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´╗┐Title: Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker
Author: Brown, Charles Brockden
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker" ***

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EDGAR HUNTLY

or, MEMOIRS OF A SLEEP-WALKER

by

CHARLES BROCKDEN BROWN



To the Public:

The flattering reception that has been given, by the public, to Arthur
Mervyn, has prompted the writer to solicit a continuance of the same
favour, and to offer to the world a new performance.

America has opened new views to the naturalist and politician, but has
seldom furnished themes to the moral painter. That new springs of action
and new motives to curiosity should operate,--that the field of
investigation, opened to us by our own country, should differ
essentially from those which exist in Europe,--may be readily conceived.
The sources of amusement to the fancy and instruction to the heart, that
are peculiar to ourselves, are equally numerous and inexhaustible. It is
the purpose of this work to profit by some of these sources; to exhibit
a series of adventures, growing out of the condition of our country, and
connected with one of the most common and most wonderful diseases or
affections of the human frame.

One merit the writer may at least claim:--that of calling forth the
passions and engaging the sympathy of the reader by means hitherto
unemployed by preceding authors. Puerile superstition and exploded
manners, Gothic castles and chimeras, are the materials usually employed
for this end. The incidents of Indian hostility, and the perils of the
Western wilderness, are far more suitable; and for a native of America
to overlook these would admit of no apology. These, therefore, are, in
part, the ingredients of this tale, and these he has been ambitious of
depicting in vivid and faithful colours. The success of his efforts must
be estimated by the liberal and candid reader.

C. B. B.



Chapter I.


I sit down, my friend, to comply with thy request. At length does the
impetuosity of my fears, the transports of my wonder, permit me to
recollect my promise and perform it. At length am I somewhat delivered
from suspense and from tremors. At length the drama is brought to an
imperfect close, and the series of events that absorbed my faculties,
that hurried away my attention, has terminated in repose.

Till now, to hold a steadfast pen was impossible; to disengage my senses
from the scene that was passing or approaching; to forbear to grasp at
futurity; to suffer so much thought to wander from the purpose which
engrossed my fears and my hopes, could not be.

Yet am I sure that even now my perturbations are sufficiently stilled
for an employment like this? That the incidents I am going to relate can
be recalled and arranged without indistinctness and confusion? That
emotions will not be reawakened by my narrative, incompatible with order
and coherence? Yet when I shall be better qualified for this task I know
not. Time may take away these headlong energies, and give me back my
ancient sobriety; but this change will only be effected by weakening my
remembrance of these events. In proportion as I gain power over words,
shall I lose dominion over sentiments. In proportion as my tale is
deliberate and slow, the incidents and motives which it is designed to
exhibit will be imperfectly revived and obscurely portrayed.

Oh, why art thou away at a time like this. Wert thou present, the office
to which my pen is so inadequate would easily be executed by my tongue.
Accents can scarcely be too rapid; or that which words should fail to
convey, my looks and gestures would suffice to communicate. But I know
thy coming is impossible. To leave this spot is equally beyond my power.
To keep thee in ignorance of what has happened would justly offend thee.
There is no method of informing thee except by letter, and this method
must I, therefore, adopt.

How short is the period that has elapsed since thou and I parted, and
yet how full of tumult and dismay has been my soul during that period!
What light has burst upon my ignorance of myself and of mankind! How
sudden and enormous the transition from uncertainty to knowledge!

But let me recall my thoughts; let me struggle for so much composure as
will permit my pen to trace intelligible characters. Let me place in
order the incidents that are to compose my tale. I need not call on thee
to listen. The fate of Waldegrave was as fertile of torment to thee as
to me. His bloody and mysterious catastrophe equally awakened thy grief,
thy revenge, and thy curiosity. Thou wilt catch from my story every
horror and every sympathy which it paints. Thou wilt shudder with my
foreboding and dissolve with my tears. As the sister of my friend, and
as one who honours me with her affection, thou wilt share in all my
tasks and all my dangers.

You need not be reminded with what reluctance I left you. To reach this
place by evening was impossible, unless I had set out early in the
morning; but your society was too precious not to be enjoyed to the last
moment. It was indispensable to be here on Tuesday, but my duty required
no more than that I should arrive by sunrise on that day. To travel
during the night was productive of no formidable inconvenience. The air
was likely to be frosty and sharp, but these would not incommode one who
walked with speed. A nocturnal journey in districts so romantic and wild
as these, through which lay my road, was more congenial to my temper
than a noonday ramble.

By nightfall I was within ten miles of my uncle's house. As the darkness
increased, and I advanced on my way, my sensations sunk into melancholy.
The scene and the time reminded me of the friend whom I had lost. I
recalled his features, and accents, and gestures, and mused with
unutterable feelings on the circumstances of his death.

My recollections once more plunged me into anguish and perplexity. Once
more I asked, Who was his assassin? By what motives could he be impelled
to a deed like this? Waldegrave was pure from all offence. His piety was
rapturous. His benevolence was a stranger to remissness or torpor. All
who came within the sphere of his influence experienced and acknowledged
his benign activity. His friends were few, because his habits were timid
and reserved; but the existence of an enemy was impossible.

I recalled the incidents of our last interview, my importunities that he
should postpone his ill-omened journey till the morning, his
inexplicable obstinacy, his resolution to set out on foot during a dark
and tempestuous night, and the horrible disaster that befell him.

The first intimation I received of this misfortune, the insanity of
vengeance and grief into which I was hurried, my fruitless searches for
the author of this guilt, my midnight wanderings and reveries beneath
the shade of that fatal elm, were revived and reacted. I heard the
discharge of the pistol, I witnessed the alarm of Inglefield, I heard
his calls to his servants, and saw them issue forth with lights and
hasten to the spot whence the sound had seemed to proceed. I beheld my
friend, stretched upon the earth, ghastly with a mortal wound, alone,
with no traces of the slayer visible, no tokens by which his place of
refuge might be sought, the motives of his enmity or his instruments of
mischief might be detected.

I hung over the dying youth, whose insensibility forbade him to
recognise his friend, or unfold the cause of his destruction. I
accompanied his remains to the grave; I tended the sacred spot where he
lay; I once more exercised my penetration and my zeal in pursuit of his
assassin. Once more my meditations and exertions were doomed to be
disappointed.

I need not remind thee of what is past. Time and reason seemed to have
dissolved the spell which made me deaf to the dictates of duty and
discretion. Remembrances had ceased to agonize, to urge me to headlong
acts and foster sanguinary purposes. The gloom was half dispersed, and a
radiance had succeeded sweeter than my former joys.

Now, by some unseen concurrence of reflections, my thoughts reverted
into some degree of bitterness. Methought that to ascertain the hand who
killed my friend was not impossible, and to punish the crime was just.
That to forbear inquiry or withhold punishment was to violate my duty to
my God and to mankind. The impulse was gradually awakened that bade me
once more to seek the elm; once more to explore the ground; to
scrutinize its trunk. What could I expect to find? Had it not been a
hundred times examined? Had I not extended my search to the neighbouring
groves and precipices? Had I not pored upon the brooks, and pried into
the pits and hollows, that were adjacent to the scene of blood?

Lately I had viewed this conduct with shame and regret; but in the
present state of my mind it assumed the appearance of conformity with
prudence, and I felt myself irresistibly prompted to repeat my search.
Some time had elapsed since my departure from this district,--time
enough for momentous changes to occur. Expedients that formerly were
useless might now lead instantaneously to the end which I sought. The
tree which had formerly been shunned by the criminal might, in the
absence of the avenger of blood, be incautiously approached. Thoughtless
or fearless of my return, it was possible that he might, at this moment,
be detected hovering near the scene of his offences.

Nothing can be pleaded in extenuation of this relapse into folly. My
return, after an absence of some duration, into the scene of these
transactions and sufferings, the time of night, the glimmering of the
stars, the obscurity in which external objects were wrapped, and which,
consequently, did not draw my attention from the images of fancy, may in
some degree account for the revival of those sentiments and resolutions
which immediately succeeded the death of Waldegrave, and which, during
my visit to you, had been suspended.

You know the situation of the elm, in the midst of a private road, on
the verge of Norwalk, near the habitation of Inglefield, but three miles
from my uncle's house. It was now my intention to visit it. The road in
which I was travelling led a different way. It was requisite to leave
it, therefore, and make a circuit through meadows and over steeps. My
journey would, by these means, be considerably prolonged; but on that
head I was indifferent, or rather, considering how far the night had
already advanced, it was desirable not to reach home till the dawn.

I proceeded in this new direction with speed. Time, however, was allowed
for my impetuosities to subside, and for sober thoughts to take place.
Still I persisted in this path. To linger a few moments in this shade,
to ponder on objects connected with events so momentous to my happiness,
promised me a mournful satisfaction. I was familiar with the way, though
trackless and intricate, and I climbed the steeps, crept through the
brambles, leaped the rivulets and fences with undeviating aim, till at
length I reached the craggy and obscure path which led to Inglefield's
house.

In a short time, I descried through the dusk the widespread branches of
the elm. This tree, however faintly seen, cannot be mistaken for
another. The remarkable bulk and shape of its trunk, its position in the
midst of the way, its branches spreading into an ample circumference,
made it conspicuous from afar. My pulse throbbed as I approached it.

My eyes were eagerly bent to discover the trunk and the area beneath the
shade. These, as I approached, gradually became visible. The trunk was
not the only thing which appeared in view. Somewhat else, which made
itself distinguishable by its motions, was likewise noted. I faltered
and stopped.

To a casual observer this appearance would have been unnoticed. To me,
it could not but possess a powerful significance. All my surmises and
suspicions instantly returned. This apparition was human, it was
connected with the fate of Waldegrave, it led to a disclosure of the
author of that fate. What was I to do? To approach unwarily would alarm
the person. Instant flight would set him beyond discovery and reach.

I walked softly to the roadside. The ground was covered with rocky
masses, scattered among shrub-oaks and dwarf-cedars, emblems of its
sterile and uncultivated state. Among these it was possible to elude
observation and yet approach near enough to gain an accurate view of
this being.

At this time, the atmosphere was somewhat illuminated by the moon,
which, though it had already set, was yet so near the horizon as to
benefit me by its light. The shape of a man, tall and robust, was now
distinguished. Repeated and closer scrutiny enabled me to perceive that
he was employed in digging the earth. Something like flannel was wrapped
round his waist and covered his lower limbs. The rest of his frame was
naked. I did not recognise in him any one whom I knew.

A figure, robust and strange, and half naked, to be thus employed, at
this hour and place, was calculated to rouse up my whole soul. His
occupation was mysterious and obscure. Was it a grave that he was
digging? Was his purpose to explore or to hide? Was it proper to watch
him at a distance, unobserved and in silence, or to rush upon him and
extort from him, by violence or menaces, an explanation of the scene?

Before my resolution was formed, he ceased to dig. He cast aside his
spade and sat down in the pit that he had dug. He seemed wrapped in
meditation; but the pause was short, and succeeded by sobs, at first low
and at wide intervals, but presently louder and more vehement. Sorely
charged was indeed that heart whence flowed these tokens of sorrow.
Never did I witness a scene of such mighty anguish, such heart-bursting
grief.

What should I think? I was suspended in astonishment. Every sentiment,
at length, yielded to my sympathy. Every new accent of the mourner
struck upon my heart with additional force, and tears found their way
spontaneously to my eyes. I left the spot where I stood, and advanced
within the verge of the shade. My caution had forsaken me, and, instead
of one whom it was duty to persecute, I beheld, in this man, nothing but
an object of compassion.

My pace was checked by his suddenly ceasing to lament. He snatched the
spade, and, rising on his feet, began to cover up the pit with the
utmost diligence. He seemed aware of my presence, and desirous of hiding
something from my inspection. I was prompted to advance nearer and hold
his hand, but my uncertainty as to his character and views, the
abruptness with which I had been ushered into this scene, made me still
hesitate; but, though I hesitated to advance, there was nothing to
hinder me from calling.

"What, ho!" said I. "Who is there? What are you doing?"

He stopped: the spade fell from his hand; he looked up and bent forward
his face towards the spot where I stood. An interview and explanation
were now, methought, unavoidable. I mustered up my courage to confront
and interrogate this being.

He continued for a minute in his gazing and listening attitude. Where I
stood I could not fail of being seen, and yet he acted as if he saw
nothing. Again he betook himself to his spade, and proceeded with new
diligence to fill up the pit. This demeanour confounded and bewildered
me. I had no power but to stand and silently gaze upon his motions.

The pit being filled, he once more sat upon the ground, and resigned
himself to weeping and sighs with more vehemence than before. In a short
time the fit seemed to have passed. He rose, seized the spade, and
advanced to the spot where I stood.

Again I made preparation as for an interview which could not but take
place. He passed me, however, without appearing to notice my existence.
He came so near as almost to brush my arm, yet turned not his head to
either side. My nearer view of him made his brawny arms and lofty
stature more conspicuous; but his imperfect dress, the dimness of the
light, and the confusion of my own thoughts, hindered me from discerning
his features. He proceeded with a few quick steps along the road, but
presently darted to one side and disappeared among the rocks and bushes.

My eye followed him as long as he was visible, but my feet were rooted
to the spot. My musing was rapid and incongruous. It could not fail to
terminate in one conjecture, that this person was _asleep_. Such
instances were not unknown to me, through the medium of conversation and
books. Never, indeed, had it fallen under my own observation till now,
and now it was conspicuous, and environed with all that could give edge
to suspicion and vigour to inquiry. To stand here was no longer of use,
and I turned my steps towards my uncle's habitation.



Chapter II.


I had food enough for the longest contemplation. My steps partook, as
usual, of the vehemence of my thoughts, and I reached my uncle's gate
before I believed myself to have lost sight of the elm. I looked up and
discovered the well-known habitation. I could not endure that my
reflections should so speedily be interrupted. I therefore passed the
gate, and stopped not till I had reached a neighbouring summit, crowned
with chestnut-oaks and poplars.

Here I more deliberately reviewed the incidents that had just occurred.
The inference was just, that the man, half clothed and digging, was a
sleeper; but what was the cause of this morbid activity? What was the
mournful vision that dissolved him in tears, and extorted from him
tokens of inconsolable distress? What did he seek, or what endeavour to
conceal, in this fatal spot? The incapacity of sound sleep denotes a
mind sorely wounded. It is thus that atrocious criminals denote the
possession of some dreadful secret. The thoughts, which considerations
of safety enable them to suppress or disguise during wakefulness,
operate without impediment, and exhibit their genuine effects, when the
notices of sense are partly excluded and they are shut out from a
knowledge of their entire condition.

This is the perpetrator of some nefarious deed. What but the murder of
Waldegrave could direct his steps hither? His employment was part of
some fantastic drama in which his mind was busy. To comprehend it
demands penetration into the recesses of his soul. But one thing is
sure: an incoherent conception of his concern in that transaction
bewitches him hither. This it is that deluges his heart with bitterness
and supplies him with ever-flowing tears.

But whence comes he? He does not start from the bosom of the earth, or
hide himself in airy distance. He must have a name and a terrestrial
habitation. It cannot be at an immeasurable distance from the haunted
elm. Inglefield's house is the nearest. This may be one of its
inhabitants. I did not recognise his features, but this was owing to the
dusky atmosphere and to the singularity of his garb. Inglefield has two
servants, one of whom was a native of this district, simple, guileless,
and incapable of any act of violence. He was, moreover, devoutly
attached to his sect. He could not be the criminal.

The other was a person of a very different cast. He was an emigrant from
Ireland, and had been six months in the family of my friend. He was a
pattern of sobriety and gentleness. His mind was superior to his
situation. His natural endowments were strong, and had enjoyed all the
advantage of cultivation. His demeanour was grave, and thoughtful, and
compassionate. He appeared not untinctured with religion; but his
devotion, though unostentatious, was of a melancholy tenor.

There was nothing in the first view of his character calculated to
engender suspicion. The neighbourhood was populous. But, as I conned
over the catalogue, I perceived that the only foreigner among us was
Clithero. Our scheme was, for the most part, a patriarchal one. Each
farmer was surrounded by his sons and kinsmen. This was an exception to
the rule. Clithero was a stranger, whose adventures and character,
previously to his coming hither, were unknown to us. The elm was
surrounded by his master's domains. An actor there must be, and no one
was equally questionable.

The more I revolved the pensive and reserved deportment of this man, the
ignorance in which we were placed respecting his former situation, his
possible motives for abandoning his country and choosing a station so
much below the standard of his intellectual attainments, the stronger my
suspicions became. Formerly, when occupied with conjectures relative to
the same topic, the image of this man did not fail to occur; but the
seeming harmlessness of his ordinary conduct had raised him to a level
with others, and placed him equally beyond the reach of suspicion. I did
not, till now, advert to the recentness of his appearance among us, and
to the obscurity that hung over his origin and past life. But now these
considerations appeared so highly momentous as almost to decide the
question of his guilt.

But how were these doubts to be changed into absolute certainty?
Henceforth this man was to become the subject of my scrutiny. I was to
gain all the knowledge, respecting him, which those with whom he lived,
and were the perpetual witnesses of his actions, could impart. For this
end I was to make minute inquiries, and to put seasonable
interrogatories. From this conduct I promised myself an ultimate
solution of my doubts.

I acquiesced in this view of things with considerable satisfaction. It
seemed as if the maze was no longer inscrutable. It would be quickly
discovered who were the agents and instigators of the murder of my
friend.

But it suddenly occurred to me, For what purpose shall I prosecute this
search? What benefit am I to reap from this discovery? How shall I
demean myself when the criminal is detected? I was not insensible, at
that moment, of the impulses of vengeance, but they were transient. I
detested the sanguinary resolutions that I had once formed. Yet I was
fearful of the effects of my hasty rage, and dreaded an encounter in
consequence of which I might rush into evils which no time could repair,
nor penitence expiate.

"But why," said I, "should it be impossible to arm myself with firmness?
If forbearance be the dictate of wisdom, cannot it be so deeply engraven
on my mind as to defy all temptation, and be proof against the most
abrupt surprise? My late experience has been of use to me. It has shown
me my weakness and my strength. Having found my ancient fortifications
insufficient to withstand the enemy, what should I learn from thence but
that it becomes me to strengthen and enlarge them?

"No caution, indeed, can hinder the experiment from being hazardous. Is
it wise to undertake experiments by which nothing can be gained, and
much may be lost? Curiosity is vicious, if undisciplined by reason, and
inconducive to benefit."

I was not, however, to be diverted from my purpose. Curiosity, like
virtue, is its own reward. Knowledge is of value for its own sake, and
pleasure is annexed to the acquisition, without regard to any thing
beyond. It is precious even when disconnected with moral inducements and
heartfelt sympathies; but the knowledge which I sought by its union with
these was calculated to excite the most complex and fiery sentiments in
my bosom.

Hours were employed in revolving these thoughts. At length I began to be
sensible of fatigue, and, returning home, explored the way to my chamber
without molesting the repose of the family. You know that our doors are
always unfastened, and are accessible at all hours of the night.

My slumbers were imperfect, and I rejoiced when the morning light
permitted me to resume my meditations. The day glided away, I scarcely
know how, and, as I had rejoiced at the return of morning, I now hailed,
with pleasure, the approach of night.

My uncle and sisters having retired, I betook myself, instead of
following their example, to the _Chestnut-hill_. Concealed among
its rocks, or gazing at the prospect which stretched so far and so wide
around it, my fancy has always been accustomed to derive its highest
enjoyment from this spot. I found myself again at leisure to recall the
scene which I had witnessed during the last night, to imagine its
connection with the fate of Waldegrave, and to plan the means of
discovering the secret that was hidden under these appearances.

Shortly, I began to feel insupportable disquiet at the thoughts of
postponing this discovery. Wiles and stratagems were practicable, but
they were tedious, and of dubious success. Why should I proceed like a
plotter? Do I intend the injury of this person? A generous purpose will
surely excuse me from descending to artifices. There are two modes of
drawing forth the secrets of another,--by open and direct means and by
circuitous and indirect. Why scruple to adopt the former mode? Why not
demand a conference, and state my doubts, and demand a solution of them,
in a manner worthy of a beneficent purpose? Why not hasten to the spot?
He may be, at this moment, mysteriously occupied under this shade. I may
note his behaviour; I may ascertain his person, if not by the features
that belong to him, yet by tracing his footsteps when he departs, and
pursuing him to his retreats.

I embraced this scheme, which was thus suggested, with eagerness. I
threw myself with headlong speed down the hill and pursued my way to the
elm. As I approached the tree, my palpitations increased, though my pace
slackened. I looked forward with an anxious glance. The trunk of the
tree was hidden in the deepest shade. I advanced close up to it. No one
was visible, but I was not discouraged. The hour of his coming was,
perhaps, not arrived. I took my station at a small distance, beside a
fence, on the right hand.

An hour elapsed before my eyes lighted on the object of which they were
in search. My previous observation had been roving from one quarter to
another. At last, it dwelt upon the tree. The person whom I before
described was seated on the ground. I had not perceived him before, and
the means by which he placed himself in this situation had escaped my
notice. He seemed like one whom an effort of will, without the exercise
of locomotion, had transported hither, or made visible. His state of
disarray, and the darkness that shrouded him, prevented me, as before,
from distinguishing any peculiarities in his figure or countenance.

I continued watchful and mute. The appearances already described took
place on this occasion, except the circumstance of digging in the earth.
He sat musing for a while, then burst into sighs and lamentations.

These being exhausted, he rose to depart. He stalked away with a solemn
and deliberate pace. I resolved to tread, as closely as possible, in his
footsteps, and not to lose sight of him till the termination of his
career.

Contrary to my expectation, he went in a direction opposite to that
which led to Inglefield's. Presently, he stopped at bars, which he
cautiously removed, and, when he had passed through them, as
deliberately replaced. He then proceeded along an obscure path, which
led across stubble-fields, to a wood. The path continued through the
wood, but he quickly struck out of it, and made his way, seemingly at
random, through a most perplexing undergrowth of bushes and briers.

I was, at first, fearful that the noise which I made behind him, in
trampling down the thicket, would alarm him; but he regarded it not. The
way that he had selected was always difficult: sometimes considerable
force was requisite to beat down obstacles; sometimes it led into a deep
glen, the sides of which were so steep as scarcely to afford a footing;
sometimes into fens, from which some exertions were necessary to
extricate the feet, and sometimes through rivulets, of which the water
rose to the middle.

For some time I felt no abatement of my speed or my resolution. I
thought I might proceed, without fear, through brakes and dells which my
guide was able to penetrate. He was perpetually changing his direction.
I could form no just opinion as to my situation or distance from the
place at which we had set out.

I began at length to be weary. A suspicion, likewise, suggested itself
to my mind, whether my guide did not perceive that he was followed, and
thus prolonged his journey in order to fatigue or elude his pursuer. I
was determined, however, to baffle his design. Though the air was
frosty, my limbs were bedewed with sweat and my joints were relaxed with
toil, but I was obstinately bent upon proceeding.

At length a new idea occurred to me. On finding me indefatigable in
pursuit, this person might resort to more atrocious methods of
concealment. But what had I to fear? It was sufficient to be upon my
guard. Man to man, I needed not to dread his encounter.

We at last arrived at the verge of a considerable precipice. He kept
along the edge. From this height, a dreary vale was discoverable,
embarrassed with the leafless stocks of bushes, and encumbered with
rugged and pointed rocks. This scene reminded me of my situation. The
desert tract called Norwalk, which I have often mentioned to you, my
curiosity had formerly induced me to traverse in various directions. It
was in the highest degree rugged, picturesque, and wild. This vale,
though I had never before viewed it by the glimpses of the moon,
suggested the belief that I had visited it before. Such a one I knew
belonged to this uncultivated region. If this opinion were true, we were
at no inconsiderable distance from Inglefield's habitation. "Where,"
said I, "is this singular career to terminate?"

Though occupied with these reflections, I did not slacken my pursuit.
The stranger kept along the verge of the cliff, which gradually declined
till it terminated in the valley. He then plunged into its deepest
thickets. In a quarter of an hour he stopped under a projecture of the
rock which formed the opposite side of the vale. He then proceeded to
remove the stalks, which, as I immediately perceived, concealed the
mouth of a cavern. He plunged into the darkness, and in a few moments
his steps were heard no more.

Hitherto my courage had supported me, but here it failed. Was this
person an assassin, who was acquainted with the windings of the grotto,
and who would take advantage of the dark to execute his vengeance upon
me, who had dared to pursue him to these forlorn retreats? or was he
maniac, or walker in his sleep? Whichever supposition were true, it
would be rash in me to follow him. Besides, he could not long remain in
these darksome recesses, unless some fatal accident should overtake him.

I seated myself at the mouth of the cave, determined patiently to wait
till he should think proper to emerge. This opportunity of rest was
exceedingly acceptable after so toilsome a pilgrimage. My pulse began to
beat more slowly, and the moisture that incommoded me ceased to flow.
The coolness, which for a little time was delicious, presently increased
to shivering, and I found it necessary to change my posture, in order to
preserve my blood from congealing.

After I had formed a path before the cavern's mouth, by the removal of
obstructions, I employed myself in walking to and fro. In this situation
I saw the moon gradually decline to the horizon, and, at length,
disappear. I marked the deepenings of the shade, and the mutations which
every object successively underwent. The vale was narrow, and hemmed in
on all sides by lofty and precipitous cliffs. The gloom deepened as the
moon declined, and the faintness of starlight was all that preserved my
senses from being useless to my own guidance.

I drew nearer the cleft at which this mysterious personage had entered.
I stretched my hands before it, determined that he should not emerge
from his den without my notice. His steps would, necessarily,
communicate the tidings of his approach. He could not move without a
noise which would be echoed to, on all sides, by the abruptness by which
this valley was surrounded. Here, then, I continued till the day began
to dawn, in momentary expectation of the stranger's reappearance.

My attention was at length excited by a sound that seemed to issue from
the cave. I imagined that the sleeper was returning, and prepared
therefore to seize him. I blamed myself for neglecting the opportunities
that had already been afforded, and was determined that another should
not escape. My eyes were fixed upon the entrance. The rustling
increased, and presently an animal leaped forth, of what kind I was
unable to discover. Heart-struck by this disappointment, but not
discouraged, I continued to watch, but in vain. The day was advancing
apace. At length the sun arose, and its beams glistened on the edges of
the cliffs above, whose sapless stalks and rugged masses were covered
with hoarfrost. I began to despair of success, but was unwilling to
depart until it was no longer possible to hope for the return of this
extraordinary personage. Whether he had been swallowed up by some of the
abysses of this grotto, or lurked near the entrance, waiting my
departure, or had made his exit at another and distant aperture, was
unknown to me.

Exhausted and discouraged, I prepared, at length, to return. It was easy
to find my way out of this wilderness by going forward in one direction,
regardless of impediments and cross-paths. My absence I believed to have
occasioned no alarm to my family, since they knew not of my intention to
spend the night abroad. Thus unsatisfactorily terminated this night's
adventures.



Chapter III.


The ensuing day was spent partly in sleep, and partly in languor and
disquietude. I incessantly ruminated on the incidents of the last night.
The scheme that I had formed was defeated. Was it likely that this
unknown person would repeat his midnight visits to the elm? If he did,
and could again be discovered, should I resolve to undertake a new
pursuit, which might terminate abortively, or in some signal disaster?
But what proof had I that the same route would be taken, and that he
would again inter himself alive in the same spot? Or, if he did, since
his reappearance would sufficiently prove that the cavern was not
dangerous, and that he who should adventure in might hope to come out
again in safety, why not enter it after him? What could be the
inducements of this person to betake himself to subterranean retreats?
The basis of all this region is _limestone_; a substance that
eminently abounds in rifts and cavities. These, by the gradual decay of
their cementing parts, frequently make their appearance in spots where
they might have been least expected. My attention has often been excited
by the hollow sound which was produced by my casual footsteps, and which
showed me that I trod upon the roof of caverns. A mountain-cave and the
rumbling of an unseen torrent are appendages of this scene, dear to my
youthful imagination. Many of romantic structure were found within the
precincts of Norwalk.

These I had industriously sought out; but this had hitherto escaped my
observation, and I formed the resolution of some time exploring it. At
present I determined to revisit the elm, and dig in the spot where this
person had been employed in a similar way. It might be that something
was here deposited which might exhibit this transaction in a new light.
At the suitable hour, on the ensuing night, I took my former stand. The
person again appeared. My intention to dig was to be carried into effect
on condition of his absence, and was, consequently, frustrated.

Instead of rushing on him, and breaking at once the spell by which his
senses were bound, I concluded, contrary to my first design, to wait his
departure, and allow myself to be conducted whithersoever he pleased.
The track into which he now led me was different from the former one. It
was a maze, oblique, circuitous, upward and downward, in a degree which
only could take place in a region so remarkably irregular in surface, so
abounding with hillocks and steeps and pits and brooks, as
_Solesbury_. It seemed to be the sole end of his labours to
bewilder or fatigue his pursuer, to pierce into the deepest thickets, to
plunge into the darkest cavities, to ascend the most difficult heights,
and approach the slippery and tremulous verge of the dizziest
precipices.

I disdained to be outstripped in this career. All dangers were
overlooked, and all difficulties defied. I plunged into obscurities, and
clambered over obstacles, from which, in a different state of mind, and
with a different object of pursuit, I should have recoiled with
invincible timidity. When the scene had passed, I could not review the
perils I had undergone without shuddering.

At length my conductor struck into a path which, compared with the
ruggedness of that which we had lately trodden, was easy and smooth.
This track led us to the skirt of the wilderness, and at no long time we
reached an open field, when a dwelling appeared, at a small distance,
which I speedily recognised to be that belonging to Inglefield. I now
anticipated the fulfilment of my predictions. My conductor directed his
steps towards the barn, into which he entered by a small door.

How were my doubts removed! This was no other than Clithero Edny. There
was nothing in his appearance incompatible with this conclusion. He and
his fellow-servant occupied an apartment in the barn as a lodging-room.
This arduous purpose was accomplished, and I retired to the shelter of a
neighbouring shed, not so much to repose myself after the fatigues of my
extraordinary journey, as to devise further expedients.

Nothing now remained but to take Clithero to task; to repeat to him the
observations of the two last nights; to unfold to him my conjectures and
suspicions; to convince him of the rectitude of my intentions; and to
extort from him a disclosure of all the circumstances connected with the
death of Waldegrave which it was in his power to communicate.

In order to obtain a conference, I resolved to invite him to my uncle's
to perform a certain piece of work for me under my own eyes. He would,
of course, spend the night with us, and in the evening I would take an
opportunity of entering into conversation with him.

A period of the deepest deliberation was necessary to qualify myself for
performing suitably my part in this projected interview. I attended to
the feelings that were suggested in this new state of my knowledge. I
found reason to confide in my newly-acquired equanimity. "Remorse," said
I, "is an ample and proper expiation for all offences. What does
vengeance desire but to inflict misery? If misery come, its desires are
accomplished. It is only the obdurate and exulting criminal that is
worthy of our indignation. It is common for pity to succeed the
bitterest suggestions of resentment. If the vengeful mind be delighted
with the spectacle of woes of its own contriving, at least its canine
hunger is appeased, and thenceforth its hands are inactive."

On the evening of the next day, I paid a visit to Inglefield. I wished
to impart to him the discoveries that I had made, and to listen to his
reflections on the subject. I likewise desired to obtain all possible
information from the family respecting the conduct of Clithero.

My friend received me with his usual kindness. Thou art no stranger to
his character; thou knowest with what paternal affection I have ever
been regarded by this old man; with what solicitude the wanderings of my
reason and my freaks of passion have been noted and corrected by him.
Thou knowest his activity to save the life of thy brother, and the hours
that have been spent by him in aiding my conjectures as to the cause of
his death, and inculcating the lessons of penitence and duty.

The topics which could not but occur at such a meeting were quickly
discussed, and I hastily proceeded to that subject which was nearest my
heart. I related the adventures of the two preceding nights, and
mentioned the inference to which they irresistibly led.

He said that this inference coincided with suspicions he had formed,
since our last interview, in consequence of certain communications from
his housekeeper. It seems the character of Clithero had, from the first,
exercised the inquisitiveness of this old lady. She had carefully marked
his musing and melancholy deportment. She had tried innumerable
expedients for obtaining a knowledge of his past life, and particularly
of his motives for coming to America. These expedients, however profound
and addressful, had failed. He took no pains to elude them. He contented
himself with turning a deaf ear to all indirect allusions and hints,
and, when more explicitly questioned, with simply declaring that he had
nothing to communicate worthy of her notice.

During the day he was a sober and diligent workman. His evenings he
spent in incommunicative silence. On Sundays, he always rambled away, no
one knew whither, and without a companion. I have already observed that
he and his fellow-servant occupied the same apartment in the barn. This
circumstance was not unattended to by Miss Inglefield. The name of
Clithero's companion was Ambrose. This man was copiously interrogated by
his mistress, and she found him by no means so refractory as the other.

Ambrose, in his tedious and confused way, related that, soon after
Clithero and he had become bedfellows, the former was considerably
disturbed by restlessness and talking in his sleep. His discourse was
incoherent. It was generally in the tone of expostulation, and appeared
to be entreating to be saved from some great injury. Such phrases as
these,--"have pity;" "have mercy," were frequently intermingled with
groans, and accompanied with weeping. Sometimes he seemed to be holding
conferences with some one who was making him considerable offers on
condition of his performing some dangerous service. What he said in his
own person, and in answer to his imaginary tempter, testified the utmost
reluctance.

Ambrose had no curiosity on the subject. As this interruption prevented
him at first from sleeping, it was his custom to put an end to the
dialogue, by awakening his companion, who betrayed tokens of great alarm
and dejection on discovering how he had been employed. He would
solicitously inquire what were the words that he had uttered; but
Ambrose's report was seldom satisfactory, because he had attended to
them but little, and because he grudged every moment in which he was
deprived of his accustomed repose.

Whether Clithero had ceased from this practice, or habit had reconciled
his companion to the sounds, they no longer occasioned any interruption
to his slumber.

No one appeared more shocked than he at the death of Waldegrave. After
this event his dejection suddenly increased. This symptom was observed
by the family, but none but the housekeeper took the trouble to notice
it to him, or build conjectures on the incident. During nights, however,
Ambrose experienced a renewal of his ancient disturbances. He remarked
that Clithero, one night, had disappeared from his side. Ambrose's range
of reflection was extremely narrow. Quickly falling asleep, and finding
his companion beside him when he awoke, he dismissed it from his mind.

On several ensuing nights he awakened in like manner, and always found
his companion's place empty. The repetition of so strange an incident at
length incited him to mention it to Clithero. The latter was confounded
at this intelligence. He questioned Ambrose with great anxiety as to the
particulars of this event, but he could gain no satisfaction from the
stupid inattention of the other. From this time there was a visible
augmentation of his sadness. His fits of taciturnity became more
obstinate, and a deeper gloom sat upon his brow.

There was one other circumstance, of particular importance, mentioned by
the housekeeper. One evening some one on horseback stopped at this gate.
He rattled at the gate, with an air of authority, in token of his desire
that some one would come from the house. Miss Inglefield was employed in
the kitchen, from a window of which she perceived who it was that made
the signal. Clithero happened, at the same moment, to be employed near
her. She, therefore, desired him to go and see whom the stranger wanted.
He laid aside his work and went. The conference lasted above five
minutes. The length of it excited in her a faint degree of surprise,
inducing her to leave her employment and pay an unintermitted attention
to the scene. There was nothing, however, but its duration that rendered
it remarkable.

Clithero at length entered, and the traveller proceeded. The countenance
of the former betrayed a degree of perturbation which she had never
witnessed before. The muscles of his face were distorted and tremulous.
He immediately sat down to his work, but he seemed, for some time, to
have lost all power over his limbs. He struggled to avoid the sight of
the lady, and his gestures, irresolute or misdirected, betokened the
deepest dismay. After some time, he recovered, in some degree, his
self-possession; but, while the object was viewed through a new medium,
and the change existed only in the imagination of the observer, a change
was certainly discovered.

These circumstances were related to me by Inglefield and corroborated by
his housekeeper. One consequence inevitably flowed from them. The
sleep-walker, he who had led me through so devious a tract, was no other
than Clithero. There was, likewise, a strong relation between this person
and him who stopped at the gate. What was the subject of discourse between
them? In answer to Miss Inglefield's interrogatories, he merely said
that the traveller inquired whither the road led which, at a small
distance forward, struck out of the principal one. Considering the
length of the interview, it was not likely that this was the only topic.

My determination to confer with him in private acquired new force from
these reflections. Inglefield assented to my proposal. His own affairs
would permit the absence of his servant for one day. I saw no necessity
for delay, and immediately made my request to Clithero. I was fashioning
an implement, I told him, with respect to which I could not wholly
depend upon my own skill. I was acquainted with the dexterity of his
contrivances, and the neatness of his workmanship. He readily consented
to assist me on this occasion. Next day he came. Contrary to my
expectation, he prepared to return home in the evening. I urged him to
spend the night with us: but no; it was equally convenient, and more
agreeable to him, to return.

I was not aware of this resolution. I might, indeed, have foreseen that,
being conscious of his infirmity, he would desire to avoid the scrutiny
of strangers. I was painfully disconcerted; but it occurred to me, that
the best that could be done was to bear him company, and seize some
opportunity, during this interval, of effecting my purpose. I told him,
that, since he would not remain, I cared not if, for the sake of
recreation, and of a much more momentous purpose, I went along with him.
He tacitly, and without apparent reluctance, consented to my scheme,
and, accordingly, we set off together. This was an awful crisis. The
time had now come that was to dissipate my uncertainty. By what means
should I introduce a topic so momentous and singular? I had been
qualified by no experience for rightly conducting myself on so critical
an emergency. My companion preserved a mournful and inviolable silence.
He afforded me no opening by which I might reach the point in view. His
demeanour was sedate, while I was almost disabled, by the confusion of
my thoughts, to utter a word.

It was a dreadful charge that I was about to insinuate. I was to accuse
my companion of nothing less than murder. I was to call upon him for an
avowal of his guilt. I was to state the ground of my suspicions, and
desire him to confute or confirm them. In doing this, I was principally
stimulated by an ungovernable curiosity; yet, if I intended not the
conferring of a benefit, I did not, at least, purpose the infliction of
evil. I persuaded myself that I was able to exclude from my bosom all
sanguinary or vengeful impulses; and that, whatever should be the issue
of this conversation, my equanimity would be unsubdued.

I revolved various modes of introducing the topic by which my mind was
engaged. I passed rapidly from one to another. None of them were
sufficiently free from objection to allow me to adopt it. My perplexity
became, every moment, more painful, and my ability to extricate myself,
less.

In this state of uncertainty, so much time elapsed, that the elm at
length appeared in sight. This object had somewhat of a mechanical
influence upon me. I stopped short, and seized the arm of my companion.
Till this moment, he appeared to have been engrossed by his own
reflections, and not to have heeded those emotions which must have been
sufficiently conspicuous in my looks.

This action recalled him from his reverie. The first idea that occurred
to him, when he had noticed my behaviour, was, that I was assailed by
some sudden indisposition.

"What is the matter?" said he, in a tone of anxiety: "are you not well?"

"Yes," replied I,--"perfectly well. But stop a moment; I have something
to say to you."

"To me?" answered he, with surprise.

"Yes," said I. "Let us turn down this path," (pointing, at the same
time, to that along which I had followed him the preceding night.)

He now partook, in some degree, of my embarrassment.

"Is there any thing particular?" said he, in a doubting accent. There he
stopped.

"Something," I answered, "of the highest moment. Go with me down this
path. We shall be in less danger of interruption."

He was irresolute and silent, but, seeing me remove the bars and pass
through them, he followed me. Nothing more was said till we entered the
wood. I trusted to the suggestions of the moment. I had now gone too far
to recede, and the necessity that pressed upon me supplied me with
words. I continued:--

"This is a remarkable spot. You may wonder why I have led you to it. I
ought not to keep you in suspense. There is a tale connected with it,
which I am desirous of telling you. For this purpose I have brought you
hither. Listen to me."

I then recapitulated the adventures of the two preceding nights. I added
nothing, nor retrenched any thing. He listened in the deepest silence.
From every incident, he gathered new cause of alarm. Repeatedly he wiped
his face with his handkerchief, and sighed deeply. I took no verbal
notice of these symptoms. I deemed it incumbent on me to repress
nothing. When I came to the concluding circumstance, by which his person
was identified, he heard me without any new surprise. To this narrative
I subjoined the inquiries that I had made at Inglefield's, and the
result of those inquiries. I then continued in these words:--

"You may ask why I subjected myself to all this trouble. The
mysteriousness of these transactions would have naturally suggested
curiosity in any one. A transient passenger would probably have acted as
I have done. But I had motives peculiar to myself. Need I remind you of
a late disaster? That it happened beneath the shade of this tree? Am I
not justified in drawing certain inferences from your behaviour? What
they are, I leave you to judge. Be it your task to confute or confirm
them. For this end I have conducted you hither.

"My suspicions are vehement. How can they be otherwise? I call upon you
to say whether they be just."

The spot where we stood was illuminated by the moon, that had now risen,
though all around was dark. Hence his features and person were easily
distinguished. His hands hung at his side. His eyes were downcast, and
he was motionless as a statue. My last words seemed scarcely to have
made any impression on his sense. I had no need to provide against the
possible suggestions of revenge. I felt nothing but the tenderness of
compassion. I continued, for some time, to observe him in silence, and
could discover no tokens of a change of mood. I could not forbear, at
last, to express my uneasiness at the fixedness of his features and
attitude.

"Recollect yourself. I mean not to urge you too closely. This topic is
solemn, but it need not divest you of the fortitude becoming a man."

The sound of my voice startled him. He broke from me, looked up, and
fixed his eyes upon me with an expression of affright. He shuddered and
recoiled as from a spectre. I began to repent of my experiment. I could
say nothing suitable to this occasion. I was obliged to stand a silent
and powerless spectator, and to suffer this paroxysm to subside of
itself. When its violence appeared to be somewhat abated, I resumed:--

"I can feel for you. I act not thus in compliance with a temper that
delights in the misery of others. The explanation that I have solicited
is no less necessary for your sake than for mine. You are no stranger to
the light in which I viewed this man. You have witnessed the grief which
his fate occasioned, and the efforts that I made to discover and drag to
punishment his murderer. You heard the execrations that I heaped upon
him, and my vows of eternal revenge. You expect that, having detected
the offender, I will hunt him to infamy and death. You are mistaken. I
consider the deed as sufficiently expiated.

"I am no stranger to your gnawing cares; to the deep and incurable
despair that haunts you, to which your waking thoughts are a prey, and
from which sleep cannot secure you. I know the enormity of your crime,
but I know not your inducements. Whatever they were, I see the
consequences with regard to yourself. I see proofs of that remorse which
must ever be attendant on guilt.

"This is enough. Why should the effects of our misdeeds be
inexhaustible? Why should we be debarred from a comforter? An
opportunity of repairing our errors may, at least, be demanded from the
rulers of our destiny.

"I once imagined that he who killed Waldegrave inflicted the greatest
possible injury on me. That was an error, which reflection has cured.
Were futurity laid open to my view, and events, with their consequences,
unfolded, I might see reason to embrace the assassin as my best friend.
Be comforted."

He was still incapable of speaking; but tears came to his relief.
Without attending to my remonstrances, he betrayed a disposition to
return. I had, hitherto, hoped for some disclosure, but now feared that
it was designed to be withheld. He stopped not till we reached
Inglefield's piazza. He then spoke, for the first time, but in a hollow
and tremulous voice:--

"You demand of me a confession of crimes. You shall have it. Some time
you shall have it. When it will be, I cannot tell. Something must be
done, and shortly."

He hurried from me into the house, and, after a pause, I turned my
steps home wards. My reflections, as I proceeded, perpetually revolved
round a single point. These were scarcely more than a repetition, with
slight variations, of a single idea.

When I awoke in the morning, I hied, in fancy, to the wilderness. I saw
nothing but the figure of the wanderer before me. I traced his footsteps
anew, retold my narrative, and pondered on his gestures and words. My
condition was not destitute of enjoyment. My stormy passions had
subsided into a calm, portentous and awful. My soul was big with
expectation. I seemed as if I were on the eve of being ushered into a
world whose scenes were tremendous but sublime. The suggestions of
sorrow and malice had, for a time, taken their flight, and yielded place
to a generous sympathy, which filled my eyes with tears, but had more in
it of pleasure than of pain. That Clithero was instrumental to the death
of Waldegrave, that he could furnish the clue explanatory of every
bloody and mysterious event that had hitherto occurred, there was no
longer the possibility of doubting. "He, indeed," said I, "is the
murderer of excellence; and yet it shall be my province to emulate a
father's clemency, and restore this unhappy man to purity and to peace."

Day after day passed, without hearing any thing of Clithero. I began to
grow uneasy and impatient. I had gained so much, and by means so
unexpected, that I could more easily endure uncertainty with respect to
what remained to be known. But my patience had its limits. I should,
doubtless, have made use of new means to accelerate this discovery, had
not his timely appearance made them superfluous.

Sunday being at length arrived, I resolved to go to Inglefield's, seek
an interview with his servant, and urge him, by new importunities, to
confide to me the secret. On my way thither, Clithero appeared in sight.
His visage was pale and wan, and his form emaciated and shrunk. I was
astonished at the alteration which the lapse of a week had made in his
appearance. At a small distance I mistook him for a stranger. As soon as
I perceived who it was, I greeted him with the utmost friendliness. My
civilities made little impression on him, and he hastened to inform me,
that he was coming to my uncle's, for the purpose of meeting and talking
with me. If I thought proper, we would go into the wood together, and
find some spot where we might discourse at our leisure and be exempt
from interruption.

You will easily conceive with what alacrity I accepted his invitation.
We returned from the road into the first path, and proceeded in silence,
till the wildness of the surrounding scenery informed us that we were in
the heart of Norwalk. We lighted on a recess, to which my companion
appeared to be familiar, and which had all the advantages of solitude,
and was suitable to rest. Here we stopped. Hitherto my companion had
displayed a certain degree of composure. Now his countenance betokened a
violent internal struggle. It was a considerable time before he could
command his speech. When he had so far effected the conquest of his
feelings, he began.



Chapter IV.


You call upon me for a confession of my offences. What a strange fortune
is mine! That a human being, in the present circumstances, should make
this demand, and that I should be driven, by an irresistible necessity,
to comply with it! That here should terminate my calamitous series! That
my destiny should call upon me to lie down and die, in a region so
remote from the scene of my crime; at a distance so great from all that
witnessed and endured their consequences!

You believe me to be an assassin. You require me to explain the motives
that induced me to murder the innocent. While this is your belief, and
this the scope of your expectations, you may be sure of my compliance. I
could resist every demand but this.

For what purpose have I come hither? Is it to relate my story? Shall I
calmly sit here, and rehearse the incidents of my life? Will my strength
be adequate to this rehearsal? Let me recollect the motives that
governed me, when I formed this design. Perhaps a strenuousness may be
imparted by them which, otherwise, I cannot hope to obtain. For the sake
of those, I consent to conjure up the ghost of the past, and to begin a
tale that, with a fortitude like mine, I am not sure that I shall live
to finish.

You are unacquainted with the man before you. The inferences which you
have drawn, with regard to my designs and my conduct, are a tissue of
destructive errors. You, like others, are blind to the most momentous
consequences of your own actions. You talk of imparting consolation. You
boast the beneficence of your intentions. You set yourself to do me a
benefit. What are the effects of your misguided zeal and random efforts?
They have brought my life to a miserable close. They have shrouded the
last scene of it in blood. They have put the seal to my perdition.

My misery has been greater than has fallen to the lot of mortals. Yet it
is but beginning. My present path, full as it is of asperities, is
better than that into which I must enter when this is abandoned.
Perhaps, if my pilgrimage had been longer, I might, at some future day,
have lighted upon hope. In consequence of your interference, I am
forever debarred from it. My existence is henceforward to be invariable.
The woes that are reserved for me are incapable alike of alleviation or
intermission.

But I came not hither to recriminate. I came not hither to accuse
others, but myself. I know the retribution that is appointed for guilt
like mine. It is just. I may shudder at the foresight of my punishment
and shrink in the endurance of it; but I shall be indebted for part of
my torment to the vigour of my understanding, which teaches me that my
punishment is just. Why should I procrastinate my doom and strive to
render my burden more light? It is but just that it should crush me. Its
procrastination is impossible. The stroke is already felt. Even now I
drink of the cup of retribution. A change of being cannot aggravate my
woe. Till consciousness itself be extinct, the worm that gnaws me will
never perish.

Fain would I be relieved from this task. Gladly would I bury in oblivion
the transactions of my life. But no! My fate is uniform. The demon that
controlled me at first is still in the fruition of power. I am entangled
in his fold, and every effort that I make to escape only involves me in
deeper ruin. I need not conceal, for all the consequences of disclosure
are already experienced. I cannot endure a groundless imputation, though
to free me from it I must create and justify imputations still more
atrocious. My story may at least be brief. If the agonies of remembrance
must be awakened afresh, let me do all that in me lies to shorten them.

I was born in the county of Armagh. My parents were of the better sort
of peasants, and were able to provide me with the rudiments of
knowledge. I should doubtless have trodden in their footsteps, and have
spent my life in the cultivation of their scanty fields, if an event had
not happened, Which, for a long time, I regarded as the most fortunate
of my life, but which I now regard as the scheme of some infernal agent,
and as the primary source of all my calamities.

My father's farm was a portion of the demesne of one who resided wholly
in the metropolis and consigned the management of his estates to his
stewards and retainers. This person married a lady who brought him great
accession of fortune. Her wealth was her only recommendation in the eyes
of her husband, (whose understanding was depraved by the prejudices of
luxury and rank,) but was the least of her attractions in the estimate
of reasonable beings.

They passed some years together. If their union were not a source of
misery to the lady, she was indebted for her tranquillity to the force
of her mind. She was, indeed, governed, in every action of her life, by
the precepts of duty, while her husband listened to no calls but those
of pernicious dissipation. He was immersed in all the vices that grow
out of opulence and a mistaken education.

Happily for his wife, his career was short. He was enraged at the
infidelity of his mistress, to purchase whose attachment he had lavished
two-thirds of his fortune. He called the paramour, by whom he had been
supplanted, to the field. The contest was obstinate, and terminated in
the death of the challenger.

This event freed the lady from many distressful and humiliating
obligations. She determined to profit by her newly-acquired
independence, to live thenceforward conformably to her notions of right,
to preserve and improve, by schemes of economy, the remains of her
fortune, and to employ it in the diffusion of good. Her plans made it
necessary to visit her estates in the distant provinces.

During her abode in the manor of which my father was a vassal, she
visited his cottage. I was at that time a child. She was pleased with my
vivacity and promptitude, and determined to take me under her own
protection. My parents joyfully acceded to her proposal, and I returned
with her to the capital.

She had an only son of my own age. Her design, in relation to me, was
that I should be educated with her child, and that an affection, in this
way, might be excited in me towards my young master, which might render
me, when we should attain to manhood, one of his most faithful and
intelligent dependants. I enjoyed, equally with him, all the essential
benefits of education. There were certain accomplishments, from which I
was excluded, from the belief that they were unsuitable to my rank and
station. I was permitted to acquire others, which, had she been actuated
by true discernment, she would, perhaps, have discovered to be far more
incompatible with a servile station. In proportion as my views were
refined and enlarged by history and science, I was likely to contract a
thirst of independence, and an impatience of subjection and poverty.

When the period of childhood and youth was past, it was thought proper
to send her son to improve his knowledge and manners by a residence on
the continent. This young man was endowed with splendid abilities. His
errors were the growth of his condition. All the expedients that
maternal solicitude and wisdom could suggest were employed to render him
a useful citizen. Perhaps this wisdom was attested by the large share of
excellence which he really possessed; and that his character was not
unblemished proved only that no exertions could preserve him from the
vices that are inherent in wealth and rank, and which flow from the
spectacle of universal depravity.

As to me, it would be folly to deny that I had benefited by my
opportunities of improvement. I fulfilled the expectation of my
mistress, in one respect. I was deeply imbued with affection for her
son, and reverence for herself. Perhaps the force of education was
evinced in those particulars, without reflecting any credit on the
directors of it. Those might merit the name of defects, which were
regarded by them as accomplishments. My unfavourable qualities, like
those of my master, were imputed to my condition, though, perhaps, the
difference was advantageous to me, since the vices of servitude are less
hateful than those of tyranny.

It was resolved that I should accompany my master in his travels, in
quality of favourite domestic. My principles, whatever might be their
rectitude, were harmonious and flexible. I had devoted my life to the
service of my patron. I had formed conceptions of what was really
conducive to his interest, and was not to be misled by specious
appearances. If my affection had not stimulated my diligence, I should
have found sufficient motives in the behaviour of his mother. She
condescended to express her reliance on my integrity and judgment. She
was not ashamed to manifest, at parting, the tenderness of a mother, and
to acknowledge that all her tears were not shed on her son's account. I
had my part in the regrets that called them forth.

During our absence, I was my master's constant attendant. I corresponded
with his mother, and made the conduct of her son the principal theme of
my letters. I deemed it my privilege, as well as duty, to sit in
judgment on his actions, to form my opinions without regard to selfish
considerations, and to avow them whenever the avowal tended to benefit.
Every letter which I wrote, particularly those in which his behaviour
was freely criticized, I allowed him to peruse. I would, on no account,
connive at or participate in the slightest irregularity. I knew the duty
of my station, and assumed no other control than that which resulted
from the avoiding of deceit, and the open expression of my sentiments.
The youth was of a noble spirit, but his firmness was wavering. He
yielded to temptations which a censor less rigorous than I would have
regarded as venial, or, perhaps, laudable. My duty required me to set
before him the consequences of his actions, and to give impartial and
timely information to his mother.

He could not brook a monitor. The more he needed reproof the less
supportable it became. My company became every day less agreeable, till
at length there appeared a necessity of parting. A separation took
place, but not as enemies. I never lost his respect. In his
representations to his mother, he was just to my character and services.
My dismission was not allowed to injure my fortune, and his mother
considered this event merely as a new proof of the inflexible
consistency of my principles.

On this change in my situation, she proposed to me to become a member of
her own family. No proposal could be more acceptable. I was fully
acquainted with the character of this lady, and had nothing to fear from
injustice and caprice. I did not regard her with filial familiarity, but
my attachment and reverence would have done honour to that relation. I
performed for her the functions of a steward. Her estates in the city
were put under my direction. She placed boundless confidence in my
discretion and integrity, and consigned to me the payment, and, in some
degree, the selection and government, of her servants. My station was a
servile one, yet most of the evils of servitude were unknown to me. My
personal ease and independence were less infringed than that of those
who are accounted the freest members of society. I derived a sort of
authority and dignity from the receipt and disbursement of money. The
tenants and debtors of the lady were, in some respects, mine. It was,
for the most part, on my justice and lenity that they depended for their
treatment. My lady's household-establishment was large and opulent. Her
servants were my inferiors and menials. My leisure was considerable, and
my emoluments large enough to supply me with every valuable instrument
of improvement or pleasure.

These were reasons why I should be contented with my lot. These
circumstances alone would have rendered it more eligible than any other,
but it had additional and far more powerful recommendations, arising
from the character of Mrs. Lorimer, and from the relation in which she
allowed me to stand to her.

How shall I enter upon this theme? How shall I expatiate upon
excellencies which it was my fate to view in their genuine colours, to
adore with an immeasurable and inextinguishable ardour, and which,
nevertheless, it was my hateful task to blast and destroy? Yet I will
not be spared. I shall find, in the rehearsal, new incitements to
sorrow. I deserve to be supreme in misery, and will not be denied the
full measure of a bitter retribution.

No one was better qualified to judge of her excellencies. A casual
spectator might admire her beauty, and the dignity of her demeanour.
From the contemplation of those, he might gather motives for loving or
revering her. Age was far from having withered her complexion, or
destroyed the evenness of her skin; but no time could rob her of the
sweetness and intelligence which animated her features. Her habitual
beneficence was bespoken in every look. Always in search of occasions
for doing good, always meditating scenes of happiness, of which she was
the author, or of distress, for which she was preparing relief, the most
torpid insensibility was, for a time, subdued, and the most depraved
smitten by charms of which, in another person, they would not perhaps
have been sensible.

A casual visitant might enjoy her conversation, might applaud the
rectitude of her sentiments, the richness of her elocution, and her
skill in all the offices of politeness. But it was only for him who
dwelt constantly under the same roof, to mark the inviolable consistency
of her actions and opinions, the ceaseless flow of her candour, her
cheerfulness, and her benevolence. It was only for one who witnessed her
behaviour at all hours, in sickness and in health, her management of
that great instrument of evil and good, money, her treatment of her son,
her menials, and her kindred, rightly to estimate her merits.

The intercourse between us was frequent, but of a peculiar kind. My
office in her family required me often to see her, to submit schemes to
her consideration, and receive her directions. At these times she
treated me in a manner in some degree adapted to the difference of rank
and the inferiority of my station, and yet widely dissimilar from that
which a different person would have adopted in the same circumstances.
The treatment was not that of an equal and a friend, but still more
remote was it from that of a mistress. It was merely characterized by
affability and condescension, but as such it had no limits.

She made no scruple to ask my counsel in every pecuniary affair, to
listen to my arguments, and decide conformably to what, after sufficient
canvassings and discussions, should appear to be right. When the direct
occasions of our interview were dismissed, I did not of course withdraw.
To detain or dismiss me was indeed at her option; but, if no engagement
interfered, she would enter into general conversation. There was none
who could with more safety to herself have made the world her confessor;
but the state of society in which she lived imposed certain limitations
on her candour. In her intercourse with me there were fewer restraints
than on any other occasion. My situation had made me more intimately
acquainted with domestic transactions, with her views respecting her
son, and with the terms on which she thought proper to stand with those
whom old acquaintance or kindred gave some title to her good offices. In
addition to all those motives to a candid treatment of me, there were
others which owed their efficacy to her maternal regard for me, and to
the artless and unsuspecting generosity of her character.

Her hours were distributed with the utmost regularity, and appropriated
to the best purposes. She selected her society without regard to any
qualities but probity and talents. Her associates were numerous, and her
evening conversations embellished with all that could charm the senses
or instruct the understanding. This was a chosen field for the display
of her magnificence; but her grandeur was unostentatious, and her
gravity unmingled with haughtiness. From these my station excluded me;
but I was compensated by the freedom of her communications in the
intervals. She found pleasure in detailing to me the incidents that
passed on those occasions, in rehearsing conversations and depicting
characters. There was an uncommon portion of dramatic merit in her
recitals, besides valuable and curious information. One uniform effect
was produced in me by this behaviour. Each day I thought it impossible
for my attachment to receive any new accessions, yet the morrow was sure
to produce some new emotion of respect or of gratitude, and to set the
unrivalled accomplishments of this lady in a new and more favourable
point of view. I contemplated no change in my condition. The necessity
of change, whatever were the alternative, would have been a subject of
piercing regret. I deemed my life a cheap sacrifice in her cause. No
time would suffice to discharge the debt of gratitude that was due to
her. Yet it was continually accumulating. If an anxious thought ever
invaded my bosom, it arose from this source.

It was no difficult task faithfully to execute the functions assigned to
me. No merit could accrue to me from this source. I was exposed to no
temptation. I had passed the feverish period of youth. No contagious
example had contaminated my principles. I had resisted, the allurements
of sensuality and dissipation incident to my age. My dwelling was in
pomp and splendour. I had amassed sufficient to secure me, in case of
unforeseen accidents, in the enjoyment of competence. My mental
resources were not despicable, and the external means of intellectual
gratification were boundless. I enjoyed an unsullied reputation. My
character was well known in that sphere which my lady occupied, not only
by means of her favourable report, but in numberless ways in which it
was my fortune to perform personal services to others.



Chapter V.


Mrs. Lorimer had a twin-brother. Nature had impressed the same image
upon them, and had modelled them after the same pattern. The resemblance
between them was exact to a degree almost incredible. In infancy and
childhood they were perpetually liable to be mistaken for each other. As
they grew up, nothing, to a superficial examination, appeared to
distinguish them, but the sexual characteristics. A sagacious observer
would, doubtless, have noted the most essential differences. In all
those modifications of the features which are produced by habits and
sentiments, no two persons were less alike. Nature seemed to have
intended them as examples of the futility of those theories which
ascribe every thing to conformation and instinct and nothing to external
circumstances; in what different modes the same materials may be
fashioned, and to what different purposes the same materials may be
applied. Perhaps the rudiments of their intellectual character, as well
as of their form, were the same; but the powers that in one case were
exerted in the cause of virtue were, in the other, misapplied to sordid
and flagitious purposes.

Arthur Wiatte (that was his name) had ever been the object of his
sister's affection. As long as he existed, she never ceased to labour in
the promotion of his happiness. All her kindness was repaid by a stern
and inexorable hatred. This man was an exception to all the rules which
govern us in our judgments of human nature. He exceeded in depravity all
that has been imputed to the arch-foe of mankind. His wickedness was
without any of those remorseful intermissions from which it has been
supposed that the deepest guilt is not entirely exempt. He seemed to
relish no food but pure unadulterated evil. He rejoiced in proportion to
the depth of that distress of which he was the author.

His sister, by being placed most within the reach of his enmity,
experienced its worst effects. She was the subject on which, by being
acquainted with the means of influencing her happiness, he could try his
malignant experiments with most hope of success. Her parents being high
in rank and wealth, the marriage of their daughter was, of course, an
object of anxious attention. There is no event on which our felicity and
usefulness more materially depends, and with regard to which, therefore,
the freedom of choice and the exercise of our own understanding ought to
be less infringed; but this maxim is commonly disregarded in proportion
to the elevation of our rank and extent of our property.

The lady made her own election; but she wras one of those who acted on a
comprehensive plan, and would not admit her private inclination to
dictate her decision. The happiness of others, though founded on
mistaken views, she did not consider as unworthy of her regard. The
choice was such as was not likely to obtain the parental sanction, to
whom the moral qualities of their son-in-law, though not absolutely
weightless in the balance, were greatly inferior to the considerations
of wealth and dignity.

The brother set no value on any thing but the means of luxury and power.
He was astonished at that perverseness which entertained a different
conception of happiness from himself. Love and friendship he considered
as groundless and chimerical, and believed that those delusions would,
in people of sense, be rectified by experience; but he knew the
obstinacy of his sister's attachment to these phantoms, and that to
bereave her of the good they promised was the most effectual means of
rendering her miserable. For this end he set himself to thwart her
wishes. In the imbecility and false indulgence of his parents he found
the most powerful auxiliaries. He prevailed upon them to forbid that
union which wanted nothing but their concurrence, and their consent to
endow her with a small portion of their patrimony, to render completely
eligible. The cause was that of her happiness and the happiness of him
on whom she had bestowed her heart. It behooved her, therefore, to call
forth all her energies in defence of it, to weaken her brother's
influence on the minds of her parents, or to win him to be her advocate.
When I reflect upon her mental powers, and the advantages which should
seem to flow from the circumstance of pleading in the character of
daughter arid sister, I can scarcely believe that her attempts
miscarried. I should have imagined that all obstacles would yield before
her, and particularly in a case like this, in which she must have
summoned all her forces, and never have believed that she had struggled
sufficiently.

Certain it is that her lot was fixed. She was not only denied the
husband of her choice, but another was imposed upon her, whose
recommendations were irresistible in every one's apprehension but her
own. The discarded lover was treated with every sort of contumely.
Deceit and violence were employed by her brother to bring his honour,
his liberty, and even his life, into hazard. All these iniquities
produced no inconsiderable effect on the mind of the lady. The
machinations to which her love was exposed would have exasperated him
into madness, had not her most strenuous exertions been directed to
appease him.

She prevailed on him at length to abandon his country, though she
thereby merely turned her brother's depravity into a new channel. Her
parents died without consciousness of the evils they inflicted, but they
experienced a bitter retribution in the conduct of their son. He was the
darling and stay of an ancient and illustrious house, but his actions
reflected nothing but disgrace upon his ancestry, and threatened to
bring the honours of their line to a period in his person. At their
death the bulk of their patrimony devolved upon him. This he speedily
consumed in gaming and riot. From splendid he descended to meaner vices.
The efforts of his sister to recall him to virtue were unintermitted and
fruitless. Her affection for him he converted into a means of prolonging
his selfish gratifications. She decided for the best. It was no argument
of weakness that she was so frequently deceived. If she had judged truly
of her brother, she would have judged not only without example, but in
opposition to the general experience of mankind. But she was not to be
forever deceived. Her tenderness was subservient to justice. And when
his vices had led him from the gaming-table to the highway, when seized
at length by the ministers of law, when convicted and sentenced to
transportation, her intercession was solicited, when all the world knew
that pardon would readily be granted to a suppliant of her rank,
fortune, and character, when the criminal himself, his kindred, his
friends, and even indifferent persons, implored her interference, her
justice was inflexible. She knew full well the incurableness of his
depravity; that banishment was the mildest destiny that would befall
him; that estrangement from ancient haunts and associates was the
condition from which his true friends had least to fear. Finding
entreaties unavailing, the wretch delivered himself to the suggestions
of his malice, and he vowed to be bloodily revenged on her
inflexibility. The sentence was executed. That character must indeed be
monstrous from which the execution of such threats was to be dreaded.
The event sufficiently showed that our fears on this head were well
grounded. This event, however, was at a great distance. It was reported
that the felons, of whom he was one, mutinied on board the ship in which
they had been embarked. In the affray that succeeded, it was said that
he was killed.

Among the nefarious deeds which he perpetrated was to be numbered the
seduction of a young lady, whose heart was broken by the detection of
his perfidy. The fruit of this unhappy union was a daughter. Her mother
died shortly after her birth. Her father was careless of her destiny.
She was consigned to the care of a hireling, who, happily for the
innocent victim, performed the maternal offices for her own sake, and
did not allow the want of a stipulated recompense to render hor cruel or
neglectful.

This orphan was sought out by the benevolence of Mrs. Lorimer and placed
under her own protection. She received from her the treatment of a
mother. The ties of kindred, corroborated by habit, was not the only
thing that united them. That resemblance to herself which had been so
deplorably defective in her brother was completely realized in his
offspring. Nature seemed to have precluded every difference between them
but that of age. This darling object excited in her bosom more than
maternal sympathies. Her soul clung to the happiness of her
_Clarice_ with more ardour than to that of her own son. The latter
was not only less worthy of affection, but their separation necessarily
diminished their mutual confidence.

It was natural for her to look forward to the future destiny of
_Clarice_. On these occasions she could not help contemplating the
possibility of a union between her son and niece. Considerable
advantages belonged to this scheme, yet it was the subject of hope
rather than the scope of a project. The contingencies were numerous and
delicate on which the ultimate desirableness of this union depended. She
was far from certain that her son would be worthy of this benefit, or
that, if he were worthy, his propensities would not select for
themselves a different object. It was equally dubious whether the young
lady would not think proper otherwise to dispose of her affections.
These uncertainties could be dissipated only by time. Meanwhile she was
chiefly solicitous to render them virtuous and wise.

As they advanced in years, the hopes that she had formed were
annihilated. The youth was not exempt from egregious errors. In addition
to this, it was manifest that the young people were disposed to regard
each other in no other light than that of brother and sister. I was not
unapprized of her views. I saw that their union was impossible. I was
near enough to judge of the character of Clarice. My youth and
intellectual constitution made me peculiarly susceptible to female
charms. I was her playfellow in childhood, and her associate in studies
and amusements at a maturer age. This situation might have been
suspected of a dangerous tendency. This tendency, however, was obviated
by motives of which I was, for a long time, scarcely conscious.

I was habituated to consider the distinctions of rank as indelible. The
obstructions that existed, to any wish that I might form, were like
those of time and space, and, in their own nature, as insuperable.

Such was the state of things previous to our setting out upon our
travels. Clarice was indirectly included in our correspondence. My
letters were open to her inspection, and I was sometimes honoured with a
few complimentary lines under her own hand. On returning to my ancient
abode, I was once more exposed to those sinister influences which
absence had at least suspended. Various suitors had, meanwhile, been
rejected. Their character, for the most part, had been such as to
account for her refusal, without resorting to the supposition of a
lurking or unavowed attachment.

On our meeting she greeted me in a respectful but dignified manner.
Observers could discover in it nothing not corresponding to that
difference of fortune which subsisted between us. If her joy, on that
occasion, had in it some portion of tenderness, the softness of her
temper, and the peculiar circumstances in which we had been placed,
being considered, the most rigid censor could find no occasion for blame
or suspicion.

A year passed away, but not without my attention being solicited by
something new and inexplicable in my own sensations. At first I was not
aware of their true cause; but the gradual progress of my feelings left
me not long in doubt as to their origin. I was alarmed at the discovery,
but my courage did not suddenly desert me. My hopes seemed to be
extinguished the moment that I distinctly perceived the point to which
they led. My mind had undergone a change. The ideas with which it was
fraught wrere varied. The sight or recollection of Clarice was sure to
occasion my mind to advert to the recent discovery, and to revolve the
considerations naturally connected with it. Some latent glows and secret
trepidations were likewise experienced, when, by some accident, our
meetings were abrupt or our interviews unwitnessed; yet my usual
tranquillity was not as yet sensibly diminished. I could bear to think
of her marriage with another without painful emotions, and was anxious
only that her choice should be judicious and fortunate.

My thoughts could not long continue in this state. They gradually became
more ardent and museful. The image of Clarice occurred with unseasonable
frequency. Its charms were enhanced by some nameless and indefinable
additions. When it met me in the way I was irresistibly disposed to stop
and survey it with particular attention. The pathetic cast of her
features, the deep glow of her cheek, and some catch of melting music
she had lately breathed, stole incessantly upon my fancy. On recovering
from my thoughtful moods, I sometimes found my cheeks wet with tears
that had fallen unperceived, and my bosom heaved with involuntary sighs.
These images did not content themselves with invading my wakeful hours,
but, likewise, encroached upon my sleep. I could no longer resign myself
to slumber with the same ease as before. When I slept, my visions were
of the same impassioned tenor.

There was no difficulty in judging rightly of my situation. I knew what
it was that duty exacted from me. To remain in my present situation was
a chimerical project. That time and reflection would suffice to restore
me to myself was a notion equally fallacious. Yet I felt an
insupportable reluctance to change it. This reluctance was owing, not
wholly or chiefly to my growing passion, but to the attachment which
bound me to the service of my lady. All my contemplations had hitherto
been modelled on the belief of my remaining in my present situation
during my life. My mildest anticipations had never fashioned an event
like this. Any misfortune was light in comparison with that which tore
me from her presence and service. But, should I ultimately resolve to
separate, how should I communicate my purpose? The pain of parting would
scarcely be less on her side than on mine. Could I consent to be the
author of disquietude to her? I had consecrated all my faculties to her
service. This was the recompense which it was in my power to make for
the benefits that I had received. Would not this procedure bear the
appearance of the basest ingratitude? The shadow of an imputation like
this was more excruciating than the rack.

What motive could I assign for my conduct? The truth must not be told.
This would be equivalent to supplicating for a new benefit. It would
more become me to lessen than increase my obligations. Among all my
imaginations on this subject, the possibility of a mutual passion never
occurred to me. I could not be blind to the essential distinctions that
subsist among men. I could expatiate, like others, on the futility of
ribbons and titles, and on the dignity that was annexed to skill and
virtue; but these, for the most part, were the incoherences of
speculation, and in no degree influenced the stream of my actions and
practical sentiments. The barrier that existed in the present case I
deemed insurmountable. This was not even the subject of doubt. In
disclosing the truth, I should be conceived to be soliciting my lady's
mercy and intercession; but this would be the madness of presumption.
Let me impress her with any other opinion than that I go in search of
the happiness that I have lost under her roof. Let me save her generous
heart from the pangs which this persuasion would infallibly produce.

I could form no stable resolutions. I seemed unalterably convinced of
the necessity of separation, and yet could not execute my design. When I
had wrought up my mind to the intention of explaining myself on the next
interview, when the next interview took place my tongue was powerless. I
admitted any excuse for postponing my design, and gladly admitted any
topic, however foreign to my purpose.

It must not be imagined that my health sustained no injury from this
conflict of my passions. My patroness perceived this alteration. She
inquired with the most affectionate solicitude into the cause. It could
not be explained. I could safely make light of it, and represented it as
something which would probably disappear of itself, as it originated
without any adequate cause. She was obliged to acquiesce in my imperfect
account.

Day after day passed in this state of fluctuation. I was conscious of
the dangers of delay, and that procrastination, without rendering the
task less necessary, augmented its difficulties. At length, summoning my
resolution, I demanded an audience. She received me with her usual
affability. Common topics were started; but she saw the confusion and
trepidation of my thoughts, and quickly relinquished them. She then
noticed to me what she had observed, and mentioned the anxiety which
these appearances had given her She reminded me of the maternal regard
which she had always manifested towards me, and appealed to my own heart
whether any thing could be said in vindication of that reserve with
which I had lately treated her, and urged me, as I valued her good
opinion, to explain the cause of a dejection _that was too
visible_.

To all this I could make but one answer:--"Think me not, madam, perverse
or ungrateful. I came just now to apprize you of a resolution that I had
formed. I cannot explain the motives that induce me. In this case, to
lie to you would be unpardonable, and, since I cannot assign my true
motives, I will not mislead you by false representations. I came to
inform you of my intention to leave your service, and to retire, with
the fruits of your bounty, to my native village, where I shall spend my
life, I hope, in peace."

Her surprise at this declaration was beyond measure. She could not
believe her ears. She had not heard me rightly. She compelled me to
repeat it. Still I was jesting. I could not possibly mean what my words
imported.

I assured her, in terms still more explicit, that my resolution was
taken and was unalterable, and again entreated her to spare me the task
of assigning my motives.

This was a strange determination. What could be the grounds of this new
scheme? What could be the necessity of hiding them from her? This
mystery was not to be endured. She could by no means away with it. She
thought it hard that I should abandon her at this time, when she stood
in particular need of my assistance and advice. She would refuse nothing
to make my situation eligible. I had only to point out where she was
deficient in her treatment of me, and she would endeavour to supply it.
She was willing to augment my emoluments in any degree that I desired.
She could not think of parting with me; but, at any rate, she must be
informed of my motives.

"It is a hard task," answered I, "that I have imposed upon myself. I
foresaw its difficulties, and this foresight has hitherto prevented me
from undertaking it; but the necessity by which I am impelled will no
longer be withstood. I am determined to go; but to say why is
impossible. I hope I shall not bring upon myself the imputation of
ingratitude; but this imputation, more intolerable than any other, must
be borne, if it cannot be avoided but by this disclosure.

"Keep your motives to yourself," said she. "I have too good an opinion
of you to suppose that you would practise concealment without good
reason. I merely desire you to remain where you are. Since you will not
tell me why you take up this new scheme, I can only say that it is
impossible there should be any advantage in this scheme. I will not hear
of it, I tell you. Therefore, submit to my decree with a good grace."

Notwithstanding this prohibition, I persisted in declaring that my
determination was fixed, and that the motives that governed me would
allow of no alternative.

"So, you will go, will you, whether I will or no? I have no power to
detain you? You will regard nothing that I can say?"

"Believe me, madam, no resolution ever was formed after a more vehement
struggle. If my motives were known, you would not only cease to oppose,
but would hasten, my departure. Honour me so far with your good opinion
as to believe that, in saying this, I say nothing but the truth, and
render my duty less burdensome by cheerfully acquiescing in its
dictates."

"I would," replied the lady, "I could find somebody that has more power
over you than I have. Whom shall I call in to aid me in this arduous
task?"

"Nay, dear madam, if I can resist your entreaties, surely no other can
hope to succeed."

"I am not sure of that," said my friend, archly; "there is one person in
the world whose supplications, I greatly suspect, you would not
withstand."

"Whom do you mean?" said I, in some trepidation.

"You will know presently. Unless I can prevail upon you, I shall be
obliged to call for assistance."

"Spare me the pain of repeating that no power on earth can change my
resolution."

"That's a fib," she rejoined, with increased archness. "You know it is.
If a certain person entreat you to stay, you will easily comply. I see I
cannot hope to prevail by my own strength. That is a mortifying
consideration: but we must not part; that is a point settled. If nothing
else will do, I must go and fetch my advocate. Stay here a moment."

I had scarcely time to breathe, before she returned, leading in Clarice.
I did not yet comprehend the meaning of this ceremony. The lady was
overwhelmed with sweet confusion. Averted eyes and reluctant steps might
have explained to me the purpose of this meeting, if I had believed that
purpose to be possible. I felt the necessity of new fortitude, and
struggled to recollect the motives that had hitherto sustained me.

"There!" said my patroness; "I have been endeavouring to persuade this
young man to live with us a little longer. He is determined, it seems,
to change his abode. He will not tell why, and I do not care to know,
unless I could show his reasons to be groundless. I have merely
remonstrated with him on the folly of his scheme, but he has proved
refractory to all I can say. Perhaps your efforts may meet with better
success."

Clarice said not a word. My own embarrassment equally disabled me from
speaking. Regarding us both, for some time, with a benign aspect, Mrs.
Lorimer resumed, taking a hand of each and joining them together:--

"I very well know what it was that suggested this scheme. It is strange
that you should suppose me so careless an observer as not to note, or
not to understand, your situation. I am as well acquainted with what is
passing in your heart as you yourself are: but why are you so anxious to
conceal it? You know less of the adventurousness of love than I should
have suspected. But I will not trifle with your feelings.

"You, Clithero, know the wishes that I once cherished. I had hoped that
my son would have found, in this darling child, an object worthy of his
choice, and that my girl would have preferred him to all others. But I
have long since discovered that this could not be. They are nowise
suited to each other. There is one thing in the next place desirable,
and now my wishes are accomplished. I see that you love each other; and
never, in my opinion, was a passion more rational and just. I should
think myself the worst of beings if I did not contribute all in my power
to your happiness. There is not the shadow of objection to your union. I
know your scruples, Clithero, and am sorry to see that you harbour them
for a moment. Nothing is more unworthy of your good sense.

"I found out this girl long ago. Take my word for it, young man, she
does not fall short of you in the purity and tenderness of her
attachment. What need is there of tedious preliminaries? I will leave
you together, and hope you will not be long in coming to a mutual
understanding. Your union cannot be completed too soon for my wishes.
Clarice is my only and darling daughter. As to you, Clithero, expect
henceforth that treatment from me, not only to which your own merit
entitles you, but which is due to the husband of my daughter."--With
these words she retired, and left us together.

Great God! deliver me from the torments of this remembrance. That a
being by whom I was snatched from penury and brutal ignorance, exalted
to some rank in the intelligent creation, reared to affluence and
honour, and thus, at last, spontaneously endowed with all that remained
to complete the sum of my felicity, that a being like this-But such
thoughts must not yet be: I must shut them out, or I shall never arrive
at the end of my tale. My efforts have been thus far successful. I have
hitherto been able to deliver a coherent narrative. Let the last words
that I shall speak afford some glimmering of my better days. Let me
execute without faltering the only task that remains for me.



Chapter VI.


How propitious, how incredible, was this event! I could scarcely confide
in the testimony of my senses. Was it true that Clarice was before me,
that she was prepared to countenance my presumption, that she had
slighted obstacles which I had deemed insurmountable, that I was fondly
beloved by her, and should shortly be admitted to the possession of so
inestimable a good? I will not repeat the terms in which I poured forth,
at her feet, the raptures of my gratitude. My impetuosity soon extorted
from Clarice a confirmation of her mother's declaration. An unrestrained
intercourse was thenceforth established between us. Dejection and
languor gave place, in my bosom, to the irradiations of joy and hope. My
flowing fortunes seemed to have attained their utmost and immutable
height.

Alas! They were destined to ebb with unspeakably-greater rapidity, and
to leave me, in a moment, stranded and wrecked.

Our nuptials would have been solemnized without delay, had not a
melancholy duty interfered. Clarice had a friend in a distant part of
the kingdom. Her health had long been the prey of a consumption. She was
now evidently tending to dissolution. In this extremity she entreated
her friend to afford her the consolation of her presence. The only wish
that remained was to die in her arms.

This request could not but be willingly complied with. It became me
patiently to endure the delay that would thence arise to the completion
of my wishes. Considering the urgency and mournfulness of the occasion,
it was impossible for me to murmur, and the affectionate Clarice would
suffer nothing to interfere with the duty which she owed to her dying
friend. I accompanied her on this journey, remained with her a few days,
and then parted from her to return to the metropolis. It was not
imagined that it would be necessary to prolong her absence beyond a
month. When I bade her farewell, and informed her on what day I proposed
to return for her, I felt no decay of my satisfaction. My thoughts were
bright and full of exultation. Why was not some intimation afforded me
of the snares that lay in my path? In the train laid for my destruction,
the agent had so skilfully contrived that my security was not molested
by the faintest omen.

I hasten to the crisis of my tale. I am almost dubious of my strength.
The nearer I approach to it, the stronger is my aversion. My courage,
instead of gathering force as I proceed, decays. I am willing to dwell
still longer on preliminary circumstances. There are other incidents
without which my story would be lame. I retail them because they afford
me a kind of respite from horrors at the thought of which every joint in
my frame trembles. They must be endured, but that infirmity may be
forgiven which makes me inclined to procrastinate my suffering.

I mentioned the lover whom my patroness was compelled, by the
machinations of her brother, to discard. More than twenty years had
passed since their separation. His birth was mean and he was without
fortune. His profession was that of a surgeon. My lady not only
prevailed upon him to abandon his country, but enabled him to do this by
supplying his necessities from her own purse. His excellent
understanding was, for a time, obscured by passion; but it was not
difficult for my lady ultimately to obtain his concurrence to all her
schemes. He saw and adored the rectitude of her motives, did not disdain
to accept her gifts, and projected means for maintaining an epistolary
intercourse during their separation.

Her interest procured him a post in the service of the East India
Company. She was, from time to time, informed of his motions. A war
broke out between the Company and some of the native powers. He was
present at a great battle in which the English were defeated. She could
trace him by his letters and by other circumstances thus far, but here
the thread was discontinued, and no means which she employed could
procure any tidings of him. Whether he was captive, or dead, continued,
for several years, to be merely matter of conjecture.

On my return to Dublin, I found my patroness engaged in conversation
with a stranger. She introduced us to each other in a manner that
indicated the respect which she entertained for us both. I surveyed and
listened to him with considerable attention. His aspect was noble and
ingenuous, but his sunburnt and rugged features bespoke a various and
boisterous pilgrimage. The furrows of his brow were the products of
vicissitude and hardship, rather than of age. His accents were fiery and
energetic, and the impassioned boldness of his address, as well as the
tenor of his discourse, full of allusions to the past, and regrets that
the course of events had not been different, made me suspect something
extraordinary in his character.

As soon as he left us, my lady explained who he was. He was no other
than the object of her youthful attachment, who had, a few days before,
dropped among us as from the skies. He had a long and various story to
tell. He had accounted for his silence by enumerating the incidents of
his life. He had escaped from the prisons of Hyder, had wandered on
foot, and under various disguises, through the northern district of
Hindostan. He was sometimes a scholar of Benares, and sometimes a
disciple of the Mosque. According to the exigencies of the times, he was
a pilgrim to Mecca or to Juggernaut. By a long, circuitous, and perilous
route, he at length arrived at the Turkish capital. Here he resided for
several years, deriving a precarious subsistence from the profession of
a surgeon. He was obliged to desert this post, in consequence of a duel
between two Scotsmen. One of them had embraced the Greek religion, and
was betrothed to the daughter of a wealthy trader of that nation. He
perished in the conflict, and the family of the lady not only procured
the execution of his antagonist, but threatened to involve all those who
were known to be connected with him in the same ruin.

His life being thus endangered, it became necessary for him to seek a
new residence. He fled from Constantinople with such precipitation as
reduced him to the lowest poverty. He had traversed the Indian conquests
of Alexander, as a mendicant. In the same character, he now wandered
over the native country of Philip and Philopoemen. He passed safely
through multiplied perils, and finally, embarking at Salonica, he
reached Venice. He descended through the passes of the Apennines into
Tuscany. In this journey he suffered a long detention from banditti, by
whom he was waylaid. In consequence of his harmless deportment, and a
seasonable display of his chirurgical skill, they granted him his life,
though they, for a time, restrained him of his liberty, and compelled
him to endure their society. The time was not misemployed which he spent
immured in caverns and carousing with robbers. His details were
eminently singular and curious, and evinced the acuteness of his
penetration, as well as the steadfastness of his courage.

After emerging from these wilds, he found his way along the banks of the
Arno to Leghorn. Thence he procured a passage to America, whence he had
just returned, with many additions to his experience, but none to his
fortune.

This was a remarkable event. It did not at first appear how far its
consequences would extend. The lady was, at present, disengaged and
independent. Though the passion which clouded her early prosperity was
extinct, time had not diminished the worth of her friend, and they were
far from having reached that age when love becomes chimerical and
marriage folly. A confidential intercourse was immediately established
between them. The bounty of Mrs. Lorimer soon divested her friend of all
fear of poverty. "At any rate," said she, "he shall wander no farther,
but shall be comfortably situated for the rest of his life." All his
scruples were vanquished by the reasonableness of her remonstrances and
the vehemence of her solicitations.

A cordial intimacy grew between me and the newly-arrived. Our interviews
were frequent, and our communications without reserve. He detailed to me
the result of his experience, and expatiated without end on the history
of his actions and opinions. He related the adventures of his youth, and
dwelt upon all the circumstances of his attachment to my patroness. On
this subject I had heard only general details. I continually found
cause, in the course of his narrative, to revere the illustrious
qualities of my lady, and to weep at the calamities to which the
infernal malice of her brother had subjected her.

The tale of that man's misdeeds, amplified and dramatized by the
indignant eloquence of this historian, oppressed me with astonishment.
If a poet had drawn such a portrait, I should have been prone to suspect
the soundness of his judgment. Till now I had imagined that no character
was uniform and unmixed, and my theory of the passions did not enable me
to account for a propensity gratified merely by evil, and delighting in
shrieks and agony for their own sake.

It was natural to suggest to my friend, when expatiating on this theme,
an inquiry as to how far subsequent events had obliterated the
impressions that were then made, and as to the plausibility of reviving,
at this more auspicious period, his claims on the heart of his friend.
When he thought proper to notice these hints, he gave me to understand
that time had made no essential alteration in his sentiments in this
respect; that he still fostered a hope, to which every day added new
vigour; that, whatever was the ultimate event, he trusted in his
fortitude to sustain it, if adverse, and in his wisdom to extract from
it the most valuable consequences, if it should prove prosperous.

The progress of things was not unfavourable to his hopes. She treated
his insinuations and professions with levity; but her arguments seemed
to be urged with no other view than to afford an opportunity of
confutation; and, since there was no abatement of familiarity and
kindness, there was room to hope that the affair would terminate
agreeably to his wishes.



Chapter VII.


Clarice, meanwhile, was absent. Her friend seemed, at the end of a
month, to be little less distant from the grave than at first. My
impatience would not allow me to wait till her death. I visited her, but
was once more obliged to return alone. I arrived late in the city, and,
being greatly fatigued, I retired almost immediately to my chamber.

On hearing of my arrival, Sarsefield hastened to see me. He came to my
bedside, and such, in his opinion, was the importance of the tidings
which he had to communicate, that he did not scruple to rouse me from a
deep sleep----


At this period of his narrative, Clithero stopped. His complexion varied
from one degree of paleness to another. His brain appeared to suffer
some severe constriction. He desired to be excused, for a few minutes,
from proceeding. In a short time he was relieved from this paroxysm, and
resumed his tale with an accent tremulous at first, but acquiring
stability and force as he went on:--


On waking, as I have said, I found my friend seated at my bedside. His
countenance exhibited various tokens of alarm. As soon as I perceived
who it was, I started, exclaiming, "What is the matter?"

He sighed. "Pardon," said he, "this unseasonable intrusion. A light
matter would not have occasioned it. I have waited, for two days past,
in an agony of impatience, for your return. Happily you are, at last,
come. I stand in the utmost need of your counsel and aid."

"Heaven defend!" cried I. "This is a terrible prelude. You may, of
course, rely upon my assistance and advice. What is it that you have to
propose?"

"Tuesday evening," he answered, "I spent here. It was late before I
returned to my lodgings. I was in the act of lifting my hand to the
bell, when my eye was caught by a person standing close to the wall, at
the distance of ten paces. His attitude was that of one employed in
watching my motions. His face was turned towards me, and happened, at
that moment, to be fully illuminated by the rays of a globe-lamp that
hung over the door. I instantly recognised his features. I was
petrified. I had no power to execute my design, or even to move, but
stood, for some seconds, gazing upon him. He was, in no degree,
disconcerted by the eagerness of my scrutiny. He seemed perfectly
indifferent to the consequences of being known. At length he slowly
turned his eyes to another quarter, but without changing his posture, or
the sternness of his looks. I cannot describe to you the shock which
this encounter produced in me. At last I went into the house, and have
ever since been excessively uneasy."

"I do not see any ground for uneasiness."

"You do not then suspect who this person is?"

"No."

"It is Arthur Wiatte."

"Good heaven! It is impossible. What! my lady's brother?"

"The same."

"It cannot be. Were we not assured of his death? That he perished in a
mutiny on board the vessel in which he was embarked for transportation?"

"Such was rumour, which is easily mistaken. My eyes cannot be deceived
in this case. I should as easily fail to recognise his sister, when I
first met her, as him. This is the man; whether once dead or not, he is
at present alive, and in this city."

"But has any thing since happened to confirm you in this opinion?"

"Yes, there has. As soon as I had recovered from my first surprise, I
began to reflect upon the measures proper to be taken. This was the
identical Arthur Wiatte. You know his character. No time was likely to
change the principles of such a man, but his appearance sufficiently
betrayed the incurableness of his habits. The same sullen and atrocious
passions were written in his visage. You recollect the vengeance which
Wiatte denounced against his sister. There is every thing to dread from
his malignity. How to obviate the danger, I know not. I thought,
however, of one expedient. It might serve a present purpose, and
something better might suggest itself on your return.

"I came hither early the next day. Old Gowan, the porter, is well
acquainted with Wiatte's story. I mentioned to him that I had reason to
think that he had returned. I charged him to have a watchful eye upon
every one that knocked at the gate, and that, if this person should
come, by no means to admit him. The old man promised faithfully to abide
by my directions. His terrors, indeed, were greater than mine, and he
knew the importance of excluding Wiatte from these walls."

"Did you not inform my lady of this?"

"No. In what way could I tell it to her? What end could it answer? Why
should I make her miserable? But I have not done. Yesterday morning
Gowan took me aside, and informed me that Wiatte had made his
appearance, the day before, at the gate. He knew him, he said, in a
moment. He demanded to see the lady, but the old man told him she was
engaged, and could not be seen. He assumed peremptory and haughty airs,
and asserted that his business was of such importance as not to endure a
moment's delay. Gowan persisted in his first refusal. He retired with
great reluctance, but said he should return to-morrow, when he should
insist upon admission to the presence of the lady. I have inquired, and
find that he has not repeated his visit. What is to be done?"

I was equally at a loss with my friend. This incident was so
unlooked-for. What might not be dreaded from the monstrous depravity of
Wiatte? His menaces of vengeance against his sister still rung in my ears.
Some means of eluding them were indispensable. Could law be resorted to?
Against an evil like this, no legal provision had been made. Nine years
had elapsed since his transportation. Seven years was the period of his
exile. In returning, therefore, he had committed no crime. His person
could not be lawfully molested. We were justified merely in repelling an
attack. But suppose we should appeal to law: could this be done without
the knowledge and concurrence of the lady? She would never permit it.
Her heart was incapable of fear from this quarter. She would spurn at
the mention of precautions against the hatred of her brother. Her
inquietude would merely be awakened on his own account.

I was overwhelmed with perplexity. Perhaps if he were sought out, and
some judgment formed of the kind of danger to be dreaded from him, by a
knowledge of his situation and views, some expedient might be thence
suggested.

But how should his haunts be discovered? This was easy. He had intimated
the design of applying again for admission to his sister. Let a person
be stationed near at hand, who, being furnished with an adequate
description of his person and dress, shall mark him when he comes, and
follow him when he retires, and shall forthwith impart to us the
information on that head which he shall be able to collect.

My friend concurred in this scheme. No better could, for the present, be
suggested. Here ended our conference.

I was thus supplied with a new subject of reflection. It was calculated
to fill my mind with dreary forebodings. The future was no longer a
scene of security and pleasure. It would be hard for those to partake of
our fears who did not partake of our experience. The existence of Wiatte
was the canker that had blasted the felicity of my patroness. In his
reappearance on the stage there was something portentous. It seemed to
include in it consequences of the utmost moment, without my being able
to discover what these consequences were.

That Sarsefield should be so quickly followed by his arch-foe; that they
started anew into existence, without any previous intimation, in a
manner wholly unexpected, and at the same period,--it seemed as if there
lurked, under those appearances, a tremendous significance, which human
sagacity could not uncover. My heart sunk within me when I reflected
that this was the father of my Clarice. He by whose cruelty her mother
was torn from the enjoyment of untarnished honour, and consigned to
infamy and an untimely grave. He by whom herself was abandoned in the
helplessness of infancy, and left to be the prey of obdurate avarice,
and the victim of wretches who traffic in virgin innocence. Who had done
all that in him lay to devote her youth to guilt and misery. What were
the limits of his power? How may he exert the parental prerogatives?

To sleep, while these images were haunting me, was impossible. I passed
the night in continual motion. I strode, without ceasing, across the
floor of my apartment. My mind was wrought to a higher pitch than I had
ever before experienced. The occasion, accurately considered, was far
from justifying the ominous inquietudes which I then felt. How, then,
should I account for them?

Sarsefield probably enjoyed his usual slumber. His repose might not be
perfectly serene, but when he ruminated on impending or possible
calamities his tongue did not cleave to his mouth, his throat was not
parched with unquenchable thirst, he was not incessantly stimulated to
employ his superfluous fertility of thought in motion. If I trembled for
the safety of her whom I loved, and whose safety was endangered by being
the daughter of this miscreant, had he not equal reason to fear for her
whom he also loved, and who, as the sister of this ruffian, was
encompassed by the most alarming perils? Yet he probably was calm while
I was harassed by anxieties.

Alas! The difference was easily explained. Such was the beginning of a
series ordained to hurry me to swift destruction. Such were the primary
tokens of the presence of that power by whose accursed machinations I
was destined to fall. You are startled at this declaration. It is one to
which you have been little accustomed. Perhaps you regard it merely as
an effusion of frenzy. I know what I am saying. I do not build upon
conjectures and surmises. I care not, indeed, for your doubts. Your
conclusion may be fashioned at your pleasure. Would to Heaven that my
belief were groundless, and that I had no reason to believe my
intellects to have been perverted by diabolical instigations!

I could procure no sleep that night. After Sarsefield's departure I did
not even lie down. It seemed to me that I could not obtain the benefits
of repose otherwise than by placing my lady beyond the possibility of
danger.

I met Sarsefield the next day. In pursuance of the scheme which had been
adopted by us on the preceding evening, a person was selected and
commissioned to watch the appearance of Wiatte. The day passed as usual
with respect to the lady. In the evening she was surrounded by a few
friends. Into this number I was now admitted. Sarsefield and myself made
a part of this company. Various topics were discussed with ease and
sprightliness. Her societies were composed of both sexes, and seemed to
have monopolized all the ingenuity and wit that existed in the
metropolis.

After a slight repast the company dispersed. This separation took place
earlier than usual, on account of a slight indisposition in Mrs.
_Lorimer_. Sarsefield and I went out together. We took that
opportunity of examining our agent, and, receiving no satisfaction from
him, we dismissed him for that night, enjoining him to hold himself in
readiness for repeating the experiment to-morrow. My friend directed his
steps homeward, and I proceeded to execute a commission with which I had
charged myself.

A few days before, a large sum had been deposited in the hands of a
banker, for the use of my lady. It was the amount of a debt which had
lately been recovered. It was lodged here for the purpose of being paid
on demand of her or her agents. It was my present business to receive
this money. I had deferred the performance of this engagement to this
late hour, on account of certain preliminaries which were necessary to
be adjusted.

Having received this money, I prepared to return home. The inquietude
which had been occasioned by Sarsefield's intelligence had not
incapacitated me from performing my usual daily occupations. It was a
theme to which, at every interval of leisure from business or discourse,
I did not fail to return. At those times I employed myself in examining
the subject on all sides; in supposing particular emergencies, and
delineating the conduct that was proper to be observed on each. My daily
thoughts were, by no means, so fear-inspiring as the meditations of the
night had been.

As soon as I left the banker's door, my meditations fell into this
channel. I again reviewed the recent occurrences, and imagined the
consequences likely to flow from them. My deductions were not, on this
occasion, peculiarly distressful. The return of darkness had added
nothing to my apprehensions. I regarded Wiatte merely as one against
whose malice it was wise to employ the most vigilant precautions. In
revolving these precautions nothing occurred that was new. The danger
appeared without unusual aggravations, and the expedients that offered
themselves to my choice were viewed with a temper not more sanguine or
despondent than before.

In this state of mind I began and continued my walk. The distance was
considerable between my own habitation and that which I had left. My way
lay chiefly through populous and well-frequented streets. In one part of
the way, however, it was at the option of the passenger either to keep
along the large streets, or considerably to shorten the journey by
turning into a dark, crooked, and narrow lane. Being familiar with every
part of this metropolis, and deeming it advisable to take the shortest
and obscurest road, I turned into the alley. I proceeded without
interruption to the next turning. One night-officer, distinguished by
his usual ensigns, was the only person who passed me. I had gone three
steps beyond when I perceived a man by my side. I had scarcely time to
notice this circumstance, when a hoarse voice exclaimed, "Damn ye,
villain, ye're a dead man!"

At the same moment a pistol flashed at my ear, and a report followed.
This, however, produced no other effect than, for a short space, to
overpower my senses. I staggered back, but did not fall.

The ball, as I afterwards discovered, had grazed my forehead, but
without making any dangerous impression. The assassin, perceiving that
his pistol had been ineffectual, muttered, in an enraged tone, "This
shall do your business!" At the same time, he drew a knife forth from
his bosom.

I was able to distinguish this action by the rays of a distant lamp,
which glistened on the blade. All this passed in an instant. The attack
was so abrupt that my thoughts could not be suddenly recalled from the
confusion into which they were thrown. My exertions were mechanical. My
will might be said to be passive, and it was only by retrospect and a
contemplation of consequences that I became fully informed of the nature
of the scene.

If my assailant had disappeared as soon as he had discharged the pistol,
my state of extreme surprise might have slowly given place to resolution
and activity. As it was, my sense was no sooner struck by the reflection
from the blade, than my hand, as if by spontaneous energy, was thrust
into my pocket. I drew forth a pistol.

He lifted up his weapon to strike, but it dropped from his powerless
fingers. He fell, and his groans informed me that I had managed my arms
with more skill than my adversary. The noise of this encounter soon
attracted spectators. Lights were brought, and my antagonist discovered
bleeding at my feet. I explained, as briefly as I was able, the scene
which they witnessed. The prostrate person was raised by two men, and
carried into a public house nigh at hand.

I had not lost my presence of mind. I at once perceived the propriety of
administering assistance to the wounded man. I despatched, therefore,
one of the bystanders for a surgeon of considerable eminence, who lived
at a small distance, and to whom I was well known. The man was carried
into an inner apartment and laid upon the floor. It was not till now
that I had a suitable opportunity of ascertaining who it was with whom I
had been engaged. I now looked upon his face. The paleness of death
could not conceal his well-known features. It was Wiatte himself who was
breathing his last groans at my feet!

The surgeon, whom I had summoned, attended; but immediately perceived
the condition of his patient to be hopeless. In a quarter of an hour he
expired. During this interval, he was insensible to all around him. I
was known to the surgeon, the landlord, and some of the witnesses. The
case needed little explanation. The accident reflected no guilt upon me.
The landlord was charged with the care of the corpse till the morning,
and I was allowed to return home, without further impediment.



Chapter VIII.


Till now my mind had been swayed by the urgencies of this occasion.
These reflections were excluded, which rushed tumultuously upon me the
moment I was at leisure to receive them. Without foresight of a previous
moment, an entire change had been wrought in my condition.

I had been oppressed with a sense of the danger that flowed from the
existence of this man. By what means the peril could be annihilated, and
we be placed in security from his attempts, no efforts of mind could
suggest. To devise these means, and employ them with success, demanded,
as I conceived, the most powerful sagacity and the firmest courage. Now
the danger was no more. The intelligence in which plans of mischief
might be generated was extinguished or flown. Lifeless were the hands
ready to execute the dictates of that intelligence. The contriver of
enormous evil was, in one moment, bereft of the power and the will to
injure. Our past tranquillity had been owing to the belief of his death.
Fear and dismay had resumed their dominion when the mistake was
discovered. But now we might regain possession of our wonted confidence.
I had beheld with my own eyes the lifeless corpse of our implacable
adversary. Thus, in a moment, had terminated his long and flagitious
career. His restless indignation, his malignant projects, that had so
long occupied the stage and been so fertile of calamity, were now at an
end!

In the course of my meditations, the idea of the death of this man had
occurred, and it bore the appearance of a desirable event. Yet it was
little qualified to tranquillize my fears. In the long catalogue of
contingencies, this, indeed, was to be found; but it was as little
likely to happen as any other. It could not happen without a series of
anterior events paving the way for it. If his death came from us, it
must be the theme of design. It must spring from laborious circumvention
and deep-laid stratagems.

No. He was dead. I had killed him. What had I done? I had meditated
nothing. I was impelled by an unconscious necessity. Had the assailant
been my father, the consequence would have been the same. My
understanding had been neutral. Could it be? In a space so short, was it
possible that so tremendous a deed had been executed? Was I not deceived
by some portentous vision? I had witnessed the convulsions and last
agonies of Wiatte. He was no more, and I was his destroyer!

Such was the state of my mind for some time after this dreadful event.
Previously to it I was calm, considerate, and self-collected. I marked
the way that I was going. Passing objects were observed. If I adverted
to the series of my own reflections, my attention was not seized and
fastened by them. I could disengage myself at pleasure, and could pass,
without difficulty, from attention to the world within, to the
contemplation of that without.

Now my liberty, in this respect, was at an end. I was fettered,
confounded, smitten with excess of thought, and laid prostrate with
wonder! I no longer attended to my steps. When I emerged from my stupor,
I found that I had trodden back the way which I had lately come, and had
arrived within sight of the banker's door. I checked myself, and once
more turned my steps homeward.

This seemed to be a hint for entering into new reflections. "The deed,"
said I, "is irretrievable. I have killed the brother of my patroness,
the father of my love."

This suggestion was new. It instantly involved me in terror and
perplexity. How shall I communicate the tidings? What effect will they
produce? My lady's sagacity is obscured by the benevolence of her
temper. Her brother was sordidly wicked,--a hoary ruffian, to whom the
language of pity was as unintelligible as the gabble of monkeys. His
heart was fortified against compunction, by the atrocious habits of
forty years; he lived only to interrupt her peace, to confute the
promises of virtue, and convert to rancour and reproach the fair dame of
fidelity.

He was her brother still. As a human being, his depravity was never
beyond the health-restoring power of repentance. His heart, so long as
it beat, was accessible to remorse. The singularity of his birth had
made her regard this being as more intimately her brother, than would
have happened in different circumstances. It was her obstinate
persuasion that their fates were blended. The rumour of his death she
had never credited. It was a topic of congratulation to her friends, but
of mourning and distress to her. That he would one day reappear upon the
stage, and assume the dignity of virtue, was a source of consolation
with which she would never consent to part.

Her character was now known. When the doom of exile was pronounced upon
him, she deemed it incumbent on her to vindicate herself from aspersions
founded on misconceptions of her motives in refusing her interference.
The manuscript, though unpublished, was widely circulated. None could
resist her simple and touching eloquence, nor rise from the perusal
without resigning his heart to the most impetuous impulses of
admiration, and enlisting himself among the eulogists of her justice and
her fortitude. This was the only monument, in a written form, of her
genius. As such it was engraven on my memory. The picture that it
described was the perpetual companion of my thoughts.

Alas! It had, perhaps, been well for me if it had been buried in eternal
oblivion. I read in it the condemnation of my deed, the agonies she was
preparing to suffer, and the indignation that would overflow upon the
author of so signal a calamity.

I had rescued my life by the sacrifice of his. Whereas I should have
died. Wretched and precipitate coward! What had become of my boasted
gratitude? Such was the zeal that I had vowed to her. Such the services
which it was the business of my life to perform. I had snatched her
brother from existence. I had torn from her the hope which she so
ardently and indefatigably cherished. From a contemptible and dastardly
regard to my own safety I had failed in the moment of trial and when
called upon by Heaven to evince the sincerity of my professions.

She had treated my professions lightly. My vows of eternal devotion she
had rejected with lofty disinterestedness. She had arraigned my
impatience of obligation as criminal, and condemned every scheme I had
projected for freeing myself from the burden which her beneficence had
laid upon me. The impassioned and vehement anxiety with which, in former
days, she had deprecated the vengeance of her lover against Wiatte, rung
in my ears. My senses were shocked anew by the dreadful sounds, "Touch
not my brother. Wherever you meet with him, of whatever outrage he be
guilty, suffer him to pass in safety. Despise me; abandon me; kill me.
All this I can bear even from you; but spare, I implore you, my unhappy
brother. The stroke that deprives him of life will not only have the
same effect upon me, but will set my portion in everlasting misery."

To these supplications I had been deaf. It is true I had not rushed upon
him unarmed, intending no injury nor expecting any. Of that degree of
wickedness I was, perhaps, incapable. Alas! I have immersed myself
sufficiently deep in crimes. I have trampled under foot every motive
dear to the heart of honour. I have shown myself unworthy the society of
men.

Such were the turbulent suggestions of that moment. My pace slackened. I
stopped, and was obliged to support myself against a wall. The sickness
that had seized my heart penetrated every part of my frame. There was
but one thing wanting to complete my distraction.--"My lady," said I,
"believed her fate to be blended with that of Wiatte. Who shall affirm
that the persuasion is a groundless one? She had lived and prospered,
notwithstanding the general belief that her brother was dead. She would
not hearken to the rumour. Why? Because nothing less than indubitable
evidence would suffice to convince her? Because the counter-intimation
flowed from an infallible source? How can the latter supposition be
confuted? Has she not predicted the event?

"The period of terrible fulfilment has arrived. The same blow that
bereaved _him_ of life has likewise ratified her doom.

"She has been deceived. It is nothing more, perhaps, than a fond
imagination. It matters not. Who knows not the cogency of faith? That
the pulses of life are at the command of the will? The bearer of these
tidings will be the messenger of death. A fatal sympathy will seize her.
She will shrink, and swoon, and perish, at the news!

"Fond and short-sighted wretch! This is the price thou hast given for
security. In the rashness of thy thought, thou saidst, 'Nothing is
wanting but his death to restore us to confidence and safety.' Lo! the
purchase is made. Havoc and despair, that were restrained during his
life, were let loose by his last sigh. Now only is destruction made
sure. Thy lady, thy Clarice, thy friend, and thyself, are, by this act,
involved in irretrievable and common ruin!"

I started from my attitude. I was scarcely conscious of any transition.
The interval was fraught with stupor, and amazement. It seemed as if my
senses had been hushed in sleep, while the powers of locomotion were
unconsciously exerted to bear me to my chamber. By whatever means the
change was effected, there I was.

I have been able to proceed thus far. I can scarcely believe the
testimony of my memory that assures me of this. My task is almost
executed; but whence shall I obtain strength enough to finish it? What I
have told is light as gossamer, compared with the insupportable and
crushing horrors of that which is to come. Heaven, in token of its
vengeance, will enable me to proceed. It is fitting that my scene should
thus close.

My fancy began to be infected with the errors of my understanding. The
mood into which my mind was plunged was incapable of any propitious
intermission. All within me was tempestuous and dark. My ears were
accessible to no sounds but those of shrieks and lamentations. It was
deepest midnight, and all the noises of a great metropolis were hushed.
Yet I listened as if to catch some strain of the dirge that was begun.
Sable robes, sobs, and a dreary solemnity encompassed me on all sides, I
was haunted to despair by images of death, imaginary clamours, and the
train of funeral pageantry. I seemed to have passed forward to a distant
era of my life. The effects which were come were already realized. The
foresight of misery created it, and set me in the midst of that hell
which I feared.

From a paroxysm like this the worst might reasonably be dreaded, yet the
next step to destruction was not suddenly taken. I paused on the brink
of the precipice, as if to survey the depth of that frenzy that invaded
me; was able to ponder on the scene, and deliberate, in a state that
partook of calm, on the circumstances of my situation. My mind was
harassed by the repetition of one idea. Conjecture deepened into
certainty. I could place the object in no light which did not
corroborate the persuasion that, in the act committed, I had insured the
destruction of my lady. At length my mind, somewhat relieved from the
tempest of my fears, began to trace and analyze the consequences which I
dreaded.

The fate of Wiatte would inevitably draw along with it that of his
sister. In what way would this effect be produced? Were they linked
together by a sympathy whose influence was independent of sensible
communication? Could she arrive at a knowledge of his miserable and by
other than verbal means? I had heard of such extraordinary
copartnerships in being and modes of instantaneous intercourse among
beings locally distant. Was this a new instance of the subtlety of mind?
Had she already endured his agonies, and like him already ceased to
breathe?

Every hair bristled at this horrible suggestion. But the force of
sympathy might be chimerical. Buried in sleep, or engaged in careless
meditation, the instrument by which her destiny might be accomplished
was the steel of an assassin. A series of events, equally beyond the
reach of foresight with those which had just happened, might introduce,
with equal abruptness, a similar disaster. What, at that moment, was her
condition? Reposing in safety in her chamber, as her family imagined.
But were they not deceived? Was she not a mangled corpse? Whatever were
her situation, it could not be ascertained, except by extraordinary
means, till the morning. Was it wise to defer the scrutiny till then?
Why not instantly investigate the truth?

These ideas passed rapidly through my mind. A considerable portion of
time and amplification of phrase are necessary to exhibit, verbally,
ideas contemplated in a space of incalculable brevity. With the same
rapidity I conceived the resolution of determining the truth of my
suspicions. All the family, but myself, were at rest. Winding passages
would conduct me, without danger of disturbing them, to the hall, from
which double staircases ascended. One of these led to a saloon above, on
the east side of which was a door that communicated with a suite of
rooms occupied by the lady of the mansion. The first was an antechamber,
in which a female servant usually lay. The second was the lady's own
bedchamber. This was a sacred recess, with whose situation, relative to
the other apartments of the building, I was well acquainted, but of
which I knew nothing from my own examination, having never been admitted
into it.

Thither I was now resolved to repair. I was not deterred by the sanctity
of the place and hour. I was insensible to all consequences but the
removal of my doubts. Not that my hopes were balanced by my fears. That
the same tragedy had been performed in her chamber and in the street,
nothing hindered me from believing with as much cogency as if my own
eyes had witnessed it, but the reluctance with which we admit a
detestable truth.

To terminate a state of intolerable suspense, I resolved to proceed
forthwith to her chamber. I took the light and paced, with no
interruption, along the galleries. I used no precaution. If I had met a
servant or robber, I am not sure that I should have noticed him. My
attention was too perfectly engrossed to allow me to spare any to a
casual object. I cannot affirm that no one observed me. This, however,
was probable from the distribution of the dwelling. It consisted of a
central edifice and two wings, one of which was appropriated to
domestics and the other, at the extremity of which my apartment was
placed, comprehended a library, and rooms for formal and social and
literary conferences. These, therefore, were deserted at night, and my
way lay along these. Hence it was not likely that my steps would be
observed.

I proceeded to the hall. The principal parlour was beneath her chamber.
In the confusion of my thoughts, I mistook one for the other. I
rectified, as soon as I detected, my mistake. I ascended, with a beating
heart, the staircase. The door of the antechamber was unfastened. I
entered, totally regardless of disturbing the girl who slept within. The
bed which she occupied was concealed by curtains. Whether she were
there, I did not stop to examine. I cannot recollect that any tokens
were given of wakefulness or alarm. It was not till I reached the door
of her own apartment that my heart began to falter.

It was now that the momentousness of the question I was about to decide
rushed with its genuine force upon my apprehension. Appalled and aghast,
I had scarcely power to move the bolt. If the imagination of her death
was not to be supported, how should I bear the spectacle of wounds and
blood? Yet this was reserved for me. A few paces would set me in the
midst of a scene of which I was the abhorred contriver. Was it right to
proceed? There were still the remnants of doubt. My forebodings might
possibly be groundless. All within might be safety and serenity. A
respite might be gained from the execution of an irrevocable sentence.
What could I do? Was not any thing easy to endure in comparison with the
agonies of suspense? If I could not obviate the evil I must bear it, but
the torments of suspense were susceptible of remedy.

I drew back the bolt, and entered with the reluctance of fear, rather
than the cautiousness of guilt. I could not lift my eyes from the
ground. I advanced to the middle of the room. Not a sound like that of
the dying saluted my-ear. At length, shaking off the fetters of
hopelessness, I looked up.

I saw nothing calculated to confirm my fears. Everywhere there reigned
quiet and order. My heart leaped with exultation. "Can it be," said I,
"that I have been betrayed with shadows?--But this is not sufficient."

Within an alcove was the bed that belonged to her. If her safety were
inviolate, it was here that she reposed. What remained to convert
tormenting doubt into ravishing certainty? I was insensible to the
perils of my present situation. If she, indeed, were there, would not my
intrusion awaken her? She would start and perceive me, at this hour,
standing at her bedside. How should I account for an intrusion so
unexampled and audacious? I could not communicate my fears. I could not
tell her that the blood with which my hands were stained had flowed from
the wounds of her brother.

My mind was inaccessible to such considerations. They did not even
modify my predominant idea. Obstacles like these, had they existed,
would have been trampled under foot.

Leaving the lamp, that I bore, on the table, I approached the bed. I
slowly drew aside the curtain, and beheld her tranquilly slumbering. I
listened, but so profound was her sleep, that not even her breathings
could be overheard. I dropped the curtain and retired.

How blissful and mild were the illuminations of my bosom at this
discovery! A joy that surpassed all utterance succeeded the fierceness
of desperation. I stood, for some moments, wrapped in delightful
contemplation. Alas! it was a luminous but transient interval. The
madness to whose black suggestions it bore so strong a contrast began
now to make sensible approaches on my understanding.

"True," said I, "she lives. Her slumber is serene and happy. She is
blind to her approaching destiny. Some hours will at least be rescued
from anguish and death. When she wakes, the phantom that soothed her
will vanish. The tidings cannot be withheld from her. The murderer of
thy brother cannot hope to enjoy thy smiles. Those ravishing accents,
with which thou hast used to greet me, will be changed. Scowling and
reproaches, the invectives of thy anger and the maledictions of thy
justice, will rest upon my head,

"What is the blessing which I made the theme of my boastful arrogance?
This interval of being and repose is momentary. She will awake, but only
to perish at the spectacle of my ingratitude. She will awake only to the
consciousness of instantly-impending death. When she again sleeps she
will wake no more. I, her son,--I, whom the law of my birth doomed to
poverty and hardship, but whom her unsolicited beneficence snatched from
those evils, and endowed with the highest good known to intelligent
beings, the consolations of science and the blandishments of
affluence,--to whom the darling of her life, the offspring in whom are
faithfully preserved the lineaments of its angelic mother, she has not
denied! What is the recompense that I have made? How have I discharged
the measureless debt of gratitude to which she is entitled? Thus!--

"Cannot my guilt be extenuated? Is there not a good that I can do thee?
Must I perpetrate unmingled evil? Is the province assigned me that of an
infernal emissary, whose efforts are concentred in a single purpose, and
that purpose a malignant one? I am the author of thy calamities.
Whatever misery is reserved for thee, I am the source whence it flows.
Can I not set bounds to the stream? Cannot I prevent thee from returning
to a consciousness which, till it ceases to exist, will not cease to be
rent and mangled?

"Yes. It is in my power to screen thee from the coming storm; to
accelerate thy journey to rest. I will do it."

The impulse was not to be resisted. I moved with the suddenness of
lightning. Armed with a pointed implement that lay----it was a dagger.
As I set down the lamp, I struck the edge. Yet I saw it not, or noticed
it not till I needed its assistance. By what accident it came hither, to
what deed of darkness it had already been subservient, I had no power to
inquire. I stepped to the table and seized it.

The time which this action required was insufficient to save me. My doom
was ratified by powers which no human energies can counterwork.--Need I
go further? Did you entertain any imagination of so frightful a
catastrophe? I am overwhelmed by turns with dismay and with wonder. I am
prompted by turns to tear my heart from my breast and deny faith to the
verdict of my senses.

Was it I that hurried to the deed? No. It was the demon that possessed
me. My limbs were guided to the bloody office by a power foreign and
superior to mine. I had been defrauded, for a moment, of the empire of
my muscles. A little moment for that sufficed.  If my destruction had
not been decreed, why was the image of Clarice so long excluded? Yet why
do I say long? The fatal resolution was conceived, and I hastened to the
execution, in a period too brief for more than itself to be viewed by
the intellect.

What then? Were my hands imbrued in this precious blood? Was it to this
extremity of horror that my evil genius was determined to urge me? Too
surely this was his purpose; too surely I was qualified to be its
minister.

I lifted the weapon. Its point was aimed at the bosom of the sleeper.
The impulse was given.

At the instant a piercing shriek was uttered behind me, and a
stretched-out hand, grasping the blade, made it swerve widely from its
aim. It descended, but without inflicting a wound. Its force was spent
upon the bed.

Oh for words to paint that stormy transition! I loosed my hold of the
dagger. I started back, and fixed eyes of frantic curiosity on the
author of my rescue. He that interposed to arrest my deed, that started
into being and activity at a moment so pregnant with fate, without
tokens of his purpose or his coming being previously imparted, could
not, methought, be less than divinity.

The first glance that I darted on this being corroborated my conjecture.
It was the figure and lineaments of Mrs. Lorimer. Negligently habited in
flowing and brilliant white, with features bursting with terror and
wonder, the likeness of that being who was stretched upon the bed now
stood before me.

All that I am able to conceive of angel was comprised in the moral
constitution of this woman. That her genius had overleaped all bounds,
and interposed to save her, was no audacious imagination. In the state
in which my mind then was, no other belief than this could occupy the
first place.

My tongue was tied. I gazed by turns upon her who stood before me, and
her who lay upon the bed, and who, awakened by the shriek that had been
uttered, now opened her eyes. She started from her pillow, and, by
assuming a new and more distinct attitude, permitted me to recognise
_Clarice herself_!

Three days before, I had left her, beside the bed of a dying friend, at
a solitary mansion in the mountains of Donegal. Here it had been her
resolution to remain till her friend should breathe her last. Fraught
with this persuasion, knowing this to be the place and hour of repose of
my lady, hurried forward by the impetuosity of my own conceptions,
deceived by the faint gleam which penetrated through the curtain and
imperfectly-irradiated features which bore, at all times, a powerful
resemblance to those of Mrs. Lorimer, I had rushed to the brink of this
terrible precipice!

Why did I linger on the verge? Why, thus perilously situated, did I not
throw myself headlong? The steel was yet in my hand. A single blow would
have pierced my heart, and shut out from my remembrance and foresight
the past and the future.

The moment of insanity had gone by, and I was once more myself. Instead
of regarding the act which I had meditated as the dictate of compassion
or of justice, it only added to the sum of my ingratitude, and gave
wings to the whirlwind that was sent to bear me to perdition.

Perhaps I was influenced by a sentiment which I had not leisure to
distribute into parts. My understanding was, no doubt, bewildered in the
maze of consequences which would spring from my act. How should I
explain my coming hither in this murderous guise, my arm lifted to
destroy the idol of my soul and the darling child of my patroness? In
what words should I unfold the tale of Wiatte, and enumerate the motives
that terminated in the present scene? What penalty had not my
infatuation and cruelty deserved? What could I less than turn the
dagger's point against my own bosom?

A second time, the blow was thwarted and diverted. Once more this
beneficent interposer held my arm from the perpetration of a new
iniquity. Once more frustrated the instigations of that demon, of whose
malice a mysterious destiny had consigned me to be the sport and the
prey.

Every new moment added to the sum of my inexpiable guilt. Murder was
succeeded, in an instant, by the more detestable enormity of suicide.
She to whom my ingratitude was flagrant in proportion to the benefits of
which she was the author, had now added to her former acts that of
rescuing me from the last of mischiefs.

I threw the weapon on the floor. The zeal which prompted her to seize my
arm, this action occasioned to subside, and to yield place to those
emotions which this spectacle was calculated to excite. She watched me
in silence, and with an air of ineffable solicitude. Clarice, governed
by the instinct of modesty, wrapped her bosom and face in the
bedclothes, and testified her horror by vehement but scarcely-articulate
exclamations.

I moved forward, but my steps were random and tottering. My thoughts
were fettered by reverie, and my gesticulations destitute of meaning. My
tongue faltered without speaking, and I felt as if life and death were
struggling within me for the mastery.

My will, indeed, was far from being neutral in this contest. To such as
I, annihilation is the supreme good. To shake off the ills that fasten
on us by shaking off existence, is a lot which the system of nature has
denied to man. By escaping from life, I should be delivered from this
scene, but should only rush into a world of retribution, and be immersed
in new agonies.

I was yet to live. No instrument of my deliverance was within reach. I
was powerless. To rush from the presence of these women to hide me
forever from their scrutiny and their upbraiding, to snatch from their
minds all traces of the existence of Clithero, was the scope of
unutterable longings.

Urged to flight by every motive of which my nature was susceptible, I
was yet rooted to the spot. Had the pause been only to be interrupted by
me, it would have lasted forever.

At length, the lady, clasping her hands and lifting them, exclaimed, in
a tone melting into pity and grief,--

"Clithero! what is this? How came you hither, and why?"

I struggled for utterance:--"I came to murder you. Your brother has
perished by my hands. Fresh from the commission of this deed, I have
hastened hither to perpetrate the same crime upon you."

"My brother!" replied the lady, with new vehemence. "Oh, say not so! I
have just heard of his return, from Sarsefield, and that he lives."

"He is dead," repeated I, with fierceness; "I know it. It was I that
killed him."

"Dead!" she faintly articulated. "And by thee, Clithero? Oh! cursed
chance that hindered thee from killing me also! Dead! Then is the omen
fulfilled! Then am I undone! Lost forever!"

Her eyes now wandered from me, and her countenance sunk into a wild and
rueful expression. Hope was utterly extinguished in her heart, and life
forsook her at the same moment. She sunk upon the floor pallid and
breathless.

How she came into possession of this knowledge I know not. It is
possible that Sarsefield had repented of concealment, and, in the
interval that passed between our separation and my encounter with
Wiatte, had returned, and informed her of the reappearance of this
miscreant.

Thus, then, was my fate consummated. I was rescued from destroying her
by a dagger, only to behold her perish by the tidings which I brought.
Thus was every omen of mischief and misery fulfilled. Thus was the
enmity of Wiatte rendered efficacious, and the instrument of his
destruction changed into the executioner of his revenge.

Such is the tale of my crimes. It is not for me to hope that the curtain
of oblivion will ever shut out the dismal spectacle. It will haunt me
forever. The torments that grow out of it can terminate only with the
thread of my existence, but that, I know full well, will never end.
Death is but a shifting of the scene; and the endless progress of
eternity, which to the good is merely the perfection of felicity, is to
the wicked an accumulation of woe. The self-destroyer is his own enemy:
this has ever been my opinion. Hitherto it has influenced my actions.
Now, though the belief continues, its influence on my conduct is
annihilated. I am no stranger to the depth of that abyss into which I
shall plunge. No matter. Change is precious for its own sake.

Well, I was still to live. My abode must be somewhere fixed. My conduct
was henceforth the result of a perverse and rebellious principle. I
banished myself forever from my native soil. I vowed never more to
behold the face of my Clarice, to abandon my friends, my books, all my
wonted labours and accustomed recreations.

I was neither ashamed nor afraid. I considered not in what way the
justice of the country would affect me. It merely made no part of my
contemplations. I was not embarrassed by the choice of expedients for
trammelling up the visible consequences and for eluding suspicion. The
idea of abjuring my country and flying forever from the hateful scene
partook, to my apprehension, of the vast, the boundless, and strange; of
plunging from the height of fortune to obscurity and indigence,
corresponded with my present state of mind. It was of a piece with the
tremendous and wonderful events that had just happened.

These were the images that haunted me, while I stood speechlessly gazing
at the ruin before me. I heard a noise from without, or imagined that I
heard it. My reverie was broken, and my muscular power restored. I
descended into the street, through doors of which I possessed one set of
keys, and hurried by the shortest way beyond the precincts of the city.
I had laid no plan. My conceptions with regard to the future were
shapeless and confused. Successive incidents supplied me with a clue,
and suggested, as they rose, the next step to be taken. I threw off the
garb of affluence, and assumed a beggar's attire. That I had money about
me for the accomplishment of my purposes was wholly accidental. I
travelled along the coast, and, when I arrived at one town, knew not why
I should go farther; but my restlessness was unabated, and change was
some relief. I it length arrived at Belfast. A vessel was preparing for
America. I embraced eagerly the opportunity of passing into a new world.
I arrived at Philadelphia. As soon as I landed I wandered hither, and
was content to wear out my few remaining days in the service of
Inglefield.

I have no friends. Why should I trust my story to mother? I have no
solicitude about concealment; but who is there who will derive pleasure
or benefit from my rehearsal? And why should I expatiate on so hateful a
scheme? Yet now have I consented to this. I have confided in you the
history of my disasters. I am not fearful of the use that you may be
disposed to make of it. I shall quickly set myself beyond the reach of
human tribunals. I shall relieve the ministers of law from the trouble
of punishing. The recent events which induced you to summon me to this
conference have likewise determined me to make this disclosure.

I was not aware, for some time, of my perturbed sleep. No wonder that
sleep cannot soothe miseries like mine; that I am alike infested by
memory in wakefulness and slumber. Yet I was anew distressed by the
discovery that my thoughts found their way to my lips, without my being
conscious of it, and that my steps wandered forth unknowingly and
without the guidance of my will.

The story you have told is not incredible. The disaster to which you
allude did not fail to excite my regret. I can still weep over the
untimely fall of youth and worth. I can no otherwise account for my
frequenting his shade than by the distant resemblance which the death of
this man bore to that of which I was the perpetrator. This resemblance
occurred to me at first. If he were able to weaken the impression which
was produced by my crime, this similitude was adapted to revive and
enforce them.

The wilderness, and the cave to which you followed me, were familiar to
my Sunday rambles. Often have I indulged in audible griefs on the cliffs
of that valley. Often have I brooded over my sorrows in the recesses of
that cavern. This scene is adapted to my temper. Its mountainous
asperities supply me with images of desolation and seclusion, and its
headlong streams lull me into temporary forgetfulness of mankind.

I comprehend you. You suspect me of concern in the death of Waldegrave.
You could not do otherwise. The conduct that you have witnessed was that
of a murderer. I will not upbraid you for your suspicions, though I have
bought exemption from them at a high price.



Chapter IX.


There ended his narrative. He started from the spot where he stood, and,
without affording me any opportunity of replying or commenting,
disappeared amidst the thickest of the wood. I had no time to exert
myself for his detention. I could have used no arguments for this end,
to which it is probable he would have listened. The story I had heard
was too extraordinary, too completely the reverse of all my
expectations, to allow me to attend to the intimations of self-murder
which he dropped.

The secret which I imagined was about to be disclosed was as inscrutable
as ever. Not a circumstance, from the moment when Clithero's character
became the subject of my meditations, till the conclusion of his talk,
but served to confirm my suspicion. Was this error to be imputed to
credulity. Would not any one, from similar appearances, have drawn
similar conclusions? Or is there a criterion by which truth can always
be distinguished? Was it owing to my imperfect education that the
inquietudes of this man were not traced to a deed performed at the
distance of a thousand leagues, to the murder of his patroness and
friend?

I had heard a tale which apparently related to scenes and persons far
distant: but, though my suspicions have appeared to have been misplaced,
what should hinder but that the death of my friend was, in like manner,
an act of momentary insanity and originated in a like spirit of mistaken
benevolence?

But I did not consider this tale merely in relation to myself. My life
had been limited and uniform. I had communed with romancers and
historians, but the impression made upon me by this incident was
unexampled in my experience. My reading had furnished me with no
instance in any degree parallel to this, and I found that to be a
distant and second-hand spectator of events was widely different from
witnessing them myself and partaking in their consequences. My judgment
was, for a time, sunk into imbecility and confusion. My mind was full of
the images unavoidably suggested by this tale, but they existed in a
kind of chaos, and not otherwise than gradually was I able to reduce
them to distinct particulars, and subject them to a deliberate and
methodical inspection.

How was I to consider this act of Clithero? What a deplorable
infatuation! Yet it was the necessary result of a series of ideas
mutually linked and connected. His conduct was dictated by a motive
allied to virtue. It was the fruit of an ardent and grateful spirit.

The death of Wiatte could not be censured. The life of Clithero was
unspeakably more valuable than that of his antagonist. It was the
instinct of self-preservation that swayed him. He knew not his adversary
in time enough to govern himself by that knowledge. Had the assailant
been an unknown ruffian, his death would have been followed by no
remorse. The spectacle of his dying agonies would have dwelt upon the
memory of his assassin like any other mournful sight, in the production
of which he bore no part.

It must at least be said that his will was not concerned in this
transaction. He acted in obedience to an impulse which he could not
control nor resist. Shall we impute guilt where there is no design?
Shall a man extract food for self-reproach from an action to which it is
not enough to say that he was actuated by no culpable intention, but
that he was swayed by no intention whatever? If consequences arise that
cannot be foreseen, shall we find no refuge in the persuasion of our
rectitude and of human frailty? Shall we deem ourselves criminal because
we do not enjoy the attributes of Deity? Because our power and our
knowledge are confined by impassable boundaries?

But whence arose the subsequent intention? It was the fruit of a
dreadful mistake. His intents were noble and compassionate. But this is
of no avail to free him from the imputation of guilt. No remembrance of
past beneficence can compensate for this crime. The scale loaded with
the recriminations of his conscience, is immovable by any
counter-weight.

But what are the conclusions to be drawn by dispassionate observers? Is
it possible to regard this person with disdain or with enmity? The crime
originated in those limitations which nature has imposed upon human
faculties. Proofs of a just intention are all that are requisite to
exempt us from blame; he is thus, in consequence of a double mistake.
The light in which he views this event is erroneous. He judges wrong,
and is therefore miserable.

How imperfect are the grounds of all our decisions Was it of no use to
superintend his childhood, to select his instructors and examples, to
mark the operations of his principles, to see him emerging into youth,
to follow him through various scenes and trying vicissitudes, and mark
the uniformity of his integrity? Who would have predicted his future
conduct? Who would not have affirmed the impossibility of an action like
this?

How mysterious was the connection between the fate of Wiatte and his
sister! By such circuitous and yet infallible means were the prediction
of the lady and the vengeance of the brother accomplished! In how many
cases may it be said, as in this, that the prediction was the cause of
its own fulfilment! That the very act which considerate observers, and
even himself, for a time, imagined to have utterly precluded the
execution of Wiatte's menaces, should be that inevitably leading to it!
That the execution should be assigned to him who, abounding in
abhorrence, and in the act of self-defence, was the slayer of the
menacer!

As the obstructer of his designs, Wiatte waylaid and assaulted Clithero.
He perished in the attempt. Were his designs frustrated? No. It was thus
that he secured the gratification of his vengeance. His sister was cut
off in the bloom of life and prosperity. By a refinement of good
fortune, the voluntary minister of his malice had entailed upon himself
exile without reprieve and misery without end.

But what chiefly excited my wonder was the connection of this tale with
the destiny of Sarsefield. This was he whom I have frequently mentioned
to you as my preceptor. About four years previous to this era, he
appeared in this district without fortune or friend. He desired, one
evening, to be accommodated at my uncle's house. The conversation
turning on the objects of his journey and his present situation, he
professed himself in search of lucrative employment. My uncle proposed
to him to become a teacher, there being a sufficient number of young
people in this neighbourhood to afford him occupation and subsistence.
He found it his interest to embrace this proposal.

I, of course, became his pupil, and demeaned myself in such a manner as
speedily to grow into a favourite. He communicated to us no part of his
early history, but informed us sufficiently of his adventures in Asia
and Italy to make it plain that this was the same person alluded to by
Clithero. During his abode among us his conduct was irreproachable. When
he left us, he manifested the most poignant regret, but this originated
chiefly in his regard to me. He promised to maintain with me an
epistolary intercourse. Since his departure, however, I had heard
nothing respecting him. It was with unspeakable regret that I now heard
of the disappointment of his hopes, and was inquisitive respecting the
measures which he would adopt in his new situation. Perhaps he would'
once more return to America, and I should again be admitted to the
enjoyment of his society. This event I anticipated with the highest
satisfaction.

At present, the fate of the unhappy Clithero was the subject of abundant
anxiety. On his suddenly leaving me, at the conclusion of his tale, I
supposed that he had gone upon one of his usual rambles, and that it
would terminate only with the day. Next morning a message was received
from Inglefield, inquiring if any one knew what had become of his
servant. I could not listen to this message with tranquillity, I
recollected the hints that he had given of some design upon his life,
and admitted the most dreary forebodings. I speeded to Inglefield's.
Clithero had not returned, they told me, the preceding evening. He had
not apprized them of any intention to change his abode. His boxes, and
all that composed his slender property, were found in their ordinary
state. He had expressed no dissatisfaction with his present condition.

Several days passed, and no tidings could be procured of him. His
absence was a topic of general speculation, but was a source of
particular anxiety to no one but myself. My apprehensions were surely
built upon sufficient grounds. From the moment that we parted, no one
had seen or heard of him. What mode of suicide he had selected, he had
disabled us from discovering, by the impenetrable secrecy in which he
had involved it.

In the midst of my reflections upon this subject, the idea of the
wilderness occurred. Could he have executed his design in the deepest of
its recesses? These were unvisited by human footsteps, and his bones
might lie for ages in this solitude without attracting observation. To
seek them where they lay, to gather them together and provide for them a
grave, was a duty which appeared incumbent on me, and of which the
performance was connected with a thousand habitual sentiments and mixed
pleasures.

Thou knowest my devotion to the spirit that breathes its inspiration in
the gloom of forests and on the verge of streams. I love to immerse
myself in shades and dells, and hold converse with the solemnities and
secrecies of nature in the rude retreats of Norwalk. The disappearance
of Clithero had furnished new incitements to ascend its cliffs and
pervade its thickets, as I cherished the hope of meeting in my rambles
with some traces of this man. But might he not still live? His words had
imparted the belief that he intended to destroy himself. This
catastrophe, however, was far from certain. Was it not in my power to
avert it? Could I not restore a mind thus vigorous, to tranquil and
wholesome existence? Could I not subdue his perverse disdain and
immeasurable abhorrence of himself? His upbraiding and his scorn were
unmerited and misplaced. Perhaps they argued frenzy rather than
prejudice; but frenzy, like prejudice, was curable. Reason was no less
an antidote to the illusions of insanity like his, than to the illusions
of error.

I did not immediately recollect that to subsist in this desert was
impossible. Nuts were the only fruits it produced, and these were
inadequate to sustain human life. If it were haunted by Clithero, he
must occasionally pass its limits and beg or purloin victuals. This
deportment was too humiliating and flagitious to be imputed to him.
There was reason to suppose him smitten with the charms of solitude, of
a lonely abode in the midst of mountainous and rugged nature; but this
could not be uninterruptedly enjoyed. Life could be supported only by
occasionally visiting the haunts of men, in the guise of a thief or a
mendicant. Hence, since Clithero was not known to have reappeared at any
farm-house in the neighbourhood, I was compelled to conclude either that
he had retired far from this district, or that he was dead.

Though I designed that my leisure should chiefly be consumed in the
bosom of Norwalk, I almost dismissed the hope of meeting with the
fugitive. There were indeed two sources of my hopelessness on this
occasion. Not only it was probable that Clithero had fled far away, but,
should he have concealed himself in some nook or cavern within these
precincts, his concealment was not to be traced. This arose from the
nature of that sterile region.

It would not be easy to describe the face of this district, in a few
words. Half of Solesbury, thou knowest, admits neither of plough nor
spade. The cultivable space lies along the river, and the desert, lying
on the north, has gained, by some means, the appellation of Norwalk.
Canst thou imagine a space, somewhat circular, about six miles in
diameter, and exhibiting a perpetual and intricate variety of craggy
eminences and deep dells?

The hollows are single, and walled around by cliffs, ever varying in
shape and height, and have seldom any perceptible communication with
each other. These hollows are of all dimensions, from the narrowness and
depth of a well, to the amplitude of one hundred yards. Winter's snow is
frequently found in these cavities at midsummer. The streams that burst
forth from every crevice are thrown, by the irregularities of the
surface, into numberless cascades, often disappear in mists or in
chasms, and emerge from subterranean channels, and, finally, either
subside into lakes, or quietly meander through the lower and more level
grounds.

Wherever nature left a flat it is made rugged and scarcely passable by
enormous and fallen trunks, accumulated by the storms of ages, and
forming, by their slow decay, a moss-covered soil, the haunt of rabbits
and lizards. These spots are obscured by the melancholy umbrage of
pines, whose eternal murmurs are in unison with vacancy and solitude,
with the reverberations of the torrents and the whistling of the blasts.
Hickory and poplar, which abound in the lowlands, find here no fostering
elements.

A sort of continued vale, winding and abrupt, leads into the midst of
this region and through it. This vale serves the purpose of a road. It
is a tedious maze and perpetual declivity, and requires, from the
passenger, a cautious and sure foot. Openings and ascents occasionally
present themselves on each side, which seem to promise you access to the
interior region, but always terminate, sooner or later, in insuperable
difficulties, at the verge of a precipice or the bottom of a steep.

Perhaps no one was more acquainted with this wilderness than I, but my
knowledge was extremely imperfect. I had traversed parts of it, at an
early age, in pursuit of berries and nuts, or led by a roaming
disposition. Afterwards the sphere of my rambles was enlarged and their
purpose changed. When Sarsefield came among us, I became his favourite
scholar and the companion of all his pedestrian excursions. He was fond
of penetrating into these recesses, partly from the love of picturesque
scenes, partly to investigate its botanical and mineral productions, and
partly to carry on more effectually that species of instruction which he
had adopted with regard to me, and which chiefly consisted in moralizing
narratives or synthetical reasonings. These excursions had familiarized
me with its outlines and most accessible parts; but there was much
which, perhaps, could never be reached without wings, and much the only
paths to which I might forever overlook.

Every new excursion, indeed, added somewhat to my knowledge. New tracks
were pursued, new prospects detected, and new summits were gained. My
rambles were productive of incessant novelty, though they always
terminated in the prospect of limits that could not be overleaped. But
none of these had led me wider from my customary paths than that which
had taken place when in pursuit of Clithero. I had a faint remembrance
of the valley into which I had descended after him; but till then I had
viewed it at a distance, and supposed it impossible to reach the bottom
but by leaping from a precipice some hundred feet in height. The
opposite steep seemed no less inaccessible, and the cavern at the bottom
was impervious to any views which my former positions had enabled me to
take of it.

My intention to re-examine this cave and ascertain whither it led had,
for a time, been suspended by different considerations. It was now
revived with more energy than ever. I reflected that this had formerly
been haunted by Clithero, and might possibly have been the scene of the
desperate act which he had meditated. It might at least conceal some
token of his past existence. It might lead into spaces hitherto
unvisited, and to summits from which wider landscapes might be seen.

One morning I set out to explore this scene. The road which Clithero had
taken was laboriously circuitous. On my return from the first pursuit of
him, I ascended the cliff in my former footsteps, but soon lighted on
the beaten track which I have already described. This enabled me to shun
a thousand obstacles which had lately risen before me, and opened an
easy passage to the cavern.

I once more traversed this way. The brow of the hill was gained. The
ledges of which it consisted afforded sufficient footing, when the
attempt was made, though viewed at a distance they seemed to be too
narrow for that purpose. As I descended the rugged stair, I could not
but wonder at the temerity and precipitation with which this descent had
formerly been made. It seemed as if the noonday light and the tardiest
circumspection would scarcely enable me to accomplish it; yet then it
had been done with headlong speed, and with no guidance but the moon's
uncertain rays.

I reached the mouth of the cave. Till now I had forgotten that a lamp or
a torch might be necessary to direct my subterranean footsteps. I was
unwilling to defer the attempt. Light might possibly be requisite, if
the cave had no other outlet. Somewhat might present itself within to
the eyes, which might forever elude the hands, but I was more inclined
to consider it merely as an avenue terminating in an opening on the
summit of the steep, or on the opposite side of the ridge. Caution might
supply the place of light, or, having explored the cave as far as
possible at present, I might hereafter return, better furnished for the
scrutiny.



Chapter X.


With these determinations, I proceeded. The entrance was low, and
compelled me to resort to hands as well as feet. At a few yards from the
mouth the light disappeared, and I found myself immersed in the dunnest
obscurity. Had I not been persuaded that another had gone before me, I
should have relinquished the attempt. I proceeded with the utmost
caution, always ascertaining, by outstretched arms, the height and
breadth of the cavity before me. In a short time the dimensions expanded
on all sides, and permitted me to resume my feet.

I walked upon a smooth and gentle declivity. Presently the wall on one
side, and the ceiling, receded beyond my reach. I began to fear that I
should be involved in a maze, and should be disabled from returning. To
obviate this danger it was requisite to adhere to the nearest wall, and
conform to the direction which it should take, without straying through
the palpable obscurity. Whether the ceiling was lofty or low, whether
the opposite wall of the passage was distant or near, this I deemed no
proper opportunity to investigate.

In a short time, my progress was stopped by an abrupt descent. I set
down the advancing foot with caution, being aware that I might at the
next step encounter a bottomless pit. To the brink of such a one I
seemed now to have arrived. I stooped, and stretched my hand forward and
downward, but all was vacuity.

Here it was needful to pause. I had reached the brink of a cavity whose
depth it Avas impossible to ascertain. It might be a few inches beyond
my reach, or hundreds of feet. By leaping down I might incur no injury,
or might plunge into a lake or dash myself to pieces on the points of
rocks.

I now saw with new force the propriety of being furnished with a light.
The first suggestion was to return upon my footsteps, and resume my
undertaking on the morrow. Yet, having advanced thus far, I felt
reluctance to recede without accomplishing my purposes. I reflected
likewise that Clithero had boldly entered this recess, and had certainly
come forth at a different avenue from that at which he entered.

At length it occurred to me that, though I could not go forward, yet I
might proceed along the edge of this cavity. This edge would be as safe
a guidance, and would serve as well for a clue by which I might return,
as the wall which it was now necessary to forsake.

Intense dark is always the parent of fears. Impending injuries cannot in
this state be descried, nor shunned, nor repelled. I began to feel some
faltering of my courage, and seated myself, for a few minutes, on a
stony mass which arose before me. My situation was new. The caverns I
had hitherto met with in this desert were chiefly formed of low-browed
rocks. They were chambers, more or less spacious, into which twilight
was at least admitted; but here it seemed as if I were surrounded by
barriers that would forever cut off my return to air and to light.

Presently I resumed my courage and proceeded. My road appeared now to
ascend. On one side I seemed still upon the verge of a precipice, and on
the other all was empty and waste. I had gone no inconsiderable
distance, and persuaded myself that my career would speedily terminate.
In a short time, the space on the left hand was again occupied, and I
cautiously proceeded between the edge of the gulf and a rugged wall. As
the space between them widened I adhered to the wall.

I was not insensible that my path became more intricate and more
difficult to retread in proportion as I advanced. I endeavoured to
preserve a vivid conception of the way which I had already passed, and
to keep the images of the left and right-hand wall, and the gulf, in due
succession in my memory.

The path, which had hitherto been considerably smooth, now became rugged
and steep. Chilling damps, the secret trepidation which attended me, the
length and difficulties of my way, enhanced by the ceaseless caution and
the numerous expedients which the utter darkness obliged me to employ,
began to overpower my strength. I was frequently compelled to stop and
recruit myself by rest. These respites from toil were of use, but they
could not enable me to prosecute an endless journey, and to return was
scarcely a less arduous task than to proceed.

I looked anxiously forward, in the hope of being comforted by some dim
ray, which might assure me that my labours were approaching an end. At
last this propitious token appeared, and I issued forth into a kind of
chamber, one side of which was open to the air and allowed me to catch a
portion of the checkered sky. This spectacle never before excited such
exquisite sensations in my bosom. The air, likewise, breathed into the
cavern, was unspeakably delicious.

I now found myself on the projecture of a rock. Above and below, the
hill-side was nearly perpendicular. Opposite, and at the distance of
fifteen or twenty yards, was a similar ascent. At the bottom was a glen,
cold, narrow, and obscure. This projecture, which served as a kind of
vestibule to the cave, was connected with a ledge, by which, though not
without peril and toil, I was conducted to the summit.

This summit was higher than any of those which were interposed between
itself and the river. A large part of this chaos of rocks and precipices
was subjected, at one view, to the eye. The fertile lawns and vales
which lay beyond this, the winding course of the river, and the slopes
which rose on its farther side, were parts of this extensive scene.
These objects were at any time fitted to inspire rapture. Now my delight
was enhanced by the contrast which this lightsome and serene element
bore to the glooms from which I had lately emerged. My station, also,
was higher, and the limits of my view, consequently, more ample than any
which I had hitherto enjoyed.

I advanced to the outer verge of the hill, which I found to overlook a
steep no less inaccessible, and a glen equally profound. I changed
frequently my station in order to diversify the scenery. At length it
became necessary to inquire by what means I should return. I traversed
the edge of the hill, but on every side it was equally steep and always
too lofty to permit me to leap from it. As I kept along the verge, I
perceived that it tended in a circular direction, and brought me back,
at last, to the spot from which I had set out. From this inspection, it
seemed as if return was impossible by any other way than that through
the cavern.

I now turned my attention to the interior space. If you imagine a
cylindrical mass, with a cavity dug in the centre, whose edge conforms
to the exterior edge; and if you place in this cavity another cylinder,
higher than that which surrounds it, but so small as to leave between
its sides and those of the cavity a hollow space, you will gain as
distinct an image of this hill as words can convey. The summit of the
inner rock was rugged and covered with trees of unequal growth. To reach
this summit would not render my return easier; but its greater elevation
would extend my view, and perhaps furnish a spot from which the whole
horizon was conspicuous.

As I had traversed the outer, I now explored the inner, edge of this
hill. At length I reached a spot where the chasm, separating the two
rocks, was narrower than at any other part. At first view, it seemed as
if it were possible to leap over it, but a nearer examination showed me
that the passage was impracticable. So far as my eye could estimate it,
the breadth was thirty or forty feet. I could scarcely venture to look
beneath. The height was dizzy, and the walls, which approached each
other at top, receded at the bottom, so as to form the resemblance of an
immense hall, lighted from a rift which some convulsion of nature had
made in the roof. Where I stood there ascended a perpetual mist,
occasioned by a torrent that dashed along the rugged pavement below.

From these objects I willingly turned my eye upon those before and above
me, on the opposite ascent. A stream, rushing from above, fell into a
cavity, which its own force seemed gradually to have made. The noise and
the motion equally attracted my attention. There was a desolate and
solitary grandeur in the scene, enhanced by the circumstances in which
it was beheld, and by the perils through which I had recently passed,
that had never before been witnessed by me.

A sort of sanctity and awe environed it, owing to the consciousness of
absolute and utter loneliness. It was probable that human feet had never
before gained this recess, that human eyes had never been fixed upon
these gushing waters. The aboriginal inhabitants had no motives to lead
them into caves like this and ponder on the verge of such a precipice.
Their successors were still less likely to have wandered hither. Since
the birth of this continent, I was probably the first who had deviated
thus remotely from the customary paths of men.

While musing upon these ideas, my eye was fixed upon the foaming
current. At length I looked upon the rocks which confined and
embarrassed its course. I admired their fantastic shapes and endless
irregularities. Passing from one to the other of these, my attention
lighted, at length, as if by some magical transition, on--a human
countenance!

My surprise was so abrupt, and my sensations so tumultuous, that I
forgot for a moment the perilous nature of my situation. I loosened my
hold of a pine-branch, which had been hitherto one of my supports, and
almost started from my seat. Had my station been in a slight degree
nearer the brink than it was, I should have fallen headlong into the
abyss.

To meet a human creature, even on that side of the chasm which I
occupied, would have been wholly adverse to my expectation. My station
was accessible by no other road than that through which I had passed,
and no motives were imaginable by which others could be prompted to
explore this road. But he whom I now beheld was seated where it seemed
impossible for human efforts to have placed him.

But this affected me but little in comparison with other incidents. Not
only the countenance was human, but, in spite of shaggy and tangled
locks, and an air of melancholy wildness, I speedily recognised the
features of the fugitive Clithero!

One glance was not sufficient to make me acquainted with this scene. I
had come hither partly in pursuit of this man, but some casual appendage
of his person, something which should indicate his past rather than his
present existence, was all that I hoped to find. That he should be found
alive in this desert, that he should have gained this summit, access to
which was apparently impossible, were scarcely within the boundaries of
belief.

His scanty and coarse garb had been nearly rent away by brambles and
thorns; his arms, bosom, and cheeks were overgrown and half concealed by
hair. There was somewhat in his attitude and looks denoting more than
anarchy of thoughts and passions. His rueful, ghastly, and immovable
eyes testified not only that his mind was ravaged by despair, but that
he was pinched with famine.

These proofs of his misery thrilled to my inmost heart. Horror and
shuddering invaded me as I stood gazing upon him, and, for a time, I was
without the power of deliberating on the measures which it was my duty
to adopt for his relief. The first suggestion was, by calling, to inform
him of my presence. I knew not what counsel or comfort to offer. By what
words to bespeak his attention, or by what topics to mollify his direful
passions, I knew not. Though so near, the gulf by which we were
separated was impassable. All that I could do was to speak.

My surprise and my horror were still strong enough to give a shrill and
piercing tone to my voice. The chasm and the rocks loudened and
reverberated my accents while I exclaimed,--"_Man! Clithero!_"

My summons was effectual. He shook off his trance in a moment. He had
been stretched upon his back, with his eyes fixed upon a craggy
projecture above, as if he were in momentary expectation of its fall and
crushing him to atoms. Now he started on his feet. He was conscious of
the voice, but not of the quarter whence it came. He was looking
anxiously around when I again spoke:--"Look hither. It is I who called."

He looked. Astonishment was now mingled with every other dreadful
meaning in his visage. He clasped his hands together and bent forward,
as if to satisfy himself that his summoner was real. At the next moment
he drew back, placed his hands upon his breast, and fixed his eyes on
the ground.

This pause was not likely to be broken but by me. I was preparing again
to speak. To be more distinctly heard, I advanced closer to the brink.
During this action, my eye was necessarily withdrawn from him. Having
gained a somewhat nearer station, I looked again, but--he was gone!

The seat which he so lately occupied was empty. I was not forewarned of
his disappearance or directed to the course of his flight by any
rustling among leaves. These, indeed, would have been overpowered by the
noise of the cataract. The place where he sat was the bottom of a
cavity, one side of which terminated in the verge of the abyss, but the
other sides were perpendicular or overhanging. Surely he had not leaped
into this gulf; and yet that he had so speedily scaled the steep was
impossible.

I looked into the gulf, but the depth and the gloom allowed me to see
nothing with distinctness. His cries or groans could not be overheard
amidst the uproar of the waters. His fall must have instantly destroyed
him, and that he had fallen was the only conclusion I could draw.

My sensations on this incident cannot be easily described. The image of
this man's despair, and of the sudden catastrophe to which my
inauspicious interference had led, filled me with compunction and
terror. Some of my fears were relieved by the new conjecture, that,
behind the rock on which he had lain, there might be some aperture or
pit into which he had descended, or in which he might be concealed.

I derived consolation from this conjecture. Not only the evil which I
dreaded might not have happened, but some alleviation of his misery was
possible. Could I arrest his footsteps and win his attention, I might be
able to insinuate the lessons of fortitude; but if words were impotent,
and arguments were nugatory, yet to sit by him in silence, to moisten
his hand with tears, to sigh in unison, to offer him the spectacle of
sympathy, the solace of believing that his demerits were not estimated
by so rigid a standard by others as by himself, that one at least among
his fellow-men regarded him with love and pity, could not fail to be of
benign influence.

These thoughts inspired me with new zeal. To effect my purpose it was
requisite to reach the opposite steep. I was now convinced that this was
not an impracticable undertaking, since Clithero had already performed
it. I once more made the circuit of the hill. Every side was steep and
of enormous height, and the gulf was nowhere so narrow as at this spot.
I therefore returned hither, and once more pondered on the means of
passing this tremendous chasm in safety.

Casting my eyes upward, I noted the tree at the root of which I was
standing. I compared the breadth of the gulf with the length of the
trunk of this tree, and it appeared very suitable for a bridge. Happily
it grew obliquely, and, if felled by an axe, would probably fall of
itself, in such a manner as to be suspended across the chasm. The stock
was thick enough to afford me footing, and would enable me to reach the
opposite declivity without danger or delay.

A more careful examination of the spot, the site of the tree, its
dimensions, and the direction of its growth, convinced me fully of the
practicability of this expedient, and I determined to carry it into
immediate execution. For this end I must hasten home, procure an axe,
and return with all expedition hither. I took my former way, once more
entered the subterranean avenue, and slowly re-emerged into day. Before
I reached home, the evening was at hand, and my tired limbs and jaded
spirits obliged me to defer my undertaking till the morrow.

Though my limbs were at rest, my thoughts were active through the night.
I carefully reviewed the situation of this hill, and was unable to
conjecture by what means Clithero could place himself upon it. Unless he
occasionally returned to the habitable grounds, it was impossible for
him to escape perishing by famine. He might intend to destroy himself by
this means, and my first efforts were to be employed to overcome this
fatal resolution. To persuade him to leave his desolate haunts might be
a laborious and tedious task; meanwhile, all my benevolent intentions
would be frustrated by his want of sustenance. It was proper, therefore,
to carry bread with me, and to place it before him. The sight of food,
the urgencies of hunger, and my vehement entreaties, might prevail on
him to eat, though no expostulations might suffice to make him seek food
at a distance.



Chapter XI.


Next morning I stored a small bag with meat and bread, and, throwing an
axe on my shoulder, set out, without informing any one of my intentions,
for the hill. My passage was rendered more difficult by these
encumbrances, but my perseverance surmounted every impediment, and I
gained, in a few hours, the foot of the tree whose trunk was to serve me
for a bridge. In this journey I saw no traces of the fugitive.

A new survey of the tree confirmed my former conclusions, and I began my
work with diligence. My strokes were repeated by a thousand echoes, and
I paused at first, somewhat startled by reverberations which made it
appear as if not one but a score of axes were employed at the same time
on both sides of the gulf.

Quickly the tree fell, and exactly in the manner which I expected arid
desired. The wide-spread limbs occupied and choked up the channel of the
torrent, and compelled it to seek a new outlet and multiplied its
murmurs. I dared not trust myself to cross it in an upright posture, but
clung, with hands and feet, to its rugged bark. Having reached the
opposite cliff, I proceeded to examine the spot where Clithero had
disappeared. My fondest hopes were realized, for a considerable cavity
appeared, which, on a former day, had been concealed from my distant
view by the rock.

It was obvious to conclude that this was his present habitation, or that
an avenue, conducting hither and terminating in the unexplored sides of
this pit, was that by which he had come hither, and by which he had
retired. I could not hesitate long to slide into the pit. I found an
entrance through which I fearlessly penetrated. I was prepared to
encounter obstacles and perils similar to those which I have already
described, but was rescued from them by ascending, in a few minutes,
into a kind of passage, open above, but walled by a continued rock on
both sides. The sides of this passage conformed with the utmost
exactness to each other. Nature, at some former period, had occasioned
the solid mass to dispart at this place, and had thus afforded access to
the summit of the hill. Loose stones and ragged points formed the
flooring of this passage, which rapidly and circuitously ascended.

I was now within a few yards of the surface of the rock. The passage
opened into a kind of chamber or pit, the sides of which were not
difficult to climb. I rejoiced at the prospect of this termination of my
journey. Here I paused, and, throwing my weary limbs on the ground,
began to examine the objects around me, and to meditate on the steps
that were next to be taken.

My first glance lighted on the very being of whom I was in search.
Stretched upon a bed of moss, at the distance of a few feet from my
station, I beheld Clithero. He had not been roused by my approach,
though my footsteps were perpetually stumbling and sliding. This
reflection gave birth to the fear that he was dead. A nearer inspection
dispelled my apprehensions, and showed me that he was merely buried in
profound slumber. Those vigils must indeed have been long which were at
last succeeded by a sleep so oblivious.

This meeting was, in the highest degree, propitious. It not only assured
me of his existence, but proved that his miseries were capable of being
suspended. His slumber enabled me to pause, to ruminate on the manner by
which his understanding might be most successfully addressed; to collect
and arrange the topics fitted to rectify his gloomy and disastrous
perceptions.

Thou knowest that I am qualified for such tasks neither by my education
nor my genius. The headlong and ferocious energies of this man could not
be repelled or diverted into better paths by efforts so undisciplined as
mine. A despair so stormy and impetuous would drown my feeble accents.
How should I attempt to reason with him? How should I outroot
prepossessions so inveterate,--the fruits of his earliest education,
fostered and matured by the observation and experience of his whole
life? How should I convince him that, since the death of Wiatte was not
intended, the deed was without crime? that, if it had been deliberately
concerted, it was still a virtue, since his own life could by no other
means be preserved? that when he pointed a dagger at the bosom of his
mistress he was actuated, not by avarice, or ambition, or revenge, or
malice? He desired to confer on her the highest and the only benefit of
which he believed her capable. He sought to rescue her from tormenting
regrets and lingering agonies.

These positions were sufficiently just to my own view, but I was not
called upon to reduce them to practice. I had not to struggle with the
consciousness of having been rescued, by some miraculous contingency,
from imbruing my hands in the blood of her whom I adored; of having
drawn upon myself suspicions of ingratitude and murder too deep to be
ever effaced; of having bereft myself of love, and honour, and friends,
and spotless reputation; of having doomed myself to infamy and
detestation, to hopeless exile, penury, and servile toil. These were the
evils which his malignant destiny had made the unalterable portion of
Clithero, and how should my imperfect eloquence annihilate these evils?
Every man, not himself the victim of irretrievable disasters, perceives
the folly of ruminating on the past, and of fostering a grief which
cannot reverse or recall the decrees of an immutable necessity; but
every man who suffers is unavoidably shackled by the errors which he
censures in his neighbour, and his efforts to relieve himself are as
fruitless as those with which he attempted the relief of others.

No topic, therefore, could be properly employed by me on the present
occasion. All that I could do was to offer him food, and, by pathetic
supplications, to prevail on him to eat. Famine, however obstinate,
would scarcely refrain when bread was placed within sight and reach.
When made to swerve from his resolution in one instance, it would be
less difficult to conquer it a second time. The magic of sympathy, the
perseverance of benevolence, though silent, might work a gradual and
secret revolution, and better thoughts might insensibly displace those
desperate suggestions which now governed him.

Having revolved these ideas, I placed the food which I had brought at
his right hand, and, seating myself at his feet, attentively surveyed
his countenance. The emotions which were visible during wakefulness had
vanished during this cessation of remembrance and remorse, or were
faintly discernible. They served to dignify and solemnize his features,
and to embellish those immutable lines which betokened the spirit of his
better days. Lineaments were now observed which could never coexist with
folly or associate with obdurate guilt.

I had no inclination to awaken him. This respite was too sweet to be
needlessly abridged. I determined to await the operation of nature, and
to prolong, by silence and by keeping interruption at a distance, this
salutary period of forgetfulness. This interval permitted new ideas to
succeed in my mind.

Clithero believed his solitude to be unapproachable. What new expedients
to escape inquiry and intrusion might not my presence suggest! Might he
not vanish, as he had done on the former day, and afford me no time to
assail his constancy and tempt his hunger? If, however, I withdrew
during his sleep, he would awake without disturbance, and be
unconscious, for a time, that his secrecy had been violated. He would
quickly perceive the victuals, and would need no foreign inducements to
eat. A provision so unexpected and extraordinary might suggest new
thoughts, and be construed into a kind of heavenly condemnation of his
purpose. He would not readily suspect the motives or person of his
visitant, would take no precaution against the repetition of my visit,
and, at the same time, our interview would not be attended with so much
surprise. The more I revolved these reflections, the greater force they
acquired. At length, I determined to withdraw, and, leaving the food
where it could scarcely fail of attracting his notice, I returned by the
way that I had come. I had scarcely reached home, when a messenger from
Inglefield arrived, requesting me to spend the succeeding night at his
house, as some engagement had occurred to draw him to the city.

I readily complied with this request. It was not necessary, however, to
be early in my visit. I deferred going till the evening was far
advanced. My way led under the branches of the elm which recent events
had rendered so memorable. Hence my reflections reverted to the
circumstances which had lately occurred in connection with this tree.

I paused, for some time, under its shade. I marked the spot where
Clithero had been discovered digging. It showed marks of being
unsettled; but the sod which had formerly covered it, and which had
lately been removed, was now carefully replaced. This had not been done
by him on that occasion in which I was a witness of his behaviour. The
earth was then hastily removed, and as hastily thrown again into the
hole from which it had been taken.

Some curiosity was naturally excited by this appearance. Either some
other person, or Clithero, on a subsequent occasion, had been here. I
was now likewise led to reflect on the possible motives that prompted
the maniac to turn up this earth. There is always some significance in
the actions of a sleeper. Somewhat was, perhaps, buried in this spot,
connected with the history of Mrs. Lorimer or of Clarice. Was it not
possible to ascertain the truth in this respect?

There was but one method. By carefully uncovering this hole, and digging
as deep as Clithero had already dug, it would quickly appear whether any
thing was hidden. To do this publicly by daylight was evidently
indiscreet. Besides, a moment's delay was superfluous. The night had now
fallen, and before it was past this new undertaking might be finished.
An interview was, if possible, to be gained with Clithero on the morrow,
and for this interview the discoveries made on this spot might eminently
qualify me. Influenced by these considerations, I resolved to dig. I was
first, however, to converse an hour with the housekeeper, and then to
withdraw to my chamber. When the family were all retired, and there was
no fear of observation or interruption, I proposed to rise and hasten,
with a proper implement, hither.

One chamber in Inglefield's house was usually reserved for visitants. In
this chamber thy unfortunate brother died, and here it was that I was to
sleep. The image of its last inhabitant could not fail of being called
up, and of banishing repose; but the scheme which I had meditated was an
additional incitement to watchfulness. Hither I repaired at the due
season, having previously furnished myself with candles, since I knew
not what might occur to make a light necessary.

I did not go to bed, but either sat musing by a table or walked across
the room. The bed before me was that on which my friend breathed his
last. To rest my head upon the same pillow, to lie on that pallet which
sustained his cold and motionless limbs, were provocations to
remembrance and grief that I desired to shun. I endeavoured to fill my
mind with more recent incidents, with the disasters of Clithero, my
subterranean adventures, and the probable issue of the schemes which I
now contemplated.

I recalled the conversation which had just ended with the housekeeper.
Clithero had been our theme, but she had dealt chiefly in repetitions of
what had formerly been related by her or by Inglefield. I inquired what
this man had left behind, and found that it consisted of a square box,
put together by himself with uncommon strength, but of rugged
workmanship. She proceeded to mention that she had advised her brother,
Mr. Inglefield, to break open this box and ascertain its contents; but
this he did not think himself justified in doing. Clithero was guilty of
no known crime, was responsible to no one for his actions, and might
some time return to claim his property. This box contained nothing with
which others had a right to meddle. Somewhat might be found in it,
throwing light upon his past or present situation; but curiosity was not
to be gratified by these means. What Clithero thought proper to conceal,
it was criminal for us to extort from him.

The housekeeper was by no means convinced by these arguments, and at
length obtained her brother's permission to try whether any of her own
keys would unlock this chest. The keys were produced, but no lock nor
keyhole were discoverable. The lid was fast, but by what means it was
fastened the most accurate inspection could not detect. Hence she was
compelled to lay aside her project. This chest had always stood in the
chamber which I now occupied.

These incidents were now remembered, and I felt disposed to profit by
this opportunity of examining this box. It stood in a corner, and was
easily distinguished by its form. I lifted it and found its weight by no
means extraordinary. Its structure was remarkable. It consisted of six
sides, square and of similar dimensions. These were joined, not by
mortise and tennon, not by nails, not by hinges, but the junction was
accurate. The means by which they were made to cohere were invisible.

Appearances on every side were uniform, nor were there any marks by
which the lid was distinguishable from its other surfaces.

During his residence with Inglefield, many specimens of mechanical
ingenuity were given by his servant. This was the workmanship of his own
hands. I looked at it for some time, till the desire insensibly arose of
opening it and examining its contents.

I had no more right to do this than the Inglefields; perhaps, indeed,
this curiosity was more absurd, and the gratification more culpable, in
me than in them. I was acquainted with the history of Clithero's past
life, and with his present condition. Respecting these, I had no new
intelligence to gain, and no doubts to solve. What excuse could I make
to the proprietor, should he ever reappear to claim his own, or to
Inglefield for breaking open a receptacle which all the maxims of
society combine to render sacred?

But could not my end be gained without violence? The means of opening
might present themselves on a patient scrutiny. The lid might be raised
and shut down again without any tokens of my act; its contents might be
examined, and all things restored to their former condition, in a few
minutes.

I intended not a theft. I intended to benefit myself without inflicting
injury on others. Nay, might not the discoveries I should make throw
light upon the conduct of this extraordinary man which his own narrative
had withheld? Was there reason to confide implicitly on the tale which I
had heard?

In spite of the testimony of my own feelings, the miseries of Clithero
appeared in some degree fantastic and groundless. A thousand conceivable
motives might induce him to pervert or conceal the truth. If he were
thoroughly known, his character might assume a new appearance; and what
is now so difficult to reconcile to common maxims might prove perfectly
consistent with them. I desire to restore him to peace; but a thorough
knowledge of his actions is necessary, both to show that he is worthy of
compassion, and to suggest the best means of extirpating his errors. It
was possible that this box contained the means of this knowledge.

There were likewise other motives, which, as they possessed some
influence, however small, deserve to be mentioned. Thou knowest that I
also am a mechanist. I had constructed a writing-desk and cabinet, in
which I had endeavoured to combine the properties of secrecy, security,
and strength, in the highest possible degree. I looked upon this,
therefore, with the eye of an artist, and was solicitous to know the
principles on which it was formed. I determined to examine, and, if
possible, to open it.



Chapter XII.


I surveyed it with the utmost attention. All its parts appeared equally
solid and smooth. It could not be doubted that one of its sides served
the purpose of a lid, and was possible to be raised. Mere strength could
not be applied to raise it, because there was no projecture which might
be firmly held by the hand, and by which force could be exerted. Some
spring, therefore, secretly existed, which might forever elude the
senses, but on which the hand, by being moved over it in all directions,
might accidentally light.

This process was effectual. A touch, casually applied at an angle, drove
back a bolt, and a spring, at the same time, was set in action, by which
the lid was raised above half an inch. No event could be supposed more
fortuitous than this. A hundred hands might have sought in vain for this
spring. The spot in which a certain degree of pressure was sufficient to
produce this effect was, of all, the least likely to attract notice or
awaken suspicion.

I opened the trunk with eagerness. The space within was divided into
numerous compartments, none of which contained any thing of moment.
Tools of different and curious constructions, and remnants of minute
machinery, were all that offered themselves to my notice.

My expectations being thus frustrated, I proceeded to restore things to
their former state. I attempted to close the lid; but the spring which
had raised it refused to bend. No measure that I could adopt enabled me
to place the lid in the same situation in which I had found it. In my
efforts to press down the lid, which were augmented in proportion to the
resistance that I met with, the spring was broken. This obstacle being
removed, the lid resumed its proper place; but no means, within the
reach of my ingenuity to discover, enabled me to push forward the bolt,
and thus to restore the fastening.

I now perceived that Clithero had provided not only against the opening
of his cabinet, but likewise against the possibility of concealing that
it had been opened. This discovery threw me into some confusion. I had
been tempted thus far by the belief that my action was without
witnesses, and might be forever concealed. This opinion was now
confuted. If Clithero should ever reclaim his property, he would not
fail to detect the violence of which I had been guilty. Inglefield would
disapprove in another what he had not permitted to himself, and the
unauthorized and clandestine manner in which I had behaved would
aggravate, in his eyes, the heinousness of my offence.

But now there was no remedy. All that remained was to hinder suspicion
from lighting on the innocent, and to confess, to my friend, the offence
which I had committed. Meanwhile my first project was resumed, and, the
family being now wrapped in profound sleep, I left my chamber, and
proceeded to the elm. The moon was extremely brilliant, but I hoped that
this unfrequented road and unseasonable hour would hinder me from being
observed. My chamber was above the kitchen, with which it communicated
by a small staircase, and the building to which it belonged was
connected with the dwelling by a gallery. I extinguished the light, and
left it in the kitchen, intending to relight it, by the embers that
still glowed on the hearth, on my return.

I began to remove the sod and cast out the earth, with little confidence
in the success of my project. The issue of my examination of the box
humbled and disheartened me. For some time I found nothing that tended
to invigorate my hopes. I determined, however, to descend, as long as
the unsettled condition of the earth showed me that some one had
preceded me. Small masses of stone were occasionally met with, which
served only to perplex me with groundless expectations. At length my
spade struck upon something which emitted a very different sound. I
quickly drew it forth, and found it to be wood. Its regular form, and
the crevices which were faintly discernible, persuaded me that it was
human workmanship, and that there was a cavity within. The place in
which it was found easily suggested some connection between this and the
destiny of Clithero. Covering up the hole with speed, I hastened with my
prize to the house. The door by which the kitchen was entered was not to
be seen from the road. It opened on a field, the farther limit of which
was a ledge of rocks, which formed, on this side, the boundary of
Inglefield's estate and the westernmost barrier of Norwalk.

As I turned the angle of the house, and came in view of this door,
methought I saw a figure issue from it. I was startled at this incident,
and, stopping, crouched close to the wall, that I might not be
discovered. As soon as the figure passed beyond the verge of the shade,
it was easily distinguished to be that of Clithero! He crossed the field
with a rapid pace, and quickly passed beyond the reach of my eye.

This appearance was mysterious. For what end he should visit this
habitation could not be guessed. Was the contingency to be lamented in
consequence of which an interview had been avoided? Would it have
compelled me to explain the broken condition of his trunk? I knew not
whether to rejoice at having avoided this interview, or to deplore it.

These thoughts did not divert me from examining the nature of the prize
which I had gained. I relighted my candle and hied once more to the
chamber. The first object which, on entering it, attracted my attention,
was the cabinet broken into twenty fragments, on the hearth. I had left
it on a low table, at a distant corner of the room.

No conclusion could be formed but that Clithero had been here, had
discovered the violence which had been committed on his property, and,
in the first transport of his indignation, had shattered it to pieces. I
shuddered on reflecting how near I had been to being detected by him in
the very act, and by how small an interval I had escaped that resentment
which, in that case, would have probably been wreaked upon me.

My attention was withdrawn, at length, from this object, and fixed upon
the contents of the box which I had dug up. This was equally
inaccessible with the other. I had not the same motives for caution and
forbearance. I was somewhat desperate, as the consequences of my
indiscretion could not be aggravated, and my curiosity was more
impetuous with regard to the smaller than to the larger cabinet. I
placed it on the ground and crushed it to pieces with my heel.

Something was within. I brought it to the light, and, after loosing
numerous folds, at length drew forth a volume. No object in the circle
of nature was more adapted than this to rouse up all my faculties. My
feelings were anew excited on observing that it was a manuscript. I
bolted the door, and, drawing near the light, opened and began to read.

A few pages were sufficient to explain the nature of the work. Clithero
had mentioned that his lady had composed a vindication of her conduct
towards her brother when her intercession in his favour was solicited
and refused. This performance had never been published, but had been
read by many, and was preserved by her friends as a precious monument of
her genius and her virtue. This manuscript was now before me.

That Clithero should preserve this manuscript, amidst the wreck of his
hopes and fortunes, was apparently conformable to his temper. That,
having formed the resolution to die, he should seek to hide this volume
from the profane curiosity of survivors, was a natural proceeding. To
bury it rather than to burn, or disperse it into fragments, would be
suggested by the wish to conceal, without committing what his heated
fancy would regard as sacrilege. To bury it beneath the elm was dictated
by no fortuitous or inexplicable caprice. This event could scarcely fail
of exercising some influence on the perturbations of his sleep, and
thus, in addition to other causes, might his hovering near this trunk,
and throwing up this earth, in the intervals of slumber, be accounted
for. Clithero, indeed, had not mentioned this proceeding in the course
of his narrative; but that would have contravened the end for which he
had provided a grave for this book.

I read this copious tale with unspeakable eagerness. It essentially
agreed with that which had been told by Clithero. By drawing forth
events into all their circumstances, more distinct impressions were
produced on the mind, and proofs of fortitude and equanimity were here
given to which I had hitherto known no parallel. No wonder that a soul
like Clithero's, pervaded by these proofs of inimitable excellence, and
thrillingly alive to the passion of virtuous fame, and the value of that
existence which he had destroyed, should be overborne by horror at the
view of the past.

The instability of life and happiness was forcibly illustrated, as well
as the perniciousness of error. Exempt as this lady was from almost
every defect, she was indebted for her ruin to absurd opinions of the
sacredness of consanguinity, to her anxiety for the preservation of a
ruffian because that ruffian was her brother. The spirit of Clithero was
enlightened and erect, but he weakly suffered the dictates of eternal
justice to be swallowed up by gratitude. The dread of unjust upbraiding
hurried him to murder and to suicide, and the imputation of imaginary
guilt impelled him to the perpetration of genuine and enormous crimes.

The perusal of this volume ended not but with the night. Contrary to my
hopes, the next day was stormy and wet. This did not deter me from
visiting the mountain. Slippery paths and muddy torrents were no
obstacles to the purposes which I had adopted. I wrapped myself, and a
bag of provisions, in a cloak of painted canvas, and speeded to the
dwelling of Clithero.

I passed through the cave and reached the bridge which my own ingenuity
had formed. At that moment, torrents of rain poured from above, and
stronger blasts thundered amidst these desolate recesses and profound
chasms. Instead of lamenting the prevalence of this tempest, I now began
to regard it with pleasure. It conferred new forms of sublimity and
grandeur on this scene.

As I crept with hands and feet along my imperfect bridge, a sudden gust
had nearly whirled me into the frightful abyss below. To preserve
myself, I was obliged to loose my hold of my burden, and it fell into
the gulf. This incident disconcerted and distressed me. As soon as I had
effected my dangerous passage, I screened myself behind a cliff and gave
myself up to reflection.

The purpose of this arduous journey was defeated by the loss of the
provisions I had brought. I despaired of winning the attention of the
fugitive to supplications, or arguments tending to smother remorse or
revive his fortitude. The scope of my efforts was to consist in
vanquishing his aversion to food; but these efforts would now be
useless, since I had no power to supply his cravings.

This deficiency, however, was easily supplied. I had only to return home
and supply myself anew. No time was to be lost in doing this; but I was
willing to remain under this shelter till the fury of the tempest had
subsided. Besides, I was not certain that Clithero had again retreated
hither. It was requisite to explore the summit of this hill, and
ascertain whether it had any inhabitant. I might likewise discover what
had been the success of my former experiment, and whether the food,
which had been left here on the former day, was consumed or neglected.

While occupied with these reflections, my eyes were fixed upon the
opposite steeps. The tops of the trees, waving to and fro in the wildest
commotion, and their trunks, occasionally bending to the blast, which,
in these lofty regions, blew with a violence unknown in the tracts
below, exhibited an awful spectacle. At length, my attention was
attracted by the trunk which lay across the gulf, and which I had
converted into a bridge. I perceived that it had already somewhat
swerved from its original position, that every blast broke or loosened
some of the fibres by which its roots were connected with the opposite
bank, and that, if the storm did not speedily abate, there was imminent
danger of its being torn from the rock and precipitated into the chasm.
Thus my retreat would be cut off, and the evils from which I was
endeavouring to rescue another would be experienced by myself.

I did not just then reflect that Clithero had found access to this hill
by other means, and that the avenue by which he came would be equally
commodious to me. I believed my destiny to hang upon the expedition with
which I should recross this gulf. The moments that were spent in these
deliberations were critical, and I shuddered to observe that the trunk
was held in its place by one or two fibres which were already stretched
almost to breaking.

To pass along the trunk, rendered slippery by the wet and unsteadfast by
the wind, was imminently dangerous. To maintain my hold, in passing, in
defiance of the whirlwind, required the most vigorous exertions. For
this end it was necessary to discommode myself of my cloak, and of the
volume which I carried in the pocket of my cloak. I believed there was
no reason to dread their being destroyed or purloined, if left, for a
few hours or a day, in this recess. If laid beside a stone, under
shelter of this cliff, they would, no doubt, remain unmolested till the
disappearance of the storm should permit me to revisit this spot in the
afternoon or on the morrow.

Just as I had disposed of these encumbrances and had risen from my seat,
my attention was again called to the opposite steep, by the most
unwelcome object that, at this time, could possibly occur. Something was
perceived moving among the bushes and rocks, which, for a time, I hoped
was no more than a raccoon or opossum, but which presently appeared to
be a panther. His gray coat, extended claws, fiery eyes, and a cry which
he at that moment uttered, and which, by its resemblance to the human
voice, is peculiarly terrific, denoted him to be the most ferocious and
untamable of that detested race.

[Footnote: The gray cougar. This animal has all the essential
characteristics of a tiger. Though somewhat inferior in size and
strength, these are such as to make him equally formidable to man.]

The industry of our hunters has nearly banished animals of prey from
these precincts. The fastnesses of Norwalk, however, could not but
afford refuge to some of them. Of late I had met them so rarely, that my
fears were seldom alive, and I trod, without caution, the ruggedest and
most solitary haunts. Still, however, I had seldom been unfurnished in
my rambles with the means of defence.

My temper never delighted in carnage and blood. I found no pleasure in
plunging into bogs, wading through rivulets, and penetrating thickets,
for the sake of dispatching woodcocks and squirrels. To watch their
gambols and flittings, and invite them to my hand, was my darling
amusement when loitering among the woods and the rocks. It was much
otherwise, however, with regard to rattlesnakes and panthers. These I
thought it no breach of duty to exterminate wherever they could be
found. These judicious and sanguinary spoilers were equally the enemies
of man and of the harmless race that sported in the trees, and many of
their skins are still preserved by me as trophies of my juvenile
prowess.

As hunting was never my trade or my sport, I never loaded myself with
fowling-piece or rifle. Assiduous exercise had made me master of a
weapon of much easier carriage, and, within a moderate distance, more
destructive and unerring. This was the tomahawk. With this I have often
severed an oak-branch, and cut the sinews of a catamount, at the
distance of sixty feet.

The unfrequency with which I had lately encountered this foe, and the
encumbrance of provision, made me neglect, on this occasion, to bring
with me my usual arms. The beast that was now before me, when stimulated
by hunger, was accustomed to assail whatever could provide him with a
banquet of blood. He would set upon the man and the deer with equal and
irresistible ferocity. His sagacity was equal to his strength, and he
seemed able to discover when his antagonist was armed and prepared for
defence.

My past experience enabled me to estimate the full extent of my danger.
He sat on the brow of the steep, eyeing the bridge, and apparently
deliberating whether he should cross it. It was probable that he had
scented my footsteps thus far, and, should he pass over, his vigilance
could scarcely fail of detecting my asylum. The pit into which Clithero
had sunk from my view was at some distance. To reach it was the first
impulse of my fear, but this could not be done without exciting the
observation and pursuit of this enemy. I deeply regretted the untoward
chance that had led me, when I first came over, to a different shelter.

Should he retain his present station, my danger was scarcely lessened.
To pass over in the face of a famished tiger was only to rush upon my
fate. The falling of the trunk, which had lately been so anxiously
deprecated, was now, with no less solicitude, desired. Every new gust, I
hoped, would tear asunder its remaining bands, and, by cutting off all
communication between the opposite steeps, place me in security.

My hopes, however, were destined to be frustrated. The fibres of the
prostrate tree were obstinately tenacious of their hold, and presently
the animal scrambled down the rock and proceeded to cross it.

Of all kinds of death, that which now menaced me was the most abhorred.
To die by disease, or by the hand of a fellow-creature, was propitious
and lenient in comparison with being rent to pieces by the fangs of this
savage. To perish in this obscure retreat, by means so impervious to the
anxious curiosity of my friends, to lose my portion of existence by so
untoward and ignoble a destiny, was insupportable. I bitterly deplored
my rashness in coming hither unprovided for an encounter like this.

The evil of my present circumstances consisted chiefly in suspense. My
death was unavoidable, but my imagination had leisure to torment itself
by anticipations. One foot of the savage was slowly and cautiously moved
after the other. He struck his claws so deeply into the bark that they
were with difficulty withdrawn. At length he leaped upon the ground. We
were now separated by an interval of scarcely eight feet. To leave the
spot where I crouched was impossible. Behind and beside me, the cliff
rose perpendicularly, and before me was this grim and terrific visage. I
shrunk still closer to the ground and closed my eyes.

From this pause of horror I was aroused by the noise occasioned by a
second spring of the animal. He leaped into the pit, in which I had so
deeply regretted that I had not taken refuge, and disappeared. My rescue
was so sudden, and so much beyond my belief or my hope, that I doubted,
for a moment, whether my senses did not deceive me. This opportunity of
escape was not to be neglected. I left my place, and scrambled over the
trunk with a precipitation which had liked to have proved fatal. The
tree groaned and shook under me, the wind blew with unexampled violence,
and I had scarcely reached the opposite steep when the roots were
severed from the rock and the whole fell thundering to the bottom of the
chasm.

My trepidations were not speedily quieted. I looked back with wonder on
my hairbreadth escape, and on that singular concurrence of events which
had placed me, in so short a period, in absolute security. Had the trunk
fallen a moment earlier, I should have been imprisoned on the hill or
thrown headlong. Had its fall been delayed another moment, I should have
been pursued; for the beast now issued from his den, and testified his
surprise and disappointment by tokens the sight of which made my blood
run cold.

He saw me, and hastened to the verge of the chasm. He squatted on his
hind-legs and assumed the attitude of one preparing to leap. My
consternation was excited afresh by these appearances. It seemed at
first as if the rift was too wide for any power of muscles to carry him
in safety over; but I knew the unparalleled agility of this animal, and
that his experience had made him a better judge of the practicability of
this exploit than I was. Still there was hope that he would relinquish
this design as desperate. This hope was quickly at an end. He sprung,
and his fore-legs touched the verge of the rock on which I stood. In
spite of vehement exertions, however, the surface was too smooth and too
hard to allow him to make good his hold. He fell, and a piercing cry,
uttered below, showed that nothing had obstructed his descent to the
bottom.

Thus was I again rescued from death. Nothing but the pressure of famine
could have prompted this savage to so audacious and hazardous an effort;
but, by yielding to this impulse, he had made my future visits to this
spot exempt from peril. Clithero was, likewise, relieved from a danger
that was imminent and unforeseen. Prowling over these grounds, the
panther could scarcely have failed to meet with this solitary fugitive.

Had the animal lived, my first duty would have been to have sought him
out and assailed him with my tomahawk; but no undertaking would have
been more hazardous. Lurking in the grass, or in the branches of a tree,
his eye might have descried my approach, he might leap upon me
unperceived, and my weapon would be useless.

With a heart beating with unwonted rapidity, I once more descended the
cliff, entered the cavern, and arrived at Huntly farm, drenched with
rain, and exhausted by fatigue.

By night the storm was dispelled; but my exhausted strength would not
allow me to return to the mountain. At the customary hour I retired to
my chamber. I incessantly ruminated on the adventures of the last day,
and inquired into the conduct which I was next to pursue.

The bridge being destroyed, my customary access was cut off. There was
no possibility of restoring this bridge. My strength would not suffice
to drag a fallen tree from a distance, and there was none whose position
would abridge or supersede that labour. Some other expedient must,
therefore, be discovered to pass this chasm.

I reviewed the circumstances of my subterranean journey. The cavern was
imperfectly explored. Its branches might be numerous. That which I had
hitherto pursued terminated in an opening at a considerable distance
from the bottom. Other branches might exist, some of which might lead to
the foot of the precipice, and thence a communication might be found
with the summit of the interior hill.

The danger of wandering into dark and untried paths, and the
commodiousness of that road which had at first been taken, were
sufficient reasons for having hitherto suspended my examination of the
different branches of this labyrinth. Now my customary road was no
longer practicable, and another was to be carefully explored. For this
end, on my next journey to the mountain, I determined to take with me a
lamp, and unravel this darksome maze: this project I resolved to execute
the next day.

I now recollected what, if it had more seasonably occurred, would have
taught me caution. Some months before this a farmer, living in the
skirts of Norwalk, discovered two marauders in his field, whom he
imagined to be a male and female panther. They had destroyed some sheep,
and had been hunted by the farmer with long and fruitless diligence.
Sheep had likewise been destroyed in different quarters; but the owners
had fixed the imputation of the crime upon dogs, many of whom had atoned
for their supposed offences by their death. He who had mentioned his
discovery of panthers received little credit from his neighbours;
because a long time had elapsed since these animals were supposed to
have been exiled from this district, and because no other person had
seen them. The truth of this seemed now to be confirmed by the testimony
of my own senses; but, if the rumour were true, there still existed
another of these animals, who might harbour in the obscurities of this
desert, and against whom it was necessary to employ some precaution.
Henceforth I resolved never to traverse the wilderness unfurnished with
my tomahawk.

These images, mingled with those which the contemplation of futurity
suggested, floated, for a time, in my brain, but at length gave place to
sleep.



Chapter XIII.


Since my return home, my mind had been fully occupied by schemes and
reflections relative to Clithero. The project suggested by thee, and to
which I had determined to devote my leisure, was forgotten, or
remembered for a moment and at wide intervals. What, however, was nearly
banished from my waking thoughts, occurred in an incongruous and
half-seen form, to my dreams. During my sleep, the image of Waldegrave
flitted before me. Methought the sentiment that impelled him to visit me
was not affection or complacency, but inquietude and anger. Some service
or duty remained to be performed by me, which I had culpably neglected:
to inspirit my zeal, to awaken my remembrance, and incite me to the
performance of this duty, did this glimmering messenger, this
half-indignant apparition, come.

I commonly awake soon enough to mark the youngest dawn of the morning.
Now, in consequence perhaps of my perturbed sleep, I opened my eyes
before the stars had lost any of their lustre. This circumstance
produced some surprise, until the images that lately hovered in my fancy
were recalled, and furnished somewhat like a solution of the problem.
Connected with the image of my dead friend was that of his sister. The
discourse that took place at our last interview; the scheme of
transcribing, for thy use, all the letters which, during his short but
busy life, I received from him; the nature of this correspondence, and
the opportunity which this employment would afford me of contemplating
these ample and precious monuments of the intellectual existence and
moral pre-eminence of my friend, occurred to my thoughts.

The resolution to prosecute the task was revived. The obligation of
benevolence, with regard to Clithero, was not discharged. This, neither
duty nor curiosity would permit to be overlooked or delayed; but why
should my whole attention and activity be devoted to this man? The hours
which were spent at home and in my chamber could not be more usefully
employed than in making my intended copy.

In a few hours after sunrise I purposed to resume my way to the
mountain. Could this interval be appropriated to a better purpose than
in counting over my friend's letters, setting them apart from my own,
and preparing them for that transcription from which I expected so high
and yet so mournful a gratification?

This purpose, by no violent union, was blended with the recollection of
my dream. This recollection infused some degree of wavering and
dejection into my mind. In transcribing these letters I should violate
pathetic and solemn injunctions frequently repeated by the writer. Was
there some connection between this purpose and the incidents of my
vision? Was the latter sent to enforce the interdictions which had been
formerly imposed?

Thou art not fully acquainted with the intellectual history of thy
brother. Some information on that head will be necessary to explain the
nature of that reluctance which I now feel to comply with thy request,
and which had formerly so much excited thy surprise.

Waldegrave, like other men early devoted to meditation and books, had
adopted, at different periods, different systems of opinion on topics
connected with religion and morals. His earliest creeds tended to efface
the impressions of his education; to deify necessity and universalize
matter; to destroy the popular distinctions between soul and body, and
to dissolve the supposed connection between the moral condition of man
anterior and subsequent to death.

This creed he adopted with all the fulness of conviction, and propagated
with the utmost zeal. Soon after our friendship commenced, fortune
placed us at a distance from each other, and no intercourse was allowed
but by the pen. Our letters, however, were punctual and copious. Those
of Waldegrave were too frequently devoted to the defence of his
favourite tenets.

Thou art acquainted with the revolution that afterwards took place in
his mind. Placed within the sphere of religious influence, and listening
daily to the reasonings and exhortations of Mr. S----, whose benign
temper and blameless deportment was a visible and constant lesson, he
insensibly resumed the faith which he had relinquished, and became the
vehement opponent of all that he had formerly defended. The chief object
of his labours, in this new state of his mind, was to counteract the
effect of his former reasonings on my opinions.

At this time, other changes took place in his situation, in consequence
of which we were once more permitted to reside under the same roof. The
intercourse now ceased to be by letter, and the subtle and laborious
argumentations which he had formerly produced against religion, and
which were contained in a permanent form, were combated in transient
conversation. He was not only eager to subvert those opinions which he
had contributed to instil into me, but was anxious that the letters and
manuscripts which had been employed in their support should be
destroyed. He did not fear wholly or chiefly on my own account. He
believed that the influence of former reasonings on my faith would be
sufficiently eradicated by the new; but he dreaded lest these
manuscripts might fall into other hands, and thus produce mischiefs
which it would not be in his power to repair. With regard to me, the
poison had been followed by its antidote; but with respect to others,
these letters would communicate the poison when the antidote could not
be administered.

I would not consent to this sacrifice. I did not entirely abjure the
creed which had, with great copiousness and eloquence, been defended in
these letters. Besides, mixed up with abstract reasonings were
numberless passages which elucidated the character and history of my
friend. These were too precious to be consigned to oblivion; and to take
them out of their present connection and arrangement would be to
mutilate and deform them.

His entreaties and remonstrances were earnest and frequent, but always
ineffectual. He had too much purity of motives to be angry at my
stubbornness; but his sense of the mischievous tendency of these letters
was so great, that my intractability cost him many a pang.

He was now gone, and I had not only determined to preserve these
monuments, but had consented to copy them for the use of another; for
the use of one whose present and eternal welfare had been the chief
object of his cares and efforts. Thou, like others of thy sex, art
unaccustomed to metaphysical refinements. Thy religion is the growth of
sensibility and not of argument. Thou art not fortified and prepossessed
against the subtleties with which the being and attributes of the Deity
have been assailed. Would it be just to expose thee to pollution and
depravity from this source? To make thy brother the instrument of thy
apostasy, the author of thy fall? That brother whose latter days were so
ardently devoted to cherishing the spirit of devotion in thy heart?

These ideas now occurred with more force than formerly. I had promised,
not without reluctance, to give thee the entire copy of his letters; but
I now receded from this promise. I resolved merely to select for thy
perusal such as were narrative or descriptive. This could not be done
with too much expedition. It was still dark, but my sleep was at an end,
and, by a common apparatus, that lay beside my bed, I could instantly
produce a light.

The light was produced, and I proceeded to the cabinet where all my
papers and books are deposited. This was my own contrivance and
workmanship, undertaken by the advice of Sarsefield, who took infinite
pains to foster that mechanical genius which displayed itself so early
and so forcibly in thy friend. The key belonging to this was, like the
cabinet itself, of singular structure. For greater safety, it was
constantly placed in a closet, which was likewise locked.

The key was found as usual, and the cabinet opened. The letters were
bound together in a compact form, lodged in a parchment case, and placed
in a secret drawer. This drawer would not have been detected by common
eyes, and it opened by the motion of a spring, of whose existence none
but the maker was conscious. This drawer I had opened before I went to
sleep, and the letters were then safe.

Thou canst not imagine my confusion and astonishment, when, on opening
the drawer, I perceived that the packet was gone. I looked with more
attention, and put my hand within it; but the space was empty. Whither
had it gone, and by whom was it purloined? I was not conscious of having
taken it away, yet no hands but mine could have done it. On the last
evening I had doubtless removed it to some other corner, but had
forgotten it. I tasked my understanding and my memory. I could not
conceive the possibility of any motives inducing me to alter my
arrangements in this respect, and was unable to recollect that I had
made this change.

What remained? This invaluable relic had disappeared. Every thought and
every effort must be devoted to the single purpose of regaining it. As
yet I did not despair. Until I had opened and ransacked every part of
the cabinet in vain, I did not admit the belief that I had lost it. Even
then this persuasion was tumultuous and fluctuating. It had vanished to
my senses, but these senses were abused and depraved. To have passed, of
its own accord, through the pores of this wood, was impossible; but, if
it were gone, thus did it escape.

I was lost in horror and amazement. I explored every nook a second and a
third time, but still it eluded my eye and my touch. I opened my closets
and cases. I pried everywhere, unfolded every article of clothing,
turned and scrutinized every instrument and tool, but nothing availed.

My thoughts were not speedily collected or calmed. I threw myself on the
bed and resigned myself to musing. That my loss was irretrievable was a
supposition not to be endured. Yet ominous terrors haunted me,--a
whispering intimation that a relic which I valued more than life was
torn forever away by some malignant and inscrutable destiny. The same
power that had taken it from this receptacle was able to waft it over
the ocean or the mountains, and condemn me to a fruitless and eternal
search.

But what was he that committed the theft? Thou only, of the beings who
live, wast acquainted with the existence of these manuscripts. Thou art
many miles distant, and art utterly a stranger to the mode or place of
their concealment. Not only access to the cabinet, but access to the
room, without my knowledge and permission, was impossible. Both were
locked during this night. Not five hours had elapsed since the cabinet
and drawer had been opened, and since the letters had been seen and
touched, being in their ordinary position. During this interval, the
thief had entered, and despoiled me of my treasure.

This event, so inexplicable and so dreadful, threw my soul into a kind
of stupor or distraction, from which I was suddenly roused by a footstep
softly moving in the entry near my door. I started from my bed, as if I
had gained a glimpse of the robber. Before I could run to the door, some
one knocked. I did not think upon the propriety of answering the signal,
but hastened with tremulous fingers and throbbing heart to open the
door. My uncle, in his night-dress, and apparently just risen from his
bed, stood before me!

He marked the eagerness and perturbation of my looks, and inquired into
the cause. I did not answer his inquiries. His appearance in my chamber
and in this guise added to my surprise. My mind was full of the late
discovery, and instantly conceived some connection between this
unseasonable visit and my lost manuscript. I interrogated him in my turn
as to the cause of his coming.

"Why," said he, "I came to ascertain whether it was you or not who
amused himself so strangely at this time of night. What is the matter
with you? Why are you up so early?"

I told him that I had been roused by my dreams, and, finding no
inclination to court my slumber back again, I had risen, though earlier
by some hours than the usual period of my rising.

"But why did you go up-stairs? You might easily imagine that the sound
of your steps would alarm those below, who would be puzzled to guess who
it was that had thought proper to amuse himself in this manner."

"Up-stairs? I have not left my room this night. It is not ten minutes
since I awoke, and my door has not since been opened."

"Indeed! That is strange. Nay, it is impossible! It was your feet surely
that I heard pacing so solemnly and indefatigably across the _long
room_ for near an hour. I could not for my life conjecture, for a
time, who it was, but finally concluded that it was you. There was
still, however, some doubt, and I came hither to satisfy myself."

These tidings were adapted to raise all my emotions to a still higher
pitch. I questioned him with eagerness as to the circumstances he had
noticed. He said he had been roused by a sound, whose power of
disturbing him arose, not from its loudness, but from its uncommonness.
He distinctly heard some one pacing to and fro with bare feet, in the
long room: this sound continued, with little intermission, for an hour.
He then noticed a cessation of the walking, and a sound as if some one
were lifting the lid of the large cedar chest that stood in the corner
of this room. The walking was not resumed, and all was silent. He
listened for a quarter of an hour, and busied himself in conjecturing
the cause of this disturbance. The most probable conclusion was, that
the walker was his nephew, and his curiosity had led him to my chamber
to ascertain the truth.

This dwelling has three stories. The two lower stories are divided into
numerous apartments. The upper story constitutes a single room whose
sides are the four walls of the house, and whose ceiling is the roof.
This room is unoccupied, except by lumber, and imperfectly lighted by a
small casement at one end. In this room were footsteps heard by my
uncle.

The staircase leading to it terminated in a passage near my door. I
snatched the candle, and, desiring him to follow me, added that I would
ascertain the truth in a moment. He followed, but observed that the
walking had ceased long enough for the person to escape.

I ascended to the room, and looked behind and among the tables, and
chairs, and casks, which were confusedly scattered through it, but found
nothing in the shape of man. The cedar chest, spoken of by Mr. Huntly,
contained old books, and remnants of maps and charts, whose
worthlessness unfitted them for accomodation elsewhere. The lid was
without hinges or lock. I examined this repository, but there was
nothing which attracted my attention.

The way between the kitchen-door and the door of the long room had no
impediments. Both were usually unfastened; but the motives by which any
stranger to the dwelling, or indeed any one within it, could be prompted
to choose this place and hour for an employment of this kind, were
wholly incomprehensible.

When the family rose, inquiries were made; but no satisfaction was
obtained. The family consisted only of four persons,--my uncle, my two
sisters, and myself. I mentioned to them the loss I had sustained, but
their conjectures were no less unsatisfactory on this than on the former
incident.

There was no end to my restless meditations. Waldegrave was the only
being, besides myself, acquainted with the secrets of my cabinet. During
his life these manuscripts had been the objects of perpetual solicitude;
to gain possession, to destroy or secrete them, was the strongest of his
wishes. Had he retained his sensibility on the approach of death, no
doubt he would have renewed, with irresistible solemnity, his
injunctions to destroy them.

Now, however, they had vanished. There were no materials of conjecture;
no probabilities to be weighed, or suspicions to revolve. Human artifice
or power was unequal to this exploit. Means less than preternatural
would not furnish a conveyance for this treasure.

It was otherwise with regard to this unseasonable walker. His
inducements indeed were beyond my power to conceive; but to enter these
doors and ascend these stairs demanded not the faculties of any being
more than human.

This intrusion, and the pillage of my cabinet, were contemporary events.
Was there no more connection between them than that which results from
time? Was not the purloiner of my treasure and the wanderer the same
person? I could not reconcile the former incident with the attributes of
man; and yet a secret faith, not to be outrooted or suspended, swayed
me, and compelled me to imagine that the detection of this visitant
would unveil the thief.

These thoughts were pregnant with dejection and reverie. Clithero,
during the day, was forgotten. On the succeeding night, my intentions,
with regard to this man, returned. I derived some slender consolation
from reflecting, that time, in its long lapse and ceaseless revolutions,
might dissipate the gloom that environed me. Meanwhile, I struggled to
dismiss the images connected with my loss and to think only of Clithero.

My impatience was as strong as ever to obtain another interview with
this man. I longed with vehemence for the return of day. I believed that
every moment added to his sufferings, intellectual and physical, and
confided in the efficacy of my presence to alleviate or suspend them.
The provisions I had left would be speedily consumed, and the abstinence
of three days was sufficient to undermine the vital energies. I
sometimes hesitated whether I ought not instantly to depart. It was
night indeed, but the late storm had purified the air, and the radiance
of a full moon was universal and dazzling.

From this attempt I was deterred by reflecting that my own frame needed
the repairs of sleep. Toil and watchfulness, if prolonged another day,
would deeply injure a constitution by no means distinguished for its
force. I must, therefore, compel, if it were possible, some hours of
repose. I prepared to retire to bed, when a new incident occurred to
divert my attention for a time from these designs.



Chapter XIV.


While sitting alone by the parlour-fire, marking the effects of
moonlight, I noted one on horseback coming towards the gate. At first
sight, methought his shape and guise were not wholly new to me; but all
that I could discern was merely a resemblance to some one whom I had
before seen. Presently he stopped, and, looking towards the house, made
inquiries of a passenger who chanced to be near. Being apparently
satisfied with the answers he received, he rode with a quick pace into
the court and alighted at the door. I started from my seat, and, going
forth, waited with some impatience to hear his purpose explained.

He accosted me with the formality of a stranger, and asked if a young
man, by name Edgar Huntly, resided here. Being answered in the
affirmative, and being requested to come in, he entered, and seated
himself, without hesitation, by the fire. Some doubt and anxiety were
visible in his looks. He seemed desirous of information upon some topic,
and yet betrayed terror lest the answers he might receive should subvert
some hope or confirm some foreboding.

Meanwhile I scrutinized his features with much solicitude. A nearer and
more deliberate view convinced me that the first impression was just;
but still I was unable to call up his name or the circumstances of our
former meeting. The pause was at length ended by his saying, in a
faltering voice,--

"My name is Weymouth. I came hither to obtain information on a subject
in which my happiness is deeply concerned."

At the mention of his name, I started. It was a name too closely
connected with the image of thy brother, not to call up affecting and
vivid recollections. Weymouth, thou knowest, was thy brother's friend.
It is three years since this man left America, during which time no
tidings had been heard of him,--at least, by thy brother. He had now
returned, and was probably unacquainted with the fate of his friend.

After an anxious pause, he continued:--"Since my arrival I have heard of
an event which has, on many accounts, given me the deepest sorrow. I
loved Waldegrave, and know not any person in the world whose life was
dearer to me than his. There were considerations, however, which made it
more precious to me than the life of one whose merits might be greater.
With his life, my own existence and property were, I have reason to
think, inseparably united.

"On my return to my country, after a long absence, I made immediate
inquiries after him. I was informed of his untimely death. I had
questions, of infinite moment to my happiness, to decide with regard to
the state and disposition of his property. I sought out those of his
friends who had maintained with him the most frequent and confidential
intercourse, but they could not afford me any satisfaction. At length, I
was informed that a young man of your name, and living in this district,
had enjoyed more of his affection and society than any other, had
regulated the property which he left behind, and was best qualified to
afford the intelligence which I sought. You, it seems, are this person,
and of you I must make inquiries to which I conjure you to return
sincere and explicit answers."

"That," said I, "I shall find no difficulty in doing. Whatever questions
you shall think proper to ask, I will answer with readiness and truth."

"What kind of property, and to what amount, was your friend possessed of
at his death?"

"It was money, and consisted of deposits at the Bank of North America.
The amount was little short of eight thousand dollars."

"On whom has this property devolved?"

"His sister was his only kindred, and she is now in possession of it."

"Did he leave any will by which he directed the disposition of his
property?" While thus speaking, Weymouth fixed his eyes upon my
countenance, and seemed anxious to pierce into my inmost soul. I was
somewhat surprised at his questions, but much more at the manner in
which they were put. I answered him, however, without delay:--"He left
no will, nor was any paper discovered by which we could guess at his
intentions. No doubt, indeed, had he made a will, his sister would have
been placed precisely in the same condition in which she now is. He was
not only bound to her by the strongest ties of kindred, but by affection
and gratitude."

Weymouth now withdrew his eyes from my face, and sunk into a mournful
reverie. He sighed often and deeply. This deportment and the strain of
his inquiries excited much surprise. His interest in the fate of
Waldegrave ought to have made the information he had received a source
of satisfaction rather than of regret. The property which Waldegrave
left was much greater than his mode of life and his own professions had
given us reason to expect, but it was no more than sufficient to insure
to thee an adequate subsistence. It ascertained the happiness of those
who were dearest to Waldegrave, and placed them forever beyond the reach
of that poverty which had hitherto beset them. I made no attempt to
interrupt the silence, but prepared to answer any new interrogatory. At
length, Weymouth resumed:--

"Waldegrave was a fortunate man to amass so considerable a sum in so
short a time. I remember, when we parted, he was poor. He used to lament
that his scrupulous integrity precluded him from all the common roads to
wealth. He did not contemn riches, but he set the highest value upon
competence, and imagined that he was doomed forever to poverty. His
religious duty compelled him to seek his livelihood by teaching a school
of blacks. The labour was disproportioned to his feeble constitution,
and the profit was greatly disproportioned to the labour. It scarcely
supplied the necessities of nature, and was reduced sometimes even below
that standard by his frequent indisposition. I rejoice to find that his
scruples had somewhat relaxed their force, and that he had betaken
himself to some more profitable occupation. Pray, what was his new way
of business?"

"Nay," said I, "his scruples continued as rigid, in this respect, as
ever. He was teacher of the negro freeschool when he died."

"Indeed! How, then, came he to amass so much money? Could he blend any
more lucrative pursuit with his duty as a schoolmaster?"

"So it seems."

"What was his pursuit?"

"That question, I believe, none of his friends are qualified to answer.
I thought myself acquainted with the most secret transactions of his
life, but this had been carefully concealed from me. I was not only
unapprized of any other employment of his time, but had not the
slightest suspicion of his possessing any property besides his clothes
and books. Ransacking his papers, with a different view, I lighted on
his bank-book, in which was a regular receipt for seven thousand five
hundred dollars. By what means he acquired this money, and even the
acquisition of it, till his death put us in possession of his papers,
was wholly unknown to us."

"Possibly he might have held it in trust for another. In this case some
memorandums or letters would be found explaining this affair."

"True. This supposition could not fail to occur, in consequence of which
the most diligent search was made among his papers, but no shred or
scrap was to be found which countenanced our conjecture."

"You may reasonably be surprised, and perhaps offended," said Weymouth,
"at these inquiries; but it is time to explain my motives for making
them. Three years ago I was, like Waldegrave, indigent, and earned my
bread by daily labour. During seven years' service in a public office, I
saved, from the expenses of subsistence, a few hundred dollars. I
determined to strike into a new path, and, with this sum, to lay the
foundation of better fortune. I turned it into a bulky commodity,
freighted and loaded a small vessel, and went with it to Barcelona in
Spain. I was not unsuccessful in my projects, and, changing my abode to
England, France, and Germany, according as my interest required, I
became finally possessed of sufficient for the supply of all my wants. I
then resolved to return to my native country, and, laying out my money
in land, to spend the rest of my days in the luxury and quiet of an
opulent farmer. For this end I invested the greatest part of my property
in a cargo of wine from Madeira. The remainder I turned into a bill of
exchange for seven thousand five hundred dollars. I had maintained a
friendly correspondence with Waldegrave during my absence. There was no
one with whom I had lived on terms of so much intimacy, and had
boundless confidence in his integrity. To him therefore I determined to
transmit this bill, requesting him to take the money into safe-keeping
until my return. In this manner I endeavoured to provide against the
accidents that might befall my person or my cargo in crossing the ocean.

"It was my fate to encounter the worst of these disasters. We were
overtaken by a storm, my vessel was driven ashore on the coast of
Portugal, my cargo was utterly lost, and the greater part of the crew
and passengers were drowned. I was rescued from the same fate by some
fishermen. In consequence of the hardships to which I had been exposed,
having laboured for several days at the pumps, and spent the greater
part of a winter night hanging from the rigging of the ship and
perpetually beaten by the waves, I contracted a severe disease, which
bereaved me of the use of my limbs. The fishermen who rescued me carried
me to their huts, and there I remained three weeks helpless and
miserable.

"That part of the coast on which I was thrown was, in the highest
degree, sterile and rude. Its few inhabitants subsisted precariously on
the produce of the ocean. Their dwellings were of mud,--low, filthy,
dark, and comfortless. Their fuel was the stalks of shrubs sparingly
scattered over a sandy desert. Their poverty scarcely allowed them salt
and black bread with their fish, which was obtained in unequal and
sometimes insufficient quantities, and which they ate with all its
impurities, and half cooked.

"My former habits, as well as my present indisposition, required very
different treatment from what the ignorance and penury of these people
obliged them to bestow. I lay upon the moist earth, imperfectly
sheltered from the sky, and with neither raiment nor fire to keep me
warm. My hosts had little attention or compassion to spare to the wants
of others. They could not remove me to a more hospitable district; and
here, without doubt, I should have perished, had not a monk chanced to
visit their hovels. He belonged to a convent of St. Jago, some leagues
farther from the shore, which used to send one of its members annually
to inspect the religious concerns of those outcasts. Happily, this was
the period of their visitations.

"My abode in Spain had made me somewhat conversant with its language.
The dialect of this monk did not so much differ from Castilian but that,
with the assistance of Latin, we were able to converse. The jargon of
the fishermen was unintelligible, and they had vainly endeavoured to
keep up my spirits by informing me of this expected visit.

"This monk was touched with compassion at my calamity, and speedily
provided the means of my removal to his convent. Here I was charitably
entertained, and the aid of a physician was procured for me. He was but
poorly skilled in his profession, and rather confirmed than alleviated
my disease. The Portuguese of his trade, especially in remoter
districts, are little more than dealers in talismans and nostrums. For a
long time I was unable to leave my pallet, and had no prospect before me
but that of consuming my days in the gloom of this cloister.

"All the members of this convent but he who had been my first
benefactor, and whose name was Chaledro, were bigoted and sordid. Their
chief motive for treating me with kindness was the hope of obtaining a
convert from heresy. They spared no pains to subdue my errors, and were
willing to prolong my imprisonment, in the hope of finally gaining their
end. Had my fate been governed by those, I should have been immured in
this convent, and compelled either to adopt their fanatical creed or to
put an end to my own life, in order to escape their well-meant
persecutions. Chaledro, however, though no less sincere in his faith and
urgent in his entreaties, yet finding me invincible, exerted his
influence to obtain my liberty.

"After many delays, and strenuous exertions of my friend, they consented
to remove me to Oporto. The journey was to be performed in an open cart,
over a mountainous country, in the heats of summer. The monks
endeavoured to dissuade me from the enterprise, for my own sake, it
being scarcely possible that one in my feeble state should survive a
journey like this; but I despaired of improving my condition by other
means. I preferred death to the imprisonment of a Portuguese monastery,
and knew that I could hope for no alleviation of my disease but from the
skill of Scottish or French physicians, whom I expected to meet with in
that city. I adhered to my purpose with so much vehemence and obstinacy,
that they finally yielded to my wishes.

"My road lay through the wildest and most rugged districts. It did not
exceed ninety miles, but seven days were consumed on the way. The motion
of the vehicle racked me with the keenest pangs, and my attendants
concluded that every stage would be my last. They had been selected
without due regard to their characters. They were knavish and inhuman,
and omitted nothing but actual violence to hasten my death. They
purposely retarded the journey, and protracted to seven what might have
been readily performed in four days. They neglected to execute the
orders which they had received respecting my lodging and provisions; and
from them, as well as from the peasants, who were sure to be informed
that I was a heretic, I suffered every species of insult and injury. My
constitution, as well as my frame, possessed a fund of strength of which
I had no previous conception. In spite of hardship, and exposure, and
abstinence, I at last arrived at Oporto.

"Instead of being carried, agreeably to Chaledro's direction, to a
convent of St. Jago, I was left, late in the evening, in the porch of a
common hospital. My attendants, having laid me on the pavement and
loaded me with imprecations, left me to obtain admission by my own
efforts. I passed the livelong night in this spot, and in the morning
was received into the house in a state which left it uncertain whether I
was alive or dead.

"After recovering my sensibility, I made various efforts to procure a
visit from some English merchant. This was no easy undertaking for one
in my deplorable condition. I was too weak to articulate my words
distinctly, and these words were rendered, by my foreign accent,
scarcely intelligible. The likelihood of my speedy death made the people
about me more indifferent to my wants and petitions.

"I will not dwell upon my repeated disappointments, but content myself
with mentioning that I gained the attention of a French gentleman whose
curiosity brought him to view the hospital. Through him I obtained a
visit from an English merchant, and finally gained the notice of a
person who formerly resided in America, and of whom I had imperfect
knowledge. By their kindness I was removed from the hospital to a
private house. A Scottish surgeon was summoned to my assistance, and in
seven months I was restored to my present state of health.

"At Oporto, I embarked, in an American ship, for New York. I was
destitute of all property, and relied, for the payment of the debts
which I was obliged to contract, as well as for my future subsistence,
on my remittance to Waldegrave. I hastened to Philadelphia, and was soon
informed that my friend was dead. His death had taken place a long time
since my remittance to him: hence this disaster was a subject of regret
chiefly on his own account. I entertained no doubt but that my property
had been secured, and that either some testamentary directions or some
papers had been left behind respecting this affair.

"I sought out those who were formerly our mutual acquaintance. I found
that they were wholly strangers to his affairs. They could merely relate
some particulars of his singular death, and point out the lodgings which
he formerly occupied. Hither I forthwith repaired, and discovered that
he lived in this house with his sister, disconnected with its other
inhabitants. They described his mode of life in terms that showed them
to be very imperfectly acquainted with it. It was easy indeed to infer,
from their aspect and manners, that little sympathy or union could have
subsisted between them and their co-tenants; and this inference was
confirmed by their insinuations, the growth of prejudice and envy. They
told me that Waldegrave's sister had gone to live in the country, but
whither, or for how long, she had not condescended to inform them, and
they did not care to ask. She was a topping dame, whose notions were
much too high for her station; who was more nice than wise, and yet was
one who could stoop when it most became her to stand upright. It was no
business of theirs; but they could not but mention their suspicions that
she had good reasons for leaving the city and for concealing the place
of her retreat. Some things were hard to be disguised. They spoke for
themselves, and the only way to hinder disagreeable discoveries was to
keep out of sight.

"I was wholly a stranger to Waldegrave's sister. I knew merely that he
had such a relation. There was nothing, therefore, to outbalance this
unfavourable report, but the apparent malignity and grossness of those
who gave it. It was not, however, her character about which I was
solicitous, but merely the place where she might be found and the
suitable inquiries respecting her deceased brother be answered. On this
head, these people professed utter ignorance, and were either unable or
unwilling to direct me to any person in the city who knew more than
themselves. After much discourse, they, at length, let fall an
intimation that, if any one knew her place of retreat, it was probably a
country-lad, by name Huntly, who lived near the _Forks_ of
Delaware. After Waldegrave's death this lad had paid his sister a visit,
and seemed to be admitted on a very confidential footing. She left the
house, for the last time, in his company, and he, therefore, was most
likely to know what had become of her.

"The name of Huntly was not totally unknown to me. I myself was born and
brought up in the neighbouring township of Chetasco. I had some
knowledge of your family, and your name used often to be mentioned by
Waldegrave as that of one who, at a maturer age, would prove himself
useful to his country. I determined, therefore, to apply to you for what
information you could give. I designed to visit my father, who lives in
Chetasco, and relieve him from that disquiet which his ignorance of my
fate could not fail to have inspired, and both these ends could be thus,
at the same time, accomplished.

"Before I left the city, I thought it proper to apply to the merchant on
whom my bill had been drawn. If this bill had been presented and paid,
he had doubtless preserved some record of it, and hence a clue might be
afforded, though every other expedient should fail. My usual ill fortune
pursued me upon this occasion; for the merchant had lately become
insolvent, and, to avoid the rage of his creditors, had fled, without
leaving any vestige of this or similar transactions behind him. He had,
some years since, been an adventurer from Holland, and was suspected to
have returned thither."



Chapter XV.


"I came hither with a heart desponding of success. Adversity had
weakened my faith in the promises of the future, and I was prepared to
receive just such tidings as you have communicated. Unacquainted with
the secret motives of Waldegrave and his sister, it is impossible for me
to weigh the probabilities of their rectitude. I have only my own
assertion to produce in support of my claim. All other evidence, all
vouchers and papers, which might attest my veracity or sanction my claim
in a court of law, are buried in the ocean. The bill was transmitted
just before my departure from Madeira, and the letters by which it was
accompanied informed Waldegrave of my design to follow it immediately.
Hence he did not, it is probable, acknowledge the receipt of my letters.
The vessels in which they were sent arrived in due season. I was assured
that all letters were duly deposited in the post-office, where, at
present, mine are not to be found.

"You assure me that nothing has been found among his papers, hinting at
any pecuniary transaction between him and me. Some correspondence passed
between us previous to that event. Have no letters, with my signature,
been found? Are you qualified, by your knowledge of his papers, to
answer me explicitly? Is it not possible for some letters to have been
mislaid?"

"I am qualified," said I, "to answer your inquiries beyond any other
person in the world. Waldegrave maintained only general intercourse with
the rest of mankind. With me his correspondence was copious, and his
confidence, as I imagined, without bounds. His books and papers were
contained in a single chest at his lodgings, the keys of which he had
about him when he died. These keys I carried to his sister, and was
authorized by her to open and examine the contents of this chest. This
was done with the utmost care. These papers are now in my possession.
Among them no paper, of the tenor you mention, was found, and no letter
with your signature. Neither Mary Waldegrave nor I are capable of
disguising the truth or committing an injustice. The moment she receives
conviction of your right, she will restore this money to you. The moment
I imbibe this conviction, I will exert all my influence (and it is not
small) to induce her to restore it. Permit me, however, to question you
in your turn. Who was the merchant on whom your bill was drawn, what was
the date of it, and when did the bill and its counterparts arrive?"

"I do not exactly remember the date of the bills. They were made out,
however, six days before I myself embarked, which happened on the 10th
of August, 1784. They were sent by three vessels, one of which was bound
to Charleston and the others to New York. The last arrived within two
days of each other, and about the middle of November in the same year.
The name of the payer was Monteith."

After a pause of recollection, I answered, "I will not hesitate to
apprize you of every thing which may throw light upon this transaction,
and whether favourable or otherwise to your claim. I have told you,
among my friend's papers your name is not to be found. I must likewise
repeat that the possession of this money by Waldegrave was wholly
unknown to us till his death. We are likewise unacquainted with any
means by which he could get possession of so large a sum in his own
right. He spent no more than his scanty stipend as a teacher, though
this stipend was insufficient to supply his wants. This bank-receipt is
dated in December, 1784, a fortnight, perhaps, after the date that you
have mentioned. You will perceive how much this coincidence, which could
scarcely have taken place by chance, is favourable to your claim.

"Mary Waldegrave resides, at present, at Abingdon. She will rejoice, as
I do, to see one who, as her brother's friend, is entitled to her
affection. Doubt not but that she will listen with impartiality and
candour to all that you can urge in defence of your title to this money.
Her decision will not be precipitate, but it will be generous and just,
and founded on such reasons that, even if it be adverse to your wishes,
you will be compelled to approve it?"

"I can entertain no doubt," he answered, "as to the equity of my claim.
The coincidences you mention are sufficient to convince me that this sum
was received upon my bill; but this conviction must necessarily be
confined to myself. No one but I can be conscious to the truth of my own
story. The evidence on which I build my faith, in this case, is that of
my own memory and senses; but this evidence cannot make itself
conspicuous to you. You have nothing but my bare assertion, in addition
to some probabilities flowing from the conduct of Waldegrave. What facts
may exist to corroborate my claim, which you have forgotten, or which
you may think proper to conceal, I cannot judge. I know not what is
passing in the secret of your hearts; I am unacquainted with the
character of this lady and with yours. I have nothing on which to build
surmises and suspicions of your integrity, and nothing to generate
unusual confidence. The frailty of your virtue and the strength of your
temptations I know not. However she decides in this case, and whatever
opinion I shall form as to the reasonableness of her decision, it will
not become me either to upbraid her, or to nourish discontentment and
repinings.

"I know that my claim has no legal support; that, if this money be
resigned to me, it will be the impulse of spontaneous justice, and not
the coercion of law, to which I am indebted for it. Since, therefore,
the justice of my claim is to be measured not by law, but by simple
equity, I will candidly acknowledge that, as yet, it is uncertain
whether I ought to receive, even should Miss Waldegrave be willing to
give it. I know my own necessities and schemes, and in what degree this
money would be subservient to these; but I know not the views and wants
of others, and cannot estimate the usefulness of this money to them.
However I decide upon your conduct in withholding or retaining it, I
shall make suitable allowance for my imperfect knowledge of your motives
and wants, as well as for your unavoidable ignorance of mine.

"I have related my sufferings from shipwreck and poverty, not to bias
your judgment or engage your pity, but merely because the impulse to
relate them chanced to awake; because my heart is softened by the
remembrance of Waldegrave, who has been my only friend, and by the sight
of one whom he loved.

"I told you that my father lived in Chetasco. He is now aged, and I am
his only child. I should have rejoiced in being able to relieve his gray
hairs from labour to which his failing strength cannot be equal. This
was one of my inducements in coming to America. Another was, to prepare
the way for a woman whom I married in Europe and who is now awaiting
intelligence from me in London. Her poverty is not less than my own, and
by marrying against the wishes of her kindred she has bereaved herself
of all support but that of her husband. Whether I shall be able to
rescue her from indigence, whether I shall alleviate the poverty of my
father, or increase it by burdening his scanty friends by my own
maintenance as well as his, the future alone can determine.

"I confess that my stock of patience and hope has never been large, and
that my misfortunes have nearly exhausted it. The flower of my years has
been consumed in struggling with adversity, and my constitution has
received a shock, from sickness and mistreatment in Portugal, which I
cannot expect long to survive. But I make you sad," he continued. "I
have said all that I meant to say in this interview. I am impatient to
see my father, and night has already come. I have some miles yet to ride
to his cottage, and over a rough road. I will shortly visit you again,
and talk to you at greater leisure on these and other topics. At present
I leave you."

I was unwilling to part so abruptly with this guest, and entreated him
to prolong his visit; but he would not be prevailed upon. Repeating his
promise of shortly seeing me again, he mounted his horse and
disappeared. I looked after him with affecting and complex emotions. I
reviewed the incidents of this unexpected and extraordinary interview,
as if it had existed in a dream. An hour had passed, and this stranger
had alighted among us as from the clouds, to draw the veil from those
obscurities which had bewildered us so long, to make visible a new train
of disastrous consequences flowing from the untimely death of thy
brother, and to blast that scheme of happiness on which thou and I had
so fondly meditated.

But what wilt thou think of this new-born claim? The story, hadst thou
observed the features and guise of the relater, would have won thy
implicit credit. His countenance exhibited deep traces of the
afflictions he had endured, and the fortitude which he had exercised. He
was sallow and emaciated, but his countenance was full of seriousness
and dignity. A sort of ruggedness of brow, the token of great mental
exertion and varied experience, argued a premature old age.

What a mournful tale! Is such the lot of those who wander from their
rustic homes in search of fortune? Our countrymen are prone to
enterprise, and are scattered over every sea and every land in pursuit
of that wealth which will not screen them from disease and infirmity,
which is missed much oftener than found, and which, when gained, by no
means compensates them for the hardships and vicissitudes endured in the
pursuit.

But what if the truth of these pretensions be admitted? The money must
be restored to its right owner. I know that, whatever inconveniences may
follow the deed, thou wilt not hesitate to act justly. Affluence and
dignity, however valuable, may be purchased too dear. Honesty will not
take away its keenness from the winter blast, its ignominy and
unwholesomeness from servile labour, or strip of its charms the life of
elegance and leisure; but these, unaccompanied with self-reproach, are
less deplorable than wealth and honour the possession of which is marred
by our own disapprobation.

I know the bitterness of this sacrifice. I know the impatience with
which your poverty has formerly been borne; how much your early
education is at war with that degradation and obscurity to which your
youth has been condemned; how earnestly your wishes panted after a state
which might exempt you from dependence upon daily labour and on the
caprices of others, and might secure to you leisure to cultivate and
indulge your love of knowledge and your social and beneficent
affections.

Your motive for desiring a change of fortune has been greatly enforced
since we have become known to each other. Thou hast honoured me with thy
affection; but that union, on which we rely for happiness, could not
take place while both of us were poor. My habits, indeed, have made
labour and rustic obscurity less painful than they would prove to my
friend, but my present condition is wholly inconsistent with marriage.
As long as my exertions are insufficient to maintain us both, it would
be unjustifiable to burden you with new cares and duties. Of this you
are more thoroughly convinced than I am. The love of independence and
ease, and impatience of drudgery, are woven into your constitution.
Perhaps they are carried to an erroneous extreme, and derogate from that
uncommon excellence by which your character is, in other respects,
distinguished; but they cannot be removed.

This obstacle was unexpectedly removed by the death of your brother.
However justly to be deplored was this catastrophe, yet, like every
other event, some of its consequences were good. By giving you
possession of the means of independence and leisure, by enabling us to
complete a contract which poverty alone had thus long delayed, this
event has been, at the same time, the most disastrous and propitious
which could have happened.

Why thy brother should have concealed from us the possession of this
money,--why, with such copious means of indulgence and leisure, he
should still pursue his irksome trade, and live in so penurious a
manner,--has been a topic of endless and unsatisfactory conjecture
between us. It was not difficult to suppose that this money was held in
trust for another; but in that case it was unavoidable that some
document or memorandum, or at least some claimant, would appear. Much
time has since elapsed, and you have thought yourself at length
justified in appropriating this money to your own use.

Our flattering prospects are now shut in. You must return to your
original poverty, and once more depend for precarious subsistence on
your needle. You cannot restore the whole, for unavoidable expenses and
the change of your mode of living have consumed some part of it. For so
much you must consider yourself as Weymouth's debtor.

Repine not, my friend, at this unlooked-for reverse. Think upon the
merits and misfortunes of your brother's friend; think upon his aged
father, whom we shall enable him to rescue from poverty; think upon his
desolate wife, whose merits are, probably, at least equal to your own,
and whose helplessness is likely to be greater. I am not insensible to
the evils which have returned upon us with augmented force, after
having, for a moment, taken their flight. I know the precariousness of
my condition and that of my sisters; that our subsistence hangs upon the
life of an old man. My uncle's death will transfer this property to his
son, who is a stranger and an enemy to us, and the first act of whose
authority will unquestionably be to turn us forth from these doors.
Marriage with thee was anticipated with joyous emotions, not merely on
my own account or on thine, but likewise for the sake of those beloved
girls to whom that event would enable me to furnish an asylum.

But wedlock is now more distant than ever. Mv heart bleeds to think of
the sufferings which my beloved Mary is again fated to endure; but
regrets are only aggravations of calamity. They are pernicious, and it
is our duty to shake them off.

I can entertain no doubts as to the equity of Weymouth's claim. So many
coincidences could not have happened by chance. The non-appearance of
any letters or papers connected with it is indeed a mysterious
circumstance; but why should Waldegrave be studious of preserving these?
They were useless paper, and might, without impropriety, be cast away or
made to serve any temporary purpose. Perhaps, indeed, they still lurk in
some unsuspected corner. To wish that time may explain this mystery in a
different manner, and so as to permit our retention of this money, is,
perhaps, the dictate of selfishness. The transfer to Weymouth will not
be productive of less benefit to him and to his family, than we should
derive from the use of it.

These considerations, however, will be weighed when we meet. Meanwhile I
will return to my narrative.



Chapter XVI.


Here, my friend, thou must permit me to pause. The following incidents
are of a kind to which the most ardent invention has never conceived a
parallel. Fortune, in her most wayward mood, could scarcely be suspected
of an influence like this. The scene was pregnant with astonishment and
horror. I cannot, even now, recall it without reviving the dismay and
confusion which I then experienced.

Possibly, the period will arrive when I shall look back without agony on
the perils I have undergone. That period is still distant. Solitude and
sleep are now no more than the signals to summon up a tribe of ugly
phantoms. Famine, and blindness, and death, and savage enemies, never
fail to be conjured up by the silence and darkness of the night. I
cannot dissipate them by any efforts of reason. Sly cowardice requires
the perpetual consolation of light. My heart droops when I mark the
decline of the sun, and I never sleep but with a candle burning at my
pillow. If, by any chance, I should awake and find myself immersed in
darkness, I know not what act of desperation I might be suddenly
impelled to commit.

I have delayed this narrative longer than my duty to my friend enjoined.
Now that I am able to hold a pen, I will hasten to terminate that
uncertainty with regard to my fate in which my silence has involved
thee. I will recall that series of unheard-of and disastrous
vicissitudes which has constituted the latest portion of my life.

I am not certain, however, that I shall relate them in an intelligible
manner. One image runs into another; sensations succeed in so rapid a
train, that I fear I shall be unable to distribute and express them with
sufficient perspicuity. As I look back, my heart is sore, and aches
within my bosom. I am conscious to a kind of complex sentiment of
distress and forlornness that cannot be perfectly portrayed by words;
but I must do as well as I can. In the utmost vigour of my faculties, no
eloquence that I possess would do justice to the tale. Now, in my
languishing and feeble state, I shall furnish thee with little more than
a glimpse of the truth. With these glimpses, transient and faint as they
are, thou must be satisfied.

I have said that I slept. My memory assures me of this; it informs me of
the previous circumstances of my laying aside my clothes, of placing the
light upon a chair within reach of my pillow, of throwing myself upon
the bed, and of gazing on the rays of the moon reflected on the wall and
almost obscured by those of the candle. I remember my occasional
relapses into fits of incoherent fancies, the harbingers of sleep. I
remember, as it were, the instant when my thoughts ceased to flow and my
senses were arrested by the leaden wand of forgetfulness.

My return to sensation and to consciousness took place in no such
tranquil scene. I emerged from oblivion by degrees so slow and so faint,
that their succession cannot be marked. When enabled at length to attend
to the information which my senses afforded, I was conscious for a time
of nothing but existence. It was unaccompanied with lassitude or pain,
but I felt disinclined to stretch my limbs or raise my eyelids. My
thoughts were wildering and mazy, and, though consciousness was present,
it was disconnected with the locomotive or voluntary power.

From this state a transition was speedily effected. I perceived that my
posture was supine, and that I lay upon my back. I attempted to open my
eyes. The weight that oppressed them was too great for a slight exertion
to remove. The exertion which I made cost me a pang more acute than any
which I ever experienced. My eyes, however, were opened; but the
darkness that environed me was as intense as before.

I attempted to rise, but my limbs were cold, and my joints had almost
lost their flexibility. My efforts were repeated, and at length I
attained a sitting posture. I was now sensible of pain in my shoulders
and back. I was universally in that state to which the frame is reduced
by blows of a club, mercilessly and endlessly repeated; my temples
throbbed, and my face was covered with clammy and cold drops: but that
which threw me into deepest consternation was my inability to see. I
turned my head to different quarters; I stretched my eyelids, and
exerted every visual energy, but in vain. I was wrapped in the murkiest
and most impenetrable gloom.

The first effort of reflection was to suggest the belief that I was
blind: that disease is known to assail us in a moment and without
previous warning. This, surely, was the misfortune that had now befallen
me. Some ray, however fleeting and uncertain, could not fail to be
discerned, if the power of vision were not utterly extinguished. In what
circumstances could I possibly be placed, from which every particle of
light should, by other means, be excluded?

This led my thoughts into a new train. I endeavoured to recall the past;
but the past was too much in contradiction to the present, and my
intellect was too much shattered by external violence, to allow me
accurately to review it.

Since my sight availed nothing to the knowledge of my condition, I
betook myself to other instruments. The element which I breathed was
stagnant and cold. The spot where I lay was rugged and hard. I was
neither naked nor clothed: a shirt and trousers composed my dress, and
the shoes and stockings, which always accompanied these, were now
wanting. What could I infer from this scanty garb, this chilling
atmosphere, this stony bed?

I had awakened as from sleep. What was my condition when I fell asleep?
Surely it was different from the present. Then I inhabited a lightsome
chamber and was stretched upon a down bed; now I was supine upon a
rugged surface and immersed in palpable obscurity. Then I was in perfect
health; now my frame was covered with bruises and every joint was racked
with pain. What dungeon or den had received me, and by whose command was
I transported hither?

After various efforts I stood upon my feet. At first I tottered and
staggered. I stretched out my hands on all sides, but met only with
vacuity. I advanced forward. At the third step my foot moved something
which lay upon the ground: I stooped and took it up, and found, on
examination, that it was an Indian tomahawk. This incident afforded me
no hint from which I might conjecture my state.

Proceeding irresolutely and slowly forward, my hands at length touched a
wall. This, like the flooring, was of stone, and was rugged and
impenetrable. I followed this wall. An advancing angle occurred at a
short distance, which was followed by similar angles. I continued to
explore this clue, till the suspicion occurred that I was merely going
round the walls of a vast and irregular apartment.

The utter darkness disabled me from comparing directions and distances.
This discovery, therefore, was not made on a sudden, and was still
entangled with some doubt. My blood recovered some warmth, and my
muscles some elasticity; but in proportion as my sensibility returned,
my pains augmented. Overpowered by my fears and my agonies, I desisted
from my fruitless search, and sat down, supporting my back against the
wall.

My excruciating sensations for a time occupied my attention. These, in
combination with other causes, gradually produced a species of delirium.
I existed, as it were, in a wakeful dream. With nothing to correct my
erroneous perceptions, the images of the past occurred in capricious
combinations and vivid hues. Methought I was the victim of some tyrant
who had thrust me into a dungeon of his fortress, and left me no power
to determine whether he intended I should perish with famine, or linger
out a long life in hopeless imprisonment. Whether the day was shut out
by insuperable walls, or the darkness that surrounded me was owing to
the night and to the smallness of those crannies through which daylight
was to be admitted, I conjectured in vain.

Sometimes I imagined myself buried alive. Methought I had fallen into
seeming death, and my friends had consigned me to the tomb, from which a
resurrection was impossible. That, in such a case, my limbs would have
been confined to a coffin, and my coffin to a grave, and that I should
instantly have been suffocated, did not occur to destroy my supposition.
Neither did this supposition overwhelm me with terror or prompt my
efforts at deliverance. My state was full of tumult and confusion, and
my attention was incessantly divided between my painful sensations and
my feverish dreams.

There is no standard by which time can be measured but the succession of
our thoughts and the changes that take place in the external world. From
the latter I was totally excluded. The former made the lapse of some
hours appear like the tediousness of weeks and months. At length, a new
sensation recalled my rambling meditations, and gave substance to my
fears. I now felt the cravings of hunger, and perceived that, unless my
deliverance were speedily effected, I must suffer a tedious and
lingering death.

I once more tasked my understanding and my senses to discover the nature
of my present situation and the means of escape. I listened to catch
some sound. I heard an unequal and varying echo, sometimes near and
sometimes distant, sometimes dying away and sometimes swelling into
loudness. It was unlike any thing I had before heard, but it was evident
that it arose from wind sweeping through spacious halls and winding
passages. These tokens were incompatible with the result of the
examination I had made. If my hands were true, I was immured between
walls through which there was no avenue.

I now exerted my voice, and cried as loud as my wasted strength would
admit. Its echoes were sent back to me in broken and confused sounds and
from above. This effort was casual, but some part of that uncertainty in
which I was involved was instantly dispelled by it. In passing through
the cavern on the former day, I have mentioned the verge of the pit at
which I arrived. To acquaint me as far as was possible with the
dimensions of the place, I had hallooed with all my force, knowing that
sound is reflected according to the distance and relative positions of
the substances from which it is repelled.

The effect produced by my voice on this occasion resembled, with
remarkable exactness, the effect which was then produced. Was I, then,
shut up in the same cavern? Had I reached the brink of the same
precipice and been thrown headlong into that vacuity? Whence else could
arise the bruises which I had received, but from my fall? Yet all
remembrance of my journey hither was lost. I had determined to explore
this cave on the ensuing day, but my memory informed me not that this
intention had been carried into effect. Still, it was only possible to
conclude that I had come hither on my intended expedition, and had been
thrown by another, or had, by some ill chance, fallen, into the pit.

This opinion was conformable to what I had already observed. The
pavement and walls were rugged like those of the footing and sides of
the cave through which I had formerly passed.

But if this were true, what was the abhorred catastrophe to which I was
now reserved? The sides of this pit were inaccessible; human footsteps
would never wander into these recesses. My friends were unapprized of my
forlorn state. Here I should continue till wasted by famine. In this
grave should I linger out a few days in unspeakable agonies, and then
perish forever.

The inroads of hunger were already experienced; and this knowledge of
the desperateness of my calamity urged me to frenzy. I had none but
capricious and unseen fate to condemn. The author of my distress, and
the means he had taken to decoy me hither, were incomprehensible. Surely
my senses were fettered or depraved by some spell. I was still asleep,
and this was merely a tormenting vision; or madness had seized me, and
the darkness that environed and the hunger that afflicted me existed
only in my own distempered imagination.

The consolation of these doubts could not last long. Every hour added to
the proof that my perceptions were real. My hunger speedily became
ferocious. I tore the linen of my shirt between my teeth and swallowed
the fragments. I felt a strong propensity to bite the flesh from my arm.
My heart overflowed with cruelty, and I pondered on the delight I should
experience in rending some living animal to pieces, and drinking its
blood and grinding its quivering fibres between my teeth.

This agony had already passed beyond the limits of endurance. I saw that
time, instead of bringing respite or relief, would only aggravate my
wants, and that my only remaining hope was to die before I should be
assaulted by the last extremes of famine. I now recollected that a
tomahawk was at hand, and rejoiced in the possession of an instrument by
which I could so effectually terminate my sufferings.

I took it in my hand, moved its edge over my fingers, and reflected on
the force that was required to make it reach my heart. I investigated
the spot where it should enter, and strove to fortify myself with
resolution to repeat the stroke a second or third time, if the first
should prove insufficient. I was sensible that I might fail to inflict a
mortal wound, but delighted to consider that the blood which would be
made to flow would finally release me, and that meanwhile my pains would
be alleviated by swallowing this blood.

You will not wonder that I felt some reluctance to employ so fatal
though indispensable a remedy. I once more ruminated on the possibility
of rescuing myself by other means. I now reflected that the upper
termination of the wall could not be at an immeasurable distance from
the pavement. I had fallen from a height; but if that height had been
considerable, instead of being merely bruised, should I not have been
dashed into pieces?

Gleams of hope burst anew upon my soul. Was it not possible, I asked, to
reach the top of this pit? The sides were rugged and uneven. Would not
their projectures and abruptnesses serve me as steps by which I might
ascend in safety? This expedient was to be tried without delay. Shortly
my strength would fail, and my doom would be irrevocably sealed.

I will not enumerate my laborious efforts, my alternations of
despondency and confidence, the eager and unwearied scrutiny with which
I examined the surface, the attempts which I made, and the failures
which, for a time, succeeded each other. A hundred times, when I had
ascended some feet from the bottom, I was compelled to relinquish my
undertaking by the _untenable_ smoothness of the spaces which
remained to be gone over. A hundred times I threw myself, exhausted by
fatigue and my pains, on the ground. The consciousness was gradually
restored that, till I had attempted every part of the wall, it was
absurd to despair, and I again drew my tottering limbs and aching joints
to that part of the wall which had not been surveyed.

At length, as I stretched my hand upward, I found somewhat that seemed
like a recession in the wall. It was possible that this was the top of
the cavity, and this might be the avenue to liberty. My heart leaped
with joy, and I proceeded to climb the wall. No undertaking could be
conceived more arduous than this. The space between this verge and the
floor was nearly smooth. The verge was higher from the bottom than my
head. The only means of ascending that were offered me were by my hands,
with which I could draw myself upward so as, at length, to maintain my
hold with my feet.

My efforts were indefatigable, and at length I placed myself on the
verge. When this was accomplished, my strength was nearly gone. Had I
not found space enough beyond this brink to stretch myself at length, I
should unavoidably have fallen backward into the pit, and all my pains
had served no other end than to deepen my despair and hasten my
destruction.

What impediments and perils remained to be encountered I could not
judge. I was now inclined to forebode the worst. The interval of repose
which was necessary to be taken, in order to recruit my strength, would
accelerate the ravages of famine, and leave me without the power to
proceed.

In this state, I once more consoled myself that an instrument of death
was at hand. I had drawn up with me the tomahawk, being sensible that,
should this impediment be overcome, others might remain that would prove
insuperable. Before I employed it, however, I cast my eyes wildly and
languidly around. The darkness was no less intense than in the pit
below, and yet two objects were distinctly seen.

They resembled a fixed and obscure flame. They were motionless. Though
lustrous themselves, they created no illumination around them. This
circumstance, added to others, which reminded me of similar objects
noted on former occasions, immediately explained the nature of what I
beheld. These were the eyes of a panther.

Thus had I struggled to obtain a post where a savage was lurking and
waited only till my efforts should place me within reach of his fangs.
The first impulse was to arm myself against this enemy. The
desperateness of my condition was, for a moment, forgotten. The weapon
which was so lately lifted against my own bosom was now raised to defend
my life against the assault of another.

There was no time for deliberation and delay. In a moment he might
spring from his station and tear me to pieces. My utmost speed might not
enable me to reach him where he sat, but merely to encounter his
assault. I did not reflect how far my strength was adequate to save me.
All the force that remained was mustered up and exerted in a throw.

No one knows the powers that are latent in his constitution. Called
forth by imminent dangers, our efforts frequently exceed our most
sanguine belief. Though tottering on the verge of dissolution, and
apparently unable to crawl from this spot, a force was exerted in this
throw, probably greater than I had ever before exerted. It was
resistless and unerring. I aimed at the middle space between those
glowing orbs. It penetrated the skull, and the animal fell, struggling
and shrieking, on the ground.

My ears quickly informed me when his pangs were at an end. His cries and
his convulsions lasted for a moment and then ceased. The effect of his
voice, in these subterranean abodes, was unspeakably rueful.

The abruptness of this incident, and the preternatural exertion of my
strength, left me in a state of languor and sinking, from which slowly
and with difficulty I recovered. The first suggestion that occurred was
to feed upon the carcass of this animal. My hunger had arrived at that
pitch where all fastidiousness and scruples are at an end. I crept to
the spot. I will not shock you by relating the extremes to which dire
necessity had driven me. I review this scene with loathing and horror.
Now that it is past I look back upon it as on some hideous dream. The
whole appears to be some freak of insanity. No alternative was offered,
and hunger was capable of being appeased even by a banquet so
detestable.

If this appetite has sometimes subdued the sentiments of nature, and
compelled the mother to feed upon the flesh of her offspring, it will
not excite amazement that I did not turn from the yet warm blood and
reeking fibres of a brute.

One evil was now removed, only to give place to another. The first
sensations of fullness had scarcely been felt when my stomach was seized
by pangs, whose acuteness exceeded all that I ever before experienced. I
bitterly lamented my inordinate avidity. The excruciations of famine
were better than the agonies which this abhorred meal had produced.

Death was now impending with no less proximity and certainty, though in
a different form. Death was a sweet relief for my present miseries, and
I vehemently longed for its arrival. I stretched myself on the ground. I
threw myself into every posture that promised some alleviation of this
evil. I rolled along the pavement of the cavern, wholly inattentive to
the dangers that environed me. That I did not fall into the pit whence I
had just emerged must be ascribed to some miraculous chance.

How long my miseries endured, it is not possible to tell. I cannot even
form a plausible conjecture. Judging by the lingering train of my
sensations, I should conjecture that some days elapsed in this
deplorable condition; but nature could riot have so long sustained a
conflict like this.

Gradually my pains subsided, and I fell into a deep sleep. I was visited
by dreams of a thousand hues. They led me to flowing streams and
plenteous banquets, which, though placed within my view, some power
forbade me to approach. From this sleep I recovered to the fruition of
solitude and darkness, but my frame was in a state less feeble than
before That which I had eaten had produced temporary distress, but on
the whole had been of use. If this food had not been provided for me I
should scarcely have avoided death. I had reason, therefore, to
congratulate myself on the danger that had lately occurred.

I had acted without foresight, and yet no wisdom could have prescribed
more salutary measures. The panther was slain, not from a view to the
relief of my hunger, but from the self-preserving and involuntary
impulse. Had I foreknown the pangs to which my ravenous and bloody meal
would give birth, I should have carefully abstained; and yet these pangs
were a useful effort of nature to subdue and convert to nourishment the
matter I had swallowed.

I was now assailed by the torments of thirst. My invention and my
courage were anew bent to obviate this pressing evil. I reflected that
there was some recess from this cavern, even from the spot where I now
stood. Before, I was doubtful whether in this direction from this pit
any avenue could be found; but, since the panther had come hither, there
was reason to suppose the existence of some such avenue.

I now likewise attended to a sound, which, from its invariable tenor,
denoted somewhat different from the whistling of a gale. It seemed like
the murmur of a running stream. I now prepared to go forward and
endeavour to move along in that direction in which this sound apparently
came.

On either side, and above my head, there was nothing but vacuity. My
steps were to be guided by the pavement, which, though unequal and
rugged, appeared, on the whole, to ascend. My safety required that I
should employ both hands and feet in exploring my way.

I went on thus for a considerable period. The murmur, instead of
becoming more distinct, gradually died away. My progress was arrested by
fatigue, and I began once more to despond. My exertions produced a
perspiration, which, while it augmented my thirst, happily supplied me
with imperfect means of appeasing it.

This expedient would, perhaps, have been accidentally suggested; but my
ingenuity was assisted by remembering the history of certain English
prisoners in Bengal, whom their merciless enemy imprisoned in a small
room, and some of whom preserved themselves alive merely by swallowing
the moisture that flowed from their bodies. This experiment I now
performed with no less success.

This was slender arid transitory consolation. I knew that, wandering at
random, I might never reach the outlet of this cavern, or might be
disabled, by hunger and fatigue, from going farther than the outlet. The
cravings which had lately been satiated would speedily return, and my
negligence had cut me off from the resource which had recently been
furnished. I thought not till now that a second meal might be
indispensable.

To return upon my footsteps to the spot where the dead animal lay was a
heartless project. I might thus be placing myself at a hopeless distance
from liberty. Besides, my track could not be retraced. I had frequently
deviated from a straight direction for the sake of avoiding impediments.
All of which I was sensible was, that I was travelling up an irregular
acclivity. I hoped some time to reach the summit, but had no reason for
adhering to one line of ascent in preference to another.

To remain where I was was manifestly absurd. Whether I mounted or
descended, a change of place was most likely to benefit me. I resolved
to vary my direction, and, instead of ascending, keep along the side of
what I accounted a hill. I had gone some hundred feet when the murmur,
before described, once more saluted my ear.

This sound, being imagined to proceed from a running stream, could not
but light up joy in the heart of one nearly perishing with thirst. I
proceeded with new courage. The sound approached no nearer, nor became
more distinct; but, as long as it died not away, I was satisfied to
listen and to hope.

I was eagerly observant if any the least glimmering of light should
visit this recess. At length, on the right hand, a gleam, infinitely
faint, caught my attention. It was wavering and unequal. I directed my
steps towards it. It became more vivid and permanent. It was of that
kind, however, which proceeded from a fire, kindled with dry sticks, and
not from the sun. I now heard the crackling of flames.

This sound made me pause, or, at least, to proceed with circumspection.
At length the scene opened, and I found myself at the entrance of a
cave. I quickly reached a station, when I saw a fire burning. At first
no other object was noted, but it was easy to infer that the fire was
kindled by men, and that they who kindled it could be at no great
distance.



Chapter XVII.


Thus was I delivered from my prison, and restored to the enjoyment of
the air and the light. Perhaps the chance was almost miraculous that led
me to this opening. In any other direction, I might have involved myself
in an inextricable maze and rendered my destruction sure; but what now
remained to place me in absolute security? Beyond the fire I could see
nothing; but, since the smoke rolled rapidly away, it was plain that on
the opposite side the cavern was open to the air.

I went forward, but my eyes were fixed upon the fire: presently, in
consequence of changing my station, I perceived several feet, and the
skirts of blankets. I was somewhat startled at these appearances. The
legs were naked, and scored into uncouth figures. The _moccasins_
which lay beside them, and which were adorned in a grotesque manner, in
addition to other incidents, immediately suggested the suspicion that
they were Indians. No spectacle was more adapted than this to excite
wonder and alarm. Had some mysterious power snatched me from the earth,
and cast me, in a moment, into the heart of the wilderness? Was I still
in the vicinity of my parental habitation, or was I thousands of miles
distant?

Were these the permanent inhabitants of this region, or were they
wanderers and robbers? While in the heart of the mountain, I had
entertained a vague belief that I was still within the precincts of
Norwalk. This opinion was shaken for a moment by the objects which I now
beheld, but it insensibly returned: yet how was this opinion to be
reconciled to appearances so strange and uncouth, and what measure did a
due regard to my safety enjoin me to take?

I now gained a view of four brawny and terrific figures, stretched upon
the ground. They lay parallel to each other, on their left sides; in
consequence of which their faces were turned from me. Between each was
an interval where lay a musket. Their right hands seemed placed upon the
stocks of their guns, as if to seize them on the first moment of alarm.

The aperture through which these objects were seen was at the back of
the cave, and some feet from the ground. It was merely large enough to
suffer a human body to pass. It was involved in profound darkness, and
there was no danger of being suspected or discovered as long as I
maintained silence and kept out of view.

It was easily imagined that these guests would make but a short sojourn
in this spot. There was reason to suppose that it was now night, and
that, after a short repose, they would start up and resume their
journey. It was my first design to remain shrouded in this covert till
their departure, and I prepared to endure imprisonment and thirst
somewhat longer.

Meanwhile my thoughts were busy in accounting for this spectacle. I need
not tell thee that Norwalk is the termination of a sterile and narrow
tract which begins in the Indian country. It forms a sort of rugged and
rocky vein, and continues upwards of fifty miles. It is crossed in a few
places by narrow and intricate paths, by which a communication is
maintained between the farms and settlements on the opposite sides of
the ridge.

During former Indian wars, this rude surface was sometimes traversed by
the red men, and they made, by means of it, frequent and destructive
inroads into the heart of the English settlements. During the last war,
notwithstanding the progress of population, and the multiplied perils of
such an expedition, a band of them had once penetrated into Norwalk, and
lingered long enough to pillage and murder some of the neighbouring
inhabitants.

I have reason to remember that event. My father's house was placed on
the verge of this solitude. Eight of these assassins assailed it at the
dead of night. My parents and an infant child were murdered in their
beds; the house was pillaged, and then burnt to the ground. Happily,
myself and my two sisters were abroad upon a visit. The preceding day
had been fixed for our return to our father's house; but a storm
occurred, which made it dangerous to cross the river, and, by obliging
us to defer our journey, rescued us from captivity or death.

Most men are haunted by some species of terror or antipathy, which they
are, for the most part, able to trace to some incident which befell them
in their early years. You will not be surprised that the fate of my
parents, and the sight of the body of one of this savage band, who, in
the pursuit that was made after them, was overtaken and killed, should
produce lasting and terrific images in my fancy. I never looked upon or
called up the image of a savage without shuddering.

I knew that, at this time, some hostilities had been committed on the
frontier; that a long course of injuries and encroachments had lately
exasperated the Indian tribes; that an implacable and exterminating war
was generally expected. We imagined ourselves at an inaccessible
distance from the danger; but I could not but remember that this
persuasion was formerly as strong as at present, and that an expedition
which had once succeeded might possibly be attempted again. Here was
every token of enmity and bloodshed. Each prostrate figure was furnished
with a rifled musket, and a leathern bag tied round his waist, which
was, probably, stored with powder and ball.

From these reflections, the sense of my own danger was revived and
enforced; but I likewise ruminated on the evils which might impend over
others. I should, no doubt, be safe by remaining in this nook; but might
not some means be pursued to warn others of their danger? Should they
leave this spot without notice of their approach being given to the
fearless and pacific tenants of the neighbouring district, they might
commit, in a few hours, the most horrid and irreparable devastation.

The alarm could only be diffused in one way. Could I not escape,
unperceived, and without alarming the sleepers, from this cavern? The
slumber of an Indian is broken by the slightest noise; but, if all noise
be precluded, it is commonly profound. It was possible, I conceived, to
leave my present post, to descend into the cave, and issue forth without
the smallest signal. Their supine posture assured me that they were
asleep. Sleep usually comes at their bidding, and if, perchance, they
should be wakeful at an unseasonable moment, they always sit upon their
haunches, and, leaning their elbows on their knees, consume the tedious
hours in smoking. My peril would be great. Accidents which I could not
foresee, and over which I had no command, might occur to awaken some one
at the moment I was passing the fire. Should I pass in safety, I might
issue forth into a wilderness, of which I had no knowledge, where I
might wander till I perished with famine, or where my footsteps might be
noted and pursued and overtaken by these implacable foes. These perils
were enormous and imminent; but I likewise considered that I might be at
no great distance from the habitations of men, and that my escape might
rescue them from the most dreadful calamities. I determined to make this
dangerous experiment without delay.

I came nearer to the aperture, and had, consequently, a larger view of
this recess. To my unspeakable dismay, I now caught a glimpse of one
seated at the fire. His back was turned towards me, so that I could
distinctly survey his gigantic form and fantastic ornaments.

My project was frustrated. This one was probably commissioned to watch
and to awaken his companions when a due portion of sleep had been taken.
That he would not be unfaithful or remiss in the performance of the part
assigned to him was easily predicted. To pass him without exciting his
notice (and the entrance could not otherwise be reached) was impossible.
Once more I shrunk back, and revolved with hopelessness and anguish the
necessity to which I was reduced.

This interval of dreary foreboding did not last long. Some motion in him
that was seated by the fire attracted my notice. I looked, and beheld
him rise from his place and go forth from the cavern. This unexpected
incident led my thoughts into a new channel. Could not some advantage be
taken of his absence? Could not this opportunity be seized for making my
escape? He had left his gun and hatchet on the ground. It was likely,
therefore, that he had not gone far, and would speedily return. Might
not these weapons be seized, and some provision be thus made against the
danger of meeting him without, or of being pursued?

Before a resolution could be formed, a new sound saluted my ear. It was
a deep groan, succeeded by sobs that seemed struggling for utterance but
were vehemently counteracted by the sufferer. This low and bitter
lamentation apparently proceeded from some one within the cave. It could
not be from one of this swarthy band. It must, then, proceed from a
captive, whom they had reserved for torment or servitude, and who had
seized the opportunity afforded by the absence of him that watched to
give vent to his despair.

I again thrust my head forward, and beheld, lying on the ground, apart
from the rest, and bound hand and foot, a young girl. Her dress was the
coarse russet garb of the country, and bespoke her to be some farmer's
daughter. Her features denoted the last degree of fear and anguish, and
she moved her limbs in such a manner as showed that the ligatures by
which she was confined produced, by their tightness, the utmost degree
of pain.

My wishes were now bent not only to preserve myself and to frustrate the
future attempts of these savages, but likewise to relieve this miserable
victim. This could only be done by escaping from the cavern and
returning with seasonable aid. The sobs of the girl were likely to rouse
the sleepers. My appearance before her would prompt her to testify her
surprise by some exclamation or shriek. What could hence be predicted
but that the band would start on their feet and level their unerring
pieces at my head?

I know not why I was insensible to these dangers. My thirst was rendered
by these delays intolerable. It took from me, in some degree, the power
of deliberation. The murmurs which had drawn me hither continued still
to be heard. Some torrent or cascade could not be far distant from the
entrance of the cavern, and it seemed as if one draught of clear water
was a luxury cheaply purchased by death itself. This, in addition to
considerations more disinterested, and which I have already mentioned,
impelled me forward.

The girl's cheek rested on the hard rock, and her eyes were dim with
tears. As they were turned towards me, however, I hoped that my
movements would be noticed by her gradually and without abruptness. This
expectation was fulfilled. I had not advanced many steps before she
discovered me. This moment was critical beyond all others in the course
of my existence. My life was suspended, as it were, by a spider's
thread. All rested on the effect which this discovery should make upon
this feeble victim.

I was watchful of the first movement of her eye which should indicate a
consciousness of my presence. I laboured, by gestures and looks, to
deter her from betraying her emotion. My attention was, at the same
time, fixed upon the sleepers, and an anxious glance was cast towards
the quarter whence the watchful savage might appear.

I stooped and seized the musket and hatchet. The space beyond the fire
was, as I expected, open to the air. I issued forth with trembling
steps. The sensations inspired by the dangers which environed me, added
to my recent horrors, and the influence of the moon, which had now
gained the zenith, and whose lustre dazzled my long-benighted senses,
cannot be adequately described.

For a minute, I was unable to distinguish objects. This confusion was
speedily corrected, and I found myself on the verge of a steep. Craggy
eminences arose on all sides. On the left hand was a space that offered
some footing, and hither I turned. A torrent was below me, and this path
appeared to lead to it. It quickly appeared in sight, and all foreign
cares were, for a time, suspended.

This water fell from the upper regions of the hill, upon a flat
projecture which was continued on either side, and on part of which I
was now standing. The path was bounded on the left by an inaccessible
wall, and on the right terminated, at the distance of two or three feet
from the wall, in a precipice. The water was eight or ten paces distant,
and no impediment seemed likely to rise between us. I rushed forward
with speed.

My progress was quickly checked. Close to the falling water, seated on
the edge, his back supported by the rock, and his legs hanging over the
precipice, I now beheld the savage who left the cave before me. The
noise of the cascade and the improbability of interruption, at least
from this quarter, had made him inattentive to my motions.

I paused. Along this verge lay the only road by which I could reach the
water, and by which I could escape. The passage was completely occupied
by this antagonist. To advance towards him, or to remain where I was,
would produce the same effect. I should, in either case, be detected. He
was unarmed; but his outcries would instantly summon his companions to
his aid. I could not hope to overpower him, and pass him in defiance of
his opposition. But, if this were effected, pursuit would be instantly
commenced. I was unacquainted with the way. The way was unquestionably
difficult. My strength was nearly annihilated; I should be overtaken in
a moment, or their deficiency in speed would be supplied by the accuracy
of their aim. Their bullets, at least, would reach me.

There was one method of removing this impediment. The piece which I held
in my hand was cocked. There could be no doubt that it was loaded. A
precaution of this kind would never be omitted by a warrior of this hue.
At a greater distance than this, I should not fear to reach the mark.
Should I not discharge it, and, at the same moment, rush forward to
secure the road which my adversary's death would open to me?

Perhaps you will conceive a purpose like this to have argued a
sanguinary and murderous disposition. Let it be remembered, however,
that I entertained no doubts about the hostile designs of these men.
This was sufficiently indicated by their arms, their guise, and the
captive who attended them. Let the fate of my parents be, likewise,
remembered. I was not certain but that these very men were the assassins
of my family, and were those who had reduced me and my sisters to the
condition of orphans and dependants. No words can describe the torments
of my thirst. Relief to these torments, and safety to my life, were
within view. How could I hesitate?

Yet I did hesitate. My aversion to bloodshed was not to be subdued but
by the direst necessity. I knew, indeed, that the discharge of a musket
would only alarm the enemies who remained behind; but I had another and
a better weapon in my grasp. I could rive the head of my adversary, and
cast him headlong, without any noise which should be heard, into the
cavern.

Still I was willing to withdraw, to re-enter the cave, and take shelter
in the darksome recesses from which I had emerged. Here I might remain,
unsuspected, till these detested guests should depart. The hazards
attending my re-entrance were to be boldly encountered, and the torments
of unsatisfied thirst were to be patiently endured, rather than imbrue
my hands in the blood of my fellowmen. But this expedient would be
ineffectual if my retreat should be observed by this savage. Of that I
was bound to be incontestably assured. I retreated, therefore, but kept
my eye fixed at the same time upon the enemy.

Some ill fate decreed that I should not retreat unobserved. Scarcely had
I withdrawn three paces when he started from his seat, and, turning
towards me, walked with a quick pace. The shadow of the rock, and the
improbability of meeting an enemy here, concealed me for a moment from
his observation. I stood still. The slightest motion would have
attracted his notice. At present, the narrow space engaged all his
vigilance. Cautious footsteps, and attention to the path, were
indispensable to his safety. The respite was momentary, and I employed
it in my own defence.

How otherwise could I act? The danger that impended aimed at nothing
less than my life. To take the life of another was the only method of
averting it. The means were in my hand, and they were used. In an
extremity like this, my muscles would have acted almost in defiance of
my will.

The stroke was quick as lightning, and the wound mortal and deep. He had
not time to descry the author of his fate, but, sinking on the path,
expired without a groan. The hatchet buried itself in his breast, and
rolled with him to the bottom of the precipice.

Never before had I taken the life of a human creature. On this head I
had, indeed, entertained somewhat of religious scruples. These scruples
did not forbid me to defend myself, but they made me cautious and
reluctant to decide. Though they could not withhold my hand when urged
by a necessity like this, they were sufficient to make me look back upon
the deed with remorse and dismay.

I did not escape all compunction in the present instance, but the tumult
of my feelings was quickly allayed. To quench my thirst was a
consideration by which all others were supplanted. I approached the
torrent, and not only drank copiously, but laved my head, neck, and
arms, in this delicious element.



Chapter XVIII.


Never was any delight worthy of comparison with the raptures which I
then experienced. Life, that was rapidly ebbing, appeared to return upon
me with redoubled violence. My languors, my excruciating heat, vanished
in a moment, and I felt prepared to undergo the labours of Hercules.
Having fully supplied the demands of nature in this respect, I returned
to reflection on the circumstances of my situation. The path winding
round the hill was now free from all impediments. What remained but to
precipitate my flight? I might speedily place myself beyond all danger.
I might gain some hospitable shelter, where my fatigues might be
repaired by repose, and my wounds be cured. I might likewise impart to
my protectors seasonable information of the enemies who meditated their
destruction.

I thought upon the condition of the hapless girl whom I had left in the
power of the savages. Was it impossible to rescue her? Might I not
relieve her from her bonds, and make her the companion of my flight? The
exploit was perilous, but not impracticable. There was something
dastardly and ignominious in withdrawing from the danger, and leaving a
helpless being exposed to it. A single minute might suffice to snatch
her from death or captivity. The parents might deserve that I should
hazard or even sacrifice my life in the cause of their child.

After some fluctuation, I determined to return to the cavern and attempt
the rescue of the girl. The success of this project depended on the
continuance of their sleep. It was proper to approach with wariness, and
to heed the smallest token which might bespeak their condition. I crept
along the path, bending my ear forward to catch any sound that might
arise. I heard nothing but the half-stifled sobs of the girl.

I entered with the slowest and most anxious circumspection. Every thing
was found in its pristine state. The girl noticed my entrance with a
mixture of terror and joy. My gestures and looks enjoined upon her
silence. I stooped down, and, taking another hatchet, cut asunder the
deer-skin thongs by which her wrists and ankles were tied. I then made
signs for her to rise and follow me. She willingly complied with my
directions; but her benumbed joints and lacerated sinews refused to
support her. There was no time to be lost; I therefore lifted her in my
arms, and, feeble and tottering as I was, proceeded with this burden
along the perilous steep and over a most rugged-path.

I hoped that some exertion would enable her to retrieve the use of her
limbs. I set her, therefore, on her feet, exhorting her to walk as well
as she was able, and promising her my occasional assistance. The poor
girl was not deficient in zeal, and presently moved along with light and
quick steps. We speedily reached the bottom of the hill.

No fancy can conceive a scene more wild and desolate than that which now
presented itself. The soil was nearly covered with sharp fragments of
stone. Between these, sprung brambles and creeping vines, whose twigs,
crossing and intertwining with each other, added to the roughness below,
made the passage infinitely toilsome. Scattered over this space were
single cedars with their ragged spines and wreaths of moss, and copses
of dwarf oaks, which were only new emblems of sterility.

I was wholly unacquainted with the scene before me. No marks of
habitation or culture, no traces of the footsteps of men, were
discernible. I scarcely knew in what region of the globe I was placed. I
had come hither by means so inexplicable as to leave it equally in doubt
whether I was separated from my paternal abode by a river or an ocean.

I made inquiries of my companion, but she was unable to talk coherently.
She answered my questions with weeping, and sobs, and entreaties to fly
from the scene of her distress. I collected from her, at length, that
her father's house had been attacked on the preceding evening, and all
the family but herself destroyed. Since this disaster she had walked
very fast and a great way, but knew not how far or in what direction.

In a wilderness like this, my only hope was to light upon obscure paths,
made by cattle. Meanwhile I endeavoured to adhere to one line, and to
burst through the vexatious obstacles which encumbered our way. The
ground was concealed by the bushes, and we were perplexed and fatigued
by a continual succession of hollows and prominences. At one moment we
were nearly thrown headlong into a pit. At another we struck our feet
against the angles of stones. The branches of the oak rebounded in our
faces or entangled our legs, and the unseen thorns inflicted on us a
thousand wounds.

I was obliged, in these arduous circumstances, to support not only
myself, but my companion. Her strength was overpowered by her evening
journey, and the terror of being overtaken incessantly harassed her.

Sometimes we lighted upon tracks which afforded us an easier footing and
inspired us with courage to proceed. These, for a time, terminated at a
brook or in a bog, and we were once more compelled to go forward at
random. One of these tracks insensibly became more beaten, and, at
length, exhibited the traces of wheels. To this I adhered, confident
that it would finally conduct us to a dwelling.

On either side, the undergrowth of shrubs and brambles continued as
before. Sometimes small spaces were observed, which had lately been
cleared by fire. At length a vacant space, of larger dimensions than had
hitherto occurred, presented itself to my view. It was a field of some
acres, that had, apparently, been upturned by the hoe. At the corner of
this field was a small house.

My heart leaped with joy at this sight. I hastened towards it, in the
hope that my uncertainties, and toils, and dangers, were now drawing to
a close. This dwelling was suited to the poverty and desolation which
surrounded it. It consisted of a few unhewn logs laid upon each other,
to the height of eight or ten feet, including a quadrangular space of
similar dimensions, and covered by a thatch. There was no window, light
being sufficiently admitted into the crevices between the logs. These
had formerly been loosely plastered with clay; but air and rain had
crumbled and washed the greater part of this rude cement away. Somewhat
like a chimney, built of half-burnt bricks, was perceived at one corner.
The door was fastened by a leathern thong, tied to a peg.

All within was silence and darkness. I knocked at the door and called,
but no one moved or answered. The tenant, whoever he was, was absent.
His leave could not be obtained, and I, therefore, entered without it.
The autumn had made some progress, and the air was frosty and sharp. My
mind and muscles had been of late so strenuously occupied, that the cold
had not been felt. The cessation of exercise, however, quickly restored
my sensibility in this respect, but the unhappy girl complained of being
half frozen.

Fire, therefore, was the first object of my search. Happily, some embers
were found upon the hearth, together with potato-stalks and dry chips.
Of these, with much difficulty, I kindled a fire, by which some warmth
was imparted to our shivering limbs. The light enabled me, as I sat upon
the ground, to survey the interior of this mansion.  Three saplings,
stripped of their branches and bound together at their ends by twigs,
formed a kind of bedstead, which was raised from the ground by four
stones. Ropes stretched across these, and covered by a blanket,
constituted the bed. A board, of which one end rested on the bedstead
and the other was thrust between the logs that composed the wall,
sustained the stale fragments of a rye-loaf, and a cedar bucket kept
entire by withes instead of hoops. In the bucket was a little water,
full of droppings from the roof, drowned insects, and sand. A basket or
two neatly made, and a hoe, with a stake thrust into it by way of
handle, made up all the furniture that was visible.

Next to cold, hunger was the most urgent necessity by which we were now
pressed. This was no time to give ear to scruples. We, therefore,
unceremoniously divided the bread and water between us. I had now
leisure to bestow some regards upon the future.

These remnants of fire and food convinced me that this dwelling was
usually inhabited, and that it had lately been deserted. Some engagement
had probably carried the tenant abroad. His absence might be terminated
in a few minutes, or might endure through the night. On his return, I
questioned not my power to appease any indignation he might feel at the
liberties which I had taken. I was willing to suppose him one who would
readily afford us all the information and succour that we needed.

If he should not return till sunrise, I meant to resume my journey. By
the comfortable meal we had made, and the repose of a few hours, we
should be considerably invigorated and refreshed, and the road would
lead us to some more hospitable tenement.

My thoughts were too tumultuous, and my situation too precarious, to
allow me to sleep. The girl, on the contrary, soon sank into a sweet
oblivion of all her cares. She laid herself, by my advice, upon the bed,
and left me to ruminate without interruption.

I was not wholly free from the apprehension of danger. What influence
this boisterous and solitary life might have upon the temper of the
being who inhabited this hut, I could not predict. How soon the Indians
might awake, and what path they would pursue, I was equally unable to
guess. It was by no means impossible that they might tread upon my
footsteps, and knock, in a few minutes, at the door of this cottage. It
behooved me to make all the preparations in my power against untoward
incidents.

I had not parted with the gun which I had first seized in the cavern,
nor with the hatchet which I had afterwards used to cut the bands of the
girl. These were at once my trophies and my means of defence, which it
had been rash and absurd to have relinquished. My present reliance was
placed upon these.

I now, for the first time, examined the prize that I had made. Other
considerations had prevented me, till now, from examining the structure
of the piece; but I could not but observe that it had two barrels, and
was lighter and smaller than an ordinary musket. The light of the fire
now enabled me to inspect it with more accuracy.

Scarcely had I fixed my eyes upon the stock, when I perceived marks that
were familiar to my apprehension. Shape, ornaments, and ciphers, were
evidently the same with those of a piece which I had frequently handled.
The marks were of a kind which could not be mistaken. This piece was
mine; and, when I left my uncle's house, it was deposited, as I
believed, in the closet of my chamber.

Thou wilt easily conceive the inference which this circumstance
suggested. My hairs rose and my teeth chattered with horror. My whole
frame was petrified, and I paced to and fro, hurried from the chimney to
the door, and from the door to the chimney, with the misguided fury of a
maniac.

I needed no proof of my calamity more incontestable than this. My uncle
and my sisters had been murdered; the dwelling had been pillaged, and
this had been a part of the plunder. Defenceless and asleep, they were
assailed by these inexorable enemies, and I, who ought to have been
their protector and champion, was removed to an immeasurable distance,
and was disabled, by some accursed chance, from affording them the
succour which they needed.

For a time, I doubted whether I had not witnessed and shared this
catastrophe. I had no memory of the circumstances that preceded my
awaking in the pit. Had not the cause of my being cast into this abyss
some connection with the ruin of my family? Had I not been dragged
hither by these savages and reduced, by their malice, to that breathless
and insensible condition? Was I born to a malignant destiny never tired
of persecuting? Thus had my parents and their infant offspring perished,
and thus completed was the fate of all those to whom my affections
cleaved, and whom the first disaster had spared.

Hitherto the death of the savage, whom I had dispatched with my hatchet,
had not been remembered without some remorse. Now my emotions were
totally changed. I was somewhat comforted in thinking that thus much of
necessary vengeance had been executed. New and more vehement regrets
were excited by reflecting on the forbearance I had practised when so
much was in my power. All the miscreants had been at my mercy, and a
bloody retribution might, with safety and ease, have been inflicted on
their prostrate bodies.

It was now too late. What of consolation or of hope remained to me? To
return to my ancient dwelling, now polluted with blood, or, perhaps,
nothing but a smoking ruin, was abhorred. Life, connected with the
remembrance of my misfortunes, was detestable. I was no longer anxious
for flight. No change of the scene but that which terminated all
consciousness could I endure to think of.

Amidst these gloomy meditations the idea was suddenly suggested of
returning, with the utmost expedition, to the cavern. It was possible
that the assassins were still asleep. He who was appointed to watch, and
to make, in due season, the signal for resuming their march, was forever
silent. Without this signal it was not unlikely that they would sleep
till dawn of day. But, if they should be roused, they might be overtaken
or met, and, by choosing a proper station, two victims might at least
fall. The ultimate event to myself would surely be fatal; but my own
death was an object of desire rather than of dread. To die thus
speedily, and after some atonement was made for those who had already
been slain, was sweet.

The way to the mountain was difficult and tedious, but the ridge was
distinctly seen from the door of the cottage, and I trusted that
auspicious chance would lead me to that part of it where my prey was to
be found. I snatched up the gun and tomahawk in a transport of
eagerness. On examining the former, I found that both barrels were
deeply loaded.

This piece was of extraordinary workmanship. It was the legacy of an
English officer, who died in Bengal, to Sarsefield. It was constructed
for the purposes not of sport but of war. The artist had made it a
congeries of tubes and springs, by which every purpose of protection and
offence was effectually served. A dagger's blade was attached to it,
capable of being fixed at the end, and of answering the destructive
purpose of a bayonet. On his departure from Solesbury, my friend left
it, as a pledge of his affection, in my possession. Hitherto I had
chiefly employed it in shooting at a mark, in order to improve my sight;
now was I to profit by the gift in a different way.

Thus armed, I prepared to sally forth on my adventurous expedition.
Sober views might have speedily succeeded to the present tempest of my
passions. I might have gradually discovered the romantic and criminal
temerity of my project, the folly of revenge, and the duty of preserving
my life for the benefit of mankind. I might have suspected the propriety
of my conclusion, and have admitted some doubts as to the catastrophe
which I imagined to have befallen my uncle and sisters. I might, at
least, have consented to ascertain their condition with my own eyes, and
for this end have returned to the cottage, and have patiently waited
till the morning light should permit me to resume my journey.

This conduct was precluded by a new incident. Before I opened the door I
looked through a crevice of the wall, and perceived three human figures
at the farther end of the field. They approached the house. Though
indistinctly seen, something in their port persuaded me that these were
the Indians from whom I had lately parted. I was startled but not
dismayed. My thirst of vengeance was still powerful, and I believed that
the moment of its gratification was hastening. In a short time they
would arrive and enter the house. In what manner should they be
received?

I studied not my own security. It was the scope of my wishes to kill the
whole number of my foes; but, that being done, I was indifferent to the
consequences. I desired not to live to relate or to exult in the deed.

To go forth was perilous and useless. All that remained was to sit upon
the ground opposite the door, and fire at each as he entered. In the
hasty survey I had taken of this apartment, one object had been
overlooked, or imperfectly noticed. Close to the chimney was an
aperture, formed by a cavity partly in the wall and in the ground. It
was the entrance of an oven, which resembled, on the outside, a mound of
earth, and which was filled with dry stalks of potatoes and other
rubbish.

Into this it was possible to thrust my body. A sort of screen might be
formed of the brushwood, and more deliberate and effectual execution be
done upon the enemy. I weighed not the disadvantages of this scheme, but
precipitately threw myself into this cavity. I discovered, in an
instant, that it was totally unfit for my purpose; but it was too late
to repair my miscarriage.

This wall of the hovel was placed near the verge of a sand-bank. The
oven was erected on the very brink. This bank, being of a loose and
mutable soil, could not sustain my weight. It sunk, and I sunk along
with it. The height of the bank was three or four feet, so that, though
disconcerted and embarrassed, I received no injury. I still grasped my
gun, and resumed my feet in a moment.

What was now to be done? The bank screened me from the view of the
savages. The thicket was hard by, and, if I were eager to escape, the
way was obvious and sure. But, though single, though enfeebled by toil,
by abstinence, and by disease, and though so much exceeded in number and
strength by my foes, I was determined to await and provoke the contest.

In addition to the desperate impulse of passion, I was swayed by
thoughts of the danger which beset the sleeping girl, and from which my
flight would leave her without protection. How strange is the destiny
that governs mankind! The consequence of shrouding myself in this cavity
had not been foreseen. It was an expedient which courage and not
cowardice suggested; and yet it was the only expedient by which flight
had been rendered practicable. To have issued from the door would only
have been to confront, and not to elude, the danger.

The first impulse prompted me to re-enter the cottage by this avenue,
but this could not be done with certainty and expedition. What then
remained? While I deliberated, the men approached, and, after a moment's
hesitation, entered the house, the door being partly open.

The fire on the hearth enabled them to survey the room. One of them
uttered a sudden exclamation of surprise. This was easily interpreted.
They had noticed the girl who had lately been their captive lying asleep
on the blanket. Their astonishment at finding her here, and in this
condition, may be easily conceived.

I now reflected that I might place myself, without being observed, near
the entrance, at an angle of the building, and shoot at each as he
successively came forth. I perceived that the bank conformed to two
sides of the house, and that I might gain a view of the front and of the
entrance, without exposing myself to observation.

I lost no time in gaining this station. The bank was as high as my
breast. It was easy, therefore, to crouch beneath it, to bring my eye
close to the verge, and, laying my gun upon the top of it among the
grass, with its muzzles pointed to the door, patiently to wait their
forthcoming.

My eye and my ear were equally attentive to what was passing. A low and
muttering conversation was maintained in the house. Presently I heard a
heavy stroke descend. I shuddered, and my blood ran cold at the sound. I
entertained no doubt but that it was the stroke of a hatchet on the head
or breast of the helpless sleeper.

It was followed by a loud shriek. The continuance of these shrieks
proved that the stroke had not been instantly fatal. I waited to hear it
repeated, but the sounds that now arose were like those produced by
dragging somewhat along the ground. The shrieks, meanwhile, were
incessant and piteous. My heart faltered, and I saw that mighty efforts
must be made to preserve my joints and my nerves steadfast. All depended
on the strenuous exertions and the fortunate dexterity of a moment.

One now approached the door, and came forth, dragging the girl, whom he
held by the hair, after him. What hindered me from shooting at his first
appearance, I know not. This had been my previous resolution. My hand
touched the trigger, and, as he moved, the piece was levelled at his
right ear. Perhaps the momentous consequences of my failure made me wait
till his ceasing to move might render my aim more sure.

Having dragged the girl, still piteously shrieking, to the distance of
ten feet from the house, he threw her from him with violence. She fell
upon the ground, and, observing him level his piece at her breast,
renewed her supplications in a still more piercing tone. Little did the
forlorn wretch think that her deliverance was certain and near. I
rebuked myself for having thus long delayed. I fired, and my enemy sunk
upon the ground without a struggle.

Thus far had success attended me in this unequal contest. The next shot
would leave me nearly powerless. If that, however, proved as unerring as
the first, the chances of defeat were lessened. The savages within,
knowing the intentions of their associate with regard to the captive
girl, would probably mistake the report which they heard for that of his
piece. Their mistake, however, would speedily give place to doubts, and
they would rush forth to ascertain the truth. It behooved me to provide
a similar reception for him that next appeared.

It was as I expected. Scarcely was my eye again fixed upon the entrance,
when a tawny and terrific visage was stretched fearfully forth. It was
the signal of his fate. His glances, cast wildly and swiftly round,
lighted upon me, and on the fatal instrument which was pointed at his
forehead. His muscles were at once exerted to withdraw his head, and to
vociferate a warning to his fellow; but his movement was too slow. The
ball entered above his ear. He tumbled headlong to the ground, bereaved
of sensation though not of life, and had power only to struggle and
mutter.



Chapter XIX.


Think not that I relate these things with exultation or tranquillity.
All my education and the habits of my life tended to unfit me for a
contest and a scene like this. But I was not governed by the soul which
usually regulates my conduct. I had imbibed, from the unparalleled
events which had lately happened, a spirit vengeful, unrelenting, and
ferocious.

There was now an interval for flight. Throwing my weapons away, I might
gain the thicket in a moment. I had no ammunition, nor would time be
afforded me to reload my piece. My antagonist would render my poniard
and my speed of no use to me. Should he miss me as I fled, the girl
would remain to expiate, by her agonies and death, the fate of his
companions.

These thoughts passed through my mind in a shorter time than is demanded
to express them. They yielded to an expedient suggested by the sight of
the gun that had been raised to destroy the girl, and which now lay upon
the ground. I am not large of bone, but am not deficient in agility and
strength. All that remained to me of these qualities was now exerted;
and, dropping my own piece, I leaped upon the bank, and flew to seize my
prize.

It was not till I snatched it from the ground, that the propriety of
regaining my former post rushed upon my apprehension. He that was still
posted in the hovel would mark me through the seams of the wall, and
render my destruction sure. I once more ran towards the bank, with the
intention to throw myself below it. All this was performed in an
instant; but my vigilant foe was aware of his advantage, and fired
through an opening between the logs. The bullet grazed my cheek, and
produced a benumbing sensation that made me instantly fall to the earth.
Though bereaved of strength, and fraught with the belief that I had
received a mortal wound, my caution was not remitted. I loosened not my
grasp of the gun, and the posture into which I accidentally fell enabled
me to keep an eye upon the house and a hand upon the trigger. Perceiving
my condition, the savage rushed from his covert in order to complete his
work; but at three steps from the threshold he received my bullet in his
breast. The uplifted tomahawk fell from his hand, and, uttering a loud
shriek, he fell upon the body of his companion. His cries struck upon my
heart, and I wished that his better fortune had cast this evil from him
upon me.

Thus I have told thee a bloody and disastrous tale. When thou reflectest
on the mildness of my habits, my antipathy to scenes of violence and
bloodshed, my unacquaintance with the use of fire-arms and the motives
of a soldier, thou wilt scarcely allow credit to my story. That one
rushing into these dangers, unfurnished with stratagems or weapons,
disheartened and enfeebled by hardships and pain, should subdue four
antagonists trained from their infancy to the artifices and exertions of
Indian warfare, will seem the vision of fancy, rather than the lesson of
truth.

I lifted my head from the ground and pondered upon this scene. The
magnitude of this exploit made me question its reality. By attending to
my own sensations, I discovered that I had received no wound, or, at
least, none of which there was reason to complain. The blood flowed
plentifully from my cheek, but the injury was superficial. It was
otherwise with my antagonists. The last that had fallen now ceased to
groan. Their huge limbs, inured to combat and _war-worn_, were useless
to their own defence, and to the injury of others.

The destruction that I witnessed was vast. Three beings, full of energy
and heroism, endowed with minds strenuous and lofty, poured out their
lives before me. I was the instrument of their destruction. This scene
of carnage and blood was laid by me. To this havoc and horror was I led
by such rapid footsteps!

My anguish was mingled with astonishment. In spite of the force and
uniformity with which my senses were impressed by external objects, the
transition I had undergone was so wild and inexplicable; all that I had
performed, all that I had witnessed since my egress from the pit, were
so contradictory to precedent events, that I still clung to the belief
that my thoughts were confused by delirium. From these reveries I was at
length recalled by the groans of the girl, who lay near me on the
ground.

I went to her and endeavoured to console her. I found that, while lying
in the bed, she had received a blow upon the side, which was still
productive of acute pain. She was unable to rise or to walk, and it was
plain that one or more of her ribs had been fractured by the blow.

I knew not what means to devise for our mutual relief. It was possible
that the nearest dwelling was many leagues distant. I knew not in what
direction to go in order to find it, and my strength would not suffice
to carry my wounded companion thither in my arms. There was no expedient
but to remain in this field of blood till the morning.

I had scarcely formed this resolution before the report of a musket was
heard at a small distance. At the same moment, I distinctly heard the
whistling of a bullet near me. I now remembered that, of the five
Indians whom I saw in the cavern, I was acquainted with the destiny only
of four. The fifth might be still alive, and fortune might reserve for
him the task of avenging his companions. His steps might now be tending
hither in search of them.

The musket belonging to him who was shot upon the threshold was still
charged. It was discreet to make all the provision in my power against
danger. I possessed myself of this gun, and, seating myself on the
ground, looked carefully on all sides, to descry the approach of the
enemy. I listened with breathless eagerness.

Presently voices were heard. They ascended from that part of the thicket
from which my view was intercepted by the cottage. These voices had
something in them that bespoke them to belong to friends and countrymen.
As yet I was unable to distinguish words.

Presently my eye was attracted to one quarter, by a sound as of feet
trampling down bushes. Several heads were seen moving in succession, and
at length the whole person was conspicuous. One after another leaped
over a kind of mound which bordered the field, and made towards the spot
where I sat. This band was composed of ten or twelve persons, with each
a gun upon his shoulder. Their guise, the moment it was perceived,
dissipated all my apprehensions.

They came within the distance of a few paces before they discovered me.
One stopped, and, bespeaking the attention of his followers, called to
know who was there. I answered that I was a friend, who entreated their
assistance. I shall not paint their astonishment when, on coming nearer,
they beheld me surrounded by the arms and dead bodies of my enemies.

I sat upon the ground, supporting my head with my left hand, and resting
on my knee the stock of a heavy musket. My countenance was wan and
haggard, my neck and bosom were dyed in blood, and my limbs, almost
stripped by the brambles of their slender covering, were lacerated by a
thousand wounds. Three savages, two of whom were steeped in gore, lay at
a small distance, with the traces of recent life on their visages. Hard
by was the girl, venting her anguish in the deepest groans, and
entreating relief from the new-comers.

One of the company, on approaching the girl, betrayed the utmost
perturbation. "Good God!" he cried, "is this a dream? Can it be you?
Speak!"

"Ah, my father! my father!" answered she, "it is I indeed."

The company, attracted by this dialogue, crowded round the girl, whom
her father, clasping in his arms, lifted from the ground, and pressed,
in a transport of joy, to his breast. This delight was succeeded by
solicitude respecting her condition. She could only answer his inquiries
by complaining that her side was bruised to pieces. "How came you
here?"--"Who hurt you?"--"Where did the Indians carry you?"--were
questions to which she could make no reply but by sobs and plaints.

My own calamities were forgotten in contemplating the fondness and
compassion of the man for his child. I derived new joy from reflecting
that I had not abandoned her, and that she owed her preservation to my
efforts. The inquiries which the girl was unable to answer were now put
to me. Every one interrogated me who I was, whence I had come, and what
had given rise to this bloody contest.

I was not willing to expatiate on my story. The spirit which had
hitherto sustained me began now to subside. My strength ebbed away with
my blood. Tremors, lassitude, and deadly cold, invaded me, and I fainted
on the ground.

Such is the capricious constitution of the human mind. While dangers
were at hand, while my life was to be preserved only by zeal, and
vigilance, and courage, I was not wanting to myself. Had my perils
continued, or even multiplied, no doubt my energies would have kept
equal pace with them; but the moment that I was encompassed by
protectors, and placed in security, I grew powerless and faint. My
weakness was proportioned to the duration and intensity of my previous
efforts, and the swoon into which I now sunk was, no doubt, mistaken by
the spectators for death.

On recovering from this swoon, my sensations were not unlike those which
I had experienced on awaking in the pit. For a moment a mistiness
involved every object, and I was able to distinguish nothing. My sight,
by rapid degrees, was restored, my painful dizziness was banished, and I
surveyed the scene before me with anxiety and wonder.

I found myself stretched upon the ground. I perceived the cottage and
the neighbouring thicket, illuminated by a declining moon. My head
rested upon something, which, on turning to examine, I found to be one
of the slain Indians. The other two remained upon the earth, at a small
distance, and in the attitudes in which they had fallen. Their arms, the
wounded girl, and the troop who were near me when I fainted, were gone.

My head had reposed upon the breast of him whom I had shot in this part
of his body. The blood had ceased to ooze from the wound, but my
dishevelled locks were matted and steeped in that gore which had
overflowed and choked up the orifice. I started from this detestable
pillow, and regained my feet.

I did not suddenly recall what had lately passed, or comprehend the
nature of my situation. At length, however, late events were
recollected.

That I should be abandoned in this forlorn state by these men seemed to
argue a degree of cowardice or cruelty of which I should have thought
them incapable. Presently, however, I reflected that appearances might
have easily misled them into a belief of my death. On this supposition,
to have carried me away, or to have stayed beside me, would be useless.
Other enemies might be abroad; or their families, now that their fears
were somewhat tranquillized, might require their presence and
protection.

I went into the cottage. The fire still burned, and afforded me a genial
warmth. I sat before it, and began to ruminate on the state to which I
was reduced, and on the measures I should next pursue. Daylight could
not be very distant. Should I remain in this hovel till the morning, or
immediately resume my journey? I was feeble, indeed; but, by remaining
here, should I not increase my feebleness? The sooner I should gain some
human habitation the better; whereas watchfulness and hunger would
render me, at each minute, less able to proceed than on the former.

This spot might be visited on the next day; but this was involved in
uncertainty. The visitants, should any come, would come merely to
examine and bury the dead, and bring with them neither the clothing nor
the food which my necessities demanded. The road was sufficiently
discernible, and would, unavoidably, conduct me to some dwelling. I
determined, therefore, to set out without delay. Even in this state I
was not unmindful that my safety might require the precaution of being
armed. Besides, the fusil which had been given me by Sarsefield, and
which I had so unexpectedly recovered, had lost none of its value in my
eyes. I hoped that it had escaped the search of the troop who had been
here, and still lay below the bank in the spot where I had dropped it.

In this hope I was not deceived. It was found. I possessed myself of the
powder and shot belonging to one of the savages, and loaded it. Thus
equipped for defence, I regained the road, and proceeded, with alacrity,
on my way. For the wound in my cheek, nature had provided a styptic, but
the soreness was extreme, and I thought of no remedy but water, with
which I might wash away the blood. My thirst likewise incommoded me, and
I looked with eagerness for the traces of a spring. In a soil like that
of the wilderness around me, nothing was less to be expected than to
light upon water. In this respect, however, my destiny was propitious. I
quickly perceived water in the ruts. It trickled hither from the thicket
on one side, and, pursuing it among the bushes, I reached the bubbling
source. Though scanty and brackish, it afforded me unspeakable
refreshment.

Thou wilt think, perhaps, that my perils were now at an end; that the
blood I had already shed was sufficient for my safety. I fervently hoped
that no new exigence would occur compelling me to use the arms that I
bore in my own defence. I formed a sort of resolution to shun the
contest with a new enemy, almost at the expense of my own life. I was
satiated and gorged with slaughter, and thought upon a new act of
destruction with abhorrence and loathing.

But, though I dreaded to encounter a new enemy, I was sensible that an
enemy might possibly be at hand. I had moved forward with caution, and
my sight and hearing were attentive to the slightest tokens. Other
troops, besides that which I encountered, might be hovering near, and of
that troop I remembered that one at least had survived.

The gratification which the spring had afforded me was so great, that I
was in no haste to depart. I lay upon a rock, which chanced to be shaded
by a tree behind me. From this post I could overlook the road to some
distance, and, at the same time, be shaded from the observation of
others.

My eye was now caught by movements which appeared like those of a beast.
In different circumstances, I should have instantly supposed it to be a
wolf, or panther, or bear. Now my suspicions were alive on a different
account, and my startled fancy figured to itself nothing but a human
adversary.

A thicket was on either side of the road. That opposite to my station
was discontinued at a small distance by the cultivated field. The road
continued along this field, bounded by the thicket on the one side and
the open space on the other. To this space the being who was now
described was cautiously approaching.

He moved upon all fours, and presently came near enough to be
distinguished. His disfigured limbs, pendants from his ears and nose,
and his shorn locks, were indubitable indications of a savage,
Occasionally he reared himself above the bushes, and scanned, with
suspicious vigilance, the cottage and the space surrounding it. Then he
stooped, and crept along as before.

I was at no loss to interpret these appearances. This was my surviving
enemy. He was unacquainted with the fate of his associates, and was now
approaching the theatre of carnage to ascertain their fate.

Once more was the advantage afforded me. From this spot might unerring
aim be taken, and the last of this hostile troop be made to share the
fate of the rest. Should I fire, or suffer him to pass in safety?

My abhorrence of bloodshed was not abated. But I had not foreseen this
occurrence. My success hitherto had seemed to depend upon a combination
of fortunate incidents, which could not be expected again to take place;
but now was I invested with the same power. The mark was near; nothing
obstructed or delayed; I incurred no danger, and the event was certain.

Why should he be suffered to live? He came hither to murder and despoil
my friends; this work he has, no doubt, performed. Nay, has he not borne
his part in the destruction of my uncle and my sisters? He will live
only to pursue the same sanguinary trade; to drink the blood and exult
in the laments of his unhappy foes and of my own brethren. Fate has
reserved him for a bloody and violent death. For how long a time soever
it may be deferred, it is thus that his career will inevitably
terminate.

Should he be spared, he will still roam in the wilderness, and I may
again be fated to encounter him. Then our mutual situation may be widely
different, and the advantage I now possess may be his.

While hastily revolving these thoughts, I was thoroughly aware that one
event might take place which would render all deliberation useless.
Should he spy me where I lay, my fluctuations must end. My safety would
indispensably require me to shoot. This persuasion made me keep a
steadfast eye upon his motions, and be prepared to anticipate his
assault.

It now most seasonably occurred to me that one essential duty remained
to be performed. One operation, without which fire-arms are useless, had
been unaccountably omitted. My piece was uncocked. I did not reflect
that in moving the spring a sound would necessarily be produced
sufficient to alarm him. But I knew that the chances of escaping his
notice, should I be perfectly mute and still, were extremely slender,
and that, in such a case, his movements would be quicker than the light:
it behooved me, therefore, to repair my omission.

The sound struck him with alarm. He turned and darted at me an inquiring
glance. I saw that forbearance was no longer in my power; but my heart
sunk while I complied with what may surely be deemed an indispensable
necessity. This faltering, perhaps, it was that made me swerve somewhat
from the fatal line. He was disabled by the wound, but not killed.

He lost all power of resistance, and was, therefore, no longer to be
dreaded. He rolled upon the ground, uttering doleful shrieks, and
throwing his limbs into those contortions which bespeak the keenest
agonies to which ill-fated man is subject. Horror, and compassion, and
remorse, were mingled into one sentiment, and took possession of my
heart. To shut out this spectacle, I withdrew from the spot, but I
stopped before I had moved beyond hearing of his cries.

The impulse that drove me from the scene was pusillanimous and cowardly.
The past, however deplorable, could not be recalled; but could not I
afford some relief to this wretch? Could not I at least bring his pangs
to a speedy close? Thus he might continue, writhing and calling upon
death, for hours. Why should his miseries be uselessly prolonged?

There was but one way to end them. To kill him outright was the dictate
of compassion and of duty. I hastily returned, and once more levelled my
piece at his head. It was a loathsome obligation, and was performed with
unconquerable reluctance. Thus to assault and to mangle the body of an
enemy, already prostrate and powerless, was an act worthy of abhorrence;
yet it was, in this case, prescribed by pity.

My faltering hand rendered this second bullet ineffectual. One
expedient, still more detestable, remained. Having gone thus far, it
would have been inhuman to stop short. His heart might easily be pierced
by the bayonet, and his struggles would cease.

This task of cruel lenity was at length finished. I dropped the weapon
and threw myself on the ground, overpowered by the horrors of this
scene. Such are the deeds which perverse nature compels thousands of
rational beings to perform and to witness! Such is the spectacle,
endlessly prolonged and diversified, which is exhibited in every field
of battle; of which habit and example, the temptations of gain, and the
illusions of honour, will make us, not reluctant or indifferent, but
zealous and delighted actors and beholders!

Thus, by a series of events impossible to be computed or foreseen, was
the destruction of a band, selected from their fellows for an arduous
enterprise, distinguished by prowess and skill, and equally armed
against surprise and force, completed by the hand of a boy, uninured to
hostility, unprovided with arms, precipitate and timorous! I have noted
men who seemed born for no end but by their achievements to belie
experience, and baffle foresight, and outstrip belief. Would to God that
I had not deserved to be numbered among these! But what power was it
that called me from the sleep of death just in time to escape the
merciless knife of this enemy? Had my swoon continued till he had
reached the spot, he would have effectuated my death by new wounds and
torn away the skin from my brows. Such are the subtle threads on which
hang the fate of man and of the universe!

While engaged in these reflections, I perceived that the moonlight had
begun to fade before that of the sun. A dusky and reddish hue spread
itself over the east. Cheered by this appearance, I once more resumed my
feet and the road. I left the savage where he lay, but made prize of
his tomahawk. I had left my own in the cavern; and this weapon added
little to my burden. Prompted by some freak of fancy, I stuck his musket
in the ground, and left it standing upright in the middle of the road.



Chapter XX.


I moved forward with as quick a pace as my feeble limbs would permit. I
did not allow myself to meditate. The great object of my wishes was a
dwelling where food and repose might be procured. I looked earnestly
forward, and on each side, in search of some token of human residence;
but the spots of cultivation, the _well-pole_, the _worm fence_,
and the hayrick, were nowhere to be seen. I did not even meet with a
wild hog or a bewildered cow. The path was narrow, and on either side
was a trackless wilderness. On the right and left were the waving
lines of mountainous ridges, which had no peculiarity enabling me to
ascertain whether I had ever before seen them.

At length I noticed that the tracks of wheels had disappeared from the
path that I was treading; that it became more narrow, and exhibited
fewer marks of being frequented. These appearances were discouraging. I
now suspected that I had taken a wrong direction, and, instead of
approaching, was receding from, the habitation of men.

It was wisest, however, to proceed. The road could not but have some
origin as well as end. Some hours passed away in this uncertainty. The
sun rose, and by noonday I seemed to be farther than ever from the end
of my toils. The path was more obscure, and the wilderness more rugged.
Thirst more incommoded me than hunger, but relief was seasonably
afforded by the brooks that flowed across the path.

Coming to one of these, and having slaked my thirst, I sat down upon the
bank, to reflect on my situation. The circuity of the path had
frequently been noticed, and I began to suspect that, though I had
travelled long, I had not moved far from the spot where I had commenced
my pilgrimage.

Turning my eyes on all sides, I noticed a sort of pool, formed by the
rivulet, at a few paces distant from the road. In approaching and
inspecting it, I observed the footsteps of cattle, who had retired by a
path that seemed much beaten: I likewise noticed a cedar bucket, broken
and old, lying on the margin. These tokens revived my drooping spirits,
arid I betook myself to this new track. It was intricate, but, at
length, led up a steep, the summit of which was of better soil than that
of which the flats consisted. A clover-field, and several
apple-trees,--sure attendants of man,--were now discovered. From this
space I entered a corn-field, and at length, to my inexpressible joy,
caught a glimpse of a house.

This dwelling was far different from that I had lately left. It was as
small and as low, but its walls consisted of boards. A window of four
panes admitted the light, and a chimney of brick, well burnt and neatly
arranged, peeped over the roof. As I approached, I heard the voice of
children and the hum of a spinning-wheel.

I cannot make thee conceive the delight which was afforded me by all
these tokens. I now found myself, indeed, among beings like myself, and
from whom hospitable entertainment might be confidently expected. I
compassed the house, and made my appearance at the door.

A good woman, busy at her wheel, with two children playing on the ground
before her, were the objects that now presented themselves. The
uncouthness of my garb, my wild and weatherworn appearance, my fusil and
tomahawk, could not but startle them. The woman stopped her wheel, and
gazed as if a spectre had started into view.

I was somewhat aware of these consequences, and endeavoured to elude
them by assuming an air of supplication and humility. I told her that I
was a traveller, who had unfortunately lost his way and had rambled in
this wild till nearly famished for want. I entreated her to give me some
food; any thing, however scanty or coarse, would be acceptable.

After some pause she desired me, though not without some marks of fear,
to walk in. She placed before me some brown bread and milk. She eyed me
while I eagerly devoured this morsel. It was, indeed, more delicious
than any I had ever tasted. At length she broke silence, and expressed
her astonishment and commiseration at my seemingly-forlorn state, adding
that perhaps I was the man whom the men were looking after who had been
there some hours before.

My curiosity was roused by this intimation. In answer to my
interrogations, she said that three persons had lately stopped, to
inquire if her husband had not met, within the last three days, a person
of whom their description seemed pretty much to suit my person and
dress. He was tall, slender, wore nothing but shirt and trousers, and
was wounded on the cheek.

"What," I asked, "did they state the rank or condition of the person to
be?"

He lived in Solesbury. He was supposed to have rambled in the mountains,
and to have lost his way, or to have met with some mischance. It was
three days since he had disappeared, but had been seen by some one, the
last night, at Deb's hut.

What and where was Deb's hut?

It was a hut in the wilderness, occupied by an old Indian woman, known
among her neighbours by the name of Old Deb. Some people called her
Queen Mab. Her dwelling was eight _long_ miles from this house.

A thousand questions were precluded and a thousand doubts solved by this
information. _Queen Mab_ were sounds familiar to my ears; for they
originated with myself.

This woman originally belonged to the tribe of Delawares, or
Lenni-lennapee. All these districts were once comprised within the
dominions of that nation. About thirty years ago, in consequence of
perpetual encroachments of the English colonists, they abandoned their
ancient seats and retired to the banks of the Wabash and Muskingum.

This emigration was concerted in a general council of the tribe, and
obtained the concurrence of all but one female. Her birth, talents, and
age, gave her much consideration and authority among her countrymen; and
all her zeal and eloquence were exerted to induce them to lay aside
their scheme. In this, however, she could not succeed. Finding them
refractory, she declared her resolution to remain behind and maintain
possession of the land which her countrymen should impiously abandon.

The village inhabited by this clan was built upon ground which now
constitutes my uncle's barnyard and orchard. On the departure of her
countrymen, this female burnt the empty wigwams and retired into the
fastnesses of Norwalk. She selected a spot suitable for an Indian
dwelling and a small plantation of maize, and in which she was seldom
liable to interruption and intrusion.

Her only companions were three dogs, of the Indian or wolf species.
These animals differed in nothing from their kinsmen of the forest but
in their attachment and obedience to their mistress. She governed them
with absolute sway. They were her servants and protectors, and attended
her person or guarded her threshold, agreeably to her directions. She
fed them with corn, and they supplied her and themselves with meat, by
hunting squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits.

To the rest of mankind they were aliens or enemies. They never left the
desert but in company with their mistress, and, when she entered a
farm-house, waited her return at a distance. They would suffer none to
approach them, but attacked no one who did not imprudently crave their
acquaintance, or who kept at a respectful distance from their wigwam.
That sacred asylum they would not suffer to be violated, and no stranger
could enter it but at the imminent hazard of his life, unless
accompanied and protected by their dame.

The chief employment of this woman, when at home, besides plucking the
weeds from among her corn, bruising the grain between two stones, and
setting her snares for rabbits and opossums, was to talk. Though in
solitude, her tongue was never at rest but when she was asleep; but her
conversation was merely addressed to her dogs. Her voice was sharp and
shrill, and her gesticulations were vehement and grotesque. A hearer
would naturally imagine that she was scolding; but, in truth, she was
merely giving them directions. Having no other object of contemplation
or subject of discourse, she always found, in their postures and looks,
occasion for praise, or blame, or command. The readiness with which they
understood, and the docility with which they obeyed, her movements and
words, were truly wonderful.

If a stranger chanced to wander near her hut and overhear her jargon,
incessant as it was, and shrill, he might speculate in vain on the
reason of these sounds. If he waited in expectation of hearing some
reply, he waited in vain. The strain, always voluble and sharp, was
never intermitted for a moment, and would continue for hours at a time.

She seldom left the hut but to visit the neighbouring inhabitants and
demand from them food and clothing, or whatever her necessities
required. These were exacted as her due; to have her wants supplied was
her prerogative, and to withhold what she claimed was rebellion. She
conceived that by remaining behind her countrymen she succeeded to the
government and retained the possession of all this region. The English
were aliens and sojourners, who occupied the land merely by her
connivance and permission, and whom she allowed to remain on no terms
but those of supplying her wants.

Being a woman aged and harmless, her demands being limited to that of
which she really stood in need, and which her own industry could not
procure, her pretensions were a subject of mirth and good-humour, and
her injunctions obeyed with seeming deference and gravity. To me she
early became an object of curiosity and speculation. I delighted to
observe her habits and humour her prejudices. She frequently came to my
uncle's house, and I sometimes visited her: insensibly she seemed to
contract an affection for me, and regarded me with more complacency and
condescension than any other received.

She always disdained to speak English, and custom had rendered her
intelligible to most in her native language, with regard to a few simple
questions. I had taken some pains to study her jargon, and could make
out to discourse with her on the few ideas which she possessed. This
circumstance, likewise, wonderfully prepossessed her in my favour.

The name by which she was formerly known was Deb; but her pretensions to
royalty, the wildness of her aspect and garb, her shrivelled and
diminutive form, a constitution that seemed to defy the ravages of time
and the influence of the elements, her age, (which some did not scruple
to affirm exceeded a hundred years,) her romantic solitude and
mountainous haunts, suggested to my fancy the appellation of _Queen
Mab_. There appeared to me some rude analogy between this personage
and her whom the poets of old time have delighted to celebrate: thou
perhaps wilt discover nothing but incongruities between them; but, be
that as it may, Old Deb and Queen Mab soon came into indiscriminate and
general use.

She dwelt in Norwalk upwards of twenty years. She was not forgotten by
her countrymen, and generally received from her brothers and sons an
autumnal visit; but no solicitations or entreaties could prevail on her
to return with them. Two years ago, some suspicion or disgust induced
her to forsake her ancient habitation and to seek a hew one. Happily she
found a more convenient habitation twenty miles to the westward, and in
a spot abundantly sterile and rude.

This dwelling was of logs, and had been erected by a Scottish emigrant,
who, not being rich enough to purchase land, and entertaining a passion
for solitude and independence, cleared a field in the unappropriated
wilderness and subsisted on its produce. After some time he disappeared.
Various conjectures were formed as to the cause of his absence. None of
them were satisfactory; but that, which obtained most credit was, that
he had been murdered by the Indians, who, about the same period, paid
their annual visit to the _Queen_. This conjecture acquired some
force by observing that the old woman shortly after took possession of
his hut, his implements of tillage, and his corn-field.

She was not molested in her new abode, and her life passed in the same
quiet tenor as before. Her periodical rambles, her regal claims, her
guardian wolves, and her uncouth volubility, were equally remarkable;
but her circuits were new. Her distance made her visits to Solebury more
rare, and had prevented me from ever extending my pedestrian excursions
to her present abode.

These recollections were now suddenly called up by the information of my
hostess. The hut where I had sought shelter and relief was, it seems,
the residence of Queen Mab. Some fortunate occurrence had called her
away during my visit. Had she and her dogs been at home, I should have
been set upon by these ferocious sentinels, and, before their dame could
have interfered, have been, together with my helpless companion, mangled
or killed. These animals never barked: I should have entered unaware of
my danger, and my fate could scarcely have been averted by my fusil.

Her absence at this unseasonable hour was mysterious. It was now the
time of year when her countrymen were accustomed to renew their visit.
Was there a league between her and the plunderers whom I had
encountered?

But who were they by whom my footsteps were so industriously traced?
Those whom I had seen at Deb's hut were strangers to me, but the wound
upon my face was known only to them. To this circumstance was now added
my place of residence and name. I supposed them impressed with the
belief that I was dead; but this mistake must have speedily been
rectified. Revisiting the spot, finding me gone, and obtaining some
intelligence of my former condition, they had instituted a search after
me.

But what tidings were these? I was supposed to have been bewildered in
the mountains, and three days were said to have passed since my
disappearance. Twelve hours had scarcely elapsed since I emerged from
the cavern. Had two days and a half been consumed in my subterranean
prison?

These reflections were quickly supplanted by others. I now gained a
sufficient acquaintance with the region that was spread around me. I was
in the midst of a vale included between ridges that gradually approached
each other, and, when joined, were broken up into hollows and steeps,
and, spreading themselves over a circular space, assumed the appellation
of Norwalk. This vale gradually widened as it tended to the westward,
and was, in this place, ten or twelve miles in breadth. My devious
footsteps had brought me to the foot of the southern barrier. The outer
basis of this was laved by the river; but, as it tended eastward, the
mountain and river receded from each other, and one of the cultivable
districts lying between them was Solesbury, my natal _township_.
Hither it was now my duty to return with the utmost expedition.

There were two ways before me. One lay along the interior base of the
hill, over a sterile and trackless space, and exposed to the encounter
of savages, some of whom might possibly be lurking here. The other was
the well-frequented road on the outside and along the river, and which
was to be gained by passing over this hill. The practicability of the
passage was to be ascertained by inquiries made to my hostess. She
pointed out a path that led to the rocky summit and down to the river's
brink. The path was not easy to be kept in view or to be trodden, but it
was undoubtedly to be preferred to any other.

A route somewhat circuitous would terminate in the river-road.
Thenceforward the way to Solesbury was level and direct; but the whole
space which I had to traverse was not less than thirty miles. In six
hours it would be night, and to perform the journey in that time would
demand the agile boundings of a leopard and the indefatigable sinews of
an elk.

My frame was in a miserable plight. My strength had been assailed by
anguish, and fear, and watchfulness, by toil, and abstinence, and
wounds. Still, however, some remnant was left; would it not enable me to
reach my home by nightfall? I had delighted, from my childhood, in feats
of agility and perseverance. In roving through the maze of thickets and
precipices, I had put my energies, both moral and physical, frequently
to the test. Greater achievements than this had been performed, and I
disdained to be outdone in perspicacity by the lynx, in his sure-footed
instinct by the roe, or in patience under hardship, and contention with
fatigue, by the Mohawk. I have ever aspired to transcend the rest of
animals in all that is common to the rational and brute, as well as in
all by which they are distinguished from each other.



Chapter XXI.


I likewise burned with impatience to know the condition of my family, to
dissipate at once their tormenting doubts and my own with regard to our
mutual safety. The evil that I feared had befallen them was too enormous
to allow me to repose in suspense, and my restlessness and ominous
forebodings would be more intolerable than any hardship or toils to
which I could possibly be subjected during this journey.

I was much refreshed and invigorated by the food that I had taken, and
by the rest of an hour. With this stock of recruited force I determined
to scale the hill. After receiving minute directions, and, returning
many thanks for my hospitable entertainment, I set out.

The path was indeed intricate, and deliberate attention was obliged to
be exerted in order to preserve it. Hence my progress was slower than I
wished. The first impulse was to fix my eye upon the summit, and to leap
from crag to crag till I reached it; but this my experience had taught
me was impracticable. It was only by winding through gullies, and
coasting precipices and bestriding chasms, that I could hope finally to
gain the top; and I was assured that by one way only was it possible to
accomplish even this.

An hour was spent in struggling with impediments, and I seemed to have
gained no way. Hence a doubt was suggested whether I had not missed the
true road. In this doubt I was confirmed by the difficulties which now
grew up before me. The brooks, the angles, and the hollows, which my
hostess had described, were not to be seen. Instead of these, deeper
dells, more headlong torrents, and wider-gaping rifts, were incessantly
encountered.

To return was as hopeless as to proceed. I consoled myself with thinking
that the survey which my informant had made of the hill-side might prove
inaccurate, and that, in spite of her predictions, the heights might be
reached by other means than by those pointed out by her. I will not
enumerate my toilsome expedients, my frequent disappointments, and my
desperate exertions. Suffice it to say that I gained the upper space not
till the sun had dipped beneath the horizon.

My satisfaction at accomplishing thus much was not small, and I hied,
with renovated spirits, to the opposite brow. This proved to be a steep
that could not be descended. The river flowed at its foot. The opposite
bank was five hundred yards distant, and was equally towering and steep
as that on which I stood. Appearances were adapted to persuade you that
these rocks had formerly joined, but by some mighty effort of nature had
been severed, that the stream might find way through the chasm. The
channel, however, was encumbered with asperities, over which the river
fretted and foamed with thundering impetuosity.

I pondered for a while on these stupendous scenes. They ravished my
attention from considerations that related to myself; but this interval
was snort, and I began to measure the descent, in order to ascertain the
practicability of treading it. My survey terminated in bitter
disappointment. I turned my eye successively eastward and westward.
Solesbury lay in the former direction, and thither I desired to go. I
kept along the verge in this direction till I reached an impassable
rift. Beyond this I saw that the steep grew lower; but it was impossible
to proceed farther. Higher up the descent might be practicable, and,
though more distant from Solesbury, it was better to reach the road even
at that distance than never to reach it.

Changing my course, therefore, I explored the spaces above. The night
was rapidly advancing; the gray clouds gathered in the southeast, and a
chilling blast, the usual attendant of a night in October, began to
whistle among the pigmy cedars that scantily grew upon these heights. My
progress would quickly be arrested by darkness, and it behooved me to
provide some place of shelter and repose. No recess better than a hollow
in the rock presented itself to my anxious scrutiny.

Meanwhile, I would not dismiss the hope of reaching the road, which I
saw some hundred feet below, winding along the edge of the river, before
daylight should utterly fail. Speedily these hopes derived new vigour
from meeting a ledge that irregularly declined from the brow of the
hill. It was wide enough to allow of cautious footing. On a similar
stratum, or ledge, projecting still farther from the body of the hill,
and close to the surface of the river, was the road. This stratum
ascended from the level of the stream, while that on which I trod
rapidly descended. I hoped that they would speedily be blended, or, at
least, approach so near as to allow me to leap from one to the other
without enormous hazard.

This fond expectation was frustrated. Presently I perceived that the
ledge below began to descend, while that above began to tend upward and
was quickly terminated by the uppermost surface of the cliff. Here it
was needful to pause. I looked over the brink, and considered whether I
might not leap from my present station without endangering my limbs. The
road into which I should fall was a rocky pavement far from being
smooth. The descent could not be less than forty or fifty feet. Such an
attempt was, to the last degree, hazardous; but was it not better to
risk my life by leaping from this eminence than to remain and perish on
the top of this inhospitable mountain? The toils which I had endured in
reaching this height appeared, to my panic-struck fancy, less easy to be
borne again than death.

I know not but that I should have finally resolved to leap, had not
different views been suggested by observing that the outer edge of the
road was, in like manner, the brow of a steep which terminated in the
river. The surface of the road was twelve or fifteen feet above the
level of the stream, which, in this spot, was still and smooth. Hence I
inferred that the water was not of inconsiderable depth. To fall upon
rocky points was, indeed, dangerous, but to plunge into water of
sufficient depth, even from a height greater than that at which I now
stood, especially to one to whom habit had rendered water almost as
congenial an element as air, was scarcely attended with inconvenience.
This expedient was easy and safe. Twenty yards from this spot, the
channel was shallow, and to gain the road from the stream was no
difficult exploit.

Some disadvantages, however, attended this scheme. The water was smooth;
but this might arise from some other cause than its depth. My gun,
likewise, must be left behind me; and that was a loss to which I felt
invincible repugnance. To let it fall upon the road would put it in my
power to retrieve the possession, but it was likely to be irreparably
injured by the fall.

While musing upon this expedient, and weighing injuries with benefits,
the night closed upon me. I now considered that, should I emerge in
safety from the stream, I should have many miles to travel before I
could reach a house. My clothes meanwhile would be loaded with wet. I
should be heart-pierced by the icy blast that now blew, and my wounds
and bruises would be chafed into insupportable pain.

I reasoned likewise on the folly of impatience and the necessity of
repose. By thus long continuance in one posture, my sinews began to
stiffen, and my reluctance to make new exertions to increase. My brows
were heavy, and I felt an irresistible propensity to sleep. I concluded
to seek some shelter, and resign myself, my painful recollections, and
my mournful presages, to sweet forgetfulness. For this end, I once more
ascended to the surface of the cliff. I dragged my weary feet forward,
till I found somewhat that promised me the shelter that I sought.

A cluster of cedars appeared, whose branches overarched a space that
might be called a bower. It was a slight cavity, whose flooring was
composed of loose stones and a few faded leaves blown from a distance
and finding a temporary lodgment here. On one side was a rock, forming a
wall rugged and projecting above. At the bottom of the rock was a rift,
somewhat resembling a coffin in shape, and not much larger in
dimensions. This rift terminated, on the opposite side of the rock, in
an opening that was too small for the body of a man to pass. The
distance between each entrance was twice the length of a man.

This bower was open to the southeast, whence the gale now blew. It
therefore imperfectly afforded the shelter of which I stood in need;
but it was the best that the place and the time afforded. To stop the
smaller entrance of the cavity with a stone, and to heap before the
other branches lopped from the trees with my hatchet, might somewhat
contribute to my comfort.

This was done, and, thrusting myself into this recess as far as I was
able, I prepared for repose. It might have been reasonably suspected to
be the den of rattlesnakes or panthers; but my late contention with
superior dangers and more formidable enemies made me reckless of these.
But another inconvenience remained. In spite of my precautions, my
motionless posture and slender covering exposed me so much to the cold
that I could not sleep.

The air appeared to have suddenly assumed the temperature of midwinter.
In a short time, my extremities were benumbed, and my limbs shivered and
ached as if I had been seized by an ague. My bed likewise was dank and
uneven, and the posture I was obliged to assume, unnatural and painful.
It was evident that my purpose could not be answered by remaining here.

I therefore crept forth, and began to reflect upon the possibility of
continuing my journey. Motion was the only thing that could keep me from
freezing, and my frame was in that state which allowed me to take no
repose in the absence of warmth, since warmth was indispensable. It now
occurred to me to ask whether it were not possible to kindle a fire.

Sticks and leaves were at hand. My hatchet and a pebble would enable me
to extract a spark. From this, by suitable care and perseverance, I
might finally procure sufficient fire to give me comfort and ease, and
even enable me to sleep. This boon was delicious, and I felt as if I
were unable to support a longer deprivation of it.

I proceeded to execute this scheme. I took the driest leaves, and
endeavoured to use them as tinder; but the driest leaves were moistened
by the dews. They were only to be found in the hollows, in some of which
were pools of water and others were dank. I was not speedily
discouraged; but my repeated attempts failed, and I was finally
compelled to relinquish this expedient.

All that now remained was to wander forth and keep myself in motion till
the morning. The night was likely to prove tempestuous and long. The
gale seemed freighted with ice, and acted upon my body like the points
of a thousand needles. There was no remedy, and I mustered my patience
to endure it.

I returned again to the brow of the hill. I ranged along it till I
reached a place where the descent was perpendicular, and, in consequence
of affording no sustenance to trees or bushes, was nearly smooth and
bare. There was no road to be seen; and this circumstance, added to the
sounds which the rippling current produced, afforded me some knowledge
of my situation.

The ledge along which the road was conducted disappeared near this spot.
The opposite sides of the chasm through which flowed the river
approached nearer to each other, in the form of jutting promontories. I
now stood upon the verge of that on the northern side. The water
flowed at the foot, but, for the space of ten or twelve feet from the
rock, was so shallow as to permit the traveller and his horse to wade
through it, and thus to regain the road which the receding precipice had
allowed to be continued on the farther side.

I knew the nature and dimensions of this ford. I knew that, at a few
yards from the rock, the channel was of great depth. To leap into it, in
this place, was a less dangerous exploit than at the spot where I had
formerly been tempted to leap. There I was unacquainted with the depth,
but here I knew it to be considerable. Still, there was some ground of
hesitation and fear. My present station was loftier, and how deeply I
might sink into this gulf, how far the fall and the concussion would
bereave me of my presence of mind, I could not determine. This
hesitation vanished, and, placing my tomahawk and fusil upon the ground,
I prepared to leap.

This purpose was suspended, in the moment of its execution, by a faint
sound, heard from the quarter whence I had come. It was the warning of
men, but had nothing in common with those which I had been accustomed to
hear. It was not the howling of a wolf or the yelling of a panther.
These had often been overheard by night during my last year's excursion
to the lakes. My fears whispered that this was the vociferation of a
savage.

I was unacquainted with the number of the enemies who had adventured
into this district. Whether those whom I had encountered at _Deb's
hut_ were of that band whom I had met with in the cavern, was merely
a topic of conjecture. There might be a half-score of troops, equally
numerous, spread over the wilderness, and the signal I had just heard
might betoken the approach of one of these. Yet by what means they
should gain this nook, and what prey they expected to discover, were not
easily conceived.

The sounds, somewhat diversified, nearer and rising from different
quarters, were again heard. My doubts and apprehensions were increased.
What expedient to adopt for my own safety was a subject of rapid
meditation:--whether to remain stretched upon the ground or to rise and
go forward. Was it likely the enemy would coast along the edge of the
steep? Would they ramble hither to look upon the ample scene which
spread on all sides around the base of this rocky pinnacle? In that
case, how should I conduct myself? My arms were ready for use. Could I
not elude the necessity of shedding more blood? Could I not anticipate
their assault by casting myself without delay into the stream?

The sense of danger demanded more attention to be paid to external
objects than to the motives by which my future conduct should be
influenced. My post was on a circular prefecture, in some degree
detached from the body of the hill, the brow of which continued in a
straight line, uninterrupted by this projecture, which was somewhat
higher than the continued summit of the ridge. This line ran at the
distance of a few paces from my post. Objects moving along this line
could merely be perceived to move, in the present obscurity.

My scrutiny was entirely directed to this quarter. Presently the
treading of many feet was heard, and several figures were discovered,
following each other in that straight and regular succession which is
peculiar to the Indians. They kept along the brow of the hill joining
the promontory. I distinctly marked seven figures in succession.

My resolution was formed. Should any one cast his eye hither, suspect or
discover an enemy, and rush towards me, I determined to start upon my
feet, fire on my foe as he advanced, throw my piece on the ground, and
then leap into the river.

Happily, they passed unobservant and in silence. I remained in the same
posture for several minutes. At length, just as my alarms began to
subside, the halloos, before heard, arose, and from the same quarter as
before. This convinced me that my perils were not at an end. This now
appeared to be merely the vanguard, and would speedily be followed by
others, against whom the same caution was necessary to be taken.

My eye, anxiously bent the only way by which any one could approach, now
discerned a figure, which was indubitably that of a man armed. None
other appeared in company; but doubtless others were near. He
approached, stood still, and appeared to gaze steadfastly at the spot
where I lay.

The optics of a _Lenni-lennapee_ I knew to be far keener than my
own. A log or a couched fawn would never be mistaken for a man, nor a
man for a couched fawn or a log. Not only a human being would be
instantly detected, but a decision be unerringly made whether it wrere
friend or foe. That my prostrate body was the object on which the
attention of this vigilant and steadfast gazer was fixed could not be
doubted. Yet, since he continued an inactive gazer, there was ground for
a possibility to stand upon that I was not recognised. My fate therefore
was still in suspense.

This interval was momentary. I marked a movement, which my fears
instantly interpreted to be that of levelling a gun at my head. This
action was sufficiently conformable to my prognostics. Supposing me to
be detected, there was no need for him to change his post. Aim might be
too fatally taken, and his prey be secured, from the distance at which
he now stood.

These images glanced upon my thought, and put an end to my suspense. A
single effort placed me on my feet. I fired with a precipitation that
precluded the certainty of hitting my mark, dropped my piece upon the
ground, and leaped from this tremendous height into the river. I reached
the surface, and sunk in a moment to the bottom.

Plunging endlong into the water, the impetus created by my fall from
such a height would be slowly resisted by this denser element. Had the
depth been less, its resistance would not perhaps have hindered me from
being mortally injured against the rocky bottom. Had the depth been
greater, time enough would not have been allowed me to regain the
surface. Had I fallen on my side, I should have been bereft of life or
sensibility by the shock which my frame would have received. As it was,
my fate was suspended on a thread. To have lost my presence of mind, to
have forborne to counteract my sinking, for an instant, after I had
reached the water, would have made all exertions to regain the air
fruitless. To so fortunate a concurrence of events was thy friend
indebted for his safety!

Yet I only emerged from the gulf to encounter new perils. Scarcely had I
raised my head above the surface, and inhaled the vital breath, when
twenty shots were aimed at me from the precipice above. A shower of
bullets fell upon the water. Some of them did not fall farther than two
inches from my head. I had not been aware of this new danger, and, now
that it assailed me, continued gasping the air and floundering at
random. The means of eluding it did not readily occur. My case seemed
desperate, and all caution was dismissed.

This state of discomfiting surprise quickly disappeared. I made myself
acquainted, at a glance, with the position of surrounding objects. I
conceived that the opposite bank of the river would afford me most
security, and thither I tended with all the expedition in my power.

Meanwhile, my safety depended on eluding the bullets that continued
incessantly to strike the water at an arm's-length from my body. For
this end I plunged beneath the surface, and only rose to inhale fresh
air. Presently the firing ceased, the flashes that lately illuminated
the bank disappeared, and a certain bustle and murmur of confused voices
gave place to solitude and silence.



Chapter XXII.


I reached without difficulty the opposite bank, but the steep was
inaccessible. I swam along the edge in hopes of meeting with some
projection or recess where I might, at least, rest my weary limbs, and,
if it were necessary to recross the river, to lay in a stock of
recruited spirits and strength for that purpose. I trusted that the
water would speedily become shoal, or that the steep would afford rest
to my feet. In both these hopes I was disappointed.

There is no one to whom I would yield the superiority in swimming; but
my strength, like that of other human beings, had its limits. My
previous fatigues had been enormous, and my clothes, heavy with
moisture, greatly encumbered and retarded my movements. I had proposed
to free myself from this imprisonment; but I foresaw the inconveniences
of wandering over this scene in absolute nakedness, and was willing
therefore, at whatever hazard, to retain them. I continued to struggle
with the current and to search for the means of scaling the steeps. My
search was fruitless, and I began to meditate the recrossing of the
river.

Surely my fate has never been paralleled! Where was this series of
hardships and perils to end? No sooner was one calamity eluded, than I
was beset by another. I had emerged from abhorred darkness in the heart
of the earth, only to endure the extremities of famine and encounter the
fangs of a wild beast. From these I was delivered only to be thrown into
the midst of savages, to wage an endless and hopeless war with adepts in
killing, with appetites that longed to feast upon my bowels and to quaff
my heart's blood. From these likewise was I rescued, but merely to
perish in the gulfs of the river, to welter on unvisited shores, or to
be washed far away from curiosity or pity.

Formerly water was not only my field of sport but my sofa and my bed. I
could float for hours on its surface, enjoying its delicious cool,
almost without the expense of the slightest motion. It was an element as
fitted for repose as for exercise; but now the buoyant spirit seemed to
have flown. My muscles were shrunk, the air and water were equally
congealed, and my most vehement exertions were requisite to sustain me
on the surface.

At first I had moved along with my wonted celerity and ease, but quickly
my forces were exhausted. My pantings and efforts were augmented, and I
saw that to cross the river again was impracticable. I must continue,
therefore, to search out some accessible spot in the bank along which I
was swimming.

Each moment diminished my stock of strength, and it behooved me to make
good my footing before another minute should escape. I continued to
swim, to survey the bank, and to make ineffectual attempts to grasp the
rock. The shrubs which grew upon it would not uphold me, and the
fragments which, for a moment, inspired me with hope, crumbled away as
soon as they were touched.

At length I noticed a pine which was rooted in a crevice near the water.
The trunk, or any part of the root, was beyond my reach; but I trusted
that I could catch hold of the branch which hung lowest, and that, when
caught, it would assist me in gaining the trunk, and thus deliver me
from the death which could not be otherwise averted.

The attempt was arduous. Had it been made when I first reached the bank,
no difficulty had attended it; but now to throw myself some feet above
the surface could scarcely be expected from one whose utmost efforts
seemed to be demanded to keep him from sinking. Yet this exploit,
arduous as it was, was attempted and accomplished. Happily the twigs
were strong enough to sustain my weight till I caught at other branches
and finally placed myself upon the trunk.

This danger was now past; but I admitted the conviction that others, no
less formidable, remained to be encountered, and that my ultimate
destiny was death. I looked upward. New efforts might enable me to gain
the summit of this steep, but perhaps I should thus be placed merely in
the situation from which I had just been delivered. It was of little
moment whether the scene of my imprisonment was a dungeon not to be
broken, or a summit from which descent was impossible.

The river, indeed, severed me from a road which was level and safe, but
my recent dangers were remembered only to make me shudder at the thought
of incurring them a second time by attempting to cross it. I blush at
the recollection of this cowardice. It was little akin to the spirit
which I had recently displayed. It was, indeed, an alien to my bosom,
and was quickly supplanted by intrepidity and perseverance.

I proceeded to mount the hill. From root to root, and from branch to
branch, lay my journey. It was finished, and I sat down upon the highest
brow to meditate on future trials. No road lay along this side of the
river. It was rugged and sterile, and farms were sparingly dispersed
over it. To reach one of these was now the object of my wishes. I had
not lost the desire of reaching Solesbury before morning, but my wet
clothes and the coldness of the night seemed to have bereaved me of the
power.

I traversed this summit, keeping the river on my right hand. Happily,
its declinations and ascents were by no means difficult, and I was
cheered, in the midst of my vexations, by observing that every mile
brought me nearer to my uncle's dwelling. Meanwhile I anxiously looked
for some tokens of a habitation. These at length presented themselves. A
wild heath, whistled over by October blasts, meagrely adorned with the
dry stalks of scented shrubs and the bald heads of the sapless mullein,
was succeeded by a fenced field and a corn-stack. The dwelling to which
these belonged was eagerly sought.

I was not surprised that all voices were still and all lights
extinguished, for this was the hour of repose. Having reached a piazza
before the house, I paused. Whether, at this drowsy time, to knock for
admission, to alarm the peaceful tenants and take from them the rest
which their daily toils and their rural innocence had made so sweet, or
to retire to what shelter a haystack or barn could afford, was the theme
of my deliberations.

Meanwhile, I looked up at the house. It was the model of cleanliness and
comfort. It was built of wood; but the materials had undergone the
plane, as well as the axe and the saw. It was painted white, and the
windows not only had sashes, but these sashes were supplied, contrary to
custom, with glass. In most cases the aperture where glass should be is
stuffed with an old hat or a petticoat. The door had not only all its
parts entire, but was embellished with mouldings and a pediment. I
gathered from these tokens that this was the abode not only of rural
competence and innocence, but of some beings raised by education and
fortune above the intellectual mediocrity of clowns.

Methought I could claim consanguity with such beings. Not to share their
charity and kindness would be inflicting as well as receiving injury.
The trouble of affording shelter, and warmth, and wholesome diet, to a
wretch destitute as I was, would be eagerly sought by them.

Still, I was unwilling to disturb them. I bethought myself that their
kitchen might be entered, and all that my necessities required be
obtained without interrupting their slumber. I needed nothing but the
warmth which their kitchen-hearth would afford. Stretched upon the
bricks, I might dry my clothes, and perhaps enjoy some unmolested sleep,
in spite of presages of ill and the horrid remembrances of what I had
performed and endured. I believed that nature would afford a short
respite to my cares.

I went to the door of what appeared to be a kitchen. The door was wide
open. This circumstance portended evil. Though it be not customary to
lock or to bolt, it is still less usual to have entrances unclosed. I
entered with suspicious steps, and saw enough to confirm my
apprehensions. Several pieces of wood, half burned, lay in the midst of
the floor. They appeared to have been removed hither from the chimney,
doubtless with a view to set fire to the whole building.

The fire had made some progress on the floor, but had been seasonably
extinguished by pailfuls of water thrown upon it. The floor was still
deluged with wet: the pail, not emptied of all its contents, stood Upon
the hearth. The earthen vessels and plates, whose proper place was the
dresser, were scattered in fragments in all parts of the room. I looked
around me for some one to explain this scene, but no one appeared.

The last spark of fire was put out, so that, had my curiosity been idle,
my purpose could not be accomplished. To retire from this scene, neither
curiosity nor benevolence would permit. That some mortal injury had been
intended was apparent. What greater mischief had befallen, or whether
greater might not, by my interposition, be averted, could only be
ascertained by penetrating farther into the house. I opened a door on
one side which led to the main body of the building and entered to a
bed-chamber. I stood at the entrance and knocked, but no one answered my
signals.

The sky was not totally clouded, so that some light pervaded the room. I
saw that a bed stood in the corner, but whether occupied or not its
curtains hindered me from judging. I stood in suspense a few minutes,
when a motion in the bed showed me that some one was there. I knocked
again, but withdrew to the outside of the door. This roused the sleeper,
who, half groaning, and puffing the air through his nostrils, grumbled
out, in the hoarsest voice that I ever heard, and in a tone of surly
impatience, "Who is there?"

I hesitated for an answer; but the voice instantly continued, in the
manner of one half asleep and enraged at being disturbed, "Is't you,
Peg? Damn ye, stay away, now! I tell ye, stay away, or, by God, I will
cut your throat!--I will!" He continued to mutter and swear, but without
coherence or distinctness.

These were the accents of drunkenness, and denoted a wild and ruffian
life. They were little in unison with the external appearances of the
mansion, and blasted all the hopes I had formed of meeting under this
roof with gentleness and hospitality. To talk with this being, to
attempt to reason him into humanity and soberness, was useless. I was at
a loss in what manner to address him, or whether it was proper to
maintain any parley. Meanwhile, my silence was supplied by the
suggestions of his own distempered fancy. "Ay," said he; "ye will, will
ye? Well, come on; let's see who's the better at the oak stick. If I
part with ye before I have bared your bones!--I'll teach ye to be always
dipping in my dish, ye devil's dam ye."

So saying, he tumbled out of bed. At the first step, he struck his head
against the bedpost, but, setting himself upright, he staggered towards
the spot where I stood. Some new obstacle occurred. He stumbled and fell
at his length upon the floor.

To encounter or expostulate with a man in this state was plainly absurd.
I turned and issued forth, with an aching heart, into the court before
the house. The miseries which a debauched husband or father inflicted
upon all whom their evil destiny allies to him were pictured by my
fancy, and wrung from me tears of anguish, These images, however,
quickly yielded to reflections on my own state. No expedient now
remained but to seek the barn and find a covering and a bed of straw.

I had scarcely set foot within the barnyard when I heard a sound as of
the crying of an infant. It appeared to issue from the barn. I
approached softly and listened at the door. The cries of the babe
continued, but were accompanied by the entreaties of a nurse or a mother
to be quiet. These entreaties were mingled with heart-breaking sobs, and
exclamations of, "Ah, me, my babe! Canst thou not sleep and afford thy
unhappy mother some peace? Thou art cold, and I have not sufficient
warmth to cherish thee! What will become of us? Thy deluded father cares
not if we both perish."

A glimpse of the true nature of the scene seemed to be imparted by these
words. I now likewise recollected incidents that afforded additional
light. Somewhere on this bank of the river there formerly resided one by
name Selby. He was an aged person, who united science and taste to the
simple and laborious habits of a husbandman. He had a son who resided
several years in Europe, but on the death of his father returned home,
accompanied by a wife. He had succeeded to the occupation of the farm,
but rumour had whispered many tales to the disadvantage of his morals.
His wife was affirmed to be of delicate and polished manners, and much
unlike her companion.

It now occurred to me that this was the dwelling of the Selbys, and I
seemed to have gained some insight into the discord and domestic
miseries by which the unhappy lady suffered. This was no time to waste
my sympathy on others. I could benefit her nothing. Selby had probably
returned from a carousal, with all his malignant passions raised into
frenzy by intoxication. He had driven his desolate wife from her bed and
house, and, to shun outrage and violence, she had fled, with her
helpless infant, to the barn. To appease his fury, to console her, to
suggest a remedy for this distress, was not in my power. To have sought
an interview would be merely to excite her terrors and alarm her
delicacy, without contributing to alleviate her calamity. Here, then,
was no asylum for me. A place of rest must be sought at some
neighbouring habitation. It was probable that one would be found at no
great distance: the path that led from the spot where I stood, through a
gate, into a meadow, might conduct me to the nearest dwelling; and this
path I immediately resolved to explore.

I was anxious to open the gate without noise, but I could not succeed.
Some creaking of its hinges was unavoidably produced, which I feared
would be overheard by the lady and multiply her apprehensions and
perplexities. This inconvenience was irremediable. I therefore closed
the gate and pursued the footway before me with the utmost expedition. I
had not gained the farther end of the meadow when I lighted on something
which lay across the path, and which, on being closely inspected,
appeared to be a human body. It was the corpse of a girl, mangled by a
hatchet. Her head, gory and deprived of its locks, easily explained the
kind of enemies by whom she had been assailed. Here was proof that this
quiet and remote habitation had been visited, in their destructive
progress, by the Indians. The girl had been slain by them, and her
scalp, according to their savage custom, had been torn away to be
preserved as a trophy.

The fire which had been kindled on the kitchen-floor tvas now
remembered, and corroborated the inferences which were drawn from this
spectacle. And yet that the mischief had been thus limited, that the
besotted wretch who lay helpless on his bed and careless of impending
danger, and that the mother and her infant, should escape, excited some
degree of surprise. Could the savages have been interrupted in their
work, and obliged to leave their vengeance unfinished?

Their visit had been recent. Many hours had not elapsed since they
prowled about these grounds. Had they wholly disappeared, and meant they
not to return? To what new danger might I be exposed in remaining thus
guideless and destitute of all defence?

In consequence of these reflections, I proceeded with more caution. I
looked with suspicious glances before and on either side of me. I now
approached the fence which, on this side, bounded the meadow. Something
was discerned, or imagined, stretched close to the fence, on the ground,
and filling up the pathway. My apprehensions of a lurking enemy had been
previously awakened, and my fancy instantly figured to itself an armed
man lying on the ground and waiting to assail the unsuspecting
passenger.

At first I was prompted to fly, but a second thought showed me that I
had already approached near enough to be endangered. Notwithstanding my
pause, the form was motionless. The possibility of being misled in my
conjectures was easily supposed. What I saw might be a log, or it might
be another victim to savage ferocity. This track was that which my
safety required me to pursue. To turn aside or go back would be merely
to bewilder myself anew.

Urged by these motives, I went nearer, and at last was close enough to
perceive that the figure was human. He lay upon his face. Near his right
hand was a musket, unclenched. This circumstance, his deathlike
attitude, and the garb and ornaments of an Indian, made me readily
suspect the nature and cause of this catastrophe. Here the invaders had
been encountered and repulsed, and one at least of their number had been
left upon the field.

I was weary of contemplating these rueful objects. Custom, likewise,
even in so short a period, had inured me to spectacles of horror. I was
grown callous and immovable. I stayed not to ponder on the scene, but,
snatching the musket, which was now without an owner, and which might be
indispensable to my defence, I hastened into the wood. On this side the
meadow was skirted by a forest; but a beaten road led into it, and might
therefore be attempted without danger.



Chapter XXIII.


The road was intricate and long. It seemed designed to pervade the
forest in every possible direction. I frequently noticed cut wood piled
in heaps upon either side, and rejoiced in these tokens that the
residence of man was near. At length I reached a second fence, which
proved to be the boundary of a road still more frequented. I pursued
this, and presently beheld before me the river and its opposite
barriers.

This object afforded me some knowledge of my situation. There was a ford
over which travellers used to pass, and in which the road that I was now
pursuing terminated. The stream was rapid and tumultuous, but in this
place did not rise higher than the shoulders. On the opposite side was a
highway, passable by horses and men, though not by carriages, and which
led into the midst of Solesbury. Should I not rush into the stream, and
still aim at reaching my uncle's house before morning? Why should I
delay?

Thirty hours of incessant watchfulness and toil, of enormous efforts and
perils, preceded and accompanied by abstinence and wounds, were enough
to annihilate the strength and courage of ordinary men. In the course of
them, I had frequently believed myself to have reached the verge beyond
which my force would not carry me; but experience as frequently
demonstrated my error. Though many miles were yet to be traversed,
though my clothes were once more to be drenched and loaded with
moisture, though every hour seemed to add somewhat to the keenness of
the blast, yet how should I know, but by trial, whether my stock of
energy was not sufficient for this last exploit?

My resolution to proceed was nearly formed, when the figure of a man
moving slowly across the road at some distance before me was observed.
Hard by this ford lived a man by name Bisset, of whom I had slight
knowledge. He tended his two hundred acres with a plodding and
money-doting spirit, while his son overlooked a grist-mill on the river.
He was a creature of gain, coarse and harmless. The man whom I saw before
me might be he, or some one belonging to his family. Being armed for
defence, I less scrupled at meeting with any thing in the shape of man.
I therefore called. The figure stopped and answered me without surliness
or anger. The voice was unlike that of Bisset, but this person's
information I believed would be of some service.

Coming up to him, he proved to be a clown belonging to Bisset's
habitation. His panic and surprise on seeing me made him aghast. In my
present garb I should not have easily been recognised by my nearest
kinsman, and much less easily by one who had seldom met me.

It may be easily conceived that my thoughts, when allowed to wander from
the objects before me, were tormented with forebodings and inquietudes
on account of the ills which I had so much reason to believe had
befallen my family. I had no doubt that some evil had happened, but the
full extent of it was still uncertain. I desired and dreaded to discover
the truth, and was unable to interrogate this person in a direct manner.
I could deal only in circuities and hints. I shuddered while I waited
for an answer to my inquiries.

Had not Indians, I asked, been lately seen in this neighbourhood? Were
they not suspected of hostile designs? Had they not already committed
some mischief? Some passenger, perhaps, had been attacked, or fire had
been set to some house? On which side of the river had their steps been
observed or any devastation been committed? Above the ford or below it?
At what distance from the river?

When his attention could be withdrawn from my person and bestowed upon
my questions, he answered that some alarm had indeed been spread about
Indians, and that parties from Solesbury and Chetasco were out in
pursuit of them, that many persons had been killed by them, and that one
house in Solesbury had been rifled and burnt on the night before the
last.

These tidings were a dreadful confirmation of my fears. There scarcely
remained a doubt; but still my expiring hope prompted me to inquire, "To
whom did the house belong?"

He answered that he had not heard the name of the owner. He was a
stranger to the people on the other side of the river.

Were any of the inhabitants murdered?

Yes; all that were at home, except a girl whom they carried off. Some
said that the girl had been retaken.

What was the name? Was it Huntly?

Huntly? Yes. No. He did not know. He had forgotten.

I fixed my eyes upon the ground. An interval of gloomy meditation
succeeded. All was lost! All for whose sake I had desired to live had
perished by the hands of these assassins! That dear home, the scene of
my sportive childhood, of my studies, labours, and recreations, was
ravaged by fire and the sword,--was reduced to a frightful ruin!

Not only all that embellished and endeared existence was destroyed, but
the means of subsistence itself. Thou knowest that my sisters and I were
dependants on the bounty of our uncle. His death would make way for the
succession of his son, a man fraught with envy and malignity, who always
testified a mortal hatred to us, merely because we enjoyed the
protection of his father. The ground which furnished me with bread was
now become the property of one who, if he could have done it with
security, would gladly have mingled poison with my food.

All that my imagination or my heart regarded as of value had likewise
perished. Whatever my chamber, my closets, my cabinets contained, my
furniture, my books, the records of my own skill, the monuments of their
existence whom I loved, my very clothing, were involved in
indiscriminate and irretrievable destruction. Why should I survive this
calamity?

But did not he say that one had escaped? The only females in the family
were my sisters. One of these had been reserved for a fate worse than
death; to gratify the innate and insatiable cruelty of savages, by
suffering all the torments their invention can suggest, or to linger out
years of weary bondage and unintermitted hardship in the bosom of the
wilderness. To restore her to liberty, to cherish this last survivor of
my unfortunate race, was a sufficient motive to life and to activity.

But soft! Had not rumour whispered that the captive was retaken? Oh! who
was her angel of deliverance? Where did she now abide? Weeping over the
untimely fall of her protector and her friend? Lamenting and upbraiding
the absence of her brother? Why should I not haste to find her?--to
mingle my tears with hers, to assure her of my safety, and expatiate the
involuntary crime of my desertion by devoting all futurity to the task
of her consolation and improvement?

The path was open and direct. My new motives would have trampled upon
every impediment and made me reckless of all dangers and all toils. I
broke from my reverie, and, without taking leave or expressing gratitude
to my informant, I ran with frantic expedition towards the river, and,
plunging into it, gained the opposite side in a moment.

I was sufficiently acquainted with the road. Some twelve or fifteen
miles remained to be traversed. I did not fear that my strength would
fail in the performance of my journey. It was not my uncle's habitation
to which I directed my steps. Inglefield was my friend. If my sister had
existence, or was snatched from captivity, it was here that an asylum
had been afforded to her, and here was I to seek the knowledge of my
destiny. For this reason, having reached a spot where the road divided
into two branches, one of which led to Inglefield's and the other to
Huntly's, I struck into the former.

Scarcely had I passed the angle when I noticed a building on the right
hand, at some distance from the road. In the present state of my
thoughts, it would not have attracted my attention, had not a light
gleamed from an upper window and told me that all within were not at
rest.

I was acquainted with the owner of this mansion. He merited esteem and
confidence, and could not fail to be acquainted with recent events. From
him I should obtain all the information that I needed, and I should be
delivered from some part of the agonies of my suspense. I should reach
his door in a few minutes, and the window-light was a proof that my
entrance at this hour would not disturb the family, some of whom were
stirring.

Through a gate I entered an avenue of tall oaks, that led to the house.
I could not but reflect on the effect which my appearance would produce
upon the family. The sleek locks, neat apparel, pacific guise, sobriety
and gentleness of aspect by which I was customarily distinguished, would
in vain be sought in the apparition which would now present itself
before them. My legs, neck, and bosom were bare, and their native hue
was exchanged for the livid marks of bruises and scarifications. A
horrid scar upon my cheek, and my uncombed locks; hollow eyes, made
ghastly by abstinence and cold, and the ruthless passions of which my
mind had been the theatre, added to the musket which I carried in my
hand, would prepossess them with the notion of a maniac or ruffian.

Some inconveniences might hence arise, which, however, could not be
avoided. I must trust to the speed with which my voice and my words
should disclose my true character and rectify their mistake.

I now reached the principal door of the house. It was open, and I
unceremoniously entered. In the midst of the room stood a German stove,
well heated. To thaw my half-frozen limbs was my first care. Meanwhile I
gazed around me, and marked the appearances of things.

Two lighted candles stood upon the table. Beside them were cider-bottles
and pipes of tobacco. The furniture and room was in that state which
denoted it to have been lately filled with drinkers and smokers; yet
neither voice, nor visage, nor motion, were anywhere observable. I
listened; but neither above nor below, within nor without, could any
tokens of a human being be perceived.

This vacancy and silence must have been lately preceded by noise, and
concourse, and bustle. The contrast was mysterious and ambiguous. No
adequate cause of so quick and absolute a transition occurred to me.
Having gained some warmth and lingered some ten or twenty minutes in
this uncertainty, I determined to explore the other apartments of the
building. I knew not what might betide in my absence, or what I might
encounter in my search to justify precaution, and, therefore, kept the
gun in my hand. I snatched a candle from the table and proceeded into
two other apartments on the first floor and the kitchen. Neither was
inhabited, though chairs and tables were arranged in their usual order,
and no traces of violence or hurry were apparent.

Having gained the foot of the staircase, I knocked, but my knocking was
wholly disregarded. A light had appeared in an upper chamber. It was
not, indeed, in one of those apartments which the family permanently
occupied, but in that which, according to rural custom, was reserved for
guests; but it indubitably betokened the presence of some being by whom
my doubts might be solved. These doubts were too tormenting to allow of
scruples and delay. I mounted the stairs.

At each chamber-door I knocked, but I knocked in vain. I tried to open,
but found them to be locked. I at length reached the entrance of that in
which a light had been discovered. Here it was certain that some one
would be found; but here, as well as elsewhere, my knocking was
unnoticed.

To enter this chamber was audacious, but no other expedient was afforded
me to determine whether the house had any inhabitants. I therefore
entered, though with caution and reluctance. No one was within, but
there were sufficient traces of some person who had lately been here. On
the table stood a travelling-escritoire, open, with pens and inkstand. A
chair was placed before it, and a candle on the right hand. This
apparatus was rarely seen in this country. Some traveller, it seemed,
occupied this room, though the rest of the mansion was deserted. The
pilgrim, as these appearances testified, was of no vulgar order, and
belonged not to the class of periodical and every-day guests.

It now occurred to me that the occupant of this apartment could not be
far off, and that some danger and embarrassment could not fail to accrue
from being found, thus accoutred and garbed, in a place sacred to the
study and repose of another. It was proper, therefore, to withdraw, and
either to resume my journey, or wait for the stranger's return, whom
perhaps some temporary engagement had called away, in the lower and
public room. The former now appeared to be the best expedient, as the
return of this unknown person was uncertain, as well as his power to
communicate the information which I wanted.

Had paper, as well as the implements of writing, lain upon the desk,
perhaps my lawless curiosity would not have scrupled to have pried into
it. On the first glance nothing of that kind appeared; but now, as I
turned towards the door, somewhat, lying beside the desk, on the side
opposite the candle, caught my attention. The impulse was instantaneous
and mechanical that made me leap to the spot and lay my hand upon it.
Till I felt it between my fingers, till I brought it near my eyes and
read frequently the inscriptions that appeared upon it, I was doubtful
whether my senses had deceived me.

Few, perhaps, among mankind, have undergone vicissitudes of peril and
wonder equal to mine. The miracles of poetry, the transitions of
enchantment, are beggarly and mean compared with those which I had
experienced. Passage into new forms, overleaping the bars of time and
space, reversal of the laws of inanimate and intelligent existence, had
been mine to perform and to witness.

No event had been more fertile of sorrow and perplexity than the loss of
thy brother's letters. They went by means invisible, and disappeared at
a moment when foresight would have least predicted their disappearance.
They now placed themselves before me, in a manner equally abrupt, in a
place and by means no less contrary to expectation. The papers which I
now seized were those letters. The parchment cover, the string that tied
and the wax that sealed them, appeared not to have been opened or
violated.

The power that removed them, from my cabinet, and dropped them in this
house,--a house which I rarely visited, which I had not entered during
the last year, with whose inhabitants I maintained no cordial
intercourse, and to whom my occupations and amusements, my joys and my
sorrows, were unknown,--was no object even of conjecture. But they were
not possessed by any of the family. Some stranger was here, by whom they
had been stolen, or into whose possession they had, by some
incomprehensible chance, fallen.

That stranger was near. He had left this apartment for a moment. He
would speedily return. To go hence might possibly occasion me to miss
him. Here, then, I would wait, till he should grant me an interview. The
papers were mine, and were recovered. I would never part with them. But
to know by whose force or by whose stratagems I had been bereaved of
them thus long, was now the supreme passion of my soul. I seated myself
near a table and anxiously waited for an interview, on which I was
irresistibly persuaded to believe that much of my happiness depended.

Meanwhile, I could not but connect this incident with the destruction of
my family. The loss of these papers had excited transports of grief; and
yet to have lost them thus was perhaps the sole expedient by which their
final preservation could be rendered possible. Had they, remained in my
cabinet, they could not have escaped the destiny which overtook the
house and its furniture. Savages are not accustomed to leave their
exterminating work unfinished. The house which they have plundered they
are careful to level with the ground. This not only their revenge, but
their caution, prescribes. Fire may originate by accident as well as by
design, and the traces of pillage and murder are totally obliterated by
the flames.

These thoughts were interrupted by the shutting of a door below, and by
footsteps ascending the stairs. My heart throbbed at the sound. My seat
became uneasy and I started on my feet. I even advanced half-way to the
entrance of the room. My eyes were intensely fixed upon the door. My
impatience would have made me guess at the person of this visitant by
measuring his shadow, if his shadow were first seen; but this was
precluded by the position of the light. It was only when the figure
entered, and the whole person was seen, that my curiosity was gratified.
He who stood before me was the parent and fosterer of my mind, the
companion and instructor of my youth, from whom I had been parted for
years, from whom I believed myself to be forever separated,--Sarsefield
himself!



Chapter XXIV.


My deportment, at an interview so much desired and so wholly unforeseen,
was that of a maniac. The petrifying influence of surprise yielded to
the impetuosities of passion. I held him in my arms; I wept upon his
bosom; I sobbed with emotion which, had it not found passage at my eyes,
would have burst my heart-strings. Thus I, who had escaped the deaths
that had previously assailed me in so many forms, should have been
reserved to solemnize a scene like this by--_dying for joy_!

The sterner passions and habitual austerities of my companion exempted
him from pouring out this testimony of his feelings. His feelings were,
indeed, more allied to astonishment and incredulity than mine had been.
My person was not instantly recognised. He shrunk from my embrace as if
I were an apparition or impostor. He quickly disengaged himself from my
arms, and, withdrawing a few paces, gazed upon me as on one whom he had
never before seen.

These repulses were ascribed to the loss of his affection. I was not
mindful of the hideous guise in which I stood before him, and by which
he might justly be misled to imagine me a ruffian or a lunatic. My tears
flowed now on a new account, and I articulated, in a broken and faint
voice, "My master! my friend! Have you forgotten, have you ceased to
love me?"

The sound of my voice made him start and exclaim, "Am I alive? am I
awake? Speak again, I beseech you, and convince me that I am not
dreaming or delirious."

"Can you need any proof," I answered, "that it is Edgar Huntly, your
pupil, your child, that speaks to you?"

He now withdrew his eyes from me and fixed them on the floor. After a
pause he resumed, in emphatic accents:--"Well, I have lived to this age
in unbelief. To credit or trust in miraculous agency was foreign to my
nature, but now I am no longer skeptical. Call me to any bar, and exact
from me an oath that you have twice been dead and twice recalled to
life; that you move about invisibly, and change your place by the force,
not of muscles, but of thought, and I will give it.

"How came you hither? Did you penetrate the wall? Did you rise through
the floor?

"Yet surely 'tis an error. You could not be he whom twenty witnesses
affirmed to have beheld a lifeless and mangled corpse upon the ground,
whom my own eyes saw in that condition.

"In seeking the spot once more to provide you a grave, you had vanished.
Again I met you. You plunged into a rapid stream, from a height from
which it was impossible to fall and to live; yet, as if to set the
limits of nature at defiance, to sport with human penetration, you rose
upon the surface; you floated; you swam; thirty bullets were aimed at
your head, by marksmen celebrated for the exactness of their sight. I
myself was of the number, and I never missed what I desired to hit.

"My predictions were confirmed by the event. You ceased to struggle; you
sunk to rise no more; and yet, after these accumulated deaths, you light
upon this floor, so far distant from the scene of your catastrophe, over
spaces only to be passed, in so short a time as has since elapsed, by
those who have wings.

"My eyes, my ears, bear testimony to your existence now, as they
formerly convinced me of your death. What am I to think? what proofs am
I to credit?" There he stopped.

Every accent of this speech added to the confusion of my thoughts. The
allusions that my friend had made were not unintelligible. I gained a
glimpse of the complicated errors by which we had been mutually
deceived. I had fainted on the area before Deb's hut. I was found by
Sarsefield in this condition, and imagined to be dead.

The man whom I had seen upon the promontory was not an Indian. He
belonged to a numerous band of pursuers, whom my hostile and precipitate
deportment caused to suspect me for an enemy. They that fired from the
steep were friends. The interposition that screened me from so many
bullets was indeed miraculous. No wonder that my voluntary sinking, in
order to elude their shots, was mistaken for death, and that, having
accomplished the destruction of this foe, they resumed their pursuit of
others. But how was Sarsefield apprized that it was I who plunged into
the river? No subsequent event was possible to impart to him the
incredible truth.

A pause of mutual silence ensued. At length Sarsefield renewed his
expressions of amazement at this interview, and besought me to explain
why I had disappeared by night from my uncle's house, and by what series
of unheard-of events this interview was brought about. Was it indeed
Huntly whom he examined and mourned over at the threshold of Deb's hut.
Whom he had sought in every thicket and cave in the ample circuit of
Norwalk and Chetasco? Whom he had seen perish in the current of the
Delaware?

Instead of noticing his questions, my soul was harrowed with anxiety
respecting the fate of my uncle and sisters. Sarsefield could
communicate the tidings which would decide on my future lot and set my
portion in happiness or misery. Yet I had not breath to speak my
inquiries. Hope tottered, and I felt as if a single word would be
sufficient for its utter subversion. At length I articulated the name of
my uncle.

The single word sufficiently imparted my fears, and these fears needed
no verbal confirmation. At that dear name my companion's features were
overspread by sorrow.

"Your uncle," said he, "is dead."

"Dead? Merciful Heaven! And my sisters too! Both?"

"Your sisters are alive and well."

"Nay," resumed I, in faltering accents, "jest not with my feelings. Be
not cruel in your pity. Tell me the truth."

"I have said the truth. They are well, at Mr. Inglefield's."

My wishes were eager to assent to the truth of these tidings. The better
part of me was, then, safe: but how did they escape the fate that
overtook my uncle? How did they evade the destroying hatchet and the
midnight conflagration? These doubts were imparted in a tumultuous and
obscure manner to my friend. He no sooner fully comprehended them, than
he looked at me with some inquietude and surprise.

"Huntly," said he, "are you mad? What has filled you with these hideous
prepossessions? Much havoc has indeed been committed in Chetasco and the
wilderness, and a log hut has been burnt, by design or by accident, in
Solesbury; but that is all. Your house has not been assailed by either
firebrand or tomahawk. Every thing is safe and in its ancient order. The
master indeed is gone, but the old man fell a victim to his own temerity
and hardihood. It is thirty years since he retired with three wounds
from the field of Braddock; but time in no degree abated his adventurous
and military spirit. On the first alarm, he summoned his neighbours, and
led them in pursuit of the invaders. Alas! he was the first to attack
them, and the only one who fell in the contest."

These words were uttered in a manner that left me no room to doubt of
their truth. My uncle had already been lamented, and the discovery of
the nature of his death, so contrary to my forebodings, and of the
safety of my girls, made the state of my mind partake more of exultation
and joy than of grief or regret.

But how was I deceived? Had not my fusil been found in the hands of an
enemy? Whence could he have plundered it but from my own chamber? It
hung against the wall of a closet, from which no stranger could have
taken it except by violence. My perplexities and doubts were not at an
end, but those which constituted my chief torment were removed. I
listened to my friend's entreaties to tell him the cause of my
elopement, and the incidents that terminated in the present interview.

I began with relating my return to consciousness in the bottom of the
pit; my efforts to free myself from this abhorred prison; the acts of
horror to which I was impelled by famine, and their excruciating
consequences; my gaining the outlet of the cavern, the desperate
expedient by which I removed the impediment to my escape, and the
deliverance of the captive girl; the contest I maintained before Deb's
hut; my subsequent wanderings; the banquet which hospitality afforded
me; my journey to the river-bank; my meditations on the means of
reaching the road; my motives for hazarding my life by plunging into the
stream; and my subsequent perils and fears till I reached the threshold
of this habitation.

"Thus," continued I, "I have complied with your request. I have told all
that I myself know. What were the incidents between my sinking to rest
at my uncle's and my awaking in the chambers of the hill; by what means
and by whose contrivance, preternatural or human, this transition was
effected, I am unable to explain; I cannot even guess.

"What has eluded my sagacity may not be beyond the reach of another.
Your own reflections on my tale, or some facts that have fallen under
your notice, may enable you to furnish a solution. But, meanwhile, how
am I to account for your appearance on this spot? This meeting was
unexpected and abrupt to you, but it has not been less so to me. Of all
mankind, Sarsefield was the furthest from my thoughts when I saw these
tokens of a traveller and a stranger.

"You were imperfectly acquainted with my wanderings. You saw me on the
ground before Deb's hut. You saw me plunge into the river. You
endeavoured to destroy me while swimming; and you knew, before my
narrative was heard, that Huntly was the object of your enmity. What was
the motive of your search in the desert, and how were you apprized of my
condition? These things are not less wonderful that any of those which I
have already related."

During my tale the features of Sarsefield betokened the deepest
attention. His eye strayed not a moment from my face. All my perils and
forebodings were fresh in my remembrance: they had scarcely gone by;
their skirts, so to speak, were still visible. No wonder that my
eloquence was vivid and pathetic; that I portrayed the past as if it
were the present scene; and that not my tongue only, but every muscle
and limb, spoke.

When I had finished my relation, Sarsefield sank into thoughtfulness.
From this, after a time, he recovered, and said, "Your tale, Huntly, is
true; yet, did I not see you before me, were I not acquainted with the
artlessness and rectitude of your character, and, above all, had not my
own experience, during the last three days, confirmed every incident, I
should question its truth. You have amply gratified my curiosity, and
deserve that your own should be gratified as fully. Listen to me.

"Much has happened since we parted, which shall not be now mentioned. I
promised to inform you of my welfare by letter, and did not fail to
write; but whether my letters were received, or any were written by you
in return, or if written were ever transmitted, I cannot tell: none were
ever received.

"Some days since, I arrived, in company with a lady who is my wife, in
America. You have never been forgotten by me. I knew your situation to
be little in agreement with your wishes, and one of the benefits which
fortune has lately conferred upon me is the power of snatching you from
a life of labour and obscurity, whose goods, scanty as they are, were
transient and precarious, and affording you the suitable leisure and
means of intellectual gratification and improvement.

"Your silence made me entertain some doubts concerning your welfare, and
even your existence. To solve these doubts, I hastened to Solesbury.
Some delays upon the road hindered me from accomplishing my journey by
daylight. It was night before I entered the Norwalk path; but my ancient
rambles with you made me familiar with it, and I was not afraid of being
obstructed or bewildered.

"Just as I gained the southern outlet, I spied a passenger on foot,
coming towards me with a quick pace. The incident was of no moment; and
yet the time of night, the seeming expedition of the walker,
recollection of the mazes and obstacles which he was going to encounter,
and a vague conjecture that perhaps he was unacquainted with the
difficulties that awaited him, made me eye him with attention as he
passed.

"He came near, and I thought I recognised a friend in this traveller.
The form, the gesture, the stature, bore a powerful resemblance to those
of Edgar Huntly. This resemblance was so strong, that I stopped, and,
after he had gone by, called him by your name. That no notice was taken
of my call proved that the person was mistaken; but, even though it were
another, that he should not even hesitate or turn at a summons which he
could not but perceive to be addressed, though erroneously, to him, was
the source of some surprise. I did not repeat my call, but proceeded on
my way.

"All had retired to repose in your uncle's dwelling. I did not scruple
to rouse them, and was received with affectionate and joyous greetings.
That you allowed your uncle to rise before you was a new topic of
reflection. To my inquiries concerning you, answers were made that
accorded with my wishes. I was told that you were in good health and
were then in bed. That you had not heard and risen at my knocking was
mentioned with surprise; but your uncle accounted for your indolence by
saying that during the last week you had fatigued yourself by rambling,
night and day, in search of some maniac or visionary who was supposed to
have retreated into Norwalk.

"I insisted upon awakening you myself. I anticipated the effect of this
sudden and unlooked-for meeting with some emotions of pride as well as
of pleasure. To find, in opening your eyes, your old preceptor standing
by your bedside and gazing in your face, would place you, I conceived,
in an affecting situation.

"Your chamber-door was open, but your bed was empty. Your uncle and
sisters were made acquainted with this circumstance. Their surprise gave
way to conjectures that your restless and romantic spirit had tempted
you from your repose, that you had rambled abroad on some fantastic
errand, and would probably return before the dawn. I willingly
acquiesced in this opinion, and, my feelings being too thoroughly
aroused to allow me to sleep, I took possession of your chamber and
patiently awaited your return.

"The morning returned, but Huntly made not his appearance. Your uncle
became somewhat uneasy at this unseasonable absence. Much speculation
and inquiry as to the possible reasons of your flight was made. In my
survey of your chamber, I noted that only part of your clothing remained
beside your bed. Coat, hat, stockings and shoes lay upon the spot where
they had probably been thrown when you had disrobed yourself; but the
pantaloons, which, according to Mr. Huntly's report, completed your
dress, were nowhere to be found. That you should go forth on so cold a
night so slenderly apparelled, was almost incredible. Your reason or
your senses had deserted you, before so rash an action could be
meditated.

"I now remembered the person I had met in Norwalk. His resemblance to
your figure, his garb, which wanted hat, coat, stockings and shoes, and
your absence from your bed at that hour, were remarkable coincidences:
but why did you disregard my call? Your name, uttered by a voice that
could not be unknown, was surely sufficient to arrest your steps.

"Each hour added to the impatience of your friends. To their
recollections and conjectures I listened with a view to extract from
them some solution of this mystery. At length a story was alluded to of
some one who, on the preceding night, had been heard walking in the long
room: to this was added the tale of your anxieties and wonders
occasioned by the loss of certain manuscripts.

"While ruminating upon these incidents, and endeavouring to extract from
this intelligence a clue explanatory of your present situation, a single
word, casually dropped by your uncle, instantly illuminated my darkness
and dispelled my doubts.--'After all,' said the old man, 'ten to one but
Edgar himself was the man whom we heard walking, but the lad was asleep,
and knew not what he was about.'

"'Surely,' said I, 'this inference is just. His manuscripts could not be
removed by any hands but his own, since the rest of mankind were
unacquainted not only with the place of their concealment, but with
their existence. None but a man insane or asleep would wander forth so
slightly dressed, and none but a sleeper would have disregarded my
calls.' This conclusion was generally adopted; but it gave birth in my
mind to infinite inquietudes. You had roved into Norwalk, a scene of
inequalities, of prominences and pits, among which, thus destitute of
the guidance of your senses, you could scarcely fail to be destroyed,
or, at least, irretrievably bewildered. I painted to myself the dangers
to which you were subjected. Your careless feet would bear you into some
whirlpool or to the edge of some precipice; some internal revolution or
outward shock would recall you to consciousness at some perilous moment.
Surprise and fear would disable you from taking seasonable or suitable
precautions, and your destruction be made sure.

"The lapse of every new hour, without bringing tidings of your state,
enhanced these fears. At length the propriety of searching for you
occurred; Mr. Huntly and I determined to set out upon this pursuit, as
well as to commission others. A plan was laid by which every accessible
part of Norwalk, the wilderness beyond the flats of Solesbury, and the
valley of Chetasco, should be traversed and explored.

"Scarcely had we equipped ourselves for this expedition, when a
messenger arrived, who brought the disastrous news of Indians being seen
within these precincts, and on the last night a farmer was shot in his
fields, a dwelling in Chetasco was burnt to the ground, and its
inhabitants murdered or made captives. Rumour and inquiry had been busy,
and a plausible conjecture had been formed as to the course and number
of the enemies. They were said to be divided into bands, and to amount
in the whole to thirty or forty warriors. This messenger had come to
warn us of danger which might impend, and to summon us to join in the
pursuit and extirpation of these detestable foes.

"Your uncle, whose alacrity and vigour age had not abated, eagerly
engaged in this scheme. I was not averse to contribute my efforts to an
end like this. The road which we had previously designed to take, in
search of my fugitive pupil, was the same by which we must trace or
intercept the retreat of the savages. Thus two purposes, equally
momentous, would be answered by the same means.

"Mr. Huntly armed himself with your fusil; Inglefield supplied me with a
gun. During our absence the dwelling was closed and locked, and your
sisters placed under the protection of Inglefield, whose age and pacific
sentiments unfitted him for arduous and sanguinary enterprises. A troop
of rustics was collected, half of whom remained to traverse Solesbury,
and the other, whom Mr. Huntly and I accompanied, hastened to Chetasco."



Chapter XXV.


"It was noonday before we reached the theatre of action. Fear and
revenge combined to make the people of Chetasco diligent and zealous in
their own defence. The havoc already committed had been mournful. To
prevent a repetition of the same calamities, they resolved to hunt out
the hostile footsteps and exact a merciless retribution.

"It was likely that the enemy, on the approach of day, had withdrawn
from the valley and concealed themselves in the thickets between the
parallel ridges of the mountain. This space, which, according to the
object with which it is compared, is either a vale or the top of a hill,
was obscure and desolate. It was undoubtedly the avenue by which the
robbers had issued forth, and by which they would escape to the Ohio.
Here they might still remain, intending to emerge from their concealment
on the next night and perpetrate new horrors.

"A certain distribution was made of our number, so as to move in all
directions at the same time. I will not dwell upon particulars. It will
suffice to say that keen eyes and indefatigable feet brought us at last
to the presence of the largest number of these marauders. Seven of them
were slain by the edge of a brook, where they sat wholly unconscious of
the danger which hung over them. Five escaped, and one of these secured
his retreat by wresting your fusil from your uncle and shooting him
dead. Before our companion could be rescued or revenged, the assassin,
with the remnant of the troop, disappeared, and bore away with him the
fusil as a trophy of his victory.

"This disaster was deplored, not only on account of that life which had
thus been sacrificed, but because a sagacious guide and intrepid leader
was lost. His acquaintance with the habits of the Indians, and his
experience in their wars, made him trace their footsteps with more
certainty than any of his associates.

"The pursuit was still continued, and parties were so stationed that the
escape of the enemy was difficult, if not impossible. Our search was
unremitted, but, during twelve or fourteen hours, unsuccessful. Queen
Mab did not elude all suspicion. Her hut was visited by different
parties, but the old woman and her dogs had disappeared.

"Meanwhile your situation was not forgotten. Every one was charged to
explore your footsteps as well as those of the savages; but this search
was no less unsuccessful than the former. None had heard of you or seen
you.

"This continued till midnight. Three of us made a pause at a brook, and
intended to repair our fatigues by a respite of a few hours; but
scarcely had we stretched ourselves on the ground when we were alarmed
by a shot which seemed to have been fired at a short distance. We
started on our feet and consulted with each other on the measures to be
taken. A second, a third, and a fourth shot, from the same quarter,
excited our attention anew. Mab's hut was known to stand at the distance
and in the direction of this sound, and thither we resolved to repair.

"This was done with speed, but with the utmost circumspection. We
shortly gained the road that leads near this hut, and at length gained a
view of the building. Many persons were discovered, in a sort of
bustling inactivity, before the hut. They were easily distinguished to
be friends, and were therefore approached without scruple.

"The objects that presented themselves to a nearer view were five bodies
stretched upon the ground. Three of them were savages. The fourth was a
girl, who, though alive, seemed to have received a mortal wound. The
fifth, breathless and mangled, and his features almost concealed by the
blood that overspread his face, was Edgar,--the fugitive for whom I had
made such anxious search.

"About the same hour on the last night I had met you hastening into
Norwalk. Now were you lying in the midst of savages, at the distance of
thirty miles from your home, and in a spot which it was impossible for
you to have reached unless by an immense circuit over rocks and
thickets. That you had found a rift at the basis of a hill, and thus
penetrated its solidities, and thus precluded so tedious and circuitous
a journey as must otherwise have been made, was not to be imagined.

"But whence arose this scene? It was obvious to conclude that my
associates had surprised their enemies in this house, and exacted from
them the forfeit of their crimes; but how you should have been
confounded with their foes, or whence came the wounded girl, was a
subject of astonishment.

"You will judge how much this surprise was augmented when I was informed
that the party whom we found had been attracted hither by the same
signals by which we had been alarmed. That on reaching this spot you had
been discovered, alive, seated on the ground, and still sustaining the
gun with which you had apparently completed the destruction of so many
adversaries. In a moment after their arrival you sunk down and expired.

"This scene was attended with inexplicable circumstances. The musket
which lay beside you appeared to have belonged to one of the savages.
The wound by which each had died was single. Of the four shots we had
distinguished at a distance, three of them were therefore fatal to the
Indians, and the fourth was doubtless that by which you had fallen; yet
three muskets only were discoverable.

"The arms were collected, and the girl carried to the nearest house in
the arms of her father. Her situation was deemed capable of remedy, and
the sorrow and wonder which I felt at your untimely and extraordinary
fate did not hinder me from endeavouring to restore the health of this
unfortunate victim. I reflected, likewise, that some light might be
thrown upon transactions so mysterious by the information which might be
collected from her story. Numberless questions and hints were necessary
to extract from her a consistent or intelligible tale. She had been
dragged, it seems, for miles, at the heels of her conquerors, who at
length stopped in a cavern for the sake of some repose. All slept but
one, who sat and watched. Something called him away, and, at the same
moment, you appeared at the bottom of the cave, half naked and without
arms. You instantly supplied the last deficiency by seizing the gun and
tomahawk of him who had gone forth, and who had negligently left his
weapons behind. Then, stepping over the bodies of the sleepers, you
rushed out of the cavern.

"She then mentioned your unexpected return, her deliverance and flight,
and arrival at Deb's hut. You watched upon the hearth, and she fell
asleep upon the blanket. From this sleep she was aroused by violent and
cruel blows. She looked up: you were gone, and the bed on which she lay
was surrounded by the men from whom she had so lately escaped. One
dragged her out of the hut and levelled his gun at her breast. At the
moment when he touched the trigger, a shot came from an unknown quarter,
and he fell at her feet. Of subsequent events she had an incoherent
recollection. The Indians were successively slain, and you came to her,
and interrogated and consoled her.

"In your journey to the hut you were armed. This in some degree
accounted for appearances: but where were your arms? Three muskets only
were discovered, and these undoubtedly belonged to your enemies.

"I now had leisure to reflect upon your destiny. I had arrived soon
enough on this shore merely to witness the catastrophe of two beings
whom I most loved. Both were overtaken by the same fate, nearly at the
same hour. The same hand had possibly accomplished the destruction of
uncle and nephew.

"Now, however, I began to entertain a hope that your state might not be
irretrievable. You had walked and spoken after the firing had ceased and
your enemies had ceased to contend with you. A wound had, no doubt, been
previously received. I had hastily inferred that the wound was mortal,
and that life could not be recalled. Occupied with attention to the
wailings of the girl, and full of sorrow and perplexity, I had admitted
an opinion which would have never been adopted in different
circumstances. My acquaintance with wounds would have taught me to
regard sunken muscles, lividness, and cessation of the pulse, as mere
indications of a swoon, and not as tokens of death.

"Perhaps my error was not irreparable. By hastening to the hut, I might
ascertain your condition, and at least transport your remains to some
dwelling and finally secure to you the decencies of burial.

"Of twelve savages discovered on the preceding day, ten were now killed.
Two at least remained, after whom the pursuit was still zealously
maintained. Attention to the wounded girl had withdrawn me from the
party, and I had now leisure to return to the scene of these disasters.
The sun had risen, and, accompanied by two others, I repaired thither.

"A sharp turn in the road, at the entrance of a field, set before us a
startling spectacle. An Indian, mangled by repeated wounds of bayonet
and bullet, was discovered. His musket was stuck in the ground, by way
of beacon attracting our attention to the spot. Over this space I had
gone a few hours before, and nothing like this was then seen. The
parties abroad had hied away to a distant quarter. Some invisible power
seemed to be enlisted in our defence and to preclude the necessity of
our arms.

"We proceeded to the hut. The savages were there, but Edgar had risen
and flown! Nothing now seemed to be incredible. You had slain three
foes, and the weapon with which the victory had been achieved had
vanished. You had risen from the dead, had assailed one of the surviving
enemies, had employed bullet and dagger in his destruction, with both of
which you could only be supplied by supernatural means, and had
disappeared. If any inhabitant of Chetasco had done this, we should have
heard of it.

"But what remained? You were still alive. Your strength was sufficient
to bear you from this spot. Why were you still invisible? and to what
dangers might you not be exposed before you could disinvolve yourself
from the mazes of this wilderness?

"Once more I procured indefatigable search to be made after you. It was
continued till the approach of evening, and was fruitless. Inquiries
were twice made at the house where you were supplied with food and
intelligence. On the second call I was astonished and delighted by the
tidings received from the good woman. Your person, and demeanour, and
arms, were described, and mention made of your resolution to cross the
southern ridge and traverse the Solesbury Road with the utmost
expedition.

"The greater part of my inquietudes were now removed. You were able to
eat and to travel, and there was little doubt that a meeting would take
place between us on the next morning. Meanwhile, I determined to concur
with those who pursued the remainder of the enemy. I followed you, in
the path that you were said to have taken, and quickly joined a numerous
party who were searching for those who, on the last night, had attacked
a plantation that lies near this, and destroyed the inhabitants.

"I need not dwell upon our doublings and circuities. The enemy was
traced to the house of Selby. They had entered, they had put fire on the
floor, but were compelled to relinquish their prey. Of what number they
consisted could not be ascertained; but one, lingering behind his
fellows, was shot, at the entrance of the wood, and on the spot where
you chanced to light upon him.

"Selby's house was empty, and before the fire had made any progress we
extinguished it. The drunken wretch whom you encountered had probably
returned from his nocturnal debauch after we had left the spot.

"The flying enemy was pursued with fresh diligence. They were found, by
various tokens, to have crossed the river, and to have ascended the
mountain. We trod closely on their heels. When we arrived at the
promontory described by you, the fatigues of the night and day rendered
me unqualified to proceed. I determined that this should be the bound of
my excursions. I was anxious to obtain an interview with you, and,
unless I paused here, should not be able to gain Inglefield's as early
in the morning as I wished. Two others concurred with me in this
resolution, and prepared to return to this house, which had been
deserted by its tenants till the danger was past, and which had been
selected as the place of rendezvous.

"At this moment, dejected and weary, I approached the ledge which
severed the headland from the mountain. I marked the appearance of some
one stretched upon the ground where you lay. No domestic animal would
wander hither and place himself upon this spot. There was something
likewise in the appearance of the object that bespoke it to be man; but,
if it were man, it was incontrovertibly a savage and a foe. I
determined, therefore, to rouse you by a bullet.

"My decision was perhaps absurd. I ought to have gained more certainty
before I hazarded your destruction. Be that as it will, a moment's
lingering on your part would have probably been fatal. You started on
your feet, and fired. See the hole which your random shot made through
my sleeve! This surely was a day destined to be signalized by
hairbreadth escapes.

"Your action seemed incontestably to confirm my prognostics. Every one
hurried to the spot and was eager to destroy an enemy. No one hesitated
to believe that some of the shots aimed at you had reached their mark,
and that you had sunk to rise no more.

"The gun which was fired and thrown down was taken and examined. It had
been my companion in many a toilsome expedition. It had rescued me and
my friends from a thousand deaths. In order to recognise it, I needed
only to touch and handle it. I instantly discovered that I held in my
hand the fusil which I had left with you on parting, with which your
uncle had equipped himself, and which had been ravished from him by a
savage. What was I hence to infer respecting the person of the last
possessor?

"My inquiries respecting you, of the woman whose milk and bread you had
eaten, were minute. You entered, she said, with a hatchet and gun in
your hand. While you ate, the gun was laid upon the table. She sat near,
and the piece became the object of inquisitive attention. The stock and
barrels were described by her in such terms as left no doubt that this
was the _fusil_.

"A comparison of incidents enabled me to trace the manner in which you
came into possession of this instrument. One of those whom you found in
the cavern was the assassin of your uncle. According to the girl's
report, on issuing from your hiding-place you seized a gun that was
unoccupied, and this gun chanced to be your own.

"Its two barrels were probably the cause of your success in that unequal
contest at Mab's hut. On recovering from _deliquium_, you found it where
it had been dropped by you, out of sight and unsuspected by the party
that had afterwards arrived. In your passage to the river, had it once
more fallen into hostile hands? or had you missed the way, wandered to
this promontory, and mistaken a troop of friends for a band of Indian
marauders?

"Either supposition was dreadful. The latter was the most plausible. No
motives were conceivable by which one of the fugitives could be induced
to post himself here, in this conspicuous station; whereas, the road
which led you to the summit of the hill, to that spot where descent to
the river-road was practicable, could not be found but by those who were
accustomed to traverse it. The directions which you had exacted from
your hostess proved your previous unacquaintance with these tracts.

"I acquiesced in this opinion with a heavy and desponding heart. Fate
had led us into a maze which could only terminate in the destruction of
one or of the other. By the breadth of a hair had I escaped death from
your hand. The same fortune had not befriended you. After my tedious
search, I had lighted on you, forlorn, bewildered, perishing with cold
and hunger. Instead of recognising and affording you relief, I compelled
you to leap into the river, from a perilous height, and had desisted
from my persecution only when I had bereaved you of life and plunged you
to the bottom of the gulf.

"My motives in coming to America were numerous and mixed. Among these
was the parental affection with which you had inspired me. I came with
fortune, and a better gift than fortune, in my hand. I intended to
bestow both upon you, not only to give you competence, but one who would
endear to you that competence, who would enhance, by participating,
every gratification.

"My schemes were now at an end. You were gone, beyond the reach of my
benevolence and justice. I had robbed your two sisters of a friend and
guardian. It was some consolation to think that it was in my power to
stand, with regard to them, in your place; that I could snatch them from
the poverty, dependence, and humiliation, to which your death and that
of your uncle had reduced them.

"I was now doubly weary of the enterprise in which I was engaged, and
returned with speed to this rendezvous. My companions have gone to know
the state of the family who resided under this roof, and left me to
beguile the tedious moments in whatever manner I pleased.

"I have omitted mentioning one incident that happened between the
detection of your flight and our expedition to Chetasco. Having formed a
plausible conjecture as to him who walked in the long room, it was
obvious to conclude that he who purloined your manuscript, and the
walker, was the same personage. It was likewise easily inferred that the
letters were secreted in the cedar chest or in some other part of the
room. Instances similar to this have heretofore occurred. Men have
employed anxious months in search of that which, in a freak of
noctambulation, was hidden by their own hands.

"A search was immediately commenced, and your letters were found,
carefully concealed between the rafters and shingles of the roof, in a
spot where, if suspicion had not been previously excited, they would
have remained till the vernal rains and the summer heats had insensibly
destroyed them. This packet I carried with me, knowing the value which
you set upon it, and there being no receptacle equally safe but your own
cabinet, which was locked.

"Having, as I said, reached this house, and being left alone, I
bethought me of the treasure I possessed. I was unacquainted with the
reasons for which these papers were so precious. They probably had some
momentous and intimate connection with your own history. As such, they
could not be of little value to me, and this moment of inoccupation and
regrets was as suitable as any other to the task of perusing them. I
drew them forth, therefore, and laid them on the table in this chamber.

"The rest is known to you. During a momentary absence you entered.
Surely no interview of ancient friends ever took place in so unexpected
and abrupt a manner. You were dead. I mourned for you, as one whom I
loved, and whom fate had snatched forever from my sight. Now, in a
blissful hour, you had risen, and my happiness in thus embracing you is
tenfold greater than would have been experienced if no uncertainties and
perils had protracted our meeting."



Chapter XXVI.


Here ended the tale of Sarsefield. Humiliation and joy were mingled in
my heart. The events that preceded my awakening in the cave were now
luminous and plain. What explication was more obvious? What but this
solution ought to have been suggested by the conduct I had witnessed in
Clithero?

Clithero? Was not this the man whom Clithero had robbed of his friend?
Was not this the lover of Mrs. Lorimer, the object of the persecutions
of Wiatte? Was it not now given me to investigate the truth of that
stupendous tale? To dissipate the doubts which obstinately clung to my
imagination respecting it?

But soft! Had not Sarsefield said that he was married? Was Mrs. Lorimer
so speedily forgotten by him, or was the narrative of Clithero the web
of imposture or the raving of insanity?

These new ideas banished all personal considerations from my mind. I
looked eagerly into the face of my friend, and exclaimed, in a dubious
accent, "How say you? Married? When? To whom?"

"Yes, Huntly, I am wedded to the most excellent of women. To her am I
indebted for happiness, and wealth, and dignity, and honour. To her do I
owe the power of being the benefactor and protector of you and your
sisters. She longs to embrace you as a son. To become truly her son will
depend upon your own choice, and that of one who was the companion of
our voyage."

"Heavens!" cried I, in a transport of exultation and astonishment. "Of
whom do you speak? Of the mother of Clarice? The sister of Wiatte? The
sister of the ruffian who laid snares for her life? Who pursued you and
the unhappy Clithero with the bitterest animosity?"

My friend started at these sounds as if the earth had yawned at his
feet. His countenance was equally significant of terror and rage. As
soon as he regained the power of utterance, he spoke:--"Clithero! Curses
light upon thy lips for having uttered that detested name! Thousands of
miles have I flown to shun the hearing of it. Is the madman here? Have
you set eyes upon him? Does he yet crawl upon the face of the earth?
Unhappy? Unparalleled, unheard-of, thankless miscreant! Has he told his
execrable falsehoods here? Has he dared to utter names so sacred as
those of Euphemia Lorimer and Clarice?"

"He has; he has told a tale that had all the appearances of truth----"

"Out upon the villain! The truth! Truth would prove him to be unnatural,
devilish; a thing for which no language has yet provided a name! He has
called himself unhappy? No doubt, a victim to injustice! Overtaken by
unmerited calamity. Say! Has he fooled thee with such tales?"

"No. His tale was a catalogue of crimes and miseries of which he was the
author and sufferer. You know not his motives, his horrors------"

"His deeds were monstrous and infernal. His motives were sordid and
flagitious. To display all their ugliness and infamy was not his
province. No; he did not tell you that he stole at midnight to the
chamber of his mistress; a woman who astonished the world by her
loftiness and magnanimity, by indefatigable beneficence and unswerving
equity; who had lavished on this wretch, whom she snatched from the
dirt, all the goods of fortune, all the benefits of education; all the
treasures of love; every provocation to gratitude; every stimulant to
justice.

"He did not tell you that, in recompense for every benefit, he stole
upon her sleep and aimed a dagger at her breast. There was no room for
flight, or ambiguity, or prevarication. She whom he meant to murder
stood near, saw the lifted weapon, and heard him confess and glory in
his purposes.

"No wonder that the shock bereft her, for a time, of life. The interval
was seized by the ruffian to effect his escape. The rebukes of justice
were shunned by a wretch conscious of his inexpiable guilt. These things
he has hidden from you, and has supplied their place by a tale specious
as false."

"No. Among the number of his crimes, hypocrisy is not to be numbered.
These things are already known to me: he spared himself too little in
the narrative. The excellencies of his lady, her claims to gratitude and
veneration, were urged beyond their true bounds. His attempts upon her
life were related. It is true that he desired and endeavoured to destroy
her."

"How? Has he told you this?"

"He has told me all. Alas! the criminal intention has been amply
expiated."

"What mean you? Whence and how came he hither? Where is he now? I will
not occupy the same land, the same world, with him. Have this woman and
her daughter lighted on the shore haunted by this infernal and
implacable enemy?"

"Alas! It is doubtful whether he exists. If he lives, he is no longer to
be feared; but he lives not. Famine and remorse have utterly consumed
him."

"Famine? Remorse? You talk in riddles."

"He has immured himself in the desert. He has abjured the intercourse of
mankind. He has shut himself in caverns where famine must inevitably
expedite that death for which he longs as the only solace of his woes.
To no imagination are his offences blacker and more odious than to his
own. I had hopes of rescuing him from this fate, but my own infirmities
and errors have afforded me sufficient occupation."

Sarsefield renewed his imprecations on the memory of that unfortunate
man, and his inquiries as to the circumstances that led him into this
remote district. His inquiries were not to be answered by one in my
present condition. My languors and fatigues had now gained a pitch that
was insupportable. The wound in my face had been chafed and inflamed by
the cold water and the bleak air; and the pain attending it would no
longer suffer my attention to stray. I sunk upon the floor, and
entreated him to afford me the respite of a few hours' repose.

He was sensible of the deplorableness of my condition, and chid himself
for the negligence of which he had already been guilty. He lifted me to
the bed, and deliberated on the mode he should pursue for my relief.
Some mollifying application to my wound was immediately necessary; but,
in our present lonely condition, it was not at hand. It could only be
procured from a distance. It was proper therefore to hasten to the
nearest inhabited dwelling, which belonged to one by name Walton, and
supply himself with such medicines as could be found.

Meanwhile, there was no danger of molestation and intrusion. There was
reason to expect the speedy return of those who had gone in pursuit of
the savages. This was their place of rendezvous, and hither they
appointed to reassemble before the morrow's dawn. The distance of the
neighbouring farm was small, and Sarsefield promised to be expeditious.
He left me to myself and my own ruminations.

Harassed by fatigue and pain, I had yet power to ruminate on that series
of unparalleled events that had lately happened. I wept, but my tears
flowed from a double source: from sorrow, on account of the untimely
fate of my uncle, and from joy, that my sisters were preserved, that
Sarsefield had returned and was not unhappy.

I reflected on the untoward destiny of Clithero. Part of his calamity
consisted in the consciousness of having killed his patroness; but it
now appeared, though by some infatuation I had not previously suspected,
that the first impulse of sorrow in the lady had been weakened by
reflection and by time; that the prejudice persuading her that her life
and that of her brother were to endure and to terminate together was
conquered by experience or by argument. She had come, in company with
Sarsefield and Clarice, to America. What influence might these events
have upon the gloomy meditations of Clithero? Was it possible to bring
them together; to win the maniac from his solitude, wrest from him his
fatal purposes, and restore him to communion with the beings whose
imagined indignation is the torment of his life?

These musings were interrupted by a sound from below, which was easily
interpreted into tokens of the return of those with whom Sarsefield had
parted at the promontory. Voices were confused and busy, but not
turbulent. They entered the lower room, and the motion of chairs and
tables showed that they were preparing to rest themselves after their
toils.

Few of them were unacquainted with me, since they probably were
residents in this district. No inconvenience, therefore, would follow
from an interview, though, on their part, wholly unexpected. Besides,
Sarsefield would speedily return, and none of the present visitants
would be likely to withdraw to this apartment.

Meanwhile, I lay upon the bed, with my face turned towards the door, and
languidly gazing at the ceiling and Walls. Just then a musket was
discharged in the room below. The shock affected me mechanically, and
the first impulse of surprise made me almost start upon my feet.

The sound was followed by confusion and bustle. Some rushed forth and
called on each other to run different ways, and the words, "That is
he,"--"Stop him!" were spoken in a tone of eagerness and rage. My
weakness and pain were for a moment forgotten, and my whole attention
was bent to discover the meaning of this hubbub. The musket which I had
brought with me to this chamber lay across the bed. Unknowing of the
consequences of this affray with regard to myself, I was prompted, by a
kind of self-preserving instinct, to lay hold of the gun and prepare to
repel any attack that might be made upon me.

A few moments elapsed, when I thought I heard light footsteps in the
entry leading to this room. I had no time to construe these signals,
but, watching fearfully the entrance, I grasped my weapon with new
force, and raised it so as to be ready at the moment of my danger. I did
not watch long. A figure cautiously thrust itself forward. The first
glance was sufficient to inform me that this intruder was an Indian,
and, of consequence, an enemy. He was unarmed. Looking eagerly on all
sides, he at last spied me as I lay. My appearance threw him into
consternation, and, after the fluctuation of an instant, he darted to
the window, threw up the sash, and leaped out upon the ground.

His flight might have been easily arrested by my shot, but surprise,
added to my habitual antipathy to bloodshed unless in cases of absolute
necessity, made me hesitate. He was gone, and I was left to mark the
progress of the drama. The silence was presently broken by firing at a
distance. Three shots, in quick succession, were followed by the deepest
pause.

That the party, recently arrived, had brought with them one or more
captives, and that by some sudden effort the prisoners had attempted to
escape, was the only supposition that I could form. By wrhat motives
either of them could be induced to seek concealment in my chamber could
not be imagined.

I now heard a single step on the threshold below. Some one entered the
common room. He traversed the floor during a few minutes, and then,
ascending the staircase, he entered my chamber. It was Sarsefield.
Trouble and dismay were strongly written on his countenance. He seemed
totally unconscious of my presence; his eyes were fixed upon the floor,
and, as he continued to move across the room, he heaved forth deep
sighs.

This deportment was mournful and mysterious. It was little in unison
with those appearances which he wore at our parting, and must have been
suggested by some event that had since happened. My curiosity impelled
me to recall him from his reverie. I rose, and, seizing him by the arm,
looked at him with an air of inquisitive anxiety. It was needless to
speak.

He noticed my movement, and, turning towards me, spoke in a tone of some
resentment:--"Why did you deceive me? Did you not say Clithero was
dead?"

"I said so because it was my belief. Know you any thing to the contrary?
Heaven grant that he is still alive, and that our mutual efforts may
restore him to peace!"

"Heaven grant," replied my friend, with a vehemence that bordered upon
fury,--"Heaven grant that he may live thousands of years, and know not,
in their long course, a moment's respite from remorse and from anguish!
But this prayer is fruitless. He is not dead, but death hovers over him.
Should he live, he will live only to defy justice and perpetrate new
horrors. My skill might perhaps save him, but a finger shall not be
moved to avert his fate.

"Little did I think that the wretch whom my friends rescued from the
power of the savages, and brought wounded and expiring hither, was
Clithero. They sent for me in haste to afford him surgical assistance. I
found him stretched upon the floor below, deserted, helpless, and
bleeding. The moment I beheld him, he was recognised. The last of evils
was to look upon the face of this assassin; but that evil is past, and
shall never be endured again.

"Rise, and come with me. Accommodation is prepared for you at Walcot's.
Let us leave this house, and, the moment you are able to perform a
journey, abandon forever this district."

I could not readily consent to this proposal. Clithero had been
delivered from captivity, but was dying for want of that aid which
Sarsefield was able to afford. Was it not inhuman to desert him in this
extremity? What offence had he committed that deserved such implacable
vengeance? Nothing I had heard from Sarsefield was in contradiction to
his own story. His deed, imperfectly observed, would appear to be
atrocious and detestable; but the view of all its antecedent and
accompanying events and motives would surely place it in the list, not
of crimes, but of misfortunes.

But wrhat is that guilt which no penitence can expiate? Had not
Clithero's remorse been more than adequate to crimes far more deadly and
enormous than this? This, however, was no time to argue with the
passions of Sarsefield. Nothing but a repetition of Clithero's tale
could vanquish his prepossessions and mollify his rage; but this
repetition was impossible to be given by me, till a moment of safety and
composure.

These thoughts made me linger, but hindered me from attempting to change
the determination of my friend. He renewed his importunities for me to
fly with him. He dragged me by the arm, and, wavering and reluctant, I
followed where he chose to lead. He crossed the common room, with
hurried steps, and eyes averted from a figure which instantly fastened
my attention.

It was indeed Clithero whom I now beheld, supine, polluted with blood,
his eyes closed, and apparently insensible. This object was gazed at
with emotions that rooted me to the spot. Sarsefield, perceiving me
determined to remain where I was, rushed out of the house, and
disappeared.



Chapter XXVII.


I hung over the unhappy wretch, whose emaciated form and rueful features
sufficiently bespoke that savage hands had only completed that
destruction which his miseries had begun. He was mangled by the tomahawk
in a shocking manner, and there was little hope that human skill could
save his life.

I was sensible of nothing but compassion. I acted without design, when,
seating myself on the floor, I raised his head and placed it on my
knees. This movement awakened his attention, and, opening his eyes, he
fixed them on my countenance. They testified neither insensibility, nor
horror, nor distraction. A faint emotion of surprise gave way to an
appearance of tranquillity. Having perceived these tokens of a state
less hopeless than I at first imagined, I spoke to him:--"My friend, how
do you feel? Can any thing be done for you?"

He answered me in a tone more firm and with more coherence of ideas
than previous appearances had taught me to expect. "No," said he; "thy
kindness, good youth, can avail me nothing. The end of my existence here
is at hand. May my guilt be expiated by the miseries that I have
suffered, and my good deeds only attend me to the presence of my divine
Judge!

"I am waiting, not with trembling or dismay, for this close of my
sorrows. I breathed but one prayer, and that prayer has been answered. I
asked for an interview with thee, young man; but, feeling as I now feel,
this interview, so much desired, was beyond my hope. Now thou art come,
in due season, to hear the last words that I shall need to utter.

"I wanted to assure thee that thy efforts for my benefit were not
useless. They have saved me from murdering myself, a guilt more
inexpiable than any which it was in my power to commit.

"I retired to the innermost recess of Norwalk, and gained the summit of
a hill, by subterranean paths. This hill I knew to be on all sides
inaccessible to human footsteps, and the subterranean passages were
closed up by stones. Here I believed my solitude exempt from
interruption, and my death, in consequence of famine, sure.

"This persuasion was not taken away by your appearance on the opposite
steep. The chasm which severed us I knew to be impassable. I withdrew
from your sight.

"Some time after, awakening from a long sleep, I found victuals beside
me. He that brought it was invisible. For a time, I doubted whether some
messenger of heaven had not interposed for my salvation. How other than
by supernatural means my retreat should be explored, I was unable to
conceive. The summit was encompassed by dizzy and profound gulfs, and
the subterranean passages were still closed.

"This opinion, though corrected by subsequent reflection, tended to
change the course of my desperate thoughts. My hunger, thus
importunately urged, would not abstain, and I ate of the food that was
provided. Henceforth I determined to live, to resume the path of
obscurity and labour which I had relinquished, and wait till my God
should summon me to retribution. To anticipate his call is only to
redouble our guilt.

"I designed not to return to Inglefield's service, but to choose some
other and remoter district. Meanwhile, I had left in his possession a
treasure, which my determination to die had rendered of no value, but
which my change of resolution restored. Enclosed in a box at
Inglefield's were the memoirs of Euphemia Lorimer, by which, in all my
vicissitudes, I had been hitherto accompanied, and from which I
consented to part only because I had refused to live. My existence was
now to be prolonged, and this manuscript was once more to constitute the
torment and the solace of my being.

"I hastened to Inglefield's by night. There was no need to warn him of
my purpose. I desired that my fate should be an eternal secret to my
ancient master and his neighbours. The apartment containing my box was
well known, and easily accessible.

"The box was found, but broken and rifled of its treasure. My transports
of astonishment, and indignation, and grief, yielded to the resumption
of my fatal purpose. I hastened back to the hill, and determined anew to
perish.

"This mood continued to the evening of the ensuing day. Wandering over
rocks and pits, I discovered the manuscript lying under a jutting
precipice. The chance that brought it hither was not less propitious and
miraculous than that by which I had been supplied with food. It produced
a similar effect upon my feelings, and, while in possession of this
manuscript, I was reconciled to the means of life. I left the mountain,
and, traversing the wilderness, stopped in Chetasco. That kind of
employment which I sought was instantly procured; but my new vocation
was scarcely assumed when a band of savages invaded our security.

"Rambling in the desert by moonlight, I encountered these foes. They
rushed upon me, and, after numerous wounds, which for the present
neither killed nor disabled me, they compelled me to keep pace with them
in their retreat. Some hours have passed since the troop was overtaken
and my liberty redeemed. Hardships, and repeated wounds, inflicted at
the moment when the invaders were surprised and slain, have brought me
to my present condition. I rejoice that my course is about to
terminate."

Here the speaker was interrupted by the tumultuous entrance of the party
by whom he had been brought hither. Their astonishment at seeing me
sustaining the head of the dying man may be easily conceived. Their
surprise was more strongly excited by the disappearance of the captive
whom they had left in this apartment, bound hand and foot. It now
appeared that, of the savage troop who had adventured thus far in search
of pillage and blood, all had been destroyed but two, who had been led
hither as prisoners. On their entrance into this house, one of the party
had been sent to Walcot's to summon Sarsefield to the aid of the wounded
man, while others had gone in search of cords to secure the arms and
legs of the captives, who had hitherto been manacled imperfectly.

The cords were brought and one of them was bound; but the other, before
the same operation was begun upon him, broke, by a sudden effort, the
feeble ligatures by which he was at present constrained, and, seizing a
musket that lay near him, fired on his enemies, and then rushed out of
doors. All eagerly engaged in the pursuit. The savage was fleet as a
deer, and finally eluded his pursuers.

While their attention was thus engaged abroad, he that remained found
means to extricate his wrists and ankles from his bonds, and, betaking
himself to the stairs, escaped, as I before described, through the
window of the room which I had occupied. They pestered me with their
curiosity and wonder, for I was known to all of them; but, waiving the
discussion of my own concerns, I entreated their assistance to carry
Clithero to the chamber and the bed which I had just deserted.

I now, in spite of pain, fatigue, and watchfulness, set out to go to
Walton's. Sarsefield was ready to receive me at the door, and the
kindness and compassion of the family were active in my behalf. I was
conducted to a chamber and provided with suitable attendance and
remedies.

I was not unmindful of the more deplorable condition of Clithero. I
incessantly meditated on the means for his relief. His case stood in
need of all the vigilance and skill of a physician, and Sarsefield was
the only one of that profession whose aid could be seasonably
administered. Sarsefield, therefore, must be persuaded to bestow this
aid.

There was but one mode of conquering his abhorrence of this man,--to
prepossess my friend with the belief of the innocence of Clithero, or to
soothe him into pity by a picture of remorse and suffering. This could
be done, and in the manner most conformable to truth, by a simple
recital of the incidents that had befallen, and by repeating the
confession which had been extorted from Clithero.

I requested all but my friend to leave my chamber, and then, soliciting
a patient hearing, began the narrative of Waldegrave's death; of the
detection of Clithero beneath the shade of the elm; of the suspicions
which were thence produced; and of the forest interview to which these
suspicions gave birth. I then repeated, without variation or addition,
the tale which was then told. I likewise mentioned my subsequent
transactions in Norwalk, so far as they illustrated the destiny of
Clithero.

During this recital, I fixed my eyes upon the countenance of Sarsefield,
and watched every emotion as it arose or declined. With the progress of
my tale, his indignation and his fury grew less, and at length gave
place to horror and compassion.

His seat became uneasy; his pulse throbbed with new vehemence. When I
came to the motives which prompted the unhappy man to visit the chamber
of his mistress, he started from his seat, and sometimes strode across
the floor in a troubled mood, and sometimes stood before me, with his
breath almost suspended in the eagerness of his attention. When I
mentioned the lifted dagger, the shriek from behind, and the apparition
that interposed, he shuddered and drew back, as if a dagger had been
aimed at his breast.

When the tale was done, some time elapsed in mutual and profound
silence. My friend's thoughts were involved in a mournful and
indefinable reverie. From this he at length recovered and spoke:--

"It is true. A tale like this could never be the fruit of invention, or
be invented to deceive. He has done himself injustice. His character was
spotless and fair. All his moral properties seemed to have resolved
themselves into gratitude, fidelity, and honour.

"We parted at the door, late in the evening, as he mentioned, and he
guessed truly that subsequent reflection had induced me to return and to
disclose the truth to Mrs. Lorimer. Clarice, relieved by the sudden
death of her friend, and unexpectedly by all, arrived at the same hour.

"These tidings astonished, afflicted, and delighted the lady. Her
brother's death had been long believed by all but herself. To find her
doubts verified, and his existence ascertained, was the dearest
consolation that he ever could bestow. She was afflicted at the proofs
that had been noted of the continuance of his depravity, but she dreaded
no danger to herself from his malignity or vengeance.

"The ignorance and prepossessions of this woman were remarkable. On this
subject only she was perverse, headstrong, obstinate. Her anxiety to
benefit this archruffian occupied her whole thoughts, and allowed her no
time to reflect upon the reasonings or remonstrances of others. She
could not be prevailed on to deny herself to his visits, and I parted
from her in the utmost perplexity.

"A messenger came to me at midnight, entreating my immediate presence.
Some disaster had happened, but of what kind the messenger was unable to
tell. My fears easily conjured up the image of Wiatte. Terror scarcely
allowed me to breathe. When I entered the house of Mrs. Lorimer, I was
conducted to her chamber. She lay upon the bed in a state of
stupefaction, that arose from some mental cause. Clarice sat by her,
wringing her hands, and pouring forth her tears without intermission.
Neither could explain to me the nature of the scene. I made inquiries of
the servants and attendants. They merely said that the family as usual
had retired to rest, but their lady's bell rung with great violence, and
called them in haste to her chamber, where they found her in a swoon
upon the floor, and the young lady in the utmost affright and
perturbation.

"Suitable means being used, Mrs. Lorimer had, at length, recovered, but
was still nearly insensible. I went to Clithero's apartments; but he was
not to be found, and the domestics informed me that, since he had gone
with me, he had not returned. The doors between this chamber and the
court were open; hence, that some dreadful interview had taken place,
perhaps with Wiatte, was an unavoidable conjecture. He had withdrawn,
however, without committing any personal injury.

"I need not mention my reflections upon this scene. All was tormenting
doubt and suspense, till the morning arrived, and tidings were received
that Wiatte had been killed in the streets. This event was antecedent to
that which had occasioned Mrs. Lorimer's distress and alarm. I now
remembered that fatal prepossession by which the lady was governed, and
her frantic belief that her death and that of her brother were to fall
out at the same time. Could some witness of his death have brought her
tidings of it? Had he penetrated, unexpected and unlicensed, to her
chamber? and were these the effects produced by the intelligence?

"Presently I knew that not only Wiatte was dead, but that Clithero had
killed him. Clithero had not been known to return, and was nowhere to be
found. He, then, was the bearer of these tidings, for none but he could
have found access or egress without disturbing the servants.

"These doubts were at length at an end. In a broken and confused manner,
and after the lapse of some days, the monstrous and portentous truth was
disclosed. After our interview, the lady and her daughter had retired to
the same chamber; the former had withdrawn to her closet, and the latter
to bed. Some one's entrance alarmed the lady, and, coming forth after a
moment's pause, the spectacle which Clithero has too faithfully
described presented itself.

"What could I think? A life of uniform hypocrisy, or a sudden loss of
reason, were the only suppositions to be formed. Clithero was the parent
of fury and abhorrence in my heart. In either case I started at the
name. I shuddered at the image of the apostate or the maniac.

"What? Kill the brother whose existence was interwoven with that of his
benefactress and his friend? Then hasten to her chamber, and attempt her
life? Lift a dagger to destroy her who had been the author of his being
and his happiness?

"He that could meditate a deed like this was no longer man. An agent
from hell had mastered his faculties. He was become the engine of
infernal malice, against whom it was the duty of all mankind to rise up
in arms and never to desist till, by shattering it to atoms, its power
to injure was taken away.

"All inquiries to discover the place of his retreat were vain. No
wonder, methought, that he wrapped himself in the folds of impenetrable
secrecy. Curbed, checked, baffled in the midst of his career, no wonder
that he shrunk into obscurity, that he fled from justice and revenge,
that he dared not meet the rebukes of that eye which, dissolving in
tenderness or flashing with disdain, had ever been irresistible.

"But how shall I describe the lady's condition? Clithero she had
cherished from his infancy. He was the stay, the consolation, the pride
of her life. His projected alliance with her daughter made him still
more dear. Her eloquence was never tired of expatiating on his purity
and rectitude. No wonder that she delighted in this theme, for he was
her own work. His virtues were the creatures of her bounty.

"How hard to be endured was this sad reverse! She can be tranquil, but
never more will she be happy. To promote her forgetfulness of him, I
persuaded her to leave her country, which contained a thousand memorials
of past calamity, and which was lapsing fast into civil broils. Clarice
has accompanied us, and time may effect the happiness of others by her
means, though she can never remove the melancholy of her mother.

"I have listened to your tale, not without compassion. What would you
have me to do? To prolong his life would be merely to protract his
misery.

"He can never be regarded with complacency by my wife. He can never be
thought of without shuddering by Clarice. Common ills are not without a
cure less than death, but here all remedies are vain. Consciousness
itself is the malady, the pest, of which he only is cured who ceases to
think."

I could not but assent to this mournful conclusion: yet, though death
was better to Clithero than life, could not some of his mistakes be
rectified? Euphemia Lorimer, contrary to his belief, was still alive. He
dreamed that she was dead, and a thousand evils were imagined to flow
from that death. This death, and its progeny of ills, haunted his fancy,
and added keenness to his remorse. Was it not our duty to rectify this
error?

Sarsefield reluctantly assented to the truth of my arguments on this
head. He consented to return, and afford the dying man the consolation
of knowing that the being whom he adored as a benefactor and parent had
not been deprived of existence, though bereft of peace by his act.

During Sarsefield's absence my mind was busy in revolving the incidents
that had just occurred. I ruminated on the last words of Clithero. There
was somewhat in his narrative that was obscure and contradictory. He had
left the manuscript, which he so much and so justly prized, in his
cabinet. He entered the chamber in my absence, and found the cabinet
unfastened and the manuscript gone. It was I by whom the cabinet was
opened; but the manuscript supposed to be contained in it was buried in
the earth beneath the elm. How should Clithero be unacquainted with its
situation, since none but Clithero could have dug for it this grave?

This mystery vanished when I reflected on the history of my own
manuscript. Clithero had buried his treasure with his own hands, as mine
had been secreted by myself; but both acts had been performed during
sleep. The deed was neither prompted by the will nor noticed by the
senses of him by whom it was done. Disastrous and humiliating is the
state of man! By his own hands is constructed the mass of misery and
error in which his steps are forever involved.

Thus it was with thy friend. Hurried on by phantoms too indistinct to be
now recalled, I wandered from my chamber to the desert. I plunged into
some unvisited cavern, and easily proceeded till I reached the edge of a
pit. There my step was deceived, and I tumbled headlong from the
precipice. The fall bereaved me of sense, and I continued breathless and
motionless during the remainder of the night and the ensuing day.

How little cognizance have men over the actions and motives of each
other! How total is our blindness with regard to our own performances!
Who would have sought me in the bowels of this mountain? Ages might have
passed away, before my bones would be discovered in this tomb by some
traveller whom curiosity had prompted to explore it.

I was roused from these reflections by Sarsefield's return. Inquiring
into Clithero's condition, he answered that the unhappy man was
insensible, but that, notwithstanding numerous and dreadful gashes in
different parts of his body, it was possible that, by submitting to the
necessary treatment, he might recover.

Encouraged by this information, I endeavoured to awaken the zeal and
compassion of my friend in Clithero's behalf. He recoiled with
involuntary shuddering from any task which would confine him to the
presence of this man. Time and reflection, he said, might introduce
different sentiments and feelings, but at present he could not but
regard this person as a maniac, whose disease was irremediable, and
whose existence could not be protracted but to his own misery and the
misery of others.

Finding him irreconcilably averse to any scheme connected with the
welfare of Clithero, I began to think that his assistance as a surgeon
was by no means necessary. He had declared that the sufferer needed
nothing more than common treatment; and to this the skill of a score of
aged women in this district, furnished with simples culled from the
forest, and pointed out, of old time, by Indian _leeches_, was no
less adequate than that of Sarsefield. These women were ready and
officious in their charity, and none of them were prepossessed against
the sufferer by a knowledge of his genuine story.

Sarsefield, meanwhile, was impatient for my removal to Inglefield's
habitation, and that venerable friend was no less impatient to receive
me. My hurts were superficial, and my strength sufficiently repaired by
a night's repose. Next day I went thither, leaving Clithero to the care
of his immediate neighbours.

Sarsefield's engagements compelled him to prosecute his journey into
Virginia, from which he had somewhat deviated in order to visit
Solesbury. He proposed to return in less than a month, and then to take
me in his company to New York. He has treated me with paternal
tenderness, and insists upon the privilege of consulting for my interest
as if he were my real father. Meanwhile these views have been disclosed
to Inglefield, and it is with him that I am to remain, with my sisters,
until his return.

My reflections have been various and tumultuous. They have been busy in
relation to you, to Weymouth, and especially to Clithero. The latter,
polluted with gore and weakened by abstinence, fatigue, and the loss of
blood, appeared in my eyes to be in a much more dangerous condition than
the event proved him to be. I was punctually informed of the progress of
his cure, and proposed in a few days to visit him. The duty of
explaining the truth, respecting the present condition of Mrs. Lorimer,
had devolved upon me. By imparting this intelligence, I hoped to work
the most auspicious revolutions in his feelings, and prepared,
therefore, with alacrity, for an interview.

In this hope I was destined to be disappointed. On the morning on which
I intended to visit him, a messenger arrived from the house in which he
was entertained, and informed us that the family, on entering the sick
man's apartment, had found it deserted. It appeared that Clithero had,
during the night, risen from his bed and gone secretly forth. No traces
of his flight have since been discovered.

But, oh, my friend, the death of Waldegrave, thy brother, is at length
divested of uncertainty and mystery. Hitherto, I had been able to form
no conjecture respecting it; but the solution was found shortly after
this time.

Queen Mab, three days after my adventure, was seized in her hut on
suspicion of having aided and counselled her countrymen in their late
depredations. She was not to be awed or intimidated by the treatment she
received, but readily confessed and gloried in the mischief she had
done, and accounted for it by enumerating the injuries which she had
received from her neighbours.

These injuries consisted in contemptuous or neglectful treatment, and in
the rejection of groundless and absurd claims. The people of Chetasco
were less obsequious to her humours than those of Solesbury, her ancient
neighbourhood, and her imagination brooded for a long time over nothing
but schemes of revenge. She became sullen, irascible, and spent more of
her time in solitude than ever.

A troop of her countrymen at length visited her hut. Their intentions
being hostile, they concealed from the inhabitants their presence in
this quarter of the country. Some motives induced them to withdraw and
postpone, for the present, the violence which they meditated. One of
them, however, more sanguinary and audacious than the rest, would not
depart without some gratification of his vengeance. He left his
associates and penetrated by night into Solesbury, resolving to attack
the first human being whom he should meet. It was the fate of thy
unhappy brother to encounter this ruffian, whose sagacity made him
forbear to tear away the usual trophy from the dead, lest he should
afford grounds for suspicion as to the authors of the evil.

Satisfied with this exploit, he rejoined his companions, and, after an
interval of three weeks, returned with a more numerous party, to execute
a more extensive project of destruction. They were counselled and
guided, in all their movements, by Queen Mab, who now explained these
particulars and boldly defied her oppressors. Her usual obstinacy and
infatuation induced her to remain in her ancient dwelling and prepare to
meet the consequences.

This disclosure awakened anew all the regrets and anguish which flowed
from that disaster. It has been productive, however, of some benefit.
Suspicions and doubts, by which my soul was harassed, and which were
injurious to the innocent, are now at an end. It is likewise some
imperfect consolation to reflect that the assassin has himself been
killed, and probably by my own hand. The shedder of blood no longer
lives to pursue his vocation, and justice is satisfied.

Thus have I fulfilled my promise to compose a minute relation of my
sufferings. I remembered my duty to thee, and, as soon as I was able to
hold a pen, employed it to inform thee of my welfare. I could not at
that time enter into particulars, but reserved a more copious narrative
till a period of more health and leisure.

On looking back, I am surprised at the length to which my story has run.
I thought that a few days would suffice to complete it; but one page has
insensibly been added to another, till I have consumed weeks and filled
volumes. Here I will draw to a close; I will send you what I have
written, and discuss with you in conversation my other immediate
concerns, and my schemes for the future. As soon as I have seen
Sarsefield, I will visit you. FAREWELL. E. H.

SOLESBURY, November 10.



Letter I.

_To Mr. Sarsefield._



PHILADELPHIA.

I came hither but ten minutes ago, and write this letter in the bar of
the stage-house. I wish not to lose a moment in informing you of what
has happened. I cannot do justice to my own feelings when I reflect upon
the rashness of which I have been guilty.

I will give you the particulars to-morrow. At present, I shall only say
that Clithero is alive, is apprized of your wife's arrival and abode in
New York, and has set out with mysterious intentions to visit her.

May Heaven avert the consequences of such a design! May you be enabled,
by some means, to prevent their meeting! If you cannot prevent it--but I
must not reason on such an event, nor lengthen out this letter.

E. H.



Letter II.

_To the Same._



I will now relate the particulars which I yesterday promised to send
you. You heard through your niece of my arrival at Inglefield's, in
Solesbury: my inquiries, you may readily suppose, would turn upon the
fate of my friend's servant Clithero, whose last disappearance was so
strange and abrupt, and of whom, since that time, I had heard nothing.
You are indifferent to his fate, and are anxious only that his existence
and misfortunes may be speedily forgotten. I confess that it is somewhat
otherwise with me. I pity him; I wish to relieve him, and cannot admit
the belief that his misery is without a cure. I want to find him out. I
want to know his condition, and, if possible, to afford him comfort and
inspire him with courage and hope.

Inglefield replied to my questions:--"Oh yes! He has appeared. The
strange being is again upon the stage. Shortly after he left his
sick-bed, I heard from Philip Beddington, of Chetasco, that Deb's hut had
found a new tenant. At first I imagined that the Scotsman who built it
had returned; but, making closer inquiries, I found that the new tenant
was my servant. I had no inclination to visit him myself, but frequently
inquired respecting him of those who lived or passed that way, and find
that he still lives there."

"But how!" said I: "what is his mode of subsistence? The winter has been
no time for cultivation; and he found, I presume, nothing in the
ground."

"Deb's hut," replied my friend, "is his lodging and his place of
retirement, but food and clothing he procures by labouring on a
neighbouring farm. This farm is next to that of Beddington, who
consequently knows something of his present situation. I find little or
no difference in his present deportment and those appearances which he
assumed while living with me, except that he retires every night to his
hut, and holds as little intercourse as possible with the rest of
mankind. He dines at his employer's table; but his supper, which is
nothing but rye-bread, he carries home with him, and, at all those times
when disengaged from employment, he secludes himself in his hut, or
wanders nobody knows whither."

This was the substance of Inglefield's intelligence. I gleaned from it
some satisfaction. It proved the condition of Clithero to be less
deplorable and desperate than I had previously imagined. His fatal and
gloomy thoughts seemed to have somewhat yielded to tranquillity.

In the course of my reflections, however, I could not but perceive that
his condition, though eligible when compared with what it once was, was
likewise disastrous and humiliating, compared with his youthful hopes
and his actual merits. For such a one to mope away his life in this
unsocial and savage state was deeply to be deplored. It was my duty, if
possible, to prevail on him to relinquish his scheme. And what would be
requisite, for that end, but to inform him of the truth?

The source of his dejection was the groundless belief that he had
occasioned the death of his benefactress. It was this alone that could
justly produce remorse or grief. It was a distempered imagination both
in him and in me that had given birth to this opinion, since the terms
of his narrative, impartially considered, were far from implying that
catastrophe. To him, however, the evidence which he possessed was
incontestable. No deductions from probability could overthrow his
belief. This could only be effected by similar and counter evidence. To
apprize him that she was now alive, in possession of some degree of
happiness, the wife of Sarsefield, and an actual resident on this shore,
would dissipate the sanguinary apparition that haunted him, cure his
diseased intellects, and restore him to those vocations for which his
talents, and that rank in society for which his education, had qualified
him. Influenced by these thoughts, I determined to visit his retreat.
Being obliged to leave Solesbury the next day, I resolved to set out the
same afternoon, and, stopping in Chetasco for the night, seek his
habitation at the hour when he had probably retired to it.

This was done. I arrived at Beddington's at nightfall. My inquiries
respecting Clithero obtained for me the same intelligence from him which
I had received from Inglefield. Deb's hut was three miles from this
habitation, and thither, when the evening had somewhat advanced, I
repaired. This was the spot which had witnessed so many perils during
the last year; and my emotions, on approaching it, were awful. With
palpitating heart and quick steps I traversed the road, skirted on each
side by thickets, and the area before the house. The dwelling was by no
means in so ruinous a state as when I last visited it. The crannies
between the logs had been filled up, and the light within was
perceivable only at a crevice in the door.

Looking through this crevice, I perceived a fire in the chimney, but the
object of my visit was nowhere to be seen. I knocked and requested
admission, but no answer was made. At length I lifted the latch and
entered. Nobody was there.

It was obvious to suppose that Clithero had gone abroad for a short
time, and would speedily return; or perhaps some engagement had detained
him at his labour later than usual. I therefore seated myself on some
straw near the fire, which, with a woollen rug, appeared to constitute
his only bed. The rude bedstead which I formerly met was gone. The
slender furniture, likewise, which had then engaged my attention, had
disappeared. There was nothing capable of human use but a heap of fagots
in the corner, which seemed intended for fuel. How slender is the
accommodation which nature has provided for man, and how scanty is the
portion which our physical necessities require!

While ruminating upon this scene, and comparing past events with the
objects before me, the dull whistling of the gale without gave place to
the sound of footsteps. Presently the door opened, and Clithero entered
the apartment. His aspect and guise were not essentially different from
those which he wore when an inhabitant of Solesbury.

To find his hearth occupied by another appeared to create the deepest
surprise. He looked at me without any tokens of remembrance. His
features assumed a more austere expression, and, after scowling on my
person for a moment, he withdrew his eyes, and, placing in a corner a
bundle which he bore in his hand, he turned and seemed preparing to
withdraw.

I was anxiously attentive to his demeanour, and, as soon as I perceived
his purpose to depart, leaped on my feet to prevent it. I took his hand,
and, affectionately pressing it, said, "Do you not know me? Have you so
soon forgotten me, who is truly your friend?"

He looked at me with some attention, but again withdrew his eyes, and
placed himself in silence on the seat which I had left. I seated myself
near him, and a pause of mutual silence ensued.

My mind was full of the purpose that brought me hither, but I knew not
in what manner to communicate my purpose. Several times I opened my lips
to speak, but my perplexity continued, and suitable words refused to
suggest themselves. At length I said, in a confused tone,--

"I came hither with a view to benefit a man with whose misfortunes his
own lips have made me acquainted, and who has awakened in my breast the
deepest sympathy. I know the cause and extent of his dejection. I know
the event which has given birth to horror and remorse in his heart. He
believes that, by his means, his patroness and benefactress has found an
untimely death."

These words produced a visible shock in my companion, which evinced that
I had at least engaged his attention. I proceeded:--

"This unhappy lady was cursed with a wicked and unnatural brother. She
conceived a disproportionate affection for this brother, and erroneously
imagined that her fate was blended with his, that their lives would
necessarily terminate at the same period, and that, therefore, whoever
was the contriver of his death was likewise, by a fatal and invincible
necessity, the author of her own.

"Clithero was her servant, but was raised by her bounty to the station
of her son and the rank of her friend. Clithero, in self-defence, took
away the life of that unnatural brother, and, in that deed, falsely but
cogently believed that he had perpetrated the destruction of his
benefactress.

"To ascertain the truth, he sought her presence. She was found, the
tidings of her brother's death were communicated, and she sank
breathless at his feet."

At these words Clithero started from the ground, and cast upon me looks
of furious indignation. "And come you hither," he muttered, "for this
end?--to recount my offences and drive me again to despair?"

"No," answered I, with quickness; "I come to outroot a fatal but
powerful illusion. I come to assure you that the woman with whose
destruction you charge yourself is _not dead_."

These words, uttered with the most emphatical solemnity, merely produced
looks in which contempt was mingled with anger. He continued silent.

"I perceive," resumed I, "that my words are disregarded. Would to Heaven
I were able to conquer your incredulity, could show you not only the
truth but the probability of my tale! Can you not confide in me? that
Euphemia Lorimer is now alive, is happy, is the wife of Sarsefield? that
her brother is forgotten and his murderer regarded without enmity or
vengeance?"

He looked at me with a strange expression of contempt. "Come," said he,
at length; "make out thy assertion to be true. Fall on thy knees, and
invoke the thunder of Heaven to light on thy head if thy words be false.
Swear that Euphemia Lorimer is alive; happy; forgetful of Wiatte and
compassionate of me. Swear that thou hast seen her; talked with her;
received from her own lips the confession of her pity for him who aimed
a dagger at her bosom. Swear that she is Sarsefield's wife."

I put my hands together, and, lifting my eyes to heaven, exclaimed, "I
comply with your conditions. I call the omniscient God to witness that
Euphemia Lorimer is alive; that I have seen her with these eyes; have
talked with her; have inhabited the same house for months."

These asseverations were listened to with shuddering. He laid not aside,
however, an air of incredulity and contempt. "Perhaps," said he, "thou
canst point out the place of her abode?--canst guide me to the city, the
street, the very door of her habitation?"

"I can. She resides at this moment in the city of New York; in Broadway;
in a house contiguous to the--."

"'Tis well!" exclaimed my companion, in a tone loud, abrupt, and in the
utmost degree vehement. "'Tis well! Rash and infatuated youth, thou hast
ratified, beyond appeal or forgiveness, thy own doom. Thou hast once
more let loose my steps, and sent me on a fearful journey. Thou hast
furnished the means of detecting thy imposture. I will fly to the spot
which thou describest. I will ascertain thy falsehood with my own eyes.
If she be alive, then am I reserved for the performance of a new crime.
My evil destiny will have it so. If she be dead, I shall make thee
expiate."

So saying, he darted through the door, and was gone in a moment beyond
my sight and my reach. I ran to the road, looked on every side, and
called; but my calls were repeated in vain. He had fled with the
swiftness of a deer.

My own embarrassment, confusion, and terror were inexpressible. His last
words were incoherent. They denoted the tumult and vehemence of frenzy.
They intimated his resolution to seek the presence of your wife. I had
furnished a clue which could not fail to conduct him to her presence.
What might not be dreaded from the interview? Clithero is a maniac. This
truth cannot be concealed. Your wife can with difficulty preserve her
tranquillity when his image occurs to her remembrance. What must it be
when he starts up before her in his neglected and ferocious guise, and
armed with purposes perhaps as terrible as those which had formerly led
him to her secret chamber and her bedside?

His meaning was obscurely conveyed. He talked of a deed for the
performance of which his malignant fate had reserved him, which was to
ensue their meeting, and which was to afford disastrous testimony of the
infatuation which had led me hither.

Heaven grant that some means may suggest themselves to you of
intercepting his approach! Yet I know not what means can be conceived.
Some miraculous chance may befriend you; yet this is scarcely to be
hoped. It is a visionary and fantastic base on which to rest our
security.

I cannot forget that my unfortunate temerity has created this evil. Yet
who could foresee this consequence of my intelligence? I imagined that
Clithero was merely a victim of erroneous gratitude, a slave of the
errors of his education and the prejudices of his rank; that his
understanding was deluded by phantoms in the mask of virtue and duty,
and not, as you have strenuously maintained, utterly subverted.

I shall not escape your censure, but I shall, likewise, gain your
compassion. I have erred, not through sinister or malignant intentions,
but from the impulse of misguided, indeed, but powerful, benevolence.



Letter III.

_To Edgar Huntly_.



NEW YORK.

EDGAR:--

After the fatigues of the day, I returned home. As I entered, my wife
was breaking the seal of a letter; but, on seeing me, she forbore, and
presented the letter to me.

"I saw," said she, "by the superscription of this letter, who the writer
was. So, agreeably to your wishes, I proceeded to open it; but you have
come just time enough to save me the trouble."

This letter was from you. It contained information relative to Clithero.
See how imminent a chance it was that saved my wife from a knowledge of
its contents! It required all my efforts to hide my perturbation from
her and excuse myself from showing her the letter.

I know better than you the character of Clithero, and the consequences
of a meeting between him and my wife. You may be sure that I would exert
myself to prevent a meeting.

The method for me to pursue was extremely obvious. Clithero is a madman,
whose liberty is dangerous, and who requires to be fettered and
imprisoned as the most atrocious criminal.

I hastened to the chief-magistrate, who is my friend, and, by proper
representations, obtained from him authority to seize Clithero wherever
I should meet with him, and effectually debar him from the perpetration
of new mischiefs.

New York does not afford a place of confinement for lunatics as suitable
to his case as Pennsylvania. I was desirous of placing him as far as
possible from the place of my wife's residence. Fortunately, there was a
packet for Philadelphia on the point of setting out on her voyage. This
vessel I engaged to wait a day or two, for the purpose of conveying him
to Pennsylvania Hospital. Meanwhile, proper persons were stationed at
Powles Hook, and at the quays where the various stage-boats from Jersey
arrive.

These precautions were effectual. Not many hours after the receipt of
your intelligence, this unfortunate man applied for a passage at
Elizabethtown, was seized the moment he set his foot on shore, and was
forthwith conveyed to the packet, which immediately set sail.

I designed that all these proceedings should be concealed from the
women, but unfortunately neglected to take suitable measures for
hindering the letter, which you gave me reason to expect on the ensuing
day, from coming into their hands. It was delivered to my wife in my
absence, and opened immediately by her.

You know what is, at present, her personal condition. You know what
strong reasons I had to prevent any danger or alarm from approaching
her. Terror could not assume a shape more ghastly than this. The effects
have been what might have been easily predicted. Her own life has been
imminently endangered, and an untimely birth has blasted my fondest
hope. Her infant, with whose future existence so many pleasures were
entwined, is dead.

I assure you, Edgar, my philosophy has not found itself lightsome and
active under this burden. I find it hard to forbear commenting on your
rashness in no very mild terms. You acted in direct opposition to my
counsel and to the plainest dictates of propriety. Be more circumspect
and more obsequious for the future.

You knew the liberty that would be taken of opening my letters; you knew
of my absence from home during the greatest part of the day, and the
likelihood, therefore, that your letters would fall into my wife's hands
before they came into mine. These considerations should have prompted
you to send them under cover to Whitworth or Harvey, with directions to
give them immediately to me.

Some of these events happened in my absence; for I determined to
accompany the packet myself, and see the madman safely delivered to the
care of the hospital.

I will not torture your sensibility by recounting the incidents of his
arrest and detention. You will imagine that his strong but perverted
reason exclaimed loudly against the injustice of his treatment. It was
easy for him to out-reason his antagonist, and nothing but force could
subdue his opposition. On me devolved the province of his jailer and his
tyrant,--a province which required a heart more steeled by spectacles of
suffering and the exercise of cruelty than mine had been.

Scarcely had we passed the Narrows, when the lunatic, being suffered to
walk the deck, (as no apprehensions were entertained of his escape in
such circumstances,) threw himself overboard, with a seeming intention
to gain the shore. The boat was immediately manned; the fugitive was
pursued; but, at the moment when his flight was overtaken, he forced
himself beneath the surface, and was seen no more.

With the life of this wretch, let our regrets and our forebodings
terminate. He has saved himself from evils for which no time would have
provided a remedy, from lingering for years in the noisome dungeon of a
hospital. Having no reason to continue my voyage, I put myself on board
a coasting-sloop, and regained this city in a few hours. I persuade
myself that my wife's indisposition will be temporary. It was impossible
to hide from her the death of Clithero, and its circumstances. May this
be the last arrow in the quiver of adversity! Farewell.





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