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Title: Colin Clink, Volume II (of III)
Author: Hooton, Charles
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Colin Clink, Volume II (of III)" ***

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COLIN CLINK.

By Charles Hooton, Esq.

In Three Volumes. Vol. II. (of III)

LONDON:

RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET. 1841.


[Illustration: 010]


[Illustration: 011]



CHAPTER I.

_Displays Miss Sowersoft's character in a degree of perfection
unparalleled on any previous exhibition.--Fanny's obstinacy incites Mrs.
Clink to turn her adrift upon the world._

Having entered the room, Miss Sowersoft first peeped out to see that
no listeners were in the neighbourhood, and then cautiously closed the
door,--all the blood in her veins mustering up in red rebellion against
poor Fanny, as she stared at that young woman through two dilated eyes,
with something of the expression of a hand-grenade with a newly-lit
fusee.

"Take a chair, Mrs. Clink," said Miss Sowersoft, in a tone which denoted
more than her ordinary attention to etiquette, as she still kept her
eyes on Fanny, in order to make her feel her own insignificance the more
keenly by the contrast; "do be seated;" and she drew up another
chair for herself, while Fanny was left standing, as best became a
servant--and a culprit. "Now, I am quite ready to begin."

"Have it out of her at once--I would not stand on ceremony with anybody
like her!"

"What is it, Fanny," asked Mrs. Clink, "that the doctor has been talking
to you about?"

"I cannot answer that," replied Fanny. "I have promised to tell nobody,
and I must keep my word."

"There!--that's sufficient!" cried Miss Sowersoft, "that is plenty!
You see what it is. She has _promised_, and will not explain it. I
knew before, as well as if I had heard, how it would all be. She has
compromised' herself, just as such a young face-proud hussy was sure to
do. It is a wonder to me, Mrs. Clink, how you have contrived to keep her
respectable so long."

"I did not intend to talk to _you_, Miss Sowersoft," replied, Fanny;
"but I will tell you that I have always been too respectable for what
you seem to think."

"Answer me, Fanny," interposed Mrs. Clink. "I am sure you will answer
me."

"I cannot, ma'am," said Fanny.

"You positively will not, do you mean to say?"

"Indeed I cannot, because I have promised that I would not; but it is
nothing of the least harm."

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Miss Sowersoft, "not the least harm!--to be sure
not!--oh, no! She is very innocent, no doubt."

"If I discharge you from service unless you do tell me, what then?"
asked her mistress.

"I cannot help it if you do," said Fanny, as she burst into tears at
the bare mention of quitting that place which had been as a home to her
nearly all her life.

"Then I positively insist either that you do tell me all about it, or
stay with me no longer than until you can suit yourself elsewhere. I do
not wish to part with you,--far from it. You have been with me almost
all your life, and I should not like to see the day when you turned your
back upon my door for the last time; but I cannot have this silence and
secrecy about such an affair as the present. I have known enough, and
more than enough, of the ruin and misery that may ensue, to allow of it
in any young woman under my care. I cannot have it, Fanny, and will not
have it; so you must make your choice."

Fanny cried bitterly, and with some difficulty made herself understood
amidst so many sobs and sighs, as she protested that she dared not
tell more than she had told; that, on her solemn word, it was not about
anything that could in the least injure her.

"Well, I must say I give her credit for what she says,'' remarked Mrs.
Clink, in an under tone, to Miss Sowersoft.

"Give her a birch rod!" exclaimed the latter lady. "I wonder how you can
allow yourself to be so easily imposed upon! It is all her artfulness,
and nothing else. She is as cunning as Satan, and as deep as the day is
long, she is! Ask her what made the doctor say he would do something for
her,--let her unriddle that, if she can."

Mrs. Clink accordingly continued the examination much in the manner
already described, and with about the same success. Fanny resisted all
inquiry as strenuously as at first, until at length Mrs. Clink gave her
a formal warning to seek out for another situation, and to leave her
present place as soon as she had found one. Fanny replied, that she
would go begging rather than betray the trust reposed in her, as she
believed that Providence would never let her starve for having done what
was right.

"What a wicked wretch she is!" Miss Sowersoft exclaimed, when she had
heard poor Fanny's expression of trust in a more just power than that
which now condemned her; "I am sure her horrible wickedness turns me
white to hear it."

This female tribunal having dissolved itself, Fanny was dismissed up
stairs again, and the other two ladies remained below to discuss in
private the question of Colin's removal home, until such time as his
recovery might admit of his return to the labours of the farm.

It will be quite sufficient to state, as the result of their
deliberations, that within eight-and-forty hours afterwards our hero,
being somewhat recovered, was laid on a bed placed in a cart, and
carried home; that Fanny attended him there during some brief space of
time afterwards, until she procured another situation, and left Mrs.
Clink's service at once and for ever; and that these changes, together
with some others of very superior importance, which I shall proceed
immediately to relate, brought about such a "new combination of parties"
amongst the personages, great and small, who have figured in our pages,
as cannot fail, when explained, to throw great light upon the yet dark
and abstruse points of this veritable history.



CHAPTER II.

_Diamond cut diamond; the two rogues. A gentleman resolves, without
consent asked, to make Fanny his wife._

After the time spoken of in the preceding chapter, a month of the
fairest season of the year passed away, during which our hero, Colin,
continued to improve in health and strength much more rapidly than he
would, in all probability, have done had he remained at the delightful
residence of Miss Sowersoft at Whinmoor.

The consciousness of being at home, whatever that home may be, is more
to the invalid than a thousand advantages which might perhaps be enjoyed
in a strange place. Fanny, meanwhile, continued to fulfil her accustomed
duties, without receiving any information from Doctor Rowel, as to the
nature of the services which he had promised to render in her favour.

Mrs. Clink's feelings of asperity against Fanny, for her obstinacy
in refusing to make known the communications of the doctor, were now,
however, so far worn away that she never spoke again of discharging her,
and in fact would secretly have been pleased had she only expressed the
slightest wish to remain. But, so far from this, Fanny resolved to leave
her place at the earliest opportunity. While Colin remained at home she
left the matter in abeyance; but when he returned to the farm, which
he reluctantly did at the expiration of eight or ten weeks, she felt no
longer the same inducement to stay as before; and accordingly sought,
in compliance with her mistress's previous injunction, for another
situation.

This was not long in presenting itself. An old woman, who had long
managed the bachelor's household of Mr. Skinwell, the lawyer, happened
about this time to die. A gap was left where she had stood; and, as
though for the especial purpose of bringing about a discovery, which it
was highly needful Fanny should make, she was destined to fill it.

While the villagers of Bramleigh were occupied in discussing the cause
of the old housekeeper's death, Mrs. Clink and Fanny were surprised one
evening with a visit from Mr. Skinwell. Still more were they amazed when
he explained his business, namely, to induce Fanny to leave her present
situation, and take that which the death of the old housekeeper had made
vacant.

Although Skinwell represented his present visit as in great part the
result of accident, he nevertheless, we may imagine, had certain very
cogent reasons of his own for desiring to get Miss Fanny Woodruff
into his house. In fact, certain matters had come to his knowledge
professionally, concerning the said Fanny and her father.

It should be stated, that after Dr. Rowel had obtained the document
from James Woodruff, a copy of which has already been given, he still
continued in doubt as to the course he should pursue to make himself
secure. Wise as his own plans had at first appeared, he so far
distrusted them on farther consideration, as to consider it needful to
consult Mr. Skin-well professionally on the matter; but, as he knew the
affair to be a very delicate one, he at first put it to that gentleman
hypothetically. As Mr. Skinwell, however, happened to have his own
private reasons for misunderstanding the doctor's hypothesis, he
protested he could not comprehend the full merits of the case unless it
were put in a more circumstantial manner. After a good deal of beating
about the bush, Mr. Skinwell satisfied himself that the doctor referred
to a case in which he was himself concerned, and he also contrived to
ascertain the names of the parties, the amount of property at stake,
and the relationship which subsisted between the unfortunate man now
confined at Nabbfield, and Fanny Woodruff.

By a little quiet manoeuvring on his own part, Skinwell saw that he
could not only protect the alleged lunatic and his daughter from the
villany of Doctor Rowel, but serve himself at the same time.

"My opinion," said he, "is this. The contract of gift being clearly
illegal, you had better put it into the fire; and, if the patient is
now of sound mind, as you have intimated, you are bound to set him at
liberty, and restore to him his estate. If, on the other hand, he is
unfit to be at large, he and his daughter must be adequately maintained
out of the profits of that estate. Your course is as clear as daylight."

But it was not clear to the doctor that--whatever the _law_ of the case
might be,--he could not contrive other means to effect the object he had
in view; and so much he gave the lawyer to understand: at the same time
insinuating, that if Mr. Skinwell would assist him in achieving that
object, his reward should be in proportion to his service:--a proposal
to which that legal gentleman returned a very grave rebuke.

"Long as you have known my character, Doctor, I am astonished and
indignant that you should have made such a proposal to me. I give my
legal opinion plainly and frankly; but that man very much mistakes
me who imagines I will prostitute my professional character to a base
service for the sake of hire. So far from it, sir, I do not hesitate
to tell you now, before you leave my office, that, although this
communication has been made to me in confidence, and professionally, I
do not hold myself bound to keep faith, neither as a lawyer nor a
man, in cases of swindling; and, that if your intentions towards these
parties are of _such_ a nature, I shall exert myself to the utmost of my
ability in depriving you of your control over them, and restoring them
to their rights."

Doctor Rowel stood confounded, mute, and pale. Who ever thought that
Skinwell had so much virtue in him? The doctor felt that he was a fool
for having gone so far. How best should he get out of the scrape?
How avert the lawyer's threatened co-operation with Woodruff and his
daughter Fanny? The doctor had not much time to think before he was
obliged to speak. He recovered his tongue, and stammered out a kind of
apologetical explanation; in which he endeavoured to do away with
the impression made on Skin well's mind as to the dishonesty of his
intentions: but the fact had previously been too plainly avowed to be
thus explained away.

The doctor and his legal adviser parted in mutual dudgeon, though with
very opposite feelings; the former in rage at the defeat of his project,
while upon the mind of the latter a faint hope dawned that he might win
the hand of Fanny, and so secure the chance of inheriting the estate of
Charnwood whenever her father might happen to die (as he doubtless
would very soon), after it had been wrested by the tact of Mr. Skinwell
himself from the hands of Doctor Rowel of Nabbfield.

Could Fanny and Mrs. Clink have been in the least aware of the motives
which actuated Skinwell in making them so unusual a call, they would
not have felt so much surprise; and the young woman would have given a
prompt and decisive denial to his application. But Fanny saw only what
seemed to her an offer of advancement, and a release from the thrall
in which, to a certain extent, Mrs. Clink continued to hold her. She
therefore hesitated not long in accepting the offer which Mr. Skinwell
had made her; and finally consented to enter upon her new duties in
about a week.

This engagement was fulfilled accordingly; and Fanny remained in the
situation until a terrible event deprived her suddenly and for ever
of her master. Several years, however, elapsed before this occurrence,
during which nothing of consequence to our narrative took place.



CHAPTER III.

_Which, though perfectly natural, contains matters that not the most
ingenious person could foresee._

In the bar of the little tavern at Bramleigh, Doctor Rowel was seated
before a round table, on which stood a glass of cold sherry and water,
with a thin biscuit on a little plate beside it.

Now, during the former part of his life, the doctor had not by any means
been in the general habit of passing his time at such a place, and in
such a manner. Latterly, however, fear had made him suspicious; and
during the few years which I have said elapsed after his attempt to
bribe the lawyer, and while Fanny remained in the house of this latter
worthy, he had been haunted with certain undefinable terrors lest the
lawyer should at some time or other discover anything relating to the
subject on which they had so seriously differed, and on which he could
not but feel that he lay very much at Mr. Skin-well's mercy. To be
prepared for, and to counteract as far as he could, anything of this
kind, Mr. Rowel had mingled somewhat more than hitherto had been his
wont with the people of the village; although it was not until this
identical evening that he had heard anything tending to involve his
opponent, the lawyer, in the charge of having made use against him of
the results of that professional and confidential communication between
them already described. The information which had thus come to the
doctor's knowledge was of a nature to decide, in his opinion, the
existence of a plot on the part of Skinwell to discover the whole secret
to Fanny Woodruff, and then, with her concurrence, and in her name, to
take proceedings for the liberation of her father, and the recovery
of his property. Whether that information was true remains to be
seen; though certain enough it is, that Mr. Skinwell had employed
the intervening time in cultivating Fanny's friendship, and rendering
himself as agreeable to her as any middle-aged bachelor can reasonably
expect to be to a young maid.

Under these circumstances, the reflections which crowded on the mind
of Rowel were bitterness itself, and the more bitter, because he
stood indebted to no one save himself for being placed in his present
position. In imagination he saw himself reduced to the lowest extremity,
at which point he began to form resolutions for his own protection
against such a dreaded end. He fancied, perhaps, the lawyer might fall
sick before his plans were ripe, and that he himself might have to
attend him. Would that he might die suddenly!--that a fever would take
him off, or a plague seize him--or--yes--nobody questions a physician's
medicine--if--nay, he dare not trust his bewildered brain to think it.
He must be mad--worse than mad--to suffer such a thought to cross his
mind--and yet it came again and again--it _would_ come. He began to feel
fearful of himself,--to doubt whether he could trust himself to do right
rather than wrong, should misfortune place his opponent in his power.
While Skinwell lived, the doctor himself held all he had upon the
slender tenure of a dozen words, which might be spoken for the gain they
would bring,--or be uttered recklessly in a moment of anger,--or might
even drop out thoughtlessly, as one of those true things spoken in jest
which they who hear never forget.

Doctor Rowel looked up, and beheld the village lawyer before him, taking
a seat on the opposite side of the table. Rowel did not acknowledge his
entrance nor his presence, until after a few minutes of dead silence, in
which his face became as white as ashes with the secret emotions of his
mind. He then abruptly, and with hurried speech, put this question to
him, "Mr. Skinwell, I have heard something lately respecting you,--and
now I wish to know what it is you intend to do about that business of
mine?"

"Having already given my opinion, Doctor," replied Skinwell, "I have
nothing more to say to you."

"But I have something to say to you," responded the physician. "I intend
to know for what purpose you have had that girl in your house so long,
before you and I part again."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Skinwell, sarcastically, though still somewhat
flushed to find that his intentions had somehow become suspected; "then
you are not the first man, Doctor, I can assure you, who has intended a
great deal more than he could achieve. Do you imagine, because I am not
quite _knave_ enough for you, that I am quite fool enough to make myself
accountable to you for what I choose to do?"

"I intend to know that," repeated Rowel, doggedly. "Do you mean to blow
to the world what has been made known to you in strict confidence as
a professional man? Because, if that is your principle, I tell
you beforehand, and to your face, that you are a disgrace to your
profession, and a d----d dishonourable scoundrel to boot."

"Just hand me three and fourpence," remarked Skinwell, with the most
provoking coolness, "for informing you that by talking in that manner
you are laying yourself open to a special action."

"Do you mean to act the villain?" demanded Rowel, with increased
passion.

"Three and fourpence, Doctor," demanded Skinwell.

"Ay!--you 're a mean cold-blooded scoundrel," continued the doctor,
still more enraged.

Skinwell was somewhat aroused by this abuse, and replied in a more
biting temper, "Why, if you really want to know whether I intend to blow
you to the world, as you call it, I answer--yes. I am resolved to expose
your villany, and compel you to do justice in spite of yourself."

"Oh, very well!" cried the doctor, rising from his seat, and striding
towards the door, "that is enough--say no more--that is all I want. Now
I know my man. But I'll tell you what," and he turned half round in the
doorway, and looked at his antagonist with the fierce malignity of a
demon, "if physic can't beat law to the dogs at last, I 'll grant you
free grace to drain me to my last penny." So saying, he hurried out of
the house.

The words which the lawyer had uttered seemed, like an echo a hundred
times repeated, to ring in Rowel's ears as a sound that would never die
away. He hurried along the village street more by instinct than present
knowledge, in the direction of the lawyer's house. On reaching it, he
knocked at the door, which was opened by Fanny.

"Young woman," said he, "you remember what I told you when I first saw
you at Whinmoor? You have not mentioned a word to any one? Then take
care not to do so on any account. You are in danger. If Skinwell asks
you anything, do not utter a word, or the design I had in view for you
is ruined. If he tells you anything, do not believe him;--no matter
what it is, tell him you do not believe it. He is a scoundrel,--an
unmitigated villain,--and if you stay longer in this house you will
be ruined. Trust none of his promises. He may pretend that he wants to
marry you, but do not believe him; and if he says he knows something
about you and your family, take no notice of it; for it will be done
merely to get from you what I have told you to do. He may perhaps even
go so far as to say he knows where your father is--"

"My father!" exclaimed Fanny. "Why, who knows my father?"

"I say he may _say_ so," replied Rowel, "for he will say anything; but
you must not believe him. The truth is, he has found out that I am doing
something for you, and he is determined to stop it if he can. But do not
let him talk to you. You must leave this house as early as possible. Be
cautious, above all things. I will soon see you again." And the doctor
walked away.

"What, under heaven," exclaimed Fanny, as she closed the door after him,
"can the man mean? I am in danger,--and master wants to marry me,--and
knows where my father is,--and I must leave here directly! What in the
world am I to do? for there seems no end to trouble!"

And then, according to the regular female rule in cases of difficulty of
this kind, she sat down and began to cry; and as she cried, she called
to mind that Mr. Skinwell had, more particularly of late, showed himself
unusually kind to her, and more so, indeed, than she ought to suffer.

Shortly afterwards Skinwell walked in. He had met Dr. Rowel in a part of
the road which warranted some suspicion that the latter might have been
up to his house, and accordingly he proceeded to question Fanny on the
subject.

After an awkward attempt or two to evade his inquiries, she at length
declared, that he came only upon some business which related merely to
herself, and therefore she could not explain it.

"There is no occasion," replied he, "to explain it to me. I know it
well enough. That man is a scoundrel, Fanny,--worse by ten times ten
multiplied than anybody would imagine."

"The very thing," thought she, "that the doctor said of you."

"Since so much has come out as this," continued Skinwell, "and my plan
is about ripe, I do not hesitate to say that that man has been the ruin
of you and your family; and, but for him, you yourself would at this
very time have been--there is no knowing--anything but what you are.
Depend upon it, my dear, many a better man than Dr. Rowel has died in a
hempen neckcloth."

The girl paid little regard to all this, for it was precisely the same
as her friend the doctor had declared he _would_ say; and yet she felt
doubtful which of the two to believe,--or were they not alike dishonest?

Skinwell's profession had not left him so heedless an observer of
human nature, as not to remark that, instead of his disclosures, as he
conceived them to be, being received with astonishment and wonder, Fanny
took comparatively little notice of them. However, he persevered,--"As
you and the doctor are so intimate, then," continued he, "of course he
has told you something of your own history. Has he ever told you that
you have a father living?"

Fanny stood mute.

"He never told you that?" the lawyer repeated.

"Oh no!" exclaimed Fanny; "but if I truly have a father, do tell me
where he is, and I will do anything in the world for you!"

Now was the lawyer's time to make his proposals, which he did at some
length, promising that, in case they were agreed to, he would tell her
where her father was--he would liberate him from a dungeon worse than
any prison, and recover for him and herself the property that was now
unjustly withheld from them.

Fanny hung her head and blushed, and felt as though she could laugh or
cry, or do both perhaps together; but she could not speak.

"Well," continued Skinwell, "I know what you think,--it is natural
enough. I admit that I am a little older than I was twenty years ago,
and probably not quite so eyeable to look upon as when I paid more
attention to personal appearances; but the time was when I had my day
as well as others, and, in fact, was considered one of the best in
Bramleigh."

Since it is not what a man _has been_, but what he is, which is
considered in these cases, we need not feel surprised that the lawyer's
recommendation of himself failed to be considered a recommendation by
her to whom it was addressed; and though the temptation offered was
great enough, she calmly, yet firmly rejected any idea of agreeing to
the terms proposed. Her refusal aroused the lawyer's indignation, and,
for the time, converted the only man who could prove eminently useful
to her as a friend into a bitter enemy. He vowed that her father's bones
should rot on the floor where he lay, before he would open his lips
to assist him; and, declaring that Fanny would live to repent her
determination, he left the room.



CHAPTER IV.

_Colin takes steps to extricate Fanny from her difficulties, but is
interrupted by a fearful occurrence which threatens to make Doctor Rowel
triumphant._

Having in some degree recovered from the terror inspired by Skinwell's
denunciation, Fanny occupied herself in calling together all the
fragments of information of which she had thus strangely been put in
possession, and in endeavouring so to fit the broken pieces together
as to make something like an intelligible whole. In this attempt she
necessarily failed. The whole matter was a maze, a mystery,--a jargon
of seeming truth and certain falsehood,--of things partly consistent
and partly contradictory. In this state of uncertainty she determined to
consult Colin upon the steps most advisable to be taken; for though
he was now only about eighteen in actual years, yet his early mental
developement and his plain manly honesty entitled him to be considered
upon an equality with many who were several years his seniors. A note
was accordingly despatched by the first convenient carriage to Whinmoor,
requesting Colin to pay a visit to Bramleigh at the earliest possible
opportunity.

Such an opportunity very fortunately occurred within the ensuing week,
and on a day which, by a lucky coincidence, Mr. Skinwell himself had
chosen for a drive, on business, to the city of York. Ample opportunity
was thus afforded the young people to discuss the subject of their
meeting.

Troubled as Fanny had been in her own mind to devise what course to
pursue under the seemingly difficult circumstances in which she was
placed, she had no sooner related them to Colin, than that youth
declared the steps proper to be taken were as clearly chalked out as the
track of a plough along the fields.

"Leave it to me, and I will find it all out very soon. In the first
place, I shall ask my mother whether _she_ ever knew, anything of your
father; for it is plain that she must know something of the place you
came from. If that does not answer, I should then ask Mr. Skinwell and
Dr. Rowel. The truth is all that would be required of them, and surely
people cannot very well refuse to tell the truth in such a case as this.
But let us try my mother first. Shall I go down to her now?"

To this proposition Fanny assented; and, while she remained behind in
a state of anxious hope and expectation, Colin went onwards to Mrs.
Clink's, for the purpose of obtaining the required information.

A dreary pause of an hour or more, which to Fanny's imagination appeared
half a day, followed Colin's departure. "Now," thought she, after a
little interval of time, "he has arrived there; now he is talking about
it to his mother; and now, perhaps, she is telling him what she would
never tell me, though I often asked her so particularly about it." And
then, again, as time wore away, and one five minutes after another were
scored on the side of that great eternity the Past, she thought he must
be coming back; she mistook the footsteps of every passer-by for
his, and every distant external sound as the wished-for herald of his
approach. At length, as she began to grow heart-sick with anxiety, he
came.

"Has she told you anything?" asked Fanny the moment she saw him.

"Not much," he replied, "and that of no great consequence."

"Ay, I feared it would be so! Then what is it, Colin?"

"She knows nothing whatever of your father, that is certain. She never
did know him, nor your mother either."

Fanny sighed, and then asked timidly,

"Did she say anything about me, then?"

"Why, yes,--she did; though it is not of very pleasant hearing; and
besides, it is not of any consequence, particularly----"

"But _do_ tell me,--you must tell me!" exclaimed Fanny. "I do not care
what it is; it cannot hurt me now."

"Well, then," returned Colin, "the truth is this--"

Fanny sat down in a chair; and as she gazed intently on Colin's features
while he spoke, her bosom heaved and fell as though some sentence of
punishment was being passed upon her.

"My mother," continued the youth, "has told me that she first had you
when you were three or four years old, as near as she could guess. At
that time she lived in a little yard near Park-lane in Leeds, with her
sister, who died shortly afterwards. One dark night in the autumn, and
almost about bed-time, she and her sister heard a stirring and talking
amongst the neighbours in the yard, and the crying of a little child.
They went out to see what was the matter, and found some women with
candles in their hands round a little girl that was lost;--this child
was you, Fanny. Though, how you had been lost, or how you came there,
they could not tell. My mother says she asked you if you knew who
brought you there, and you said something that they thought meant 'uncle
brought me;' but they could not be certain about it; they made out,
however, that your name was Fanny Woodruff, as you had been taught to
speak that much plainer than anything else. As all the poor people in
the yard had families of their own, except my mother and her sister,
they took you in for that night; or, as they thought, until somebody
should own you. Next morning the circumstance was made known in all the
ways they could think of or afford to pay for; but day after day passed
on, and week after week, and they were none the forwarder for their
trouble, until at last it died away, and became certain, as proved to
be the case, that she would have to keep you always. Some people, Fanny,
wanted to persuade her to take you to the workhouse,"--Fanny burst into
tears,--"but my mother had got used to you by that time, and would not
do it. Besides, her sister died, and she wished her on her death-bed to
keep you; 'for, perhaps, Anne,' said she to my mother, 'you may find it
all out in the end.' My mother," added Colin, "says she believes that
dying people very often speak like prophets. She resolved, therefore, to
keep you from that time to this."

"And yet," added Fanny in a mingled feeling of jest and earnest, "there
seems to be small chance of the prophecy coming true." Before Colin
could reply, a noise without was heard of the tread of numerous feet,
mingled with the sound of carriage wheels as they slowly advanced down
the road, cracking and crushing the dry gravel. Then came a hurried rap
at the door. Fanny flew to it, but it was already opened. A little crowd
had gathered outside, and every face looked solemn and anxious. Some
peeped down the passage, and others at the contents of a gig which
had stopped before the house. She looked out. The shafts were snapped
asunder; the harness broken; the horse, led by a farming man, was
covered with foam and dust and mud. He bled at the mouth, and looked
fierce and angry, though subdued. In the gig itself lay the body of her
master the lawyer, insensible, and supported on the knee of a second
farming man. Fanny ran into the house again, terrified at the sight, and
summoned Colin, the lawyer's clerk, and an under servant girl, to his
assistance. Shortly afterwards the body was carefully lifted out and
carried up stairs. Before this, a man had been despatched to obtain the
speedy assistance of the proprietor of the lunatic asylum at Nabbfield.

What an opportunity for Dr. Rowel was presented here to stifle Fanny's
evidence for ever!



CHAPTER V.

_Relates the triumph of the Doctor, and the manner in which he achieved
it.--Lawyer Skinwell's death-bed, and what happened there._

The evening was warm and fine; and the gentle slope, on the top of which
Dr. Rowel's establishment stood, was coloured with the setting light of
the sun; as, with the glass-doors, which opened from his drawing-room
upon the lawn, thrown wide back to admit the scarcely stirring air,--the
doctor himself sat near it and alone, in an attitude of thought,
meditating mischief. A dash of vermilion-coloured light shot athwart the
lower part of his person, while the upper portion was covered with that
kind of illuminated shadow, that clear obscure, which, to the delicate
perception of a painter, constitutes one of Nature's greatest beauties.
But the thoughts and reflections in which the doctor indulged were
deeply at variance with those which the scene before him, and the
character of the hour, were calculated to suggest. It was not with
him--"how much do I now enjoy?" but the morose reflection--"how long
shall I enjoy it?" His present happiness was swallowed up in the
anticipation of possible coming evil.

"What matters it," thought he, "when tomorrow, perhaps, that
treacherous villain may make everything known? Nay, how do I know he has
not done so already? True, I have had him watched. I know everything he
has done, and something that he has said; and this very day again he
is gone to York. To-morrow I may wake to be arrested,--to have my house
searched, and Woodruff set at liberty."

As the doctor then mused, the door opened, and a stranger was ushered
in.

"Doctor," said he in a hurried tone, "lawyer Skinwell has just got
thrown out of his gig, and is almost killed. He has been insensible ever
since."

"Ah! Impossible!" exclaimed Rowel starting to his feet with surprise.
"Are you sure, man?"

"It is quite true, sir," replied he, as though scarcely knowing what to
make of the doctor's strange manner, the latter gentleman regarding him
for a moment with an eye of unaccountable incredulity; for the idea had
instantaneously flashed across his mind that he might be deceived by his
own imagination, and that it was only the devil that was tempting him.
A minute or two elapsed; when, recovering himself, he replied in a more
subdued and professional tone, "I will be there immediately," on which
the man disappeared.

"Now then," thought Rowel, "is the time! Had I asked for it,--designed
it myself,--I could not have made it better. Thrown out, and
_insensible_. He cannot, therefore, know anything of what I do. And as
nobody else knows of our differences, nobody will think otherwise than
that I am doing for the best. Who shall question my practice? Even if it
be inquired into,--if it come to anything that way,--they may arraign my
judgment, but can do nothing else."

The doctor went immediately into his dispensary, dismissed his assistant
upon some frivolous errand, and closed the door after him. Some minutes
he remained compounding drugs with his own hand; after which he mounted
his pony, which had been saddled in the mean time, and rode rapidly off
to the lawyer's house.

"Send all these people out!" somewhat sharply exclaimed the doctor,
as, in passing up stairs, he cast his eye upon the numerous assembly of
"sympathisers," who had gathered in the passage and about the foot of
the staircase. Fanny dismissed them, and then, accompanied by Colin,
went up stairs into the room in which the unfortunate man had been laid
upon a bed, and whither also Dr. Rowel had directed his steps.

In the first place, the lawyer was very copiously bled; after which the
doctor administered a powder with his own hands, and gave instructions
that, in the course of about an hour, if Mr. Skinwell appeared more
recovered, another of a similar description should be given. He then
very strictly charged Fanny not to allow any person to visit him, and to
prevent him talking in case he should attempt to speak, as silence
and quietness were highly essential to any patient in his condition.
Promising that he should call again in the course of the night, the
doctor then took his leave, though not until he had privately drawn
Fanny aside, and fully satisfied himself that Mr. Skinwell had not
discovered to her any material portion of that secret which he so
greatly dreaded should come to her knowledge.

During several hours the unfortunate man continued much the same as
before; but about midnight he rallied. There was nobody in the room
except Fanny and the servant girl. Colin had taken his leave long
before; and Skinwell's stripling clerk, who was introduced to the reader
at the commencement of this story, and who had now grown up into a tame,
spiritless, and crest-fallen man, was sitting below in the kitchen,
seeking refuge from the whereases and aforesaids of the law in the
pleasant pages of Joseph Andrews.

Mr. Skinwell, as I have said, rallied a little. He looked wildly about
as though seeking for assurance of the locality of the place he was in,
and then feebly beckoned Fanny to bring her ear near him.

"Who has been to me?" he whispered.

"Only Dr. Rowel, sir," answered Fanny assuringly.

"Then I am a dead man!" exclaimed the lawyer, bursting into a flood
of tears. "Oh Heaven, forgive my sins as I forgive all those who have
sinned against me!" And he forced his head into the pillow as though he
would bury it out of sight. The foam gathered upon his blue lips, and
his teeth snapped together with a sound that made the girl's blood
turn.--"Oh, what has he given me? my breath is hotter than fire.--The
flame eats my heart out!--water,--water!"

"No, no!" cried an eager voice behind; "'twill kill him!" and Dr. Rowel
strode across the room. Fanny saw him, and his looks terrified her. The
sedateness of the experienced physician, which no circumstance of this
kind can generally disturb, was all gone. He breathed half-convulsively
through his opened mouth and dilated nostrils; shining beads of water
that momentarily glistened in the lamplight, stood upon his forehead;
and several times successively, as he crossed the room, he passed his
hand with instinctive energy over the sides of his temples, so as to
cast the hair which clustered there backwards, as though his burning
brain sought closer contact with the cool common air. He stood by the
bedside. Skinwell rolled round his eyes, and strove to cry, "You 've
poisoned me!" But the doctor rapidly closed his hand over the sick man's
mouth, and drowned his failing voice.

Fanny stood petrified with horror; while the servant girl rushed
screaming out of the room. The doctor still kept his open hand on
Skin-well's mouth, while the dying man Strove to set himself free by
violent motions of the head and writhings of the body. A stifled call on
the name of Fanny at length broke from his muffled lips.

"Go out! leave me!" fiercely cried Rowel to the horrified young woman;
but she did not obey him.

"Fanny!" again escaped the lawyer's lips.

The sight, the voice, the desperate sense that came upon her all at once
that Rowel was killing his patient, nerved her with more than woman's
courage and ten times woman's ordinary strength. She rushed franticly
to the opposite side of the bed from that on which the doctor stood, and
violently seized his wrist.

"Away, woman!" he cried, suddenly turning all his efforts against her,
in the endeavour to free his hands and strike her down. But she held him
tightly. Curses upon her, whispered almost as from the inmost soul, but
deadly and pregnant with hellish meaning, hissed through the doctor's
teeth, which showed between his lips clenched like a workman's vice.
Fanny prayed mentally for strength to hold him. As they struggled, the
sick man beneath them spoke.

"Fanny--your father------"

Rowel threw the whole weight of his body upon him to stop that tongue.
He could not.

"Your father is in Rowel's--"

"It's a lie!--a lie!--a lie!" cried the doctor in rapid succession, to
render the words inaudible.

Their struggle grew more desperate, and Fanny could not hold much
longer: the unwonted muscles would not obey her will to gripe. They were
overstrained, and growing useless. At the same time the doctor wrenched
more furiously than ever. The dying man beneath him gurgled in the
throat for breath, and tossed in muscular convulsions beneath the
clothes. At last he got himself to the edge of the bed, and by a sudden
and last violent effort, struck himself against the doctor so forcibly
as to loosen him from the hands of Fanny, and throw him several paces
from the bed. The lawyer threw himself upright, and with his dim
half-dead eyes fixed on Fanny, and his finger turning to point at Rowel,
he cried with his last breath, "In his madhouse!--his madhouse!" and
sunk back to groan and die.

Fanny stood a moment, and then fell, like a stone, insensible to the
ground.

[Illustration: 061]

Presently the clerk and the maid-servant, were in the room. Doctor Rowel
had just folded up the bed-clothes.

"Take that girl up," said he calmly; "she has fainted at this sight of
death. Your master is gone, young man. I did not think, at first,
he would see the night over. Give her some cold water; sprinkle her
temples, and carry her to bed, and then send for somebody to lay this
corpse out. Before morning it will be cold."

As the doctor said this he gathered up such of the powders as had not
been administered, and put them in his pocket. At the same time Fanny
was carried away, according to his directions, and placed on the bed
in her own room. Thither Doctor Rowel followed, and employed himself in
restoring her. When Fanny first opened her eyes and saw him bending over
her, she shrieked and sunk again. Again she was recovered.

"Do leave me," said she. "Do go away, or I shall die."

"But I have something to say to you, my dear," observed the doctor, with
an assumed sweetness of tone. "Now, quiet yourself, and endeavour to get
over this agitation. You will never be better till you get calmer."

"Then pray leave me," again replied Fanny, "and I may then be quiet. Is
master any better?"

"Yes--yes," the doctor answered; "but never mind him. You should not
have interfered with _me_, Fanny. He was delirious,--outrageous. I was
obliged to hold him down."

"He said something about my father," observed Fanny in a faint voice. "I
heard him say it."

"Nothing--nothing, I assure you!" the doctor exclaimed. "He was
delirious. Now, quiet yourself, and do not talk any more tonight.
Say nothing about it; and another day, when you are better, you shall
convince yourself, for Mrs. Rowel shall take you all over my house--you
shall see everybody in it--and I will prove to you that your father
cannot be there. As I told you some time ago, I know something about
you, and will take care to see you righted as far as I can; but then you
must not listen to the wild nonsense of a man who did not know what he
was talking about: it ruins everything."

Fanny was silent; but she still beheld, as in a vivid picture, the
corpse-like figure of the lawyer sitting up in bed, its glazed eyes upon
her, and its finger pointing towards that man. She heard the rattle
of its horny tongue as it articulated those last words, "In his
madhouse!--_his_ madhouse!" And she thought of the words of Colin's
mother, which had been told to her only a few hours previously, that
dying people always speak the truth. But, was he dying? "Is he dead?"
asked she.

"My dear," answered Rowel, "do not alarm yourself: but he _is_ dead."

"O God! what have I seen!" cried the affrighted young woman, as she hid
her head beneath the bed-clothes, for a spirit seemed to pass before her
when she heard those words,--it was that of her dead master!

The doctor departed; but in that house there was no sleep that night.



CHAPTER VI.

_The Doctor's reflections on his return._

"How much safer am I now?" thought the doctor, as he pursued his way
home in the dark, and reflected on all that had just transpired, and on
the probable consequences of it. "To-morrow there will be a jury,--it
cannot be avoided; and I shall be called to give evidence, and Fanny,
who saw it all, will be called also. She suspects something, and may
tell all until she raises suspicions in the minds of others. Would that
she too were out of the way, and then--then I should be finally secure!"

But as he thus thought on another death, the dread of the last came
strongly upon him; and his skin seemed to creep upon his bones. He
fancied there was a body lying in the road, and several times he checked
his horse to avoid trampling upon it, or turned him suddenly aside in
order to pass it by.

[Illustration: 070]

He could see the shadowy lineaments of the man he had murdered
flickering about in the doubtful air, with the very folds of the
bed-clothes which his own hand had gathered round it, pictured in misty
but accurate lines, like an artist's first sketch emerging from a ground
of dark and indistinct space. He grew anxious to get home. He wondered
how it was that never in his life before had any sight so haunted him,
and yet he had seen many worse agonies than that,--many. Yes; he had
seen old sinners die,--stubborn and unrepentant to the last; he had seen
them die, and make no sign of hope of Heaven's grace. And he had seen
young maids die of very terror at the thought and name of death. Yet
these were nothing. They were happiness itself to what he had witnessed
that night. When he arrived at home, his wife remarked that he looked
pale and ill.

"No, my dear," he replied, "I am very well indeed,--wonderfully well.
I never felt better in my life. I can assure you, you are mistaken." He
sat down to his supper; but as he tried to carve, his knife slipped, and
he did not try it again. The face of the lawyer seemed to be over the
table, dancing about in the broad beams of the candlelight.

"You tremble, Frank!" cried his wife; "your hand shakes. How did you
leave Skinwell?"

"He is dead."

"Dead!"

"Yes,--he is gone. A concussion of the brain has taken him off. It was a
terrible fall, indeed."

"But how sudden!" exclaimed she.

"People will die suddenly sometimes," replied the doctor; "and
especially when pitched headlong out of a gig on a stony road. Now I
think of it, let me tell you, my dear, that to-morrow perhaps, or on
some early day, I shall want you to show a young woman down in the
village here, all over the house. I wish her to see the patients. Do not
ask any questions now; I have particular reasons for it. I only have
to request of you very particularly, when she does come, to make no
inquiries of her of any kind, nor to answer any questions she may put to
you. It is of great importance to yourself as well as to me; and more so
indeed than you can be aware of just now; so that it is unnecessary to
insist further upon it."

The wife promised strict compliance with his injunctions, as it was no
very unusual thing for her thus to be requested to take a blind part in
the performance of some mystery or other in the establishment, of which
no one knew the purpose save Dr. Rowel himself. By this combination
of secrecy with his wife, and of apparent openness and candour towards
Fanny, he trusted to convince the latter that the communication which
the dying man had made respecting her father was false and utterly
without foundation. In adopting this bold course, it is evident that the
doctor laid himself open to the possibility at least of a discovery; yet
it was clearly the safest plan which, under the circumstances, he could
adopt. The opinions which his wife entertained respecting the sanity of
the unfortunate James Woodruff rendered it highly necessary, not only
that the name and relationship of the visiter to whom he had promised
an inspection of his house should be unknown to her, but also that no
suspicion should be excited by any attempt on his part to prevent James
Woodruff's being seen by Fanny along with all the other patients; since
the very fact of one of them being purposely withheld would of itself
give room for doubt; while, from an interview between them he had
nothing to fear, since in his opinion it was a moral impossibility that
either father or daughter should recognise the other.



CHAPTER VII.

_A jury sits on the body of Skinwell. Colin advises Fanny Woodruff upon
a subject of some importance._

A coroner's jury was summoned to hold an inquest at the tavern at
Bramleigh, on the body of Mr. Skinwell. The men composing this jury were
such ignorant louts, that Doctor Rowel, on being called before them,
soon succeeded in so far mystifying their perceptions, that they
unanimously determined it to be quite useless to call any other
witnesses than one or two of those who saw the accident. The coroner
himself was an indolent and superficial person, and, under pretence of
having other inquests to hold a few miles off, seemed anxious to hurry
the present inquiry to a conclusion. Fanny remained outside during
the deliberation, and, though it was once or twice suggested that her
evidence might prove important, the Coroner peremptorily refused to
listen to it, and especially as Doctor Rowel took the liberty of hinting
that any statement which she might make could not prove of the least
value after his own lucid and professional exposition of the state
of the deceased on his being brought home. Accordingly, a verdict of
"Accidental Death" was recorded; and Doctor Rowel returned to Nabbfield
highly gratified in secret with the result of the inquiry.

But, as the success of guilt affords no pleasant matter for reflection,
I will proceed to relate something concerning a better and more virtuous
character.

The story of Lawyer Skinwell's death soon spread abroad, and reached the
farm at Whinmoor in its progress. When Colin became acquainted with the
facts, he necessarily concluded that Fanny would again be homeless, and
that his advice and assistance might prove useful to her. He accordingly
seized the first opportunity that presented itself for taking a walk
to Bramleigh, which occurred about a week after the dreadful event just
related. During that time Fanny had been wishing day and night to see
him, but had been too much occupied amidst the circumstances which this
unexpected change had brought about, to be enabled to do more than wish
for his coming. Everything had, of course, been left in some confusion.
Nor were there any known relations of her late master to whom
application could be made to take his affairs under their management.
Skinwell had come to the village, unknown, when a young man, and was
generally understood to say that indeed, to the best of his knowledge
and belief, he was the last of his family.

Under these circumstances both Fanny and the poor clerk would have felt
somewhat embarrassed in what manner to proceed, had not Mr. Longstaff,
the steward, and the landlord of the tavern, taken an early opportunity,
after the lawyer's death, to call at the house, formally to announce to
the poor clerk himself that they were legal witnesses to a will which
the deceased had made some time ago in his favour; and which, after
providing for all debts and expenses, left to him the residue and the
business together. The document thus spoken of was soon found amongst
his private papers; and, as nobody came forward to dispute and litigate
over the poor man's corpse, as is usually the case when anybody has a
small matter to leave behind him, the affairs of the household were soon
placed in a way for being carried on as usual; and especially as Fanny
consented to remain for the present with the lawyer's successor on the
same terms as she had formerly agreed upon with him.

These arrangements had been made when Colin arrived; and therefore the
difficulties in which he expected to find Fanny were entirely obviated.
But there was another and a far more dreadful subject to engage his
attention, which he could not possibly have anticipated, namely, the
communication made by the dying man respecting her father, and the
horrible scene which she had witnessed at the time that communication
was made. Partly from a conscientious fear of doing any one an
injustice, and partly from doubt whether, after all, the doctor really
was or was not guilty, she had not hitherto mentioned the subject to any
one, though it lay on her mind like a burden which would allow no rest
until it was shaken off. If the lawyer had spoken truth, was it not
unjust to his memory to make no use of what he had spoken? And if she
really had a father living, and that father was confined in a madhouse,
what could she think of herself were she not to make an effort for his
deliverance?

On his arrival, Colin thought Fanny looked ill and anxious; and that she
spoke less freely to him than heretofore. He felt surprised to hear her
allude to Doctor Rowel in a manner so changed from that in which she had
always spoken of him formerly. Then it was as a friend, a helper; one
from whom, above all others living, she had the most to hope from, and
to whom she ought to feel most grateful. But now she mentioned the very
name with dread, and seemed to shudder whenever the recollection of his
presence in that house came across her mind. All this raised Colin's
curiosity, and stimulated his inquiries. Question after question did he
put to her, until the vivid recollection of the scene that had passed,
and the keener sense of her father's situation, which this conversation
awakened, brought her again to tears, and amidst many sobs and
interruptions she at last related to the horror-stricken youth the whole
story of her late master's death-bed communication.

During the recital Colin turned pale as ashes; and when it was done,
"I'm sure he murdered him!" he exclaimed, "and we shall find it all true
about your father. Think as you like about it, but that doctor tried to
stop his mouth only to prevent him telling you. Take him at his word,
Fanny, and let him show you over his house."

Fanny made no reply. She scarcely heard his words, for in imagination
she fancied herself before the little cell that held her father; she
thought of him as a madman whom she dared not touch, and scarcely even
look at; one who, though her own parent, had not sense enough left
to talk even like a little child. And as she thus thought, the tears
silently but rapidly rolled down her cheeks. She longed for the time to
arrive, but dreaded the trial to which it might expose her.

Having arranged that they should meet again as early as possible after
her visit to the madhouse, Colin took his farewell of Fanny; and, on
quitting the house, proceeded immediately in the direction of the old
hall of Kiddal, with the intention of carrying out another part of his
plan.



CHAPTER VIII.

_Colin seeks an interview with Squire Lupton. An unexpected adventure
takes place, which raises him to the station of a hero, and promises
great things to come._

When Colin arrived at Kiddal Hall, Mr. Lupton was quietly reposing
himself on a small couch placed near the widely-opened window of his
drawing-room, and inhaling the fragrance of the great "wicked weed" from
a long Turkish pipe, whose voluminous folds lay like a sleeping serpent
on the ground beside him. At some distance from him, close to the door,
and unperceived by the squire, stood an individual of short stature,
dressed in a coat that reached nearly to his knees; inexpressibles that
descended to the same point, blue worsted stockings, and laced-up boots.
His hat was placed upon its crown on the floor beside him, as though the
owner, in so disposing of it, meditated a stay of some duration.

"Is that Mr. Lupton?" demanded a gruff voice.

"Who the d----l is that?" exclaimed the squire, puffing the smoke away
from his mouth, and looking eagerly in the direction whence the voice
proceeded.

"Nay--nay, now!" was the reply he received, "it signifies nothing to you
who _I_ am, for if a man gets justice done him for his crimes, what can
it matter to him whose hand does it?"

"How did you come in here, fellow?" again asked the squire.

"Never mind asking me how I got here," replied the little old man; "that
is my business and not yours. I _am_ here, and that is enough."

"But, what are you?--who are you?--for what purpose have you come here?"

"Well--well! if you ask me what I am, I can tell you; I am _a father_.
And, if I were to tell you what you are, sir, I should say you are an
unprincipled man, and unworthy of your station: a man that, because he
has power in his hands, can insult poverty, and betray it to ruin, under
the pretence of doing it a service. Does your recollection extend as far
back as sixteen or eighteen years ago?"

Instead of answering this question, Mr. Lup-ton laid aside his pipe,
rose from his seat, and advanced towards the little man in the middle
of the room, extending his hand in an authoritative manner. "Come, come,
fellow! go away. Save me the trouble of putting you out."

"_You_ put _me_ out, sir!" tauntingly replied his strange visiter; "it
is more than you dare undertake to do if all your servants were about
you; and, as it is, remember there is not one. Keep your hands off me,
or I shall make you repent it. You have touched too much of my blood
already; and now I have called for some of yours. Look to yourself.
I 'll be fair with you."

As he thus spoke he drew something from the pocket of his long coat,
which Mr. Lupton thought, from the slight glance he caught of it in
the twilight, to be a pistol. The sight nerved him to desperation, and
suddenly he sprung forwards to strike or seize the man before him.
But the latter was too expert; he slipped aside, and Mr. Lupton fell
forwards with the impetus of his motion, almost to the ground. The
cocking of the pistol and the opening of the room-door were heard at the
same instant. Flash went the deadly powder, slightly illuminating the
apartment, and showing a _third_ party standing against the old man in
the long coat, who had struck the pistol aside with his hand, and thus
diverted what otherwise would have proved a deadly aim. That third
person was Colin. He had reached the hall a minute or two before; and
one of the servants who knew him, had conducted him up-stairs, under
the belief that the squire was alone,--for the old man had obtained
admittance secretly. While in the passage outside, however, they
overheard the latter part of the conversation just related, which
induced Colin to rush in, and thus was he instrumental in saving the
life of his own father--though unknown to himself--from the deadly
hand--equally unknown to him--of his own grandfather!

Jerry Clink had recently returned from New South Wales; and during all
the years of his banishment had kept

     "The patient watch, the vigil long,
     Of him who treasures up a wrong."

No sooner did he find that the pistol had failed in its intended work,
and that Mr. Lupton, who was a powerful man, was again upon his legs,
than he dashed Colin furiously aside, and retreated towards the window.
The squire followed him, and was himself followed also by Colin and
the servant. They endeavoured to pin the old man in a corner, but their
first efforts did not succeed. He strove to rush between them, and to
escape at the door. Lights now glanced along the passage, and on the
staircase. Other servants were hurrying forwards, having been brought
up by the report of fire-arms. Escape that way was now impossible. What
could he do? There was the window--the only chance. Nobody so much as
dreamed that he would go out there, for it was twenty feet or more from
the ground. He approached it. The resolution and the action were one. In
an instant his body darkened the open space as he leaped through, and
he was gone! The spectators stood still some moments,--for into mere
spectators did this daring and desperate leap transform them all.
They then ran to the window. There lay a dark substance on the ground
beneath,--it moved,--it got up. They watched it; and, in the height of
their amazement, never thought of running out to seize it. Jerry looked
up and laughed with derision in their faces as he hastened off. Some
of them now ran down stairs in pursuit. It was deep twilight, and the
desperado was speedily out of sight. He had crossed the lawn, and got
into the woods. They followed with guns and staves, but Jerry Clink was
safe.

"And what young man is this?" asked Mr. Lupton, as he turned to gaze
at Colin, and by the lights which now shone in the apartment beheld
a noble, open countenance, and a pair of bold, dark eyes, whose look
brought a flush of heat up in the squire's face, and made him for
a moment dream that he gazed into a mirror, so much were they the
counterpart of his own. "Whoever you are," pursued the squire, "I owe
you much for this brave interposition. I am indebted to you, young man,
perhaps for my life; certainly for sound bones and a whole skin. Sit
down--sit down a moment. But stop; this will do at present." And he drew
out his purse containing nearly ten guineas, and tendered it to Colin,
"Take this, until I can do something better for you."

"No, sir, thank you," replied the youth. "I do not want money: and if I
did, I could not take it for only doing right. I came to speak to you,
sir, about something else, if you will allow me."

"Not take it!" exclaimed Mr. Lupton, in astonishment,--"then you were
not born in Yorkshire, were you?"

"Yes, sir, I was," answered he: "I was born and brought up in this
village, though you do not know me."

"Indeed! Why, I do not remember to have remarked you before. Who are
you? What is your name?"

"Colin Clink, sir, is my name."

The squire sat down and turned away his face, so that the lad could not
see it, as he asked, in an altered and somewhat tremulous voice, if Mrs.
Clink, that kept the shop, was his mother?

"Yes, sir," replied Colin, "she is; but I never knew my father."

Mr. Lupton was for some moments silent. He placed his elbow on the back
of his chair, and his open hand over his eyes, as if to screen them.
Something had touched his bosom suddenly; but the lad knew not what.
At length, and evidently with some effort, though without changing his
position in the least, Mr. Lupton said, "I cannot talk with you now,
young man: that fellow has ruffled me. Take that purse, and come again
some other time. I shall be from home nearly three weeks. Come again
this day three weeks, and I shall have something of importance to talk
to you about. Take particular notice, now, and be punctual. But what are
you doing? and where do you live?"

Colin satisfied him on both these particulars. The squire continued,
"Then come as I have appointed, and your situation shall be exchanged
for a better. I will make your fortune: but I cannot talk now. Come
again, my boy,--come again."

Colin stood a few moments in silent suspense as to the course to
be pursued. The unexpected event which had taken place had entirely
defeated the purpose for which he had ventured to Kiddal Hall, while the
squire's language half confounded him. Should he speak again? He dared
not, except to express his thanks; retiring therefore from the room, he
left the squire's purse untouched upon the table.

Colin reached Whinmoor shortly before ten o'clock.

When Mr. Lupton arose from his reverie, and strode across the room,
his foot struck against the bullet that had been discharged from Jerry
Clink's pistol. He looked up to the wall; and, though the blow which
at the critical moment Colin had struck diverted it from himself, the
squire saw, with a strange sensation, for which he could not account,
that it had passed through the canvass, and near the bosom of his wife's
picture.



CHAPTER IX.

_Gives a description of Fanny's visit to the madhouse, and of her
interview with her father._

After the lapse of some few days, during which Mr. Lupton left the hall
on his proposed brief journey,--(though not without first sending a
messenger to Whinmoor with a small packet for Colin, which the latter
found to contain fifteen guineas, and a repetition of the invitation
to appear again at Kiddal on the day previously named,)--Fanny's
arrangements for going over Doctor Rowel's establishment were completed;
and according to appointment she set out one morning, early after
breakfast, and reached Nabbfield about ten o'clock. As she approached
the place her heart began to throb violently, and her hands to tremble
as she placed them on her bosom, as if by that action to still the poor
troubled thing within. She gazed at the building as though every single
stone was a separate source of fear to her; at its melancholy windows
as so many eyes, out of which madness and pain looked upon the pleasant
world below. As she passed along the footpath outside the boundary wall
she stopped, and listened. Instead of sounds of woe, which she expected
to hear from within, the blackbird and the linnet in the plantations
sounded their pleasant notes there the same as elsewhere. The great and
gaudy dragon-fly darted along the sunny wall, and little clouds of gnats
flew in innumerable and ever-changing evolutions beneath the pendent
branches of the young elms and sycamores by the roadside. When she saw
the gateway she first lingered, and then stopped, to gather breath and
resolution. She could not: she looked again, and then retraced her steps
some yards, hoping to quiet herself, and grow more calm. She looked up
at the sky: it was bright, and vast, and deep, with an intense blue,
that seemed as unfathomable as eternity. She thought of her father, and
then of another Father who alone could help her and sustain her in all
trials. Fanny sunk down upon the bank, and clasped her hands together in
silent and spontaneous prayer for assistance to meet the coming trial.
She arose strengthened, calm, and assured.

As the keeper of the lodge-gate opened it to admit her, Fanny inquired,
with evident signs of fear, whether the people whom she saw at some
distance up the pathway, would do her any injury? These were several of
the partially-recovered and harmless patients, who had been allowed to
take exercise in the garden. Although Fanny's question was answered in
the negative, and she was told not to be in the least afraid of them,
she yet advanced up the pathway with a quick-beating heart, and a
timorous step. As she approached them, several of the people held up
their heads, and gazed half-vacantly at her.

Fanny hurried along with increased rapidity, and reached the doctor's
house without interruption. She rung the bell, and stood a long time
before anybody answered it, though she knew not it was more than a
moment, so occupied was her mind with the thoughts of what was about to
ensue. "If my father _be_ here," thought she,--"if I _should_ see him,
and hear him say his name is the same as mine, what in the world shall
I do? How shall I conduct myself? What shall I say to him?" and, as
she thus thought the door opened, and Fanny was ushered into an
elegantly-furnished room, such as she had not before seen, and at the
same time into the presence of the doctor's wife.

As I have before stated that the visit had been previously arranged,
Mrs. Rowel was of course prepared to conduct her almost immediately
over the establishment. As she successively passed through open rooms
in which the more harmless patients were assembled,--some laughing and
playful, others desponding and weeping over again their troubles of
former days,--and thence was conducted down gloomy ranges of cells, the
dim light of which just served to show the fairest of God's creations
writhing in foul struggle with the demon of madness,--or, yet more
remotely, was taken to behold sights which humanity forbids me to
describe, but which, once seen, can never be forgotten;--as all this,
I repeat, passed before the affrighted eyes of Fanny, and brought up to
her mind still more vividly the picture of her own father, it was
with the greatest difficulty she could hide her emotion from those who
accompanied her.

Fanny and the doctor's wife now proceeded together, and unaccompanied,
down that winding passage which led to the yard where James Woodruff
obtained all of daylight and air which he had enjoyed during many years.
The door was opened to the dazzling light of Midsummer time, so that
Fanny could scarcely see, after being so long in the dungeon-like places
of that dreary mansion. But there stood the black old yew-tree, looking
as if carved out of ebony, amidst the blaze of a mid-day sun, and under
its deep hard shadow lay a man, motionless as might be the monumental
effigy in some old church aisle; his eyes upon the bright space above
him, and his hands fast bound across his breast. As the noise occasioned
by the approach of Fanny and Mrs. Rowel reached his ear, he gently
turned his head, and displayed to the gaze of Fanny a countenance
pale and thoughtful, surrounded by a profusion of deep black hair, and
brightened by a pair of eyes of the same hue, that looked like spots of
jet set in a face of alabaster.

"And is he," remarked Fanny, as she turned towards her conductress, "is
he as wild as those men we have seen in the cells?"

"The doctor," replied Mrs. Rowel, "says he is quite insane; though for
myself I sometimes think he talks as properly and sensibly as you or
I might do. But then Mr. Rowel says that no dependence is to be placed
upon that, because people who are quite out of their senses will
sometimes appear as reasonable in their conversation as any other
person."

This declaration somewhat startled Fanny's faith in the virtue of common
sense; and, as if seeking for an illustration of this strange doctrine
in the person before her, she again turned to the yew-tree. She started.
Those coal-black eyes were still upon her, fixed, and apparently full
of some mysterious meaning. She dreaded lest the madman should be
meditating wrong against her, and instinctively seized the arm of the
doctor's wife.

"Do not be alarmed," observed the latter encouragingly; "he will do you
no injury in the world. He looks more frightful than he is a great deal;
his hair makes him look so: but he and I have had many conversations
together. I will try if he will speak, and then you can hear how these
mad people talk. James!" raising her voice, "how do you do to-day?"

He rolled round on his back, and by a sudden and peculiar action, which
long captivity and experience alone could have rendered familiar to
him, leapt instantaneously up without the assistance of his arms. Fanny
shrunk convulsively within the door, in dread lest he should approach
her.

"Stand still, my dear," remarked her companion; "there is not the least
danger from him. Now, _do_ be assured, and come forward."

Fanny obeyed with trembling, especially when she saw the man advance
towards them with the intention, apparently, of addressing either her
or her conductress. He spoke, however, in the first instance, to the
latter.

"Good morning, good lady, and to your young companion. How bright
and beautiful the day is! How does the world look beyond these walls?
Beautiful, I dare say; glorious far beyond any thought of mine, for I
have almost forgotten what robe the earth wears in summer time. Yet it
is full of delight even on this arid sand, and between these burning
walls. And so, young lady,"--and James Woodruff turned his dark eyes
upon Fanny's countenance as he spoke in a more jesting, yet melancholy
strain,--"you have come to look at me as a curiosity and a show?"

"Oh, no, sir!" exclaimed she in a hurried tone, and with her face
deepening with blushes, "I--I--I am very glad to see you, sir."

"Are you?" exclaimed Woodruff earnestly. "Then Heaven bless that heart,
and reward you with its choicest gifts, for feeling glad to see such an
unfortunate thing as I! Glad to see me! Why, that is more than any one
has said these many years! Forgive me, young woman; but in your face I
see over again the good angel that delivered Peter from his dungeon,
and it is a blessing to my eyes to look upon one like you. I am not mad,
young lady; indeed I am not. Nay, do not shrink. I would dash this head
against the wall sooner than dream of injury to you. I had a wife once
at your age: your youth brings her back again, till I could think
she had come from heaven to plead for me! I have been here twenty
winters,--I have given up all my land and money--everything but
life--for liberty, and have still been basely deceived! Now do not, for
the love of God, and of justice! do not doubt me. I am not mad. I never
was. I was stolen from my home, and from my daughter--a child--a little
child."

Fanny's brain grew dizzy. She clung to her companion for support.

"Let us go, my dear," said Mrs. Rowel. "You cannot bear it. James, why
do you talk so?"

"I will not go!" cried Fanny eagerly, and struggling hard to rally
herself "Tell me your name--your name!" added she, addressing the
captive.

"Woodruff!" cried the poor prisoner.

Fanny's glazed eyes were fixed on him for an instant,--she sprung
forwards with a shriek, and fell at full length on the ground, and as
though dead, at his feet!

Mrs. Rowel and the unfortunate James Woodruff stood equally astonished.
The latter attempted to raise Fanny: he could not--his arms were
bound--and he laughed. But the next instant, as he requested the
mistress of the mansion to do so, he stooped over the insensible body
before him, and burst into a flood of tears.

"Who is she?" he demanded. "What soul of beauty is it?"

"I do not know, James," replied the lady; "she is a stranger to me."

"Would that I could touch her cheek with my finger!" said Woodruff. "She
is good--good indeed!"

In the mean time Robson had answered the call of Mrs. Rowel, and come to
her assistance.

"Carry her into the house. Or, stay, fetch water," said she; "she had
better be recovered here," and Robson was accordingly despatched for a
glass of water, with which he soon returned. It was applied to her
lips, and partially sprinkled on her forehead.

After a time she began to recover; she opened her eyes, looked round,
and spoke--"Where is he?"

"Here! I am here, young lady," replied Woodruff, as he looked her
earnestly in the face to fix her attention. "What of me?"

"My father!" exclaimed Fanny, as she again sunk into a state of
insensibility.

"Father!" repeated Woodruff--"my father! I her father! She my daughter!"
He strove to wrench his arms free to clasp her to his bosom, but again
he could not.

"Take her away, Robson," said Mrs. Rowel. "What does all this mean? Take
her away!--take her away!"

And Fanny was carried back by the strong man to the room into which she
had at first been introduced; while James Woodruff remained standing
upon that spot, gazing on that ground where his child had laid, as
though the great world contained in it no other place which, even to
him, deserved for a moment to be looked upon.



CHAPTER X.

_Is so very necessary between the ninth and eleventh that it could not
possibly be dispensed with._

When Fanny was sufficiently recovered, Mrs. Rowel questioned her very
particularly upon the circumstances that had occurred, and exhibited a
great deal of laudable curiosity to be fully enlightened touching the
mystery that had been enacted before her. Fanny would fain have kept
it to herself; but too much had already passed in the presence of the
doctor's wife to render such a line of conduct altogether practicable.
Nevertheless, it was not until a faithful promise of secrecy had been
made on the part of Mrs. Rowel, that Fanny was induced to communicate
to her so much of her story as was needful to render something like
an intelligible whole. In this account she omitted any mention of
the source from whence the information respecting her father had been
obtained; and also forbore making the most distant allusion to the
death of her late master, or to the part which she secretly believed the
doctor had taken in that event.

The lady listened to her narrative with great astonishment, and when
it was concluded, seized both her hands in an affectionate manner, and
exclaimed, "Then, my dear, you are my niece:--the doctor is your own
uncle, for your mother and he were brother and sister!"

This information, as may be readily supposed, astonished Fanny, though
it did not affect her so much as the discovery of her father made just
before. She thought of her own uncle being a murderer;--she regretted
ever having mentioned the subject to Colin, and resolved never to allude
to it again before any one. She dreaded the very thought that, bad as he
was, her own uncle should owe to her his degradation, and an ignominious
death on a public scaffold. The thought of all this she could not
endure; and, in order to avert the possibility of danger from any
unexpected quarter, she now begged of the doctor's wife to hide from her
husband the fact that she _had_ discovered her father in those cells,
lest it might lead to a still worse danger, the bare possibility of
which she dreaded to think upon. Mrs. Rowel not only promised to do all
this,--a promise which eventually she fulfilled,--but also gave Fanny
the fullest assurance that she would exercise her utmost endeavours
in the attempt to prevail upon her husband to set James Woodruff at
liberty. For all this Fanny returned her most heartfelt thanks, and then
took her leave.

For some time afterwards she could take no rest, no food, think of
nothing in the world except her father. She felt eager to see Colin and
inform him of what had occurred, but found it impossible to do so until
some few days after, when she took the opportunity afforded by a Sunday
afternoon to hasten over to Whinmoor.

As she passed down the fields, she felt fearful of again encountering
Miss Sowersoft, and tried to plan several little ways for seeing Colin
unknown to her. In the midst of her reveries she suddenly beheld old
George sauntering along the hedge side, with his hands on his back, and
a bit of hawthorn blossom stuck in the button-hole of his coat. To him
Fanny applied; and as the old man most readily undertook to execute her
wishes, she waited in the fields until he sent Colin out to meet her.
Together, then, they slowly traversed the fields, while Fanny detailed
her extraordinary story, and listened with additional wonder to that
which the youth in turn related respecting his adventure at Kiddal Hall,
and the great assistance which, in consequence, the squire had promised
to afford him. This mightily revived Fanny's hopes; for in the person of
Mr.

Lupton she fancied she now saw one who would aid in the liberation of
her father.

But Colin somewhat clouded these fair visions, when, after some thought,
he told her that as, in consequence of Mr. Lupton being from home so
long, it would be impossible to communicate the matter to him, he would
not wait until the time was passed, and leave her father in such
a horrible place so much longer, but would try a plan of his own
contrivance for effecting his liberation.

Having explained his scheme, and succeeded in quieting Fanny's distrust
as to its execution, Colin bade her farewell, and promised to see her
again in a few days.



CHAPTER XI.

_Plot and counter-plot.--The difference between two sides of the same
question curiously illustrated._

As Mrs. Rowel very strictly kept her word with Fanny, and contrived
to evade telling the doctor any portion of the discovery that had been
made, that gentleman remained in the happy belief that his project
to convince his niece of the deceased lawyer's falsehood had entirely
succeeded. James Woodruff was therefore allowed to spend the day out of
his cell, as usual.

Early one morning, shortly after the interview between himself and his
daughter, already recorded, he was pacing mechanically up and down
the yard, revolving in his agitated and confused mind the inexplicable
doubts attending all that had recently occurred, when he was momentarily
startled from his reverie by observing something white skim above the
wall, make a seeming pause in the air, and then fall to the ground
within his inclosure. Woodruff advanced towards it, and beheld a piece
of paper folded up like a letter. He eagerly stooped to pick it up;
but his arms were bound in that accursed ligature, which made him
more helpless than a child. He threw himself wildly on the ground, and
gathered it up with his mouth; still he had no hands to open it. He
looked angrily round, but could not discover anything that might aid
him. He placed it between his knees;--the attempt failed, and the little
packet dropped again to the ground. Again he gathered it up, and rose
to his feet; he placed it against the wall, and with tongue and lips
contrived, after much trouble, to force it open. Again he sat on the
ground, placed it on his knee, and read as follows:--

"The young woman who came to see you is your own daughter, Frances
Woodruff. Be of good heart, as she is making all possible exertions to
liberate you. In order to effect this, it is necessary that you contrive
some pretext for staying out in your yard until ten o'clock at night,
or later, on the third night after this. If you should not succeed, then
try each night afterwards successively until you do succeed. You will
then see a head over the north-east corner of the wall of the yard
where the yew-tree stands, and opposite the thickest part of the east
plantation. Wait in the corner beneath, and a rope-ladder will be let
down, by which you can climb to the top and escape. This is written by
your daughter's friend, Colin Clink, who will do his best to get you
out; so do not be afraid of being betrayed.

"Fanny has seen this, and she prays God night and day that you will be
able to agree to it. Do not be afraid, as Colin is sure to come (happen
what may, short of death) at the time appointed. The third night,
mind,--or any night after, at ten o'clock."

Poor James could scarcely believe his eyes. He almost doubted at first
whether he was not at length really growing insane, and whether the
circumstances which he fancied had so recently occurred were not mental
delusions, consequent 011 his burning desire to be at liberty. Could it
indeed be possible that the glorious hour was so near at hand?--that
his daughter was alive?--that he had seen her,--a beautiful young woman,
like what his own wife was when first he took her to his home;--that she
was aiding him once more to tread the earth _free?_--that he might again
have a home,--be revenged on the man who so cruelly wronged him,--and,
once more reinstated in his house at Charnwood, enjoy that greatest of
all earthly blessings, a father's pride in the beauty, the virtue, and
the heroism of his child?

These thoughts were almost more than he could bear, and he wept aloud,
as he mentally offered up a prayer of gratitude to Heaven for all its
goodness to him.

Afterwards, in order to prevent the possibility of any discovery, he
tore up the letter into the most minute fragments with his teeth, and
buried them in a hole which he made with his foot, near the trunk of the
old yew-tree. Nevertheless he was not safe. There were enemies without,
of whom he knew nothing, and treachery was at work to undermine Colin's
project.

It was stated some few pages back that Fanny and Colin were sauntering
in the fields on the old farm at Whinmoor, when the former related her
discoveries at Nabbfield, and the latter explained to her the plan he
had formed for assisting her father to escape. Now, at the time when he
was earnestly engaged in doing this, Miss Sowersoft was standing behind
an adjacent hedge, having stealthily crept there with her shoes off, in
order to gratify a certain irrepressible curiosity to know what object
Fanny could have in coming so far to see Colin, old George having
announced her arrival. Although Colin frequently, and very fortunately,
spoke in too low a voice for Miss Sowersoft to catch the meaning of the
projected attempt, and also mentioned so few of the details of his plan,
that she could scarcely make head or tail of it; yet so much reached her
attentive ear as sufficed to form in her mind the ground-work of some
very horrible suspicions of Colin's honesty. The great fertility of her
genius in matters of this description soon enabled her to make out,
from the broken discourse she had heard, that Colin was no better than
a thief, and that he actually meditated committing a burglary upon the
premises of Dr. Rowel some night in the course of the ensuing week;
while Fanny was doing neither more nor less than aiding and abetting
him in his nefarious attempt. But as her information was not of a
sufficiently positive kind to justify her in acquainting the constable,
and getting him immediately apprehended, she came to the conclusion
that Dr. Rowel ought at least to be put upon his guard, in order that he
might station proper watchmen in his neighbourhood to seize the culprit
whenever he might make his appearance. This matter also afforded such an
excellent opportunity for her to revenge herself upon Fanny for what she
had formerly said before the doctor's face, on the occasion of Colin's
illness, that she could not think by any means of allowing it to slip
by. Accordingly, some time before the night arrived which Colin had
appointed for his trial, Miss Sowersoft might have been seen marching
with important step up the gardens before the doctor's establishment,
with the intention of communicating to that gentleman in person some
hints of the imminent danger that threatened his property.

On her introduction to him, she announced the object of her visit in the
following manner. "It is a most unpleasant thing to me, Dr. Rowel, to
have to call upon you on such a case of secrecy as the present. You are
aware, doctor, that I have a boy about me over at the farm--"

"Yes, yes," interrupted the doctor, "I know him well. Palethorpe, you
mean?"

"Oh no, sir!--oh no!--not him--by no means. He is a middle-aged man,
and a very honest one. No, no. I mean the boy that you attended a while
ago--Colin Clink. That boy, sir, I am sorry to say, is as vicious and
bad a character as ever crossed a threshold. I am sure, if he escapes
the gallows at last, it will only be because he was born to be drowned.
He has been hatching mischief of one sort or another every day since he
came into the world, and now he has got to such a pitch--"

Here Miss Sowersoft bent her head towards the doctor, and whispered
during the space of ten minutes, in so low a voice that nobody save the
doctor himself could catch a word of what was said.

"You amaze me!" exclaimed the doctor.

"I assure you, doctor,'" she reiterated, "I believe every word I have
said is as true as that you sit there."

The doctor thanked Miss Sowersoft for her information, assured her two
or three times over that he would make the best use of it, and very
politely ended the conference by wishing her good morning.

Never, I verily believe, did any mischief-maker feel a greater degree of
self-satisfaction than did Miss Sowersoft, as she returned to Whinmoor.
What revenge should she not take when Colin was caught in the very fact
of house-breaking, and when Fanny would be immediately involved in the
same crime! The thought was so inspiriting, that she tripped along with
a degree of briskness which would have induced any one who did not see
her face to believe her at least twenty years the junior of herself.



CHAPTER XII.

_Colin prepares for his undertaking, and exhibits great stubbornness of
temper in withstanding many difficulties._

From the time at which James Woodruff had received the little packet, up
to the eventful night when the attempt to extricate him from confinement
was to be made, Colin had busily employed all his spare hours in
manufacturing in secret such articles for his purpose as he conceived
he should require. This he was the better enabled to do, from having
accompanied Fanny on a visit of inspection to the place, when, by the
top of the old yew-tree being visible above the high wall, she was
enabled to point out to him the exact spot in which her father was
confined, and where his attempt must necessarily be made.

On the afternoon preceding the appointed night, Colin asked for leave
to go to Bramleigh on particular business; and at the same time stated,
that, as it might detain him rather late, he should very probably
have to remain there all night. Much to his surprise, Miss Sowersoft
immediately granted his request with a more than ordinary grace; at the
same time remarking very pleasantly, "that if his business there was but
honest and good, she hoped he would succeed in it, as everybody ought to
do; but if people went about unprincipled jobs of any kind, it was very
right and just that the evil spirit they served should betray them in
the end."

At any other time Colin might not have noticed these remarks; but, under
present circumstances, they sunk deep into his mind. He feared that
his design had, by some means or other, become, if not wholly known, at
least suspected; and during the next half hour, instead of setting
out, he sat down upon the step of the open house-door, considering what
course he ought to pursue. The doubts which then arose in his mind were
not so much the result of fear as of cautious forecast, touching the
probable result of his enterprise. If by any means it had been found
out, his wisest course would be to abandon it for the present, and
either wait some more favourable opportunity, or leave the whole
matter in abeyance until his visit to the Hall, on the Squire's return,
afforded him a chance of explaining the circumstances to that gentleman,
and of gaining, if possible, his assistance. Yet, if he did so, what
would Mr. Woodruff think? He would wait in horrible anxiety hour after
hour, still depending upon the word of him, who said that nothing
short of death should prevent his coming. These reflections decided the
question. Colin rose up, and within ten minutes was some distance on his
road.

Another circumstance disturbed him. Before leaving the house, he saw
Mr. Palethorpe, with his best inexpressibles on, preparing himself
apparently for a short journey; and, on Colin's putting the question
to him, he observed, with a malicious grin, that _he_ also was going to
Bramleigh. The youth turned pale, and red, and pale again, as shame
and fear alternately predominated, though he pursued his way with
undiminished resolution, conscious that he had engaged in a good cause,
and resolved rather to fail in it than to commit himself in falsehood,
through the foolish dread of some undefined and perhaps imaginary
danger.

Colin arrived at his mother's house about six o'clock in the evening,
and, by previous appointment, met there with his friend Fanny. Together
they put everything into a state of preparation; while Colin, as a
precautionary measure, in case anything unfortunate should happen,
obliged the young woman to take three guineas of the fifteen which
Mr. Lupton had sent him, and the whole of which he had brought in his
pocket, in case it should be required for the service of Mr. Woodruff
when he had got out of the mad-house.

As hour after hour passed by, the young couple grew indescribably
anxious and restless. Fanny dreaded that some unforeseen evil would
befall Colin, and with tears in her eyes now begged him to give up the
design, and wait until the Squire's return enabled them to do so
much more securely. To this he replied in few words, that what he had
promised to do he would do, happen what might.

"Then," said Fanny, "let us tell your mother all about it. I dare say
she means the best for both of us, after all; and then, perhaps, she may
think of something to help you in the attempt."

Mrs. Clink was accordingly informed, very much to her amazement, of the
principal heads of this affair, so far as already known to the reader,
and also of the business which, in consequence, Colin now had upon his
hands. This last she considered highly chimerical and dangerous; she
prophesied it would lead to nothing but trouble to himself; declared
positively that twenty better methods could readily be devised; and
concluded by assuring her son, that if he did not relinquish it at once
and for ever, he would surely live to repent it before another week was
over his head. Colin's reply again was, that no representations whatever
could induce him to alter his purpose; and he began to get ready, and
tie up his simple apparatus for climbing the wall.

At half-past nine o'clock he was ready to set out. Somehow, he knew not
why, Colin felt that he must bid his mother and Fanny a more serious
adieu than usual. His mother kissed him, and Fanny,--she, when in the
shadow of the door, kissed him too, and asked a thousand blessings
on his head. He promised, in case he succeeded, to be back with Mr.
Woodruff in the course of an hour and a half; and, having again shaken
hands with Fanny, he passed out into the street.

That hour and a half passed heavily by, during which Mrs. Clink and
Fanny talked the matter over again, reflected, speculated, hoped, and
feared. Colin did not come.

Eleven o'clock struck--he was not there; they looked out, but could see
nothing; listened, but could hear nothing.

Twelve came--midnight--he did not return. Fanny could not be restrained
by Mrs. Clink any longer, and she went up alone to the scene of his
enterprise, trusting there at least to ascertain something. All was
silent as the grave. One solitary light alone, as of some one retiring
to quiet rest, was visible in the mad-house, and that was all. But while
she stood, she heard a horseman enter the stony yard, as though he had
come from the Whin-moor road. The light of a lantern glanced along the
walls above, and then vanished in the stables. She hastened, terrified,
back again--Colin was not there. The whole night passed--morning
broke--the world grew light and gay--but he did not come again.



CHAPTER XIII.

_Colin's attempt to liberate Fanny's father from the madhouse, with the
adventures that befell him thereupon._

When Colin had taken leave of his friends, and passed out of his
mother's house, he found the night, as he thought, peculiarly adapted
for his purpose. The air was dark and troubled, vexed with contending
winds, which blew, as it seemed, now from one quarter of the heavens,
and then again from its opposite, while drops of rain occasionally
came on the blast, succeeded by momentary showers of hail. Though
summer-time, the weather felt as though it had suddenly changed to that
of March, so cold and ungenial was the blast.

He pursued his way for some distance along a dark lane, fenced high with
thick hawthorn on each side, and traversed by deep ruts, here and there
containing puddles of water, which reflected some little light as they
caught the sky, and deceived him with the idea that something white was
lying in his road. From this lane he crossed a stile and several fields,
as offering the most direct route to the back part of the grounds
around the doctor's house. When arrived there, he stopped outside the
plantation, in order to assure himself that no person was about. Nothing
living stirred at that hour. He forced his way through a thorny gap
in the fence, and soon found himself at that north-east corner of the
yard-wall which he had particularly specified. He now uncoiled his rope,
and cautiously threw up that end of it to which a grappling-hook was
attached. After a few efforts it caught firm hold, and, as the distant
clock struck ten, he ascended to the top of the wall; though, as he
fancied this elevation would bring him in relief against the sky, he
crouched as closely as possible, in order to avoid being seen, should it
unluckily so chance that any individual of the establishment was about.

"Are you there?" asked Colin, in a low but earnest voice, as he peeped
down into the yard.

"Yes,'" answered one from below, in a similar tone. "All right. Make
haste!"

Colin's heart leaped within him for joy. Now was he well rewarded for
all his pain and trouble:--to think that he had succeeded at last,
notwithstanding all his mother's and Fanny's fears! Hastily he drew
up the hempen ladder after him, and, sitting upon the top of the wall,
fixed it on the other side, in order to enable James Woodruff to ascend.

"Put your feet in, and hold by the sides," said Colin, as he saw dimly
that the figure was coming up.

"Yes, yes," replied he. "Stop there till I get safe to the top."

And in the next minute, when the body was half above the wall, Colin
received a heavy blow on the head from a short bludgeon, accompanied
by a fierce exclamation and an oath, that if he did not surrender that
instant his brains should be blown out! Regardless of the height of the
wall, he instantly dropped, and, though half stunned, and sprained in
the leg besides, he endeavoured to make off. The fellow who, it was now
evident, had been stationed in the yard on purpose to draw him into this
trap,--poor Woodruff had been kept in his cell,--was afraid to risk
his limbs or his neck by following Colin's example; but, instead of
so doing, he began to bawl lustily for assistance. Colin heard two
blunderbusses fired, and afterwards the crash of pursuers through the
plantations behind him. Conscious that the injury he had received from
the fall would prevent him from escaping them by flight, he raised
himself up against a gate-post, with his arms close against his sides.
In this situation he had the pleasure, two minutes afterwards, of both
hearing and seeing a couple of stout fellows rush past within a yard of
him, one of whom, by his voice and language, Colin recognised to be Mr.
Palethorpe. Within a short period, having "lost scent," they returned,
and lingered a few moments about the gate, as though irresolute which
way to take. During this brief interval he plainly overheard the
following conversation.

"Dang him, I wish we'd hit him! It would have saved us all this
trouble."

"Ay, ay, and hit him I will," replied Palethorpe, "if I can once get
sight of him. Meesis was quite right, you see, in what she overheard him
say--a young vagabone! She told me afore I came out, if I _did_ get
a shot at him, to pepper him well; and so I will. If we kill him in
trespass and burglary, I think the law will stand at our backs. Dang
him!--we lost sound of him somewhere here about, and I should not wonder
if he 's crept under some of these bushes. I'll fire in, and chance it."

No sooner said than done. Off went the blunderbuss into the thick
underwood, for the moment making the spot whereon they stood as light
as day, and illuminating Colin's figure as brilliantly as though he had
stood beneath the flaring light of a gas-burner. Luckily the two men
stood with their backs towards him, or he must inevitably have been
detected. The report over, they listened; but a few frightened birds,
blindly flapping their wings amongst the trees, were all that could
be heard. Palethorpe loaded again, and then made a proposal, which
was agreed to by his companion, that they should take a circuit of the
plantation, and then get on to the road.

The opportunity thus afforded to Colin was made the best use of by him,
and he endeavoured to steal off in the direction of his mother's house.
But, when he had cleared the plantation fence, he again heard his
pursuers beating about in the road between him and that place, so that
he deemed it most advisable to take the direction of Whinmoor. In that
direction the coast seemed clear; and, accordingly, keeping closely
under the darkness of the hedge-side, he set off at his best speed.
For the period of three quarters of an hour or more he pursued his way
unobstructed; and as at the expiration of that time he had reached
the Leeds and York highway, about a mile beyond which the old farm was
situated, he began to congratulate himself upon his escape. Here he
slackened his pace in order to recover breath and strength, both of
which were well-nigh exhausted by his previous exertion.

As he rose to the top of a gentle hill, which the highway crossed, the
sound of a horse's hoofs upon the hard road, though at a considerable
distance, struck his ear. It came from the direction in which he had
come, and seemed to be getting nearer. Was it any one pursuing him? His
fears told him it must be so. Instead, therefore, of pursuing the road
any farther, he leapt the fence, and hurried by a shorter cut over the
fields in the direction of Miss Sowersoft's house. As he advanced the
gusty wind again and again brought along with it the sound of violent
galloping. It was gaining rapidly upon him; but he was now nearer the
house, and the horseman, if destined to the same place, would, he knew,
be obliged to keep the beaten road, which would take him nearly a mile
farther than that which Colin himself had taken. As he crept quietly
into the farm-yard he perceived a light in one of the lofts. The door
was open, and a waggon stood beneath. Abel and old George were loading
it with hay, for the purpose of sending it during the night to York; in
order to be in that city sufficiently early on the following morning.
There was no time to lose; and to stay at the farm to be taken prisoner
would be quite as bad as though he had allowed himself to be taken at
first. He therefore walked boldly up, and briefly told them that while
he was at Bramleigh a plot had been laid by Palethorpe to entrap him;
that he had threatened to shoot him if he could catch him; that it
was with the greatest difficulty he had escaped; and that even now he
believed they had sent some one on horseback to pursue him.

All this being to their own knowledge pretty characteristic of the
aforesaid Palethorpe, they did not hesitate in agreeing to Colin's
proposal that he should get into the waggon, have the hay-trusses piled
around and over him, so as not to exclude the air, and in this manner
to convey him to York. In order to bind them the more strongly to their
promises of strict silence and secrecy, Colin gave Abel one of his
guineas, to be afterwards divided between the two. He then jumped into
the waggon, and in a few minutes was very effectually put out of
sight. In a few minutes afterwards a horseman dashed into the yard, and
demanded of them whether Colin had come home. Abel denied that he was
under any roof there; and, after undergoing a strong test of his powers
of equivocation, contrived, very much to Colin's satisfaction, to
persuade the pursuer to go home again.

Some time afterwards the horses were tackled on, the waggon began to
move, and a tedious journey of more than six hours' duration brought
them within the old walled city of York, at about seven o'clock in the
morning.

Having deposited his waggon in the marketplace, Abel now invited Colin,
who had made his way out of the vehicle when some two miles off the
city, to accompany him to a public-house. This request the lad complied
with; and, while making his breakfast obtained ink and paper from the
landlord, and wrote a short letter to his mother, and another to Fanny,
explaining the circumstances which had led to his absence and flight,
and promising to write again as soon as he had resolved in what place he
should settle for the present, as he did not consider it safe to remain
permanently, even at the distance he then was. These he gave in charge
to Abel, who vowed to deliver them both safe and speedily. He then
inquired of Colin whether he did not intend to go back again?

"Not till I know that everything is safe," replied the youth, "or else
it would have been useless to come here."

"Then what do you intend to do? or where does 't mean going?" again
asked the man.

"I am quite undecided yet," remarked Colin; "but I shall find out a
place somewhere, depend upon it."

"Well, lad," said Abel, "if I could do aught for thee, I would; but I
mean leaving our missis's myself as soon as I can. I 'll either list, or
go to Lunnun very soon, for it's beggarly work here."

The thought struck Colin,--should _he_ go to London? He had money, very
luckily sufficient to keep him awhile; and, so far off, he would be
safe enough. When there, as he dared not return to Bramleigh to pay his
promised visit to Kiddal Hall, he could write to the Squire, and tell
him what had happened, which would do quite as well; and doubtless
enable him, with Mr. Lupton's assistance, not only very shortly to
triumph over his persecutors, but give him sufficient power to effect
successfully that great object, the attempt to achieve which had so
unexpectedly led to his present unpleasant situation.

He finally took his leave of Abel in the market-place, and then rambled
alone and thoughtfully about the town, until within an hour or two of
mid-day.



CHAPTER XIV.

_Country notions of London.--A night-journey to the Metropolis, and
Colin's arrival there._

The good people of the Great City possess but a slight idea of the light
in which they and the modern Babylon are regarded by the remote and
rustic natives of the provinces. Colin partook largely of the general
sentiment respecting that wonderful place, and its, in many respects,
scarcely less marvellous people. To him, in common with every other
child of village or hamlet, however remote, the name of London had been
familiar almost from the cradle. He knew not the time when he knew it
first; and the idea presented by it was that of some great,
undefined, and unknown place, which had no equal in the world, nor
resemblance--(save in that it was composed of buildings and endless
streets)--to anything he had ever seen. It was a vast spectre, without
shape, and measureless, looming in the misty atmosphere of a doubtful
mind, like the ideal pictures of cities and the wonderful palaces of
gnomes and genii, after reading some marvellous Arabian tale. Then,
with the rustic inhabitants of every remote place, anything uncommon or
superior is always presumed to have come from London, and to say that
it came thence, is at once to confer upon it a higher ideal value. Many
a worthless trinket brought by some wandering pedlar is purchased, and
afterwards miraculously preserved from juvenile spoliation amidst the
wreck of all other toys, merely because it came from London. The very
appearance in a village of an individual of more than usual gentility,
startling the bumpkins with a "sight" on some fine summer's morning, is
of itself taken as presumptive evidence that he very probably came from
London. Any innovation or improvement in dress or manners is promptly
and naturally supposed to have had its origin in London. London is the
place, in short, where everything is great,--where everything of
the best is made,--where all the first people of the world do
congregate,--where it is very needful to look sharp about you lest
your very eyes get picked out without your knowing it until they are
gone,--where the most cunning thieves are always at your elbow,--where
everything worth seeing is to be seen, and worth hearing to be
heard,--where anybody may chance to succeed, though he could succeed
nowhere else,--and where, finally, for some one or other or all of these
causes, every man, woman, girl, and boy express a wish to go to before
they die.

Thus is London generally regarded by the rural people of the provinces;
and thus was it in degree that Colin thought, as he paced about the
quiet streets of York. What to do when he should get there he did not
know; but go somewhere he must. There was still room left for many more
in London than himself. Accordingly he walked into a coach-office, and,
after making some inquiries, took his place by a coach which, though it
travelled an indirect route, had the advantage of being about to start
in half an hour. That interval he employed in writing another letter
home, expressive of the intention he had just formed, and stating that
he should write again as soon as he arrived in London.

The public vehicle being now nearly ready, Colin climbed awkwardly up
and took his seat; and, after all the important preparations incident
to such an occasion had been duly made, an expert ostler ingeniously
twitched off the horses' coverings as they were starting, and within
a short time Colin was whirled away on this his first day of foreign
travel.

Never having been on a public stage before, Colin felt delighted. The
pleasant and rapid motion, and the continual change of scenery, almost
made him wonder why those people who could afford it did not ride on the
top of a public coach every day of their lives. Village, town, and then
long spaces of cultivated fields, alternately came on the horizon,
and were left behind; foot-passengers by the road-side appeared to him
almost at a standstill, and the speed of such irritable curs as barked
and ran after the horses, little greater than that of a mole. Towards
evening, however, these things lost much of their attraction, and he
began to grow weary. With weariness came despondency, and he almost felt
as though he was lost.

The sun went down somewhere in the direction of the home he had left
last night. What were his mother and Fanny doing now? What doubt
were they not in, and what misery enduring through his (to them)
unaccountable absence! It was evident enough, too, that Palethorpe knew
him,--and that his design had been found out. What evil reports would
they not spread concerning him, to the dismay and shame of Fanny and his
mother! Mr. Lupton, also, might hear them, and perhaps refuse to take
any notice of his letters; though he himself, were he there, could
explain all this to everybody's satisfaction. Tears both of sorrow
and vexation swam in his eyes, and he wished it was but possible the
coachman could drive him back again. Night came on, and at a great town
(Leicester, I believe) two flaring lamps were put up, which cast upon
the ground a sharp light on either side, as though they flew with a pair
of fiery wings. Passers-by, tree-trunks, and mile-stones shot out of the
darkness before, and into that behind, almost before they could be
seen; while occasionally might be observed other bright rayless lights,
glancing through the hedges, or staring boldly down the road before
them, like the eyes of a monstrous dragon. Then came the rattle of
another coach, a shout of recognition between the coachmen, a tip
upwards of the whip, and all was dark again. The passengers were silent,
and Colin grew doubly melancholy. The coachman now and then looked round
at his fares, as much as to say he very much doubted whether he was
driving a hearse or not; yet all sat as quiet as corpses. He asked
"the box" if he were cold? The box said "No," and then turned up his
coat-collar, and pretended to go to sleep. The coachman sung himself a
song, and beat his whip-hand upon his left shoulder to keep the blood
stirring. The guard shouted to him, and he shouted back again--"The bag
of corn was to be left at So-and-so, and old Joe was to see and send
that harness back in the morning."

Colin took no interest in all this, so he shut his eyes, and, after
awhile, fell asleep. The horn blowing for a change of horses awoke him
again. Again he went to sleep, and the same pleasing tune was played in
his vexed ears, and on the same occasion, repeatedly during the night.
When morning broke, he was chilled almost to death: his feet felt as
though undergoing amputation: he could never have believed it was so
cold in summer at any part of the twenty-four hours as he now found it.
The night had been fine and dry, and daylight began with only a few thin
clouds. He longed for a ray of the sun, and watched his increasing light
with desire unfelt before. As he rose, however, the mists gathered,
thicker and thicker as it grew lighter. Then they swept like a storm
over the hills in front, and filled the valleys with a damp fog as thick
as any in November. At two or three hours after sunrise, all was clear
again; and he basked delightfully in the burning heat. They now began to
pass droves of sheep, and herds of cattle, hundreds together, and often
recurring, yet all bent the same way as themselves: they were going to
London to be devoured. None seemed to come back again. They ascended a
steep hill; and to the right Colin saw the longest-bodied church, with
the shortest tower he had ever seen in his life: it was St. Alban's.
Here a man of business, escaped from the metropolis the night before,
and now fresh from sleep and breakfast, and with a "shining morning
face," gave the coachman a familiar nod and word, and jumped up, to
return to his ledger. The stable-boys looked at Colin, and regarding him
as a "green 'un," winked at each other, and smiled. The coachman took no
notice of him, as being considerably beneath his observation. But Colin,
without troubling himself concerning other people's thoughts of him,
looked at the long signs about posting at so much per mile, and at those
which advertised Messrs. Mangel Wurzel and Co's Entire, and wondered
what in the world they meant. Another hour or two passed, and the road
seemed to our hero to be alive with all kinds of vehicles describable
and nondescript. Dog-horses drawing lumbering old coaches, and dog-carts
filled with country-baked bread, intermingled with spring vehicles,
carrying soda-water, and carriers' carts laden with crockery, were
jumbled together in all the glorious confusion and dust of a dry summer
morning. Occasionally some butcher's boy, without his hat, would drive
from amongst them, as though his very life depended on his speed,
and shoot a-head, until, in character with all of his fraternity, he
outstripped everybody, and, after the fashion of the good deities of the
Heathen mythology, vanished in a cloud of his own raising.

The coach approached a high archway in the road. Through it Colin saw
what he took to be a mass of horizontal cloud; and, peering above it in
solitary grandeur, like one lone rock above a wilderness of ocean, the
dome of a great cathedral. To the left, on descending the hill, stood
what he took to be a palace; and still farther on, in Holloway
and Islington, so many things of a totally new character presented
themselves to him, that he scarcely believed himself in the same world
as he was yesterday. The turnpikes, and the Angel Inn, the coaches and
cabs, the rabble and noise, the screaming of hawkers, the causeways
lined with apple-women and flower-girls, the running and scrambling of
men carrying bundles of newspapers, as they bawled to the passengers of
outward-bound stages, "_Times, sir!--Chronicle!--Morning Post!_" the
swearing of coachmen, the thrashing of drovers, the barking of dogs,
and the running of frightened sheep and over-goaded cattle, formed
altogether such a Babel as made him for the time utterly forget himself.

"City, young man, or get down here?" demanded the coachman..

"Where are we?" asked Colin.

"Islington. Where are you going to?"

"London," replied Colin.

"I say, Jim," remarked the coachman to his friend the guard, "that 's a
neatish cove now, isn't he, to come here?"

"Wot do I care, d----his eyes! Pick up that basket, and go on, without
you mean to stop here all day!"

Whereupon the driver folded up his waybill, and elbowed his passage
through a crowd of miserable, perishing, be-coated and be-capped
night-travellers, who blocked up the causeway with trunks, carpet-bags,
and hat-boxes. Their pallid visages and heavy eyes, indeed, conveyed
to the spectator no indifferent idea of so many unfortunate ghosts just
landed on the far side of the Styx.

"So you are for London, young 'un, are you?" asked the coachman, when
again on his seat.

"Yes, sir," replied Colin, "and I suppose we are not far from it, now?"

"Jim!" shouted the coachman, as he leaned half round to catch a glimpse
of the guard, "this chap wants to know how far he is from London, if you
can tell him!" And this humorous remark he rounded off with a weasing
chuckle, that appeared to have its origin in a region far below the
thick superstratum of coat and shawl with which the coachman himself
was covered. He then deliberately eyed Colin from head to foot several
times, with a look of great self-satisfaction, and again inquired,--"Wot
did your mother send you from home for?"

"Nobody sent me," said Colin; "I came of my own accord."

"Wot, you 're going i' sarvis, then? or, have you come up to get made
Lord Mayor?" Our hero had felt sufficiently his own loneliness before;
but this last observation made him feel it doubly. He coloured deeply.

"Come, I didn't mean that," said the driver,--"it was only a joke to
raise your spirits. I don't want to spile your feelin's, young man."

"I assure you, sir," replied Colin, with emotion, "I have no place to
go to, and I do not know a single soul in London. When I get off this
coach, I shall not know where to turn, nor what to do!"

"Then wot did you come for?" inquired the coachman.

"To get a place," said Colin.

"And you don't know where to put up?"

"No."

"Humph! Well, m'happen I can tell you. How much money have you got?"

Colin satisfied the inquirer on this particular; and in return received
the coachman's promise to direct him to a respectable house, at which
he might put up until he had done one of two things, either obtained a
situation or "got himself cleaned out."



CHAPTER XV.

_The "Yorkshire House."--Its company.--And an adventure._

In the course of some subsequent conversation, Colin's friend the
coachman ascertained that his "green" passenger came from some place in
the county of York, and instantaneously concluded, by a peculiar process
of reasoning, that our hero ought of necessity to put up at a "Yorkshire
House." He forthwith recommended him to a tavern of some notoriety in
the city, backing his recommendation with the assurance that, as he
was but raw in London, it would be better for him to be amongst his own
countrymen.

In the "Yorkshire House," then, we will suppose him. His first business,
after having refreshed himself, was to call for ink and paper, and
indite an epistle to Squire Lupton, giving him not only an explicit
statement of the cause of his precipitate retreat from Bram-leigh, and
his consequent inability to attend at the Hall on the appointed day, but
also detailing the horrible scene of the lawyer's confession respecting
the situation of James Woodruff, which had led to his recent attempt,
and compelled that retreat. This being done, and duly despatched, he
hastily prepared himself, fevered and confused in brain as he was by the
long night-journey, to take a turn in the streets. He longed, as every
stranger does who first enters this mighty city, to wander among its
endless maze of houses, and witness the vastness of its resources.
He passed down one of the by-streets into Cheapside; wondered at the
numbers of caravans and carts, the coaches and cabs, which blocked
themselves to a temporary stand-still in the streets branching from
either side; marvelled what all the vehicles that shot along could be
employed for; where the contrary and cross currents of human beings
could all possibly be setting in; or how the enormous evidences of
almost inconceivable wealth, displayed on all sides, could ever have
been thus accumulated. As he ruminated, the crowd every now and then
half spun him round, now one way, now another, in the endeavour to pass
or to outstrip him. Some belated clerk, hurrying to his duty, put a
forcible but inoffensive hand upon his shoulder, and pushed him aside;
the butcher's boy (and butchers' boys are _always_ in a hurry) perhaps
poked the projecting corner of his wooden tray or the shank of a leg of
mutton into his ear; the baker drove a loaf into his ribs; the porter
knocked his hat off with a box on his knot, accompanying the action with
the polite expression of "By your leave;" the merchant pushed it into
the gutter in order to avoid treading upon it, and the policeman,
standing by the lamp-post, smiled as sedately as a wooden doll, whose
lower jaw is pulled down with a string, and, when advice was useless,
kindly told him to "take care of his hat."

By the time he had passed through Fleet Street, and had returned along
Oxford Street and Holborn, his head was in a whirl. In the course of
a few short hours his senses had received more numerous and striking
impressions than had been made upon them probably during the whole
course of his previous life. London seemed to him a Babel, and himself
one of those who were lost utterly in the confusion of tongues,--tongues
not of men merely, but of iron and adamant, rattling together their
horrible jargon, until his ears sounded and reverberated like two shells
beside his head, and his brain became bewildered as if with (that which
he had happily never yet experienced) a night's excess.

About seven o'clock in the evening he returned to his inn. Having placed
himself quietly in a retired corner of the parlour of the "Yorkshire
House," and immediately beneath a sloping skylight extending the whole
breadth of the room,--a position which very strongly suggested the idea
that he was sitting under a cucumber frame,--Colin amused himself
by making silent remarks upon the scene before him. Sundry very
miscellaneous-looking personages formed the principal figures of the
picture, and were relieved by numerous accessaries of mutton-chops,
biscuits, broiled kidneys, pints of stout, and glasses of gin-punch; the
whole being enveloped in an atmosphere of such dense smoke, as gave a
very shadowy and mysterious character to every object seen through it.

"There's a fly on your nose, Mr. Prince," remarked a lean hungry-looking
fellow; "a blue-bottle, sir, just on the end there."

The individual thus addressed was a sinister-looking man, who, it
afterwards appeared was a native of Leeds, in which he had formerly
carried on business, and contrived to scrape together a large fortune.
In mercantile phraseology, he was a "thirty thousand pound man" and,
though an ignorant and surly fellow, on account of his property he was
looked up to by everybody as ignorant as himself. On hearing his friend
Hobson's remark, Mr. Prince suddenly seized the end of his own nose, and
grasped it in his hand, as he was in the regular habit of doing
whenever the fly was mentioned, while with a very shallow assumption of
facetiousness he replied, "Then I 've got him to-night, by Go'!"

Every individual in the company who knew his business properly now
forced a laugh at the great man's witty method of doing things, while
Hobson replied, "I think not, Mr. Prince. He's too 'fly' for you again."

"Look in your hand, Mr. Prince," suggested a thick-headed fellow from
the East-Riding, not unlike a bullock in top-boots. Mr. Prince thanked
him for the hint; but declined adopting it, on the score that if he
opened his hand he should lose him.

"Put him in Hobson's glass," said another.

"Well," replied Hobson, "as we all know Mr. Prince is very poor, I 'll
give him sixpence if he will."

This hint at Mr. Prince's poverty was exceedingly relished both by the
Prince himself and all the toadeaters about him. Its ingenuity seemed
to delight them, as did also the reply made by the great man himself. "I
doubt whether you ever had a sixpence to spare in your life."

Another mechanical laugh was here put in at Hobson's expense, which
that gentleman not relishing quite so well as he would have done had the
insinuation been made at the expense of any other person, he repelled it
by challenging Mr. Prince to produce, there and then, as many sovereigns
upon the table as any other man in the company. This touched Mr. Prince
in a delicate place, and he growled out with a horrible oath, that he
could buy Hobson and all his family up with only the simple interest of
his capital. At the same time he put his hand in his breeches-pocket,
and drew forth a broad-bellied greasy black pocket-book, which he
slapped heavily on the table, as he swore there was more money in it
than Hobson had ever even so much as seen together before. Hobson flatly
denied it, and offered to bet glasses round that it did not contain
twenty pounds more than his own.

"Done!" roared Mr. Prince, as his clenched fist fell on the table, with
a weight which made all the pipes and glasses upon it dance a momentary
hornpipe. A comparison of pocket-books was immediately instituted. Mr.
Prince's was declared to contain one hundred and seventy bank-notes more
than Hobson's, and Hobson was called upon for the grog. This being
more than he expected, he endeavoured to evade the bet altogether, by
insinuating that he should not believe Mr. Prince's notes were good,
unless he looked at them himself. Several voices cried together "No,
no!" and the rest vented their opinions in loud exclamations of "Shame,
shame!--Too bad!" and the like.

Mr. Prince felt the indignity offered to his pocket-book most keenly.
He looked unutterable things at Hobson, and bellowed loud enough to
have been heard as far as Lad Lane, that he would not trust a single
farthing of his money in the hands of such a needy, starving, penniless
bankrupt as he was. Many of those present felt that this language was
not exactly warrantable; but there were no cries of shame in favour of
Mr. Hobson.

At this interesting period of the discussion, Colin's eyes chanced to
be fixed very earnestly on the countenance of Mr. Prince, which that
gentleman remarking, he forthwith turned suddenly on the young man with
this abrupt demand:--

"What are _you_ staring at, eh? Did you never see a man's face before."

"Yes," very quietly replied Colin; "I have seen many _men's_ faces
before."

"What do you mean by that, eh?" cried Prince. "What does he mean?"
addressing the company. "Come, come, young man, I 'll soon teach you how
to know your betters." And he strode towards Colin, with the apparent
intention of practically illustrating the system he maintained. The
latter instantly rose on his feet to meet him. All eyes were now turned
towards these two, while the squabble with Hobson appeared for the time
to be wholly forgotten.

"Beg my pardon, sir!" bellowed Prince.

"I shall beg no man's pardon whom I have neither injured nor insulted,"
coolly answered Colin.

"I say, beg my pardon, sir!" repeated Prince. "Do you mean to take the
law of me if I strike you? Say no, and I 'll knock you down."

"No!" replied Colin, "I shall appeal to no law except that of my own
force. If you strike me, I shall probably strike you again, old as you
are."

Smash went Mr. Prince's fist at Colin's face; but the latter parried
the blow adroitly, and by a cool "counter" succeeded in pressing Mr.
Prince's nose very much closer to his face than nature herself had
intended it to be. Cries of "Shame!" again arose against Colin, and
some attempts were made to seize and turn him out. These, however, were
prevented by other portions of the company, who exclaimed loudly in
favour of fair play, and against any interference. In the mean time
Mr. Prince grew furious, and raised his stick to strike Colin with the
determination of a butcher about to knock a bull on the head. The
youth again parried the intended blow, and turned the weapon aside by
receiving it in a slanting direction on his right arm. In order to close
with him on the opposite side, Prince now jumped on the table; but this
manouvre the young man avoided, and at the same instant a shower of
broken glass fell upon him. Colin's enraged assailant's stick had
gone through the lid of the "city cucumber-frame," and some half dozen
fractured squares attested his powers of mischief. A loud laugh echoed
from every part of the room, which put Mr. Prince in a perfect whirlwind
of passion. He plunged at his young opponent as though he meditated
crushing him by the mere weight of his body; but as the coolness of the
latter enabled him to take advantage of the slightest circumstance
in his favour, he slipped aside at the critical moment, and his
antagonist's head went with the power of a paviour's rammer against
the wall. This terminated the fight. Mr. Prince lay on the floor, and
groaned with pain and vexation, until he was picked up, and placed,
almost as inanimate as a sack of potatoes, in his chair.

In an instant afterwards a gentleman, dressed in a dark-blue great-coat,
and who, as Colin thought, was so very rich in that particular article
of clothing as to lay himself under the necessity of having them
numbered on the collar, made his appearance in the room; and at the
instance of the landlord stepped forwards, and collared our hero,
with the intention of conveying him to the station-house. Against this
proceeding several friendly individuals protested, and joined vehemently
in the opinions expressed by a stout young Welshman, who sat with a pipe
in his mouth, that "Py cot! it was too bad to meddle with him instead of
the old one." This timely interference saved Colin for the present, and
the policeman was obliged to retire.

Deeply fatigued as our hero was from previous want of rest, he early
retired to his apartment, and soon fell into a slumber of many hours'
duration. On rising in the morning, what was his astonishment to find a
roll of paper like bank-notes lying near him, for the presence of which
he knew not how to account?

After some hesitation he dressed, and rang for the servant.

"That roll of paper," said he, when she appeared, "lay on my chair when
I woke. It was not there last night, and it does not belong to me. How
it came there I know not. The papers appear to be bank-notes. You had
better take them to your master, and inquire whether any person in the
house has lost them."

The girl looked surprised; but took them up, and followed his advice.

Very soon after Colin heard a hue and cry raised below-stairs; and after
a few minutes, a rush of people towards his room.

"Is this him?" demanded a man, with a belt round his body, and a glazed
rim on the edge of his hat-crown.

[Illustration: 168]

"That's him!" replied the servant-girl. "He gave them to me."

"Come, young man, I want you," said the policeman, seizing Colin
roughly. "Come along with me." And, in spite of all his entreaties and
protestations, he was harried away. It appeared that Mr. Prince,
who occupied a room on the same floor as his young antagonist, had
identified the notes as his own, and declared that Colin must have
robbed him.

After the lapse of a very short period, Colin stood before the grave
magisterial authorities sitting at Guildhall, with Mr. Prince as his
accuser. The charge having been heard, Colin replied to it with all the
fearlessness, determination, and indignation, which the consciousness of
innocence is sure to inspire. He related the occurrences of the previous
evening, and concluded by expressing his firm belief that the money
had been placed upon his chair in order to bring him into trouble. When
searched, ten sovereigns and some silver had been found upon him. He was
asked to account for the possession of so much money? To this question
he flatly refused to answer, as well as those bearing upon his own
character and employment; who he was; where he came from; and what place
he had left when he arrived at the Yorkshire House.

In this dilemma an idea struck the subtle brain of Mr. Prince. He felt
now perfectly secure of his victim. He owned the sovereigns also, and
declared they were part of the money which had been abstracted during
the night from his pocket-book. Here, however, he overstepped the
mark. Colin instantly requested that the landlord of the inn might be
called to witness that the money was in his possession at the time he
arrived there, and many hours before it could even be pretended that he
saw the individual who now stood forwards as his accuser. To this fact
the landlord honestly bore testimony,--a piece of evidence which caused
the face of Colin's accuser to assume the tint of a thundercloud with
the sunshine on it--he looked black and white at the same time. Boots
also declared that on going up-stairs to leave the gentlemen's boots at
their doors, he saw some person come out of the young man's room, who
certainly bore very little resemblance to the occupant of that room
himself. After some further investigation Mr. Prince was accommodated
with a reprimand from the bench, and the case was dismissed.



CHAPTER XVI.

_Colin makes an acquaintance, and is put in a way of being introduced to
his sister, a "public singer."_

The temptations of the Yorkshire House were not sufficiently great
to induce Colin to remain in it after the conclusion of the foregoing
adventure. Having returned to discharge his shot, he bade good b'ye to
the place altogether, and again betook himself to the streets, with the
double idea of looking about him, and of seeking out another home. In
the course of the afternoon he contrived to pick up an acquaintance at a
small public house where he called, in the person of a tall, thin
young man, not unlike a pea-rod split half-way up: clad in a blue coat,
partially out at elbows, and so short in the arms that his wrists and
great red hands hung out full a quarter of a yard, like fly-flappers;
while his trowsers,--an old-fashioned, striped, summer pair,--allowed
his ankles to descend below them, in no contemptible imitation of a pair
of stilts. His sallow countenance strongly resembled in shape a boy's
humming-top. From certain conversations which Colin had with him, it
appeared that this miserable being, whose name was Wintlebury, was but
about two-and-twenty years of age, and had been brought up as assistant
to a poor painter of window-blinds, scenes for licensed concert-taverns,
and such like, then resident in some obscure back street near the
Commercial Road. As his master was himself half-starved upon the
productions of his genius, the lad--who came in but second--very
naturally starved outright; and one night, in the mere desperation of
hunger, fell upon some chops, which had been prepared for the family's
supper, and devoured them. On the discovery of this atrocious act, he
was turned out of the house at ten o'clock, and left to wander about
the streets. His only friend was his sister, who sang and performed
some minor parts at the threepenny tavern concerts, so numerous at the
eastern end of the town; and whose finances, unfortunately, were not in
a much better condition than his own. Sickness had ruined her; and she
paid much more to keep herself alive, than her living ordinarily cost
her: he therefore could not find in his heart to apply to her. That
night he walked the streets, till, tired and worn out, he sat down about
two o'clock on the steps of Guildhall, and fell asleep. Here he was
apprehended and lodged in the watch-house; taken to the police-office
the next day, and committed to prison for sleeping in the open air;--a
sentence the term of which had expired but a short time before.

As Colin had yet a round sum left, and, as the day advanced, began
to feel something like the want of a dinner, he adopted the advice of
Wintlebury, and walked with him into one of those bow-windowed shops
in which a display of greasy-looking hams, varnished pork-pies, and dry
boiled-beef, is usually made; while a savoury steam ascends through the
bars of the area-gate, as a sort of hint to the nose of the 'passer-by
that in the region above he may make his dinner. Having regaled himself
and his companion with an ample repast, Colin discharged the bill, and
they wandered into the town. As neither of them knew where to put up at
night, Wintlebury, advised Colin, for economy's sake, to look out for
a private lodging; and recommended him to apply at the identical house
where his own sister lodged; as he thought the mistress most probably
would have one sort of room or another unoccupied.

To this proposal Colin consented. They walked in the direction of
Shoreditch, and did not halt until they arrived at the door of a house
in the Mile End Road.

"All right!" said Colin's companion,--"there's a paper in the window."

Just as Wintlebury had ceased to agitate the knocker, Colin--whose eyes
were downwards--saw a dirty face popped close to the panes of the low
kitchen window, with a pair of white eyes turned up to catch a glimpse
of the applicants.

Mrs. Popple soon made her appearance; and having ascertained the object
of the visit, proceeded to conduct them into the house. As the party
ascended the stairs, Mrs. Popple informed Colin that he would find her
upper room a most delightful retreat. He might there read his book
in peace; or, if he were so disposed, might play his flute, violin,
trombone, tambourine, or even drum, without fear of complaint from any
of the other lodgers, who really agreed so well together, that it was
almost like paradise itself to live in such a social community. The
window of it also overlooked all the backs of the surrounding houses,
while a skylight in front opened directly upon the heavens themselves.
Colin replied, that he neither played on any musical instrument, nor did
he particularly admire such heavens as he had hitherto seen over
London. He did not think the attic was likely to suit him. As he threw
a careless eye around, he observed a black stump-bedstead, one decent
chair, and three rush-bottomed ditto; while in one corner stood an old
oak chest, made, probably, in the early days of George the First, and
large enough almost to be converted, if occasion required, into a
family burying-place. On the whitewashed walls were scratched with the
artistical finger-nails of previous occupants various ill-proportioned
figures.

Colin at length decided to become "the monarch of all he surveyed"
for the space of one week. In the mean time Wintlebury had taken the
opportunity of seeing his sister, and had received two free orders from
her for a concert at the Condor Tavern that evening.



CHAPTER XVII.

_A Peep at a Tavern Concert.--Colin falls in love, parts with his money,
and gets into difficulties._

The entrance to the "saloon" of the Tavern where the Concert was to be
held lay through a dram-shop. As Colin and his companion passed the
bar, the latter familiarly recognised several shabby-genteel and
dissipated-looking young men, who stood there drinking gin-and-water,
and talking exquisite nonsense to a pretty-faced toy-like bar-maid,
whose principal recommendation with her master consisted in the
skill with which she contrived to lure and detain at the bar all such
simpletons as usually spent the greater portion of their spare time
amidst such scenes. By the side of the passage, and near the door of
the saloon, was pasted up a small paper, on which was the following
announcement: "On Sundays, sixpence, value given."

The "value given" consisted of about a dozen spoonsful of either gin or
rum, with very hot water, to make it appear strong,--or of a pot of ale
or stout, at the discretion of the customer.

Very much to Colin's astonishment,--as well it might be, considering
that he had never before seen aught of the kind more extensive than a
country inn,--he was suddenly ushered by his companion into a "saloon,"
containing about from three to five hundred persons, arranged on forms
placed across the room, each form having before it a narrow raised
ledge, not unlike those sometimes seen in the pews of churches, on which
to lodge the respective pots, bottles, and glasses of the company. Down
the avenues, which ran longitudinally, for the convenience of passage,
certain individuals were calling shrimps, screwed up in conical white
packages of one penny each; while the perfume, if such it could be
called, from some scores of pipes and cigars, ascended in multitudinous
little clouds above the heads of the company, and covered as with a
filmy atmosphere the frescoed landscapes with which the walls above were
bountifully decorated. At the remote end of the room appeared a stage
and proscenium on a small scale, after the fashion of a Minor Theatre.

Shortly after Colin and his friend had taken their seats, a gentleman
commenced playing an overture upon an instrument which had been highly
admired there ever since its introduction, as it formed within itself
a magnificent combination of organ, piano, clarionet, and bagpipe, and
possessed besides the additional advantage of occasionally producing
tones at its own will and pleasure to which those of no other instrument
in the world might be compared, and of which no adequate conception
can be formed, unless the reader has enjoyed the exquisite delight of
hearing a "fantasia extempore" played on the hinges of some unoiled
door, as it gradually, and in varying time, declined from a wide open
position to the door-cheek.

As I have not the most distant intention of wearying either the reader
or myself with a detailed description of the night's entertainment, I
shall merely observe, that after the curtain drew up, a succession of
songs, comic, patriotic, and sentimental, was introduced, and sung by
various members of the professional company. Amongst these appeared
one, on seeing whom Wintlebury exclaimed to his companion, "That's my
sister!"

Colin looked. A beautiful-complexioned girl was on the
stage,--bright-eyed, lively, and attractively attired in the showy
costume of a theatrical Neapolitan maid. After a brief prelude on the
famous Orchestræolophonagpipe, she sung, apparently not without effort,
but with the most bewitching assumption of modesty telling its troubles
to the moon, a song the burden of which ran "_Too many lovers will
puzzle a maid!_"

"Encore!--encore!" enthusiastically cried a gentleman, who was sitting a
few seats in advance, as he clapped his hands madly together, and tossed
his legs at random under the seat before him, "admirable, bi'gar!--me
quite consent vith dat. Too many _is_ too much!"

"Hangcoor!" repeated a young sailor, considerably more than half-seas
over, as he unconsciously re-charged his pipe, as though he were ramming
down the wadding of a gun, "hangcoor!--Go it agen, Bess, or whatever
your name is. Hangcoor!"

This word, under a dozen different pronunciations, ran round the room,
while Miss Harriet Wintlebury made a profound courtesy, and proceeded to
repeat her song.

As Colin gazed, and gazed again, turned away his eyes, and as instantly
fixed them upon the same beautiful object again, his bosom burned, and
his cheeks grew flushed,--he felt as though in the presence of a being
whom he could think scarcely inferior to the angels--at least, he had
never in his life seen _woman_ as she is before. For what were the
simple beings under that name whom he had met in the out-of-the-way
country nook he had so recently left? What was his late mistress, Miss
Sowersoft?--what the maids on the farm?--what even Fanny herself?--mere
plain, dull, plodding, lifeless creatures of the feminine gender, and
nothing more. But this enchantress!--his heart leaped up, and in that
one moment he felt more of the deep yearning of love than ever in the
course of his whole life he had felt before.

"Let us go nearer," he whispered to his companion; and in the next
minute they were forcing their way down one of the passages between the
forms towards the other end of the room. Before they had succeeded in
obtaining a seat on the last form, close under the stage-lamps, Miss
Harriet had concluded her melody, and retired amidst considerable
applause. Until the period of her reappearance the time occupied by
other performers seemed to Colin endless. Under other circumstances, the
novelty and freshness of such an entertainment would have beguiled his
attention deeply, and resolved hours into the seeming space of but a
few minutes; but now the sense of pleasure derived from this source was
rendered dull and pointless by comparison with that far keener delight,
that tumultuous throng of hopeful passions, which had so suddenly and
strangely taken possession of his bosom. At length she came
again,--he started, astonished. Could it be the same? The clear bright
complexion--(or what had seemed at the further end of the room to be
so)--now looked opaque and earthy; the white was dead white, and the
red as abruptly red as though St. Anthony had been busy with his pencil,
patching those cheeks with fire; while the substratum of bone and flesh
looked worn into a shape of anxious pain, that gave the lie direct and
palpable to the colourable pretensions of the surface. And then the
handsome bust, which at a distance seemed so beautiful, now appeared a
most miserable artistical mockery of nature; and the fixed meaningless
gaze,--the mouth formally extended in order to display the teeth,--the
dead lack-lustre stare at the remote end of the room, calculated to
produce an impression on the more distant portion of the audience,--all
combined deeply and strongly to impress the horrible conviction on
the mind, that this poor creature, in spite of all assumptions and
decorations to the contrary, was a _very poor_, worn-out, deplorable
creature indeed! It forced upon the spectator something like the idea
of a death's head endeavouring to be merry,--a skull fitted with glass
eyes, and covered with a thin painted mask of parchment, striving to
laugh and look happy, in order to be consistent with the laughter and
the happiness around it. Add to this the hollow faint voice,--(the mere
echo of the sound it once had been,)--pumped up from lungs that seemed
to have lost all power,--to have decayed until scarcely any portion
remained,--and we shall feel impressed, as Colin was, with a fearful,
almost a terrible, sense of the poor uses to which humanity is sometimes
put, and of the deep wretchedness often existing among those whose
occupation in life is to _look_ gay, whatever they may feel.

In truth, consumption was feeding on her, seemingly deep and
irremediable. Yet she struggled on: what else could she? Still she
strove, still fulfilled her occupation every night, still sung, still
tried to look merry, although her heart was all out of heart, and
her bosom was filled with fear and anxiety from the dread sense of
approaching death--too surely at hand--and she unprepared! Perhaps to
come to her on that very stage,--perhaps _then!_ And all this to gain a
morsel of daily bread!

Although reflections of this nature crowded on Colin's mind in a heavy
throng, as he gazed on the poor made-up form before him, still he could
not entirely free himself from the impression which her appearance had
previously produced upon him. That which was artificial, and affected
to others, was not so to his perceptions, for his inexperience would not
allow him to see it. The appearance of modesty was to him real modesty;
of grace, was grace; of lightheartedness and joy, as real as though a
single care had never entered that bosom since the day it first stemmed
the rude tide of the world. And as for the rest,--just as with every
other imperfection which may exist in the object of any lover's
hopes--so was it with hers. Through familiarity they were soon
overlooked; and, like the shadows on the moon, though they chequered,
they did not extinguish the general light.

At the conclusion of the performance Mr. Wintlebury borrowed ten
shillings of Colin,--promising to pay him again as soon as he could get
into work,--and they parted for the evening. Our hero returned to his
humble bed in Mrs. Popple's garret, to pass a restless night amidst
strangely-mingled visions of tavern concerts and beautiful singing
ladies.

As, in his present state of feeling, there was nothing which in
his heart Colin so much desired as an opportunity of obliging his
second-floor neighbour, Miss Wintlebury, it luckily happened that in
the course of a very short time she failed not to afford him various
opportunities of so doing, having in all probability been taught her
cue by the brother. After some trifling requests, such as borrowing tea,
&c., she at last ventured, though very reluctantly indeed, to ask
the loan, just for three days, of four pounds fifteen, if he _could_
possibly do her that great obligation, in order to satisfy the impudent
demands of the apothecary, the tea-dealer, the baker, and the butcher,
who severally and respectively had peremptorily cut off the supplies.

All these friendly applications Colin responded to with unparalleled
promptitude, although the last one so very materially enlarged the
hollow of his purse, that he began to marvel how he himself should
contrive to clear his way as far as to the end of the next fortnight.

This position of affairs somewhat aroused him from the idle day-dream in
which he had been indulging. It was time, high time, that he set about
doing something to earn a subsistence; for, besides the amount he had
thus expended in supplying the wants of others, he had also lessened his
stock very rapidly by attending nightly at the concert-room to hear
his mistress's voice, which he thought the finest in the world, and to
rejoice over the popular applause with which she there seldom failed to
be greeted. For, singular as it may appear, he had never yet met with
her in their own house, nor exchanged a single word with her in private
upon any occasion whatever. His personal introduction yet remained to be
made.

Several subsequent days he spent in various futile endeavours to
obtain employment. Some, who otherwise would have engaged him, wanted a
character from his last place. He had none to give; and, therefore,
was denied the opportunity of earning one. Others required a person
partially acquainted with their business; and so his services could not
be rendered available. Meantime he had not neglected to call once or
twice at the Yorkshire House, and inquire whether any letter had arrived
there directed for him. No. The Squire had not written in reply to
the letter he had despatched from that place, and all hope of deriving
assistance from that quarter seemed, of course, entirely banished.
"Doubtless,'" thought he, "Mr. Lupton has heard some bad accounts of me,
and has wholly given me up." In this conjecture our hero was, however,
totally mistaken. Mr. Lupton had not yet returned from the excursion
of a few weeks' duration, of which he spoke when Colin was at the Hall;
and, consequently, had not seen the letter in question. Neither, had
he done so, would his return have been of any avail in this particular
instance; since it most unfortunately happened for Colin that on the day
but one following the arrival of his epistle, it so fell out that Doctor
Rowel was called to attend the Squire's housekeeper upon the attack of a
sudden illness. On this occasion, while left in the drawing-room alone,
the doctor's eye chanced to alight upon a number of unopened letters
lying on the table, in readiness for the owner of the mansion on his
arrival; and amongst them he espied one, on the corner of which was
written the name of "Colin Clink." He hastily took it up; stole a
glance at its contents by shining it against the sun; and, finding it to
contain certain very serious statements touching himself, he took a bold
step at once, and, regardless of consequences, put it into the fire.
Before the servant returned to conduct him up stairs, every vestige of
the letter had totally disappeared. Thus had Doctor Rowel not only for
the time being saved himself, but also obtained that knowledge of which
he stood in much need,--the knowledge of Colin's place of retreat and
particular address. Of these he instantly resolved to make the earliest
possible use.

Disappointed in all his expectations, and defeated in every endeavour
to obtain the means of making a livelihood, Colin returned to his little
domicile, and on the spur of the moment wrote a very dolorous letter to
his mother and Fanny, in which he set forth all his recent disasters,
and the trouble he was now in, adding, that unless something or other to
his advantage turned up very shortly he should scarcely know which way
to turn himself for a living.

And yet, when he thought the matter more calmly over again, after the
letter was despatched, and could not be recalled, he plucked up heart,
and for another evening at least drove away care by retiring to the
Condor Tavern, and taking his accustomed place within easy sight of the
adorable Harriet Wintlebury.



CHAPTER XVIII.

_Colin is pursued, and who his pursuer was.--A strange set-out, and a
very pathetic parting._

During the time the transactions recently related were progressing,
a strange hubbub had been raised at Whinmoor touching Colin s
disappearance. Palethorpe waxed desperate, and Miss Sowersoft's
temper curdled like an embryo cheese. Dire vengeance against him was
threatened. York Castle and bread and water were the mildest things
prescribed for him; although, in their opinion he well deserved a
halter. Mrs. Clink and Fanny had been heartily abused by Palethorpe
for having "backed him up in burglary, and afterwards connived at his
running away from his work."

The fact was, this worthy felt doubly enraged because he had missed an
excellent chance of having a shot at him, and now swore that, if ever
he could lay hands upon him again, he would very nearly bray him into a
pulp.

At this portentous period it was that Dr. Rowel made his appearance at
the farm, (after his discovery of Colin's letter at Kiddal Hall,) and by
all the arguments in his power raised the wrath of its inhabitants still
higher against the young man, and even went so far as to promise, that
as he was himself also an injured party, he had no objection to pay
half Pale-thorpe's expenses, if he would go after the culprit to
London,--whither, according to certain private information he had
received, Colin had directed his flight. Palethorpe snapped at the offer
as a hungry wolf might at a bone. He had long wished to see London, and
a capital opportunity was here presented. He vowed that he would ferret
out the lad before he came back again, though he should dive to the
bottom of the Thames for him; and proposed to set out on the following
day, to avoid farther loss of time.

This proposal being acceded to, nearly the whole night was expended
by the attentive mistress in rigging him out for his journey. The
chaise-cart was got ready early next morning to convey Palethorpe and
his luggage to the coach-office at Leeds; and an old half-pint bottle
filled with brandy and water, together with immense sandwiches, were
secretly inveigled by Miss Sowersoft into his top-coat pocket.

Having duly inquired whether everything was ready, Mr. Palethrope was
called into the parlour by his mistress, who having shut the door, set
her candle down on the table, (for it was not yet daylight,) and began
to talk to him in a tone more than usually serious.

"You are going," said she, "a long journey,--a very long journey. I
hope to heaven we shall see you safe back again. I'm sure I shall hardly
sleep o'nights for knowing you are not in the house; but wherever you
are, now do remember what I say, and take care of yourself. We don't
know what different places are till we see 'em; and I'm sure I almost
feel afraid--when it comes to this last minnit--" Here she tucked up the
corner of her apron, and placed it in close proximity with the corner of
her eye. "I raelly feel afraid of trusting you there by yourself."

Palethorpe was here about to explain at large his own capabilities
for governing his own rampant self, had not Miss Sowersoft derived
additional vigour from the attempted interruption, and proceeded:

"I know you are plenty old enough to keep out of harm's way,--that is
certain; but then there are so many dangers that nobody can foresee, and
temptations hung out beyond any single man's capacity to resist--I am
afraid. I'm sure it would take a great load off of my mind if I was
going along with you,--a very heavy load, indeed. Ay, dear!"

"Oh, never heed, meesis," replied Pale-thorpe; "I shall get back as safe
and sound as a rotten pear. A rotten pear, says I!--no, I mean as sound
as a roach--trust me for that. I ar'n't going a-gate of no temptations,
that's flat. Bless me! I should think there's both ale enough, and
opportunities for folks to get married enough, i' Yorkshire, without
goin' all the road to Lunnun for 'em!"

"Well," replied his mistress, "you are very discretionary at home. I say
nothing about that; but perhaps, you know, when you 're surrounded by
so many things to distract your considerations, you _might_--a--a--. I'm
sure I hardly know how to express myself fully; but all I mean to say
is, that after all, you know,--and do as we will to the contrary, yet
somehow, as I was going to say, men will be men sometimes, and women
women!"

As Miss Sowersoft uttered this very sagacious remark, she began to
sob rather hysterically, and seemingly to demand the support of Mr.
Palethorpe's arm. This he promptly offered; a few more words in a
consolatory tone escaped his lips; the maid in the passage outside
thought she heard a sound something like a kiss; and in another minute
the head farming-man hurried desperately out. He was afraid of being
too late at Leeds, and in his hurry to rush through the dairy to get
into the chaise-cart which stood in the yard, he kicked over a pan of
new milk, and plunged his other foot into a tub of hot hog-wash, both of
which had just before been placed upon the ground by the said maid.

"Dang your stuff!" exclaimed he, dashing his foot against the overturned
vessel; "what, in the divil's name, isn't there room enough in Yorkshire
to set your things down, without cramming 'em under people's feet like
that?"

The maid laughed in his face, and Miss Sowersoft called lovingly after
him not to mind it; while Palethorpe leaped into the vehicle, and
ordered Abel to drive as fast as he could into Briggate.

On the following day he opened his wondering eyes for the first time
upon London.



CHAPTER XIX.

_Curiously illustrates the old saying, that a man may "go farther to
fare worse."_

No sooner had Mr. Palethorpe arrived, than following Dr. Rowel's
directions, he marched off in a very business-like manner to the
Yorkshire House, and inquired for Colin Clink. No such person was there;
although one of the female servants told him she believed a young man
of that name had made a short stay at the house some weeks ago, and had
called once or twice since; but he had left long ago, and gone they knew
not whither.

This information brought the pursuer to a dead stop. His scent was lost
all at once; and as he had not made provision out of the wits of other
people for any disappointment of this kind, while his own were very
backward in coming to his assistance, he suddenly felt that all was
over. Moreover he found London to be a very different place to what he
had expected; and for a stranger to set about finding a lost man there,
seemed worse even than hunting for a needle in a bottle of straw.
Instead, therefore, of troubling himself just then any farther about the
matter, he thought he would first sleep upon it, and in the mean time
go about and see the sights. First he wended his way to the top of the
Monument, having previously very carefully perused the inscription as
its base. After that he ascended into the lantern of St. Paul's. He then
travelled down to the Tower, and very narrowly escaped walking into the
ditch just where there chanced to be a rail broken, while his eyes were
turned up in curious scrutiny of the White Tower. He much longed to
go in, but dared not, for fear of the soldiers, as he was not hitherto
aware that it was guarded so stoutly by a military force. When he got
back into St. Martins le Grand, and looked up at the Post Office clock,
he was about to pull out his watch and compare dials, but, to his
dismay, found that somebody had saved him the trouble by pulling it out
before him. In his confusion he instinctively endeavoured to wipe his
nose, but discovered that one of his best handkerchiefs was gone too. In
this double dilemma he stared about him some minutes very oddly, and not
a little to the amusement of certain cabmen, who stood hard by observing
his motions with visages wide awake. He began to be afraid of remaining
any longer in the street, and accordingly hurried back to the Yorkshire
House, where he endeavoured to console himself under his losses by
taking an extra quantity of Burton ale and gin-and-water.

These little bits of experience made him afterwards so very cautious,
that whenever he walked out he was continually engaged in cramming his
hands, first one and then the other, into his coat-pockets, then into
his breeches, in order to be assured that his money was safe; for he
held it as a maxim, that no man who knew what he was about would leave
his cash in a box which anybody might unlock, at a public house where
strangers were running in and out, and up and down stairs, all day long.
He accordingly, for the greater safety, carried his whole stock about
with him.

In this manner he wiled away nearly a week, waiting chances of meeting
with Colin accidentally, and hoping that he might luckily call again at
the Yorkshire House; in which case he had made provision for securing
him, by leaving word that, if he _did_ come, he was to be told that a
very well-known acquaintance from the country had arrived, who wished
to see him upon most particular business. But time passed on, his trap
caught nothing, and, after eight or nine days' stay, he found himself no
forwarder, save in the amount of wonderful things he had seen, and the
quantity of money he had expended, than he was when he parted with Miss
Sowersoft. Disastrous as all this was, it is not to be wondered at that
his courage evaporated very rapidly, and, in fact, became so very nearly
dried wholly up, that he made up his mind, after many efforts, to sneak
back again into the country, invent the best tale he possibly could, in
order to satisfy his "meesis" and the doctor, and sit down once again
to his beer and bacon on the quiet farm, renouncing London, and every
attempt to catch Colin Clink, at once and for ever.

Fortune, however, which, as we are told, ever watches over the brave,
would not suffer him to go thus far, and undergo the fatigues and
dangers of such a journey, merely to come to such an inglorious
conclusion. And as Palethorpe manfully determined to have a good last
night of it before he left town, and see for himself what life in London
really was, the frail goddess took that favourable opportunity of adding
a striking incident to the tailpiece of his chapter of accidents,--an
incident which, as it brought him very unexpectedly into the presence
of Colin, and otherwise is worthy of particular note, I shall give in a
chapter by itself.



CHAPTER XX.

_The singular meeting of Colin and Palethorpe.--A jolly night, and the
results of it, with one of the most remarkable discoveries on record._

On the last afternoon of his intended stay in town, Mr. Palethorpe
rambled as far as Regent's Park, and into the Zoological Gardens, where
he amused himself some time by tempting the bears with a bit of bun,
without allowing them to get near enough to lay hold of it; a piece of
dexterity on his own part which made him laugh heartily twenty times
over; for the cleverness of it seemed to him excellent.

[Illustration: 208]

When weary of that, he repaired to the monkey-cage, in anticipation of
some excellent sport; but there he found many much more able fellows
than himself; and, in endeavouring to outwit a great baboon with a
walnut, got one of his ears nearly twinged off, highly to the delight
of a whole company of boys who stood by, and whose laughter and jeers
eventually caused him to beat a retreat out of the gardens.

Having taken a pretty accurate survey of the West End, he descended
Regent Street in the evening, and about nine o'clock might have been
seen wending his way with indecisive step down Coventry Street, from
the Piccadilly end, with a considerable amount of Barclay and Perkins's
stout in his head,--porter being such a rarity to him, that he thought
it as well to make the best of it while he enjoyed the opportunity.

On the right hand side of Coventry Street he accidentally espied a
fishmonger's shop. Palethorpe always enjoyed a good appetite for oysters
whenever he could get them, and, as he had fixed his eyes upon a leaden
tank full, he walked into the shop aforesaid, and requested the man
to open him a lot. As fast as he opened them, Mr. Palethorpe swallowed
them; while, as long as he continued to swallow, the man continued to
open, keeping silent count of the number taken all the while, until in
a loud voice he at last proclaimed a numerical amount of five dozen.
Mr. Palethorpe then bid him desist, and, with great reluctance at the
moment, paid the demand of a crown for his supper. Somehow, however,
his stomach raised certain very cogent objections against thus
suddenly being converted into an oyster bed, and demanded the instant
administration of a dram. This, however, he could not procure there, but
was invited to walk into the room behind, where he might take wine at
his leisure. Although Palethorpe did not much relish the notion, he did
not feel in the best possible condition for quitting the shop and going
elsewhere; and therefore, almost as a matter of necessity, adopted the
waiter's suggestion. Pushing open a door, therefore, with an oval
glass in it, he found himself all at once in one of the finest public
apartments he had yet entered.

At first he felt almost doubtful whether he had not made a mistake,
and walked into a chapel,--the gallery round the walls and the pew-like
seats very strongly favouring the idea. This notion was, however,
very soon put to the rout by an individual, whom he had mistaken for a
pew-opener, approaching him with the polite inquiry, what wine would he
please to take.

"Oh, ony'll do. One sort is just the same as another to me, for I know
no difference," replied Palethorpe.

"Pint of sherry, perhaps, sir? Very well, sir." And before the
Yorkshireman could find time to express either his acquiescence or his
dissent, the waiter had disappeared to execute the order of his own
suggestion.

When he returned, Palethorpe took the wine in silent dudgeon. Of
course he had the appearance of an animal too remarkable not to attract
attention anywhere in London, but especially so in the particular region
where fortune had now condescended to cast him.

As far as he could discern anything of the matter, the company appeared
of the highest respectability, if not, in fact, almost too good for him.
But then, as everybody conducted themselves in the most free and easy
manner possible, he was not long in making himself perfectly at home.
The ladies, who were beautifully dressed, and decorated with various
sorts of flowers, struck him with particular admiration. All that
disagreeable crust of reserve, in which country people are so very prone
to encase themselves, was here worn quite clean off; and he found no
more trouble in entering into conversation with these ladies than he
did at home in talking to his horses. Two of them politely invited
themselves to his wine, and, without waiting permission, drank it off to
his good health, and suggested to him to call for more. They playfully
tweaked his nose, put his hat on their own heads, and invited him to
partake of his own drink so very kindly and pressingly, that at last it
would scarcely have been known whether they or he had in reality paid
for it.

About midnight, and at the particular request of a young lady who was
taking leave, Palethorpe was prevailed on to escort her home; a piece of
politeness which he felt most competent to discharge by calling a cab,
as his own legs had by this time in great part lost the faculty of
carrying the superstructure of his body writh that precise degree of
perpendicularity which is commonly considered essential to personal
comfort and safety.

From that moment up to the occurrence of the following incident, his
history is wrapped in the most profound and mysterious darkness.

On this eventful night, the intended last night of all Mr. Palethorpe's
experiences in the metropolis, as fortune would have it, Colin had
treated himself with a sight of Vauxhall Gardens; and, as he remained to
see the fireworks at the conclusion, he did not get away very early. Add
to this the time necessarily occupied in taking refreshment, and walking
all the way from the Gardens towards London Bridge, and we shall not
expect to find him at the top of Newington Road, on his way home,
earlier than between one and two in the morning. As our hero walked
rapidly down Blackman Street, he observed a man, clothed in a short,
square-lapped coat, of a broad country-cut, staggering along before him
very much as though he meditated going head foremost at every object
that presented itself on either side of the road. Occasionally he came
to a full stop, and see-saw'd his body backwards and forwards, until the
impetus gained one way either compelled him to recede a few paces, or
plunged him again desperately forwards. Now he seized a lamp-post,
as though it were some dear, newly-recognised friend; and then made
a furious sally to reach some advanced point of the wall on the other
hand. Altogether his motions were so whimsical "that Colin slackened
his pace in order to keep behind, and thus enjoy the fun. The street was
perfectly silent; not a soul besides themselves was about, and he had
the farcical performer therefore altogether to himself. He did not enjoy
the spectacle, however, very long. Scarcely had the man staggered a
hundred yards farther before he went down on all fours; and, as he found
himself incapable of rising again, he seemed by his actions, as though
he finally submitted to fate, and made up his mind to nestle there for
the remainder of the night. Since, however, Colin never was the lad to
leave a fellow-creature helpless, without offering his assistance, he
hastened forwards, and taking him by the shoulder, bade him get up and
go home.

"Where's meesis?" demanded the sot. "I want a posset, and a posset I 'll
have, or be dang'd to me!"

Colin immediately recognised the voice. Bursting into a loud laugh,
he raised the prostrate man's face towards the light, and beheld the
features of his old and inveterate enemy, Palethorpe. What in the world
could have brought him to town? Although Colin more than half suspected
the real occasion, he determined to ascertain the truth.

"And, where have you come from, my man?" demanded Colin.

"Come from!" repeated Sammy. "I'll tell you where I come from. I
co--co--come from Whinmoor--Whinmoor, I say, in Yorkshire. Miss
Zowerzoft's my meesis--and a very good meesis she is, I am happy to say.
She knows me very well, and I know her. I wish she were here!"

"Well--well!" cried Colin; "but what have you come to London about?"

"Why, what do you think, now?" asked Palethorpe, with a peculiarly
knowing look. "What _do_ you think? Just guess. I'll bet a shilling you
can't guess, if you guess all night. No--no; no man knows my bizziness
but myself. My name's Palethorpe, and I know two of that. Can you tell
me, do you know anybody named Colin Clink here i' Lunnun?"

"I do," said our hero. "I know him well."

"You do!" exclaimed Samuel, trying to start up and stare in his face,
but sinking again in the effort; "then yo 're my man! Gis hold on your
hand, my lad. Dang his carcase! I 'll kill him as sure as iver I touch
him! I will--I tell you. I 'll kill him dead on th' spot."

"But you mean to catch him first," said Colin, "don't you?"

"What do you mean? Catch him! I mean to catch him! Be civil, my lad, or
else I shall put a spur in _your_ sides afore you go."

"You brute!" exclaimed Colin, seizing him by the collar on each side of
his neck, and holding his head stiff up with his knuckles,--"look at me.
I am Colin Clink. Now, you cowardly, drunken scoundrel, what have you
not deserved at my hands?"

"Oh! what, you are he, are you?" gurgled

Mr. Palethorpe. "Just let me go a minnit, and I 'll show you!"

"Come, then!" said Colin, and he pulled the said Mr. Palethorpe to the
edge of the causeway. In the next moment he deposited him in the middle
of a large dam which had been made in the gutter close by for the
convenience of some bricklayers, who were repairing an adjoining house,
telling him to "sit there, and sober himself; and the next time he tried
to catch Colin Clink, to thank his stars if he came off no worse." So
saying, he left him to the enjoyment of his "new patent water-bed," and
his meditations.

Near the Borough town-hall Colin met a policeman, whom he informed of
the hapless condition of a poor drunken countryman some distance down
the street, and requested him to go to his assistance. He then made
off at the best speed he could, and soon baffled all pursuit amidst the
intricate turnings of the city. True, he lost his way; still he reached
his lodgings before four o'clock.

To return to Mr. Palethorpe. He had not yet seen even a tithe of his
troubles. The sequel of this last adventure proved richer than all the
rest. Between two and three o'clock in the afternoon of the following
day he crept very stealthily into the parlour of his inn, as "down
in the mouth" as a beaten dog. He called for writing materials, and
addressed a strange scrawl to the Commercial Bank in Leeds, where it was
known he had deposited about three hundred pounds. He afterwards retired
to his bed-room, from which in a short time he issued with a bundle
in his hand; and, after making certain confidential inquiries of the
shoe-black, walked forth in the direction of Rosemary Lane. It seems
pretty certain that John Boots directed him thither as one of the most
eligible places in the City for the disposal of all sorts of worn-out
or superfluous wearing-apparel, and one to which poor gentlemen in
difficulties not unfrequently resorted. However that may be, the fact
itself is positive, that on the evening of the second Saturday after his
arrival, Mr. Palethorpe was seen in a very dejected mood, pacing along
Rosemary Lane, towards Cable Street, with a bundle tied up in a blue and
white cotton handkerchief, under his arm.

As his eyes wandered from one side of the street to the other, he
observed, idling at doors, or along the footway, a generation of low,
dark men, who, by the peculiar cut of their countenances might readily
have been mistaken--especially by lamplight--for lineal and legitimate
descendants of the old race of Grecian satyrs. Inhabiting places in
which no other description of person could breathe, and carrying on
their congenial trades in "Clo'--old clo'!" these people, with their
families, live and thrive on the filth of all the other parts of the
unapproachable city. Nothing comes amiss to them: the oldest garment
has some profit in it, and the merest shred its fractional value. Their
delight seems to be in a life amidst black bags, and the rags of every
other portion of the great community; while the aspect of the region
they inhabit--as if to keep all the rest from being put out of
countenance--is desolate, dark, slimy, and enveloped in an atmosphere of
eternal smoke. The very air seems pregnant with melancholy reminiscences
of the faded glory of by-gone men, women, and times. The tarnished
embroidery, the sooty red suits, the flabby old silks, the vamped-up
hessians, what spectres do they not evoke as they dangle (ghostly
mementos of departed greatness) beside the never-washed windows; or flap
like an old arras, with every gust of wind against the besmeared and
noxious walls! Where, perhaps, the legs of some gallant captain once
found a local habitation, there the dirty Israelite now passing along
feels ambitious to encase his own. The handkerchief of a bishop invites
a "shopb'y's" nose; the last rejected beaver of the Lord Mayor awaits
the acceptance of some rascally cranium, which the Lord Mayor would give
half his dignity to "nab," and "pop in quod." Even some vanished great
one's walking-stick, now sticks in the black corner of the Jew's shop,
waiting to be once again shaken by the handle, even though it be but
during a brief proud hour on Sunday, by the lad who yesterday hawked
cedar pencils through the streets at a halfpenny a piece.

"Buy, sir?--buy?--buy?" Mr. Pale-thorpe replied in the negative to a
man who thus addressed him, but volunteered to sell. He produced the
contents of his handkerchief; and before ten minutes, more had elapsed
his best blue coat with gilt buttons, and a second pair of corduroys,
became the property of the Jew, at one-third less than their value. The
reason of this strange proceeding was that during the preceding
night's glorification the Yorkshireman had,--in some way totally
incomprehensible to himself,--been eased of absolutely every farthing he
possessed. He had, therefore, no alternative but to raise a little ready
cash upon his clothes, until he could receive from the bank in Leeds,
where he had deposited his scrapings, enough to set himself straight
again and pay his passage home.

Several times had the sun rolled over the head of this side of the world
after the scene above-described, when, one rainy evening, about dusk, as
Miss Sowersoft was casting a weary and longing eye across the soddened
fields which lay between Snitterton Lodge and the high road, to
her inexpressible pleasure she beheld the well-known figure of Mr.
Palethorpe making its way towards the house.

"Well, here you are again!" she exclaimed, as he flung down his
top-coat, and demanded a jack to get his boots off. "How have you gone
on? I see you hav'n't brought him with you, at all events."

Although Miss Sowersoft had made an inquiry the moment Mr. Palethorpe
entered the house, she now refused to hear him talk until he had
satisfied his appetite. This achievement occupied, of course,
considerable time. He then, in the midst of an open-mouthed and anxious
rural audience, consisting of every individual, man, maid, and boy,
upon the farm, related--_not_ his own adventures, but the imaginary
adventures of some person very closely resembling himself, who never
lived, and whose peregrinations had only existed in the very little
world of his own brain.

His expedition had been most successful; for, although he had not
exactly succeeded in discovering Colin's retreat,--a mishap attributable
to the enormous extent of London, and not to his own want of
sagacity,--yet he had astonished the natives there by such specimens of
country talent as they were very little prepared for. He pulled out a
new watch. "Look there," said he. "I got that through parting with the
old 'un, and a better than that niver went on wheels. I bought some
handkerchers for about half-price, and see'd more of Lunnun in ten days
than many folks that have been agate there all their lives."

"Then you went 'top o' th' Moniment?" demanded old George.

"To be sure I did!" exclaimed Palethorpe, "and St. Paul's Cathedral as
well."

"I hope you did not get dropped on, anyhow," remarked Miss Sowersoft,
inquiringly; for she really burned to know whether any of the fears she
had expressed at his setting out had been realised.

"No, dang it! not I," replied Palethorpe, in a misgiving tone, though
with a great assumption of bravery. Yet upon that subject, somehow, he
could not expatiate. He felt tongue-tied in spite of himself; and then,
as if desirous of escaping any farther explanation touching what he had
individually done or not done, he got up and went to the pocket of his
great-coat, from which he drew a Sunday newspaper that he had purchased
as the coach was starting, and presenting it to Miss Sowersoft--"Here,"
said he, "I've brought you th' latest news I could lay my hands on, just
to let you see what sort of things they do i' th' big town. I hav'n't
look'd at it myself yet, so you 've the first peep, meesis."

Miss Sowersoft took the newspaper very graciously, and opened it.
Strange news indeed she very soon found there. While Palethorpe was yet
maintaining all the dignity of a hero, and stuffing his audience with
marvellous accounts of his own exploits, Miss Sowersoft's eye fell
upon a report under the head of "Police Intelligence," entitled, "A
Yorkshireman in London." She read it; but with such avidity and such
a sombre expression of countenance, that the eyes of every one present
were irresistibly attracted towards her, and even Mr. Palethorpe's
efforts to speak passed almost unobserved. At length Miss Sower-soft
uttered a loud hysterical shriek, and fell back in her chair.

Palethorpe instinctively snatched at the newspaper; but, as Abel had
seized it before him, only a portion of it reached the fire, into
which it was instantly hurled. The part remaining in the grasp of the
farming-man contained the awful cause of Miss Sowersoft's calamity. A
fight might have ensued for the possession of that fragment also, had
not Abel dexterously slipped round the table before Palethorpe could
reach him, and, snatching up a lighted lantern that stood on the
dresser, escaped into a hayloft; where, having drawn the ladder up after
him, he sat down on a truss, and, while Palethorpe bawled and threatened
vainly from beneath, deliberately read as follows:--

"A Yorkshireman in London.--Yesterday a stupid-looking 'son of the soil'
from Yorkshire, whose legs appeared to have been tied across a barrel
during the previous part of his life, and who gave his name Samuel
Palethorpe, was brought before their worships, charged by policeman
G. 95, with having been found dead drunk in Blackman Street, Borough,
between one and two o'clock that morning. When found he was sitting
bolt-upright in a pool of lime-water about twelve inches deep, which
had been made in the gutter by some bricklayer's labourers employed
in mixing mortar near the spot. His hat was crushed into the form of
a pancake, and was floating beside him; while he was calling in a
stentorian voice for assistance. From the very deplorable statement he
made, with tears in his eyes, it appeared that, after rambling about
town the greater part of the previous day, in search of the 'lions'
of London, during which time he had imbibed an immense quantity of
heavy-wet, he repaired to a well-known house in the neighbourhood of
the Haymarket, and regaled himself until midnight with wine and cigars.
While there he picked up an acquaintance in the person of a 'lady,' (as
he described her,) 'with a plum-coloured silk gown on, and one of the
handsomest shawls he ever saw in his life.' As the 'lady' was very
communicative, and was very polite, and told him that she wished to
marry, he naturally concluded she might entertain no very deeply-rooted,
objection to himself. In order, therefore, to make a beginning in his
courtship, he eventually consented to accompany her home. He believed
her to be what she appeared, 'a lady,' and was over-persuaded by the
hope of marrying a good fortune. One of the magistrates here expressed
his astonishment that any man arrived at the age of the prisoner, (he
appeared nearly forty-five,) even though brought up in the veriest wild
in England, could possibly be such a fool as the individual before him
represented himself. Mr. Palethorpe replied that he had several times
read of ladies falling in love with cavaliers, and he thought such a
thing might happen to him as well as to anybody else. (Laughter.)

"'And what happened afterwards?' asked the magistrate.

"Mr. Palethorpe.--'I don't know very well, for I'd a sup too much. I
ar'n't used to drink sich strong wine: but we went over a bridge, I
think, becos I remember seeing some lights dance about; but where we
went to I know no more than this man here' (pointing to the policeman).

"'How much money did you spend?'

"'Whoy, unfortinately, I 've lost every farthing I had.'

"'And how much had you about your person when you set out?'

"'Please, sir, I had seven pounds in goold, and about twelve shillin's
in shillin's, besides some ha'pence.'

"'Do you think you've been robbed, or did you spend it on the lady?'

"'I don't know, sir,--but it's all gone.'

"'Well, as you seem to have paid pretty dearly for your pleasure, I
shall not fine you this time, but I should advise you to take better
care the next time you come to London.'

"The prisoner left the court very chop-fallen, while one of the
spectators as he passed whistled in his ear the tune of

     'When first in London I arrived, on a visit--on a visit!'"

Before Abel had perused half the above extract he was in ecstasies: and
when he had done he cut it out of the paper with his pocket-knife, in
order the easier to preserve it for future use. The story soon became
known throughout the country side, as Abel made a point of reading it
aloud at every public-house he called at, and on every occasion when the
hero of it chanced to displease him.

The gist of the joke, however, seemed, in the general opinion, to
consist in the fact that Mr. Palethorpe himself had unwittingly brought
it all the way from London in his own pocket, for the edification and
amusement of the community. In fact, from that day until the end of his
life, that worthy never heard the last of his expedition to London.

But, how did he settle matters with his mistress? That question may be
solved when other events of greater importance have been described.



CHAPTER XXI.

_Something strange on the staircase, with a needful reflection or two
upon it._

By this time Colin's resources had become so low that but thirteen
shillings remained to him of all he had brought from home; and of that
small sum about one-half would be due to his landlady in the course of
a few days. Yet he continued his kindness towards the poor singer on
the second floor, and only the day previously had exchanged his last
sovereign on her account. The feelings with which her appearance had
first inspired him he could not wholly shake off; although he had since
become acquainted with various circumstances which pointed out to him
imperatively the necessity of at once setting such a connexion
aside, and forgetting even that it had ever existed. He half formed a
resolution to do so; and, in order to carry it the better into effect,
made up his mind to quit the house altogether--a step he could the
more readily take now, as he had not hitherto so much as even seen Miss
Wintlebury except on the stage; and she, on the other hand, could know
no more of him than his ever-ready and unassuming kindness might have
informed her of. These thoughts crowded his mind as he sat at breakfast,
and during several hours subsequently presented themselves under every
possible phase to his review. About twelve o'clock in the day, as he was
descending the stairs to the street, his sight was crossed on the first
landing he reached, by a kind of vision in a white dress, which flitted
from Miss Wintlebury's chamber to her sitting-room. Its hair was
tightly screwed up in bits of newspaper all over its head, very
strongly resembling a clumsy piece of mosaic. Its face was of a horrible
cream-colour, and as dry as the hide of a rhinoceros. Its eyes dim
and glazy. Its neck and shoulders--with respect to the developement of
tendons and sinews--not greatly unlike an anatomical preparation. This
surprising appearance no sooner heard Colin's footsteps approaching than
it skipped rapidly into the sitting-room, and without turning at the
instant to close the door, sat hastily down at a small table, on which
stood a black teapot, and one cup and saucer, as if with the intention
of taking its breakfast.

Somewhat alarmed, Colin hastened down, and was very glad to find Mrs.
Popple on her hands and knees at the door, applying pipeclay to the
step. Of her he immediately inquired the nature of the apparition he had
seen; and was most shocked indeed when he found by her reply, that he
had actually mistaken Miss Wintlebury herself for her own ghost. Still
the fact was scarcely credible. Surely it was not possible to patch up
such a shadow, into the handsome figure which had first inspired him
with love; and the recollection of whose seeming beauties still attended
upon his imagination with the constancy of a shadow in the sun.

"Ah, sir!" exclaimed Mrs. Popple; "but you ain't any conception what
a poor creatur' she is. I can carry her about this house like a doll,
she's so light and thin. She walks about more like a sperit than
anything substantive--that she do. I often think of turning her out of
house altogether, for I 'm afraid I shall never get my rent of her; but
then, again, when I 'm going to do it, a sum mut seems to whisper to me,
and say, 'Missis Popple--Missis Popple, let her alone a bit longer.' And
that is the way we go on." Saying which, with a heavy sigh, she scrubbed
away at the stones. Colin stood mute.

"She's dyin', sir, as fast she can," added the landlady. "I niver see an
indiwidiwal in a more gallopin' consumption in my life. I expect noat no
less than having her corpse thrown on my hands every week that goes over
my head."

Could he altogether give up the poor creature of whom this was said? And
yet, was it possible he could love her? Colin felt perplexed, puzzled.
Like many other gentlemen, therefore, when placed in a similar
predicament, he parted company with Mrs. Popple, without saying anything
in reply, lest by speaking he should possibly chance--to say worse than
nothing.

As the strange shock his feelings had sustained gradually wore off, his
previously formed resolutions as gradually grew weaker. Irresistibly
inclined to look on the best side only, he began to reason himself
into the belief that the lady was not so bad as his own eyes, and Mrs.
Popple's tongue, had represented. He had seen her, unluckily, under
circumstances sufficiently disadvantageous to reduce to a very ordinary
standard even one--as was not very unlikely of the greatest beauties
living: and, as for his landlady's remarks, what did they amount to in
fact? Since people always magnify what they talk about into a ten times
more hideous affair than, according to the natural size of the subject,
it would otherwise appear, just as our opticians exhibit monsters a foot
lone on paper, which on closer inspection are found too insignificant
in reality to be even visible to the unassisted eye. Perhaps Miss
Wintle-bury might soon be recovered--soon grow strong again, and
eventually be enabled to make a fortune by that voice which now scarcely
found her in bread. Thoughts of this nature occupied his mind all day,
and until his return home, at about six in the evening.

Shortly afterwards a circumstance occurred no less unexpected on his
part than it will prove surprising to the reader; and which, as it
finally settled the question of his love for the public singer, as well
as another question of great importance to an individual in whom we have
felt some concern during the previous part of this history, I shall lose
no time in proceeding to relate.



CHAPTER XXII.

_A most uncommon courtship, a bit of jealousy, and a very plain
declaration._

Not long had Colin been at home before a message was sent up by Miss
Wintlebury, begging the favour of a few minutes' conversation with him
as early as it might be convenient to himself. Poor Colin blushed to
the eyes as he heard the request, and in a manner so hurried that
he scarcely knew his own words, replied that he would wait upon her
immediately. He took some time, nevertheless, in adapting and adjusting
his dress to his own taste, which he now discovered had suddenly become
very particular; but, at length, when he grew ashamed of hanging back
any longer, he summoned a desperate resolution, and, like the leader
of a forlorn hope, went on to his mistress's door as though on an
expedition of life or death.

For the fourth time he found Miss Harriet's appearance changed; though
this fourth appearance seemed the most true one. She was yet young, and
had been handsome; just as a primrose cropped a week since, and dangling
its head over the side of a jar has been handsome, but is so no longer.
Her cheeks were slightly--very slightly painted; for custom is
custom still, even by the coffin side. Her countenance was naturally
intelligent, and had been improved in expression by indulgence in the
love of literature. The proportions of her figure were comely enough,
and such as would not have matched ill beside even so well-formed an one
as was Colin's.

"I am afraid you will think me very bold, Mr. Clink," observed Miss
Wintlebury, after the first forms of their meeting had been gone
through; "but I wished to thank you personally for your exceeding
kindness towards one who is a mere stranger to you. I feel it the more
because, unfortunately for me, I have so rarely met with anything of
the kind. I think my poor mother--and she has been gone these many
years--was the only creature that ever loved me in this world!"

Here her voice grew tremulous, and her utterance half convulsive.

"I do not scruple to say so much now, because in the condition in
which I am--I know I am--I am dying, and that is all about it;--in
that condition, I say, no scruples prevent me uttering what otherwise I
should be ashamed to own, because, with my feet almost in the grave,
I feel secure against any imputations which else the world might bring
against me. But, having almost done with the world, and feeling under no
apprehension that anybody will look upon me in any other light than as a
departing guest about to close the door upon her own back for ever, I am
not ashamed to speak as a woman openly: for openly I must shortly speak
before a far greater Being than any here."

Colin sat, with his eyes fixed on the ground, mute and
motionless,--striving to divert his feelings by counting the pattern
flowers on the carpet; but he could scarcely see them, his eyes
were full. With difficulty he swallowed his grief as Miss Wintlebury
continued, "To-night, now, I am unable to go through the exertion of
pleasing those drunkards yonder, as usual. Nor is this the first warning
I have had that the poor concert of my life is close upon its finale."

Accustomed as the young woman appeared to be to contemplate her own
death within the little oratory of her own bosom, she yet displayed
that feminine weakness of being unable to allude to it in words before
another person without shedding tears.

"I hope, Miss," began Colin, but he could not get on,--"I hope,
ma'am------"

"It is not for myself!" she exclaimed resolutely, and as though
determined to outface those tears,--"no, not for myself. That is very
little worth crying for, indeed."

She smiled with a ghastly expression of selfcontempt, and continued,
"It is, sir, because I have it not in my power to repay you for your
kindness to me. I must die in the debt of a stranger, for all help is
now going from my hands. These few dresses and trinkets----"

And as she sobbed out the words she placed her hand upon a small heap of
theatrical robes and decorations which lay beside her.

"These are all--and a very poor all they are--I have to repay you with,
besides a buckle that I have here upon my band, which my mother gave me;
and that I wish you to take off and keep when I am dead: but I must have
it till then. I cannot part with it before."

She paused, and gazed upon the trinket of which she spoke as though the
thoughts it awakened congealed her into stone; for not a muscle of her
countenance moved, and nothing showed she was alive save the rapid tears
which dropped in painful noiselessness from her eyelashes to the ground.

"No, that is not quite all," she resumed, almost in a whisper; "there is
a necklace that was given me at school one Midsummer holiday: you
shall have that, too. And I should like you to give it--I know you will
forgive me saying so, won't you? Give it--if she be not too proud--give
it--if there be any one in the world you love, give it _her_, and ask
her to wear it for my poor sake!"

Colin was unused to the great sorrows of the world; his nature would
have its way; he could contain his heart no longer, and burst into an
agonizing and audible fit of grief. When his words came he begged her to
desist; he refused to take anything from her as a recompense for what he
had done; and, in as encouraging a tone as he could assume, he bid her
cheer up, and hope for the best. He said she might yet recover, and be
happy, why not? _He_ would be her friend for ever, if she would but pluck
her heart up, and look on things more cheerfully.

And, as he said this,--he knew not how he did it, or why,--but he kissed
her forehead passionately, and pressed her hand within his own, as
though those fingers might never be unclenched again.

At that moment the room door was very unceremoniously opened, and two
persons stood before him.

Mrs. Popple had entered first, leading forwards Fanny Woodruff!

"Colin!" exclaimed the latter in a tone of mingled astonishment and
reproach, and at the same time retreating precipitately from the room,
while Miss Wintlebury sharply reproved her landlady for this rudeness,
and Mr. Clink himself as suddenly assumed much more of the natural
aspect of a fool than any person would have believed his features at all
capable of. At length he spoke; and, rushing out after Fanny, exclaimed,
"You shall not go! I have done no wrong! Come back--come back!"

"Sir!" replied Fanny, with the determined voice of a highly-excited
spirit, "I have not accused you of anything, and, therefore, you need
not defend yourself. But, indeed, Colin, I never expected this!"

"What--what have I done?"

"Nothing, perhaps, that you have not a perfect right to do if you think
proper; but, however, I will not be troubled about it--I will not!" She
applied her handkerchief to her eyes. "I am sorry for having interrupted
you; but, since you are so much better engaged than with me, I will
never trouble you again as long as I live!"

"Will you hear me?" demanded Colin.

"It is of no use. I am satisfied. You have a right to do as you think
proper."

"Of course I have, so long as I do right?"

"Right!"

"Yes, right. I have not injured you. I never told you I loved
_you_--never!"

Those words startled Fanny as with the shock of an earthquake;
shattering to fragments in one instant that visionary palace of Hope,
which her heart had been occupied for years in rearing. She looked
incredulously in his face, as though doubtful of his identity, and then
burst into a flood of tears.

"True," she murmured, "you never did--never! I have betrayed myself.
But here, sir," and she assumed as much firmness of manner as possible,
while she held a small packet out for his acceptance. "Take this; for
I came to give it you. It is all your mother and I----" Her breathing
became heavy and convulsive. "We read your letter, and--Oh, save
me! save me!" She fell insensible into the arms of Mrs. Popple, who
instantly, at Colin's request, carried her into Miss Wintlebury's room,
and placed her on the sofa.

The packet had fallen from her hand. It contained the three guineas
which Colin had formerly given to her, besides two from his mother, and
the whole amount of Fanny's own savings during the time she had been in
service, making in all between eight and nine pounds.

Her unexpected appearance is readily explained. On perusing the
melancholy news contained in that letter of Colin's, to which Fanny had
alluded, she and his mother instantly formed the very natural conclusion
that, bad as he had described his situation to be, he would endeavour
to make the best of it to them; and that, therefore, to a positive
certainty it was very much worse than his description would literally
imply. A thousand imaginary dangers surrounding him, thronged upon their
minds, which, they concluded, nothing short of a personal visit could
modify or avert. Nothing less, indeed, could satisfy their feelings
upon the subject; and hence it was agreed between them that, instead of
writing to him, Fanny should undertake the journey, carrying with her
all the money for his use which their joint efforts could procure.

The attentions of Mrs. Popple and Miss Wintlebury soon brought the young
woman again to herself.

"Let me go!" said she. "I will return home to-night! I cannot stay here!
I cannot bear it!"

"No, Fanny," observed Colin, "that you shall not. You have mistaken me
much--very much; when, if you knew all, you would be the first in the
world to applaud me for what I have done."

"I shall never be happy any more!" sighed Fanny almost inaudibly.

"I hope, young lady," said Miss Wintlebury, addressing her, "that _I_
have not been any cause of unhappiness to you? Because if so, perhaps it
will be some comfort to you to know that I cannot continue so long. Look
at me. Surely this poor frame cannot have excited either man's love or
woman's jealousy; for no one could be so weak as to dream of placing his
happiness on such a broken reed, nor any one so foolish as to take alarm
at a shadow, which a few days at most--perhaps a few hours--must remove
for ever."

Fanny heard this discourse at first with indifference; but now
she listened earnestly, and with evident surprise. Miss Wintlebury
continued, "If--for so it almost seems--you foolishly imagine that I
stand between that young gentleman and yourself, be assured you are
deeply mistaken. Death, I too well know, has betrothed me; and I dare
not, would not, accept another bridegroom. Now be at peace, and hear me
but a moment longer. I know not who you are, though you and Mr. Clink
are evidently acquainted; but if there be anything between you both,--if
you love him, or he you,--all I say is, may Heaven bless you in
it,--bless you! With one like him you could not fail to be blessed.
A nobler, or a more generous and feeling creature never looked up to
heaven."

Overcome both by her bodily weakness and her feelings the poor girl sat
down, and covered her face with her hands as she sobbed bitterly. During
some minutes not a word was uttered; nor until the last speaker again
rose, and took Fanny's hand, and led her across the room towards Colin,
who stood by the fire-place, looking as grave and immoveable as though
he were cast in lead.

"Come," said she, "forget me, and let me see you friends."

Suiting the action to the sentiment expressed, she placed Fanny's hand
in Colin's. He gazed on her a moment, then clasped her in his arms, and
kissed her a thousand times.

That night the three supped together, and were happy. And, as Fanny
had not as yet taken any place of abode, she shared Miss Wintlebury's
apartments; while Colin passed, amidst endless anxiety and excitement,
an almost totally sleepless night.

Fanny did not choose to remain in town much longer than the occasion
of her visit rendered absolutely essential; but during that time she
related to Colin everything that could possibly interest him respecting
the home he had left behind.

Amongst other matters of less importance, she surprised and astonished
him with the information that, shortly after his own flight from
Bramleigh, her father had been removed by Doctor Rowel from Nabbfield,
and carried by night to a distant part of the country. But, as some
particulars of this movement will require to be laid before the reader
in the course of some subsequent chapter, I shall not trouble him
with Fanny's statement, or Mr. Clink's remarks in reply, here; merely
observing that the latter earnestly impressed upon her the necessity,
both on her father's account, and his own too, of her applying at
Kiddal Hall, and informing Mr. Lupton of the whole circumstances of the
transaction at as early a period as possible.

All this Fanny promised to perform immediately on her arrival at
Bramleigh. But when the period of departure came she returned thither
with a heavy heart. The declaration made by Colin that he had never
loved her (for so she interpreted it) still weighed heavily upon her
bosom; nor did his subsequent kindness of behaviour, although it pleased
for the moment, tend to any permanent alleviation of her feelings of
sorrow derived from that source. The difference between her visit to
town and this departure seemed to her like that to one who goes out in
sunshine, with a glad day before her, but returns under clouds, and with
no prospect but that of darkness at night. While, perplexed as Colin
had partially felt between what he thought to be his duty, and
his inclination, he so far discovered--if not to his positive
satisfaction,--at least the entire absence of anything like real
regret at Fanny's departure. In the mortification and agony of spirit
consequent on her discovery of that fact, Fanny determined resolutely to
banish Colin from her mind in every shape, save as a friend, for ever.



CHAPTER XXIII.

_The reader is courteously introduced into a bone and bottle shop, and
made acquainted with Peter Veriquear and the family of the Veriquears. A
night adventure._

In a bye-lane leading out of Hare Street, which, as my readers must be
informed, is situated about the middle of the parish of Bethnal Green,
there resided a certain tradesman, one Peter Veriquear by name; into
whose service, as a man of all work, our hero, Mr. Clink, may now be
supposed to have entered. By the recommendation, vote, and interest of
Mistress Popple, who had some acquaintance with the Veriquears, it was
that he obtained this eligible situation; a situation which found him a
sort of endless employment of one kind or other, day and night, at the
rate of six shillings per week, bed and board included.

When Colin first applied about the place, Mr. Veriquear replied, "If you
want a situation, young man, that is your business, and not mine. If I
have a place to dispose of, I have; and if I hav'n't, why of course I
hav'n't. That is my business, and not yours."

Colin hinted something about what Mrs. Popple had said.

"Well!" exclaimed Veriquear, "if Mrs. Popple told you so, she did. That
is Mrs. Popple's business, and neither yours nor mine."

"Then I am mistaken, sir?"

"I did not say you were mistaken. But, if you think you are, that is
your own business, and not mine."

"Then what, sir," asked Colin, somewhat puzzled, "am I to understand?"

"Why," replied Veriquear, "I shall say the same to you as I do to all
young men,--understand your own business, if you have any, and, if you
hav'n't, understand how to get one,--that is the next best thing."

"And that," rejoined our hero, "is exactly what I am desirous of doing."

"Well, if you are, you are; that is your own concern."

"You seem to be fond of joking," remarked Colin, as the blood mounted to
his cheeks.

"No, sir," answered Veriquear, more sternly, "the man is not born that
ever knew me joke in the whole course of my life. I have my own way, and
that is no business of anybody's. Other people have theirs, and that is
none of mine."

"But can you give me any employment, sir?"

"Well, I suppose young men must live somehow, though that is their own
concern; and I must find 'em work if I can, though that is mine."

After some further conversation, in which Mr. Veriquear's character
displayed itself much as above depicted, he arrived, through a very
labyrinthine path, at the conclusion that Colin should be employed upon
his establishment according to the terms previously stated.

Though Mr. Veriquear's premises stood nominally two stories high, and
occupied a frontage some forty feet long, the roof scarcely reached to
the chamber-windows of certain more modern erections on either side.
The front wall,--a strange composition of timber, bricks, and plaster
mingled together in very picturesque sort,--had in times gone by
partially given way at the foundation, and now stood in an indescribably
wry position. Having forcibly pulled the whole mass of tiling along with
it, the ridge of the roof resembled the half-dislocated backbone of
some fossil alligator, while a weather-beaten chimney, with great gaps
between the bricks, which stood at one end, leaned sentimentally towards
a dead gable, like Charlotte lamenting the sorrows of Werter. The
windows, which were small and heavy, seemed to have been inserted
according to the strictest laws of chance; for, exactly in those places
where nobody would have expected them, there they were. By the side
of the door Haunted some yards of filthy drapery, which flapped in the
faces of the passers-by whenever they and a gust chanced to meet near
the spot; and old bottles, secondhand ewers and basins, bits of rag,
and various other descriptions of valuable "marine stores," decorated
a window which might, without much injustice, have been supposed to
be glazed with clarified cow's-horn. Above, a huge doll, clad in
long-clothes of dirty dimity, and suspended to a projecting iron by the
crown of the head, swung in the blast like the effigy of some criminal
on a gibbet-post. At the edge of the causeway, which had never
been paved, and directly opposite the entrance to Mr. Veriquear's
establishment, was placed a board elevated on a moveable pole, on which
was painted, in attractive letters, "Wholesale and retail Rag, Bone, and
Bottle Warehouse."

Into this miserable den Colin permanently introduced himself for the
first time one night between eight and nine o'clock. Some portion of
that evening he had spent with Miss Wintle-bury, and had taken his
adieu of her and the habitation she was in together, only after he had
prevailed upon her to accept one of three sovereigns which alone he had
retained out of the larger sum brought for his use by Fanny.

It was dusk when he arrived at his new abode. There was no light in the
shop, save what little found its way thither from the fading heavens,
which now were scantily spotted with half-seen stars. Peter Veriquear
stood solemnly against the door-post, staring into the gloom, and
blowing through his teeth a doleful noise, compounded both of singing
and whistling, but resembling neither, either in tone or loudness. Colin
felt low-spirited, though he strove to seem joyful.

"It grows dark very fast, sir," said he, addressing Mr. Veriquear as he
entered.

"Yes," replied that gentleman, "it does; but I can't help that. What
Nature chooses to do is no businesss of ours."

"Certainly," rejoined Colin; "but I said so only because it is customary
to express some kind of opinion."

"Well, that, of course, is your own concern; but, for my part, I never
make it my business either to damn or praise the weather. Nature knows
her own affairs, and manages them just the same without my meddling."

As Peter said this, he turned and led into the shop his new assistant.
Groping his way along in the direction of a distant inner doorway,
through which the dim remains of a fire were visible, Colin first
jostled against a stand, which rattled with the concussion as though all
the bottles in the United Kingdom had been jingled together; and then,
in his endeavour to steer clearer on the contrary side, fell prostrate
on to a prodigious heap of tailors' ends, strongly resembling in size a
juvenile Primrose Hill.

"I think it's my business to get a light," observed Veriquear. "Stop
where you are till I come again."

Colin wisely maintained his position, in accordance with the sensible
advice given him, lest, by making another endeavour in the dark, he
should fall foul of a stack of bones, and thus exchange for a less
comfortable anchorage. In cases of this kind, he well knew that a soft
bottom is the best.

When Peter returned with a candle, Colin obtained a dim vision of the
objects about him. The place was so black, for want of whitewash, that
its limits seemed almost indefinable every way, save overhead, and there
the close proximity of his crown to the rafters reminded him that no
less care would be required in humouring Mr. Veriquear's house than in
pleasing its master; while the quality and amount of its contents almost
led him to believe he had entered some grand national closet, in which
was deposited all the unserviceable stuff, the scraps, odds and ends
of the general community. The reason of this was, that Peter Veriquear
dealt in almost everything he could turn a penny by, and, being somewhat
large in his speculations, always had a vast mass of property in
substance upon his premises. 4 As a new emigrant to the wilds of North
America betakes himself to an accurate survey of his locality before
he pitches his tent, and commences operations, so, wisely, did Peter
Veriquear conduct Colin over the whole of his territory that night, in
order that he thereby might become acquainted early with the wide field
of his future labours, Through a dirty unpaved yard behind, he conducted
him over various shed-like warehouses, stored with every imaginable
description of rags, sorted and unsorted, with bottles of all degrees of
bodily extension, from the slender pale-faced phial to the middle-sized
"mixture" and the corpulent "stout;" and on the ground-floor, into a
deathly region of bones, which made the moveless air smell grave-like,
and stored the prompt imagination with as many spectres of slaughtered
cattle and skeleton horses, as might garnish the magic circles of twenty
German tales.

In a wide rambling loft, accessible through this place by a step-ladder,
and open to the laths of the roof on which the tiles were hung.
Colin observed a small bed and a chair or two, with a broken piece of
looking-glass fixed on the wall with nails, in order, as it might appear
from the deserted character of the place, that the tenant, if weary of
being alone, might contemplate a representative of himself, in lack of
better company.

"Is this room occupied?" asked Colin.

"When there is anybody in it,--as there ought to be every night,"
replied Veriquear. "It is my business to keep these premises safe, the
same as it is other people's to rob them if they could."

"Why, surely, sir," objected Colin, with some slight astonishment,
"nobody would think of stealing such things as there are here!"

"What is worth buying and selling is worth stealing. _I_ should think
so, if it were my affair to rob; just as I think it worth guarding,
being my business to hinder robbery."

"Then, shall I sleep here?" demanded Colin.

"Well," responded Mr. Veriquear, "I suppose you will, if you can. You
want sleep, like me, I dare say; but that you must manage yourself. _I_
can't make you sleep,--so it's no concern of mine."

Our hero said nothing, but he thought the Fates could not have been
in one of the most amiable of humours when they delivered him into the
hands of Mr. Peter Veriquear.

Returning from this dim perambulation, the merchant led his assistant
down a flight of brick steps into an underground kitchen, where a
supper, consisting of a round mahogany-coloured cheese, which Colin
mistook for a huge cricket-ball, three gaunt sticks of celery, and a
brown loaf was placed upon a small round oak table, having one stem in
the centre, and three crooked feet at the bottom, after the fashion of
a washerwoman's Italian iron. The family of the Veriquears was here
assembled. Mrs. Veri-quear, a sharp-nosed pyroligneous-acid-looking
woman, sat on a low chair by the fireside, nursing a baby; a child of
eighteen months old slept close by her in a wicker basket, which served
at once for cradle and coach-body, as occasion might require, it being
ingeniously contrived to fit a frame-work on four wheels, which stood up
stairs, and thus served to carry the children about on a Sunday; while
two other youngsters were squabbling on the hearthstone about their
respective titles to a threelegged stool; and another, the eldest, was
penning most villanous pot-hooks on the back of a piece of butter-paper,
under the casual but severe superintendence of his worthy mother.
Farthest removed from the fire, as well as the candle-light, sat one who
was _in_ the family, though not of it, a maiden of nineteen, Miss Aphra
Marvel, a niece of Mr. Veriquear, who had been bequeathed to him by
her father upon his death-bed, along with a small tenement worth about
fifteen pounds a-year, the income from which was considered as a set-off
against the cost of her board and bringing up. But could her departing
parent have foreknown the great and multifarious services which his
daughter was destined to perform in the family of his wife's brother,
it is more than probable he would have acknowledged the propriety of
charging fifteen pounds per annum as a compensation for her labour,
rather than have left that sum in yearly requital of her cost. From
twelve years of age to the present time, her duty it had been to
make the fires, sweep the house, wash and nurse the babies, as they
successively appeared upon the Veriquear stage of the world, wait on Mrs.
Veriquear, prepare meals, make the beds, mend all the little masters'
clothes, and, in short, do all and everything which could possibly
require to be done; and yet she was regarded by her mistress and
the children (whom she industriously instructed to that end) as an
interloper, who was partly eating the bread out of their mouths every
day, and consequently contributing to the eventual diminution of that
stock which ought to be applied exclusively to the advancement of their
own prospects in after-life.

When Colin entered, Miss Aphra cast her eyes momentarily up, and half
blushed as she resumed her sewing. The children stared in wonder at him,
as they might at the sudden appearance of a frog in the kitchen. The
baby caught sight of him, and began to squeal like a sucking pig; while
Mrs. Veriquear cast an ill-tempered eye upon him, as much as to say she
wanted none of him there; and then shook her infant into an absolute
scream with the exclamation,--"What are you crying at, you little
fidget! _He's_ not going to hurt you, I'll take care of that.
Hush--hush--hush-sh-sh!" And away went the rocking-chair at a rate quite
tantamount to the extreme urgency of the occasion.

When they sat down to supper, it was discovered that Master William
had picked out the hearts of two sticks of celery, and extracted a plug
three inches long, by way of taster, from the Dutch cheese. This being
a case that imperatively demanded the application of summary punishment,
Colin got nothing to eat until Mr. Veriquear had risen from the table,
and applied a few inches of old cane to the lad's shoulders, which he
did with this brief preparatory remark, "Now, my boy, as you have made
it your business to pull that plug out, it becomes mine to try if I
can't plug you."

Master William howled like a jackal before he was touched; his younger
brother Ned cried because Bill did; and Mrs. Veriquear stormed at her
husband, because he could not thrash the lad without making noise enough
over it to wake the very dead. Miss Marvel looked as solemn during this
farce as though it had been a tragedy; while Colin squeezed his nose
up in his handkerchief as forcibly as though a lobster had seized it
between his nippers, in order to prevent Mrs. Veriquear seeing how
irreverently his fancy was tickled at this exhibition of domestic
enjoyments.

Uninviting as his dormitory over the warehouses had previously appeared,
the character of the kitchen and its inhabitants seemed so much more so,
that it was with comparative delight he heard the clock of Shoreditch
church strike ten, as a signal for him to take possession of a tin
lantern provided for the occasion. Accordingly, carrying a bunch of keys
in his hand, wherewith to lock himself in, he strode across the yard to
his solitary and comfortless chamber.

During the first few hours which had elapsed after Colin had retired
to his ghostly-look-ing dormitory, it was in vain he tried to coax
and persuade himself to sleep. That fantastical deity, Somnus, seemed
determined to contradict his wishes; and therefore he lay with his eyes
wide open, counting how many chinks he could see between the tiles over
his head, and listening to the musical compliments which passed between
some friendly tom and tabby cats, whose tails and backs were evidently
elevated in a very picturesque manner outside the ridge above him.

It could not be far off one o'clock, when a very distinct sound, as of
something stirring below stairs, reached his ears. Though by no means
naturally timid, the young man's heart suddenly jumped as though taking
a spring from a precipice. Possibly the noise might be occasioned by the
rats taking advantage of this untimely hour of the night to make free
with Mr. Veriquear's bones; or the cats outside were in pursuit of the
aforesaid rats; or the wind was making itself merry somehow amongst
the bottles; or the doors or the shutters were undergoing a process
of agitation from the same cause. Whatever might originate the sound,
however, it was now repeated more distinctly. There was evidently on
the premises something alive as well as himself. Was it possible that he
could have got into a wrong place, and that they meditated murdering him
for the sake of his body? He thought of a pitch-plaster being suddenly
stuck over his mouth by some unseen hand, as he lay there on his back in
the dark. It was horrible, and the conceit aroused him to determination.
He cautiously slipped out of bed, and, clad in nothing more than his
stockings and shirt, groped his way blindly to the step-ladder, which he
silently descended.

Having reached the floor of the room below, he for the first time
bethought himself that he had no weapon of defence, not even a common
stick. But the great bone-heap was hard by, and from such armoury
he soon possessed himself with the thigh-bone of a horse, which he
contrived, without material disturbance, to draw out from amongst a
choice collection of other similar relics. Again the noise which had
alarmed him was repeated, and carried conviction to Colin's mind that
Mr. Veriquear's precautions against robbers were more needful than he
had previously believed; for that there were thieves about the premises
he now no more doubted than he doubted his own existence. Determined to
resist the knaves, and, grasping his bony cudgel with uncommon fervour,
he placed himself in an offensive attitude, and stood prepared for he
knew not what.

Not the famous fighting gladiator of antiquity, nor yet the modest
statue dubbed Achilles in Hyde Park, the admiration and delight of our
astonished countrymen and women, looks more threatening and heroic
than did Colin, as, clad in the simple but classic drapery of his
under-garment, he brandished a tremendous bone, and defied his unseen
foe.

At that moment the fragmentary skull of some old charger, which lay on
the windowsill at the farther end of the warehouse, seemed to become
partially and very mysteriously illuminated, while the shadowy form of a
man standing hard by became also indistinctly visible amidst the gloom.
Colin maintained his standing in breathless silence, with his eyes
steadily fixed upon the figure.

In the course of a few moments it turned slowly round, and began to
advance gravely towards him, but whether or not with any intention of
accosting him either by word or blow, he could not yet divine. Shortly
it reached within arm's length of him, and was about to address
doubtless some very mysterious speech to his ear, when the thought
flashed on the young man's mind like lightning that now or never was
the time; so raising his drumstick of a bone, he took aim, and, before
a single protest against his measure could be entered, nearly felled the
intruder to the earth.

"Don't strike!--don't strike!" cried the individual thus unexpectedly
attacked. "I'm Veriquear!--I'm Veriquear!"

"Certainly," thought Colin, "you _are_ very queer indeed!"--for he
instantly recognised the voice as that of his employer, "I'm very
sorry--"

"All right!--quite right!" said Veriquear, drawing a dark-lantern from
a pocket behind him, and throwing a _bundle_ of rays like a bunch of
carrots on the figure of his assistant. "It was decidedly your business
to do as you have done; and I'm very much obliged to you--"

"You are very welcome," interrupted Colin.

"For if you had not made it your duty to defend the place, I should have
turned you away at a minute's notice to-morrow morning. I have done this
on purpose to try your courage a little; only I meant to catch you in
bed, instead of where you are."

"But I regret having struck you," protested Colin.

"As to that," replied Peter, "that, you know, is _your_ business; and
if I like to run the risk of getting a beating, why, that, of course, is
mine. Only I never yet had a man in my employ that I did not try in the
same way; and many a one have I discharged because they would not turn
again. It's no use having a dog that won't bark, and bite too, if he is
wanted; so I always put them to the proof in the first instance."

His hearer did not particularly admire Mr. Veriquear's sagacious
method of trying the mettle of his men; but, inasmuch as it had so far
ingratiated him into the favour of his employer, he did not lament the
occurrence of a rencontre which, though it had promised seriously at the
outset, terminated so harmlessly. He accordingly betook himself again to
his pallet, and slept out soundly the remainder of the night; while Mr.
Veriquear departed by the same way he had come, highly gratified with
the courage of Colin, and rejoicing in the hard blow that he had so ably
bestowed upon his shoulders.



CHAPTER XXIV.

_A Sunday sight in London.--Colin meets with his best friend, and
receives a heart-breaking epistle from Miss Wintlebury._

It was not during the six days only, but on Sundays also, that Colin
found employment at Peter Veriquear's. As regularly as the Sabbath came,
he was converted into an animal of draught and burden, by being placed
at the pole of that cradle-coach already alluded to, and engaged during
stated hours in giving his employer's young family an airing amongst the
delightful precincts of Hoxton New Town and the Hackney-road. On one
of these occasions he very luckily, though accidentally, met with a
gentleman whom he very much wished to see, and to whom, also, I shall
have much pleasure in re-introducing the reader.

The day was uncommonly cold, considering the time of the year. Colin's
face, as he breasted the blast, strongly resembled a raw carrot; while
behind him sat four little red-and-blue looking animals, muffled up into
no shape, and each "tiled" with an immense brimmed hat, which gave them
altogether much the appearance of a basket of young flap-mushrooms.

"Don't cry, my dear!" said Colin, as he suddenly caught hold, and
half twinged the cold button-like nose off the face of each in
succession,--"Don't cry, dears,--and you shall have some pudding as soon
as the baker has baked it. We shall soon be at home, Georgy. There, wrap
your fingers up. See what a big dog that is!"

A tap on the shoulder with the end of a walking-cane interrupted his
string of exclamations, and at the same moment a voice, which he had
somewhere heard before, addressed him with--"And do not you remember
whose dog he is?"

Colin turned hastily round, and beheld Squire Lupton standing on the
edge of the curb-stone. If his cheeks were red before, they became
scarlet now; for, though his occupation involved nothing censurable, he
blushed deeply, and for the moment could not utter a word.

"What!" exclaimed Mr. Lupton, as he gazed in admiration on the contents
of the four-wheeled basket, "so young, and such a family as that? God
bless my soul!--why, surely they are not all your own?"

Colin did the best he could to clear himself of such an awful
responsibility, avowing that he had no participation whatever in the
affair, beyond what his duty in drawing them about might be considered
to involve. Of this, indeed, the Squire did not require any very
powerful proof, as he had given utterance to the remark more as a piece
of pleasantry, than with any idea that it would be considered as meant
in earnest.

As the streets of London do not at any time offer any very peculiar
facilities for private conversation, and especially upon such important
matters as those which both the Squire and Colin felt it necessary to be
discussed between them, a very brief colloquy was all that passed on the
present occasion, though sufficiently long to inform Mr. Lupton how poor
a situation the young man had been obliged to accept since his arrival
in town, merely to find himself in the most common necessaries of life.
On the other hand, Colin ascertained that the Squire's absence from
Kiddal, just after his last singular interview with him there, was in
consequence of a visit which he was under the necessity of making to
the metropolis, and to which was entirely owing his very fortunate, but
accidental, meeting with him at the present moment. Before they parted,
Mr. Lupton charged him, on his return home, to give Mr. Veriquear
immediate warning to quit his service the following week, or as early as
possible, as he had another mode of life in view for him, which he hoped
would tend much more materially to his comfort and future happiness.

In the mean time, he requested him to wait upon him the following
evening at a certain hotel at the west end of the town which he named,
and where they might discuss all necessary matters in quiet and at
leisure.

When Colin informed his employer of his adventure, and the consequence
to which it had led in rendering it necessary that he should quit his
service,--"Very well," said Veriquear, "if you wish to leave me, that
is no business of mine. As you came, so you must go. I am sorry to part
with you; though I don't know what business it is of mine to grieve
about it. You have your objects in the world, and I have mine; so I
suppose we must each go his own way about them. Only if you consider
yourself right in leaving so suddenly, I shall make it my duty not to
pay you this week's wages." Colin protested that as circumstances
had altered with him, he considered that a matter of very little
consequence, and would willingly forego any demand which otherwise
he might make upon him. Mr. Veriquear felt secretly gratified at the
sacrifice his man thus frankly volunteered to make; and, by way of
requital, told him not only that he might consider himself at liberty
to depart on any day of the ensuing week that he pleased, but also
added, "And if at any time it should so happen that I can be of any
service to you, apply to me; but mind you, it must not be about other
people's business. If it is any business of mine, I 'll meddle; but your
business, you know, is your own. Other people's is theirs; and mine _is_
mine, and nobody else's."

Most probably Colin would that evening have called at Mrs. Popple's and
communicated the agreeable intelligence, of which his head and heart
were alike full, to poor Miss Wintlebury, had he not been arrested, just
as he was on the point of setting out, by a small packet addressed to
himself, which some unknown hand had left at the door, and within which,
on opening, he found a trifling article or two of remembrance, and the
following note:--

"My dear friend,

"It is with great satisfaction I sit down to write these few lines,
informing you of the good news, that yesterday my father arrived from
the country, bringing the intelligence that a comfortable small fortune
had been left him by my uncle very unexpectedly, and that he has this
day taken my brother and myself back again to our native place to
pass the rest of our lives, and in hopes that thereby my own may be
prolonged. But my poor dear father will be deceived! He knows not what
anguish I have gone through, and he never shall know. Nevertheless,
the country will be to me like a new heaven for the short time I am
permitted to enjoy it; though the horrors of my past life will never
cease to darken the scene.

"I can scarcely express the delight I feel in being enabled, through
this reverse in our condition, to enclose a sum which, I trust, will
leave me your debtor only in that gratitude which no payment can wipe
away.

"The other trifles perhaps you may keep, if not too poor for acceptance;
but as I know that our continued acquaintance could end only in deeper
misery to us both, I deem it the only wise and proper course to withhold
from you all knowledge of our future place of abode; and if you will
in one thing more oblige me, never attempt to seek it out. I am bound
speedily for another world, and must form no more ties with this.

"Heaven bless you and yours! And that you may be lastingly happy, as you
deserve, will be the prayer, to the end of her days, of

"Harriet."

A ten-pound note, a ring, and a brooch were enclosed.


Colin immediately repaired, on reading this, to his late lodgings, in
hopes of seeing the writer before her departure; but he was too late.
The contents of the letter were verified; and he could not obtain from
the landlady the most remote information as to what part of the country
she had retired.



CHAPTER XXV

_Colin's interview with Squire Lupton, and what it led to--A bait to
catch the Doctor._

On reaching the hotel, according to appointment, Colin found Mr. Lupton
seated in a private room up-stairs, with a table neatly spread for two
beside him, but as yet containing nothing beyond the requisite materials
for handling that dinner, which was brought up at the Squire's summons
very shortly after his arrival. During their repast the young man could
not avoid being continually reminded with what kind familiarity he
was treated by his wealthy entertainer,--a degree of familiarity which
seemed the more unaccountable to him, perhaps, simply because all his
previous ideas of the manners of the higher classes of society had been
derived almost solely from casual observation of that high bearing and
seeming austerity of feeling, which sometimes exists in their common
intercourse with the rustic inhabitants of a country district.

To be sure, he had once rendered the Squire an essential service, by
saving him from severe personal injury, if not possibly from a premature
death; but that service he thought might be equally well rewarded
without all this personal association with, and condescension to, one
who possessed no qualifications save those which nature had given him,
for admission into a kind of society of which, up to this time, he could
not possibly know anything. But Mr. Lupton seemed to take pains even to
render him easy in his new situation,--to make him at home, as it were,
and cause him to feel himself as essentially upon a level in all things
with himself.

Though Colin could not account exactly for all this, it had its due
effect upon him. By the time their meal was over, and at the Squire's
most pressing solicitations he had imbibed various glasses of sherry
during the repast, he found himself as much at liberty, both in limb and
tongue, as though he had been seated in Miss Sowersoffs kitchen, with no
higher company than herself and Palethorpe.

As Mr. Lupton evinced considerable anxiety to know what had brought
him to London, and Colin himself on his part felt no less desirous to
explain every circumstance connected not only with himself, but also
those bearing upon the infamous conduct of Doctor Rowel, touching the
affair of Lawyer Skinwell and James Woodruff, two long after-dinner
hours scarcely sufficed for the detail of a narrative which, in all its
particulars, caused in the mind of Mr. Lupton the utmost astonishment.

The freedom with which Colin expressed his own sentiments respecting the
death of the lawyer, and the hand which he firmly believed Doctor Rowel
had had in that event, somewhat raised the Squire's doubts of the young
man's prudence, though at the same time it went far to convince him
of the propriety, if not the absolute necessity, of placing the Doctor
himself in some place of security, until a more full and searching
investigation could be gone into. That he was open to a serious charge
was evident; and, supported as that charge was by the corresponding
conduct he had pursued with respect to James Woodruff, the Squire could
come to no other conclusion than that it was his clear duty, both as
a man and a magistrate, to have the Doctor apprehended as soon as
possible.

While Colin related in quiet and unassuming language his own scarcely
less than heroic attempt to set Woodruff at liberty, together with the
disasters which had pursued him afterwards in consequence thereof, Mr.
Lu ton's countenance grew now grave, now expressive of admiration, and
anon slightly and apparently involuntarily convulsed with emotions which
he would not express, though he could not conceal. His lips quivered,
and his eyes were occasionally forcibly closed, as though to force back
the generous tears which were welling up from his bosom. In truth, the
_father's_ heart was touched. _He_ felt where another man would not, and
admired as the height of nobleness and magnanimity what other men might
barely have commended merely as a good action, which anybody else would
have done if placed in similar circumstances.

All this time, too, he kept supping his wine and cracking his walnuts,
picking his almonds, and demolishing his dried fruit with a degree of
unconscious industry, that could not but have proved highly interesting
and edifying to any observing spectator.

When Colin had concluded, the Squire looked earnestly in his face during
a few moments; he cast them to the ground again, and said nothing; he
filled his glass, and Colin's too, but with an effort, for his hand
slightly trembled as he did it; again he looked at him, and again his
eyes were earthwards.

"My dear boy!" said he, but the words faltered on his lips,--"my dear
boy! I am proud of you; but your presence makes me ashamed. I bitterly
regret it--deeply and bitterly--and yet I ought not, when it has given
me such a noble mind as this!"

He paused a moment, and then, as though with some sudden determination
to shake off certain unwelcome and misplaced reflections,
observed--"But, come,--drink your wine. I was not thinking much what I
was talking about. Let us to business. I told you some time ago I should
do something for you. What I have heard to-night has not lessened that
determination. In the first place, have you left that vagabond place you
were living in?"

Colin replied, that he had informed Peter Veriquear of his intention to
leave, and was at liberty to take his departure at any hour.

"Then leave to-morrow," observed Mr. Lupton. "I will find you fitting
apartments elsewhere. Do you like reading?"

"Much more," replied the young man, "than my opportunities have enabled
me to gratify."

"I am glad to hear it. You shall have books, and fit yourself for better
things than you seemed to be born to. But never mind that,--never mind
that. And money? I suppose the bottle-merchant has not filled your
pockets to the neck."

Colin observed in answer, that he had ten pounds in his pocket, though
not through the hands of Peter Veriquear. At the same time he related to
the Squire in what manner he had come by it, and how Miss Wintlebury's
conduct on this occasion had convinced him she was a most worthy and
estimable young woman.

"Have nothing to do with a girl like that," said Mr. Lupton. "I
have seen similar things before now, and known many a man pay d--d
expensively for a poor and frail commodity. No, my boy; take my advice,
and think nothing more about her. She may be all very well, perhaps; but
many others are better. I like charity; but the world renders it needful
for people to hold their heads on their own level. As I shall make
something of you, you must look higher. There is more in store for you
than you can anticipate. I have no other than--Well, never mind. But
the law knows me, my boy, as the last of my family; for, unluckily,
my marriage has been like no marriage. Did you ever see Mrs. Lupton at
Kiddal?"

"Never, that I am aware of," answered Colin.

The Squire fell into a fit of musing, during which he beat his foot upon
the ground abstractedly, as though all things present were momentarily
forgotten.

"Well!" he again exclaimed, as if starting afresh to life, "there is
that Doctor. We must catch him somehow. He is a scoundrel after all, I
am afraid; though it seems a pity to hang the poor devil, too. I should
like to lay hold of him without any trouble, and I 'll tell you how
we will do it. I will write down to him in the course of a day or two,
inviting him here on especial business. He will suspect nothing, and
come up of course. You shall have an opportunity of meeting him face to
face. We will hear what he has to say for himself, in contradiction
of your statement; and if I find him guilty, means shall be provided
beforehand, and kept in readiness to seize him."

This excellent proposition, then, for entrapping the wily Doctor having
been finally decided upon, with the understanding that Colin should
early be apprised of his arrival in town, in order to have an
opportunity of reiterating his statement to that gentleman's face, he
received a hearty shake of the hand from Mr. Lupton, and took his leave.

In accordance with the Squire's wishes, Colin took his leave the very
next day of the Veri-quear family, and repaired to a comfortable suite
of apartments in the neighbourhood of Bedford Square, which Mr. Lupton
had engaged for him. Neither did that gentleman forget to despatch him
to a tailor's, for the purpose of being, like an old vessel, thoroughly
new-rigged.

Some few days afterwards, a note from the Squire informed him that Rowel
had taken the bait, and would be at his hotel at seven in the evening.

Elated with the hope not only of now securing Woodruff's liberation, but
also of getting the Doctor punished as he deserved, Colin set out at an
early hour on his expedition, and arrived at the appointed place some
twenty minutes before the time fixed for Rowel's appearance.



CHAPTER XXVI.

_The Doctor caught, and caged.--Woodruffs removal, and where to._

Not long did they wait. Scarcely had the clock struck seven before the
professional gentleman of whom they were in expectation was introduced
into the room.

He addressed himself very familiarly to the Squire, but scarcely cast
a look upon Colin, whom, "disguised as a gentleman," he did not seem to
recollect, until such time as Mr. Lup-ton formally introduced him to the
Doctor by name. Then, indeed, he started, and looked perplexed in what
manner to regard the young man, whether as friend or foe.

"Happy to see you, Mr. Clink," said he. "I have been anxious to meet
with you now for some time past. If I am not mistaken, you are the same
gentleman who did me the honour to climb the wall of my premises by
night, a while ago?"

"The very same, sir," replied Colin.

"Ah!--indeed! Well, that's plain, at all events. You hear that, Mr.
Lupton?"

The Squire assumed an air of astonishment at the scene before him,
in order to encourage the Doctor in what appeared likely to prove
a somewhat ludicrous mistake. It was evident he fancied he had
unexpectedly got Colin "on the hip," and was drawing from him a
confession of his guilt before the very face of a witness and a
magistrate; while the well-played expression of Mr. Lupton's countenance
tended powerfully to confirm the notion.

"But, sir," said the Doctor, very blandly addressing the last-named
gentleman, "you have business with me, which I will not interrupt. Only,
as I have a serious charge to make against this young gentleman, and
have most unexpectedly met with him here--"

"I beg by all means you will proceed," objected the Squire; "and be
assured, if you have any charge to make against him, I shall most gladly
hear it; for I have taken him into my confidence, in consequence of
certain good qualities which seemed to be displayed in him. And if I am
deceived--"

"Sir," said the Doctor, gravely, "I deeply fear you are. You know who he
is, of course?"

"Why, sir, who is he?" demanded Mr. Lupton, with feigned amazement.

"Who is he, sir! I 'll tell you, sir, who he is. That young man,
sir,--he, sir,--he is neither more nor less, sir, than the son of a
little huckster woman in your own village, sir. I know it for a fact;
for I attended his mother myself."

"And what then, Doctor?"

"Besides that, Mr. Lupton, he is an incipient housebreaker. I charge him
with having made a burglarious attempt on my premises at Nabbfield,
for which he was obliged to fly the country; and you, sir, with all due
deference, as a magistrate, will see the propriety of putting his person
in a position of security."

"Then you feel convinced his intention was to rob you?" asked the
Squire.

"Nay, sir," replied the Doctor, "the thing speaks for itself. A young
man forms a plan to enter my premises: comes at ten o'clock at
night,--a burglarious hour, according to law; climbs my outer wall by a
rope-ladder--"

"It seems more like a love affair," interrupted the Squire.

"So I thought myself," answered Rowel, "at first; because I found some
fragments of a letter, which had previously been thrown over the wall;
but I could make nothing material of them."

"Have you those fragments by you?"

"I have a copy of them, which I kept in case of need," said the Doctor.

"Perhaps you will read it, Mr. Rowel, for my satisfaction," observed
Mr. Lupton.

"Certainly," replied he; and drawing from his pocket-book a paper
containing some scattered portions of the letter which Colin Clink had
addressed to James Woodruff, and the torn fragments of which Rowel had
detected after James had buried them in the earth, he handed it in the
following shape to the Squire:--

   "The young woman--is necessary--in your yard until ten o'clock at
   night.--If you should--try -- ----until you do succeed------stand----
   thickest------in the corner. Colin Clink--will do his best to get--
   Fanny will be able----any night--at ten o'clock."

No sooner had Mr. Lupton perused this precious fragment than he
pronounced the whole to have been unequivocally a love affair. There
could be no doubt about the matter remaining in the mind of any
commentator of ordinary sagacity who weighed well the general drift of
the text in hand.

Rowel objected to this interpretation, and persisted in expressing his
opinion that, the young man harboured no good motives; although, in
fact, he felt secretly as assured of the real object of the attempt as
was Colin himself.

"But perhaps," said he, addressing Colin, "perhaps you will so far
oblige Mr. Lupton as to explain what really were your motives on that
occasion?"

"He need not be at that trouble," observed Mr. Lupton, "or at least not
until I have asked you, Doctor, a few questions which, I dare say, you
can readily answer if you please."

"Oh, yes; certainly, sir. Ask anything you think proper. I shall have
great pleasure indeed in affording you every information in my power.
And allow me to add, my good sir, how deeply I feel the honour you have
done me in demanding my attendance, while you are surrounded by so much
of the first talent, knowledge, and experience that the profession can
boast of. I trust the case is not a very serious one. Allow me, sir."

And the Doctor drew up his chair near that of Mr. Luptons, and
solicitously extended his fingers in order to feel his pulse. The
last-named gentleman pretended not to observe this invitation, as he
remarked, in reply to the Doctor's concluding words.

"I am afraid, Mr. Rowel, the case _is_ a very serious one indeed."

"Indeed! Let us hope for the best. It is of no use to be down-hearted.
Now, sir, explain the symptoms, if you please."

"The first symptom, then," replied the Squire, "is this:--that youth
with whom you have been talking appears to have well founded reasons for
believing, that for many years you have kept imprisoned in your house,
as a lunatic, a man of perfectly sound mind, who never ought to have
been there."

The Doctor's countenance underwent a sudden change, as this remark came
so unexpectedly upon him.

"Sir!" he exclaimed, "you are not serious?"

"I certainly am not joking," replied Mr. Lupton.

"Then am I to believe it possible," rejoined the Doctor, "that you, sir,
can have _descended_, I may say, so far as to listen to the idle tales
and ridiculous nonsense which such a boy as this may have picked up
amongst the gossips and old women of a village, about matters of which
they cannot possibly know anything? It surely, sir, cannot be needful
for me to disabuse your mind of prejudices of this kind,--to inform you
how the suspicions and conjectures of the ignorant and vulgar are apt to
attach to any professional man, associated so peculiarly as I am with a
very unfortunate class of patients."

"I anticipate all you would say," observed the Squire, "and sufficiently
appreciate the force of your remarks. At the same time I should be glad
to know whether you have or have not a patient named Woodruff confined
on your premises?"

"Emphatically, then, sir," replied the Doctor, "I HAVE NOT."

"And never had?"

"That I will not say."

"You have removed him?"

"There is no such individual in my care."

"Is he at liberty?"

"I think, Mr. Lupton," replied the Doctor, very smoothly, "you will
allow that, without offence, I may decline, after what has been said, to
give any farther explanation of a purely professional affair, for which
I do not hold myself responsible, save as a matter of courtesy, to any
man or any power in existence."

"Sir," replied the Squire, more seriously, "where any reason exists for
even the slightest suspicion,--I do not say that wrong _has_ been
done, but that it _may_ possibly exist,--I beg to state, that the
responsibility you disclaim cannot be set aside, and, if need be,
must absolutely make itself be felt; and that some suspicion I _do_
entertain, it is needless to scruple at avowing."

"Did I not feel assured," answered Rowel, "from the many years during
which I have enjoyed the honour of Mr. Lupton's acquaintance, that he
can scarcely intend to offer me a deliberate insult, the course I ought
to adopt--"

"Whatever course you may think proper to adopt," interrupted the Squire,
"will not alter mine. A very remarkable disclosure has been made to me
respecting a patient in your keeping, as well as regarding the death of
the late lawyer of Bramleigh."

Those words startled and excited the Doctor in an extreme degree. They
seemed to strike him as might a sudden sickness that turns the brain
giddy; and starting from his chair, with his eyes fixed fiercely on
Colin, he advanced towards him, exclaiming, "What other falsehoods, you
villain, have you dared to utter concerning me or mine? If there be law,
sir, in the land for such infamous slander, such base defamation as
this, I 'll punish you for it, you rogue, though it cost me my very
life! Have you dared to say that _I_ had anything to do with Skinwell's
death, sir?"

"I have said to Mr. Lupton, what I will say again," replied Colin,
"because I believe it to be true, and that is, that you helped to kill
him."

"It's a lie!--a lie!--a d--d lie! you slanderous vagabond!"

The Doctor would inevitably have committed a personal assault upon Colin
of a very violent nature, had he not in the very midst of his rage been
still restrained from so doing by certain prudential reasons, arising
from the evident strength and capability of the young man to turn
again, and, in every human probability, convert the chastiser into the
chastised. He therefore contented himself with fuming and fretting about
the room as might some irritated cur, yet haunted with the spectre of a
tin-pot appended to his tail. In the midst of this, the "very whirlwind
of his passion," he snatched up his hat, as though unexpectedly seized
with an idea of the propriety of taking his leave; but Mr. Lupton had
kept an eye upon him.

"Not yet, sir, if you please," observed the Squire, interposing
himself between the Doctor and the door. "I must perform an exceedingly
unpleasant office; but nevertheless, Mr. Rowel, it has become my duty to
tell you that, for the present, you are my prisoner."

"I deny it, sir!" exclaimed the Doctor. "I am no man's prisoner!"

"That we will soon ascertain," replied Mr. Lupton, as he rapped loudly
on the table, while the Doctor used his best endeavours to force his way
out.

Before he could resort to any violence in order to effect this object,
the door was thrown back, and two servants of the law entered. A
warrant, which Mr. Lupton had taken care to have prepared beforehand,
was produced by one of them, and in the course of a very comfortable
space of time the Doctor was placed in a coach, and driven on his way
to certain particularly appropriate lodgings, which the country has
provided for ladies and gentlemen who chance to have been so unlucky as
to be inveigled into the commission of offences of a criminal nature.

The removal of James Woodruff from the Doctor's establishment at
Nabbfield has been before briefly alluded to; while the declaration made
by that worthy to Mr. Lupton that he had no such person confined on his
premises, has borne evidence to the fact.

It was quite true. For, after the attempt which Colin had so
unsuccessfully made to effect Mr. Woodruff's escape, Doctor Rowel became
convinced--as the secret was out--that his troublesome charge would
no longer be safe within the precincts of the asylum at Nabbfield. He
therefore seized the earliest opportunity that the needful arrangements
would permit, to convey him secretly by night from thence to the
residence of the Doctor's own brother,--an old-fashioned brick mansion
of very ample dimensions, which stood upon the borders of a heathy
waste, which formerly constituted one of the finest portions of the old
forest of Sherwood, in the northern part of Nottinghamshire.

It was even still studded with the dying remains of ancient oaks,
which had sheltered many a bold archer in times gone by, but which now
sufficed only to give additional dreariness to the solitary landscape,
that stretched in picturesque undulations, but open as the ocean north
and eastwards for many miles.

The removal, however, of James Woodruff from his previous confinement to
this place had not been effected without Fanny's knowledge; and, for
the possession of this fact, it is believed, she was indebted to the
friendly agency of Mrs. Rowel. Not knowing in her present dilemma what
other step to take, Fanny was no sooner made acquainted with the removal
which Rowel contemplated, than she forthwith communicated it to her
master, the young man who had succeeded to the business of the deceased
Mr. Skinwell, one Sylvester by name; and a man who, though but a
crest-fallen looking affair outside, had yet, when occasion needed, a
pretty considerable amount of spirit at command within. No sooner was
he informed of the particulars of the affair than he volunteered his
immediate assistance. He and Fanny were fully prepared on the intended
night of Woodruff's removal, quietly to follow the vehicle that
contained him until it should arrive at its ultimate destination; after
having ascertained which, they would be prepared to take the most prompt
steps within their power to insure his restoration to his liberty,
property, and friends. In accordance with this arrangement they had
acted, and at a convenient distance had followed in a gig, and, as they
thought, unobserved. On Sylvester's subsequently making application
at the house already described, and to which he had seen the carriage
containing Woodruff driven, he found Doctor Rowel there, who expressed
great surprise at seeing him, and on being informed of the nature of
his mission, at once frankly declared that Mr. Sylvester was totally
mistaken. In proof whereof, and to establish his own innocence the
more completely, he conducted him up-stairs into a chamber where lay
a gentleman sick in bed, and who the Doctor averred, was the identical
person he had brought in his carriage the night before, and whom he had
thus removed to his brother's for the benefit of the purer air of the
forest. Beyond this Sylvester saw nothing to warrant Fanny's suspicions;
while the girl herself declared on seeing him that that man certainly
was not the father of whom they were in search. In fact, so admirably
had the Doctor managed matters, that Fanny began to think herself that
she was labouring under some very strange mistake; more especially when,
on the question being put to him, the sick man himself concurred in
the statement made by the Doctor, and solemnly averred that he had, as
previously stated, been brought from Nabbfield the preceding night. And
so far he spoke the literal truth; for, in fact, the sick man was
no other than Robson, the Doctor's assistant, fitted with a very
consumptive and deranged-looking night-cap, a bedgown slipped over his
shirt, and a big bottle of hot water at his heels to make him look
like an invalid; while James Woodruff himself, very shortly after
his arrival, had been again removed--in consequence of the Doctor's
suspicions that he was followed--to another and a more secret place in
the very heart of the waste, where, it was confidently trusted, he might
be safely kept the remainder of his days, beyond the possibility of
human discovery.

In consequence of the success of the Doctor's stratagem, Fanny and Mr.
Sylvester returned disappointed and out of spirit to their home.

Such, in substance, was the brief story related by Fanny to Colin on
the occasion of her visit to town; and which he had a few days before
communicated to Mr. Lupton.

Whether the arrest of Doctor Rowel, when it became known amongst his
friends, and to the brother, of whom we have above spoken, might not
have precipitated some tragical conclusion or other of Woodruff's
life,--is doubtful, perhaps highly probable; had not a singular and very
mysterious communication concerning him been made to Colin, and from a
quarter equally mysterious, some month or so after the occurrences above
described.



CHAPTER XXVII.

_London Bridge, and an unexpected scene upon it._

It was about four o'clock--sometime before daylight--one morning, nearly
a month after the events last described, that Mr. Lupton and Colin might
have been seen wending their way along the chilly and silent streets, in
the direction of London Bridge. Saving the deliberate footfalls of
the night-watch, the far-heard rattle of some early carriage over the
resounding pavement, or perhaps now and then the smothered asthmatical
cough of some poor old creature or other turned out thus early, in cloak
and covered chair, to sit with charcoal fire and coffee in the streets,
there were no audible signs that any soul existed there besides
themselves. London was asleep. This Goliah of earthly cities had lain
itself down wearied, and for a time lost itself in forgetfulness of all
the world. Its labours suspended, its pleasures wearied into pains,
and laid all aside, its virtue dreaming innocently, its vice steeped
painfully in the burning phlegethon of disturbed stupor, like a
half-dreamed hell; its happy, hopeful of the morrow; its miserable,
dreading the approach of another sun. While itself, the carcass of the
great city, lay stretched athwart the banks of the broad river, as,
overpowered with the mighty labours which it had achieved within the
last four and twenty hours, and unconsciously receiving strength from
repose for that additional exertion, whose repetitions day by day, year
by year, and age after age, no man can count to the end.

"Five o'clock exactly," said Colin, "is, I think, the time appointed,
and on the city side of the bridge."

As he said this he drew from his pocket the communication to which
allusion was made at the conclusion of the last chapter, and again
perused it.

The reader must here be informed that the letter now in Colin's hands
had been addressed to him in the first instance at Mr. Veriquear's, and
thence had been forwarded to his present residence. It came from some
anonymous correspondent, evidently residing not far from the place to
which James Woodruff had been carried; but as its contents will perhaps
better explain themselves than would any description of mine, I will
give it:--

"Sir,--I am given to understand that you feel some interest in the fate
of a Mr. James Woodruff. That man is now in my power, either to liberate
or to detain for life, according as you may answer this favourably or
unfavourably. You HAVE AN OBJECT TO CARRY OUT, SO have I. If you are
prepared to serve me, I will put this Woodruff into your hands in
return: if not, neither you nor his daughter may ever see him more. Meet
me _alone_ at the north end of London Bridge, at five o'clock on the
morning of the --th, and I will explain particulars. At that time it will
be as secret there as in a desert, and you will feel more secure. You
will know me to be the writer of this when you see a man make a cross
with his finger in the air."

This strange communication Colin had laid before Mr. Lupton; and the
only probable conjecture they could form respecting it was, that it
had been written by Doctor Rowel's brother, who,--having heard of the
imprisonment of that gentleman,--had resorted to this expedient in the
hope of compromising the matter by, as it were, exchanging prisoners,
and perhaps stipulating for all farther proceedings against the Doctor
being stayed. To be sure, there were objections to this interpretation,
but, nevertheless, it seemed altogether the only plausible one they
could hit upon.

However, as Mr. Lupton suspected that very possibly some treachery might
be concealed under this uncommon garb, and that it was a plot on the
part of the Doctor's friends to be revenged on Colin,--he himself
determined to accompany him; but on their arrival near the place
appointed to fall back, in order to avoid suspicion, though still
keeping sufficiently near to distinguish a preconcerted signal which
Colin was to give in case of need.

The bridge was now at hand. Over the parapet to the left, and
considerably below them, long rows of lights, illuminating the walls and
doorways of life-deserted warehouses, filled with merchandise from all
parts of the world, pointed out the site of that thronged and noisy
gully Thames Street. Before them, farther on, lost in mist, and yet
lingering smoke, which gave to sky, buildings, and water, one common
neutral colour, rose beyond the water one solitary tower, looming darker
than all around it, but relieved still farther back by a flush of
dull, mysterious light, which, though it showed nothing distinctly, yet
emphatically marked the existence, to an undefined extent, of many
an unseen mass of building like that by which they were immediately
surrounded. And now they are on the bridge alone. It is not yet five.
The sight is magnificent. Behold these two sides of a mighty city
separated by a scarcely-seen gulf, on which streams of light, reflected
from night-lamps afar off, ripple as though so many of the pillars of
fire that lighted the Israelites of old were on the waves. Up the great
stream, or down it,--the uprear-ing of men's hands,--house, church, and
palace appear alike illimitable. All those mean and minor details, which
confound the eye and distract the attention during daylight, are now
swallowed up and resolved into one broad whole. The dense and unmeasured
mass of building which meets the sight every way, seems resolved into
a solid. Line on line and height on height extending away till lost
utterly in the far obscurity of the void horizon. Without any great
strain of the imagination this scene might be mistaken for a splendid
dream of Tyre or Palmyra, or of Babylon on the Euphrates, great cities
of old, whose giant memories loom in the mind as images that cannot be
fully compassed from their very vastness. While under our feet flows the
ghastly river, the dull, deceptive stream that has borne on its bosom
the wealth of kingdoms; that has found in its bed a thousand last
resting-places for human misery, when the link that bound unhappiness
and life together became too galling to be any more endured; and that in
its stormy wrath has swallowed happiness suddenly, when jollity forgot
in its temporary delirium that boats are frail, and that but a slender
plank, which a wave might founder, stood between itself and a deep
grave.

As Colin cast a scrutinizing eye around, in the hope of meeting with his
appointed and unknown correspondent, the city clocks far and near, some
together, and some after each other, chimed five. Almost with the last
stroke of the bell footsteps were heard rising upon the city side of the
bridge. A bricklayer s labourer, with a short pipe in his mouth, passed
by; and then a woman,--if woman she could be called,--torn, dirty, and
deplorable to look upon, staggering forwards under the influence of the
last night's excesses: but neither made a sign. Behind them followed
an old man, roughly clad in the costume of the poorer classes of the
residents of our country villages, saving that a long coat supplied the
place of smock-frock, while his nether extremities were finished off
with quarter boots, tightly laced up to the ankles with leathern thongs.

An unaccountable feeling, which displayed itself in his flushed
features, shot through Colin's veins as the first momentary sight of
this man came across him. Had he seen him before? It almost seemed so;
but when? where? on what occasion?

The old man hesitated a moment or two as he gazed on Colin, and then
cast a searching glance around, in order to ascertain whether he was
alone. The figure of Mr. Lupton was dimly visible at some distance.
Colin leaned idly against the wall with his eyes fixed intently on the
old man, who now again approached him. In another moment the sign was
made--the cross in the air--and our hero advanced and accosted him.

"I believe, sir, you wish to speak to me: you sent a letter addressed to
me a short time ago."

"Nay--nay, now!" replied the old man, "what occasion have you to tell
_me_ that? If I wrote you a letter I know it without your explanation;
and your appearance here is a sufficient assurance to me that you have
duly received it. Do you know who I am?"

"I do not," said Colin, "though it seems to me as though I had seen you
before somewhere or other."

"Humph! well--well!" exclaimed the old man, "then you are now talking to
old Jerry Clink, your own grandfather."

"Your name Clink!" ejaculated the young man, astonished, "and my
grandfather!"

"Now, why ask me again? Hav'n't I just now answer'd 'em. And if you
can't believe me the first time, I 'm sure you won't on a repetition."

"But is it possible? I never knew I had a grandfather."

"Ay, ay, I see how it is," replied Jerry; "I'm a poor man, and you are
apeing the gentleman. But I risked my life once to be revenged for
you, only some busy meddler came across and baulked me. I'll do it yet
though; and I want you to help me. The cause is yours as well as mine;
for the injury is of a mother to you, though of a daughter to me:
and the man who will not defend his mother's honour, or revenge her
disgrace, ought to be cast into the bottomless pit for everlasting!"

Colin stood astonished at this speech. He scarcely knew what he said,
but faltered out, "Who, sir, has dared to say anything to my mother's
dishonour, or to bring her into any disgrace?"

The old man tapped him with serious significance on the shoulder as he
replied, "Your father, my boy,--your father!"

"How!" exclaimed the young man in a tone of deep excitement: "who is he?
for I never knew who was my father."

"You!" replied Jerry bitterly, "ought never to have been born!"

"What can you mean, man, by all this?" demanded Colin.

"I tell you," answered the old man, "your father is a villain, and
you--you are--but never mind. Since you _are_ born, and _are_ alive,
show that you are worthy to live by properly resenting your mother's
everlasting injuries. _My_ vengeance has been untiring, but it has
not succeeded yet. Together we can do anything. True, the man must be
called, as he is, your father. What then? The punishment of such fathers
cannot come from better hands than their own sons. As they sow the wind,
let them reap the whirlwind."

"What is it?" demanded Colin, interrupting him, "that you would propose
to me?"

"See you," said the old man, drawing closer, "you are in love with a
girl, named Fanny Woodruff. Nay, nay, do not interrupt me, I know better
than you do. I tell you you love her, and can never marry any one else.
Her father is confined as a madman. He is now in my power. I am his
keeper. You want to liberate him, and rightly too. _He_ has told me all
about it, and I believe him. Now, let me see the spirit of a true man
in you; take up your mothers cause, and never forgive till you are
revenged, and he shall by me be set at liberty. Join hand and heart with
me against the villain called your father."

"Who is he?" again demanded Colin.

"Lupton of Kiddal," answered Jerry.

"Mr. Lupton my father!"

"The same. I shot at him once."

"You?"

"I, with this same right hand."

"And I," added Colin, "prevented it, and saved you from the gallows."

The old man stood mute--confounded. His whole countenance changed with
deadly fury, and in the next moment he rushed upon Colin with apparently
the desperate intention of forcing him over the balustrades of the
bridge.

A moment sufficed for his signal call, which brought Mr. Lupton
instantly to the spot. The mutual recognition between Jerry and himself
was but the process of a moment; and, while the latter strove all in his
power to secure the former without violence, Jerry as desperately
and madly aimed to bury in his bosom a long knife, which it was now
discovered he held opened in his hand. The combined exertions of Mr.
Lupton and Colin were, however, too much for him, and would eventually
have achieved his capture, had not Jerry, with a degree of reckless
desperation and agility, which struck both his assailants with momentary
horror and astonishment, leaped the wall of the bridge on finding
himself at the point of being taken, and casting his knife and coat from
him, in an instant plunged headlong from about the centre of one of the
arches into the Thames.

It was a wild leap, an insane flight into the arms of death. There was
no splash in the water, but a dull, leaden sound came up, as when a
heavy weight is plunged into a deep gulf. It was as if the water made no
aperture, and threw up no spray; but gulfed him sullenly, as though such
prey was not worth rejoicing over.

Father and son seemed petrified into mere statues; not more from what
they had seen than--in the case of the latter, at least--he had heard
from the lips of the suicide. For that a suicide he was who could doubt?
Who might take that giddy leap, and live?

During a brief space they dared not even cast their eyes down the
fearful height; the deed had paralysed them. But, as Colin's eyes were
fixed intensely on the waves, a something living seemed to struggle
through and across a ripple of light. Could it indeed be the old man? He
dared not hope, and could say nothing.

Boats were subsequently got out, the river was traversed, and both
banks were searched, in hopes of finding him; but all the efforts of the
boatmen proved ineffectual.

The cause of Mr. Lupton's kindness was a secret to Colin no longer.
But in how different a relative position did he seem to stand to that
gentleman now to what he had done formerly; so recently, even, as one
brief hour ago! Within that space what painful truths had passionately
been cleared up to him; what difficulties and embarrassments thrown on
almost every hand around his future conduct towards nearly every person
with whom he was connected, and in whose fate his heart was most deeply
interested! But the case of his old grandfather, so resolutely bent
on spilling the blood of his own father, out of a stern principle of
mistaken justice, seemed to him the worst. He foresaw that, unless it
_had_ so happened that Jerry was drowned,--an event which he scarcely
knew whether to feel satisfied under, or to regret,--all his address
would be required in the time to come to settle the hostility between
that man and his father, without the bitter and ignominious consequence
resulting, which would doom him to behold his mother's parent expiate
upon a public scaffold his double crime of having twice deliberately
attempted the assassination of Mr. Lupton. So deeply was he overwhelmed
with the fearful transactions of the morning, that he begged the Squire
to allow him a day or two's quiet and reflection before he undertook
the duty of explaining to him what had passed between the old man and
himself. But it was on one condition only that Mr. Lupton consented to
acquiesce in this request. That condition was--to be then and there
told who his assailant could possibly be. Colin hesitated awhile, but at
length burst into tears as he uttered the words--"My mother's father!"
The Squire turned pale as ashes when those words reached his ear, while
a very sensible tremor shook his whole frame. He grasped Colin's hand,
but said nothing. Those words called up something in each mind, which
now made both dumb. They shook hands repeatedly, and parted.

END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.





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