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Title: Tales from Blackwood, Volume 7
Author: Willis, Herbert [Contributor], Doubleday, Thomas, 1790-1870 [Contributor], Hardman, Frederick, 1814-1874 [Contributor]
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Tales from Blackwood, Volume 7" ***

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 TALES
 FROM
 "BLACKWOOD"

 Contents of this Volume

 _My English Acquaintance._  _By F. Hardman, Esq._

 _The Murderer's Last Night._  _By T. Doubleday, Esq._

 _Narration of Certain Uncommon Things that did formerly
 happen to me, Herbert Willis, B.D._

 _The Wags_

 _The Wet Wooing: A Narrative of '98_

 _Ben-na-Groich_


 WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
 EDINBURGH AND LONDON



TALES FROM "BLACKWOOD."



MY ENGLISH ACQUAINTANCE.

BY FREDERICK HARDMAN, ESQ.


[_MAGA._ FEBRUARY 1848.]

"I believe I have the pleasure of seeing Mr ----," said a voice in
English, as I paused for a moment, my breakfast concluded, before the
door of a Palais Royal coffee-house, planning the disposal of my day.

I looked at the person who thus addressed me; and, although I pique
myself on rarely forgetting the face of an acquaintance, in this
instance my memory was completely at fault. But for his knowledge of
my name, I should have concluded my interlocutor mistaken as to my
identity. I was at least as much surprised at the perfectly good
English he spoke, as at having my acquaintance claimed by a person of
his profession and rank. He was a young man of about five-and-twenty,
attired in the handsome and well-fitting undress of a sergeant of
French light dragoons. His brown hair curled short and crisp from
under his smart green forage-cap, cavalierly placed upon one side of
his head; his clear blue eyes contrasted with the tawny colour of his
cheek, a tint for which it was evidently indebted to sun and weather;
his face was clean shaven, save and except small well-trimmed
mustaches and a chin-tuft. Altogether, he was as pretty a model of a
light cavalryman as I remember to have seen: square in the shoulder,
slender in the hip, well limbed, lithe and muscular. His carriage was
soldierly, without the exaggerated stiffness and swagger commonly
found amongst non-commissioned officers of dragoons; and altogether he
had a gentlemanly air which, I doubt not, would have made itself as
visible under the coarse drugget of a private soldier, as beneath the
garb of finer materials and more careful cut, which, in his capacity
of _maréchal des logis_, or sergeant, it was permitted him to wear.
But my admiration of this pretty model of a man-at-arms did not assist
me to recognise him, although, whilst gazing at him, and especially
when he slightly smiled at my visible embarrassment, his features
seemed not totally unfamiliar to me. I looked, I have no doubt,
considerably puzzled. The stranger came to my assistance.

"I see you do not remember me," he said. "Not above four years since
we met, if so much; but four years, an African sun, and a French
uniform, have made a change. I met you in Warwickshire, at George
Clinton's. I have seen you once or twice since; but I think the last
time we spoke was when cantering over Harleigh Downs. My name is Frank
Oakley."

I immediately recollected my man. About four summers previously,
whilst on a flying visit at a country house, I had formed a slight
acquaintance with Mr Frank Oakley, who had then just come of age, and
into possession--by the death of his father, which had occurred a
twelvemonth previously--of a few thousand pounds. The interest of this
sum, which would have been an agreeable and sufficient addition to a
subaltern's pay or curate's stipend, or which would have enabled a
struggling barrister to bide his briefs, was altogether insufficient
to supply the wants and caprices of an idler, especially such an idler
as Oakley. Master Francis was what young gentlemen fresh from school
or at college, sucking ensigns, precocious templars, _et id genus
omne_, are accustomed to call a "fast" man; the said fastness not
referring, as Johnson's dictionary teaches us it might do, to any
particular strength or firmness of character, but merely to the
singular rapidity with which such persons get through their money and
into debt. At the time I speak of, Oakley was going his fastest--that
is to say, spending the utmost amount of coin, for the least possible
value; indeed he could hardly have run madder riot with his moderate
patrimony, had he cast his sovereigns into bullets and made
pipe-lights of his bank-notes. But verily, he had his reward in the
open-mouthed admiration of three or four younkers of his own standing,
then assembled at Harleigh Hall, who looked up to him as something
between a hero and an oracle; and in the encouraging familiarity and
approval of one or two gentlemen of maturer age, who swore he was a
fine fellow, and proved they thought so by winning bets of him at
billiards, and by selling him horses that would have fetched "twice
the money at Tattersall's," with other bargains of an equally
advantageous description. Although we were four days in the same
house, meeting each evening at dinner, and occasionally riding and
walking in the same group, our acquaintance continued of the very
slightest description, and I took my departure without anything
approaching to intimacy having sprung up between us. Amongst the large
party of visitors at the Hall, were not wanting persons of tastes more
suited to my own than those of Oakley and his little knot of
flatterers and admirers; and he, on his part, was far too much taken
up with his newly-inherited fortune--which he evidently considered
inexhaustible--with planning amusements, and inhaling adulatory
incense, to pay attention to a man whom, as full fifteen years his
senior, he doubtless set down as an old fellow, a "slow coach," and
perhaps even as a member of that distinguished corporation known as
the "Fogie Club." So that when we met in London, during the ensuing
season, occasionally in the street and once or twice in a ballroom, a
slight bow or word of recognition was all that passed between us. I
could perceive, however, that Oakley still kept up the rapid pace at
which he had started, and lived, with a few hundreds a-year, as if he
had possessed as many thousands. The proximity of my quiet club to the
fashionable and expensive one into which he had obtained admission,
gave me many opportunities of observing his proceedings, and those
opportunities, in my capacity of a student of human nature, I did not
neglect. I had marked his career and ultimate fate in my mind, and was
curious to see my predictions verified, although I sincerely wished
they might not be, for they were anything but favourable to the
welfare of Oakley, who, in spite of his follies, had generous and
manly qualities. His prodigality was not of that purely egotistical
description most commonly found in spendthrifts of his class. He would
give a lavish alms to a whining beggar, as freely as he would throw
away a handful of gold on some folly of the moment or extravagant
debauch; and I had heard an old one-armed soldier, who sometimes held
his horse at the club door, utter blessings, when he had ridden out
of hearing, on his kind heart and open hand. These and similar little
traits that came under my notice, made me regret to see him going post
to perdition. That he was doing so, I could not for one moment doubt.
His extravagance knew no limit, and in six months he must have got
through as many years' income. Wherever pleasure was to be had, no
matter at what price, Oakley was to be seen.--Upon a revenue overrated
at five hundred a-year, he kept half a dozen horses, a cab, and a
strange nondescript vehicle, made after an eccentric design of his
own, and which everybody turned to look at, as he drove down
Piccadilly of an afternoon, on his way to the Park. He had his stall
at the opera, of course, and an elegant set of apartments in the most
expensive street in London, where he gave suppers and dinners of
extravagant delicacy to thirsty friends and greedy _danseuses_. The
former showed their gratitude for his good cheer by winning his money
at cards; the latter evinced their affection by carrying off the
costly nicknacks that strewed his rooms, and by taking his diamond
shirt-pins to fasten their shawls. In short, he regularly delivered
himself over to the harpies. In addition to these minor drafts upon
his exchequer, came others of a more serious nature. He played high,
and never refused a bet. Like many silly young men (and some silly old
ones), he had a blind veneration for rank, and held that a lord could
do no wrong. Even a baronetcy conferred a certain degree of
infallibility in his eyes. No amount of respectable affidavits would
have convinced him that if Lord Rufus Slam, who not unfrequently
condescended to win a cool fifty of him at écarté, did not turn the
king each time he dealt, it was only because he despised so hackneyed
a swindle, and had other ways of securing the game, equally nefarious
but less palpable. Neither would it have been possible to persuade him
that Sir Tantivy Martingale, "that prime fellow and thorough
sportsman," as Frank admiringly and confidingly styled him, was
capable of taking his bet upon a horse which he, the aforesaid Sir
Tantivy, had just made "safe to lose." In short, poor Oakley, who,
during his father's lifetime, had been little, if at all, in London,
thought himself excessively knowing and fully up to all the wiles and
snares of the metropolis. In reality he was exceedingly raw, was
victimised accordingly, and, at the end of a few months in town, found
himself minus a sum that brought reflection, I suspect, even to his
giddy head. I conjectured so, at least, when, at the end of the
season, I encountered him on a Boulogne steamer, looking fagged and
out of spirits. It was only a year since we had met at Harleigh Hall,
but that year had told upon him. Dissipation had driven the flush of
health from his cheek, and his youthful brow was already care-loaded.
I spoke to him, and made an attempt to converse; but he seemed sulky
and unwilling; and, on reaching Boulogne, I lost sight of him. After a
short tour, I went to winter at Paris, and there I frequently saw him.
He had forgotten, apparently, the annoyances that weighed on him when
he left London, and was again the gayest of the gay; living as if his
purse were bottomless, and his _Gibus_ the wishing cap of Fortunatus.
Nothing was too hot or too strong for him: rated a "fast man" in
England, in France he was held a _viveur enragé_. I did not much
admire the society he selected. I saw him alternately with the most
_roué_ and dissolute young Frenchmen of fashion, and with an English
set which, if it comprised men against whom nothing positively bad
could be proved, also included others whose reputation was more than
doubtful. At first he was chiefly with the French, whose language,
from long residence in the country when a boy, he spoke as one of
themselves; then he seemed to abandon them for the English clique, and
then he suddenly disappeared. I no longer saw him pacing the Boulevard
or riding in the Bois, or issuing at night from the Café Anglais,
flushed with wine and bent on riotous debauch. All his former
companions remained, pursuing their old amusements, frequenting the
same haunts; but he was no more with them. I could not understand his
leaving Paris just as the best season commenced, and at first I
supposed him ill. But week after week slipped by, and, no Oakley
appearing, I made up my mind he had departed, whither I knew not. I
was rather vexed at this, for I had proposed watching him to the end
of his career. Moreover, although we never spoke, and had almost left
off bowing, my idle habit of observing his proceedings had given me a
sort of interest in him. Once only, after his eclipse, did I fancy I
caught a glimpse of him. I was fond of long rambles in the low and
remote quarters of Paris, through those labyrinths of narrow streets,
filthy courts, and rickety houses, where the character and
peculiarities of the humbler classes of Parisians are best to be
studied. Returning, after dark, from an expedition of this kind, I was
surprised by a violent shower in a shabby street of the Faubourg St
Antoine, and took refuge under a doorway. Immediately opposite to me
was the wretched shop of a _traiteur_, in whose dingy window a cloudy
white bowl of mashed spinach, a plate of bouilli, dry as a deal plank,
and some triangular fragments of pear, stewed with cochineal and
exposed in a saucer, served as indications of the luxurious fare to be
obtained within. On one of the grimy shutters, whose scanty coat of
green paint the weather had converted into a sickly blue, was the
announcement, in yellow letters, that "_Fricot, Traiteur, donne à
Boire et à Manger_;" whilst upon the other the hieroglyphical
representation of a bottle and glass, flanked by the words "_Bon Vin
de Macon à 8 et à 10 S._" hinted intelligibly at the well-provided
state of Monsieur Fricot's cellar. It was one of those humble
eating-houses, abounding in the French capital, where a very hungry
man may stave off starvation for about the price of a tooth-pick at
the _Café_ or the _Trois Frères_, and where an exceedingly thirsty one
may get intoxicated upon potato brandy and essence of logwood for a
similar amount. It needs a three days' fast or a paviour's appetite to
induce entrance into such a place. I was gazing with some curiosity at
the windows of this poor tavern, through whose starred and patched
panes, crowded with bottles, and backed by a curtain of dirty muslin,
the waving of iron forks and spoons was dimly discernible by the light
of two flickering candles, when the door suddenly opened, a man came
out, heedless of the rain, which fell in torrents, and walked rapidly
away. It was but a second, and he was lost in the darkness of the
ill-lighted street, but in that second I thought I distinguished the
gait and features of Frank Oakley. But my view of him was very
indistinct, and I concluded myself misled by a resemblance. Since that
day nothing had occurred to remind me of him, and for a long time I
had entirely forgotten the good-hearted but reckless scamp, who for a
brief period had attracted my attention.

Frank Oakley, then, it was, who now stood before me under the arcades
of the Palais Royal. I held out my hand, with a word or two of apology
for my slowness in remembering him.

"No excuse, I beg," was his reply. "Not one in twenty of my former
acquaintances recognises the spendthrift dandy in the humble sergeant
of dragoons, and in the few who do, I observe, upon my approach, a
strong partiality for the opposite side of the street. They give
themselves unnecessary trouble, for I have no wish to intrude upon
them. I have been four months in Paris, and have constantly met former
intimates, but have never spoken to one of them. And I cannot say what
induced me to address you, with whom my acquaintance is so slight,
except that I should be very glad to have a talk about dear old
England, and if I am not mistaken you are a likely man to grant it
me."

"With pleasure, Mr Oakley," said I. "I am glad to see you, although I
confess myself surprised at your present profession. For an
Englishman, I should have thought our own service preferable to a
foreign one; and doubtless your friends would have got you a
commission--that is--if--"

I hesitated, and paused, for I felt that I was upon delicate ground,
getting run away with by my own foregone conclusions, and likely,
unintentionally, to wound my interlocutor's feelings. Oakley observed
my embarrassment, smiled, and completed my unfinished sentence.

"If I had not money left after my extravagance, to buy one for myself.
Well, I had not; and moreover--but you shall hear all about it, if you
care to learn the adventures of a scapegrace, now, I hope, reformed.
And, in return, you shall tell me if London is still in the same
place, and as wicked and pleasant as ever; and how it fares with old
George Clinton, and all the jolly Warwickshire lads. Have you an hour
to spare?"

"Half a dozen, if you like," I replied warmly, for I was greatly taken
with the frank manly tone of the young man, whom I had last known as a
conceited frivolous coxcomb. "Half a dozen. Shall we walk?"

"I will not tax your kindness so long," replied Oakley; "and as for
walking," he added, glancing from the silver stripe upon his sleeve,
indicative of his non-commissioned rank, to my suit of civilian
broadcloth, "although I am by no means ashamed of my position, that is
no reason for exposing you to the stare and wonder of your English
acquaintances, by parading in your company the public promenade. So,
if you have no objection, we will step up here. The place is
respectable; but unfrequented, I dare say, by any you know."

And without giving me time to protest my utter indifference to the
supercilious criticism referred to, he turned into a doorway, upon a
pane of glass above which was painted a ship in full sail, with the
words "Café Estaminet Hollandais." Ascending a flight or two of
stairs, we entered a suite of spacious apartments, furnished with
several billiard tables, with cue-racks, chairs, benches, and small
tables for the use of drinkers. Several of the windows, which looked
out upon the garden of the Palais Royal, were open, in the vain hope,
perhaps, of purifying the place from the inveterate odour of tobacco
remaining there from the previous night. Although it was not yet noon,
the billiard balls rattled vigorously upon more than one of the
tables, and a few early drinkers, chiefly foreigners, professional
billiard players and non-commissioned officers of the Paris garrison,
sipped their Strasburg beer or morning dram of brandy. The further end
of the long gallery, however, was unoccupied, and there Oakley drew a
couple of chairs to a window, called for refreshment as a pretext for
our presence, and seating himself opposite to me, assailed me with a
volley of questions concerning persons and things in England. To these
I replied as satisfactorily as I was able, and allowed the stream of
interrogation to run itself dry, before assuming, in my turn, the
character of questioner. At last, having in some degree appeased
Oakley's eager desire for information about the country whence he had
been so long absent, I intimated a curiosity concerning his own
adventures, and the circumstances that had made a soldier of him. He
at once took the hint, and, perceiving that I listened with friendly
attention and interest, gave me a detailed narrative of his life since
I had first made his acquaintance. He told his story with a spirit and
military conciseness that riveted my attention as much as the real
pungency of the incidents. Its first portion, relating to his London
career, informed me of little beyond what I already knew, or, at
least, had conjectured. It was the everyday tale of a heedless,
inexperienced youth, suddenly cast without guide or Mentor upon the
ocean of life, and striking in turn against all the shoals that
strew the perilous waters. He had been bubbled by gentlemanly
swindlers--none of your low, seedy rapscallions, but men of style
and fashion, even of family, but especially of _honour_, who
would have paraded and shot him, had he presumed to doubt their
word, but made no scruple of genteelly picking his pocket. He had
been duped by designing women, spunged upon by false friends,
pillaged by unprincipled tradesmen. He never thought of making a
calculation--except on a horse-race, and then he was generally
wrong,--or of looking at an account, or keeping one; but, when he
wanted money, and his banker wrote him word he had overdrawn, he just
sent his autograph to his stockbroker, prefixing the words, "Sell five
hundred, or a thousand," as the case might be. For some time these
laconic mandates were obeyed without remark, but at last, towards the
close of the London season, the broker, the highly respectable Mr
Cashup, of Change Alley, called upon his young client, whose father he
had known for many years, and ventured a gentle remonstrance on such
an alarming consumption of capital. Frank affected to laugh at the old
gentleman's caution, and told an excellent story that evening, after a
roaring supper, about the square-toed cit, the wise man of the East,
who made a pilgrimage to St James's, to preach a sermon on frugality.
Nevertheless, the prodigal was startled by the statements of the man
of business. He was unaware how deeply he had dipped into his
principal, and felt something like alarm upon discovering that he had
got through more than half his small fortune. This, in little more
than a year! For a moment he felt inclined to reform, abandon
dissipation, and apply to some profession. But the impulse was only
momentary. How could he, the gay Frank Oakley, the flower of fashion,
and admiration of the town (so at least he thought himself,) bend his
proud spirit to pore over parchments in a barrister's chambers, or to
smoke British Havanas, and spit over the bridge of a country town, as
ensign in a marching regiment? Was he to read himself blind at
college, to find himself a curate at thirty, with a hundred a-year,
and a breeding wife? Or was he to go to India, to get shot by Sikhs,
or carried off by a jungle fever? Forbid it, heaven! What would Slam
and Martingale, and Mademoiselle Entrechat, and all his fast and
fashionable acquaintances, male and female, say to such declension?
The thought was overwhelming, and thereupon Oakley resolved to give up
all idea of earning an honest living, to "drown care," "d-- the
consequences," and act up to the maxim he had frequently professed,
when the champagne corks were flying at his expense for the benefit of
a circle of admiring friends, of "a short life and a merry one." So he
stopped in London till the very close of the season, "keeping the game
alive," as he expressed it, to the last, and then started for the
Continent. An attempt to recruit his finances at Baden-Baden
terminated, as might be expected, in their further reduction, and at
last he found his way to Paris. Unfortunately for him, his ruinous
career in England had been so short, and his self-conceit, and great
opinion of his own knowingness, had made him so utterly reject the
advice and experience of the very few friends who cared a rush for his
welfare, that he was still in the state of a six-day-old puppy, and as
unable to take care of himself. More than half-ruined, he preserved
his illusions; still believed in the sincerity of fashionable
acquaintances, in the fidelity of histrionic mistresses, in the
disinterestedness of mankind in general, or at least of that portion
of it with which he habitually associated. The bird had left half its
feathers with the fowler, but was as willing as ever to run again
into the snare. And at Paris snares were plentiful, well-baited and
carefully covered up.

"I can scarcely define the society into which I got at Paris," said
Oakley, when he came to this part of his history. "It was of a motley
sort, gathered from all quarters, and, upon the whole, rather pleasant
than respectable. It consisted partly of persons I had known in
England, either Englishmen or dashing young Frenchmen of fortune,
whose acquaintance I had made during their visits to London a few
months previously. I had also several letters of introduction, some of
which gave me entrance into the best Parisian circles, but these I
generally neglected, preferring the gay fellows for whom I bore
commendatory scrawls from my London associates. But probably my best
recommendation was my pocket, still tolerably garnished, and the
recklessness with which I scattered my cash. I felt myself on the high
road to ruin, but my down-hill course had given such impetus to my
crazy vehicle, that I despaired of checking it, and shut my eyes to
the inevitable smash awaiting me at the bottom.

"It was not long in coming. Although educated in France, and
consequently speaking the language as a native, I always took more
kindly to my own countrymen than to Frenchmen, and gradually I
detached myself unconsciously from those with whom I had spent much
of my time when first in Paris. I exchanged for the worse, in making
my sole companions of a set of English scamps, who asked no better
than to assist at the plucking of such a pigeon as myself. At first
they treated me with tenderness, fearing to spoil their game by a
measure of wholesale plunder. They made much of me, frequently
favoured me with their company at dinner, occasionally forgot their
purses and borrowed from mine, forgetting repayment, and got up card
parties, at which, however, I was sometimes allowed to come off a
winner. But my gains were units and my losses tens. An imprudent
revelation accelerated the catastrophe. My chosen intimate was one
Harry Darvel, a tall pale man, several years older than myself, who
would have been good-looking, but for the unpleasant shifting
expression of his grey eyes, and for a certain cold rigidity of
feature, frequently seen in persons of the profession I afterwards
found he exercised. I first made his acquaintance at Baden, met him by
appointment at Paris, and he soon became my chief associate. I knew
little of him, except that he had a large acquaintance, lived in good
style, spent his money freely, and was one of the most amusing
companions I had ever had. By this time I began to see through
flattery, when it was not very adroitly administered, and to suspect
the real designs of some of the vultures that flocked about me Darvel
never flattered me; his manner was blunt, almost to roughness; he
occasionally gave me advice, and affected sincere friendship and
anxiety for my welfare. 'You are young in the world,' he would say to
me, 'you know a good deal for the time you have been in it, but I am
an old stager, and have been six seasons in Paris for your one. I
don't want to dry-nurse you, nor are you the man to let me, but two
heads are better than one, and you may sometimes be glad of a hint.
This is a queer town, and there are an infernal lot of swindlers
about.' I little dreamed that my kind adviser was one of the most
expert of the class he denounced, but reposed full trust in him, and,
by attending to his disinterested suggestions, gradually detached
myself from my few really respectable associates, and delivered myself
entirely into his hands, and those of his assistant Philistines. Upon
an unlucky day, when a letter of warning from my worthy old
stockbroker had revived former anxieties in my mind, I made Darvel my
confidant, and asked counsel of him to repair my broken fortunes. He
heard me without betraying surprise, said he would think the matter
over, and that something would assuredly turn up, talked vaguely of
advantageous appointments which he had interest in England to procure,
assured me of his sympathy and friendship, and bade me not despond,
but keep my heart up, for that I had plenty of time to turn in, and
meanwhile I must limit my expenses, and not be offended if he
occasionally gave me a friendly check when he saw me 'outrunning the
constable.' His tone and promises cheered me, and I again forgot my
critical position. Little did I dream that my misplaced confidence had
sealed my doom. If I had hitherto been spared, it was from no excess
of mercy, but because my real circumstances were unknown, my fortune
overrated, and a fear entertained of prematurely scaring the game by
too rapid an attack. It was now ascertained that the goose might be
slaughtered, without any sacrifice of golden eggs. Darvel now knew
exactly what I was worth,--barely two thousand pounds. That gone,
I should be a beggar. For two days he never lost sight of me,
accompanied me everywhere and kept me in a whirl of dissipation,
exerted to the utmost his amusing powers, which were very
considerable, and did all he could to raise my spirits. The third
morning he came to breakfast with me.

"'Dine at my rooms, to-day,' said he, as he sat puffing a Turkish
pipe, after making me laugh to exhaustion at a ridiculous adventure
that had befallen him the night before. 'Bachelor fare, you
know--brace of fowls and a gigot, a glass of that Chambertin you
so highly approve, and a little chicken hazard afterwards. Quite
quiet--shan't allow you to play high. We'll have a harmless,
respectable evening. I will ask Lowther and the Bully. Dine at seven,
to bed at twelve.'

"I readily accepted, and we strolled out to invite the other guests. A
few minutes' walk brought us to the domicile of Thomas Ringwood, Esq.,
known amongst his intimates as the Bully, a sobriquet he owed to
his gruff voice, blustering tone, and skill as a pugilist and
cudgel-player. He was member of a well-known and highly respectable
English family, who had done all in their power to keep him from
disgracing their name by his disreputable propensities. In dress and
manner he affected the plain bluff Englishman, wore a blue coat,
beaver gloves (or none at all), and a hat broad in the brim, spoke of
all foreigners with supreme contempt, and of himself as _honest_ Tom
Ringwood. This lip honesty and assumed bluntness were a standing joke
with those who knew his real character, but passed muster as perfectly
genuine with ingenious and newly imported youngsters like myself, who
took him for a wealthy and respectable English gentleman, the champion
of fair play, just as at a race, or fair, boobies take for a bona-fide
farmer the portly individual in brown tops, who so loudly expresses
his confidence in the chances of the thimble rig, and in the probity
of the talented individual who manoeuvres the 'little pea.'

"Ringwood was at his rooms, having 'half a round' with the Oxford
Chicken, a promising young bruiser who, having recently killed his
man in a prize-fight, had come over to Paris for change of air. There
was bottled English porter on the table, sand upon the floor to
prevent slipping, and the walls were profusely adorned with portraits
of well-known pugilists, sketches of steeple-chases, boxing-gloves,
masks, and singlesticks. In the comfortable embraces of an arm-chair
sat Archibald Lowther, honest Tom's particular ally, who, in every
respect, was the very opposite of his Achates. Lowther affected the
foreigner and dandy as much as Ringwood assumed the bluff and rustic
Briton; wore beard and mustaches, and brilliant waistcoats, owned
shirt-studs by the score and rings by the gross, lisped out his words
with the aid of a silver tooth-pick, and was never seen without a
smile of supreme amiability upon his dark, handsome countenance.
Fortunately, both these gentlemen were disengaged for the evening. The
day passed in lounging and billiard-playing, varied by luncheon and a
fair allowance of liquids, and at half-past seven we sat down to
dinner. It did not occur to me at the time that, although Darvel's
invitation had the appearance of an impromptu, he did not warn his
servant of expected guests, or return home till within an hour of
dinner-time. Nevertheless, all was in readiness; not the promised fowl
and leg of mutton, but an exquisite repast, redolent of spices and
truffles, with wines of every description. I was in high spirits, and
drank freely, mixing my liquor without scruple, and towards ten
o'clock I was much exhilarated, although not yet drunk, and still
tolerably cognisant of my actions. Then came coffee and liqueurs, and
whilst Darvel searched in an adjoining room for some particularly fine
cigars for my special smoking, Lowther cleared a table, and rummaged
in the drawers for cards and dice, whilst Ringwood called for lemons
and sugar, and compounded a fiery bowl of _Kirschwasser_ punch. It was
quite clear we were to have a night of it. Darvel's declaration that
he would have no high play in his rooms, and would turn every one out
at midnight, was replied to by me with a boisterous shout of laughter,
in which I was vociferously joined by Lowther, who, to all appearance,
was more than half tipsy. We sat down to play for moderate stakes;
fortune favoured me at the expense of Ringwood and Lowther. The former
looked sulky, the latter became peevishly noisy and excited, cursed
his luck, and insisted on increasing the stakes. Darvel strongly
objected; as winner, I held myself bound to oppose him, and the
majority carried the day. The stakes were doubled, quadrupled, and
at last became extravagantly high. Presently in came a couple
more 'friends,' in full evening costume, white-waistcoated and
gold-buttoned, patent leather, starch and buckram from heel to
eyebrow. They were on their way to a rout at the Marchioness of
Montepulciano's, but, seeing light through Darvel's windows, came up
'just to see what was going on.' With great difficulty they were
prevailed upon to take a cigar and a hand at cards, and to disappoint
the Marchioness. It was I who, inspired by deep potations and
unbounded good fellowship, urged and insisted upon their stopping. My
three friends did not seem nearly so cordial in their solicitations,
and subsequently, when I came to think over the night's proceedings,
I remembered a look of vexation exchanged between them, upon the
entrance of the uninvited vultures who thus intruded for their share
of the spoil. Doubtless, the worthy trio would rather have kept me to
themselves. They suppressed their discontent, however; externally all
was honeyed cordiality and good feeling; the Bully made perpetual
bowls of punch, and I quaffed the blazing alcohol till I could
scarcely distinguish the pips on the cards. But scenes like these have
been too often described for their details to have much interest.
Enough, that at six o'clock the following morning I threw myself upon
my bed, fevered, frantic, and a beggar. I had given orders upon my
London agent for the very last farthing I possessed.

"Lowther, to all appearance the least sober and worst player of the
party, had been chief winner. Ringwood had won a little; Madame
Montepulciano's friends did not make a bad night's work of it,
although they declared their gains trifling, but as there had been a
good deal of gold and some bank-notes upon the table, it was difficult
to say exactly how the thing had gone. Darvel, who had frequently made
attempts to stop the play--attempts frustrated by Lowther's drunken
violence, Ringwood's dogged sullenness, and my own mad eagerness--was
visibly a loser; but what mattered that, when his confederates won?
There is honour amongst thieves, and no doubt next day witnessed an
equitable division of the spoils.

"It was the second day after the debauch before I again saw any of my
kind friends. I spent the greater part of the intervening one in bed,
exhausted and utterly desponding, revolving in my mind my desperate
position. I had no heart to go out or see anybody. At last Darvel
called upon me, affected great sorrow for my losses, deplored my
obstinacy in playing high against his advice, and inveighed against
Lowther for his drunken persistence. Anxiety and previous excess
had rendered me really unwell; Darvel insisted on sending me his
physician, and left me with many expressions of kindness, and a
promise to call next day. All this feigned sympathy was not lavished
without an object; the gang had discovered I might still be of use to
them. In what way, I did not long remain ignorant. During a week or
more that I remained in the house, suffering from a sort of low
fever, Darvel came daily to sit with me, brought me newspapers, told
me the gossip of the hour, and not unfrequently threw out hints of
better times near at hand, when the blind goddess should again
smile upon me. At last I learned in what way her smiles were to be
purchased. I was convalescent; my doctor had paid his farewell visit,
and pocketed my last napoleon, when Darvel entered my room. After the
usual commonplace inquiries, he sat down by the fire, silent, and with
a gloomy countenance. I could not help noticing this, for I was
accustomed to see him cheerful and talkative upon his visits to me;
and I presently inquired if any thing had gone wrong.

"'Yes--no--nothing with me exactly, but for you. I am disappointed on
your account.'

"'On my account?'

"'Yes. I wrote to England some days ago, urging friends of mine in
high places to get you a snug berth, and to-day I have received
answers.'

"'Well?'

"'No, ill--cold comfort enough. Lots of promises, but with an
unmistakeable hint that many are to be served before me, and that
we must wait several months--which with those people means several
years--before there will be a chance of a good wind blowing your
way. I am infernally sorry for it.'

"'And I also,' I replied, mournfully. There was a short pause.

"'How are you off for the sinews of war?' said Darvel.

"'You may find some small change on the chimney-piece--my last money.'

"'The devil! This won't do. We must fill your exchequer somehow. You
must be taken care of, my boy.'

"'Easy to say,' I answered, 'but how? Unless you win me a lottery
prize, or show me a hidden treasure, my purse is likely to continue
empty.'

"'Pshaw! hidden treasure indeed! There are always treasures to be
found by clever seekers. Nothing without trouble.'

"'I should not grudge that.'

"'Perhaps not; but you young gentlemen are apt to be proud and
squeamish.'

"'Pshaw!' said I in my turn, 'you know I can't afford to be that.
Money I must have, no matter how.'

"I spoke thoughtlessly, and without weighing my words, but also
without evil meaning. I merely meant to express my willingness
to work for my living, in ways whose adoption I should have
scoffed at a fortnight previously. Darvel doubtless understood
me differently--thought dissipation and reckless extravagance
had blunted my sense of honour and honesty, and that I was ripe
for his purpose. After a minute or two's silence--

"'By the bye,' he said, 'are not you intimate with the young D----s,
sons of that rich old baronet Sir Marmaduke D----?'

"'Barely acquainted,' I replied, 'I have seen them once or twice, but
it is a long time back, and we should hardly speak if we met. They
are poor silly fellows, brought up by a fool of a mother, and by a
puritanical private tutor.'

"'They have broken loose from the apron-string then, for they arrived
here yesterday on their way to Italy, Greece, and the Lord knows
where. Why don't you call upon them. They are good to know. They have
swinging letters of credit on Paris and half the towns in Europe.'

"'I see no use in calling on them, nor any that their letters of
credit can be to me.'

"'Pshaw! who knows? They are to be a month here. It might lead to
something.'

"'To what?' I inquired indifferently. A gesture of impatience escaped
Darvel.

"'You certainly are dull to-day--slow of comprehension, as I may say.
Recollect what some play-writing man has said about the world being an
oyster for clever fellows to open. Now these D----s are just the sort
of natives it is pleasant to pick at, because their shells are lined
with pearls. Well, since you won't take a hint, I must speak plainly.
Dine to-day at the table-d'hôte of the _Hôtel W----_. The D----s are
staying there, and you are safe to fall in with them. Renew your
acquaintance, or strike up a fresh one, whichever you please. You are
a fellow of good address, and will have no difficulty in making
friends with two such Johnny Newcomes. Ply them with Burgundy, bring
them here or to my rooms, we will get Lowther and Ringwood, and it
shall be a hundred pounds in your pocket.'

"I must have been a fool indeed, had I doubted for another instant the
meaning and intentions of my respectable ally. As by touch of
enchanter's wand, the scales fell from my eyes; illusions vanished,
and I saw myself and my associates in the right colours, myself as a
miserable dupe, them as vile sharpers. So confounded was I by the
suddenness of the illumination, that for a moment I stood speechless
and motionless, gazing vacantly into the tempter's face. He took my
silence for acquiescence, and opened his lips to continue his base
hints and instructions. Roused into vehement action by the sound of
his odious voice, I grasped his collar, and seizing a horsewhip that
lay opportunely near, I lashed the miscreant round the room till my
arm could strike no longer, and till the inmates of the house, alarmed
by his outcries, assembled at the door of my apartment. Too infuriated
to notice them, I kicked the fellow out and remained alone, to
meditate at leisure upon my past folly and present embarrassments. The
former was irreparable, the latter were speedily augmented. I know
not what Darvel told the master of the house (I subsequently found he
had had an interview with him after his ejection from my room), but
two days later, the month being at an end, I received a heavy bill,
with an intimation that my apartments were let to another tenant, and
a request for my speedy departure. I was too proud to take notice of
this insolence, and too poor, under any circumstances, to continue in
so costly a lodging. Money I had none, and it took the sacrifice of my
personal effects, including even much of my wardrobe, to satisfy my
landlord's demand. I settled it, however, and removed, with a heavy
heart, a light portmanteau, and a hundred francs in my pocket, to a
wretched garret in a cheap faubourg.

"You will think, perhaps, that I acted rashly, and should have sought
temporary assistance from friends before proceeding to such
extremities. But the very few persons who might have been disposed
to help me, I had long since neglected for the society of the
well-dressed thieves by whom I had been so pitilessly fleeced. And had
it been otherwise, I knew not how to beg or borrow. My practice had
been in giving and lending. The first thing I did, when installed in
my _sixième_ at twenty francs a-month, was to write to my uncle in
England, informing him, without entering into details, of the knavery
of which I had been victim, expressing my penitence for past follies,
and my desire to atone them by a life of industry. I craved his
advice as to the course I should adopt, declared a preference for the
military profession, and entreated, as the greatest of favours, and
the only one I should ever ask of him, that he would procure me a
commission, either in the British service or Indian army. I got an
answer by return of post, and, before opening it, augured well from
such promptitude. Its contents bitterly disappointed me. My uncle's
agent informed me, by his employer's command, that Mr Oakley, of
Oakley Manor, was not disposed to take any notice of a nephew who had
disgraced him by extravagance and evil courses, and that any future
letters from me would be totally disregarded. I felt that I deserved
this; but yet I had hoped kinder words from my dead father's elder
brother. The trifling assistance I asked would hardly have been missed
out of his unencumbered income of ten thousand a-year. This was my
first advertisement of the wide difference that sometimes exists
between relatives and friends. Gradually I gathered experience, paid
for, in advance, at a heavy rate.

"Of course, I did not dream of renewing an application thus cruelly
repulsed, but resolved to rely on myself alone, and to find some
occupation, however humble, sufficient for my subsistence. I had no
idea, until I tried, of the immense difficulty of procuring such
occupation. Master of no trade or handicraft, I knew not which way to
turn, or what species of employment to seek. I was a good swordsman,
and once I had a vague notion of teaching fencing; but even had I
had the means to establish myself, the profession was already
over-stocked; and not a regiment of the Paris garrison but could turn
out a score of _prévôts_ to button me six times for my once. I could
ride, which qualified me for a postilion, and had sufficient knowledge
of billiards to aspire to the honourable post of a marker; but even to
such offices--could I have stooped to compete for them--I should have
been held ineligible without certificates of character. And to whom
was I to apply for these? To my gay acquaintances of the Café de
Paris? To the obsequious banker to whom I had come handsomely
accredited, and who had given me a sumptuous dinner in his hotel of
the Rue Bergère? To the noble and fashionable families to whom I had
brought letters of recommendation, and whom I had neglected after a
single visit? To which of these should I apply for a character as
groom? And how was I to exist without condescending to some such
menial office? To aught better, gentleman though I was, I had no
qualifications entitling me to aspire. It was a sharp but wholesome
lesson to my vanity and pride, to find myself, so soon as deprived of
my factitious advantage of inherited wealth, less able to provide for
my commonest wants than the fustian-coated mechanic and hob-nailed
labourer, whom I had been wont to splash with my carriage-wheel and
despise as an inferior race of beings. Bitter were my reflections,
great was my perplexity, during the month succeeding my sudden change
of fortune. I passed whole days lying upon the bed in my melancholy
lodging, or leaning out of the window, which looked over a dreary
range of roofs, ruminating my forlorn position, and endeavouring, but
in vain, to find a remedy. This was urgent; but no cudgelling of my
brain suggested one, and at last I saw myself on the brink of
destitution. A score of five-franc pieces had constituted my whole
fortune after satisfying my former extortionate landlord. These were
nearly gone, and I knew not how to obtain another shilling; for my kit
was reduced to linen and the most indispensable necessaries. I now
learned upon how little a man may live, and even thrive and be
healthy. During that month, I contrived to keep my expenses of food
and lodging within two francs a-day, making the whole month's
expenditure considerably less than I had commonly thrown away on an
epicurean breakfast or dinner. And I was all the better for the coarse
regimen to which I thus suddenly found myself reduced. Harassed in
mind though I was, my body felt the benefit of unusual abstinence from
deep potations, late hours, and sustained dissipation. The large
amount of foot-exercise I took during these few weeks, doubtless
contributed also to restore tone and vigour to a constitution which
my dissolute career, however mad and reckless, had not been long
enough seriously to impair. When weary of my lonesome attic, I would
start through the nearest barrier, avoiding the streets and districts
where I might encounter former acquaintances, and take long walks in
the environs of Paris, returning with an appetite that gave a relish
even to the tough and unsavoury viands of a cheap _traiteur_.

"It chanced, upon a certain day, when striding along the road to
Orleans, that I met a regiment of hussars changing their quarters
from that town to Paris. The morning sun shone brightly on their
accoutrements; the hoofs of their well-groomed horses rang upon the
frosty road; the men, closely wrapped in their warm pelisses, looked
cheerful, in good case, and in high spirits at the prospect of a
sojourn in the capital. I seated myself upon a gate to see them pass,
and could not avoid making a comparison between my position and that
of a private dragoon, which resulted considerably to my disadvantage.
I was not then so well aware as I have since become, of all the
hardships and disagreeables of a soldier's life; and it appeared to me
that these fellows, well clothed, well mounted, and with their daily
wants provided for, were perfect kings compared to a useless,
homeless, destitute being like myself. Their profession was an
honourable one; their regiment was their home; they had comrades and
friends; and their duty as soldiers properly done, none could reproach
or oppress them. The column marched by, and was succeeded by the
rear-guard, half-a-dozen smart, sunburned hussars, with carbine
on thigh; one of whom sang, in a mellow tenor voice, and with
considerable taste, the well-known soldier's song out of _La Dame
Blanche_. In their turn they disappeared behind a bend of the road;
but the spirited burthen of the ditty still reached my ears after
they were lost to my view--

     'Ah, quel plaisir! ah, quel plaisir!
     Ah, quel plaisir d'être soldat!'

I repeated to myself, as the last notes died in the distance, and
jumping off the gate, I turned my steps towards Paris, my mind
strongly inclining to the sabre and worsted lace.

"My half-formed resolution gathered strength from reflection, and on
reaching Paris I proceeded straight to the Champ de Mars. The
spectacle that there met my eyes was of a nature to encourage my
inclination to embrace a military career, even in the humble capacity
of a private trooper. It was a cavalry field-day, and a number of
squadrons manoeuvred in presence of several general officers and of
a brilliant staff, whilst soldiers of various corps,--dragoons,
lancers, cuirassiers and hussars, stood in groups watching the
evolutions of their comrades. Veterans from the neighbouring Hôtel
des Invalides--scarred and mutilated old warriors, who had shared
the triumphs and reverses of the gallant French armies from Valmy
to Waterloo--talked of their past campaigns and criticised the
movements of their successors in the ranks. Several of these parties
I approached within ear-shot, and overheard, with strong interest,
many a stirring reminiscence of those warlike days when the Corsican
firebrand set Europe in a flame, and spread his conquering legions
from Moscow to Andalusia. At last I came to a group of younger
soldiers, who discussed more recent if less glorious deeds of arms.
The words _Bédouins_, _razzia_, _Algérie_, recurred frequently in
their discourse. I started at the sounds. They reminded me of what I
had previously forgotten, that there was still a battle-field in the
world where danger might be encountered and distinction won. True, I
might have wished more civilised foes than the tawny denizens of the
desert, and a more humane system of warfare than that pursued by the
French in Africa. But my circumstances forbade over-nicety, and that
day I enlisted as volunteer in the light cavalry, merely stipulating
that I should be placed in a corps then serving in Africa.

"Should you care to hear, I will give you at a future time some
details of my military novitiate and African adventures. The former
was by no means easy, the latter had little to distinguish them from
those of thousands of my comrades. A foreign service is rarely an
agreeable refuge, and that of France is undoubtedly the very worst an
Englishman can enter. The old antipathy to England, weakened in the
breasts of French civilians, still exists to a great extent amongst
the military classes of the population. A traditionary feeling of
hatred and humiliation has been handed down from the days of our
Peninsular victories, and especially from that of the crowning triumph
at Waterloo,--the battle won by treachery, as many Frenchmen affirm,
and some positively believe. A French barrack-room, I can assure you,
is anything but a bed of roses to a British volunteer. I was better
off, however, than most of my countrymen would have been under similar
circumstances. Speaking the language like a native--better, indeed,
than the majority of those with whom I now found myself associated--I
escaped the mockery and annoyances which an English accent would
inevitably have perpetuated. My country was known, however; it was
moreover discovered that in birth and education I was superior to
those about me, and these circumstances were sufficient to draw upon
me envy and insult. Of the former I took no heed, the latter I
promptly and fiercely resented, feeling that to do so was the only
means of avoiding a long course of molestation. Two or three
duels, whence my skill with the foils brought me out unscathed and
with credit, made me respected in my regiment, and whilst thus
establishing my reputation for courage, I did my best to conciliate
the good-will of those amongst whom I was henceforward to live. To a
great extent I was successful. My quality of an Englishman gradually
ceased to give umbrage or invite aggression, and, if not forgotten,
was rarely referred to.

"I was found an apt recruit, and after far less than the usual amount
of drill I was dismissed to my duty in the ranks of my present
regiment, with which I returned from Africa at the beginning of this
winter, and am now in garrison at Paris. My steady attention to my
duties, knowledge of writing and accounts, and conduct in one or two
sharply-contested actions, obtained me promotion to the grades of
corporal and _fourrier_. For my last advancement, to the highest
non-commissioned rank, I am indebted to an affair that occurred a few
weeks before we left Africa. A small division, consisting of three
battalions and as many squadrons, including mine, moved from Oran and
its neighbourhood, for the purpose of a reconnaissance. After marching
for a whole day, we halted for the night near a lonely cistern of
water. The only living creature we saw was a wretched little Arab boy,
taking care of three lean oxen, who told us that, with the exception
of his parents, the whole tribe inhabiting that district had fled on
news of our approach, and were now far away. This sounded rather
suspicious, and all precautions were taken to guard against surprise.
Pickets and outposts were established, the bivouac fires blazed
cheerily up, rations were cooked and eaten, and, wrapped in our
cloaks, we sought repose after the day's fatigue. Tired though we
were, sleep was hard to obtain, especially for us cavalry men, by
reason of the uneasiness of our horses, which scarcely ceased for a
moment to neigh and kick and fight with each other. Troopers always
look upon this as a bad omen, and more than one old soldier, whilst
caressing and calming his restless charger, muttered a prediction of
danger at hand. For once, these military prophets were not mistaken.
About two hours after midnight, the bivouac was sunk in slumber, the
horses had become quieter, and the silence was rarely broken, save by
the warning cry of '_Sentinelle, garde à vous!_' when suddenly a few
dropping shots were heard, the drum of a picket rattled a loud alarm,
and a shout arose of '_Les Arabes!_' In an instant, the encampment, so
still before, swarmed like a hive of bees. Luckily we had all laid
down fully accoutred, with our weapons beside us, so that, as we
sprang to our feet, we found ourselves ready for action. The general,
who alone had a small tent, rushed half-dressed from under his
canvass. Our veteran colonel was on foot with the first, cool as on
parade, and breathing defiance. '_Chasseurs_, to your horses!' shouted
he in stentorian tones, hoarse from the smoke of many battles. At the
word we were in the saddle. On every side we heard wild and savage
shouts, and volleys of small arms, and the pickets, overpowered by
numbers, came scampering in, with heavy loss and in much confusion.
There was no moon, but by the starlight we saw large bodies of white
shadowy figures sweeping around and towards our encampment. Our
infantry had lain down in order, by companies and battalions,
according to a plan of defence previously formed, and now they stood
in three compact squares, representing the three points of a triangle;
whilst in the intervals the squadrons manoeuvred, and the
artillerymen watched opportunities to send the contents of their light
mountain-howitzers amongst the hostile masses. With whoop and wild
hurrah, and loud invocations of Allah and the Prophet, the Bedouin
hordes charged to the bayonet's point, but recoiled again before
well-directed volleys, leaving the ground in front of the squares
strewed with men and horses dead and dying. Then the artillery gave
them a round, and we cavalry dashed after them, pursuing and sabring
till compelled to retire before fresh and overwhelming masses. This
was repeated several times. There were many thousand Arabs collected
around us, chiefly horsemen; and had their discipline equalled their
daring, our position would have been perilous indeed. Undismayed by
their heavy loss, they returned again and again to the attack. At
last the general, impatient of the protracted combat, wheeled up the
wings of the squares, reserved the fire till the last moment, and
received the assailants with so stunning a discharge that they fled to
return no more. The cavalry of course followed them up, and our
colonel, Monsieur de Bellechasse, an old soldier of Napoleon's, ever
foremost where cut and thrust are passing, headed the squadron to
which I belong. Carried away by his impetuosity, and charging home the
flying Bedouins, he lost sight of prudence, and we soon found
ourselves surrounded by a raging host, who, perceiving how few we
were, stood at bay, and in their turn assumed the offensive. Seen in
the dim starlight, with their tawny faces, gleaming eyes, white
burnous, and furious gesticulations, the Arabs seemed a legion of
devils let loose for our destruction. Our ranks were disordered by the
pursuit, and we thus lost one of our chief advantages; for the
Bedouins, unable to resist the charge in line of disciplined cavalry,
are no despicable opponents in a hand-to-hand mêlée. And this the
combat soon became. Greatly outnumbered, we fought for our lives, and
of course fought our best. I found myself near the colonel, who was
assailed by two Arabs at one time. He defended himself like a lion,
but his opponents were strong and skilful, and years have impaired the
activity and vigour which procured him, a quarter of a century ago,
the reputation of one of the most efficient dragoons in Buonaparte's
armies. There were none to aid him, for all had their hands full, and
I myself was sharpset with a brawny Bedouin, who made excellent use of
his scimitar. At last I disabled him by a severe cut on the sword arm;
he gnashed his teeth with rage, turned his beautiful horse with
lightning swiftness, and fled from the fight before I had time to
complete my work. I was glad to be quit of him at any price, as I was
now able to strike in by the colonel's side. The old warrior was hard
put-to; a sabre cut had knocked off his shako, and inflicted a wound
on his high, bald forehead, slight indeed, but the blood from which,
trickling into his eyes, nearly blinded him, and he was fain to leave
go his reins to dash it away with his hand. The Arabs perceived their
advantage, and pressed him hard, when I charged one of them in the
flank, bringing the breast of my horse against the shoulder of his,
and cutting at the same time at his head. Man and beast rolled upon
the ground. M. de Bellechasse had scarcely time to observe from whom
the timely succour came, when I dashed in before him, and drew upon
myself the fury of his remaining foe. Just then, to my infinite
relief, I heard at a short distance a steady regular fire of musketry.
It was the infantry, advancing to our support. The Arabs heard it
also, and having had, for one day, a sufficient taste of French
lead, beat a precipitate retreat, scouring away like phantoms, and
disappearing in the gloom of the desert. I was triply recompensed for
my share in this action, by honourable mention in general orders, by
promotion to the rank of _maréchal des logis_--equivalent to troop
sergeant-major in the English service--and by the personal thanks of
my excellent old colonel, who shook me heartily by the hand, and swore
'_Mille millions de sabres!_' that after successfully guarding his
head against Russian, Prussian, and Austrian, Englishman and Spaniard,
he would have been ignominiously cut to pieces by a brace of
black-faced heathens, but for my timely interposition. Since then he
has shown me unvarying kindness, for which I am indebted chiefly to my
preservation of his life, but partly also to his high approval of the
summary manner in which I upset, by a blow of my sabre and bound of my
horse, one of his swarthy antagonists, reminding him, as he always
mentions when telling the story, of a similar feat of his own when
attacked on the Russian retreat by three gigantic Tartars from the
Ukraine. Since we have been in garrison here, he has frequently had me
at his house, nominally to assist in the arrangement of regimental
accounts and orders, but in reality to take opportunities of rendering
me small kindnesses; and latterly, I am inclined to think, a little
for the pleasure of talking to me of his old campaigns. He soon
discovered, what he previously had some inkling of, that my original
position in the world was superior to my present one; and I am not
without hopes, from hints he has let fall, that he will, at no very
distant day, procure my promotion to a cornetcy. These hopes and
alleviations enable me to support, with tolerable patience and
cheerfulness, the dull ordeal of a garrison life, seldom so pleasantly
varied as by my meeting with you. And now, that I have inflicted my
whole history upon you," added Oakley, with a smile, "I must bid you
good-by, for duty calls,--no longer, it is true, to action in the
field, but to the monotonous routine of barrack ordinances."

Thanking Oakley for his interesting narrative, I gave him my address,
and begged him to visit me. This he promised to do, and we parted.
Three days later he called upon me; I kept him to dine with me at my
lodgings, and had reason, during an evening of most agreeable
conversation, to be more than ever pleased with the tone of his mind
and tenor of his discourse. The unthinking rake of former days must
have learned and reflected much during his period of adversity and
soldiering, to convert himself into the intelligent, well-informed,
and unaffected man he had now become. One thing that struck me in him,
however, was an occasional absence of mind and proneness to reverie.
If there was a short pause in the conversation, his thoughts seemed
to wander far away; and at times an expression of perplexed
uneasiness, if not of care, came over his countenance. I had only to
address him, however, to dissipate these clouds, whencesoever they
came, and to recall his usual animated readiness of manner.

A fortnight now elapsed without my again seeing him. I was to return
to England in a couple of days, and was busy one evening writing
letters and making preparations for departure, when the bell at the
door of my apartment was hastily rung. I opened, and Oakley entered.
At first I hardly recognised him, for he was in plain clothes, which
had the effect of converting the smart sergeant into an exceedingly
handsome and gentlemanlike civilian. It struck me he looked paler than
usual, and grave, almost anxious. His first words were an apology for
his intrusion at so late an hour, which I cut short by an assurance of
my gladness to see him, and an inquiry if I could do anything for him
in England.

"When do you go?" said he.

"The day after to-morrow."

"I want nothing there," was his reply; "but before you go you can
render me a great service, if you will."

"If I can, be sure that I will."

"You may perhaps hesitate, when you hear what it is. I want you to be
my second in a duel."

"In a duel!" I repeated, greatly astonished, and not over-pleased at
the idea of being mixed up in some barrack-room quarrel. "In a duel!
and with whom?"

"With an officer of my regiment."

"Of your own rank, I presume?" said I, a little surprised at the sort
of assumption by which he called a sergeant an officer.

"In that case I need not have troubled you," he replied; "I could have
found a dozen seconds. But my antagonist is a commissioned officer--a
lieutenant of the same regiment with myself, although in a different
squadron."

"The devil he is!" I exclaimed. "That becomes a case for
court-martial."

"Undoubtedly," replied Oakley, "for me, but no harm can accrue to you.
I am your countryman; I come to you in plain clothes and ask you to be
my second in a duel. You consent; we go on the ground and meet another
man, apparently a civilian, of whose military quality or grade you are
in no way supposed cognisant. Duels occur daily in France, as you
know, and no notice is taken of them, even when fatal. I assure you
there is no danger for you."

"I was not thinking of myself. But if you escape unhurt from the
encounter, you will be shot for attempting the life of your superior."

Oakley shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, "I know that, but must
take my chance;" but made no other reply to my remark.

"I will tell you the circumstances," he said, "and you shall judge
for yourself if I can avoid the duel. When talking to you of my kind
old colonel, I did not tell you of his only daughter, Bertha de
Bellechasse, the most beautiful and fascinating of her sex. On our
return from Africa, the colonel, in his gratitude for the man who had
saved his life, presented me to his wife and child, pronouncing at the
same time an exaggerated encomium on my conduct. The ladies gave me
their hands to kiss, and had I shed half my blood in saving that of
the colonel, I should have been more than repaid by Bertha's gracious
smile, and by her warm expression of thanks to her father's preserver.
Madame de Bellechasse, I suspect, was about to give me her purse, but
was checked by a sign from her husband, who doubtless told them, after
my departure, as much as he knew of my history,--that I was a
foreigner and a gentleman, whom circumstances had driven to don the
coarse vest of the private dragoon. He may perhaps have added some of
the romantic stories current in the regiment when I first joined. I
had never been communicative concerning my past life, which I felt was
nothing to boast of; and regimental gossips had drawn upon their
invention for various strange tales about the Milord Anglais. When
I became domesticated in the corps, and my country was almost
forgotten, these fictitious histories ceased to be repeated, and fell
into oblivion; but some of them were revived for the benefit of the
colonel, when, after the action near Oran, he instituted inquiries
concerning me amongst his officers. It was not till some weeks later
that he asked and received from me a plain unvarnished account of my
very commonplace career. It is possible that the sort of mystery
previously attaching to me, combined with her father's glowing
eulogiums and her own gratitude for his preservation, worked upon
Bertha's ardent and susceptible imagination, prepossessing her in my
favour. For my part, I had been struck to the heart by the very first
glance from the dark eyes that sparkled like diamonds beneath their
lashes of sable silk; I had been captivated and fettered on the
instant, by the smile of enchanting sweetness that played round her
graceful lips. For a while I struggled steadfastly against the
passionate impulse; its indulgence I felt would be madness, and could
result but in misery. What folly for the penniless soldier, even
though time and her father's protection should convert him into an
equally penniless officer, to raise his eyes to the rich, the
beautiful, the brilliant daughter of the Count de Bellechasse!
Rejection, ridicule, contempt, could be the sole recompense of such
presumption. M. de Bellechasse, although an officer of Napoleon's, is
of old French nobility; his wealth is very great; and if he still
continues to serve, it is solely from enthusiastic love of his
profession. His daughter is a match for the first in the land. All
these and many more such arguments did I again and again repeat to
myself; but when had reason a chance against love? Repeatedly did I
vow to forget the fair vision that had crossed my path and troubled
my repose, or to think of her only as the phantom of a dream,
unsubstantial and unattainable. But the resolution was scarcely
formed, when I found myself dwelling on her perfections,
recapitulating the few gentle words she had addressed to me, recalling
her voice, her look, her gesture. One moment, in view of the precipice
on whose brink I stood, I swore to shun her perilous presence, and to
avert my eyes should I again find myself in it: not an hour afterwards
I eagerly seized a pretext that led me to her father's house, and
afforded me the possibility of another glimpse of my idol. Such
glimpses were not difficult to obtain. The colonel's partiality to me
daily increased, and when I went to him on regimental matters, and he
was alone with his wife and daughter, he would receive me in the
drawing-room in their presence, and waiving for the time the
difference of grade, would converse with me as affably as with an
equal, and make me repeat, for the amusement of the ladies, some of
our African skirmishes and adventures. Doubtless I should have
avoided these dangerous interviews, but how was it to be done without
an appearance of ingratitude and discourtesy? Truth to tell, I taxed
my invention but little for means of escaping them. I continued to see
Bertha, and at each interview my passion gathered strength. She
listened with marked attention to my anecdotes of our campaigns. These
I always addressed to her father or mother; but without looking at
her, I could feel her eyes fixed upon me with an expression of
interest, and, I at last ventured to think, of a more tender feeling.
About this time the colonel frequently kept me for hours together at
his house, arranging regimental papers and accounts, in a room upon
the ground floor, set apart for the purpose. Within this room is
another, used as a library; and thus it happened that one day, when
immersed in states and muster-rolls, I beheld the door open, and the
fairy form of Bertha upon the threshold. She appeared confused at
seeing me; I rose and bowed in silence as she passed through the
apartment, but I was taken too much by surprise to have full command
over myself, and doubtless my eyes said something of what my lips
would gladly have spoken, for before Bertha reached the outer door,
her cheeks were suffused with blushes. Again and again these meetings,
sweet as transient, occurred. But I will not weary you by dwelling
upon such passages.

"We abandoned ourselves to the charm of our attachment, sadly
embittered by its hopelessness. Since then, I have had almost daily
occupation at the colonel's house, and Bertha has found means to
afford me brief but frequent interviews. At these we discussed, but
ever in vain, the possibility of breaking our secret to M. de
Bellechasse. Frank and affable though he be, the colonel's pride of
birth is great, and we were well assured that the disclosure of our
correspondence would produce a terrific explosion of fury, consign
Bertha to the seclusion of a convent, and draw upon me his hatred and
revenge. This morning Bertha came into the room, upon the usual
pretext of seeking a book from the library, and the painful and
perplexing topic that has long and unceasingly occupied our thoughts
was again resumed. For the first time, she had heard her father state
his intention of recommending me in the strongest terms for a
commission. This let in a ray of hope upon our despondency; and we
resolved that, so soon as the epaulet was on my shoulder, I should
hazard a confession to the colonel. The prospect of a termination to
our cruel state of suspense, and the possibility, faint though it
indeed was, of a result favourable to our wishes, brought a joyful
gleam over Bertha's lovely features, which have lately grown pale with
anxiety. On my part, I did my utmost to inspire her with hopes I
myself scarce dared to entertain; when, as she stood beside me, her
hand clasped in mine, a smile of affection upon her countenance, the
door suddenly opened, and, before we had time to separate, Victor de
Berg, a lieutenant in my regiment, and a suitor of Bertha's, made a
step into the room. For an instant he stood like one thunderstruck,
and then, without uttering a word, abruptly turned upon his heel and
went out. The next minute the sound of his step in the court warned us
that he had left the house.

"Overwhelmed with terror and confusion to an extent that precluded
reflection, Bertha fled to her apartment, leaving me to deliberate on
the best course to adopt. My mind was presently made up. The only plan
was to seek Monsieur de Berg, inform him of our mutual attachment, and
appeal to his honour and generosity to preserve inviolate the secret
he had surprised. I hurried to his quarters, which were at no great
distance. He had already arrived there, and was pacing his apartment
in manifest agitation. Since our return from Africa, he had been a
declared admirer of Bertha's; by family and fortune he was an eligible
suitor, and her father favoured his pretensions, contingent, however,
upon his daughter's consent. Dismissing the servant who ushered me in,
he addressed me before I had time to enter upon the object of my
visit.

"'It is unnecessary,' he said, in a voice choked with passionate
emotion, as I was about to speak. 'I can guess all you would say. A
single instant informed me of the state of affairs; the half hour that
has elapsed since then, has sufficed to mark out my line of conduct.
Mr Oakley, I know that by birth and breeding you are above your
station. You have forgotten your present position; I will follow your
example so far as to waive our difference of military rank. As the
friend of Colonel de Bellechasse, I ought, perhaps, instantly to tell
him what I have this day learned; as his daughter's suitor, and the
son-in-law of his choice, I select another course. Your secret is safe
with me. To-night you shall receive a leave of absence, entitling you
to quit your uniform; and to-morrow we will meet in the wood of
Vincennes, not as officer and sergeant, but as private gentlemen, with
arms in our hands. The man whom Bertha de Bellechasse distinguishes by
her preference, cannot be unworthy of the proposal I now make to you.
Do you accept it?'

"I was astounded by the words. Accustomed to the iron rigidity of
military discipline, and to the broad gulf placed between officer and
soldier by the king's commission, the possibility of a duel between
M. de Berg and myself, although it would have been no unnatural
occurrence between rivals of equal rank, had never occurred to me. For
a moment I could not comprehend the singular and unheard-of proposal;
but a glance at my challenger's countenance, on which the passions
agitating him were plainly legible, solved the mystery of his motives.
He was a prey to jealous fury; and, moreover, the chivalrous
generosity of his character, combined, perhaps, with the fear of
irretrievably offending Bertha, prevented his pursuing the course most
persons, in his place, would have adopted, and revealing to Colonel de
Bellechasse his daughter's predilection for an inferior. By a duel he
hoped to rid himself of a favoured rival, whom he might replace in
Bertha's heart. It was not necessary she should know by whose hand I
had fallen. Such were the reasons that flashed across me, explaining
his strange offer of a personal encounter. Doubtless, I defined them
more clearly than he himself did. I believe he spoke and acted upon
the first vague impulse of a passionate nature, racked by jealousy,
and thirsting for revenge upon its cause. I saw at once, however, that
by accepting the duel I virtually secured his silence; and overjoyed
to preserve my secret, and shield Bertha from her father's wrath at so
cheap a price as the exposure of my life, I eagerly accepted M. de
Berg's proposal, thanking him warmly for his generosity in thus
repudiating the stern prejudices of military rank.

"After fixing hour and weapons, I left him, and then only did the
difficulty of finding a second occur to me. For obvious reasons I
could not ask the assistance of a comrade; and out of my regiment I
had not a single friend in Paris. In my difficulty I thought of you.
Our brief acquaintance scarcely warrants my request; but the kindness
you have already shown me encourages the hope that you will not refuse
me this service. M. de Berg is a man of strict honour, and you may
depend on your name and share in the affair remaining undivulged. Even
were they known, you, as a foreigner and civilian, would in no way be
compromised by the relative position of my opponent and myself, which
renders me liable, should the affair get wind, to a court-martial and
severe punishment."

Although opposed to duelling, except under circumstances of
extraordinary aggravation, I had been more than once unavoidably mixed
up in affairs of the kind; and the apprehension of unpleasant results
from accession to Oakley's request did not for an instant weigh with
me. I was greatly struck by the chivalrous conduct of M. de Berg, and
felt strong sympathy with Oakley, in the painful and most peculiar
position into which his early follies and unfortunate attachment had
brought him. Very brief deliberation was necessary to decide me to act
as his second. There was no time to lose, and I begged him to put me
at once in possession of the details of the affair, and to tell me
where I could find De Berg's second. I was not sorry to learn that it
was unnecessary for me to see him, and that all preliminaries were in
fact arranged. The duel not being one of those that the intervention
of friends may prevent, and Oakley having already fixed time and place
with his antagonist, my functions became limited to attending him on
the ground. It grew late, and Oakley left me for the night. In order
to preserve my incognito in the business--for I had no desire to
figure in newspaper paragraphs, or to be arraigned before a criminal
tribunal, even with certainty of acquittal--we agreed to meet at eight
o'clock the next morning, at a certain coffee-house, a considerable
distance from my lodgings, whence a cabriolet would convey us to the
place of rendezvous.

It was a fresh and beautiful spring morning, when Oakley and myself
descended from our hack vehicle, near the little village of St Mande,
and struck into the Bois de Vincennes. There had been rain during the
night, and the leaves and grass were heavy with water drops. The sky
was bright blue, and the sun shone brilliantly; but over the ground
and between the tree trunks floated a light mist, like the smoke of a
skirmish, growing thinner as it ascended, and dissipated before it
reached the topmost branches. At some distance within the wood, we
turned into a secluded glade, seated ourselves upon a fallen tree,
and waited. We had come faster than we expected, and were fully a
quarter of an hour before our time; but in less than five minutes we
heard the sound of steps and voices, soon succeeded by the appearance
of three gentlemen, one of whom, by his military gait and aspect, I
conjectured to be the officer of Chasseurs. In one of his companions
I recognised, after a brief puzzle of memory, a well-known and popular
_littérateur_; doubtless M. de Berg, from motives of delicacy, had not
chosen to ask the aid of a brother officer in his duel with a military
inferior. The black coat and grave aspect of the third stranger
sufficiently indicated the doctor, who, on reaching the ground,
separated himself from his companions and retired a little to one
side. The others bowed to Oakley and myself. M. de Berg's second
stepped forward, and I advanced to meet him. I was particularly
pleased with the appearance of Oakley's antagonist. He was a young man
of six or seven and twenty, of very dark complexion, with flashing
black eyes and a countenance expressive of daring resolution and a
fiery temperament. I should have taken him for an Italian, and I
afterwards learned that he was a native of Provence, born within
a stone's-throw of Italy. I never saw an ardent and enthusiastic
character more strongly indicated by physiognomy, than in the case of
this young officer; and I began to understand and explain to myself
the feelings that had impelled him to challenge the man preferred by
the mistress of his choice, even although that man's position was such
as, in the eyes of society, forbade the encounter.

More as a matter of duty than with expectation of success, I asked De
Berg's second if there were no chance of this meeting terminating
peaceably. He shook his head with a decided gesture.

"Impossible," he said. "I am ignorant of the cause of quarrel: I know
not even your principal's name. My friend, who may possibly be equally
unknown to you, has asked my assistance, pledging himself that the
duel is a just and honourable one, which cannot be avoided, but whose
motive he has reasons to conceal even from me. Satisfied with this
assurance, reposing implicit confidence in his word, I inquire no
further. Moreover, once upon the ground, it is difficult creditably to
arrange an affair of this kind."

I bowed without replying. The ground was measured, the pistols loaded,
the men placed. The toss-up of a five-franc piece gave the first fire
to M. de Berg. His bullet grazed Oakley's cheek, but so slightly as
scarcely to draw blood. Oakley fired in return. The officer staggered,
turned half round, and fell to the ground, the bone of his right leg
broken. His second, the doctor, and I, ran forward to his assistance.
As we did so, three soldiers, who it afterwards appeared had
witnessed, from their concealment amongst the trees, the whole of the
proceedings, emerged from the shelter of the foliage, and walked
across one end of the open space where the duel had taken place,
casting curious and astonished glances in our direction. They had not
yet disappeared, when De Berg, whom we had raised into a sitting
posture, caught sight of them. He started, and uttered an exclamation
of vexation, then looked at Oakley, who had left his ground and stood
near to the wounded man.

"Do you see that?" said De Berg, hurriedly, wincing as he spoke, under
the hands of the surgeon, who by this time had cut off boot and
trousers, and was manipulating the damaged limb.

The soldiers were now again lost to view in the thick wood. It
occurred to me that two of them wore dragoon uniforms.

Oakley bowed his head assentingly.

"You had better be off, and instantly," said the lieutenant. "Go to
England or Germany. You have leave for a week. I will procure you a
prolongation; but be off at once, and get away from Paris. Those
fellows have recognised us, and will not be prevented talking."

He spoke in broken sentences, and with visible effort, for the surgeon
was all the while poking and probing at the leg in a most
uncomfortable manner, and De Berg was pale from pain and loss of
blood. Oakley looked on with an expression of regret, and showed no
disposition to the hasty flight recommended him.

"Well, doctor," said the officer, with a painful smile, "my dancing is
spoilt, eh?"

"_Bagatelle!_" replied the man of lancets. "Clean fracture, neat
wound, well as ever in a month. Your blood's too hot, _mon
lieutenant_; you'll be all the better for losing a little of it."

"There, there," said De Berg kindly to Oakley, "no harm done, you
see--to me at least. I should be sorry that any ensued to you. Away
with you at once. Take him away, sir," he added to me; "he risks his
life by this delay."

I took Oakley's arm, and led him unresistingly away. He was deep in
thought, and scarcely replied to one or two observations I addressed
to him whilst walking out of the wood. Our cabriolet was waiting; we
got in, and took the road to Paris. "I hope you intend following M. de
Berg's advice," said I, "and leaving the country for a while, until
you are certain this affair does not become known. He evidently fears
its getting wind through those soldiers."

"And he is right," said Oakley. "Two of them are of my squadron, and
of those two, one is a bad character whom I have frequently had to
punish. He will assuredly not lose this opportunity of revenge."

"Then you must be off at once to England. My passport is already
countersigned, and you can have it. There is not much similarity in
our age and appearance, but that will never be noticed."

"A thousand thanks. But I think I shall remain in Paris."

"And be brought to a court-martial? To what punishment are you
liable?"

"Death, according to the letter of the law. The French articles of war
are none of the mildest. But, under the circumstances, I daresay I
should get off with a few years' imprisonment, followed, perhaps, by
serving in a condemned regiment."

"A pleasant alternative, indeed," said I.

"I am no way anxious to incur it," replied Oakley; "but, in fact, I am
as safe in Paris as anywhere, at least for a day or two; and possibly
M. de Berg may find means of securing the silence of the witnesses. At
any rate, it will be time enough to-morrow or the next day to make a
run of it. I cannot go upon the instant. There is one person I must
see or communicate with before I leave."

I guessed whom he meant, and saw, from his manner, he was resolved to
remain, so used no farther arguments to dissuade him. Before entering
Paris, we dismissed our vehicle and separated; he betook himself to a
small retired lodging, where he had taken up his quarters since the
previous evening, and I went home to resume my preparations for
departure. I remained in-doors till after dinner, and then repaired to
a well-known coffee-house, frequented chiefly by military men. As I
had feared, the strange duel between Victor de Berg and a sergeant of
his regiment was already the talk of the town. It had been immediately
reported by the soldiers who had seen it; M. de Berg was under close
arrest, and the police were diligently seeking his antagonist. I left
the café, jumped into a cabriolet, and made all speed to Oakley's
lodging. He was out. I went again, as late as eleven o'clock, but
still he was absent; and I was obliged to content myself with leaving
a note, containing a word of caution and advice, which I prudently
abstained from signing. I then went home and to bed, not a little
uneasy about him. The next morning I breakfasted at the coffee-house,
in order to get the news; and the first thing I heard was intelligence
of Oakley's capture. He had been taken the previous evening, in the
neighbourhood of the colonel's house, around which he doubtless
hovered in hopes to obtain sight or speech of Bertha.

Few courts-martial ever excited a stronger interest in the French
military world than those held upon Lieutenant Victor de Berg and the
_maréchal des logis_ Francis Oakley. The case was one almost
unparalleled in the annals of military offences. A duel between an
officer and a sergeant was a thing previously unheard of; and the
mystery in which its causes were enveloped aggravated the universal
curiosity and excitement. The offenders resolutely refused to throw
light upon the subject; it had been vainly endeavoured to ascertain
their seconds; the surgeon who attended on the ground had been sought
for equally in vain; after placing the first dressings he had
disappeared, and another had been summoned to the sufferer's bedside.
The wound proved of little importance, and, with the assistance of
crutches, De Berg was soon able to get out. Upon their trials, he and
Oakley persisted in the same system of defence. When off duty, they
said, they had met in society, and had had a dispute on a subject
unconnected with the service; the result had been an agreement to
settle their difference with pistols. Oakley refused to state from
whom the challenge proceeded; but Lieutenant de Berg proclaimed
himself the aggressor, and, aware that the sentence would weigh far
more heavily on Oakley than on himself, generously assumed a large
share of blame. As to the cause of quarrel, names of the seconds, and
all other particulars, both culprits maintained a determined silence,
which no endeavours of friends or judges could induce them to break.
Colonel de Bellechasse and various other officers visited Oakley in
his prison, and did their utmost to penetrate the mystery. Their high
opinion both of him and De Berg, convinced them there was something
very extraordinary and unusual at the bottom of the business, and that
its disclosure would tell favourably for the prisoners. But nothing
could be got out of the obstinate duellists, who called no witnesses,
except to character. Of these a host attended, for both Oakley and De
Berg; and nothing could be stronger than the laudatory testimonials
given them by their superiors and comrades. These, doubtless, had
weighed with the court, for its sentence was considered very lenient.
Oakley was condemned to five years' imprisonment, for attempting the
life of his officer; De Berg was reprimanded for his forgetfulness of
discipline, in provoking or consenting to a personal encounter with a
subordinate, was removed from his regiment and placed in non-activity,
which, under the circumstances, was equivalent to dismissal from the
service, less the disgrace.

I remained in Paris till the sentence of the court was known. Although
by no means desirous to be brought forward in the business, I was
willing to waive my repugnance, if by so doing I could benefit Oakley.
With some difficulty I obtained access to him, begged him to prescribe
a course for my adoption, and frankly to tell me if my evidence could
be of service. He assured me it could not; there was no question of
the fairness of the duel, and the sole crime was in the breach of
military discipline. This crime my testimony could in no way palliate.
He requested me to see M. de Berg, and to tell him that, to avoid the
possibility of the cause of the duel becoming known, he should refuse
to answer questions, plead guilty to the charge, and state, as sole
extenuation, that the quarrel occurred off duty, and had no connection
with military matters. This commission I duly executed. Another which
he intrusted to me I found greater difficulty in performing. It was to
procure information concerning Bertha de Bellechasse. After some
unsuccessful attempts, I at last ascertained that she had been for
some days confined to her bed by indisposition. This was sad news for
Oakley, and I was loth to convey them to him, but I had promised him
the exact truth. Fortunately I was able to tell him at the same time
that the young lady's illness was not of a dangerous character,
although the species of nervous languor which had suddenly and
unaccountably seized her, caused great alarm to her parents, and
especially to the colonel, who idolised his only child. Oakley was
sadly depressed on learning the effect upon Bertha of his imprisonment
and dangerous position, and made me promise to keep him informed of
the variations in her state of health. This I did, but the bulletins
were not of a very satisfactory nature, and in Oakley's pale and
haggard countenance upon the day of trial, attributed by the
spectators to uneasiness about his own fate, I read the painful and
wearing anxiety the illness of his mistress occasioned him.

The sentence was no sooner published, than every effort was made to
procure Oakley's pardon, or, failing that, a commutation of his
punishment. Colonel de Bellechasse used all the interest he could
command; Monsieur de Berg set his friends to work; and I, on my part,
did everything in my power to obtain mercy for the unfortunate young
man. All our endeavours were fruitless. The minister of war refused to
listen to the applications by which he was besieged. In a military
view, the crime was flagrant, subversive of discipline, and especially
dangerous as a precedent in an army where promotion from the ranks
continually placed between men, originally from the same class of
society and long comrades and equals, the purely conventional barrier
of the epaulet. The court-martial, taking into consideration the
peculiar character of the offence, had avoided the infliction of an
ignominious punishment. Oakley was not sentenced to the _boulet_, or
to be herded with common malefactors; his doom was to simple
imprisonment. And that doom the authorities refused to mitigate.

Some days had elapsed since Oakley's condemnation. Returning weary and
dispirited from a final attempt to interest an influential personage
in his behalf, I was startled by a smart tap upon the shoulder, and
looking round, beheld the shrewd, good-humoured countenance of Mr
Anthony Scrivington, a worthy man and excellent lawyer, who had long
had entire charge of my temporal affairs. Upon this occasion, however,
I felt small gratification at sight of him, for I had a lawsuit
pending, on account of which I well knew I ought to have been in
England a month previously, and should have been but for this affair
of Oakley's, which had interested and occupied me to the exclusion of
my personal concerns. My solicitor's unexpected appearance made me
apprehend serious detriment from my neglect. He read my alarm, upon my
countenance.

"Ah!" said he, "conscience pricks you, I see. You know I have been
expecting you these six weeks. No harm done, however; we shall win the
day, not a doubt of it."

"Then you are not come about my business?"

"Not the least, although I shall take you back with me, now I have
found you. A very different affair brings me over. By the by, you may
perhaps help me. You know all Paris. I am come to look for an
Englishman."

"You need not look long," said I, glancing at a party of unmistakable
Britons, who stood talking broad Cockney on the Boulevard.

"Ay, but not _any_ Englishman. I want one in particular, the heir to a
pretty estate of eight or ten thousand a-year. He was last heard of in
Paris three years ago, and since then all trace of him is lost. 'Tis
an odd affair enough. No one could have expected his coming to the
estate. A couple of years since, there were two young healthy men in
his way. Both have died off,--and he is the owner of Oakley Manor."

"Of what?" I exclaimed, in a tone of voice that made Scrivington
stagger back, and for a moment drew the eyes of the whole street upon
us. "What did you say?"

"Oakley Manor," stammered the alarmed attorney, settling his
well-brushed hat, which had almost fallen from his head with the start
he had given. "Old Valentine Oakley died the other day, and his nephew
Francis comes into the estate. But what on earth is the matter with
you?"

For sole reply I grasped his arm, and dragged him into my house, close
to which we had arrived. There, five minutes cleared up everything,
and convinced Scrivington and myself that the man he sought now
languished, a condemned criminal, in a French military prison.

It is unnecessary to dwell upon what all will conjecture; superfluous
to detail the active steps that were at once taken in Oakley's behalf,
with very different success, now that the unknown sergeant had
suddenly assumed the character of an English gentleman of honourable
name and ample fortune. Persons of great influence and diplomatic
weight, who before had refused to espouse the cause of an obscure
adventurer in a foreign service, suffered themselves to be prevailed
upon, and interceded efficaciously for the master of Oakley Manor. It
was even said that a letter was written on the subject by an English
general of high distinction to an old opponent in arms. Be that as it
may, all difficulties were at length overcome, and Oakley received his
free pardon and discharge from the French service. And that equal
measure of clemency might be shown, De Berg, upon the same day, was
allowed to resume his place in his regiment.

I would tell how the news of her lover's pardon proved more potent
than all the efforts of the faculty to bring back joy to Bertha's
heart and the roses to her cheek; how Colonel Count de Bellechasse, on
being informed of the attachment between his daughter and Oakley, and
of the real cause of the duel, at first stormed and was furious, but
gradually allowed himself to be mollified, and finally gave his
consent to their union; how De Berg exchanged into a regiment serving
in Africa, and has since gained laurels and high rank. But I have no
time to expatiate upon any of these interesting matters, for I leave
town to-morrow morning for Oakley Manor, to pay my annual visit to MY
ENGLISH ACQUAINTANCE.



THE MURDERER'S LAST NIGHT

BY THOMAS DOUBLEDAY, ESQ.

[_MAGA._ JUNE 1829.]


"Let him, to whom experience hath been allotted, think it a duty to
impart it. We know not of how long a growth goodness is; nor how slow
an approach even a protracted culture makes towards perfection. A life
of holiness may end in an apostle. As the tree, that hath felt all the
winds of heaven, strikes root in that direction whence they oftenest
blow, so goodness must have known vicissitude, to know when to resist
and when to bend. To know ourselves is to have endured much and long.
We must trace and limn out the map of our whole nature to be sure
where it is desert, and where it is fruitful--to know the 'stony
ground,'--to discover which needeth the plough, and which doth not.
That piety, which is built on ignorance, holds up the shield where the
arrow comes not; and sleeps unmailed when the enemy is at the gate. It
dismounts to pursue the Parthian; and would dig a deep trench around
the tents of the Nomades. It is long ere we root out the weaknesses
of our nature, or know the art to preserve the virtue we have
attained. For goodness, by over earnestness, may unwittingly be
changed from its own essence, as he who knoweth not the vintage shall
make vinegar of wine. When we have stubbed up and consumed the first
growth of our sinfulness, there ariseth a second crop from the ashes
of that which was destroyed. Even as 'the flax and the barley were
smitten; for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled: but
the wheat and the rye were not smitten, _for they were not grown up_;'
so will SELF-SATISFACTION arise, after worldly pride and vanity have
been withered up. Let him who has found inward peace content himself
that he is arrived at the Pillars of Hercules, beyond which there is
no safe way. That self-integrity which deems itself immaculate is
dangerous. Well hath it been said, 'Make no suppletories to thyself
when thou art disgraced or slighted, by pleasing thyself with the
supposition that thou didst deserve praise--neither do thou get
thyself a private theatre and flatterers, in whose vain noises and
fantastic praises thou mayst keep up thy good opinion of thyself.' Be
the act never so good, yet if it be performed rather with reference to
him who does than to that which is done, there is a taint in it for
which Eve is hardly answerable. It is but as a fair tower which the
builder has set on an unknown quicksand, and which the floods shall
damage or carry away. Oh! whosoever thou art that readest this, forget
not these words, but grave them as on marble, and in golden letters.
'While the altar sends up a holy flame, have a care thou dost not
suffer the birds to come and carry away the sacrifice--and let not
that which began well end in thine own praise or temporal
satisfaction, or a sin!'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Until my twenty-seventh year I resided in the small cathedral town of
C----r in which I was born. My parents--especially my mother--were of
a serious cast. She had been educated as a Quaker, but following her
own notions as to religion, she in the latter part of her life became
attached to the tenets of that sect known by the name of Moravians,
and last of all to those which, when held in connection with the
ritual of the Church of England, are termed "Evangelical;" or, in
dissent from it, "Methodistical."

She was warm and fanciful in her devotional practice; for which the
belief as to the palpable and plenary influence of the Holy Spirit
upon the human mind, in which she was bred, may help to account. Of
these aspirations I, an ardent and sensitive boy, soon learned to
partake. My mind was never naturally _prone_ to vice; and my
imagination, though forward, was pure. I was brought up by my
excellent parents in the practice of virtue; and I loved it. With
an outward conduct thus guaranteeing inward persuasions--with
professions borne out by an unquestioned and pure, if not altogether
unostentatious piety of behaviour, what wonder that I soon became a
distinguished votary of the peculiar principles to which I had
attached myself. It is difficult for a young man to know himself
looked up to--be the cause what it may--without his feelings and his
conduct being affected by such homage. Nature had endowed me, if not
with eloquence, at least with considerable fluency of speech; and as
my natural diffidence--which at first was great--wore away, whether by
extempore prayer or seasonable exhortation, the effects I produced
exceeded those, the fruits of zeal, of those about me. I became
admired as one more than usually gifted, and was gradually exalted
into a leader. The occasional tendency to gloom and nervous
irritability to which my temperament inclined me, was yet only marked
enough to throw no unbecoming seriousness and gravity into the
features of so young an apostle. It was strange to see persons of all
ages and both sexes admiring at the innate seriousness of so early a
preacher, and owning the sometimes really fervid earnestness of my
appeals, my warnings, or my denunciations. I began more and more to
feel myself in a station above that of my fellows, and that I had now
a character to sustain before the eyes of men. Young as I was, could
it well have been otherwise? Let me, however, speak the truth.
Spiritual pride at last crept upon me. Devotion by insensible degrees
became tainted with self, and the image of God was, I fear, sometimes
forgotten for that of His frail and unworthy creature. True it was, I
still, without slackening, spoke comfort to the ear of suffering or
repentant sin--I still exhorted the weak and strengthened the strong.
I still warned the besotted in corruption that the fruits of vice,
blossom as she will, are but like those of the shores of the Dead Sea,
seeming gay, but only emptiness and bitter ashes. But alas! the bearer
of the blessed message spoke as if the worm that bore, could add grace
to the tidings he conveyed to his fellow-worm. I was got upon a
precipice, but knew it not--that of self-worship and conceit--the
worst creature-idolatry. It was bitterly revealed to me at last.

About the year 1790, at the Assizes for the county of which the town
of C----r is the county town, was tried and convicted a wretch guilty
of one of the most horrible murders upon record. He was a young man,
probably (for he knew not his own years) of about twenty-two years of
age--one of those wandering and unsettled creatures, who seem to be
driven from place to place, they know not why. Without home, without
name, without companion, without sympathy, without sense,--heartless,
friendless, idealess, almost soulless! and so ignorant, as not even to
seem to know whether he had ever heard of a Redeemer, or seen His
written Word. It was on a stormy Christmas eve when he begged shelter
in the hut of an old man, whose office it was to regulate the transit
of conveyances upon the road of a great mining establishment in the
neighbourhood. The old man had received him, and shared with him his
humble cheer and his humble bed; for on that night the wind blew, and
the sleet drove, after a manner that would have made it a crime to
have turned a stranger dog to the door. The next day the poor old
creature was found dead in his hut--his brains beaten out with an old
iron implement which he used, and his little furniture rifled and in
confusion. The wretch had murdered him for the supposed hoard of a few
shillings. The snow, from which he afforded his murderer shelter, had
drifted in at the door, which the miscreant, when he fled, had left
open, and was frozen red with the blood of his victim. But it betrayed
a footstep hard frozen in the snow and blood; and the nails of the
murderer's shoe were counted, even as his days were soon to be. He was
taken a few days after with a handkerchief of the old man's upon his
neck. So blind is blood-guiltiness.

Up to the hour of condemnation he remained reckless as the
wind--unrepenting as the flint--venomous as the blind worm. With that
deep and horrible cunning which is so often united to unprincipled
ignorance, he had almost involved in his fate another vagrant with
whom he had chanced to consort, and to whom he had disposed of some of
the blood-bought spoils. The circumstantial evidence was so involved
and interwoven, that the jury, after long and obvious hesitation as to
the latter, found both guilty; and the terrible sentence of death,
within forty-eight hours, was passed upon both. The culprit bore it
without much outward emotion; but when taken from the dock, his
companion, infuriated by despair and grief, found means to level a
violent blow at the head of his miserable and selfish betrayer, which
long deprived the wretch of sense and motion, and, for some time, was
thought to have anticipated the executioner. Would it had done so! But
let me do my duty as I ought--let me repress the horror which one
scene of this dreadful drama never fails to throw over my spirit--that
I may tell my story as a man--and my confession at least be clear.
When the felon awoke out of the death-like trance into which this
assault had thrown him, his hardihood was gone; and he was reconveyed
to the cell, in which he was destined agonisingly to struggle out his
last hideous and distorted hours, in a state of abject horror which
cannot be described. He who felt nothing, knew nothing, had now his
eyes opened with terrible clearness to one object--the livid phantasma
of a strangling death. All the rest was convulsive despair and
darkness. Thought shudders at it--but let me go on.

The worthy clergyman, whose particular duty it was to smooth and
soften, and, if possible, illuminate the last dark hours of the dying
wretch, was not unwilling to admit the voluntary aid of those whom
religious predispositions and natural commiseration excited to share
with him in the work of piety. The task was in truth a hard one. The
poor wretch, for the sake of the excitement which such intercourse
naturally afforded him, and which momentarily relieved his sick and
fainting spirit, groaned out half-articulate expressions of
acquiescence in the appeals that were made to him; but the relief was
physical merely. The grasp of the friendly hand made waver for a
moment the heavy shadow of death which hung upon him--and he grasped
it. The voice breathing mercy and comfort in his ear, stilled for a
second the horrid echo of doom--and he listened to it. It was as the
drowning man gasps at the bubble of air which he draws down with him
in sinking--or as a few drops of rain to him at the stake, around whom
the fire is kindled and hot. This, alas! we saw not as we ought to
have done; but when the sinking wretch, at the word "mercy," laid his
head upon our shoulder and groaned, we, sanguine in enthusiasm,
deemed it deep repentance. When his brow seemed smooth for a space at
the sound of eternal life, we thought him as "a brand snatched from
the burning." In the forward pride (for pride it was) of human
perfectibility, we took him--him the murderer--as it were under our
tutelage and protection. We prayed with him, we read to him, we
watched with him, we blessed his miserable sleeps, and met his more
wretched awakings. In the presumption of our pity, we would cleanse
that white, in the world's eye, which God had, for inscrutable
purposes, ordained should seem to the last murky as hell. We would
paint visibly upon him the outward and visible sign of sin washed
away, and mercy found. That that intended triumph may not have helped
to add or to retain one feather's weight in the balance against him,
let me humbly hope and trust. That I was a cause, and a great one, of
this unhappy delusion, let me not deny. God forgive me, if I thought
sometimes less of the soul to be saved than of him who deemed he might
be one of the humble instruments of grace. It is but too true that I
fain would have danced, like David, before the ark. Within and without
was I assailed by those snares which, made of pride, are seen in the
disguise of charity. The aspirations of my friends, the eyes of mine
enemies, the wishes of the good, and the sneers of the mistrustful,
were about me, and upon me; and I undertook to pass with the
murderer--HIS LAST NIGHT--_such_ a last!--but let me compose myself.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was about the hour of ten, on a gusty and somewhat raw evening of
September, that I was locked up alone with the murderer. It was the
evening of the Sabbath. Some rain had fallen, and the sun had not been
long set without doors; but for the last hour and a half the dungeon
had been dark, and illuminated only by a single taper. The clergyman
of the prison, and some of my religious friends, had sat with us until
the hour of locking-up, when, at the suggestion of the gaoler, they
departed. I must confess their "good-night," and the sound of the
heavy door, which the gaoler locked after him when he went to
accompany them to the outer gate of the gaol, sounded heavily on my
heart. I felt a sudden shrink within me, as their steps quickly ceased
to be heard upon the stone stairs; and when the distant prison-door
was finally closed, I watched the last echo. I had for a moment
forgotten my companion. When I turned round he was sitting on the side
of his low pallet, towards the head of it, supporting his head by his
elbow against the wall, apparently in a state of half stupor. He was
motionless, excepting a sort of convulsive movement, between sprawling
and clutching of the fingers of the right hand, which was extended on
his knee. His shrunk cheeks exhibited a deadly ashen paleness, with a
slight tinge of yellow, the effect of confinement. His eyes were
glassy and sunken, and seemed in part to have lost the power of
gazing. They were turned with an unmeaning and vacant stare upon the
window, where the last red streak of day was faintly visible, which
they seemed vainly endeavouring to watch. The sense of my own
situation now recoiled strongly upon me; and the sight of the wretch
sitting stiffened in quiet agony (for it was no better), affected me
with a faint sickness. I felt that an effort was necessary, and, with
some difficulty, addressed a few cheering and consolatory phrases to
the miserable creature I had undertaken to support. My words might
not,--but I fear my _tone_ was too much in unison with his feelings,
such as they were. His answer was a few inarticulate mutterings,
between which the spasmodic twitching of his fingers became more
apparent than before. A noise at the door seemed decidedly to rouse
him; and as he turned his head with a sudden effort, I felt relieved
to see the gaoler enter. He was used to such scenes; and with an air
of commiseration, but in a tone which lacked none of the firmness with
which he habitually spoke, he asked the unhappy man some question of
his welfare, and seemed satisfied with the head-shake and
inarticulately muttered replies of the again drooping wretch, as if
they were expected, and of course. Having directed the turnkey to
place some wine and slight refreshments on the table, and to trim the
light, he told me in a whisper that my friends would be at the prison,
with the clergyman, at the hour of six; and bidding the miserable
convict and myself, after a cheering word or two, "good-night," he
departed--the door was closed--and the murderer and I were finally
left together.

It was now past the hour of ten o'clock; and it became my solemn duty
to take heed that the last few hours of the dying sinner passed not
without such comfort to his struggling soul as human help might hold
out. After reading to him some passages of the gospel, the most
apposite to his trying state, and some desultory and unconnected
conversation--for the poor creature at times seemed to be unable,
under his load of horror, to keep his ideas connected further than as
they dwelt upon his own nearing and unavoidable execution--I prevailed
upon him to join in prayer. He at this time appeared to be either so
much exhausted, or labouring under so much lassitude from fear and
want of rest, that I found it necessary to take his arm and turn him
upon his knees by the pallet-side. The hour was an awful one. No sound
was heard save an occasional ejaculation between a sigh and a
smothered groan from the wretched felon. The candle burned dimly; and
as I turned I saw, though I scarcely noticed it at the moment, a dim
insect of the moth species fluttering hurriedly round it, the sound of
whose wings mournfully filled up the pauses of myself and my
companion. When the nerves are strained to their uttermost, by such
trifling circumstances are we affected. _Here_ (thought I) there has
been no light, at such an hour, for many years; and yet here is one
whose office it seems to be to watch it! My spirit felt the necessity
of some exertion; and, with an energy for which a few minutes before I
had hardly dared to hope, I poured out my soul in prayer. I besought
mercy upon the blood-stained creature who was grovelling beside me; I
asked that repentance and peace might be vouchsafed him; I begged, for
our Redeemer's sake, that his last moments might know that untasted
rapture of sin forgiven, and a cleansed soul, which faith alone can
bring to fallen man; I conjured him to help and aid me to call upon
the name of Christ; and I bade him put off life and forget it, and to
trust in that name alone; I interceded that his latter agony might be
soothed, and that the leave-taking of body and soul might be in
quietness and peace. But he shook and shivered, and nature clung to
the miserable straw of existence which yet floated upon the wide and
dismal current of oblivion, and he groaned heavily and muttered, "No!
no! no!" as if the very idea of death was unbearable, even for a
moment; and "to die," even to him that must, were a thing impossible,
and not to be thought of or named. And as I wrestled with the
adversary that had dominion over him, he buried his shrunk and
convulsed features in the covering of his miserable pallet; while his
fingers twisted and writhed about, like so many scotched snakes, and
his low sick moans made the very dungeon darker.

When I lifted him from his kneeling position, he obeyed my movement
like a tired child, and again sat on the low pallet, in a state of
motionless and unresisting torpor. The damp sweat stood on my own
forehead, though not so cold as on his; and I poured myself out a
small portion of wine, to ward off the exhaustion which I began to
feel unusually strong upon me. I prevailed upon the poor wretch to
swallow a little with me; and, as I broke a bit of bread, I thought,
and spoke to him, of that last repast of Him who came to call sinners
to repentance; and methought his eye grew lighter than it was. The
sinking frame, exhausted and worn down by anxiety, confinement,
and the poor allowance of a felon's gaol, drew a short respite
from the cordial; and he listened to my words with something of
self-collectedness--albeit slight tremblings might still be seen to
run along his nerves at intervals; and his features collapsed, ever
and anon, into that momentary vacuity of wildness which the touch of
despair never fails to give. I endeavoured to improve the occasion. I
exhorted him, for his soul's sake, and the relief of that which needed
it too much, to make a full and unreserved confession, not only to
God, who needed it not, but to man, who did. I besought him, for the
good of all, and as he valued his soul's health, to detail the
particulars of his crime, but _his eye fell_. That dark enemy, who
takes care to leave in the heart just hope enough to keep despair
alive, tongue-tied him, and he would not--even now, at the eleventh
hour--give up the vain imagination that the case of his companion
might yet be confounded with his, to the escape of both--and vain it
was. It had not been felt advisable so far to make him acquainted with
the truth, that this had already been sifted and decided; and I judged
this to be the time. Again and again I urged confession upon him. I
put it to him that this act of justice might now be done for its own
sake, and for that of the cleansing from spot of his stained spirit. I
told him, finally, that it could no longer prejudice him in this
world, where his fate was written and sealed, for that his companion
_was reprieved_. I knew not what I did. Whether the tone of my voice,
untutored in such business, had raised a momentary hope, I know not,
but the revulsion was dreadful. He stared with a vacant look of sudden
horror--a look which those who never saw cannot conceive, and which
(the remembrance is enough) I hope never to see again--and twisting
round, rolled upon his pallet with a stifled moan that seemed tearing
him in pieces. As he lay, moaning and writhing backwards and forwards,
the convulsions of his legs, the twisting of his fingers, and the
shiverings that ran through his frame were terrible.

To attempt to rouse him seemed only to increase their violence, as if
the very sound of the human voice was, under his dreadful
circumstances, intolerable, as renewing the sense of reality to a
reason already clouding, and upon the verge of temporary delirium. He
was the picture of despair. As he turned his face to one side, I saw
that a few, but very few hot tears had been forced from his glassy and
blood-shot eyes; and in his writhings he had scratched one cheek
against his iron bedstead, the red discoloration of which contrasted
sadly with the deathly pallidness of hue which his visage now showed:
during his struggles, one shoe had come off, and lay unheeded on the
damp stone-floor. The demon was triumphant within him; and when he
groaned, the sound seemed scarcely that of a human being, so much had
horror changed it. I kneeled over him,--but in vain. He heard
nothing--he felt nothing--he knew nothing, but that extremity of
prostration to which a moment's respite would be Dives' drop of water,
and yet, in such circumstances, anything but a mercy. He could not
bear for a moment to think upon his own death--a moment's respite
would only have added new strength to the agony: he might _be_ dead,
but could not "--die;" and in the storm of my agitation and pity, I
prayed to the Almighty to relieve him at once from sufferings which
seemed too horrible even to be contemplated.

How long this tempest of despair continued, I do not know. All that I
can recall is, that after almost losing my own recollection under the
agitation of the scene, I suddenly perceived that his moans were less
loud and continuous, and that I ventured to look at him, which I had
not done for some space. Nature had become exhausted, and he was
sinking gradually into a stupor, which seemed something between sleep
and fainting. This relief did not continue long--and as soon as I saw
him begin to revive again to a sense of his situation, I made a strong
effort, and lifting him up, seated him again on the pallet, and,
pouring out a small quantity of wine, gave it him to drink, not
without a forlorn hope that even wine might be permitted to afford him
some little strength to bear what remained of his misery, and collect
his ideas for his last hour. After a long pause of returning
recollection, the poor creature got down a little of the cordial, and
as I sat by him and supported him, I began to hope that his spirits
calmed. He held the glass and sipped occasionally, and appeared in
some sort to listen, and to answer to the words of consolation I felt
collected enough to offer. At this moment the low and distant sound of
a clock was heard, distinctly striking one. The ear of despair is
quick; and as he heard it, he shuddered, and in spite of a strong
effort to suppress his emotion, the glass had nearly fallen from his
hand. A severe nervous restlessness now rapidly grew upon him, and he
eagerly drank up one or two small portions of wine, with which I
supplied him. His fate was now evidently brought one degree nearer to
him. He kept his gaze intently and unceasingly turned to the window of
the dungeon. His muttered replies were incoherent or unintelligible,
and his sunk and weakened eye strained painfully on the grated window,
as if he momentarily expected to see the first streak of the dawn of
that morning, which to him was to be night. His nervous agitation
gradually became horrible, and his motions stronger. He seemed not to
have resolution enough to rise from his seat and go to the window, and
yet to have an overpowering wish or impulse to do so. The lowest sound
startled him--but with this terrible irritation, his muscular power,
before debilitated, seemed to revive, and his action, which was
drooping and languid, became quick and angular. I began to be seized
with an undefined sense of fear and alarm. In vain I combated it; it
grew upon me; and I had almost risen from my seat to try to make
myself heard, and obtain, if possible, assistance. The loneliness of
the gaol, however, rendered this, even if attempted, almost
desperate--the sense of duty, the dread of ridicule, came across me,
and chained me to my seat by the miserable criminal, whose state was
becoming every minute more dreadful and extraordinary.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us not scorn or distrust our obscurest misgivings, for we are
strangely constituted; and though the evidence for such conclusions
often be in a manner unknown to ourselves, they are not the less
veritable and just. Exhausted by the wearing excitement and anxiety of
my situation, I had for a moment sunk into that confused absence of
mind with which those who have been in similar circumstances cannot be
unacquainted, when my miserable companion, with a convulsive shudder,
grasped my arm suddenly. I was for a few seconds unaware of the cause
of this emotion and movement, when a low indistinct sound caught my
ear. It was the rumbling of a cart, mingled with two or three
suppressed voices; and the cart appeared to be leaving the gate of the
dismal building in which we were. It rolled slowly and heavily as if
cumbrously laden, under the paved gateway; and after a few minutes,
all was silent. The agonised wretch understood its import better than
I did. A gust of the wildest despair came suddenly over him. He
clutched with his hands whatever met his grasp. His knees worked. His
frame became agitated with one continued movement, swaying backwards
and forwards, almost to falling, and his inarticulate complaints
became terrific. I attempted to steady him by an exertion of strength;
I spoke kindly to him, but he writhed in my grasp like an adder, and
as an adder was deaf--grief and fear had horrible possession: myself
almost in a state of desperation--for the sight was pitiful. I at last
endeavoured to awe him into a momentary quiescence, and strongly bade
him at last to _die like a man_; but the word "Death" had to him only
the effect it may be supposed to have upon a mere animal nature and
understanding: how could it have any other? He tried to bear it, and
could not, and uttering a stifled noise, between a yell and a moan, he
grasped his own neck: his face assumed a dark-red colour, and he fell
into a state of stifled convulsion.

       *       *       *       *       *

When despair had wrought with him, I lifted him with difficulty from
the floor on which he had fallen. His relaxed features had the hue of
death, and his parched lips, from a livid blue, became of an ashy
whiteness. In appearance he was dying; and in the agitation of the
moment I poured a considerable portion of the wine which had been
left with us into a glass, and, after wetting his temples, held it
to his lips. He made an effort to swallow, and again revived to
consciousness; and holding the vessel firmly in his hands, got down
with difficulty and at intervals the entire draught. When he found it
totally exhausted, the glass fell from his hands; but he seized and
held one of mine with a grasp so firm and iron-like that the contrast
startled me. He seemed to be involved in a confused whirl of
sensations. He stared round the cell with a wildness of purpose that
was appalling; and after a time I began to see, with deep remorse,
that the wine I had unguardedly given was, as is always the case,
adding keenness to his agony and strength to his despair. He half rose
once or twice and listened; all was silent--when, after the pause of a
minute or two, a sudden fit of desperation seemed to seize upon him.
He rushed to the window, and hurriedly surveying the grates, wrenched
at them with a strength demoniac and superhuman, till the iron bars
shook in their imbedments.

From this period my recollections are vague and indistinct. I remember
strongly remonstrating with the poor creature, and being pushed away
by hands which were now bleeding profusely with the intense efforts of
his awful delirium. I remember attempting to stop him, and hanging
upon him, until the insane wretch clutched me by the throat, and a
struggle ensued, during which I suppose I must at length have fainted
or become insensible; for the contest was long, and, while
consciousness remained, terrible and appalling. My fainting, I
presume, saved my life, for the felon was in that state of maniacal
desperation which nothing but a perfect unresistingness could have
evaded.

After this, the first sensation I can recall is that of awakening out
of that state of stupor into which exhaustion and agitation had thrown
me. Shall I ever forget it? The anxiety of some of my friends had
brought them early to the gaol; and the unusual noises which had been
heard by some of its miserable inmates occasioned, I believe, the door
of the cell in which we were to be unlocked before the intended hour.
Keenly do I recollect the struggling again into painful consciousness,
the sudden sense of cheering daylight, the sound of friendly voices,
the changed room, and the strange looks of all around me. The passage
was terrible to me; but I had yet more to undergo. I was recovered
just in time to witness the poor wretch, whose prop and consolation I
had undertaken to be, carried, exhausted and in nerveless horror, to
the ignominious tree--his head drooping on his breast, his eyes
opening mechanically at intervals, and only kept from fainting and
utter insensibility by the unused and fresh morning air, which
breathed in his face as if in cruel mockery. I looked once, but looked
no more.--Let me hasten to conclude. I was ill for many weeks, and
after recovering from a nervous fever, was ordered by my physicians
into the country. This was the first blessing and relief I
experienced, for the idea of society was now terrible to me. I was
secluded for many months. Time, however, who ameliorates all things,
at length softened and wore away the sharper parts of these
impressions, but to this hour I dare not dwell upon the events of that
awful night. If I dream of them, although the horrors fall far short
of the appalling reality, yet for the next sun I am discomposed, and
can only seek for rest from that Almighty Power, who, in his
inscrutable providence, thought fit I should read a lesson so hideous,
but--so salutary.--Reader, farewell.



NARRATION OF CERTAIN UNCOMMON THINGS THAT DID FORMERLY HAPPEN TO ME,
HERBERT WILLIS, B.D.

[_MAGA._ JUNE 1844.]


It had pleased Heaven in the year 1672, when I had finished my studies
in Magdalen College, Oxford, whereof I was a Demy, and had taken my
degree of bachelor of arts in the preceding term, to visit me with so
severe an affliction of fever, which many took at first for the
commencement of the small-pox, that I was recommended by the
physicians, when the malady had abated, to return to my father's house
and recover my strength by diet and exercise. This I was fain to do;
and having hired a small horse of Master John Nayler in the
corn-market, to take me as far as to the mansion of a gentleman, an
ancient friend of my father's, who had a house near unto Reading in
Berkshire, and in those troubled times, when no man knew whereunto
things might turn from day to day, did keep himself much retired,--I
bade adieu to the university with a light heart but a weakened habit
of body, and turned my horse's head to the south. I performed the
journey without accident in one day; but the exertion thereof had so
exhausted my strength, that Mr Waller (which was the name of my
father's friend, and of kin to the famous poet, Edmund Waller,
Esquire, who hath been ever in such favour with our governors and
kings), perceiving I was nigh discomfited, did press me to go to my
chamber without delay. He was otherwise very gracious in his reception
of me, and professed great amity to me, as being the son of his fast
friend and companion; but yet I marked, as it were, a cloud that lay
obscure behind his external professions, as if he was uneasy in his
mind, and was not altogether pleased with having a stranger within his
gates. Howbeit I thanked him very heartily for his hospitality, and
betook myself to the chamber that was assigned for my repose. It was a
pretty, small room, whereof I greatly admired the fashion; and the
furnishing thereof was extreme gay, for the bed hangings were of
bright crimson silk, and on a table was placed a mirror of true
Venetian glass. Also, there were chests of mahogany wood, and other
luxurious devices, which my weariness did not hinder me from
observing; but finally I was overcome by my weakness, and I threw
myself on the bed without removing my apparel, and sustained, as I
believe, though I have no certain warranty thereof, an access of
deliquium or fainting. When I did recover my senses after this
interval of suspended faculty (whether proceeding from sleep or the
other cause above designated), I lay for many minutes revolving
various circumstances in my mind. I resolved, if by any means my
bodily powers were thereunto sufficient, to depart on the morrow, and
borrow one of Mr Waller's horses to convey me on my way, for I was
uneasy to be thought an intruder; but when I had settled upon this in
my mind, a new incident occurred which altered the current of my
thoughts, for I perceived a slight noise at the door of my chamber as
of one stealthily turning the handle, and I lay, without making any
motion, to watch whereunto this proceeding would tend. The door was
put gently open, and a figure did enter the room, so disguised with
fantastical apparel that I was much put to it to guess what the issue
would be. It was of a woman, tall and majestical, with a red turbaund
round her head, and over her shoulders a shawl much bedizened with
needlework. Her gown was of green cloth, and I was made aware by the
sound, as she passed along the floor, that the heels of her shoes were
more than commonly high. With this apparition, of which I took only a
very rapid observation through my half-closed eyelids, I was greatly
astonished; for she was an exact resemblance to those bold Egyptian
queans who were at first called Bohemians, but are nothing better
than thieves and vagabonds, if indeed they be not the chosen people of
the prince of darkness himself. She looked carefully all round the
room, and after opening one of the drawers of mahogany wood, and
taking something therefrom which I could not discern, she approached
to the side of my bed, and looked earnestly upon me as I lay. I could
not keep up the delusion any longer, and opened my eyes. She continued
gazing steadfastly upon me without alteration of her countenance or
uttering any word, whether of apology or explanation; and I was so
held in by the lustre of her large eyes, and the fixed rigidity of her
features, that for some time I was unable to give utterance to my
thoughts.

"Woman," I said at last, "what want you with me?"

"Your help, if you will be gracious to poor mourners such as we."

I interrogated her much and curiously as to what service she required
at my hands; for I had a scrupulosity to promise anything to one whose
external made me think her a disciple of Mahomet, as those gypsies are
said to be. After much hesitating, she could not conceal from me that
she was in this disguise for some special and extraordinary purpose;
nevertheless, she condescended on no particulars of her state or
condition; but when I finally promised to satisfy her demand, if it
might be done by a Christian gentleman, and a poor candidate for the
holy ministry, she cautioned me not to be startled by whatever I
should see, and beckoned me to follow her--the which I did in no easy
frame of mind. Opening a little door which I had not seen when I took
observation of the apartment, she disappeared down two or three steps,
where I pursued the slight sound of her footfall; for there was great
darkness, so that I could see nothing. We went, as I conjectured,
through several passages of some length, till finally she paused, and
knocked very gently three times at a door. The door was speedily
opened; and in answer to a question of my guide, whether godly Mr Lees
was yet arrived, a voice answered that he was there, and expecting us
with impatience. When I passed through the door, I found myself in a
small chamber, dimly lighted by one small lamp, which was placed upon
a table by the side of a bed; and when I looked more fixedly, I
thought I perceived the figure of a person stretched on the bed, but
lying so fixed and still that I marvelled whether it was alive or
dead. At the foot of the bed stood a venerable old man, in the dress
of a clergyman of our holy church, with a book open in his hand; and
my strange guide led me up to where he was standing, and whispered to
him, but so that I could hear her words, "This gentleman hath promised
to assist us in this matter."

But hereupon I interposed with a few words to the same reverend
divine. "Sir," I said, "I would be informed wherefore I am summoned
hither, and in what my assistance is needful?"

"He hath not then been previously informed?" he said to the Egyptian;
and receiving some sign of negation from her, he closed the book, and
leading me apart into a corner of the apartment, discovered the matter
in a very pious and edifying manner.

"It is to be godfather in the holy rite of baptism, to one whom it is
our duty, as Christian men, to rescue from the dangerous condition of
worse than unregenerate heathenism."

"The child of that Egyptian woman?" I asked; but he said, "No. She who
is now disguised in that attire is no Egyptian, but a true Samaritan,
who hath been the means of working much good in the evil times past,
and is likely to be a useful instrument in the troubled times yet to
come. If this dissolute court, and Popish heir-presumptive, do proceed
in their attempts to overthrow our pure Reformed church, depend on it,
young man, that that woman will not be found wanting in the hour of
trial. But for the matter in hand, will you be godfather to the person
now to be received into the ark?"

I told him I could not burden my conscience with so great and
important duties, without some assurance that I should be able to
fulfil them. Whereto he replied, that such scrupulosities, however
praiseworthy in calmer times, ought now to yield to the paramount
consideration of saving a soul alive.

A faint voice, proceeding from the bed, was here heard mournfully
asking if the ceremony was now to begin, for death was near at hand.

I went up to the bed and saw the face of a pale dying woman, whose
eyes, albeit they encountered mine, had no sense of sight in them, for
the shadows of the Great King were already settled upon her
countenance. "Begin then," I said to the clergyman; and on a motion
from him, the woman who had conducted me went out, and shortly
returned, leading by the hand a child of two, or haply three years of
age, exceeding beautiful to look on, and dressed in the same style of
outlandish apparel as her conductor. I had little time to look
attentively at her, for her hand was put into mine, while the other
was held by the Egyptian (as I still call her, notwithstanding I knew
she was a devout woman), and another person, whom I guessed to be an
attendant on the sick lady, stationed herself near; whereupon the
clergyman commenced from our book of common prayer the form of
baptism. The lady seemed to acquire strength at the sound of his low
solemn voice, and half raised herself in the bed, and looked anxiously
towards where we were; when the name was given, which was Lucy
Hesseltine, she stretched herself back on her pillow with a faint
smile. The ceremony was soon over, and the Egyptian took the new
Christian to the side of the bed, and whispered in the lady's ear,
"Jessica, the child is now one of the Christian flock; she prays your
blessing." She waited for an answer, during which time the clergyman
took me apart, and had again entered into discourse. But the Egyptian
came to us. "Hush!" she said, "the ways of God are inscrutable; our
friend is gone to her account." Hereupon she hurried me through the
same passages by which we had come, and bidding me God-speed at the
hidden door of my chamber, told me to keep what I had seen a secret
from all men, yea, if possible, to forget it myself, as there might be
danger in having it spread abroad.

Tormented with many thoughts, and uneasy at the great risk I ran of
bringing guilt on my own soul by having made sponsorial promises which
I could not execute, I rested but indifferently that night. The next
day I pursued my journey home in the manner I had proposed, and was
glad to avoid the chance of being interrogated by Mr Waller as to what
had occurred. In a short time my good constitution and home restored
me to my former strength, and the memory of that strange incident grew
more faint as other things came to pass which made deeper impressions
on my heart and mind. Among these is not to be forgotten the death of
my father, which happened on the 14th of June in the following year,
_videlicet_ 1673; and the goodness of the lord bishop of Oxford in
giving me priests' orders on my college Demyship, whereby I was
enabled to present myself to this living, and hold it, having at that
time attained the canonical age. My courtship also and marriage, which
befell in the year 1674, had great effect in obliterating past
transactions. I was married on Thursday, the 24th day of June.

       *       *       *       *       *

(Here several pages are omitted as irrelevant, containing family
incidents for some years.)

Howbeit things did not prosper with us so much as we did expect; for
the payers of tithes were a stiff-necked generation, as were the Jews
of old, and withheld their offerings from the priest at the very time
when Providence sent a plentiful supply of mouths to which the
offerings would have been of use. Charles was our only son, and was
now in his third year--the two girls, Henrietta and Sophia, were six
and seven--my eldest girl was nine years past, and I had named her, in
commemoration of my father's ancient friend, by the prenomen of
Waller. It hath been remarked by many wise men of old, and also by our
present good bishop, that industry and honesty are the two Herculeses
that will push the heaviest waggon through the mire, and more
particularly so, if the waggoner aids also by putting his shoulder to
the wheel. And easy was it to see, that the wheel of the domestic
plaustrum--wherein, after the manner of the ancient Parthians, I
included all my family, from the full beauty of my excellent wife to
the sun-lighted hair of my prattling little Charles (the which reminds
me of those beautiful lines which are contained in a translation of
the _Iliad_ of Homer by Mr Hobbes, descriptive of the young Astyanax
in his mother Andromache's arm--

     "And like a star upon her bosom lay
       His beautiful and shining golden head")--

It was easy, I say, to see that, with such an additional number of
passengers, the domestic plaustrum would sink deeper and deeper in the
miry ways of the world. And consultations many and long did my
excellent wife and I hold over the darkening prospect of our future
life. At last she bethought her of going to take counsel of her near
friend and most kind godfather, Mr William Snowton of Wilts, which was
a managing man for many of the nobility, and much renowned for probity
and skilful discernment. He was steward on many great estates, and
gave plentiful satisfaction to his employers, without neglecting his
own interest, which is a thing that does always go with the other,
namely, a care for your master's affairs; for how shall a man pretend
to devote his time and services to another man's estate, and take no
heed for himself? The thing is contra the nature of man, and the
assertion thereof is fit only for false patriots and other evil men.
It was with much weariness of heart and anxious tribulation that I
parted from that excellent woman, even for so short a period of time;
but Master George Sprowles of this parish having it in mind to travel
into the village where the said Mr William Snowton kept his abode, I
availed myself of his friendly offer to conduct my wife thither upon a
pillion; and thereupon having sent forward her luggage two days before
by a heavy waggon which journeyeth through Sarum, I took leave of the
excellent woman, commending her heartily unto the care of Providence
and Master George, which (Providence I mean) will not let a sparrow
fall to the ground, much less the mother of a family, which moreover
was riding on a strong sure-footed horse, which also was bred in our
parish, and did sometimes pasture on the glebe. It was the first time
we had been separated since our wedding-day. I took little Charles
into my room that night, and did carefully survey the other children
before I went to rest. They did all sleep soundly, and some indeed did
wear a smile upon their innocent faces as I looked upon them, and I
thought it was, perhaps, the reflection of the prayers which their
mother, I well knew, was pouring out for them at that hour. That was
on a Tuesday, and as the distance was nearly sixty miles, I could not
hear of her safe arrival till the return of Master George, which could
not be till the following Monday; for he was a devout man, and had
imbibed his father's likings in his youth, which was a champion for
the late Man, and would rather have done a murder on a Thursday than
have travelled on the Sabbath-day. "Better break heads," he was used
to say, "than break the Sabbath." I did always find him--the father I
mean--a sour hand at a bargain; and when he was used to drive me hard
upon his tithes and agistments, I could fancy he took me for one of
the Amalekites, or one of the Egyptians, whom he thought it a
meritorious Christian deed to spoil. The Monday came at last, and
Master George Sprowles, before he rode to his own home, trotted his
horse up our church avenue, and delivered into my hands a packet of
writing carefully sealed with a seal, whereof the device was a
true-love knot. Great was my delight and great my anxiety to read what
was written therein, and all that evening I pored over the manuscript,
on which she had bestowed great pains, and crossed all the _t_'s
without missing one. But it is never an easy task to decipher a
woman's meaning, particularly when not addicted to penmanship; and
although my excellent wife had attended a penman's instructions, and
had acquired the reputation, in her native place, of being an
accomplished clerk, still, since her marriage, she had applied her
genius to the making of tarts and other confections, rather than to
the parts of scholarship, and it was difficult for me to make out the
significance of her epistle in its whole extent. Howbeit, it was a
wonderful effort of calligraphy, considering she had only had two days
wherein to compose and write it, and she had been so little used to
this manner of communication, and it consisted of three whole sides of
a large sheet of paper. She said therein that Mr Snowton was a father
unto her in his affection and urbanity, and that he highly approved
the motion for us to make provision of the meat that perishes, seeing
it is indispensable for young children and also for adults; and that
he had already bethought him of a way wherein he might be serviceable
to us--viz. in procuring for me certain youth of the upper kinds, to
be by me instructed in the learned tongues, and such other branches as
I had proficiency in; and, in addition thereto, he said, that
peradventure he might obtain a similar charge for my excellent wife in
superintending the perfectionment of certain young ladies of his
acquaintance in samplers, and millinery, and cookery, and such other
of the fine and useful arts as she was known to excel in; and he
subjoined thereto, that the charges for each pupil would be so large,
being only those of consideration which he recommended unto me, that
a few years would be sufficient wherein to consolidate portions for
all my children. Such, with some misgivings touching my own
interpretation, did I make out to be the substance of my excellent
wife's letter; and I rejoiced greatly that such an opening was made
for me, by the which I might attain to such eminence of estate that I
might place my Charles in the first ranks of the law, yea, might live
to see him raised to the fullness of temporal grandeur, and sitting,
as Lord High Keeper, among the peers and princes of the land, with a
crown of pure gold upon his head. But there was no crown but a
heavenly one, that fadeth not nor groweth dim, that could have added a
fresh beauty to the fair head of my Charles. But the sweetest part of
her missive was contained in the _post scriptum_. Therein she said,
and in this I could not be wrong, that Mr Snowton had undertaken to
forward her in his light wheeled cart, by reason of the conveniency it
would be of to her in the transportation of herself and luggage, and
also of Miss Alice Snowton, of Mr Snowton's kindred, a young lady
which he had adopted (being the only child of his only brother, Mr
Richard Snowton, deceased), and advised my wife to accept the care of
her as a beginning, and for the charges of the same he would be
answerable for fifty golden Caroluses at Ladyday and Michaelmas. A
hundred Caroluses each year! My heart bounded with joy. Great were my
preparations for the reception of my new inmate, and busy were we all
from my busy Waller down to Charles. He with much riotousness did
superintend all, and rejoiced greatly at the noise caused by the
hammering, and taking down and putting up of bed-hangings, and did in
no slight measure add thereto by strange outbreaks of riotous mirth,
such as whooping and screaming; causing confusion, at the same time,
by various demonstrations of his enjoyments, such as throwing nails
against the windows, beating on the floor with the poker, and
occasionally interrupting our operations by tumbling down stairs, and
causing us for a moment to believe him killed outright, or at least
maimed for life. But there is a special providence over happy
children; and save that he fell on one occasion into the bucket of
soap and water, wherewith a domestic was scouring the chintz room
floor, and suffered some inconvenience from the hotness thereof, he
escaped in a manner truly miraculous from any accident affecting life
or limb. When the time drew near in the which I expected the return of
my excellent wife, I took all the children to the upper part of the
church field which faces the high-road, upon which the large stones
have recently been laid down in the manner of a causeway, but which,
at that period, was left to the natural hardness, or rather softness,
of the soil, and was, in consequence thereof, dangerous to travel on
by reason of the ruts and hollows; to that portion, I say, of the
church field I conveyed all my little ones, to give the gratulations
necessary on such an occasion to their excellent mother. The spot
whereon we were stationed commanded a view of the hill which
superimpends our village, and we were therefore gratified to think
that we should have an early view of the expected travellers; and many
quarrels and soft reconcilements did take place between my younger
ones, upon the point of who would be the first to see their approach.
In the midst of these sweet contentions, whilst I was in the
undignified and scarcely clerical act of carrying little Charles upon
my shoulder, having decorated his head with my broad-brimmed hat, in
order to enable him--vain imagination, which pleased the boy's
heart--to see over and beyond the hill, there did pass, in all her
wonted state and dignity, with two outriders in the Mallerden livery,
two palfreniers at her side, and four mounted serving-men behind, the
ancient Lady Mallerden, which was so famous an upholder of our
venerated church in the evil days through which it so happily passed;
and with no little perturbation of mind, and great confusion of face,
did I see the look of astonishment, not to say disdain, with which she
regarded my position; more particularly as little Charles, elevated,
as I have said, upon my shoulders, with his legs on each side of my
neck, did lift up the professional hat, which did entirely absorb his
countenance, with great courtesy, and made a most grave and
ceremonious obeisance unto the lofty lady. She pursued her path,
returning the salutation with a kind of smile, and at the same easy
ambling pace as was her wont, proceeded up the hill. Just as she
reached the summit thereof our eyes were gladdened with the sight, so
long desired, of the light equipage on two wheels of the kind Mr
Snowton, containing my excellent wife and her young charge, and also
various boxes of uncommon size, in which were laid great store of
bodily adornment for both the ladies; as was more fully seen
thereafter, on the opening of the boxes, by reason of Mr Snowton
having privily conveyed into them various changes of apparel for the
use of my excellent wife, as also for each of the three girls. To
Charles he also sent the image of an ass, which, by touching a certain
string, did open its mouth and wave its ears in a manner most curious
to behold, wherewith the infant was infinitely delighted, as was I,
without inquiring at that time into the exquisite mechanism whereby
the extraordinary demonstrations were produced. But in the course of
little more than a month he was led, by his inquiring turn of mind, to
pry into the mystery; and in the pursuit of knowledge--laudable surely
in a person of his years, and demonstrative of astonishing sagacity
and research--he did take the animal entirely to pieces, and saw the
inward parts thereof. The great lady, with all the retinue, stopped
short as she encountered with my excellent wife at the top of the
hill, and did most courteously make tender inquiries of her state of
health, and also of her plans--whereof she seemed some little
instructed--and expressed her satisfaction therein, and did make many
sweet speeches to her, and also to the pupil, and trusted that she
would be good and dutiful, and an earnest and affectionate daughter of
the Church of England. To all which my excellent wife replied in
fitting terms, and Alice Snowton--so was she named--made promise so to
do, God being her helper and I her teacher; and thereupon the great
lady bended her head with smiles, and rode on. When they got down to
where we stood in the church field, the flush of modesty, and perhaps
of pride, at being spoken to in such friendly guise by the haughty
Lady Mallerden, had not yet left the cheek of my excellent wife, upon
which I impressed a kiss of true love, and held up little Charles as
high as I could, to enable him to do likewise, which he did, with a
pretty set speech which I had taught him, in gratulation of her
return. Alice Snowton also did blush, and held out her cheek, whereon
I pressed my lip, with fervent prayers for her advance in holiness and
virtue, and also in useful learning, under my excellent wife's
instructions. She was a short girl, not much taller than my Waller,
though she seemed to be three or even four years more advanced in age.
She was a sweet engaging child of thirteen, and I loved her as one of
my flock from the moment I saw her, as in duty bound. My children were
divided between joy at seeing their excellent mother, and wonder at
the stranger. But a short period wore off both these sentiments of the
human mind, or rather the outward manifestation of them; and I will
venture to assert that the quietude of night, and the clearness of the
starry heavens, fell on no happier household on that evening than the
parsonage of Welding. And next day it was the same; and next, and
next, and a great succession of happy, useful days. Alice was a dear
girl, and we loved her as our own; and she loved Charles above all,
and was his friend, his nurse, his playfellow. Their gambols were
beautiful to behold; and, to complete the good work which was so well
begun, good Mr Snowton did send to my care, at the same remuneration,
two young gentlemen of tender years, Master Walter Mannering and
Master John Carey--the elder of them being eight and the other seven;
and, as if fortune never tired of raining down on us her golden
favours, the great Lady Mallerden herself did use her interest on my
behalf, and obtained for me the charge of a relative of her noble
house--the honourable Master Fitzoswald, of illustrious lineage in the
north, of the age of nine years. But doubtless, as the philosopher
has remarked, there is no sweet without its bitter, or, as the poet
has said, "no rose without its thorn," or, better perhaps, as another
great poet of antiquity has clothed the sentiment--

     ----"Medio de fonte leporum
     Surgit amari aliquid;"

for it was made an express stipulation of the latter office--namely,
the charge of the honourable young gentleman, being the second son of
the noble Earl Fitzoswald, in Yorkshire--that the great Lady Mallerden
should have joint superintendence of his studies with me, and the
direction of his conduct, and also his religious education. And this
was a sore drawback to the pleasure I experienced, for I knew her to
be proud and haughty beyond most women, or even men; and also that she
was of so active and inquisitive a turn of mind, that she would
endeavour to obtain all power and authority unto herself, whereto I
determined by no means to submit. Two hundred golden guineas was the
_honorarium_ per annum for his education; and my excellent wife, who
was addicted, like the most of her sex, to dreams and omens, did very
often have a vision in the night, of the Right Hon. the Earl
Fitzoswald presenting me to a great office in the church--yea, even a
seat among the right reverend the lord bishops of the Upper House of
Parliament. Nor were portents and auguries wanting, such as
this--which made an uncommon impression on my excellent wife's
mind--_videlicet_, it chanced that Alice Snowton did make a hat of
paper, to be placed on Charles's head when he was more than usually
naughty, to be called the fool's-cap out of derision; but this same
paper hat, which was of a fantastic shape, being conical and high, the
boy with scissors did dexterously mutilate and nearly destroy, and,
coming quietly behind me when I was meditating the future with my
excellent wife, he placed it on my head; and, to all our eyes, there
was no mistaking the shape into which, fortuitously, and with no view
or knowledge of such emblems, he had cut the paper-cap. It was
evidently a mitre, and nothing else! But this, and various other
concurring incidents, I pass over, having frequently rebuked my
excellent wife for thinking more highly of such matters than she ought
to think.

The course pursued in our studies was the following, which I
particularly write down, having had great experience in that sort, and
considering it may be useful, if perchance this account should fall
into the hands of any who follow the honourable and noble calling of
educating the rising generation. The _Colloquies_ of Corderius, as
also the _Fables_ of Æsopus, with those also of Phædrus his Roman
continuator....

       *       *       *       *       *

(Many pages are here omitted as irrelevant.)

... And my excellent wife, after much entreaty, consented thereto.
Accordingly, on the very next Sunday, the great Lady Mallerden
attended at my house after church, and did closely question, not only
the young gentlemen on the principles of their faith, but also Alice
Snowton, and did, above all, clearly and emphatically point out to
them the iniquities of the great Popish delusion; and exhorted them,
whatever might be their future fate or condition, to hold fast by the
pure Reformed church. And so much did my eldest daughter, who was now
a great tall girl of twelve years of age, win upon the heart of the
great lady, that she invited her to come up for several days and
reside with her at Mallerden Court, which was a great honour to my
daughter, invitations not being extended to any to enter that noble
mansion under the degree of nobility. Nor did her beneficence end
here; for she did ask Alice Snowton, who was now a fine young woman of
fifteen or thereby, to be her guest at the same time. Alice was not so
stout in proportion to her years as my Waller; but there was a certain
gracefulness about her when she moved, and a sweet smile when she
spoke, which was very gainful on the affections, as Charles could
testify; for he loved her, and made no secret thereof, better than any
of his sisters, and also, I really and unfeignedly believe, better
than that excellent woman his mother. And so great was the impression
made on the great lady by my Waller's cleverness and excellent manner
of conducting herself, that, on her return at the end of three days, a
letter, in the noble lady's own hand, bore testimony to her
satisfaction, and a request, or rather a command, was laid on me to
send her, under charge, as she expressed it, of Alice Snowton, to the
Court for a longer period the following week. And such was the mutual
happiness of the noble lady, and of that young girl (my Waller, I
mean), who could now write a beautiful flowing hand, and spell with
uncommon accuracy and expedition, that erelong it was an arranged
thing, that three days in each week were spent by the two children at
Mallerden Court; and a horse at last, on every Wednesday, was in
waiting to convey them, on a double pillion, to the stately mansion.

I have not alluded to the state of public affairs, of which I was far
from cognisant, saving that the writhings and strugglings which this
tortured realm did make, shook also the little parsonage of Welding.
We heard, at remote intervals of time, rumours of dangers and
difficulties hanging over this church and nation; but were little
alarmed thereat, putting faith in the bill of exclusion, and the
honour of our most gracious and religious lord the king. Nor did I
anticipate great harm even if the Duke of York, in the absence of
lawful posterity of his brother, should get upon the throne, trusting
in the truth of his royal word, and the manifold declarations of
favour and amicableness to the church, which he from time to time put
forth. But Æsopus hath it, when bulls fight in a marsh the frogs are
crushed to death. It was on the tenth day of February, in the year of
our Lord 1685, I was busy with my dear friends, the youths under my
charge, in the Campus Martius (which was a level space of ground in
one of the glebe fields by the side of the river, whereon we performed
our exercises of running, jumping, wrestling, and other athletic
exercitations), when we were startled by the hearing the sound of many
horses galloping up the hill above the village; and looking over the
hedge on to the road, we saw a cavalier going very fast on a fine
black horse, which had fire in its eyes and nostrils, as the poet
says, followed by a goodly train of serving-men, all well mounted, and
proceeding at the same rate. We went on with our games for an hour or
two, when all at once I was peremptorily sent for to go to my house
without delay; and accordingly I hurried homewards, much marvelling
what the summons could portend. I went into my study, and sitting in
my arm-chair I saw the great Lady Mallerden; but she was so deep in
thought, that for some minutes she kept me standing, and waiting her
commands. At last she started to herself, and ordered me to be seated,
and in her rapid glancing manner began to speak--

"I have been visited by my son, who rode post haste from London to
tell me the king was dead. He has been dead four days."

I was astonished and much saddened at the news.

"Sorry--yes--but there is no time for sorrow," said the noble lady;
"we must be up and doing. We are betrayed."

"Did your son, the noble Viscount Mallerden, tell you this?"

"He is one of the betrayers--know you not what manner of man he
is?--Then I will tell you." And here a strange light flashed from
her eyes, and her lips became compressed till all the colour
disappeared--"He is a viper that stung me once--and would sting me
again if I took him to my bosom, and laid it open for his poisonous
tooth. I tell you the Lord Mallerden is a godless, hopeless, faithless
man--bound hand and foot to the footstool of the despotic, cruel
monster--the Jesuit who has now his foot upon the English throne. He
is a Papist, fiercer, bitterer, crueller, because he has no belief
neither in priest nor pope--but he is ambitious, reckless, base, a
courtier. He prideth himself in his shame, and says he has openly
professed. It is to please the hypocritical master he serves. And he
boasts that our late king--defender of the faith--was shrived on his
deathbed by a Popish friar."

"I cannot believe it, my lady."

"You are a good man--a good simple man, Master Willis," she said; and
although the words of her designation were above my deserts, seeing
that simplicity and goodness are the great ornaments of the Christian
character, still the tone in which she spoke did not partake of the
nature of a compliment, and I bowed, but made no observation in reply.

"But it needs men of other minds in these awful times which I see
approaching--men of firmness, men of boldness--yea, who can shed blood
and shudder not; for great things are at stake."

"I trust not, my lady--albeit the shedding of blood"----

"I know, is generally condemned; yet be there texts which make it
imperative, and I think I foresee that the occasion for giving them
forth is at hand. All means in their power they will try; yes, though
James of York has been but four days a king, he had already made
perquisition for such as may be useful to him, not in settling the
crown upon his head, but in carrying off this people and kingdom, a
bound sacrifice to the blind idol which he worshippeth at Rome. You
know not the history of that man; no, nor of my son. Alas! that a
mother's lips should utter such words about her own flesh and blood!
The one of them I tell you is a bigot, a pursuer, a persecutor--the
other a sensualist, a Gallio, a tool. For many years he has never
beheld his mother's face; he married in his youth; he injured,
deserted, yea, he killed his wife--not with his own hand or with the
dagger, but by the surer weapons of hatred, neglect, unkindness. And
she died. He has but one child; that child was left in charge of my
honoured and loving daughter, the Lady Pevensey of Notts, and hath
been brought up in a Christian manner; but now he--this man of
Belial--wishes to get this infant in his own hands; nay, he boldly has
made a demand of her custody both on me and Pevensey, my daughter. We
will not surrender her; he is now great and powerful. The king will
back his efforts with all the weight of the crown; and we have
considered, if we could confide the persecuted dove to the hands of
some assured friend--some true son of our holy church--some steady,
firm-hearted, strong-nerved man, who in such cause would set lord and
king at defiance"----

Here she paused, and looked upon me with her eyes dilated, and her
nostrils panting with some great thought which was within her; and I
availed myself of the pause to say--

"Oh, my lady! if you did mean me for such charge, I confess my
deficiency for such a lofty office; for I do feel in me no stirrings
of an ambitious spirit. Sufficient is it for me to take care of the
innocent flock committed to my care, in the performance of which
charge I have the approbation of my own heart, and also, I make bold
to hope it, of your ladyship, seeing that I have instructed them in
the true principles both of faith and practice; and although there are
shortcomings in them all, by reason the answers in the Catechism are
not adapted to the capacities of the younger ones, especially of
Charles (who, notwithstanding, has abilities and apprehensions above
his years), yet are they all imbued with faithful doctrine, from Alice
Snowton, which is the most advanced in stature, to the honourable
Master Fitzoswald, which is somewhat deficient in growth, being only
three inches taller than my little Charles."

The great lady looked at me while I spoke, and made no answer for a
long time. At last she said with a sort of smile, which at the same
time was not hilarious or jocular in its nature--

"Perhaps 'tis better as it is. There is a providence in all things,
and our plans and proposals are all overruled for the best--for which
may God be praised! Therefore I will press you no more on the subject
of the guardianship of my grandchild. But Mallerden will move heaven
and earth to get her into his power--yes, though he has neglected her
so long, never caring to see her since her childhood; yet now, when he
sees 'twill gain him the treasurership of the royal household to sell
the greatest heiress and noblest blood in England to the Papists, he
will make traffic of his own child, and marry her to some
prayer-mumbler to a wooden doll. Let us save her, good sir--but I
forgot. No--I will save her myself. I, that have steered her through
so many quicksands, will not let her make shipwreck at last. I will
guard her like the apple of my eye, and possess my soul in patience
until this tyranny be overpast." And so ended the interview, during
which my heart was tossed to and fro with the utmost agitation, and my
whole frame so troubled that I various times lost all mastery of
myself, and only saw before me a great black gulf of ruin, into which
some invisible power was pushing me and all my little ones. Great,
therefore, was my delight, and sweet the relief to my soul, when the
great lady left me unconnected with her quarrels. For, in the crash of
such contending powers, there was no chance of escape for such a weak
instrument as I was; and fervent were my hopes, and deep my prayers,
that the perils and evils prognosticated by the religious fears of my
great protectress might be turned aside, and all good subjects and
sincere churchmen left each under his own vine and his own fig-tree,
with nobody to make them afraid. But vain are the hopes of men. We
read in no long time in all men's looks the fate we were condemned to;
for it seemed as if a great cloud, filled with God's wrath, was spread
out over this realm of England, and the faces of all men grew dark. We
heard the name of Jeffreys whispered in corners, and trembled as if it
had been a witch's spell to make our blood into water. The great lady
kept herself much in solitude in the ancient Court, and saw not even
her favourite companion, my daughter Waller, for many months; but did
ever write affectionate letters to her, and sent presents of rich
fruits, and other delectations in which the young take pleasure. There
was much riding to and fro of couriers, but whither, or whence, she
did never tell, and it was not my province to enquire; but at last an
order came for me to send up my Waller and her friend to the mansion.
And at evening they were conveyed on horseback as before; but on this
occasion their escort was not Master Wilkinson the under butler, but
no less a person than my lady's kinsman, the senior brother of my
honourable pupil, the honourable Master Fitzoswald of Yorkshire, a
stately young cavalier as could be seen, strong and tall, and his
style and title was the Lord Viscount Lessingholm--being the eldest
son and heir to that ancient earldom. He was an amiable and pleasant
gentleman, full of courtesies and kindness, and particularly pleased
with the newfangled fashion of a handsome cap which formed the
headpiece of my excellent wife. He said also many handsome things
about the brightness of my Waller's eyes, and assured my excellent
wife that he saw so promising an out-sprout of talent in my Charles,
that he doubted not to see him one of the judges of the realm, if so
be he applied his intellectuals to the bar. He was also extreme civil
to Alice Snowton, which answered his civilities in like manner; and
seldom in so short a space as half an hour has any person made so
favourable an impression as he did, particularly on his brother, by
reason of his bestowing on him a large Spanish doubloon, and promising
him a delicate-coloured maneged horse immediately on his return to
Yorkshire. It is a pleasant sight to see (and reflected some credit on
my ministration of the moralities in this particular instance) the
disinterested love of brethren, one towards another; and I failed not
to ascertain that the Lord Lessingholm had been boarded in the house
of an exemplary divine, to wit, Mr Savage of Corpus Christi College,
Oxford--a fact which I think it proper to mention to the honour of
that eloquent member of our church--inasmuch as any man might be proud
of having had the training up in the way he should go, of so excellent
and praiseworthy a youth.

It was many days before my young ones came back (I would be understood
to include in this Alice Snowton, whom I looked upon with the
tenderness of a father and the pride of a teacher all in one); and
when they returned to me, I thought I perceived that they were both
more sorrowful than of wont. Alice (and my Waller also) looked
oppressed with some secret that weighed upon their hearts, and I was
fearful the great lady had made them partakers of her cares in the
matter of her son and her grandchild. Yet did I not think such a thing
possible as that either of them should have been taken into her
confidence on so high and momentous a concernment, by reason of my
Waller being so young, though thoughtful and considerate, and also
fuller grown than persons much more advanced in life; and Alice
Snowton was of so playful and gentle a disposition, that she seemed
unfitted for the depository of any secret, unless those more strictly
appertaining to her youth and sex, and moreover was a stranger to this
part of the country; being of a respectable family, as I have
observed, in Wilts--namely, a brother of Mr Snowton, my kind patron
and friend. I called them into my study, after my labours were over
with the other pupils, and I said to them--

"Dear children, ill would it become me to pry into the secrets of my
honoured lady, the Lady Mallerden; yet may there arise occasions
wherein it is needful for one in my situation (parent to the one of
you, and _in loco parentis_ to the other), to make perquisition into
matters of weight and importance to your well-being, even at the risk
of appearing inquisitive into other peoples' affairs. Answer me,
therefore, Alice, my dear child, has the Lady Mallerden instructed you
in any portion of her family story?"

"She has in some degree, sir," said Alice Snowton, "but not deeply."

"You know of her disagreement on certain weighty points with her son,
the Lord Viscount, and how that he is a wicked man, seeking to break
into the pasture of the Lord, and tear down the hedges and destroy the
boundaries thereof; and that in this view he is minded to get his
daughter into his power, to use her as an instrument towards his
temporal elevation?"

"Something of all this we have heard, but not much," said Alice
Snowton.

"And furthermore, I must tell you that overtures were made to me to
aid and assist in the resistance to be offered to this man of sin, and
I did, for deep and wholesome reasons, refuse my assent thereto, and
in this refusal I meant you, my children, to be included; therefore,
whatever propositions may be made to you, to hear, or know, or
receive, or in any manner aid, in the concealment of the Lord
Viscount's daughter--which is at present in charge of an honourable
lady in the north--I charge you, refuse them; they may bring ruin on
an unambitious and humble household, and in no case can do good. We
must fear God ever, and honour the king while he is intrusted with the
sword of power; and family arrangements we must leave to the strong
hands and able head of the great Lady Mallerden herself. In this
caution I know I fulfil the intentions of my honoured friend, your
esteemed uncle, Mr William Snowton, which is concerned with too many
noble families to desire to get into enmity with any--and therefore be
grateful for all the kindness you experience from my honoured lady;
but if perchance she brings her grandchild to the Court, and wishes to
make you of her intimates, inform me thereof; and greatly as it would
be to be regretted, I would break off the custom of your visits to the
noble house, for even that honour may be too dearly purchased by the
enmity of powerful and unscrupulous men--if with sceptres in their
hands, so much the more to be held in awe." And I ended with Æsopus
his fable of the frogs and bulls. This discourse (whereof I had
prepared the heads in the course of the morning) I delivered with the
full force of my elocution, and afterwards I dismissed them, leaving
to my excellent wife the duty of enlarging on the same topic, and also
of giving such advice to Alice, which was now a full-grown young
woman, and very fair to look on, in respect of the young cavaliers she
might see at the great house, particularly the noble lord, the Lord
Lessingholm. Such advice I considered useless in regard to my Waller,
she being only about fourteen years of age, but in other respects a
fair and womanly creature to see; for her waist was nearly twice as
large as Alice Snowton's, and her shoulders also, and in weight she
would have been greatly an overmatch; and certes, putting aside all
parental fondness, which we know to be such a beautifier of one's own
kindred as to make the crow a more lovely animal than the dove (in the
eyes of the parent crow), I will confess that in my estimation, and
also in that of my excellent wife, there was no comparison between the
two fair maidens, either in respect of fulness of growth or redness of
complexion--the advantage being, in both these respects, on the side
of the junior. Some sentiment of this sort I saw at the time must have
possessed the honourable breast of the Viscount Lessingholm; for
although he made much profession of visiting at the parsonage for the
sake of seeing his juvenile brother, still there were certain looks
and tokens whereby I was clearly persuaded that the magnet was of a
different kind; and whereas it would have been vain and ambitious in
me to lift my eyes so high, in view of matrimonial proposals, as to
nearly the topmost branch in the peerage of England (the Earls
Fitzoswald being known to have been barons of renown at the period of
the Norman Conquest); still it would ill have become me to prevent my
daughter from gathering golden apples if they fell at her feet,
because they had grown on such a lofty bough of the tree; and I will
therefore confess, that it was with no little gratification I saw the
unfoldings of a pure and virtuous disposition in the honourable young
nobleman. And I will further state, that it seemed as if his presence
when he came (and that was often, nay, sometimes twice in one day),
did make holiday in the whole house; and Charles was by no means
backward in his friendship--receiving the fishing-rods presented unto
him by the right honourable with so winning an eagerness, and pressing
Alice (his constant friend) to go with him and the noble donor with so
much zeal to the brook, therein to try the virtues of the gift, that I
found it impossible to refuse permission; and therefore did those
three often consume valuable hours (yet also I hope not altogether
wasted)--_videlicet_, Alice and Charles, and the honourable
viscount--in endeavouring to catch the finny tribe, yet seldom with
much success. But whatever was the result of their industry--yea,
though it was but a minnow--it was brought and presented to my Waller
by the honourable hands of the young man, with so loving an air, that
it was easy to behold how gladly he would have consented, if she had
been the companion of their sports, if by any means Charles could have
been persuaded to have exchanged Alice Snowton for her. But the very
mention of such an idea did throw the child into such wrathful
indignation, that the right honourable was fain to bestow on him whole
handfuls of sugar-plums, and promise that Alice should not be left
behind. So fared the time away; and at last I began to hope that the
fears of the great lady were unfounded, and that nothing would occur
to trouble her repose. The manner of living had been resumed again,
with the difference that, on the days the young maidens did not visit
the noble mansion, the honourable viscount was, as it were, domiciled
in the parsonage; and I perceived that, by this arrangement, the great
lady was highly pleased; perhaps because the presence of a kinsman, a
courageous gentleman, gave her some security against the rudenesses
she seemed to be afraid of on the part of her own son--a grievous
state of human affairs when the fifth commandment is not held in
honour, and reducing us below the level of puppy-dogs and kittens, to
whom that commandment, along with the rest of the decalogue, is
totally unknown. Sundry times I did observe symptoms of alarm; and
care did write a sad story of mental suffering on the brow of the
great lady, which was a person of the magnanimity of an ancient
matron, and bore up in a manner surprising to behold in one who stood,
as it were, with one hand upon her coffin, while her other stretched
backward through the shadow of fourscore years to touch her cradle.
And ever, from time to time, couriers came to the noble mansion, while
others flew in various directions on swift horses at utmost speed; and
looking up into that lofty atmosphere, we saw clouds and ominous signs
of coming storms, before we could hear the voice of the thunder. And
once a royal messenger (called a pursuivant-at-arms) came down in
person, and carried the great lady to London, and there she staid
many days, and was threatened with many things and great punishments,
yea, even to be tried by the Lord Jeffreys for high treason, in
resisting the king's order to deliver up her grandchild to its natural
guardian--which was its father the Viscount Mallerden, now created by
royal favour Marquess of Danfield. But even this last danger she
scorned; and after months of confinement near the royal court, her
enemies gave up persecuting her for that season, and at last she came
back to Mallerden Court. In the meanwhile, we went on in a quiet and
comfortable manner in the parsonage--the Viscount Lessingholm
frequently with us (almost as if he were a pupil of the house); and on
one or two occasions we had a visit for an evening from my honoured
friend, Mr William Snowton of Wilts. He was pleased to use great
commendations, both of my excellent wife and me, for the mode in which
we attended to the mind and manners of his niece, the culinary and
other accomplishments, and the rational education wherein he saw her
advanced. He never staid later than day-dawn on the following morning,
and kept himself reserved, as one used to the intimacy of the great,
and not liking to make his news patent to humble people such as we;
and he would on no account open his mouth on the quarrels of our great
lady and her son, the new Marquess of Danfield, but kept the
conversation in equable channels of everyday matters, and expounded
how my glebe-lands might be made to yield a greater store of provision
by newer modes of cultivation--the which I considered, however, a
tampering with Providence, which gives to every field its increase,
and no more. But by this time my glebe was not the only land on which
I could plant my foot and say, Lo, thou art mine! for I had so
prospered in the five years during which I had held a ladder for my
pupils to the tree of knowledge, that much golden fruit had fallen to
my share (being kicked down, as it were, by their climbing among the
branches); so that I had purchased the fee-simple of the estate of my
friend, Master George Sprowles, who had taken some alarm at the state
of public affairs, and gone away over the seas to the plantation
called, I think, Massachusetts, in the great American continent.

It was in the beginning of October 1688, that another call was made on
the great lady to make her appearance within a month from that time in
the city of London, to give a final answer for her contumacy in
refusing obedience to the King and the Lord High Treasurer. I felt in
hopes the object of their search (namely, the young maiden his
daughter, for it was bruited they rummaged to find her out in all
directions) was safe with some foreign friends which the great lady
possessed in the republic of Holland, where the Prince of Orange was
then the chief magistrate; but of this I had no certain assurance.
For some days no preparations were made at the noble mansion for so
momentous a journey; but at length there were great signs of something
being in prospect. First of all, the Viscount Lessingholm rode up from
Yorkshire, whither he had been gone three weeks, attended by near a
score of fine dressed serving-men, and took up his abode at Mallerden
Court; then came sundry others of the great lady's kinsfolk, attended
also by their servants in stately liveries; and we did expect that the
proud imperial-minded lady was to go up with such great escort as
should impress the king with a just estimate of her power and dignity.
With this expectation we kept ourselves ready to see the noble
procession when it should start on its way; but far other things were
in store for me, and an instrument called a pea-spitter, wherewith
Charles had provided himself for the purpose of saluting various of
the serving-men as they passed, was rendered useless. It was on the
first day of November that the Lord Viscount Lessingholm (who had
conveyed the young maidens, _videlicet_ Alice Snowton and my Waller,
to the Court on the previous day) did ride post haste up to my door,
making his large grey horse jump over the gate at the end of the walk,
as if he had been Perseus flying on his winged steed to the rescue of
Andromede (as the same is so elegantly described in the ancient poet),
and did summon me to go that moment to the noble mansion on matter of
the highest import. Much marvelling, and greatly out of breath, I
followed the noble gentleman's motions as rapidly as was beseeming one
in my responsible situation, in regard to the spiritual ministrations
in the parish, while in sight of any of my flock; for nothing detracts
more from the dignity of the apostolical character than rapid
motions--such as running, or jumping, or an unordered style of
apparel, without hatband or cassock. When out of the village street, I
put (as the vulgar phrase expresses it) my best foot foremost, and
enacted the part of a running serving-man in the track of my noble
conductor; and finally I arrived, in such state as may be conceived,
at the entrance-hall of the noble mansion. In the courtyard were
numerous serving-men mounted in silent gravity, and ranged around the
wall. Each man was wrapped up in a dark-coloured cloak; and underneath
it I saw, depending from each, the clear polished extremity of a steel
sword-sheath. They did bear their reins tightened, and their heels
ornamented with spurs, as if ready to spring forth at a word, and
great tribulation came over my soul. Howbeit I mounted the grand
staircase, and following the western corridor, I opened the door of
the green-damask withdrawing-room, and found myself in the middle of a
large and silent company. There were, perhaps, a dozen persons there
assembled--motionless in their chairs; and at the further end of the
apartment sat the great lady in whispered conversation with a tall
dark gentleman of mature years, say fifty or thereabouts, and with a
wave of her hand, having instructed me to be seated, she pursued her
colloquies in the same under-tones as before. When I had placed myself
in a chair, and was in somewhat recovering my breath, which much
hurrying and the surprising scene I saw had greatly impaired, a hand
was laid upon my shoulder, and I turned round, and, sitting in the
next chair to me, I beheld my honoured friend Mr William Snowton of
Wilts.

"Good Master Willis," he said, "you little expected to see me here, I
do well believe; but it was but lately I was summoned."

"And know you wherefore we are here assembled?" I inquired.

"Somewhat I know, but not all. The persons here be men of great power,
some of them being those by whom I am employed in managing their
worldly affairs, and shortly we shall hear what is determined on."

"On what subject do they mean to consult us? I shall be ready," said
I, "to give what advice may be needed, if peradventure it suits with
my sacred calling."

"I fear they will hardly consult a person of your holy profession,"
said Mr Snowton with a sober kind of smile. "It is of life or death
we are now to take our choice."

A great fear fell upon me, as a great shadow falls upon the earth
before a thunder-storm. "What mean ye?" I whispered. "There is no
shedding of blood."

"There will be _much_ shedding of blood, good Master Willis; yea, the
rivers in England will run red with the same, unless some higher power
interferes to deliver us."

"And wherefore am I summoned to such fearful conference? I am no man
of blood. I meddle not with lofty matters. I----"

But here I was interrupted by Mr Snowton in a low grave tone. "Then
you have not heard that the wicked man of sin, the false Papist, the
Marquess of Danfield, hath discovered his child?"

"No, I have not been informed thereof. And hath he gained possession
of her?"

"No, nor shall not!" and hereupon he frowned a great frown, and let
his sword-sheath strike heavily upon the floor. All the company looked
sharply round; but seeing it was by hazard, they took no notice of
what occurred.

"And where, then, is the maiden bestowed?" I demanded.

"In this house; you shall see her soon."

"And what have I to do with these matters? They are above my
concernment!" I exclaimed, in great anguish of mind.

"You have to unite her in the holy bands of wedlock."

"Nay, that is clearly impossible! Where, I pray thee, is the license?"

"All that has been cared for by means of a true bishop of our church.
There can be no scruple on canonical grounds; and if there be
hesitation in obeying the Lady Mallerden's orders (provided she
finally makes up her mind to deliver the same), I would not answer for
the recusant's life, no, not for an hour."

"But wherefore in such secresy, with such haste?" I said, in dreadful
sort.

"Because we know that the father slept at Oxford last night with store
of troops, and that he will be here this night with a royal warrant to
enforce his right to the bestowal of his child; and he hath already
promised her to the leader of the malignant Papists."

"And are we here to resist the king's soldiers and the mandate of the
king?"

"Yea, to the death!" he said, and sank into gloomy thoughts and said
no more.

I looked around among the assembly, and recognised no other faces that
I knew, and in a short space the great lady, having finished her
colloquy with her next neighbour, rose up and said--"My lords, I
believe ye be all of kin to this house, and the other gentlemen be its
friends--a falling house, as represented by a feeble woman of
fourscore years and five. Yet in the greatness of the cause, may we
securely expect a gift of strength even to so frail an instrument as I
am. I have consulted with you all, and finally I have taken counsel
with my kind cousin and sweet friend, the Earl of Fitzoswald, now at
my side, and he hath agreed to what I have proposed. It now, then, but
remains to carry our project into effect; and for that purpose I have
summoned hither a good man and excellent divine, Master Willis of this
neighbourhood, to be efficacious in that behalf."

I started up, and said in great agitation--"Oh, my lady!"----but had
not proceeded further when I was broken in upon by a voice of
thunder--

"Silence, I say! What, is it for the frailness of a reed like you that
such noble enterprise must perish? Make no remonstrance, sir, but do
what is needed, or----"

Although the great lady did not finish her words, I felt an assurance
steal like ice over my soul that my hours were numbered if I
hesitated, and I bowed low, while Mr William Snowton did privily pull
me down into my seat by the hinder parts of my cassock.

"You--you, Master Willis, of all men, should least oppose this godly
step. For the noise thereof will sound unto the ends of the earth, and
make the old Antichrist on his seven hills quake and tremble, and
shake the pitiful spirit of the apostate of Whitehall. Say I not well,
my lords?"

"You say well," ran round the room in a murmur of consent.

"And you--you, Master Willis," she went on, "least of all, should
object to keep a lamb within the true fold--yea, a lamb which you did
see with your own eyes introduced into the same. Remember you nought
of godly Master Waller's in Berkshire, or of the scene you saw in a
certain chamber, where the baptismal waters were poured forth, and
murmured like a pleasant fountain in the dying ears of a devout
Christian woman?"

I was so held back with awe that I said not a word, and she went on--

"Oh, if good Master Lees had yet been spared, we should not have asked
for the ministry of trembling and unwilling hands like yours! And now,
my lords--and you, kind gentlemen, my plan as arranged with good Lord
Fitzoswald is this:--I give my grandchild's hand where her heart has
long been bestowed; I then go with her through lanes and byways, under
good escort, to the city of Exeter, where ere long we shall cast in
our lot with certain friends. The bridegroom shall see nought of his
bride till happier days arrive, except at this altar; and you shall go
directly to your respective stations, and be ready at the first
blowing of the horns before which the walls of this Jericho are to
fall. In the next chamber I have made preparation for the ceremony,
and in a few minutes, when I have arranged me for the journey, I will
summon you."

Something of this I heard--the sense namely forced its way into my
brain; but I was confused and panic-stricken. The whole sad scene
enacted so many years before, at the house of good Master Waller, on
my way home from Oxford, came back upon my heart, and I marvelled at
the method whereby the great lady had acquired a knowledge of the
secret. I was deep sunk in these cogitations when the door of the
inner library was at last thrown open, and such light flashed upon us
from the multitude of candles, which were illuminated in all parts of
the chamber, that my eyes were for some time dazzled. When I came to
myself I looked, and at a table under the eastern window, on which was
spread out a golden-clasped prayer-book, opened at the form of
solemnisation of matrimony, I saw, along with two young men of about
his own age (all girt with swords, and booted and spurred), the right
honourable the Viscount Lessingholm, which I at once concluded was
acting as bridegroom's man to one of the other youths. The company,
which had been assembled in the withdrawing-room, placed themselves
gravely, as if some solemn matter was in hand, at the side of the
table; and I took my place, by a motion from the Earl Fitzoswald, and
laid my hand upon the prayer-book, as ready to begin. The door at the
other end of the room, which leadeth to the outer staircase, was
opened, and there came noiselessly in a tall woman, dressed in the
same fantastical apparel, like the apparel of the Bohemians or
gypsies, which I remembered so well on the fatal night of the
christening; and, when she cast her eyes on me, I could not have
thought an hour had passed since that time, and I recognised in her,
with awe and wonderment, the features of the great lady, the Lady
Mallerden herself. In each hand she led a young person, in her left my
daughter Waller, and I will not deny that at the sight my heart leapt
up with strange but not unpleasing emotion, as, remembering the
habitudes of the noble Viscount Lessingholm, I thought there was a
possibility of a double wedding; and in her other hand, dressed as for
a journey, with close-fitting riding-coat, and a round hat with sable
feathers upon her head, she conducted Alice Snowton, the which looked
uncommon lovely, though by no means so healthy or stout-looking as her
other companion--_videlicet_, my Waller. They walked up to the place
whereat we stood, and the Lord Viscount springing forward, did give
his hand to Alice Snowton, and did not let it go for some time; but
looked upon her with such soft endearing looks that she held down her
head, and a red blush appeared upon her cheek, as if thereupon there
had been reflected the shadow of a rose. For it was not of the deep
tinge which formed the ornament of the complexion of my Waller.

"This is no time for useless dalliance," said the great lady; "let us
to work. By no other means can we root out for ever the hopes of our
enemies."

"Where then, madam," I said, "is the bride?--and who, I pray you, is
the bridegroom?"

"The bridegroom is the Viscount Lessingholm. This maiden is the
bride."

"But Alice Snowton, my lady!--I did think it was your honourable
grandchild who was to be united to this noble gentleman."

"And so it is--and so it is! She is Alice Snowton no longer. Our good
friend, Master Snowton, the steward on my daughter Pevensey's
Wiltshire manor, was good enough to adopt her as his niece; and for
her better concealment we placed her in the charge of a person whose
character for meekness and simplicity was too notorious to raise
suspicion of his being concerned in such a plot. Even to herself, till
lately, her parentage was unknown, as Master Snowton kept well the
secret."

"And one other question," I said; "the child to whom I became bound as
godfather?"

"'Tis the same. This is the poor Lucy Hesseltine, whose orphanship you
witnessed in that lone and yet comfortable death."

The lady Lucy Hesseltine, or rather Alice Snowton, for by that name I
loved her best, did throw her arms about my neck, and kissed my cheek,
and said I had been a kind godfather to her, yea, had been a father to
her, and my excellent wife a mother. At this my heart was much moved,
and I saw tears come to the eyes of several of the bystanders, but no
tear came to the eyes of the great lady herself.

"Let this be enough," she said. "Let us finish what we have yet to
do."

And thereupon, all being ready and in their due places, I began; but
when I came to the question--"Lucy Hesseltine, wilt thou have this man
to be thy lawful husband?" a sudden noise in the courtyard under the
window made me pause; but the great lady commanded me with a frown to
go on, and I concluded the question, and received in reply a sweet but
audible "yes." But the noise was again repeated, and the assistants
sprang to their feet, for it was the sound of the sharp shooting off
of pistols.

"Stir not for your lives till the ceremony is over!" cried the great
lady; and I hurried with trembling lips over the remainder of the
service. A loud voice in the yard was heard amid the trampling of much
horse. "In the king's name, surrender!" the voice said. "We have a
warrant here, and soldiers!"

"Forasmuch as Frederick Fitzoswald and Lucy Hesseltine" (I said as
calmly as I could, though with my heart quaking within me), "have
consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before
God and this company and thereto have given and pledged their troth
either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of
a ring, and by joining of hands--I pronounce that they be man and wife
together!"

"Now then, my lords and gentlemen," cried the great lady, springing to
her feet, "to the defence! We are witnesses of this marriage, and
clashing swords must play the wedding peal. If need be, fear not in
such quarrel to do your best; yea, to the shedding of blood! Though
the blood were my son's, it were well shed in such a holy cause. Now
then, Lucy, come! Guard the front entrance but an hour, and we shall
be beyond pursuit."

And so saying she glided rapidly, with the nearly fainting bride,
towards the hidden stairs, while Viscount Lessingholm rushed rapidly
with drawn sword down the grand flight, and sprang on his grey horse.
In the confusion my Waller had disappeared, and in great agonies of
fear I slipped into the courtyard. Oh, what a sight met my eyes! There
were several men lying dead, which had been shot or otherwise killed,
and their horses were galloping hither and thither with loose reins
and stirrups flapping; other men were groaning, and writhing in great
pains, tearing the ground with bleeding hands, and dragging
themselves, if such were possible, away from the _mêlée_. Meanwhile,
horsemen drawn up on either side were doing battle with sword and
pistol; and the trampling and noise of the shouting, the groans and
deep execrations, all resounding at once in that atmosphere of smoke
and approaching night, were fearful to listen to, and I bethought me
of some way of escape. I slipped within the piazza of the servants'
court, and made my way towards the gate; but here the battle raged the
fiercest, the noble Viscount Lessingholm being determined to keep it
closed, and the furious marquess resolute to force it open, whereby an
accession of men might come to him which were shut out on the other
side--the warder of the door having only admitted the marquess
himself, and about fifty of the king's dragoons. The retainers which I
had seen on my entrance amounted to seventy or more; and seeing they
had most of them been soldiers, yea, some which had grizzled locks,
having been among the shouters at Dunbar, and on many fields besides,
under the cruel eye of the ferocious Oliver himself, they did cry,
"Ha, ha! at the spur of the rider, and smelt the battle afar off." The
Marquess of Danfield did spur his black war-horse, with his sword
poised high in air towards the noble Viscount of Lessingholm, and with
fierce cries the noble viscount raised also his sword, and was in the
act to strike the undefended head of his assailant. "Stop,
Frederick!" cried a voice, which proceeded from the Earl Fitzoswald;
"it is Danfield himself!" whereupon the young gentleman did ward off
the blow aimed at him by the marquess, and passed on. All this I saw
ere I gave up hopes of getting out by the gate; but seeing this was
hopeless, I pursued my way back again, with intent to get out by one
of the postern windows, and hurry homeward across the fields; and
having opened a window near unto the buttery, I hung by my hands, and
then shutting my eyes and commending my soul to Heaven, I let go, and
dropt safely down upon the greensward. But ere I could recover myself
sufficiently, I was set upon as if I had been an armed enemy, by a
large number of mounted men, which were of the company of the
marquess, whereby I saw that the house was surrounded, and feared the
great lady and Alice (I would say the Viscountess Lessingholm) were
intercepted in their retreat. Howbeit, I gave myself up prisoner, by
reason of various blows with the flats of sabres, and sundry monitions
to surrender or die. I was led in great fear to the front of the
court, and brought before a proud, fierce-browed commander, which
interrogated me "of all that was going on, and whether the Lady Lucy
Mallerden was in the Court?" Whereto I answered, that I was so
overcome with terror that I knew little of what I had seen; and, with
regard to the noble lady, I was persuaded she was not within the
walls. "If you answer me," he said, "truly, and tell me what road she
has taken, I will send you away in safety, and secure you his
majesty's pardon for anything you may have done against his crown and
dignity; but if you refuse, I will assuredly hang you on the
courtyard-gate the moment we gain possession thereof. Now, say which
way went they?" I was sore put to it, for it was like betraying
innocent blood to tell these savage men the course my godchild pursued
in her escape; and yet to tell an untruth was repugnant to my nature,
and I said to the captain, "It is a hard matter for me to point out
where my friends are fleeing unto."

"Then you'll be hung as high as Haman at daybreak; so you can take
your choice," said he.

"If I direct you unto the place whereunto she is gone," I said, "it
will be a hard matter to find her."

"That's our business, not yours. Tell us where it is."

"For, suppose she were in hiding in a city, a large busy place like
Bristol, and waited for a conveyance to a foreign land----"

"In Bristol! Oho, say no more! Ensign Morley, take ten of the best
mounted of the troop and scour the northern roads towards Bristol. You
will overtake them ere they are far advanced."

"I pray you, captain," I said, "to observe--I have not told you she
is gone towards Bristol."

"I know you haven't," he said smiling, "I will bear witness you have
kept her secret well; but here we are about to enter the Court, for
the firing is finished. The rebels will be on gibbets within
twenty-four hours, every one."

But there was no sign of the gate being opened. Contrariwise there did
appear, in the dimness of the evening-sky, certain dark caps above the
outside wall, which I did recognise as being worn by the serving-men
of the great lady's friends; and while we were yet talking, a flight
of bullets passed close over our heads, and three or four of the
troopers fell off dead men, leaving their saddles empty and their
horses masterless.

"Draw close, my men," cried the captain, "right wheel;" and setting
his men an example, he did gallop with what speed he might from the
propinquity of the wall. As for myself, I was in some sort relieved by
the knowledge that the noble mansion still continued in possession of
the Viscount Lessingholm; and comforting myself with the assurance
that no evil could befall my daughter Waller while under his
protection, I did contrive to seize by the bridle one of the dragoons'
horses (a stout black horse, which, being never claimed, did do my
farming work for fifteen years), and climbing up into the saddle,
betook me home to inform my excellent wife of all these dreadful
events. All next day, and all the next--yea, for three whole days--I
staid in my quiet home, receiving information quietly by means of a
note brought to me by my servants, that the mansion still held out,
that Waller was quite safe, and that, provided no artillery was
brought to bear against them, they could hold out _till the time
came_. What was the meaning of the latter phraseology, I did not know;
but considering it desirable at that period to cut down certain trees
on my recently purchased estate, I proceeded with Thomas Hodge the
carpenter, and various other artificers of my parishioners (all being
friends and dependents of the great lady), and with saws and other
instruments did level the whole row of very large oaks and elm trees
which bordered the only high-road from Oxford; and by some strange
accident, all the trees did fall exactly across the same, and made it
utterly impossible to move thereupon with cart or waggon; so that it
was much to be suspected that the guns, which we heard were ordered to
come up from Wallingford, could by no means get over the obstruction.
It is also to be observed that Master George Railsworth, the mason,
who had contracted to repair the strong bridge over our stream, did
take this opportunity of taking down two of the arches of the same,
and could find no sufficient assistance to enable him to restore them,
which made the road impassable for horse or man. On the following
day, namely, the fifth day of November, we heard that all the king's
soldiers were suddenly ordered from all parts up to London, and that
the Marquess of Danfield had been left to his imprisonment in
Mallerden Court. Whereupon I bethought me it would be safe to venture
up once more, and bring my daughter Waller to the securer custody of
my excellent wife. Next morning, at early dawn, I accordingly did go
up, and was admitted, after a short parley, by the gatekeeper, which
had a helmet on his head and a sword in his hand. Speedily I was in
the arms of my daughter Waller, who looked as happy as if none of
these scenes had been transacted before her eyes; and moreover did
refuse, in very positive terms, to leave the Court till her dear
friend Alice--I would say the Lady Lucy--returned. I reasoned with
her, and reprimanded her, and showed her in what a fearful state of
danger we all were, by reason of the rebellion we had been guilty of
against his majesty the king. Whereupon the child did only laugh, and
told me, "Here she would abide until the time came." And with this
enigmatical expression I was fain to be content; for she would
vouchsafe me no other. And, corroborative of all which, she said, she
relied on the assurances made unto her to that effect by Sir Walter
Ouseley, one of the young gentlemen which had acted as bridegroom's
man to the noble Viscount Lessingholm, and was now in the Court as
his lieutenant in the defence of the same. A goodly young gentleman he
was, and fair to look upon, and extraordinary kind to me, soothing my
fears, and encouraging me to hope for better things than those my
terrors made me anticipate. I inquired of the behavings of the
Marquess of Danfield, and learned to my surprise that it was expected
that before this day was over, if he did receive a courier, as was
thought, from the Lord Churchill, one of the king's favourite
officers, he would withdraw all his objections to the marriage, and
rather be an encourager and advocate of the same. In these discourses
the time passed away, and about three of the clock, after we had dined
in the great hall, we were looking out from the battlements and saw a
dust on the western road.

"It is Churchill's letter," said the noble Viscount Lessingholm, "and
he has kept his promise for once."

"There is too much dust for only one courier's heels--there be twenty
in company at least," replied Sir Walter Ouseley, which had the arm of
my Waller closely locked in his.

"There may be a surprise intended," cried the noble viscount. "Hoist
the flag, man the walls, treble the watchers, and sound for the men
into the yard."

We of the peaceful professions--_videlicet_, my daughter Waller and
I--did descend from the bartisan, and betook ourselves to the great
withdrawing-room, to wait for the result of the approach. We had not
waited long when the door opened, and no other than the great lady
herself, and my loved and lovely godchild, the Viscountess
Lessingholm, came into the apartment. The great lady was now appareled
as became her rank, having discarded those Bohemian habiliments which
were her disguise in times of danger. Oh! it was a great sight to
behold, the meeting between the Lady Lucy and my daughter Waller; but
when hurried steps sounded on the stairs, and the door opened, and the
noble viscount rushed into her arms, it was impossible to keep from
tears. My feeble pen can venture on no such lofty flights of
description, and therefore I will not attempt it. Meanwhile, in the
outer court, great shouting was heard. Sir Walter Ouseley came up to
us, and announced that the Marquess of Danfield "presented his
respects to his noble mother, and congratulated her on the glorious
news."

"I knew how it would be," she said, "with base natures such as his and
Churchill's. We accept their assistance, but despise the instrument.
He will now be fierce against his benefactor (who, though a bad king,
was tender to his friends), and bitterer against his faith than if he
had never been either a courtier or a bigot. I receive his
congratulations, Sir Walter Ouseley, but I decline an interview for
some time to come."

"He desired me also, my lady," said Sir Walter, "to convey his
blessing to the bride, and his tender love to his new son, the
Viscount Lessingholm."

"Well, let them not reject it. The blessing even of such a father has
its value. But we must now make preparation for the celebration of the
happy nuptials, in a style fitting the rank of the parties. The prince
is pleased with what we have done"----

The young man, Sir Walter Ouseley, who had been whispering in my ear,
here broke in on the great lady's speech.

"If it would please you, madam, at the same time, to permit two others
to be happy, I have obtained Master Willis's consent thereto, and also
the consent of this fair maiden."

The viscountess took Waller in her arms, and kissed her cheek, and the
great lady smiled.

"I knew not, Sir Walter Ouseley, that you were so perfect a soldier as
to sustain an attack and lay siege at the same time; but since in both
you have been successful, I give you my hearty good wishes. And so,
dear friends and true supporters, let us be thankful for the great
deliverance wrought for this land and nation, as well as for
ourselves. Our defender, the noble William, landed three days ago at
Torbay, and is now in Hampton Court. The king has taken flight, never
to be restored. Therefore, God save the Prince of Orange and the Lady
Mary, the props and ornaments of a true Protestant throne!"



THE WAGS.

[_MAGA._ OCT. 1840.]


In a town which we will call Middletown, because it was of the middle
size, dwelt a worthy shopkeeper bearing the odd name of Jeremiah Wag.
By dealing in all sorts of commodities, and steady attention to his
business, he had managed to keep up his respectability, and doubtless
would have considerably increased his store, but for the gradual
increase of his family. For several years after his marriage a new
little Wag was ushered annually into the world; and though there had
latterly been somewhat less of regularity, as many as ten small heads
might be counted every evening in his back parlour. Jerry, the eldest
boy, was, however, almost fourteen years of age, and therefore began
"to make himself useful," by carrying out small parcels and assisting
behind the counter. All the rest were, to use their parent's phrase,
"dead stock," and "were eating their heads off;" for, sooth to say,
they were a jolly little set, and blessed with most excellent
appetites. Such was the state of family matters at the time when our
narrative commences.

Now, on the opposite side of the street, exactly facing the modest
board on which Jeremiah's name was painted, with the usual
announcement of certain commodities in which he dealt, was another
board of a very different description. On it were emblazoned the arms
of his Majesty, with the supporters, a lion and a unicorn, as the
country folks said, "a-fighting for the crown."

The establishment indicated by this display, was upheld by a very
different class of customers to that which patronised the shop. Two or
three times in each day some private carriage or post-chaise would
stop to change horses at the King's Arms, and occasionally "a family"
took up their quarters there for the night; but the latter was a piece
of good-luck not often to be expected, as there were no lions to be
seen in Middletown save the red rampant guardian on the sign-board.

It was haymaking time, and business was very "slack" with the worthy
Jeremiah; but he said that he didn't care much about it, as the
country folks were earning money, part of which he trusted would find
its way into his till in due course. So, after rummaging about among
his stock to see if he was "out of anything," he took his stand at the
door, just to breathe a mouthful of fresh air. Titus Twist, the
landlord, made his appearance at the same moment, in his own gateway,
apparently with the same salubrious intent, and immediately beckoned
to his neighbour just to step across.

"Well, how are you, Master Wag?" said he, when they met. "Did you
observe that green chariot that stands down in the yard there, and
came in more than an hour ago?" Jeremiah answered in the negative.
"Well," continued mine host, "it belongs to one of the oddest,
rummest, little old gentlemen I ever clapped my eyes on. He's been
asking me all sorts of questions, and seems mightily tickled with your
name above all things. I think he's cracked. Howsomever, he's ordered
dinner; but hush! here he comes."

The little gentleman in question seemed between sixty and seventy;
but, excepting a certain sallowness of complexion, carried his years
well, his motions being lively, and wearing a good-humoured smile, as
though habitual, on his countenance. His dress was plain, but good,
and altogether becoming his apparent rank.

"I shall be back in a quarter of an hour," said he to the landlord;
"I'm only going over the way to the shop to buy something;" and away
he went, and, of course, was followed by Jeremiah, who, immediately on
entering his own house, skipped nimbly behind the counter to wait upon
his new customer.

After trying on some gloves, and purchasing two pair, the little
strange gentleman looked round the shop, as though examining its
contents to find something he wanted.

"Anything else I can do for you, sir?" replied Jeremiah.--"You sell
almost everything, I see, Mr Wag?" observed the old gentleman. "Mr
Wag? _Your_ name _is_ Wag, I suppose?"--"Yes, sir," replied the
shopkeeper drily.

"Wag, Wag, Wag!" repeated the stranger, briskly. "Funny name!
eh?"--"It was my father's before me," observed Jeremiah, scarcely
knowing what to think of the matter.

"Very good name!" continued the little gentleman, "Like it very much.
Got any children? Any little Wags, eh? Like to see 'em. Fond of
children--little Wags in particular--he, he, he!"

"Much obliged to ye for inquiring, sir," replied the senior Wag; "I've
got just half-a-score, sorted sizes. That's the eldest!" and he
pointed to young Jerry, whose lanky limbs were at the moment
displayed, spread-eagle fashion, against the shelves, from the topmost
of which he was reaching down some commodity for a customer.

"That's right. Bring 'em up to industry," said the little gentleman.
"Well, I can't stay now, because my dinner's ready; but I see you sell
Irish linen, and I want a piece for shirts; so, perhaps, you'll be so
good as to look me out a good one and bring it over to me."

"You may rely," commenced Mr Wag; but his new customer cut him short
by adding, "I know that well enough," as he briskly made his exit.

The industrious shopkeeper forthwith selected certain of his primest
articles, folded them in a wrapper, and, at the appointed time,
carried the whole across to the King's Arms.

He was immediately ushered into the presence of the eccentric elderly
gentleman, who was seated alone behind a bottle of white and a bottle
of red. "Suppose you've dined, Master Wag?" said he. "So, come! No
ceremony, sit down and take a glass of wine."

"I'm very much obliged to you, I'm sure, sir," replied Jeremiah; "but
I have just brought over half-a-dozen pieces of Irish for you to look
at and choose."

"Phoo, phoo!" quoth the small stranger, "I don't want to see them. I
know nothing about 'em. Leave all to you. Only meant to have had a
piece; but, as you have brought half-a-dozen, I may as well take 'em.
'Store's no sore,' they say. There's a fifty-pound note! Reckon 'em
up, and see if there's any change."

Jeremiah stared at this unusual wholesale mode of dealing, stammered
his thanks, and observed, that the goods would not amount to half the
money.

"So much the worse," said the little gentleman. "Must see if I can't
buy something else in your line presently; but, sit down now: that's a
good fellow! I want to have some talk with you."

The bashful shopkeeper hereupon perched himself on the extreme front
edge of a chair, at a respectful distance from the table; but was told
to draw up closer by his hospitable entertainer. Then they took three
or four glasses of wine together, and gradually Jeremiah found himself
more at home, and scrupled not to reply to the odd stranger's
questions respecting his family and occupations. And so they went on
chatting till they appeared as two very old and intimate friends; for
Mr Wag was of an open, unsuspecting disposition, and talked as though
he had no objection that all the world should know all about his
affairs.

"Well, but, my dear Wag," said the stranger, "can't you tell what part
of the country your father came from?"

"No, sir, I can't," replied Jeremiah, "he died when I was about eight
years old, and the London merchant to whom he was clerk put me to
school, and after that apprenticed me to old Hicks, who lived over the
way where I do now. Well, there I served my time, and then married his
daughter, and so came in for the business when he died; but I've
increased it a pretty deal; and if I'd more capital, could make a snug
thing of it by going into the wholesale, and serving village shops
with grocery, and so on."

"Why don't you try it?" asked the little gentleman.

"It won't do unless one has got the _ready_ to go to market with,"
replied Jeremiah knowingly; "and then one must be able to give credit,
and ought to keep one's own waggon to carry out goods. No, no, it
won't do. Many a man has made bad worse by getting out of his depth;
and, as it is, thank God, I _can live_. The only thing that puzzles me
now and then is, what I shall do with all the children."

"Harkye, my worthy Wag," said the odd stranger, "I have not got any
children; so, if you'll let me pick among the lot, I don't care if I
take two or three off your hands."

"Sir!" exclaimed the astonished shopkeeper.

"I mean what I say," replied the old gentleman, demurely. "Take me
with you. Introduce me to your wife and family, and let us all have a
friendly cup of tea together in your back parlour. Don't stare, my
good Wag; but fill your glass. I don't want to buy your little Wags,
but I happen to have more of the ready, as you call it, than I want;
so I'll put them to school or what you like. What say you?"

Jeremiah rubbed his eyes, as though doubtful if he were awake, and
then uttered his thanks for such extraordinary kindness in the best
way he was able; and about an hour after, the whimsical little old
rich gentleman was sitting by the side of Mrs Wag, with a little
curly-headed Wag on each knee, while the rest were playing round, or
gazing open-mouthed at the stranger with childish wonder.

By degrees all stiffness wore off; and, before the evening concluded,
nothing could exceed the merriment of the whole party. The eccentric
elderly gentleman had learned to call all the Wags by their names, and
he played and frolicked, and rolled upon the floor with the little
people, in a style that made the parents suspect, with the landlord,
that he must be "cracked."

However, at parting, he became more serious, and invited Jeremiah to
come and breakfast with him in the morning, and to bring with him a
copy of the names and birthdays of his children, as entered in the
Family Bible.

Mr and Mrs Wag of course lay awake for an hour that night, talking
over the strange incidents of the day, and perhaps building a few
castles in the air, after the style of affectionate parents for their
children.

On the following morning Jeremiah dressed himself in his Sunday suit,
and repaired to fulfil his engagement. His new old friend received him
in the most cordial manner, and they breakfasted together, chatting
over family concerns as on the preceding day. When their repast was
ended, the little gentleman read over the list of the young Wags, and
smilingly observed, "A jolly set of them! We must contrive to make
them all good and happy Wags if we can, eh? Eldest, Jerry, almost
fourteen--useful to you in business. That's right. Leave him there,
eh? Next, Thomas, almost thirteen--fond of reading--told me so. A good
school first, eh? Then three girls running, Mary, Anne, and Fanny.
Pack them off to a good school too. Never mind. Then comes William,
eight--and Stephen, seven. Think I know where to place them----Just
the right age. Perhaps can't do it at once, though. Humph. That's all
I can take _at present_. The other three, Sarah, Henry, and Philip,
too young. Well, my worthy Wag, you will hear about what I mean to do
with them before long, and a friend of mine will call upon you some
day to consult about the best way of increasing your business. Settle
all in time. No more to say now, but good-by--eh? Paid the landlord's
bill before breakfast, 'cause don't like to be kept waiting. Didn't
mean to have stopped longer than to change horses when I came
yesterday. Glad I have, though. Hope you won't be sorry. Holla!
waiter! is my carriage ready?"--"At the door, sir," shouted the
landlord in reply. "That's right!" exclaimed the extraordinary elderly
gentleman. "Good-by, my worthy Wag! Remember me to Mrs Wag, and give
my love to all the little Wags. Ten besides yourselves! A dozen Wags
in one family! Never expected to see such a sight as that! He, he, he!
See it again, though, hope. Wag together, all of you, like a bundle of
sticks, hope!" And, laughing and uttering similar incoherent sentences
alternately, he walked briskly along the passage to his carriage, into
which he forthwith jumped, and, having repeated his valediction to the
astounded shopkeeper, ordered the postilion to drive on.

Thus Jeremiah was prevented from expressing his grateful feelings for
such wonderful promises, and so stood gaping in silence till the
carriage was out of sight.

"Why, you seem regularly 'mazed, neighbour!" exclaimed the landlord.

"Enough to make me," replied Mr Wag. "If one-half what I've heard this
morning should come true, I shall be a lucky fellow, that's all!"

"The old fellow's cracked," observed Titus Twist. "He's a gentleman,
however, every inch of him, that I will say for him. Didn't make a
word about nothing. All right. Used to good living, no doubt. More's
the pity, as he's cracked. He certainly ought not to be allowed to
travel without a servant as he does."

"Well," observed Jeremiah, "I don't know what to say or what to think
about it; but, if he is cracked--humph! I don't know. It may be so.
However, there's no harm done yet."

"So he's been cramming you, eh!" said mine host. "Made you a present
of the moon, perhaps? They do fancy strange things, and think
themselves kings, and very rich in particular."

The truth of this latter assertion made an impression upon our worthy
shopkeeper, who communicated it to his wife; but she had taken a great
fancy to the odd old gentleman, and was not to be shaken in her
conviction that he would really be "as good as his word."

"Well," observed her husband, "time will show; and, at all events, it
was no bad thing to sell six pieces of fine linen at once. We don't
have such customers every day. However, the best thing we can do is,
to keep our own secret; for, if the neighbours were to hear of it, we
should never hear the last of it."

Mrs Wag agreed in the propriety of her spouse's suggestion; but,
nevertheless, was unable to refrain from dropping hints to sundry
gossips concerning her anticipations of coming good fortune; and the
vagueness and mysterious importance of her manner created a sensation,
and caused many strange surmises. Some decided that the Wags had been
so imprudent as to purchase a whole lottery ticket, and blamed them
accordingly; while others shook their heads, and hinted that, with so
large a family, it would be a very fortunate circumstance if Jeremiah
could manage so as not to go back in the world; and, for their parts,
they never liked to hear folks talk mysteriously about good luck: so,
for some time, the stranger's visit appeared to have produced results
somewhat the reverse of beneficial; but, at the end of a month, an
elderly gentleman, dressed in black, entered the shop, and requested a
private interview with Mr Wag; and as the back parlour was full of
little Wags, then undergoing the ceremonies of ablution, combing, &c.,
he proposed that they should adjourn to the King's Arms.

When they were seated there, the stranger very deliberately proceeded
to arrange a variety of papers upon the table in a business-like
manner; and when his task was completed, apparently to his
satisfaction, he smiled, rubbed his hands, and thus addressed the
wondering shopkeeper,

"My name is Stephen Goodfellow. I am an attorney, living in London;
and there" (handing a card) "is my address. You will probably guess
who is my client, but my instructions are to conceal his name. Well,
he has consulted with me as to the best mode of carrying your
intention of increasing your business into effect, and I have,
consequently, had interviews with certain commercial gentlemen, and,
ahem! the result is, that as the thing must be done gradually, I have
to present you, in the first place, with this order for a thousand
pounds. You will then be so good as to sign this document, by reading
which you will perceive that you _cannot_ be called upon for repayment
before the expiration of three years. Ahem! don't interrupt me. That
will do to begin with; but, after a little while, as you must give
credit, and some of your commodities, particularly grocery, amount to
considerable sums, you may want more, so--ahem!--yes, this is the
paper. You are to put your usual signature here; and, mark me, in
precisely six months from this day, an account will be opened in your
name with the London bankers, whose check-book I now present you with.
They will have assets in their hands, and instructions to honour your
drafts for any sum or sums not exceeding four thousand pounds. You
understand?"

"I hear what you say, sir," stammered Jeremiah; "but, really, I'm so
astonished, that----"

"Well, well," observed Mr Goodfellow, smiling, "it certainly is not an
everyday transaction; but my respected client is a little eccentric,
and so we must allow him to do things in his own way. He has taken a
fancy to you, that's clear; and when he takes anything in hand, he
doesn't mind trifles."

"But so much!" exclaimed Mr Wag. "One thousand--four thousand--five
thousand pounds! It is like a dream! Surely, sir," and he hesitated;
"surely the gentleman can't be in--ahem!--in--his--right senses?"

"Sound as a bell," replied the lawyer. "I hope you may have as clear a
head to carry on your new business. At present you are a little
bewildered, that's plain enough; but no great marvel. However, my time
is precious, so just let me have your signature, and I'm off."

He then placed the papers before Jeremiah, who, after a little more
demur, and a great deal of trepidation, wrote his name twice, and
received the money order and the banker's check-book. Mr Goodfellow
then ordered a chaise, and chatted familiarly till it was ready, when
he shook Mr Wag by the hand, wished him good luck, and departed.

"I told you so!" exclaimed Mrs Wag, when her spouse related the
morning's adventure. "He seemed so fond of the children. I knew how it
would be. But you should have asked his name. I wonder who he can be!
Some great lord, no doubt. Well, bless him, I say! God bless him,
whoever he is. Oh, Jerry! my dear Jerry Wag! I feel as if I was
a-going to cry. How foolish! Well, I can't help it, and that's the
truth;" and the good housewife wiped her eyes, and then threw her arms
round the neck of her dearly beloved Wag, who, albeit that he was
unused to the melting mood, found his eyes suddenly grow dim, and so
they performed a weeping duet together.

It is pleasant to record that, at the termination of this natural
paroxysm, they neglected not to return thanks to a higher Power for
the wonderful change that had thus suddenly taken place in their
prospects.

Their subsequent task was to take counsel together; but that was a
work requiring more of calmness than they possessed for the first few
days. However, by degrees, as time rolled on, the industrious couple
made their arrangements, and, at the end of six months, Mr Wag had so
increased his business, that it became advisable for him to have
recourse to his London bankers. In the meanwhile, he had sent his son
Tom and the three eldest girls to school, agreeably to the intimation
of his unknown friend, which he considered as a command that he was in
duty bound to comply with. Still it appeared very extraordinary that
the little elderly gentleman neither communicated with nor came to see
them; but, as the whole affair was out of the common way, Jeremiah
resolved industriously to avail himself of the advantages of his new
position, as the best means of testifying his gratitude during his
benefactor's absence.

Much marvelling, of course, there was in the town and neighbourhood at
the steady increase in Mr Wag's "concern," in spite of his very plain
statement that a kind friend had advanced him a considerable sum.

"Who could that friend be?" was the puzzling question which no one
could answer; but his unremitting attention to business, the
punctuality of his payments, and other evidences of his prosperity,
sufficed to insure him general respect, though certain envious
busybodies would venture now and then to hint significantly that "all
is not gold that glistens."

So matters went on pleasantly with the Wags till winter, when Tom and
his three sisters came home for the holidays, and the latter assisted
their mother in preparing for the festivities of the season.

It was Christmas eve, and the whole of the family were congregated in
the little back parlour, when young Jerry started up at the well-known
sound of a customer at the shop-door, at which he arrived with a hop,
step, and jump; and, jerking it open, beheld a little old gentleman
wrapped in a large cloak.

"Please to walk in, sir," said Jerry Wag.

"Hush!" whispered the stranger, placing his forefinger on his mouth,
"I want to surprise them. You're all together to-night, I suppose?"

"Yes, sir," replied Jerry, smiling, for he thought he knew to whom he
was speaking.

"That's right," said the odd elderly gentleman, advancing cautiously
towards the darkest part of the shop, and throwing off his cloak. "Now
for a Christmas frolic! Come here, you rogue! Why, you've grown
taller than me. That's right! a thriving Wag! Now, mind, you go back
as if nothing had happened, and give me hold of your coat-tail, so
that I can't be seen. That'll do. No laughing, you young monkey.
There, step along."

Jerry did as he was bid, save that, though he bit his lips
unmercifully, his risible muscles would not remain inactive; and thus
the oddly-joined pair made their way into the family apartment just as
the eldest daughter had exclaimed, "Now, mamma, it's your turn to
wish!"

They were sitting in a semicircle before the fire, and the stranger
and his shield, of course, stood behind them.

"Heigho!" said Mrs Wag, "there's only one thing I wish for to-night,
and that is the addition of _one_ more to our party."

"Name! name! You must name your wish!" cried three or four juvenile
voices, in full glee.

"I wish I could tell you his name," said Mrs Wag, "but your father
knows who I mean. Don't you, my dear?"

"I can't mistake you, my love," replied Jeremiah, affectionately, "and
I wish he could see how happy we are. It would do his heart good, I
really think."

"Who _can_ he be!" exclaimed the eldest daughter.

"Perhaps it's somebody like me!" cried the little odd gentleman,
stepping briskly forward.

"It is! it is!" shrieked mamma, and up jumped the whole party, and
down went Mrs Wag upon her knees, while, utterly unconscious of what
she did, her arms were clasped round the neck of her benefactor, whose
bodily frame, being unable to sustain her matronly weight, gave way,
and so they rolled together on the floor.

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the eccentric elderly gentleman, as soon as he
recovered breath, but without attempting to rise. "This is a Christmas
gambol, eh! Master Wag?--eh! my merry little Wags? Needn't ask you all
how you are."

"My dear sir!" exclaimed Jeremiah, "allow me to assist you. I hope you
are not hurt."

"Hurt!" cried the little gentleman, jumping up and offering his hand
to Mrs Wag. "Hurt! Why, I feel myself twenty years younger than I did
five minutes ago. Never mind, ma'am. Like Christmas gambols. Always
did. Happen to have such a thing as a bunch of mistletoe, eh?"

"I am sure, sir," whimpered Mrs Wag--"I am sure I shall never forgive
myself. To think of taking such a liberty; I--I--can't conceive how I
could----"

"As often as ever you please, my good lady," said the eccentric,
handing her to a chair; "but sit down and compose yourself, while I
shake hands all round;" and, turning toward Jeremiah, he commenced the
ceremony, which he went through with from the eldest to the youngest,
calling them all by their names, as correctly as though he were a
constant visitor.

A right merry Christmas eve was that. The young Wags were, ever and
anon, obliged to hold their sides, as they laughed and screamed with
delight at the funny stories told by the funny little old gentleman,
who romped and played with them with as much glee as though he had
been the youngest of the party. So the hours passed quickly away till
the unwelcome sound of "bed-time" was whispered among the little
circle; and then one after another departed, until Mr and Mrs Wag were
left alone with their honoured guest.

The hearts of both were full, and they began to endeavour to express
their feelings; but the singular old gentleman stopped them by
saying--"Needn't tell me. Know it all. Shall run away if you go on so.
Remember, I told you I had more of the 'ready' than I knew what to do
with. Couldn't have done better with it, eh? Out at interest now. Best
sort of interest, too. More pleasure this evening than receiving
dividends, eh! Never was happier. So come, let us wind up for the
night. I've a memorandum or two for you in my pocket-book," and he
placed it on the table, and began to turn over divers papers, as he
continued--"Hem! ha! Yes. Those two. You'd better take them, my good
sir. They'll admit William and Stephen to Christ Church--what they
call the Blue-Coat School. Capital school, eh?"

"My dear sir!" exclaimed Jeremiah.

"Don't interrupt me, that's a good fellow," said the old gentleman.
"Hem! Do you ever smoke a pipe?"

"Very rarely," replied the wondering Mr Wag.

"Well," continued his guest, "take that paper to light your next with.
Put it in your pocket, and don't look at it till I'm gone. Hem! Tom's
master says he will make a good scholar; so, if you've no objection, I
was thinking he might as well go to college in a year or two. Not in
your way, perhaps? Never mind. I know some of the big-wigs. See all
right, and enter his name. _Should_ have one parson in a large family,
eh?"

Here Mrs Wag could no longer refrain from giving vent to her
overcharged feelings by certain incoherent ejaculations, which
terminated in a flood of tears.

"Humph!" said the old gentleman, "my spectacles want wiping;" and he
took the opportunity of rubbing them and blowing his nose, while
Jeremiah was comforting the wife of his bosom, and telling her not to
be so foolish, although he could scarcely avoid snivelling himself.

"Hem! ahem!" resumed their guest; "think I've got some of the
mince-pie sticking in my throat. Stupid old fellow to eat so much,
eh?"

"Better take another glass of wine, sir," said Jeremiah. "Give me
leave, sir, to pour it out."

"No, no!" exclaimed Mrs Wag, starting up and smiling through her
tears, "let me! Nobody else! God bless you, sir!"

"And you, too!" ejaculated the old gentleman gaily; "come, that's a
challenge! Glasses round! and then we must say, good-night. Don't let
us make a dull end of a merry evening."

Warm benedictions were forthwith uttered, and the "compliments of the
season" were wished, with more than common sincerity, by all three, as
their glasses met jingling together. Then, the whimsical guest tossed
off his wine, jumped up, shook his hosts heartily by the hand, wished
them good-night, and sallied into the shop to find his cloak. Mr and
Mrs Wag followed, and expressed a hope that he would honour their
Christmas dinner by his presence on the following day; but all they
could draw from him was--"Can't promise. Ate and drank a little too
much to-night, perhaps. Getting shockingly old. See how I am in the
morning. Enjoyed myself this evening. A jolly set of Wags altogether!
Merry Wags all, eh?--young and old. Well, well, wag along happily, my
dear Mr and Mrs Wag! Good-night!" And after once more shaking hands
with them, he nimbly whisked himself out at the shop-door, and trotted
across to the King's Arms.

No sooner were the worthy couple alone than curiosity led them to
examine the piece of paper which their benefactor had presented to
Jeremiah for the purpose of lighting his pipe, and it proved to be the
promissory note which the latter had signed for the first thousand
pounds. The donor's intention was plain enough, as it was regularly
cancelled, so Mrs Wag was obliged to use her pocket-handkerchief once
more; and her spouse, after striding three or four times rapidly
across the room, felt himself also under the necessity of taking out
his, and blowing his nose with unusual vehemence. Then they
congratulated and comforted each other, and said their prayers, and
offered up their thanks-givings with a fervour and sincerity that
proved they were not unworthy of their good fortune. Then they retired
to rest, though not immediately to sleep, for they were each beset by
strange waking dreams, and beheld in their minds' eye a black clerical
Wag, two long-coated little blue Wags, with yellow nether investments,
and other Wags of sorted sizes, but all very happy.

On the following morning, being Christmas day, our fortunate
shopkeeper equipped himself in his best apparel, and, before
breakfast, stepped across the road, and found Mr Titus Twist rubbing
his eyes in his own gateway. Mutual salutations, and "compliments of
the season," were exchanged in good neighbourly style, and then mine
host exclaimed, "There's a box here for you, Master Wag, left by that
queer little old gentleman. I'm sure he's cracked! In he comes here
yesterday, just after dark, posting in his own carriage. Well, he
orders up anything as we happened to have ready, and I sets him down
to as good a dinner as ever any gentleman need sit down to, though I
say it, because why, you see, our larder's pretty considerably well
stocked at this season. So down he sits, rubbing his hands, and
seeming as pleased as Punch, and orders a bottle of wine; but, before
he'd been ten minutes at table, up he jumps, claps on his cloak and
hat, and runs smack out o' the house, and never comes back again till
past eleven at night, when he pays his bill, and orders horses for six
o'clock this morning."

"Is he gone, then?" exclaimed Jeremiah.

"Off, sure enough," replied Titus; "but he's left a great box for you,
which I was just going to send over. So, I suppose you and he have
some dealings together."

"Yes," said Mr Wag, "I shall have cause to bless and thank him the
latest day I have to live; but I wish he had stopped here to-day.
Well, God bless him, wherever he is gone. Hark ye, neighbour--you have
often heard me speak of having a friend--well, that's him. I don't
know why, but he's taken a fancy to me and my wife and family, and has
done for us more than you'd believe, if I was to tell you. However,
we can chat that over another day, as I can't stop now, as Mrs Wag and
the children are waiting breakfast. But where's the box? I'll take it
with me, if you please."

"If two of the strongest fellows in my yard can take it over, it's as
much as they can," replied Titus. "However, they shall try; and I hope
you'll come over this afternoon and crack a bottle of my best to drink
the little queer old gentleman's health. But, mind me, he's cracked to
a certainty, and you'll find it out some of these days."

The box was accordingly delivered, and, on being opened, was found to
contain a dozen separate packages, each directed for one member of the
Wag family, the largest for Jeremiah, the father, and the smallest for
little Philip, a "rising three" year old Wag. Their contents were far
too various for precise specification, but could not have been more
judiciously appropriated nor more gratefully received, so that
Christmas day was a day of rejoicing; and the only regret felt by one
and all the Wags was, that their very kind friend had not stayed to
spend it with them.

When the festive season was over, matters went on as usual with
Jeremiah, save that perhaps there was more of cheerfulness in his
manner while pursuing his course of steady industry. The fact was,
that he never now felt perplexed about money affairs, which were wont
formerly to occupy much of his time by day, and cause him many
sleepless hours by night. Those who called for payment were as welcome
as those who came to pay, and consequently his credit stood high; and
the travellers and London houses strove, by tempting bargains and
peculiar attention in "selecting the best articles, to complete his
kind orders," to keep his name upon their books. So he went on and
prospered in all his undertakings, and in the course thereof visited
the metropolis to make purchases, and, when there, called upon Mr
Goodfellow, who gave him a hearty welcome, but could not be persuaded
to reveal the name of his eccentric client, though he scrupled not to
say that he was in good health, adding, with a smile, "and in perfect
possession of his intellects."

Jeremiah next endeavoured to worm the secret from his bankers, but
with no better success. The partner who received him, assured him that
the steady increase and respectability of his account had wrought such
an impression in a quarter which he was not permitted to name, that
their house would feel much pleasure in making advances whenever
anything advantageous offered itself for purchase.

"It is wonderful!" exclaimed Jeremiah.

"A good character, my dear sir," observed the banker, "is everything
in trade. We are dealers in money; and nothing pleases us more than
placing it where we know it is safe, and have every reason to suppose
it may be useful."

"But," observed Jeremiah, "you know nothing about me."

"I beg your pardon, Mr Wag," said the banker; "you are what we call a
good man, and have got a back."

"A back!" exclaimed the bewildered shopkeeper.

"Yes," said the banker, smiling, "that is, a good friend to your back;
and though he chooses to keep himself in the background, depend upon
it he'll not forsake you so long as you go on as you have done.
Therefore, buy away for ready cash as largely as you please, and we'll
honour your drafts."

On this hint Jeremiah subsequently acted, by making purchases which
enabled him to serve his customers "on terms that defied all
competition." Therefore, and by dint of strict attention and civility,
his trade continued to increase, till he was obliged to add warehouses
to his shop, and employ a regular clerk and collector, besides
shopmen, porters, and waggoner.

In the meanwhile young Tom Wag studied Latin and Greek with a
neighbouring curate; William and Stephen were, in due course,
admitted into the Blue-Coat School, and the education of the other
children went on precisely as had been recommended by their eccentric
benefactor, whose advice Mr and Mrs Wag considered equivalent to
commands. Still they were often uneasy about him, and more
particularly after another Christmas eve had passed without his
appearance. Poor Mrs Wag was sure he was ill, and would occasionally
charge him with unkindness for not letting her know, that she might go
and nurse him. But again months and months rolled away, and at last
autumn arrived, and with it brought the grand _dénouement_ of the
mystery, as suddenly and unexpectedly as their former good-luck.

All the Wags who were at home were sitting round a tea-table, in the
little garden at the back of the house, and Mrs Wag was sedately
filling their cups, when one of the younger children exclaimed, "Who's
that?"

Jeremiah looked round to where the child was gazing, and beheld his
benefactor stealthily approaching from the back door, with an arch
smile on his countenance, as though wishing to take them by surprise;
but perceiving that he was discovered, he stepped nimbly forward,
according to his usual custom, and holding out his hand, said, "Well,
my dear Wag, how are you? How are you, my dear Mrs Wag?--and how are
you, young Jerry Wag, Mary Wag, Sarah Wag, Henry Wag, and Philip
Wag?"

All expressed their delight at his appearance, according to their
different ages and abilities, but all were evidently delighted, and
none more than the strange little gentleman himself, whose eyes
sparkled with gratification as he took his seat, looked round at the
joyous group, and begged to join their family party. Mrs Wag felt
somewhat tremulous at first, and doubtless her visitor perceived it,
as he turned his attention to the little Wags till she had finished
her table arrangements and presented him with a cup of tea.

"Thank you, my good lady," said he, "that's as it should be. All merry
Wags, together, eh?"

"We--we--thank God!" whimpered Mrs Wag, "we are--Yes! But it's all
your doing, sir. I wish I could thank--thank you--as I ought."

Here Jeremiah, perceiving that his spouse was too nervous to make an
excellent speech, "took up the cudgels" of gratitude; but, saving that
there could be no doubt of his sincerity, displayed no great
oratorical talents. Brief, however, as his speeches, or rather
ejaculations, were, the funny old gentleman stopped him by the
apparently funny observation,--

"So, my good Jeremiah Wag, you don't know where your father came
from?"

"No, sir, indeed," replied the shopkeeper, marvelling at the oddity of
the question.

"Well, then, I do," said his benefactor; "I was determined to find it
out, because the name is so uncommon. Hard work I had, though.
Merchant, to whom he was clerk, dead. Son in the West Indies. Wrote.
No answer for some time--then not satisfactory. Obliged to wait till
he came back. Long talk. No use. Well, well. Tell you all about it
another day. Cut it short now. Found out a person at last who was
intimate friend and fellow-clerk with your father. Made all right.
Went down into the north. Got his register."

"Really, sir," stammered Jeremiah, "it was very kind of you, but I am
sorry you should have given yourself so much trouble; but I'm sure, if
I have any poor relations that I can be of service to in employing
them, now that your bounty has put me in the way of doing well, I
shall be very glad, though I never did hear talk of any."

"No, Master Jeremiah," said the eccentric old gentleman, "you
have no poor relations now, nor ever had; but your father had a
good-for-nothing elder brother, who left home at an early age, after
your grandmother's death, and was enticed to go abroad by fair
promises, which were not fulfilled. So, not having anything agreeable
to write about, he didn't write at all, like a young scamp as he was,
and when the time came that he had something pleasant to communicate,
it was too late, as his father was no more, and his only brother (your
father) was gone nobody knew where. Well, to make a short story of it,
that chap, your uncle, was knocked about in the world, sometimes up
and sometimes down, but at last found himself pretty strong upon his
legs, and then made up his mind to come back to Old England, where he
found nobody to care for him, and went wandering hither and thither,
spending his time at watering-places, and so on, for several years."

"And pray, sir," inquired Jeremiah, as his respected guest paused,
"have you any idea what became of him?"

"Yes, I have," replied the little gentleman, smiling significantly at
his host and hostess. "One day he arrived in a smallish town, very
like this, and terribly low-spirited he was, for he'd been ill some
time before, and was fretting himself to think that he had been
toiling to scrape money together, and was without children or kindred
to leave it to. No very pleasant reflection that, my worthy Wags, let
me tell you! Well, he ordered dinner, for form's sake, at the inn, and
then went yawning about the room; and then he took his stand at the
window, and, looking across the road, he saw the name of Wag over a
shop-door, and then----You know all the rest! The fact is, I am a
Wag, and, Jeremiah Wag, you are my nephew, and you, my dear Mrs Wag,
are my niece, and so let us be merry Wags together."

Here we might lay down the pen, were it not for our dislike to strut
in borrowed plumes; and that inclineth us to inform the gentle reader
that no part of this simple story is of our invention, except the last
disclosure of the senior Wag's relationship to his namesake, which we
ventured to add, fearing that the _truth_ might appear _incredible_.
The other facts occurred precisely as we have stated. An elderly
gentleman, bearing a name more singular than Wag, returned home from
India with a handsome fortune somewhat more than half a century back,
and sought in vain for relatives; but one day, from the window of an
inn, at which he had arrived in his own dark-green travelling-chariot,
he espied the shop of a namesake, whose acquaintance he instantly
made. His expressed hope was to discover that they were connected by
some distant tie of consanguinity; but failing in that object, after
most minute investigation, he never withdrew his patronage. For many
years he watched over the rising fortunes of the family; and as the
young people arrived at maturity, provided for them as though they
were his own children, to the extent of many thousand pounds; and when
he died, he left among them the whole of his property. Now, though
the heart and conduct of this good man were truly benevolent, there
can be no question respecting the motive of his actions, for he often
avowed it. He was determined to _keep up_ the respectability of his
_name_; and with great pleasure we have to record that the few who now
bear it, move in a much higher circle than would have been their lot
but for him whose memory they hold in reverence, and consider as the
founder of their family. Reader! imitate him, and "keep up" the
respectability of your name.



THE WET WOOING.

A NARRATIVE OF NINETY-EIGHT.

[_MAGA._ APRIL 1832.]


It was in the autumn of 1798, when the North of Ireland had settled
down into comparative tranquillity, that I took up my quarters at
Knowehead, the grazing farm of a substantial relative, in the remote
pastoral valley of Glen---- in Antrim.

The second morning of my stay I had fished a considerable distance up
the river; but having broken my top in an unlucky leap, was sitting in
impatient bustle, lapping the fracture, and lamenting my ill fortune,
as ever and anon I would raise my eyes and see the fresh curl running
past my feet; when I perceived by the sudden blackening of the water,
and by an ominous but indescribable sensation of the air, that
something unusual was brewing overhead. I looked up: there it was, a
cloud, low-hung and lurid, and stretching across the whole northern
side of the horizon. I had scarce time to gather my clews and bobbins
into a hurried wisp, and take shelter under an overhanging bank hard
by, when down it came, heavy, hissing, and pelting the whole surface
of the river into spray. I drew myself close to the back of the
hollow, where I lay in a congratulatory sort of reverie, watching the
veins of muddy red, as they slowly at first, and then impetuously,
flowed through and finally displaced the dark spring water--the
efforts of the beaten rushes and waterflags, as they quivered and
flapped about under the shower's battery--the gradual increase of
swell and turbulence in the river opposite; and lower down, the war
which was already tossing and raging at the conflux, where

     "Tumbling brown, the burn came down,
     And roar'd frae bank to brae."

But why do I dilate upon an aspect thus wild and desolate, when I
could so much more pleasantly employ my reader's and my own mind's eye
with that which next presented itself? I confess, so pleasant was the
contrast then, that I still, in recalling that scene to memory,
prepare myself, by the renewed vision of its dreariness and
desolation, for the more grateful reception of an image than which
earth contains none lovelier--it was a lovely girl. She fled thither
for shelter: I did not see her until she was close by me; but never
surely did man's eyes rest on a fairer apparition. I have, at this
instant, every lineament of the startled beauty, as, drawing back
with a suppressed cry and gesture of alarm, she shrank from the
unexpected companion who stood by her side; for I had started from my
reverie, and now presented myself, baring my head in the rain with
involuntary respectfulness of gallantry, and half unconsciously
leading her by the hand into my retreat. She yielded, blushing and
confused, while I, apologising, imploring, and gazing with new
admiration at every look, unstrapped my basket, placed it in the least
exposed corner, spread over it my outside coat, and having thus
arranged a seat (which, however, she did not yet accept), retired to
the opposite side, and reluctantly ceasing to gaze, gave up my whole
faculties to wonder--who could she be? Her rich dress--velvet habit,
hat and feathers--her patrician elegance of beauty and manner, at once
proclaimed her rank; but who could there be in Glen---- above the
homely class to which my host belonged? And his daughter, Miss Janet,
was certainly a brilliant of a very different water. But, heavens! how
the water is running down from my companion's rich hair, and
glistening upon her neck with what a breathing lustre!--"Oh, madam,
let me entreat you, as you value your safety, use my handkerchief (and
I pulled a muffler from my neck) to bind up and dry your hair. Wrap, I
beseech you, your feet in my greatcoat; and withdraw farther from the
wind and rain."

One by one, notwithstanding her gracious refusals, I carefully
fulfilled my prescriptions; and now knelt before her, lapping the
skirts and sleeves of my envied coat about the little feet and
delicate ankles. Yet it seemed to me that she received my services
rather with a grateful condescension, than, as I desired, with frank
enjoyment of them. So, pausing a moment to account for such a manner,
I recollected--and the recollection covered me with confusion--that I
must have been, to say the least, as rough a comrade as any one need
wish to meet with under a hedge; for, purposing to leave Ireland in
another month for Germany, I had, during the last week, allowed my
beard to grow all round--putting off from day to day the forming of
the moustache, to which I meant to reduce it--and so had my face, at
no time very smooth, now covered from ear to ear with a stubble, long,
strong, and black as a shoe-brush. My broad-brimmed hat was battered
and dinted into strangely uncouth cavities, and the leaf hung flapping
over my brows like a broken umbrella; my jacket was tinselled indeed,
but it was with the ancient scales of trout; my leathern overalls were
black-glazed and greasy; and my whole equipment bore, I must confess,
the evident signs of an unexceptionable rascal.

Indignant at my unworthy appearance, I put myself upon my mettle; and
after drawing my fair companion from her intrenchments of shyness and
hauteur, succeeded in engaging her in the fair field of a
conversation the most animated and interesting, in which it was ever
my good fortune and credit to bear a part. She had at first, indeed,
when I began by running a parallel between our positions, explained
the circumstances of her being driven thither alone, in a manner so
general, and with such evident painfulness of hesitation, that I had
hardly expected a few slow commonplaces at the most. Such wit, then,
and vivacity, tempered with such dignified discretion, as she evinced,
when I turned the conversation from what I perceived to be perplexing,
were by their unexpectedness doubly delightful.

Time and the tempest swept on equally unheeded; topic induced topic,
smile challenged smile, and when at last, in obedience to her wishes,
I looked towards the north, to see whether the sky were clearing, I
only prayed that it might rain on till sunset, when I might accompany
her to her home, which, to my surprise, I learned was within a few
miles, although I did not ascertain exactly where. My prayers were
likely enough to be fulfilled; the sky was still one rush of
rain--but, heaven and earth! the river had overflowed its banks above:
a broad sheet of water was sailing down the hollow behind; and there
we were, no human habitation within sight, in the midst of a tempest,
between two rapid rivers, with no better shelter, during the
continuance of a Lammas flood, than the hollow of a bank which might
be ten feet under water in an hour.

I ran down the back of the hill to the edge of the interposing flood;
a stunted tree was in the middle, the fork of which I knew was as high
as my shoulder; a mass of weeds and briars was already gathered
against it; the water had raised them within a foot of the first
branch; then I might still ford a passage; no moment was to be lost; I
ran back for the lady, but met her half-way in wild alarm, her head
bare, her beautiful hair shaken out into the blast, her hands clasped,
and her figure just sinking. I caught her in my arms, and bore her
forward with all my speed; but before I again reached the sweeping
inundation, insensibility had released her from the terrors of our
passage.

I dashed in, holding her across my body, with her head resting on my
shoulder; the first step took me to the knee. I raised my burden and
plunged forward; the water rose to my haunches. I lifted her again
across my breast, rushed on, and sank to the waist. I felt that I
could not long support a dead weight in that position; so lowering her
limbs into the water, I profited by that relief, and reached the tree.

The flood had now covered me to the breast, and the lady's neck and
bosom were all that remained unimmersed. I leaned against the old
trunk, and breathed myself. I raised her drooping head on my
shoulder, and pressed my cheek to her forehead; but neither lip nor
eyelid moved. I could not but gaze upon her face; it lay among the
long floating tresses and turbulent eddies, fair as the water's own
lily, and as unconscious. My heart warmed to the lovely being, and I
bent over her, kissing her lips, and pressing her bosom to mine, with
an affection so strangely strong, that I might have stood thus till
escape had been impossible, but that the rustling of the rubbish, as
it crept up the rugged stump with the rise of the waters, caught my
ear. A thunderbolt smouldering at my feet could not have sounded so
horrible. All my fresh affections rushed back to my heart in
multiplied alarm for the safety of their new-found treasure. I started
from my resting-place, and swinging back the long hair from my eyes,
once more breasted the stream with clenched teeth and dripping brows.
But still, as farther I advanced, the water grew deeper and deeper,
and the current split upon my shoulder, and twisted through my legs,
still stronger and stronger. Lumps of black moss, dried peats, and
heavy sods, now struck me, and tumbled on; while wisps of yellow grass
and long straws doubled across my body and entangled me. My limbs
wavered at every step as I strained and writhed them through the
current. I gave way--I was half lifted--the river and the burn met not
a hundred yards below. Had I had the strength of ten men, I could not
have supported her through that tumult. Every step swerved towards the
conclusion of at least her existence; yet with love tenfold did I now
press her to my heart, and with tenfold energy struggle to make good
her rescue. Her eyes opened--I murmured prayers, comforts, and
endearments--she saw the red torrent around, the tawny breakers
before, the black storm overhead; but she saw love in my eye, she
heard it in my words; and there, within her probable deathbed, and in
the embrace of her probable companion in death, she was wooed among
the waters, and was won. Another effort--but the eddy swung me round,
and I had given up all as lost, save my interest in that perishing
girl; when suddenly I heard, through the dashing of waves and the
hissing of rain, the hoarse cry of a man, "Courage--hold up, sir--this
way, halloo!" I turned, half thinking it imagination, but there I
really saw a man up to the breast in the flood, supporting with arms
and shoulders a powerful black horse, which he urged across the
current. Another minute, and I stood firm behind the breakwater they
formed at my side. My dear charge had again fainted; he assisted me to
raise her to the saddle; but suddenly, as he looked at her, he uttered
a wild cry of astonishment, and kissing and embracing her, exclaimed,
"My Madeline, my daughter, my dear child!--Why, sir, how is this?"

"Oh, sir, the river is rising a foot a-minute--take the bridle, I
beseech you, and let me support the lady and the horse's flank--I will
explain all when she is out of danger." So saying, I laid my shoulder
to the work and urged him on; we had an easier task, and in another
minute succeeded in getting safe out of that perilous passage.

I now looked at our preserver; he was a handsome, tall, and vigorous
man, about forty--evidently a soldier and gentleman. He lifted his
daughter from the saddle; and while I recounted the particulars of her
adventure, unclasped her habit and chafed her forehead; but all was of
no avail. He looked distractedly, first at his daughter and then at
me; and after a pause of contending emotions, rose, laid her across
the pommel, placed his foot in the stirrup, and turning to me said, "I
am embarrassed by many circumstances--take my blessings for this day's
help--and forget us."

"I can never forget."

"Then take this trifling remembrance." He pulled a ring from his
finger and handed it to me; threw himself into the saddle; placed his
daughter across his body, and crying, ere I could say a word for sheer
amazement, "Farewell, farewell!" and once more, with some emotion,
"Farewell, sir, and may God bless you!" put spurs to his horse, and
dashed off at full speed for a pass which leads into the wild country
of the Misty Braes.

Till they disappeared among the hills, I stood watching them from the
bank where they had left me, bare-headed, numbed, and indignant; with
the rain still pelting on me, and the ring between my fingers. It was
a costly diamond; I pitched it after him with a curse, and bent my
weary way towards Knowehead, a distance of full five miles, in a maze
of uncertainty and speculation. She had not told her name, and she
seemed to desire a concealment of her residence; her father's conduct
more plainly evinced the same motive; many of the heads of the
rebellion were still lurking with their families among the mountains
of Ulster; the only house in the direction they had taken, at all
likely to be the retreat of respectable persons, was the old Grange of
Moyabel; and it was the property of a gentleman then abroad, but
connected with all the chief Catholic rebels in the North. All this
made me naturally conclude that these were some of that unhappy party;
and when I considered that both daughter and father had been riding
from different quarters to the same destination--for, as well as I
could surmise from her vague account of herself, she had left the
servant, behind whom she had come so far, to wait the arrival of her
father, who had promised to join them there--I was able to satisfy
myself of their being only on their way to Moyabel; and I therefore
determined not to create suspicion by making useless inquiries as to
the present family there, but to take the first opportunity of
judging for myself of the new comers. But how, after such a dismissal,
introduce myself? Here lay the difficulty, and beyond this I could fix
on nothing; so with a heavy heart I climbed the hill before my
kinsman's house, and presented myself at the wide door of the kitchen,
just as the twilight was darkening down into night.

I found my host sitting as was his wont--his nightcap on his head, his
long staff in his hand, and two greyhounds at his feet--behind the
fire upon his oaken settle. "I'm thinkin', Willie," he began as he saw
me enter--"I'm thinkin' ye hae catched a wet sark. Janet, lass, fetch
your cusin a dram. Nane o' your piperly smellin' bottles," cried he,
as she produced some cordials in an ancient liquor-stand--"Nane o'
your auld wife's jaups for ane o' my name--fetch something
purpose-like; for when my nevoy has changed himsell, we'll hae a stoup
o' whisky, and a crack thegither." In a few minutes I was seated in
dry clothes, before a bowl of punch and a blazing fire, beside the old
gentleman on his oaken sofa. At any other time I would have enjoyed
the scene with infinite satisfaction; for the national tipple, in my
mind, drinks nowhere so pleasantly as on a bench behind the broad
hearthstone of such a kitchen-hall as my friend's. Our smaller gentry
had, it is true, long since betaken themselves to their parlours and
their drawing-rooms; and the steams of whisky-punch had already risen
with the odours of bohea, and the smoke of sea-borne coals, to the
damask hangings and alabaster cornices of many high-ceiled and stately
apartments. Yet there were still some of the old school, who, like my
good friend, continued to make their headquarters, after the ancient
fashion, among their own domestics, and behind their own hearthstone;
for in all old houses the fire is six feet at least from the gable,
and the space between is set apart for the homely owner.

It was strange then, that I, who hitherto had so intensely relished
such a scene, should be so absent now that it was spread round me in
its perfection. The peat and bog-fir fire before me, and the merry
faces glistening through the white smoke beyond; the chimney overhead,
like some great minster bell (the huge hanging pot for the clapper);
the antlers, broadsword, and sporting tackle on the wall behind; the
goodly show of fat flitches and briskets around me and above, and that
merry and wise old fellow, glass in hand, with endless store of good
stories, pithy sayings, and choice points of humour, by my side; yet
with all I sat melancholy and ill at ease. In vain did the rare old
man tell me his best marvels; how he once fought with Tom Hughes, a
wild Welshman, whom he met in a perilous journey through the forests
of Cheshire; how Tom would not let go his grip when he had him down
("whilk was a foul villany"); and how he had to roll into a running
water before he could get loose ("whilk showed the savage natur of
thae menseless barbarians"). In vain he told me that pleasant jest,
how my grandfather "ance wiled the six excisemen into a lone house,
and then gaed in himsell and pyed them through the windows, whilk
cleared the country-side o' that vermin as lang as auld Redrigs was to
the fore." In vain he told me how his old dog Stretcher hunted the
black hare from Dunmoss to Skyboe. I left him in the subtlest of the
doubles, and in another minute was in the penthouse of clay, the river
boiling at my feet, and the rain rushing round my head; but before me
were the rich delighted eyes and quickening features of my unknown
beauty. Again I bore her through the flood; again I bent over her, and
pressed her to my breast, and once more in fancy I had felt the thrill
of her returned embrace; once more I had kissed her lips, and once
more we had vowed to live or die together, when I was startled from my
reverie by a question which the unsuspecting old man was now repeating
for the third time. I stammered an excuse, and roused myself to the
hearing of another excellent jest; but what it might have been I know
not, for the entrance of a young labourer, an old acquaintance of my
own, with whom he had business, cut it short. "Aleck," he said, "get
ready to set out for the fair upon the morn's e'en; and, Aleck, my
man, keep yoursell out o' drink and fechtin'--and, my bonny man, I'm
saying, the neist time ye gang a-courtin' to the Grange (I pricked up
my ears all at once), see that ye're no ta'en for ane o' thae rebel
chiels, wha, they say, are burrowin' e'en noo about the auld wa's as
thick as mice in a meal-ark."--"But Aleck," crooned old Mause from the
corner, "whilk ane o' the lasses are you for?" This was enough. I
watched my opportunity, slipped out to the stable, found Aleck, who
had retreated thither in his confusion, and point-blank proposed that
he should take me with him that very night, and introduce me to one of
the girls at Moyabel, as I longed to have an hour's courting after the
old fashion before I left the country. I concluded by offering him a
handsome consideration, which, however, he refused; but, sitting
down in the manger, began to consider my proposal, with such
head-scratching and nail-biting, as confirmed me in my opinion that
there was something mysterious about the family of the Grange. "Master
William," said he at last, "I canna refuse ye, and you gaun awa',
maybe never to see a lass o' your ain country again; but ye maun
promise never to speak o' whatever ye may see strange aboot the hoose;
for, atween oursells, there are anes expeckit there this verra night
wha's names wadna cannily bear tellin'; and Jeanie trusts me, and I
maunna beguile her. But the waters are out, and we will hae a lang
and cauld tramp through the bogs, sae get a drap o' somethin' for the
road, and I'll hae Tam Herron's Sunday suit ready for you after
bed-time. Saul! ye'll mak a braw weaver wi' the beard; and wi' a' your
Englified discoorsin' ye can talk as like a Christian as ever when ye
like. Nanny will think hersell fitted at last; but ye maunna be ower
crouse wi' Nanny, Master William." I promised everything; waited
impatiently till the family had gone to rest; found Aleck true to his
engagement; put on the clothes he had prepared, and we stole out about
midnight.

It was pitch dark, but fair and calm; so, with the hopes of getting to
our journey's end not wet above the knee, we commenced stumbling and
bolting along the great stones and ruts of the causeway; this we
cleared without any accident, farther than my slipping once into the
ditch, and now found ourselves upon the open hill-side, splashing
freely over the soaked turf and slippery pathway. I was in high
spirits, and though squirting the black puddle to my knees at every
step, and seeing no more of the road I was to travel on than another
one in advance, yet faced onward with great gaiety and good humour.
After some time, however, Aleck began snuffing the air, and, with
evident concern, announced the approach of a mist, which soon
thickened into perceptibility to me also. Our path, which hitherto had
swept across sheep-grazing uplands and grassy knolls, now began to
thread deep rushy bottoms, with here and there a quaking spot of
quagmire, or a mantled stream, which I knew by the cold water running
sharp below, and by the thick, dull gathering of the weeds about my
legs--for the mist made all so dark, that I can only give a blind
man's description. The way now became more intricate and broken, but
still I followed Aleck cheerily, pushing through all obstacles, and
thinking only of the best measures to be taken when we should arrive
at Moyabel, when I suddenly perceived that my footsteps were treading
down the long wet grass and heavy sedge itself, and that any distinct
pathway no longer remained to guide us. I began to doubt Aleck's
knowledge of the road, which he still maintained to be unshaken; but
the next two steps settled the matter, by bringing us both up to the
middle in a running river. We scrambled out without saying a word,
Aleck being silent from confusion, and I fearing to increase it by
reproaches. He began to grope about for the path we had come by; and
finding what he thought our track, pursued it a few steps to the
right. I thought I had it to the left, and began to explore in that
direction. "Hallo! where are you now?" I cried, as I missed him from
my side. He answered, "Here," from a considerable distance lower down.
"Where?" I repeated.--"Hereawa," he answered.--"Hereawa, thereawa,
wandering Willie," I hummed in bitter jollity, as I proceeded in the
direction of the voice, "Hereawa, thereawa, haud your way hame,"
when--squash, crash, bolt, heels over head--plump I went over a brow
into a very Devil's Punch-Bowl; for bottom I found none, though shot
from the bank with the impetus of an arrow. Down I went, the water
closing over me in strata and substrata, each one colder than the
other, till I expected to find my head at last clashing against the
young ice wedges of a preternatural frost below. I sank at least
fifteen feet before I could collect my energies and turn. I thought I
would never reach the top. To it at last I came, sputtering, blown,
and fairly frightened. I never waited to consider my course, but
striking desperately out, swam straight forward till I came bump
against the bank. I clambered up, and listened. The first sound I
could distinguish, after the bubbling and hissing left my ears, was
Aleck's voice nearly before me, on the opposite side. He was singing
out something between a howl and a halloo; for he also had got into
the water, and could not find bottom anywhere but on the spot he
occupied. He could not swim a stroke. There was nothing for it but to
go back and rescue him. The unexpectedness alone of my first dip had
caused my confusion. That was gone off, and I again plunged resolutely
into the river, which I now could discern grey in the clearing mist.
A few strokes brought me to where the poor fellow stood, with his arms
extended upon the water, and his neck stretched to the utmost to keep
it out of his mouth. I knew the danger of taking an alarmed man of
greater weight and strength than myself upon my back; and therefore,
comforting him with assurances of safety, I tried in all directions
for bottom, which at last I found; and having sounded the bed of the
river to the opposite side, returned, and with some difficulty
succeeded in guiding and supporting him across.

The mist was now rapidly thinning away, and I could distinguish the
high bank black against the sky. It was a joyful sight, and induced,
by a natural association, the pleasant thought of the comforter in my
pocket. I took a mighty dram; then feeling for Aleck's head (he had
lain down, streaming like Father Nile in the pictures, among the
rushes, at my feet), I directed the bottle's mouth to his. He had been
making his moan in an under-whine ever since I first heard him
lamenting his condition on the opposite side; but no sooner did his
lips feel the smooth insinuator's presence, than (his tongue being put
out of the way) they closed with instinctive affection, and went
together when the long embrace was past, with a smack quite cheering.
Then slowly rising, and fetching a deep sigh as he gathered himself
together, "Lord, Lord," said he "I'm nane the waur o' that. But,
Master William, to tell God's truth, I dinna ken whaur we are. That we
hae crossed Glen---- water, or the Hill-head burn, or the Marcher's
dyke, I'm positive sure; but whilk I'm no just equal to say--but
there's somethin' black atween us and the lift; I judge it to be
Dunmoss Cairn: let's haud on to it, and we maun soon come to biggit
wa's." So saying, he led me forward in the direction of what seemed to
me also a distant hill; but being occupied in placing my footsteps I
had ceased to look at it, when all at once there was a crush of leaves
about my head, and I found myself under a green tree. "When will this
weary night of error have an end?" I mentally exclaimed; but was
surprised by Aleck taking my hand, rubbing the palm along the rough
stem, and asking in an elate tone what I felt? "A damnably rough
bark," growled I; "what do you mean?" He cut a caper full three feet
into the air. "Here is a pleasant occurrence now--this rascal is
drunk--he will roll into the next ditch and suffocate--I shall be the
death of the poor fellow--I shall lose"--here he broke my agreeable
meditations. "I'll tell you how it was, Master William; Jeanie and I
were partners at the shearin' ("Evidently drunk," thought I), and I
canna tell how it was ("I well believe you--you can not--but 'twas all
my own folly," I muttered), but I found the maid in a sair fluster
that e'en when we parted: ("You'll be in sorer fluster presently if I
begin to you--you drunken idiot!" was my running commentary,) and sae
just as I came by this auld thorn"--"Then you _do_ know where you
are--do you?" I cried aloud.--"Sure enough," said he, "for didn't I
carve my heart wi' Jeanie's heuk stuck out through it that very night;
and isna it here to this minute?"--"Oh, ho, lead on then, in God's
name; but tell me where we are, and how far we have to go."--"Why,"
said he, "the bridge is just a step overby that we ought to hae
crossed; and troth, I wonner a dishfu' at mysell for no kennin' the
black moss and the dolochan's hole that we hae just come through; for
I hae cut turf in the ane, and weshed in the ither, since I was the
bouk o' a peat--but here we are at the end o' the causey that will
take us to the Grange." We entered on a raised and moated bank, which
crossed a mossy flat to the old house; but ere we had advanced a dozen
steps, there suddenly appeared a light moving about, and giving
occasional glimpses of the white walls and thick trees at the further
end; it then came steadily and swiftly towards us; I could presently
distinguish the dull beat of hoofs on the greensward, and soon after,
the figures of two mounted men.

The sides of the old moat were overgrown with furze and brambles, and
we stole into this cover as they approached. The foremost bore the
light, was armed at all points, and mounted on a fresh horse. I
started with exultation where I lay--he was _her_ father. His
companion's black breeches and canting seat proclaimed a priest. They
were conversing as they passed. "Another month, good father, and we
will be behind the bastions of Belle Isle; were it not for my
Madeline's sake, I would make it six; but this bloodhound having been
slipped upon us."--The sounds were here lost in the trampling of their
horses; I heard the man of masses mumble something in reply, and they
wheeled out of hearing up the rugged pathway to the bridge. "Now, mind
your promise, Master William," said Aleck, as we rose and proceeded to
the house. We soon arrived there; and he led me to a low wing,
repeating his cautions, and, in answer to my questions, denying all
knowledge of the strangers. Placing me behind a low wall, he now stole
forward and tapped at a window, and presently I heard the inmates
moving and whispering. The door was soon opened, and a parley took
place, in which I heard my assumed name made honourable mention of by
my intruder. He led me forward, pushed me gently before him, and I
found myself in a dark passage, soft hands welcoming me, and warm
breath playing on my cheek.

The door was closed, and we were led into a wide rude apartment, dim
in the low glow of a heap of embers. A splinter of bogwood was soon
kindled, and by its light I saw that we had been conducted by two
girls. One, whom from her attention to Aleck I concluded to be her of
the reaping-hook, was a pretty interesting soft maiden. The other,
however, had attractions of a very different class: fine-featured,
dark-eyed, coal-black-haired and tall; as she stood--her right hand
holding the rude torch over her head, while the left gathered the
folds of a long cloak under her bosom, with her eyes of coy
expectation and merry amazement--she seemed more the ideal of a
robber's daughter in some old romance, than a menial in a moorland
farm-house. I attempted to salute her, but she held me at bay with her
hand. "Hech, lad! ye're no blate--is it knievin' troots[A] ye think
ye are? But, my stars, ye _are_ as droukit as if ye had been through
a' the pools o' the burn! Sit down, my jo, till we dry ye; and be
qu'et till I get a fire." Peats and bogwood were now heaped upon the
hearth; and, kneeling down upon the broad stone, she began puffing
away with her pretty puckered mouth; partly, I suppose, because there
are no bellows in Glen----; and partly, I took it for granted, to
afford me an opportunity of kneeling beside and preeing it. The smoke
now rose before me in thick volumes, and for a while I lost sight of
Aleck and his Jeanie. By and by, however, on raising my head, I
started back at seeing a figure the most extraordinary standing at the
further end of the apartment. A blanket covered the shoulders; the
feet and legs were bare; a red handkerchief was tied about the head;
and, strangest of all, although the hairy neck and whiskers argued him
a man, yet was he from the waist to the knees clad in a petticoat!

[Footnote A: "Knieving trouts" (they call it tickling in England) is
good sport. You go to a stony shallow at night, a companion bearing a
torch; then, stripping to the thighs and shoulders, wade in; grope
with your hands under the stones, sods, and other harbourage, till you
find your game, then gripe him in your "knieve" and toss him ashore.

I remember, when a boy, carrying the splits for a servant of the
family, called Sam Wham. Now Sam was an able young fellow, well-boned
and willing; a hard-headed cudgel-player, and a marvellous tough
wrestler, for he had a backbone like a sea-serpent; this gained him
the name of the Twister and Twiner. He had got into the river, and
with his back to me, was stooping over a broad stone, when something
bolted from under the bank on which I stood, right through his legs.
Sam fell with a great splash upon his face, but in falling jammed
whatever it was against the stone. "Let go, Twister," shouted I, "'tis
an otter, he will nip a finger off you."--"Whisht," sputtered he, as
he slid his hand under the water; "may I never read a text again, if
he isna a sawmont wi' a shouther like a hog!"--"Grip him by the gills,
Twister," cried I.--"Saul will I!" cried the Twiner; but just then
there was a heave, a roll, a splash, a slap like a pistol-shot; down
went Sam, and up went the salmon, spun like a shilling at pitch and
toss, six feet into the air. I leaped in just as he came to the water;
but my foot caught between two stones, and the more I pulled the
firmer it stuck. The fish fell in a spot shallower than that from
which he had leaped. Sam saw the chance, and tackled to again; while
I, sitting down in the stream as best I might, held up my torch, and
cried fair play, as shoulder to shoulder, throughout and about, up and
down, roll and tumble, to it they went, Sam and the salmon. The
Twister was never so twined before. Yet through crossbuttocks and
capsizes innumerable, he still held on; now haled through a pool; now
haling up a bank; now heels over head; now head over heels; now head
and heels together; doubled up in a corner; but at last stretched
fairly on his back, and foaming for rage and disappointment; while the
victorious salmon, slapping the stones with his tail, and whirling the
spray from his shoulders at every roll, came boring and snoring up the
ford. I tugged and strained to no purpose; he flashed by me with a
snort, and slid into the deep water. Sam now staggered forward with
battered bones and peeled elbows, blowing like a grampus, and cursing
like nothing but himself. He extricated me, and we limped home.
Neither rose for a week; for I had a dislocated ankle, and the Twister
was troubled with a broken rib. Poor Sam! he had his brains discovered
at last by a poker in a row, and was worm's meat within three months;
yet, ere he died, he had the satisfaction of feasting on his old
antagonist, who was man's meat next morning. They caught him in a net.
Sam knew him by the twist in his tail.]

I started to my feet, visions of sleepwalkers and lunatics thronging
through my imagination, but was caught hold of by Nanny, who, shaking
with suppressed laughter, whispered me, while the tears ran out and
danced upon her long lashes for very fun, that it was only precious
Aleck, "wham Jeanie had cled in her bit wyliecoat, since she dauredna
wake the house to look for aught else;" then, laying her hand upon my
shoulder (and the wet oozed from between her fingers), she proposed,
with a maidenly mixture of kindliness and hesitation, that I should go
and do so likewise. Who knows how I might have stood the temptation,
had she not in time perceived my error, and, blushing deeply,
explained, that as Aleck had done--undressed himself alone--so should
I. Under these stipulations, I declined parting with more than my
coat, for which she substituted a curiously quilted coverlet; then
bringing me warm water, insisted on my bathing my feet. I gladly
consented; but hardly had I pulled off the coarse stockings, and
washed the black soil from my hands, when there began a grievous
coughing and grumbling in the room from which the girls had come.

"Lord haud a grip o' us!" cried Aleck; "it's auld _Peg_
hoastin'--De'il wauken her, the cankered rush! she'll breed a bonny
splore gin she finds me here."

"Whisht, whisht," whispered Nanny, "she's as keen as colly i' the
lugs; and glegger than baudrons i' the dark."

The libelled Mistress Margaret gave no further time for calumniation;
slamming open the door, she came down upon us, gaunt, grim, and
unescapable--"Ye menseless tawpies! ye bauld cutties! ye wanton
limmers! ye--_wha's this_?" She snatched the light from Nannie's hand,
and poked it close to my face--"Wha's this? I say, wha's this?"

"Hoots, woman!" cried Nanny, spiritedly, yet with an air of
conciliation, "I'se bail ye mony a boy has come over the moss to crack
wi' yoursell when ye were a lassie."

"_When_ I was a lassie!"

I thought she would have choked; but her indignation at last made its
way up in thunder upon my devoted head.

"Wha are ye? what are ye? what fetches ye sornin' here? ye----"

Nanny again interposed. "He's just a weaver lad, I tell ye, that Aleck
Lowther fetched frae the Langslap Moss to keep him company."

"A weaver lad!" (I had raised my foot to the rim of the tub, and sat
with my chin upon my hand, and my elbow on my knee, laughing, to the
great aggravation of her anger). "A weaver lad!--there's ne'er a
wabster o' the Langslap Moss wi' siccan a leg as that!--there's ne'er
a ane o' a' the creeshy clan wha's shins arena bristled as red as a
belly rasher!--there's ne'er a wabster o' the Langslap Moss wi' the
track o' a ring upon his wee finger!--there's ne'er a wabster o' the
Langslap Moss wi' aughteen hunner linen in his sark-frill!--Jamie,
hoi! Jamie Steenson, here's a spy!"

So sudden and overpowering was her examination and judgment, and her
voice had risen to such a pitch of clamour, that all my attempts at
interruption and explanation were lost; while the screams which the
girls could not control when they heard her call in assistance,
prevented a reply. One after another, five ruffianly-looking fellows
rushed in at her call; and ere I could free myself from the
importunate exculpations of poor Nanny, they were crowding and cursing
round me; while one, apparently their leader, held a lantern to my
face, a pike to my throat, and demanded my name and business. That
these were one unhappy remnant of the rebel party I could not doubt;
if I declared my real name, I might expect all that exasperation could
prompt and desperation execute against a disguised enemy in the camp
(for the only one from whom I could expect protection was, as I had
seen, beyond my appeal). Again, to give a fictitious name, and keep up
the character of a country weaver, was revolting to my pride, and in
all likelihood beyond my ability. Which horn of this dilemma I might
have impaled myself on, I cannot tell; for a sudden interruption
prevented my answer.

Aleck, who had with difficulty been hitherto restrained by the united
exertions of the three women, here burst from their arms, tossed off
his blanket, and leaped with a whoop into the middle of the
floor;--except the short petticoat about his loins he was stark naked.
"I'm twal stane wecht--my name's Aleck Lawther--I'll slap ony man o'
ye for four-an'-twenty tens!" As he uttered this challenge, tossing
his long arms about his head, bouncing upright, and cutting like a
posture-master at the end of every clause, while the scanty kilt
fluttered and flapped about his sinewy hams, the men fell back in a
panic, as if from a spectre; but their astonishment soon gave place to
indignation, and my questioner, clubbing his pike, stepped forward,
and making the shaft rattle off the white array of ribs, which poor
Aleck's flourish had left unprotected, reduced his proposals to
practice in a trice. He, wisely making up for disparity of forces by
superiority of weapon, started back, and adroitly unhooking the long
iron chain and pot-hooks from the chimney, set them flying round his
head like a slinger of old; and meeting his antagonist with a clash,
shot him rocketwise into the corner: then giving another whirl to his
stretcher, and leaping out with the full swing of his long body, he
brought it to bear upon the next. There was another clattering crash,
and the man went down; but pitching with his shoulder into the tub,
upset it, and sent a flood of water into the fire. Smoke, steam, and
white ashes, whirled up in clouds; the lantern was trampled out, and
the battle became general: for one rascal, lifting his fallen
comrade's pike (there was luckily but one among them), advanced upon
me. I had just light to see the thrust and parry it. Another second,
and we had closed in the midst of that strange atmosphere, striking
and sneezing at each other across the pike shaft, as we each strove to
wrest it to himself. My antagonist was a lusty fellow, and tugged me
stoutly, while I kept him between me and the main fight, now raging
through the water and the fire: this I could just distinguish among
the vapour and smoke, dashed about in red showers of embers, as each
new tramp and whirl of the combatants swept it from the hearthstone.
How Aleck fought his two opponents I could not imagine; yet once,
during a minute's relaxation on our parts, when, having got the pike
jammed between a table and the wall, we were reduced to the by-play of
kicking one another's shin-bones, I could hear, every now and again,
above the medley of curses and screams (for the women were all busy)
his lusty "Hah!" as he put in each successive blow; and then the bolt
and thud of some one gone down, far away in the distance; or the rush
of a capsize among the loose lumber at my feet. But I had no longer an
opportunity of noting his prowess; for my antagonist, getting the
weapon disentangled, hauled me after him into the open floor, and then
began upon the swinging system. So away we went, sweeping down chairs
and stools, and rolling fallen bodies over in our course; till tired
and dizzy, I suddenly planted myself, let go both holds, and dashing
in right and left together, sent him whirling like a comet, impetuous
and hot, into the void beyond. But my own head here fell heavily upon
my breast; and the whole scene, smoke, fire, and shifting shapes, with
all their mingled hissing, and battering, oaths, shrieks, and
imprecations, shut upon my senses.

A Babel of dull sound, chiming and sawing within my head, announced
my returned consciousness. This is no dream, thought I; I have been
hurt, but I am afraid to ask myself where. If my skull should be
fractured now, and I should be an idiot all my life, or if my arm
should be broken--farewell to the river! But can I be still doubled up
among those pots and pans which I crushed beneath me in my fall?
No,--dark as it is, I feel that I am laid straight and soft. I must be
in bed, but where? where? It was some time before I had courage to
confirm my doubts of my head's condition: it was carefully bandaged,
and doubtless much shattered: I could feel that I was in a
close-panelled bedstead, such as are usual in old houses; but had too
much discretion to attempt the hazardous experiment of rising without
knowing either my strength or situation. So I lay, fancying all sorts
of means to account for my preservation: need I say that the main
agent in all was the fair Madeline?

My curiosity was at length relieved; a rude folding-door opened
opposite, and showed a low dim sitting-room beyond, from which there
rose a few steps to the entrance of my chamber. On these appeared,
not, alas! the fancied visitant who was to flit about my bedside, and
mix her bright presence with my dreams, but stately and severe, with a
pale cheek and compressed lip, her father--my aversion.

I lay silent, sick at the thoughts of my own meanness in his eyes;
while he advanced, shading the light of the candle from my face, and
in a low cold tone, asked if I desired anything?

I shall never forget him as he stood, the light thrown full upon his
strong features and broad chest, and shining purple through the
fingers of his large hand. "I asked, sir, did you require any
assistance?" he repeated. "Are you in pain?" he went on. I now replied
that my chief pain was caused by my own unworthy appearance; made a
confused apology for my misconduct, and offered my acknowledgments for
the protection I had received. "You have saved the life of my child,"
he said, turning slightly from me, "and protection is a debt which
must be paid; for your follower, he must thank the same circumstance
for what little life his own mad conduct has left him." Without
another word, he took a phial from the table, and, pouring out a
draught, handed it to me; I mechanically drunk it off; but ere I had
taken it from my lips, he was gone. I heard the doors close and the
bolts shoot after him with strange forebodings; and when the sound of
his footsteps had died away in the long passage beyond, fell back in a
wild maze of apprehension and self-censure, till I again sank into a
heavy sleep.

When I awoke, there was a yellow twilight in my little cabin, from the
scattering of a red ray of the sunset which streamed through a
crevice in the door. I had therefore slept a whole day; my fever was
abated; the gnawing pain had left my head, and I longed to eat. I
knocked upon the boards, and the door was presently opened; but it was
some time ere my eyes could endure the flood of light which then burst
in. The figure which at length became visible amid it, was little
worthy so goodly a birth. The lank, slack, ill-hinged anatomy of Peg,
with a bottle in one hand, and a long horn spoon in the other,
advanced, and in no gracious tone demanded what was my will. I turned
and lay silent; for I never felt an awkward situation so embarrassing
as then. My gorge rose at the malignant cause of all my disasters; but
interest and discretion told me to be civil if I spoke at all. I gave
no answer; she was in no humour to suffer such trifling with her time.
"Hear till him, Jamie!" she exclaimed to some one behind her, "hear
till him, the fashious scunner! he dunts folk frae their wark as if he
was the laird o' the Lang Marches himsell, and then----" "Good
Mistress Margaret----" "Mistress me nae mistresses! there's ne'er a
wife i' the parish has a right to be mistressed, since she deeit wha's
wean ye wad betray! Deil hae me gin I can keep my knieves aff ye, ye
ill-faured bluid-seller!"--"Ill-faured _what_?" shouted I. "No just
ill-faured neither, blest be the Maker, and mair's the pity; ye're a
clean boy eneugh, as I weel may say, wha had the strippin' and
streekin' o' ye; but I say that ye're just a bluid-seller, a reformer,
a spy, gin ye like it better!" She backed down the steps, and holding
a leaf of the door at each side, stretched in her neck, and went on,
"Ay, spy, Willie Macdonnell, spy to your teeth.--Isna your name upon
your sark breast? and arena the arms that ye disgrace upon your seal,
and daur ye deny them? daur ye deny that ye're the swearer away o' the
innocent bluid o' puir Hughy Morrison, wham ye hangit like a doug upon
the lamp-posts o' Doonpatrick? Daur ye hae the face to deny that ye
come here e'en noo to reform upon Square O'More and his bonny wean?
Daur ye hae the impurence to deny it?" Here I was relieved by the
entrance of Mr O'More himself. I addressed him in a tone as cool and
conciliatory as I could command. "I am much relieved to find, sir,
that any harshness I may have to complain of, has originated in a
mistake. I am Mr Macdonnell of Redrigs. It was only last week that I
returned from England. I have not been in this part of the country for
many years; and can only say, that if any person bearing my name
deserves the character you seem to impute to me, I detest him as
cordially as you do." He eyed me with visibly increased disgust. "It
will not pass, sir, it will not pass. I have had notice of your
intentions. Mr Macdonnell of Redrigs is in Oxford."--"I tell you, sir,
he is here!" I cried, starting up in bed. "Back, back!" he exclaimed
to the servants who were pressing round; they fell back, and he came
up to me. "Hark ye, sir, instead of assuming a name to which you have
no right----" The passion which had been burning within me all along,
blazed out in uncontrollable fury. I started with a sudden energy out
into the floor; dashed backwards and forwards through the room,
stamping with indignation, while I asserted my honour, and demanded
satisfaction; but the fire which had for a minute animated me failed;
my tongue became confused and feeble; the whole scene whirled and
flickered round me, and I sank exhausted, and in a burning fever, on a
seat.

Every one who has suffered fever knows what a fiery trance it is. How
long mine had continued I could not guess; when the crisis came, it
was favourable, and I awoke, cool and delighted, from a long sweet
sleep. That scene I had already witnessed, of sunset through the room
beyond, was again before me; the same grey and purple haze hung over
the mountain, and the same rich sky from above lit up the
river-reaches; the dim old room was warm in the mellow light; the
folding-doors stood wide open, but on the steps where the marrer of
the whole had stood before, lo! the radiance revelling through her
hair; the rich light flushing warm through the outline of her face and
neck; the sweet repose of satisfaction and conscious care beaming
over her whole countenance; benign and beautiful stood Madeline
O'More, her finger on her lips. "She, too, thinks me a spy," I
muttered, in the bitterness of my heart, and hid my face upon
the pillow. But who can describe my delight when I heard her
well-remembered accents murmur beside me, "Oh no, believe me, indeed
I do not!" I looked up. She was covered with blushes--I felt them
reflected on my own cheek--there was a conscious pause. "Then you do
believe that I am what I have told you?" I said at last. "O yes! but
indeed you must forgive the error," she replied; and readily did I
admit its justifiableness, when she went on to tell me that a friend
had ridden a long journey to warn them against a person bearing my
name, and answering to my appearance--an apostate from their own
cause, and a noted spy, who, upon some vague information of their
retreat, had set out with the intention of discovering and betraying
them; and that their friend (in whom I at once recognised the priest I
had seen her father conduct from the house) had left them but a few
minutes before I arrived.

It was now my turn to apologise and explain. She listened, with many
pleas of palliation for the indignities I had endured, to my account
of my business in Ireland, and the circumstances which had led me to
Glen----; but when I came to account for my appearance at Moyabel,
her confusion satisfied me that the motive was already known. I felt
suddenly conscious of having been dreaming about her; and I knew that
a fevered man's dream is his nurse's perquisite: dissimulation, after
what I knew and suspected to have passed, would have been as
impossible as repugnant. So then and there, among that mellow sunset
in the sick chamber, I confessed to her how my whole thoughts had been
haunted by her image, since the time when her father had hurried her
from the scene of our meeting; how I could not rest while any scheme,
how wild soever, promised me even a chance of again beholding her; how
this had induced me to snatch at the first opportunity of discovering
her, and had brought on that disastrous adventure which had ended in
my wound; but that I still endured another, which I feared would prove
incurable, if I might not live upon the hope (and I took her hand) of
gaining her to be my heart's physician constantly.

Footsteps suddenly sounded in the passage. I released her hand, and
she hid her confusion, in a hasty escape through a side-door, just
before her father made his appearance at that of the hall. He advanced
with a frank expression of pleasure and concern; took his seat by my
bedside; congratulated me on the favourable issue of my illness, and
repeated those apologies and explanations which his daughter had
already made; adding that his first intention had been to detain me
prisoner, so that I could have no opportunity of betraying them until
their departure for France; but that the moment he had heard my
undisguised ravings, he perceived the injustice of which he had been
guilty; that Aleck's speech having returned soon after, (for the poor
fellow was so beaten that he could not say a word for three days--but
I have taken good care of him), another evidence, however unnecessary,
was afforded by his declaration; and that, therefore, a messenger was
immediately despatched to Knowehead, with private letters, explaining
our situation and its causes, and resting on the honour of my friend
for the security of all. The trust had been well reposed: Aleck, who
was able to go home in a few days, had come the night before (although
returned that morning) with the intelligence of the real spy having
applied for information to the old gentleman; but that, loyal subject
and zealous Protestant as he was, he had given him no more than a
civil indication of his door. All this he told with a gratified and
grateful air, and left me to a night of happy dreams.

Next morning, however, he came to me, and in a serious, nay severe
manner, told me, that as I had divulged the motive which brought me
thither in my ravings, he felt it a duty to himself and to me, now
that I was established in my recovery, to inform me that, while he
forgave my intrusion on a privacy he had already begged me not to
break, he must desire that there should be no recurrence of attentions
to his daughter, which might distract a heart destined either for the
service of a free Catholic in regenerated Ireland, or for that of
Heaven in a nunnery.

He had laid his hand upon the table, and it unconsciously rested upon
the seals of my watch. "Look," said I, "at these trinkets; I shall
tell you what they are, and let them be my answer. That rude silver
seal, with the arms and initials, was dug from my father's orchard,
along with the bones of his ancestor, who fell there beneath the
knives of free Catholics in --41, a greyhaired man, among the seven
bodies of his murdered wife and children. Look again at that curious
ring; it was worn by his son, the sole survivor of all that ancient
family who escaped, a maimed and famished spectre, out of Derry, after
the same party had driven him to eat his sword-belt for hunger. Look
once again at this more antique locket; it contains the hair of a
maternal ancestor, who perished for the faith among the fagots of
Smithfield; and look, here, at my own arm--that wound I received when
a child, from the chief of a 'Heart of Steel' banditti, who, under the
same banner, lighted our family's escape from rape and massacre, by
the flames of their own burning roof-tree; and yet I--I, every drop of
whose blood might well cry out for vengeance, when I see these
remembrancers of my wrongs in the hands of my wrongs' defender, do yet
take that hand, and long to call him father."

I was here interrupted by the sudden entrance of a splashed and
wearied messenger: advancing with a military salute, he presented a
letter to Mr O'More. "Pardon me," he said, hastily tearing it open,
"this is on a matter of life and death." He read it in great
agitation; led the messenger aside; gave some hurried orders; took
down his arms from the mantelpiece; and drawing his belt, and fixing
in his pistols while he spoke, addressed me:--"Notwithstanding what
you have urged, my determination remains unaltered. I must leave
Moyabel, for I cannot now say how long: you shall be taken care of in
my absence: farewell, sir, farewell." He shook me by the hand, and
hurried away. I heard confusion in the house, and thought I could
distinguish the sweet voice of Madeline, broken by sobs at his
departure. A considerable party seemed to leave the house; for there
was a great trampling of horses in the courtyard, and two or three
mounted men passed by the windows. At length they were out of hearing,
and I determined not to lose another minute of the precious
opportunity. My clothes had been brought from Knowehead, and I was so
much recovered that I found myself able to rise, and set about
dressing immediately. My continental visions of beard were more than
realised; and if I failed to produce a shapely moustache, 'twas not
for lack of material. With fluttering expectation, I selected the most
graceful of the pantaloons; drew on my rings; arrayed myself in the
purple velvet slippers, cap, and brocade dressing-gown; took one
lingering last look at the little mirror, and descended into the
parlour. I drew a writing-table to me, and penned a long letter to
Knowehead, another to Redrigs, and had half-finished a sonnet to
Madeline. The day was nearly past, and she had not yet made her
appearance.

For the first time the thought struck me, and that with a pang which
made me leap to my feet, that she had accompanied her father, and was
gone! gone, perhaps, to a nunnery in France! gone, and lost to me for
ever! "Hilloa, Peg!" and I thumped the floor with the poker, "Peg, I
say! as you would not have me in another fever, come here!" She came
to the door: the poor old creature's eyes were swollen and blood-shot:
she made a frightened curtsy to me as I stood, the papers crumpled up
in one hand, and the poker in the other.--"Peggy; oh, Peggy! where is
your young mistress?"

"Save us, your honour! Ye are na weel; sall I fetch you a drap
cordial?"

"Your mistress? your mistress? where is your young mistress?"

"Oh, sir, dear! take anither posset, and gang to your bed."

"To the devil I pitch your posset! where is your young mistress? where
is Madeline O'More?"

She turned to escape: I leaped forward, and caught her by the
shoulder--"Since ye maun ken, then," she screamed, "by God's
providence, she's on the saut water wi' the Square, her father"--I
sank back upon the sofa--"wha," she continued in a soothing strain,
"has left me to take charge o' your honour's head till ye can gang
your lane: A' the ithers are awa, but wee Jeanie and mysell; and ye
wadna, surely your honour wadna gang to frichten twa lane weemen, by
dwamin' awa that gait, and deein' amang their hands? But save us, if
there's no auld Knowehead himsell, wi' that bauld sorner, Aleck
Lawther, on a sheltie at his heels, trottin' doon the causey!--Jeanie,
hoi, Jeanie, rin and open the yett."

I lay back--sick--sick--sick. The old man, booted and spurred, strode
in--

"I'm thinkin', Willie, ye hae catched a cloured head?"

"If I do not catch a strait-waistcoat, sir, it will be the less
matter."

"Willie, man," said he, without noticing my comment, "she's weel awa,
and you are weel redd--but toss off thae wylie-coats and nightcaps,
and lap yoursell up in mensefu' braid-claith; for, donsie as you are,
you maun come alang wi' me to Knowehead--there's a troop o' dragoons
e'en now on Skyboe side, wi' your creditable namesake at their head,
and they'll herry Moyabel frae hearthstane to riggin' before sax hours
are gane--best keep frae under a lowin' king-post, and on the outside
o' the four wa's o' a prevost.--You're no fit to ride, man; and you
couldna thole the jolting o' a wheel-car--but never fear, we'll slip
you hame upon a feather-bed.--Nae denial, Willie--here, draw on your
coat: now, that's something purpose-like--cram thae flim-flams into a
poke, my bonny Jean, and fetch me a handkerchief to tie about his
head: Come, Willie, take my arm--come awa, come awa."

I was passive in his hands, for I felt as weak as an infant. They
wrapped me up in greatcoats and blankets, and supported me to the
courtyard. I had hardly strength to speak to Aleck, whom I now saw for
the first time since the night of his disaster; the poor fellow's face
still bore the livid marks of his punishment, but he was active and
assiduous as ever. A slide car or slipe--a vehicle something like a
Lapland sledge--was covered with bedding in the middle of the square:
a cart was just being hurried off, full of loose furniture, with Peggy
and Jenny in front. I was placed upon my hurdle, apparently as little
for this world as if Tyburn had been its destination: Knowehead and
Aleck mounted their horses, took the reins of that which drew me at
either side, and hauled me off at a smart trot along the smooth turf
of the grass-grown causeway. The motion was sliding and agreeable,
except on one occasion, when we had to take a few perches of the
highway in crossing the river; but when we struck off into the green
horse-track again, and began to rise and sink upon the ridges of the
broad lea, I could have compared my humble litter to the knight's
horses, which felt like proud seas under them. From the sample I had
had of that part of the country on the night of the flood, I had
anticipated a "confused march forlorn, through bogs, caves, fens,
lakes, dens, and shades of death," but was agreeably surprised to see
the Longslap Moss a simple stripe along the water's edge, lying dark
in the deepening twilight, a full furlong from our path, which,
instead of weltering through the soaked and spungy flats that I had
expected, wound dry and mossy up the gentle slope of a smooth green
hill; so that, although the night closed in upon us ere half our
journey was completed, we arrived at Knowehead without farther
accident than one capsize (the beauty of slipping consists in the
impossibility of breaks down), and so far from being the worse of my
"sail," I felt actually stronger than on leaving the Grange;
nevertheless I was put to bed, where I continued for a week.

Next day brought intelligence of the wrecking of Moyabel in the
search for the rebel general and the sick Frenchman: our measures had
been so well taken, however, that no suspicion attached itself to
Knowehead. I learned from Peggy, so soon as her lamentations subsided,
that Mr O'More was a south country gentleman, who had married her
master's sister, and that Madeline was his only child; that this had
been his first visit to the north since the death of his lady, which
had taken place at her brother's house, but that Moyabel had long been
the resort of his friends and emissaries. The old woman left Knowehead
that night, and I learned no more; for Jenny (who remained with Miss
Janet) had been so busy with her care of Aleck during his illness, and
afterwards so unwell herself, that she knew nothing more than I.

Another week completely re-established me in my strength; but the
craving that had never left me since the last sight of Madeline, kept
me still restless and impatient. Meanwhile Aleck's courtship had
ripened in the golden sun of matrimony, and the wedding took place on
the next Monday morning. He was a favourite with all at Knowehead, and
the event was celebrated by a dance of all the young neighbours. After
witnessing the leaping and flinging in the barn for half an hour, I
retired to Miss Janet's parlour, where I was lolling away the evening
on her high-backed sofa, along with the old gentleman, who, driven
from his capitol in the kitchen by the bustle of the day, had
installed himself in the unwonted state of an embroidered arm-chair
beside me. We were projecting a grand coursing campaign before I
should leave the country, and listening to the frequent bursts of
merriment from the barn and kitchen, when little Davie came in to tell
his master that "Paul Ingram was speerin' gain he wad need ony tey, or
brendy, or prime pigtail, or Virginney leaf."

"I do not just approve of Paul's line of trade," observed the old man,
turning to me; "for I'm thinking his commodities come oftener frae the
smuggler's cave than the king's store; but he's a merry deevil, Paul,
and has picked up a braw hantle o' mad ballads ae place and another;
some frae Glen---- here, some frae Galloway, some frae the Isle o'
Man, and some queer lingos he can sing, that he says he learned frae
the Frenchmen."

A sudden thought struck me. "I will go out and get him to sing some to
me, sir."--"Is Rab Halliday there, Davie?" inquired he.

"Oh aye, sir," said Davie; "it's rantin' Rab that ye hear roarin' e'en
noo."

"Weel, tell him, Davie, that here's Mr William, wha has learned to
speel Parnassus by a step-ladder, has come to hear the sang he made
about my grandmither's wooin'."

Accordingly Davie ushered me to the kitchen. I could distinguish
through the reaming fumes of liquor and tobacco about half a dozen of
carousers; they were chorusing at the full stretch of their lungs the
song of a jolly fellow in one corner, who, nodding, winking, and
flourishing his palms, in that state of perfect bliss "that good ale
brings men to," was lilting up

     "Till the house be rinnin' round about,
       It's time enough to flit;
     When we fell, we aye gat up again,
       And sae will we yet!"

This was ranting Rab Halliday--they all rose at my entrance; but being
able to make myself at home in all companies, I had little difficulty
in soon restoring them to their seats and jollity; while Davie
signified what was to him intelligible of his master's wishes to the
tuneful ranter. Rab, after praying law for any lack of skill that
might be detected by my learning, sang with great humour the following
verses, which he entitled

     THE CANNY COURTSHIP.

     Young Redrigs walks where the sunbeams fa';
     He sees his shadow slant up the wa'--
     Wi' shouthers sae braid, and wi' waist sae sma',
         Guid faith he's a proper man!
     He cocks his cap, and he streeks out his briest;
     And he steps a step like a lord at least;
     And he cries like the deevil to saddle his beast,
         And aff to court he's gaun.

     The Laird o' Largy is far frae hame,
     But his dochter sits at the quiltin' frame,
     Kamin' her hair wi' a siller kame,
         In mony a gowden ban':
     Bauld Redrigs loups frae his blawin' horse,
     He prees her mou' wi' a freesome force--
     "Come take me, Nelly, for better for worse,
         To be your ain guidman."

     "I'll no be harried like bumbee's byke--
     I'll no be handled unleddy like--
     I winna hae ye, ye worryin' tyke,
         The road ye came gae 'lang!"
     He loupit on wi' an awsome snort,
     He bang'd the fire frae the flinty court;
     He's aff and awa' in a snorin' sturt,
         As hard as he can whang.

     It's doon she sat when she saw him gae,
     And a' that she could do or say,
     Was--"O! and alack! and a well-a-day!
         I've lost the best guidman!"
     But if she was wae, it's he was wud;
     He garr'd them a' frae his road to scud;
     But Glowerin' Sam gied thud for thud,
         And then to the big house ran.

     The Glowerer ran for the kitchen-door;
     Bauld Redrigs hard at his heels, be sure,
     He's wallop'd him roun' and roun' the floor,
         As wha but Redrigs can?
     Then Sam he loups to the dresser-shelf--
     "I daur ye wallop my leddy's delf;
     I daur ye break but a single skelf
         Frae her cheeny bowl, my man!"

     But Redrigs' bluid wi' his hand was up;
     He'd lay them neither for crock nor cup,
     He play'd awa' wi' his cuttin' whup,
         And doon the dishes dang;
     He clatter'd them doon, sir, raw by raw;
     The big anes foremost, and syne the sma';
     He came to the cheeny cups last o' a'--
         They glanced wi' goud sae thrang!

     Then bonny Nelly came skirlin' butt;
     Her twa white arms roun' his neck she put--
     "O Redrigs, dear, hae ye tint your wut?
         Are ye quite and clean gane wrang?
     O spare my teapot! O spare my jug!
     O spare, O spare my posset-mug!
     And I'll let ye kiss, and I'll let ye hug,
         Dear Redrigs, a' day lang."

     "Forgie, forgie me, my beauty bright
     Ye are my Nelly, my heart's delight;
     I'll kiss and I'll hug ye day and night,
         If alang wi' me you'll gang."
     "Fetch out my pillion, fetch out my cloak,
     You'll heal my heart if my bowl you broke."
     These words, whilk she to her bridegroom spoke,
         Are the endin' o' my sang.

I got this copy of his song since, else I could not have recollected
it from that hearing; for I was too impatient to put the plan into
execution for which I had come out, to attend even to this
immortalising of an ancestor.

I knew Ingram at once by his blue jacket, and the corkscrews which
bobbed over each temple as he nodded and swayed his head to the
flourishes of "the gaberlunzie man" (the measure which Halliday had
chosen for his words); so when the song was finished, and I had drank
a health to Robin's muse, I stepped across to where he sat, and said I
wished to speak with him alone. He put down his jug of punch, and
followed me into my own room. I closed the door and told him, that as
I understood him to be in the Channel trade, I applied to know if he
could put me on any expeditious conveyance to the coast of France.
"Why, sir," said he, "I could give you a cast myself in our own tight
thing, the Saucy Sally, as far as Douglas or the Calf; and for the
rest of the trip, why there's our consort, the Little Sweep, that will
be thereabouts this week, would run you up, if it would lie in your
way, as far as Guernsey, or, if need be, to Belle Isle." "Belle Isle!"
repeated I, with a start; for the words of O'More to the priest came
suddenly upon my recollection, "Has any boat left this coast or that
of Man for Belle Isle within the last fortnight?" "Not a keel, sir;
there's ne'er a boat just now in the Channel that could do it but
herself--they call her the Deil-sweep, sir, among the revenue sharks;
for that's all that they could ever make of her. She is the only boat,
sir, as I have said, and if so be you are a gentleman in distress, you
will not be the only one that will have cause to trust to her--but,
d--n it (he muttered), those women--well, what of that?--Mayn't I
lend a hand to save a fine fellow for all that?--but harkye, brother,
this is all in confidence."

"Your confidence shall not be abused," whispered I, hardly able to
breathe for eager hope--the female passengers--the desire for
exclusion--the only boat that fortnight, all confirmed me. "Mr O'More
and I are friends; fear neither for him nor yourself; let me only get
first on board, and I can rough it all night on deck, as many a time
I've done before: his daughter and her woman can have your cabin to
themselves." It was a bold guess, but all right; he gaped at me for a
minute in dumb astonishment; then closing one hand upon the earnest
which I here slipped into it, drew the other across his eyes, as if to
satisfy himself that he was not dreaming, and in a respectful tone
informed me that they intended sailing on the next night from Cairn
Castle shore. "We take the squire up off Island Magee, sir; he has
been lying to on the look-out for us there for the last ten days; so
that if you want to bear a hand in getting the young lady aboard, it
will be all arranged to your liking."

During this conversation, my whole being underwent a wonderful change;
from the collapsing sickness of bereavement, I felt my heart and limbs
expand themselves under the delightful enlargement of this new spring
of hope: I shook Ingram by the hand, led him back to the kitchen, and
returned turned to the old man with a step so elated, and with such a
kindling of animation over my whole appearance, that he exclaimed, in
high glee, "Heard ye ever sic verses at Oxford, Willie? Odd! man, Rab
Halliday is as good as a dozen o' Janet's possets for ye; I'll hae him
here again to sing to ye the morn's e'en."

"He is a very pleasant fellow--a very pleasant fellow indeed, sir; but
I fear I shall not be able to enjoy his company to-morrow night, as I
purpose taking my passage for the Isle of Man in Ingram's
boat."--"Nonsense, Willy, nonsense; ye wadna make yoursell 'hail,
billy, weel met,' wi' gallows-birds and vagabonds--though, as for Paul
himsell"----"My dear sir, you know I have my passport, and need not
care for the reputation of my hired servants; besides, sir, you know
how fond I am of excitement of all sorts, and the rogue really sings
so well"----

"That he does, Willy. Weel, weel--he that will to Cupar maun to
Cupar!" and so saying, he lifted up his candle and marched off the
field without another blow.

Ingram and I started next evening about four o'clock, attended by
little Davie, who was to bring back the horse I rode next day; Ingram,
whose occupation lay as much on land as sea, was quite at home on his
rough sheltie, which carried also a couple of little panniers at
either side of the pommel, well-primed with samples of his contraband
commodities. We arrived a little after nightfall in Larne, where we
left Davie with the horses, while Ingram, having disposed of his pony,
joined me on foot, and we set off by the now bright light of the moon
along the hills for Cairn Castle.

During the first three or four miles of our walk, he entertained me
with abundance of songs echoed loud and long across the open mountain;
but when we descended from it towards the sea, we both kept silence
and a sharp look-out over the unequal and bleak country between. We
now got among low clumpy hills and furzy gullies, and had to pick our
steps through loose scattered lumps of rock, which were lying all
round us white in the clear moonshine, like flocks of sheep upon the
hill-side. The wind was off the shore, and we did not hear the noise
of the water till, at the end of one ravine, we turned the angular jut
of a low promontory, and beheld the image of the moon swinging in its
still swell at our feet.

Ingram whistled, and was answered from the shore a little farther on;
he stepped out a few paces in advance, and led forward; presently I
saw a light figure glide out of the shadow in front and approach us.

"Vell, mine Apostéle Paul, vat news of the Ephesiens?"

"All right, Munsher Martin, and here is another passenger."

He whispered something, and the little Frenchman touched his hat with
an air, and expressed, in a compound of Norman-French, Manx, and
English, the great pleasure he had in doing a service to the
illustrious cavalier, the friend of liberty. Hearing a noise in front,
I looked up and discerned the light spar of a mast peeping over an
intervening barrier of rock; we wound round it, and on the other side
found a cutter-rigged boat of about eighteen tons hauled close to the
natural quay, with her mainsail set and flapping heavily in the night
wind. Here we met another seaman. In ten minutes we were under way;
the smooth groundswell running free and silent from our quarter, and
the boat laying herself out with an easy speed, as she caught the
breeze freshening over the lower coast. The Saucy Sally was a
half-decked cutter (built for a pleasure-boat in Guernsey), and a
tight thing, as Ingram had said. I did not go into the cabin, which
occupied all the forecastle, but wrapping myself in my cloak, lay down
along the stern-sheets, and feigned to be asleep, for I was so excited
by the prospect of meeting Madeline, that I could no longer join in
the conversation of the crew. In about half an hour I heard them say
that we were in sight of Island Magee, and rising, beheld it dark over
our weather-bows. I went forward and continued on the forecastle in
feverish impatience as we neared it. The breeze stiffened as we
opened Larne Lough, and the Saucy Sally tossed two or three
sprinklings of cold spray over my shoulders, but I shook the water
from my cloak and resumed my look-out. At last we were within a
quarter of a mile of the coast, and a light appeared right opposite;
we showed another and lay to. With a fluttering heart I awaited the
approach of a boat. Twice I fancied I saw it distinguish itself from
the darkness of the coast, and twice I felt the blank recoil of
disappointment. At last it did appear, dipping distinct from among the
rocks, and full of people. They neared us; my heart leapt at every jog
of their oars in the loose thewels; for I could now plainly discern
two female figures, two boatmen, and a muffled man in the stern. All
was now certain; they shot alongside, laid hold of the gunnel, and I
heard O'More's voice call on Ingram to receive the lady. I could
hardly conceal my agitation as she was lifted on deck, but had no
power to advance; Nancy followed, and O'More himself leaped third on
deck--the boat shoved off, the helmsman let the cutter's head away,
the mainsail filled, and we stood out to sea.

Here I was then, and would be for four-and-twenty hours at the least,
by the side of her whom a little time before I would have given years
of my life to have been near but for a minute; yet, with an
unaccountable irresolution, I still delayed, nay, shrunk from, the
long-sought interview. It was not till her father had gone into the
little cabin to arrange it for her reception, and had closed the door
between us, that I ventured from my hiding-place behind the foresail,
and approached her where she stood gazing mournfully over the boat's
side at the fast passing shores of her country. I whispered her name;
she knew my voice at the first syllable, and turned in amazed delight;
but the flush of pleasure which lit up her beautiful features as I
clasped her hand, had hardly dawned ere it was chased by the rising
paleness of alarm. I comforted her by assurances of eternal love, and
vowed to follow her to the ends of the earth in despite of every human
power. We stood alone; for two sailors were with O'More and the girl
in the cabin, and the third, having lashed the tiller to, was fixing
something forward. We stood alone I cannot guess how long--time is
short, but the joy of those moments has been everlasting. We exchanged
vows of mutual affection and constancy, and I had sealed our blessed
compact with a kiss, witnessed only by the moon and stars, when the
cabin-door opened, and her father stood before me. I held out my hand,
and accosted him with the free confidence of a joyful heart. The
severe light of the moon sharpened his strong features into startling
expression, as he regarded me for a second with mingled astonishment
and vexation. He did not seem to notice my offered hand; but, saying
something in a low cold tone about the unexpected pleasure, turned to
the steersman, and demanded fiercely why he had not abided by his
agreement? The sailor, quailing before the authoritative tone and
aspect of his really noble-looking questioner, began an exculpatory
account of my having been brought thither by Ingram, to whom he
referred.

Bold Paul was beginning with "Lookee, Squire, I'm master of this same
craft," when I interrupted him by requesting that he would take his
messmates to the bows, and leave the helm with me, as I wished to
explain the matter myself in private. He consigned his soul, in set
terms, to the devil, if any other man than myself should be allowed to
make a priest's palaver-box of the Saucy Sally, and sulkily retired,
rolling his quid with indefatigable energy, and squirting jets of
spittle half-mast high.

O'More almost pushed the reluctant Madeline into the cabin, closed the
door, and addressed me.--"To what motive am I to attribute your
presence here, Mr Macdonnell?"

"To one which I am proud to avow, the desire of being near the object
of my sole affections--your lovely daughter; as well, sir, as from a
hope that I may still be able to overcome those objections which you
once expressed."

He pointed over the boat's side to the black piled precipices of
the shore, as they stood like an iron wall looming along the
weather-beam.--"Look there, sir; look at the Bloody Gobbins, and hear
me--When a setting moon shall cease to fling the mourning of their
shadows over the graves of _my_ butchered ancestors, and when a
rising sun shall cease to bare before abhorring Christendom"----

"Luff, sir, luff," cried Ingram, from the forecastle.

"Come aft yourself, Paul," I replied in despair and disgust.

O'More retired to the cabin bulkhead, and leaned against the door,
without completing his broken vow. Ingram took the helm, and I sat
down in silence. Paul saw our unpleasant situation, and ceasing to
remember his own cause for ill-humour, strove to make us forget ours.
He talked with a good deal of tact, but with little success, for the
next half hour. O'More remained stern and black as the Gobbins
themselves, now rapidly sinking astern, while the coast of Island
Magee receded into the broad Lough of Belfast upon our quarter. The
moon was still shining with unabated lustre, and we could plainly
discern the bold outline of the hills beyond; while the coast of Down
and the two Copelands lay glistening in grey obscure over our
starboard bow. No sail was within sight; we had a stiff breeze with a
swinging swell from the open bay; and as the cutter lay down and
showed the glimmer of the water's edge above her gunnel, the glee of
the glorying sailor burst out in song:--

     Haul away, haul away, down helm, I say;
       Slacken sheets, let the good boat go.--
     Give her room, give her room for a spanking boom;
       For the wind comes on to blow--
             (Haul away!)
       For the wind comes on to blow,
     And the weather-beam is gathering gloom,
       And the scud flies high and low.

     Lay her out, lay her out, till her timbers stout,
       Like a wrestler's ribs, reply
     To the glee, to the glee of the bending tree,
       And the crowded canvass high--
             (Lay her out!)
       And the crowded canvass high;
     Contending, to the water's shout,
       With the champion of the sky.

     Carry on, carry on; reef none, boy, none;
       Hang her out on a stretching sail:
     Gunnel in, gunnel in! for the race we'll win,
       While the land-lubbers so pale--
             (Carry on!)
       While the land-lubbers so pale
     Are fumbling at their points, my son,
       For fear of the coming gale!

All but O'More joined in the chorus of the last stanza, and the bold
burst of harmony was swept across the water like a defiance to the
eastern gale. Our challenge was accepted. "Howsomever," said Ingram,
after a pause, and running his glistening eye along the horizon, "as
we are not running a race, there will be no harm in taking in a
handful or two of our cloth this morning; for the wind is chopping
round to the north, and I wouldn't wonder to hear Sculmarten's
breakers under our lee before sunrise."

"And a black spell we will have till then, for when the moon goes down
you may stop your fingers in your eyes for starlight," observed the
other sailor, as he began to slacken down the peak halliards; while
they brought the boat up and took in one reef in the mainsail; but the
word was still "helm a-larboard," and the boat's head had followed the
wind round a whole quarter of the compass within the next ten minutes.
We went off before the breeze, but it continued veering round for the
next hour; so that when we got fairly into the Channel, the
predictions of the seamen were completely fulfilled; for the moon had
set, the wind was from the east, and a hurrying drift had covered all
the sky.

We stood for the north of Man; but the cross sea, produced by the
shifting of the wind, which was fast rising to a gale, buffeted us
with such contrary shocks, that after beating through it almost till
the break of day, we gave up the hope of making Nesshead, and,
altering our course, took in another reef, and ran for the Calf.

But the gale continued to increase; we pitched and plunged to no
purpose; the boat was going bows in at every dip, and the straining of
her timbers as she stooped out to every stretch, told plainly that we
must either have started planks or an altered course again. The
sailors, after some consultation, agreed on putting about; and, for
reasons best known to themselves, pitched upon Strangford Lough as
their harbour of refuge. Accordingly, we altered our course once more,
and went off before the wind. Day broke as we were still toiling ten
miles from the coast of Down. The grey dawn showed a black pile of
clouds overhead, gathering bulk from rugged masses which were driving
close and rapid from the east. By degrees the coast became distinct
from the lowering sky; and at last the sun rose lurid and large above
the weltering waters. It was ebb tide, and I represented that
Strangford bar at such a time was peculiarly dangerous in an eastern
gale; nevertheless the old sailor who was now at the helm insisted on
standing for it. When we were yet a mile distant, I could distinguish
the white horses running high through the black trembling strait, and
hear the tumult of the breakers over the dashing of our own bows.
Escape was impossible; we could never beat to sea in the teeth of such
a gale; over the bar we must go, or founder. We took in the last reef,
hauled down our jib, and, with ominous faces, saw ourselves in ten
minutes more among the cross seas and breakers.

The waters of a wide estuary running six miles an hour, and meeting
the long roll of the Channel, might well have been expected to produce
a dangerous swell; but a spring-tide, combining with a gale of wind,
had raised them at flood to an extraordinary height, and the violence
of their discharge exceeded our anticipations accordingly. We had
hardly encountered the first two or three breakers, when Ingram was
staggered from the forecastle by the buffet of a counter sea, which
struck us forward just as the regular swell caught us astern; the boat
heeled almost on her beam ends, and he fell over the cabin door into
the hold; the man at the helm was preparing for the tack as he saw his
messmate's danger, and started forward to save him: he was too late;
the poor fellow pitched upon his head and shoulders among the ballast;
at the same instant the mainsail caught the wind, the boom swung
across, and striking the helmsman on the back of the neck, swept him
half overboard, where he lay doubled across the gunnel, with his arms
and head dragging through the water, till I hauled him in. He was
stunned and nearly scalped by the blow. Ingram lay moaning and
motionless; the boat was at the mercy of the elements, while I
stretched the poor fellows side by side at our feet. I had now to take
the helm, for the little Frenchman was totally ignorant of the coast;
he continued to hand the main-sheet; and O'More, who all night long
had been sitting in silence against the cabin bulkhead, leaped
manfully upon the forecastle and stood by the tackle there. We had
now to put the boat upon the other tack, for the tide made it
impossible to run before the wind. O'More belayed his sheet, and,
as the cutter lay down again, folded his arms and leaned back on the
weather-bulwark, balancing himself with his feet against the skylight.

The jabble around us was like the seething of a caldron; for the waves
boiled up all at once, and ran in all directions. I was distracted by
their universal assault, and did not observe the heaviest and most
formidable of all, till it was almost down upon our broadside. I put
the helm hard down, and shouted with all my might to O'More--"Stand by
for a sea, sir--lay hold, lay hold." It was too late. I could just
prevent our being swamped by withdrawing our quarter from the shock,
when it struck us on the weather-bows, where he stood: it did not
break. Our hull was too small an obstacle: it swept over the
forecastle as the stream leaps a pebble, stove in the bulwark, lifted
him right up, and launched him on his back, with his feet against the
foresail. The foresail stood the shock a moment, and he grappled to
it, while we were swept on in the rush, like a sparrow in the clutches
of a hawk; but the weight of water bore all before it--the sheets were
torn from the deck, the sail flapped up above the water, and I saw him
tossed from its edge over the lee-bow. The mainsail hid him for a
moment; he reappeared, sweeping astern at the rate of fifteen knots an
hour. He was striking out, and crying for a rope; there was no rope
at hand, and all the loose spars had been stowed away. He could not be
saved. I have said that the sun had just risen: between us and the
east his rays shone through the tops of the higher waves with a pale
and livid light; as O'More drifted into these, his whole agonised
figure rose for a moment dusk in the transparent water, then
disappeared in the hollow beyond; but at our next plunge I saw him
heaved up again, struggling dim amid the green gloom of an
overwhelming sea. An agonising cry behind me made me turn my head. "O
save him, save him! turn the boat, and save him! O William, as you
love me, save my father!" It was Madeline, frantic for grief,
stumbling over, and unconsciously treading on the wounded men, as she
rushed from the cabin, and cast herself upon her knees before me. I
raised my eyes to heaven, praying for support; and though the clouds
rolled, and the gale swept between, strength was surely sent me from
above; for what save heavenly help could have subdued that fierce
despair, which, at the first sight of the complicated agonies around,
had prompted me to abandon hope, blaspheme, and die? I raised her
gently but firmly in my arms; drew her, still struggling and screaming
wild entreaties, to my breast, and not daring to trust myself with a
single look at her imploring eyes, fixed my own upon the course we had
to run, and never swerved from my severe determination, till the
convulsive sobs had ceased to shake her breast upon mine, and I had
felt the warm gush of her relieving tears instead; then my stern
purpose melted, and, bending over the desolate girl, I murmured, "Weep
no more, my Madeline, for, by the blessing of God, I will be a father
and a brother to you yet!" Blessed be he who heard my holy vow!--when
I looked up again we were in the smooth water.

Drenched, numbed, and dripping all with the cold spray, one borne
senseless and bloody in his messmate's arms, we climbed the quay of
Strangford. The threatened tempest was bursting in rain and thunder;
but our miserable plight had attracted a sympathising crowd. No
question was asked of who? or whence? by a generous people, to wounded
and wearied men and helpless women; till there pressed through the
ring of bystanders a tall fellow, with a strong expression of
debasement and desperate impudence upon his face, that seemed to say,
"Infamy, you have done your worst." He demanded our names and
passports, and arrested us all in the king's name, almost in the same
breath. I struck him in the face with my fist, and kicked him into the
kennel. No one attempted to lift him; but he scrambled to his feet,
with denunciations of horrible revenge. He was hustled about by the
crowd till he lost temper, and struck one of them. He had now rather
too much work upon his hands to admit of a too close attention to us;
three or four persons stepped forward and offered us protection.

Ingram and the other wounded sailor were taken off, along with the
Frenchman, by some of their own associates; while a respectable and
benevolent looking man addressed me, "I am a Protestant, sir, and an
Orangeman; but put these ladies under my protection, and you will not
repent your confidence; for, next to the Pope, I love to defeat an
informer;" and he pointed with a smile to our arrester, who was just
measuring his length upon the pavement.

"Is his name Macdonnell?" asked I.

"The same, sir," he replied; "but come away with me before he gets out
of my Thomas's hands, and I will put your friends out of the reach of
his."

I shall never be able to repay the obligation I owe to this good man,
who received Miss O'More, with her attendant, into the bosom of his
family, till I had arranged her journey to the house of a female
relative, whence, after a decent period of mourning, our marriage
permitted me to bear her to my own.



BEN-NA-GROICH.

[_MAGA._ MARCH 1839.]


A plain dark-coloured chariot, whose dusty wheels gave evidence of a
journey, stopped to change horses at Fushie Bridge, on the 7th of
August 1838. The travellers seemed listless and weary, and remained,
each ensconced in a corner of the carriage. The elder was a lady of
from forty to fifty years of age--thin, and somewhat prim in her
expression, which was perhaps occasioned by a long upper lip, rigidly
stretched over a chasm in her upper gum, caused by the want of a front
tooth. Her companion had taken off her bonnet, and hung it to the
cross strings of the roof. The heat and fatigue of the journey seemed
to have almost overcome her, and she had placed her head against the
side, and was either asleep or very nearly so. It is impossible to say
what her appearance might be when her eyes were open; all that we can
say under present circumstances is, that the rest of her features
were beautifully regular--that what appeared of her form was
unimpeachable--that her hair was disengaged from combs and other
entanglement, and floated at its own sweet will over cheek, and neck,
and shoulders. In the rumble were seated two servants, who seemed to
have a much better idea of the art of enjoying a journey than the
party within. A blue cloak, thrown loosely over the gentleman's
shoulders, succeeded (as was evidently his object) in concealing a
certain ornamental strip of scarlet cloth that formed the collar of
his coat; but revealed, at the same time, in spite of all the efforts
he could make to draw up the apron, the upper portion of a pair of
velvet integuments, which, according to Lord Byron's description of
them, were "deeply, darkly, beautifully blue." The lady, reclining on
his arm, which was gallantly extended, so as to save her from bumping
against the iron, requires no particular description. She was dressed
in very gay-coloured clothes--had a vast quantity of different-hued
ribbons floating like meteors on the troubled air--from the top and
both sides of her bonnet; while a glistening pink silk cloak was in
correct keeping with a pair of expansive cheeks, where the roses had
very much the upperhand of the lilies. While Mistress Wilson, the
respectable landlady of the posting-house, was busy giving orders
about the horses, a carriage was heard coming down the hill at a
prodigious rate, and, with a sort of prophetic spirit, the old woman
knew in an instant that four horses more would be required; and then
she recollected as instantaneously that there would only be one pair
in the stable. Under these circumstances, she went directly to the
door of the plain chariot, whose inmates still showed no signs of
animation, and tried to set their minds at rest as to the further
prosecution of their journey--though, as they had no knowledge of the
possibility of any difficulty arising, they had never entertained any
anxiety on the subject.

"Dinna be fleyed, my bonny burdy," she said, addressing the
unbonnetted young lady, who was still apparently dozing in the corner.
"Ye sal hae the twa best greys in Fussie stables; they'll trot ye in
in little mair than an hour; an' the ither folk maun just be doin' wi'
a pair, as their betters hae dune afore them."

The young lady started up in surprise, and looked on the shrewd
intelligent features of the well-known Meg Dods, without understanding
a syllable of her address.

"Haena ye got a tongue i' yer head, for a' ye're sae bonny?" continued
the rather uncomplimentary landlady--"maybe the auld wife i' the
corner'll hae mair sense. Hear ye what I said? ye sall hae the twa
greys--and Jock Brown to drive them; steady brutes a' the three, an'
very quick on the road."

The elder lady gazed with lack-lustre eyes upon the announcer of these
glad tidings.

"Greys, did you say?" she asked, catching at the only words she had
understood in the address.

"Yes, did I. An' ye dinna seem over thankful for the same. I tell ye,
if ye hadna a woman o' her word to deal wi', ye wad likely hae nae
horses ava';--for here comes ane o' the things thae English idewuts
ca's a dug-cart that they come doon wi', filled inside an' out wi'
men, and dugs, an' guns--a' hurryin' aff to the muirs, an' neither to
haud nor bind if they haena four horses the minute they clap their
hands. They'll mak' a grand fecht, ye'll see, to get your twa greys;
but bide a wee--the twa greys ye sall hae, if it was the laird o'
Dalhousie himsell."

And in fact in a very few seconds after the venerable hostess had
uttered these sybilline vaticinations, they received an exact
fulfiment--

"Four horses on!" exclaimed a voice from the last arrived vehicle,
which sorely puzzled the knowing ones of Fushie Brig to determine to
what genus or species it belonged. It was a long high carriage, fitted
for the conveyance both of men and luggage; and its capabilities in
both these respects were, on this occasion, very severely tried. On
the high driving-seat were perched two gentlemen, counterbalanced on
the dicky-seat behind by two sporting-looking servants. Inside, four
other gentlemen found ample room; while a sort of second body swinging
below, seemed to carry as many packages, trunks, and portmanteaus, as
the hold of a Leith smack. "Four horses on!" repeated the voice, which
proceeded from one of the sporting-looking servants on the seat
behind.

"Blaw awa', my man," murmured Mrs Wilson; "it'll be a gey while or the
second pair comes out, for a' yer blawin'. Did ye want onything,
sirs?" she inquired, going up to the equipage.

"To be sure," answered one of the gentlemen; "four horses
immediately--we're pushed for time."

"Hech, sirs, so are we a', but time'll hae the best o't," replied the
hostess. "Ye maun just hae patience, sirs, for ye canna get on this
three hours."

"Three hours!" exclaimed the gentleman; "why, what's the matter? Why
the deuce don't they get out the horses?"

"Just for the same raison the Hielanman couldna' get out the bawbee,"
replied the imperturbable Meg Dods; "the deil a plack was in his
pouch, puir body--an' sae, ye see, ye maun just stay still."

"My lord," interposed one of the servants, touching his hat, "there's
a pair of very natty greys just coming out of the stable, and a pair
of bays with the harness on. I have seen them in stall"--

"Then let us have them, Charles, by all means," replied his lordship.

"Yes, my lord."

In a very short time high words were heard, from which it was evident
that by no means a complimentary opinion was entertained of the
gentlemanly conduct of the nobleman's dependant by the guard and
ornament of the plain chariot.

"I say, my fine chap, you leave them there grey 'osses alone, will ye?
they ain't none o' yourn."

"Quite a mistake, Johnny," replied the noble retainer, with a
supercilious glance at our friend, who was still perched high in air.

"Oh! if ye come to go to be a-leaving off of names, old Timothy,
you'll find I've a way of writing my card with my five fingers here in
a text hand as no gentleman can mistake."

While boasting of his literary acquirements, our Hector in livery
slewed himself down from the side of the red-cheeked Andromache, and
presented an appearance which apparently induced the gentleman in the
cockade to believe that the mistake might possibly be on his own side.

"My lord is in a great hurry."

"So is my ladies."

"He must have four horses."

"They must have two."

"Lauds!" exclaimed the voice of the hostess, addressing three or four
stable-men who had been gaping spectators of this altercation, "bring
yer grapes and pitchin' forks here, an' lift this birkie wi' the
cockaud in his head back till his seat again. Tell Jock Brown to get
his boots on wi' a' his micht, and drive thir ladies to Douglas's
Hotel. An' I'm sayin', if ony o' thae English bit craturs, wi' their
clippy tongues, lays hand on bit or bridle o' ony o' my horses, dinna
spare the pitchin' fork--pit it through them as ye wad a lock strae;
I'll hae nae rubbery in my stable-yaird--I'm braw freens wi' the
Justice-Clerk."

As affairs now appeared to grow serious, the Noah's Ark disembogued
the whole of its living contents, and a minute inspection of the
stables was commenced by the whole party. The ladies, in the mean
time, who had some confused idea that all was not right, were looking
anxiously from the windows; and if the elder lady had been an
attentive observer of her companion's looks, she would have seen a
flush of surprise suffuse her whole countenance as her eyes for an
instant rested on one of the gentlemen, who stood apparently an
uninterested spectator of the proceedings of his friends. A similar
feeling of amazement seemed to take possession of the champion of the
ladies, as he recognised the same individual. He left his antagonist
in the very middle of a philippic that ought to have sunk that
gentleman in his own estimation for ever, and walking hurriedly up to
the gentleman, who was still in what is called a reverie, said--

"Mr Harry!--hope ye're quite well, sir?"

"What?--Copus?" replied the gentleman. "I'm delighted to see you
again. Who are you with just now?"

"Family, sir--great family--equal to a duke, master says;--lady's-maid
uncommon pleasant, and all things quite agreeable."

"Do you mean you are with a duke, Copus?"

"Bless ye! no, sir, only equal to it. Master has bought a Scotch
chiefship, and we're all a-going down to take possession. Master made
all the tartans himself afore we left off trade."

"I don't understand you--what is he?"

"Smith, Hobbins, and Huxtable, they called us at Manchester,--great
way of business--but master, old Smith, has retired, and bought this
here Scotch estate, and makes us all call him Ben-na-Groich."

"And his family, Copus?"

"Only his old sister, and our young lady."

"Well,--her name?"

"Miss Jane. She's a niece, they say, of old Smith--Ben-na-Groich, I
means; but I don't b'lieve it. She's a real lady, and no mistake; and,
they say, will have a prodigious fortin. By dad, our old 'ooman takes
prodigious care of her, and is always a snubbing."

"My dear Copus, say not a word of having seen me; you can be the
greatest friend I ever had in my life--you'll help me?"

"Won't I?--that's all;--'clect all about Oriel, Mr Harry, and
Brussels? Ah! them was glorious days!"

"We shall have better days yet, Copus, never fear."

After a few minutes' conversation, the face of affairs entirely
changed. An apology was made by his lordship in person for the mistake
of his servant; that individual was severely reprimanded, greatly to
the satisfaction of Mr Copus; the two greys were peaceably yoked to
the plain chariot, and Jock Brown cracked his whip and trotted off at
a pace that set loose the tongues of all the dogs in the village.

"What a barbarous set of people these Lowlanders are!" exclaimed the
senior lady--"so different from the brave and noble mountaineers. My
brother, the chieftain, is lucky in having such a splendid set of
retainers, and the tartan he invented is very becoming."

"Vell, only to think of picking up my old master in a inn-yard!"
murmured Mr Copus, resuming his old position, and fixing his guarding
arm once more inside of the rumble-rail; "after all the rum goes we
had together at Oxford and Brussels. Nothing couldn't be luckier than
meeting a old friend among them Scotch savages. Do ye know, Mariar,
they haven't no breeches?"

"For shame, Mr Copus!"


CHAPTER II.

It must be evident to the most unpractised eye that the young
gentleman recognised by his old servant, and the pretty young lady in
the plain chariot, are the hero and heroine of this true story. And a
very fitting hero and heroine they would have been for a tale of far
higher pretensions than the plain unvarnished one which it is now our
duty to deliver. At present, all we can afford to tell the reader is
the fact of their being consumedly in love--that their love proved its
truth by not running very smoothly--and that, at the moment at which
we have brought them on the stage, they had had no communication for
several months before. The delight, therefore, of Henry Raymond on
recognising Jane Somers at Meg Dods's door, was equalled by his
surprise. He formed one of a party going down for the twelfth of
August to the moors of his friend, Lord Teysham; but the interview he
had had with his former domestic, Bill Copus, who had attended him
through his career at Oxford, and afterwards for a short time to the
Continent, somewhat cooled his zeal as a sportsman, by adding to his
hopes as a lover. The forced embargo laid on them by the hostess of
Fushie Bridge--for she was resolute in refusing to take them on with a
pair, and the cattle of the last stage were miserably tired--gave him
time to lay so much of his plans before his friends as he saw fit;
and, long before the second pair, which had been with a party to
Leith, had been refreshed, and were ready to start, his companions had
unanimously passed a resolution, "that it was incumbent on the members
of this excursion, collectively and individually, to give all possible
aid and assistance to Henry Raymond, in overthrowing the plans of all
persons of the name of Smith, or of any other name or denomination
whatever, and marrying a certain young lady of the name of Jane
Somers."

But Lord Teysham, who united a great deal of good plain sense with his
buoyancy of spirits, took him quietly aside, and asked him--

"Why, in heaven's name, if he liked the girl, he didn't propose for
her in form?"

"I have, my dear fellow," replied Harry, "and been refused."

"By whom?"

"The uncle. He wrote me a letter, saying my favour of 3d ult. had come
duly to hand, and he declined the offer as expressed therein,--and he
remains, sir, for self and niece, my obedient servant, Thomas Smith."

"But had he a right to send you this letter?"

"As guardian and uncle, I suppose he has; but as empowered by Jane
herself, none whatever."

"But what's his objection?"

"I've an elder brother."

"Well, but your governor is a close old boy. He has metal enough for a
frigate besides his First-rate."

"Yes; but he has told me a hundred times that tit for tat is the only
game he plays at--whatever fortune I bring he will pay me over the
same; if I marry for love, I must live on it. I could give you a score
or two more of his wise sayings."

"Oh! thank ye--I've a good stock of my own; but why, in the name of
wonder, is he so distrustful? Can't he give you credit for being able
to choose, without bribing you, as it were, to look out for a
fortune?"

"My father won't give credit to any one, especially to me; besides, he
has some little cause to be suspicious, for I've cleaned him out of a
trifle once or twice, in a way that makes him slow to bite now. I have
been on the point of marriage twice--once to old Crocky, and once to
Stulz."

"How?"

"Why, you see, last year I was dipt a little to the fishmonger, and
wrote a matrimonial letter home hinting at trousseaus and other
expenses, but mentioning no names. Nothing could please the old
gentleman so much, and it was on that occasion he sent me up the
paper, properly signed and attested, binding himself to give me guinea
for guinea whatever fortune I might get with my wife. A thousand he
sent me to do the needful in the way of jewels and other presents, set
me square with all the world."

"And your progenitor was indignant at the disappointment?"

"Oh! horribly; and unless it had been for a four-year bill of Stulz, I
shouldn't have troubled him so soon. But, as I was aware that Walter
knew of the obligation about my future fortune, I gave him to
understand that I was devoted to Miss Coutts, and that I had no reason
to despair. The very thought of such a thing was death both to the old
Jack Daw and the young. The squire and his eldest hope would have been
both in the poor-house if I had succeeded in carrying off the heiress,
and had kept them to their bond. So, after a week or two, I let them
off for their alarm, and a moderate tip. But all these things, my dear
Teysham, are over now. I am resolved to marry Jane Somers, and cut
both Stulz and Crocky."

"If you can get her; but this old monster, with the uncommon name, has
her in his power. We must concert measures calmly, and we need not
despair. Will she herself help us?"

"To be sure she will. Her new home must be misery to her. She is the
daughter of a sister of this old Smith, who, by some chance or other,
married a gentleman. She had a large fortune, which now belongs to
this only child. Colonel Somers has long been dead; the widow died a
few years ago. Jane was then educated in the house of another
guardian, a cousin of Colonel Somers, who lived near Bath; and, on his
lately being sent to India on a high command, she was claimed by this
Manchester hobgoblin, and torn from all her old friends."

"Yourself among the rest?"

"Just so--and now you know the whole story."

In which respect, as we conclude, the reader is by this time on a par
with Lord Teysham, we quit the conclave at Fushie Bridge, and proceed
to the more splendid apartments in Douglas's Hotel.

In the little drawing-room that looks to St Andrew Square, the evening
seemed to have passed stupidly enough. Aunt Alice, after yawning till
tea time, and scolding the greater part of that excellent time-killer,
had at last, at about nine o'clock, betaken herself to her bedroom, to
bring down the _Scottish Chiefs_--a book of manners and statistics
from which all her notions of the Scottish nation of an early period
were derived. _Waverley_, and the other northern stories of the
enchanter, supplied her with all her modern information; and not very
bad sources they would have been, if Miss Alice had been able to
understand the language in which they were written. But our noble
vernacular was to her a more impenetrable mystery than any revealed at
Eleusis, and it was, perhaps, on this account that she entertained so
decided a preference for the performance of Miss Porter.

Jane Somers, whom we have hitherto represented as either listless or
sleeping, was sitting busily engaged in the somewhat unusual
occupation of thinking. And, as her thoughts were wandering about
Lansdowne, and a vast apartment, nobly lighted and filled with the
sounds of revelry by night, we need not be surprised if they
occasionally made a detour to the stables of Fushie Bridge, and the
sight that met her there. While musing deeply on these very
interesting subjects, our friend Copus entered the room and said--

"Please, mum, one of the vaiters here knows all about them there
places as master talks so much on; p'raps Miss Alice would like to
hear about 'em?"

"I will tell my aunt, William," said the young lady, and returned to
her former musings.

Copus retired and shut the door.

A low voice at her ear as she again rested her head upon the arm of
the sofa, whispered "Jane!"

On looking up she saw a tall man dressed in the usual waiter's
costume, with a large white cloth spread over his left arm.

"Harry Raymond!" she said, but by some unaccountable instinct
speaking, even in the extremity of her surprise, in a tone of voice
that scarcely reached beyond the person she addressed,--"In Heaven's
name, what do you here?--in this disguise? Aunt Alice will detect you,
and then my situation will be made doubly miserable."

"Then it _is_ miserable, Jane? Why do you submit to it? Ah, Jane,
you have forgotten, surely, the promises you gave me."

"Forgetfulness seems to have existed on more sides than one. I have
been four months in Lancashire, and am indebted, at last, to a chance
meeting in Scotland for being recalled to your recollection."

"Recollection!" echoed the young man, in the liveliness of his emotion
flinging the white cloth upon the floor. "Good heavens! what can have
put such a notion into your head? I have written letter upon letter,
both to you and your guardian--that is, after I found out where you
had gone to. My letters to you have not been answered; my letter to
him was answered by a refusal."

"Harry, Harry, he never consulted me--I never"----but here she checked
herself, as perhaps she considered that the vehemence of her denial
might be construed into something very like an anxiety to retract it;
and whether this was the construction put on it or not, all we have to
say is, that on Miss Alice Smith slipping quietly into the room, with
a volume of the _Scottish Chiefs_ in her hand, she almost screamed,
as she saw a stranger seated on the sofa beside her niece, and holding
her very earnestly by the hand.

"How! what's all this?" exclaimed Miss Alice. "Them Scotch is the
oddest people!"

"Young lady nearly fainted, ma'am, at some accounts I was giving her
of the Highlands, ma'am. I'm waiter here, ma'am; and it's part of my
business, ma'am, to give all sorts of information to the English
families as they pass through the city, ma'am."

"And what were you a-telling of to this young lady?"

"Only a few incidents that occasionally happen in such wild scenes as
Fash-na-Cairn or Ben-na-Groich. They say the new Ben-na-Groich is an
English nobleman, with a very handsome sister;--I was merely telling
this young lady here what would probably be the fate of the beautiful
English-woman."

"Gracious me!" exclaimed Miss Alice: "no wonder she fainted, poor
thing. What was it? for mercy's sake--what will they do to her?"

"Fash-na-Cairn and all his clan have been at war for hundreds of years
with Ben-na-Groich. He will probably lead a foray upon the new chief
and carry off his sister."

"Gracious! how old is this Fash-na-Cairn?"

"About five-and-twenty. He has buried his fifteenth wife. They seldom
live more than three months."

"Oh, Jane! Jane! we're lost--ruined--murdered! Waiter, _I'm_ the
sister of Ben-na-Groich, the victim of Fash-na-Cairn!"

"Sorry, ma'am, I've alarmed you; but, perhaps, the friends of the clan
may gather round Ben-na-Groich, and succeed in capturing
Fash-na-Cairn."

"And what then?" inquired Miss Alice, with a glimpse of hope.

"Oh, then, it is the universal custom for the next in blood of the
chieftain, if she be unmarried, to cut off a finger of the prisoner
every day with an old hereditary hatchet kept for that purpose, till
he relents, and offers to make her his bride. If he does so before he
has lost the fingers of both hands, the feud is at an end."

Miss Alice shuddered at the thoughts of cutting off a young man's
fingers.

"Oh, waiter, this is dreadful news! I'm certain my poor brother knew
nothing of this when he purchased that horrible property. And what
will they do to _him_ if the furry succeeds?"

"Tie him up in a wolf's skin, and hunt him to death with bloodhounds."

"My poor brother, my poor brother! And he so fat, and subject to the
gout! But it's quite true--it's exactly what they did to the Bohemian
in _Quentin Durward_."

"The present Fash-na-Cairn is a descendant of Le Balafré."

"Oh, the monster! Have they no police at Ben-na-Groich, nor even
special constables?--no justice of peace?"

"The only justice there is the dirk and claymore. But the young lady
seems revived now. Do you take supper? I'll send the chambermaid
directly, ma'am."

When the historical and veracious waiter left the room, the long and
stately figure of Miss Alice sank slowly down upon the sofa. Jane
Somers's face was buried in her hands, and, by the tremors that ran
through her whole frame, and the redness of what was visible of her
cheeks and neck, it was evident that she was nearly in convulsions
with some powerfully suppressed feeling. The aunt, of course,
considered it to be the result of terror, whatever sager guess the
reader may make upon the subject, and gave way to a fit of dolorous
lamentation, that did not much contribute to her niece's recovery.

"This comes of pride, and being one of the Scottish chiefs! To be
eaten up by bloodhounds, and have his sister carried off by
Fash-na-Cairn! Blue-Beard was a joke to him; fifteen wives, and only
five-and-twenty!--more than three per annum since he came of age! I
will put my brother on his guard the moment we arrive. This is truly a
barbarous country, and inhabited by nobody but murderers and
cannibals. Hobbins and Huxtable will be amazed to hear of their
partner's fate--and my brother never was partial to dogs!"


CHAPTER III.

The castle of Ben-na-Groich was an old square building, situated in a
wild ravine of the North Highlands. It consisted of little more than a
high tower, of the rough stone of the country, at one corner of a low
mass of building, in many parts fallen into decay, and presenting an
appearance of strength and massiveness, on which any attempt at beauty
would have been thrown away. One side of the square had something more
of a habitable look than the remaining portions, from the circumstance
of its chimneys being newly rebuilt and tastefully whitewashed; the
roof also was repaired, and the windows fitted with glass--a luxury
which was considered useless by the inhabitants of the remaining three
sides--the said inhabitants consisting of two or three cows, half a
score of dogs, and one or two old representatives of Fingal, who clung
to their ancient habitation with a local attachment that would have
done honour to a cat.

On the evening of the 10th of August, the parlour (for it was nothing
more, though bearing the nobler designation of the hall) was occupied
by a solitary gentleman of somewhat solid dimensions, who cheered his
loneliness by an occasional stir of the fire, and a frequent sip at a
tumbler of whisky-toddy. From time to time he went to the window and
listened. The cataract that rushed down the ravine would have drowned
any other external sound, even if such had existed; and with an
expression of increased ill humour after every visit to the window,
the gentleman renewed his former occupation of sipping the toddy and
stirring the fire.

"Some folly or other of sister Alice," at last he grunted, "putting
off her time in Edinburgh. They ought to have been here by two
o'clock, and here it is eight, and not a sound of their wheels. That
cursed rivulet, to be sure, drowns everything else; 'tis worse than
our hundred-horse engine. I wish they were here, for being a Highland
chieftain is lonely work after all--no coffee-house--no club--no
newspaper. Hobbins was right enough in saying, 'I should soon tire;'
but tire or not, I am too proud to go back--no! Young Charles Hobbins
shall marry Jane Somers. I will settle them here for three or four
months in the summer, and we can all go back to his house for the rest
of the year. A real chieftain will be something to look at there,
though, in this cursed country, it does not seem to create much
admiration. What can be keeping sister Alice?"

The gentleman walked to the window once more, and, opening it a little
way, shouted "Angus Mohr! Angus Mohr!" A feeble voice in a short time
answered from the dilapidated end of the building.

"Her's comin'--fat ta teil does ta fat havril want?" Uncertain steps
not long after sounded along the creaking passage; the door was
opened, and presented to the impatient glance of the new proprietor
the visage of the grumbling Gael. He was an old decrepit man, with
bright ferocious eyes gleaming through his elf-locks. If he had
succeeded in making a "swap" of his habiliments with any scarecrow
south of the Tay, he would have had by far the best of the bargain,
for his whole toilet consisted in a coarse blue kilt or petticoat (for
it had none of the checkers that give a showy appearance to the kilt);
his stocking--for he only rejoiced in one--was wrinkled down almost
over his shoe; his coat was tattered and torn in every variety of
raggedness; and the filth, which was almost thick enough to cover the
glaring redness of his fortnight's beard, showed that Angus Mohr took
very little interest in the great question about the soap duties. "Fat
d'ye want, auld man?" inquired the visitor--"bringin' a poddy a' this
way to hear yer havers."

"I merely wish to know, Angus, if there is any lad here you can send
to the side of the hill to see if a carriage is coming this way."

"Tere's a laud oot in the byre," replied Angus; "but he's four score
year auld, an' has been teaf and blind since they took him to
Inferness jail for dirking the packman--teil tak their sowls for
pittin an honest man in ony such places--ye can pid him gang, if ye
like."

"Why, if he's deaf and blind, Angus, he will be no great help."

"Ten gang yersell; petter that than sitting filling yer pig wame wi'
whisky."

"You shall have a glass, Angus, when I have tea brought in."

"An' little thanks for it too. It's a small reward for comin' a' this
way through the cauld."

"You may go now," said our fat friend, who was now more anxious to get
quit of his visitor than he had been for his appearance.

"Teil a pit, teil a pit; no without the glass ye promised."

"Be off, sir--be more respectful to your superiors. I am chief of this
clan."

"He's ta chief!" cried old Angus, with a laugh that shot a chill into
the gallant chieftain's heart--"he's ta chief, is he? Hu! hu! hu!"

"For goodness' sake, old man, go back to your own room. You shall have
a whole bottle; I'll send it to you directly."

"Mak it a gallon, an' I'll gang. Mak it a gallon--it will do for twa
days."

"Well, well, you shall have a gallon--only go," urged the now alarmed
proprietor; for Angus, perceiving his advantage, went on increasing in
his demands, and the self-elected chief began to perceive that his
subjects were not so obedient as he had expected; and vague ideas of
dirks and drownings occurred hurriedly to his mind.

Angus, however, seemed for this time satisfied with his prize, and
resumed his way to the lower regions, muttering and growling as he
went, as if he had been a highly injured individual, and leaving the
fat gentleman in a very uncomfortable frame of mind.

"Savages!" he murmured to himself; "by dad, we shall all be murdered
to a certainty. However, when all my own servants arrive, we shall
turn Angus and the blind old man out of the castle, and have things a
little better managed than this. But it certainly is very strange my
sister does not come! Our new man, Copus, is a stout fellow, and would
keep this old rascal Angus in order."

"Fat, in the teil's name, are ye skirlin' there for?" said the sharp
voice of that uncourteous seneschal, as he put his shaggy head out of
the glassless orifice that served as a window; "are we a' teaf, think
ye?"

"Hallo, old feller!" shouted the voice of Copus in reply, "leave off
your hinfernal jabber, and open the door, will ye?"

"Open't yersell, and be t--d till ye," screamed the old man; "her's no
servant o' your's, I'm thinking."

"William, isn't there never a bell?" inquired Miss Alice.

"Bell!" re-echoed Mr Copus; "no, nor nothing else that a gentleman is
acquainted with; so here I thinks, ma'am, we must stay all night, for
that 'ere waterfall wont let nobody hear, and the old lunatic, as
peeps out of the hole in the wall, don't seem inclined to be civil."

"Oh, for heaven's sake, William, try again--shout as loud as you are
able."

"Hillo! hillo! hillo!"

"What's the matter?" exclaimed the voice of the new proprietor
himself, at the same moment that his head appeared at the window.

"Here we are, sir," replied Copus, "half-dead with fear and hunger,
and yet can't get into our own house for love or money."

"I'll open the door myself," said the chieftain, and putting for the
nonce his newly acquired dignity into his pocket, he waddled through
the blustering passages, and turned the key with his own hand.

"And this, then, is Ben-na-Groich Castle," sighed Miss Alice, as at
length she entered the parlour, leaning on the arm of her niece, and
looking round with a dolorous expression that would have furnished a
study for a picture of despair.

"Even so," replied her brother, with an attempt at a joyous chuckle
that died off into a groan.

"Oh, brother Ben--since Ben-na-Groich you insist on being called--oh,
brother Ben, what tempted you to buy such a place as this?--in such a
country?--among such hideous people?"

"Partly a bad debt that the late owner was on our books--partly a
desire to be a regular chief, and astonish the Huxtables; but cheer
up, sister, things will be better in a day or two. We shall all put on
our tartans--cheer up you too, niece Jane, Charles Hobbins will be
here ere long; I've got some clothes ready for him too, and intend to
give him a black feather, and make him as good a downy-whistle as you
can desire."

"Ah, brother!" interposed Miss Alice, "that would have been all very
well a short time ago, and it would have been delightful to see you
with your henchman, and jellies, and downy-whistles--but 'tis too late
now. Oh, brother! we are doomed to destruction. Copus will tell you
what he has seen this very day."

"Why, what has he seen?--a ghost? they are wery superstitious, and
believe in the second sight."

"Oh, first sight is quite enough for us. I saw them myself, though
they were at such a distance, I confess, I took them for a flock of
sheep."

"Who?--what was it you saw?--speak, Copus." Thus adjured, our
travelled friend, with a face from which the expression of alarm had
not yet entirely subsided, commenced his narrative.

"This morning, sir, when we first changed 'osses, I gets off the
rumble, sir, and leaves Mariar by herself. I goes into the small
house while the cattle was a-coming--a lonely place, sir, in the midst
of a moor, sir--and says I to the landlady, says I, 'here's a fine
day,' says I.'

"'Make the most of it,' says she, 'you bid fair never to see another.'

"'You're wery purlite,' says I; 'I don't think I'm in a dying
condition.'

"'You carry your death-sentence at your breast,' says she, in a hollow
voice, like a drum with a hoarseness.

"'What do you elude to,' says I?--and looking at my breast, sir, I
seed nothing in life but this here watch-ribbon as you gived me, of
your own tartan, you know, sir.

"'Why wear ye the badge of the doomed Ben-na-Groich?' says she; 'know
you not that his web is spun?'

"'There you're misinformed,' says I, 'ma'am; they're all done by
machinery.'

"'Fool,' says she, quite in a passion, 'you've put yourself under a
ruined wall, and will be crushed to the dust by the tumble.'

"'Wrong again,' says I, 'for master has had the whole building
repaired.'

"'Blind mole, you will take no warning; perhaps because you don't
believe--see there!' And when I looked in to where she pointed, sure
enough I sees ten or a dozen stout chaps all a-sharping of their
swords upon great grinding-stones, at the other end of the house.

"'What's all them fellows arter?' says I.

"'Blood,' says she.

"'Blood and wounds!' says I, 'I never heared such a woman. 'Clect, at
Oxford, hearing of an old Roman Catholic lady they called the Civil,
as spoke in that 'ere fashion, and was a dealer in books and
stationery, but, cuss me, if you doesn't beat her hollow. Whose blood
do you mean, ma'am?'

"'His who calls himself Ben-na-Groich.'"

"Oh, brother Thomas, did you ever hear of the like?" shuddered Miss
Alice.

"A witch," said the gentleman thus appealed to, with a very
unsuccessful effort to appear disdainful. "What more, Copus?--did she
say anything else?"

"Lots more, but I've nearly forgotten it."

"How long did this detain you?"

"Oh, he kept us waiting three or four hours," interposed Miss Alice;
"and when he came out, he couldn't have been more unsteady if he had
been a-drinking."

"Yes, indeed, sir," added Maria, "his manners has been wery
extraordinary ever since; he has been either singing songs or sleeping
the whole way here."

"The interview was a very strange one. Did any one else see the ten or
twelve men?" inquired the chief.

"I seed one of them, sir," replied Maria--"a tall, handsome gentleman,
in a green frock coat. He went towards a horse that was tied near a
stack of fuel, just at the moment Copus came out."

"Indeed? Did _you_ see him, Copus?"

"Oh yes. I saw a figure something as she describes it. He is the
surest sign, the wild woman said, of something awful; they calls him
Kickan-drubb."

"How strange!" repeated the chieftain, for the hundredth time--"a
regular conspiracy, and nobody here to defend us. The old tiger
down-stairs, Angus Mohr, would be the first to kill us if he could,
and what is to become of us, Heaven only knows."

"Better let the horses stay at the door, sir; the carriage may be
useful," suggested Copus.

"There's no time to be lost, indeed," replied the master; "but yet
what would be the use of flying? We are safer here than on the road."

"No, no; let us go, brother Ben--brother Thomas, I mean--for do you
know that Fash-na-Cairn has vowed he'll have your life?"

"Who the devil is Fash-na-Cairn? I never did him any harm."

"But his clan has been opposed to Ben-na-Groich for hundreds of years.
He'll murder _you_--and _me_!--oh dear! oh dear! he'll force me to be
Mrs Fash-na-Cairn!" Here Miss Alice, overcome by her horrible
imaginings, covered her face with her hands; but whether she wept or
not history does not record.

"Will ye no let a poddy sleep, and be d--d till ye?" again screamed
the shrill voice of Angus Mohr; "hoo mony mair o' ye southron prutes
is coming yammering to the door?"

No answer, apparently, was given to this inquiry, for it was renewed
with bitterer tones than before.

"Fat's a' this o't?--wi' swords and targets, an' the Stuart stripe in
yer plaids. Are ye come to harry ta auld fat man? huigh! hurra! Cot,
an Angus had a dirk himsell, he'd pit it up to the handle in ta fat
cairl's wame."

While these words of encouragement or inquiry were issuing from the
wrathful native, a hurry of steps was heard upon the stairs--the clank
of steel, as if of the crossing of swords, sounded in the passage, and
with a shout, Fash-na-Cairn! Fash-na-Cairn! the parlour door was burst
open, and six wild figures in the full Highland costume rushed in upon
the deliberations of the new chieftain and his household. One of the
party seized the arm of Aunt Alice; another, with a flat-sided blow of
his claymore, laid our heroic friend Copus quietly on the floor; a
third took Jane Somers by the hand as she sat retired in a corner of
the room, and kept guard over her during the whole of the scene; while
the others placed themselves opposite the astonished Ben-na-Groich
himself, and pointed their weapons at his throat without saying a
word.

"What do you want, gentlemen?" said that individual, with a tremor in
his voice that revealed the conflict within. "I'll give you a cheque
for as much as you require--fix your own price! What shall it be?"

"Revenge!" said a hollow voice, proceeding from the chief of the
party. "I have you now in my power--the first time after a search of
eight hundred years."

"What have I done? I never did you a mischief; if I did, I'm willing
to pay damages, assessed by your own surveyor."

"Your ancestor, Fin of the crooked finger, stabbed my ancestor,
Kenneth of the flat nose, as he dined with him in this hall in the
reign of Fergus the First--give me back his blood."

"Can't, indeed--haven't a drop of it, or any one else's blood; but I
will pay the worth of it--only spare my life."

"Fash-na-Cairn may spare, but on one condition--you have a sister."

"Oh no, indeed he hasn't, sir," said Miss Alice, "she died when she
was quite a baby."

"Speak, dog," said the ruthless Fash-na-Cairn, kicking Copus as he lay
on the carpet; "who is the sister of Ben-na-Groich?"

"That 'ere middle-aged lady with the red nose. That's our Miss Alice."

"She must be Fash-na-Cairn's bride, or the wolf's skin must cover
Ben-na-Groich."

"Oh dear, oh dear," sighed the disconsolate lady, "will nothing do but
that?"

"Even that won't save him--I see another maiden."

"Oh, I'm sure you are quite welcome to Jane Somers," said Miss Alice;
"my brother will give his consent directly--won't you, Thomas?"

"Say the word, and I give you the hand of friendship."

"What word?" asked the sorely puzzled Ben-na-Groich; "I will say
whatever is needful."

"Does the maiden herself consent?--Bring hither the fair one of the
hill."

Jane Somers was brought forward by her guard.

"Now, Jane," began the Chieftain, "this here gentleman, Mr
Fash-na-Cairn, is anxious to marry some one of my family--are you
disposed to save me from murder and robbery by giving him your hand?"

"To save you, my dear uncle, from anything unpleasant, there is no
sacrifice I would not make."

"There's a dear, good girl," cried the Chieftain, delighted. "Take
her; you are very welcome; and when I get home, which will be in three
days from this time, I will send you some marriage presents. If you
have any fancy for this estate, you shall have it a bargain; in the
mean time let the rest of us get into the carriage, and be off as fast
as we can. Come, Copus, get up, you lazy hound--we must be off."

"Off or not off, sir, I doesn't budge a foot. I stays with my young
missus."

"Very well, only let us out of the house." While preparations were
making for a rapid retreat, one of the brigands went up to Jane Somers
and whispered, "my carriage is waiting on the bridge. Lady Teysham,
and the other ladies at my shooting-box, expect us every moment; so be
under no alarm."

Jane bowed her head and yielded to her destiny, and since that time
has been as happy a specimen of the married life as is often to be met
with. Ben-na-Groich, on finding out the hoax, was too much afraid of
the ridicule of his friends to make it public; and to this hour, Aunt
Alice tells the most wondrous tales of the lawlessness of the
Highlands, and the blood-thirstiness and revenge characteristic of a
Scottish Chieftain. "Only to think of people cherishing a resentment
for nearly a thousand years, and only satisfying it at last by
marriage or murder. Oh, Mrs Hobbins, never believe what people says
when they talk to you about the foodle system--the starvation system
would be a much better name for it, for the whole country is made of
nothing but heath, and the gentlemen's clothes is no covering from the
cold; and besides all that, they are indelicate to a degree!"----

       *       *       *       *       *

PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, EDINBURGH.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

Minor corrections have been made to correct obvious typesetters'
errors; otherwise, every effort has been made to remain true to the
author's word and intent.





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