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Title: Colin Clink, Volume III (of III)
Author: Hooton, Charles
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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

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COLIN CLINK.

By Charles Hooton, Esq.

In Three Volumes. Vol. III.

London:

Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street.

1841.



[Illustration: 008]


[Illustration: 009]



CHAPTER I.

_Reappearance of an unexpected customer; together with what passed at a
certain interview._

Day had pretty well broken as Colin trudged back homewards alone. It was
one of those dull, leaden, misty, and chilly mornings, which in a town
newly stirring from sleep seems to put the stamp and seal of melancholy
upon everything external. The buildings at hand looked black,--those
at a distance fused into mere shadows by the density of the windless
atmosphere,--while the unextinguished lamps grew red-eyed and dim in the
white light that had risen over them. Early labourers were trudging to
their work; an occasional milkmaid, who looked precisely as though
she had never seen a cow in the whole course of her life, banged her
pail-handles, and whooped at area-gates; while bakers, who had been up
nearly all night manufacturing hot rolls for that interesting portion of
the community now snug in bed, slipped down the shutters of their
houses leisurely, and stared lack-a-daisically upon the portents of the
weather.

Altogether, it was a description of scenery by no means calculated to
inspire heavy hearts with unusual joy, or to raise the spirits of any
one situated as was poor Colin.

Scarcely knowing what else to do, he turned off at the top of Cheapside,
and walked into a well-known coffeehouse in the immediate vicinity
of the Post-office, where he ordered breakfast. Two or three tables
occupied the room, at which a few early risers were sitting quaffing
coffee from cups which, from their size and shape, might readily have
been mistaken for so many half-pint pots of ale. Well-fingered books
were scattered about the place, and monthly magazines of all sorts,
fitted into temporary covers, lay in piles upon the broad chimney-piece.
Shortly afterwards the morning papers were brought in by a lad with
a large bundle of them under his arm--a circumstance productive of a
momentary scramble on the part of those who were anxious to possess
themselves of the earliest intelligence of the day, before departing to
their occupations. Colin's breakfast was introduced by a little active
boy, as brisk as a sand-eel, who waited in the place; and scarcely had
Colin begun stirring the mysterious-looking fluid before him with an old
dingy pewter spoon, bent one way out at the bottom and the other way at
top, by way, perhaps, of producing a counteracting influence, than
he involuntarily started as though he had received the shock of an
overcharged battery. The spoon dropped from his hand, and his hand
dropped upon his coffee-cup, and upset it. He had heard the voice of
Jerry Clink in another part of the room!

It appeared to Colin, if not absolutely impossible, at least the height
of improbability, that the veritable Jerry Clink himself could be there
in his own proper person. There, however, he assuredly was; a fact which
his grandson's eyes soon confirmed, when he peeped round a projecting
corner of the room, and beheld the man with whom he had recently had so
fierce a struggle sitting in his wet clothes, and minus his coat, within
a very short distance of him.

For reasons sufficiently obvious, and to prevent any farther public
demonstration of Jerry's temper, Colin suffered him to take his meal
in quiet, and afterwards his departure, without making his own presence
known to him. Anxious, however, not wholly to lose sight of him again,
as the liberation of Mr. Woodruff appeared very singularly to depend
upon him, though in a manner yet unaccounted for, Colin quietly followed
and dodged him along the streets, until he observed him enter an old
clothes shop in the Goswell-road, from which, after a convenient lapse
of time, he again emerged with a coat on,--new to the present possessor,
though old in the opinion of the gentleman whose shoulders it had
previously adorned.

In this manner he followed unperceived in the old man's wake, but did
not venture to accost him until, after a very considerable walk, he
pulled up for refreshment at a small deserted-looking public house at
the rear of Islington, which appeared to offer the privacy requisite for
their second meeting, and the conversation that might thereon ensue.

As Jerry had no particular desire, under present circumstances, to
mingle with all such chance customers as might come in, he avoided the
common drinking-room, and walked into a parlour, the air of which smelt
like that of a well some time since fumigated with tobacco smoke, that
required more than ordinary time finally to make its escape. The floor
was spread with coarse sand, not unlike gravel in a state of childhood;
while the window looked out upon a back-yard nearly as large as an
ordinary closet, and in obscurity very strongly resembling a summer
twilight.

As the old man seemed inclined to stop a while, a fat untidy girl, with
her hair half out of her cap, and her countenance curiously smeared with
ashes and black-lead, came in to light a fire already "built" in the
grate.

"Glass of ale?" demanded the girl, as she blew out her candle, and
nipped the snuff with her fingers.

Jerry fixed his eyes upon her with a degree of sternness amounting
almost to ferocity.

"What master or mistress taught you, young woman," said he, "to ask a
gentleman coming into your house to take a glass of ale, before it is
ascertained that he drinks such a thing as malt liquor of any kind?
Learn your business better, miss, and go and bring me some hot water,
and half a quartern of rum in it."

Scarcely had the girl departed before Colin entered the room. Jerry
looked at him during a space of some moments, and then turned to the
fire, or rather fire-place, without uttering a word.

"It is almost more than might have been expected," observed Colin,
taking a chair, and speaking in an assumed tone of careless surprise,
"that I should have the good fortune to meet with you so early again
this morning. But I am thankful indeed to find you alive and unharmed,
after expecting nothing less than that you must have met your death in a
dozen different dangers."

"_You_ thankful!" exclaimed Jerry. "Nay, nay, now!--What! hypocritical,
like all the rest of the world? You care nothing for me, so don't
pretend it,--no, nor for your mother either. Though a poor old man, sir,
I am proud to be honest; and from this day forwards shall disown _you_,
and would, though you were made the greatest man in England. You are too
great a coward, sir.'"

"To be induced to lift my hand against the life of a man who has
befriended me, and is my own father, too, most certainly I am," replied
Colin.

"What--bribery! bribery?" exclaimed Jerry; "purchased with fine clothes,
I see! Well, well, you are your father's son, not mine. I say, you are
too much of the worm."

"To injure my father, I am."

"Or to revenge your mother's wrongs."

"No, sir; I deny it. But I will not do it as you wish."

"And any other way it is impossible."

"I hope not," replied Colin. "An injury may be great; but there is such
a thing as restitution. Mr. Lupton is very kind to _me_."

"To you? But what is that to your mother, or to me, her father? Ay,
ay, I see, young man, it is all self, self! _Mr. Lupton is very kind to
me_--true--_to me_, and that is enough."

"No, it is not enough," answered our hero. "A great deal more must be
done, and may be done, if, to begin with, I can but make you and Mr.
Lupton friends."

"_Friends!_" exclaimed Jerry--"friends! Utter that word again, sir--"

"I do; I repeat it," he continued; "and I am not such a coward as to
fear that you will attempt to harm me, because I say that, both for
my mother's sake and your own, for Mr. Lupton's and mine, you must be
friends. Remember, if you have something to forgive him, he has a great
deal to forgive you also."

"He something to forgive _me!_ What is it? I suppose for having spared
him so long. But if I spare him much longer, may I never be forgiven
where I shall better want it!"

"It is but an hour or two ago," replied Colin, "that I prevailed on
him not to raise the hue and cry after you until things could be better
explained, although you have twice attempted his life."

"Is that it? Is that his forgiveness? Then I hurl it back in his face,
and in yours, and tell him I want none of it! If he wants to take me let
him, and I will sit here till he comes. Fetch him, and let him try;
and then, if the third time does not do for all, I shall well deserve a
gallows for being such a bungler at my business."

"He has no desire to injure you at all," said Colin.

"How very kind of him!" retorted Jerry, "seeing how good he has been to
my only daughter, and how badly I have rewarded him for it!"

"But you must know how much the law puts in his power."

"I care neither for the law nor his power. My law is my own, and that I
shall abide by."

Not to prolong this dialogue, of which sufficient has been given to show
the character of the speakers, I shall merely observe, that Jerry Clink
concluded it by emphatically declaring, that never to the end of his
life should he, on any consideration whatever, give up this the great
object for which he lived, unless he was so far fortunate as to achieve
it at an earlier period; and this asseveration he ratified by all
such infernal powers as could conveniently be summed up into one long
oathlike sentence,--a sentence which it is not necessary here to repeat.

Finding all his efforts to overcome, or even to mollify, the desperate
determination of vengeance, which Jerry still so violently entertained,
altogether vain, Colin could not at the moment form in his own mind any
other conclusion than that which pointed out the propriety of securing
Jerry, in order to insure Mr. Lupton's personal safety. This, however,
from the inevitable consequences which must follow, was a step on the
brink of which he hesitated, and from which he turned with horror. Was
there no way by which to avoid the dreadful necessity of involving his
own mother's parent in the pains of a fearful criminal law?--to her
lasting shame and grief, and his own as lasting sorrow and regret. How
devoutly in his heart did he wish that he could be a peace-maker, an
allayer of bad passions, a reconciler of those whose own evils had
brought them into this depth of trouble! Then, indeed, all might be
well; or at least so far well, as any ending may be which comes of so
sad a beginning; for he felt that, after the painful disclosures which
had that morning been made to him, the brightest light of his future
life was dimmed, and the most he could hope for was to go through
existence under those subdued feelings of enjoyment which ever result
from the consciousness of evils past, and for ever irremediable.

Still he clung to the hope that the old man's violence might
be mitigated, as he became more familiar with the thoughts of
reconciliation, of atonement being made to his daughter, and as the
kindness of Mr. Lupton to himself should be rendered more evident.

The agitation and excitement of his mind, consequent on these and
similar reflections, caused him for the time almost to forget the object
he had in view with respect to the imprisoned James Woodruff. Before,
however, their present interview terminated, Colin again alluded to the
subject, and requested at least to be informed by what singular chance
of fortune it could have happened that the unfortunate gentleman alluded
to could possibly have been confided to the keeping of Jerry Clink.

"Why, as to that," replied Jerry, "I 've no particular objection to tell
you, and then you 'll believe me; but mind, I shall go no farther.
Don't inquire whether he is likely to be dead or alive next week,--where
he is, or anything else about him. I clap that injunction on you
beforehand. As to the other part of the business, it happened this way.
If you 've any memory, you'll remember that night I jumped out o' the
window at Kiddal Hall, when, but for _your_ meddling, I should have
brought down my game without twice loading. Well, I got into the woods
safe enough; but, knowing the place would be a deal too hot to hold me
for a while, I next day went clandestinely off into a different part of
the country, in order to make safe. I partly changed my dress and name,
and at last pitched my tent under a rock in a solitary part of Sherwood
Forest, where I never saw a man, and no man saw me for weeks together.
However, as I gathered ling for making besoms, and carried them about
the surrounding country, I got to be pretty well known; and, amongst the
rest, I fell in with a Mr. Rowel, who lived on the edge of the waste,
and who behaved very well to me. Well, one day he came down to my
rock-hole, and told me he wanted me to take a madman under my keeping,
who had been brought to his house by his brother, and whom they wanted,
for very particular reasons, to get out of the way. 'Well, well,' said I
to him, 'bring him down: I care for neither a madman nor the devil, and
can manage either when occasion calls. They accordingly brought him,
tied hand and foot and blindfolded, pitched him into my place, and there
I have had him ever since, and been well paid for my trouble, or else
I should not have been here. However, when the man himself told me his
story, I found he was not more mad, perhaps, than those that sent him;
and so, as your mother had told me all about your part of the affair
besides,--for _she_ knew where I was gone to,--I thought it a fair
chance for making you do as a son ought to do, and revenging her
dishonour, when, perhaps, it did not lie so conveniently in my power.
But I am deceived in you altogether; and sooner than I 'll ask anybody
else again to do my business, may I be sunk to the lowest pit of
perdition! No, may I--"

"Say no more," observed Colin, interrupting him, "but just answer me
this--"

"Mind," said Jerry, "I clapped an injunction on you."

"Very well," remarked Colin; "I 'll ask no questions."

But he reflected within himself that the place of Jerry's abode would
now be no difficult thing to discover, and that, with a convenient force
and quiet management, it might readily be surprised, and Woodruff's
liberation be effected.

One thing more only did he now wish to be made acquainted with, for
on that depended the course he should at the present moment adopt with
respect to old Jerry himself. He wished to ascertain whether it was
the old man's intention to remain and lurk about the town, seeking
opportunities for gratifying his revenge, or to return at once to the
place whence he had come.

"I shall not stay here," replied Jerry, "for I can trust none of you;
but some time, when least it is expected, Mr. Lupton will find me by his
side."

Trusting to put Mr. Lupton effectually on his guard against immediate
danger, and hoping by his future proceedings ultimately to avert
that danger altogether, without any appeal to legal protection or to
violence, Colin concluded not to molest the old man at present.

Thus, then, he parted with Jerry, forming in his own mind, as he
returned townwards, a very ingenious scheme for countermining all the
plans of which Rowel and his brother had made Jerry Clink the instrument
and depositary.



CHAPTER II.

_In which Mr. Lupton explains to Colin the story of himself and his
lady._

When next Colin Clink met his father the Squire, it was under the
influence of such feelings of embarrassment as scarcely left him at
liberty to speak; while Mr. Lupton, on his part, received him with that
quiet melancholy, though unembarrassed air, which marked emphatically
a man upon whom the force of unhappy and unusual circumstances has
produced a subdued, though lasting, sense of dejection.

"For some time past," said he, taking Colin's hand, and conducting him
to a chair,--"for some time past, my boy, I have felt that one day
or other it must come to this. Ever since the time when Providence so
singularly threw it in your power to save me from a violent end,--and
from _such a_ hand too!--I have been a changed man. By that event Heaven
seemed to lay, as it were, a palpable finger upon my soul, the dint of
which is everlasting. That from such retributive justice, if justice it
could be called, I should have been so saved by one whose very existence
itself had called that justice into action, appears to me like a
marvellous lesson, in which Providence intended at once to admonish me
of my criminality, and at the same time to remind me of its mercy."

Mr. Lupton here covered his eyes with his hand. In a few minutes he thus
continued,--"From that moment I foresaw that, sooner or later, you must
know all. _Now_ you do know all; and that knowledge has come to you
in such a shape, as to render any farther allusion to it needless. The
subject is at best a painful one to us both, but most especially so
to me; although I once held such things lightly, and as matter for
pleasantry and joke. I now acknowledge you as my son; and I confess that
a proud, though painful, time it is, now I can do so face to face. Save
in yours and my own, the blood of an ancient and honourable family runs
in no human veins. You are grown to manhood, and the circumstances
which Providence has brought about enable me to address you thus without
impropriety. But you must be told, my boy, that I was the last, the
very last of all my race. My father knew it; he lamented over it; but
he cherished and guarded me because of it, as though the world contained
for him no other treasure. _I_ knew it too; I grew up, as I may say,
side by side with that fatal knowledge. With our ideas of long descents,
and ancient honourable lines, it is the bitterest thought in a man's
breast to think that here the stream must stop; that in this one body it
is lost, and the sun shall shine upon its name no longer. Anxiety for
my life and welfare helped to bring my father to the grave earlier than
otherwise nature would have called him, and he died while yet I was
very young. But before he died he bound me, on attaining my twenty-first
year, to marry one of the members of an opulent and numerous family,
which had long enjoyed his esteem. I did so, and the lady he had
selected became my wife. There were circumstances between Mrs. Lupton
and myself which need not be explained, but which, while they made her
deem herself most unhappy in her fate, left me not a whit less so in
opinion of mine. It is sufficient that I say, years passed on, and I was
still the last. Beyond this I need not go. In you, my boy, in you--but
no, that need not to be said, either. Only this I will and must say,
that, under circumstances which the world superficially may deem highly
criminal, there may be hidden causes, and feelings, and springs of
action, which no heart knows but his that contains them, and which,
through the force of perhaps erroneous notions and education from our
youth, have become individually equally strong with right principles,
and may therefore possibly be in some sort received in palliation."

Colin was very materially concerned during, and affected at the
conclusion of, the above speech; although the author himself of this
faithful history cannot refrain from expressing his opinion, that its
tenor and tendency seem somewhat inconsistent with Mr. Lupton's apparent
neglect of Colin during the early part of his life, and savours more
of a plausible attempt to excuse himself, than of a plain exposition of
real motives. Possibly, however, by suspending judgment a while, both
himself and the reader may on this point become a little wiser before
this history be brought to a termination.

For the present, we may continue this scene a few moments longer.

"With regard to Mrs. Lupton,'" continued the Squire, "as I intend
shortly to introduce you to her, it may be as well to inform you
beforehand, that the satisfaction your presence in my house will give
must not be judged from _her_ reception of you. What it may be I cannot
foresee. I cannot even judge what steps a woman in her situation may
think proper to take; but whatever they be, it is needful you should see
her, and be introduced to her as _the heir of Kiddal_, before she dies.
Had she acceded to my wishes years ago,--had we, as I desired, been
divorced before you were born, this present necessity and trouble would
never have come upon us; but that proceeding she resisted to the last.
And though there are circumstances pointed out by the laws which might
place the power of adopting such an alternative wholly in my own hands;
yet, rather than so deeply wound the feelings and destroy the future
peace of a woman who loved me, and whom I had loved, I have rather
chosen to endure, to pass years of unavailing regret, and come to this,
even this, at last. I have neglected her, it is true, partly in hopes of
thereby inducing her to give way, and partly because I had no heart to
be a hypocrite. I never could very well affect what I did not feel."

Mr. Lupton subsequently informed Colin, that although the lady of whom
he had been speaking had, during some years past, lived apart from
him, sometimes residing in town, and occasionally abroad, yet that very
recently she had expressed her desire and intention to return to the old
hall once more, and to pass the following winter there. On that occasion
it was purposed by him that Colin should meet her.

I should be doing a great injustice to Colin were I to disguise from the
reader the satisfaction which, notwithstanding all drawbacks, he could
not fail to feel from the, to him, magnificent prospects that Mr.
Lupton's discourse opened before him. To think that, from a poor and
helpless farmer's boy, he should thus suddenly and unexpectedly have
risen, as it were, to the rank of a squire's son, with the certainty of
a great fortune to be bestowed upon him, and such a fine old house as
Kiddal Hall in which to enjoy it, and to pass the remainder of his
days! What a triumph, too, did it not give him over all the paltry and
tyrannical souls who about his native place had made his life miserable,
and even done as much as lay in their power to hunt him out of
existence.

These feelings were far less the result of vindictiveness than of that
just sense of retribution which may be said to exist in every honest
breast.

These matters being thus disposed of, Colin seized his opportunity to
re-introduce the question regarding old Jerry Clink.

"With respect to him," replied Mr. Lupton, "though I am astonished to
find he is still alive, instead of hearing, as I had anticipated, that
his body had been picked up off Lime-house, I am too sensible of his
feelings, and the cause of them, to entertain against him any ideas of
retaliation. My own security is all I must provide for,--that I am bound
to do; and, so long as that can be insured, I shall take no farther
notice of the past. We have both been wrong already, and had better on
both sides avoid wronging each other any farther."

Colin expressed his hopes that, bad as matters now appeared to stand,
everything might yet be accommodated in a manner which would leave
all parties the happier for their forgiveness, and the wiser from the
troubles they had undergone.

"It is hopeless," answered Mr. Lupton. "The man whose sense of injury,
and determination to have revenge, can so vividly outlive the wear of so
many years, is not, I am afraid, of a sufficiently ductile metal to
be ever formed into a kinder shape. Unless some altogether unforeseen
circumstance should happily come between to reverse the present tendency
of events, it is to me a distinct and evident truth, that either that
old man or I will eventually prove the death of the other."

This opinion he uttered in such a serious and almost prophetical tone,
as left upon the mind of his hearer an impression which all his own most
sanguine hopes and predictions were insufficient to eradicate.



CHAPTER III.

_Wherein Peter Veriquear makes love to Miss Sowersoft, and becomes
involved in trouble.--Mr. Palethorpe's reconciliation with his
mistress._

In pursuance of a design which Colin had secretly formed, involving a
journey to Sherwood forest, and the surprise of Jerry Clink's retreat,
for the carrying off of James Woodruff, he one afternoon might have
been seen wending his way towards his old quarters in Bethnal Green.
The co-operation of some one, a perfect stranger to Jerry, and in whose
sense and integrity entire confidence could be placed, was imperatively
required in its successful execution; and, in lack of a better man for
the business, Colin selected his old employer, Mr. Peter Veriquear,
provided that gentleman's known indifference towards other people's
business could by any possibility be overcome.

On arriving at his domicile, Colin found that Peter was from home,
having taken advantage of a fine day to convey his small family in the
cradle-coach to a favourite suburban retreat, for the enjoyment of tea
and toping, not far from the tower at Canonbury.

In this, and innumerable similar places about the environs of the
metropolis, it is that, on fine warm summer afternoons and evenings,
especially on Sundays, the shop-tired and _counter-sunk_ inhabitants of
the respectable working classes assemble, ostensibly for the purpose of
imbibing what by common courtesy is dignified with the title of fresh
air, though in reality with equally as settled an intention of mixing
the said fresh air with bottled stout, three X ales, and a pipe or two
of bird's-eye. Here you may see the young lover anxiously endeavouring
to "insinivate" himself into the good graces of his sweetheart, by
evincing the most striking solicitude that she should soak up repeated
bird-sips of his cold "blue-ruin." You may observe them--true lovers
of twilight--getting into the veriest back corner of arbour or bower,
telling in security the almost silent tale, that no ear may hear but
theirs. Here, also, is seen the young husband, with his wife following
behind him, a "pledge" of affection toddling by his side, and perhaps
a "duplicate" hugged preciously up in his arms; while the empty-headed
spark, who lives in seeing and being seen, the gross and sensual
guzzler of heavy wet, and the old quiet smoker, whom nothing can move or
elevate, make up this motley assembly. Pots and glasses appear on every
side, and busy waiters running in all directions across the grass, with
tray, or lantern, or glowing piece of live touchwood, to light the pipes
of the company.

As our hero entered the tavern and teagardens in question, he passed
beneath a low and long colonnade of a somewhat humble description, the
top of which was formed by the projection of the second story of the
building. Several miniature conveyances for the small aristocracy of
the baby generation stood about, and amongst them that identical one
on which Colin had himself once exercised his abilities, as previously
described.

To the left hand lay a wide lawn, on which some score or two of
youngsters were disporting themselves in the twilight, while the
"parents and guardians," as the newspapers say, of these small gentry
were lolling at their ease in certain cots, or arbours, made waterproof
with pitch, which bounded the sides of the green.

In one of these Colin soon found the individual of whom he was in
search. Having communicated to Peter some general idea that his
assistance was required in a very important enterprise.

"True," replied Veriquear, "it may be of great consequence to you; but
that, you know, is your own affair. It is no business of mine."

"But you will be well rewarded by Mr. Woodruff afterwards, I doubt not,"
replied Colin.

"Do you think so? Oh, then, in that case, it begins to look more like my
own affair than I thought it was. Yes, yes; good pay, you know, always
makes a thing a man's business directly."

And hereupon the matter was discussed at leisure, and in a manner which
clearly proved that, upon sufficient reason given, Peter could take
quite as much interest in other people's business as ever he had taken
in his own.

While Colin thus sat in discourse with his old employer, his attention
had several times been partially attracted by a voice in the next
adjoining arbour, but which now elevated itself to a distinctly audible
pitch in the expression of the following sentiment:--

"Upon my word, those little dears are delightful to look on! The
satisfaction of having children to bring up--ay, dear!--the pleasure
and delight, Mr. Palethorpe, of leading them as it were by the nose,
symbolically speaking:--oh! the delight of it must be--must be--I hardly
know what to call it--but something which, in an unmarried state, the
imagination can scarcely attempt to soar up to. And then their
tiny voices--some ill-tempered people may call it squealing if they
please--but to a father's ears, I should think, it must be welcome night
and day,--that is, if he has the common feelings of a father about him.
It is really astonishing how happy some people might be, if they did but
take something of a determination at some time or other of their
lives to adopt some course with respect to somebody or other, which
might--what shall I say?--might--might--however, I mean, which might
lead to something final and decisive."

"Sartinly, meesis," replied the individual thus addressed, "I don't
dispoot all that; only, when a man has a good appetite hisself, and can
eat most of what's put before him, it seems natteral enough that his
children would go and do the same; and that would take a little more
mainteaning than some of us can exactly afford. I can't see myself how
_we_ could go all that length, with a proper eye to our own old age."

"Ah!" replied the lady, "there it is! I really think there is not a
grain of filial feeling left in any farmer in Yorkshire."

"I'm sure, meesis," rejoined Palethorpe, "you 'll not accuse me of
wanting in filly-al feeling, when you know there isn't a single filly
nor colt neither on the whole farm as I haven't showed the--"

"I don't mean that!" exclaimed the lady; "you don't understand me. But I
can only say it for myself, that it would be no great trouble to me,
not a bit of it, to sink the whole of myself in the endeavour to raise
a prodigy of children, that should prove a complete honour to any
farm-yard in the riding. The pretty dears! how I should spoil them out
of kindness!--yes, that I should--I know I should. Ugh! I could squeeze
their little hearts to pieces, I could!"

This rhapsody left Colin no longer in the dark. Mr. Palethorpe was again
in London, accompanied by the loving and amiable Miss Sowersoft.

A capital idea at this moment struck Colin's mind. Mr. Peter Veriquear
was already well acquainted with the story of Palethorpe's previous
visit to town, and had applauded Colin for the part he had then taken in
punishing that poor booby as he deserved. He therefore now only required
to be informed that both Palethorpe and his mistress were in the next
box, in order, as Colin hoped, to be induced to join him in an innocent
trick upon the worthy couple. His proposition was simply this,--that
Peter should quietly walk into their arbour, sit down next to Miss
Sower-soft, call for drink, as though he had just arrived, and then
proceed, according to the best of his ability, in making love to that
lady, no less to her own eventual disappointment, than to the annoyance
and mortification of the redoubtable Samuel. Veriquear laughed at the
notion, but objected that to make love to a lady in that manner could
not possibly be any business of his, seeing, in the first place, that
he had no desire; in the second, that he was married; and in the third,
that possibly he might after all come off the worst for it.

"Besides," he added, "what will Mrs. Veriquear say if she should happen
to catch me, for I expect her up to tea here very soon; and if she
_should_ come before the joke is completed, I am afraid she would turn
it into a regular Whitechapel tragedy."

"Oh, never heed that!" replied Colin. "I 'll be bound to see you safe,
and all right. Go in directly, and do it before the chance be lost.
Here, waiter!" and he whispered to him to carry a bottle of stout into
the next box for his friend, without delay.

In a few minutes more Peter Veriquear was sitting beside Miss Sowersoft,
while Colin peeped through a nick in the boards which divided the two
boxes, and with high glee observed all that passed.

"A fine evening this, ma'am," said Peter.

"Delightful evening, indeed, sir!" echoed Miss Sowersoft.

"Yees, it 's pleasant," added Palethorpe, who remembered his former
exploits, and began to fear a thief; at the same time that he thought it
the most advisable course at present to speak civilly to him.

"Admirable places these," continued Peter, "for the enjoyment of the
working-people, who are confined in shops and warehouses from week's end
to week's end."

"They are, indeed," said Miss Sowersoft.

"I should think so," added Palethorpe.

"And, really," continued the lady, "I had not the most remote conception
that such places existed. It is positively like a private gentleman's
private grounds."

"Uncommon like," repeated Palethorpe. "Then you are strangers here,
ma'am?" asked Peter.

"Quite so, sir!" answered the lady. "We have only been up a few days."

"I ar'n't a stranger, though," protested Palethorpe; "I've bin afore,
and know what's what as well as most folks. He'd be a sharper chap than
somebody that I see to drop on us." Miss Sowersoft here gave Palethorpe
a nudge with her foot, and squeezed her brows and mouth up at him into
a very severe expression of reprehension. At the same time Colin poked
a sharp toothpick between the boards against which his back leaned, and
inserted it about the tenth of an inch deep into Pale-thorpe. The varlet
jumped, as, thinking he had hitched upon a nail; and, having looked
under him without finding anything, sat down again a little farther off.
In the mean time Peter looked very graciously at the lady, who seemed by
no means displeased with his attentions, and continued a conversation,
in which he prognosticated how many marvellous sights she would see
in London, and how much she would be delighted before her return:
concluding with an obscure hint that it would give him much pleasure,
should he at any time chance to meet with her again, to point out the
objects best worthy a stranger's attention. Miss Sowersoft smirked
benignantly, and glanced at Palethorpe with an expression which seemed
to say that "somebody might now see that everybody did not think so
little of somebody else, as some people were apt to imagine," while
Palethorpe himself grew paler, and verily began to think that his
"meesis" was going to be taken, without farther ceremony, altogether out
of his hands. He fidgeted about on his seat, as though bent on polishing
his breeches, like a tabletop; while another poke of the toothpick,
twice as deep as before, made him fairly cry out, and curse the joiner
who had put up, the benches without knocking his nails down.

Encouraged by his success, Peter so far increased his attentions as at
length fairly to arouse: the jealousy of Mr. Palethorpe, who resented
the insult thus put upon him by declaring that as that lady was keeping
company with himself, nobody else should speak to her so long as he was
by, or else his name was not Palethorpe. To which valiant speech Miss
Sowersoft herself replied by informing, her farming-man that he was
one of those kind of people who seemed as if they could neither make up
their own minds to come to a decisive point themselves, nor endure to
see anybody else do the same. A sentiment which Mr. Veriquear rendered
still more strikingly illustrative by declaring that the gentleman who
sat opposite him was like one of those ill-tempered curs, that turn up
their own noses at a bone, but grumble and snarl at every other dog that
attempts to touch it.

[Illustration: 051]

Finding even his own "meesis" against him, Palethorpe's mettle began to
rise, and he demanded to know whether Mr. Veriquear meant to call him a
cur? To which Veriquear replied, that he would look still more like
one if he went upon all-fours. Hereupon Mr. Palethorpe challenged his
antagonist to a boxing-match upon the green, swearing that he would lick
him as clean as ever any man was licked in this world, or be d----d
for his trouble. Peter ridiculed this threat, and begged the courageous
gentleman who made it to recollect that he was not now in Yorkshire;
informing him still further that if he did not take particular care,
he would lay himself under the unpleasant necessity of making another
appearance at the police-office, as he had done upon a former occasion.
Mr. Palethorpe turned pale on hearing this; while Miss Sowersoft seemed
literally astounded, as she demanded in a shrill and faint, but
earnest voice, whether he (Mr. Veriquear) _knew_ Mr. Palethorpe and his
calamity.

"Everybody in London knows him," replied Veriquear; "and I can assure
you, ma'am, that it is no credit to any respectable female to be seen
with a man who has rendered himself so disgracefully notorious."

Afraid that she had committed herself in the eyes of all the people of
the metropolis, Miss Sowersoft looked upon the unlucky Palethorpe at
the moment almost with horror; at the same time unconsciously and
instinctively she clung for support to the strange hand of that poor
man's supposed rival. At this interesting and peculiarly striking part
of the scene, Mrs. Peter Veriquear (directed by Master William, whom she
had picked up on the lawn) bounced suddenly into the box.

Colin, whose business it was to have prevented this surprise by keeping
a good look-out for the arrival of the last-named lady, had been so
deeply engaged in spying through a little round hole, which he had made
by pushing a knot out of one of the boards, and had found himself
so mightily entertained with the scene before him, that the sudden
apparition-like appearance of Mrs. Veriquear almost confounded him; and
especially when, in the next moment, he beheld that lady, who instantly
detected her husband's situation, dart like a fury at Miss Sowersoft,
whom she concluded had seduced him, and pommel away with her fists as
might some belated baker, who has the largest amount of dough to
knead up within the least possible given space of time. Palethorpe and
Veriquear were instantly up in arms--the latter endeavouring to restrain
his wife, and the former, with a degree of chivalrous feeling entirely
peculiar to himself, striking her with brutal force upon the head and
face; while Master William Veriquear, seeing the imminent danger of his
worthy parents, struck up a solo in the highest possible key, upon the
natural pipes with which he was provided for such occasions.

No sooner did Colin perceive the dastardly conduct of Palethorpe, than
he forsook his situation at the peep-hole, and hurrying to the
spot, laid his old foe, the farming-man, flat upon the floor with a
well-directed blow of the fist. The latter looked up from his inglorious
situation; and if ever man felt convinced that he was haunted by an evil
genius, Mr. Palethorpe felt so on this occasion, and that _his_ evil
genius was embodied in the form of Colin Clink.

A regular mêlée now ensued, during which Mrs. Veriquear's cap was sent
flying into the air, like a boy's balloon. The back of the arbour was
driven out, and Mr. Veriquear, locked in the arms of Miss Sowersoft,
fell through the opening into that beautiful and refreshing piece
of water which has its local habitation opposite the west side of
Canon-bury Tower.

The sudden appearance of several policemen amongst the combatants put an
end to the sport. Colin and Palethorpe were seized, and attempted to be
hurried off; but as neither had any very particular reason for desiring
a situation in the watch-house, followed by an appearance before the
magistrates, they contrived so far to accommodate matters with the
guardians of the public peace as to be allowed to go at liberty, and
each his several way.

Colin's first step was to see to the safety of his friend, Veriquear. He
and Miss Sower-soft had already been fished out of the pond without
rod, line, or net, by the surrounding spectators, and now stood upon the
bank, like a triton and a mermaid just emerged from their palaces under
the flood. The latter-named of the two was conveyed into the tavern,
and put to bed, while the former was induced, at the representations of
Colin, to walk rapidly home with the enraged Mrs. Veriquear on his
arm. Colin himself undertaking the charge of the young Veriquears, and
drawing them down in the basket-coach at some short distance behind.

Peter Veriquear naturally enough employed the whole time occupied in
their journey home by explaining to his spouse the origin, decline,
and fall, of the history of this adventure. A statement which Colin
afterwards so far corroborated as to leave Mrs. Veriquear entirely
convinced, not only of her husband's innocence of any criminal
intention, but satisfied that a capital practical joke had been played
upon two individuals most richly deserving of it.

As to the unexpected appearance of the worthy couple in town within
so comparatively short a time of Mr. Palethorpe's former inglorious
expedition, it is to be accounted for upon the same principle as are
many other matters of equal importance: that is, according to a certain
principle of curiosity, which is supposed to exist pretty largely
in every human breast, but especially in the bosoms of the fair. And
although, strictly speaking, Miss Sowersoft could not be termed one of
the fair either in her complexion or her dealings, yet she so far came
under that category touching the article of curiosity, that I much doubt
whether Dame Nature ever was blessed with another daughter in whom this
virtue shone more conspicuously.

During the first day or two after her discovery of Palethorpe's frail
and erring nature, she betook herself, as far as the duties of the farm
would allow, to the silence and solitude of her own bed-chamber; where,
in all human probability, she wept over the depravity of human nature,
and scattered the flowers of a gloomy imagination about the corpse
of all her blighted hopes. Several times was she seen with a white
handkerchief applied to her eyes. For some weeks Mr. Palethorpe lived
as though he lived not. To her, at least, he was dead: she saw him not,
heard him not, knew him not. When he spoke his voice passed her by like
the wind: when he whistled she heeded it no more than the whistling of
a keyhole; when he laughed,--if ever he ventured to laugh,--she heard
no mirth in the sound: when he cried,--if ever he did cry, which I very
much doubt,--she participated not in his sorrows: and when, as very
often happened, he sat still, and did nothing at all, then--then only,
did he come up to her ideas of him, and appear (if such a thing can
be conceived by the ingenious reader) an embodied nonentity. Meantime
Palethorpe ate and drank at random, and unheeded. A feeling of
desperation seemed to govern all his herbivorous and carnivorous
propensities. While Miss Sowersoft pined, Palethorpe evidently grew
fatter; while she stalked like a ghost, he grew redder and more robust.
The contrast, at length, became unendurable; and from mere envy and
spite she at last began to speak to him again.

From a sullen and sulky exchange of words, this happy pair at length
proceeded to a certain reluctant but animated discourse, in which
explanation, reproaches, and deprecation, were abundantly resorted
to. She accused; he apologized and regretted, and then, at length, she
forgave; and Mr. Palethorpe once more had the satisfaction of finding
himself restored to tolerable favour.

I have said that Miss Sowersoft's curiosity was extreme. When Palethorpe
detailed to her all the wonders of his expedition, her propensity could
not be restrained. She, too, must see London. Besides, to tell the
truth, her reconcilement sat but awkwardly upon even her own shoulders
at first; and, like an ill-fitted saddle on a steed, only galled the
creature it was intended to relieve. She secretly thought a journey
abroad in Palethorpe's company could not fail mightily to facilitate her
plan of achieving his final conquest, for, in spite of all errors, she
felt that his name must some day become her own, or she should die.
Accordingly, the pleasure-tour to town was at last agreed upon, and
hence their appearance again at the time and place in question.

Returning to Colin, it may now be stated, that before he took his
departure from Mr. Veriquear's that evening, a plan was arranged between
himself and Peter for carrying his first and most important design into
immediate execution.



CHAPTER IV.

_Introduces certain new characters upon the stage, and amongst them
the real heroine of this history. Besides containing a love-story far
superior to the last._

But while the delightful loves of Miss Sower soft and Mr. Palethorpe yet
leave their tender impress on the mind, and predispose the susceptible
soul of my romantic reader for the reception of tales of gallantry and
devoted affection, let me take advantage of the favourable opportunity
thus afforded by the condition of his heart, to make mention of another
delicate matter which, up to this time, has been making some progress
in reality, although not the remotest allusion hitherto has been made to
it.

Notwithstanding the little real or supposed amours in which Colin has
previously been engaged, and the last of which so nearly, in his own
opinion, made shipwreck of his heart, it must have been evident that the
opportunity which promised the most proper and appropriate match for
him had not yet arrived. Towards Fanny, it is true, he had never in this
sense entertained any feelings of love, nor had he ever professed any.
On Fanny herself lay all the pain and bitterness of having secretly
nourished an affection for one who was insensible of it, and on whom, as
it now pretty clearly appeared, her heart had been set in vain. While,
with respect to Miss Wintlebury, not only had she herself declined his
company, and withdrawn from his knowledge, but the advice of his father,
Mr. Lupton, combined most strongly with other circumstances to persuade
him that even had it not been thus, he would but be paying due deference
to his protector in considering more seriously upon the subject before
he ventured to carry his communications with that young woman any
farther. The reflections moreover that arose in his mind touching the
very altered circumstances in which he was placed by Mr. Lupton, as well
as the prospects which now through that gentleman opened upon his future
life, could scarcely fail very materially to influence even him in
his decisions upon this important point. But Miss Wintlebury being
voluntarily withdrawn from him, and Fanny being made aware that he
loved her only as a friend, and reconciled he hoped, too, to that
knowledge,--what considerations of any importance remained to prevent
his forming some such other alliance as might at once prove suitable to
his expected future fortunes and rank as a country gentleman, as well
as agreeable to the wishes and advice of him by whom those fortunes and
rank were to be conferred, and whom, on other accounts, he was bound to
endeavour to please?

While in this state of mental uncertainty, Mr. Lupton had taken an
opportunity of introducing him to the acquaintance of one Mr. Henry
Calvert, a gentleman of comfortable, though not large, fortune, residing
in one of the northern suburbs of London, and in whose family he soon
found,--as his father had secretly desired,--a companion very much after
the heart of any young man of true sense and sensibility. This was in
the person of Jane Calvert, the youngest of two sisters, and a lady
within a year or two of his own age. Well-educated, sensible, and
good-tempered, she was one of those creatures who, as they grow up to
womanhood, and all its nameless witcheries, become unconsciously, as it
were, the life and light of the household;--to whom parents,
brothers, and sisters,--all instinctively and unknown, perhaps, to
themselves,--look up as the soul of the family;--whom all love--none
envy; whose presence, in a manner, makes glad, none know why; as the
spring delights us unthought on, or the flowers by our way-side inspire
pleasure and gratification even when least we know whence our elasticity
of spirit is derived. She was one of those happy beings--the heart,
as it were, of the domestic circle--that would be most missed if taken
away; that would leave the longest empty place in the bosoms of those
who had surrounded her; but who, in many things, was least felt while
present, save in the quiet and gentle sense of unobtrusive happiness
which her presence ever occasioned. Such was the character of the young
lady with whom it may now be said Colin was indeed in love. Below him
in height, she yet was sufficiently tall to give dignity to an elegant
figure; while a light and brilliant complexion, associated, as it
usually is, with hair and eyes of a hue which the pencil of nature
colours in admirable correspondence, but which in words can scarcely be
properly described, gave no fairer a representation exteriorly than the
jewel of a soul within most amply deserved.

On the other hand, Jane, who had seen Colin at her father's house but on
few occasions before, now, for the first time in her existence, became
conscious that, happy as she was, she might be yet happier in a sphere
of which hitherto she had thought nothing, and under circumstances
which, even when alone, she scarcely suffered herself to contemplate. Up
to this time she had never dreamed of love beyond the circle of her own
family: now she felt that loveable and good creatures exist beyond in
the wide world, whom to see is to remember, and to remember is to regret
their absence. She found that the heart is capable of other love than
that of parents, sisters, and brothers: and not capable only, but that
such may become too deeply necessary to its happiness, ever again--after
once making that discovery--to be truly happy without it.

Her father and family lived in that quiet and learned retirement which
neither sought nor invited, as they did not require, the excitement of
continual company, to enable them to get through life without weariness.
A tasteful and elegant, though simple, home afforded to them far higher
pleasures than all the genteel riot and conventional affectations of
happiness which occupy so much of the time and attention of the great
body of that class of society to which they belonged, and in which they
might have shone so gracefully conspicuous. But Mr. Calvert the father
was too much a man of mind to precipitate either himself or his family
into the whirl and eddy of what may be termed fashionable life. At the
risk of being thought dull and spiritless,--of having his daughters
neglected, and his sons regarded as "very unlike what one naturally
expects young men would be,"--he preferred to all other pleasures that
sound moral and mental education of his children,--that social, or
domestic, training of them up, and that quiet and pleasing attention
to the whole economy of his estate, and of all who were on it, which,
whatever its defects in the eyes of the world, never fails to produce
the greatest amount of real happiness to the possessors, as well as
to render them the most capable of becoming the sources of greatest
happiness to others. Hence, his daughters had never been presented
a dozen times, if not ostensibly, at least virtually, like bills for
acceptance, but to be refused. Neither had his two sons--for two he
had--any knowledge of those peculiar vices which, though they might have
added to their character as young men of spirit, could not by any means
have done them credit on any other account.

Besides their own mutual stores of ever fresh mental enjoyment, this
happy and well-judging little family found abundant recreation in a
large and admirable library, which Mr. Calvert had himself selected:
as well as amusement in an old-fashioned garden of extensive dimensions
which enclosed the house on three sides, and overshadowed the roof with
its tall elm trees,--planted there perhaps in the days of Addison; and
which threw a quiet secluded air over the whole scene. Mr. Calvert's
taste, indeed, was so far that of the time to which I have alluded,
that Miss Jenny had been so christened after some favourite in the
_Spectator_; while the eldest son Roger had, in like manner, received
his cognomen though his father's veneration at once for the genius of
Addison and his admiration of the character of Sir Roger de Coverley.
When Jane once jerked her pincushion into the pond, he reminded her of
some tale of a watch being similarly dealt by, as told in his favourite
book; and not unfrequently spoke of that particular age of British
literature as one in which he should have been most happy if it had been
his fortune to live.

With such a man, and in a family with such an attraction in it as the
one I have before described, it is not to be wondered at that Colin soon
found himself happier than ever he could have believed. His own good
looks and love of learning recommended him, while the natural powers of
his mind carried him through, where else, perhaps, his previous want
of habitual intercourse with similar society might have exposed him to
inevitable annoyances.

Happiness, however, and especially in love, seems to have been
considered in the economy of human nature,--like the sun-light in the
world,--as too bright to endure without intervals of darkness and of
shade. Not long had Colin and Jane Calvert been thus acquainted,--they
had just learned to speak confidingly, and to breathe to each other
those thoughts which before had only trembled on the lips and been
stifled in the utterance,--when Colin was astonished and surprised to
find in the behaviour of Mr. Calvert a marked and strong difference from
that which hitherto he had pursued towards him. It was not essentially
less kind than before, but seemed more marked by regret than by offence;
as though the bosom in which it originated felt like that of a friend
who secretly knows that he must part,--not that he would, or wished to
do so. Jane, too, seemed downcast; but her regret spoke in her eyes, not
words: in long painful suspenses of thought, as it seemed,--though in
reality in deep worlds of thought traced out in the brain until they
seemed to have no end. And then sometimes, when her father, or her
mother, or brother, or sister, chanced to catch a momentary glance
of her countenance,--they would find those pretty eyes wet, as if the
little well-spring within _would_ come to the top and overflow in
spite of her. Did they ask her what was the matter, she smiled without
feeling, and replied,--"Nothing!"

But instantly she would leave the room and go alone to her own chamber;
thus telling it was something, though a something not to be told. And
little do I know of human nature if, when there, those tears, denied
innocently by the tongue a moment before, did not fall rapidly as she
clasped her hands over a little bible which lay on a white cushion by
her bedside, and prayed voicelessly that she, and he she loved, might
yet be happy.

These things, it was observed by Colin, first occurred some short time
after Mr. Lup-ton and Mr. Calvert had had an interview of several hours'
duration in a private room; and during which, he now felt little doubt,
the question of the possible future union of the young people had been
seriously discussed.

Still it was not easy for him to imagine the cause of this strange
difference; nor could he for a while arrive at any explanation from
either party at all satisfactory on the subject. All that he knew was,
that nearly the whole family, with the exception principally of Mr.
Roger Calvert, even Jane herself,--and that was worst of all,--conducted
themselves towards him in a manner which left little doubt upon his mind
that some strong cause or other was in operation; which, in their eyes
at least, appeared to render the continuance of his acquaintance with
the young lady in question unadvisable, and a course to be decidedly
avoided. Still there was no harshness,--no decided neglect, no offensive
carriage, from any party. The feeling seemed to be that Jane should
decline his acquaintance as gradually and as kindly as possible,--but
that declined somehow it must be, and forgotten and given up for ever
must be the affection, the deep affection, I may properly say, he had
conceived for that excellent young creature. One day, however, as he was
rambling amongst the shrubberies with Roger Calvert, the most blunt and
open-hearted friend he had in the family, Colin mentioned the subject
to him, and ventured to ask plainly what was the real cause of this
coldness towards him.

"Perhaps," replied Roger, "I am not doing exactly right by telling you;
though, for my own part, I think you ought to know. But since you have
so plainly required me to name the reason, I will do so. Mark, however,
beforehand, that I do not agree with my father and mother in their
opinion about the matter,--I hold that whatever may be said in the Old
Testament, it is not Christian of us--it is not our duty--nor do I see
how we can justly do it,--to visit the sins of the fathers upon the
children."

Conviction flashed on Colin's mind like a burst of light. His cheeks
became pale and then red, while he would have burst into tears had not
his pride of heart forbidden him.

"I told you," continued Roger on observing his emotion, "that I did not
know whether it was right or not to tell you; but as you wanted to know,
and I am no keeper of secrets, it is no blame of mine. Frankly, I tell
you it is all owing to the story of your birth, which your father told
to mine some days ago together with all the rest of what he meant to
do for you, in order that there might be no misunderstanding afterwards
between the families. My father and mother, indeed the whole family,
like you uncommonly well; and as for myself, I think you a regularly
good-hearted fellow, and should have no objection any day to make the
second at your wedding with Jenny; but then their rigid and straitened
notions are not mine, although I have on several occasions told them
just as plainly as I am talking to you now, that they and I are by no
means alike in opinion. I can assure you it is nothing else; for though
in fact such a match would be quite equal to anything Jane could ever
expect, if not greater, as Mr. Lupton volunteered to make a will in
your favour, as well as to give you a handsome fortune down before the
marriage, yet with them, especially with my mother, it is a sort of
matter of conscience which they do not seem at present as if they could
overcome. It is the source of much grief to them, that I can tell you;
and especially as Jane seems to have taken such a liking to you: but
then, you see--however, I can only say this,--and I am her brother,
and would not see a hair of her head touched, nor a lash of her eye wet
unnecessarily,--no, not for the best man in England! but this I promise
you, that if _I_ were in your place and in love with any young person
that I cared anything particular about, I would make up my mind to have
her, and have her I would, let anybody, either man or woman, say or do
whatever they liked! That is my spirit,--though I should not have told
you so if I had not cared something about you."

In this strange speech Colin saw at once the bitter cause of all his
fear, combined most oddly with something which yet inspired him with
hope. Surely he could not altogether fail, with perseverance, and the
assistance (to begin with) of such a spirited auxiliary as Roger Calvert
had thus proved himself likely to be.

That same night,--as he was upon the eve of his departure for Sherwood
forest, on the doubtful expedition for the liberation of James Woodruff,
Colin desired and obtained an interview with the young lady. It was
after a very early meal--about eight o'clock in the evening--when they
walked out along that portion of the garden which lay immediately in
view of the front of Mr. Calvert's house. It was a soft mellow autumnal
night,--the air was still and warm; the leaves were scattered abundantly
on the paths by some rude by-gone blast, and now lay in drifted heaps
along the edges of the grass-plots and under every sheltered corner;
while an increasing moon, that gave just light enough to keep darkness
out of the sky and total blackness from the earth, seemed to sail, like
a forsaken wreck, amongst the white and billowy clouds that overspread
the sky. Jane leaned more fondly, he thought, upon his arm than ever
before; and during some minutes they paced to and fro, without either of
them venturing to speak to the other those words which at best must have
been as it were but the preface to trouble. This silence lay heavy on
each heart, and yet each feared to break it. The first word would sound
like a parting knell, and neither felt courage to utter it. Still they
walked up and down; until at length that meaning and eloquent silence,
which was at first painful, became insupportable. Suddenly Colin stopped
in his path, laid his hand earnestly upon the arm of his companion, and
bent his face earthward, as he said, "Young lady, there is no farther
occasion for disguise or secrecy on the part of yourself and your
family. I know it all, now. We must part!--that is fixed!--Part once
more, and for ever! For myself, as I know myself, and that whatever
evil may be supposed to attach to others, _I_, at least, have not
individually deserved this,--it is contrary to my nature to endure
unkindness undeserved. I am thought unworthy of you, and am treated as
though I were; but I will not in reality render myself so, by acting
a mean and cowardly part; by pressing my acquaintance where it is not
desired, and persisting in those attentions which even she, to whom they
are offered,--even _she_, thinks proper to reject."

"Oh, no, do not say so!" exclaimed his companion. "It is not so,
indeed,--it is not, indeed!"

"I speak," replied Colin, "only from what I have seen and experienced. I
_have_ loved you,--I _do_ love you! And, for the rest, you know that as
well as I."

"In truth, sir," answered Miss Calvert, "I know nothing whatever of the
cause of all this. A few days ago only, I thought we were _so_ happy!
And now----"

A flood of tears here told, in the most pitiful of all languages, the
difference between that time and the present.

"You know nothing of it?" demanded Colin.

"Nothing, I assure you," answered his companion.

"Then, why," asked he,--"why do worse than even others did, and shun me
without knowing why?"

"Because my father and mother, both," sobbed the lady, "told me that it
would be better we should not love each other, and that I must try to
forget you!"

"And you will do so?"

"I must try,--I must do so,--for it is my duty."

"But will you,--can you?"

"Oh, if you love me, do not ask me! I ought not to say it,--perhaps
I may. If it must be so, I hope I may; but I feel,--yes, my--my dear
Colin,--I feel that what they demand of me is impossible. I can never
banish you from my bosom,--never! No, not if they would give me the
world!"

If ever the reader of this history have been in love, he or she must
be perfectly well aware that a climax of feeling of the kind above
described is not arrived at without involving ulterior consequences,
which philosophers and grammarians have agreed to designate by the verb
to kiss. It must therefore be understood, that no sooner had the young
lady expressed the sentiments last recorded, than Colin, with becoming
alacrity, converted that verb into a substantive or noun,--i.e, into
"anything which exists, or of which we have any notion,"--by saluting
her upon the cheek in very becoming and gentlemanly style. This delicate
experiment had never been tried between them before; but, I am happy to
be able to record that it perfectly succeeded. Declarations of eternal
attachment were afterwards repeated on both sides, and vows of love
made, such as the Lady Diana, who was listening from behind a cloud over
their heads, hath seldom heard excelled; but which, as a man of honour,
I feel bound never to reveal to the public at large. Be it sufficient
for the reader to know, that Colin and Jane eventually tore themselves
asunder, with the final understanding that neither would ever love
another so long--(as some wonderful poet writes)--as the sun continued
to shine, the rivers to flow, or the seasons to revolve. This, to be
sure, was promising long enough beforehand, but then, being the usual
language of love, as found in the works of eminent authors, I--an humble
imitator--am in duty bound to make use of it.

The mental excitement produced by this interview, and the reflections
consequent upon it, had the effect of entirely preventing Colin from
taking his accustomed rest on retiring to his chamber. He, therefore,
endeavoured to wile away an hour or two in reading; and for that purpose
straightway established himself in an old-fashioned arm-chair by the
fire-place.

Having nearly sat out his exhausted lamp, Colin retired to an unenticing
couch, and passed the greater part of the night in the most anxious
reflections.



CHAPTER V.

_Relates one of the best adventures in which Colin Clink has yet
signalised himself._

The sun was already setting behind the rising grounds which marked the
westward extreme of Sherwood forest; long lines of variously-coloured
cloud, like far-off promontories jutting into seas of gold and silver,
marked the place of his decline, when Jerry Clink, silent and alone,
might have been seen sitting on a turfen bench by the doorway of a sort
of half hut, half cavern, which lay in a small dell in the heart of the
waste, far below those horizontal lines of light that now only tinged
the heath-covered tops of the higher hills, or brought out in ghostly
relief the scattered and tempest-worn oaks which stood like skeletons
far aloof around. By his side stood an earthen pitcher containing his
favourite compound, and out of his mouth ascended in peaceful spires the
smoke of the immortal herb; while beside him, piled against the wall,
lay a heap of bright purple ling or heath, which he had cut and gathered
during the day. The old man looked the very personification of solitary
enjoyment; a being whose only communion was with earth and sky; and to
whom cloud and mountain were as the face of friends. Solitude had no
pain for him; day no unsteady pleasures, nor night any fears. The crow
that flew high overhead would caw in the upper skies as it cast an eye
downwards, and saw him creeping below. The goatsucker would birr in his
face as it crossed his path in the gloom; and the cuckoo in his season
would give utterance to his notes from the trees closest upon his
habitation. He never molested them, but seemed, as it were, a part of
the wild nature around him. A tame jackdaw, that hopped and chattered
about his dwelling, was the only thing whose voice he heard there, save
only that of one human being, that sometimes cried in complaint or pain
from a deep part of the cavern behind the front room of his hut, and
that was the voice of James Woodruff.

As Jerry sat thus, sipping, smoking, or talking occasionally to his
saucy jackdaw, which had now perched itself on the point of one of
his toes, and was impudently saluting the leg that supported him with
repeated dabs of his heavy beak, the figure of a man, half seen amongst
the thick heath which covered the ground, appeared at a distance.
Sometimes he turned one way, sometimes another, as though winding out a
devious path amongst the broken irregularities of the ground; and anon
he would stand still, and look around, as though irresolute and doubtful
which course to pursue. Jerry watched a long time, but at length lost
sight of him, partly owing to the irregularities of the earth, and
partly to the near approach of night. As darkness fell upon the solitary
world about him, Jerry retired into his hut; and having lighted a small
oil lamp, which shed about as much light around as might have been
comprised within the circumference of a tolerably-sized round table,
and left all the rest of the place in deep spectral shadow, he sat down,
with a huge pair of owl-eyed spectacles on, to the perusal of the only
book on the premises. Well nigh had he read himself to sleep, when the,
to him, extraordinary phenomenon of a civil rap at the door was heard.

Were some learned gentleman meditating in his study, and at a time when
he believed himself perhaps to be the most alone, suddenly to receive a
blow beside the head from an unseen hand, he could not have started from
his seat with more instantaneous abruptness than did our old friend,
Jerry, on hearing that unusual summons. Throwing the door wide open, in
order to obtain a better view of whoever might be outside, he beheld the
spare figure of a man standing before him.

"Well! what do you want here?" gruffly demanded Jerry.

"I'm lost in the forest," replied the stranger, "though that, to be
sure, is my business, and not yours; but if you could either direct me
elsewhere not far off, or give me shelter till daylight----"

"No!" interrupted Jerry, "I shall have nobody here."

And thereupon he was about to shut the door in Mr. Peter Veriquear's
face--for he it was--had not that gentleman made it his business to clap
his foot against it, and thus prevent Jerry's intention being carried
into effect. The latter instantly flew into a towering passion at
this interruption, and with a fearful oath threatened to ran his knife
through him if he did not give way immediately. Peter replied that he
had no intention in the world to affront him, or to force himself into
the house of any man who did not think it his duty to admit him; but at
the same time he appealed to him as a Christian to give him shelter for
that one night. Jerry swore that no man nor woman either should ever
cross his threshold--especially at that time of night--unless they
strode across his corpse. Saying which, he kicked Mr. Veriquear's shins
as savagely as might a vicious horse, and set him dancing an original
hornpipe of his own extemporaneous composition, while old Clink slammed
to the door, and bolted and barred it immediately.

It seemed then that the stratagem which Colin had formed, and of which
Mr. Veriquear was deputed to carry out the first part, had failed.
This plan had been,--that Peter should introduce himself to Jerry as a
travelling merchant who had lost himself, and was in want of a night's
shelter. That he should contrive to learn as much as possible of the
place while in it; and then, during the night, while Jerry was fast
asleep, quietly open the door to Colin and Roger Calvert, who had joined
him in the enterprise, and who should have been waiting not far off,
in readiness to take advantage of the opportunity thus afforded them at
once to secure old Jerry from doing any mischief, and then to effect
the liberation of James Woodruff without disturbance or unnecessary
violence. But as Jerry's brutality and caution had rendered this design
ineffective even at its commencement, Peter had no other course to
pursue but to wait about in the neighbourhood of the cottage--of the
situation of which the parties had pretty well assured themselves
previously--until such time as his confederates should come up, and
other modes of operation could be devised.

Accordingly he selected as comfortable a spot as the nature of the
ground would admit, within sight of the hut, where he crouched down
amongst the brushy heath, and waited, as he conceived it his business
to do, until at length he heard the bell of some distant village
church-clock strike twelve. In the stillness of the night it seemed
as though that long drawn out sound might have been heard across an
infinite space of country; but it was the more welcome to Peter's ears
for being the signal which had been agreed upon for the appearance of
his associates, Colin and Roger Calvert. In a short time he discerned
indistinctly two figures cautiously approaching over the broken ground,
and apparently on the look-out for their preconcerted signal from the
cottage-door. Peter rose, and advanced to meet them. It was with some
difficulty at first sight of him that he prevented their retreating,
as thinking all was not right, and they were discovered; but, having
contrived to make himself known, they instantly approached, and heard
from him with disappointment the story of his ineffectual attempt to get
admitted to a nights lodging within Jerry's cottage.

Under these circumstances, how to get into the cottage without
disturbing the savage inmate was now the question. They had come thus
far on a ticklish enterprise, and to remain in the neighbourhood long
might excite so much suspicion as would eventually render all their
efforts nugatory. It was not, therefore, advisable to delay, even as a
matter of common policy; while the daring spirit incident to young men
of the age of Colin and his friend induced them to make an attempt,
which, under present disadvantages, the more sober mind of Peter
Veriquear considered rash in the extreme.

The hut which Jerry inhabited being built up at, and partly within, the
mouth of a rock-hole, its roof reached scarcely so high as the ground
behind it, while a chimney of ample width, built principally of wood
and clay, rose some twelve inches above it at one end. Having taken as
accurate observation as the darkness of the night would permit of the
nature of the place, Colin now proposed that all three should descend
the chimney,--himself taking the lead,--with as much silence as
possible, in order to surprise and bind the old man, his grandfather,
while yet asleep and incapable of making any effectual resistance.
Having done this, a light was to be procured; and either by promises,
threats, or search made on their own parts, the place in which poor
Woodruff was imprisoned could then be discovered and broken open. And,
although Mr. Veriquear at first objected that it was a sweep's business,
not his, to go up and down chimneys, yet he eventually agreed to Colin's
proposition, on the condition that he himself should be the last to
descend, in order that the chimney might be swept and his clothes saved
for him by those who went before.

Accordingly our hero, as a preliminary caution, crept upon the
moss-grown roof, and placing his head over the top of the chimney,
listened whether anything below was stirring. The light and fire,
according to Peter's statement, had long ago been put out, but the air
of the funnel over which he leaned was yet hot, sooty, and sulphureous.
It would be a stifling undertaking to get down there; although the
shortness of the distance from the top to the fire-place promised but
a brief continuance to their struggle through such a black and
uncomfortable region. As Colin attentively listened at the mouth of this
ventage, he distinctly heard old Jerry snoring in his sleep sufficiently
loud to have kept any bedfellow--had he been blessed with one--awake;
and at every inspiration growling not unlike some jealous bull-dog when
just aroused to the consciousness that his master's property is about to
be invaded. Still he listened, and shortly heard more than that. Could
it be? Was it possible? Yes, true enough, he indistinctly heard the
voice of

    "A soul that pray'd in agony,
    From midnight chime to morning prime, Miserere Domine!"

He heard in that awful midnight silence the whisperings of poor Woodruff
to his God, for freedom at some time to his spirit, and patience to
endure until that freedom came! That sound wrought upon his brain like
madness; it nerved him doubly for his enterprise, and urged him on
to effect his object this time, or perish in the attempt. Every other
consideration, in fact, vanished before the irrepressible determination
he now felt, to set poor Fanny's father free, or die.

Having arranged with his companions that they should follow him as
speedily as possible, he now prepared himself after the best manner he
could, and having taken off his boots to prevent noise, crept cautiously
into the chimney. After considerable trouble, and many pauses and
hesitations in order to assure himself that Jerry yet continued in
his heavy slumber, Colin landed with his feet one on each side the
fire-place; and thence he stealthily and silently crept down upon the
floor. The whole place seemed as dark as though he had been absolutely
sightless; and every movement of the limbs required to be made with such
degree of slowness and care as should render noise next to impossible
even in case he should have the ill-luck to meet with any obstacle in
his endeavours to gain the open portion of the apartment. Woodruff's
voice was now still. Perhaps he had sunk to the silence of despair, or
of that last flickering of hope which is closest akin to despair,
with the heartache for his companion, as had been his condition for
years;--unthinking how that heart ached thus for the last night at last,
and that Providence had that moment sent a deliverer, even into whose
own ear had entered his last beseeching for Heaven's mercy.

But though Colin heard nothing of Mr. Woodruff, the busy tongue of old
Jerry began to utter unintelligible jargon in his sleep; during which
some unconnected words about blood and everlasting damnation,
muttered against some one who had offended him, turned Colin cold with
undefinable horror. Had Jerry been awake, and uttered such knowingly,
little in this sense would it have affected him. But asleep,--the
senseless body in its time of rest, jabbering thus of horrors,--it
seemed scarcely less than as if some evil spirit had been heard to speak
through the mouth of a corpse, and had made known the fierce language of
another and a darker world.

As he stood thus, listening to the horrible tongue that thus muttered in
an unseen corner of the hut, Colin found that his friend, Roger Calvert,
had safely descended and reached the hearthstone. Gradually they groped
their way, directed by the nasal music which the old man unconsciously
played, close to his bedside, without in the least disturbing him. Their
object in this movement being to stand close ready to seize and hold
him down the moment everything else was prepared. Scarcely were they so
stationed ere a tremendous noise in the chimney, loud enough almost
to have wakened the Seven Sleepers, frightened at once them from their
propriety, and old Jerry from his pillow. In a clumsy attempt to make
his descent, Peter Veriquear had so far lost all foothold that nothing
remained to support him but his hands, by which he momentarily hung
from the chimney-top. This not being of sufficiently stable material
to support so important and weighty a personage, gave way all at once.
Peter fell with a formidable noise with his feet plump in the ashes of
the extinguished fire-place, which instantly flew up in a cloud that
almost choked him from below, while a very uncomfortable quantity of
rubbish fell upon his head from the funnel-top.

Simultaneously, as it were, with the disastrous fall of Mr. Peter
Veriquear was the up-springing of Jerry Clink. With the sudden and
desperate muscular energy of a giant, with which the circumstance of
being so awakened unconsciously supplied him, he leaped upright from
his bed several feet; and in all probability would have been the next
instant on his feet in the room, had it not fortunately happened that
the suddenness of his spring upwards had not allowed him time to call to
recollection the presence of a heavy beam, which projected out not far
above him. Against this he chanced to strike the top of his head with a
degree of violence that sent him back almost insensible before even his
lips had power to utter the least cry of complaint. This our adventurers
instantly found by the helpless manner in which he lay on the bed, and
immediately they proceeded to take advantage of the circumstance thus
opportunely, though so strangely, thrown in their way.

Peter Veriquear still stood upright within the bars of the grate, ready
to ascend again in case his disaster had rendered such a step advisable;
but as his feet had stirred up the ashes in the grate, Colin was glad
to observe a few live coals yet glimmering at the bottom. These
he contrived to blow into sufficient heat to light a piece of dry
half-burnt stick that lay on the hearth; and in the next moment the room
in which they stood was distinctly illuminated throughout. The first
step was to light a candle that stood on the table, and the next to see
to the state and security of old Jerry. Peter Veriquear now descended
from his situation, considerably shaken by his fall, though otherwise
unhurt. The only complaint he made being that it was the builder's
business to have constructed the chimney-top more solidly, and then it
would never have been any concern of his to have tumbled down it.

On proceeding to the bed Colin found old Jerry lying all of a heap,
his white hair covered with blood from a wound on the top, and himself
apparently senseless. There was no time to be lost. He therefore left
his friend Roger and Mr. Veriquear to assist the old man, at the same
time instructing them very carefully to secure him if he should attempt
to escape from them; while he himself went in search of the cavern, or
whatever else it might be, where Mr. Woodruff was confined. As the best
guide to this, he demanded in a loud voice, "Mr. Woodruff!--where are
you?--where are you?"

There was no reply. Again he repeated those words, but in a state of
feeling which left him almost unconscious of all he said or did.

"Here--here I am!" at length was answered in a melancholy tone, from
an inner place far backhand apparently beyond a door of very small
dimensions, securely fastened into the rock, and bound with heavy iron.

Colin flew to the spot whence the sound proceeded. The door was as fast
as the rock it was built in. He madly strove to burst it, but with as
little effect as the rain might beat against a precipice of adamant.
Almost in a frenzy of excitement he rushed back, and scarcely knowing
what he did, searched the cottage for the key. At last he found it under
Jerry's pillow.

Colin rapidly hastened again to the door,--he inserted the key,--he
turned it. A damp sweat stood upon his brow, and his eyeballs seemed
almost to blaze, but their sight was nearly gone. He seized the handle,
dashed the door open, and beheld James Woodruff standing with his hands
chained together before him.

"You are free!" cried Colin, almost hysterically,--"free!--free!"
He could but repeat that word; to him there was then no other in the
language--"You are free!"

Poor James looked at him doubtfully,--madly, I might say,--and replied,
"Do not play with me, whoever you are. It is cruel to trifle with sorrow
like mine."

"You are free!" again cried Colin. "Come forth!--you are free!"

James looked at him as though those deep black eyes, which yet had lost
none of their lustre, would pierce to the very centre of his soul, and
asked, "Is it--is it true?"

"It is!" exclaimed Colin, "as God is good!"

Poor Woodruff placed his hand upon his forehead, as though those words
had annihilated thought, and planted insanity where reason was before.
When he removed it again, his eyes were fixed on Colin, as though set
there for everlasting. He staggered towards him with desperate energy
of spirit, but with the feebleness of a child in body. He approached
him,--stretched out his arms,--strove to speak,--failed,--strove
a second time, and a second time he found no words. At last he
_shrieked_,--literally shrieked, as might a woman, and fell on his face
in a swoon.

It would be unnecessary to tell in detail the immediate circumstances
that afterwards took place. These can be quite as well imagined as
described. Suffice it simply to state, that Mr. Woodruff was soon raised
from the ground, and placed on the bottom of Jerry Clink's bed; that a
bottle of the old man's spirit was soon discovered by Roger Calvert in a
cupboard, and brought forth, in order that a needful portion of it might
be applied in the restoration of the poor captive to consciousness.

This desirable purpose having been achieved, Mr. Woodruff sat up, and
looking wildly about him, again asked doubtfully if it really was true
that he was free? Our hero eagerly assured him of the fact, and desired
him not to trouble himself farther about it, as he was amongst none but
friends, who would take care that no possible harm of any kind should
again befal him. He reminded him that he himself was that same Colin
Clink who had once before concerted a plan for his escape; entreated him
to be calm and collected; and gave him the fullest assurances that all
his troubles were now at an end, and that in the course of a short
time he should be conveyed to a place where the infamous powers of his
enemies should never be able to touch him again. But poor James still
seemed incredulous,--lost in uncertainty, and scarcely decided whether
to believe his senses, or to conclude that they had forgotten their
proper office, and conspired with evil men to persuade him into the
belief of a state which had no existence in reality. Colin informed him
that the unprincipled villain Doctor Rowel, his brother-in-law, was now
in prison, and awaiting his trial on a charge of murder, so that nothing
was to be feared from that otherwise most formidable quarter: while in
other respects the most influential persons were now his friends, and
would not only secure the liberty he at present possessed, but also take
steps to recover everything of which he and his daughter had been
so long wrongfully dispossessed. At the name of his daughter James
started,--for the memory of her had not before, from over-excitement,
awakened in his mind. But when he heard her name,--only her name, and
nothing more,--tears gushed from his eyes, and he sobbed convulsively
during some minutes.

Colin knew that this passion would give the mind relief, and therefore
abstained from farther discourse, and let his tears flow on.

Meantime, however, every necessary means were adopted to provide for
an immediate and successful evacuation of the premises. The night was
advancing, and every advantage ought to be taken of the cover afforded
by darkness. The chain which bound Mr. Woodruff's hands was soon knocked
off, and indignantly thrown by honest Roger through the window; while
Jerry's long coat--that identical garment which we have seen him
previously purchase in the Goswell-road--was forced on to the late
prisoner's back, in order to enable him the better to resist that open
air to which he was now so unaccustomed.

It must not be supposed that during all this time old Jerry himself
had been neglected. When all the necessary precautions to prevent his
attempts to resort to any violence on his recovery had been carefully
adopted, they turned their attention to his condition. Every means had
been used in order to bring him again to a state of sensibility, and at
length their efforts had the desired effect.

The old man opened his eyes, at first gradually, but at length turned
them in piercing scrutiny on the people about him. When he saw Mr. Peter
Veriquear, who held firmly one of his feet down upon the mattress,--the
self-same stranger he had that night turned away from his door,--when he
beheld his own grandson, Colin, standing at his head, and the man over
whom he was put in charge, James Woodruff himself, sitting free at
the foot of the bed,--then old Jerry made an effort to get up; but
the exertion was too much for him, and he fell back, loudly and deeply
cursing all around him, until he became again insensible.

It was not by any means in accordance with Colin's principles or
feelings to leave the old man in this state alone, whatever advantages
it might afford him for making a safe retreat from the place, and thus
securing Mr. Woodruff's safety against any pursuit on the part of Jerry
himself, or of such of the people at the house of Doctor Rowel's brother
as he might possibly arouse to join in such an expedition. He therefore
begged of Roger and Mr. Veriquear to use their utmost exertions in
restoring him to perfect consciousness before they took their departure,
in order that no chance of his dying beyond the reach of assistance
might possibly happen. Accordingly, after some trouble, he was a second
time brought round; and when seemingly in a state to be questioned,
Colin told him what their purpose there had been, and demanded to know
whether, if they left him entirely at liberty to shift in the best way
he could for himself after they were gone, he would agree neither to
follow them himself, nor to give any alarm to any other person?--at the
same time observing, that unless he would consent to this, he should
find himself under the very painful necessity of tying him down to his
own bedstead, and so leaving him to whatever fortune Providence might
see fit to put in his way. On hearing this proposal, Jerry fell to
cursing and swearing in a manner truly fearful, and declared that he
would follow them wherever they went, as long as that rascally carcass
he in habited had strength to put one leg before the other. Nay, he even
carried his resentment beyond his mortal powers, and declared that he
would track their footsteps as a spirit, after his body had dropped
dead, as it might do, upon the road.

Finding all argument utterly useless, Colin at length determined to set
out, trusting to the old man's miserable bodily condition for security
against alarm or pursuit, without resorting to any coercive measures for
detaining him in his present locality.

Accordingly, a short time found Mr. Woodruff and his three friends upon
the wide waste of the forest, tracking their way in the dark northwards;
while Jerry Clink, in a state of excitement bordering almost on
delirium, rolled himself out of bed directly after their departure,
with a determined resolution to make his way up to the house of Doctor
Rowel's brother, and give the alarm touching what had that night
happened.



CHAPTER VI.

_A chase by night, and the death of Jerry Clink._

"Whither are we bound?" demanded Mr. Woodruff of Colin, as soon as they
had reached the open air.

"To Kiddal Hall," replied he. "My father, Mr. Lupton, charged me, in
case our attempt succeeded, to convey you there for the present, where
most probably he will meet us either on, or shortly after, our arrival.
I have provided a vehicle at a village near the forest, which will be
ready the moment we reach it, and then all fear of pursuit will be at an
end."

The night was still dark, but clear, transparent, and fresh. A healthy
breeze swept across the waste, and sighed through the branches of the
trees around.

"How I thank God for this!" exclaimed Woodruff, "and you, friendly
strangers, whom I can never compensate; for the delight I feel in this
liberty is beyond all estimation. It seems incredible to me even now;
and the world looks a new place, as if I had risen into another life
after a grave. Yet how magnificent it is!--how beautiful it is! The very
feel of the earth under my feet, the live wind in my face, and those
glorious stars that I have so long and so often looked on, though
without this rare and goodly prospect below them!--O God! O God!"

He stretched his hands to heaven, and sunk upon his knees, while the
three friends stood silently by unwilling to interrupt him while he
poured out his heart in thankfulness and prayer. Fearful, however, of
lingering too long, Colin used his influence to urge him onward, or he
would have remained in this mere ecstacy of adoration none can tell how
long. Accustomed to darkness, the night suited him; individual flowers
and leaves, which to his companions appeared as masses, he could see
with separate distinctness; he plucked them with the eager delight of a
child; as they strode forward he would linger occasionally to gather the
wild berries as though they had been delicious fruit.

This excitement, and the unaccustomed exertion of such walking, at
length overcame him, after they had traversed two or three miles of the
forest, and, notwithstanding all his endeavours, Mr. Woodruff became
incapable of proceeding farther without assistance. Under these
circumstances, Mr. Roger Calvert and Peter Veriquear volunteered to
carry him, a task which they performed admirably, while Colin sometimes
marched before, selecting the most level ground, or lingered behind in
the endeavour to ascertain whether old Jerry had contrived to give any
alarm, and set a pursuing party after them.

This precaution of his proved not to be altogether needless As he
crouched down amongst the heath, in the endeavour so far to bring the
ground over which they had passed into a horizontal line with the sky,
so as to enable him to detect whatever upright objects might present
themselves upon it, he fancied he beheld certain moving figures in the
direction in which they themselves had come. Hereupon Colin requested
his friends to hurry forwards as rapidly as possible, while he remained
where he was still farther to reconnoitre. His suspicion soon proved to
be just. The figures rapidly advanced, until he could distinctly discern
five men, one of whom, by his voice, Colin instantly recognised to be
Jerry himself. He was exclaiming passionately, and, as far as Colin
could catch broken words, was calling down imprecations on his own head,
and devoting it with frantic rage to perdition for having so completely
disabled him from following in pursuit with all the expedition which
otherwise he could have used.

All his doubts being now satisfied, Colin had nothing to do but press
forwards, and hurry his companions also onward. This, however, their
burden in great part prevented; and as Mr. Woodruff partly ascertained
the cause of so much haste, he became excited to an extreme, and begged
of them rather to let him be killed upon the spot in resisting, than
ever again see those horrible walls, or endure aught like what he had
endured before. Every effort was made to pacify him, and assure him that
no power should seize him again; but his new and long-lost liberty was
now so dear to him, that the very thought of a possibility of being a
second time deprived of it made him tremble like a terrified infant.

As the pursuing party rapidly gained upon them, and our friends found it
impossible to advance with equal celerity, Colin recommended that they
should turn aside amongst the brushwood, and endeavour to seek security
by hiding, until the other party should have passed, a proposition which
was at once adopted; and they soon found a convenient harbour beneath
the boughs of an elm, that bent down from a high bank at the foot of
which lay a pool of water collected from the rains. While silently
standing there, the parties approached, and the voice of old Jerry could
distinctly be heard, as he swore that he thought his skull was broken,
and he should never survive it; while his discourse in other respects
seemed to bespeak a somewhat disordered mind.

How the circumstance happened Colin never could distinctly ascertain;
but true it is, that scarcely were they silently congratulating
themselves on the success of their stratagem, when a loud cry from Jerry
Clink, accompanied by a wild rush upon them, announced the fearful fact
of their discovery. Mr. Woodruff had previously been seated against the
bank, and before him the three friends now stood, prepared and resolved
to defend him to the last. Within a few moments a tremendous scuffle and
fight ensued, during which Roger Calvert and Peter Veriquear conducted
themselves most gallantly, and severely beat three of the assailants
between them. Jerry grew half frantic, and yelled with rage, more
like a savage uttering his war-whoop than any being of civilised mould.
During the confusion, the old man unluckily chanced to receive from
some unrecognised hand, whether of friend or opponent was never known,
another blow upon the crown, which completed that work which the former
had left undone. He was seen to stand stock-still a moment, as though
stunned; he tried to utter a curse upon the arm of him who had struck
the blow; but exhausted nature refused the evil promptings of that
savage spirit; his tongue sunk for ever silenced, and old Jerry dropped
suddenly upon his back, dead. This event, combined with the lesson which
Colin and his friends had given to Jerry's associates, put a termination
to the engagement. The body of the old man was carried off by them, and
Colin and his friends were left to pursue their journey without farther
molestation.

In due time the latter party arrived at the village of which Colin
had previously made mention, where the vehicle he had provided was
immediately put in requisition, and the whole were driven off to the
Hall of Kiddal, where they arrived safely in the afternoon of the
following day.

As for old Jerry, a coroner's inquest was subsequently held over
his body, when the facts of having met his death in the manner above
described being clearly established, the usual verdict was returned.
His corpse was committed to the ground, and after that time the matter
gradually subsided until it became utterly forgotten.



CHAPTER VII.

_Contains matter not to be found anywhere else in this or any other
history._

Mr. Lupton was already at the Hall, and prepared to receive our little
party when they arrived. There was also awaiting Colin a letter from
Jane Calvert, the contents of which went far to destroy that pleasure
which else he could not have failed to experience from his present
change of fortune, and the triumphant success of the last-recorded
enterprise. But before this unpleasant piece of intelligence be farther
commented on, it is necessary to record certain other interesting
matters, which eventually produced a material influence, touching one or
two of the leading personages of this history.

The story of Mr. Woodruff's liberation, and of his arrival at
Kiddal Hall, accompanied by his deliverers, soon became known to
the inhabitants of the district; and as the fact of Doctor Rowel's
imprisonment, with all the main circumstances leading to and connected
with it, had previously created no little sensation amongst them, the
presence of James Woodruff excited universal attention. Numbers of
idlers might have been seen lounging about the village of Bramleigh,
and in the immediate neighbourhood of the Hall, anxious to pick up
the smallest scrap of news respecting the strangers from any of the
servants, and deeply desirous of catching even the most remote glimpse
of any of the personages connected with those proceedings which, in one
shape or another, occupied so much of their attention.

Meanwhile Colin caused a special and cautious messenger to be despatched
to Fanny Woodruff, for the purpose of informing her, in a manner the
least likely to over-excite her feelings, of the arrival of her father
at the Squire's mansion, and to appoint a particular hour on the ensuing
day, when her meeting with him should take place, it being deemed most
advisable on account of both parties to allow some portion of time to
elapse before that meeting was permitted. Particular apartments were, in
the mean time, appropriated to Mr. Woodruff, as being better adapted to
his present state both of body and mind. To recapitulate at length the
circumstances attendant on the meeting between poor James Woodruff and
his daughter forms no part of my design. It is enough to state, that
the feelings of each were wrought upon by that interview to the highest
extreme; that hours seemed to them but as minutes; and that night
scarcely separated them even temporarily without the bitterest tears.

Some time afterwards, when the condition of all parties would allow of
it without pain or danger, an entertainment upon a large scale was given
at the Hall, at which every one of the individuals most interested were
present, besides a considerable number of the neighbouring gentry, their
wives and families, whose sympathies had been aroused by that bitter
story of persecution and criminality, of which Mr. Woodruff had been
made the victim; and while all lamented the past sorrows of that worthy
man, they rejoiced with double feeling at the conclusion which was
now put to his sufferings, and extolled in the highest terms the very
humblest individual whose instrumentality had been required in the
singular adventure that terminated in his release.

On this occasion it was that Mr. Roger Calvert, the blunt and honest
brother of Jane, first became acquainted with Fanny Woodruff. Fanny,
as has been previously observed, was by no means deficient in personal
attractions, which now were rather heightened in interest than
depreciated, by the more delicate character her features had assumed
since the period of her first meeting with her father. Grief and anxiety
had, if I may so speak, spiritualised her looks, and attached a degree
of interest to her general appearance, which it did not possess before;
while the devotedness and love with which she watched her father, the
eagerness to anticipate his slightest wants, and the patient unwearying
watch she kept over him, while yet the yoke of the world into which he
had come back sat newly and awkwardly upon him,--all conspired to
stamp both her person and character with those amiable qualities which
recommend themselves to the notice, and not unfrequently to the love of
the truly sensible and discerning.

While Mr. Roger Calvert yet tarried at the Hall, he had frequent
opportunities of becoming more intimately conversant with both herself
and her parent. So favourably did these unpremeditated interviews affect
the young man, that it soon became evident that Fanny strongly attracted
his attention. And though at the outset she exhibited a degree of
reluctance to be wooed, bordering on absolute indifference, and which
offered small hope that ever she would consent to be won,--a state
of feeling which the presence of Colin contributed not a little to
produce,--yet at length her heart relented somewhat; and she found,
besides, in the character and disposition of Roger perhaps a better
substitute for Colin than the chance of a thousand might give her: a
good reason this to her mind for listening with more favour to his suit
than she would or could have done to that of another person who might
have occupied the same position. She heard Colin, moreover, always
express himself in such high terms of his friend, as could not fail to
have considerable influence in predisposing her in his favour. Then,
too, there was that strongest tie of all, the demands of gratitude to
her lover for the part he had taken in restoring to liberty and his
friends a parent whom else she had looked upon as for ever lost to both.
This attachment caused Mr. Calvert to prolong his stay considerably
beyond his original intention; combined as it was with the pressing
solicitations of Mr. Lupton, who would not think of permitting so early
a departure to the son of a friend who had been one of his dearest
acquaintances even in boyhood.

Fanny, it is perhaps almost unnecessary to relate, had left Lawyer
Sylvester's house almost immediately after the happy arrival of
her father at Kiddal. The leisure thus afforded her was taken ample
advantage of by Roger, whose attentions to his daughter were marked by
Mr. Woodruff with deep interest and pleasure: that gentleman feeling
that no reward in his power to bestow could ever so much as approach
that idea of return which he entertained for the boundless service that
had been rendered him; though the greatest in his power to give, had he
even possessed worlds, would yet in his estimation have been the hand of
so dear a child, with such a portion on her marriage as would place her
in ease for life out of that recovered property which soon he should
again obtain.

Thus sanctioned at once by her sense of gratefulness, by the approving
smiles of her poor restored father, and the lavish praise bestowed upon
the individual who sought her hand by Colin, it is no matter of wonder
that her estimation of Roger daily grew more favourable, until at
length she fairly yielded to his solicitations, and received him as that
certainly accepted lover who was one day to make her his bride.

With respect to Colin's mother, Mrs. Clink, he seized the earliest
opportunity afforded by his return into that part of the country to wait
upon her with the assurance of his present happiness from the kindness
and liberality of one whom now he knew to be his father, as well as to
convey to her from that gentleman--though without explanation--a present
of two hundred pounds. Mrs. Clink expressed herself in terms of deep
satisfaction at the fortunes which now appeared to be in waiting for
her son; but at the same time informed him that she could never enjoy
a mother's highest delight and be a daily witness of her child's
prosperity and happiness, as it would be more congenial to her own
feelings, to carry into execution a design she had some time since
formed of retiring to a distant part of the country, where, unknown,
and out of sight of all those who, under the circumstances now brought
about, might be to her, as she to them, a cause of painful reflection,
she could quietly pass the remaining portion of her life in humble
endeavours to atone for the one great error of her existence, and hide
the troubles it had entailed upon her for ever from the world.

"Circumstances," said she, "too plain to be named, or more particularly
alluded to, urge me to adopt this course. Though you are my son, I
should find it impossible under these altered prospects to act in
everything as a mother's heart would dictate. Though I am your mother,
you too would find it still more impossible at all times to act as your
filial feelings would prompt you to do. To live so closely together,
with these bars between our intercourse, which nothing but the death
of--one who I hope will yet, _for your sake_, live long--could not be
consistent with either your disposition or mine. It is better, then,
that I should quietly retire to some far-off obscurity in which to pass
the remainder of my days, and be content to hear occasionally of your
happiness, while with humble and contrite feelings of heart, I endeavour
to fit myself for that fearful and tremendous appearance before an
immortal Judge, which, sooner or later--with this weight of sin upon my
soul--I shall be called upon to make."

Colin wept bitterly, while his mother's hands, as she spoke thus,
pressed feelingly his own. He saw too much good sense in her remarks to
attempt to controvert them, although he strove as much as possible
to soften the asperity of those self-accusations with which they were
intermingled. He promised her, however, that, so far as his resources
would allow, she should be made as comfortable and happy as in this
world we can hope to be; and that he would on all occasions omit nothing
calculated in any degree to afford her comfort if not entire happiness.

In accordance with this decision, Mrs. Clink scrupulously carried out
the plan she had proposed. She retired with a competency to a small
village in Derbyshire, where she dwelt in peaceful seclusion many
years afterwards; receiving from time to time those affectionate
communications from her son which formed in great part at once her
company and her consolation.



CHAPTER IX.

_Tells of trouble in love, and trouble after marriage. Miss Jenny is
persuaded by Mrs. Lupton to abandon her affection for Colin._

Let us now resume the thread of our story, and begin with that
communication from Miss Calvert to Colin, previously adverted to as the
cause of much pain to him. It ran as follows:--

"Since Mr. Clink quitted our now forsaken-looking house at --------, my
mother has had much to say to me,--oh, too much that it is impossible to
tell again, and that I am most unhappy in ever having heard. I know not
why it is I should have been destined to so much trouble, for I never
wilfully harmed one human creature even by a word, nor ever injured the
meanest thing that had a life to enjoy, and which the Creator had made
for its own enjoyment. Perhaps it is the will of Heaven that this grief
should come upon me to try what virtue of resignation to its will I may
possess. And if so, then indeed have I been sorely tried, most acutely
probed and searched. During your absence, it seems to have become more
fixedly my mother's intention that I shall never be happy. She has
expressed her urgent desire that I would beg of you to forget me, and
now you are away, make no endeavour ever to see me even once again. I
never slept a wink, but cried, and prayed for you, my dearest Colin, all
night upon my pillow. I am very ill now, and can scarcely do anything
but weep. However, I will make my heart as strong as I can, for I
foresee it has a terrible task to undergo. Were I of that religion which
permits such things, I would now go into a convent, where no one should
ever know my thoughts but Heaven; where I could ask on my knees, day
and night, for forgiveness for those thoughts that I have not power to
prevent; and where no eye that now knows me, should ever again see how
pitiable and heart-broken a creature is even so soon made of the once
happy, though now too wretched, but still devotedly affectionate--

"J. C."

I cannot better describe the effect produced upon Colin's mind by
the perusal of this epistle, than by stating that within ten
minutes afterwards, he formed a dozen different and very desperate
determinations to rescue his mistress from her trouble, each one of
which respectively was abandoned again almost as soon as formed. He
would hurry back to London,--remonstrate with Mr. and Mrs. Calvert.
No, on second thoughts, he would not do that. He would write to Jane
herself, and beseech her to calm her mind and wait with patience in the
hope that happiness was still in store for them. And yet, what would be
the utility of that? Would it not be preferable to act with spirit,
and at once give up all thoughts of maintaining his courtship any
longer?--or more advisable, or desirable, or prudent, or proper, to
do--what? In fact he felt absolutely puzzled, and could not tell. In
this dilemma he laid Miss Calvert's letter before her brother Roger,
who at once flatly declared that if it were his case, if he happened
unluckily to be similarly circumstanced with respect to Fanny Woodruff,
as was Colin with regard to his sister Jane, he would make up his mind
to run away with her at once, get married, and leave the old folks to
reconcile themselves to the event in the best manner they might.

This suggestion wonderfully coincided with Colin's present state, both
of feeling and thinking; he felt quite astonished that he had not hit
upon the same expedient himself; but determined to adopt it without
farther loss of time. And in all probability he would have done so
within the shortest given space from that day, more especially as his
friend Roger volunteered to write to Jane advising her to consent to
that mode of settling matters,--had not an event occurred which for the
present caused him to set his design entirely aside. This was no other
than the arrival at the Hall of that long absent lady, of whom lately we
have heard so little mention, the amiable Mrs. Lupton.

Colin happened to be wandering solitarily in the gardens, musing sadly
over the subject of his love, when the carriage drove up that brought
the Squire's lady once more back to that home which she loved best,
but which it had not been her fate in life to enjoy. As the young
man watched, he observed a female anxiously gazing through one of the
windows, and endeavouring to obtain a first glimpse of those old walls
which to her spoke so eloquently, so mournfully of past times, of years
of happiness once, and only once, anticipated when she first entered
them a bride; but of years of unhappiness realized, of bright visions
faded; and sad remindings that the silver chain of a woman's dearest
hopes had been snapped asunder, ay, even at the very moment when most
the busy mind and hopeful heart had with bootless industry been employed
in linking it together!

When the carriage stopped, he saw that a lady descended from it attended
by two females, whose assistance appeared needful to enable her to
alight with safety, and to walk into the house. As she stood upon the
ground, our hero was struck with the elegance of her figure; although
her countenance plainly denoted in its worn and anxious beauty that she
was one of those whom trouble unrevealed has destined to "grow old in
youth, and die ere middle age."

As she passed up the pathway, supported by the arms of her attendants,
she stopped to pluck the first rose that came to hand.

"There," said she, gazing on it with an expression of countenance which
might most properly be termed affectionate, "I love this flower--though
it seems a fading one--better for the ground it grew on, the air it
lived in, and the eyes--it may be--that have looked upon it;--I say the
eyes that may have looked upon it, for he is my husband still, and this
is my natural home;--I love it better, I tell you, than if it were grown
in Paradise, and had been tended by an angel."

The sun shone brilliantly; and as her face was turned upwards, Colin saw
distinctly that her bright blue eyes were not tearless, nor the heart
within that bosom at such peace as the lovely creature it gave life to
seemed to merit.

Already had the Squire apprised him of the expected arrival of his wife,
and therefore Colin felt no doubt that in the individual before him he
now saw Mrs. Lupton. Nor in this belief was he mistaken. As she
entered the hall she regarded everything--the minute equally with
the great--with that degree of interest which any individual might be
supposed to feel, who after many years should turn over anew the leaves
of some old record of their by-gone life, wherein was shown again the
past as now existing; save that it now looked upon no future of possible
joy or rest, unless in that world which, happily, is beyond man's reach
to darken or make sad.

As early after Mrs. Lupton's arrival as was consistent with a proper
consideration of her state of health, and the quietude necessary after
the fatigue of the journey she had undergone, Mr. Lupton desired and
obtained an interview with her alone, which lasted during a space of
four or five hours. In the course of that time communications of deep
interest to both parties must have been made, as it was observed that
more than once the services of Mrs. Lupton's attendants were required in
order to save her from fainting, while the eyes of her husband evidently
betrayed that even on his part their conversation had not been conducted
without tears.

That same evening Mr. Lupton conducted Colin into the apartment where
his lady was sitting, and presented him with the remark, "This, madam,
is the young man of whom I have before spoken." A gentle inclination
seemed to mark that she perfectly understood what was said and done,
although the terms in which her reply was couched evidently betrayed
that the long years which had elapsed since last we saw her affecting
interview with Miss Mary Shirley in that same old hall, had produced
no permanent restoration of the then partly overthrown and too deeply
troubled mind. She looked in Colin's face fixedly, and apparently
without emotion; and although it is, perhaps, needless to add, she had
never seen him before, she remarked--

"Yes; I have the pleasure of knowing him well. I remember that face as
well--nay better--better than any other in the world; though it is more
than twenty years since I saw it before."

It has already been remarked that Colin bore a more than common
resemblance to the Squire.

"And when," she continued, "when shall I see it again?--Never more! I
shall never see it again. It went from me soon after I was wed."

"Now pray be calm," interposed Mr. Lupton, in a persuasive and kind
tone, when he found that the agitation and excitement resulting from
what had so recently passed between them had produced a temporary
recurrence of her disorder. "Be calm, madam, and we will talk these
matters over at some future time."

"And this favour," continued Mrs. Lupton, "I shall beg of you
particularly: I would have no one put me out of this house any more till
the end; for though there are so many wicked people about that want to
lead me astray, I will endure everything patiently, and soon get me out
of the way where no man's snares shall ravel me again."

Under the unhappy and painful circumstance of this temporary alienation
of mind having thus again occurred, Mr. Lupton and Colin very properly
retired from the room, leaving the unfortunate lady in the hands of her
female attendants, one amongst whom was her old companion Miss Shirley.

"Mary!" whispered Mrs. Lupton, as the last-named individual approached
her, "I have seen Walter Lupton again, just as when he used to see me at
my father's--but I am resolved I will not marry him. Men do so flatter
us! And in a week after we find ourselves more lonely than before we
knew anybody. This beauty is all our ruin. The pretty apple soon goes,
Mary, but the crab hangs till Christmas.

     Oh, each a ribbon of white shall have,
     And a dead flower be carried before her!

Then there's that Jenny Calvert too. I have loved that girl ever since
she was born: she is a dear good creature, Mary,--a pretty sweet thing;
but she cries just like one of the wicked, so there seems the same dish
for all of us. Now, I tell her, never to marry one of Walter Lupton's
friends, else we may be all alike; and I would not have her like me, not
for a silver penny six times counted!"

"But I understand," replied Miss Shirley, "that he is a very worthy
young man, and that Jane is deeply in love with him. She cries for what
she has not--not over what she has."

"Then let her have him by all means," answered Mrs. Lupton; "for if the
girl love so much, she must be unhappy to her life's end without him;
and as there is a chance that all men may not be alike, and all women
not so unfortunate as I--most unfortunate--I would advise her to try
that chance. I would have her happy, as she most deserves."

Not to prolong the description of this and similar painful scenes, be it
sufficient to state that, after the lapse of a few days, when Colin
was again introduced to her, Mrs. Lupton had fully recovered her
self-possession, and perfectly comprehended certain arrangements which
Mr. Lupton had mentioned to her touching that young man whom he intended
to make his heir, and whose parentage was no longer to her a mystery.
In these arrangements she quietly acquiesced, not because she felt any
interest in them, or would allow herself in any manner to acknowledge
that she could in the least be identified with the young man whom Mr.
Lupton had now introduced to the house; but simply because her husband
had proposed and desired them. At the same time, while his every wish
was hers, personally she felt that degree of indifference, respecting
any arrangements he might make, not unusual with individuals who have
been long hopeless of all happiness, so far as the present life is
concerned, and who, consequently, contemplate the world to come as
their only place of refuge and of rest, while the present, with all
its pleasures, its anxieties, and its affairs, proportionably sinks
in their estimation, as scarcely worthy even of a moment's serious
consideration.

Whether this feeling was unconsciously accelerated by the closeness of
an event which shortly after happened, and which--happily, perhaps, it
may be deemed--put an end to all Mrs. Lupton's earthly sorrows, I will
not pretend to divine; yet it has occasionally been asserted that the
nearness of death (although at the time unknown) will often produce
those exhibitions of sentiment and feeling, as regards the things of
this world, which are never so fully made under any other circumstances.
It is not for the writer of this history to speculate on such a subject;
with facts alone has he to do: and, therefore, the reader must here
be informed that, now Mrs. Lupton's proper faculties had returned, she
strenuously opposed--notwithstanding what we have previously recorded
as having escaped from her lips--the marriage of her young friend, Miss
Calvert, with Colin. On that one question only did she evince the least
interest in anything connected with him; but no sooner was she made
aware that he was the object of that affection which had caused Miss
Calvert so much trouble, than she retired to her room, and, without
delay, addressed to her the following communication, dated from the
Hall:--

"Believe me, my dearest Jenny, when I express to you the pain I feel in
writing to you on such an occasion as the present, and in obtruding my
sentiments upon you respecting a subject of such deep interest to your
own heart, that upon the next step you take in it may probably depend
your happiness or misery during the whole of your after-life. But as I
am not happy, and have felt too grievously the impossibility of being
made so any more in this world, it will not be difficult for you to
credit my motives in wishing you to think, only _think_, how, by an
ill-considered proceeding, you may do that in one moment which a whole
after-life of pain can never remedy, and from which nothing but
the grave can afford you a refuge. The young gentleman who has been
introduced to you is not exactly what he has been represented--Mr.
Lupton's friend. He is something more. Would that he were _my_ son,
for your dear sake! Then, my dearest girl, should I wish him no higher
happiness than the possession of so good and true a creature, nor you
any better love and care than I should delight in exercising towards
you. It is unfit that I should tell you more than this; though possibly
your own good sense may enable you to supply the deficiency. If you can
give up this disastrous affection, let me implore you to do so. I fear
it cannot end in any happiness. Why I say so, I scarcely know; but I
feel that fear most deeply. Perhaps my own wretchedness makes me doubt
whether there be such a state as happiness really to be met with, in any
shape, in the world. But whatever the cause, let me again and again, as
you regard the last words of a true friend, beseech you never to consent
to such a match as would make you mistress of this unhappy and mournful
house. I know everything, and warn you advisedly.

"Ever and for ever

"Your affectionate

"Elizabeth Lupton."


By a singular coincidence, the same post which placed the above in Miss
Calvert's hands, also conveyed to her two others:--one from Colin, and
the other from her brother Roger. Colin's was opened the first.--It
contained all those passionate appeals and protestations which, from
a person so circumstanced, might naturally have been expected. Judging
from this epistle, Colin was in a state of desperation, scarcely to
be sufficiently described; although he concluded by expressing his
determination never to relinquish his suit, though all the powers of
earth conspired to oppose him, or even Jane herself should be induced by
her supposed friends to resist his addresses. But while he possessed the
consciousness of her eternal affection, it was utterly impossible for
him by any means to do otherwise than persist through all trials until
fortune should be compelled at length to crown his hopes.

This spirited production at first inspired poor half-heart-broken
Jane with momentary hope; the more especially so as she found, too, on
opening her brother Roger's letter, that he also advised her by no means
to sacrifice her own happiness--if her happiness really did depend
upon the event of this attachment--merely out of compliance, however
otherwise desirable, with the wishes of those who could take no share
from off her bosom of the load which their own agency had once placed
there. Roger reminded her, that while others rejoiced, she might have
to suffer; and that for his own part he never wished to see the day when
his sister might possibly pine away her solitary hours in grief, which
it was likely would hurry her to the grave, instead of being the happy
wife of a young man whom she loved, and who, as far as he could observe,
very well merited her attachment. At the same time, he declared in the
most positive terms, that the real objection urged by her parents and
friends against Colin, was not, in his opinion, a valid one. That it did
not in the remotest degree touch the character or qualifications of
the youth himself, and ought never to have been by any means so
pertinaciously insisted on.

These remarks in some degree counteracted the bitterness of those which
had made her weep over her friend Mrs. Lupton's letter, although they
served in some degree to assist her in drawing that correct conclusion
as to the true cause of objection, which now was rendered sufficiently
evident to her mind. Yes, now she conjectured it:--her lover was
not Mrs. Lup-ton's son, but he was more to Mr. Lupton than a friend.
Besides, these matters had not been altogether unknown to her family
during some years past; and, therefore, a certainty almost seemed to
exist that her father and mother saw in the parentage of Colin the bar
to their future union.

How long Jane grieved over this discovery and these letters, I need not
say, but grieve she did, until some that had known her slightly knew her
not again; and those who had known her best became most deeply certain,
that if this was suffered to continue, a light heart was for ever
exchanged for a sad one, and the creature whose very presence had
diffused happiness, was converted into one of those melancholy beings
over whose mind an everlasting cloud seems to have settled; whose looks
instantaneously demand our pity, we scarce know why, and whose very
bodily existence appears to become spectral and unearthly, while yet
they sit at our table, or muse statue-like with melancholy by our
hearth. Then it was that the obstinate began to soften, the strict to
relax, the determined to think that continued opposition to the ways
of the heart is too cruel to be always maintained. Everybody loved
poor Jane, and everybody grieved to see her grief. So at length they
proceeded from the direct exertion of counter influences upon her, to
the tacitly understood holding out of hope, and the sometimes expressed
possibility that matters might yet be ultimately arranged to her
satisfaction.

Meanwhile, as the Squire's object in introducing his son to Mrs. Lupton
had been fulfilled, Colin took the earliest opportunity, in company with
Roger Calvert, to return to London, and throw himself with passionate
sorrow before his mistress. But before we follow him thither, and record
his fortunes, the reader will, perhaps, be pleased to hear something
respecting certain other of the characters who have figured in this
book, to whose interest, be it hoped, he does not feel altogether
indifferent.



CHAPTER X.

_A corpse missing. The trial. The verdict. The effect of it. A fearful
night scene at Nabbfield._

In order that the charge brought against Doctor Rowel, of having been
guilty of the murder of Lawyer Skinwell, might if possible be clearly
substantiated, Mr. Lupton had not omitted any means at all likely to
conduce towards that end; not the least important of which was the
disinterment of the deceased's coffin from its grave, in the churchyard
of Bramleigh, where it had been laid. This curious operation was
undertaken with as much quietness as such an unusual piece of business
can reasonably be supposed to have been performed; and a careful
examination would, doubtless, have taken place in the porch of the
church, had it not been soon discovered, to everybody's amazement, on
opening the grave, that somebody had been there before, and the
corpse was gone. This fact was no sooner ascertained than speculations
innumerable, and of every variety, started into existence with the
suddenness of a batch of summer flies; and strange stories were
published, which had never so much as been dreamed of before, by the
very parties who now gave instant birth to them, of dim lights having
been seen, or supposed to have been seen, in the churchyard after dark;
of something like the sound of a spade having been once heard there
in the dead of night,--though, when heard, or what favoured mortal had
heard it, could not precisely be made out:--as well as of suspicious
looking strangers having, at one time, been observed staring over the
yard wall, as though marking in the mind's eye some spot which was
destined to become the scene of future dark and mysterious operations.

All these things however ended, as such things usually do, exactly where
they began. The vulgar, that is, nine hundred and ninety-nine at least,
out of every thousand, swallowed them with "intense interest;" while the
place itself, in which Mr. Skinwell's remains had once been deposited,
and from which they had also been thus unaccountably abstracted, became
as a standing wonder throughout the parish, and was daily visited and
marvelled at by bewildered and curious bipeds of both sexes. Certain
parties who had had the misfortune to fall under Mr. Skinwell's hands
during his lifetime, went so far as to insinuate that a lawyer's corpse
was a very tempting bit to the old gentleman himself, and a likely
thing--nothing more so--to have been carried off by him; but this
insinuation was commonly thought at once so palpably libellous, that
though many heard, few took the trouble to repeat it. Hence, like many
other productions of a different description, but presumed by their
authors to be equally able, it died a natural death very shortly after
it was born. The mystery, however, attending this circumstance was
certainly never positively cleared up; although on the examination
of Doctor Rowel's establishment at Nabbfield, some time afterwards,
a rather curious circumstance occurred, which gave strong ground for
suspicion, that as that gentleman had been considerably cut up by
the lawyer when alive, he had seized his opportunity to return the
compliment, and cut him up, in another fashion, after his departure. But
this incident will better appear in another place.

Every other description of evidence which Mr. Lupton could possibly
procure was obtained and arranged for the Doctor's anticipated trial;
although the failure of that which might have been added by the
abovenamed investigation, could it have taken place, was regretted by
all parties desirous of bringing the supposed culprit to justice, as
unfortunate in the extreme.

While the Doctor soliloquized in a cell of the castle at York, whither
he had been removed between the time of which we are now speaking and
that at which we last parted with him, information was conveyed to him
by his brother, of the rescue of James Woodruff, by Colin and his party,
and the subsequent event of old Jerry Clink's death. His brother-in-law
being thus free, Doctor Rowel gave up everything as lost; and during
some time after the receipt of the news, he remained sunk in a state
of hopelessness and stupor as deserved as it was deplorable. Regarding
himself as now abandoned altogether by that fortune which during so many
years had permitted his infamous practices and designs, he so far lost
all spirit as to sink into one of the most abject creatures that ever
breathed the breath of life. Painfully fearful of the end which seemed
to be awaiting him, his sole anxiety was to contrive means for averting
the threatened fate, and of prolonging that life which few, save
himself, valued at more than a rope's end. Under these circumstances,
and dreading the course which Mr. Woodruff himself might see fitting
to adopt, the doctor caused a formal communication to be made to that
injured individual, through the agency of Mr. Lupton, in which he bound
himself not only to restore the estate of Charnwood, which had been so
long withheld from him, but also to make every restitution in his power
to grant, for the injuries he had sustained; injuries indeed for which
in reality no compensation could atone, but which he yet trusted might
possibly be regarded with some feeling of forgiveness and mercy, when
his awful situation in other respects came to be considered.

"Unworthy," remarked Mr. Woodruff, when this statement was made to
him,--"undeserving and unworthy as that man is, whom I cannot ever again
name as a relation, or scarcely consider even in the common light of an
ordinary human being,--and hideous even to remember as are the tortures
of mind and body I have undergone through conduct on his part which
might well be considered as little less than infernal,--yet I do not
feel disposed to gratify any feeling of revenge, by demanding the
infliction of that extreme punishment which doubtless the laws would
allow. I have suffered, but those sufferings are past; they cannot be
alleviated in the least by the sufferings of another. If he even died
upon a scaffold, what consolation would that bring to me? To know that
he pined in prison as I have done, and wore away interminable
days, nights, and years, in exquisite pain,--would not give me any
satisfaction. I know too well what that sorrow is, ever to wish it
endured by even the most worthless and criminal wretch alive. No; all
I wish that man to do is, to be left to the reflection that all his
stratagems have, at length, failed; that the evil labours of so many
years have produced him only a harvest of wretchedness. I would leave
his own past actions to be the rack on which--if he have any spark of
humanity left within him--his spirit must eventually be broken. For the
rest,--the great and fearful trial of the future,--that lies between
Heaven and him;--and a frightful contemplation it must prove!"

Although every person who heard these sentiments from Mr. Woodruff's
mouth, could not but feel deeply the charity and worthiness of that
good and injured man, yet the general sentiment appeared to be that
in leaning towards the guilty Doctor, and overlooking the irreparable
injuries he had himself sustained, he forgot justice in his anxiety for
mercy, and allowed that degree of criminality to escape to which
the common opinion of mankind at large would apportion punishment of
considerable severity.

Nevertheless, Mr. Woodruff remained uninfluenced by those and many
similar remarks; and notwithstanding even the persuasions and advice
of Mr. Lupton himself, persisted in his determination to abide by the
opinions he had already expressed, and leave his cruel brother-in-law
without other punishment than that which might possibly be awarded to
him on his forthcoming trial; or such as his own conscience, and now
everlastingly blighted prospects, would in all probability render
inevitable.

Nor, in pursuing this charitable and moderate line of conduct was Mr.
Woodruff, as the event proved, at all mistaken; since a calamity more
fearful in its nature than any infliction of the criminal laws
could possibly have been--more terrible to contemplate than even an
ignominious death itself, subsequently befel the Doctor, and rendered
him to the last hour of his life an object at once of pity, detestation,
and fear. It seemed, indeed, that in this terrible visitation,
Providence had specially intended to exhibit such an instance of that
retributive justice which crime, though it escape the laws of man, not
unfrequently entails upon itself from the violated laws of nature, as
should not only punish the guilty individual himself, but stand as a
solemn and striking warning to all who might become acquainted with
his story, that though sin and evil may seem to bask securely in the
sunshine for awhile, their time of darkness and pain must come, as
surely as midnight followeth the noon.

While the period fixed for his trial was drawing on, the constabulary
of the district made themselves uncommonly active in ferreting out every
scrap of evidence, as well as much that amounted to no evidence at all,
in the hope of fixing the guilt beyond all doubt upon the shoulders of
a man to whom everybody secretly believed it to belong, although
many expressed their fears that the fact could never be sufficiently
established to warrant a jury in pronouncing the doctor's doom.

The whole circumstances preceding and attendant on the case were of such
an unusual nature, and had now become in their leading particulars so
well known, that when the day of trial at length actually arrived, the
most extraordinary interest was evinced by the public to get admitted
into the court, or obtain even the most passing glimpse of the prisoner.
Many persons came from distant parts of the country in order to be
present during this extraordinary investigation; and the yards and
precincts of the castle were crowded during the whole time it lasted by
a multitude of anxious and patient people, whose curiosity kept them in
an inexhaustible state of discussional fermentation from daylight till
many hours after dark on each day of the trial. At the same time the
village of Bramleigh exhibited such a scene of bustle and stir as had no
parallel "within the memory," as the newspapers stated, "of the oldest
inhabitant of the place." The village pot-house was literally besieged;
the price of ale was temporarily raised, or, what amounts to exactly the
same thing, the quality of it was materially lowered, while it was sold
for the same money; almost every flitch of bacon in the parish seemed
placed in imminent jeopardy of being sacrificed; the butcher declared he
never did so much business in his life before; and happy were all those
fortunate cottagers whose hens behaved handsome enough to lay an egg
every day, without missing Sundays.

All this hubbub and tumult arose in consequence of the great influx of
visitors to inspect, as far as the walls would allow them, the Doctor's
establishment at Nabbfield; to see the house where Mr. Skinwell had
died, and the churchyard wherein his remains had been deposited. Nor did
it in any material degree become lessened for several weeks after.

It is not my purpose to give the details of this singular trial, or
to follow through all its various ramifications that mass of strong
circumstantial evidence which the industry of the lower members of the
executive had accumulated. This is already sufficiently made known to
the reader in the scenes through which he has passed with me during the
earlier portions of this history. Neither is it needful to state more on
the other side, than that a most elaborate and able defence was made
by an eminent counsel retained on the part of the prisoner;--a defence
which in many respects had the effect of turning the heads of the jury
of Yorkshiremen exactly the contrary way to that wherein they had viewed
the case before.

At length his lordship summed up in an address to the sagacious body
last mentioned, which occupied more than three hours in the delivery;
after which the jury retired to cogitate upon the matter during a
space of several hours longer. The first result of this was, its being
signified to the court that they could not agree to a verdict. Farther
deliberation was insisted on; and after about four hours more study and
riddling of the matter, unanimity in opinion was obtained. They returned
into court a few minutes before midnight, and before a breathless
audience pronounced a verdict of _Not Guilty._ No sooner was it uttered,
than the prisoner himself dropped insensible in the dock. The people in
the court murmured. The words Not Guilty were instantaneously repeated
on the stairs, and again outside, like magic. They ran with the rapidity
of lightning down a wire, firing nearly every bosom present with
indignation. The multitude almost yelled for the murderer's blood. But
the verdict had gone forth, and a jury of his countrymen had pronounced
him innocent. They cried for him to be brought forth and set at liberty
amongst them; while some more desperately threatened to wait till he
came out, to sentence him over again, and execute him on the spot. The
time of night, the darkness that reigned above and around, the fearful
passions of the mob now aroused in some instances almost to frenzy
by communication and collision, all combined to render the scene that
almost immediately ensued, one never to be forgotten by those who
witnessed it.

Under all the circumstances of the case, it will not, for an instant, be
supposed that Dr. Rowel was set at liberty that night. For his own sake
there was but one course to pursue, and that was, to detain him within
the precincts of the castle, in order to ensure his safety, and on the
morrow to convey him privately away at an hour too early for the
public to be made aware of his departure. Afterwards the crowd outside,
evincing no disposition to disperse, was driven away by the aid of the
police. Some of them, however, disappointed in this, assembled again,
almost as though by common consent, at some little distance outside the
walls of the city, and nigh a convent of nuns, which stands by the side
of the Leeds road. The cry here soon became "For Nabbfield!" The spirit
of destruction had arisen amongst them, and the fierce threat of fire
had succeeded that of blood.

In the dead of night, under a black heaven that prevented almost
anything being seen, a dense press of men moved rapidly but stealthily
off along road, field, or farm, over river, fence, or garden, in a
direction that offered the straightest line between York and Nabbfield.
Scarcely a word was said, or an audible breath drawn, during this
fearful march; though many were the heavy, pointed stakes drawn from
the hedges in their path, many the rails and branches torn down, and
converted silently into clubs, as they proceeded. The dire determination
of mischief, mistaken for justice, which existed in more than a hundred
breasts, seemed gathered into one fierce, dark power, hurrying headlong
and irresistibly to its work of desolation, if not of death.

Their outset had not been observed from the city; and none, save,
perhaps, some late and solitary farm servant, peeping fearfully from her
lighted window when the dog barked, and the tramp and crash were heard
as they passed below, knew of them on their road; and even then a few
minutes' wonder who they were, and what they were going to do, followed
perhaps by a dream of farms on fire, or poaching conflicts in the woods,
was all that ensued. But nobody followed them. Like a meteor that falls
unseen when the world is asleep, that little band was only known to have
been by the trail of destruction, the dint in the earth it left behind
it. Once only in its course was it distinctly recognised. In the very
heart, as it were, of deep and peaceful sleep, the Hall of Kiddal was
startled by a great and prolonged shout beneath its walls--a huzza
three times repeated from above a hundred tongues, in which the names
of Woodruff, Lupton, and Colin were distinctly heard; and in the next
moment all was again as still as though spirits had given birth to those
sounds, and then fled upon the next blast that whistled by.

In comparatively a brief time afterwards, the walls of Nabbfield were
scaled; the gardens were trampled down, the trees uprooted, and the
ponds in them drained dry. All this was done in silence: the place still
slept in imagined security. But next came the thundering at doors, the
tearing down of shutters, the smashing of glass, and, amidst all this,
the shrieks and cries of the now-aroused inhabitants, though scarcely
sensible from fear, astonishment, and drowsiness. The battle had begun,
and the invading party had entered the premises.

Scattered up and down the house might now have been seen numbers of
exasperated and desperate men, with their faces blackened, and otherwise
disguised, so as to render recognition next almost to impossible. Their
first object seemed to be the seizure and security of the people who
had the establishment in charge and keeping; and as this task, since the
imprisonment of the Doctor, had devolved almost entirely upon his own
wife, the strong man Robson, with their usual assistants, and a few
additional ones, the force that had thus suddenly appeared against them
found little or no difficulty in effecting their object. Robson himself
had started up on hearing the noise produced by the first assault, and
made his way, half-dressed, into one of the lower rooms, where he soon
encountered half-a-dozen of the men already described. Thinking the
disturbance had arisen in consequence of some of the patients having
broken from their cells, he began to call upon them, in his usual
manner, to submit to their keeper, whom, he doubted not, they would
instantly recognise; but he was soon convinced of his mistake when he
found himself inextricably seized by many arms at once, and, at the same
moment, informed, by those who held him, that if he were not quiet,
both in limb and tongue, they should knock him in the head without any
further ceremony. They also told him they had come to destroy for ever
that execrable establishment, and to set all the people confined there
free; for it seemed to be the general opinion amongst them, that in
the cases of all those unfortunate persons, as well as in that of Mr.
Woodruff, injustice and robbery must necessarily have been committed,
and not a single lunatic was really to be found upon the premises.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Rowel, the Doctor's wife, had contrived to escape out of
her room, and take refuge in a small outhouse, not far off; where, along
with two of her maids, she remained shivering with cold and terror until
all was over.

Many others of the assistants and dependants of the establishment having
been secured, a portion of the mob proceeded to pile up the furniture,
pictures, &c., in the middle of the rooms, or to carry it out upon the
lawn in front of the house, and set it on fire; while others, having
now armed themselves with pokers, hammers, and other more effective
weapons,--flew to the various departments of the house, and, by main
force, broke open the cells and let out all such of the inmates as chose
to avail themselves of the privilege. Some of these escaped altogether
into the woods, and during several days after rambled wildly over the
surrounding country, until caught and again placed under confinement.
Others were conveyed to one of the stables, and securely fastened in,
under the compulsory care of Robson; while a few, it was believed, whose
maladies rendered them either incapable of knowing what was going on, or
made them persist in remaining in those melancholy places, which had now
become all the world to them, were burnt to death in the flames, which
subsequently reached from the blazing furniture to the building, and
before an hour had elapsed from the commencement of this extraordinary
attack, enveloped the whole in one sheet of fire.

I have before spoken of that shout of triumph which was heard at Kiddal
Hall, when this party of mistaken marauders passed by. It had the effect
not only of arousing Squire Lupton and all his household from sleep, but
also of inducing that gentleman to arise and endeavour to discover, from
his window, the men who had caused it. Nothing could be seen; but he
remained a long time to watch, and at length was startled by a red light
dimly appearing amongst the hills and woods in the direction of the
establishment at Nabbfield. By and by, as it rose higher and higher,
within the space of a very few minutes, he felt convinced that some
accident or other had happened, and feared lest, possibly, if that
house had taken fire, many unhappy lives would be sacrificed during the
conflagration. With a degree of rapidity, then, almost inconceivable,
a considerable force was mustered by him, and hurried off with an old
engine, in the direction of the place in question. But so rapidly had
the whole scheme been carried into execution, that, by the time of their
arrival, all hope of saving any part of the building was gone, and not
one single soul, of the many who had done the deed, remained to tell
the tale. With an unity of purpose, and a determination to finish their
object, equally as well (if well it can be called) as they had begun ft,
the little army of incendiaries had departed without leaving any trace
whereby their route could be pointed out and effectually discovered.
Pursuers were soon afterwards despatched in all directions, by the order
of Mr. Lupton, but not a single person was apprehended. And although,
eventually, a reward of five hundred pounds and a free pardon to
any person not actually guilty of the offence, was offered by the
Government, in hopes of discovering and bringing the offenders to
justice, such was the feeling of every individual concerned, however
remotely, in the transaction, that no clue was ever obtained at
all likely to lead to their conviction. It was also remarked, as a
circumstance particularly worthy of note, that, as far as could be
discovered, no attempt at robbery had been made, as the plate and other
similar valuables, which the multitude had found, were thrown into the
fire along with every other more combustible and less costly article.



CHAPTER XI.

_Strange morning doings.--Dr. Rowel returns to view the ruins of his
house.--The mysterious chest, and what was in it._

Notwithstanding the personal violence which, it was to be feared, Doctor
Rowel might receive by making his appearance upon the scene of his
former crimes, he no sooner was informed of the total destruction of his
establishment, and of nearly all the property it contained, as related
in the preceding chapter, than he grew half frantic, and immediately
declared his resolution to visit the place, be the consequences of his
temerity what they might.

Accordingly, in a state of excitement bordering closely on absolute
derangement, he set off from York on the following morning, in as
private and unobserved a manner as possible. The alertness, however, of
the public eye was too great to suffer him wholly to escape; and as he
was driven at a rapid pace through the streets of the city, the scornful
hisses and execrations of many of the people trebly increased his
excitement, by making him feel that most bitter of all feelings in its
bitterest form--that he had become despicable and odious in the eyes of
his fellow men, and henceforward could no longer hope to dwell amongst
them, save as one liable to be continually pointed at, to be shunned,
perhaps plainly and openly insulted, without any living creature looking
upon him as worthy of receiving pity.

On arriving at his late residence, he beheld only a black ruin in the
midst of desolation, with but one solitary object near it which had
survived the general destruction--and that was the old yew-tree under
which James Woodruff had passed so many weary years, and which now
brought back to the Doctor's eye, suddenly and completely, as might the
drawing up of a curtain, a perfect picture of all the past that had led
to this sad scene. The tree used to look black before, but now amidst
greater blackness and the smoke and ruin of the place it grew in, it
looked green; gaily green in the sunshine, as though even it rejoiced
and felt glad over the wild justice that had overtaken one guilty of so
many crimes as was he who once oppressed the helpless there unopposed.
He could have hewn that tree by the roots, for the thoughts it awoke
in his mind, and wished it burnt to a pillar of charcoal along with all
else that was blasted and calcined about it.

Outside was a throng of gazers, kept off partly by the rural
constabulary, and partly by some of the yeomanry of the district. These
he hated for their idle curiosity, their prying into other people's
business; and could he have had his will, would have swept the ground
clear of them at one stroke of his arm.

Standing on a rising knoll at some little distance, he recognised Squire
Lupton and James Woodruff, with his daughter Fanny, gazing over the
ruins, and watching with deep interest the progress of the workmen, who
were busily employed in recovering from the hot ruins as much of the
property on the premises as might have escaped with only partial or no
damage. At that sight--

                "each passion dimm'd his face,
     Thrice chang'd with pale ire, envy, and despair."

He would have got out, but he dared not. He felt as though the people
would murder him, and cast him into the mouldering heaps of his own
house.

Unrecognised in his carriage he was secure; and having drawn up pretty
closely to the spot where the last-named little party stood, he gazed
with an intensity of look almost indescribable upon the operations going
on amongst the ruins. It was plain that some strange idea had come into
his mind; it seemed written in his very features that something might be
found there which he would have no man know: a thing for his eyes only,
and not to be seen by such men as those.

"But it was a wooden box," thought he again, "and it must be burnt. It
could not escape--it is not likely--not possible. No, no; not possible."

And yet, as he comforted himself thus, that possibility was still
standing on his brow as plainly as did the mark on Cain's:--the mark
that told ineffaceably before heaven and earth his guilt, and warned
every man he met to shun him.

Still the workmen worked, and he still gazed. At last they carried out
on a hand-barrow a heap of broken furniture, of partly destroyed boxes,
and pictures shrivelled like a parched scroll. Somebody standing by now
observed to his neighbour that the face of that man in the carriage was
frightful.

"'Tis it!--'t is it!" exclaimed the Doctor, fiercely, madly, with
hysteric passion, unconscious of what he said and did. At the same time
he dashed his fist with the force of a stone through the glass of the
window; and having rapidly opened the door, rushed distractedly past all
impediments up to the men in question.

This sudden apparition,--for scarcely less even in the midst of daylight
did it seem,--so completely astonished and alarmed the people that
all those along the course he took fled backwards in fear; while those
beyond the scene of action as earnestly pressed forwards to ascertain
what was amiss.

Mr. Lupton, James Woodruff, and Fanny, besides many others amongst the
crowd, almost instantly recognised the person of the Doctor; while the
first-named gentleman as instantly hastened after him in order at
once to know the cause of this wild proceeding, and to prevent, by the
interference of his magisterial authority, that mischief which else he
feared might soon ensue.

"That 's it!--it's mine--my own!" cried the Doctor, as he literally
threw himself upon a box of considerable dimensions, deeply scorched
but not burnt through, which the workmen carried. At the same time he
clasped his arms about it as though he would strain to carry it away.
The workmen interfered.

"Molest him not!" said Mr. Lupton, and they desisted.

"I swear it is mine!" again exclaimed Mr. Rowel, on hearing the voice
of the Squire, "and no man shall open it while I live. I'm innocent,
for they judged me so last night. People will destroy me, if it 's seen.
They 'll swear it is _his_ body, if they see it."

"What body?" demanded Mr. Lupton in astonishment.

"Him!----no, no; I did not do that! Him that died. You know, you know.
Everybody over the world knows now! They shall not open it; I 'll die
first. I defy them all!" And again the insane Doctor endeavoured as
though to hide it out of sight with his arms and body.

Mr. Lupton saw in all this something more than exactly appeared upon
the surface; and accordingly, both as better for the Doctor himself, and
more consistent with his own duty in so remarkable a case, he commanded
the constabulary to seize and protect Mr. Rowel back to the carriage
from which he had come, and then to convey the mysterious box safely
down to Kiddal Hall.

In the execution of these orders, the Doctor made such a desperate
resistance, and raved so furiously and incoherently,--repeatedly
declaring he should be hanged to-morrow,--that they wanted to murder
him,--that the body was not distinguishable,--and that he was haunted
by a horrible spectre,--as pretty clearly evinced that his mind had
overshot the firm ground of reason, and had fallen into that same
fearful abyss of insanity from which it had been his profession to
rescue others; and on the plea of his having fallen into which, he had
also so cruelly practised, during many years, upon the unfortunate James
Woodruff, his relation.

Great force _was_ required to secure and get him into the carriage; and
after that object had been successfully achieved, it was found necessary
to bind him strongly with such materials, applicable to the purpose,
as chanced to be within reach, before his conveyance in such a vehicle
could be considered safe. This having been done, he was, after some
delay, eventually driven off to the residence of his brother, on
Sherwood forest;--a place to which those friends who had attended him on
his trial, considered it most proper, in the present state of affairs,
to convey him.

During these transactions the excitement of the assembled multitude was
so great, that, but for the presence of the yeomanry, and the judicious
measures adopted by Mr. Lupton, it is to be feared the disorders of
the previous night would have been concluded by a yet more horrible
catastrophe, in the murder of the Doctor, in open day, upon the
memorable site of his own destroyed and now for eyer vanished
establishment at Nabbfield. This fearful consequence was, however,
happily avoided: and all danger being now passed, Mr. James Woodruff and
his daughter Fanny again joined company with Mr. Lupton, and followed,
with agitated and anxious feelings, in the wake of the great crowd that
accompanied the conveyance of the mysterious box to the Squire's own
residence.

A short time after their arrival at the Hall, the three above-named
individuals, along with one or two other persons, whom Mr. Lupton
purposely admitted as witnesses on the occasion, retired into a private
room, situate in a remote part of the building, whither the chest had
already been carried, under the care of several officers, and remained
present while a heavy lock upon it was broken, and the uplifted lid for
the first time displayed, to other eyes than those of Mr. Rowel, a sight
so horrible, that even the strongest-nerved man present recoiled with
sudden fear, while Fanny uttered a loud shriek of terror, and fell
insensible into her father's arms.

Before them, huddled up, to make it fit into its otherwise too short
habitation, lay a corpse, the body and limbs of which had undergone
dissection, while the head and face, by some process of preparation and
injection, yet remained sufficiently perfect to exhibit such a distinct
resemblance to what must have been its appearance while alive, as left
upon the minds of the spectators not the slightest doubt but that they
now assuredly looked upon the remains of the unfortunate Lawyer Skin
well!

By what motive the Doctor could possibly have been actuated in taking
the body from its grave could only be conjectured; and the most probable
conjecture made upon the occasion was, that he had done so in order so
far to destroy all traces of the poison which had been administered to
him, as to render any subsequent investigation--presuming such should
chance to be made--wholly useless for any purpose of crimination.

But why, having done this, he should still preserve so horrible
an object,--and to him, it might be presumed, one so particularly
horrible,--few seemed willing to attempt to divine. Perhaps, what
Shakespeare has said of sorrow, we may best, in this instance, say of
conscious guilt:--

     "'T was one of those odd things _crime_ often shoots
               Out of the mind."

Whatever the cause, however, the fact itself was there most plainly
proved; since the remains in the box were subsequently identified, not
only by Fanny Woodruff and Mr. Sylvester, the deceased's former clerk,
but also by many persons in the village, who had known him intimately
when alive.

As no object could now be attained by keeping the body, it was, some
time afterwards, placed in its old coffin and re-interred, amidst the
marvellings and the pity of numerous rustic spectators.

Another most remarkable circumstance, however, remains to be recorded,
in connection with this event, before I conclude this chapter; as it may
also serve, with the above, in some degree, to illustrate Doctor Rowel's
strange conduct and exclamations touching the chest, in the scene
recently described.

Placed immediately beneath the head of the corpse, and forming, in fact,
a rest for it, was found a much smaller, though far more antique and
curiously ornamented box than the one already described; and which,
eventually, proved to be the identical one wherein the title-deeds
of the estate of the Woodruffs of Charnwood had been kept during
many generations. On being opened, it was found still to contain them
precisely in the same state in which Mr. Rowel had so many years ago
possessed himself of them, after securing the person of their legitimate
owner. The effects of Mr. Skinwell's conduct in resisting the Doctor's
solicitations to co-operate dishonestly with him in altering or
destroying those writings, (as previously recorded,) now became
apparent; and deep, indeed, was the regret of all, that through such
conduct he had, in all human probability, come to such a frightful end.

Mr. Woodruff having then taken them again into his own custody, all
matters connected with the affair were settled in the best manner
circumstances would allow; and after a brief interval from the period
now spoken of, he and his daughter set out on their first journey, again
to behold and to take possession of their hereditary home.

On their arrival, however, they found it inhabited, under rent of Doctor
Rowel, by tenants whom the reader will feel no less surprised than was
Fanny to find there.



CHAPTER XII.

_A meeting, and a parting. Being one of the most agreeable, pathetic,
and loving chapters to be found in this great history._

No long period of observation was required after Colin's arrival at Mr.
Calvert's, to enable him to discover that deep anxiety, and care, and
watchfulness, now reigned throughout that house touching her, his own
beloved, who so lately was as its life-spring and delight. The absence
of joy, if not the positive presence of melancholy, was visible in every
countenance. The voices that spoke, spoke in a lower tone than formerly;
while those of Mr. and Mrs. Calvert were seldom heard at all. The
blinds of the windows seemed to be permanently kept more than usually
low;--unconsciously, perhaps, on the part of the inmates of the place;
but, then, that little circumstance agreed with the general tone of
their feelings, and so it became as it were natural. He also observed,
that though it was that precise time of day when a canary bird that
hung in the sitting-room usually sang so gladly as to make itself heard
nearly over the whole house, the singing bird was now mute. A piece of
white muslin that had been thrown over his cage many hours ago to keep
off the sun, had ever since been forgotten. It kept him silent; yet
strange enough, nobody appeared to miss his singing, nor to think a
moment of the little ruffled and discontented heap of living music that
fretted in gloomy silence beneath.

At length, Jane, who, he had previously been informed, had lately
confined herself almost wholly to her own chamber, was introduced by
her sister; the latter having, with careful consideration, already
cautiously communicated to her the fact of the arrival of her brother
Roger, and of Colin.

"How changed!" thought Colin as his spirit absolutely shrank at the
first sight of her. "How like a creature whose heart is gone,--all whose
ties to the world are rapidly loosening, and who soon must be caught
back to the earth, or the chance will be lost for ever." In her face
was written, as all might read, that _the past_ was all of a pleasant
existence she should ever look upon.

Yet when she saw him,--though all the family was around,--though all
eyes were upon her,--though the father looked solemn, and the mother
half chidingly; she at once flew towards him with the joy of a lark
upwards. For what was all the world besides,--its thoughts, and sayings,
and opinions,--what were they now to her? Nature was nature in her
bosom,--pure, frank, and virtuous; and her feelings those which Heaven
had planted there for the wisest, the best, and the happiest purposes.

At this affecting sight her mother sobbed aloud; Mr. Calvert turned
away, and pressed the tears back into his eyes in silence. Her sister
seized her hands in hers, and as she pressed them with a loving pressure
entreated her to be composed. Her elder brother sat mute, looking
seriously on the floor; while honest Roger, himself, with the tears
bursting from his eyes, struck his hand upon the table, in a sudden
agony of goodwill, and exclaimed,

"She _shall_ have him, I say!"

The plainness and oddity of this declaration contrasted so comically
with the occasion upon which it was made, that scarcely a single person
present could forbear smiling; while, certain it is, that every one, not
excepting even the most obstinately opposed to that event, felt a sudden
conviction that Roger's words would somehow or other eventually come
true.

But as suddenly as that conviction flashed across the mind, so, with
respect to Mr. and Mrs. Calvert, did it as suddenly again cease. For
though, during some few brief moments of promise which the temporary
excitement of their feelings had produced, they felt half inclined to
relent, and to endeavour to make the best of those circumstances which
it seemed in vain any longer to oppose; yet, as the cause of that sudden
conversion lost its temporary influence, they fell back upon former old
objections with almost increased prejudice; just as in many other cases
people will adopt a new doctrine for awhile, but when the particular
circumstances that caused them to do so are removed, will as surely
return with additional liking to their old and familiar opinions.

Long and curiously did these two afterwards discuss the matter, and
how finally it should be settled; while Colin and Jane, with a far
less expenditure of sage remarks and clever suggestions, were rapidly
settling it in good earnest without any discussion at all. There were no
"pros" and "cons" with them; no question about conventional proprieties;
nor any considerations as to what the world might, or might not think,
in reference to them. Enough for Jane that Colin was, in his own person
and mind, all that a young man should be, to be loveable and deserving
of love; and for Colin, that Jane seemed to merit more than the utmost
of what it was possibly in his power to bestow.

While the last named pair regarded the question as altogether one of the
heart, and into which no other conceivable interest should be allowed to
intrude, the parents of Jane held it as totally a question of the head,
or imagined right or wrong, and of propriety or impropriety, so far as
the maintenance or the sacrifice of their own peculiar opinions might
possibly be involved. But inasmuch as even the worst philosopher may
venture most safely to back the heart against the head in any contention
of the kind here spoken of, the reader will not feel surprised to learn
that Colin and Jane would certainly have triumphed, had it not unluckily
happened that some time before their forces could be brought perfectly
to bear, Mr. Calvert one day sent a message to Colin, requesting his
company in the former gentleman's study, and on his appearance delivered
to him the following very disheartening and painful speech:--

"After what has occurred, Mr. Clink, since your return to town, and
from the scene it was our painful fortune to witness between you and my
daughter on your arrival here, I feel a firm conviction, which every day
serves to strengthen, that the time has arrived when it becomes my duty
as a father to come to some positive and decisive determination in
this matter. Much as I respect Mr. Lupton, for notwithstanding his deep
indiscretions, upon which it is not my duty to pronounce any judgment, I
yet know him to be in many respects most highly deserving of esteem; and
worthy and deserving a young man as I certainly think you yourself to
be, yet there are causes which from the first made me fearful, when I
found your preference for Jane, that a continued acquaintance between
you could not lead to any happiness. I shall not allude to those causes
in any more direct manner, for you probably can judge sufficiently what
I mean, without the necessity for any more explicit statement."

[Illustration: 232]

Poor Colin here blushed crimson and bowed his head down, as Mr. Calvert
proceeded:--

"But with my habits of thinking, and the principles I have always
cherished from my boyhood, it would be inconsistent with my usual
practice, were I to hold those causes as too light to be regarded as an
obstacle to your ultimate views. To me they are of every importance: I
might more properly call them insurmountable difficulties. And though
I am perfectly aware that such matters are too frequently regarded with
careless, and, as I take it, with criminal indifference, yet I hold them
as so far affecting in themselves the moral principles of society, as so
far contrary to the dictates of religion, and to the obligations due
to the more correct portions of the community, that I feel, painful and
bitter as is the task, I feel compelled thus plainly and distinctly to
declare my sentiments to you in the hope that, after having so done,
nothing more will be required in order to assure you of the course
which it is most necessary for me to wish you at once and immediately to
adopt."

"Sir!" said Colin, as his heart seemed to swell into his throat and
almost prevent him speaking, "I cannot, sir, but respect your motives,
and feel more deeply how much _I_ shall lose if I am under the necessity
of quitting this house and seeing those who are in it no more. I
know what your objections are,--they are not to be removed, and are
irremediable. I am what I am; and for myself I have no apology to
offer,--no excuse to make."

He would have spoken more, but at that moment he could not.

"Stay!" observed Mr. Calvert, "do not mistake me. It is your misfortune,
not your crime: and for misfortune which no power of yours could ever
remedy, apology or excuse can never be demanded. It was my hope
some time ago that Jane and yourself might possibly dissolve this
acquaintance yourselves, when my sentiments and those of her mother and
family were made known to you both; and thus render such an explanation
as the present needless. But I have been mistaken: and in permitting
that farther communication which I foolishly hoped would terminate
itself, we have only fastened the bands more tightly, and increased the
probabilities of pain on that after-separation, which, difficult as
the words are to me to speak, I still am compelled to say, _must_ be
effected. We cannot go on thus any longer. Even now it is a question
of every importance to you both. To my poor dear daughter it may soon
become a question of life or death. The possibility of such a result
must be averted. The step must be taken in time. Though the blow be
painful it must be struck. Nevertheless, when you are gone, carry with
you the assurance that I still continue, along with all my family, to
think honourably of you,--to remember your worthiness,--to look with
melancholy pleasure upon the time when we could entertain you personally
under our roof,--and to regret to the last hour of our lives that so
unhappy an ending should have come to the young affection of one whom it
would have been our delight, if possible, to have blessed with the
good creature--for such my Jane is--the good and worthy creature he had
sought."

So saying, Mr. Calvert pressed Colin's hand energetically during several
minutes.

"Bless you, my friend!" added he, as he gazed upon the heart-broken
youth beside him,--"Bless you!--Even now I cannot part with you without
betraying more than becomes me as a father in such a case."

And as he falteringly uttered these words, his eyes confirmed them with
nature's purest token of severed friendship.

"Your worthiness," at length replied Colin, "makes me, sir, lost what
to say. Had you treated me harshly I could have replied; but as it is,
I feel still the more bound by the very efforts made to shake me off. If
you will have it so, sir, I know not how to oppose: though certainly it
is impossible for me ever to comply. Not by that, that I mean to say the
wishes of so worthy a man shall not be carried out as far as Heaven will
give me power to do it: but though _I_ go away never to return more,
believe me, sir, my heart will be left with those I leave,--I shall
do my best to forget where I am,--to inhabit this place still in
imagination, and live out my life at least with the memory of her whom I
am forbidden to know in any other manner."

"Endeavour to be reconciled," observed Mr. Calvert; "and remember
that even the most favoured cannot say that this world was made for
happiness."

"No, indeed!" exclaimed Colin bitterly,--"it is not indeed."

"I am afraid," rejoined his worthy friend, "that on neither side shall
we ever cease to feel pain on this subject; but it will be our duty to
bow with humility before those decrees which we cannot escape, and to
endeavour to persuade ourselves that everything may possibly be after
all for the best."

"It cannot, sir," replied Colin in the agony of his spirit; "it can
never be for the best that we should be separated for ever! It is
impossible. For however well it may be for others, to us it can be
nothing but inevitable misery."

"Do not speak thus, my young friend," answered Mr. Calvert; "I am myself
an old man, and have many times found in the course of a long and not
uneventful life, that out of those circumstances which at the time of
their occurrence promised nothing but unhappiness, the unseen agency of
Providence not unfrequently deduced consequences the most important to
our future welfare. Just as, on the contrary, we often find that the
fairest promise of happiness ends in the least practical result; and at
the bottom of the sweetest cup we find the bitterest dregs."

Colin was about to reply, but Mr. Calvert waved his hand as significant
that he would add a few more words.

"Who knows," he asked, "but that under this, to you, most dire of
disappointments may lie hidden the cause of all your future happiness?
Unseen, it doubtless is to you now, and difficult perhaps of being even
imagined. But inasmuch as no man can foresee what is in store for him,
nor predicate from things present of things to come, it is at once the
wisest way and the most in accordance with our faith and dependence upon
Providence, to make ourselves willing to accept as the best possible
good, with reference to our future welfare, those fatalities of life
which no endeavours of ours can possibly avert. Be comforted; and strive
both to forget the past and to believe the present and the future
more rife with satisfaction than, under the influence of your existing
excitement of feeling, they else might appear.

"And now, having, as I hope, settled this matter in the best manner it
will allow of, let me add one more observation, and I have done. Under
every possible view of the case, and considering that no conceivable
good could come of a formal parting, I must beg of you to regard your
interview, this morning, with Jane as _the last_. It is better that you
do not see each other again."

"Oh no, sir, no!" exclaimed Colin, "you cannot mean that. It is
impossible. When I left her but now to come to you, I had not half told
her what I intended to say, and I promised to be back again as soon as
I had seen you. She begged of me not to be long, because with all her
grief she could not bear to be alone. I must go, sir; if it be only to
say one good-b'ye,--just one,--and no more!"

"Better not," faltered Mr. Calvert, half between a smile and a tear.

"Yes, sir,--yes,--you will 'not deny us that."

Mr. Calvert's lips quivered, but he said nothing.

"I am made unhappy for ever, now!" added Colin.

After a pause Mr. Calvert replied, "Then you must see her in my
presence, if at all."

"Anywhere!" exclaimed our hero gladly; "but let me see her again."

Jane was now sent for. When she entered the room, Colin could no longer
restrain himself. The sight of her made him burst into tears.

"Jane, my girl," began the father as he took her hand, and led her
gently beside his own chair; "I hope you will sustain yourself for a
few moments, while I simply explain to you that Mr. Clink and I have had
some conversation upon the same subject as that upon which your mother
has already spoken to you. The matter is now finally settled. But Mr.
Clink wished, before he went, to bid you a good-b'ye for the last time;
as you part friends with him, the same as, from my heart, I can say _I_
do; and not for myself alone, but in the name of all the family."

Jane could not speak, but her pretty throat swelled like that of a
nightingale that dies, as poor Keates describes it, "_heart-stifled_ in
its dell."

"Father!" at length she whispered, "it is not--is not--_true!_"

Mr. Calvert remained fixed and mute as a statue.

"It cannot be true!" continued Jane; "you would never--never make me so
miserable! I do not believe it--I cannot!"

At length her father spoke.

"My dear girl," said he, with a solemnity which he could not help,
and of which he was not himself conscious; "you _must_ endeavour to
be resigned. As you love me, let me beg of you to calm yourself, and
endeavour to seek in prayer to Heaven that comfort which I never thought
to see a child of mine so much in need of. You want peace of mind,
child."

"I _do_, father!" she exclaimed, wringing her hands; "no poor soul more
than I."

Another pause ensued here, during which Colin clasped Jane's other hand,
as though when that one grapple was over, the world would be lost, and
he should sink for ever. His eyes were on her face, but he could not
see.

"And now," added Mr. Calvert, half-chokingly; "do not prolong this
scene. We can do no more. Bid each other a loving good-b'ye, and be that
kiss the last."

"I cannot!" exclaimed Jane, hysterically; "I _cannot!_ Father! I love
him, and _shall_ love him everlastingly. You will not part us, I know.
He will never leave me--never! Oh no! no, no, no!"

And poor Jane fell into a fearful convulsion, that made all cheeks pale
and eyes wet for mere pity at her trouble.

This event brought others of the family into the room, and amongst them
Colin's best friend, Roger. No sooner did he see what had happened, than
his spirit and his feelings were at once aroused.

"I tell you," he exclaimed passionately, though without addressing any
one in particular,--"I tell you, you will kill the girl if you go on in
this way with her!"

And then Jane was carried away and placed on her pretty white bed, and
tended carefully by her mother and her sister and her waiting-maids,
until life came reluctantly back again, and she waked once more into the
consciousness of misery.

"Is he gone, mother?" she demanded in the first faint tones that
conscious animation supplied to the tongue; "is he gone?"

"No, my dear, he is not gone; nor is he going yet," replied Mrs.
Calvert.

"That's right!--that's right!" she exclaimed. And then, as she looked
her parent earnestly in the face, she asked--"Mother! do you remember
how _you_ ever loved my father?"

That little simple appeal was irresistible, as a world of tears soon
testified.

After that Jane grew calmer, and sat up with her mother and sister to
catch the air from an opened window that looked through a nest of vine
leaves into the garden.

Meantime Roger Calvert, his father, and Colin, had further conversation
below stairs, which ended in producing a determination on the part of
Colin and his friend of great interest as well as importance in our
history, but which will be farther explained in another chapter.



CHAPTER XIII.

_Reveals various curious particulars; of which the mysterious
disappearance of Jane is not the least._

In the desperate state of things implied by the proceedings last
recorded, it will not be marvelled at that measures equally desperate
should have been projected by Colin in conjunction with his friend
Roger; though eminently calculated, provided they could but be carried
out, to bring him that final satisfaction which it appeared impossible
for him to attain through any other more moderate course.

Roger's general conduct towards Colin, throughout the affair, had
inspired the latter with every confidence in him, and the certainty
of being able to command his services in any enterprise which had the
happiness of Jane and himself for its object. Nothing indeed but that
confidence could possibly have induced Colin to take the earliest
opportunity that offered, after the scenes described in the preceding
chapter, to draw Mr. Roger Calvert into an unobserved part of the house,
and propose to him that they should settle the matter at once and for
ever in a manner already suggested,--that is, through the medium of an
elopement during the night. Colin argued that it was now sufficiently
evident he had no chance of succeeding unless by resorting to that
gentle violence just alluded to. He contended that Mr. and Mrs. Calvert
would never give way without it,--that if once done it would afford
them a capital excuse for reconciling themselves to the match, when such
reconciliation had become a matter of necessity, without involving them
in any of that unpleasant compromise of principle, as they supposed it,
which at present constituted the great obstacle to their union.

He even ventured to suggest, that very possibly if they _could_ be made
aware of his projected attempt, they would secretly feel inclined to
connive at it,--seeing that at least Jane's happiness would be for ever
destroyed, if even her very life were not sacrificed, were not something
done to avert those consequences of parental opposition which now seemed
to hang over them. As for himself--without her, happiness for him in any
situation, or under any circumstances, was totally out of the question.
He felt assured of the impossibility of his living other than a
miserable life, and dying a death at last which disappointment and
misfortune had rendered welcome. He concluded by beseeching his friend,
as he knew his honourable intentions, as he recognised the justice of
his suit, and felt at once for his sister's unhappiness and his own, to
give him his support and assistance in carrying out such a project.

"I should decidedly say," replied Roger, "you have good cause for
eloping under the circumstances--that is, supposing Jane herself has no
objection; and I assure you it is what I myself should do in the same
situation."

Thus supported, Colin entered on his design with increased alacrity and
spirit; but as his final leave of Jane was now understood to have been
taken, he had no ready means of communicating with her upon the subject,
except through the agency of her brother Roger. He, however, very
readily undertook the task of informing his sister of the design, as
he considered it absolutely scandalous that the happiness of two young
people's lives should be utterly blighted simply because her parents
entertained notions which, however conscientious, by no means (in his
opinion) could justify for a moment their perseverance in measures of so
important and violent a character.

It was, therefore, agreed between them, that, in order the more
successfully to carry on their plan, Colin should that night take a
respectful leave of the family under the impression, on their parts, of
never seeing him again; but that, instead of quitting London, he should
only retire to some hotel, or to a friend's house, where he could remain
until such time as matters were arranged for his and Jane's departure
together. This accordingly he did, quitting Mr. Calvert's house not
without considerable grief on the part of all who dwelt beneath the
roof, except Roger himself, though, on Colin's own part, with such
a poor, miserable exhibition of sorrow, considering the unfortunate
situation in which he was placed, that the good Calverts were quite
astonished thereat, and, after he was gone, began very strongly to
suspect that, after all, there was not half the feeling and excellence
in him they had previously been led to believe. He had not produced
even a single tear on the occasion; while Mrs. Calvert spoke almost
positively to a certain something like a smile lurking about his mouth,
which she had observed at the very moment when her husband had so
feelingly remarked to him that, while he wished him well on earth,
perhaps the next time they met it would be in heaven. Yet the
hard-hearted young man did not seem so much as to think of crying even
at that, but actually took it as coolly as though he were going to meet
them all again in the course of two or three days from that identical
night. These things certainly had a strange look, though they might
possibly be the result, not so much of indifference, as of an heroic
determination, on his part, to disguise his sorrows until the painful
trial was over. Roger was appealed to for judgment in the case, but
he professed to have no power over other men's bosoms, nor ability in
discovering the profundities of their springs of action. But the truth
of the matter was, that while Roger enjoyed excellent reasons within
himself for keeping the secret, he also felt materially disinclined
for conversation. The departure of his friend had put a seal upon his
tongue; while it had likewise rendered him uncommonly anxious to see
how his sister Jane bore it, and to offer her such consolation under the
circumstances as might chance to lie in his power.

When, at length, Roger went to see her, he found her sitting alone, as
she had particularly begged to be left, looking more like a spirit in
the twilight than an embodied creature.

"Jane!" said he, as he entered the room and advanced towards her. She
started astonished--almost affrighted. That one word had come upon
her like a thunder-clap. It had awakened her from a reverie or a
dream--suddenly snatched her, as it were, from a world of her own sad
imagination back to the still sadder world of nature about her.

"Ah!" she exclaimed, "who is it?"

"Only I," replied Roger. "Dry your eyes directly, there's a good girl.
I have something to tell you that I hope will make you glad. I told you
before that you should have him, after all."

"Oh--" cried Jane clasping her hands, "has my father----"

"No, no; not that," rejoined her brother; "but something that will do
quite as well. Only you must speak low and let nobody hear, or else we
shall spoil the whole business. Colin and I have settled it altogether
between us. You _must_ do it, you know, for your own sake as well as
his, and do not hesitate a moment about it. I'll tell you plainly what
it is,--you must give your consent for Colin to run away with you."

Jane shook her head.

"You _must_," repeated Roger; "there is no other mode of managing it:
_I_ will go with you, and we will all three fly down to Mr. Woodruff's
house, where we will have a parson to marry you directly, so as to make
the matter safe; and then father and mother, and everybody else may make
the best of the matter they can!"

"Do not play with me," said Jane; "I cannot indeed bear it now!"

"I never was more in earnest in my life!" exclaimed Roger, emphatically;
"I tell you it is all settled, and you _must_ do it, whether you like it
or not. I won't see your happiness sacrificed for the want of a little
spirit on your part when it is so much required. Look here--"

And Roger drew forth a letter which Colin had hastily indited before
taking his leave, and confided to him to deliver to his sister at the
earliest opportunity.

"Here," he continued, "is a note from Colin upon the subject, which I
dare say you will not refuse to read."

"It is too dark," answered Jane; "besides I dare not. What _would_ they
all think of me if I were to listen to such a proposal as this?"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Roger; "they would think a great deal better of
you after it was all over, than ever they could think of themselves,
if they should have to put up for you a tablet in the church, with an
inscription that you had died of disappointment brought on by their own
rigour. Here, take it, and I will fetch you a lamp to read by."

Jane took the letter, and her brother hastened out to fulfil his
intention.

The moment he was gone, Jane rose with uncommon alacrity and hastened
to the window. Yes, there was yet light enough to make most of it out,
although she thought it dark not a minute ago. The letter said a hundred
sweet and happy things, such as she felt certain no man had ever said
before; such as even _he_ had not ever thought of saying on any other
occasion. It promised as certain an easy reconcilement with all parties;
it told her he was sure of it, and bade her feel no fear. It visioned
a world of delight for the future, and represented its writer as lost
utterly, if she would not listen to her brother's advice and consent to
act upon it. And then it concluded with more love signified in half a
dozen little words than anybody else, she believed, could express in
half a volume.

When Roger returned, which he did speedily, with a lamp, "I do not want
it," observed Jane, blushing to the forehead to be thus seen in the
light, though it was only by her brother and best friend.

"What! won't you read it?" demanded he.

"It was light enough at the window," faltered Jane.

"That's right!" exclaimed Roger; "I'll kiss you for that."

And so saying, he caught his sister in his arms, and told her how good
a girl she was for taking advice; at the same time promising not only to
steer her safely through, but to ensure the good will of her parents as
early after the business was concluded as possible.

But Jane still held out, and protested she dared not do it. And though
her brother brought all his powers of oratory to bear in the endeavour
to extort a promise from her, she persisted in her refusal, and at
length told him it was quite useless to say anything more to her upon
the subject.

Roger went away both puzzled and mortified; but within a few days
afterwards it was remarked by all the family that Jane seemed quite
astonishingly recovered from her melancholy. There was really a
surprising difference in her manners; and hope began to be confidently
entertained that in the course of a short time longer, she would have
perfectly recovered her painful disappointment, and become once again
that same pleasant creature she was before her eyes met those of Colin,
but which almost ever since she had so unhappily ceased to be. However,
at the very time when everybody expected and prognosticated that this
desirable consummation would be effected, at that precise period when
all happy eyes were again to be turned upon her with renewed gladness,
then it was discovered, to everybody's amazement, that she was missing;
Roger too had disappeared in a manner equally mysterious; nor was _Jane
Calvert_ ever found again. A fact more remarkable than all.



CHAPTER XIV.

_A scene in a lady's chamber.--Before the Elopement, and after
it.--Arrival at Charnwood, and who was found there._

When our friend, Roger, first observed the change in his sister's
spirits more particularly alluded to above, he regarded it as an omen
so much more to be relied upon for its real significance than any words,
that thereupon he wrote to Colin at the place where he was waiting
in expectation,--stating the circumstances that had occurred, at full
length; and insinuating that if Colin felt inclined to adopt a bold
course and prepare everything in readiness for the expedition, he would
engage, without any further delay, to persuade his sister to fly with
them about day-break on a certain morning which he named. Mr. Clink,
as may well be imagined, most eagerly seized upon the opportunity. His
heart was on fire. Now was everything to be risked, and everything to be
won. After the receipt of that letter he could not sleep nor rest until
the arrival of the eventful morning.

Roger had already contrived to get Jane's maid into his favour, and
to her was to be confided the duty of awakening her mistress and
communicating to her the first intelligence of the arrival of a carriage
at the gate; while, with his own hand, during the previous night, he not
only secured all the members of the family fast in their rooms, by
tying the doors outside, but also crippled the bell-wires in a manner so
effectually, that an alarm of the servants by those means was rendered
impossible.

At the latest possible hour he communicated to his sister the fact that
everything was in readiness, and that Colin would be near the house
before sunrise on the following morning to set off with her and himself
on their journey to the house of Mr. Woodruff; that gentleman having
already been communicated with on the subject, and his consent
obtained;--partly, because he could refuse nothing to Colin, and partly,
because his own daughter had used her influence in persuading him
there could not possibly be any harm in affording such a refuge to the
fugitives. This announcement, together with the prospect it held out to
her, made Jane tremble all over and look full of fears; but Roger would
not allow her to protest anything against it, as he stopped her as
the first words escaped her lips, with the remark that nothing
could possibly be said about it now,--the time was come--the thing
settled--all arrangements made,--and she could not now do anything but
prepare herself for compliance at the perilous moment when she should
be summoned in the morning. So saying, he bade her good night, with an
additional declaration that he could not hear a word of denial.

If the truth were told, I should tell how all that night poor Jane's
heart throbbed incessantly, and sometimes, in correspondence with her
thoughts, leaped suddenly as if it would go out of its place, I should
tell how she never slept a single wink;--how earnestly she said her
prayers, and how long! How, after many hesitations, and at last with
many tears, she eventually put her trembling hand to the reluctant, yet
loving, task of putting up such trinkets and jewellery as could not be
dispensed with,--while her maid, as busy and as pleased as a summer bee,
employed herself in a similar task with her dresses. And then, when
all was over, how she stood silent awhile, looking on those places and
around that room, which to-morrow her mother should find empty, and
which now for the last time beheld her who had tenanted and adorned it
from her childhood. That glass might never look upon her face again,
which had seen her beauty grow up from pretty girlishness to perfect
womanhood. That window would never more have the same eyes through it
that had become familiar there--nor those leaves any more be put aside
by the fingers that had so often saved them unbruised, when the little
casement was closed for the night. I should tell how, as these and
similar thoughts passed rapidly through her mind, the tears stole
silently down her cheeks until she sank upon her chair, and declared,
while she did so, that she should never have the heart to go!

But the heart has a way of its own sometimes, and sudden courage on
occasion which it has not resolutions to contemplate beforehand.
So, after the night had worn away, and when the time came for
flight,--before yet the stars were gone, or any light more than a first
dim gleam on a black ground, was seen in the east,--she plucked up
resolution to be firm, but lost it again immediately, for the sound of a
carriage wheels--_the_ carriage that was to whirl her away from her old
home to a new life in a new place--faintly but distinctly came upon her
ear.

"'Tis he!" she exclaimed.

"Truly, ma'am, I hope so," replied the maid, "for I want to see you safe
off and happy."

"Hush!" said Jane, in a whisper; "listen, listen!"

In the next minute her brother Roger gently tapped at the door. It was
true. She must go, and no delay be made--not a moment's waiting. And
go she did; but in such a way, that when half an hour after she found
herself sitting beside her maid, with Roger and Colin opposite,
and being driven at a tremendous pace on the north road, out of the
metropolis, she could not remember how she had got down stairs, or
walked to the carriage, or who had helped her, or whether she had done
so without any assistance at all. But there she was, and of little
else did she seem conscious. With her lover matters were considerably
different. Full of self-possession, and elated in the highest degree, he
felt then as though but one idea existed to him in the world, and that
one which may best be expressed in the exclamation of one of Moore's
angels--

     "'Tis done, 'tis done!
     The gate is passed, and heaven is won!"

Before we proceed to inquire how the fugitives sped after their arrival
at the end of their journey, it may interest the reader to be informed,
that they very narrowly escaped detection and pursuit, in consequence
of an odd accident, that happened through their very precautions to be
safe; and which, had it unfortunately occurred some hour or two earlier,
would inevitably have frustrated their design.

Very early in the morning, and before the family had arisen, the
house-dogs began barking most furiously, which, from some unknown cause,
rang an alarm from cellar to garret, of the whole establishment. Both
servants and master were soon in motion, anxious to discover the cause
of this unusual hurly-burly. The latter looked first out of his window;
but discovering nothing, then attempted to ring his bell; whereupon the
wire dropped down into his hands, as it had very cleverly been unhooked
by his son Roger, from the crank outside, in preparation for any
contingency of the kind which now arose. He next tried his door, and
was still more astonished to find it secured outside, so that all egress
was, for the present, prevented. While this was going on, various others
of the household were going through similar operations, and discovering
themselves placed in similar predicaments until, at length, it became
generally believed throughout the house, that a gang of thieves must
have entered it, and converted the place into a temporary prison, in
order the better to effect their nefarious designs.

When, however, fortune had so far favoured them as to allow of an
escape, a search was instantly instituted; but still the cause of the
disturbance remained as unexplained as before.

By the time that every person under the roof had arisen and assembled,
under feelings of the most anxious inquiry, it was remarked by one or
two of the more sagacious and reflecting amongst them, that neither
Miss Jane nor Mr. Roger appeared to have been aroused by the same noise,
which had put themselves into such an extraordinary consternation. This
fact appeared unaccountable, for the rooms of both commanded as audible
hearing of any external commotion as any rooms on the premises. Some
of them cleverly imagined that the pair alluded to must have slept
uncommonly sound, and assigned as good reason for that belief, the fact
of Jane's previous ill health, and Roger's well known activity in
all sorts of laborious exercises; but while these last mentioned were
speculating upon probabilities, Mr. Calvert himself had hastened off
to Roger's room, and his eldest daughter to that of Jane, in order to
ascertain from those two individuals themselves the actual and _bona
fide_ state of the case. What was their amazement to find both nests
cold, and the birds flown! Mr. Calvert felt so amazed at this discovery,
that he was obliged to sit down on the stairs a few minutes in order to
recover himself; while his daughter, with the natural feeling and action
of a woman so circumstanced, flew back again, the moment she discovered
the deficiency alluded to, screaming all the way she went, that Jane had
been stolen away.

A good guess at the real truth instantly flashed across the mind of
every one present. A conspiracy, to which nobody but themselves were
privy, had evidently been entered into and executed by Jane and Colin,
aided by Roger, and all agreed, in their own minds, that, instead of
ever seeing _Jane_ again, they should be, somehow or other, introduced
to Mrs. Colin Clink.

Mr. Calvert, at first, took the thing in uncommon dudgeon, and ordered
his horses out to pursue the flying trio, but, by the time every saddle
and harness were got ready, it luckily chanced to be discovered that
nobody knew whether to prefer the east, west, north, or south quarters,
in the proposed search after them. Not the remotest clue could be
obtained as to which road they had taken. Probabilities, however,
being in favour of Kiddal Hall, Mr. Calvert and his son very shortly
afterwards set out together on a hurried expedition to that residence,
in hopes of arriving there and learning tidings of the runaways, in time
to prevent that marriage which, under his present feelings, Mr. Calvert
felt determined never to sanction, in any shape.

In the mean time Colin and his friend were making the best use of their
time, by a series of civil forced marches along the road, and beguiling
the hours thus occupied, by forming all sorts of ludicrous conjectures
as to the progress of events at the house from which they had so ably
effected their escape; thus endeavouring to rally Jane's spirits.

It was in the course of the following day that our little party had the
pleasure of beholding the walls within which they were to be made secure
of future happiness; secure, at least, so far as mutual affection, well
tried, and an earnest heart for each other's welfare, may be considered
capable of effecting that end. Thus felt Colin and his pretty companion,
while Roger regarded his first view of the house with remarkable
interest, since it also contained her who was everything to him, and
with whom it had long since been decided he should eventually join his
fortunes, for better and for worse.

Mr. Woodruff's residence was situated in one of the pleasantest portions
of Leicestershire.

It was one of those old, large, and substantial brick buildings, so
characteristic of a particular period of our domestic architecture, but
which can scarcely be better described, with their ornamental brickwork,
cornices, and mouldings, than by simply saying they convey an idea of
comfort, stability, and even of substantial well-doing, on the part of
the occupant, which is in vain sought for in any other class of either
old or modern erections. Its grounds were full of old and stately trees,
which almost seemed to speak their own dignity, and declare to the
passer-by, that beneath their branches had flourished some generations
of the true old English gentleman.

To this place were they most heartily welcomed by Mr. Woodruff and his
daughter, on their arrival.

It was on this occasion Colin learned, to his astonishment, from the
lips of Fanny, that her father and herself, on paying their first visit
of inspection to their newly-recovered property, found it occupied by
the family of that identical Miss Wintlebury whom he and she had so
strangely met in London, and of whom they both had reason to think so
well. At the mention of that name, Colin blushed so deeply that Jane
felt sudden misgivings as to his perfect fidelity, and, in a manner half
joke, half earnest, charged him with deception, either towards herself,
or, perhaps, to some now far less happy creature; an observation to
which Colin could not in any manner so well reply as by giving a brief
statement of that short story respecting Miss Wintlebury, with which the
reader is already acquainted, and which he did in a manner at once so
frank, open, and considerate, as instantly raised his general character
very highly in Jane's esteem. His own goodness of heart could not but
shine through his narrative, tinging even his errors, if such there
were, with that warm feeling of generosity as rendered them, if not
amiable, at least certainly not criminal.

Respecting Miss Wintlebury herself, Colin was happy to be informed that
she had materially improved in health; since, not only her residence in
the country, but likewise the widely altered circumstances in which
her father had placed her, assisted to throw in her way almost every
possible advantage that one in her situation could require. She
still remembered Colin's conduct with the most grateful feelings, and
testified them by entertaining his friends, Fanny and her father, in the
best manner their house could afford. Besides which, on Mr. Wintlebury
being farther informed of the particulars of their story in connexion
with Doctor Rowel, of which already he had heard much from common fame,
he volunteered at once to quit the premises he occupied and give Mr.
Woodruff as early possession of his own again as circumstances rendered
possible.

Accordingly, a short time afterwards he left it, and took a farm hard
by; after which the house and gardens were re-arranged in accordance
with the views of the proprietor, and he and his daughter entered upon
its enjoyment.



CHAPTER XV.

_A wedding, a last interview, and a death.--Mrs. Lupton's funeral._

It was a proud morning, a glorious day for Colin, when, with Jane
Calvert on his arm, he hastened to the little rural church which stood
hard by Mr. Woodruff's residence, there to pronounce openly what he had
long felt in his heart,--the sacred promise to love and cherish till
death, in sickness and in health, through weal and woe, the beautiful
and good creature beside him. Singularly enough, the bride was
accompanied by the two young ladies who, on one hand or the other, might
each have been expected to fill her place.

Fanny Woodruff and Harriet Wintlebury officiated as bridesmaids; one
who had loved him, and one whom he had loved. By both, however, was
his marriage with another looked upon with pleasure, since the altered
circumstances under which both were now placed, rendered envy or
jealousy incapable of finding a place in either breast.

The marriage ceremony was not yet wholly over,--the priest had just
uttered the solemn injunction, "Those whom Heaven hath joined together
let no man put asunder,"--when a stir was heard at the church door, and
Mr. Calvert and his son, in a state of great excitement, hurried in. The
former rushed towards the altar, and suddenly seizing his daughter Jane
by the arm, exclaimed, "I forbid the marriage!" The priest waved his
hand as signifying him to draw back, and pronounced before all present
that Colin and Jane were man and wife together, concluding with that
blessing which so beautifully finishes the Church ceremony on these
occasions.

As the party retired in confusion and pain, Mr. Calvert approached them,
and taking the newly-made wife's hand,--"Jane!" said he, "as you are my
daughter, I never expected this. However, I will not reproach you now.
The thing is done, and cannot now be undone. It is not for me to put
asunder whom God hath joined together: I _must_ make the best of it in
my power, and therefore, seeing there is no remedy, let me join in the
blessing that has been pronounced, and ask of Heaven _that ye may
so live in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life
everlasting_."

At these words and this conduct, poor Jane burst into tears and wept
bitterly as she clung round her father's neck; while Colin stood by,
deeply affected both by the distress of his wife, and the manner in
which, at this last scene of all, Mr. Calvert had conducted himself.

Roger complimented his father and brother in a good-humoured manner upon
their being too late; and declared the uncommon gratification with which
he found them thus disappointed: while Fanny and Miss Wintlebury could
not refrain expressing in their countenances, if not in words, the
sincerity with which they joined in the young man's sentiments.

On the return of the whole party to the residence of Mr. Woodruff,
Jane's father informed them how he had, in the first instance, directed
his steps to Kiddal Hall, and thence to the place where he now was, in
hopes of arriving in time to prevent a marriage in which he did not, at
that time, acquiesce: and the more particularly did he feel objections
upon the occasion, as he found on his arrival at the Hall that his old
acquaintance and friend, Mrs. Lupton, was in a state of health
that promised nothing less than a speedy dissolution. Under those
circumstances, he had felt anxious at least to defer for awhile, if he
could not finally prevent, the ceremony which had that morning taken
place. These intentions, however, being now altogether frustrated,
nothing remained but to endeavour to reconcile matters finally with
all parties interested therein, in the best manner of which they were
susceptible; and, in order to effect this, Mr. Calvert deemed it needful
that the newly-married pair should return with him to Kiddal,--where,
indeed, on receiving the intelligence of the marriage, Mrs. Lupton
afterwards most strongly invited them. This step he considered the
more advisable, because in case of the unfortunate lady of that house
desiring to see them before her death, their immediate presence on
the spot would prevent the otherwise possible contingency of her dying
wishes being disappointed.

Accordingly, at an early and convenient period they set out; and, on
their arrival at Kiddal, were welcomed by the Squire with a degree of
satisfaction scarcely to be expressed sufficiently. A portion of the
house was, for the present, devoted entirely to their use; and, for
awhile, a degree of unmixed happiness would have reigned throughout that
building so unaccustomed to such scenes, but for the situation of Mrs.
Lupton, who now rapidly sunk under an accumulation of anxieties and
grief, with part of which the reader is already acquainted, but the
great and unsustainable weight of which no heart could ever truly know
save her own.

At length, upon some inquiries that she herself had made respecting Jane
Calvert, it was cautiously communicated to her that she had married Mr.
Clink, and believed she should be as happy with him as their lives were
long.

"Never!" she exclaimed,--"never! I feel this last blow deeply. Yet it is
useless--very useless. I might as well persuade myself to be happy,
only unhappily there is no such thing as a feeling left that will be
persuaded. Mary!" And Miss Shirley approached her.

"Whoever you live with when I am gone, be it with a woman. There is
no faith in any else; and none in her sometimes. That Jenny Calvert
now--Well, well,--I must see the young people--both of them,--and talk
to them myself. Let them be asked up now, for I cannot sit in this chair
much longer. I must see them."

Her wishes were shortly afterwards obeyed, and Colin and Jane were
conducted into Mrs. Lupton's apartment.

"So you are married, Jenny?" said Mrs. Lupton, as she took the young
wife by the hand and kissed her.

"I hope we shall always be very happy," replied she.

"So _I_ hoped once," returned Mrs. Lupton; "and now see what has come of
it! Yet I loved him just as you may now; only I found there were other
women in the world besides me, just as I had persuaded myself that he
thought me the only one. That may seem strange to you, but it is plain
enough in itself, and a sad thing to think on.--Well! as it is so,
my dear,--love your husband: think him the best of men, living or
dead,--the handsomest,--the kindest,--the most worthy,--the only man
deserving of that curious treasure your whole heart. And even then,
perhaps, though all this be done,--you may fail to be happy, as others
have who have done quite as much before you. But it is best to do it, as
being your duty before heaven and in your own conscience."

"And as for you, sir--" said she, addressing Colin, "look that you never
despise what you once loved; that you do not take up as a jewel what
you afterwards cast away as a stone. I have loved that girl from her
childhood; and now she is married, I would not have you do as some men
do. Take care of that. For if you do,--if you forget to look upon her
when she expects you,--if you leave her as an unwelcome thing in her
own house,--I tell you it will break her heart. I say you will break her
heart,--even as mine,--Heaven knows,--_is_ broken!"

And so saying, Mrs. Lupton shrieked hysterically, and fell back
insensible.

Grieved to the soul, Colin and his wife retired in tears, while Miss
Shirley assisted in having the poor lady conveyed to her own room and
laid in bed, where such restoratives were resorted to as her case
seemed to require. When she had somewhat recovered--"Walter!" she
exclaimed--"Walter! I want to see my husband."

After a while Mr. Lupton entered the chamber, and all present retired
into an adjoining room.

"Walter!" said she faintly, "I am going--but I wish to tell you I die in
peace--in _love_ with you, even now. Very soon and I shall trouble you
no more. But if I can come back to you, I will. I have loved and watched
over you here--I will do so hereafter. You shall see me--but do not be
afraid, for I would not injure you even to gain heaven. Try to be
good for the future, and then perhaps we may meet again. I have lost
happiness here, but I hope for it to come. It is mine, I know it is!
Heaven will not make me miserable for ever, as I have endured so much.
Give me your hand--say one good kind word to me--nay, kiss me truly, and
I am content. See you! There about the bed angels are asking me to come.
I knew they would. I knew those blessed creatures would pity my misery,
and wait for me when the gate of the Everlasting was opened. Heaven
bless you--bless you!" And as she uttered those words the gripe of her
hand on his became convulsive.

"_I will come again!_" she exclaimed with preternatural energy, as she
strove to rise up towards her husband, but sunk back dying,--dead, in
the effort.

If ever grief was in any house it was there on this occasion, when the
death of Mrs. Lupton became known. All the household, as well as those
who were not of it, flocked round the bed whereon she was laid, to weep
in truth and earnest heart over the corpse of one who had won all love
from all but him who should have loved her most--though from him she
had won it even at last when such love became useless. And if ever the
living felt truly that the dead should be strewn with flowers--"sweets
to the sweet,"--if ever it were felt that a funeral garment ought to
be decked with the choicest offerings of the garden, and the melancholy
grave be made beautiful,--assuredly was it felt then. Not one but felt
that a friend was lost,--that an emptiness existed in the bosom
unknown before, and never to be remedied; while some gave loose to
that expression of grief which tells us that all hope was gone with
the departed, and that the world had nothing more left in it for man to
love, or by man to be beloved.

Amongst those latter must be numbered Mr. Lupton himself. The words of
his dying wife had sunk deep into his soul--too deep ever again to be
eradicated. Misery had made him wise. Or, as Shakspeare has it--

                 "Being gone,--
     The hand would call her back that pushed her on."

But it was now too late. Nature's fiat had been pronounced, and man was
left to reconcile himself to her decree as best he might.

I shall not linger over this scene of death, save just to record how,
during some days, the body lay in solemn state in a certain room always
appropriated to that purpose; during which time it was looked upon by
many eyes that grew dim as they gazed, and spoken of by many a voice
that faltered and failed in the stifling effort to record the kindnesses
and virtues of the dead.

Mr. Lupton, it was observed, frequently haunted that room alone. There
lay a charm in it that he could not resist, and one that evidently day
by day gained power upon his mind.

Amongst other signs of his having become in some respects a changed man,
it was remarked that he gave strict orders that the private sitting room
of the departed lady should not under any circumstances be disturbed,
but that everything should remain exactly in the state in which she had
last left it. And so it remained. The very work-table stood open as when
last she had sat there; the snow-white muslin was thrown negligently
upon it; and there also lay the opened book with which, in some perhaps
painful moment, she had tried to beguile her weary heart, and to forget
her own too real sorrows in the imaginary joys described of another.

At length the night for the interment came. The doors which opened into
the court-yard, conducting to the little chapel, were thrown back upon
their reluctant hinges, and, amidst the uncertain and mingled light and
shadow produced by flickering torches, while all friends attended in a
black and mournful troop, the corpse of the Lady of Kiddal was carried
in and laid in like state beside the similar remains of many a fanciful
beauty and many a stalwart man who had laid down their beauty and their
strength, and gone in there before her.

Some time ere midnight the solemn ceremony was concluded, and the grave
doors were closed, not to be opened again, perhaps, until that widowed
man who now walked slowly from them should himself return, and, with the
tongue of death, demand a lodging there.

All gathered together in the great hall itself that night; and few, save
those to whom it was absolutely necessary to visit other portions of the
building, ventured out even with a light. The dead, somehow, seemed to
pervade every place under the roof, to have become endued, as it were,
with the principle of ubiquity, and to affright, with its presence,
the air of the whole house. The servants fancied they heard noises and
groanings, and took abundant pains to alarm one another with the most
horrible stories they could produce by the combination of memory and
invention. Neither, at last, did they retire to bed until, by common
consent, all had finished their work exactly at the same point of time,
so as to enable them to make their transit, from the great kitchen to
the top of the staircase, in one compact though small squadron.

Now, whether there be or be not any truth in the supposed appearance
of such disembodied forms as were here evidently dreaded to be seen, I
shall leave to the reader to determine for himself; but I am bound
to relate a curious occurrence which took place during the night, as
being--I can vouch for--a true part and parcel of this our history.



CHAPTER XVI.

_Relates what happened to Mr. Lupton on the night of the
funeral.--Together with some curious information respecting Longstaff,
and Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Pale-thorpe._

It was late when Colin Clink and his wife retired to rest. Their
apartment lay in a snug recess formed by the projection outside of two
tower-like portions of the building, in one of which also his father's
room was situated.

Setting aside all melancholy and superstitious influences arising from
the mournful ceremony which, so short a time before, had taken place,
the night seemed sad and forbidding in itself. When he looked a few
moments from the window it was as though the blind, dead sky came close
to the panes. The landscape that lay far below appeared a black gulf,
over which the soughing of the wind sounded like the fitful panting
breath, the expiring complaints, of some vast unseen creature of the
darkness, whose existence might thus be shadowed to the ear, though not
to the eyes, of man. But when associated with the melancholy subject
which weighed heavily on all hearts, its influence became far more
sensibly felt; and Colin could not but feel as though nature had
conspired with death to impress the loss that had just been sustained
more solemnly upon the mind.

During an hour or more after Mr. Lupton had retired, Colin indistinctly
heard his footsteps as he paced restlessly up and down the room, musing,
perhaps, on both long past and recent events, contrasting each, and
planning how the actions of his life, could that race but be run over
again, should assume a form and regulation different, in many things, to
those that had been.

Colin himself could not sleep, but lay awhile lost in thoughtful
abstraction, until at length he was startled by the sound of heavier
and more hasty feet in Mr. Lupton's chamber; just as though, in turning
round, a man should suddenly encounter one whom he did not wish to
see, and hastily fall back to avoid a closer meeting. A moment or two
afterwards he heard a heavy fall upon the ground.

Our hero instantly leaped up and hurriedly dressed himself again; but
before he had time to get out of his room, Mr. Lupton's bell had been
rung, and his valet summoned to him. Finding such to be the case, Colin
remained within his chamber. But shortly afterwards a knocking was
heard at his door, and on opening it he found the valet standing in
fear outside, and scarcely able to deliver in intelligible language
the message with which he was charged, desiring Colin, at Mr. Lupton's
earnest request, to go into the other chamber to him immediately.

This, fearing something had happened, he accordingly did; and having bid
the servant wait with a light in an unoccupied room not far off, shut
the door after him.

Near the old fire-place, in which yet burned the last embers of what
had been a comfortable fire, he found Mr. Lupton sitting in an antique
carved arm-chair, with a marvellous appearance of composure, an
expression of stillness that seemed almost unnatural, as though the
finger of some awful event had been laid upon his vital powers, and had
suddenly almost stopped them. It was as though his heart feared to beat
or his lips to breathe. At the same time his flesh was ghastly white,
his features were rigid, and his eyes dilated with an indescribable
expression of terror.

"Are you ill, sir?" demanded Colin with much concern. Mr. Lupton only
pressed the hand of the young man, as if glad once more to lay hold of
flesh and blood, and then drew him close to his side, by way of reply.

"I hope nothing has occurred?" again observed Colin. "But you are
ill,--I see you are."

"No!"--at length stammered his father tremulously, "but--my
boy--I--I--_have seen her!_"

And at the recollection of what he had seen, or fancied he had seen, he
shook violently, as though every nerve in his body was shattered.

"Seen who, sir?" exclaimed Colin, though turning pale with the instant
flash of consciousness that he _knew who_, as well as he that sat there
unmanned and trembling.

"She has been back to me, true enough," said he again; and shaking his
head just as might a man upon whom the awful doubt of an after-life has
just been made a woful certainty,--a plain and demonstrative
certainty,--by the vision of an immateriality far more positive in
itself, than the plainest of those whom Shelley has so finely described
as

     "The ghastly people of the realm of dream."

"Never heed it now, sir," rejoined the young man; "endeavour to calm
yourself, and try to forget it."

"Forget it!" repeated Mr. Lupton incredulously: "never,--never!--Oh
no,--no!" And as he spoke with more energy, and raised his voice in a
pathetic manner as addressing some being unseen, he continued,--"Oh, my
wife, my wife!--I am indeed wretched, very wretched!"

Again Colin endeavoured to persuade him out of this painful fear; but it
was not until a considerable time had elapsed in these efforts that he
even partially succeeded. Having, however, at length done so, he
sat down beside his father and remained with him, engaged in serious
conversation until daylight on the following morning. During that
discourse it is believed Mr. Lupton informed his son of every particular
touching the sight or the imagination which had thus affected him; but
farther than that they were never made known. Mr. Lupton himself, during
the whole remainder of his life, was never known upon any occasion even
to allude to such a circumstance as having ever even happened; and no
one ever ventured to speak of it before him. While Colin himself, who on
various occasions was questioned by his friends as to the nature of the
occurrences on that mysterious night, invariably returned this answer,
"that if any supernatural revelation had been made to his father, to him
alone it belonged to reveal it if he would: but as for himself, he could
not have anything to do with the especial secrets and the bosom business
of another individual."

This latter sentiment, however praiseworthy, I very strongly suspect to
be but a variation of one which he had often heard, and had picked up in
the learned school of Mr. Peter Veriquear.

Deprived as the curious thus were and are of information in that
direction, it yet became well known all over the country-side, some
time afterwards, that Mr. Lupton had become remarkably serious very soon
after his wife's death; and, unlike many in similar predicaments, from
whom such conduct might more have been expected, had actually continued
so ever since.

All the able theories that had been set afloat touching his second
marriage, for everybody, who knew nothing about it, believed he would be
married again, were found, day after day, and month after month, never
to be carried out on his part by any corresponding action; so that at
length the interested portion of the neighbourhood in this question were
fain to give him credit for being a good widower, who could not find in
his heart to marry again.

Another step also, which he subsequently took, must be here recorded.
After the occurrence of the important events so recently described,
Colin's father would no longer think of permitting him and his wife
again to leave the Hall and take up their residence elsewhere, as had
originally been intended. Considering all things that had happened, and
the state of his own feelings and sentiments thereon, Mr. Lupton now
declared it to be his fixed intention to instal the young couple at
once in that family residence, which he had already made provision
for eventually bequeathing to them, and of having them considered as
constituting, along with himself, the family and owners of the place. At
the same time he expressed his earnest desire that his son Colin should
take the management of his estates, as far as possible, into his own
hands; to which end he devoted considerable pains to qualify him;
observing that, however strange it might appear, he now felt but little
interest in those matters which formerly had occupied nearly all his
attention, and that for the future he wished to devote his time to such
study and pursuits as would be found more congenial with his feelings,
as well as better adapted to fit him for that great change which in no
very distant years he must undergo.

This arrangement being agreed to, and eventually acted upon, much to the
satisfaction of all parties, Colin was soon looked upon as the greatest
man in that parish where once we found him, a miserable child of
misfortune, turned rudely out of his cradle at night, and sent by a
hard-hearted steward to starve with his mother beneath the naked sky, or
find a shelter under the poorest hovel of the fields.

As to that same steward, the notorious Mr. Longstaff, whom, it may be
remembered, Colin's mother had once charged with having, in conjunction
with his wife, been the cause of her betrayal and misfortune, he had now
grown an old man, but still occupied the same situation, now that Colin
became his master, as he did when first the reader was introduced to
him.

Prophecies sometimes come true; or, rather let me say, that observations
made perhaps without a definite meaning, occasionally become prophetical
as proved by the event. When Mr. Longstaff turned Mrs. Clink out of her
house on the eventful night we have just alluded to, it will not perhaps
have been forgotten that she pointed towards the little bed in which our
then little hero lay, and addressing the steward, exclaimed, "_There's
a sting in that cradle for you yet!_" Mr. Longstaff himself remembered
these words, and trembled when he found to what influence and
station the Squire had exalted his son. And though, I verily believe,
notwithstanding his deserts, that Colin would never have molested him,
but rather have forgiven and returned good for evil, yet, as though
retributive justice was not to be turned aside, it oddly enough was
discovered by Colin and Mr. Lupton, on examining his accounts, that
certain defalcations to a large extent and of long standing existed,
and by the produce of which knavery it was supposed he had contrived to
bribe a sufficient number of independent ten pounders in a neighbouring
town to get his son, Mr. Chatham B. Longstaff, returned to Parliament,
as well as to portion off his two daughters, Miss Æneasina Laxton
and Miss Magota, on their respective marriages; one with a well-to-do
musician, and the other a ditto draper and haberdasher.

On this discovery the steward was peremptorily discharged, on Mr.
Lupton's authority, by Colin in person, and afterwards threatened with
a prosecution. But as he made himself quite as humble as he had before
been proud, said a great many pitiful things about the dignity of his
family and the ruin of his character, as well as promised to pay the
several sums back again, if not before, at least very soon after his son
should have got a place under Government, the Squire consented, under
the influence of his son's persuasions, to let the old boy off and
suffer the grievance to be hushed up by them, and misrepresented for the
better by Mr. Longstaff himself and his clever family.

I am not certain, but to the best of my memory Mr. Longstaff eventually
established himself as landlord of a small inn in a country town some
sixty or seventy miles from the scene of his former exploits. For this
duty, in fact, he was by nature quite as well, if not better qualified,
than for some other of a more ambitious nature which he had previously
taken upon himself.

To return to our more immediate friends, it is necessary now to state,
that although Mr. Lupton had practically given up almost every power and
authority connected with his own extensive establishment and estates,
and placed them in the hands of his son, he yet deemed it his duty to
continue those official duties connected with the administration of
justice which he had fulfilled during so long a period of years. Owing
to this determination on his part it is that we stand indebted for a
scene between two old and familiar acquaintances of the reader's,
which otherwise we could not have enjoyed any possible opportunity of
witnessing.

Some months had elapsed after the establishment of our hero in the house
of his father, when, one day, as he was pacing up and down the lawn,
with his wife upon his arm, he observed an unfortunate-looking woman,
with a countenance deeply expressive of disappointment and indignation,
advancing towards the Hall, and apparently from the direction of the
Whinmoor-road. The harsh and half-prim, half-slatternly outline of the
figure would instantly have assured him, even if other characteristics
had failed, that in the individual who approached he beheld the
never-to-be-forgotten Miss Sowersoft.

When sufficiently near to recognise her and be recognised by her, she
came to a full-stop, in order at a respectful distance to pass her
compliments, and evince her good-breeding by courtesying very low, and
muttering, "Good morning to you, sir!"

"Good morning, Miss Sowersoft!" answered Colin.

Again she courtesied as she addressed Mrs. Jane with another "Good
morning to you, ma'am!" She then continued, "I beg your pardon, sir, but
I am not Miss Sowersoft now. I am sure I never expected to say that I
_regretted_ being Mrs. Palethorpe!"

"Indeed!" exclaimed Colin. "How is that?"

"Oh, sir!" rejoined Mrs. Palethorpe, "I do not wish to remind you
of those circumstances--unfortunate circumstances I am sure they
were--which brought me into connexion with you in your juvenile days;
but I am sure you cannot forget what a brute that man was from first to
last: you must be aware that it was next to impossible for anybody to
live in the same house with him even at that time. But I have been a
poor infatuated creature!" Here she began to cry. "Though I am paying
dearly for it now! He is a sad man indeed!"

Colin now observed that his old mistress had very recently been favoured
with a remarkably black eye.

"Does he ill-use you?" demanded Colin more seriously.

"He is a disgrace, sir,--though I say it that should not,--a disgrace
and scandal to the name of man! I have come here, sir, I assure you, to
see if the Squire will bind him over to keep the peace towards me; for
only last night,--and it is his regular work now he is married, and
master of the farm,--only last night he came down from Barwick as drunk
as a lord, and he insisted on having a posset immediately. The fire was
out, sir,"--Mrs. Palethorpe here wept afresh,--"and Dorothy was gone to
bed."

Mrs. Palethorpe could not (for human nature will fail and sink
sometimes) get any further.

Though Colin and Jane had much ado to forbear laughing at this account
of her grievances, the former yet requested her to be comforted; and
assured her that he had no doubt Mr. Lupton would very soon take
such steps with Mr. Palethorpe as should effectually prevent him from
resorting to personal violence for the future.

"As, I suppose," he continued, "this black eye is an evidence of some of
his handiwork?"

"It is, sir!" exclaimed Mrs. Samuel, with passionate firmness. "I simply
told him as gently as I could how circumstances stood, when he made no
more to do than strike me two or three blows--he repeated them--in the
face, and made me this figure, that I am ashamed of anybody seeing me!"
And then she covered her face with her handkerchief.

Without farther parley, Colin now bade Mrs. Palethorpe follow him, and
led her into the presence of the Squire. That gentleman, for the first
time since the death of his wife, was observed to smile when made
acquainted with the poor woman's story. In the course of making out her
case, she informed Mr. Lupton how, upon her visit with Palethorpe to
London, she had somehow consented in a foolish moment to be married
to him, immediately on their return; that, accordingly, that event had
taken place at Barwick Church; how tipsy he got the first day of their
wedding; how scandalously he had neglected everything since, except his
drinking; and how abominably he had treated her almost from that very
day up to the present moment.

As Mr. Lupton had previously been made familiar with the whole story
of their love and their conduct by Colin, he did not feel any very deep
grief at Mrs. Palethorpe's present case; though, at the same time, he
rejoiced at the opportunity afforded him for punishing as degraded and
criminal a being as ever was brought before him. He accordingly issued
a warrant for Palethorpe's apprehension, and during the same day had him
brought up. When he made his appearance Colin was in the next room, and
beheld a countenance more expressive at once of the ferocious brute and
the sot than could probably be met with anywhere else throughout the
country side. Mr. Palethorpe seemed indeed to have made himself so
uncommonly glorious the night before, as to forestall all the glory of
the ensuing forty-eight hours. His eyes had much the look of a couple
of red coddled gooseberries, and his mouth that of one of those sun-made
rifts which, during the dry summer-time he trod over in his own baked
fallow fields.

"I didn't mean to hurt meesis!" said he, in reply to the complaint urged
against him. "I was raither insinuated in drink when I did it."

"But you must be a most brutal fellow," replied the Squire, "to strike
your own wife."

[Illustration: 008]

"I didn't want to marry her!" exclaimed Palethorpe. "She collyfugled me
into it, by dint of likker and possets; and so she has herself to thank
for't!"

And on the delivery of this heroic sentiment Mr. Palethorpe stared at
all present with the confidence of one who feels that the victory is
already his. Unluckily for him, however, Mr. Lupton did not take that
sort of logic as correspondent with law; but instead, ordered him to pay
a crown for having been drunk, and committed him for a fortnight to
that identical place to which the prisoner himself and his lady had once
threatened to send Colin,--I mean York Castle,--for the assault upon his
wife. In addition to this, it is perhaps scarcely necessary to add, he
was bound in sureties to keep the peace towards all the King's subjects
for the space of one year;--a restriction which not only materially
lessened the amount of domestic revolutions in the farm at Whinmoor,
but also the number of physical outbreaks at the various pot-houses and
village wakes throughout the surrounding neighbourhood.

Unblessed with any of those delightful little children to rear up and
spoil, upon which she had so enthusiastically counted,--rendered still
more crabbed than ever before by the lasting disappointment she had
experienced, Mrs. Palethorpe passed a life of that peculiar kind of
misery which has no parallel here on earth, but which any married couple
desirous of testing may do so by carrying on against each other,
in small matters as well as in great, an everlasting war of mutual
annoyances and reprisals upon each other's happiness.

In other words, she and her husband, during their whole after journey
through the world, regarded each other as the most mortal enemy that
either had ever encountered.



CHAPTER XVII.

_A village festival on a great occasion.--The woes of Mr. Peter
Veriquear._

Could the good reader who has patiently travelled with me so far, and
at length has reached the last milestone, as it were, upon our journey,
could he, I repeat, have been present at Kiddal Hall, some five or six
years later than the occurrence of the last described events, he would
have seen a joyous sight. Once more did the old house look gay. A grand
entertainment was given to all the surrounding residents, as well as the
private friends of the occupants. Various gay devices adorned the walls;
temporary bowers and archways trimmed with ribands and flowers, were
erected in the gardens; a flag waved gloriously from the topmost peak
of the building; tables were spread over the green open space, in the
middle of the village of Bramleigh; labour was laid aside, and every
soul seemed to rejoice over the occasion of this holiday. It was May
time. The pleasant farms seemed buried in the pink and white bloom of
the orchards; the lilacs drooped over garden-walls, borne down by the
weight of their own flowers; and the sunshine flecked with beautiful
patches of light the hollow green lanes, which, throughout that rural
district, formed a welcome substitute for the hard pavement and the
unpicturesque dwellings of a great city.

By a special act on the part of Mr. Lupton, it had some time before
been settled, that Colin and his wife should thenceforth take the family
name, as though no other had been borne by them. This had accordingly
been done; and therefore, I may now declare, that on this day (the happy
day here spoken of) was celebrated the birth of the first son of Colin
and Jane Lupton. Already had they been blessed with two girls, that now
had become by far the prettiest ornaments, the most beloved treasures,
of the house. But the birth of a son was, as usual in similar cases,
an event to be regarded with far greater interest, arising from
circumstances which it would be superfluous to explain. Proudly did
these two young and happy people walk amongst the tenantry, rejoicing in
the earnest good wishes which, were heard on every side, for their long
life and continued happiness: though in one sense, more proudly still
did the father of Colin himself look upon the generous homage thus paid
them, and in the silent thankfulness of his own breast contemplate the
rising and beautiful little family around him.

To add to the general joy of the friends assembled at the Hall, Mr.
Roger Calvert and Fanny Woodruff, after a courtship of unaccountable
duration, had selected that day also as their wedding-day; and now,
along with the father of the latter, and the whole family of the former,
(for it is needless almost to say, that a reconciliation between them
and Colin had long ago been effected,) joined at once in each other's
pleasure, and that of the inhabitants of Kiddal.

One incident alone, which is worthy of particular record, occurred
to cast a temporary sadness over this scene of festive rejoicing: an
incident which, though it began in mirth, concluded with a brief tale of
misfortune and endurance, which for some time afterwards caused Colin to
forget his own happiness, in contemplating the misfortune and helpless
poverty of one whom we may term an old acquaintance.

Somewhere about dusk in the evening, Colin walked forth into the
village, for the purpose of witnessing the enjoyment of others; and
amongst many other signs that all were happy and contented, he observed
a knot of country bumpkins gathered round something which had attracted
their attention in the middle of the highway, and that appeared to
afford them the highest degree of amusement, judging by the frequent and
loud peals of boisterous laughter which broke from the assembled crowd.
No sooner did the latter observe who approached, than they respectfully
fell back, in order to allow him a sight of the object they had
surrounded. Colin instantly perceived a man past the middle age, and,
apparently, worn down by trouble and poverty combined, with a pack on
his back, not unlike a travelling pedlar,--a stick in his hand to assist
him in his progress, and a small, shaggy, wiry-haired terrier, cringing
in alarm close at his heels.

The first sight of this odd figure was quite sufficient to assure
Colin that he beheld no other than poor Peter Veriquear himself! Colin
instantly ordered the people to stand back; and, to the amazement of
all the clod-hoppers around, hurriedly seized him by the hand, with the
exclamation--"Mr. Veriquear!--Or is it possible I can be mistaken?"

"Whether you are mistaken or not," replied the individual thus
addressed, "is your own business and not mine. Just as it is my business
to say I am very glad to see my old assistant, Mr. Colin Clink."

"But how,--under what strange circumstances have you come here, and in
this manner?" demanded Colin.

"That," replied Peter, "you must be aware is my own concern and not
yours. Though perhaps,"--and he paused a moment,--"perhaps I ought to
make it my business to tell you all about it."

"Certainly," responded Colin, "for I can assure you, in your own
language, that I feel it to be my business to know. But come," he
continued, and at the same time motioning as though to lead him
away,--"let me conduct you to better quarters than you will at present
find in the village, and where we can talk over in a more private manner
those things which I certainly feel somewhat anxious to hear."

To this proposal Mr. Veriquear at once assented, with the remark that
as Mr. Clink made it his own business to take him to good quarters, it
could not possibly be any concern of his to object. And accordingly Mr.
Peter Veriquear and his dog accompanied Colin to Kiddal Hall, where the
first-named gentleman soon found himself seated at a plentiful table in
the great kitchen, while the companion of his travels was accommodated,
much to his satisfaction, with equally as abundant a meal provided for
him at the entrance to an empty kennel which stood in the court-yard.

When Peter had sufficiently satisfied himself after this fashion, he
attended the summons of the friend who assuredly in former times had
been indebted to him, and was conducted into a private room where Colin
had proposed to meet him alone.

"Ah, sir!" said Peter, as he took a chair and placed himself over
against Colin, "you will feel quite as much astonished to find me sunk
so low, as I am to see how high you have risen. Though to be sure," he
continued hesitatingly, "it is your business to be astonished at me, as
it is mine to do the same by you."

"Why, what can possibly have happened?" asked the other.

"Sad things!" replied Peter. "In the first place, I have lost
every one--there is not a single soul left--of all my family. Mrs.
Veriquear,--the little Veriquears that you used to take such pleasure
in drawing about in the coach,--all have been taken away from me. One of
those horrible fevers which it is the business of Providence sometimes
to send into the heart of a great city like that in which I lived, laid
them down almost all together on beds of sickness. They lay ill for some
time, during which the doctor made it his affair to physic them so much
that the stock of bottles in my warehouse was very materially increased.
At the same time the rag trade was torn to rags by competition; while
the 'rents' became bigger every year in proportion. One after another
the family dropped off; until really, grieved as I was, I could not help
thinking that the undertaker did nothing in the world else but make it
his business to go backwards and forwards from his own house to mine."

Colin scarcely knew in what manner to reply to this statement, as it
would have raised a smile on the face of Pity herself; but by dint of
considerable efforts he contrived to look sufficiently grave, and bid
Mr. Veriquear proceed.

"The consequence of all this was that nearly everything I had saved to
keep my family alive, was spent in putting them into the ground. The
marrow, as I may say, of my bone of fortune was picked out, and my
poverty was left with scarcely a rag to cover her. However, I thought it
my best way to bottle up my complaints; and since Providence had made
it her business to visit me with afflictions, I would make it mine to
endure as patiently as I could."

"A worthy resolution!" observed his auditor, "and very highly to your
credit."

"However," continued Peter, "after these misfortunes were over, my
old house seemed such a desert to me that I could not endure it.
Everywhere it appeared that I ought to meet one or other of them, and
yet I was always disappointed,--always alone! Used to having those
little people for ever about my feet,--to feed them at my table,--to
talk about them to my wife,--to think how I should dispose of them
as they grew up, and speculate on their luck in after-life,--and thus
suddenly to be deprived of them all,--to have all swept away,--not one
left,--not a solitary one! to be myself the only one where there had
been many,--I assure you, sir, that sometimes I felt terrified at my own
shadow as it chased along the wall by lamplight, and seemed to reproach
me with being the only creature left there alive. I could have fancied
myself like a solitary spider in a huge closet of a house without any
other tenant, and that has nothing to do but sit in the heart of its
own web, silently waiting and waiting for other living things besides
itself, which never come, until at length it withers imperceptibly, and
is found dead in its home by some visitor at last."

Peter's feelings had now made him too eloquent even for himself, and
certain hard tears which appeared to be looking about for, and puzzled
to find a furrow to run in, scrambled oddly down his cheeks.

"The place," he continued, "made me nervous. Sometimes I fancied I heard
the voices of my children crying above stairs, or below, or laughing in
the yard. I have even been foolish enough, weak enough, to make it my
business to go up or down sometimes to see. The little chairs and stools
were there, or, perhaps, the playthings I had once chidden them for
breaking. How I then regretted it! Could I have had them back again,
they might have pulled my very house to pieces, but I should have been a
happy man! If you have children, sir, may you never lose them as I have
done!"

Colin could not but feel Mr. Veriquear's words, while he requested him
to conclude his narrative.

"At last," added Peter, "I made it my business to dispose of my
business, and sell all off I had. And though it was a good deal to look
at, it produced me little money. However, as I could no longer endure
the place, I made the best of the case I could, and resolved to travel
back to the place where I originally came from, and pass the rest of my
life there, without any other attempt to make my fortune."

"And, pray, Mr. Veriquear," asked his entertainer, "in what part of the
country may that be?"

"I was born," answered Peter, "in one of the Orkney Islands, and am now
going back on foot, as you see me; only as I supposed very possibly I
might find you here, or, at least, hear something of you, I came partly
out of my way in order to do so; and, in fact, I was making inquiries of
those clowns at the very time that you made it your business to come up
to me."

Mr. Colin Lupton certainly felt more on hearing this story than he
expressed in words to the relater of it. But by his actions its effect
upon him may be judged, as he insisted on poor Peter being well lodged
for the night, and before his departure on the following day, made him
such a present as, most probably, would entitle him to be considered a
man of some small substance in the little Orkney Island, towards which
he shortly afterwards finally steered his course.

Having now brought the fortunes of most of the principal characters who
have figured in these pages to a close, it only remains for me to relate
some few stray scraps of information upon subjects on which the reader
may not now feel fully satisfied.

It will, perhaps, be remembered, that the last time we parted with
Doctor Rowel,--that infamous agent in as infamous a description of
practice as ever man carried on and escaped the gallows,--we left him in
a state of high mental excitement, bound in his carriage and conveyed
by his friends to the house of his brother, on the borders of Sherwood
forest. To reduce that excitement, or even to prevent its eventually
increasing to a state of violent and confirmed madness, all medicine,
restraint, or care, was found unavailing; and, eventually, he was
confined for life in a public institution for the reception of demented
individuals. There he raved almost continually about an imaginary
skeleton, in an imaginary box, which he supposed to be placed close to
his bedside. He declared it lied for having told such tales of him; and
often gave utterance to certain unintelligible jargon, wherein the names
of Woodruff, of his sister Frances, and of his niece, were mingled in
curious confusion. Sometimes he would roll on the ground, and cry out,
as though some powerful hand was on his throat, and a weight upon his
breast--telling, almost, that the fearful struggle between his former
prisoner and himself, yet retained doubtful hold upon his mind, and yet
occasionally punished him over again, more severely perhaps than even at
the period of its actual occurrence. Altogether he continued to exhibit
to the very last a picture of misery and horror, not easily, even if it
were needful, to be described.

With respect to Mrs. Luptons early friend, Miss Mary Shirley, her entire
devotion to that unfortunate lady, through a long period of years, the
tenderness with which she had comforted her in her afflictions, and
the constancy with which she had maintained the spirits of that unhappy
wife, endeared her to all who in the least were acquainted with her
merits. For a while she took upon herself, at Mrs. Jane's earnest
entreaty, and in conjunction with herself, the management of Colin's
little family.

THE END.





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