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´╗┐Title: The Gerrard Street Mystery and Other Weird Tales
Author: Dent, John Charles
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Gerrard Street Mystery and Other Weird Tales" ***

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THE
GERRARD STREET MYSTERY
AND OTHER
WEIRD TALES.

BY

JOHN CHARLES DENT.



PREFATORY SKETCH.

John Charles Dent, the author of the following remarkable stories, was
born in Kendal, Westmorland, England, in 1841. His parents emigrated to
Canada shortly after that event, bringing with them, of course, the
youth who was afterwards to become the Canadian author and historian.
Mr. Dent received his primary education in Canadian schools, and
afterwards studied law, becoming in due course a member of the Upper
Canada Bar. He only practised for a few years. He found the profession
profitable enough but uncongenial--as it could not well help being, in
an obscure Canadian, village, twenty years ago--and very probably he
was already cherishing ambitious dreams of literary labors, which he
was eager to begin in the world's literary centre, London. He
accordingly relinquished his practice as soon as he felt himself in a
position to do so, and went to England. He had not miscalculated his
powers, as too many do under like circumstances. He soon found
remunerative literary work, and as he became better known, was engaged
to write for several high-class periodicals, notably, _Once a
Week_, for which he contributed a series of articles on interesting
topics. But in England Mr. Dent produced no very long or ambitious
work. Perhaps he found that the requisite time for such an undertaking
could not be spared. At this period he had a wife and family depending
on him for support, and it speaks well for his abilities, that he was
able to amply provide for them out of the profits solely derived from
his literary labours. But of course to do this he had to devote himself
to work that could be thrown off readily, and which could be as readily
sold.

After remaining in England for several years, Mr. Dent and his family
returned to America. He obtained a position in Boston, which he held
for about two years. But he finally relinquished it and came to
Toronto, having accepted a position on the editorial staff of the
_Telegram_, which was then just starting. For several years Mr.
Dent devoted himself to journalistic labours on various newspapers, but
principally the _Toronto Weekly Globe_. To that journal he
contributed a very notable series of biographical sketches on "Eminent
Canadians." Shortly after the death of the Hon. George Brown, Mr. Dent
severed his connection with the _Globe_, and immediately
thereafter commenced his first ambitious undertaking, _The Canadian
Portrait Gallery_, which ran to four large volumes. It proved to be
a most creditable and successful achievement. Of course in a brief
sketch no detailed criticism of either this or the succeeding works can
be attempted. Suffice it to say that the biographies of Canadian public
men, living and dead, were carefully prepared, and written from an
un-partisan standpoint. In this book there was no padding; every
individual admitted had achieved something of national value, and the
biographies are, therefore, of importance to the student of Canadian
history. This book deserved and attained a considerable circulation,
and brought to its author a comparatively large sum of money.

Mr. Dent's second book was "The Last Forty Years: Canada since the
Union of 1841." This work has been highly praised in all quarters, and
is in every way a credit to its author's really brilliant powers as a
literary artist.

The third work was a "History of the Rebellion in Upper Canada."
Although written in his best manner, with the greatest possible care,
from authentic sources of information not hitherto accessible, this
work has had the misfortune to meet with undeservedly severe criticism.
When Mr. Dent began his studies for the book he held William-Lyon
Mackenzie in high esteem, but he found it necessary afterwards to
change his opinion. He was able to throw a flood of new light on the
characters of the men who took part in the struggle, and if the facts
tended to darken the fair fame of some of them, the historian certainly
ought not to be censured for it. The tendency of the book was decidedly
in opposition to the ideas entertained to this day by the partizans of
the "Old Family Compact" on the one side, and also to the friends and
admirers of William Lyon Mackenzie on the other.

But the severe criticism the work sustained, has left it stronger than
before, and it will stand undoubtedly as by far the best history of the
"Rebellion" that has appeared.

In addition to these important works on which his reputation as a
writer will rest, Mr. Dent has written from time to time a great many
sketches, essays and stories, some of which are exceedingly interesting
and worthy of being preserved. All of Mr. Dent's work contains a charm
of its own. In writing, history, he was in accord with Macaulay. He
always believed that a true story should be told as agreeably as a
fictitious one; "that the incidents of real life, whether political or
domestic, admit of being so arranged as, without detriment to accuracy,
to command all the interest of an artificial series of facts; that the
chain of circumstances which constitute history may be as finely and
gracefully woven as any tale of fancy." Acting upon this theory, he has
made Canadian history very interesting reading. He is to my mind the
only historian, beside Mr. Parkman, who has been able to make Canadian
events so dry in detail, fascinating throughout.

In private life, Mr. Dent was a most estimable man. He possessed
qualities of mind and heart, having their visible outcome in a
courteous, genial manner that endeared him very closely to his friends.
With all his wealth of learning, which was very great, he was
light-hearted, witty and companionable, and his early death leaves a
gap not very easily closed.

The four stories composing the present volume were contributed by their
author at considerable intervals to different periodicals. Some time
prior to his death he contemplated publishing them in book form, and
actually selected and carefully revised them with that purpose in view.
He thought they were worthy of being rescued from obscurity, and if we
compare them with much of a similar class of work constantly issuing
from the press, we cannot think that his judgment erred. They are now
published in accordance with his wish, to take their chances in the
great world of literature.

                                        R. W. D.

TORONTO, Oct. 25th, 1888.



CONTENTS


  THE GERRARD STREET MYSTERY
  GAGTOOTH'S IMAGE
  THE HAUNTED HOUSE ON DUCHESS STREET
  SAVAREEN'S DISAPPEARANCE



THE GERRARD STREET MYSTERY.

I.


My name is William Francis Furlong. My occupation is that of a
commission merchant, and my place of business is on St. Paul Street, in
the City of Montreal. I have resided in Montreal ever since shortly
after my marriage, in 1862, to my cousin, Alice Playter, of Toronto. My
name may not be familiar to the present generation of Torontonians,
though I was born in Toronto, and passed the early years of my life
there. Since the days of my youth my visits to the Upper Province have
been few, and--with one exception--very brief; so that I have doubtless
passed out of the remembrance of many persons with whom I was once on
terms of intimacy. Still, there are several residents of Toronto whom I
am happy to number among my warmest personal friends at the present
day. There are also a good many persons of middle age, not in Toronto
only, but scattered here and there throughout various parts of Ontario,
who will have no difficulty in recalling my name as that of one of
their fellow-students at Upper Canada College. The name of my late
uncle, Richard Yardington, is of course well known to all old residents
of Toronto, where he spent the last thirty-two years of his life. He
settled there in the year 1829, when the place was still known as
Little York. He opened a small store on Yonge Street, and his
commercial career was a reasonably prosperous one. By steady degrees
the small store developed into what, in those times, was regarded as a
considerable establishment. In the course of years the owner acquired a
competency, and in 1854 retired from business altogether. From that
time up to the day of his death he lived in his own house on Gerrard
Street.

After mature deliberation, I have resolved to give to the Canadian
public an account of some rather singular circumstances connected
with my residence in Toronto. Though repeatedly urged to do so, I
have hitherto refrained from giving any extended publicity to those
circumstances, in consequence of my inability to see any good to
be served thereby. The only person, however, whose reputation can be
injuriously affected by the details has been dead for some years. He
has left behind him no one whose feelings can be shocked by the
disclosure, and the story is in itself sufficiently remarkable to be
worth the telling. Told, accordingly, it shall be; and the only
fictitious element introduced into the narrative shall be the name of
one of the persons most immediately concerned in it.

At the time of taking up his abode in Toronto--or rather in Little
York--my uncle Richard was a widower, and childless; his wife having
died several months previously. His only relatives on this side of the
Atlantic were two maiden sisters, a few years younger than himself. He
never contracted a second matrimonial alliance, and for some time after
his arrival here his sisters lived in his house, and were dependent
upon him for support. After the lapse of a few years both of them
married and settled down in homes of their own. The elder of them
subsequently became my mother. She was left a widow when I was a mere
boy, and survived my father only a few months. I was an only child,
and as my parents had been in humble circumstances, the charge of my
maintenance devolved upon my uncle, to whose kindness I am indebted for
such educational training as I have received. After sending me to
school and college for several years, he took me into his store, and
gave me my first insight into commercial life. I lived with him, and
both then and always received at his hands the kindness of a father, in
which light I eventually almost came to regard him. His younger
sister, who was married to a watchmaker called Elias Playter, lived
at Quebec from the time of her marriage until her death, which took
place in 1846. Her husband had been unsuccessful in business, and
was moreover of dissipated habits. He was left with one child--a
daughter--on his hands; and as my uncle was averse to the idea of his
sister's child remaining under the control of one so unfit to provide
for her welfare, he proposed to adopt the little girl as his own. To
this proposition Mr. Elias Playter readily assented, and little Alice
was soon domiciled with her uncle and myself in Toronto.

Brought up, as we were, under the same roof, and seeing each other
every day of our lives, a childish attachment sprang up between my
cousin Alice and myself. As the years rolled by, this attachment
ripened into a tender affection, which eventually resulted in an
engagement between us. Our engagement was made with the full and
cordial approval of my uncle, who did not share the prejudice
entertained by many persons against marriages between cousins. He
stipulated, however, that our marriage should be deferred until I had
seen somewhat more of the world, and until we had both reached an age
when we might reasonably be presumed to know our own minds. He was
also, not unnaturally, desirous that before taking upon myself the
responsibility of marriage I should give some evidence of my ability to
provide for a wife, and for other contingencies usually consequent upon
matrimony. He made no secret of his intention to divide his property
between Alice and myself at his death; and the fact that no actual
division would be necessary in the event of our marriage with each
other was doubtless one reason for his ready acquiescence in our
engagement. He was, however, of a vigorous constitution, strictly
regular and methodical in all his habits, and likely to live to an
advanced age. He could hardly be called parsimonious, but, like most
men who have successfully fought their own way through life, he was
rather fond of authority, and little disposed to divest himself of his
wealth until he should have no further occasion for it. He expressed
his willingness to establish me in business, either in Toronto or
elsewhere, and to give me the benefit of his experience in all
mercantile transactions.

When matters had reached this pass I had just completed my twenty-first
year, my cousin being three years younger. Since my uncle's retirement
I had engaged in one or two little speculations on my own account,
which had turned out fairly successful, but I had not devoted
myself to any regular or fixed pursuit. Before any definite
arrangements had been concluded as to the course of my future life, a
circumstance occurred which seemed to open a way for me to turn to good
account such mercantile talent as I possessed. An old friend of my
uncle's opportunely arrived in Toronto from Melbourne, Australia,
where, in the course of a few years, he had risen from the position of
a junior clerk to that of senior partner in a prominent commercial
house. He painted the land of his adoption in glowing colours, and
assured my uncle and myself that it presented an inviting field for a
young man of energy and business capacity, more especially if he had a
small capital at his command. The matter was carefully debated in our
domestic circle. I was naturally averse to a separation from Alice, but
my imagination took fire at Mr. Redpath's glowing account of his own
splendid success. I pictured myself returning to Canada after an
absence of four or five years with a mountain of gold at my command, as
the result of my own energy and acuteness. In imagination, I saw myself
settled down with Alice in a palatial mansion on Jarvis Street, and
living in affluence all the rest of my days. My uncle bade me consult
my own judgment in the matter, but rather encouraged the idea than
otherwise. He offered to advance me L500, and I had about half that
sum as the result of my own speculations. Mr. Redpath, who was just
about returning to Melbourne, promised to aid me to the extent of his
power with his local knowledge and advice. In less than a fortnight
from that time he and I were on our way to the other side of the globe.

We reached our destination early in the month of September, 1857. My
life in Australia has no direct bearing upon the course of events to be
related, and may be passed over in a very few words. I engaged in
various enterprises, and achieved a certain measure of success. If none
of my ventures proved eminently prosperous, I at least met with no
serious disasters. At the end of four years--that is to say, in
September, 1861--I made up my account with the world, and found I was
worth ten thousand dollars. I had, however, become terribly homesick,
and longed for the termination of my voluntary exile. I had, of course,
kept up a regular correspondence with Alice and Uncle Richard, and of
late they had both pressed me to return home. "You have enough," wrote
my uncle, "to give you a start in Toronto, and I see no reason why
Alice and you should keep apart any longer. You will have no
housekeeping expenses, for I intend you to live with me. I am getting
old, and shall be glad of your companionship in my declining years. You
will have a comfortable home while I live, and when I die you will get
all I have between you. Write as soon as you receive this, and let us
know how soon you can be here,--the sooner the better."

The letter containing this pressing invitation found me in a mood very
much disposed to accept it. The only enterprise I had on hand which
would be likely to delay me was a transaction in wool, which, as I
believed, would be closed by the end of January or the beginning of
February. By the first of March I should certainly be in a condition to
start on my homeward voyage, and I determined that my departure should
take place about that time. I wrote both to Alice and my uncle,
apprising them of my intention, and announcing my expectation to reach
Toronto not later than the middle of May.

The letters so written were posted on the 19th of September, in time
for the mail which left on the following day. On the 27th, to my huge
surprise and gratification, the wool transaction referred to was
unexpectedly concluded, and I was at liberty, if so disposed, to start
for home by the next fast mail steamer, the _Southern Cross_,
leaving Melbourne on the 11th of October. I _was_ so disposed, and made
my preparations accordingly. It was useless, I reflected, to write to
my uncle or to Alice, acquainting them with the change in my plans, for
I should take the shortest route home, and should probably be in
Toronto as soon as a letter could get there. I resolved to telegraph
from New York, upon my arrival there, so as not to take them altogether
by surprise.

The morning of the 11th of October found me on board the _Southern
Cross_, where I shook hands with Mr. Redpath and several other
friends who accompanied me on board for a last farewell. The
particulars of the voyage to England are not pertinent to the story,
and may be given very briefly. I took the Red Sea route, and arrived at
Marseilles about two o'clock in the afternoon of the 29th of November.
From Marseilles I travelled by rail to Calais, and so impatient was I
to reach my journey's end without loss of time, that I did not even
stay over to behold the glories of Paris. I had a commission to execute
in London, which, however, delayed me there only a few hours, and I
hurried down to Liverpool, in the hope of catching the Cunard Steamer
for New York. I missed it by about two hours, but the _Persia_ was
detailed to start on a special trip to Boston on the following day. I
secured a berth, and at eight o'clock the next morning steamed out of
the Mersey on my way homeward.

The voyage from Liverpool to Boston consumed fourteen days. All I need
say about it is, that before arriving at the latter port I formed an
intimate acquaintance with one of the passengers--Mr. Junius H. Gridley,
a Boston merchant, who was returning from a hurried business trip to
Europe. He was--and is--a most agreeable companion. We were thrown
together a good deal during the voyage, and we then laid the foundation
of a friendship which has ever since subsisted between us. Before the
dome of the State House loomed in sight he had extracted a promise from
me to spend a night with him before pursuing my journey. We landed at
the wharf in East Boston on the evening of the 17th of December, and I
accompanied him to his house on West Newton Street, where I remained
until the following morning. Upon consulting the time-table, we found
that the Albany express would leave at 11.30 a.m. This left several
hours at my disposal, and we sallied forth immediately after breakfast
to visit some of the lions of the American Athens.

In the course of our peregrinations through the streets, we dropped
into the post-office, which had recently been established in the
Merchants' Exchange Building, on State Street. Seeing the countless
piles of mail-matter, I jestingly remarked to my friend that there
seemed to be letters enough there to go around the whole human family.
He replied in the same mood, whereupon I banteringly suggested the
probability that among so many letters, surely there ought to be one
for me.

"Nothing more reasonable," he replied. "We Bostonians are always
bountiful to strangers. Here is the General Delivery, and here is the
department where letters addressed to the Furlong family are kept in
stock. Pray inquire for yourself."

The joke I confess was not a very brilliant one; but with a grave
countenance I stepped up to the wicket and asked the young lady in
attendance:

"Anything for W. F. Furlong?"

She took from a pigeon-hole a handful of correspondence, and proceeded
to run her eye over the addresses. When about half the pile had been
exhausted she stopped, and propounded the usual inquiry in the case of
strangers:

"Where do you expect letters from?"

"From Toronto," I replied.

To my no small astonishment she immediately handed me a letter, bearing
the Toronto post-mark. The address was in the peculiar and well-known
handwriting of my uncle Richard.

Scarcely crediting the evidence of my senses I tore open the envelope,
and read as follows:--



                                "TORONTO, 9th December, 1861.

"MY DEAR WILLIAM--I am so glad to know that you are coming home so much
sooner than you expected when you wrote last, and that you will eat
your Christmas dinner with us. For reasons which you will learn when
you arrive, it will not be a very merry Christmas at our house, but
your presence will make it much more bearable than it would be without
you. I have not told Alice that you are coming. Let it be a joyful
surprise for her, as some compensation for the sorrows she has had to
endure lately. You needn't telegraph. I will meet you at the G. W. R.
station.

                                "Your affectionate uncle,
                                   "RICHARD YARDINGTON."

"Why, what's the matter?" asked my friend, seeing the blank look of
surprise on my face. "Of course the letter is not for you; why on earth
did you open it?"

"It _is_ for me," I answered. "See here, Gridley, old man; have
you been playing me a trick? If you haven't, this is the strangest
thing I ever knew in my life."

Of course he hadn't been playing me a trick. A moment's reflection
showed me that such a thing was impossible. Here was the envelope, with
the Toronto post-mark of the 9th of December, at which time he had been
with me on board the _Persia_, on the Banks of Newfoundland.
Besides, he was a gentleman, and would not have played so poor and
stupid a joke upon a guest. And, to put the matter beyond all
possibility of doubt, I remembered that I had never mentioned my
cousin's name in his hearing.

I handed him the letter. He read it carefully through twice over, and
was as much mystified at its contents as myself; for during our passage
across the Atlantic I had explained to him the circumstance under which
I was returning home.

By what conceivable means had my uncle been made aware of my departure
from Melbourne? Had Mr. Redpath written to him, as soon as I acquainted
that gentleman with my intentions? But even if such were the case, the
letter could not have left before I did, and could not possibly have
reached Toronto by the 9th of December. Had I been seen in England by
some one who knew me, and had not one written from there? Most
unlikely; and even if such a thing had happened, it was impossible that
the letter could have reached Toronto by the 9th. I need hardly inform
the reader that there was no telegraphic communication at that time.
And how could my uncle know that I would take the Boston route? And if
he _had_ known, how could he foresee that I would do anything so absurd
as to call at the Boston post-office and inquire for letters? "_I
will meet you at the G. W. R. station_." How was he to know by what
train I would reach Toronto, unless I notified him by telegraph? And
that he expressly stated to be unnecessary.

We did no more sight-seeing. I obeyed the hint contained in the letter,
and sent no telegram. My friend accompanied me down to the Boston and
Albany station, where I waited in feverish impatience for the departure
of the train. We talked over the matter until 11.30, in the vain hope
of finding some clue to the mystery. Then I started on my journey. Mr.
Gridley's curiosity was aroused, and I promised to send him an
explanation immediately upon my arrival at home.

No sooner had the train glided out of the station than I settled myself
in my seat, drew the tantalizing letter from my pocket, and proceeded
to read and re-read it again and again. A very few perusals sufficed to
fix its contents in my memory, so that I could repeat every word with
my eyes shut. Still I continued to scrutinize the paper, the
penmanship, and even the tint of the ink. For what purpose, do you ask?
For no purpose, except that I hoped, in some mysterious manner, to
obtain more light on the subject. No light came, however. The more I
scrutinized and pondered, the greater was my mystification. The paper
was a simple sheet of white letter-paper, of the kind ordinarily used
by my uncle in his correspondence. So far as I could see, there was
nothing peculiar about the ink. Anyone familiar with my uncle's writing
could have sworn that no hand but his had penned the lines. His
well-known signature, a masterpiece of involved hieroglyphics, was there
in all its indistinctness, written as no one but himself could ever have
written it. And yet, for some unaccountable reason, I was half disposed
to suspect forgery. Forgery! What nonsense. Anyone clever enough to
imitate Richard Yardington's handwriting would have employed his
talents more profitably than indulging in a mischievous and purposeless
jest. Not a bank in Toronto but would have discounted a note with that
signature affixed to it.

Desisting from all attempts to solve these problems, I then tried to
fathom the meaning of other points in the letter. What misfortune had
happened to mar the Christmas festivities at my uncle's house? And what
could the reference to my cousin Alice's sorrows mean? She was not ill.
_That_, I thought, might be taken for granted. My uncle would hardly
have referred to her illness as "one of the sorrows she had to endure
lately." Certainly, illness may be regarded in the light of a sorrow;
but "sorrow" was not precisely the word which a straight-forward man
like Uncle Richard would have applied to it. I could conceive of no
other cause of affliction in her case. My uncle was well, as was evinced
by his having written the letter, and by his avowed intention to meet me
at the station. Her father had died long before I started for Australia.
She had no other near relation except myself, and she had no cause for
anxiety, much less for "sorrow," on my account. I thought it singular,
too, that my uncle, having in some strange manner become acquainted with
my movements, had withheld the knowledge from Alice. It did not square
with my preconceived ideas of him that he would derive any satisfaction
from taking his niece by surprise.

All was a muddle together, and as my temples throbbed with the
intensity of my thoughts, I was half disposed to believe myself in a
troubled dream from which I should presently awake. Meanwhile, on
glided the train.

A heavy snow-storm delayed us for several hours, and we reached
Hamilton too late for the mid-day express for Toronto. We got there,
however, in time for the accommodation leaving at 3.15 p.m., and we
would reach Toronto at 5.05. I walked from one end of the train to the
other in hopes of finding some one I knew, from whom I could make
enquiries about home. Not a soul. I saw several persons whom I knew to
be residents of Toronto, but none with whom I had ever been personally
acquainted, and none of them would be likely to know anything about my
uncle's domestic arrangements. All that remained to be done under these
circumstances was to restrain my curiosity as well as I could until
reaching Toronto. By the by, would my uncle really meet me at the
station, according to his promise? Surely not. By what means could he
possibly know that I would arrive by this train? Still, he seemed to
have such accurate information respecting my proceedings that there was
no saying where his knowledge began or ended. I tried not to think
about the matter, but as the train approached Toronto my impatience
became positively feverish in its intensity. We were not more than
three minutes behind time, as we glided in front of the Union Station,
I passed out on to the platform of the car, and peered intently through
the darkness. Suddenly my heart gave a great bound. There, sure enough,
standing in front of the door of the waiting-room, was my uncle,
plainly discernible by the fitful glare of the overhanging lamps.
Before the train came to a stand-still, I sprang from the car and
advanced towards him. He was looking out for me, but his eyes not being
as young as mine, he did not recognize me until I grasped him by the
hand. He greeted me warmly, seizing me by the waist, and almost raising
me from the ground. I at once noticed several changes in his
appearance; changes for which I was wholly unprepared. He had aged very
much since I had last seen him, and the lines about his mouth had
deepened considerably. The iron-grey hair which I remembered so well
had disappeared; its place being supplied with a new and rather
dandified-looking wig. The oldfashioned great-coat which he had worn
ever since I could remember had been supplanted by a modern frock of
spruce cut, with seal-skin collar and cuffs. All this I noticed in the
first hurried greetings that passed between us.

"Never mind your luggage, my boy," he remarked. "Leave it till to-morrow,
when we will send down for it. If you are not tired we'll walk
home instead of taking a cab. I have a good deal to say to you before
we get there."

I had not slept since leaving Boston, but was too much excited to be
conscious of fatigue, and as will readily be believed, I was anxious
enough to hear what he had to say. We passed from the station, and
proceeded up York Street, arm in arm.

"And now, Uncle Richard," I said, as soon as we were well clear of the
crowd,--"keep me no longer in suspense. First and foremost, is Alice
well?"

"Quite well, but for reasons you will soon understand, she is in deep
grief. You must know that--"

"But," I interrupted, "tell me, in the name of all that's wonderful,
how you knew I was coming by this train; and how did you come to write
to me at Boston?"

Just then we came to the corner of Front Street, where was a lamp-post.
As we reached the spot where the light of the lamp was most brilliant,
he turned half round, looked me full in the face, and smiled a sort of
wintry smile. The expression of his countenance was almost ghastly.

"Uncle," I quickly said, "What's the matter? Are you not well?"

"I am not as strong as I used to be, and I have had a good deal to try
me of late. Have patience and I will tell you all. Let us walk more
slowly, or I shall not finish before we get home. In order that you may
clearly understand how matters are, I had better begin at the
beginning, and I hope you will not interrupt me with any questions till
I have done. How I knew you would call at the Boston post-office, and
that you would arrive in Toronto by this train, will come last in
order. By the by, have you my letter with you?"

"The one you wrote to me at Boston? Yes, here it is," I replied, taking
it from my pocket-book.

"Let me have it."

I handed it to him, and he put it into the breast pocket of his inside
coat. I wondered at this proceeding on his part, but made no remark
upon it.

We moderated our pace, and he began his narration. Of course I don't
pretend to remember his exact words, but they were to this effect.
During the winter following my departure to Melbourne, he had formed
the acquaintance of a gentleman who had then recently settled in
Toronto. The name of this gentleman was Marcus Weatherley, who had
commenced business as a wholesale provision merchant immediately upon
his arrival, and had been engaged in it ever since. For more than three
years the acquaintance between him and my uncle had been very slight,
but during the last summer they had had some real estate transactions
together, and had become intimate. Weatherley, who was comparatively a
young man and unmarried, had been invited to the house on Gerrard
Street, where he had more recently become a pretty frequent visitor.
More recently still, his visits had become so frequent that my uncle
suspected him of a desire to be attentive to my cousin, and had thought
proper to enlighten him as to her engagement with me. From that day his
visits had been voluntarily discontinued. My uncle had not given much
consideration to the subject until a fortnight afterwards, when he had
accidently become aware of the fact that Weatherley was in embarrassed
circumstances.

Here my uncle paused in his narrative to take breath. He then added, in
a low tone, and putting his mouth almost close to my ear:

"And, Willie, my boy, I have at last found out something else. He has
forty-two thousand dollars falling due here and in Montreal within the
next ten days, and _he has forged my signature to acceptances for
thirty-nine thousand seven hundred and sixteen dollars and twenty-four
cents_."

Those to the best of my belief, were his exact words. We had walked up
York Street to Queen, and then had gone down Queen to Yonge, when we
turned up the east side on our way homeward. At the moment when the
last words were uttered we had got a few yards north of Crookshank
Street, immediately in front of a chemist's shop which was, I think,
the third house from the corner. The window of this shop was well
lighted, and its brightness was reflected on the sidewalk in front.
Just then, two gentlemen walking rapidly in the opposite direction to
that we were taking brushed by us; but I was too deeply absorbed in my
uncle's communication to pay much attention to passers-by. Scarcely had
they passed, however, ere one of them stopped and exclaimed:

"Surely that is Willie Furlong!"

I turned, and recognised Johnny Gray, one of my oldest friends. I
relinquished my uncle's arm for a moment, and shook hands with Gray,
who said:

"I am surprised to see you. I heard only a few days ago, that you were
not to be here till next spring."

"I am here," I remarked, "somewhat in advance of my own expectations."
I then hurriedly enquired after several of our common friends, to which
enquiries he briefly replied.

"All well," he said; "but you are in a hurry, and so am I. Don't let me
detain you. Be sure and look in on me to-morrow. You will find me at
the old place, in the Romain Buildings."

We again shook hands, and he passed on down the street with the
gentleman who accompanied him. I then turned to re-possess myself of my
uncle's arm. The old gentleman had evidently walked on, for he was not
in sight. I hurried along, making sure of overtaking him before
reaching Gould Street, for my interview with Gray had occupied barely a
minute. In another minute I was at the corner of Gould Street. No signs
of Uncle Richard. I quickened my pace to a run, which soon brought me
to Gerrard Street. Still no signs of my uncle. I had certainly not
passed him on my way, and he could not have got farther on his homeward
route than here. He must have called in at one of the stores; a strange
thing for him to do under the circumstances. I retraced my steps all
the way to the front of the chemist's shop, peering into every window
and doorway as I passed along. No one in the least resembling him was
to be seen.

I stood still for a moment, and reflected. Even if he had run at full
speed--a thing most unseemly for him to do--he could not have reached
the corner of Gerrard Street before I had done so. And what should he
run for? He certainly did not wish to avoid me, for he had more to tell
me before reaching home. Perhaps he had turned down Gould Street. At
any rate, there was no use waiting for him. I might as well go home at
once. And I did.

Upon reaching the old familiar spot, I opened the gate passed on up the
steps to the front door, and rang the bell. The door was opened by a
domestic who had not formed part of the establishment in my time, and
who did not know me; but Alice happened to be passing through the hall,
and heard my voice as I inquired for Uncle Richard. Another moment and
she was in my arms. With a strange foreboding at my heart I noticed
that she was in deep mourning. We passed into the dining-room, where
the table was laid for dinner.

"Has Uncle Richard come in?" I asked, as soon as we were alone. "Why
did he run away from me?"

"Who?" exclaimed Alice, with a start; "what do you mean, Willie? Is it
possible you have not heard?"

"Heard what?"

"I see you have _not_ heard," she replied. "Sit down, Willie, and
prepare yourself for painful news. But first tell me what you meant by
saying what you did just now,--who was it that ran away from you?"

"Well, perhaps I should hardly call it running away, but he certainly
disappeared most mysteriously, down here near the corner of Yonge and
Crookshank Streets."

"Of whom are you speaking?"

"Of Uncle Richard, of course."

"Uncle Richard! The corner of Yonge and Crookshank Streets! When did
you see him there?"

"When? A quarter of an hour ago. He met me at the station and we walked
up together till I met Johnny Gray. I turned to speak to Johnny for a
moment, when--"

"Willie, what on earth are you talking about? You are labouring under
some strange delusion. _Uncle Richard died of apoplexy more than six
weeks ago, and lies buried in St. James's Cemetery_."



II.


I don't know how long I sat there, trying to think, with my face buried
in my hands. My mind had been kept on a strain during the last thirty
hours, and the succession of surprises to which I had been subjected
had temporarily paralyzed my faculties. For a few moments after Alice's
announcement I must have been in a sort of stupor. My imagination, I
remember, ran riot about everything in general, and nothing in
particular. My cousin's momentary impression was that I had met with an
accident of some kind, which had unhinged my brain. The first distinct
remembrance I have after this is, that I suddenly awoke from my stupor
to find Alice kneeling at my feet, and holding me by the hand. Then my
mental powers came back to me, and I recalled all the incidents of the
evening.

"When did uncle's death take place?" I asked.

"On the 3rd of November, about four o'clock in the afternoon. It was
quite unexpected, though he had not enjoyed his usual health for some
weeks before. He fell down in the hall, just as he was returning from a
walk, and died within two hours. He never spoke or recognised any one
after his seizure."

"What has become of his old overcoat?" I asked.

"His old overcoat, Willie--what a question?" replied Alice, evidently
thinking that I was again drifting back into insensibility.

"Did he continue to wear it up to the day of his death?" I asked.

"No. Cold weather set in very early this last fall, and he was
compelled to don his winter clothing earlier than usual. He had a new
overcoat made within a fortnight before he died. He had it on at the
time of his seizure. But why do you ask?"

"Was the new coat cut by a fashionable tailor, and had it a fur collar
and cuffs?"

"It was cut at Stovel's, I think. It had a fur collar and cuffs."

"When did he begin to wear a wig?"

"About the same time that he began to wear his new overcoat. I wrote
you a letter at the time, making merry over his youthful appearance and
hinting--of course only in jest--that he was looking out for a young
wife. But you surely did not receive my letter. You must have been on
your way home before it was written."

"I left Melbourne on the 11th of October. The wig, I suppose, was
buried with him?"

"Yes."

"And where is the overcoat?"

"In the wardrobe upstairs, in uncle's room."

"Come and show it to me."

I led the way upstairs, my cousin following. In the hall on the first
floor we encountered my old friend Mrs. Daly, the housekeeper. She
threw up her hands in surprise at seeing me. Our greeting was very
brief; I was too intent on solving the problem which had exercised my
mind ever since receiving the letter at Boston, to pay much attention
to anything else. Two words, however, explained to her where we were
going, and at our request she accompanied us. We passed into my uncle's
room. My cousin drew the key of the wardrobe from a drawer where it was
kept, and unlocked the door. There hung the overcoat. A single glance
was sufficient. It was the same.

The dazed sensation in my head began to make itself felt again. The
atmosphere of the room seemed to oppress me, and closing the door of
the wardrobe, I led the way down stairs again to the dining-room,
followed by my cousin. Mrs. Daly had sense enough to perceive that we
were discussing family matters, and retired to her own room.

I took my cousin's hand in mine, and asked:

"Will you tell me what you know of Mr. Marcus Weatherley?"

This was evidently another surprise for her. How could I have heard of
Marcus Weatherley? She answered, however, without hesitation:

"I know very little of him. Uncle Richard and he had some dealings a
few months since, and in that way he became a visitor here. After a
while he began to call pretty often, but his visits suddenly ceased a
short time before uncle's death. I need not affect any reserve with
you. Uncle Richard thought he came after me, and gave him a hint that
you had a prior claim. He never called afterwards. I am rather glad
that he didn't, for there is something about him that I don't quite
like. I am at a loss to say what the something is; but his manner
always impressed me with the idea that he was not exactly what he
seemed to be on the surface. Perhaps I misjudged him. Indeed, I think I
must have done so, for he stands well with everybody, and is highly
respected."

I looked at the clock on the mantel piece. It was ten minutes to seven,
I rose from my seat.

"I will ask you to excuse me for an hour or two, Alice. I must find
Johnny Gray."

"But you will not leave me, Willie, until you have given me some clue
to your unexpected arrival, and to the strange questions you have been
asking? Dinner is ready, and can be served at once. Pray don't go out
again till you have dined."

She clung to my arm. It was evident that she considered me mad, and
thought it probable that I might make away with myself. This I could
not bear. As for eating any dinner, that was simply impossible in my
then frame of mind, although I had not tasted food since leaving
Rochester. I resolved to tell her all. I resumed my seat. She placed
herself on a stool at my feet, and listened while I told her all that I
have set down as happening to me subsequently to my last letter to her
from Melbourne.

"And now, Alice, you know why I wish to see Johnny Gray."

She would have accompanied me, but I thought it better to prosecute my
inquiries alone. I promised to return sometime during the night, and
tell her the result of my interview with Gray. That gentleman had
married and become a householder on his own account during my absence
in Australia. Alice knew his address, and gave me the number of his
house, which was on Church Street. A few minutes' rapid walking brought
me to his door. I had no great expectation of finding him at home, as I
deemed it probable he had not returned from wherever he had been going
when I met him; but I should be able to find out when he was expected,
and would either wait or go in search of him. Fortune favored me for
once, however; he had returned more than an hour before. I was ushered
into the drawing-room, where I found him playing cribbage with his
wife.

"Why, Willie," he exclaimed, advancing to welcome me, "this is kinder
than I expected. I hardly looked for you before to-morrow. All the
better; we have just been speaking of you. Ellen, this is my old
friend, Willie Furlong, the returned convict, whose banishment you have
so often heard me deplore."

After exchanging brief courtesies with Mrs. Gray, I turned to her
husband.

"Johnny, did you notice anything remarkable about the old gentleman who
was with me when we met on Young Street this evening?"

"Old gentleman! who? There was no one with you when I met you."

"Think again, He and I were walking arm in arm, and you had passed us
before you recognized me, and mentioned my name."

He looked hard in my face for a moment, and then said positively:

"You are wrong, Willie. You were certainly alone when we met. You were
walking slowly, and I must have noticed if any one had been with you."

"It is you who are wrong," I retorted, almost sternly. "I was
accompanied by an elderly gentleman, who wore a great coat with fur
collar and cuffs, and we were conversing earnestly together when you
passed us."

He hesitated an instant, and seemed to consider, but there was no shade
of doubt on his face.

"Have it your own way, old boy," he said. "All I can say is, that I saw
no one but yourself, and neither did Charley Leitch, who was with me.
After parting from you we commented upon your evident abstraction, and
the sombre expression of your countenance, which we attributed to your
having only recently heard of the sudden death of your Uncle Richard.
If any old gentleman had been with you we could not possibly have
failed to notice him."

Without a single word by way of explanation or apology, I jumped from
my seat, passed out into the hall, seized my hat, and left the house.



III.


Out into the street I rushed like a madman, banging the door after me.
I knew that Johnny would follow me for an explanation, so I ran like
lightning round the next corner, and thence down to Yonge Street. Then
I dropped into a walk, regained my breath, and asked myself what I
should do next.

Suddenly I bethought me of Dr. Marsden, an old friend of my uncle's. I
hailed a passing cab, and drove to his house. The doctor was in his
consultation-room, and alone.

Of course he was surprised to see me, and gave expression to some
appropriate words of sympathy at my bereavement. "But how is it that I
see you so soon?" he asked--"I understood that you were not expected
for some months to come."

Then I began my story, which I related with great circumstantiality of
detail, bringing it down to the moment of my arrival at his house. He
listened with the closest attention, never interrupting me by a single
exclamation until I had finished. Then he began to ask questions, some
of which I thought strangely irrelevant.

"Have you enjoyed your usual good health during your residence abroad?"

"Never better in my life. I have not had a moment's illness since you
last saw me."

"And how have you prospered in your business enterprises?"

"Reasonably well; but pray doctor, let us confine ourselves to the
matter in hand. I have come for friendly, not professional, advice."

"All in good time, my boy," he calmly remarked. This was tantalizing.
My strange narrative did not seem to have disturbed his serenity in the
least degree.

"Did you have a pleasant passage?" he asked, after a brief pause. "The
ocean, I believe, is generally rough at this time of year."

"I felt a little squeamish for a day or two after leaving Melbourne," I
replied, "but I soon got over it, and it was not very bad even while it
lasted. I am a tolerably good sailor."

"And you have had no special ground of anxiety of late? At least not
until you received this wonderful letter"--he added, with a perceptible
contraction of his lips, as though trying to repress a smile.

Then I saw what he was driving at.

"Doctor," I exclaimed, with some exasperation in my tone--"pray dismiss
from your mind the idea that what I have told you is the result of
diseased imagination. I am as sane as you are. The letter itself
affords sufficient evidence that I am not quite such a fool as you take
me for."

"My dear boy, I don't take you for a fool at all, although you are a
little excited just at present. But I thought you said you returned the
letter to--ahem--your uncle."

For a moment I had forgotten that important fact. But I was not
altogether without evidence that I had not been the victim of a
disordered brain. My friend Gridley could corroborate the receipt of
the letter and its contents. My cousin could bear witness that I had
displayed an acquaintance with facts which I would not have been likely
to learn from any one but my uncle. I had referred to his wig and
overcoat, and had mentioned to her the name of Mr. Marcus Weatherley--a
name which I had never heard before in my life. I called Dr. Marsden's
attention to these matters, and asked him to explain them if he could.

"I admit," said the doctor, "that I don't quite see my way to a
satisfactory explanation just at present. But let us look the matter
squarely in the face. During an acquaintance of nearly thirty years, I
always found your uncle a truthful man, who was cautious enough to make
no statements about his neighbours that he was not able to prove. Your
informant, on the other hand, does not seem to have confined himself to
facts. He made a charge of forgery against a gentleman whose moral and
commercial integrity are unquestioned by all who know him. I know
Marcus Weatherley pretty well, and am not disposed to pronounce him a
forger and a scoundrel upon the unsupported evidence of a shadowy old
gentleman who appears and disappears in the most mysterious manner, and
who cannot be laid hold of and held responsible for his slanders in a
court of law. And it is not true, as far as I know and believe, that
Marcus Weatherley is embarrassed in his circumstances. Such confidence
have I in his solvency and integrity that I would not be afraid to take
up all his outstanding paper without asking a question. If you will
make inquiry, you will find that my opinion is shared by all the
bankers in the city. And I have no hesitation in saying that you will
find no acceptances with your uncle's name to them, either in this
market or elsewhere."

"That I will try to ascertain to-morrow," I replied. "Meanwhile, Dr.
Marsden, will you oblige your old friend's nephew by writing to Mr.
Junius Gridley, and asking him to acquaint you with the contents of the
letter, and the circumstances under which I received it?"

"It seems an absurd thing to do," he said, "but I will if you like.
What shall I say?" and he sat down at his desk to write the letter.

It was written in less than five minutes. It simply asked for the
desired information, and requested an immediate reply. Below the
doctor's signature I added a short postscript in these words:--

"My story about the letter and its contents is discredited. Pray answer
fully, and at once.--W. F. F."

At my request the doctor accompanied me to the Post-office, on Toronto
Street, and dropped the letter into the box with his own hands. I bade
him good night, and repaired to the Rossin House. I did not feel like
encountering Alice again until I could place myself in a more
satisfactory light before her. I despatched a messenger to her with a
short note stating that I had not discovered anything important, and
requesting her not to wait up for me. Then I engaged a room and went
to bed.

But not to sleep. All night long I tossed about from one side of the
bed to the other; and at daylight, feverish and unrefreshed, I strolled
out. I returned in time for breakfast, but ate little or nothing. I
longed for the arrival of ten o'clock, when the banks would open.

After breakfast I sat down in the reading-room of the hotel, and vainly
tried to fix my attention upon the local columns of the morning's
paper. I remember reading over several items time after time, without
any comprehension of their meaning. After that I remember--nothing.

Nothing? All was blank for more than five weeks. When consciousness
came back to me I found myself in bed in my own old room, in the house
on Gerrard Street, and Alice and Dr. Marsden were standing by my
bedside.

No need to tell how my hair had been removed, nor about the bags of ice
that had been applied to my head. No need to linger over any details of
the "pitiless fever that burned in my brain." No need, either, to
linger over my progress back to convalescence, and thence to complete
recovery. In a week from the time I have mentioned, I was permitted to
sit up in bed, propped up by a mountain of pillows. My impatience would
brook no further delay, and I was allowed to ask questions about what
had happened in the interval which had elapsed since my over wrought
nerves gave way under the prolonged strain upon them. First, Junius
Gridley's letter in reply to Dr. Marsden was placed in my hands. I have
it still in my possession, and I transcribe the following copy from the
original now lying before me:--


                                "BOSTON, Dec. 22nd, 1861.

"DR. MARSDEN:

"In reply to your letter, which has just been received, I have to say
that Mr. Furlong and myself became acquainted for the first time during
our recent passage from Liverpool to Boston, in the _Persia_,
which arrived here Monday last. Mr. Furlong accompanied me home, and
remained until Tuesday morning, when I took him to see the Public
Library, the State House, the Athenaeum, Faneuil Hall, and other points
of interest. We casually dropped into the post-office, and he remarked
upon the great number of letters there. At my instigation--made, of
course, in jest--he applied at the General Delivery for letters for
himself. He received one bearing the Toronto post-mark. He was
naturally very much surprised at receiving it, and was not less so at
its contents. After reading it he handed it to me, and I also read it
carefully. I cannot recollect it word for word, but it professed to
come from 'his affectionate uncle, Richard Yardington.' It expressed
pleasure at his coming home sooner than had been anticipated, and
hinted in rather vague terms at some calamity. He referred to a lady
called Alice, and stated that she had not been informed of Mr.
Furlong's intended arrival. There was something too, about his
presence at home being a recompense to her for recent grief which she
had sustained. It also expressed the writer's intention to meet his
nephew at the Toronto railway station upon his arrival, and stated that
no telegram need be sent. This, as nearly as I can remember, was about
all there was in the letter. Mr. Furlong professed to recognise the
handwriting as his uncle's. It was a cramped hand, not easy to read,
and the signature was so peculiarly formed that I was hardly able to
decipher it. The peculiarity consisted of the extreme irregularity in
the formation of the letters, no two of which were of equal size; and
capitals were interspersed promiscuously, more especially throughout
the surname.

"Mr. Furlong was much agitated by the contents of the letter, and was
anxious for the arrival of the time of his departure. He left by the B.
& A. train at 11.30. This is really all I know about the matter, and I
have been anxiously expecting to hear from him ever since he left. I
confess that I feel curious, and should be glad to hear from him--that
is, of course, unless something is involved which it would be
impertinent for a comparative stranger to pry into.

                                "Yours, &c.,
                                   "JUNIUS H. GRIDLEY."


So that my friend has completely corroborated my account, so far as
the letter was concerned. My account, however, stood in no need of
corroboration, as will presently appear.

When I was stricken down, Alice and Dr. Marsden were the only persons
to whom I had communicated what my uncle had said to me during our walk
from the station. They both maintained silence in the matter, except to
each other. Between themselves, in the early days of my illness, they
discussed it with a good deal of feeling on each side. Alice implicitly
believed my story from first to last. She was wise enough to see that I
had been made acquainted with matters that I could not possibly have
learned through any ordinary channels of communication. In short, she
was not so enamoured of professional jargon as to have lost her common
sense. The doctor, however, with the mole-blindness of many of his
tribe, refused to believe. Nothing of this kind had previously come
within the range of his own experience, and it was therefore
impossible. He accounted for it all upon the hypothesis of my impending
fever. He is not the only physician who mistakes cause for effect, and
_vice versa_.

During the second week of my prostration, Mr. Marcus Weatherley
absconded. This event so totally unlooked for by those who had had
dealings with him, at once brought his financial condition to light. It
was found that he had been really insolvent for several months past.
The day after his departure a number of his acceptances became due.
These acceptances proved to be four in number, amounting to exactly
forty-two thousand dollars. So that that part of my uncle's story was
confirmed. One of the acceptances was payable in Montreal, and was for
$2,283.76. The other three were payable at different banks in Toronto.
These last had been drawn at sixty days, and each of them bore a
signature presumed to be that of Richard Yardington. One of them was
for $8,972.11; another was for $10,114.63; and the third and last was
for $20,629.50. A short sum in simple addition will show us the
aggregate of these three amounts--

    $ 8,972.11
     10,114.63
     20,629.50
     ---------
    $39,716.24

which was the amount for which my uncle claimed that his name had been
forged.

Within a week after these things came to light a letter addressed to
the manager of one of the leading banking institutions of Toronto
arrived from Mr. Marcus Weatherley. He wrote from New York, but stated
that he should leave there within an hour from the time of posting his
letter. He voluntarily admitted having forged the name of my uncle to
the three acceptances above referred to and entered into other details
about his affairs, which, though interesting enough to his creditors at
that time, would have no special interest to the public at the present
day. The banks where the acceptances had been discounted were wise
after the fact, and detected numerous little details wherein the forged
signatures differed from the genuine signatures of my Uncle Richard. In
each case they pocketed the loss and held their tongues, and I dare say
they will not thank me for calling attention to the matter, even at
this distance of time.

There is not much more to tell. Marcus Weatherley, the forger, met his
fate within a few days after writing his letter from New York. He took
passage at New Bedford, Massachusetts, in a sailing vessel called the
_Petrel_ bound for Havana. The _Petrel_ sailed from port on the
12th of January, 1862, and went down in mid-ocean with all hands on the
23rd of the same month. She sank in full sight of the captain and crew
of the _City of Baltimore_ (Inman Line), but the hurricane
prevailing was such that the latter were unable to render any
assistance, or to save one of the ill-fated crew from the fury of the
waves.

At an early stage in the story I mentioned that the only fictitious
element should be the name of one of the characters introduced. The
name is that of Marcus Weatherley himself. The person whom I have so
designated really bore a different name--one that is still remembered
by scores of people in Toronto. He has paid the penalty of his
misdeeds, and I see nothing to be gained by perpetuating them in
connection with his own proper name. In all other particulars the
foregoing narrative is as true as a tolerably retentive memory has
enabled me to record it.

I don't propose to attempt any psychological explanation of the events
here recorded, for the very sufficient reason that only one explanation
is possible. The weird letter and its contents, as has been seen, do
not rest upon my testimony alone. With respect to my walk from the
station with Uncle Richard, and the communication made by him to me,
all the details are as real to my mind as any other incidents of my
life. The only obvious deduction is, that I was made the recipient of
a communication of the kind which the world is accustomed to regard as
supernatural.

Mr. Owen's publishers have my full permission to appropriate this story
in the next edition of his "Debatable Land between this World and the
Next." Should they do so, their readers will doubtless be favoured with
an elaborate analysis of the facts, and with a pseudo-philosophic
theory about spiritual communion with human beings. My wife, who is an
enthusiastic student of electro-biology, is disposed to believe that
Weatherley's mind, overweighted by the knowledge of his forgery, was in
some occult manner, and unconsciously to himself, constrained to act
upon my own senses. I prefer, however, simply to narrate the facts. I
may or may not have my own theory about those facts. The reader is at
perfect liberty to form one of his own if he so pleases. I may mention
that Dr. Marsden professes to believe to the present day that my mind
was disordered by the approach of the fever which eventually struck me
down, and that all I have described was merely the result of what he,
with delightful periphrasis, calls "an abnormal condition of the
system, induced by causes too remote for specific diagnosis."

It will be observed that, whether I was under an hallucination or not,
the information supposed to be derived from my uncle was strictly
accurate in all its details. The fact that the disclosure subsequently
became unnecessary through the confession of Weatherley does not seem
to me to afford any argument for the hallucination theory. My uncle's
communication was important at the time when it was given to me; and we
have no reason for believing that "those who are gone before" are
universally gifted with a knowledge of the future.

It was open to me to make the facts public as soon as they became known
to me, and had I done so, Marcus Weatherley might have been arrested
and punished for his crime. Had not my illness supervened, I think I
should have made discoveries in the course of the day following my
arrival in Toronto which would have led to his arrest.

Such speculations are profitless enough, but they have often formed the
topic of discussion between my wife and myself. Gridley, too, whenever
he pays us a visit, invariably revives the subject, which he long ago
christened "The Gerrard Street Mystery," although it might just as
correctly be called "The Yonge Street Mystery," or, "The Mystery of the
Union Station." He has urged me a hundred times over to publish the
story; and now, after all these years, I follow his counsel, and adopt
his nomenclature in the title.



GAGTOOTH'S IMAGE.


About three o'clock in the afternoon of Wednesday, the fourth of
September, 1884, I was riding up Yonge Street, in the city of Toronto,
on the top of a crowded omnibus. The omnibus was bound for Thornhill,
and my own destination was the intermediate village of Willowdale.
Having been in Canada only a short time, and being almost a stranger in
Toronto, I dare say I was looking around me with more attention and
curiosity than persons who are "native here, and to the manner born,"
are accustomed to exhibit. We had just passed Isabella Street, and
were rapidly nearing Charles Street, when I noticed on my right hand a
large, dilapidated frame building, standing in solitary isolation a few
feet back from the highway, and presenting the appearance of a
veritable Old Curiosity Shop.

A business was carried on here in second hand furniture of the poorest
description, and the object of the proprietor seemed to have been to
collect about him all sorts of worn-out commodities, and objects which
were utterly unmarketable. Everybody who lived in Toronto at the time
indicated will remember the establishment, which, as I subsequently
learned, was owned and carried on by a man named Robert Southworth,
familiarly known to his customers as "Old Bob." I had no sooner arrived
abreast of the gateway leading into the yard immediately adjoining the
building to the southward, than my eyes rested upon something which
instantly caused them to open themselves to their very widest capacity,
and constrained me to signal the driver to stop; which he had no sooner
done than I alighted from my seat and requested him to proceed on his
journey without me. The driver eyed me suspiciously, and evidently
regarded me as an odd customer, but he obeyed my request, and drove on
northward, leaving me standing in the middle of the street.

From my elevated seat on the roof of the 'bus, I had caught a hurried
glimpse of a commonplace-looking little marble figure, placed on the
top of a pedestal, in the yard already referred to, where several other
figures in marble, wood, bronze, stucco and what not, were exposed for
sale.

The particular figure which had attracted my attention was about
fifteen inches in height, and represented a little child in the
attitude of prayer. Anyone seeing it for the first time would probably
have taken it for a representation of the Infant Samuel. I have called
it commonplace; and considered as a work of art, such it undoubtedly
was; yet it must have possessed a certain distinctive individuality,
for the brief glance which I had caught of it, even at that distance,
had been sufficient to convince me that the figure was an old
acquaintance of mine. It was in consequence of that conviction that I
had dismounted from the omnibus, forgetful, for the moment, of
everything but the matter which was uppermost in my mind.

I lost no time in passing through the gateway leading into the yard,
and in walking up to the pedestal upon which the little figure was
placed. Taking the latter in my hand, I found, as I had expected, that
it was not attached to the pedestal, which was of totally different
material, and much more elaborate workmanship. Turning the figure
upside down, my eyes rested on these words, deeply cut into the little
circular throne upon which the figure rested:--JACKSON: PEORIA, 1854.

At this juncture the proprietor of the establishment walked up to where
I was standing beside the pedestal. "Like to look at something in that
way, sir?" he asked--"we have more inside."

"What is the price of this?" I asked, indicating the figure in my hand.

"That, sir; you may have that for fifty cents--of course without the
pedestal, which don't belong to it."

"Have you had it on hand long?"

"I don't know, but if you'll step inside for a moment I can tell you.
This way, sir."

Taking the figure under my arm, I followed him into what he called "the
office"--a small and dirty room, crowded with old furniture in the last
stage of dilapidation. From a desk in one corner he took a large tome
labelled "Stock Book," to which he referred, after glancing at a
hieroglyphical device pasted on the figure which I held under my arm.

"Yes, sir--had that ever since the 14th of March, 1880--bought it at
Morris & Blackwell's sale, sir."

"Who and what are Messrs. Morris & Blackwell?" I enquired.

"They _were_ auctioneers, down on Adelaide Street, in the city,
sir. Failed sometime last winter. Mr. Morris has since died, and I
believe Blackwell, the other partner went to the States."

After a few more questions, finding that he knew nothing whatever about
the matter beyond what he had already told me, I paid over the fifty
cents; and, declining with thanks his offer to send my purchase home to
me, I marched off with it down the street, and made the best of my way
back to the Rossin House, where I had been staying for some days
before.

From what has been said, it will be inferred that I--a stranger in
Canada--must have had some special reason for incumbering myself in my
travels with an intrinsically worthless piece of common Columbia
marble.

I _had_ a reason. I had often seen that little figure before; and
the last time I had seen it, previous to the occasion above mentioned,
had been at the town of Peoria, in the State of Illinois, sometime in
the month of June, 1855.

There is a story connected with that little praying figure; a story,
which, to me, is a very touching one; and I believe myself to be the
only human being capable of telling it. Indeed, _I_ am only able
to tell a part of it. How the figure came to be sold by auction, in the
city of Toronto, at Messrs. Morris & Blackwell's sale on the 14th of
March, 1880, or how it ever came to be in this part of the world at
all, I know no more than the reader does; but I can probably tell all
that is worth knowing about the matter.

In the year 1850, and for I know not how long previously, there lived
at Peoria, Illinois, a journeyman-blacksmith named Abner Fink. I
mention the date, 1850, because it was in that year that I myself
settled in Peoria, and first had any knowledge of him; but I believe he
had then been living there for some length of time. He was employed at
the foundry of Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer, and was known for an
excellent workman, of steady habits, and good moral
character--qualifications which were by no means universal, nor even
common, among persons of his calling and degree of life, at the time
and place of which I am writing. But he was still more conspicuous (on
the _lucus a non lucendo_ principle) for another quality--that of
reticence. It was very rarely indeed that he spoke to anyone, except
when called upon to reply to a question; and even then it was noticeable
that he invariably employed the fewest and most concise words in his
vocabulary. If brevity were the body, as well as the soul of wit, Fink
must have been about the wittiest man that ever lived, the Monosyllabic
Traveller not excepted. He never received a letter from any one during
the whole time of his stay at Peoria; nor, so far as was known, did he
ever write to any one. Indeed, there was no evidence that he was able
to write. He never went to church, nor even to "meeting;" never
attended any public entertainment; never took any holidays. All his
time was spent either at the foundry where he worked, or at the
boarding-house where he lodged. In the latter place, the greater part
of his hours of relaxation were spent in looking either out of the
window or into the fire; thinking, apparently, about nothing
particular. All endeavours on the part of his fellow boarders to draw
him into conversation were utterly fruitless. No one in the place knew
anything about his past life, and when his fellow-journeymen in the
workshop attempted to inveigle him into any confidence on that subject,
he had a trick of calling up a harsh and sinister expression of
countenance which effectually nipped all such experiments in the bud.
Even his employers failed to elicit anything from him on this head,
beyond the somewhat vague piece of intelligence that he hailed from
"down east." The foreman of the establishment with a desperate attempt
at facetiousness, used to say of him, that no one knew who he was,
where he came from, where he was going to, or what he was going to do
when he got there.

And yet, this utter lack of sociability could scarcely have arisen from
positive surliness or unkindness of disposition. Instances were not
wanting in which he had given pretty strong evidence that he carried
beneath that rugged and uncouth exterior a kinder and more gentle heart
than is possessed by most men. Upon one occasion he had jumped at the
imminent peril of his life, from the bridge which spans the Illinois
river just above the entrance to the lake, and had fished up a drowning
child from its depths and borne it to the shore in safety. In doing so
he had been compelled to swim through a swift and strong current which
would have swamped any swimmer with one particle less strength,
endurance and pluck. At another time, hearing his landlady say, at
dinner, that an execution was in the house of a sick man with a large
family, at the other end of the town, he left his dinner untouched,
trudged off to the place indicated, and--though the debtor was an utter
stranger to him--paid off the debt and costs in full, without taking
any assignment of the judgment or other security. Then he went quietly
back to his work. From my knowledge of the worthless and impecunious
character of the debtor, I am of opinion that Fink never received a
cent in the way of reimbursement.

In personal appearance he was short and stout. His age, when I first
knew him, must have been somewhere in the neighbourhood of thirty-five.
The only peculiarity about his face was an abnormal formation of one of
his front teeth, which protruded, and stuck out almost horizontally.
This, as may be supposed, did not tend to improve an expression of
countenance which in other respects was not very prepossessing. One of
the anvil-strikers happening to allude to him one day in his absence by
the name of "Gagtooth," the felicity of the sobriquet at once commended
itself to the good taste of the other hands in the shop, who thereafter
commonly spoke of him by that name, and eventually it came to be
applied to him by every one in the town.

My acquaintance with him began when I had been in Peoria about a week.
I may premise that I am a physician and surgeon--a graduate of Harvard.
Peoria was at that time a comparatively new place, but it gave promise
of going ahead rapidly; a promise, by the way, which it has since amply
redeemed. Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer's foundry was a pretty
extensive one for a small town in a comparatively new district. They
kept about a hundred and fifty hands employed all the year round, and
during the busy season this number was more than doubled. It was in
consequence of my having received the appointment of medical attendant
to that establishment that I buried myself in the west, instead of
settling down in my native State of Massachusetts.

Poor Gagtooth was one of my first surgical patients. It came about in
this wise. At the foundry, two days in the week, viz., Tuesdays and
Fridays, were chiefly devoted to what is called "casting." On these
days it was necessary to convey large masses of melted iron, in vessels
specially manufactured for that purpose, from one end of the moulding
shop to the other. It was, of course, very desirable that the metal
should not be allowed to cool while in transit, and that as little time
as possible should be lost in transferring it from the furnace to the
moulds. For this purpose Gagtooth's services were frequently called
into requisition, as he was by far the strongest man about the place,
and could without assistance carry one end of one of the vessels, which
was considered pretty good work for two ordinary men.

Well, one unlucky Friday afternoon he was hard at work at this
employment, and as was usual with all the hands in the moulding shop at
such times, he was stripped naked from the waist upwards. He was
gallantly supporting one end of one of the large receptacles already
mentioned, which happened to be rather fuller than usual of the red-hot
molten metal. He had nearly reached the moulding-box into which the
contents of the vessel were to be poured, when he stumbled against a
piece of scantling which was lying in his way. He fell, and as a
necessary consequence his end of the vessel fell likewise, spilling the
contents all over his body, which was literally deluged by the red,
hissing, boiling liquid fire. It must have seemed to the terror-stricken
onlookers like a bath of blood.

Further details of the frightful accident, and of my treatment of the
case, might be interesting to such of the readers of this book as
happen to belong to my own profession; but to general readers such
details would be simply shocking. How even his tremendous vitality and
vigour of constitution brought him through it all is a mystery to me to
this day. I am thirty-six years older than I was at that time. Since
then I have acted as surgeon to a fighting regiment all through the
great rebellion. I have had patients of all sorts of temperaments and
constitutions under my charge, but never have I been brought into
contact with a case which seemed more hopeless in my eyes. He must
surely have had more than one life in him. I have never had my hands on
so magnificent a specimen of the human frame as his was; and better
still--and this doubtless contributed materially to his recovery--I
have never had a case under my management where the patient bore his
sufferings with such uniform fortitude and endurance. Suffice it to say
that he recovered, and that his face bore no traces of the frightful
ordeal through which he had passed. I don't think he was ever quite the
same man as before his accident. I think his nervous system received a
shock which eventually tended to shorten his life. But he was still
known as incomparably the strongest man in Peoria, and continued to
perform the work of two men at the moulding-shop on casting days. In
every other respect he was apparently the same; not a whit more
disposed to be companionable than before his accident. I used
frequently to meet him on the street, as he was going to and fro
between his boarding-house and the work-shop. He was always alone, and
more than once I came to a full stop and enquired after his health, or
anything else that seemed to afford a feasible topic for conversation.
He was uniformly civil, and even respectful, but confined his remarks
to replying to my questions, which, as usual, was done in the fewest
words.

During the twelve months succeeding his recovery, so far as I am aware,
nothing occurred worthy of being recorded in Gagtooth's annals. About
the expiration of that time, however, his landlady, by his authority,
at his request, and in his presence, made an announcement to the
boarders assembled at the dinner-table which, I should think, must
literally have taken away their breaths.

Gagtooth was going to be married!

I don't suppose it would have occasioned greater astonishment if it had
been announced as an actual fact that The Illinois river had commenced
to flow backwards. It was surprising, incredible, but, like many other
surprising and incredible things, it was true. Gagtooth was really and
truly about to marry. The object of his choice was his landlady's
sister, by name Lucinda Bowlsby. How or when the wooing had been
carried on, how the engagement had been led up to, and in what terms
the all-important question had been propounded, I am not prepared to
say. I need hardly observe that none of the boarders had entertained
the faintest suspicion that anything of the kind was impending. The
courtship, from first to last, must have been somewhat of a piece with
that of the late Mr. Barkis. But alas! Gagtooth did not settle his
affections so judiciously, nor did he draw such a prize in the
matrimonial lottery as Barkis did. Two women more entirely dissimilar,
in every respect, than Peggotty and Lucinda Bowlsby can hardly be
imagined. Lucinda was nineteen years of age. She was pretty, and, for a
girl of her class and station in life, tolerably well educated. But she
was notwithstanding a light, giddy creature--and, I fear, something
worse, at that time. At all events, she had a very questionable sort of
reputation among the boarders in the house, and was regarded with
suspicion by everyone who knew anything about her poor Gagtooth alone
excepted.

In due time the wedding took place. It was solemnized at the
boarding-house; and the bride and bridegroom disdaining to defer to the
common usage, spent their honeymoon in their own house. Gagtooth had
rented and furnished a little frame dwelling on the outskirts of the
town, on the bank of the river; and thither the couple retired as soon
as the hymeneal knot was tied. Next morning the bridegroom made his
appearance at his forge and went to work as usual, as though nothing
had occurred to disturb the serenity of his life.

Time passed by. Rumours now and then reached my ears to the effect that
Mrs. Fink was not behaving herself very well, and that she was leading
her husband rather a hard life of it. She had been seen driving out
into the country with a young lawyer from Springfield, who occasionally
came over to Peoria to attend the sittings of the District Court. She
moreover had the reputation of habitually indulging in the contents of
the cup that cheers and likewise inebriates. However, in the regular
course of things, I was called upon to assist at the first appearance
upon life's stage of a little boy, upon whom his parents bestowed the
name of Charlie.

The night of Charlie's birth was the first time I had ever been in the
house, and if I remember aright it was the first time I had ever set
eyes on Mrs. Fink since her marriage. I was not long in making up my
mind about her; and I had ample opportunity for forming an opinion as
to her character, for she was unable to leave her bed for more than a
month, during which time I was in attendance upon her almost daily.
I also attended little Charlie through measels, scarlet-rash,
whooping-cough, and all his childish ailments; and in fact I was a
pretty regular visitor at the house from the time of his birth until
his father left the neighbourhood, as I shall presently have to relate.
I believe Mrs. Fink to have been not merely a profligate woman, but a
thoroughly bad and heartless one in every respect. She was perfectly
indifferent to her husband, whom she shamefully neglected, and almost
indifferent to her child. She seemed to care for nothing in the world
but dress and strong waters; and to procure these there was no depth of
degradation to which she would not stoop.

As a result of my constant professional attendance upon his mother
during the first month of little Charlie's life, I became better
acquainted with his father than anyone in Peoria had ever done. He
seemed to know that I saw into and sympathized with his domestic
troubles, and my silent sympathy seemed to afford him some consolation.
As the months and years passed by, his wife's conduct became worse and
worse, and his affections centered themselves entirely upon his child,
whom he loved with a passionate affection to which I have never seen a
parallel.

And Charlie was a child made to be loved. When he was two years old he
was beyond all comparison the dearest and most beautiful little fellow
I have ever seen. His fat, plump, chubby little figure, modelled after
Cupid's own; his curly flaxen hair; his matchless complexion, fair and
clear as the sky on a sunny summer day; and his bright, round,
expressive eyes, which imparted intelligence to his every feature,
combined to make him the idol of his father, the envy of all the
mothers in town, and the admiration of every one who saw him. At noon,
when the great foundry-bell rang, which was the signal for the workmen
to go to dinner Charlie might regularly be seen, toddling as fast as
his stout little legs could spin, along the footpath leading over the
common in the direction of the workshops. When about halfway across, he
would be certain to meet his father, who, taking the child up in his
bare, brawny, smoke-begrimed arms, would carry him home--the contrast
between the two strongly suggesting Vulcan and Cupid. At six o'clock in
the evening, when the bell announced that work was over for the day, a
similar little drama was enacted. It would be difficult to say whether
Vulcan or Cupid derived the greater amount of pleasure from these
semi-daily incidents. After tea, the two were never separate for a
moment. While the mother was perhaps busily engaged in the perusal of
some worthless novel, the father would sit with his darling on his
knee, listening to his childish prattle, and perhaps so far going out
of himself as to tell the child a little story. It seemed to be an
understood thing that the mother should take no care or notice of the
boy during her husband's presence in the house. Regularly, when the
clock on the chimney-piece struck eight, Charlie would jump down from
his father's knee and run across the room for his night-dress,
returning to his father to have it put on. When this had been done he
would kneel down and repeat a simple little prayer, in which One who
loved little children like Charlie was invoked to bless father and
mother and make him a good boy; after which his father would place him
in his little crib, where he soon slept the sleep of happy childhood.

My own house was not far from theirs, and I was so fond of Charlie that
it was no uncommon thing for me to drop in upon them for a few minutes,
when returning from my office in the evening. Upon one occasion I
noticed the child more particularly than usual while he was in the act
of saying his prayers. His eyes were closed, his plump little hands
were clasped, and his cherubic little face was turned upwards with an
expression of infantile trustfulness and adoration which I shall never
forget. I have never seen, nor do I ever expect to see, anything else
half so beautiful. When he arose from his knees and came up to me to
say "Good Night," I kissed his upturned little face with even greater
fervour than usual. After he had been put to bed I mentioned the matter
to his father, and said something about my regret that the child's
expression had not been caught by a sculptor and fixed in stone.

I had little idea of the effect my remarks were destined to produce. A
few evenings afterwards he informed me, much to my surprise, that he
had determined to act upon the idea which my words had suggested to his
mind, and that he had instructed Heber Jackson, the marble-cutter, to
go to work at a "stone likeness" of little Charlie, and to finish it up
as soon as possible. He did not seem to understand that the proper
performance of such a task required anything more than mere mechanical
skill, and that an ordinary tomb-stone cutter was scarcely the sort of
artist to do justice to it.

However, when the "stone-likeness" was finished and sent home, I
confess I was astonished to see how well Jackson had succeeded. He had
not, of course, caught the child's exact expression. It is probable,
indeed, that he never saw the expression on Charlie's face, which had
seemed so beautiful to me, and which had suggested to me the idea of
its being "embodied in marble," as the professionals call it. But the
image was at all events, according to order, a "likeness." The true
lineaments were there and I would have recognised it for a
representation of my little friend at the first glance, wherever I
might have seen it. In short, it was precisely one of those works of
art which have no artistic value whatever for any one who is
unacquainted with, or uninterested in, the subject represented; but
knowing and loving little Charlie as I did, I confess that I used to
contemplate Jackson's piece of workmanship with an admiration and
enthusiasm which the contents of Italian gallaries have failed to
arouse in me.

Well, the months flew by until some time in the spring of 1855, when
the town was electrified by the sudden and totally unexpected failure
of Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer, who up to that time were currently
reported to be one of the wealthiest and most thriving firms in the
State. Their failure was not only a great misfortune for the workmen,
who were thus thrown out of present employment--for the creditors did
not carry on the business--but was regarded as a public calamity to the
town and neighbourhood, the prosperity whereof had been enhanced in no
inconsiderable degree by the carrying on of so extensive an
establishment in their midst, and by the enterprise and energy of the
proprietors, both of whom were first-rate business men. The failure was
in no measure attributed either to dishonesty or want of prudence on
the part of Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer, but simply to the
invention of a new patent which rendered valueless the particular
agricultural implement which constituted the specialty of the
establishment, and of which there was an enormous stock on hand. There
was not the shadow of a hope of the firm being able to get upon its
legs again. The partners surrendered everything almost to the last
dollar, and shortly afterwards left Illinois for California.

Now, this failure, which more or less affected the entire population of
Peoria, was especially disastrous to poor Fink. For past years he had
been saving money, and as Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer allowed
interest at a liberal rate upon all deposits left in their hands by
their workmen, all his surplus earnings remained untouched. The
consequence was that the accumulations of years were swamped at one
fell swoop, and he found himself reduced to poverty. And as though
misfortune was not satisfied with visiting him thus heavily, the very
day of the failure he was stricken down by typhoid fever: not the
typhoid fever known in Canada--which is bad enough--but the terrible
putrid typhoid of the west, which is known nowhere else on the face of
the globe, and in which the mortality in some years reaches forty per
cent.

Of course I was at once called in. I did my best for the patient, which
was very little. I tried hard, however, to keep his wife sober, and to
compel her to nurse him judiciously. As for little Charlie, I took him
home with me to my own house, where he remained until his father was so
far convalescent as to prevent all fear of infection. Meanwhile I knew
nothing about Gagtooth's money having been deposited in the hands of
his employers, and consequently was ignorant of his loss. I did not
learn this circumstance for weeks afterwards, and of course had no
reason for supposing that his wife was in anywise straitened for money.
Once, when her husband had been prostrated for about a fortnight, I saw
her with a roll of bank notes in her hand. Little did I suspect how
they had been obtained.

Shortly after my patient had begun to sit up in his arm-chair for a
little while every day, he begged so hard for little Charlie's presence
that, as soon as I was satisfied that all danger of infection was past,
I consented to allow the child to return to his own home. In less than
a month afterwards the invalid was able to walk out in the garden for a
few minutes every day when the weather was favourable, and in these
walks Charlie was his constant companion. The affection of the poor
fellow for his flaxen-haired darling was manifested in every glance of
his eye, and in every tone of his voice. He would kiss the little chap
and pat him on the head a hundred times a day. He would tell him
stories until he himself was completely exhausted; and although I knew
that this tended to retard his complete recovery, I had not the heart
to forbid it. I have often since felt thankful that I never made any
attempt to do so.

At last the fifteenth of September arrived. On the morning of that day
Messrs. Rockwell and Dunbar's Combined Circus and Menagerie made a
triumphal entry into Peoria, and was to exhibit on the green, down by
the river bank. The performance had been ostentatiously advertised and
placarded on every dead wall in town for a month back, and all the
children in the place, little Charlie included, were wild on the
subject. Signor Martigny was to enter a den containing three full-grown
lions, and was to go through the terrific and disgusting ordeal usual
on such occasions. Gagtooth, of course, was unable to go; but, being
unwilling to deny his child any reasonable pleasure, he had consented
to Charlie's going with his mother. I happened to be passing the house
on my way homewards to dinner, just as the pair were about to start,
and called in to say good-bye to my patient. Never shall I forget the
embrace and the kiss which the father bestowed upon the little fellow.
I can see them now, after all these years, almost as distinctly as I
saw them on that terrible fifteenth of September, 1855. They perfectly
clung to each other, and seemed unwilling to part even for the two or
three hours during which the performance was to last. I can see the
mother too, impatiently waiting in the doorway, and telling Charlie
that if he didn't stop that nonsense they would be too late to see
Sampson killing the lion. She--Heaven help her!--thought nothing and
cared nothing about the pleasure the child was to derive from the
entertainment. She was only anxious on her own account; impatient to
shew her good looks and her cheap finery to the two thousand and odd
people assembled under the huge tent.

At last they started. Gagtooth got up and walked to the door, following
them with his eye as far as he could see them down the dusty street.
Then he returned and sat down in his chair. Poor fellow! he was
destined never to see either of them alive again.

Notwithstanding her fear lest she might not arrive in time for the
commencement of the performance, Mrs. Fink and her charge reached the
ground at least half an hour before the ticket office was opened; and I
regret to say that that half hour was sufficient to enable her to form
an acquaintance with one of the property men of the establishment, to
whom she contrived to make herself so agreeable that he passed her and
Charlie into the tent free of charge. She was not admitted at the front
entrance, but from the tiring-room at the back whence the performers
enter. She sat down just at the left of this entrance, immediately
adjoining the lion's cage. Ere long the performance commenced. Signor
Martigny, when his turn came, entered the cage as per announcement; but
he was not long in discovering by various signs not to be mistaken that
his charges were in no humour to be played with on that day. Even the
ring master from his place in the centre of the ring, perceived that
old King of the Forest, the largest and most vicious of the lions, was
meditating mischief, and called to the Signor to come out of the cage.
The Signor, keeping his eye steadily fixed on the brute, began a
retrograde movement from the den. He had the door open, and was swiftly
backing through, when, with a roar that seemed to shake the very earth,
old King sprang upon him from the opposite side of the cage, dashing
him to the ground like a ninepin, and rushed through the aperture into
the crowd. Quick as lightning the other two followed, and thus three
savage lions were loose and unshackled in the midst of upwards of two
thousand men, women and children.

I wish to linger over the details as briefly as possible. I am thankful
to say that I was not present, and that I am unable to describe the
occurrence from personal observation.

Poor little Charlie and his mother, sitting close to the cage, were the
very first victims. The child himself, I think, and hope, never knew
what hurt him. His skull was fractured by one stroke of the brute's
paw. Signor Martigny escaped with his right arm slit into ribbons. Big
Joe Pentland, the clown, with one well-directed stroke of a crowbar,
smashed Old King of the Forest's jaw into a hundred pieces, but not
before it had closed in the left breast of Charlie's mother. She lived
for nearly an hour afterwards, but never uttered a syllable. I wonder
if she was conscious. I wonder if it was permitted to her to realize
what her sin--for sin it must have been, in contemplation, if not in
deed--had brought upon herself and her child. Had she paid her way into
the circus, and entered in front, instead of coquetting with the
property-man, she would have been sitting under a different part of the
tent, and neither she nor Charlie would have sustained any injury, for
the two younger lions were shot before they had leapt ten paces from
the cage door. Old King was easily despatched after Joe Pentland's
tremendous blow. Besides Charlie and his mother, two men and one woman
were killed on the spot: another woman died next day from the injuries
received, and several other persons were more or less severely hurt.

Immediately after dinner I had driven out into the country to pay a
professional visit, so that I heard nothing about what had occurred
until some hours afterwards. I was informed of it, however, before I
reached the town, on my way homeward. To say that I was inexpressibly
shocked and grieved would merely be to repeat a very stupid platitude,
and to say that I was a human being. I had learned to love poor
little Charlie almost as dearly as I loved my own children. And his
father--what would be the consequence to him?

I drove direct to his house, which was filled with people--neighbours
and others who had called to administer such consolation as the
circumstances would admit of. I am not ashamed to confess that the
moment my eyes rested upon the bereaved father I burst into tears. He
sat with his child's body in his lap, and seemed literally transformed
into stone. A breeze came in through the open doorway and stirred his
thin iron-gray locks, as he sat there in his arm chair. He was
unconscious of everything--even of the presence of strangers. His eyes
were fixed and glazed. Not a sound of any kind, not even a moan, passed
his lips; and it was only after feeling his pulse that I was able to
pronounce with certainty that he was alive. One single gleam of
animation overspread his features for an instant when I gently removed
the crushed corpse from his knees, and laid it on the bed, but he
quickly relapsed into stolidity. I was informed that he had sat thus
ever since he had first received the corpse from the arms of Joe
Pentland, who had brought it home without changing his clown's dress.
Heaven grant that I may never look upon such a sight again as the poor,
half-recovered invalid presented during the whole of that night and for
several days afterwards.

For the next three days I spent all the time with him I possibly could,
for I dreaded either a relapse of the fever or the loss of his reason.
The Neighbours were very kind, and took upon themselves the burden of
everything connected with the funeral. As for Fink himself, he seemed
to take everything for granted, and interfered with nothing. When the
time arrived for fastening down the coffin lids, I could not bear to
permit that ceremony to be performed without affording him an
opportunity of kissing the dead lips of his darling for the last time.
I gently led him up to the side of the bed upon which the two coffins
were placed. At sight of his little boy's dead face, he fainted, and
before he revived I had the lids fastened down. It would have been
cruelty to subject him to the ordeal a second time.

The day after the funeral he was sufficiently recovered from the shock
to be able to talk. He informed me that he had concluded to leave the
neighbourhood, and requested me to draw up a poster, advertising all
his furniture and effects for sale by auction. He intended, he said, to
sell everything except Charlie's clothes and his own, and these,
together with a lock of the child's hair and a few of his toys, were
all he intended to take away with him.

"But of course," I remarked, "you don't intend to sell the stone
likeness?"

He looked at me rather strangely, and made no reply. I glanced around
the room, and, to my surprise, the little statue was nowhere to be
seen. It then occurred to me that I had not noticed it since Gagtooth
had been taken ill.

"By the by, where is it?" I enquired--"I don't see it."

After a moment's hesitation he told me the whole story. It was then
that I learned for the first time that he had lost all his savings
through the failure of Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer, and that the
morning when he had been taken ill there had been only a dollar in the
house. On that morning he had acquainted his wife with his loss, but
had strictly enjoined secrecy upon her, as both Gowanlock and Van Duzer
had promised him most solemnly that inasmuch as they regarded their
indebtedness to him as being upon a different footing from their
ordinary liabilities, he should assuredly be paid in full out of the
first money at their command. He had implicit reliance upon their word,
and requested me to take charge of the money upon its arrival, and to
keep it until he instructed me, by post or otherwise, how to dispose of
it. To this I, of course, consented. The rest of the story he could
only repeat upon the authority of his wife, but I have no reason for
disbelieving any portion of it. It seems that a day or two after his
illness commenced, and after he had become insensible, his wife had
been at her wits' end for money to provide necessaries for the house,
and I dare say she spent more for liquor than for necessaries. She
declared that she had made up her mind to apply to me for a loan, when
a stranger called at the house, attracted, as he said, by the little
image, which had been placed in the front window, and was thus visible
to passers by. He announced himself as Mr. Silas Pomeroy, merchant, of
Myrtle Street, Springfield. He said that the face of the little image
strikingly reminded him of the face of a child of his own which had
died some time before. He had not supposed that the figure was a
likeness of any one, and had stepped in, upon the impulse of the
moment, in the hope that he might be able to purchase it. He was
willing to pay a liberal price. The negotiation ended in his taking the
image away with him, and leaving a hundred dollars in its stead; on
which sum Mrs. Fink had kept house ever since. Her husband, of course,
knew nothing of this for weeks afterwards. When he began to get better,
his wife had acquainted him with the facts. He had found no fault with
her, as he had determined to repurchase the image at any cost, so soon
as he might be able to earn money enough. As for getting a duplicate,
that was out of the question, for Heber Jackson had been carried off by
the typhoid epidemic, and Charlie had changed considerably during the
fifteen months which had elapsed since the image had been finished. And
now poor little Charlie himself was gone, and the great desire of his
father's heart was to regain possession of the image. With that view,
as soon as the sale should be over he would start for Springfield, tell
his story to Pomeroy, and offer him his money back again. As to any
further plans, he did not know, he said, what he would do, or where he
would go; but he would certainly never live in Peoria again.

In a few days the sale took place, and Gagtooth started for Springfield
with about three hundred dollars in his pocket. Springfield is seventy
miles from Peoria. He was to return in about ten days, by which time a
tombstone was to be ready for Charlie's grave. He had not ordered one
for his wife, who was not buried in the same grave with the child, but
in one just beside him.

He returned within the ten days. His journey had been a fruitless one.
Pomeroy had become insolvent, and had absconded from Springfield a
month before. No one knew whither he had gone, but he must have taken
the image with him, as it was not among the effects which he had left
behind him. His friends knew that he was greatly attached to the image,
in consequence of its real or fancied resemblance to his dead child.
Nothing more reasonable then than to suppose that he had taken it away
with him.

Gagtooth announced to me his determination of starting on an expedition
to find Pomeroy, and never giving up the search while his money held
out. He had no idea where to look for the fugitive, but rather thought
he would try California first. He could hardly expect to receive any
remittance from Gowanlock and Van Duzer for some months to come, but he
would acquaint me with his address from time to time, and, if anything
arrived from them I could forward it to him.

And so, having seen the tombstone set up over little Charlie's grave,
he bade me good-bye, and that was the last time I ever saw him, alive.

There is little more to tell. I supposed him to be in the far west,
prosecuting his researches, until one night in the early spring of the
following year. Charlie and his mother had been interred in a corner of
the churchyard adjoining the second Baptist Church, which at that time
was on the very outskirts of the town, in a lonely, unfrequented spot,
not far from the iron bridge. Late in the evening of the seventh of
April, 1856, a woman passing along the road in the cold, dim twilight,
saw a bulky object stretched out on Charlie's grave. She called at the
nearest house, and stated her belief that a man was lying dead in the
churchyard. Upon investigation, her surmise proved to be correct.

And that man was Gagtooth.

Dead; partially no doubt, from cold and exposure; but chiefly, I
believe, from a broken heart. Where had he spent the six months which
had elapsed since I bade him farewell?

To this question I am unable to reply; but this much was evident: he
had dragged himself back just in time to die on the grave of the little
boy whom he had loved so dearly, and whose brief existence had probably
supplied the one bright spot in his father's life.

I had him buried in the same grave with Charlie; and there, on the
banks of the Illinois river, "After life's fitful fever he sleeps
well."

I never received any remittance from his former employers, nor did I
ever learn anything further of Silas Pomeroy. Indeed, so many years
have rolled away since the occurrence of the events above narrated;
years pregnant with great events to the American Republic; events, I am
proud to say, in which I bore my part: that the wear and tear of life
had nearly obliterated all memory of the episode from my mind, until,
as detailed in the opening paragraphs of this story, I saw "Gagtooth's
Image," from the top of a Thornhill omnibus. That image is now in my
possession, and no extremity less urgent than that under which it was
sold to Silas Pomeroy, of Myrtle Street, Springfield, will ever induce
me to part with it.



THE Haunted House on Duchess Street.

BEING A NARRATION OF CERTAIN STRANGE EVENTS ALLEGED TO HAVE
TAKEN PLACE AT YORK, UPPER CANADA, IN OR ABOUT THE YEAR 1823.

                "O'er all there hung the Shadow of a Fear;
                 A sense of mystery the spirit daunted;
                And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,
                 The place is haunted."--HOOD.

I.--OUTSIDE THE HOUSE.

I suppose there are at least a score of persons living in Toronto at
the present moment who remember that queer old house on Duchess street.
Not that there was anything specially remarkable about the house
itself, which indeed, in its best days, presented an aspect of rather
snug respectability. But the events I am about to relate invested it
with an evil reputation, and made it an object to be contemplated at a
safe distance, rather than from any near approach. Youngsters on their
way to school were wont to eye it askance as they hurried by on their
way to their daily tasks. Even children of a larger growth manifested
no unbecoming desire to penetrate too curiously into its inner
mysteries, and for years its threshold was seldom or never crossed by
anybody except Simon Washburn or some of his clerks, who about once in
every twelvemonth made a quiet entry upon the premises and placed in
the front windows announcements to the effect that the place was "For
Sale or To Let." The printing of these announcements involved a useless
expenditure of capital, for, from the time when the character of the
house became matter of notoriety, no one could be induced to try the
experiment of living in it. In the case of a house, no less than in
that of an individual, a bad name is more easily gained than lost, and
in the case of the house on Duchess street its uncanny repute clung to
it with a persistent grasp which time did nothing to relax. It was
distinctly and emphatically a place to keep away from.

The house was originally built by one of the Ridout family--I think by
the Surveyor-General himself--soon after the close of the war of 1812,
and it remained intact until a year or two after the town of York
became the city of Toronto, when it was partly demolished and converted
into a more profitable investment. The new structure, which was a
shingle or stave factory, was burned down in 1843 or 1844, and the site
thenceforward remained unoccupied until comparatively recent times.
When I visited the spot a few weeks since I encountered not a little
difficulty in fixing upon the exact site, which is covered by an
unprepossessing row of dark red brick, presenting the aspect of having
stood there from time immemorial, though as I am informed, the houses
have been erected within the last quarter of a century. Unattractive as
they appear, however, they are the least uninviting feature in the
landscape, which is prosaic and squalid beyond description. Rickety,
tumble-down tenements of dilapidated lath and plaster stare the
beholder in the face at every turn. During the greater part of the day
the solitude of the neighbourhood remains unbroken save by the tread of
some chance wayfarer like myself, and a general atmosphere of the
abomination of desolation reigns supreme. Passing along the
unfrequented pavement, one finds it difficult to realize the fact that
this was once a not unfashionable quarter of the capital of Upper
Canada.

The old house stood forty or fifty feet back from the roadway, on the
north side, overlooking the waters of the bay. The lot was divided from
the street by a low picket fence, and admission to the enclosure was
gained by means of a small gate. In those remote times there were few
buildings intervening between Duchess street and the water front, and
those few were not very pretentious; so that when the atmosphere was
free from fog you could trace from the windows of the upper story the
entire hithermost shore of the peninsula which has since become The
Island. The structure itself, like most buildings then erected in York,
was of frame. It was of considerable dimensions for those days, and
must have contained at least eight or nine rooms. It was two stories
high, and had a good deal of painted fret-work about the windows of
the upper story. A stately elm stood immediately in the rear, and its
wide-spreading branches overshadowed the greater part of the back yard
and outbuildings. And that is all I have been able to learn about the
exterior aspect of the place.



II.--INSIDE THE HOUSE.

A small porch-door, about half way down the western side, furnished the
ordinary mode of entrance to and exit from the house. This door opened
into an apartment which served the double purpose of sitting-room and
dining-room, and which was connected by an inner door with the kitchen
and back premises. There was, however, a rather wide-mouthed front
entrance, approached by a short flight of wooden steps, and opening
into a fair-sized hall. To the right of the hall, as you entered, a
door opened into what served as a drawing-room, which was seldom used,
as the occupants of the house were not given to receiving much
fashionable company. To the left of the hall, another door opened into
the dining-room already mentioned. A stairway facing the front
entrance, conducted you to the upper story, which consisted of several
bed-rooms and a large apartment in front. This latter must have been by
long odds the pleasantest room in the house. It was of comfortable
dimensions, well lighted, and cheerful as to its outlook. Two front
windows commanded a prospect of the bay and the peninsula, while a
third window on the eastern side overlooked the valley of the Don,
which was by no means the stagnant pool which it was destined to become
in later years. The only entrance to this chamber was a door placed
directly to the right hand at the head of the stairway, which stairway,
it may be mentioned, consisted of exactly seventeen steps. A small
bedroom in the rear was accessible only by a separate door at the back
of the upper hallway, and was thus not directly connected with the
larger apartment.

I am not informed as to the precise number and features of the other
rooms in the upper story, except that is they were bedrooms; nor is any
further information respecting them essential to a full comprehension
of the narrative. Why I have been so precise as to what may at first
appear trivial details will hereafter appear.



III.--THE TENANTS OF THE HOUSE.

As already mentioned, the house was probably built by Surveyor-General
Ridout;--but it does not appear that either he or any member of his
family ever resided there. The earliest occupant of whom I have been
able to find any trace was Thomas Mercer Jones--the gentleman, I
presume, who was afterwards connected with the Canada Land Company.
Whether he was the first tenant I am unable to say, but a gentleman
bearing that name dwelt there during the latter part of the year 1816,
and appears to have been a well-known citizen of Little York. In 1819
the tenant was a person named McKechnie, as to whom I have been unable
to glean any information whatever beyond the bare fact that he was a
pewholder in St. James's church. He appears to have given place to one
of the numerous members of the Powell family.

But the occupant with whom this narrative is more immediately concerned
was a certain ex-military man named Bywater, who woke up the echoes of
York society for a few brief months, between sixty and seventy years
ago, and who, after passing a lurid interval of his misspent life in
this community, solved the great problem of human existence by falling
down stairs and breaking his neck. Captain Stephen Bywater was a
_mauvais sujet_ of the most pronounced stamp. He came of a good
family in one of the Midland Counties of England; entered the army at
an early age, and was present on a certain memorable Sunday at
Waterloo, on which occasion he is said to have borne himself gallantly
and well. But he appears to have had a deep vein of ingrained vice in
his composition, which perpetually impelled him to crooked paths.
Various ugly stories were current about him, for all of which there was
doubtless more or less foundation. It was said that he had been caught
cheating at play, and that he was an adept in all the rascalities of
the turf. The deplorable event which led to the resignation of his
commission made considerable noise at the time of its occurrence. A
young brother officer whom he had swindled out of large sums of money,
was forced by him into a duel, which was fought on the French coast, in
the presence of two seconds and a military surgeon. There seems to have
been no doubt that the villainous captain fired too soon. At any rate,
the youth who had been inveigled into staking his life on the issue was
left dead on the field, while the aggressor rode off unscathed,
followed by the execrations of his own second. A rigid enquiry was
instituted, but the principal witnesses were not forthcoming, and the
murderer--for as such he was commonly regarded--escaped the punishment
which everybody considered he had justly merited. The severance of his
connection with the army was a foregone conclusion, and he was formally
expelled from his club. He was socially sent to Coventry, and his
native land soon became for him a most undesirable place of abode. Then
he crossed the Atlantic and made his way to Upper Canada, where, after
a while, he turned up at York, and became the tenant of the house on
Duchess street.

At the time of his arrival in this country, which must have been some
time in 1822, or perhaps early in 1823, Captain Bywater was apparently
about forty years of age. He was a bachelor and possessed of some
means. For a very brief period he contrived to make his way into the
select society of the Provincial capital; but it soon became known that
he was the aristocratic desperado who had so ruthlessly shot down young
Remy Errington on the sands near Boulogne, and who had the reputation
of being one of the most unmitigated scamps who ever wore uniform. York
society in those days could swallow a good deal in a man of good birth
and competent fortune, but it could not swallow even a well-to-do
bachelor of good family and marriageable age who had been forced
to resign his commission, and had been expelled from a not too
straight-laced London club, by a unanimous vote of the committee.
Captain Bywater was dropped with a suddenness and severity which he
could not fail to understand. He received no more invitations from
mothers with marriageable daughters, and when he presented himself at
their doors informally and forbidden he found nobody at home. Ladies
ceased to recognise him on the street, and gentlemen received his bows
with a response so frigid that he readily comprehended the state of
affairs. He perceived that his day of grace was past, and accepted his
fate with a supercilious shrug of his broad shoulders.

But the Captain was a gregarious animal, to whom solitude was
insupportable. Society of some sort was a necessity of his existence,
and as the company of ladies and gentlemen, was no longer open to him,
he sought consolation among persons of a lower grade in the social
scale. He began to frequent bar-rooms and other places of public
resort, and as he was free with his money he had no difficulty in
finding companions of a certain sort who were ready and willing enough
to drink at his expense, and to listen to the braggadocio tales of the
doughty deeds achieved by him during his campaign in the Peninsula. In
a few weeks he found himself the acknowledged head and front of a
little coterie which assembled nightly at the George Inn, on King
street. This, however, did not last long, as the late potations and
ribald carousings of the company disturbed the entire neighborhood, and
attracted attention to the place. The landlord received a stern
admonition to keep earlier hours and less uproarious guests. When
Boniface sought to carry this admonition into effect Captain Bywater
mounted his high horse, and adjourned to his own place, taking his five
or six boon companions with him. From that time forward the house on
Duchess street was the regular place of meeting.



IV.--THE ORGIES IN THE HOUSE.

Captain Bywater, upon his first arrival at York, had taken up his
quarters at a public house. The York inns of the period had an
unenviable reputation, and were widely different from the Queen's and
Rossin of the present day. Some of my readers will doubtless remember
John Gait's savage fling at them several years later. To parody Dr.
Johnson's characterization of the famous leg of mutton, they were
ill-looking, ill-smelling, ill-provided and ill-kept. In a word, they
were unendurable places of sojourn for a man of fastidious tastes and
sensitive nerves. Perhaps the Captain's tastes were fastidious, though
I can hardly believes that his nerves were sensitive. Possibly he
wished to furnish clear evidence that he was no mere sojourner in a
strange land, but that he had come here with a view to permanent
settlement. At all events his stay at an inn was of brief duration. He
rented the house on Duchess street and furnished it in a style which
for those days might be called expensive, more especially for a
bachelor's establishment. The greater part of the furniture was sent up
from Montreal, and the Captain proclaimed his intention of giving a
grand house-warming at an early date. He had hardly become settled in
the place, however, before his character and antecedent life became
known, as already mentioned, and the project was abandoned.

His household consisted of a man-servant named Jim Summers, whom he had
picked up at Montreal, and the wife of the latter, who enjoyed the
reputation of being an excellent cook, in which capacity she was
afterwards employed at the Government House during the regime of Sir
John Colborne. At first this couple had a tolerably easy time of it.
The Captain was not exigeant, and allowed them to run the establishment
pretty much as they chose. He always rose late, and went out
immediately after breakfast, accompanied by his large Newfoundland dog
Nero, the only living possession he had brought with him from beyond
the sea. Master and dog were seen no more until dinner-time, which was
five o'clock. Between seven and eight in the evening the pair would
betake themselves to the George, where the Captain drank and howled
himself hoarse until long past midnight. But he was a seasoned vessel,
and generally had pretty fair control over his limbs. He could always
find his way home without assistance, and used to direct his man not to
wait up for him. The dog was his companion whenever he stirred out of
doors.

But when the venue was changed from the tap-room of the George Inn to
the Captain's own house, the troubles of Jim Summers and his wife
began. The guests commonly arrived within a few minutes of each other,
and were all in their places by eight o'clock. They met in the large
upper room, and their sessions were prolonged far into the night, or
rather into the morning, for it happened often enough that daylight
peeped in through the eastern window and found the company still
undispersed. Ribald jests, drunken laughter and obscene songs were kept
up the whole night through. The quantity of rum, whisky, brandy and
beer consumed in the course of a week must have been something to
wonder at. The refreshments were provided at the expense of the host,
and as it was Jim's business to keep up the supply of spirits, lemons
and hot water, he had no sinecure on his hands. It might well be
supposed that he might, if so minded, have found a more congenial
situation, but as a matter of fact, he was not over scrupulous as to
the nature of his employment, and probably had his full share of the
fun. The Captain paid good wages, and was lavish in gratuities when he
was in good humor. On the whole Jim considered that he had not such a
bad place of it, and was by no means disposed to quarrel with his bread
and butter. His wife took a different view of affairs, and ere long
refused to remain on the premises during the nightly orgies. This
difficulty was got over by an arrangement whereby she was permitted to
quit the house at eight o'clock in the evening, returning on the
following morning in time to prepare the Captain's breakfast. She spent
her nights with a married sister who lived a short distance away, and
by this means she avoided what to any woman of respectability must have
been an unbearable infliction.

The orgies, in process of time, became a reproach to the neighborhood
and a scandal to the town. They were, however, kept up with few
interruptions, for several months. More than one townsman declared that
so intolerable a nuisance must be abated, but no one liked to be the
first to stir in such an unpleasant business, and the bacchanalians
continued to "vex with mirth the drowsy ear of night," unchecked by
more cleanly-living citizens. But just about the time when these
carousings had become absolutely intolerable to the community, they
were put a stop to without any outside interference.



V.--THE CATASTROPHE IN THE HOUSE.

On a certain Sunday night, which was destined to be memorable in the
annals of the Duchess street house, the number of Captain Bywater's
guests was smaller than usual. They consisted of only three persons:

1. Henry John Porter, an articled clerk in the office of Simon
Washburn. Mr. Washburn was a well-known lawyer of those times, whose
office was on the corner of Duke and George streets. He acted
professionally for the Ridout family, and had the letting and sale of
the Duchess street property. It was probably through this circumstance
that his clerk had become acquainted with Captain Bywater.

2. James McDougall, who was employed in some subordinate capacity in
the Civil Service.

3. Alfred Jordan Pilkey, whose occupation seems to have been nothing in
particular.

What had become of the other regular attendants does not appear. Not
only were the guests few in number on this particular evening, but the
proceedings themselves seem to have been of a much less noisy character
than ordinary. It was noticed that the host was somewhat out of humor,
and that he displayed signs of ill-temper which were not usual with
him. His demeanor reflected itself upon his company, and the fun was
neither fast nor furious. In fact the time passed somewhat drearily,
and the sederunt broke up at the unprecedentedly early hour of eleven
o'clock. The man-servant saw the company out, locked the door, and
repaired to the room up-stairs where his master still lingered, to see
if anything more was required of him.

The Captain sat in a large armchair by the fire, sipping a final glass
of grog. He seemed gloomy and dispirited, as though he had something on
his mind. In response to Jim's enquiry whether he wanted anything he
growled out: "No, go to bed, and be hanged to you." Jim took him at his
word, so far as the first clause of the injunction was concerned. He
went to bed in his room on the opposite side of the hallway. In passing
through the hall he perceived Nero lying asleep on the mat in front of
his master's bedroom, which was the small room in the rear of the large
apartment where the meetings were held.

Jim had not been in bed many minutes and was in a tranquil state
between sleeping and waking, when he heard his master emerge from the
front room, and pass along the hallway, as though about to enter his
bed-chamber. Another moment and he was roused from his half-somnolent
condition by the hearing of the sharp report of a pistol shot, followed
by a sound from Nero, something between a moan and a howl. He sprang to
the floor, but ere he could make his way into the hall he was well-nigh
stunned by hearing a tremendous crash, as though some large body had
been hurled violently down the stairs from top to bottom. A vague
thought of robbers flashed through his brain, and he paused for a
moment, as he himself afterwards admitted, half paralyzed with fright.
He called aloud upon his master and then upon the dog, but received no
response from either. The crash of the falling body was succeeded by
absolute silence. Pulling his nerves together he struck a match,
lighted his candle and passed in fear and trembling into the hallway.
The first sight that greeted his eyes was the seemingly lifeless body
of Nero lying stretched out at the head of the stairs. Upon approaching
the body he found blood trickling from a wound in the poor brute's
throat. One of the Captain's pistols lay on the floor, close by. But
where was the Captain himself? Shading his eyes and holding the candle
before him he peered fearfully down the stairway, but the darkness was
too profound to admit of his seeing to the bottom. By this time a
foreshadowing of the truth had made its way to his understanding. He
crept gingerly down the stairs, slowly step by step, holding the candle
far in advance, and anon calling upon his master by name. He had passed
more than half the way down before he received full confirmation of his
forebodings.

There, lying at full length across the hallway, between the foot of the
stairs and the front door, was the body of Remy Errington's murderer,
with the sinister, evil face turned up to the ceiling. His left arm,
still grasping a candlestick, was doubled under him, and his body, in
its impetuous descent, had torn away the lower portion of the
balustrade. The distraught serving-man raised the head on his arm, and,
by such means as occurred to him, sought to ascertain whether any life
still lingered there. He could find no pulsation at the wrist, but upon
applying his ear to the left side he fancied he could detect a slight
fluttering of the heart. Then he rushed to the kitchen, and returned
with a pitcher of water, which he dashed in the prostrate face. As this
produced no apparent effect he ran back upstairs to his bedroom, threw
on part of his clothes, and made his way at full speed to the house of
Dr. Pritchard on Newgate street.

The doctor was a late bird, and had not retired to rest. He at once set
out for Duchess street, Jim Summers going round by the house of his
sister-in-law on Palace street to arouse his wife, who slept there.
Upon receiving his wife's promise to follow him as soon as she could
huddle on her clothing, Jim ran on in advance, and reached the Duchess
street house, only a minute or two later than Dr. Pritchard. The doctor
had been there long enough, however, to ascertain that the Captain's
neck was broken, and that he was where no human aid could reach him. He
would preside over no more orgies in the large room on the upper story.



VI.--THE INQUEST IN THE HOUSE.

There was an inquest. That, under the circumstances, was a matter of
course, but nothing of importance was elicited beyond what has already
been noted. Porter, Macdougall and Pilkey all attended, and gave
evidence to the effect, that Captain Bywater was tolerably drunk when
they left him at eleven, but that he was upon the whole the most sober
of the party and appeared quite capable of taking care of himself. They
had noticed his uncongenial mood, but could afford no conjecture as to
the cause. It was impossible to suspect anything in the shape of foul
play. The obvious conclusion to be arrived at was that the Captain's
long drinking bouts had produced their legitimate result, and that at
the moment when he met his death he was suffering from, or on the verge
of delirium tremens. He generally carried a loaded pistol in his breast
pocket. He had found the dog asleep on the mat before his bedchamber.
It was probably asleep, or, at all events, it did not hasten to get out
of his way, and in a moment of insane fury or drunken stupidity he had
drawn forth his weapon, and shot the poor brute dead. He had just then
been standing near the top of the stairs. The quantity of liquor he had
drunk was sufficient to justify the conclusion that he was not as
steady on his pins as a sober man would have been. He had over-balanced
himself, and--and that was the whole story. The coroner's jury brought
in a verdict in accordance with the facts, and the Captain's body was
put to bed with the sexton's spade.

A will, drawn up in due form in the office of Mr. Washburn, and
properly signed and attested, had been made by the deceased a short
time after taking possession of the place on Duchess street. His
fortune chiefly consisted of an income of five hundred pounds sterling
per annum, secured on real estate situated in Gloucestershire, England.
This income lapsed upon his death, and it had thus been unnecessary to
make any testamentary provision respecting it, except as to the portion
which should accrue between the last quarter-day and the death of the
testator. This portion was bequeathed to an elder brother residing in
Gloucestershire. All the other property of the deceased was bequeathed
to Mr. Washburn, in trust to dispose of such personal belongings as did
not consist of ready money, and to transmit the proceeds, together with
all the cash in hand, to the said elder brother in Gloucestershire.

The latter provisions were duly carried into effect by Mr. Washburn
within a few days after the funeral, and it might well have been
supposed that the good people of York had heard the last of Captain
Bywater and his affairs.

But they hadn't.



VII.--THE BLACK DOG AND HIS MASTER.

At the sale of Captain Bywater's effects a portion of the furniture
belonging to the dining-room, kitchen and one bedroom were purchased by
Jim Summers, who, with his wife, continued to reside in the Duchess
street house pending the letting of it to a new tenant. These temporary
occupants thus lived in three rooms, their sleeping apartment being on
the upper story at the northern side of the house, and on the opposite
side of the hall from the large room which had been the scene of so
much recent dissipation. All the rest of the house was left bare, and
the doors of the unoccupied rooms were kept locked. Summers found
employment as porter and assistant in Hammell's grocery store, but his
wife was always on hand to show the premises to anyone who might wish
to see them.

All went on quietly until nearly a month after the funeral. Mrs.
Summers had an easy time of it, as no intending tenants presented
themselves, and her only visitor was her married sister, who
occasionally dropped in for an hour's chat. Jim was always at home by
seven in the evening, and the time glided by without anything occurring
to disturb the smooth current of their lives.

But this state of things was not to be of long continuance. One night
when Mr. Washburn was busy over his briefs in his study at home he was
disturbed by a loud knocking at his front door. As it was nearly
midnight, and as everyone else in the house had retired to rest, he
answered the summons in person. Upon unfastening the door he found Jim
and his wife at the threshold. They were only half dressed, and their
countenances were colorless as Pallida Mors. They stumbled impetuously
into the hall, and were evidently laboring under some tremendous
excitement. The lawyer conducted them into the study, where they poured
into his astonished ears a most singular tale.

Their story was to the effect that they had been disturbed for several
nights previously by strange and inexplicable noises in the house
occupied by them on Duchess street. They had been aroused from sleep at
indeterminate hours by the sound of gliding footsteps just outside of
the door of their bedroom. Once they had distinctly heard the sound of
voices, which seemed to come from the large front room across the hall.
As the door of that room was last closed and locked, they had not been
able to distinguish the particular words, but they both declared that
the voice was marvellously like that of Captain Bywater. They were
persons of fairly steady nerves, but their situation, all things
considered, was solitary and peculiar, and they had not by any means
relished these unaccountable manifestations. On each occasion, however,
they had controlled themselves sufficiently to institute a vigorous
investigation of the premises, but had discovered nothing to throw any
light upon the subject. They had found all the doors and the windows
securely fastened and there was no sign of the presence of anything or
anybody to account for the gliding footsteps.

They had unlocked and entered the front room, and found it bare and
deserted as it had been left ever since the removal of the furniture
after the sale. They had even gone to the length of unlocking and
entering every other room in the house, but had found no clue to the
mysterious sounds which had disturbed them. Then they had argued
themselves into the belief that imagination had imposed upon them, or
that there was some natural but undiscovered cause for what had
occurred. They were reluctant to make themselves the laughingstock of
the town by letting the idea get abroad that they were afraid of
ghosts, and they determined to hold their tongues. But the
manifestations had at last assumed a complexion which rendered it
impossible to pursue such a course any longer, and they vehemently
protested that they would not pass another night in the accursed house
for any bribe that could be offered them.

They had spent the preceding evening at home, as usual, and had gone to
bed a little before ten o'clock. The recent manifestations had probably
left some lingering trace upon their nerves, but they had no
premonitions of further experiences of the same character, and had soon
dropped asleep. They knew not how long they had slept when they were
suddenly and simultaneously rendered broad awake by a succession of
sounds which could not possibly be explained by any reference to mere
imagination. They heard the voice of their late master as distinctly as
they had ever heard it during his life. As before, it emanated from the
front room, but this time there was no possibility of their being
deceived, as they caught not only the sound of his voice, but also
certain words which they had often heard from his lips in bygone times.
"Don't spare the liquor, gentlemen," roared the Captain, "there's
plenty more where that came from. More sugar and lemon, you scoundrel,
and be handy there with the hot water." Then was heard the jingling
of glasses and loud rapping as if made with the knuckles of the hand
upon the table. Other voices were now heard joining in conversation,
but too indistinctly for the now thoroughly frightened listeners to
catch any of the actual words. There could, however, be no mistake.
Captain Bywater had certainly come back from the land of shadows and
re-instituted the old orgies in the old spot. The uproar lasted for at
least five minutes, when the Captain gave one of his characteristic
drunken howls, and of a sudden all was still and silent as the grave.

As might naturally have been expected, the listeners were
terror-stricken. For a few moments after the cessation of the
disturbance, they lay there in silent, open-mouthed wonderment and fear.
Then, before they could find their voices, their ears were assailed by
a loud noise in the hall below, followed by the muffled "bow-wow" of a
dog, the sound of which seemed to come from the landing at the head of
the stairway. Jim could stand the pressure of the situation no longer.
He sprang from the bed, lighted a candle, and rushed out into the hall.
This he did, as he afterwards admitted, not because he felt brave, but
because he was too terrified to remain in bed, and seemed to be
impelled by a resolve to face the worst that fate might have in store
for him. Just as he passed from the door into the hall, a heavy
footstep was heard slowly ascending the stairs. He paused where he
stood, candle in hand. The steps came on, on, on, with measured tread.
A moment more and he caught sight of the ascending figure. Horror of
horrors! It was his late master--clothes, cane and all--just as he had
been in life; and at the head of the stairs stood Nero, who gave vent
to another low bark of recognition. When the Captain reached the
landing place he turned halfway round, and the light of the candle fell
full on his face. Jim saw the whole outline with the utmost clearness,
even to the expression in the eyes, which was neither gay nor sad, but
rather stolid and stern--just what he had been accustomed to see there.
The dog crouched back against the wall, and after a brief halt near the
stair-head, Captain Bywater turned the knob of his bed-room door and
passed in. The dog followed, the door was closed, and once more all was
silent. Jim turned and encountered the white face of his wife. She had
been standing behind him all the while, and had seen everything just
as it had been presented to his own eyes. Moreover, impelled by some
inward prompting for which she could never account, she had counted the
footsteps as they had ascended the stairs. They had been exactly
seventeen!

The pair re-entered their room and took hurried counsel together. They
had distinctly seen the Captain turn the knob and pass into his
bed-room, followed by the semblance of Nero. As they well knew, the door
of that room was locked, and the key was at that moment in the pocket of
Mrs. Summers' dress. In sheer desperation they resolved at all hazards
to unlock the door and enter the room. Mrs. Summers produced the key
and handed it to her husband. She carried the candle and accompanied
him to the stair-head. He turned the lock and pushed the door wide open
before him, and both advanced into the room. It was empty, and the
window was found firmly fastened on the inside, as it had been left
weeks before.

They returned to their own bedroom, and agreed that any further stay in
such a house of horrors was not to be thought of. Hastily arraying
themselves in such clothing as came readily to hand, they passed down
the stair-way, unbolted the front door, blew out the light, and made
their way into the open air. Then they relocked the door from outside
and left the place. Their intended destination was the house of Mrs.
Summers' sister, but they determined to go round by Mr. Washburn's and
tell him their story, as they knew he kept late hours and would most
likely not have gone to bed.

Mr. Washburn, stolid man of law though he was, could not listen to such
a narrative without perceptable signs of astonishment. After thinking
over the matter a few moments, he requested his visitors to pass the
night under his roof, and to keep their own counsel for the present
about their strange experiences. As he well knew, if the singular story
got wind there would be no possibility of finding another tenant for
the vacant house. The young couple acceded to the first request, and
promised compliance with the second. They were then shown to a spare
room, and the marvels of that strange night were at an end.

Next morning at an early hour the lawyer and the ex-serving man
proceeded to the Duchess street house. Everything was as it had been
left the night before, and no clue could be found to the mysterious
circumstances so solemnly attested to by Jim Summers and his spouse.
The perfect sincerity of the couple could not be doubted, but Mr.
Washburn was on the whole disposed to believe that they had in some way
been imposed upon by designing persons who wished to frighten them off
the premises, or that their imaginations had played them a scurvy
trick. With a renewed caution as to silence he dismissed them, and they
thenceforth took up their abode in the house of Mrs. Summers' sister on
Palace street.

Mr. and Mrs. Summers kept their mouths as close as, under the
circumstances, could reasonably have been expected of them. But it was
necessary to account in some way for their sudden desertion of the
Duchess street house, and Mrs. Summers' sister was of an inquisitive
disposition. By degrees she succeeded in getting at most of the facts,
but to do her justice she did not proclaim them from the housetops, and
for some time the secret was pretty well kept. The story would probably
not have become generally known at all, but for a succession of
circumstances which took place when the haunted house had been vacant
about two months.

An American immigrant named Horsfall arrived at York with a view of
settling there and opening out a general store. He was a man of family
and of course required a house to live in. It so happened that the
store rented to him on King street had no house attached to it, and it
was therefore necessary for him to look out for a suitable place
elsewhere. Hearing that a house on Duchess street was to let, he called
and went over the premises with Mr. Washburn, who naturally kept silent
as to the supernatural appearances which had driven the Summerses from
the door in the middle of the night. The inspection proved
satisfactory, and Mr. Horsfall took the place for a year. His household
consisted of his wife, two grown-up daughters, a son in his fifteenth
year, and a black female servant. They came up from Utica in advance of
Mr. Horsfall's expectations, and before the house was ready for them,
but matters were pushed forward with all possible speed, and on the
evening of the second day after their arrival they took possession of
the place. The furniture was thrown in higgledy-piggledy, and all
attempts to put things to rights were postponed until the next day. The
family walked over after tea from the inn at which they had been
staying, resolving to rough it for a single night in their new home in
preference to passing another night amid countless swarms of "the
pestilence that walketh in darkness." Two beds were hastily made up on
the floor of the drawing-room, one for the occupation of Mr. and Mrs.
Horsfall, and the other for the two young women. A third bed was
hastily extemporized on the floor of the dining-room for the occupation
of Master George Washington, and Dinah found repose on a lounge in the
adjacent kitchen. The entire household went to bed sometime between ten
and eleven o'clock, all pretty well tired, and prepared for a
comfortable night's rest. They had been in bed somewhat more than an
hour when the whole family was aroused by the barking of a dog in the
lower hall. This was, not unnaturally, regarded as strange, inasmuch as
all the doors and windows had been carefully fastened by Mr. Horsfall
before retiring, and there had certainly been no dog in the house then.
The head of the family lost no time in lighting a candle and opening
the door into the hall. At the same moment young G. W. opened the door
on the opposite side. Yes, there, sure enough, was a large, black
Newfoundland dog, seemingly very much at home, as though he belonged to
the place. As the youth advanced towards him he retreated to the
stairway, up which he passed at a great padding pace. How on earth had
he gained an entrance? Well, at all events he must be got rid of; but
he looked as if he would be an awkward customer to tackle at close
quarters and Mr. Horsfall deemed it prudent to put on a part of his
clothing before making any attempt to expel him. While he was dressing,
the tread of the animal on the floor of the upper hall could be
distinctly heard, and ever and anon he emitted a sort of low, barking
sound, which was ominous of a disposition to resent any interference
with him. By this time all the members of the household were astir and
clustering about the lower hall. Mr. Horsfall, with a lighted candle in
one hand and a stout cudgel in the other, passed up the stairs and
looked along the passage. Why, what on earth had become of the dog! It
was nowhere to be seen! Where could it have hidden itself? It was
certainly too large an animal to have taken refuge in a rat-hole. Had
it entered one of the rooms? Impossible, for they were all closed,
though not locked. Mr. H. himself having unlocked them in the course of
the afternoon, when some furniture had been taken into them. He,
however, looked into each room in succession, only to find "darkness
there and nothing more." Then he concluded that the brute must have
gone down stairs while he had been putting on his clothes in the room
below. No, that could not be, for George Washington had never left the
foot of the stairway from the moment the dog first passed up. Had it
jumped through one of the windows? No, they were all fast and intact.
Had it gone up the chimney of the front room? No; apart from the
absurdity of the idea, the hole was not large enough to admit of a dog
one-fifth its size. In vain the house was searched through and through.
Not a sign of the huge disturber of the domestic peace was to be seen
anywhere.

After a while, Mr. Horsfall, at a loss for anything better to exercise
his faculties upon, opened both the front and back doors and looked all
over the premises, alternately calling Carlo! Watch! and every other
name which occurred to him as likely to be borne by a dog. There was no
response, and in sheer disgust he re-entered the house and again sought
his couch. In a few minutes more the household was again locked in
slumber. But they were not at the end of their annoyances. About half
an hour after midnight they were once more aroused.--this time by the
sound of loud voices in the large upper room. "I tell you we will all
have glasses round," roared a stentorian voice--"I will knock down the
first man who objects!" Everybody in the house heard the voice and the
words. This was apparently more serious than the dog. Mr. H. regretted
that he had left his pistols at the inn, but he determined to rid the
place of the intruders whoever they might be. Grasping the cudgel he
again made his way up-stairs, candle in hand. When more than half way
up he caught sight of a tall, heavily-built, red-faced man, who had
apparently emerged from the larger room, and who was just on the point
of opening the door of the back bedroom. "Who are you, you scoundrel?"
exclaimed Mr. H. The man apparently neither saw nor heard him, but
opened the door with tranquil unconcern and passed into the room. Mr.
H. followed quickly at his very heels--only to find that he had been
beguiled with a counterfeit, and that there was no one there. Then he
stepped back into the hallway, and entered the larger room with cudgel
raised, fully expecting to find several men there. To his unspeakable
astonishment he found nobody. Again he hurried from room to room,
upstairs and downstairs. Again he examined the doors and windows to see
if the fastenings had been tampered with. No, all was tight and snug.
The family were again astir, hurrying hither and thither, in quest of
they knew not what; but they found nothing to reward their search, and
after a while all gathered together half-clad in the dining room, where
they began to ask each other what these singular disturbances could
mean.

Mr. Horsfall was a plain, matter of fact personage, and up to this
moment no idea of any supernatural visitation had so much as entered
his mind. Even now he scouted the idea when it was timidly broached by
his wife. He, however, perceived plainly enough that this was something
altogether out of the common way, and he announced his intention of
going to bed no more that night. The others lay down again, but we may
readily believe that they slept lightly, if at all, though nothing more
occurred to disturb them. Soon after daylight all the family rose and
dressed for the day. Once more they made tour after tour through all
the rooms, only to find that everything remained precisely as it had
been left on the preceding night.

After an early breakfast Mr. H. proceeded to the house of Mr. Washburn,
where he found that gentleman was still asleep, and that he could not
be disturbed. The visitor was a patient man and declared his intention
of waiting. In about an hour Mr. Washburn came down stairs, and heard
the extraordinary story which his tenant had to relate. He had
certainly not anticipated anything of this sort, and gave vehement
utterance to his surprise. In reply to Mr. H.'s enquiries about the
house, however, he gave him a brief account of the life and death of
Captain Bywater, and supplemented the biography by a narration of the
singular experiences of Jim Summers and his wife. Then the American
fired up, alleging that his landlord had had no right to let him the
house, and to permit him to remove his family into it, without
acquainting him with the facts beforehand. The lawyer admitted that he
had perhaps been to blame, and expressed his regret. The tenant
declared that he then and there threw up his tenancy, and that he would
vacate the house in the course of the day. Mr. Washburn felt that a
court of law would probably hesitate to enforce a lease under such
circumstances, and assented that the arrangement between them should be
treated as cancelled.



VIII.--THE LAST OF THE HOUSE.

And cancelled it was. Mr. Horsfall temporarily took his family and his
other belongings back to the inn, but soon afterwards secured a house
where no guests, canine, or otherwise, were in the habit of intruding
themselves uninvited in the silent watches of the night. He kept a
store here for some years, and, I believe, was buried at York. A son of
his, as I am informed--probably the same who figures in the foregoing
narrative--is, or lately was, a well-to-do resident of Syracuse, N. Y.

Mr. Horsfall made no secret of his reasons for throwing up his tenancy,
and his adventures were soon noised abroad throughout the town. He was
the last tenant of the sombre house. Thenceforward no one could be
induced to rent it or even to occupy it rent free. It was commonly
regarded as a whisht, gruesome spot, and was totally unproductive to
its owners. Its subsequent history has already been given.

And now what more is there to tell? Only this: that the main facts of
the foregoing story are true. Of course I am not in a position to vouch
for them from personal knowledge, any more than I am in a position to
personally vouch for the invasion of England by William of Normandy.
But they rest on as good evidence as most other private events of
sixty-odd years ago, and there is no reason for doubting their literal
truth. With regard to the supernatural element, I am free to confess
that I am not able to accept it in entirety. This is not because I
question the veracity of those who vouch for the alleged facts, but
because I have not received those facts at first hand, and because I am
not very ready to believe in the supernatural at all. I think that, in
the case under consideration, an intelligent investigation at the time
might probably have brought to light circumstances as to which the
narrative, as it stands, is silent. Be that as it may, the tale is
worth the telling, and I have told it.



SAVAREEN'S DISAPPEARANCE.

A HALF-FORGOTTEN CHAPTER IN THE HISTORY OF AN UPPER CANADIAN
TOWNSHIP.



CHAPTER I.

THE PLACE AND THE MAN.


Near the centre of one of the most flourishing of the western counties
of Ontario, and on the line of the Great Western branch of the Grand
Trunk Railway, stands a pleasant little town, which, for the purposes
of this narrative, may be called Millbrook. Not that its real name is
Millbrook, or any thing in the least similar thereto; but as this
story, so far as its main events are concerned, is strictly true, and
some of the actors in it are still living, it is perhaps desirable not
to be too precise in the matter of locality. The strange disappearance
of Mr. Savareen made a good deal of noise at the time, not only in the
neighborhood, but throughout Upper Canada. It was a nine days' wonder,
and was duly chronicled and commented upon by the leading provincial
newspapers of the period; but it has long since passed out of general
remembrance, and the chain of circumstances subsequently arising out of
the event have never been made known beyond the limited circle
immediately interested. The surviving members of that circle would
probably not thank me for once more dragging their names conspicuously
before the public gaze. I might certainly veil their personalities
under the thin disguise of initial letters, but to this mode of
relating a story I have always entertained a decided objection. The
chief object to be aimed at in story-telling is to hold the attention
of the reader, and, speaking for myself, I am free to confess that I
have seldom been able to feel any absorbing interest in characters who
figure merely as the M. or N. of the baptismal service. I shall
therefore assign fictitious names to persons and places, and I cannot
even pretend to mathematical exactness as to one or two minor details.
In reporting conversations, for instance, I do not profess to reproduce
the _ipsissima verba_ of the speakers, but merely to give the
effect and purport of their discourses. I have, however, been at some
pains to be accurate, and I think I may justly claim that in all
essential particulars this story of Savareen's disappearance is as true
as any report of events which took place a good many years ago can
reasonably be expected to be.

First: As to the man. Who was he?

Well, that is easily told. He was the second son of a fairly well-to-do
English yeoman, and had been brought up to farming pursuits on the
paternal acres in Hertfordshire. He emigrated to Upper Canada in or
about the year 1851, and had not been many weeks in the colony before
he became the tenant of a small farm situated in the township of
Westchester, three miles to the north of Millbrook. At that time he
must have been about twenty-five or twenty-six years of age. So far as
could be judged by those who came most frequently into personal
relations with him, he had no very marked individuality to distinguish
him from others of his class and station in life. He was simply a young
English farmer who had migrated to Canada with a view to improving his
condition and prospects.

In appearance he was decidedly prepossessing. He stood five feet eleven
inches in his stockings; was broad of shoulder, strong of arm, and well
set up about the limbs. His complexion was fair and his hair had a
decided inclination to curl. He was proficient in most athletics; could
box and shoot, and if put upon his mettle, could leap bodily over a
five-barred gate. He was fond of good living, and could always be
depended upon to do full justice to a well-provided dinner. It cannot
be denied that he occasionally drank more than was absolutely necessary
to quench a normal thirst, but he was as steady as could be expected of
any man who has from his earliest boyhood been accustomed to drink beer
as an ordinary beverage, and has always had the run of the buttery
hatch. He liked a good horse, and could ride anything that went on four
legs. He also had a weakness for dogs, and usually had one or two of
those animals dangling near his heels whenever he stirred out of doors.
Men and things in this country were regarded by him from a strictly
trans-Atlantic point of view, and he was frequently heard to remark
that this, that, and the other thing were "nothink to what we 'ave at
'ome."

He was more or less learned in matters pertaining to agriculture, and
knew something about the current doctrines bearing on the rotation of
crops. His literary education, moreover, had not been wholly neglected.
He could read and write, and could cast up accounts which were not of
too involved and complicated a character. It cannot truly be said that
he had read Tom Jones, Roderick Random, and Pierce Egan's Life in London.
He regarded Cruikshank's illustrations to the last named work--more
particularly that one depicting Corinthian Tom "getting the best
of Charley,"--as far better worth looking at than the whole collection
in the National Gallery, a place where he had once whirled away a
tedious hour or two during a visit to town.

Then, he was not altogether ignorant concerning several notable events
in the history of his native land. That is to say, he knew that a
certain king named Charles the First had been beheaded a good many
years ago, and that a disreputable personage named Oliver Cromwell had
somehow been mixed up in the transaction. He understood that the
destinies of Great Britain were presided over by Queen Victoria and two
Houses of Parliament, called respectively the House of Lords and the
House of Commons; and he had a sort of recollection of having heard
that those august bodies were called Estates of the Realm. In his eyes,
everything English was _ipso facto_ to be commended and admired,
whereas everything un-English was _ipso facto_ to be proportionately
condemned and despised. Any misguided person who took a different view
of the matter was to be treated as one who had denied the faith, and
was worse than an infidel.

I have said that his appearance was prepossessing, and so it was in the
ordinary course of things, though he had a broad scar on his left
cheek, which, on the rare occasions when he was angry, asserted itself
somewhat conspicuously, and imparted, for the nonce, a sinister
expression to his countenance. This disfigurement, as I have heard, had
been received by him some years before his arrival in Canada. During a
visit to one of the market towns in the neighborhood of his home, he
had casually dropped into a gymnasium, and engaged in a fencing bout
with a friend who accompanied him. Neither of the contestants had ever
handled a foil before, and they were of course unskilled in the use of
such dangerous playthings. During the contest the button had slipped
from his opponent's weapon, just as the latter was making a vigorous
lunge. As a consequence Savareen's cheek had been laid open by a wound
which left its permanent impress upon him. He himself was in the habit
of jocularly alluding to this disfigurement as his "bar sinister."

For the rest, he was stubborn as a mule about trifles which did not in
the least concern him, but as regarded the affairs of every-day life he
was on the whole pleasant and easy-going, more especially when nothing
occurred to put him out. When anything of the kind _did_ occur, he
could certainly assume the attitude of an ugly customer, and on such
occasions the wound on his cheek put on a lurid hue which was not
pleasant to contemplate. His ordinary discourse mainly dealt with the
events of his everyday life. It was not intellectually stimulating, and
for the most part related to horses, dogs, and the crop prospects of
the season. In short, if you have ever lived in rural England, or if
you have been in the habit of frequenting English country towns on
market-days, you must have encountered scores of jolly young farmers
who, to all outward seeming, with the solitary exception of the
sinister scar, might pretty nearly have stood for his portrait.

Such was Reginald Bourchier Savareen, and if you have never come across
anybody possessing similar characteristics--always excepting the
scar--your experience of your fellow-creatures has been more limited than
might be expected from a reader of your age and manifest intelligence.

His farm--_i.e._, the farm rented by him--belonged to old Squire
Harrington, and lay in a pleasant valley on the western side of the
gravel road leading northward from Millbrook to Spotswood. The Squire
himself lived in the red brick mansion which peeped out from the clump
of maples a little further down on the opposite side of the road. The
country thereabouts was settled by a thrifty and prosperous race of
pioneers, and presented a most attractive appearance. Alternate
successions of hill and dale greeted the eye of the traveller as he
drove along the hard-packed highway, fifteen miles in length, which
formed the connecting link between the two towns above mentioned. The
land was carefully tilled, and the houses, generally speaking, were of
a better class than were to be found in most rural communities in Upper
Canada at that period. Savareen's own dwelling was unpretentious
enough, having been originally erected for one of the squire's "hired
men," but it was sufficient for his needs, as he had not married until
a little more than a year before the happening of the events to be
presently related, and his domestic establishment was small. His entire
household consisted of himself, his young wife, an infant in arms, a
man servant and a rustic maid of all work. In harvest time he, of
course, employed additional help, but the harvesters were for the most
part residents of the neighborhood, who found accommodation in their
own homes. The house was a small frame, oblong building, of the
conventional Canadian farm-house order of architecture, painted of a
drab color and standing a hundred yards or so from the main road. The
barn and stable stood a convenient distance to the rear. About midway
between house and barn was a deep well, worked with a windlass and
chain. During the preceding season a young orchard had been planted out
in the space intervening between the house and the road. Everything
about the place was kept in spick and span order. The tenant was fairly
successful in his farming operations, and appeared to be holding his
own with the world around him. He paid his rent promptly, and was on
excellent terms with his landlord. He was, in fact, rather popular with
his neighbors generally, and was regarded as a man with a fair future
before him.



CHAPTER II.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD.


About a quarter of a mile to the north of Savareen's abode was a
charming little hostelry, kept by a French Canadian named Jean Baptiste
Lapierre. It was one of the snuggest and cosiest of imaginable inns;
by no means the sort of wayside tavern commonly to be met with in
Western Canada in those times, or even in times much more recent. The
landlord had kept a high-class restaurant in Quebec in the old days
before the union of the Provinces, and piqued himself upon knowing what
was what. He was an excellent cook, and knew how to cater to the
appetites of more exacting epicures than he was likely to number among
his ordinary patrons in a rural community like that in which he had
piched his quarters. When occasion required, he could serve up a dinner
or supper at which Brillat Savarian himself would have had no excuse
for turning up his nose. It was seldom that any such exigeant demand as
this was made upon his skill, but even his ordinary fare was good
enough for any city sir or madam whom chance might send beneath his
roof, and such persons never failed to carry away with them pleasant
remembrances of the place.

The creaking sign which swayed in the breeze before the hospitable door
proclaimed it to be The Royal Oak, but it was commonly known throughout
the whole of that country-side as Lapierre's. The excellence of its
larder was proverbial, insomuch that professional men and others used
frequently to drive out from town expressly to dine or sup there. Once
a week or so--usually on Saturday nights--a few of the choice spirits
thereabouts used to meet in the cosy parlor and hold a decorous sort of
free-and-easy, winding up with supper at eleven o'clock. On these
occasions, as a matter of course, the liquor flowed with considerable
freedom, and the guests had a convivial time of it; but there was
nothing in the shape of wild revelry--nothing to bring reproach upon
the good name of the house. Jean Baptiste had too much regard for his
well-earned reputation to permit these meetings to degenerate into mere
orgies. He showed due respect for the sanctity of the Sabbath, and took
care to make the house clear of company before the stroke of midnight.
By such means he not only kept his guests from indulging in riotous
excesses, but secured their respect for himself and his establishment.

Savareen was a pretty regular attendant at these convivial gatherings,
and was indeed a not infrequent visitor at other times. He always met
with a warm welcome, for he could sing a good song, and paid his score
with commendable regularity. His Saturday nights' potations did not
interfere with his timely appearance on Sunday morning in his pew in
the little church which stood on the hill a short distance above
Lapierre's. His wife usually sat by his side, and accompanied him to
and fro. Everything seemed to indicate that the couple lived happily
together, and that they were mutually blessed in their domestic
relations. With regard to Mrs. Savareen, the only thing necessary to
be mentioned about her at present is that she was the daughter of a
carpenter and builder resident in Millbrook.

There was a good deal of travel on the Millbrook and Spotswood road,
more especially in the autumn, when the Dutch farmers from the
settlements up north used to come down in formidable array, for the
purpose of supplying themselves with fruit to make cider and
"applesass" for the winter. The great apple-producing district of the
Province begins in the townships lying a few miles to the south of
Westchester, and the road between Millbrook and Spotswood was, and is,
the most direct route thither from the Dutch settlements. The garb and
other appointments of the stalwart Canadian Teuton of those days were
such as to make him easily distinguishable from his Celtic or Saxon
neighbor. He usually wore a long, heavy, coat of coarse cloth, reaching
down to his heels. His head was surmounted by a felt hat with a brim
wide enough to have served, at a pinch, for the tent of a side-show.
His wagon was a great lumbering affair, constructed, like himself,
after an ante-diluvian pattern, and pretty nearly capacious enough for
a first-rate man-of-war. In late September and early October it was no
unprecedented thing to see as many as thirty or forty of these
ponderous vehicles moving southward, one at the tail of the other, in a
continuous string. They came down empty, and returned a day or two
afterwards laden with the products of the southern orchards. On the
return journey the wagons were full to overflowing. Not so the drivers,
who were an exceedingly temperate and abstemious people, too
parsimonious to leave much of their specie at the Royal Oak. It was
doubtless for this reason that mine host Lapierre regarded, and was
accustomed to speak of them with a good deal of easy contempt, not to
say aversion. They brought little or no grist to his mill, and he was
fond of proclaiming that he did not keep a hotel for the accommodation
of such _canaille_. The emphasis placed by him on this last word
was something quite refreshing to hear.

The road all the way from Millbrook to Spotswood, corresponds to the
mathematical definition of a straight line. It forms the third
concession of the township, and there is not a curve in it anywhere.
The concessions number from west to east, and the sidelines, running at
right angles to them are exactly two miles apart. At the northwestern
angle formed by the intersection of the gravel road with the first side
line north of Millbrook stood a little toll-gate, kept, at the period
of the story, by one Jonathan Perry. Between the toll-gate and
Savareen's on the same side of the road were several other houses to
which no more particular reference is necessary. On the opposite side
of the highway, somewhat more than a hundred yards north of the
toll-gate, was the abode of a farmer named Mark Stolliver. Half a mile
further up was John Calder's house, which was the only one until you
came to Squire Harrington's. To the rear of the Squire's farm was a
huge morass about fifty acres in extent, where cranberries grew in
great abundance, from which circumstance it was known as Cranberry
Swamp.

Now you have the entire neighborhood before you, and if you will cast
your eye on the following rough plan you will have no difficulty in
taking in the scene at a single glance:--

[Illustration: map of the area described in preceding text]



CHAPTER III.

A JOURNEY TO TOWN.


In the early spring of the year 1854 a letter reached Savareen from
his former home in Hertfordshire, containing intelligence of the sudden
death of his father. The old gentleman had been tolerably well off in
this world's gear, but he had left a numerous family behind him, so
that there was no great fortune in store for Reginald. The amount
bequeathed to him, however, was four hundred pounds sterling clear of
all deductions--a sum not to be despised, as it would go far toward
enabling him to buy the farm on which he lived, and would thus give a
material impetus to his fortunes. The executors lost no time in winding
up and distributing the estate, and during the second week in July a
letter arrived from their solicitors enclosing a draft on the Toronto
agency of the Bank of British North America for the specified sum.
Savareen made arrangements with the local bank at Millbank to collect
the proceeds, and thus save him the expense of a journey to Toronto.
Meanwhile he concluded a bargain with Squire Harrington for the
purchase of the farm. The price agreed upon was $3,500, half of which
was to be paid down upon the delivery of the deed, the balance being
secured by mortgage. The cash would be forthcoming at the bank not
later than the 18th of the month, and accordingly that was the date
fixed upon for the completion of the transaction. Lawyer Miller was
instructed to have the documents ready for execution at noon, when the
parties and their respective wives were to attend at his office in
Millbrook.

The morning of Monday, the 17th, was wet and gave promise of a rainy
day. As there seemed to be no prospect of his being able to do any
outside work on the farm, Savareen thought he might as well ride into
town and ascertain if the money had arrived. He saddled his black mare,
and started for Millbrook--about ten in the forenoon. His two dogs
showed a manifest desire to accompany him, but he did not think fit to
gratify their desire and ordered them back. Before he had ridden far
the rain ceased, and the sun came out warm and bright, but he was in an
idle mood, and didn't think it worth while to turn back. It seems
probable indeed, that he had merely wanted an excuse for an idle day in
town; as there was no real necessity for such a journey. Upon reaching
the front street he stabled his mare at the Peacock Inn, which was his
usual house of call when in Millbrook. He next presented himself at the
bank, where he made enquiry about his draft. Yes, the funds were there
all right. The clerk, supposing that he wanted to draw the amount there
and then, counted the notes out for him, and requested him to sign the
receipt in the book kept for such purposes. Savareen then intimated
that he had merely called to enquire about the matter, and that he
wished to leave the money until next day. The clerk, who was out of
humor about some trifle or other, and who was, moreover, very busy that
morning, spoke up sharply, remarking that he had had more bother about
that draft than the transaction was worth. His irritable turn and
language nettled Savareen, who accordingly took the notes, signed the
receipt and left the bank, declaring that "that shop" should be
troubled by no further business of his. The clerk, as soon as he had
time to think over the matter, perceived that he had been rude, and
would have tendered an apology, but his customer had already shaken the
dust of the bank off his feet and taken his departure, so that there
was no present opportunity of accommodating the petty quarrel. As
events subsequently turned out it was destined never to be accommodated
in this world, for the two never met again on this side the grave.

Instead of returning home immediately as he ought to have done,
Savareen hung about the tavern all day, drinking more than was good for
his constitution, and regaling every boon companion he met with an
account of the incivility to which he had been subjected at the hands
of the bank clerk. Those to whom he told the story thought he attached
more importance to the affair than it deserved, and they noticed that
the scar on his cheek came out in its most lurid aspect. He dined at
the Peacock and afterwards indulged in sundry games of bagatelle and
ten-pins; but the stakes consisted merely of beer and cigars, and he
did not get rid of more than a few shillings in the course of the
afternoon. Between six and seven in the evening his landlady regaled
him with a cup of strong tea, after which he seemed none the worse for
his afternoon's relaxations. A few minutes before dusk he mounted his
mare and started on his way homeward.

The ominous clouds of the early morning had long since passed over. The
sun had shone brightly throughout the afternoon, and had gone down amid
a gorgeous blaze of splendour. The moon would not rise till nearly
nine, but the evening was delightfully calm and clear, and the
horseman's way home was as straight as an arrow, over one of the best
roads in the country.



CHAPTER IV.

GONE.

At precisely eight o'clock in the evening of this identical Monday,
July 17th, 1854, old Jonathan Perry sat tranquilly smoking his pipe at
the door of the toll-gate two miles north of Millbrook.

The atmosphere was too warm to admit of the wearing of any great
display of apparel, and the old man sat hatless and coatless on a sort
of settle at the threshold. He was an inveterate old gossip, and was
acquainted with the business of everybody in the neighborhood. He knew
all about the bargain entered into between Savareen and Squire
Harrington, and how it was to be consummated on the following day.
Savareen, when riding townwards that morning, had informed him of the
ostensible purpose of his journey, and it now suddenly occurred to the
old man to wonder why the young farmer had not returned home.

While he sat there pondering, the first stroke of the town bell
proclaiming the hour was borne upon his ear. Before the ringing had
ceased, he caught the additional sound of a horse's hoofs rapidly
advancing up the road.

"Ah," said he to himself, "here he comes. I reckon his wife'll be apt
to give him fits for being so late."

In another moment the horseman drew up before him, but only to exchange
a word of greeting, as the gate was thrown wide open, and there was
nothing to bar his progress. The venerable gate-keeper had conjectured
right. It was Savareen on his black mare.

"Well, Jonathan, a nice evening," remarked the young farmer.

"Yes, Mr. Savareen--a lovely night. You've had a long day of it in
town. They'll be anxious about you at home. Did you find the money all
right, as you expected?"

"O, the money was there, right enough, and I've got it in my pocket. I
had some words with that conceited puppy, Shuttleworth, at the bank.
He's altogether too big for his place, and I can tell you he'll have
the handling of no more money of mine." And then, for about the
twentieth time within the last few hours, he recounted the particulars
of his interview with the bank clerk.

The old man expressed his entire concurrence in Savareen's estimate of
Shuttleworth's conduct. "I have to pay the gate-money into the bank on
the first of every month," he remarked, "and that young feller always
acts as if he felt too uppish to touch it. I wonder you didn't drop
into 'un."

"O, I wasn't likely to do that," was the reply--"but I gave him a bit
of my mind, and I told him it 'ud be a long time afore I darkened the
doors of his shop again. And so it will. I'd sooner keep my bit o'
money, when I have any, in the clock-case at home. There's never any
housebreaking hereabouts."

Jonathan responded by saying that, in so far as he knew, there hadn't
been a burglary for many a year.

"But all the same," he continued, "I shouldn't like to keep such a sum
as four hundred pound about me, even for a single night. No more I
shouldn't like to carry such a pot o' money home in the night time,
even if nobody knew as I had it on me. Ride you home, Mr. Savareen, and
hide it away in some safe place till to-morrow morning--that's
_my_ advice."

"And very good advice it is, Jonathan," was the response. "I'll act
upon it without more words. Good night!" And so saying, Savareen
continued his course homeward at a brisk trot.

The old man watched him as he sped away up the road, but could not keep
him in view more than half a minute or so, as by this time the light of
day had wholly departed. He lighted his pipe, which had gone out during
the conversation, and resumed his seat on the settle. Scarcely had he
done so ere he heard the clatter of horse's hoofs moving rapidly
towards the gate from the northward. "Why," said he to himself, "this
must be Savareen coming back again. What's the matter now, I wonder?"

But this time he was out in his conjecture. When the horseman reached
the gate, he proved to be not Savareen, but mine host Lapierre, mounted
on his fast-trotting nag, Count Frontenac--a name irreverently
abbreviated by the sportsmen of the district into "Fronty." The rider
drew up with a boisterous "Woa!" and reached out towards the gate-keeper
a five-cent piece by way of toll, saying as he did so:

"Vell, Mister Perry, how coes everytings wiss you?"

"O, good evening, Mr. Lapierre; I didn't know you till you spoke. My
eyesight's getting dimmer every day, I think. Bound for town?"

"Yes, I want to see what has cot Mr. Safareen. He went to town early
this morning to see about some money matters, and promised to pe pack
in a couple of hours, put he ain't pack yet. Mrs. Safareen cot so
uneasy apout him to-night, that she came up to my place and pegged me
to ride down and hunt him up. I suppose you saw him on his way down?"

"Saw him! On his way down! What are you talking about? Didn't you meet
him just now?"

"Meet who?"

"Savareen."

"Where? When?"

"Why, not two minutes ago. He passed through here on his way home just
before you came up."

"How long pefore?"

"How long! Why, don't I tell you, not two minutes. He hadn't hardly got
out o' sight when I heerd your horse's feet on the stones, and thought
it was him a-coming back again. You must a met him this side o'
Stolliver's."

Then followed further explanations on the part of old Jonathan, who
recounted the conversation he had just had with Savareen.

Well, of course, the key to the situation was not hard to find.
Savareen had left the toll-gate and proceeded northward not more than
two or three minutes before Lapierre, riding southward along the same
road, had reached the same point. The two had not encountered each
other. Therefore, one of them had deviated from the road. There had
been no deviation on the part of Lapierre, so the deviator must
necessarily have been Savareen. But the space of time which had elapsed
was too brief to admit of the latter's having ridden more than a
hundred yards or thereabouts. The only outlet from the road within four
times that distance was the gateway leading into Stolliver's house. The
explanation, consequently, was simple enough. Savareen had called in at
Stollivers. Q. E. D.

Strange, though, that he had said nothing to old Jonathan about his
intention to call there. He had ridden off as though intent upon
getting home without delay, and hiding his money away in a safe place
for the night. And, come to think of it, it was hard to understand what
possible reason he could have for calling at Stolliver's. He had never
had any business or social relations of any kind with Stolliver, and in
fact the two had merely a nodding acquaintance. Still another strange
thing was that Savareen should have taken his horse inside the gate, as
there was a tying-post outside, and he could not have intended to make
any prolonged stay. However, there was no use raising difficult
problems, which could doubt less be solved by a moment's explanation.
It was absolutely certain that Savareen was at Stolliver's because he
could not possibly have avoided meeting Lapierre if he had not called
there. It was Lapierre's business to find him and take him home.
Accordingly the landlord of the Royal Oak turned his horse's head and
cantered back up the road till he reached the front of Stolliver's
place.

Stolliver and his two boys were sitting out on the front fence, having
emerged from the house only a moment before. They had been working in
the fields until past sundown, and had just risen from a late supper.
Old Stolliver was in the habit of smoking a pipe every night after his
evening meal, and in pleasant weather he generally chose to smoke it
out of doors, as he was doing this evening, although the darkness had
fallen. Lapierre, as he drew rein, saw the three figures on the fence,
but could not in the darkness, distinguish one from, another.

"Is that Mister Stollifer?" he asked.

"Yes; who be _you_?" was the ungracious response, delivered in a gruff
tone of voice. Old Stolliver was a boorish, cross-grained customer, who
paid slight regard to the amenities, and did not show to advantage in
conversation.

"Don't you know me? I am Mister Lapierre."

"O, Mr. Lapierre, eh? Been a warm day."

"Yes. Hass Mister Safareen gone?"

"Mister who?"

"Mister Safareen. Wass he not here shoost now?"

"Here? What fur?"

The landlord was by this time beginning to feel a little disgusted at
the man's boorish incivility. "Will you pe so coot as to tell me," he
asked, "if Mister Safareen hass peen here?"

"Not as I know of. Hain't seen him."

Lapierre was astounded. He explained the state of affairs to his
interlocuter, who received the communication with his wonted stolidity,
and proceeded to light his pipe, as much as to say that the affair was
none of his funeral.

"Well," he remarked, with exasperating coolness, "I guess you must 'a'
passed him on the road. We hain't been out here more'n a minute or two.
Nobody hain't passed since then."

This seemed incredible. Where, then, was Savareen? Had he sunk into the
bowels of the earth, or gone up, black mare and all, in a balloon? Of
course it was all nonsense about the landlord having passed him on the
road without seeing or hearing anything of him. But what other
explanation did the circumstances admit of? At any rate, there was
nothing for Lapierre to do but ride back to Savareen's house and see if
he had arrived there. Yes, one other thing might be done. He might
return to the toll gate and ascertain whether Jonathan Perry was
certain as to the identity of the man from whom he had parted a few
minutes before. So Count Frontenac's head was once more turned
southward. A short trot brought him again to the toll-house. The
gatekeeper was still sitting smoking at the door. A moment's conference
with him was sufficient to convince Lapierre that there could be no
question of mistaken identity. "Why," said Jonathan, "I know Mr.
Savareen as well as I know my right hand. And then, didn't he tell me
about his row with Shuttleworth, and that he had the four hundred
pounds in his pocket. Why, dark as it was, I noticed the scar on his
cheek when he was talking about it.--I say, Missus, look here," he
called in a louder tone, whereupon his wife presented herself at the
threshold. "Now," resumed the old man, "just tell Mr. Lapierre whether
you saw Mr. Savareen talking to me a few minutes since, and whether you
saw him ride off up the road just before Mr. Lapierre came down. Did
you, or did you not?"

Mrs. Perry's answer was decisive, and at the same time conclusive as to
the facts. She had not only seen Savareen sitting on his black mare at
the door, immediately after the town bell ceased ringing for eight
o'clock; but she had listened to the conversation between him and her
husband, and had heard pretty nearly every word. Lapierre cross
examined her, and found that her report of the interview exactly
corresponded with what he had already heard from old Jonathan. "Why,"
said she, "there is no more doubt of its being Mr. Savareen than there
is of that gate-post being there on the road-side. 'Very good advice it
is,' says he, 'and I'll act upon it without more words.' Then he said
'good night,' and off he went up the road. Depend upon it, Mr.
Lapierre, you've missed him somehow in the darkness, and he's safe and
sound at home by this time."

"Yes, yes, Mr. Lapierre, not a doubt on it," resumed old Jonathan,
"you've a passed him on the road athout seein' 'im. It was dark, and
you were both in a hurry. I've heerd o' lots o' stranger things nor
that."

Lapierre couldn't see it. He knew well enough that it was no more
possible for him to pass a man on horseback on that narrow highway, on
a clear night, without seeing him--more especially when he was out for
the express purpose of finding that very man--than it was possible for
him to serve out _un petit verre_ of French brandy in mistake for
a gill of Hollands. The facts, however, seemed to be wholly against
him, as he bade the old couple a despondent good-night and put Count
Frontenac to his mettle. He stayed not for brook--there _was_ a
brook a short distance up the road--and he stopped not for stone, but
tore along at a break-neck pace as though he was riding for a wager. In
five minutes he reached Savareen's front gate.

Mrs. Savareen was waiting there, on the look-out for her husband. No,
of course he had not got home. She had neither seen nor heard anything
of him, and was by this time very uneasy. You may be sure that her
anxiety was not lessened when she heard the strange tale which Lapierre
had to tell her.

Even then, however, she did not give up the hope of her husband's
arrival sometime during the night. Lapierre promised to look in again
in an hour or two, and passed on to his own place, where he regaled the
little company he found there with the narrative of his evening's
exploits. Before bedtime the story was known all over the neighborhood.



CHAPTER V.

ONE HUNDRED POUNDS REWARD.


Mrs. Savareen sat up waiting for her lord until long past midnight, but
her vigil was in vain. Lapierre, after closing up his inn for the
night, dropped in, according to his promise, to see if any news of the
absentee had arrived. Nothing further could be done in the way of
searching for the latter personage until daylight.

It was getting on pretty well towards morning when Mrs. Savareen sought
her couch, and when she got there her slumber was broken and disturbed.
She knew not what to think, but she was haunted by a dread that she
would never again see her husband alive.

Next morning, soon after daylight, the whole neighborhood was astir,
and the country round was carefully searched for any trace of the
missing man. Squire Harrington went down to town and made inquiries at
the bank, where he ascertained that the story told by Savareen to old
Jonathan Perry, as to his altercation with Shuttleworth, was
substantially correct. This effectually disposed of any possible theory
as to Jonathan and his wife having mistaken somebody else for Savareen.
Squire Harrington likewise learned all about the man's doings on the
previous afternoon, and was able to fix the time at which he had
started for home. He had ridden from the door of the Peacock at about a
quarter to eight. This would bring him to the toll-gate at eight
o'clock--the hour at which Perry professed to have seen and conversed
with him. There was no longer any room for doubt. That interview and
conversation had actually taken place at eight o'clock on the previous
evening, and Savareen had ridden northward from the gate within
five minutes afterwards. He could not have proceeded more than a
hundred--or, at the very outside, two hundred--yards further, or he must
inevitably have been encountered by Lapierre. How had he contrived to
vanish so suddenly out of existence? And it was not only the man, but
the horse, which had disappeared in this unaccountable manner. It
seemed improbable that two living substances of such bulk should pass
out of being and leave no trace behind them. They must literally have
melted into thin air.

No, they hadn't. At least the black mare hadn't, for she was discovered
by several members of the searching-party a little before noon. When
found, she was quietly cropping the damp herbage at the edge of the
cranberry swamp at the rear of Squire Harrington's farm. She was
wholly uninjured, and had evidently spent the night there. The bit had
been removed from her mouth, but the bridle hung intact round her neck.
The saddle, however, like its owner, had disappeared from her back.

Then the men began a systematic search in the interior of the swamp.
They soon came upon the saddle, which had apparently been deliberately
unbuckled, removed from off the mare, and deposited on a dry patch of
ground, near the edge of the morass. A little further in the interior
they came upon a man's coat, made of dark brown stuff. This garment was
identified by one of the party as belong to Savareen. It was wet and
besmirched with mud, and, in fact was lying half in and half out of a
little puddle of water when it was found. Then the searchers made sure
of finding the body.

But in this they were disappointed. They explored the recesses of the
swamp from end to end and side to side with the utmost thoroughness,
but found nothing further to reward their search. The ground was too
soft and marshy to retain any traces of footsteps, and the mare and
saddle furnished the only evidence that the object of their quest had
been in the neighborhood of the swamp--and of course this evidence was
of the most vague and inconclusive character.

Then the party proceeded in a body to the missing man's house. Here
another surprise awaited them. The coat was at once recognised by Mrs.
Savareen as belonging to her husband, but IT WAS NOT THE COAT WORN BY
HIM AT THE TIME OF HIS DISAPPEARANCE. Of this there was no doubt
whatever. In fact, he had not worn it for more than a week previously.
His wife distinctly remembered having folded and laid it away in the
top of a large trunk on the Saturday of the week before last, since
which time she had never set eyes on it. Here was a deepening of the
mystery.

The search was kept up without intermission for several days, nearly
all of the farmers in the vicinity taking part in it, even to the
neglect of the harvest work which demanded their attention. Squire
Harrington was especially active, and left no stone unturned to unravel
the mystery. Lapierre gave up all his time to the search, and left the
Royal Oak to the care of its landlady. The local constabulary bestirred
themselves as they had never done before. Every place, likely and
unlikely, where a man's body might possibly lie concealed; every tract
of bush and woodland; every barn and out building; every hollow and
ditch; every field and fence corner, was explored with careful
minuteness. Even the wells of the district were peered into and
examined for traces of the thirteen stone of humanity which had so
unaccountably disappeared from off the face of the earth. Doctor Scott,
the local coroner, held himself in readiness to summon a coroner's jury
at the shortest notice. When all these measures proved unavailing, a
public meeting of the inhabitants was convened, and funds were
subscribed to still further prosecute the search. A reward of a hundred
pounds was offered for any information which should lead to the
discovery of the missing man, dead or alive, or, which should throw any
light upon his fate. Hand-bills proclaiming this reward, and describing
the man's personal appearance, were exhibited in every bar room and
other conspicuous place throughout Westchester and the adjacent
townships. Advertisements, setting forth the main facts, were inserted
in the principal newspapers of Toronto, Hamilton and London, as well as
in those of several of the nearest county towns.

All to no purpose. Days--weeks--months passed by, and furnished not the
shadow of a clue to the mysterious disappearance of Reginald Bourchier
Savareen on the night of Monday, the 17th of July, 1854.



CHAPTER VI.

SPECULATIONS.


For a long time subsequent to the night of the disappearance a more
puzzled community than the one settled along the Millbrook and
Spotswood road would have been hard to find in Upper Canada. At first
sight it seemed probable that the missing man had been murdered for his
money. On the afternoon of the day when he was last seen in Millbrook
the fact of his having four hundred pounds in bank bills in his
possession was known to a great many people, for, as already intimated,
he told the story of his dispute at the bank to pretty nearly everyone
with whom he came in contact during the subsequent portion of the day,
and he in every instance wound up his narration by proclaiming to all
whom it might concern that he had the notes in his pocket. But it was
difficult to fix upon any particular individual as being open to
suspicion. There had been no attempt on the part of any of his
associates on that afternoon to detain him in town, and his remaining
there until the evening had been entirely due to his own inclinations.
So far as was known, he had not been followed by any person after his
departure from the Peacock at 7.45. Anyone following would have had no
prospect of overtaking him unless mounted on a good horse, and must
perforce have passed through the toll-gate. According to the testimony
of Perry and his wife, nobody had passed through the gate in his wake,
nor for more than an hour after him. But--mystery of mysteries--where
had he managed to hide himself and his mare during the two or three
minutes which had elapsed between his departure from the gate and the
arrival there of Lapierre? And, if he had been murdered, what had
become of his body?

Had it been at all within the bounds of reason to suspect Stolliver,
suspicion would certainly have fallen upon that personage. But any idea
of the kind was altogether out of the question. Stolliver was a
boorish, uncompanionable fellow, but a more unlikely man to commit such
a serious crime could not have been found in the whole country side.
Again, he could not have had any conceivable motive for making away
with Savareen, as he had been working all day in the fields and knew
nothing about the four hundred pounds. Besides, a little quiet
investigation proved the thing to be an absolute impossibility. At the
time of Savareen's disappearance, Stolliver had been sitting at his own
table, in the company of his wife, his family, and a grown-up female
servant. He had sat down to table at about a quarter to eight, and had
not risen therefrom until several minutes after the town bell had
ceased to ring. On rising, he had gone out with his two boys--lads of
thirteen and fifteen years of age respectively--and had barely taken up
a position with them on the front fence when Lapierre came along and
questioned him, as related in a former chapter. So it was certainly not
worth while to pursue that branch of enquiry any farther.

The only other persons upon whom the shadow of suspicion could by any
possibility fall were Lapierre and Jonathan Perry. Well, so far as the
latter was concerned the idea was too absurd for serious consideration.
To begin with, Jonathan was seventy-six years of age, feeble and almost
decrepid. Then, he was a man of excellent character, and,
notwithstanding his humble station in life, was liked and respected by
all who knew him. Finally, he could not have done away with Savareen
without the knowledge and concurrence of his wife, a gentle, kindly old
soul, who found her best consolation between the covers of her bible,
and who would not have raised her finger against a worm. So that branch
of the enquiry might also be considered as closed.

As to Lapierre, the idea was at least as preposterous as either of the
others. The jovial landlord of the Royal Oak was on the whole about as
likely a man to commit robbery or murder as the bishop of the diocese.
He was of a cheery, open nature; was not greedy or grasping; had a
fairly prosperous business, and was tolerably well-to-do. On the night
of the 17th, he had undertaken to go down town and bring home the
absent man, but he had done so at the pressing request of the man's
wife, and out of pure kindness of heart. When setting out on his
mission he knew nothing about the altercation at the bank, and was
consequently ignorant that Savareen had any considerable sum of money
on his person. His first knowledge on these subjects had been
communicated to him by Perry, and before that time the man had
disappeared. It also counted for something that Savareen and he had
always been on the most friendly terms, and that Savareen was one of
his best customers. But, even if he had been the most bloodthirsty of
mankind, he had positively had no time to perpetrate a murder. The
two or three minutes elapsing between Savareen's departure from the
toll-gate and Lapierre's arrival there had been too brief to admit of
the latter's having meanwhile killed the former and made away with his
body; to say nothing of his having also made such a disposition of the
black mare as to enable it to be found in Cranberry Swamp on the
following day.

After a while people began to ask whether it was probable that any
murder at all had been committed. The finding of the coat was an
unfathomable mystery, but it really furnished no evidence one way or
the other. And if there had been a murder, how was it that no traces of
the body were discoverable? How was it that no cry or exclamation of
any kind had been heard by old Jonathan, sitting there at the door in
the open air on a still night? It was certain that his ears had been
wide open, and ready enough to take in whatever was stirring, for he
had heard the sound of Count Frontenac's hoofs as they came clattering
down the road.

Such questions as these were constantly in the mouths of the people of
that neighborhood for some days after the disappearance, but they met
with no satisfactory answer from any quarter, and as the time passed by
it began to be believed that no light would ever be thrown upon the
most mysterious occurrence that had ever taken place since that part of
the country had been first settled. One of the constables, discouraged
by repeated failures, ventured in all seriousness to express a
suspicion that Savareen had been bodily devoured by his mare. How else
could you account for no trace of him being visible anywhere?

By an unaccountable oversight, Shuttleworth had kept no memorandum of
the number of the notes paid over to Savareen, and it was thus
impossible to trace them.



CHAPTER VII.

"A WIDOW, HUSBANDLESS, SUBJECT TO FEARS."


The position of the missing man's wife was a particularly trying and
painful one--a position imperatively calling for the sympathy of the
community in which she lived. That sympathy was freely accorded to her,
but time alone could bring any thing like tranquillity to a mind
harrassed by such manifold anxieties as hers. After a lapse of a few
weeks Squire Harrington generously offered to take the farm off her
hands, but to this proposal she was for some time loath to assent. In
spite of her fears and misgivings, fitful gleams of hope that her
husband would return to her flitted across her mind. If he came back he
should find her at her post. Meanwhile the neighbors showed her much
kindness. They voluntarily formed an organisation of labor, and
harvested her crops, threshed them out and conveyed them to market for
her. Her brother, a young man of eighteen, came out from town and took
up his abode with her, so that she would not be left wholly desolate
among strangers. And so the summer and autumn glided by.

But this state of things could not last. The strange solitude of her
destiny preyed sorely upon her and when the first snows of winter
arrived, bringing with them no tidings of the absent one, the fortitude
of the bereaved woman broke down. She gave up the farm, and with her
little baby boy and such of her household belongings as she chose to
retain, went back to the home of her parents in Millbrook. She was a
few hundred dollars better off in this world's goods than she had been
when she had left that home about thirteen months before, but her
spirit was sadly bent, if not altogether broken, and the brightness
seemed to have utterly faded out of her life.

In process of time she became in some degree accustomed, if not
reconciled to her lot. But her situation was, to say the least,
anomalous. Her parents were, on the whole, kind and considerate, but
she was conscious of being, after a fashion, isolated from them and
from all the rest of the world. She felt, as one who was, in the
language of the proverb, neither maid, wife nor widow. She knew
not whether her child's father was living or dead. She was barely
twenty-three years of age, but she was not free to form a second
marriage, even if she had had any inclination for such a union, which,
to do her justice, she had not, for she cherished the memory of her
absent lord with fond affection, and persisted in believing that, even
if he were living, it was through no fault of his own that he remained
away from her. She lived a very quiet and secluded life. In spite of
her mother's importunities, she seldom stirred out of doors on week
days, and saw few visitors. She was a regular attendant at church
on Sundays, and sought to find relief from mental depression in the
consolations of religion. Her chief consolation, however, lay in her
child, upon whom she lavished all the tenderness of a soft and gentle
nature. She fondly sought to trace in the little fellow's bright
features some resemblance to the lineaments of him she had loved and
lost. To do this successfully required a rather strong effort of the
imagination, for, to tell the truth, the boy favored his mother's side
of the house, and was no more like his father than he was like the
twelve patriarchs. But a fond mother often lives in an ideal world
of her own creation, and can trace resemblances invisible to ordinary
mortals. So it was with this mother, who often declared that her boy
had a way of "looking out of his eyes," as she expressed it, which
forcibly brought back the memory of happy days which had forever passed
away.

Of course Savareen's relatives in the old country received due notice
of his strange disappearance, and of the various circumstances
connected with that event. Mrs. Savareen had herself communicated the
facts, and had also sent over a copy of the Millbrook _Sentinel_,
containing a long and minute account of the affair. A letter arrived
from Herefordshire in due course, acknowledging the receipt of these
missives, and enquiring whether the lost had been found. Several
communications passed to and fro during the first few months, after
which, as there was really nothing further to write about, the
correspondence fell off; it being of course understood that should any
new facts turn up, they should be promptly made known.

The stars do not pause in their spheres to take note of the afflictions
of us mortals here below. To the bereaved woman it seemed unaccountable
that the succeeding months should come and go as formerly, and as
though nothing had occurred to take the saltness and savor out of her
young life. Ever and anon her slumbers were disturbed by weird dreams,
in which the lost one was presented before her in all sorts of
frightful situations. In these dreams which came to her in the silent
watches of the night, she never seemed to look upon her husband as
dead. He always seemed to be living, but surrounded by inextricable
complications involving great trouble and danger. She sometimes awoke
from these night visions with a loud cry which startled the household,
and proved how greatly her nerves had been shaken by the untoward
circumstances of her fate.

In the early spring of the ensuing year she sustained another painful
bereavement through the death of her mother. This event imparted an
additional element of sadness to her already cloudy existence; but it
was not without certain attendant compensations, as it rendered
necessary a more active course of life on her part, and so left her
less time to brood over her earlier sorrow. No Benvolio was needed to
tell us that

      "One fire burns out another's burning:
       One pain is lessened by another's anguish."

Most of us have at one time or another been forced to learn that hard
truth for ourselves. This forlorn woman had probably never read the
passage, but her experience brought abundant confirmation of it home to
her at this time. She was driven to assume the internal management of
the household, and found grateful solace in the occupations which the
position involved. She once more began to take an interest in the
prosaic affairs of everyday life, and became less addicted to looking
forward to a solitary, joyless old age. So that, all things considered,
this second bereavement was not to be regarded in the light of an
affliction absolutely without mitigation.

It might well have been supposed that the place she was now called upon
to fill would have been the means of drawing closer the ties between
her surviving parent and herself. For a time it certainly had that
effect. Her presence in his house must have done much to soften the
blow to her father, and her practical usefulness was made manifest
every hour of the day. She carefully ministered to his domestic needs,
and did what she could to alleviate the burden which had been laid upon
him. But the old, old story was once more repeated. In little more than
a year from the time her mother had been laid in her grave, she was
made aware of the fact that the household was to receive a new
mistress. In other words, she was to be introduced to a stepmother. The
event followed hard upon the announcement. As a necessary consequence
she was compelled to assume a secondary place in her father's house.

It may be true that first marriages are sometimes made in Heaven. It is
even possible that second marriages may now and then be forged in the
same workshop. But it was soon brought home to Mrs. Savareen that this
particular marriage was not among the number. Her stepmother, who was
not much older than herself, proved a veritable thorn in her side. She
was made to perceive that she and her little boy were regarded in the
light of encumbrances, to be tolerated until they could be got rid of.
But not passively tolerated. The stepmother was a rather coarse-grained
piece of clay--an unsympathetic, unfeeling woman, who knew how to say
and to do unpleasant things without any apparent temper or ill-will.
The immortal clockmaker, when he was in a more quaintly sententious
humor than common, once propounded the doctrine that the direct road to
a mother's heart is through her child. He might have added the equally
incontestable proposition that the most effectual method of torturing a
mother's heart is through the same medium. The mother who has an only
child, who is all the world to her, is actually susceptible to anything
in the shape of interference with her maternal prerogatives. Such
interference, by whomsoever exercised, is wholly intolerable to her.
This susceptibility may perhaps be a feminine weakness, but it is a
veritable maternal instinct, and one with which few who have observed
it will have the heart to find fault. In Mrs. Savareen's bosom this
foible existed in a high state of development, and her stepmother so
played upon it as to make life under the same roof with her a cross too
hard to be borne. After a few months' trial, the younger of the two
women resolved that a new home must be found for herself and her little
boy. The carrying out of this resolve rendered some consideration
necessary, for her own unaided means were inadequate for her support.
Her father, though not what could be called a poor man, was far from
rich, and he had neither the means nor the will to maintain two
establishments, however humble. But she was expert with her needle, and
did not despair of being able to provide for the slender wants of
herself and child. She rented and furnished a small house in the town,
where she found that there was no ground for present anxiety as to her
livelihood. There was plenty of needlework to be had to keep her nimble
fingers busy from morn till night, and her income from the first was in
excess of her expenditure. She was constrained to lead a humdrum sort
of existence, but it was brightened by the presence and companionship
of her boy, who was a constant source of pride and delight to her.
Whenever she caught herself indulging in a despondent mood, she took
herself severely to task for repining at a lot which might have lacked
this element of brightness, and which lacking that, would, it seemed to
her, have been too dreary for human endurance.

No useful purpose would be served by lingering over this portion of the
narrative. Suffice it to say that the current of the lonely woman's
life flowed smoothly on several years, during which she received no
tidings of her lost husband and heard nothing to throw the faintest
scintilla of light upon his mysterious disappearance. Little Reginald
grew apace, and continued to be the one consolation in her great
bereavement--the solitary joy which reconciled her to her environment.



CHAPTER VIII.

A GUEST ARRIVES AT THE ROYAL OAK.


It was getting on towards the middle of the month of August, 1859. The
harvest all along the Millbrook and Spotswood road was in full
progress. And a bounteous harvest it was, even for that favored region.
Squire Harrington confidently counted upon a yield of fifty bushels of
wheat to the acre. True, he was a model farmer, and knew how to make
the most of a good season, but his neighbors were not far behind him,
and were looking forward to full granaries when threshing should be
over. For once there was little or no grumbling at the dispensations of
Providence. The weather had been as propitious as though the local
tillers of the soil had themselves had a voice in the making of it, and
even gruff Mark Stolliver was constrained to admit that there were
fewer grounds for remonstrating with the Great Disposer of events than
usual at this season of the year. Every wheat field in the township
presented an active spectacle throughout the day. The cradles were
busily plied from early morn till nightfall, and the swaths of golden
grain furnished heavy work for the rakers and binders. The commercial
crisis of 1857 had made itself felt in the district, as well as in all
other parts of Upper Canada. Many of the farmers had fallen
considerably behindhand, and had for once in a way felt the grip of
hard times. But the prolific crops which were now being gathered in
bade fair to extricate them from such obligations as they had been
compelled to incur, and the prevailing tone was one of subdued though
heartfelt satisfaction.

On the evening of Saturday, the 13th of the month, sundry of the yeomen
who lived thereabouts assembled at Lapierre's, after a hard week's
work, to congratulate one another on the prospects of the harvest, and
to discuss a few tankards of the reaming ale for which the Royal Oak
was famous throughout the township. The landlord himself was on hand as
usual, to dispense the hospitalities of his bar and larder. The five
years which had rolled over his head since that memorable night of
Savareen's disappearance had left but slight traces of their passage
upon his jovial countenance. He had never been able to fathom the
impenetrable secret of that strange July night, but he had all along
been wont to remark that the mystery would be cleared up some day, and
that he confidently expected to hear some tidings of the missing man
before he died. As for his guests, though most of them had resided in
the neighborhood at the time of his disappearance, they had long ceased
to give themselves any particular concern about the matter. So long as
there had seemed to be any prospect of getting at the bottom of the
affair they had taken a vigorous part in the search, and had exerted
themselves to bring the mystery to light; but when month succeeded
month without supplying any clue to the puzzle, they had gradually
resigned themselves to the situation, and, except when the topic came
up for discussion at their Saturday night meetings, they seldom
indulged in anything more than a passing allusion to it.

Ten o'clock had struck, and it seemed improbable that any further
company would arrive. The assembled guests, to the number of seven or
eight, sat in their accustomed places around a goodly-sized table in
the room behind the bar. Lapierre occupied an easy chair, placed near
the door communicating with the bar, so as to be handy in case of his
being needed there. Farmer Donaldson had just regaled the circle with
his favorite ditty, The Roast Beef of Old England, which he flattered
himself he could render with fine effect. Having concluded his
performance, he sat modestly back in his elbow-chair, and bowed to the
vociferous plaudits accorded to him. The tankards were then charged
afresh, and each man devoted himself to the allaying of his thirst for
the next minute or two. Mine host had promised to give Faintly as Tolls
the Evening Chime in the course of the evening, and was now called upon
to redeem his pledge.

"Ah," he remarked, "that vas alvays a faforite song of mine. And ton't
you remember how font of it our frient Safareen used to pe? He used to
call for it regular efery Saturday night, schoost pefore supper in the
old times. Ah, put that wass a strange peesiness. I haf never peen aple
to think of it without perspiring." And so saying, he dived into the
pocket of his white linen jacket, and produced therefrom a red silk
handkerchief, with which he mopped his beaming countenance until it
shone again.

"Ay," responded Farmer Donaldson, "that was the strangest thing as ever
happened in these parts. I wonder if it will ever be cleared up."

"You know my opinion apout that," resumed the host, "I alvays said he
vould turn up. But it is--let me see--yes, it is more that fife years
ago. It wass on the night of the sefenteenth of Chooly, 1854; and here
it is, the mittle of Aucust, 1859. Vell, vell, how the years go py!
Safareen was a coot sort. I thought much of him, and woot like to see
him once acain."

"I don't say but what he was a good fellow," remarked one of the
company; "but I can tell you he had a devil of a temper of his own when
his blood was up. I remember one night in this very room when he had
some words with Sam Dolsen about that black mare o' his'n. He fired up
like a tiger, and that scar on his cheek glowed like a carbuncle. It
seemed as if it was going to crack open. I made sure he was going to
drop into Sam, and he would 'a done, too, if our landlord hadn't
interfered and calmed him down."

"Yes, yes," interrupted Farmer Donaldson; "Savareen had his tempers, no
doubt, when he had been drinking more free than common; but he was a
jolly feller, all the same. I wish he was with us at this moment."

This sentiment was pretty generally re-echoed all round the festive
board. Just then a rather heavy footstep was heard to enter the
adjoining bar-room from outside. The landlord rose and passed out
through the doorway, to see if his services were required. The door of
communication was left open behind him, so that the company in the
inner room had no difficulty in seeing and hearing everything that took
place.

In the middle of the bar room stood a short heavy-set man, whose dress
and bearing pronounced him to be a stranger in those parts. He was
apparently middle-aged--say somewhere between thirty-five and forty.
His clothing was of expensive material, but cut after a style more
_prononce_ than was then seen in Canada, or has ever since been
much in vogue here. His hat was a broad-brimmed Panama, which cost
twenty dollars if it cost a penny. His coat, so far as could be seen
under his thin summer duster--was of fine bluish cloth, short of waist,
long of skirt, and--the duster notwithstanding--plentifully besprinkled
and travel-stained with dust. The waistcoat, which seemed to be of the
same material as the coat, was very open-breasted, and displayed a
considerable array of shirt front. Across the left side was hung a
heavy gold watch-chain, from which depended two great bulbous-looking
seals. On his feet he wore a pair of gaiters of patent leather, white
from the dust of the road. In one hand he carried a light, jaunty
Malacca cane, while the other grasped a Russian-leather portmanteau,
called by him and by persons of his kind a valise. He wore no gloves--a
fact which enabled you to see on the middle finger of his left hand a
huge cluster diamond ring, worth any price from a thousand dollars
upwards. His face was closely shaven, except for a prominent moustache.
He had crisp, curling black hair, worn tolerably short. His eyes were
rather dull and vacant, not because he was either slow or stupid, but
because he felt or affected to feel, a sublime indifference to all
things sublunary. You would have taken him for a man who had run the
gauntlet of all human experiences--a man to whom nothing presented
itself in the light of a novelty, and who disdained to appear much
interested in anything you might say or do. Taken altogether he had
that foreign or rather cosmopolitan look characteristic of the citizen
of the United States who has led an unsettled, wandering life. His
aspect was fully borne out by his accent, when he began to speak.

"Air you the landlord?" he asked, as the host stepped forward to greet
him.

He received a reply in the affirmative.

"This, then, is the Royal Oak tavern, and your name is Lapierre?"

Two nods signified the host's further assent to these undeniable
propositions.

"Have you got a spare bedroom, and can you put me up from now till
Monday morning?"

The landlord again signified his assent, whereupon the stranger put
down his cane and portmanteau on a bench and proceeded to divest
himself of his wrapper.

"You haf had supper?" asked Lapierre.

"Well, I had a light tea down to Millbrook, but I know your Saturday
night customs at the Royal Oak, and if you hain't got any objections
I'd like to take a hand in your eleven o'clock supper. To tell the
truth, I'm sharp-set, and I know you always have a bite of something
appetizing about that time."

Upon being informed that supper would be ready at the usual hour, and
that he would be welcome to a seat at the board, he signified a desire
to be shown to his room, so that he could wash and make himself
presentable. In response to an enquiry about his horse, he intimated
that that animal for the present consisted of Shank's mare; that he had
ridden up from town with Squire Harrington, and dismounted at that
gentleman's gate. "The Squire offered to drive me on as far as here,"
he added; "but as it was only a short walk I reckoned I'd come on
afoot."

Without further parley the guest was shown to his chamber, whence he
emerged a few minutes later, and presented himself before the company
assembled in the room behind the bar.

"Hope I ain't intruding, gentlemen," he remarked, as he took a vacant
seat at the lower end of the table; "I've often heard of the good times
you have here on Saturday nights. Heard of 'em when I was a good many
hundred miles from here, and when I didn't expect ever to have the
pleasure of joining your mess. Guess I'd better introduce myself. My
name's Thomas Jefferson Haskins. I live at Nashville, Tennessee, where
I keep a hotel and do a little in horseflesh now an' agin. Now, I shall
take it as a favor if you'll allow the landlord to re-fill your glasses
at my expense, and then drink good-luck to my expedition." All this
with much volubility, and without a trace of bashfulness.

The company all round the table signified their hearty acquiescence,
and while the landlord was replenishing the tankards, the stranger
proceeded to further enlighten them respecting his personal affairs. He
informed them that a man had cleared out from Nashville about six
months ago, leaving him, the speaker, in the lurch to the tune of
twenty-seven hundred dollars. A few days since he had learned that the
fugitive had taken up his quarters at Spotswood, in Upper Canada, and
he had accordingly set out for that place with intent to obtain a
settlement. He had reached Millbrook by the seven o'clock express this
evening, only to find that he was still fifteen miles from his
destination. Upon inquiry, he learned that the stage from Millbrook for
Spotswood ran only once a day, leaving Millbrook at seven o'clock in
the morning. There would not be another stage until Monday morning. He
was on the point of hiring a special conveyance, and of driving through
that night, when all of a sudden he had remembered that Lapierre's
tavern was on the Millbrook and Spotswood road, and only three miles
away. He had long ago heard such accounts of the Royal Oak and its
landlord, and particularly of the Saturday night suppers, that he had
resolved to repair thither and remain over for Monday's stage. "I was
going to hire a livery to bring me out here," he added, "but a
gentleman named Squire Harrington, who heard me give the order for the
buggy, told me he lived close by the Royal Oak, and that I was welcome
to ride out with him, as he was just going to start for home. That
saved me a couple of dollars. And so, here I be."

Lapierre could not feel otherwise than highly flattered by the way the
stranger referred to his establishment, but he was wholly at a loss to
understand how the fame of the Royal Oak, and more especially of the
Saturday night suppers, had extended to so great a distance as
Nashville. In response to his inquiries on these points, however, Mr.
Thomas Jefferson Haskins gave a clear and lucid explanation, which will
be found in the next chapter.



CHAPTER IX.

THE GUEST CREATES A SENSATION AT THE ROYAL OAK.


"Well," said Haskins, "I didn't hear of you quite so far off as
Nashville. It was when I was travelling in Kentucky buying horses, last
year. At Lexington I fell in with an English chap named Randall, who
used to live in this neighborhood. I hired him to buy horses for me. He
was with me about three months, an' if I could only 'a' kept him sober
he'd been with me yet, for he was about as keen a judge of a horse as
ever I came across in my born days, and knew mighty well how to make a
bargain. Well, we hadn't been together a week afore he begun to tell me
about a place where he used to live in Canada West, where he said a
little money went a long way, and where good horses could be bought
cheap. He wanted me to send him up here to buy for me, and I don't know
but I should 'a' done it if I'd found he was to be trusted. But he
would drink like all creation when he had money. Old Bourbon was a
thing he couldn't resist. He had an awful poor opinion of all the rest
of our American institootions, and used to say they wa'n't o' no
account as compared to what he used to have to home in England; but
when it come to Bourbon whisky, he was as full-mouthed as Uncle Henry
Clay himself. He 'lowed there wa'n't anything either in England or in
Canada to touch it. An' when he got four or five inches of it inside
him, there was no gittin' along with him nohow. There wa'n't anything
on airth he wouldn't do to git a couple of inches more, and when he got
them he was the catawamptiousest critter I ever did see. You couldn't
place any more dependence on him than on a free nigger. Besides, he
used to neglect his wife, and a man who neglects his wife ain't a man
to trust with a couple o' thousand dollars at a time. No sir-ree! Not
much, he ain't. But, as I was sayin', the way he used to harp on this
place o' Lapierre's was a caution. Whenever we used to git planted down
in one of our cross-road taverns, he'd turn up his nose till you could
see clean down his throat into his stommick. The fact is, our country
taverns ain't up to much, an' sometimes I could hardly stand 'em
myself. When we'd come in after a hard day's ridin', and git sot down
to a feed of heavy short-cake and fat pork, then Randall 'ud begin to
blow about the grub up here at Lapierre's. He used to tell about the
hot suppers served up here to a passel o' farmers on Saturday nights
till I most got sick o' hearing him. But I see your mugs air empty
again, gentlemen. Landlord, please to do your dooty, and score it up to
yours truly."

During this long harangue the assembled guests alternately scanned the
speaker and each other with inquiring but vacant countenances. They
were puzzling themselves to think who this Randall could be, as no man
of that name had ever been known in that community. When Mr. Haskins
paused in his discourse, and gave his order for replenishment, Farmer
Donaldson was about to remonstrate against this second treat at the
expense of a stranger, and to propose that he himself should stand
sponsor for the incoming refreshments. But before he could get out a
word, the landlord suddenly sprang from his seat with a white, agitated
face.

"Tell me," he said, addressing the stranger--"What like is this
Rantall? Please to tescripe his features."

"Well," drawled the person addressed, after a short pause--"there
ain't much to describe about him. He's a tallish feller--fully four
inches taller'n I be. He's broad and stout--a big man ginerally.
Weighs, I should say, not much under a hundred and ninety. Ruther light
complected, and has a long cut in his face that shows awful white when
he gits his back up. Thunder! he pretty nearly scared me with that
gash one night when he was drunk. It seemed to open and shut like a
clam-shell, and made him look like a Voodoo priest! You'd think the
blood was goan to spurt out by the yard."

By this time every pair of eyes in the room was staring into the
speaker's face with an expression of bewildered astonishment. Not a man
there but recognized the description as a vivid, if somewhat
exaggerated portraiture of the long-lost Reginald Bourchier Savareen.

The stranger from Tennessee readily perceived that he had produced a
genuine sensation. He gazed from one to another for a full minute
without speaking. Then he gave vent to his surcharged feelings by the
exclamation: "For the land's sake!"

An air of speechless bewilderment still pervaded the entire group. They
sat silent as statues, without motion, and almost without breath.

Lapierre was the first to recover himself. By a significant gesture he
imposed continued silence upon the company, and began to ask questions.
He succeeded in eliciting some further pertinent information.

Haskins was unable to say when Randall had acquired a familiarity with
the ways and doings of the people residing in the vicinity of the Royal
Oak, but it must have been some time ago, as he had lived in the States
long enough to have become acquainted with various localities there. As
to when and why he had left Canada the stranger was also totally
ignorant. He knew, however, that Randall was living in the city of New
York about three months ago, as he had seen him there, and had visited
him at his lodgings on Amity street in May, when he (Haskins) had
attended as a delegate to a sporting convention. At that time Randall
had been employed in some capacity in Hitchcock's sale stable, and
made a few dollars now and again by breeding dogs. He lived a needy
hand-to-mouth existence, and his poor wife had a hard time of it. His
drinking habits prevented him from getting ahead in the world, and he
never staid long in one place, but the speaker had no doubt that he
might still be heard of at Hitchcock's by anybody who wanted to hunt him
up. "But," added Mr. Haskins, "I hope I haven't got him into trouble by
coming here to-night. Has he done anything? Anything criminal, I mean?"

After a moment's deliberation, Lapierre told the whole story. There was
no doubt in the mind of any member of the company that Randall and
Savareen were "parts of one stupendous whole." The one important
question for consideration was: What use ought to be made of the facts
thus strangely brought to light?

By this time supper was announced, and the stranger's news, exciting as
it was, did not prevent the guests from doing ample justice to it.
Haskins was loud in his praises of the "spread," as he termed it. "Jack
Randall," he remarked, "could lie when he had a mind to, but he told
the holy truth when he bragged you up as far ahead of the Kentucky
cooks. Yes, I don't mind if I do take another mossel of that
frickersee. Dog me if it don't beat canvas-backs."

Before the meeting broke up it was agreed on all hands that for the
present it would be advisable for the guests to allow the morrow to
pass before saying anything to their wives or anyone else about Mr.
Haskins' disclosures. It was further resolved that that gentleman
should accompany Lapierre to Millbrook after breakfast in the morning,
and that Mrs. Savareen's father should be made acquainted with the
known facts. It was just possible, after all, that Jack Randall might
be Jack Randall, and not Savareen, in which case it was desirable to
save the lost man's wife from cruel agitation to no purpose. It would
be for her father, after learning all that they knew, to communicate
the facts to her or to withhold them, as might seem best to him. On
this understanding the company broke up on the stroke of midnight. I am
by no means prepared to maintain that their pledges were in all cases
kept, and that they each and every one went to sleep without taking
their wives into confidence respecting the strange disclosures of the
night.



CHAPTER X.

NO. 77 AMITY STREET.

The next day was Sunday, but this circumstance did not deter Lapierre
from hitching up his horse and conveying his guest down to Millbrook at
an early hour. The pair called at the house of Mrs. Savareen's father
before ten o'clock, and had a long interview with him. Church services
began at eleven, but it was remarked by the Methodist congregation, and
commented upon as a thing almost without precedent, that Mrs. Savareen
and her father were both absent on that day.

The old gentleman was much disturbed by what he heard from Mr. Haskins.
His daughter had passed through an ordeal of great suffering, and had
finally become reconciled to her lot. To tell her this news would be to
open the old wounds afresh, and to bring back the domestic grief which
time had about dispelled. Yet his course seemed clear. To tell her the
truth was an imperative duty. It would be shameful to permit her to go
on mourning for one who was in every way unworthy, and who might turn
up at any unexpected moment to the destruction of her peace of mind.
Moreover, the secret was already known to too many persons to admit of
any hope that it would be permanently kept. She must be told, and there
could be no question that her father was the proper person to tell her.
She would, however, wish to personally see and converse with the man
who had brought the news, so there was no time to be lost. Leaving his
two visitors to await his return, the old man set out with a sad heart
for his daughter's house. He found her and her little boy just ready to
set out for church, but the first glance at her father's face told her
that something had happened, and that there would be no church-going
for that day. She sat pale and trembling as she listened, and the old
man himself was not much more composed. He broke the news as gently as
he could, and she bore it better than he had expected, suppressing her
agitation and taking in all the details without interruption. Even when
all the circumstances had been laid before her, her self-command did
not desert her. Yes, she must see the stranger from Tennessee. Possibly
she might extract something from him which others had failed to elicit.
Her father accordingly went back to his own home, and brought Mr.
Haskins over. The three spent several hours in talking of the affair,
but the stranger had nothing more to tell, and finally took his leave,
promising to call on his way back from Spotswood.

Father and daughter spent the evening together, and tried to reach some
definite conclusion as to what, if anything, ought to be done. There
could be no reasonable doubt that Randall and Savareen were one. Since
there was just the shadow of doubt, and the want of absolute certainty,
made it impossible for Mrs. Savareen to leave the matter as it stood.
She felt that she must know the whole truth.

A course was finally decided upon. Father and daughter would start for
New York without delay and probe the matter to the bottom. The news
could not wholly be kept from the stepmother, but she was enjoined to
maintain a strict silence on the subject until further light should be
thrown upon it. Master Reginald was temporarily left in her charge.

They started for New York by the mid-day express on Monday, and reached
their destination on Tuesday afternoon. Lodgings were secured at a
quiet, respectable hotel, and then the old man set out alone to hunt up
Hitchcock's stable. He had no difficulty in finding it, and the man in
charge of the office readily gave him the information he sought. Jack
Randall was no longer employed at the establishment, but he lodged with
his wife at No. 77 Amity street. The best time to catch him at home was
early in the morning. He was of a convivial turn, and generally spent
his evenings about town. He was supposed to be pretty hard up, but that
was his chronic condition, and, so far as known, he was not in absolute
want. With these tidings the father returned to his daughter.

Mrs. Savareen could not bear the idea of permitting the evening to pass
without some further effort. She determined to pay a visit to 77 Amity
street, in person, and if possible to see the man's wife for herself. A
servant-maid in the hotel undertook to pilot her to her destination,
which was but a short distance away. It was about eight o'clock when
she set out and the light of day was fast disappearing. Upon reaching
the corner of Amity street and Broadway, she dismissed her attendant
and made the rest of the journey alone. The numbers on the doors of the
houses were a sufficient direction for her, and she soon found herself
ringing at the bell of 77.

Her summons was answered by a seedy-looking porter. Yes, Mrs. Randall
was upstairs in her room on the third story. Mr. Randall was out. The
lady could easily find the way for herself. Second door to the left on
the third flat. Straight up. And so saying the man disappeared into the
darkness at the rear of the house, leaving the visitor to group her way
up two dimly-lighted stairways as best she could.

The place was evidently a lodging-house of very inferior description to
be so near the palatial temples of commerce just round the corner. The
halls were uncarpeted, and, indeed, without the least sign of furniture
of any sort. As Mrs. Savareen slowly ascended one flight of stairs
after another, she began to wonder if she had not done an unwise thing
in venturing alone into a house and locality of which she knew nothing.
Having reached the third story she found herself in total darkness,
except for such faint twilight as found its way through a back window.
This however was just sufficient to enable her to perceive the second
door on the left. She advanced towards it and knocked. A female voice
responded by an invitation to enter. She quietly turned the knob of the
door and advanced into the room.



CHAPTER XI.

AN INTERVIEW BY CANDLELIGHT.


The apartment in which the "bold discoverer in an unknown sea" found
herself presented an appearance far from cheerful or attractive. It was
of small dimensions, but too large for the meagre supply of furniture
it contained. The unpapered walls displayed a monotonous surface of
bare whitewash in urgent need of renewal. In one corner was an
impoverished looking bed, on which reposed an infant of a few months
old. At the foot of the bed was a cheap toilet stand, with its
accessories. In the adjacent corner was a door apparently opening into
a closet or inner receptacle of some kind, against which was placed a
battered leather trunk with a broken hasp. A small table of stained
pine, without any covering, stood near the middle of the room, and two
or three common wooden chairs were distributed here and there against
the walls. The faint light of expiring day found admission by means of
a window looking out upon the roofs to the rear of the house. The only
artificial light consisted of a solitary candle placed on the table, at
the far end of which sat a woman engaged in sewing.

The light, dim and ineffectual as it was, served to show that this
woman was in a state of health which her friends, if she had any, must
have deemed to be anything but satisfactory. It was easy to perceive
that she had once possessed an attractive and rather pretty face. Some
portion of her attractiveness still remained, but the beauty had been
washed away by privation and misery, leaving behind nothing but a faint
simulacrum of its former self. She was thin and fragile to the point of
emaciation, insomuch that her print dress hung upon her as loosely as a
morning wrapper. Her cheeks were sunken and hollow, and two dark
patches beneath a pair of large blue eyes plainly indicated serious
nervous waste. In addition to these manifest signs of a low state of
bodily health, her pinched features had a worn, weary expression which
told a sad tale of long and continuous suffering. Most of these things
her visitor, with feminine quickness of perception, took in at the
first momentary glance, and any pre-conceived feeling of hostility
which may have had a place in her heart gave way to a sentiment of
womanly sympathy. Clearly enough, any display of jealous anger would be
wholly out of place in such a presence and situation.

Mrs. Savareen had not given much pre-consideration as to her line of
action during the impending interview. She had merely resolved to be
guided by circumstances, and what she saw before her made her errand
one of some difficulty. Her main object, of course, was to ascertain,
beyond the possibility of doubt, whether the man calling himself Jack
Randall was the man known to her as Reginald Bourchier Savareen.

The tenant of the room rose as her visitor entered, and even that
slight exertion brought on a hollow cough which was pitiful to hear.

"I am sorry to see," gently remarked the visitor, "that you are far
from well."

"Yes," was the reply; "I've got a cold, and ain't very smart. Take a
chair." And so saying, she placed a chair in position, and made a not
ungraceful motion towards it with her hand.

Mrs. Savareen sat down, and began to think what she would say next. Her
hostess saved her from much thought on the matter by enquiring whether
she had called to see Mr. Randall.

"Yes," replied Mrs. Savareen, "I would like to see him for a few
moments, if convenient."

"Well, _I_ am sorry he's out, and I don't suppose he'll be in for
some time. He's generally out in the fore part of the evening; but he's
most always home in the morning. Is it anything I can tell him?"

Here was a nice complication. Had Mrs. Savareen been a student of
Moliere, the fitting reply to such a question under such circumstances
would doubtless have risen to her lips. But I shrewdly suspect that she
had never heard of the famous Frenchman, whose works were probably an
unknown quantity in Millbrook in those days. After a momentary
hesitation she fenced with the question, and put one in her turn.

"Do you know if he has heard from his friends in Hertfordshire lately?"

"Hertfordshire? O, that is the place he comes from in the Old Country.
No, he never hears from there. I have often wanted him to write to his
friends in England, but he says it is so long since he left that they
have forgotten all about him." Here the speaker was interrupted by
another fit of coughing.

"No," she resumed, "he never even wrote to England to tell his friends
when we were married. He was only a boy when he left home, and he was a
good many years in Canady before he came over to the States."

Just at this point it seemed to occur to Mrs. Randall that she was
talking rather freely about her husband to a person whom she did not
know, and she pulled herself up with a rather short turn. She looked
intently into her visitor's face for a moment, as though with an inward
monition that something was wrong.

"But," she resumed, after a brief pause, "do you know my husband? I
can't remember as I ever seen you before. You don't live in New York: I
can see that. I guess you come from the West."

Then Mrs. Savareen felt that some explanation was necessary. She fairly
took the animal by the extreme tip of his horns.

"Yes," she responded, "I live in the West, and I have only been in New
York a very short time. I accidentally heard that Mr. Randall lived
here, and I wish to ascertain if he is the same gentleman I once knew
in Canada. If he is, there is something of importance I should like to
tell him. Would you be so kind as to describe his personal appearance
for me?"

The woman again inspected her very carefully, with eyes not altogether
free from suspicion.

"I don't exactly understand," she exclaimed. "You don't want to do him
any harm, do you? You haven't got anything agin him? We are in deep
enough trouble as it is."

The last words were uttered in a tone very much resembling a wail of
despair. By this time the visitor's sympathies were thoroughly aroused
on behalf of the poor broken creature before her.

She felt that she had not the heart to add to the burden of grief which
had been imposed upon the frail woman who sat there eyeing her with
anxiety depicted upon her weary, anxious face.

"I can assure you," responded Mrs. Savareen, "that I have no intention
of doing any harm either to him or to you. I would much rather do you a
kindness, if I could. I can see for myself that you stand in great need
of kindness."

The last words were spoken in a tone which disarmed suspicion, and
which at the same time stimulated curiosity. The shadow on Mrs.
Randall's face passed away.

"Well," said she, "I beg your pardon for mistrusting you, but my
husband has never told me much about his past life, and I was afraid
you might be an enemy. But I am sure, now I look at you, that you
wouldn't do harm to anybody. I'll tell you whatever you want to know,
if I can."

"Thank you for your good opinion. Will you be good enough, then, to
describe Mr. Randall's personal appearance? I have no other object than
to find out if he is the person I used to know in Canada."

"How long ago did you know him in Canady?"

"I saw him last in the summer of 1854--about five years ago."

"Well, at that rate I've known him pretty near as long as you hev. It's
more'n four years since I first got acquainted with him down, in Ole
Virginny, where I was raised. Why, come to think of it, I've got his
likeness, took just before we was married. That'll show you whether
he's the man you knew."

As she spoke, she rose and opened the leather trunk in the corner by
the closet door. After rummaging among its contents, she presently
returned with a small oval daguerreotype in her hand. Opening the case
she handed it to Mrs. Savareen. "There he is," she remarked, "an' it's
considered an awful good likeness."

Mrs. Savareen took the daguerreotype and approached the candle. The
first glance was amply sufficient. It was the likeness of her husband.

She made up her mind as to her line of action on the instant. Her love
for the father of her child died away as she gazed on his picture. It
was borne in upon her that he was a heartless scoundrel, unworthy of
any woman's regard. Before she withdrew her glance from the
daguerreotype, her love for him was dead and buried beyond all
possibility of revivification. What would it avail her to still further
lacerate the heart of the unhappy woman in whose presence she stood?
Why kill her outright by revealing the truth? There was but a step--and
evidently the step was a short one--between her and the grave. The
distance should not be abridged by any act of the lawful wife.

She closed the case and quietly handed it back to the woman, whom it
will still be convenient to call Mrs. Randall. "I see there has been
some misunderstanding," she said. "This is not the Mr. Randall I knew
in Canada."

In her kind consideration for the invalid, she deliberately conveyed a
false impression, though she spoke nothing more than the simple truth.
There had indeed been "some misunderstanding," and Savareen's likeness
was certainly not the likeness of Mr. Randall. As matter of fact, Mrs.
Savareen had really known a Mr. Randall in Millbrook, who bore no
resemblance whatever to her husband. Thus, she spoke the literal truth,
while she at the same time deceived her hostess for the latter's own
good. Affliction had laid its blighting hand there heavily enough
already. Her main object now was to get away from the house before the
return of the man who had so villainously wrecked two innocent lives.
But a warm sympathy for the betrayed and friendless woman had sprung up
in her heart, and she longed to leave behind some practical token of
her sympathy. While she was indulging in these reflections the infant
on the bed awoke and set up a startled little cry. Its mother advanced
to where it lay, took it up in her arms, sat down on the edge of the
bed, and stilled its forlorn little wails by the means known to mothers
from time immemorial. When it became quiet she again deposited it on
the bed and resumed her seat by the table.

Mrs. Savareen continued standing.

"I am sorry to have disturbed you unnecessarily," she remarked "and
will now take my leave. Is there anything I can do for you? I should be
glad if I could be of any use. I am afraid you are not very comfortably
off, and you are far from well in health. It is not kind of Mr. Randall
to leave you alone like this. You need rest and medical advice."

These were probably the first sympathetic words Mrs. Randall had heard
from one of her own sex for many a long day. The tears started to her
tired eyes, as she replied:

"I guess there ain't no rest for me this side o' the grave. I haven't
any money to git medical advice, and I don't suppose a doctor could do
me any good. I'm pretty well run down and so is baby. I'm told it can't
live long, and if it was only laid to rest I wouldn't care how soon my
time came. You're right about our being awful hard up. But don't you be
too hard on my husband. He has his own troubles as well as me. He
hain't had no cash lately, and don't seem to be able to git none."

"But he could surely stay at home and keep you company at nights, when
you are so ill. It must be very lonely for you."

"Well, you see, I ain't much company for him. He's ben brought up
different to what I hev, an's ben used to hevin' things comfortable. I
ain't strong enough to do much of anything myself, with a sick baby.
I'm sure I don't know what's to be the end of it all. Es a gineral
thing he don't mean to be unkind, but----"

Here the long-suffering woman utterly broke down, and was convulsed by
a succession of sobs, which seemed to exhaust the small stock of
vitality left to her. The visitor approached the chair where she sat,
knelt by her side, and took the poor wasted form in her arms.

They mingled their tears together. For some time neither of them was
able to speak a word, but the sympathy of the stronger of the two acted
like a cordial upon her weaker sister, who gradually became calm and
composed. The sobs died away, and the shattered frame ceased to
tremble. Then they began to talk. Mrs. Savareen's share in the
conversation was chiefly confined to a series of sympathetic questions,
whereby she extracted such particulars as furnished a key to the
present situation. It appeared that the _soi-disant_ Jack Randall
had made the acquaintance of his second victim within a short time
after his departure from Canada. He had then been engaged in business
on his own account as a dealer in horses in Lexington, Kentucky, where
the father of the woman whose life he had afterwards blighted kept a
tavern. He had made soft speeches to her, and had won her heart,
although, even then, she had not been blind to his main defect--a
fondness for old Bourbon. After a somewhat protracted courtship she had
married him, but the sun of prosperity had never shone upon them after
their marriage, for his drinking habit had grown upon him, and he had
soon got to the end of what little money he had. He had been compelled
to give up business, and to take service with anyone who would employ
him. Then matters had gone from bad to worse. He had been compelled to
move about from one town to another, for his habits would not admit of
his continuing long in any situation. She had accompanied him wherever
he went with true wifely devotion, but had been constrained to drink
deeply of the cup of privation, and had never been free from anxiety.
About six months ago they had come to New York, where he had at first
found fairly remunerative employment in Hitchcock's sale stable. But
there, as elsewhere, he had wrecked his prospects by drink and neglect
of business, and for some time past the unhappy pair had been entirely
destitute. The baby had been born soon after they had taken up their
quarters in New York. The mother's health, which had been far from
strong before this event, completely broke down, and she had never
fully recovered. The seeds of consumption, which had probably been
implanted in her before her birth, had rapidly developed themselves
under the unpromising regimen to which she had been subjected, and it
was apparent that she had not long to live. She was unable to afford
proper nourishment to her child, which languished from day to day, and
the only strong desire left to her was that she might survive long
enough to see it fairly out of the world.

Such was the sad tale poured into the sympathetic ears of Mrs.
Savareen, as she knelt there with the poor creature's head against her
boson. She, for the time, lost sight of her own share in the misery
brought about by the man who, in the eye of the law, was still her
husband. She spoke such words of comfort and consolation as suggested
themselves to her, but the case was a hopeless one, and it was evident
that no permanent consolation could ever again find a lodgment in the
breast of the woman who supposed herself to be Mrs. Randall. The best
that was left to her in this world was to hear the sad rites pronounced
over her babe, and then to drop gently away into that long, last sleep,
wherein, it was to be hoped, she would find that calm repose which a
cruel fate had denied her so long as she remained on earth.

Mrs. Savareen, it will be remembered, was a pious woman. In such a
situation as that in which she found herself, we may feel sure that she
did not omit all reference to the consolations of religion. She poured
into the ear of this sore-tried soul a few of those words at which
thinkers of the modern school are wont to sneer, but which for eighteen
centuries have brought balm to the suffering and the afflicted of every
clime. Moreover, she did not neglect to administer consolation of a
material kind. She emptied her purse into the invalid's lap. It
contained something like thirty dollars--more money, probably, than
Mrs. Randall had ever called her own before. "Keep this for your own
use," she said--"it will buy many little comforts for you and baby. No,
I will not take any of it back. I am comfortably off and shall not want
it." Then, with a final embrace, and a few hurried words of farewell,
she stepped to the bedside and imprinted a kiss on the little waif
lying there, all unconscious of the world of sin and sorrow in which it
held so precarious a dwelling place. Her mission was at an end. She
silently passed from the room, closing the door behind her.



CHAPTER XII.

STILL A MYSTERY.


At the head of the stairway she paused for a moment to collect herself
before passing down and out into the street. What she had left behind
her was of a nature well fitted to excite emotion, and her bosom rose
and fell with a gentle tenderness and pity. But she had learned self
control in the school of experience, and her delay was a brief one.
Mastering her emotions, she walked steadily down the two flights of
stairs, opened the front door for herself, and was just about to cross
the threshold when a man entered. The light of the street lamp fell
full upon his face. It was the face of the man whose mysterious
disappearance five years before had created such a profound sensation
throughout Western Canada. There was no possibility of mistaking it,
though it was greatly changed for the worse. Five years had wrought
terrible havoc upon it. The scar on the left cheek was more conspicuous
than of yore, and the features seemed to have settled into a perpetual
frown. But, worst of all, the countenance was bloated and besotted. The
nose had become bulbous and spongy, the eyes watery and weak. The man's
clothes were patched and seedy, and presented a general aspect of being
desperately out at elbows. His unsteady step indicated that he was at
least half drunk at that moment. He did not see; or at any rate did not
take any notice of the woman who gazed into his face so intently. As he
staggered on his way upstairs he stumbled and narrowly escaped falling.
Could it be possible that this disreputable object was the man whom she
had once loved as her husband? She shuddered as she passed out on to
the pavement. Truly, his sin had found him out.

She had no difficulty in finding her way back to the hotel, without
asking questions of anybody. Upon reaching it she conferred for a
moment with the office clerk, and then passed up to a small general
sitting-room where she found her father. The old gentleman was
beginning to be anxious at her long absence.

"Well, father, I find there is an express for Suspension Bridge at
midnight. I think we had better take it. It is now half-past ten. I
have learned all I wanted to know, and there is no use for us to stay
here on expense. But perhaps you are tired, and would like a night's
rest."

"Found out all you wanted to know? Do you mean to say you have seen
him?"

"Yes, and I never wish to see or hear of him again in this world. Don't
question me now. I will tell you all before we get home, and after that
I hope you will never mention his name in my presence. When shall we
start?"

Finding her really anxious to be gone, the old man assented to her
proposition, and they started on their way homeward by the midnight
train. They reached Millbrook in due course, the father having
meanwhile been informed of all that his daughter had to tell him.
Savareen's disappearance remained as profound a mystery to them as
ever, but it had at any rate been made clear that he had absconded of
his own free will, and that in doing so he must have exercised a good
deal of shrewdness and cunning.

The question as to how far it was advisable to take the public into
their confidence exercised the judgment of both father and daughter.
The conclusion arrived at was that as little as possible should be said
about the matter. Their errand to New York was already known, and could
not be wholly ignored. The fact of Savareen's existence would have to
be admitted. It would inevitably be chronicled by the _Sentinel_,
and the record would be transferred to the columns of other newspapers.
The subject would be discussed among the local quidnuncs, and the
excitement of five years since would to some extent be revived. All
this must naturally be expected, and would have to be endured as best
it might; but it was resolved that people should not be encouraged to
ask questions, and that they should be made to understand that the
topic was not an agreeable one to the persons immediately concerned. It
might reasonably be hoped that gossip would sooner or later wear itself
out. For the present it would be desirable for Mrs. Savareen to keep
within doors, and to hold as little communication with her neighbors as
possible.

This programme was strictly adhered to, and everything turned out
precisely as had been expected. Mr. Haskins reached Millbrook on his
way home to Tennessee within a day or two after the return of father
and daughter from New York. He was informed by the father that Randall
and Savareen were identical, but that the family wished to suppress all
talk about the affair as far as possible. He took the hint, and
departed on his way homeward, without seeking to probe further into
matters in which he had no personal concern.

It was hardly to be supposed, however, that the local population would
show equal forbearance. Curiosity was widespread, and was not to be
suppressed from a mere sentiment of delicacy. No sooner did it become
known that the father and daughter had returned than the former was
importuned by numerous friends and acquaintances to disclose the result
of his journey. He so far responded to these importunities as to admit
that the missing man was living in the States under an assumed name,
but he added that neither his daughter nor himself was inclined to talk
about the matter. He said in effect: "My daughter's burden is a heavy
one to bear, and any one who has any consideration for either her or me
will never mention the matter in the presence of either of us. Anyone
who does so will thereby forfeit all right to be regarded as a friend
or well-wisher." This did not silence gossiping tongues, but it at
least prevented them from propounding their questions directly to
himself. He was promptly interviewed by the editor of the
_Sentinel_, who received exactly the same information as other
people, and no more. The next number of the paper contained a leading
article on the subject, in which the silence of Mrs. Savareen and her
father was animadverted upon. The public, it was said, were entitled to
be told all that there was to tell. Savareen's disappearance had long
since become public property, and the family were not justified in
withholding any information which might tend to throw light on that
dark subject. This article was freely copied by other papers, and for
several weeks the topic was kept conspicuously before the little world
of western Canada. Nowhere was the interest in the subject more keenly
manifested than at the Royal Oak, where it furnished the theme of
frequent and all-but-interminable discussion. Not a day passed but mine
host Lapierre publicly congratulated himself upon his acumen in having
all along believed and declared that Savareen was still in the land of
the living. This landlord shared the prevalent opinion that the family
should be more communicative. "I haf always," said he, "peen a coot
frient to Mrs. Safareen. I respect her fery mooch, put I think she
might let us know sometings more apout her discoferies in New York."
Scores of other persons harped to the same monotonous tune. But father
and daughter submitted to this as to a necessary penalty of their
situation, and by degrees the excitement quieted down. I am not
prepared to say whether the stepmother received further enlightenment
than other people, but if she did she kept her tongue between her teeth
like a sensible woman. As for Mrs. Savareen herself, she consistently
refrained from speaking on the subject to anyone, and even the most
inveterate gossips showed sufficient respect for her feelings to ask
her no questions. She held the even tenor of her way, doing her work
and maintaining herself as usual, but she lived a secluded life, and
was seldom seen outside her own house.

Thus, several months passed away without the occurrence of any event
worthy of being recorded. The mystery of Savareen's disappearance
remained a mystery still. But the time was approaching when all that
had so long been dark was to be made clear, and when the strange
problem of five years before was to be solved.



CHAPTER XIII.

COALS OF FIRE.


The gloomy month of November, 1859, was drawing to its close. The
weather, as usual at that time of the year, was dull and sober, and the
skies were dark and lowering. More than three months had elapsed since
the journey to New York, and Mrs. Savareen and her affairs had ceased
to be the engrossing topics of discussion among the people of Millbrook
and its neighborhood. She continued to live a very secluded life, and
seldom stirred beyond the threshold of her own door. Almost her only
visitors were her father and brother, for her stepmother rarely
intruded upon her domain, and indeed was not much encouraged to do so,
as her presence never brought comfort with it. The little boy continued
to grow apace, and it seemed to the fond mother that he became dearer
to her every day. He was the sole light and joy of her life, and in him
were bound up all her hopes for the future. Of late she had ceased to
scan his features in the hope of tracing there some resemblance of his
absent father. Since her visit to Amity street, _that_ fond
illusion had wholly departed, never to return. She had ceased even to
speak to him about his other parent, and had begun to regard herself in
the light of an actual widow. Such was the state of affairs when the
humdrum of her existence was broken in upon by a succession of
circumstances which it now becomes necessary to unfold.

It was rapidly drawing towards six o'clock in the evening, and the
darkness of night had already fallen upon the outer landscape. Mrs.
Savareen sat in her little parlor with her boy upon her knee, as it was
her custom to sit at this hour. The lamp had not been lighted, but the
fireplace sent forth a ruddy blaze, making the countless shadows
reflect themselves on the floor, and in the remote corners of the room.
To both the mother and the child, this hour, "between the dark and the
daylight" was incomparably the most delightful of the twenty-four, for
it was consecrated to story-telling. Then it was that the boy was first
introduced to those old-time legends which in one form or another have
thrilled the bosoms of happy childhood for so many hundreds of years,
and which will continue to thrill them through centuries yet unborn.
Then it was that he made the acquaintance of Little Red Riding Hood,
Jack the Giant Killer, and the Seven Champions of Christendom. The
mingled lights and shades from the blazing logs of hickory in the
fireplace lent additional charm to the thousand and one stories which
the mother recounted for the child's edification, and I doubt not that
Jack's wonderful bean-stalk is still associated in Master Reggie's mind
with that cosy little room with its blended atmosphere of cheerful
twilight and sombre shadow.

A few minutes more and it would be tea time. It would never do,
however, to break off the story of the Babes in the Wood just at the
time when the two emissaries of the wicked uncle began to quarrel in
the depths of the forest. The child's sympathies had been thoroughly
aroused, and he would not tamely submit to be left in suspense. No, the
gruesome old tale must be told out, or at least as far as where the
robin redbreasts, after mourning over the fate of the hapless infants
"did cover them with leaves." And so the mother went on with the
narrative. She had just reached the culminating point when an
approaching footstep was heard outside. Then came a knock at the door,
followed by the entrance of Mrs. Savareen's father. It was easy to see
from his face that this was no mere perfunctory call. Evidently he had
news to tell.

"Something has happened, father," said Mrs. Savareen, as calmly as she
could.

"Well, yes, something has happened. It is nothing very dreadful, but
you had better prepare yourself to hear unpleasant news."

"It is that man--he has come."

"Yes, he has come to town."

"Is he at the door?"

"No, he is at my house. I thought I had better come over and tell you,
instead of letting him come himself and take you by surprise."

"What has he come for, and what does he want?" inquired Mrs. Savareen,
in a harder tone of voice than she was accustomed to use.

"Well, for one thing he wants to see you, and I suppose you can't very
well avoid seeing him. He is your husband, you know. He knows nothing
about the journey to New York. He has no means, and looks shabby and
sickly. I shouldn't wonder if he isn't long for this world."

"So you didn't tell him anything about the New York trip?"

"No, I didn't exactly know what your views might be, and he looked such
a worn-out, pitiful object that I held my tongue about it. I think you
had better see him and hear what he has to say."

It appeared that Savareen had arrived at Millbrook by the 4:15 p.m.
train from New York, and that he had slunk round by the least
frequented streets to his father-in-law's house without being
recognised by any one. It might be doubted, indeed, whether any of his
old friends would have recognised him, even if they had met him face
to face in broad daylight, for he was by no means the ruddy, robust,
self-complacent looking personage they had been accustomed to see in
the old days when he was wont to ride into town on his black mare. His
clothes were seamy and worn, and his physical proportions had shrunk so
much that the shabby garments seemed a world too wide for him. His face,
which three months ago had been bloated and sodden, had become pale and
emaciated, and the scar upon his left cheek seemed to have developed
until it was the most noticeable thing about him. His step was feeble
and tremulous, and it was evident that his health had completely broken
down. He was in fact in a state bordering on collapse, and was hardly
fit to be going about. His financial condition was on a par with his
bodily state. He had expended his last dime in the purchase of his
railway ticket, and at the moment of reaching his father-in-law's door
he had been well-nigh famished for want of food. When a loaf of bread
and some slices of cold meat had been set before him, he had fallen to
with the voracity of a jungle tiger. He had vouchsafed no explanation
of his presence, except that he felt he was going to die, and that he
wanted to see his wife and child. As he was tired out and sorely in
need of rest, he had been put to bed, and his father-in-law, after
seeing him snugly stowed away between the sheets, had set out to bear
the news to his wife.

There could be no doubt as to what was the proper thing to be done.
Mrs. Savareen made the fire safe, put on her bonnet and shawl and
locked up the house. Then, taking her little boy by the hand, she
accompanied her father to the old house where, six or seven years
before, the handsome young farmer had been in the habit of visiting and
paying court to her. On arriving she found the invalid buried in the
deep, profound sleep of exhaustion. Consigning her boy to the care of
her stepmother, she took her place by the bedside and waited. Her vigil
was a protracted one, for the tired-out sleeper did not awaken until
the small hours of the next morning. Then with a long drawn
respiration, he opened his eyes, and fixed them upon the watcher with a
weak, wandering expression, as though he was unable to fully grasp the
situation.

The truth found its way to him by degrees. He shifted himself uneasily,
as though he would have been glad to smother himself beneath the
bedclothes, was it not for lack of resolution. A whipped hound never
presented a more abject appearance.

His wife was the first to speak. "Do you feel rested?" she asked in a
gentle tone.

"Rested? O, yes, I remember now. We are at your father's."

"Yes; but don't talk any more just now, if it tires you. Try to go to
sleep again."

"You are good to me; better than I deserve," he responded, after a
pause. Then great tears welled up to his eyes, and coursed one after
another down his thin, worn face. It was easy to see that he was weak
as water. His long journey by rail without food had been too much for
him, and in his state of health it was just possible he might never
rally.

The womanly nature of the outraged wife came uppermost, as it always
does under such circumstances. Her love for the miserable creature
lying there before her had been killed and crucified long ago, never to
be revived. But she could not forget that she had once loved him, and
that he was the father of her child. No matter how deeply he had
wronged her, he was ill and suffering--perhaps dying. His punishment
had come upon him without any act of hers. She contrasted his present
bearing with that of other days. He was bent, broken, crushed. Nothing
there to remind her of the stalwart, manly young fellow whose voice had
once stirred her pulse to admiration and love. All the more reason why
she should be good to him now, all undeserving as he might be. Our
British Homer showed a true appreciation of the best side of feminine
nature when he wrote--

                   "O woman, in our hour of ease,
                    Uncertain, coy, and hard to please;
                    When pain and anguish wring thy brow,
                    A ministering angel thou!"

She rose and approached the bed, while her gaze rested mildly upon his
face. Drawing forth her handkerchief, she wiped the salt tears from his
cheeks with a caressing hand. To him lying there in his helplessness,
she seemed no unfit earthly representative of that Divine Beneficence
"whose blessed task," says Thackeray, "it will one day be to wipe the
tear from every eye." Her gentleness caused the springs to well forth
afresh, and the prostrate form was convulsed by sobs. She sat by his
side on the bed, and staunched the miniature flood with a tender touch.
By-and-by calm returned, and he sank into a profound and apparently
dreamless sleep.

When he again awoke it was broad daylight. The first object on which
his eyes rested was the patient watcher who had never left her post the
whole night long, and who still sat in an armchair at his bedside,
ready to minister to his comfort. As soon as she perceived that he was
awake she approached and took his wasted hand in her own. He gazed
steadily in her face, but could find no words to speak.

"You are rested now, are you not?" she murmured, scarcely above her
breath.

After a while he found his voice and asked how long he had slept. Being
enlightened on the point, he expressed his belief that it was time for
him to rise.

"Not yet," was the response; "you shall have your breakfast first, and
then it will be time enough to think about getting up. I forbid you to
talk until you have had something to eat," she added, playfully. "Lie
still for a few minutes, while I go and see about a cup of tea." And so
saying she left him to himself.

Presently she returned, bearing a tray and eatables. She quietly raised
him to a sitting posture, and placed a large soft pillow at his back.
He submitted to her ministrations like a child. It was long since he
had been tended with such care, and the position doubtless seemed a
little strange to him. After drinking a cup of tea and eating several
morsels of the good things set before him he evidently felt refreshed.
His eyes lost somewhat of their lack-lustre air of confirmed
invalidism, and his voice regained a measure of its natural tone. When
he attempted to rise and dress himself, however, he betrayed such a
degree of bodily feebleness that his wife forbade him to make further
exertions. He yielded to her importunities, and remained in bed, which
was manifestly the best place for him. He was pestered by no
unnecessary questions to account for his presence, Mrs. Savareen
rightly considering that it was for him to volunteer any explanations
he might have to make whenever he felt equal to the task.

After a while his little boy was brought in to see the father of whom
he dimly remembered to have heard. His presence moved the sick man to
further exhibitions of tearful sensibility, but seemed, on the whole,
to have a salutary effect. Long absence and a vagabond life had not
quenched the paternal instinct, and the little fellow was caressed with
a fervor too genuine to admit of the possibility of its being assumed.
Master Reggie received these ebullitions of affection without much
corresponding demonstrativeness. He could not be expected to feel any
vehement adoration for one whom he had never seen since his earliest
babyhood, and whose very name for some months past had been permitted
to sink out of sight. His artless prattle, however, was grateful in the
ears of his father, who looked and listened as if entranced by sweet
strains of music. His wasted--worse than wasted--past seemed to rise
before him, as the child's accents fell softly upon his ear, and he
seemed to realize more than ever how much he had thrown away.

In the course of the forenoon Mrs. Savareen's stepmother took her place
in the sick chamber, and she herself withdrew to another room to take
the rest of which she was by this time sorely in need. The invalid
would not assent to the proposal to call in a physician. He declared
that he was only dead tired, and that rest and quiet would soon restore
him without medicine, in so far as any restoration was possible. And so
the day passed by.

In the evening the wife again took her place at the bedside, and she
had not been there long ere her husband voluntarily began his chapter
of explanations. His story was a strange one, but there was no room to
doubt the truth of any portion of it.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE BAD HALF CROWN.


He began by comparing himself to the bad half-crown, which always finds
its way back, but which has no right to expect a warm welcome on its
return. "Were it not," said he, "that I feel myself to be pretty near
the end of my earth's journey, I could not have the face to tell you my
story at all. But I feel that I am worn out, and don't think it likely
that I shall ever leave this room except for the grave. You shall know
everything, even more fully than I have ever known it myself until
within the last few hours. They say that when a man is nearing his end
he sees more clearly than at any other time of his life. For my part I
now see for the first time that I have never been anything but a
worthless lout from my cradle. I have never been fit to walk alone, and
if health and strength were to come back to me I should not be one whit
better than I have hitherto been. I don't know whether I ever told you
that I have a streak of gipsy blood in my veins. My grandmother was a
Romany, picked up by my grandfather on Wandsworth Common. I don't offer
this fact as any excuse for my conduct, but I have sometimes thought
that it may have something to do with the pronounced vagabondism which
has always been one of my most distinctive features. So long as I was
at home in my father's house he kept me from doing anything very
outrageous, but I was always a creature of impulse, ready to enter into
any hair-brained scheme without counting the cost. I never looked a
week ahead in my life. It was sufficient for me if the present was
endurable, and if the general outlook for the future promised something
new. My coming to this country in the first place was a mere impulse,
inspired by a senseless liking for adventure and a wish to see strange
faces and scenes. My taking Squire Harrington's farm was an impulse,
very largely due to its proximity to Lapierre's, who is a jolly
landlord and knows how to make his guests comfortable. I had no special
aptitude for farm life; no special desire to get on in the world; no
special desire to do anything except pass the time as pleasantly as I
could, without thought or care for the future. And as I have fully made
up my mind to make a clean breast of it, I am going to tell you
something which will make you despise me more than you ever despised me
yet. When I married you I did so from impulse. Don't mistake me. I
liked you better than any other woman I had ever seen. I liked your
pretty face, and your gentle, girlish ways. I knew that you were good,
and would make an excellent wife. But I well knew that I had no such
feeling towards you as a man should have towards the woman whom he
intends to make the companion of his life--no such feeling, for
instance, as I have for you at this moment. Well, I married you and we
lived together as happily as most young couples do. I knew that I had a
good wife, and you didn't know, or even suspect, what a brainless,
heartless clod you had for your husband. Our married life glided by
without anything particular happening to disturb it. But the thing
became monotonous to me, and I had the senseless vagabond's desire for
change. We did fairly well on the farm, but once or twice I was on the
point of proposing to you that we should emigrate to the Western
States. I began to drink more than was good for me, and two or three
times when I came home half-sees over you reproached me, and looked at
me in a way I didn't like. This I inwardly resented, like the besotted
fool I was. It seemed to me that you might have held your tongue. The
feeling wasn't a very strong one with me, and if it hadn't been for
that cursed four hundred pounds, things might have gone on for some
time longer. Of course I kept all this to myself, for I was at least
sensible enough to feel ashamed of my want of purpose, and knew that I
deserved to be horsewhipped for not caring more for you and baby.

"The legacy from my father, if properly used, would have placed us on
our feet. With a farm of my own, I might reasonably hope to become a
man of more importance in our community than I had been. For a time
this was the only side of the picture that presented itself to my mind.
I began to contemplate myself as a landed proprietor, and the
contemplation was pleasant enough. I bought the farm from Squire
Harrington in good faith, and with no other intention than to carry out
the transaction. When I left home on the morning of that 17th of July,
I had no more intention of absconding than I now have of running for
Parliament. The idea never so much as entered my mind. The morning was
wet, and it seemed likely that we should have a rainy day. I was in a
more loaferish mood than usual, and thought I might as well ride to
town to pass the time. The hired man, whose name I have forgotten, was
not within call at the moment, so I went out to the stable to saddle
Black Bess for myself. Then I found that the inner front padding of the
saddle had been torn by rats during the night, and that the metal plate
was exposed. To use it in that state would have galled the mare's back,
and it was necessary to place something beneath it. I looked about me
in the stable, but saw nothing suitable, so I returned into the house
to get some kind of an old cloth for the purpose. If you had been there
I should have asked for what I wanted, but you were not to be seen, and
when I called out your name you did not answer. Then, in a fit of
momentary stupid petulance, I went into the front bedroom, opened my
trunk, and took out the first thing that came uppermost. I should have
taken and used it for what I wanted just then, even if it had been a
silk dress or petticoat; but it happened to be a coat of my own. I took
it out to the stable, placed it under the saddle, and rode off. Before
reaching the front gate I saw how it was that you had not answered my
call, for, as you doubtless remember, you were out in the orchard with
baby in your arms, at some distance from the house. I nodded to you as
I rode past, little thinking that years would elapse before I should
see you again.

"I suppose you know all about how I spent the day. I had a bit of a
quarrel with the clerk at the bank, and that put me out of humor. I had
not intended to draw the money, but to leave it on deposit till next
morning.

"Shuttleworth's ill-tempered remarks nettled me. I took the notes in a
huff, and left the bank with them in my pocket. I ought to have had
sense enough to ride home at once, but I went to the Peacock and
muddled myself with drink. I felt elated at having such a large sum of
money about me, and carried on like a fool and a sot all afternoon. I
didn't start for home till a few minutes before dark. Up to that moment
the idea of clearing out had never presented itself to my mind. But as
I cantered along the quiet road I began to think what a good time I
could have with four hundred pounds in my pocket, in some far-off place
where I was not known, and where I should be free from incumbrances of
every kind.

"In the half-befuddled condition in which I then was, the idea quickly
took possession of my stupid imagination. I rode along, however,
without coming to any fixed determination, till I reached Jonathan
Perry's toll-gate. I exchanged a few words with him, and then resumed
my journey. Suddenly it flashed upon me that, if I was really going to
make a strike for it, nothing was to be gained by delaying my flight.
What was the use of going home? If I ever got there I should probably
be unable to summon up sufficient resolution to go at all. Just then I
heard the sound of a horse's feet advancing rapidly down the road. An
impulse seized me to get out of the way. But to do this was not easy.
There was a shallow ditch along each side of the road, and the fence
was too high for a leap. Before I could let down the rails and betake
myself to the fields the horseman would be on the spot. As I cast rapid
glances this way and that, I came in front of the gateway of the lane
leading down by the side of Stolliver's house to his barnyard. As it
happened, the gate was open. On came the horse clattering down the
road, and not a second was to be lost if I wished to remain unseen. I
rode in, dismounted, shut to the gate, and led my mare a few yards down
the lane to an overhanging black cherry tree, beneath which I ensconced
myself. Scarcely had I taken up my position there when the horse and
his rider passed at a swift trot down the road. It was too dark for me
to tell at that distance who the rider was, but, as you shall hear, I
soon found out. I stood still and silent, with my hand on Bess's mane,
cogitating what to do next. While I did so, Stolliver's front door
opened, and he and his boys walked out to the front fence, where the
old man lighted his pipe. Then I heard the horse and his rider coming
back up the road from the tollgate. In another moment the rider drew up
and began to talk to Stolliver. I listened with breathless attention,
and heard every word of the conversation, which related to myself. I
feared that Bess would neigh or paw the ground, in which case the
attention of the speakers would have been drawn to my whereabouts. But,
as my cursed fate would have it, the mare made no demonstration of any
kind, and I was completely hidden from view by the darkness and also by
the foliage of the cherry tree under which I stood. The horseman, as
you probably know, was Lapierre, who had been despatched by you to
bring me home. This proceeding on your part I regarded, in my then
frame of mind, in the light of an indignity. A pretty thing, truly, if
I was to be treated as though I was unable to take care of myself, and
if my own wife was to send people to hunt for me about the
neighborhood! I waited in silence till Lapierre had paid his second
visit to the toll-gate and ridden off homewards. Still I waited, until
old Stolliver and his boys returned into the house. Then I led the mare
as softly as I could down the lane, and around to the back of the barn,
where we were safe from observation.

"I chuckled with insane glee at having eluded Lapierre, and then I
determined on a course of action. Like the egotistical villain I was, I
had no more regard for your feelings than if you had been a stick or a
stone. You should never suspect that I had wilfully deserted you, and
should be made to believe that I had been murdered. Having formed my
plans, I led the mare along the edges of the fields, letting down the
fences whenever it was necessary to do so, and putting them carefully
up again after passing through. I made my way down past the rear end of
John Calder's lot, and so on to the edge of the swamp behind Squire
Harrington's. Bess would take no harm there during the night and would
be found safe enough on the morrow. I removed the bit from her mouth,
so that she could nibble the grass, and left the bridle hanging round
her neck, securing it so that she would not be likely to trip or throw
herself. I showed far more consideration for her than I did for the
wife of my bosom. I removed the saddle so that she could lie down and
roll, if she felt that way disposed. I took the coat I had used for a
pad, and carried it a short distance into the swamp and threw it into a
puddle of water. I deliberated whether I should puncture the end of my
finger with my jack-knife and stain my coat with the blood, but
concluded that such a proceeding was unnecessary. I knew that you would
be mystified by the coat as you knew quite well that I had not worn it
when I left home in the morning. Then I bade farewell to poor Bess,
and, unaccountable as it may seem to you, I was profoundly touched at
parting from her in such a way. I embraced her neck and kissed her on
the forehead. As I tore myself away from her I believe I was within an
ace of shedding tears. Yet, not a thought of compunction on your
account penetrated my selfish soul. I picked my way through the swamp
to the fourth concession, and then struck out across unfrequented
fields for Harborough station, eight miles away.

"The moon was up, and the light shone brightly all the way, but I
skulked along the borders of out-of-the-way fields, and did not
encounter a human being. As I drew near the station I secreted myself
on the dark side of an old shed, and lay in wait for the first train
which might stop there. I did not have to remain more than about half
an hour. A mixed train came along from the west, and as it drew up I
sprang on the platform of the last car but one. To the best of my
knowledge nobody saw me get aboard. I was not asked for my ticket until
the train approached Hamilton, when I pretended that I had lost it, and
paid my fare from Dundas, where I professed to have boarded the train.
I got off at Hamilton, and waited for the east-bound express, which
conveyed me to New York."



CHAPTER XV.

REGINALD BOURCHIER SAVAREEN DISCOVERS THE GREAT SECRET.


Thus far Savareen had been permitted to tell his own story. I do not,
of course, pretend that it came from his lips in the precise words set
down in the foregoing chapter, but for the sake of brevity and
clearness, I have deemed it best to present the most salient portion of
the narrative in the first person. It was related to me years
afterwards by Mrs. Savareen herself, and I think I am warranted in
saying that I have given the purport of her relation with tolerable
accuracy. There is no need to present the sequel in the same fashion,
nor with anything like the same fulness of detail. The man unburdened
himself with all the appearance of absolute sincerity, and made no
attempt to palliate or tone down anything that told against himself. He
admitted that upon reaching New York he had entered upon a career of
wild dissipation. He drank, gambled and indulged in debauchery to such
an extent that in less than six weeks he had got pretty nearly to the
end of his four hundred pounds. He assumed a false name and carefully
abstained from ever looking at the newspapers, so that he remained in
ignorance of all that had taken place in the neighborhood of his home
after his departure. Becoming tired of the life he was leading in the
great city, he proceeded southward, and spent some months wandering
about through the Southern States. His knowledge of horse-flesh enabled
him to pick up a livelihood, and even at times to make money; but his
drinking propensities steadily gained the mastery over him and stood in
the way of his permanent success in any pursuit. During a sojourn at a
tavern in Lexington, Kentucky, he had formed an attachment for the
daughter of his landlord. She was a good girl in her way, and knew how
to take care of herself; but Mr. Jack Randall passed for a bachelor,
and seemed to be several grades above the ordinary frequenters of her
father's place. Their marriage and subsequent adventures have been
sufficiently detailed by the unhappy woman herself, during her
conference with Mrs. Savareen at No. 77 Amity street.

The _soi-disant_ Randall had gone on from bad to worse, until he
had become the degraded creature of whom his wife had caught a
momentary glimpse under the glare of gas lamp on her departure from the
Amity street lodgings. The woman who supposed herself to be his wife
had informed him that a strange lady had called and been very kind to
her, but she had told him nothing about the lady having come from
Canada. Why she was thus reticent I am unable to say with certainty.
Perhaps it was because she attached no importance to the circumstance,
after the lady's declaration that the daguerreotype did not represent
the man whom she wished to find. Perhaps she had some inkling of the
truth, and dreaded to have her suspicions confirmed. She knew that she
had but a short time to live, and may very well have desired to sleep
her last sleep without making any discovery detrimental to her peace of
mind. Whatever the cause may have been, she kept silent to everything
but the main fact that a kind lady had called and supplied her with a
small store of money to provide for herself and the child. Savareen
never learned or even suspected, that the lady who ministered to the
wants of his victims was his own wife, until the truth was told to him
by the wife herself. Small difference to him however, where the money
came from. He had no scruples about taking a part of it to buy drink
for himself and one or two loafers he numbered among his personal
acquaintances. But there was sufficient left to provide for all the
earthly needs of the dying woman and her child. The little one breathed
its last within two days of Mrs. Savareen's visit, and the mother
followed it to the grave a week later.

Since then "Jack Randall" had dragged on a solitary existence in New
York, and had been on the very brink of starvation. Every half dime he
could lay hold of, by hook or by brook--and I fear it was sometimes by
both--was spent in the old way. Then his health suddenly broke down,
and for the first time he knew what it was to be weak and ill. Finally
he had been compelled to admit to himself that he was utterly beaten in
the race of life; and with a profound depth of meanness which
transcended any of his former acts, he had made up his mind to return
in his want and despair, to the wife whom he had so basely deserted.
Since leaving Westchester he had heard nothing of her, direct or
indirect; but he doubted not that she was supplied with the necessaries
of life, and that she would yield him her forgiveness.

It is possible to sympathize with the prodigal son, but whose heart is
wide enough to find sympathy for such a prodigal husband as this?

His wife heard him patiently out to the very end. Then she told him of
the arrival of Mr. Thomas Jefferson Haskins at the Royal Oak, and the
consequent visit to New York. The recital did not greatly move him. The
telling of his own story had again reduced him to a state of extreme
exhaustion, and he was for the time being incapable of further emotion.
He soon after dropped asleep, and as he was tolerably certain not to
awake until next morning, there was no occasion for further attendance
upon him. Mrs. Savareen drew to another apartment to ponder a while,
before retiring to rest, on the strange tale which she had heard.

Next morning it was apparent that Savareen was alarmingly ill, and that
his illness did not arise solely from exhaustion. A doctor was called
in, and soon pronounced his verdict. The patient was suffering from
congestion of the lungs. The malady ran a rapid course, and in another
week he lay white and cold in his coffin, the scar on his cheek,
showing like a great pale ridge on a patch of hoar-frost.

      *      *      *      *      *


My story is told. The young widow donned the conventional weeds--"the
trappings and the suits of woe"--prescribed by custom under such
circumstances. It is only reasonable to believe that she sincerely
mourned the loss of her girlhood's ideal, but it was surely too much to
expect that she should be overwhelmed by grief at the death of one who
had been practically dead to her for years, and whose unworthiness had
recently been so unmistakably brought home to her. With her subsequent
fortunes the reader has no concern; but it can be no harm to inform him
that she remains a widow still, and that she at this moment resides
with her son--a prosperous lawyer--in one of the chief towns of Western
Canada.





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