himself. Some judgment of the speed at which they
went may be formed, when we state that little better than an hour had
elapsed and nearly twenty miles had been ridden over. "Not bad
travelling that," methinks we hear the reader exclaim.

"By the mother that bore me," said Titus, as they went along in this
slapping style--Titus, by-the-by, rode a big, Roman-nosed, powerful
horse, well adapted to his weight, but which required a plentiful
exercise both of leg and arm to call forth all his action, and keep his
rider alongside his companions--"by the mother that bore me," said he,
almost thumping the wind out of his flea-bitten Bucephalus with his
calves, after the Irish fashion, "if the fellow isn't lighting his pipe!
I saw the sparks fly on each side of him, and there he goes like a smoky
chimney on a frosty morning! See, he turns his impudent phiz, with the
pipe in his mouth! Are we to stand that, Mr. Coates?"

"Wait awhile, sir--wait awhile," said Coates; "we'll smoke _him_
by-and-by."

Pæans have been sung in honor of the Peons of the Pampas by the
_Head_long Sir Francis; but what the gallant major extols so loudly in
the South American horsemen, viz., the lighting of a cigar when in mid
career, was accomplished with equal ease by our English highwayman a
hundred years ago, nor was it esteemed by him any extravagant feat
either. Flint, steel, and tinder were bestowed within Dick's ample
pouch, the short pipe was at hand, and within a few seconds there was a
stream of vapor exhaling from his lips, like the smoke from a steamboat
shooting down the river, and tracking his still rapid course through the
air.

"I'll let 'em see what I think of 'em!" said Dick, coolly, as he turned
his head.

It was now gray twilight. The mists of coming night were weaving a thin
curtain over the rich surrounding landscape. All the sounds and hum of
that delicious hour were heard, broken only by the regular clatter of
the horses' hoofs. Tired of shouting, the chasers now kept on their way
in deep silence; each man held his breath, and plunged his spurs, rowel
deep, into his horse; but the animals were already at the top of their
speed, and incapable of greater exertion. Paterson, who was a hard
rider, and perhaps a thought better mounted, kept the lead. The rest
followed as they might.

Had it been undisturbed by the rush of the cavalcade, the scene would
have been still and soothing. Overhead a cloud of rooks were winging
their garrulous flight to the ancestral avenue of an ancient mansion to
the right; the bat was on the wing; the distant lowing of a herd of kine
saluted the ear at intervals; the blithe whistle of the rustic herdsman,
and the merry chime of waggon bells, rang pleasantly from afar. But
these cheerful sounds, which make the still twilight hour delightful,
were lost in the tramp of the horsemen, now three abreast. The hind fled
to the hedge for shelter, and the waggoner pricked up his ears, and
fancied he heard the distant rumbling of an earthquake.

On rush the pack, whipping, spurring, tugging for very life. Again they
gave voice, in hopes the waggoner might succeed in stopping the
fugitive. But Dick was already by his side. "Harkee, my tulip," cried
he, taking the pipe from his mouth as he passed, "tell my friends behind
they will hear of me at York."

"What did he say?" asked Paterson, coming up the next moment.

"That you'll find him at York," replied the waggoner.

"At York!" echoed Coates, in amaze.

Turpin was now out of sight, and although our trio flogged with might
and main, they could never catch a glimpse of him until, within a short
distance of Ware, they beheld him at the door of a little public house,
standing with his bridle in his hand, coolly quaffing a tankard of ale.
No sooner were they in sight, than Dick vaulted into the saddle, and
rode off.

"Devil seize you, sir! why didn't you stop him?" exclaimed Paterson, as
he rode up. "My horse is dead lame. I cannot go any further. Do you know
what a prize you have missed? Do you know who that was?"

"No, sir, I don't," said the publican. "But I know he gave his mare more
ale than he took himself, and he has given me a guinea instead of a
shilling. He's a regular good 'un."

"A good 'un!" said Paterson; "it was Turpin, the notorious highwayman.
We are in pursuit of him. Have you any horses? our cattle are all
blown."

"You'll find the post-house in the town, gentlemen. I'm sorry I can't
accommodate you. But I keeps no stabling. I wish you a very good
evening, sir." Saying which, the publican retreated to his domicile.

"That's a flash crib, I'll be bound," said Paterson. "I'll chalk you
down, my friend, you may rely upon it. Thus far we're done, Mr. Coates.
But curse me if I give it in. I'll follow him to the world's end first."

"Right, sir--right," said the attorney. "A very proper spirit, Mr.
Constable. You would be guilty of neglecting your duty were you to act
otherwise. You must recollect my father, Mr. Paterson--Christopher, or
Kit Coates; a name as well known at the Old Bailey as Jonathan Wild's.
You recollect him--eh?"

"Perfectly well, sir," replied the chief constable.

"The greatest thief-taker, though I say it," continued Coates, "on
record. I inherit all his zeal--all his ardor. Come along, sir. We shall
have a fine moon in an hour--bright as day. To the post-house! to the
post-house!"

Accordingly to the post-house they went; and, with as little delay as
circumstances admitted, fresh hacks being procured, accompanied by a
postilion, the party again pursued their onward course, encouraged to
believe they were still in the right scent.

Night had now spread her mantle over the earth; still it was not wholly
dark. A few stars were twinkling in the deep, cloudless heavens, and a
pearly radiance in the eastern horizon heralded the rising of the orb of
night. A gentle breeze was stirring; the dews of evening had already
fallen; and the air felt bland and dry. It was just the night one would
have chosen for a ride, if one ever rode by choice at such an hour; and
to Turpin, whose chief excursions were conducted by night, it appeared
little less than heavenly.

Full of ardor and excitement, determined to execute what he had mentally
undertaken, Turpin held on his solitary course. Everything was favorable
to his project; the roads were in admirable condition, his mare was in
like order; she was inured to hard work, had rested sufficiently in town
to recover from the fatigue of her recent journey, and had never been in
more perfect training. "She has now got her wind in her," said Dick;
"I'll see what she can do--hark away, lass--hark away! I wish they could
see her now," added he, as he felt her almost fly away with him.

Encouraged by her master's voice and hand, Black Bess started forward at
a pace which few horses could have equalled, and scarcely any have
sustained so long. Even Dick, accustomed as he was to her magnificent
action, felt electrified at the speed with which he was borne along.
"Bravo! bravo!" shouted he, "hark away, Bess!"

The deep and solemn woods through which they were rushing rang with his
shouts, and the sharp rattle of Bess's hoofs; and thus he held his way,
while, in the words of the ballad,

    Fled past, on right and left, how fast,
      Each forest, grove, and bower;
    On right and left, fled past, how fast,
      Each city, town, and tower.



_CHAPTER VI_

_BLACK BESS_

    _Dauphin._ I will not change my horse with any that treads but on
    four pasterns. _Ca, ha!_ He bounds from the earth as if his entrails
    were hairs; _le cheval volant_, the Pegasus _qui a les narines de
    feu_! When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air;
    the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is
    more musical than the pipe of Hermes.

                                     SHAKESPEARE: _Henry V., Act III._


Black Bess being undoubtedly the heroine of the Fourth Book of this
Romance, we may, perhaps, be pardoned for expatiating a little in this
place upon her birth, parentage, breeding, appearance, and attractions.
And first as to her pedigree; for in the horse, unlike the human
species, nature has strongly impressed the noble or ignoble caste. He is
the real aristocrat, and the pure blood that flows in the veins of the
gallant steed will infallibly be transmitted, if his mate be suitable,
throughout all his line. Bess was no _cock-tail_. She was thorough-bred;
she boasted blood in every bright and branching vein:

    If blood can give nobility,
      A noble steed was she;
    Her sire was blood, and blood her dam,
      And all her pedigree.

As to her pedigree. Her sire was a desert Arab, renowned in his day, and
brought to this country by a wealthy traveller; her dam was an English
racer, coal-black as her child. Bess united all the fire and gentleness,
the strength and hardihood, the abstinence and endurance of fatigue of
the one, with the spirit and extraordinary fleetness of the other. How
Turpin became possessed of her is of little consequence. We never heard
that he paid a heavy price for her; though we doubt if any sum would
have induced him to part with her. In color, she was perfectly black,
with a skin smooth on the surface as polished jet; not a single white
hair could be detected in her satin coat. In make she was magnificent.
Every point was perfect, beautiful, compact; modelled, in little, for
strength and speed. Arched was her neck, as that of the swan; clean and
fine were her lower limbs, as those of the gazelle; round and sound as a
drum was her carcase, and as broad as a cloth-yard shaft her width of
chest. Hers were the "_pulchræ clunes, breve caput, arduaque cervix_,"
of the Roman bard. There was no redundancy of flesh, 'tis true; her
flanks might, to please some tastes, have been rounder, and her
shoulders fuller; but look at the nerve and sinew, palpable through the
veined limbs! She was built more for strength than beauty, and yet she
_was_ beautiful. Look at that elegant little head; those thin, tapering
ears, closely placed together; that broad, snorting nostril, which seems
to snuff the gale with disdain; that eye, glowing and large as the
diamond of Giamschid! Is she not beautiful? Behold her paces! how
gracefully she moves! She is off!--no eagle on the wing could skim the
air more swiftly. Is she not superb? As to her temper, the lamb is not
more gentle. A child might guide her.

But hark back to Dick Turpin. We left him rattling along in superb
style, and in the highest possible glee. He could not, in fact, be
otherwise than exhilarated; nothing being so wildly intoxicating as a
mad gallop. We seem to start out of ourselves--to be endued, for the
time, with new energies. Our thoughts take wings rapid as our steed. We
feel as if his fleetness and boundless impulses were for the moment our
own. We laugh; we exult; we shout for very joy. We cry out with
Mephistopheles, but in anything but a sardonic mood, "What I enjoy with
spirit, is it the less my own on that account? If I can pay for six
horses, are not their powers mine! I drive along, and am a proper man,
as if I had four-and-twenty legs!" These were Turpin's sentiments
precisely. Give him four legs and a wide plain, and he needed no
Mephistopheles to bid him ride to perdition as fast as his nag could
carry him. Away, away!--the road is level, the path is clear. Press on,
thou gallant steed, no obstacle is in thy way!--and, lo! the moon breaks
forth! Her silvery light is thrown over the woody landscape. Dark
shadows are cast athwart the road, and the flying figures of thy rider
and thyself are traced, like giant phantoms, in the dust!

Away, away! our breath is gone in keeping up with this tremendous run.
Yet Dick Turpin has not lost his wind, for we hear his cheering
cry--hark! he sings. The reader will bear in mind that Oliver means the
moon--to "whiddle" is to blab.

    OLIVER WHIDDLES!

    Oliver whiddles--the tattler old!
    Telling what best had been left untold.
    Oliver ne'er was a friend of mine;
    All glims I hate that so brightly shine.
    Give me a night black as hell, and then
    See what I'll show to you, my merry men.

    Oliver whiddles!--who cares--who cares,
    If down upon us he peers and stares?
    Mind him who will, with his great white face,
    Boldly _I'll_ ride by his glim to the chase;
    Give him a Rowland, and loudly as ever
    Shout, as I show myself, "Stand and deliver!"

"Egad," soliloquized Dick, as he concluded his song, looking up at the
moon. "Old Noll's no bad fellow, either. I wouldn't be without his white
face to-night for a trifle. He's as good as a lamp to guide one, and let
Bess only hold on as she goes now, and I'll do it with ease. Softly,
wench, softly--dost not see it's a hill we're rising. The devil's in the
mare, she cares for nothing." And as they ascended the hill, Dick's
voice once more awoke the echoes of night.


    WILL DAVIES AND DICK TURPIN

    Hodiè mihi, cràs tibi.--SAINT AUGUSTIN.

    One night, when mounted on my mare,
    To Bagshot Heath I did repair,
    And saw Will Davies hanging there,
    Upon the gibbet bleak and bare,
        _With a rustified, fustified, mustified air!_

    Within his chains bold Will looked blue,
    Gone were his sword and snappers too,
    Which served their master well and true;
    Says I, "Will Davies, how are you?
        _With your rustified, fustified, mustified air!_"

    Says he, "Dick Turpin, here I be,
    Upon the gibbet, as you see;
    I take the matter easily;
    _You'll_ have your turn as well as me,
        _With your whistle-me, pistol-me, cut-my-throat air!_"

    Says I, "That's very true, my lad;
    Meantime, with pistol and with prad,
    I'm quite contented as I am,
    And heed the gibbet not a d--n!
        _With its rustified, fustified, mustified air!_"

"Poor Will Davies!" sighed Dick; "Bagshot ought never to forget
him."[110]

    For never more shall Bagshot see
    A highwayman of such degree,
    Appearance, and gentility,
    As Will, who hangs upon the tree,
        _With his rustified, fustified, mustified air!_

"Well," mused Turpin, "I suppose one day it will be with me like all the
rest of 'em, and that I shall dance a long lavolta to the music of the
four whistling winds, as my betters have done before me; but I trust,
whenever the chanter-culls and last-speech scribblers get hold of me,
they'll at least put no cursed nonsense into my mouth, but make me
speak, as I have ever felt, like a man who never either feared death, or
turned his back upon his friend. In the mean time I'll give them
something to talk about. This ride of mine shall ring in their ears long
after I'm done for--put to bed with a mattock, and tucked up with a
spade.

    And when I am gone, boys, each huntsman shall say,
    None rode like Dick Turpin, so far in a day.

And thou, too, brave Bess!--thy name shall be linked with mine, and
we'll go down to posterity together; and what," added he, despondingly,
"if it should be too much for thee? what if----but no matter! Better die
now, while I am with thee, than fall into the knacker's hands. Better
die with all thy honors upon thy head, than drag out thy old age at the
sand-cart. Hark forward, lass--hark forward!"

By what peculiar instinct is it that this noble animal, the horse, will
at once perceive the slightest change in his rider's physical
temperament, and allow himself so to be influenced by it, that,
according as his master's spirits fluctuate, will his own energies rise
and fall, wavering

    From walk to trot, from canter to full speed?

How is it, we ask of those more intimately acquainted with the
metaphysics of the Houyhnhnm than we pretend to be? Do the saddle or
the rein convey, like metallic tractors, vibrations of the spirit
betwixt the two? We know not, but this much is certain, that no servant
partakes so much of the character of his master as the horse. The steed
we are wont to ride becomes a portion of ourselves. He thinks and feels
with us. As we are lively, he is sprightly; as we are depressed, his
courage droops. In proof of this, let the reader see what horses some
men make--_make_, we say, because in such hands their character is
wholly altered. Partaking, in a measure, of the courage and the firmness
of the hand that guides them, and of the resolution of the frame that
sways them--what their rider wills, they do, or strive to do. When that
governing power is relaxed, their energies are relaxed likewise; and
their fine sensibilities supply them with an instant knowledge of the
disposition and capacity of the rider. A gift of the gods is the gallant
steed, which, like any other faculty we possess, to use or to abuse--to
command or to neglect--rests with ourselves; he is the best general test
of our own self-government.

Black Bess's action amply verified what we have just asserted; for
during Turpin's momentary despondency, her pace was perceptibly
diminished and her force retarded; but as he revived, she rallied
instantly, and, seized apparently with a kindred enthusiasm, snorted
joyously as she recovered her speed. Now was it that the child of the
desert showed herself the undoubted offspring of the hardy loins from
whence she sprung. Full fifty miles had she sped, yet she showed no
symptoms of distress. If possible, she appeared fresher than when she
started. She had breathed; her limbs were suppler; her action was freer,
easier, lighter. Her sire, who, upon his trackless wilds, could have
outstripped the pestilent simoom; and with throat unslaked, and hunger
unappeased, could thrice have seen the scorching sun go down, had not
greater powers of endurance. His vigor was her heritage. Her dam, who
upon the velvet sod was of almost unapproachable swiftness, and who had
often brought her owner golden assurances of her worth, could scarce
have kept pace with her, and would have sunk under a third of her
fatigue. But Bess was a paragon. We ne'er shall look upon her like
again, unless we can prevail upon some Bedouin chief to present us with
a brood mare, and then the racing world shall see what a breed we will
introduce into this country. Eclipse, Childers, or Hambletonian, shall
be nothing to our colts, and even the railroad slow travelling, compared
with the speed of our new nags!

But to return to Bess, or rather to go along with her, for there is no
halting now; we are going at the rate of twenty knots an hour--sailing
before the wind; and the reader must either keep pace with us, or drop
astern. Bess is now in her speed, and Dick happy. Happy! he is
enraptured--maddened--furious--intoxicated as with wine. Pshaw! wine
could never throw him into such a burning delirium. Its choicest juices
have no inspiration like this. Its fumes are slow and heady. This is
ethereal, transporting. His blood spins through his veins; winds round
his heart; mounts to his brain. Away! away! He is wild with joy. Hall,
cot, tree, tower, glade, mead, waste, or woodland, are seen, passed,
left behind, and vanish as in a dream. Motion is scarcely
perceptible--it is impetus! volition! The horse and her rider are driven
forward, as it were, by self-accelerated speed. A hamlet is visible in
the moonlight. It is scarcely discovered ere the flints sparkle beneath
the mare's hoofs. A moment's clatter upon the stones, and it is left
behind. Again it is the silent, smiling country. Now they are buried in
the darkness of woods; now sweeping along on the wide plain; now
clearing the unopened toll-bar; now trampling over the hollow-sounding
bridge, their shadows momently reflected in the placid mirror of the
stream; now scaling the hill-side a thought more slowly; now plunging,
as the horses of Phœbus into the ocean, down its precipitous sides.

The limits of two shires are already past. They are within the confines
of a third. They have entered the merry county of Huntingdon; they have
surmounted the gentle hill that slips into Godmanchester. They are by
the banks of the rapid Ouse. The bridge is past; and as Turpin rode
through the deserted streets of Huntingdon, he heard the eleventh hour
given from the iron tongue of St. Mary's spire. In four hours--it was
about seven when he started--Dick had accomplished full sixty miles!

A few reeling topers in the streets saw the horseman flit past, and one
or two windows were thrown open; but Peeping Tom of Coventry would have
had small chance of beholding the unveiled beauties of Queen Godiva had
she ridden at the rate of Dick Turpin. He was gone, like a meteor,
almost as soon as he appeared.

Huntingdon is left behind, and he is once more surrounded by dew-gemmed
hedges and silent slumbering trees. Broad meadows, or pasture land, with
drowsy cattle, or low bleating sheep, lie on either side. But what to
Turpin, at that moment, is nature, animate or inanimate? He thinks only
of his mare--his future fame. None are by to see him ride; no
stimulating plaudits ring in his ears; no thousand hands are clapping;
no thousand voices huzzaing; no handkerchiefs are waved; no necks
strained; no bright eyes rain influence upon him; no eagle orbs watch
his motions; no bells are rung; no cup awaits his achievement; no
sweepstakes--no plate. But his will be renown--everlasting renown; his
will be fame which will not die with him--which will keep his
reputation, albeit a tarnished one, still in the mouths of men. He wants
all these adventitious excitements, but he has that within which is a
greater excitement than all these. He is conscious that he is doing a
deed to live by. If not riding for _life_, he is riding for
_immortality_; and as the hero may perchance feel--for even a highwayman
may feel like a hero,--when he willingly throws away his existence in
the hope of earning a glorious name, Turpin cared not what might befall
himself, so he could proudly signalize himself as the first of his land,

    _And witch the world with noble horsemanship!_

What need had he of spectators? The eye of posterity was upon him; he
felt the influence of that Argus glance which has made many a poor wight
spur on his Pegasus with not half so good a chance of reaching the goal
as Dick Turpin. Multitudes, yet unborn, he knew would hear and laud his
deeds. He trembled with excitement, and Bess trembled under him. But the
emotion was transient. On, on they fly! The torrent leaping from the
crag--the bolt from the bow--the air-cleaving eagle--thoughts themselves
are scarce more winged in their flight!



_CHAPTER VII_

_THE YORK STAGE_

    YORK, FOUR DAYS!--_Stage Coach begins on Friday, the 18th of April,
    1706._ All that are desirous to pass from London to York, or from
    York to London, or any other place on that road, let them repair to
    the Black Swan, in Holborn, in London, or to the Black Swan, in
    Coney Street, in York. At both which places they may be received in
    a _Stage Coach_, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which performs
    the journey in four days--if God permits!--and sets forth at five in
    the morning. And returns from York to Stamford in two days, and from
    Stamford, by Huntingdon, in two days more. And the like stages in
    their return. Allowing each passenger fourteen pounds' weight, and
    all above, three pence per pound. Performed by Benjamin Kingman,
    Henry Harrison, and Waller Baynes.--_Placard, preserved in the
    coffee-room, of the Black Swan Inn at York._


The night had hitherto been balmy and beautiful, with a bright array of
stars, and a golden harvest moon, which seemed to diffuse even warmth
with its radiance; but now Turpin was approaching the region of fog and
fen, and he began to feel the influence of that dank atmosphere. The
intersecting dykes, yawners, gullies, or whatever they are called, began
to send forth their steaming vapors, and chilled the soft and wholesome
air, obscuring the void, and in some instances, as it were, choking up
the road itself with vapor. But fog or fen was the same to Bess; her
hoofs rattled merrily along the road, and she burst from a cloud, like
Eöus at the break of dawn.

It chanced, as he issued from a fog of this kind, that Turpin burst upon
the York stage coach. It was no uncommon thing for the coach to be
stopped; and so furious was the career of our highwayman, that the man
involuntarily drew up his horses. Turpin had also to draw in the rein, a
task of no little difficulty, as charging a huge, lumbering coach, with
its full complement of passengers, was more than even Bess could
accomplish. The moon shone brightly on Turpin and his mare. He was
unmasked, and his features were distinctly visible. An exclamation was
uttered by a gentleman on the box, who, it appeared, instantly
recognized him.

"Pull up--draw your horses across the road!" cried the gentleman;
"that's Dick Turpin, the highwayman. His capture would be worth three
hundred pounds to you," added he, addressing the coachman, "and is of
equal importance to me. Stand!" shouted he, presenting a cocked pistol.

This resolution of the gentleman was not apparently agreeable, either to
the coachman or the majority of the passengers--the name of Turpin
acting like magic upon them. One man jumped off behind, and was with
difficulty afterwards recovered, having tumbled into a deep ditch at the
roadside. An old gentleman with a cotton nightcap, who had popped out
his head to swear at the coachman, drew it suddenly back. A faint scream
in a female key issued from within, and there was a considerable hubbub
on the roof. Amongst other ominous sounds, the guard was heard to click
his long horse-pistols. "Stop the York four-day stage!" said he, forcing
his smoky voice through a world of throat-embracing shawl; "the fastest
coach in the kingdom: vos ever such atrocity heard of? I say, Joe, keep
them ere leaders steady; we shall all be in the ditch. Don't you see
where the hind wheels are? Who--whoop, I say."

The gentleman on the box now discharged his pistol, and the confusion
within was redoubled. The white nightcap was popped out like a rabbit's
head, and as quickly popped back on hearing the highwayman's voice.
Owing to the plunging of the horses, the gentleman had missed his aim.

Prepared for such emergencies as the present, and seldom at any time
taken aback, Dick received the fire without flinching. He then lashed
the horses out of his course, and rode up, pistol in hand, to the
gentleman who had fired.

"Major Mowbray," said he, in a stern tone, "I know you. I meant not
either to assault you or these gentlemen. Yet you have attempted my
life, sir, a second time. But you are now in my power, and by hell! if
you do not answer the questions I put to you, nothing earthly shall save
you."

"If you ask aught I may not answer, fire!" said the major; "I will never
ask life from such as you."

"Have you seen aught of Sir Luke Rookwood?" asked Dick.

"The villain you mean is not yet secured," replied the major, "but we
have traces of him. 'Tis with a view of procuring more efficient
assistance that I ride to town."

"They have not met then, since?" said Dick, carelessly.

"Met! whom do you mean?"

"Your sister and Sir Luke," said Dick.

"My sister meet him!" cried the major, angrily--"think you he dares show
himself at Rookwood?"

"Ho! ho!" laughed Dick--"she _is_ at Rookwood, then? A thousand thanks,
major. Good night to you, gentlemen."

"Take that with you, and remember the guard," cried the fellow, who,
unable to take aim from where he sat, had crept along the coach roof,
and discharged thence one of his large horse-pistols at what he took to
be the highwayman's head, but which, luckily for Dick, was his hat,
which he had raised to salute the passengers.

"Remember you," said Dick, coolly replacing his perforated beaver on his
brow; "you may rely upon it, my fine fellow, I'll not forget you the
next time we meet."

And off he went like the breath of the whirlwind.



_CHAPTER VIII_

_ROADSIDE INN_

    _Moor._ Take my horse, and dash a bottle of wine over him. 'Twas hot
    work.

                                              SCHILLER: _The Robbers_.


We will now make inquiries after Mr. Coates and his party, of whom both
we and Dick Turpin have for some time lost sight. With unabated ardor
the vindictive man of law and his myrmidons pressed forward. A tacit
compact seemed to have been entered into between the highwayman and his
pursuers, that he was to fly while they were to follow. Like
bloodhounds, they kept steadily upon his trail; nor were they so far
behind as Dick imagined. At each post-house they passed they obtained
fresh horses, and, while these were saddling, a postboy was despatched
_en courrier_ to order relays at the next station. In this manner they
proceeded after the first stoppage without interruption. Horses were in
waiting for them, as they, "bloody with spurring, fiery hot with haste,"
and their jaded hacks arrived. Turpin had been heard or seen in all
quarters. Turnpike-men, waggoners, carters, trampers, all had seen him.
Besides, strange as it may sound, they placed some faith in his word.
York they believed would be his destination.

At length the coach which Dick had encountered hove in sight. There was
another stoppage and another hubbub. The old gentleman's nightcap was
again manifested, and suffered a sudden occultation, as upon the former
occasion. The postboy, who was in advance, had halted, and given up his
horse to Major Mowbray, who exchanged his seat on the box for one on the
saddle, deeming it more expedient, after his interview with Turpin, to
return to Rookwood, rather than to proceed to town. The postboy was
placed behind Coates, as being the lightest weight; and, thus
reinforced, the party pushed forward as rapidly as heretofore.

Eighty and odd miles had now been traversed--the boundary of another
county, Northampton, passed; yet no rest nor respite had Dick Turpin or
his unflinching mare enjoyed. But here he deemed it fitting to make a
brief halt.

Bordering the beautiful domains of Burleigh House stood a little retired
hostelry of some antiquity, which bore the great Lord Treasurer's arms.
With this house Dick was not altogether unacquainted. The lad who acted
as ostler was known to him. It was now midnight, but a bright and
beaming night. To the door of the stable then did he ride, and knocked
in a peculiar manner. Reconnoitering Dick through a broken pane of glass
in the lintel, and apparently satisfied with his scrutiny, the lad
thrust forth a head of hair as full of straw as Mad Tom's is represented
to be upon the stage. A chuckle of welcome followed his sleepy
salutation. "Glad to see you, Captain Turpin," said he; "can I do
anything for you?"

"Get me a couple of bottles of brandy and a beefsteak," said Dick.

"As to the brandy, you can have that in a jiffy--but the steak, Lord
love you, the old ooman won't stand it at this time; but there's a cold
round, mayhap a slice of that might do--or a knuckle of ham?"

"A pest on your knuckles, Ralph," cried Dick; "have you any raw meat in
the house?"

"Raw meat!" echoed Ralph, in surprise. "Oh, yes, there's a rare rump of
beef. You can have a cut off that, if you like."

"That's the thing I want," said Dick, ungirthing his mare. "Give me the
scraper. There, I can get a whisp of straw from your head. Now run and
get the brandy. Better bring three bottles. Uncork 'em, and let me have
half a pail of water to mix with the spirit."

"A pail full of brandy and water to wash down a raw steak! My eyes!"
exclaimed Ralph, opening wide his sleepy peepers; adding, as he went
about the execution of his task, "I always thought them Rum-padders, as
they call themselves, rum fellows, but now I'm sartin sure on it."

The most sedulous groom could not have bestowed more attention upon the
horse of his heart than Dick Turpin now paid to his mare. He scraped,
chafed, and dried her, sounded each muscle, traced each sinew, pulled
her ears, examined the state of her feet, and, ascertaining that her
"withers were un-wrung," finally washed her from head to foot in the
diluted spirit, not, however, before he had conveyed a thimbleful of the
liquid to his own parched throat, and replenished what Falstaff calls a
"pocket-pistol," which he had about him. While Ralph was engaged in
rubbing her down after her bath, Dick occupied himself, not in dressing
the raw steak in the manner the stable-boy had anticipated, but in
rolling it round the bit of his bridle.

"She will now go as long as there's breath in her body," said he,
putting the flesh-covered iron within her mouth.

The saddle being once more replaced, after champing a moment or two at
the bit, Bess began to snort and paw the earth, as if impatient of
delay; and, acquainted as he was with her indomitable spirit and power,
her condition was a surprise even to Dick himself. Her vigor seemed
inexhaustible, her vivacity was not a whit diminished, but, as she was
led into the open space, her step became as light and free as when she
started on her ride, and her sense of sound as quick as ever. Suddenly
she pricked her ears, and uttered a low neigh. A dull tramp was
audible.

"Ha!" exclaimed Dick, springing into his saddle; "they come."

"Who come, captain?" asked Ralph.

"The road takes a turn here, don't it?" asked Dick--"sweeps round to the
right by the plantations in the hollow?"

"Ay, ay, captain," answered Ralph; "it's plain you knows the ground."

"What lies behind yon shed?"

"A stiff fence, captain--a reg'lar rasper. Beyond that a hill-side steep
as a house, no oss as was ever shoed can go down it."

"Indeed!" laughed Dick.

A loud halloo from Major Mowbray, who seemed advancing upon the wings of
the wind, told Dick that he was discovered. The major was a superb
horseman, and took the lead of his party. Striking his spurs deeply into
his horse, and giving him bridle enough, the major seemed to shoot
forward like a shell through the air. The Burleigh Arms retired some
hundred yards from the road, the space in front being occupied by a neat
garden, with low, clipped edges. No tall timber intervened between Dick
and his pursuers, so that the motions of both parties were visible to
each other. Dick saw in an instant that if he now started he should come
into collision with the major exactly at the angle of the road, and he
was by no means desirous of hazarding such a rencontre. He looked
wistfully back at the double fence.

"Come into the stable. Quick, captain, quick!" exclaimed Ralph.

"The stable!" echoed Dick, hesitating.

"Ay, the stable; it's your only chance. Don't you see he's turning the
corner, and they are all coming? Quick, sir, quick!"

Dick, lowering his head, rode into the tenement, the door of which was
unceremoniously slapped in the major's face, and bolted on the other
side.

"Villain!" cried Major Mowbray, thundering at the door, "come forth! You
are now fairly trapped at last--caught like the woodcock in your own
springe. We have you. Open the door, I say, and save us the trouble of
forcing it. You cannot escape us. We will burn the building down but we
will have you."

"What dun you want, measter?" cried Ralph, from the lintel, whence he
reconnoitered the major, and kept the door fast. "You're clean mista'en.
There be none here."

"We'll soon see that," said Paterson, who had now arrived; and, leaping
from his horse, the chief constable took a short run to give himself
impetus, and with his foot burst open the door. This being accomplished,
in dashed the major and Paterson, but the stable was vacant. A door was
open at the back; they rushed to it. The sharply sloping sides of a hill
slipped abruptly downwards, within a yard of the door. It was a perilous
descent to the horseman, yet the print of a horse's heels were visible
in the dislodged turf and scattered soil.

"Confusion!" cried the major, "he has escaped us."

"He is yonder," said Paterson, pointing out Turpin moving swiftly
through the steaming meadow. "See, he makes again for the road--he
clears the fence. A regular throw he has given us, by the Lord!"

"Nobly done, by Heaven!" cried the major. "With all his faults, I honor
the fellow's courage and admire his prowess. He's already ridden
to-night as I believe never man rode before. I would not have ventured
to slide down that wall, for it's nothing else, with the enemy at my
heels. What say you, gentlemen, have you had enough? Shall we let him
go, or----?"

"As far as chase goes, I don't care if we bring the matter to a
conclusion," said Titus. "I don't think, as it is, that I shall have a
sate to sit on this week to come. I've lost leather most confoundedly."

"What says Mr. Coates?" asked Paterson. "I look to him."

"Then mount, and off," cried Coates. "Public duty requires that we
should take him."

"And private pique," returned the major. "No matter! The end is the
same. Justice shall be satisfied. To your steeds, my merry men all.
Hark, and away."

Once more upon the move, Titus forgot his distress, and addressed
himself to the attorney, by whose side he rode.

"What place is that we're coming to?" asked he, pointing to a cluster of
moonlit spires belonging to a town they were rapidly approaching.

"Stamford," replied Coates.

"Stamford!" exclaimed Titus; "by the powers! then we've ridden a matter
of ninety miles. Why, the great deeds of Redmond O'Hanlon were nothing
to this! I'll remember it to my dying day, and with reason," added he,
uneasily shifting his position on the saddle.



_CHAPTER IX_

_EXCITEMENT_

    How fled what moonshine faintly showed!
      How fled what darkness hid!
    How fled the earth beneath their feet,
      The heaven above their head.

                                                  _William and Helen._


Dick Turpin, meanwhile, held bravely on his course. Bess was neither
strained by her gliding passage down the slippery hill-side nor shaken
by _larking_ the fence in the meadow. As Dick said, "It took a devilish
deal to take it out of her." On regaining the high road she resumed her
old pace, and once more they were distancing Time's swift chariot in
its whirling passage o'er the earth. Stamford, and the tongue of
Lincoln's fenny shire, upon which it is situated, were passed almost in
a breath. Rutland is won and passed, and Lincolnshire once more entered.
The road now verged within a bowshot of that sporting Athens--Corinth,
perhaps, we should say--Melton Mowbray. Melton was then unknown to fame,
but, as if inspired by that _furor venaticus_ which now inspires all who
come within twenty miles of this Charybdis of the chase, Bess here _let
out_ in a style with which it would have puzzled the best Leicestershire
squire's best prad to have kept pace. The spirit she imbibed through the
pores of her skin, and the juices of the meat she had champed, seemed to
have communicated preternatural excitement to her. Her pace was
absolutely terrific. Her eyeballs were dilated, and glowed like flaming
carbuncles; while her widely-distended nostril seemed, in the cold
moonshine, to snort forth smoke, as from a hidden fire. Fain would
Turpin have controlled her; but, without bringing into play all his
tremendous nerve, no check could be given her headlong course, and for
once, and the only time in her submissive career, Bess resolved to have
her own way--and she had it. Like a sensible fellow, Dick conceded the
point. There was something even of conjugal philosophy in his
self-communion upon the occasion. "E'en let her take her own way and be
hanged to her, for an obstinate, self-willed jade as she is," said he:
"now her back is up there'll be no stopping her, I'm sure: she rattles
away like a woman's tongue, and when that once begins, we all know what
chance the curb has. Best to let her have it out, or rather to lend her
a lift. 'Twill be over the sooner. Tantivy, lass! tantivy! I know which
of us will tire first."

We have before said that the vehement excitement of continued swift
riding produces a paroxysm in the sensorium amounting to delirium.
Dick's blood was again on fire. He was first giddy, as after a deep
draught of kindling spirit; this passed off, but the spirit was still
in his veins--the _estro_ was working in his brain. All his ardor, his
eagerness, his fury, returned. He rode like one insane, and his courser
partook of his frenzy. She bounded; she leaped; she tore up the ground
beneath her; while Dick gave vent to his exultation in one wild,
prolonged halloo. More than half his race is run. He has triumphed over
every difficulty. He will have no further occasion to halt. Bess carries
her forage along with her. The course is straightforward--success seems
certain--the goal already reached--the path of glory won. Another wild
halloo, to which the echoing woods reply, and away!

Away! away! thou matchless steed! yet brace fast thy sinews--hold, hold
thy breath, for, alas! the goal is not yet attained!

    But forward! forward, on they go,
      High snorts the straining steed,
    Thick pants the rider's laboring breath,
      As headlong on they speed!



_CHAPTER X_

_THE GIBBET_

    See there, see there, what yonder swings
      And creaks 'mid whistling rain,
    Gibbet and steel--the accursed wheel--
      A murderer in his chain.

                                                  _William and Helen._


As the eddying currents sweep over its plains in howling, bleak
December, the horse and her rider passed over what remained of
Lincolnshire. Grantham is gone, and they are now more slowly looking up
the ascent of Gonerby Hill, a path well known to Turpin; where often, in
bygone nights, many a purse had changed its owner. With that feeling of
independence and exhilaration which every one feels, we believe, on
having climbed the hill-side, Turpin turned to gaze around. There was
triumph in his eye. But the triumph was checked as his glance fell upon
a gibbet near him to the right, on the round point of hill which is a
landmark to the wide vale of Belvoir. Pressed as he was for time, Dick
immediately struck out of the road, and approached the spot where it
stood. Two scarecrow objects, covered with rags and rusty links of
chains, depended from the tree. A night crow screaming around the
carcases added to the hideous effect of the scene. Nothing but the
living highwayman and his skeleton brethren was visible upon the
solitary spot. Around him was the lonesome waste of hill, o'erlooking
the moonlit valley: beneath his feet, a patch of bare and
lightning-blasted sod: above, the wan, declining moon and skies, flaked
with ghostly clouds; before him, the bleached bodies of the murderers,
for such they were.

"Will this be my lot, I marvel?" said Dick, looking upwards, with an
involuntary shudder.

"Ay, marry will it," rejoined a crouching figure, suddenly springing
from beside a tuft of briars that skirted the blasted ground.

Dick started in his saddle, while Bess reared and plunged at the sight
of this unexpected apparition.

"What, ho! thou devil's dam, Barbara, is it thou?" exclaimed Dick,
reassured upon discovering it was the gipsy queen, and no spectre whom
he beheld. "Stand still, Bess--stand, lass. What dost thou here, mother
of darkness? Art gathering mandrakes for thy poisonous messes, or
pilfering flesh from the dead? Meddle not with their bones, or I will
drive thee hence. What dost thou here, I say, old dam of the gibbet?"

"I came to die here," replied Barbara, in a feeble tone; and, throwing
back her hood, she displayed features well-nigh as ghastly as those of
the skeletons above her.

"Indeed," replied Dick. "You've made choice of a pleasant spot, it must
be owned. But you'll not die yet?"

"Do you know whose bodies these are?" asked Barbara, pointing upwards.

"Two of your race," replied Dick; "right brethren of the blade."

"Two of my sons," returned Barbara; "my twin children. I am come to lay
my bones beneath their bones--my sepulchre shall be their sepulchre; my
body shall feed the fowls of the air as theirs have fed them. And if
ghosts can walk, we'll scour this heath together. I tell you what, Dick
Turpin," said the hag, drawing as near to the highwayman as Bess would
permit her; "dead men walk and ride--ay, _ride_!--there's a comfort for
you. I've seen these do it. I have seen them fling off their chains, and
dance--ay, dance with me--with their mother. No revels like dead men's
revels, Dick. I shall soon join 'em."

"You will not lay violent hands upon yourself, mother?" said Dick, with
difficulty mastering his terror.

"No," replied Barbara, in an altered tone. "But I will let nature do her
task. Would she could do it more quickly. Such a life as mine won't go
out without a long struggle. What have I to live for now? All are
gone--she and her child! But what is this to you? You have no child; and
if you had, you could not feel like a father. No matter--I rave. Listen
to me. I have crawled hither to die. 'Tis five days since I beheld you,
and during that time food has not passed these lips, nor aught of
moisture, save Heaven's dew, cooled this parched throat, nor shall they
to the last. That time cannot be far off; and now can you not guess
_how_ I mean to die? Begone and leave me; your presence troubles me. I
would breathe my last breath alone, with none to witness the parting
pang."

"I will not trouble you longer, mother," said Dick, turning his mare;
"nor will I ask your blessing."

"My blessing!" scornfully ejaculated Barbara. "You shall have it if you
will, but you will find it a curse. Stay! a thought strikes me. Whither
are you going?"

"To seek Sir Luke Rookwood," replied Dick. "Know you aught of him?"

"Sir Luke Rookwood! You seek him, and would find him?" screamed Barbara.

"I would," said Dick.

"And you _will_ find him," said Barbara; "and that ere long. I shall
ne'er again behold him. Would I could. I have a message for him--one of
life and death. Will you convey it to him?"

"I will," said the highwayman.

"Swear by those bones to do so," cried Barbara, pointing with her skinny
fingers to the gibbet; "that you will do my bidding."

"I swear," cried Dick.

"Fail not, or _we_ will haunt thee to thy life's end," cried Barbara;
adding, as she handed a sealed package to the highwayman, "Give this to
Sir Luke--to him alone. I would have sent it to him by other hands ere
this, but my people have deserted me--have pillaged my stores--have
rifled me of all save this. Give this, I say, to Sir Luke, with your own
hands. You have sworn it, and will obey. Give it to him, and bid him
think of Sybil as he opens it. But this must not be till Eleanor is in
his power; and she must be present when the seal is broken. It relates
to both. Dare not to tamper with it, or my curse shall pursue you. That
packet is guarded with a triple spell, which to you were fatal. Obey me,
and my dying breath shall bless thee."

"Never fear," said Dick, taking the packet; "I'll not disappoint you,
mother, depend upon it."

"Hence!" cried the crone; and as she watched Dick's figure lessening
upon the Waste, and at length beheld him finally disappear down the
hill-side, she sank to the ground, her frail strength being entirely
exhausted. "Body and soul may now part in peace," gasped she. "All I
live for is accomplished." And ere one hour had elapsed, the night crow
was perched upon her still breathing frame.

Long pondering upon this singular interview, Dick pursued his way. At
length he thought fit to examine the packet with which the old gipsy had
entrusted him.

"It feels like a casket," thought he. "It can't be gold. But then it may
be jewels, though they don't rattle, and it ain't quite heavy enough.
What can it be? I should like to know. There is some mystery, that's
certain, about it; but I will not break the seal, not I. As to her
spell, that I don't value a rush; but I've sworn to give it to Sir Luke,
and deliver her message, and I'll keep my word if I can. He shall have
it." So saying, he replaced it in his pocket.



_CHAPTER XI_

_THE PHANTOM STEED_

    I'll speak to thee, though hell itself should gape,
    And bid me hold my peace.

                                                             _Hamlet._


Time presses. We may not linger in our course. We must fly on before our
flying highwayman. Full forty miles shall we pass over in a breath. Two
more hours have elapsed, and he still urges his headlong career, with
heart resolute as ever, and purpose yet unchanged. Fair Newark, and the
dashing Trent, "most loved of England's streams," are gathered to his
laurels. Broad Notts, and its heavy paths and sweeping glades; its
waste--forest no more--of Sherwood past; bold Robin Hood and his merry
men, his Marian and his moonlight rides, recalled, forgotten, left
behind. Hurrah! hurrah! That wild halloo, that waving arm, that
enlivening shout--what means it? He is once more upon Yorkshire ground;
his horse's hoof beats once more the soil of that noble shire. So
transported was Dick, that he could almost have flung himself from the
saddle to kiss the dust beneath his feet. Thrice fifty miles has he run,
nor has the morn yet dawned upon his labors. Hurrah! the end draws nigh;
the goal is in view. Halloo! halloo! on!

Bawtrey is past. He takes the lower road by Thorne and Selby. He is
skirting the waters of the deep-channelled Don.

Bess now began to manifest some slight symptoms of distress. There was a
strain in the carriage of her throat, a dulness in her eye, a laxity in
her ear, and a slight stagger in her gait, which Turpin noticed with
apprehension. Still she went on, though not at the same gallant pace as
heretofore. But, as the tired bird still battles with the blast upon the
ocean, as the swimmer still stems the stream, though spent, on went she:
nor did Turpin dare to check her, fearing that, if she stopped, she
might lose her force, or, if she fell, she would rise no more.

It was now that gray and grimly hour ere one flicker of orange or rose
has gemmed the east, and when unwearying Nature herself seems to snatch
brief repose. In the roar of restless cities, this is the only time when
their strife is hushed. Midnight is awake--alive; the streets ring with
laughter and with rattling wheels. At the third hour, a dead, deep
silence prevails; the loud-voiced streets grow dumb. They are deserted
of all, save the few guardians of the night and the skulking robber. But
even far removed from the haunts of men and hum of towns it is the same.
"Nature's best nurse" seems to weigh nature down, and stillness reigns
throughout. Our feelings are, in a great measure, influenced by the
hour. Exposed to the raw, crude atmosphere, which has neither the
nipping, wholesome shrewdness of morn, nor the profound chillness of
night, the frame vainly struggles against the dull, miserable sensations
engendered by the damps, and at once communicates them to the spirits.
Hope forsakes us. We are weary, exhausted. Our energy is dispirited.
Sleep does "not weigh our eyelids down." We stare upon the vacancy. We
conjure up a thousand restless, disheartening images. We abandon
projects we have formed, and which, viewed through this medium, appear
fantastical, chimerical, absurd. We want rest, refreshment, energy.

We will not say that Turpin had all these misgivings. But he had to
struggle hard with himself to set sleep and exhaustion at defiance.

The moon had set. The stars,

    Pinnacled deep in the intense main,

had all--save one, the herald of the dawn--withdrawn their luster. A
dull mist lay on the stream, and the air became piercing cold. Turpin's
chilled fingers could scarcely grasp the slackening rein, while his
eyes, irritated by the keen atmosphere, hardly enabled him to
distinguish surrounding objects, or even to guide his steed. It was
owing, probably, to this latter circumstance, that Bess suddenly
floundered and fell, throwing her master over her head.

Turpin instantly recovered himself. His first thought was for his horse.
But Bess was instantly upon her legs--covered with dust and foam, sides
and cheeks--and with her large eyes glaring wildly, almost piteously,
upon her master.

"Art hurt, lass?" asked Dick, as she shook herself, and slightly
shivered. And he proceeded to the horseman's scrutiny. "Nothing but a
shake; though that dull eye--those quivering flanks----" added he,
looking earnestly at her. "She won't go much further, and I must give it
up--what! give up the race just when it's won? No, that can't be. Ha!
well thought on. I've a bottle of liquid, given me by an old fellow, who
was a knowing cove and famous jockey in his day, which he swore would
make a horse go as long as he'd a leg to carry him, and bade me keep it
for some great occasion. I've never used it; but I'll try it now. It
should be in this pocket. Ah! Bess, wench, I fear I'm using thee, after
all, as Sir Luke did his mistress, that I thought so like thee. No
matter! It will be a glorious end."

Raising her head upon his shoulder, Dick poured the contents of the
bottle down the throat of his mare. Nor had he to wait long before its
invigorating effects were instantaneous. The fire was kindled in the
glassy orb; her crest was once more erected; her flank ceased to quiver;
and she neighed loud and joyously.

"Egad, the old fellow was right," cried Dick. "The drink has worked
wonders. What the devil could it have been? It smells like spirit,"
added he, examining the bottle. "I wish I'd left a taste for myself. But
here's that will do as well." And he drained his flask of the last drop
of brandy.

Dick's limbs were now become so excessively stiff, that it was with
difficulty he could remount his horse. But this necessary preliminary
being achieved by the help of a stile, he found no difficulty in
resuming his accustomed position upon the saddle. We know not whether
there was any likeness between our Turpin and that modern Hercules of
the sporting world, Mr. Osbaldeston. Far be it from us to institute any
comparison, though we cannot help thinking that, in one particular, he
resembled that famous "copper-bottomed" squire. This we will leave to
our reader's discrimination. Dick bore his fatigues wonderfully. He
suffered somewhat of that martyrdom which, according to Tom Moore,
occurs "to weavers and M. P.'s, from sitting too long;" but again on his
courser's back, he cared not for anything.

Once more, at a gallant pace, he traversed the banks of the Don,
skirting the fields of flax that bound its sides, and hurried far more
swiftly than its current to its confluence with the Aire.

Snaith was past. He was on the road to Selby when dawn first began to
break. Here and there a twitter was heard in the hedge; a hare ran
across his path, gray-looking as the morning self; and the mists began
to rise from the earth. A bar of gold was drawn against the east, like
the roof of a gorgeous palace. But the mists were heavy in this world of
rivers and their tributary streams. The Ouse was before him, the Trent
and Aire behind; the Don and Derwent on either hand, all in their way to
commingle their currents ere they formed the giant Humber. Amid a region
so prodigal of water, no wonder the dews fell thick as rain. Here and
there the ground was clear; but then again came a volley of vapor, dim
and palpable as smoke.

While involved in one of these fogs, Turpin became aware of another
horseman by his side. It was impossible to discern the features of the
rider, but his figure in the mist seemed gigantic; neither was the color
of his steed distinguishable. Nothing was visible except the
meagre-looking, phantom-like outline of a horse and his rider, and, as
the unknown rode upon the turf that edged the way, even the sound of the
horse's hoofs was scarcely audible. Turpin gazed, not without
superstitious awe. Once or twice he essayed to address the strange
horseman, but his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth. He fancied he
discovered in the mist-exaggerated lineaments of the stranger a wild and
fantastic resemblance to his friend Tom King. "It must be Tom," thought
Turpin; "he is come to warn me of my approaching end. I will speak to
him."

But terror o'ermastered his speech. He could not force out a word, and
thus side by side they rode in silence. Quaking with fears he would
scarcely acknowledge to himself, Dick watched every motion of his
companion. He was still, stern, spectre-like, erect; and looked for all
the world like a demon on his phantom steed. His courser seemed, in the
indistinct outline, to be huge and bony, and, as he snorted furiously
in the fog, Dick's heated imagination supplied his breath with a due
proportion of flame. Not a word was spoken--not a sound heard, save the
sullen dead beat of his hoofs upon the grass. It was intolerable to ride
thus cheek by jowl with a goblin. Dick could stand it no longer. He put
spurs to his horse, and endeavored to escape. But it might not be. The
stranger, apparently without effort, was still by his side, and Bess's
feet, in her master's apprehensions, were nailed to the ground.
By-and-by, however, the atmosphere became clearer. Bright quivering
beams burst through the vaporous shroud, and then it was that Dick
discovered that the apparition of Tom King was no other than Luke
Rookwood. He was mounted on his old horse, Rook, and looked grim and
haggard as a ghost vanishing at the crowing of the cock.

"Sir Luke Rookwood, by this light!" exclaimed Dick, in astonishment.
"Why, I took you for----"

"The devil, no doubt?" returned Luke, smiling sternly, "and were sorry
to find yourself so hard pressed. Don't disquiet yourself; I am still
flesh and blood."

"Had I taken you for one of mortal mould," said Dick, "you should have
soon seen where I'd have put you in the race. That confounded fog
deceived me, and Bess acted the fool as well as myself. However, now I
know you, Sir Luke, you must spur alongside, for the hawks are on the
wing; and though I've much to say, I've not a second to lose." And Dick
briefly detailed the particulars of his ride, concluding with his
rencontre with Barbara. "Here's the packet," said he, "just as I got it.
You must keep it till the proper moment. And here," added he, fumbling
in his pocket for another paper, "is the marriage document. You are now
your father's lawful son, let who will say you nay. Take it and welcome.
If you are ever master of Miss Mowbray's hand, you will not forget Dick
Turpin."

"I will not," said Luke, eagerly grasping the certificate; "but she
never may be mine."

"You have her oath?"

"I have."

"What more is needed?"

"Her hand."

"That will follow."

"It _shall_ follow," replied Sir Luke, wildly. "You are right. She is my
affianced bride--affianced before hell, if not before heaven. I have
sealed the contract with blood--with Sybil's blood--and it shall be
fulfilled. I have her oath--her oath--ha, ha! Though I perish in the
attempt, I will wrest her from Ranulph's grasp. She shall never be his.
I would stab her first. Twice have I failed in my endeavors to bear her
off. I am from Rookwood even now. To-morrow night I shall renew the
attack. Will you assist me?"

"To-morrow night!" interrupted Dick.

"Nay, I should say to-night. A new day has already dawned," replied
Luke.

"I will: she is at Rookwood?"

"She languishes there at present, attended by her mother and her lover.
The hall is watched and guarded. Ranulph is ever on the alert. But we
will storm their garrison. I have a spy within its walls--a gipsy girl,
faithful to my interests. From her I have learnt that there is a plot to
wed Eleanor to Ranulph, and that the marriage is to take place privately
to-morrow. This must be prevented."

"It must. But why not boldly appear in person at the hall, and claim
her?"

"Why not? I am a proscribed felon. A price is set upon my head. I am
hunted through the country--driven to concealment, and dare not show
myself for fear of capture. What could I do now? They would load me with
fetters, bury me in a dungeon, and wed Eleanor to Ranulph. What would my
rights avail? What would her oath signify to them? No; she must be mine
by force. _His_ she shall never be. Again, I ask you, will you aid me?"

"I have said--I will. Where is Alan Rookwood?"

"Concealed within the hut on Thorne Waste. You know it--it was one of
your haunts."

"I know it well," said Dick, "and Conkey Jem, its keeper, into the
bargain: he is a knowing file. I'll join you at the hut at midnight, if
all goes well. We'll bring off the wench, in spite of them all--just the
thing I like. But in case of a break-down on my part, suppose you take
charge of my purse in the mean time."

Luke would have declined this offer.

"Pshaw!" said Dick. "Who knows what may happen? and it's not ill-lined
either. You'll find an odd hundred or so in that silken bag--it's not
often your highwayman gives away a purse. Take it, man--we'll settle all
to-night; and if I don't come, keep it--it will help you to your bride.
And now off with you to the hut, for you are only hindering me. Adieu!
My love to old Alan. We'll do the trick to-night. Away with you to the
hut. Keep yourself snug there till midnight, and we'll ride over to
Rookwood."

"At midnight," replied Sir Luke, wheeling off, "I shall expect you."

"'Ware hawks!" hallooed Dick.

But Luke had vanished. In another instant Dick was scouring the plain as
rapidly as ever. In the mean time, as Dick has casually alluded to the
hawks, it may not be amiss to inquire how they had flown throughout the
night, and whether they were still in chase of their quarry.

With the exception of Titus, who was completely done up at Grantham,
"having got," as he said, "a complete bellyful of it," they were still
on the wing, and resolved sooner or later to pounce upon their prey,
pursuing the same system as heretofore in regard to the post-horses.
Major Mowbray and Paterson took the lead, but the irascible and
invincible attorney was not far in their rear, his wrath having been by
no means allayed by the fatigue he had undergone. At Bawtrey they held
a council of war for a few minutes, being doubtful which course he had
taken. Their incertitude was relieved by a foot traveller, who had heard
Dick's loud halloo on passing the boundary of Nottinghamshire, and had
seen him take the lower road. They struck, therefore, into the path at
Thorne at a hazard, and were soon satisfied they were right. Furiously
did they now spur on. They reached Selby, changed horses at the inn in
front of the venerable cathedral church, and learnt from the postboy
that a toilworn horseman, on a jaded steed, had ridden through the town
about five minutes before them, and could not be more than a quarter of
a mile in advance. "His horse was so dead beat," said the lad, "that I'm
sure he cannot have got far; and, if you look sharp, I'll be bound
you'll overtake him before he reaches Cawood Ferry."

Mr. Coates was transported. "We'll lodge him snug in York Castle before
an hour, Paterson," cried he, rubbing his hands.

"I hope so, sir," said the chief constable, "but I begin to have some
qualms."

"Now, gentlemen," shouted the postboy, "come along. I'll soon bring you
to him."



_CHAPTER XII_

_CAWOOD FERRY_

    The sight renewed my courser's feet,
    A moment, staggering feebly fleet,
    A moment, with a faint low neigh,
      He answered, and then fell.
    With gasps and glazing eyes he lay,
    And reeking limbs immovable,--
    His first, and last career was done.

                                                            _Mazeppa._


The sun had just o'ertopped the "high eastern hill," as Turpin reached
the Ferry of Cawood, and his beams were reflected upon the deep and
sluggish waters of the Ouse. Wearily had he dragged his course
thither--wearily and slow. The powers of his gallant steed were spent,
and he could scarcely keep her from sinking. It was now midway 'twixt
the hours of five and six. Nine miles only lay before him, and that
thought again revived him. He reached the water's edge, and hailed the
ferryboat, which was then on the other side of the river. At that
instant a loud shout smote his ear; it was the halloo of his pursuers.
Despair was in his look. He shouted to the boatman, and bade him pull
fast. The man obeyed; but he had to breast a strong stream, and had a
lazy bark and heavy sculls to contend with. He had scarcely left the
shore when, another shout was raised from the pursuers. The tramp of
their steeds grew louder and louder.

The boat had scarcely reached the middle of the stream. His captors were
at hand. Quietly did he walk down the bank, and as cautiously enter the
water. There was a plunge, and steed and rider were swimming down the
river.

Major Mowbray was at the brink of the stream. He hesitated an instant,
and stemmed the tide. Seized, as it were, by a mania for equestrian
distinction, Mr. Coates braved the torrent. Not so Paterson. He very
coolly took out his bulldogs, and, watching Turpin, cast up in his own
mind the _pros_ and _cons_ of shooting him as he was crossing. "I could
certainly hit him," thought, or said, the constable; "but what of that?
A dead highwayman is worth nothing--alive, he _weighs_ 300_l_. I won't
shoot him, but I'll make a pretence." And he fired accordingly.

The shot skimmed over the water, but did not, as it was intended, do
much mischief. It, however, occasioned a mishap, which had nearly proved
fatal to our aquatic attorney. Alarmed at the report of the pistol, in
the nervous agitation of the moment Coates drew in his rein so tightly
that his steed instantly sank. A moment or two afterwards he rose,
shaking his ears, and floundering heavily towards the shore; and such
was the chilling effect of this sudden immersion, that Mr. Coates now
thought much more of saving himself than of capturing Turpin. Dick,
meanwhile, had reached the opposite bank, and, refreshed by her bath,
Bess scrambled up the sides of the stream, and speedily regained the
road. "I shall do it yet," shouted Dick; "that stream has saved her.
Hark away, lass! Hark away!"

Bess heard the cheering cry, and she answered to the call. She roused
all her energies; strained every sinew, and put forth all her remaining
strength. Once more, on wings of swiftness, she bore him away from his
pursuers, and Major Mowbray, who had now gained the shore, and made
certain of securing him, beheld him spring, like a wounded hare, from
beneath his very hand.

"It cannot hold out," said the major; "it is but an expiring flash; that
gallant steed must soon drop."

"She be regularly booked, that's certain," said the postboy.

"We shall find her on the road."

Contrary to all expectation, however, Bess held on, and set pursuit at
defiance. Her pace was swift as when she started. But it was
unconscious and mechanical action. It wanted the ease, the lightness,
the life of her former riding. She seemed screwed up to a task which she
must execute. There was no flogging, no gory heel; but the heart was
throbbing, tugging at the sides within. Her spirit spurred her onwards.
Her eye was glazing; her chest heaving; her flank quivering; her crest
again fallen. Yet she held on. "She is dying!" said Dick. "I feel
it----" No, she held on.

Fulford is past. The towers and pinnacles of York burst upon him in all
the freshness, the beauty, and the glory of a bright, clear, autumnal
morn. The ancient city seemed to smile a welcome--a greeting. The noble
Minster and its serene and massive pinnacles, crocketed, lantern-like,
and beautiful; St. Mary's lofty spire, All-Hallows Tower, the massive
mouldering walls of the adjacent postern, the grim castle, and
Clifford's neighboring keep--all beamed upon him, like a bright-eyed
face, that laughs out openly.

"It is done--it is won," cried Dick. "Hurrah! hurrah!" And the sunny air
was cleft with his shouts.

Bess was not insensible to her master's exultation. She neighed feebly
in answer to his call, and reeled forwards. It was a piteous sight to
see her,--to mark her staring, protruding eyeball,--her shaking flanks;
but, while life and limb held together, she held on.

Another mile is past. York is near.

"Hurrah!" shouted Dick; but his voice was hushed. Bess tottered--fell.
There was a dreadful gasp--a parting moan--a snort; her eye gazed, for
an instant, upon her master, with a dying glare; then grew glassy,
rayless, fixed. A shiver ran through her frame. Her heart had burst.

Dick's eyes were blinded, as with rain. His triumph, though achieved,
was forgotten--his own safety was disregarded. He stood weeping and
swearing, like one beside himself.

"And art thou gone, Bess?" cried he, in a voice of agony, lifting up his
courser's head, and kissing her lips, covered with blood-flecked foam.
"Gone, gone! and I have killed the best steed that was ever crossed! And
for what?" added Dick, beating his brow with his clenched hand--"for
what? for what?"

At this moment the deep bell of the Minster clock tolled out the hour of
six.

"I am answered," gasped Dick; "_it was to hear those strokes_."

Turpin was roused from the state of stupefaction into which he had
fallen by a smart slap on the shoulder. Recalled to himself by the blow,
he started at once to his feet, while his hands sought his pistols: but
he was spared the necessity of using them, by discovering in the
intruder the bearded visage of the gipsy Balthazar. The patrico was
habited in mendicant weeds, and sustained a large wallet upon his
shoulders.

"So it's all over with the best mare in England, I see," said Balthazar;
"I can guess how it has happened--you are pursued?"

"I am," said Dick, roughly.

"Your pursuers are at hand?"

"Within a few hundred yards."

"Then, why stay here? Fly while you can."

"Never--never," cried Turpin; "I'll fight it out here by Bess's side.
Poor lass! I've killed her--but she has done it--ha, ha!--we have
won--what?" And his utterance was again choked.

"Hark! I hear the tramp of horse, and shouts," cried the patrico. "Take
this wallet. You will find a change of dress within it. Dart into that
thick copse--save yourself."

"But Bess--I cannot leave her," exclaimed Dick, with an agonizing look
at his horse.

"And what did Bess die for, but to save you?" rejoined the patrico.

"True, true," said Dick; "but take care of her, don't let those dogs of
hell meddle with her carcase."

"Away," cried the patrico, "leave Bess to me."

Possessing himself of the wallet, Dick disappeared in the adjoining
copse.

He had not been gone many seconds when Major Mowbray rode up.

"Who is this?" exclaimed the Major, flinging himself from his horse, and
seizing the patrico; "this is not Turpin."

"Certainly not," replied Balthazar, coolly. "I am not exactly the figure
for a highwayman."

"Where is he? What has become of him?" asked Coates, in despair, as he
and Paterson joined the major.

"Escaped, I fear," replied the major. "Have you seen any one, fellow?"
added he, addressing the patrico.

"I have seen no one," replied Balthazar. "I am only this instant
arrived. This dead horse lying in the road attracted my attention."

"Ha!" exclaimed Paterson, leaping from his steed, "this may be Turpin
after all. He has as many disguises as the devil himself, and may have
carried that goat's hair in his pocket." Saying which, he seized the
patrico by the beard, and shook it with as little reverence as the Gaul
handled the hirsute chin of the Roman senator.

"The devil! hands off," roared Balthazar. "By Salamon, I won't stand
such usage. Do you think a beard like mine is the growth of a few
minutes? Hands off! I say."

"Regularly done!" said Paterson, removing his hold of the patrico's
chin, and looking as blank as a cartridge.

"Ay," exclaimed Coates; "all owing to this worthless piece of carrion.
If it were not that I hope to see him dangling from those
walls"--pointing towards the Castle--"I should wish her master were by
her side now. To the dogs with her." And he was about to spurn the
breathless carcase of poor Bess, when a sudden blow, dealt by the
patrico's staff, felled him to the ground.

"I'll teach you to molest me," said Balthazar, about to attack Paterson.

"Come, come," said the discomfited chief constable, "no more of this.
It's plain we're in the wrong box. Every bone in my body aches
sufficiently without the aid of your cudgel, old fellow. Come, Mr.
Coates, take my arm, and let's be moving. We've had an infernal long
ride for nothing."

"Not so," replied Coates; "I've paid pretty dearly for it. However, let
us see if we can get any breakfast at the Bowling-green, yonder; though
I've already had my morning draught," added the facetious man of law,
looking at his dripping apparel.

"Poor Black Bess!" said Major Mowbray, wistfully regarding the body of
the mare, as it lay stretched at his feet. "Thou deservedst a better
fate, and a better master. In thee, Dick Turpin has lost his best
friend. His exploits will, henceforth, want the coloring of romance,
which thy unfailing energies threw over them. Light lie the ground over
thee, thou matchless mare!"

To the Bowling-green the party proceeded, leaving the patrico in
undisturbed possession of the lifeless body of Black Bess. Major Mowbray
ordered a substantial repast to be prepared with all possible
expedition.

A countryman, in a smock-frock, was busily engaged at his morning's
meal.

"To see that fellow bolt down his breakfast, one would think he had
fasted for a month," said Coates; "see the wholesome effects of an
honest, industrious life, Paterson. I envy him his appetite--I should
fall to with more zest were Dick Turpin in his place."

The countryman looked up. He was an odd-looking fellow, with a terrible
squint, and a strange, contorted countenance.

"An ugly dog!" exclaimed Paterson: "what a devil of a twist he has
got!"

"What's that you says about Dick Taarpin, measter?" asked the
countryman, with his mouth half full of bread.

"Have you seen aught of him?" asked Coates.

"Not I," mumbled the rustic; "but I hears aw the folks hereabouts talk
on him. They say as how he sets all the lawyers and constables at
defiance, and laughs in his sleeve at their efforts to cotch him--ha,
ha! He gets over more ground in a day than they do in a week--ho, ho!"

"That's all over now," said Coates, peevishly. "He has cut his own
throat--ridden his famous mare to death."

The countryman almost choked himself, in the attempt to bolt a huge
mouthful. "Ay--indeed, measter! How happened that?" asked he, so soon as
he recovered speech.

"The fool rode her from London to York last night," returned Coates;
"such a feat was never performed before. What horse could be expected to
live through such work as that?"

"Ah, he were a foo' to attempt that," observed the countryman; "but you
followed belike?"

"We did."

"And took him arter all, I reckon?" asked the rustic, squinting more
horribly than ever.

"No," returned Coates, "I can't say we did; but we'll have him yet. I'm
pretty sure he can't be far off. We may be nearer him than we imagine."

"May be so, measter," returned the countryman; "but might I be so bold
as to ax how many horses you used i' the chase--some half-dozen, maybe?"

"Half a dozen!" growled Paterson; "we had twenty at the least."

"And I ONE!" mentally ejaculated Turpin, for he was the countryman.



_BOOK V_


_THE OATH_

    It was an ill oath better broke than kept--
    The laws of nature, and of nations, do
    Dispense with matters of divinity
    In such a case.

                                                              TATEHAM.



_CHAPTER I_

_THE HUT ON THORNE WASTE_

    _Hind._  Are all our horses and our arms in safety?

    _Furbo._ They feed, like Pluto's palfreys, under ground.
             Our pistols, swords, and other furniture,
             Are safely locked up at our rendezvous.

                                            _Prince of Prigs' Revels._


The hut on Thorne Waste, to which we have before incidentally alluded,
and whither we are now about to repair, was a low, lone hovel, situate
on the banks of the deep and oozy Don, at the eastern extremity of that
extensive moor. Ostensibly its owner fulfilled the duties of ferryman to
that part of the river; but as the road which skirted his tenement was
little frequented, his craft was, for the most part, allowed to sleep
undisturbed in her moorings.

In reality, however, he was the inland agent of a horde of smugglers who
infested the neighboring coast; his cabin was their rendezvous; and not
unfrequently, it was said, the depository of their contraband goods.
Conkey Jem--so was he called by his associates, on account of the
Slawkenbergian promontory which decorated his countenance--had been an
old hand at the same trade; but having returned from a seven years'
leave of absence from his own country, procured by his lawless life, now
managed matters with more circumspection and prudence, and had never
since been detected in his former illicit traffic; nor, though so
marvellously gifted in that particular himself, was he ever known to
_nose_ upon any of his accomplices; or, in other words, to betray them.
On the contrary, his hut was a sort of asylum for all fugitives from
justice; and although the sanctity of his walls would, in all
probability, have been little regarded, had any one been, detected
within them, yet, strange to say, even if a robber had been tracked--as
it often chanced--to Jem's immediate neighborhood, all traces of him
were sure to be lost at the ferryman's hut; and further search was
useless.

Within, the hut presented such an appearance as might be expected, from
its owner's pursuits and its own unpromising exterior. Consisting of
little more than a couple of rooms, the rude whitewashed walls
exhibited, in lieu of prints of more pretension, a gallery of
choicely-illustrated ballads, celebrating the exploits of various
highwaymen, renowned in song, amongst which our friend Dick Turpin
figured conspicuously upon his sable steed, Bess being represented by a
huge rampant black patch, and Dick, with a pistol considerably longer
than the arm that sustained it. Next to this curious collection was a
drum-net, a fishing-rod, a landing-net, an eel-spear, and other
piscatorial apparatus, with a couple of sculls and a boat-hook,
indicative of Jem's ferryman's office, suspended by various hooks; the
whole blackened and begrimed by peat-smoke, there being no legitimate
means of _exit_ permitted to the vapor generated by the turf-covered
hearthstone. The only window, indeed, in the hut, was to the front; the
back apartment, which served Jem for dormitory, had no aperture whatever
for the admission of light, except such as was afforded through the door
of communication between the rooms. A few broken rush-bottomed chairs,
with a couple of dirty tables, formed the sum total of the ferryman's
furniture.

Notwithstanding the grotesque effect of his exaggerated nasal organ,
Jem's aspect was at once savage and repulsive; his lank black hair hung
about his inflamed visage in wild elf locks, the animal predominating
throughout; his eyes were small, red, and wolfish, and glared
suspiciously from beneath his scarred and tufted eyebrows; while certain
of his teeth projected, like the tusks of a boar, from out his
coarse-lipped, sensual mouth. Dwarfish in stature, and deformed in
person, Jem was built for strength; and what with his width of shoulder
and shortness of neck, his figure looked as square and as solid as a
cube. His throat and hirsute chest, constantly exposed to the weather,
had acquired a glowing tan, while his arms, uncovered to the shoulders,
and clothed with fur, like a bear's hide, down, almost, to the tips of
his fingers, presented a knot of folded muscles, the concentrated force
of which few would have desired to encounter in action.

It was now on the stroke of midnight; and Jem, who had been lying
extended upon the floor of his hovel, suddenly aroused by that warning
impulse which never fails to awaken one of his calling at the exact
moment when they require to be upon the alert, now set about fanning
into flame the expiring fuel upon his hearth. Having succeeded in
igniting further portions of the turf, Jem proceeded to examine the
security of his door and window, and satisfied that lock and bolt were
shot, and that the shutter was carefully closed, he kindled a light at
his fire, and walked towards his bedroom. But it was not to retire for
the night that the ferryman entered his dormitory. Beside his crazy
couch stood a litter of empty bottles and a beer cask, crowding the
chamber. The latter he rolled aside, and pressing his foot upon the
plank beneath it, the board gave way, and a trap-door opening,
discovered a ladder, conducting, apparently, into the bowels of the
earth. Jem leaned over the abyss, and called in hoarse accents to some
one below.

An answer was immediately returned, and a light became soon afterwards
visible at the foot of the ladder. Two figures next ascended; the first
who set foot within the ferryman's chamber was Alan Rookwood: the other,
as the reader may perhaps conjecture, was his grandson.

"Is it the hour?" asked Luke, as he sprang from out the trap-door.

"Ay," replied Jem, with a coarse laugh, "or I had not disturbed myself
to call you. But, maybe," added he, softening his manner a little,
"you'll like some refreshments before you start? A stoup of Nantz will
put you in cue for the job, ha, ha!"

"Not I," replied Luke, who could ill tolerate his companion's
familiarity.

"Give me to drink," said Alan, walking feebly towards the fire, and
extending his skinny fingers before it. "I am chilled by the damps of
that swampy cave--the natural heat within me is nigh extinguished."

"Here is that shall put fresh marrow into your old bones," returned Jem,
handing him a tumbler of brandy; "never stint it. I'll be sworn you'll
be the better on't, for you look desperate queer, man, about the
mazard."

Alan was, in sooth, a ghastly spectacle. The events of the last few days
had wrought a fearful change. His countenance was almost exanimate; and
when, with shaking hand and trembling lips, he had drained the fiery
potion to the dregs, a terrible grimace was excited upon his features,
such as is produced upon the corpse by the action of the galvanic
machine. Even Jem regarded him with a sort of apprehension. After he had
taken breath for a moment, Alan broke out into a fit of wild and
immoderate laughter.

"Why, ay," said he, "this is indeed to grow young again, and to feel
fresh fire within one's veins. Who would have thought so much of life
and energy could reside in this little vessel? I am myself once more,
and not the same soulless, pulseless lump of clay I was a moment or two
back. The damps of that den had destroyed me--and the solitude--the
_waking dreams_ I've had--the visions! horrible! I will not think of
them. I am better now--ready to execute my plans--_your_ plans I should
say, grandson Luke. Are our horses in readiness? Why do we tarry? The
hour is arrived, and I would not that my new-blown courage should
evaporate ere the great work for which I live be accomplished. That
done, I ask no further stimulant. Let us away."

"We tarry but for Turpin," said Luke; "I am as impatient as yourself. I
fear some mischance must have befallen him, or he would have been true
to his appointment. Do you not think so?" he added, addressing the
ferryman.

"Why," replied Jem, reluctantly, "since you put it home to me, and I
can't conceal it no longer, I'll tell you what I didn't tell afore, for
fear you should be down in the mouth about it. Dick Turpin can do
nothing for you--he's grabb'd."

"Turpin apprehended!" ejaculated Luke.

"Ay," returned Jem. "I learnt from a farmer who crossed the ferry at
nightfall, that he were grabb'd this morning at York, after having
ridden his famous cherry-colored prad to death--that's what hurts me
more not all the rest; though I fear Dick will scarce cheat the nubbing
cheat this go. His time's up, I calculate."

"Will you supply his place and accompany us?" asked Luke of the
ferryman.

"No, no," replied Jem, shaking his head; "there's too much risk, and too
little profit, in the business for me--it won't pay."

"And what might tempt you to undertake the enterprise?" asked Alan.

"More than you have to offer, Master Peter," replied Jem, who had not
been enlightened upon the subject of Alan's real name or condition.

"How know you that?" demanded Alan. "Name your demand."

"Well, then, I'll not say but a hundred pounds, if you had it, might
bribe me----"

"To part with your soul to the devil, I doubt not," said Luke, fiercely
stamping the ground. "Let us be gone. We need not his mercenary aid. We
will do without him."

"Stay," said Alan, "you shall have the hundred, provided you will assure
us of your services."

"Cut no more blarneyfied whids, Master Sexton," replied Jem, in a gruff
tone. "If I'm to go, I must have the chink down, and that's more nor
either of you can do, I'm thinking."

"Give me your purse," whispered Alan to his grandson. "Pshaw," continued
he, "do you hesitate? This man can do much for us. Think upon Eleanor,
and be prudent. You cannot accomplish your task unaided." Taking the
amount from the purse, he gave it to the ferryman, adding, "If we
succeed, the sum shall be doubled; and now let us set out."

During Alan's speech, Jem's sharp eyes had been fastened upon the purse,
while he mechanically clutched the bank-notes which were given to him.
He could not remove his gaze, but continued staring at the treasure
before him, as if he would willingly, by force, have made it all his
own.

Alan saw the error he had committed in exposing the contents of the
purse to the avaricious ferryman, and was about to restore it to Luke,
when the bag was suddenly snatched from his grasp, and himself levelled
by a blow upon the floor. Conkey Jem found the temptation irresistible.
Knowing himself to be a match for both his companions, and imagining he
was secure from interruption, he conceived the idea of making away with
them, and possessing himself of their wealth. No sooner had he disposed
of Alan, than he assailed Luke, who met his charge half way. With the
vigor and alacrity of the latter the reader is already acquainted, but
he was no match for the herculean strength of the double-jointed
ferryman, who, with the ferocity of the boar he so much resembled, thus
furiously attacked him. Nevertheless, as may be imagined, he was not
disposed to yield up his life tamely. He saw at once the villain's
murderous intentions, and, well aware of his prodigious power, would not
have risked a close struggle could he have avoided it. Snatching the
eel-spear from the wall, he had hurled it at the head of his adversary,
but without effect. In the next instant he was locked in a clasp
terrible as that of a Polar bear. In spite of all his struggles, Luke
was speedily hurled to the ground: and Jem, who had thrown himself upon
him, was apparently searching about for some weapon to put a bloody
termination to the conflict, when the trampling of a horse was heard at
the door, three taps were repeated slowly, one after the other, and a
call resounded from a whistle.

"Damnation!" ejaculated Jem, gruffly, "interrupted!" And he seemed
irresolute, slightly altering his position on Luke's body.

The moment was fortunate for Luke, and, in all probability, saved his
life. He extricated himself from the ferryman's grasp, regained his
feet, and, what was of more importance, the weapon he had thrown away.

"Villain!" cried he, about to plunge the spear with all his force into
his enemy's side, "you shall----"

The whistle was again heard without.

"Don't you hear that?" cried Jem: "'Tis Turpin's call."

"Turpin!" echoed Luke, dropping the point of his weapon. "Unbar the
door, you treacherous rascal, and admit him."

"Well, say no more about it, Sir Luke," said Jem, fawningly; "I knows I
owes you my life, and I thank you for it. Take back the lowre. He should
not have shown it me--it was that as did all the mischief."

"Unbar the door, and parley not," said Luke contemptuously.

Jem complied with pretended alacrity, but real reluctance, casting
suspicious glances at Luke as he withdrew the bolts. The door at length
being opened, haggard, exhausted, and covered with dust, Dick Turpin
staggered into the hut.

"Well, I am here," said he, with a hollow laugh. "I've kept my word--ha,
ha! I've been damnably put to it; but here I am, ha, ha!" And he sank
upon one of the stools.

"We heard you were apprehended," said Luke. "I am glad to find the
information was false," added he, glancing angrily at the ferryman.

"Whoever told you that, told you a lie, Sir Luke," replied Dick; "but
what are you scowling at, old Charon?--and you, Sir Luke? Why do you
glower at each other? Make fast the door--bolt it, Cerberus--right! Now
give me a glass of brandy, and then I'll talk--a bumper--so--another.
What's that I see--a dead man? Old Peter--Alan I mean--has anything
happened to him, that he has taken his measure there so quietly?"

"Nothing, I trust," said Luke, stooping to raise up his grandsire. "The
blow has stunned him."

"The blow?" repeated Turpin. "What! there _has_ been a quarrel then? I
thought as much from your amiable looks at each other. Come, come, we
must have no differences. Give the old earthworm a taste of this--I'll
engage it will bring him to fast enough. Ay, rub his temples with it if
you'd rather; but it's a better remedy down the gullet--the natural
course; and hark ye, Jem, search your crib quickly, and see if you have
any _grub_ within it, and any more _bub_ in the cellar: I'm as hungry as
a hunter, and as thirsty as a camel."



_CHAPTER II_

_MAJOR MOWBRAY_

    _Mephistopheles._ Out with your toasting iron! Thrust away!

                                     HAYWARD'S _Translation of Faust_.


Conkey Jem went in search of such provisions as his hovel afforded.
Turpin, meantime, lent his assistance towards the revival of Alan
Rookwood; and it was not long before his efforts, united with those of
Luke, were successful, and Alan restored to consciousness. He was
greatly surprised to find the highwayman had joined them, and expressed
an earnest desire to quit the hut as speedily as possible.

"That shall be done forthwith, my dear fellow," said Dick. "But if you
had fasted as long as I have done, and gone through a few of my fatigues
into the bargain, you would perceive, without difficulty, the propriety
of supping before you started. Here comes Old Nosey, with a flitch of
bacon and a loaf. Egad, I can scarce wait for the toasting. In my
present mood, I could almost devour a grunter in the sty." Whereupon he
applied himself to the loaf, and to a bottle of stout March ale, which
Jem placed upon the table, quaffing copious draughts of the latter,
while the ferryman employed himself in toasting certain rashers of the
flitch upon the hissing embers.

Luke, meanwhile, stalked impatiently about the room. He had laid aside
his tridental spear, having first, however, placed a pistol within his
breast to be ready for instant service, should occasion demand it, as he
could now put little reliance upon the ferryman's fidelity. He glanced
with impatience at Turpin, who pursued his meal with steady voracity,
worthy of a half-famished soldier; but the highwayman returned no answer
to his looks, except such as was conveyed by the incessant clatter of
his masticating jaws, during the progress of his, apparently,
interminable repast.

"Ready for you in a second, Sir Luke," said Dick; "all right
now--capital ale, Charon--strong as Styx--ha, ha!--one other rasher, and
I've done. Sorry to keep you--can't conceive how cleverly I put the
winkers upon 'em at York, in the dress of a countryman; all owing to old
Balty, the patrico, an old pal--ha, ha! My old pals never _nose_ upon
me--eh, Nosey--always help one out of the water--always staunch. Here's
health to you, old crony."

Jem returned a sulky response, as he placed the last rasher on the
table, which was speedily discussed.

"Poor Bess!" muttered Dick, as he quaffed off the final glass of ale.
"Poor lass! we buried her by the roadside, beneath the trees--deep--deep.
Her remains shall never be disturbed. Alas! alas! my bonny Black Bess!
But no matter, her name is yet alive--her deeds will survive her--the
trial is over. And now," continued he, rising from his seat, "I'm with
you. Where are the tits?"

"In the stable, under ground," growled Jem.

Alan Rookwood, in the mean time, had joined his grandson, and they
conversed an instant or two apart.

"My strength will not bear me through the night," said he. "That fellow
has thoroughly disabled me. You must go without me to the hall. Here is
the key of the secret passage. You know the entrance. I will await you
in the tomb."

"The tomb!" echoed Luke.

"Ay, our family vault," returned Alan, with a ghastly grin--"it is the
only place of security for me now. Let me see _her_ there. Let me know
that my vengeance is complete, that I triumph in my death over him, the
accursed _brother_, through you, my grandson. _You_ have a rival
brother--a successful one; you know now what hatred is."

"I do," returned Luke, fiercely.

"But not such hate as mine, which, through a life, a long life, hath
endured, intense as when 'twas first engendered in my bosom; which _from
one_ hath spread o'er all my race--o'er all save _you_--and which even
now, when death stares me in the face--when the spirit pants to fly from
its prison-house, burns fiercely as ever. You cannot know what hate like
that may be. You must have wrongs--such wrongs as _mine_ first."

"My hate to Ranulph is bitter as your own to Sir Reginald."

"Name him not," shrieked Alan. "But, oh! to think upon the bride he
robbed me of--the young--the beautiful!--whom I loved to madness; whose
memory is a barbed shaft, yet rankling keen as ever at my heart. God of
Justice! how is it that I have thus long survived? But some men die by
inches. My dying lips shall name him once again, and then 'twill be but
to blend his name with curses."

"I speak of him no more," said Luke. "I will meet you in the vault."

"Remember, to-morrow is her wedding day with Ranulph."

"Think you I forget it?"

"Bear it constantly in mind. To-morrow's dawn must see her _yours_ or
_his_. You have her oath. To you or to death she is affianced. If she
should hesitate in her election, do not you hesitate. Woman's will is
fickle; her scruples of conscience will be readily overcome; she will
not heed her vows--but let her not escape you. Cast off all your
weakness. You are young, and not as I am, age-enfeebled. Be firm, and,"
added he, with a look of terrible meaning, "if all else should fail--if
you are surrounded--if you cannot bear her off--use this," and he placed
a dagger in Luke's hands. "It has avenged me, ere now, on a perjured
wife, it will avenge you of a forsworn mistress, and remove all obstacle
to Rookwood."

Luke took the weapon.

"Would you have me kill her?" demanded he.

"Sooner than she should be Ranulph's."

"Ay, aught sooner than that. But I would not murder both."

"Both!" echoed Alan. "I understand you not."

"Sybil and Eleanor," replied Luke; "for, as surely as I live, Sybil's
death will lie at my door."

"How so?" asked Alan; "the poison was self-ministered."

"True," replied Luke, with terrible emphasis, "but I _spoke daggers_.
Hearken to me," said he, hollowly whispering in his grandsire's ears.
"Methinks I am not long for this world. I have seen her since her
death!"

"Tut, tut," replied Alan. "'Tis not for you--a man--to talk thus. A
truce to these womanish fancies."

"Womanish or not," returned Luke; "either my fancy has deceived me, or I
beheld her, distinctly as I now behold you, within yon cave, while you
were sleeping by my side."

"It is disordered fancy," said Alan Rookwood. "You will live--live to
inherit Rookwood--live to see them fall crushed beneath your feet. For
myself, if I but see you master of Eleanor's hand, or know that she no
longer lives to bless your rival, or to mar your prospects, I care not
how soon I brave my threatened doom."

"Of one or other you shall be resolved to-night," said Luke, placing the
dagger within his vest.

At this moment a trampling of a horse was heard before the hovel, and in
another instant a loud knocking resounded from the door. The ferryman
instantly extinguished the light, motioning his companions to remain
silent.

"What, ho!" shouted a voice. "Ferry wanted."

"Gad zooks!" exclaimed Dick. "As I live, 'tis Major Mowbray!"

"Major Mowbray!" echoed Alan, in amazement "What doth he here?"

"He must be on his way from York to Rookwood, I conclude," said Dick.
"If he's here, I'll engage the others are not far off."

Scarcely were the words out of Dick's mouth, when further clatter was
heard at the door, and the tones of Coates were heard, in _altissimo_
key, demanding admittance.

"Let us retire into the next room," whispered Turpin, "and then admit
them by all means, Conkey. And, hark ye, manage to detain them a few
seconds."

"I'll do it," said Jem. "There's a bit of a hole you can peep through."

Another loud rat-tat was heard at the door, threatening to burst it from
its hinges.

"Well, I be coming," said Jem, seeing the coast was clear, in a drowsy,
yawning tone, as if just awakened from sleep. "You'll cross the river
none the faster for making so much noise."

With these words he unbarred the door, and Coates and Paterson, who, it
appeared, were proceeding to Rookwood, entered the hovel. Major Mowbray
remained on horseback at the door.

"Can you find us a glass of brandy to keep out the fog?" said Coates,
who knew something of our ferryman's vocations. "I know you are a lad of
amazing _spirit_."

"May be I can, master, if I choose. But won't the other gemman walk
in-doors likewise?"

"No, no," said Coates; "Major Mowbray don't choose to dismount."

"Well, as you please," said Jem. "It'll take me a minute or two to get
the punt in order for all them prads."

"The brandy in the first place," said Coates. "What's here?" added the
loquacious attorney, noticing the remnants of Turpin's repast. "But that
we're hurried, I should like a little frizzled bacon myself."

Jem opened the door of his dormitory with the greatest caution, though
apparent indifference, and almost instantly returned with the brandy.
Coates filled a glass for Paterson, and then another for himself. The
ferryman left the house apparently to prepare his boat, half closing the
door after him.

"By my faith! this is the right thing, Paterson," said the attorney. "We
may be sure the strength of this was never tested by a gauger's proof.
Take another thimbleful. We've twelve miles and a heavy pull to go
through ere we reach Rookwood. After all, we made but a poor night's
work of it, Master Constable. Cursed stupid in us to let him escape. I
only wish we had such another chance. Ah, if we had him within reach
now, how we would spring upon him--secure him in an instant. I should
glory in the encounter. I tell you what, Paterson, if ever he is taken,
I shall make a point of attending his execution, and see whether he dies
game. Ha, ha! You think he's sure to swing, Paterson, eh?"

"Why, yes," replied the chief constable. "I wish I was as certain of my
reward as that Turpin will eventually figure at the scragging-post."

"Your reward!" replied Coates. "Make yourself easy on that score, my
boy; you shall have your dues, depend upon it. Nay, for the matter of
that, I'll give you the money now, if you think proper."

"Nothing like time present," said Paterson. "We'll make all square at
once."

"Well, then," said Coates, taking out a pocket-book, "you shall have the
hundred I promised. You won't get Turpin's reward, the three hundred
pounds; but that can't be helped. You shall have mine--always a man of
my word, Paterson," continued the attorney, counting out the money. "My
father, the thief-taker, was a man of his word before me."

"No doubt," said the chief constable; "I shall always be happy to serve
you."

"And then there's that other affair," said the attorney, mysteriously,
still occupied in doling out his bank-notes, "that Luke Bradley's case;
the fellow, I mean, who calls himself Sir Luke Rookwood--ha, ha! A rank
impostor! Two fives, that makes fifty: you want another fifty, Paterson.
As I was saying, we may make a good job of that--we must ferret him out.
I know who will come down properly for that; and if we could only tuck
him up with his brother blade, why it would be worth double. He's all
along been a thorn in my Lady Rookwood's side; he's an artful
scoundrel."

"Leave him to me," said Paterson; "I'll have him in less than a week.
What's your charge against him?"

"Felony, burglary, murder, every description of crime under the
heavens," said Coates. "He's a very devil incarnate. Dick Turpin is as
mild as milk compared with him. By-the-by, now I think of it, this Jem,
Conkey Jem, as folks call him, may know something about him; he's a keen
file; I'll sound him. Thirty, forty, fifty--there's the exact amount. So
much for Dick Turpin."

"Dick Turpin thanks you for it in person," said Dick, suddenly snatching
the whole sum from Paterson's hands, and felling the chief constable
with a blow of one of his pistols. "I wish I was as sure of escaping the
gallows as I am certain that Paterson has got his reward. You stare,
sir. You are once more in the hands of the Philistines. See who is at
your elbow."

Coates, who was terrified almost out of his senses at the sight of
Turpin, scarcely ventured to turn his head; but when he did so, he was
perfectly horror-stricken at the threatening aspect of Luke, who held a
cutlass in his hand, which he had picked up in the ferryman's bedroom.

"So you would condemn me for crimes I have never committed," said Luke.
"I am tempted, I own, to add the destruction of your worthless existence
to their number."

"Mercy, for God's sake, mercy!" cried Coates, throwing himself at Luke's
feet. "I meant not what I said."

"Hence, reptile," said Luke, pushing him aside; "I leave you to be dealt
upon by others."

At this juncture, the door of the hut was flung open, and in rushed
Major Mowbray, sword in hand, followed by Conkey Jem.

"There he stands, sir," cried the latter; "upon him!"

"What! Conkey Jem turned snitch upon his pals?" cried Dick; "I scarce
believe my own ears."

"Make yourself scarce, Dick," growled Jem; "the jigger's open, and the
boat loose. Leave Luke to his fate. He's sold."

"Never! vile traitor," shouted Dick; "'tis thou art _sold_, not he;"
and, almost ere the words were spoken, a ball was lodged in the brain of
the treacherous ferryman.

Major Mowbray, meanwhile, had rushed furiously upon Luke, who met his
assault with determined calmness. The strife was sharp, and threatened a
speedy and fatal issue. On the Major's side it was a desperate attack of
cut and thrust, which Luke had some difficulty in parrying; but as yet
no wounds were inflicted. Soldier as was the Major, Luke was not a whit
inferior to him in his knowledge of the science of defence, and in the
exercise of the broadsword he was perhaps the more skilful of the two:
upon the present occasion his coolness stood him in admirable stead.
Seeing him hard pressed, Turpin would have come to his assistance; but
Luke shouted to him to stand aside, and all that Dick could do, amid the
terrific clash of steel, was to kick the tables out of the way of the
combatants. Luke's aim was now slightly grazed by a cut made by the
Major, which he had parried. The smart of the wound roused his ire. He
attacked his adversary in his turn, with so much vigor and good will,
that, driven backwards by the irresistible assault, Major Mowbray
stumbled over the ferryman's body, which happened to lie in his way; and
his sword being struck from his grasp, his life became at once at his
assailant's disposal.

Luke sheathed his sword. "Major Mowbray," said he, sternly, "your life
is in my power. I spare it for the blood that is between us--for your
sister's sake. I would not raise my hand against her brother."

"I disclaim your kindred with me, villain!" wrathfully exclaimed the
Major. "I hold you no otherwise than as a wretched impostor, who has set
up claims he cannot justify; and as to my sister, if you dare to couple
her name----" and the Major made an ineffectual attempt to raise
himself, and to regain his sword, which Turpin, however, removed.

"Dare!" echoed Luke, scornfully; "hereafter, you may learn to fear my
threats, and acknowledge the extent of my daring; and in that confidence
I give you life. Listen to me, sir. I am bound for Rookwood. I have
private access to the house--to your sister's chamber--_her
chamber_--mark you that! I shall go armed--attended. This night she
shall be mine. From you--from Ranulph--from Lady Rookwood, from all will
I bear her off. She shall be mine, and you, before the dawn, my brother,
or----" And Luke paused.

"What further villainy remains untold?" inquired the Major, fiercely.

"You shall bewail your sister's memory," replied Luke, gloomily.

"I embrace the latter alternative with rapture," replied the Major--"God
grant her firmness to resist you. But I tremble for her." And the stern
soldier groaned aloud in his agony.

"Here is a cord to bind him," said Turpin; "he must remain a prisoner
here."

"Right," said Alan Rookwood, "unless--but enough blood has been shed
already."

"Ay, marry has there," said Dick, "and I had rather not have given
Conkey Jem a taste of blue plumb, had there been any other mode of
silencing the snitching scoundrel, which there was not. As to the Major,
he's a gallant enemy, and shall have fair play as long as Dick Turpin
stands by. Come, sir," added he, to the Major, as he bound him hand and
foot with the rope, "I'll do it as gently as I can. You had better
submit with a good grace. There's no help for it. And now for my friend
Paterson, who was so anxious to furnish me with a hempen cravat, before
my neck was in order, he shall have an extra twist of the rope himself,
to teach him the inconvenience of a tight neckcloth when he recovers."
Saying which, he bound Paterson in such a manner, that any attempt at
liberation on the chief constable's part would infallibly strangle him.
"As to you, Mr. Coates," said he, addressing the trembling man of law,
"you shall proceed to Rookwood with us. You may yet be useful, and I'll
accommodate you with a seat behind my own saddle--a distinction I never
yet conferred upon any of your tribe. Recollect the countryman at the
Bowling-green at York--ha, ha! Come along, sir." And having kicked out
the turf fire, Dick prepared to depart.

It would be vain to describe the feelings of rage and despair which
agitated the major's bosom, as he saw the party quit the hovel,
accompanied by Coates. Aware as he was of their destination, after one
or two desperate but ineffectual attempts to liberate himself, by which
he only increased the painful constriction of his bonds, without in the
slightest degree ameliorating his condition, he resigned himself, with
bitterest forebodings, to his fate. There was no one even to sympathize
with his sufferings. Beside him lay the gory corpse of the ferryman,
and, at a little distance, the scarcely more animate frame of the chief
constable. And here we must leave him, to follow, for a short space, the
course of Luke and his companions.

Concerning themselves little about their own steeds, the party took
those which first offered, and embarking man and horse in the boat, soon
pushed across the waters of the lutulent Don. Arrived at the opposite
banks of the river, they mounted, and, guided by Luke, after half an
hour's sharp riding, arrived at the skirts of Rookwood Park. Entering
this beautiful sylvan domain, they rode for some time silently among the
trees, till they reached the knoll whence Luke beheld the hall on the
eventful night of his discovery of his mother's wedding ring. A few days
only had elapsed, but during that brief space what storms had swept over
his bosom--what ravages had they not made! He was then all ardor--all
impetuosity--all independence. The future presented a bright unclouded
prospect. Wealth, honors, and happiness apparently awaited him. It was
still the same exquisite scene, hushed, holy, tranquil--even solemn, as
upon that glorious night. The moon was out, silvering wood and water,
and shining on the white walls of the tranquil mansion. Nature was calm,
serene, peaceful as ever. Beneath the trees, he saw the bounding
deer--upon the water, the misty wreaths of vapor--all, all was dreamy,
delightful, soothing, all save his heart--_there_ was the
conflict--_there_ the change. Was it a troubled dream, with the dark
oppression of which he was struggling, or was it stern, waking, actual
life? That moment's review of his wild career was terrible. He saw to
what extremes his ungovernable passions had hurried him; he saw their
inevitable consequences; he saw also his own fate; but he rushed madly
on.

He swept round the park, keeping under the covert of the wood, till he
arrived at the avenue leading to the mansion. The stems of the aged
limes gleamed silvery white in the moonshine. Luke drew in the rein
beneath one of the largest of the trees.

"A branch has fallen," said he, as his grandsire joined him.

"Ha!" exclaimed Alan, "a branch from that tree?"

"It bodes ill to Ranulph," whispered Luke, "does it not?"

"Perchance," muttered Alan. "'Tis a vast bough!"

"We meet within an hour," said Luke, abruptly.

"Within the tomb of our ancestry," replied Alan; "I will await you
there."

And as he rode away, Alan murmured to himself the following verse from
one of his own ballads:

    But whether gale or calm prevail, or threatening cloud hath fled,
    By hand of Fate, predestinate, a limb that tree will shed--
    A verdant bough, untouched, I trow, by axe or tempest's breath--
    To Rookwood's head an omen dread of fast approaching death.



_CHAPTER III_

_HANDASSAH_

    I have heard it rumored for these many years,
    None of our family dies but there is seen
    The shape of an old woman, which is given
    By tradition to us to have been murthered
    By her nephews for her riches. Such a figure
    One night, as the prince sat up late at 's book,
    Appeared to him; when, crying out for help,
    The gentleman of his chamber found his Grace
    All in a cold sweat, altered much in face
    And language, since which apparition
    He hath grown worse and worse, and much I fear
    He cannot live.

                                                   _Duchess of Malfy._


In one of those large antique rooms, belonging to the suite of
apartments constituting the eastern wing of Rookwood Place--upon the
same night as that in which the events just detailed took place, and it
might be about the same time, sat Eleanor, and her new attendant, the
gipsy Handassah. The eyes of the former were fixed, with a mixture of
tenderness and pity, upon the lineaments of another lovely female
countenance, bearing a striking resemblance to her own, though
evidently, from its attire, and bygone costume, not intended for her,
depicted upon a tablet, and placed upon a raised frame. It was nigh the
witching hour of night. The room was sombre and dusky, partially
dismantled of its once flowing arras, and the lights set upon the table
feebly illumined its dreary extent. Tradition marked it out as the
chamber in which many of the hapless dames of Rookwood had expired; and
hence Superstition claimed it as her peculiar domain. The room was
reputed to be haunted, and had for a long space shared the fate of
haunted rooms--complete desertion. It was now tenanted by one too young,
too pure, to fear aught unearthly. Eleanor seemed, nevertheless,
affected by the profound melancholy of the picture upon which she gazed.
At length, Handassah observed her start, and avert her eye shudderingly
from the picture.

"Take it hence," exclaimed Eleanor; "I have looked at that image of my
ancestors, till it has seemed endowed with life--till its eyes have
appeared to return my gaze, and weep. Remove it, Handassah."

Handassah silently withdrew the tablet, placing it against the wall of
the chamber.

"Not there--not there," cried Eleanor; "turn it with its face to the
wall. I cannot bear those eyes. And now come hither, girl--draw
nearer--for I know not what of sudden dread has crossed me. This was
_her_ room, Handassah--the chamber of my ancestress--of all the Ladies
Rookwood--where they say----Ha! did you not hear a noise?--a rustle in
the tapestry--a footstep near the wall? Why, you look as startled as I
look, wench; stay by me--I will not have you stir from my side--'twas
mere fancy."

"No doubt, lady," said Handassah, with her eyes fixed upon the arras.

"Hist!" exclaimed Eleanor, "there 'tis again."

"'Tis nothing," replied Handassah. But her looks belied her words.

"Well, I will command myself," said Eleanor, endeavoring to regain her
calmness; "but the thoughts of the Lady Eleanor--for _she_ was an
Eleanor like to me, Handassah--and ah! even more ill-fated and
unhappy--have brought a whole train of melancholy fancies into my mind.
I cannot banish them: nay, though painful to me, I recur to these images
of dread with a species of fascination, as if in their fate I
contemplated mine own. Not one, who hath wedded a Rookwood, but hath
rued it."

"Yet you will wed one," said Handassah.

"He is not like the rest," said Eleanor.

"How know you that, lady?" asked Handassah. "His time may not yet be
come. See what to-morrow will bring forth."

"You are averse to my marriage with Ranulph, Handassah."

"I was Sybil's handmaid ere I was yours, lady. I bear in mind a solemn
compact with the dead, which this marriage will violate. You are
plighted by oath to another, if he should demand your hand."

"But he has not demanded it."

"Would you accept him were he to do so?" asked Handassah, suddenly.

"I meant not that," replied Eleanor. "My oath is annulled."

"Say not so, lady," cried Handassah--"'twas not for this that Sybil
spared your life. I love you, but I loved Sybil, and I would see her
dying behests complied with."

"It may not be, Handassah," replied Eleanor. "Why, from a phantom sense
of honor, am I to sacrifice my whole existence to one who neither can
love me, nor whom I myself could love? Am I to wed this man because, in
her blind idolatry of him, Sybil enforced an oath upon me which I had no
power to resist, and which was mentally cancelled while taken? Recall
not the horrors of that dreadful cell--urge not the subject more. 'Tis
in the hope that I may be freed for ever from this persecution that I
have consented thus early to wed with Ranulph. This will set Luke's
fancied claims at rest for ever."

Handassah answered not, but bent her head, as if in acquiescence.

Steps were now heard near the door, and a servant ushered in Dr. Small
and Mrs. Mowbray.

"I am come to take leave of you for the night, my dear young lady," said
the doctor; "but before I start for the Vicarage, I have a word or two
to say, in addition to the advice you were so obliging as to receive
from me this morning. Suppose you allow your attendant to retire for a
few minutes. What I have got to say concerns yourself solely. Your
mother will bear us company. There," continued the doctor, as Handassah
was dismissed--"I am glad that dark-faced gipsy has taken her departure.
I can't say I like her sharp suspicious manner, and the first exercise I
should make at my powers, were I to be your husband, should be to
discharge the handmaiden. To the point of my visit. We are alone, I
think. This is a queer old house, Miss Mowbray; and this is the queerest
part of it. Walls have ears, they say; and there are so many holes and
corners in this mansion, that one ought never to talk secrets above
one's breath."

"I am yet to learn, sir," said Eleanor, "that there is any secret to be
communicated."

"Why, not much, I own," replied the doctor; "at least what has occurred
is no secret in the house by this time. What do you think _has_
happened?"

"It is impossible for me to conjecture. Nothing to Ranulph, I hope."

"Nothing of consequence, I trust,--though he is part concerned with it."

"What is it?" asked Eleanor.

"Pray satisfy her curiosity, doctor," interposed Mrs. Mowbray.

"Well, then," said Small, rather more gravely, "the fact of the matter
stands thus:--Lady Rookwood, who, as you know, was not the meekest wife
in the world, now turns out by no means the gentlest mother, and has
within this hour found out that she has some objection to your union
with her son."

"You alarm me, doctor."

"Don't alarm yourself at all. It will be got over without difficulty,
and only requires a little management. Ranulph is with her now, and I
doubt not will arrange all to her satisfaction."

"What was her objection?" asked Eleanor; "was it any one founded upon my
obligation to Luke--my oath?"

"Tut, tut! dismiss that subject from your mind entirely," said the
doctor. "That oath is no more binding on your conscience than would have
been the ties of marriage had you been wedded by yon recusant Romish
priest, Father Checkley, upon whose guilty head the Lord be merciful!
Bestow not a thought upon it. My anxiety, together with that of your
mother, is to see you now, as speedily as may be, wedded to Ranulph, and
then that idle question is set at rest for ever; and therefore, even if
such a thing were to occur as that Lady Rookwood should not yield her
consent to your marriage, as that consent is totally unnecessary, we
must go through the ceremonial without it."

"The grounds of Lady Rookwood's objections----" said Mrs. Mowbray.

"Ay, the grounds of her ladyship's objections," interposed Small, who,
when he had once got the lead, liked nobody to talk but himself, "are
simply these, and exactly the sort of objections one would expect her to
raise. She cannot bear the idea of abandoning the control of the house
and estates to other hands. She cannot, and will not relinquish her
station, as head of the establishment, which Ranulph has insisted upon
as your right. I thought, when I conversed with her on this subject,
that she was changed, but

    Naturam expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret.

I beg your pardon. She is, and always will be, the same."

"Why did not Ranulph concede the point to her? I wish not to dwell here.
I care not for these domains--for this mansion. They have no charms for
me. I could be happy with Ranulph anywhere--happier anywhere than
here."

The kind-hearted doctor squeezed her hand in reply, brushing a tear from
his eyes.

"Why did he not concede it?" said Mrs. Mowbray, proudly. "Because the
choice remained not with him. It was not his to concede. This
house--these lands--all--all are yours; and it were poor requital,
indeed, if, after they have so long been wrongfully withheld from us,
you should be a dependant on Lady Rookwood."

"Without going quite so far as that, madam," said the doctor, "it is but
justice to your daughter that she should be put in full possession of
her rights; nor should I for one instant advise, or even allow her to
inhabit the same house with Lady Rookwood. Her ladyship's peculiarities
of temper are such as to preclude all possibility of happiness. At the
same time, I trust by management--always by management, madam--that her
ladyship's quiet departure may be ensured. I understand that all such
legal arrangements in the way of settlements as could be entered into
between your daughter and her future husband are completed. I have only
to regret the absence of my friend, Mr. Coates, at this momentous
conjuncture. It will be a loss to him. But he inherits from his father a
taste for thief-taking, which he is at present indulging, to the
manifest injury of his legitimate practice. Hark! I hear Ranulph's step
in the gallery. He will tell us the result of his final interview. I
came to give you advice, my dear," added the doctor in a low tone to
Eleanor; "but I find you need it not. 'Whoso humbleth himself, shall be
exalted.' I am glad you do not split upon the rock which has stranded
half your generation."

At this moment Ranulph Rookwood entered the room, followed by Handassah,
who took her station at the back of the room, unperceived by the rest of
the party, whose attention was attracted by Ranulph's agitated manner.

"What has happened?" asked Dr. Small and Mrs. Mowbray in the same
breath.

Ranulph hesitated for a moment in his answer, during which space he
regarded Eleanor with the deepest anxiety, and seemed revolving within
himself how he could frame his reply in such way as should be least
painful to her feelings; while, with instinctive apprehension of coming
misfortune, Miss Mowbray eagerly seconded the inquiries of her friends.

"It is with great pain," said he, at length, in a tone of despondency,
not unmingled with displeasure, "that I am obliged to descant upon the
infirmities of a parent, and to censure her conduct as severely as I may
do now. I feel the impropriety of such a step, and I would willingly
avoid it, could I do so in justice to my own feelings--and especially at
a moment like the present--when every hope of my life is fixed upon
uniting myself to you, dear Eleanor, by ties as near as my own to that
parent. But the interview which I have just had with Lady
Rookwood--bitter and heart-breaking as it has been--compels me to
reprobate her conduct in the strongest terms, as harsh, unjust, and
dishonorable; and if I could wholly throw off the son, as she avows she
has thrown off the mother, I should unhesitatingly pronounce it as
little short of----"

"Dear Ranulph," said Eleanor, palpitating with apprehension, "I never
saw you so much moved."

"Nor with so much reason," rejoined Ranulph. "For myself, I could endure
anything--but for _you_----"

"And does your dispute relate to _me_?" asked Eleanor. "Is it for _my_
sake you have braved your mother's displeasure? Is it because Lady
Rookwood is unwilling to resign the control of this house and these
lands to _me_, that you have parted in anger with her? Was this the
cause of your quarrel?"

"It was the origin of it," replied Ranulph.

"Mother," said Eleanor, firmly, to Mrs. Mowbray, "go with me to Lady
Rookwood's chamber."

"Wherefore?" demanded Mrs. Mowbray.

"Question me not, dear mother, or let me go alone."

"Daughter, I guess your meaning," said Mrs. Mowbray, sternly. "You would
relinquish your claims in favor of Lady Rookwood. Is it not so?"

"Since you oblige me to answer you, mother," said Eleanor, crimsoning,
"I must admit that you have guessed my meaning. To Lady Rookwood, as to
yourself, I would be a daughter as far as is consistent with my duty,"
added she, blushing still more deeply, "but my first consideration shall
be my husband. And if Lady Rookwood can be content----But pray question
me not further--accompany me to her chamber."

"Eleanor," interposed Ranulph, "dearest Eleanor, the sacrifice you would
make is unnecessary--uncalled for. You do not know my mother. She would
not, I grieve to say, appreciate the generosity of your motives. She
would not give you credit for your feelings. She would only resent your
visit as an intrusion."

"My daughter comprehends you, sir," said Mrs. Mowbray, haughtily. "I
will take care that, in her own house, Miss Mowbray shall remain free
from insult."

"Mother, dear mother," said Eleanor, "do not wilfully misunderstand
him."

"You can be little aware, madam," said Ranulph, calmly, yet sadly, "how
much I have recently endured--how much of parental anger--how much of
parental malediction I have incurred, to save you and your daughter from
the indignity you apprehend. As I before said, you do not know my
mother; nor could it enter into any well-regulated imagination to
conceive the extremities to which the violence of her passion will, when
her schemes are thwarted, hurry her. The terms upon which you met
together will not escape your recollection; nor shall I need to recall
to your mind her haughtiness, her coldness. That coldness has since
ripened into distrust; and the match which she was at first all anxiety
to promote, she would now utterly set aside, were it in her power to do
so. Whence this alteration in her views has arisen, I have no means of
ascertaining; it is not my mother's custom to give a reason for her
actions, or her wishes: it is all-sufficient to express them. I have
perceived, as the time has drawn nigh for the fulfilment of my dearest
hopes, that her unwillingness has increased; until to-day, what had
hitherto been confined to hints, has been openly expressed, and absolute
objections raised. Such, however, is the peculiarity of her temper, that
I trusted, even at the eleventh hour, I should be able to work a change.
Alas! our last meeting was decisive. She commanded me to break off the
match. At once, and peremptorily, I refused. Pardon me, madam, pardon
me, dearest Eleanor, if I thus enter into particulars; it is absolutely
necessary I should be explicit. Enraged at my opposition to her wishes,
her fury became ungovernable. With appalling imprecations upon the
memory of my poor father, and upon _your_ father, madam, whose chief
offence in her eyes was, it seems, the disposition of his property to
Eleanor, she bade me be gone, and take her curses as my wedding portion.
Beneath this roof--beneath _her_ roof, she added--no marriage of mine
should e'er take place. I might go hence, or might stay, as I thought
fitting; but you and your daughter, whom she characterized as intruders,
should not remain another hour within her house. To this wild raving I
answered, with as much composure as I could command, that she entirely
mistook her own position, and that, so far from the odium of intrusion
resting with you, if applicable to any one, the term must necessarily
affix itself on those who, through ignorance, had for years unjustly
deprived the rightful owners of this place of their inheritance. Upon
this her wrath was boundless. She disowned me as her son; disclaimed all
maternal regard, and heaped upon my head a frightful malediction, at the
recollection of which I still tremble. I will spare you further details
of this dreadful scene. To me it is most distressing; for, however
firmly resolved I may be to pursue a line of conduct which every sound
principle within me dictates as the correct one, yet I cannot be
insensible to the awful responsibility I shall incur in bringing down a
mother's curse upon my head, nor to the jeopardy in which her own
excessive violence may place her."

Mrs. Mowbray listened to Ranulph's explanation in haughty displeasure;
Eleanor with throbbing, tearful interest; Dr. Small, with mixed feelings
of anger and astonishment.

"Lady Rookwood's conduct," said the doctor, "is--you must forgive me, my
dear Sir Ranulph, for using strong expressions--outrageous beyond all
precedent, and only excusable on the ground of insanity, to which I wish
it were possible we could attribute it. There is, however, too much
method in her madness to allow us to indulge any such notion; she is
shrewd, dangerous, and designing; and, since she has resolved to oppose
this match, she will leave no means untried to do so. I scarcely know
how to advise you under the circumstances--that is, if my advice were
asked."

"Which I scarcely think it likely to be, sir," said Mrs. Mowbray,
coldly. "After what has occurred, _I_ shall think it my duty to break
off this alliance, which I have never considered to be so desirable that
its rupture will occasion me an instant's uneasiness."

"A plague on all these Rookwoods!" muttered Small. "One would think all
the pride of the Prince of Darkness were centered in their bosoms. But,
madam," continued the benevolent doctor, "have you no consideration for
the feelings of your daughter, or for those of one who is no distant
relation to you--your nephew? Your son, Major Mowbray, is, if I mistake
not, most eager for this union to take place between his sister and his
friend."

"My children have been accustomed to yield implicit obedience to my
wishes," said Mrs. Mowbray, "and Major Mowbray, I am sure, will see the
propriety of the step I am about to take. I am content, at least, to
abide by _his_ opinion."

"Snubbed again!" mentally ejaculated the doctor, with a shrug of
despair. "It is useless attempting to work upon such impracticable
material."

Ranulph remained mute, in an attitude of profound melancholy. An
eloquent interchange of glances had passed between him and Eleanor,
communicating to each the anxious state of the other's feelings.

At this crisis the door was suddenly opened, and old Agnes, Lady
Rookwood's aged attendant, rushed into the room, and sank upon her knees
on the floor, her limbs shaking, her teeth chattering, and every feature
expressive of intense terror. Ranulph went instantly towards her to
demand the cause of her alarm.

"No, let me pray," cried Agnes, as he took her hand in the attempt to
raise her; "let me pray while there is yet time--let the worthy doctor
pray beside me. Pray for an overladen soul, sir; pray heartily, as you
would hope for mercy yourself. Ah! little know the righteous of the
terrors of those that are beyond the pale of mercy. The Lord pardon me
my iniquities, and absolve _her_."

"Whom do you mean?" asked Ranulph, in agitation. "You do not allude to
my mother?"

"You have no longer a mother, young man," said Agnes, solemnly.

"What!" exclaimed Ranulph, terror-stricken; "is she dead?"

"She is gone."

"Gone! How? Whither?" exclaimed all, their amazement increasing each
instant at the terror of the old woman, and the apparently terrible
occasion of it.

"Speak!" exclaimed Ranulph; "but why do I loiter? my mother, perchance,
is dying--let me go."

The old woman maintained her clutching grasp, which was strong and
convulsive as that of one struggling betwixt life and death. "It's of no
use, I tell you; it's all over," said she--"the dead are come--the dead
are come--and she is gone."

"Whither?--whither?"

"To the grave--to the tomb," said Agnes, in a deep and hollow tone, and
with a look that froze Ranulph's soul. "Listen to me, Ranulph Rookwood,
my child, my nursling--listen while I _can_ speak. We were alone, your
mother and I, after that scene between you; after the dark denunciations
she had heaped upon the dead, when I heard a low and gasping kind of
sob, and there I saw your mother staring wildly upon the vacancy, as if
she saw that of which I dare not think."

"What think you she beheld?" asked Ranulph, quaking with apprehension.

"That which had been your father," returned Agnes, in a hollow tone.
"Don't doubt me, sir--you'll find the truth of what I say anon. I am
sure he was there. There was a thrilling, speechless horror in the very
sight of her countenance that froze my old blood to ice--to the ice in
which 'tis now--ough! ough! Well, at length she arose, with her eyes
still fixed, and passed through the paneled door without a word. She is
gone!"

"What madness is this?" cried Ranulph. "Let me go, woman--'tis that
ruffian in disguise--she may be murdered."

"No, no," shrieked Agnes; "it was no disguise. She is gone, I tell
you--the room was empty, all the rooms were empty--the passage was
void--through the door they went together--silently, silently--ghostlike,
slow. Ha! that tomb--they are there together now--he has her in his
arms--see, they are here--they glide through the door--do you not see
them now? Did I not speak the truth? She is dead--ha, ha!" And with a
frantic and bewildering laugh the old woman fell upon her face.

Ranulph raised her from the floor; but the shock of what she had beheld
had been too much for her. She was dead!



_CHAPTER IV_

_THE DOWER OF SYBIL_

    _Card._ Now art thou come? Thou look'st ghastly;
            There sits in thy face some great determination,
            Mixed with some fear.

    _Bos._  Thus it lightens into action:
            I am come to kill thee.

                                                   _Duchess of Malfy._


Ranulph Rookwood was for some moments so much stunned by the ghastly
fate of Agnes, connected, as it appeared to be, with a supernatural
summons similar to that which he imagined he had himself received, that
he was incapable of stirring from the spot, or removing his gaze from
the rigid features of the corpse, which, even in death, wore the strong
impress of horror and despair. Through life he knew that Agnes, his own
nurse, had been his mother's constant and faithful attendant; the
unhesitating agent of her schemes, and it was to be feared, from the
remorse she had exhibited, the participator of her crimes; and Ranulph
felt, he knew not why, that in having witnessed her terrible end, he
beheld the ultimate condition of his own parent. Conquering, not without
great effort, the horror which had riveted him to the spot, he turned to
look towards Eleanor. She had sunk upon a chair, a silent witness of the
scene, Mrs. Mowbray and Dr. Small having, upon the first alarm given by
Agnes respecting Lady Rookwood's departure from the house quitted the
room to ascertain the truth of her statement. Ranulph immediately flew
to Eleanor.

"Ranulph," said she, though almost overcome by her alarm, "stay not an
instant here with me. I am sure, from that poor woman's dreadful death,
that something terrible has occurred, perhaps to Lady Rookwood. Go to
her chamber. Tarry not, I entreat of you."

"But will you, can you remain here alone with that body?" asked Ranulph.

"I shall not be alone. Handassah is within call--nay, she is here. Oh,
what an eve of our espousals has this been, dear Ranulph. Our whole life
is a troubled volume, of which each successive leaf grows darker. Fate
is opposed to us. It is useless to contend with our destiny. I fear we
shall never be united."

"Dismiss me not with words like those, dear Eleanor," returned Ranulph.
"Fate cannot have greater woes in store for us than those by which we
are now opposed. Let us hope that we are now at that point whence all
must brighten. Once possessed of you, assured of thus much happiness, I
would set even fate at defiance. And you will be mine to-morrow."

"Ranulph, dear Ranulph, your suit at this moment is desperate. I dare
not, cannot pledge myself. You yourself heard, even now, my mother's
sentiments, and I cannot marry without her consent."

"Your mother, like my own, regards not the feelings of her children.
Forgive my boldness, Eleanor; forgive me if I linger now, when duty
calls me hence; but I cannot tear myself away. Your mother may
return--my hopes be crushed; for even your love for me seems annihilated
in her presence."

"Ranulph, your vehemence terrifies me," rejoined Eleanor. "I implore
you, by the tender affection which you know I bear you, not to urge me
further at this moment. Recall your firmer feelings, and obtain some
mastery over yourself. I repeat, I am yours only, if I am bride of any
one. But when our union can take place rests not with myself. And now, I
entreat of you, leave me."

"You are mine," said Ranulph, with fervor; "mine only."

"Yours only," replied Eleanor.

"Be this the earnest of my happiness!" exclaimed Ranulph, imprinting a
long and impassioned kiss upon her lips.

The lovers were startled from their embrace by a profound sigh; it
proceeded from Handassah, who, unbidden, had replaced the picture of the
Lady Eleanor upon its frame. The augury seemed sinister. Every one who
has gazed steadfastly upon a portrait must have noticed the peculiar and
lifelike character which, under certain aspects, the eyes will assume.
Seen by the imperfect light upon the table, the whole character of the
countenance of the Lady Eleanor seemed changed; the features appeared to
be stamped with melancholy, and the eyes to be fixed with pitying
tenderness upon her descendants. Both gazed at each other and at the
picture, struck with the same sentiment of undefined awe. Beside them
stood the dark figure of the gipsy girl, watching, with ill-concealed
satisfaction, the effect of her handiwork. Ranulph was aroused from his
abstraction by hearing a loud outcry in Mrs. Mowbray's voice. Hastily
committing Eleanor to the care of her attendant, he left the room.
Handassah followed him to the door, closed it after him, and then locked
it within side. This done, she walked back hastily towards Eleanor,
exclaiming, in a tone of exultation, "You have parted with him forever."

"What mean you, girl?" cried Eleanor, alarmed at her manner. "Why have
you fastened the door? Open it, I command you."

"Command _me_!" laughed Handassah, scornfully. "What if I refuse your
mandate? What, if, in my turn, I bid _you_ obey _me_? I never owned but
one mistress. If I have bowed my neck to you for a time, 'twas to fulfil
her dying wishes. If I have submitted to your control, it was to
accomplish what I have now accomplished. Your oath! Remember your oath.
The hour is come for its fulfilment."

With these words Handassah clapped her hands. A panel in the wall
opened, and Luke stood suddenly before them. Silently and with stern
deliberation he strode towards Eleanor, and seizing one of her hands,
drew her forcibly towards him. Eleanor resisted not; she had not the
power; neither did she scream, for so paralyzing was her terror, that
for the moment it took away all power of utterance. Luke neither stirred
nor spoke, but, still maintaining his hold, gazed searchingly upon her
features, while Eleanor, as if spell-bound, could not withdraw her eyes
from him. Nothing more terribly impressive could be conceived than
Luke's whole appearance. Harassed and exhausted by the life he had
recently led; deprived almost of natural rest; goaded by remorse, his
frame was almost worn to the bone, while his countenance, once dark and
swarthy, was now blanched and colorless as marble. This pallid and
deathlike hue was, in all probability, owing to the loss of blood he had
sustained from the wound inflicted by Major Mowbray, with the stains of
which his apparel was dyed; for, though staunched, the effusion had been
sufficient to cause great faintness. His dark eyes blazed with their
wonted fire--nay, they looked darker and larger from his exceeding
paleness, and such intense mental and bodily suffering was imprinted
upon his countenance, that, despite its fierceness and desperation, few
could have regarded him without sympathy. Real desperation has so much
of agony in its character, that no one can witness it unmoved. His garb
was not that in which the reader first beheld him, but a rich, dark,
simple suit of velvet, corresponding more with his real rank in life
than his former peasant's attire; but it was disordered by his recent
conflict, and stained with bloody testimonials of the fray; while his
long, sable curls, once his pride and ornament, now hung in intertangled
elf-locks, like a coil of wreathed water-snakes. Even in her terror, as
she dwelt upon his noble features, Eleanor could not help admitting that
she beheld the undoubted descendant, and the living likeness of the
handsomest and most distinguished of her house--the profligate and
criminal Sir Reginald. As her eye, mechanically following this train of
thought, wandered for an instant to the haughty portraiture of Sir
Reginald, which formed part of the family pictures, and thence to those
of his unfortunate lady, she was struck with the fancy that, by some
terrible fatality, the tragic horrors of bygone days were to be again
enacted in their persons, and that they were in some way strangely
identified with their unfortunate progenitors. So forcibly was this idea
impressed upon her features that Luke, who had followed the direction of
her glances, became instantly aware of it. Drawing her nearer to the
portrait of the Lady Eleanor, he traced the resemblance in mute wonder;
thence, turning towards that of Sir Reginald, he proudly exclaimed: "You
doubted once my lineage, maiden--can you gaze on those features, which
would almost seem to be a reflection of mine own, and longer hesitate
whose descendant I am? I glory in my likeness. There is a wild delight
in setting human emotions at naught, which he was said to feel--which I
feel now. Within these halls I seem to breathe an atmosphere congenial
to me. I visit what I oft have visited in my dreams; or as in a state of
pre-existence. Methinks, as I gaze on you, I could almost deem myself
Sir Reginald, and you his bride, the Lady Eleanor. Our fates were
parallel: _she_ was united to her lord by ties of hatred--by a _vow_--_a
bridal vow_! So are you to me. And she could ne'er escape him--could
ne'er throw off her bondage--nor shall you. I claim the fulfilment of
_your_ oath; you are _mine_."

"Never, never!" shrieked Eleanor, struggling to disengage herself. But
Luke laughed at her feeble efforts. Handassah stood by, a passive
spectatress of the scene, with her arms folded upon her bosom.

"You refuse compliance," said Luke, scornfully. "Have you no hopes of
Heaven, no fears of perdition, that you dare to violate your vow?
Bethink you of the awful nature of that obligation; of the life that was
laid down to purchase it; of the blood which will cry out for vengeance
'gainst the _murderess_, should you hesitate. By that blood-cemented
sacrament, I claim you as my own. You are mine." And he dragged her
towards the opening.

Eleanor uttered a long and terrific scream.

"Be silent, on your life," added he, searching for the dagger given to
him by Alan Rookwood, when, as his hand sought the weapon, Eleanor
escaped from his grasp, and fled towards the door. But Handassah had
anticipated her intention. The key was withdrawn from the lock, and the
wretched maiden vainly tried to open it.

At this instant Turpin appeared at the sliding panel.

"Quick, quick!" cried he, impatiently--"despatch, in the devil's name.
The house is alarmed. I hear young Ranulph's voice in the gallery."

"Ranulph!" shrieked Eleanor--"then I am saved," and she redoubled her
outcries for assistance.

Luke again seized his victim. Her hands clutched so convulsively fast in
her despairing energy against the handle of the door that he could not
tear her thence. By this time Ranulph Rookwood, who had caught her
reiterated screams for help, was at the entrance. He heard her
struggles; he heard Luke's threats--his mockery--his derisive
laughter--but vainly, vainly did he attempt to force it open. It was of
the strongest oak, and the bolts resisted all his efforts. A board alone
divided him from his mistress. He could hear her sobs and gasps. He saw,
from the action of the handle, with what tenacity she clung to it; and,
stung to frenzy by the sight, he hurled himself against the sturdy
plank, but all in vain. At length the handle was still. There was a
heavy fall upon the floor--a stifled scream--and a sound as of a body
being dragged along. The thought was madness.

"To the panel! to the panel!" cried a voice--it was that of Turpin--from
within.

"The panel!--ha!" echoed Ranulph, with a sudden gleam of hope. "I may
yet save her." And he darted along the corridor with the swiftness of
thought.

Luke, meanwhile, had for some minutes fruitlessly exhausted all his
force to drag Eleanor from the door. Despair gave her strength; she
clutched at the door; but she felt her strength failing her--her grasp
was relaxing. And then the maddening thought that she would be shortly
his--that he would slay her--while the idea that Ranulph was so near,
and yet unable to protect her, added gall even to her bitterness. With
savage delight Luke exulted in the lovers' tortures. He heard Ranulph's
ineffectual attempts; he heard his groans; he heard their mutual cries.
Inflamed by jealousy, he triumphed in his power of vengeance, and even
prolonged the torture which accident had given him the means of
inflicting. He stood like the inquisitor who marks his victim's anguish
on the rack, and calculates his powers of further endurance. But he
could no longer dally, even with this horrible gratification. His
companion grew impatient. Eleanor's fair long tresses had escaped from
their confinement in the struggle, and fell down her neck in disorder.
Twining his fingers amidst its folds, Luke dragged her backwards from
her hold, and, incapable of further resistance, her strength completely
exhausted, the wretched girl fell to the ground.

Luke now raised her almost inanimate form in his arms, and had nigh
reached the aperture, when a crash was heard in the panel opposite to
that by which he was about to escape, and communicating with a further
apartment. It was thrown open, and Ranulph Rookwood presented himself at
the narrow partition. An exclamation of joy, that he was yet in time,
escaped his lips; and he was about to clear the partition at a bound,
and to precipitate himself upon Luke, when, as suddenly as his own
action, was the person of the unfortunate Mr. Coates wedged into the
aperture.

"Traitor!" cried Ranulph, regarding Coates with concentrated fury, "dare
you to oppose me?--hence! or, by Heaven, I will cut you down!"

"'Tis impossible," ejaculated the attorney. "For your own sake, Sir
Ranulph--for my sake--I entreat--implore of you--not to attempt to pass
this way. Try the other door."

Ranulph said no more. He passed his sword through the body of the
miserable attorney, who, with a deep groan, fell. The only obstacle to
his passage being thus removed, he at once leaped into the room.

The brothers were now confronted, together, but little of brotherly love
mingled with the glances which they threw upon each other. Ranulph's
gentle, but withal enthusiastic temperament, had kindled, under his
present excitement, like flax at the sudden approach of flame. He was
wild with frenzy. Luke was calmer, but his fury was deadly and
inextinguishable. The meeting was terrible on both sides.

With one arm Luke enfolded Eleanor, with the other he uplifted the
dagger. Its point was towards her bosom. Scowling grim defiance at
Ranulph, he exclaimed, in a determined tone, "Advance a footstep, and my
dagger descends into her heart."

Ranulph hesitated, uncertain how to act; foaming with rage, yet
trembling with apprehension.

"Ranulph," gasped Eleanor, "life without you were valueless.
Advance--avenge me!"

Ranulph still hesitated. He could not, by any act of his own, compromise
Eleanor's safety.

Luke saw his advantage, and was not slow to profit by it. "You seal her
destruction if you stir," said he.

"Villain," returned Ranulph, between his ground teeth, and with
difficulty commanding sufficient coolness to speak with deliberation,
"you perceive your power. Injure her, and nothing earthly shall protect
you. Free her, and take your life and liberty; nay, reward if you will.
You cannot otherwise escape me."

"Escape you!" laughed Luke, disdainfully. "Stand aside, and let me pass.
Beware," added he, sternly, "how you oppose me. I would not have a
brother's blood upon my soul."

"Nor I," cried Ranulph; "but you pass not." And he placed himself full
in Luke's path.

Luke, however, steadily moved forward, holding Eleanor between himself
and Ranulph, so as to shield his own person; but, fancying he saw an
opportunity of dealing a blow without injury to his mistress, the latter
was about to hazard the thrust, when his arms were seized behind, and he
was rendered powerless.

"Lost, lost," groaned he; "she is lost to me forever!"

"I fear that's but too true," said Turpin, for it was the highwayman
whose grasp confined Ranulph.

"Must I see her borne away before my eyes?" cried Ranulph. "Release
me--set me free!"

"Quite impossible at present," returned Dick. "Mount and away, Sir
Luke," continued he; "never mind me. Leave me to shift for myself."

"Eleanor!" cried Ranulph, as she passed close by his side.

"Ranulph!" shrieked Eleanor, with a loud scream, recalled to
consciousness by his voice, "farewell for ever."

"Ay, for ever," responded Luke, triumphantly. "You meet no more on
earth."

He was about to pass through the panel, when Eleanor exerted all her
remaining strength in a last futile attempt at liberation. In the
struggle, a packet fell from Luke's bosom.

Handassah stooped to pick it up.

"From Sybil!" exclaimed she, glancing at the superscription.

"Remember my promise to old Barbara," roared Dick, who had some
curiosity, as the reader knows, to learn what the package contained.
"The time is arrived. Eleanor is in your power--in your presence."

"Give me the packet," said Luke, resigning Eleanor for the instant to
Handassah's custody--"take the steel, and grasp her firmly."

Handassah, who, though slight of figure, was of singular personal
strength, twined her arms about Miss Mowbray in such a manner as to
preclude all possibility of motion.

Luke tore open the package. It was a box carefully enclosed in several
folds of linen, and lastly within a sheet of paper, on which were
inscribed these words:

    THE DOWER OF SYBIL

Hastily, and with much curiosity, Luke raised the lid of the box. It
contained one long silken tress of blackest hair enviously braided. It
was Sybil's. His first impulse was to cast it from him; his next,
reproachfully to raise it to his lips. He started as if a snake had
stung him.

At this moment a loud clamor was heard in the gallery. In the next, the
door was assailed by violent strokes, evidently proceeding from some
weighty instrument, impelled by the united strength of several
assailants.

The voice of Turpin rose above the deafening din. "A bullet for the
first who enters," shouted he. "Quick, Sir Luke, and the prize is
safe--away, and----"

But as he seconded his exhortation with a glance at Luke, he broke off
the half-uttered sentence, and started with horror and amazement. Ere
the cause of his alarm could be expressed, the door was burst open, and
a crowd of domestics, headed by Major Mowbray and Titus Tyrconnel,
rushed into the room.

"Nay, then, the game's up!" exclaimed Dick; "I have done with Rookwood."
And, springing through the panel, he was seen no more.

When the newcomers first looked round, they could perceive only two
figures besides themselves--those of the two lovers--Eleanor having
sunk pale, exhausted, and almost senseless, into the arms of Ranulph.
Presently, however, a ghastly object attracted their attention. All
rushed towards it--all recoiled, as soon as they discovered that it was
the lifeless body of Luke Rookwood. His limbs were stiff, like those of
a corpse which has for hours been such; his eyes protruded from their
sockets; his face was livid and blotched. All bespoke, with terrible
certainty, the efficacy of the poison, and the full accomplishment of
Barbara's revenge.

Handassah was gone. Probably she had escaped ere Turpin fled. At all
events, she was heard of no more at Rookwood.

It required little to recall the senses of Eleanor. Shortly she revived,
and as she gazed around, and became conscious of her escape, she uttered
exclamations of thanksgiving, and sank into the embraces of her brother.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mowbray and Dr. Small had joined the assemblage.

The worthy doctor had been full of alarm; but his meditated condolences
were now changed to congratulations, as he heard the particulars of the
terrible scene that had occurred, and of Eleanor's singular and almost
providential deliverance.

"After what has befallen, madam," said the doctor to Mrs. Mowbray,
slightly coughing, "you can no longer raise any objection to a certain
union, eh?"

"I will answer for my mother in that particular," said Major Mowbray,
stepping forward.

"She will answer for herself, my son," said Mrs. Mowbray. "The match has
her full and entire consent. But to what am I to attribute the
unexpected happiness of your return?"

"To a chain of singular circumstances," replied the Major, "which I will
hereafter detail to you. Suffice it to say, that but for this
gentleman's fortunate arrival," added he, looking at Titus Tyrconnel,
"at the hut on Thorne Waste, I might have been detained a prisoner,
without _parole_, and, what is worse, without provision perhaps for
days; and to add to my distress, fully acquainted with the meditated
abduction of my sister. It was excessively lucky for me, Mr. Tyrconnel,
that you happened to pass that way, and for poor Paterson likewise."

"Arrah, by my sowl, major, and you may say that with safety; and it was
particularly fortunate that we stumbled upon the tits in the cellar, or
we'd never have been here just in the nick of it. I begin to think we've
lost all chance of taking Dick Turpin this time. He's got clean away."

"I am not sorry for his escape," said the major. "He's a brave fellow;
and I respect courage wherever I find it, even in a highwayman. I should
be sorry to appear as a witness against him; and I trust it will never
be my fate to do so."

We shall not pause to describe the affectionate meeting which now ensued
between the brother and sister--the congratulations upon Eleanor's
escape from peril, intermingled with the tenderest embraces, and the
warmest thanks offered to Ranulph for his gallant service. "She is
yours, my dear boy," said the major; "and though you are a Rookwood, and
she bears the ill-fated name of Eleanor, I predict that, contrary to the
usual custom of our families in such cases, all your misfortunes will
have occurred _before_ marriage."

"There is only one thing," said Small, with a very peculiar expression,
which might almost be construed into serio-comic, could we suspect the
benevolent doctor of any such waggery, "that can possibly throw a shade
over our present felicity. Lady Rookwood is not to be found."

"My poor mother," said Ranulph, starting.

"Make yourself easy," said the doctor; "I doubt not we shall hear of her
to-morrow. My only apprehension," added he, half aside, "is, that she
may be heard of before."

"One other circumstance afflicts me," said Ranulph. "Poor Mr. Coates!"

"What's that you say of Mr. Coates, Sir Ranulph?" exclaimed Titus.

"I fear he was killed in the recent affray," said Ranulph. "Let some one
search for the body."

"Kilt!" echoed Titus. "Is it kilt that Mr. Coates is? Ah! _ullagone_,
and is it over with him entirely? Is he gone to rejoin his father, the
thief-taker? Bring me to his remains."

"He will bring them to you himself," said the attorney, stepping
forward. "Luckily, Sir Ranulph," said the incurable punster, "it was
merely the _outer coats_ that your sword passed through; the _inner_
remains uninjured, so that you did not act as my _conveyancer_ to
eternity. Body o' me! I've as many lives as a cat--ha, ha!"

Ranulph welcomed the facetious man of law with no little satisfaction.

We think it unnecessary to enter into further detail. Another chamber
was prepared for Eleanor's reception, to which she was almost
immediately transported. The remains of the once fierce and haughty
Luke, now stiff and stark, but still wearing, even in death, their proud
character, were placed upon the self-same bier, and covered with the
self-same pall which, but a week ago, had furnished forth his father's
funeral. And as the domestics crowded round the corpse, there was not
one of them but commented upon his startling resemblance to his
grandsire, Sir Reginald; nor, amongst the superstitious, was the falling
of the fatal bough forgotten.

Tranquillity was at length restored at the hall. Throughout the night
and during the next day, Ranulph made every search for his mother, but
no tidings could be learned of her. Seriously alarmed, he then caused
more strict and general inquiry to be instituted, but with like
unsuccessful effect. It was not, indeed, till some years afterwards that
her fate was ascertained.



_CHAPTER V_

_THE SARCOPHAGUS_

    So now 'tis ended, like an old wife's story.--WEBSTER.


Notwithstanding the obscurity which hung over the fate of Lady Rookwood,
the celebration of the nuptials of Sir Ranulph and Eleanor was not long
delayed; the ceremony took place at the parish church, and the worthy
vicar officiated upon the occasion. It was a joyous sight to all who
witnessed it, and not few were they who did so, for the whole
neighborhood was bidden to the festival. The old avenue was thronged
with bright and beaming faces, rustic maidens decked out in ribbons of
many-colored splendor, and stout youths in their best holiday trim; nor
was the lusty yeoman and his buxom spouse--nor yet the patriarch of the
village, nor prattling child, wanting. Even the ancestral rooks seemed
to participate in the universal merriment, and returned, from their
eyries, a hoarse greeting, like a lusty chorus of laughter, to the
frolic train. The churchyard path was strewn with flowers--the church
itself a complete garland. Never was there seen a blither wedding: the
sun smiled upon the bride--accounted a fortunate omen, as dark lowering
skies and stormy weather had, within the memory of the oldest of the
tenantry, inauspiciously ushered in all former espousals. The bride had
recovered her bloom and beauty, while the melancholy which had seemingly
settled for ever upon the open brow of the bridegroom, had now given
place to a pensive shade that only added interest to his expressive
features; and, as in simple state, after the completion of the sacred
rites, the youthful pair walked, arm in arm, amongst their thronging and
admiring tenants towards the Hall, many a fervent prayer was breathed
that the curse of the house of Rookwood might be averted from their
heads; and, not to leave a doubt upon the subject, we can add that these
aspirations were not in vain, but that the day, which dawned so
brightly, was one of serene and unclouded happiness to its close.

After the ceremonial, the day was devoted to festivity. Crowded with
company, from the ample hall to the kitchen ingle, the old mansion could
scarce contain its numerous guests, while the walls resounded with
hearty peals of laughter, to which they had been long unaccustomed. The
tables groaned beneath the lordly baron of beef, the weighty chine, the
castled pasty flanked on the one hand with neat's tongue, and on the
other defended by a mountainous ham, an excellent _pièce de résistance_,
and every other substantial appliance of ancient hospitality. Barrels of
mighty ale were broached, and their nut-brown contents widely
distributed, and the health of the bride and bridegroom was
enthusiastically drunk in a brimming wassail cup of spicy wine with
floating toast. Titus Tyrconnel acted as master of the ceremonies, and
was, Mr. Coates declared, "_quite in his element_." So much was he
elated, that he ventured to cut some of his old jokes upon the vicar,
and, strange to say, without incurring the resentment of Small.

To retrace the darker course of our narrative, we must state that some
weeks before this happy event the remains of the unfortunate Sir Luke
Rookwood had been gathered to those of his fathers. The document that
attested his legitimacy being found upon his person, the claims denied
to him in life were conceded in death; and he was interred, with all the
pomp and peculiar solemnity proper to one of the house, within the tomb
of his ancestry.

It was then that a discovery was made respecting Alan Rookwood, in order
to explain which we must again revert to the night of the meditated
_enlèvement_ of Eleanor.

After quitting his grandson in the avenue, Alan shaped his course among
the fields in the direction to the church. He sought his own humble,
but now deserted dwelling. The door had been forced; some of its meagre
furniture was removed; and the dog, his sole companion, had fled. "Poor
Mole!" said he, "thou hast found, I trust, a better master." And having
possessed himself of what he came in search--namely, a bunch of keys and
his lantern, deposited in an out-of-the-way cupboard, that had escaped
notice, he quickly departed.

He was once more within the churchyard; once more upon that awful stage
whereon he had chosen to enact, for a long season, his late fantastical
character; and he gazed upon the church tower, glistening in the
moonshine, the green and undulating hillocks, the "chequered
cross-sticks," the clustered headstones, and the black and portentous
yew-trees, as upon "old familiar faces." He mused, for a few moments,
upon the scene, apparently with deep interest. He then walked beneath
the shadows of one of the yews, chanting an odd stanza or so of one of
his wild staves, wrapped the while, it would seem, in affectionate
contemplation of the subject-matter of his song:

    THE CHURCHYARD YEW

                ---- Metuendaque succo
                Taxus.

                                                  STATIUS.

    A noxious tree is the churchyard yew,
    As if from the dead its sap it drew;
    Dark are its branches, and dismal to see,
    Like plumes at Death's latest solemnity.
    Spectral and jagged, and black as the wings
    Which some spirit of ill o'er a sepulchre flings:
    Oh! a terrible tree is the churchyard yew;
    Like it is nothing so grimly to view.

    Yet this baleful tree hath a core so sound,
    Can nought so tough in the grove be found;
    From it were fashioned brave English bows,
    The boast of our isle, and the dread of its foes.
    For our sturdy sires cut their stoutest staves
    From the branch that hung o'er their fathers' graves;
    And though it be dreary and dismal to view,
    Staunch at the heart is the churchyard yew.

His ditty concluded, Alan entered the churchyard, taking care to leave
the door slightly ajar, in order to facilitate his grandson's entrance.
For an instant he lingered in the chancel. The yellow moonlight fell
upon the monuments of his race; and, directed by the instinct of hate,
Alan's eye rested upon the gilded entablature of his perfidious brother,
Reginald, and, muttering curses, "not loud but deep," he passed on.
Having lighted his lantern in no tranquil mood, he descended into the
vault, observing a similar caution with respect to the portal of the
cemetery, which he left partially unclosed, with the key in the lock.
Here he resolved to abide Luke's coming. The reader knows what
probability there was of his expectations being realized.

For a while he paced the tomb, wrapped in gloomy meditation, and
pondering, it might be, upon the result of Luke's expedition, and the
fulfilment of his own dark schemes, scowling from time to time beneath
his bent eyebrows, counting the grim array of coffins, and noticing,
with something like satisfaction, that the shell which contained the
remains of his daughter had been restored to its former position. He
then bethought him of Father Checkley's midnight intrusion upon his
conference with Luke, and their apprehension of a supernatural
visitation, and his curiosity was stimulated to ascertain by what means
the priest had gained admission to the spot unperceived and unheard. He
resolved to sound the floor, and see whether any secret entrance
existed; and hollowly and dully did the hard flagging return the stroke
of his heel as he pursued his scrutiny. At length the metallic ringing
of an iron plate, immediately behind the marble effigy of Sir Ranulph,
resolved the point. There it was that the priest had found access to
the vault; but Alan's disappointment was excessive, when he discovered
that the plate was fastened on the underside, and all communication
thence with the churchyard, or to wherever else it might conduct him,
cut off: but the present was not the season for further investigation,
and tolerably pleased with the discovery he had already made, he
returned to his silent march round the sepulchre.

At length a sound, like the sudden shutting of the church door, broke
upon the profound stillness of the holy edifice. In the hush that
succeeded, a footstep was distinctly heard threading the aisle.

"He comes--he comes!" exclaimed Alan, joyfully; adding, an instant
after, in an altered voice, "but he comes alone."

The footstep drew near to the mouth of the vault--it was upon the
stairs. Alan stepped forward to greet, as he supposed, his grandson, but
started back in astonishment and dismay as he encountered in his stead
Lady Rookwood. Alan retreated, while the lady advanced, swinging the
iron door after her, which closed with a tremendous clang. Approaching
the statue of the first Sir Ranulph, she paused, and Alan then remarked
the singular and terrible expression of her eyes, which appeared to be
fixed upon the statue, or upon some invisible object near it. There was
something in her whole attitude and manner calculated to impress the
deepest terror on the beholder. And Alan gazed upon her with an awe
which momently increased. Lady Rookwood's bearing was as proud and erect
as we have formerly described it to have been--her brow was haughtily
bent--her chiselled lip as disdainfully curled; but the staring,
changeless eye, and the deep-heaved sob which occasionally escaped her,
betrayed how much she was under the influence of mortal terror. Alan
watched her in amazement. He knew not how the scene was likely to
terminate, nor what could have induced her to visit this ghostly spot at
such an hour, and alone; but he resolved to abide the issue in
silence--profound as her own. After a time, however, his impatience got
the better of his fears and scruples, and he spoke.

"What doth Lady Rookwood in the abode of the dead?" asked he, at length.

She started at the sound of his voice, but still kept her eye fixed upon
the vacancy.

"Hast thou not beckoned me hither, and am I not come?" returned she, in
a hollow tone. "And now thou asketh wherefore I am here--I am here
because, as in thy life I feared thee not, neither in death do I fear
thee. I am here because----"

"What seest thou?" interrupted Peter, with ill-suppressed terror.

"What see I--ha--ha!" shouted Lady Rookwood, amidst discordant laughter;
"that which might appal a heart less stout than mine--a figure
anguish-writhen, with veins that glow as with a subtle and consuming
flame. A substance yet a shadow, in thy living likeness. Ha--frown if
thou wilt; I can return thy glances."

"Where dost thou see this vision?" demanded Alan.

"Where!" echoed Lady Rookwood, becoming for the first time sensible of
the presence of a stranger. "Ha--who are you that question me?--what are
you?--speak!"

"No matter who or what I am," returned Alan, "I ask you what you
behold."

"Can you see nothing?"

"Nothing," replied Alan.

"You knew Sir Piers Rookwood?"

"Is it he?" asked Alan, drawing near her.

"It is," replied Lady Rookwood; "I have followed him hither, and I will
follow him whithersoever he leads me, were it to----"

"What doth he now?" asked Alan; "do you see him still?"

"The figure points to that sarcophagus," returned Lady Rookwood--"can
you raise up the lid?"

"No," replied Alan; "my strength will not avail to lift it."

"Yet let the trial be made," said Lady Rookwood; "the figure points
there still--my own arm shall aid you."

Alan watched her in dumb wonder. She advanced towards the marble
monument, and beckoned him to follow. He reluctantly complied. Without
any expectation of being able to move the ponderous lid of the
sarcophagus, at Lady Rookwood's renewed request he applied himself to
the task. What was his surprise, when, beneath their united efforts, he
found the ponderous slab slowly revolve upon its vast hinges, and, with
little further difficulty, it was completely elevated; though it still
required the exertion of all Alan's strength to prop it open, and
prevent its falling back.

"What does it contain?" asked Lady Rookwood.

"A warrior's ashes," returned Alan.

"There is a rusty dagger upon a fold of faded linen," cried Lady
Rookwood, holding down the light.

"It is the weapon with which the first dame of the house of Rookwood was
stabbed," said Alan, with a grim smile:

    "Which whoso findeth in the tomb
    Shall clutch until the hour of doom;
    And when 'tis grasped by hand of clay,
    The curse of blood shall pass away.

So saith the rhyme. Have you seen enough?"

"No," said Lady Rookwood, precipitating herself into the marble coffin.
"That weapon shall be mine."

"Come forth--come forth," cried Alan. "My arm trembles--I cannot support
the lid."

"I will have it, though I grasp it to eternity," shrieked Lady Rookwood,
vainly endeavoring to wrest away the dagger, which was fastened,
together with the linen upon which it lay, by some adhesive substance
to the bottom of the shell.

At this moment Alan Rookwood happened to cast his eye upward, and he
then beheld what filled him with new terror. The axe of the sable statue
was poised above its head, as in the act to strike him. Some secret
machinery, it was evident, existed between the sarcophagus lid and this
mysterious image. But in the first impulse of his alarm Alan abandoned
his hold of the slab, and it sunk slowly downwards. He uttered a loud
cry as it moved. Lady Rookwood heard this cry. She raised herself at the
same moment--the dagger was in her hand--she pressed it against the lid,
but its downward force was too great to be withstood. The light was
within the sarcophagus, and Alan could discern her features. The
expression was terrible. She uttered one shriek and the lid closed for
ever.

Alan was in total darkness. The light had been enclosed with Lady
Rookwood. There was something so horrible in her probable fate, that
even _he_ shuddered as he thought upon it. Exerting all his remaining
strength, he essayed to raise the lid, but now it was more firmly closed
than ever. It defied all his power. Once, for an instant, he fancied
that it yielded to his straining sinews, but it was only his hand that
slided upon the surface of the marble. It was fixed--immovable. The
sides and lid rang with the strokes which the unfortunate lady bestowed
upon them with the dagger's point; but those sounds were not long heard.
Presently all was still; the marble ceased to vibrate with her blows.
Alan struck the lid with his knuckles, but no response was returned. All
was silent.

He now turned his attention to his own situation, which had become
sufficiently alarming. An hour must have elapsed, yet Luke had not
arrived. The door of the vault was closed--the key was in the lock, and
on the outside. He was himself a prisoner within the tomb. What if Luke
should _not_ return? What if he were slain, as it might chance, in the
enterprise? That thought flashed across his brain like an electric
shock. None knew of his retreat but his grandson. He might perish of
famine within this desolate vault.

He checked this notion as soon as it was formed--it was too dreadful to
be indulged in. A thousand circumstances might conspire to detain Luke.
He was sure to come. Yet the solitude--the darkness was awful, almost
intolerable. The dying and the dead were around him. He dared not stir.

Another hour--an age it seemed to him--had passed. Still Luke came not.
Horrible forebodings crossed him; but he would not surrender himself to
them. He rose, and crawled in the direction, as he supposed, of the
door--fearful, even of the stealthy sound of his own footsteps. He
reached it, and his heart once more throbbed with hope. He bent his ear
to the key; he drew in his breath; he listened for some sound, but
nothing was to be heard. A groan would have been almost music in his
ears.

Another hour was gone! He was now a prey to the most frightful
apprehensions, agitated in turns by the wildest emotions of rage and
terror. He at one moment imagined that Luke had abandoned him, and
heaped curses upon his head; at the next, convinced that he had fallen,
he bewailed with equal bitterness his grandson's fate and his own. He
paced the tomb like one distracted; he stamped upon the iron plate; he
smote with his hands upon the door; he shouted, and the vault hollowly
echoed his lamentations. But Time's sand ran on, and Luke arrived not.

Alan now abandoned himself wholly to despair. He could no longer
anticipate his grandson's coming, no longer hope for deliverance. His
fate was sealed. Death awaited him. He must anticipate his slow but
inevitable stroke, enduring all the grinding horrors of starvation. The
contemplation of such an end was madness, but he was forced to
contemplate it now; and so appalling did it appear to his imagination,
that he half resolved to dash out his brains against the walls of the
sepulchre, and put an end at once to his tortures; and nothing, except a
doubt whether he might not, by imperfectly accomplishing his purpose,
increase his own suffering, prevented him from putting this dreadful
idea into execution. His dagger was gone, and he had no other weapon.
Terrors of a new kind now assailed him. The dead, he fancied, were
bursting from their coffins, and he peopled the darkness with grisly
phantoms. They were around about him on each side, whirling and
rustling, gibbering, groaning, shrieking, laughing, and lamenting. He
was stunned, stifled. The air seemed to grow suffocating, pestilential;
the wild laughter was redoubled; the horrible troop assailed him; they
dragged him along the tomb, and amid their howls he fell, and became
insensible.

When he returned to himself, it was some time before he could collect
his scattered faculties; and when the agonizing consciousness of his
terrible situation forced itself upon his mind, he had nigh relapsed
into oblivion. He arose. He rushed towards the door; he knocked against
it with his knuckles till the blood streamed from them; he scratched
against it with his nails till they were torn off by the roots. With
insane fury he hurled himself against the iron frame; it was in vain.
Again he had recourse to the trap-door. He searched for it; he found it.
He laid himself upon the ground. There was no interval of space in which
he could insert a finger's point. He beat it with his clenched hand; he
tore it with his teeth; he jumped upon it; he smote it with his heel.
The iron returned a sullen sound.

He again essayed the lid of the sarcophagus. Despair nerved his
strength. He raised the slab a few inches. He shouted, screamed, but no
answer was returned; and again the lid fell.

"She is dead!" cried Alan. "Why have I not shared her fate? But mine is
to come. And such a death!--oh, oh!" And, frenzied at the thought, he
again hurried to the door, and renewed his fruitless attempts to
escape, till nature gave way, and he sank upon the floor, groaning and
exhausted.

Physical suffering now began to take the place of his mental tortures.
Parched and consumed with a fierce internal fever, he was tormented by
unappeasable thirst--of all human ills the most unendurable. His tongue
was dry and dusty, his throat inflamed; his lips had lost all moisture.
He licked the humid floor; he sought to imbibe the nitrous drops from
the walls; but, instead of allaying his thirst, they increased it. He
would have given the world, had he possessed it, for a draught of cold
spring-water. Oh, to have died with his lips upon some bubbling
fountain's marge! But to perish thus----!

Nor were the pangs of hunger wanting. He had to endure all the horrors
of famine, as well as the agonies of quenchless thirst.

In this dreadful state three days and nights passed over Alan's fated
head. Nor night nor day had he. Time, with him, was only measured by its
duration, and that seemed interminable. Each hour added to his
suffering, and brought with it no relief. During this period of
prolonged misery reason often tottered on her throne. Sometimes he was
under the influence of the wildest passions. He dragged coffins from
their recesses, hurled them upon the ground, striving to break them open
and drag forth their loathsome contents. Upon other occasions he would
weep bitterly and wildly; and once--only once--did he attempt to pray;
but he started from his knees with an echo of infernal laughter, as he
deemed, ringing in his ears. Then, again, would he call down
imprecations upon himself and his whole line, trampling upon the pile of
coffins he had reared; and lastly, more subdued, would creep to the
boards that contained the body of his child, kissing them with a frantic
outbreak of affection.

At length he became sensible of his approaching dissolution. To him the
thought of death might well be terrible, but he quailed not before it,
or rather seemed, in his latest moments, to resume all his wonted
firmness of character. Gathering together his remaining strength, he
dragged himself towards the niche wherein his brother, Sir Reginald
Rookwood, was deposited, and placing his hand upon the coffin, solemnly
exclaimed, "My curse--my dying curse--be upon thee evermore!"

Falling with his face upon the coffin, Alan instantly expired. In this
attitude his remains were discovered.



_L'ENVOY_


Our tale is told. Yet, perhaps, we may be allowed to add a few words
respecting two of the subordinate characters of our drama--melodrama we
ought to say--namely Jerry Juniper and the knight of Malta. What became
of the Caper Merchant's son after his flight from Kilburn Wells we have
never been able distinctly to ascertain. Juniper, however, would seem to
be a sort of Wandering Jew, for certain it is, that _somebody very like
him_ is extant still, and to be met with at Jerry's old haunts; indeed,
we have no doubt of encountering him at the ensuing meetings of Ascot
and Hampton.

As regards the knight of Malta--Knight of _Roads_--"Rhodes"--he should
have been--we are sorry to state that the career of the Ruffler
terminated in a madhouse, and thus the poor knight became in reality a
_Hospitaller_! According to the custom observed in those establishments,
the knight was deprived of his luxuriant locks, and the loss of his
beard rendered his case incurable; but, in the mean time, the barber of
the place made his fortune by retailing the materials of all the black
wigs he could collect to the impostor's dupes.

Such is the latest piece of intelligence that has reached us of the
_Arch-hoaxer_ of Canterbury!

Turpin--why disguise it?--was hanged at York in 1739. His firmness
deserted him not at the last. When he mounted the fatal tree his left
leg trembled; he stamped it impatiently down, and, after a brief chat
with the hangman, threw himself suddenly and resolutely from the ladder.
His sufferings would appear to have been slight: as he himself sang,

    He died, not as other men, by _degrees_,
    But _at once_, without wincing, and quite at his ease!

We may, in some other place, lay before the reader the particulars--and
they are not incurious--of the "night before Larry was stretched."

The remains of the vagrant highwayman found a final resting-place in the
desecrated churchyard of Saint George, without the Fishergate postern, a
green and grassy cemetery, but withal a melancholy one. A few recent
tombs mark out the spots where some of the victims of the pestilence of
1832-33 have been interred; but we have made vain search for Turpin's
grave--unless--as is more than probable--the plain stone with the simple
initials R. T. belongs to him.

The gyves by which he was fettered are still shown at York Castle, and
are of prodigious weight and strength; and though the herculean robber
is said to have moved in them with ease, the present turnkey was
scarcely able to lift the ponderous irons. An old woman of the same city
has a lock of hair, said to have been Turpin's, which she avouches her
grandfather cut off from the body after the execution, and which the
believers look upon with great reverence. O rare Dick Turpin!

We shall, perhaps, be accused of dilating too much upon the character of
the highwayman, and we plead guilty to the charge. But we found it
impossible to avoid running a little into extremes. Our earliest
associations are connected with sunny scenes in Cheshire, said to have
been haunted by Turpin; and with one very dear to us--from whose lips,
now, alas! silent, we have listened to many stories of his exploits--he
was a sort of hero. We have had a singular delight in recounting his
feats and hairbreadth escapes; and if the reader derives only half as
much pleasure from the perusal of his adventures as we have had in
narrating them, our satisfaction will be complete. Perhaps, we may have
placed him in too favorable a point of view--and yet we know not. As
upon those of more important personages, many doubts rest upon his
history. Such as we conceive him to have been, we have drawn him--hoping
that the benevolent reader, upon finishing our Tale, will arrive at the
same conclusion; and, in the words of the quaint old Prologue to the
Prince of Prigs' Revels,

    ------------Thank that man,
    Can make each thief a complete Roscian!



NOTES


[1] See the celebrated recipe for the Hand of Glory in "_Les Secrets du
Petit Albert_."

[2] The seven planets, so called by Mercurius Trismegistus.

[3] Payne Knight, the scourge of Repton and his school, speaking of the
license indulged in by the modern landscape-gardeners, thus vents his
indignation:

    But here, once more, ye rural muses weep
    The ivy'd balustrade, and terrace steep;
    Walls, mellowed into harmony by time,
    On which fantastic creepers used to climb;
    While statues, labyrinths, and alleys pent
    Within their bounds, at least were innocent!--
    _Our modern taste--alas!--no limit knows;
    O'er hill, o'er dale, through wood and field it flows;
    Spreading o'er all its unprolific spawn,
    In never-ending sheets of vapid lawn._

                                 _The Landscape, a didactic Poem,
                                     addressed to Uvedale Price, Esq._

[4] Mason's English Garden.

[5] Cowley.

[6] Query, Damocles?--_Printer's Devil._

[7] James Hind--the "Prince of Prigs"--a royalist captain of some
distinction, was hanged, drawn, and quartered, in 1652. Some good
stories are told of him. He had the credit of robbing Cromwell,
Bradshaw, and Peters. His discourse to Peters is particularly edifying.

[8] See Du-Val's life by Doctor Pope, or Leigh Hunt's brilliant sketch
of him in _The Indicator_.

[9] We cannot say much in favor of this worthy, whose name was Thomas
Simpson. The reason of his _sobriquet_ does not appear. He was not
particularly scrupulous as to his mode of appropriation. One of his
sayings is, however, on record. He told a widow whom he robbed, "that
the end of a woman's husband begins in tears, but the end of her tears
is another husband." "Upon which," says his chronicler, "the gentlewoman
gave him about fifty guineas."

[10] Tom was a sprightly fellow, and carried his sprightliness to the
gallows; for just before he was turned off he kicked Mr. Smith, the
ordinary, and the hangman out of the cart--a piece of pleasantry which
created, as may be supposed, no small sensation.

[11] Many agreeable stories are related of Holloway. His career,
however, closed with a murder. He contrived to break out of Newgate but
returned to witness the trial of one of his associates; when, upon the
attempt of a turnkey, one Richard Spurling, to seize him, Will knocked
him on the head in the presence of the whole court. For this offence he
suffered the extreme penalty of the law in 1712.

[12] Wicks's adventures with Madame Toly are highly diverting. It was
this hero--not Turpin, as has been erroneously stated--who stopped the
celebrated Lord Mohun. Of Gettings and Grey, and "the five or six," the
less said the better.

[13] One of Jack's recorded _mots_. When a Bible was pressed upon his
acceptance by Mr. Wagstaff, the chaplain, Jack refused it, saying, "that
in his situation one file would be worth all the Bibles in the world." A
gentleman who visited Newgate asked him to dinner; Sheppard replied,
"that he would take an early opportunity of waiting upon him." And we
believe he kept his word.

[14] The word Tory, as here applied, must not be confounded with the
term of party distinction now in general use in the political world. It
simply means a thief on a grand scale, something more than "a snapper-up
of unconsidered trifles," or petty-larceny rascal. We have classical
authority for this:--TORY: "An advocate for absolute monarchy; _also, an
Irish vagabond, robber, or rapparee_."--GROSE'S _Dictionary_.

[15] A trio of famous High-Tobygloaks. Swiftneck was a captain of
_Irish_ dragoons, by-the-bye.

[16] REDMOND O'HANLON was the Rob Roy of Ireland, and his adventures,
many of which are exceedingly curious, would furnish as rich _materials_
for the novelist, as they have already done for the ballad-mongers: some
of them are, however, sufficiently well narrated in a pleasant little
tome, published at Belfast, entitled _The History of the Rapparees_. We
are also in possession of a funeral discourse, preached at the obsequies
of the "noble and renowned" Henry St. John, Esq., who was unfortunately
killed by the _Tories_--the _Destructives_ of those days--in the
induction to which we find some allusion to Redmond. After describing
the thriving condition of the north of Ireland, about 1680, the Rev.
Lawrence Power, the author of the sermon, says, "One mischief there was,
which indeed in a great measure destroyed all, and that was a pack of
insolent bloody outlaws, whom they here call _Tories_. These had so
riveted themselves in these parts, that by the interest they had among
the natives, and some English, too, _to their shame be it spoken_, they
exercise a kind of separate sovereignty in three or four counties in the
north of Ireland. REDMOND O'HANLON is their chief, and has been these
many years; a cunning, dangerous fellow, who, though proclaimed an
outlaw with the rest of his crew, and sums of money set upon their
heads, yet he reigns still, and keeps all in subjection, so far that
'tis credibly reported _he raises more in a year by contributions
à-la-mode de France than the king's land taxes and chimney-money come
to, and thereby is enabled to bribe clerks and officers_, IF NOT THEIR
MASTERS, (!) _and makes all too much truckle to him_." Agitation, it
seems, was not confined to our own days--but the "finest country in the
world" has been, and ever will be, the same. The old game is played
under a new color--the only difference being, that had Redmond lived in
our time, he would, in all probability, not only have pillaged a county,
but _represented_ it in parliament. The spirit of the Rapparee is still
abroad--though we fear there is little of the _Tory_ left about it. We
recommend this note to the serious consideration of the declaimers
against the sufferings of the "six millions."

[17] Here Titus was slightly in error. He mistook the cause for the
effect. "They were called Rapparees," Mr. Malone says, "from being armed
with a half-pike, called by the Irish a _rapparee_."--TODD'S JOHNSON.

[18] _Tory_, so called from the Irish word _Toree_, give me your
money.--TODD'S JOHNSON.

[19] As he was carried to the gallows, Jack played a fine tune of his
own composing on the bagpipe, which retains the name of Macpherson's
tune to this day.--_History of the Rapparees_.

[20] "Notwithstanding he was so great a rogue, Delany was a handsome,
portly man, extremely diverting in company, and could behave himself
before gentlemen very agreeably. _He had a political genius_--not
altogether surprising in so eminent a _Tory_--and would have made great
proficiency in learning if he had rightly applied his time. He composed
several songs, and put tunes to them; and by his skill in music gained
the favor of some of the leading musicians in the country, who
endeavored to get him reprieved."--_History of the Rapparees_. The
particulars of the _Songster's_ execution are singular:--"When he was
brought into court to receive sentence of death, the judge told him that
he was informed he should say 'that there was not a rope in Ireland
sufficient to hang him. But,' says he, 'I'll try if Kilkenny can't
afford one strong enough to do your business; and if that will not do,
you shall have another, and another.' Then he ordered the sheriff to
choose a rope, and Delany was ordered for execution the next day. The
sheriff having notice of his mother's boasting that no rope could hang
her son--and pursuant to the judge's desire--provided two ropes, but
Delany broke them one after the other! The sheriff was then in a rage,
and went for three bed-cords, which he plaited threefold together, _and
they did his business_! Yet the sheriff was afraid he was not dead; and
in a passion, to make trial, stabbed him with his sword in the soles of
his feet, and at last cut the rope. After he was cut down, his body was
carried into the courthouse, where it remained in the coffin for two
days, standing up, till the judge and all the spectators were fully
satisfied that he was stiff and dead, and then permission was given to
his friends to remove the corpse and bury it."-_History of the
Rapparees_.

[21] Highwaymen, as contradistinguished from footpads.

[22] Since Mr. Coates here avows himself the writer of this diatribe
against Sir Robert Walpole, attacked under the guise of _Turpin_ in the
_Common Sense_ of July 30, 1737, it is useless to inquire further into
its authorship. And it remains only to refer the reader to the _Gents.
Mag._, vol. vii. p. 438, for the article above quoted; and for a reply
to it from the _Daily Gazetteer_ contained in p. 499 of the same volume.

[23] In reference to this imaginary charm, Sir Thomas Browne observes,
in his "Vulgar Errors." "What natural effects can reasonably be
expected, when, to prevent the Ephialtes, or Nightmare, we hang a hollow
stone in our stables?" Grose also states, "that a stone with a hole in
it, hung at the bed's head, will prevent the nightmare, and is therefore
called a hag-stone." The belief in this charm still lingers in some
districts, and maintains, like the horse-shoe affixed to the barn-door,
a feeble stand against the superstition-destroying "march of intellect."

[24] Brown's Pastorals.

[25] The Merry Beggars.

[26] The parties to be wedded find out a dead horse, or any other beast,
and standing one on the one side, and the other on the other, the
patrico bids them live together till death do them part; and so shaking
hands, the wedding dinner is kept at the next alehouse they stumble
into, where the union is nothing but knocking of cannes, and the sauce,
none but drunken brawles.--DEKKAR.

[27] Receiver.

[28] Memoirs, of the right villainous John Hall, the famous, and
notorious Robber, penned from his Mouth some Time before his Death,
1708.

[29] A famous highwayman.

[30] A real gentleman.

[31] Breeches and boots.

[32] Gipsy flask.

[33] How he exposes his pistols.

[34] For an account of these, see Grose. They are much too _gross_ to be
set down here.

[35] "The shalm, or shawm, was a wind instrument, like a pipe, with a
swelling protuberance in the middle."--_Earl of Northumberland's
Household Book_.

[36] Perhaps the most whimsical laws that were ever prescribed to a gang
of thieves were those framed by William Holliday, one of the prigging
community, who was hanged in 1695:

Art. I. directs--That none of his company should presume to wear shirts,
upon pain of being cashiered.

II.--That none should lie in any other places than stables, empty
houses, or other bulks.

III.--That they should eat nothing but what they begged, and that they
should give away all the money they got by cleaning boots among one
another, for the good of the fraternity.

IV.--That they should neither learn to read nor write, that he may have
them the better under command.

V.--That they should appear every morning by nine, on the parade, to
receive necessary orders.

VI.--That none should presume to follow the scent but such as he ordered
on that party.

VII.--That if any one gave them shoes or stockings, they should convert
them into money to play.

VIII.--That they should steal nothing they could not come at, for fear
of bringing a scandal upon the company.

IX.--That they should cant better than the Newgate birds, pick pockets
without bungling, outlie a Quaker, outswear a lord at a gaming-table,
and brazen out all their villainies beyond an Irishman.

[37] Cell.

[38] Newgate.

[39] A woman whose husband has been hanged.

[40] A dancing-master.

[41] "Nothing, comrades; on, on," supposed to be addressed by a thief to
his confederates.

[42] Thus Victor Hugo, in "Le Dernier Jour d'un Condamné," makes an
imprisoned felon sing:

    "J'le ferai danser une danse
    Où il n'y a pas de plancher."

[43] Thieves in prison.

[44] Shoplifter.

[45] Pickpocket.

[46] Handkerchiefs.

[47] Rings.

[48] To the pawnbroker.

[49] Snuff-boxes.

[50] Pickpocket.

[51] The two forefingers used in picking a pocket.

[52] Pickpocket.

[53] Pick a pocket.

[54] No inside coat-pocket; buttoned up.

[55] Scissors.

[56] Steal a pocket-book.

[57] Best-made clothes.

[58] Thief.

[59] With my hair dressed in the first fashion.

[60] With several rings on my hands.

[61] Seals.

[62] Gold watch.

[63] Laced shirt.

[64] Gentlemanlike.

[65] Easily than forged notes could I pass.

[66] Favorite mistress.

[67] Police.

[68] Taken at length.

[69] Cast for transportation.

[70] Fetters.

[71] Turnkey.

[72] Gipsy.

[73] Pickpockets.

[74] This song describes pretty accurately the career of an
extraordinary individual, who, in the lucid intervals of a half-crazed
understanding, imposed himself upon the credulous inhabitants of
Canterbury, in the year 1832, as a certain "SIR WILLIAM PERCY HONEYWOOD
COURTENAY, KNIGHT OF MALTA;" and contrived--for there was considerable
"method in his madness"--to support the deception during a long period.
The anachronism of his character in a tale--the data of which is nearly
a century back--will, perhaps, be overlooked, when it is considered of
how much value, in the illustration of "wise saws," are "_modern
instances_." Imposture and credulity are of all ages; and the Courtenays
of the nineteenth are rivalled by the Tofts and Andrés of the eighteenth
century. The subjoined account of the _soi-disant_ SIR WILLIAM COURTENAY
is extracted from "An Essay on his Character, and Reflections on his
Trial," published at the theatre of his exploits: "About Michaelmas last
it was rumored that an extraordinary man was staying at the Rose Inn of
this city--Canterbury--who passed under the name of Count Rothschild,
but had been recently known in London by the name of Thompson! This
would have been sufficient to excite attention, had no other incidents
materially added to the excitement. His costume and countenance denoted
foreign extraction, while his language and conversation showed that he
was well acquainted with almost every part of this kingdom. He was said
to live with singular frugality, notwithstanding abundant samples of
wealth, and professions of an almost unlimited command of money. He
appeared to study retirement, if not concealment, although subsequent
events have proved that society of every grade, beneath the middle
class, is the element in which he most freely breathes. _He often decked
his person with a fine suit of Italian clothing, and sometimes with the
more gay and imposing costume of the Eastern nations; yet these foreign
habits were for months scarcely visible beyond the limits of the inn of
his abode, and the chapel not far from it, in which he was accustomed to
offer his Sabbath devotions._ This place was the first to which he made
a public and frequent resort; and though he did not always attempt to
advance towards the uppermost seat in the synagogue, he attracted
attention from the mere singularity of his appearance.

"Such was the eccentric, incongruous individual who surprised our city
by proposing himself as a third candidate for its representation, and
who created an entertaining contest for the honor, long after the
sitting candidates had composed themselves to the delightful vision of
an inexpensive and unopposed return. The notion of representing the city
originated beyond all doubt in the fertile brain of the man himself. It
would seem to have been almost as sudden a thought in his mind, as it
was a sudden and surprising movement in the view of the city; nor have
we been able to ascertain whether his sojourn at the Rose was the cause
or the effect of his offering to advocate our interests in
Parliament--whether he came to the city with that high-minded purpose,
or subsequently formed the notion, when he saw, or thought he saw, an
opening for a stranger of enterprise like himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

"As the county election drew on, we believe between the nomination on
Barham Downs and the voting in the cattle market of the city, the
draught of a certain handbill was sent to a printer of this city, with a
request that he would publish it without delay. Our readers will not be
surprised that he instantly declined the task; but as we have obtained
possession of the copy, and its publication can now do no injury to any
one, we entertain them with a sight of this delectable sample of
Courtenay prudence and politeness.

"'O yes! O yes! O yes! I, Lord Viscount William Courtenay, of Powderham
Castle, Devon, do hereby proclaim Sir Thomas Tylden, Sir Brook Brydges,
Sir Edward Knatchbull, and Sir William Cosway, four cowards, unfit to
represent, or to assist in returning members of Parliament to serve the
brave men of Kent.

"'Percy Honeywood Courtenay, of Hales and Evington Place, Kent, and
Knight of Malta.

"'Any gentleman desiring to know the reasons why Lord Courtenay so
publicly exposes backbiters, any man of honor shall have satisfaction at
his hands, and in a public way, according to the laws of our land--trial
by combat; when the Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts is his name, can
decide the "truth," whether it is a libel or not. I worship truth as my
God, and will die for it--and upon this we will see who is strongest,
God or man.'

"It is a coincidence too curious to be overlooked, that this doughty
champion of _truth_ should so soon have removed himself from public life
by an act of deliberate and wanton perjury. We never read any of his
rhapsodies, periodical or occasional, till the publication of this essay
imposed the self-denying task upon us; but now we find that they abound
in strong and solemn appeals to the _truth_; in bold proclamations that
_truth_ is his palladium; in evidences that he writes and raves, that he
draws his sword and clenches his fist, that he expends his property and
the property of others committed to his hands, in no cause but that of
_truth_! His famous periodical contains much vehement declamation in
defence of certain doctrines of religion, which he terms the truth of
the sublime system of Christianity, and for which alone he is content to
live, and also willing to die. All who deviate from his standard of
truth, whether theological or moral, philosophical or political, he
appears to consider as neither fit for life nor death. Now it is a
little strange, his warmest followers being witness, that such an
advocate of truth should have become the willing victim of falsehood,
the ready and eager martyr of the worst form of falsehood--perjury.

"The decline of his influence between the city and county elections has
been partly attributed, and not without reason, to the sudden change in
his appearance from comparative youth to advancing, if not extreme age.
_On the hustings of the city he shone forth in all the dazzling lustre
of an Oriental chief; and such was the effect of gay clothing on the
meridian of life, that his admirers, especially of the weaker sex, would
insist upon it that he had not passed the beautiful spring-time of May.
There were, indeed, some suspicious appearances of a near approach to
forty, if not two or three years beyond it; but these were fondly
ascribed to his foreign travels in distant and insalubrious climes; he
had acquired his duskiness of complexion, and his strength of feature
and violence of gesture, and his profusion of beard, in Egypt and Syria,
in exploring the catacombs of the one country, and bowing at the shrines
of the other. On the other hand, the brilliancy of his eye, the melody
of his voice, and the elasticity of his muscles and limbs, were
sufficient arguments in favor of his having scarcely passed the limit
that separates manhood from youth._

"All doubts on these points were removed, when the crowd of his fair
admirers visited him at the retirement of his inn, and the intervals of
his polling. These _sub-Rosa_ interviews--we allude to the name of the
inn, and not to anything like privacy there, which the very place and
number of the visitors altogether precluded--convinced them that he was
even a younger and lovelier man than his rather boisterous behavior in
the hall would allow them to hope. In fact, he was now installed by
acclamation _Knight of Canterbury as well as Malta, and King of Kent as
well as Jerusalem_! It became dangerous then to whisper a syllable of
suspicion against his wealth or rank, his wisdom or beauty; and all who
would not bow down before this golden image were deemed worthy of no
better fate than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego--to be cast into a
burning fiery furnace."

As a sequel to the above story, it may be added that the knight of Malta
became the inmate of a lunatic asylum; and on his liberation was shot at
the head of a band of Kentish hinds, whom he had persuaded that he was
the Messiah!

[75] A pipe of tobacco.

[76] A drink composed of beer, eggs, and brandy.

[77] The supposed malignant influence of this plant is frequently
alluded to by our elder dramatists; and with one of the greatest of
them, Webster--as might be expected from a muse revelling like a ghoul
in graves and sepulchres--it is an especial favorite. But none have
plunged so deeply into the subject as Sir Thomas Browne. He tears up the
fable root and branch. Concerning the danger ensuing from eradication of
the mandrake, the learned physician thus writes: "The last assertion is,
that there follows a hazard of life to them that pull it up, that some
evil fate pursues them, and that they live not very long hereafter.
Therefore the attempt hereof among the ancients was not in ordinary way;
but, as Pliny informeth, when they intended to take up the root of this
plant, they took the wind thereof, and with a sword describing three
circles about it, they digged it up, looking toward the west. A conceit
not only injurious unto truth and confutable by daily experience, but
somewhat derogatory unto the providence of God; that is, not only to
impose so destructive a quality on any plant, but to conceive a
vegetable whose parts are so useful unto many, should, in the only
taking up, prove mortal unto any. This were to introduce a second
forbidden fruit, and enhance the first malediction, making it not only
mortal for Adam to taste the one, but capital for his posterity to
eradicate or dig up the other."--_Vulgar Errors_, book ii. c. vi.

[78] The moon.

[79] Light.

[80] Highwayman.

[81] "Cherry-colored--black; there being black cherries as well as
red."--GROSE.

[82] Sword.

[83] Pistols.

[84] Highway robbery.

[85] Pocket-book.

[86] Money.

[87] Bullets.

[88] The gallows.

[89] Ditto.

[90] Pocket-book.

[91] Inside coat-pocket.

[92] A small pocket-book.

[93] We have heard of a certain gentleman tobyman, we forget his name,
taking the horses from his curricle for a similar purpose, but we own we
think King's the simpler plan, and quite practicable still. A cabriolet
would be quite out of the question, but particularly easy to _stop_.

[94] Four celebrated highwaymen, all rejoicing in the honorable
distinction of captain.

[95] The exact spot where Turpin committed this robbery, which has often
been pointed out to us, lies in what is now a woody hollow, though once
the old road from Altringham to Knutsford skirting the rich and sylvan
domains of Dunham, and descending the hill that brings you to the bridge
crossing the little river Bollin. With some difficulty we penetrated
this ravine. It is just the place for an adventure of the kind. A small
brook wells through it; and the steep banks are overhung with timber,
and were, when we last visited the place, in April, 1834, a perfect nest
of primroses and wild flowers. Hough (pronounced Hoo) Green lies about
three miles across the country--the way Turpin rode. The old
Bowling-green is one of the pleasantest inns in Cheshire.

[96] Money.

[97] Man.

[98] Stripped.

[99] Fellow.

[100] A particular kind of pugilistic punishment.

[101] Kept each an eye upon the other.

[102] Hands.

[103] Deceive them.

[104] Accomplice.

[105] A farthing.

[106] Cards.

[107] Qy. _élite_.--PRINTER'S DEVIL.

[108] Shoot him.

[109] Since the earlier editions of this Romance were published, we
regret to state--for to _us_, at least, it is matter of regret, though
probably not to the travellers along the Edgeware Road--that this gentle
ascent has been cut through, and the fair prospect from its brow utterly
destroyed.

[110] This, we regret to say, is not the case. The memory of bold Will
Davies, the "_Golden Farmer_"--so named from the circumstances of his
always paying his rent in gold,--is fast declining upon his peculiar
domain, Bagshot. The inn, which once bore his name, still remains to
point out to the traveller the dangers his forefathers had to encounter
in crossing this extensive heath. Just beyond this house the common
spreads out for miles on all aides in a most gallop-inviting style; and
the passenger, as he gazes from the box of some flying coach, as we have
done, upon the gorse-covered waste, may, without much stretch of fancy,
imagine he beholds Will Davies careering like the wind over its wild and
undulating expanse. We are sorry to add that the "_Golden_ Farmer" has
altered its designation to the "_Jolly_ Farmer." This should be amended;
and when next we pass that way, we hope to see the original sign
restored. We cannot afford to lose our _golden_ farmers.





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