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Title: The Disowned — Volume 08
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Disowned — Volume 08" ***

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    Plot on thy little hour, and skein on skein
    Weave the vain mesh, in which thy subtle soul
    Broods on its venom!  Lo! behind, before,
    Around thee, like an armament of cloud,
    The black Fate labours onward--ANONYMOUS.

The dusk of a winter's evening gathered over a room in Crauford's
house in town, only relieved from the closing darkness by an expiring
and sullen fire, beside which Mr. Bradley sat, with his feet upon the
fender, apparently striving to coax some warmth into the icy palms of
his spread hands.  Crauford himself was walking up and down the room
with a changeful step, and ever and anon glancing his bright, shrewd
eye at the partner of his fraud, who, seemingly unconscious of the
observation he underwent, appeared to occupy his attention solely with
the difficulty of warming his meagre and withered frame.

"Ar'n't you very cold there, sir?" said Bradley, after a long pause,
and pushing himself farther into the verge of the dying embers, "may I
not ring for some more coals?"

"Hell and the--: I beg your pardon, my good Bradley, but you vex me
beyond patience; how can you think of such trifles when our very lives
are in so imminent a danger?"

"I beg your pardon, my honoured benefactor, they are indeed in

"Bradley, we have but one hope,--fidelity to each other.  If we
persist in the same story, not a tittle can be brought home to us,--
not a tittle, my good Bradley; and though our characters may be a
little touched, why, what is a character?  Shall we eat less, drink
less, enjoy less, when we have lost it?  Not a whit.  No, my friend,
we will go abroad: leave it to me to save from the wreck of our
fortunes enough to live upon like princes."

"If not like peers, my honoured benefactor."

"'Sdeath!--yes, yes, very good,--he! he! he! if not peers.  Well, all
happiness is in the senses, and Richard Crauford has as many senses as
Viscount Innisdale; but had we been able to protract inquiry another
week, Bradley, why, I would have been my Lord, and you Sir John."

"You bear your losses like a hero, sir," said Mr. Bradley.  To be
sure: there is no loss, man, but life,--none; let us preserve that--
and it will be our own fault if we don't--and the devil take all the
rest. But, bless me, it grows late, and, at all events, we are safe
for some hours; the inquiry won't take place till twelve to-morrow,
why should we not feast till twelve to-night?  Ring, my good fellow:
dinner must be nearly ready."

"Why, honoured sir," said Bradley, "I want to go home to see my wife
and arrange my house.  Who knows but I may sleep in Newgate to-

Crauford, who had been still walking to and fro, stopped abruptly at
this speech; and his eye, even through the gloom, shot out a livid and
fierce light, before which the timid and humble glance of Mr. Bradley
quailed in an instant.

"Go home!--no, my friend, no: I can't part with you tonight, no, not
for an instant.  I have many lessons to give you.  How are we to learn
our parts for to-morrow, if we don't rehearse them beforehand?  Do you
not know that a single blunder may turn what I hope will be a farce
into a tragedy?  Go home!--pooh! pooh! why, man, I have not seen my
wife, nor put my house to rights, and if you do but listen to me I
tell you again and again that not a hair of our heads can be touched."

"You know best, honoured sir; I bow to your decision."

"Bravo, honest Brad! and now for dinner.  I have the most glorious
champagne that ever danced in foam to your lip.  No counsellor like
the bottle, believe me!"

And the servant entering to announce dinner, Crauford took Bradley's
arm, and leaning affectionately upon it, passed through an obsequious
and liveried row of domestics to a room blazing with light and plate.
A noble fire was the first thing which revived Bradley's spirit; and,
as he spread his hands over it before he sat down to the table, he
surveyed, with a gleam of gladness upon his thin cheeks, two vases of
glittering metal formerly the boast of a king, in which were immersed
the sparkling genii of the grape.

Crauford, always a gourmand, ate with unusual appetite, and pressed
the wine upon Bradley with an eager hospitality, which soon somewhat
clouded the senses of the worthy man.  The dinner was removed, the
servants retired, and the friends were left alone.

"A pleasant trip to France!" cried Crauford, filling a bumper.
"That's the land for hearts like ours.  I tell you what, little Brad,
we will leave our wives behind us, and take, with a new country and
new names, a new lease of life.  What will it signify to men making
love at Paris what fools say of them in London?  Another bumper,
honest Brad,--a bumper to the girls!  What say you to that, eh?"

"Lord, sir, you are so facetious, so witty!  It must be owned that a
black eye is a great temptation,--Lira-lira, la-la!" and Mr. Bradley's
own eyes rolled joyously.

"Bravo, Brad!--a song, a song! but treason to King Burgundy!  Your
glass is--"

"Empty, honoured sir, I know it!--Lira-lira la!--but it is easily
filled!  We who have all our lives been pouring from one vessel into
another know how to keep it up to the last!

    'Courage then, cries the knight, we may yet be forgiven,
     Or at worst buy the bishop's reversion in heaven;
     Our frequent escapes in this world show how true 't is
     That gold is the only Elixir Salutis.
                                    Derry down, Derry down.'

    'All you who to swindling conveniently creep,
     Ne'er piddle; by thousands the treasury sweep
     Your safety depends on the weight of the sum,
     For no rope was yet made that could tie up a plum.
                                    Derry down, etc.'"
    [From a ballad called "The Knight and the Prelate."]

"Bravissimo, little Brad!--you are quite a wit!  See what it is to
have one's faculties called out.  Come, a toast to old England, the
land in which no man ever wants a farthing who has wit to steal it,--
'Old England forever!' your rogue is your only true patriot!" and
Crauford poured the remainder of the bottle, nearly three parts full,
into a beaker, which he pushed to Bradley.  That convivial gentleman
emptied it at a draught, and, faltering out, "Honest Sir John!--room
for my Lady Bradley's carriage," dropped down on the floor insensible.

Crauford rose instantly, satisfied himself that the intoxication was
genuine, and giving the lifeless body a kick of contemptuous disgust,
left the room, muttering, "The dull ass, did he think it was on his
back that I was going to ride off?  He! he! he!  But stay, let me feel
my pulse.  Too fast by twenty strokes!  One's never sure of the mind
if one does not regulate the body to a hair!  Drank too much; must
take a powder before I start."

Mounting by a back staircase to his bedroom, Crauford unlocked a
chest, took out a bundle of clerical clothes, a large shovel hat, and
a huge wig.  Hastily, but not carelessly, induing himself in these
articles of disguise, he then proceeded to stain his fair cheeks with
a preparation which soon gave them a swarthy hue.  Putting his own
clothes in the chest, which he carefully locked (placing the key in
his pocket), he next took from a desk on his dressing-table a purse;
opening this, he extracted a diamond of great size and immense value,
which, years before, in preparation of the event that had now taken
place, he had purchased.

His usual sneer curled his lip as he gazed at it.  "Now," said he, "is
it not strange that this little stone should supply the mighty wants
of that grasping thing, man?  Who talks of religion, country, wife,
children?  This petty mineral can purchase them all!  Oh, what a
bright joy speaks out in your white cheek, my beauty!  What are all
human charms to yours?  Why, by your spell, most magical of talismans,
my years may walk, gloating and revelling, through a lane of beauties,
till they fall into the grave!  Pish! that grave is an ugly thought,--
a very, very ugly thought!  But come, my sun of hope, I must eclipse
you for a while!  Type of myself, while you hide, I hide also; and
when I once more let you forth to the day, then shine out Richard
Crauford,--shine out!"  So saying, he sewed the diamond carefully in
the folds of his shirt; and, rearranging his dress, took the cooling
powder, which he weighed out to a grain, with a scrupulous and
untrembling hand; descended the back stairs; opened the door, and
found himself in the open street.

The clock struck ten as he entered a hackney-coach and drove to
another part of London.  "What, so late!" thought he; "I must be at
Dover in twelve hours: the vessel sails then.  Humph! some danger yet!
What a pity that I could not trust that fool!  He! he! he!--what will
he think tomorrow, when he wakes and finds that only one is destined
to swing!"

The hackney-coach stopped, according to his direction, at an inn in
the city.  Here Crauford asked if a note had been left for Dr.
Stapylton.  One (written by himself) was given to him.

"Merciful Heaven!" cried the false doctor, as he read it, "my daughter
is on a bed of death!"

The landlord's look wore anxiety; the doctor seemed for a moment
paralyzed by silent woe.  He recovered, shook his head piteously, and
ordered a post-chaise and four on to Canterbury without delay.

"It is an ill wind that blows nobody good!" thought the landlord, as
he issued the order into the yard.

The chaise was soon out; the doctor entered; off went the post-boys;
and Richard Crauford, feeling his diamond, turned his thoughts to
safety and to France.

A little, unknown man, who had been sitting at the bar for the last
two hours sipping brandy and water, and who from his extreme
taciturnity and quiet had been scarcely observed, now rose.
"Landlord," said he, "do you know who that gentleman is?"

"Why," quoth Boniface, "the letter to him was directed, 'For the Rev.
Dr. Stapylton; will be called for.'"

"Ah," said the little man, yawning, "I shall have a long night's work
of it.  Have you another chaise and four in the yard?"

"To be sure, sir, to be sure!" cried the landlord in astonishment.

"Out with it, then!  Another glass of brandy and water,--a little
stronger, no sugar!"

The landlord stared; the barmaid stared; even the head-waiter, a very
stately person, stared too.

"Hark ye," said the little man, sipping his brandy and water, "I am a
deuced good-natured fellow, so I'll make you a great man to-night; for
nothing makes a man so great as being let into a great secret.  Did
you ever hear of the rich Mr. Crauford?"

"Certainly: who has not?"

"Did you ever see him?"

"No! I can't say I ever did."

"You lie, landlord: you saw him to-night."

"Sir!" cried the landlord, bristling up.

The little man pulled out a brace of pistols, and very quietly began
priming them out of a small powder-flask.

The landlord started back; the head-waiter cried "Rape!" and the
barmaid "Murder!"

"Who the devil are you, sir?" cried the landlord.

"Mr. Tickletrout! the celebrated officer,--thief-taker, as they call
it.  Have a care, ma'am, the pistols are loaded.  I see the chaise is
out; there's the reckoning, landlord."

"O Lord! I'm sure I don't want any reckoning: too great an honour for
my poor house to be favoured with your company; but [following the
little man to the door] whom did you please to say you were going to

"Mr. Crauford, alias Dr. Stapylton."

"Lord! Lord! to think of it,--how shocking!  What has he done?"

"Swindled, I believe."

"My eyes!  And why, sir, did not you catch him when he was in the

"Because then I should not have got paid for my journey to Dover.
Shut the door, boy; first stage on to Canterbury."  And, drawing a
woollen nightcap over his ears, Mr. Tickletrout resigned himself to
his nocturnal excursion.

On the very day on which the patent for his peerage was to have been
made out, on the very day on which he had afterwards calculated on
reaching Paris, on that very day was Mr. Richard Crauford lodged in
Newgate, fully committed for a trial of life and death.


    There, if, O gentle love!  I read aright
    The utterance that sealed thy sacred bond,
    'T was listening to those accents of delight
    She hid upon his breast those eyes, beyond
    Expression's power to paint, all languishingly fond.--CAMPBELL.

"And you will positively leave us for London," said Lady Flora,
tenderly, "and to-morrow too!" This was said to one who under the name
of Clarence Linden has played the principal part in our drama, and
whom now, by the death of his brother succeeding to the honours of his
house, we present to our reader as Clinton L'Estrange, Earl of

They were alone in the memorable pavilion; and though it was winter
the sun shone cheerily into the apartment; and through the door, which
was left partly open, the evergreens, contrasting with the leafless
boughs of the oak and beech, could be just descried, furnishing the
lover with some meet simile of love, and deceiving the eyes of those
willing to be deceived with a resemblance to the departed summer.  The
unusual mildness of the day seemed to operate genially upon the
birds,--those children of light and song; and they grouped blithely
beneath the window and round the door, where the hand of the kind
young spirit of the place had so often ministered to their wants.
Every now and then, too, you might hear the shrill glad note of the
blackbird keeping measure to his swift and low flight, and sometimes a
vagrant hare from the neighbouring preserves sauntered fearlessly by
the half-shut door, secure, from long experience, of an asylum in the
vicinity of one who had drawn from the breast of Nature a tenderness
and love for all its offspring.

Her lover sat at Flora's feet; and, looking upward, seemed to seek out
the fond and melting eyes which, too conscious of their secret, turned
bashfully from his gaze.  He had drawn her arm over his shoulder; and
clasping that small and snowy hand, which, long coveted with a miser's
desire, was at length won, he pressed upon it a thousand kisses,
sweeter beguilers of time than even words.  All had been long
explained; the space between their hearts annihilated; doubt, anxiety,
misconstruction, those clouds of love, had passed away, and left not a
wreck to obscure its heaven.

"And you will leave us to-morrow; must it be to-morrow?"

"Ah! Flora, it must; but see, I have your lock of hair--your
beautiful, dark hair--to kiss, when I am away from you, and I shall
have your letters, dearest,--a letter every day; and oh! more than
all, I shall have the hope, the certainty, that when we meet again,
you will be mine forever."

"And I, too, must, by seeing it in your handwriting, learn to
reconcile myself to your new name.  Ah! I wish you had been still
Clarence,--only Clarence.  Wealth, rank, power,--what are all these
but rivals to poor Flora?"

Lady Flora sighed, and the next moment blushed; and, what with the
sigh and the blush, Clarence's lips wandered from the hands to the
cheek, and thence to a mouth on which the west wind seemed to have
left the sweets of a thousand summers.


A Hounsditch man, one of the devil's near kinsmen,--a broker.--Every
Man in His Humour.

We have here discovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that ever
was known in the commonwealth.--Much Ado about Nothing.

It was an evening of mingled rain and wind, the hour about nine, when
Mr. Morris Brown, under the shelter of that admirable umbrella of sea-
green silk, to which we have before had the honour to summon the
attention of our readers, was, after a day of business, plodding
homeward his weary way.  The obscure streets through which his course
was bent were at no time very thickly thronged, and at the present
hour the inclemency of the night rendered them utterly deserted.  It
is true that now and then a solitary female, holding up, with one
hand, garments already piteously bedraggled, and with the other
thrusting her umbrella in the very teeth of the hostile winds, might
be seen crossing the intersected streets, and vanishing amid the
subterranean recesses of some kitchen area, or tramping onward amidst
the mazes of the metropolitan labyrinth, till, like the cuckoo,
"heard," but no longer "seen," the echo of her retreating pattens made
a dying music to the reluctant ear; or indeed, at intervals of
unfrequent occurrence, a hackney vehicle jolted, rumbling, bumping
over the uneven stones, as if groaning forth its gratitude to the
elements for which it was indebted for its fare.  Sometimes also a
chivalrous gallant of the feline species ventured its delicate paws
upon the streaming pavement, and shook, with a small but dismal cry,
the raindrops from the pyramidal roofs of its tender ears.

But, save these occasional infringements on its empire, solitude,
dark, comfortless, and unrelieved, fell around the creaking footsteps
of Mr. Morris Brown.  "I wish," soliloquized the worthy broker, "that
I had been able advantageously to dispose of this cursed umbrella of
the late Lady Waddilove; it is very little calculated for any but a
single lady of slender shape, and though it certainly keeps the rain
off my hat, it only sends it with a double dripping upon my shoulders.
Pish, deuce take the umbrella!  I shall catch my death of cold."

These complaints of an affliction that was assuredly sufficient to
irritate the naturally sweet temper of Mr. Brown, only ceased as that
industrious personage paused at the corner of the street, for the
purpose of selecting the driest path through which to effect the
miserable act of crossing to the opposite side.  Occupied in
stretching his neck over the kennel, in order to take the fullest
survey of its topography which the scanty and agitated lamps would
allow, the unhappy wanderer, lowering his umbrella, suffered a cross
and violent gust of wind to rush, as if on purpose, against the
interior.  The rapidity with which this was done, and the sudden
impetus, which gave to the inflated silk the force of a balloon,
happening to occur exactly at the moment Mr. Brown was stooping with
such wistful anxiety over the pavement, that gentleman, to his
inexpressible dismay, was absolutely lifted, as it were, from his
present footing, and immersed in a running rivulet of liquid mire,
which flowed immediately below the pavement.  Nor was this all: for
the wind, finding itself somewhat imprisoned in the narrow receptacle
it had thus abruptly entered, made so strenuous an exertion to
extricate itself, that it turned Lady Waddilove's memorable relic
utterly inside out; so that when Mr. Brown, aghast at the calamity of
his immersion, lifted his eyes to heaven, with a devotion that had in
it more of expostulation than submission, he beheld, by the melancholy
lamps, the apparition of his umbrella,--the exact opposite to its
legitimate conformation, and seeming, with its lengthy stick and
inverted summit, the actual and absolute resemblance of a gigantic

"Now," said Mr. Brown, with that ironical bitterness so common to
intense despair, "now, that's what I call pleasant."

As if the elements were guided and set on by all the departed souls of
those whom Mr. Brown had at any time overreached in his profession,
scarcely had the afflicted broker uttered this brief sentence, before
a discharge of rain, tenfold more heavy than any which had yet fallen,
tumbled down in literal torrents upon the defenceless head of the

"This won't do," said Mr. Brown, plucking up courage and splashing out
of the little rivulet once more into terra firma, "this won't do: I
must find a shelter somewhere.  Dear, dear, how the wet runs down me!
I am for all the world like the famous dripping well in Derbyshire.
What a beast of an umbrella!  I'll never buy one again of an old lady:
hang me if I do."

As the miserable Morris uttered these sentences, which gushed out, one
by one, in a broken stream of complaint, he looked round and round--
before, behind, beside--for some temporary protection or retreat.  In
vain: the uncertainty of the light only allowed him to discover houses
in which no portico extended its friendly shelter, and where even the
doors seemed divested of the narrow ledge wherewith they are, in more
civilized quarters, ordinarily crowned.

"I shall certainly have the rheumatism all this winter," said Mr.
Brown, hurrying onward as fast as he was able.  Just then, glancing
desperately down a narrow lane, which crossed his path, he perceived
the scaffolding of a house in which repair or alteration had been at
work.  A ray of hope flashed across him; he redoubled his speed, and,
entering the welcome haven, found himself entirely protected from the
storm.  The extent of the scaffolding was, indeed, rather
considerable; and though the extreme narrowness of the lane and the
increasing gloom of the night left Mr. Brown in almost total darkness,
so that he could not perceive the exact peculiarities of his
situation, yet he was perfectly satisfied with the shelter he had
obtained; and after shaking the rain from his hat, squeezing his coat
sleeves and lappets, satisfying himself that it was only about the
shoulders that he was thoroughly wetted, and thrusting two pocket-
handkerchiefs between his shirt and his skin, as preventives to the
dreaded rheumatism, Mr. Brown leaned luxuriously back against the wall
in the farthest corner of his retreat, and busied himself with
endeavouring to restore his insulted umbrella to its original utility
of shape.

Our wanderer had been about three minutes in this situation; when he
heard the voices of two men, who were hastening along the lane.

"But do stop," said one; and these were the first words distinctly
audible to the ear of Mr. Brown, "do stop, the rain can't last much
longer, and we have a long way yet to go."

"No, no," said the other, in a voice more imperious than the first,
which was evidently plebeian and somewhat foreign in its tone, "no, we
have no time.  What signify the inclemencies of weather to men feeding
upon an inward and burning thought, and made, by the workings of the
mind, almost callous to the contingencies of the frame?"

"Nay, my very good friend," said the first speaker, with positive
though not disrespectful earnestness, "that may be all very fine for
you, who have a constitution like a horse; but I am quite a--what call
you it--an invalid, eh? and have a devilish cough ever since I have
been in this d--d country; beg your pardon, no offence to it; so I
shall just step under cover of this scaffolding for a few minutes, and
if you like the rain so much, my very good friend, why, there is
plenty of room in the lane to--(ugh! ugh! ugh!) to enjoy it."

As the speaker ended, the dim light, just faintly glimmering at the
entrance of the friendly shelter, was obscured by his shadow, and
presently afterwards his companion, joining him, said,--

"Well, if it must be so; but how can you be fit to brave all the
perils of our scheme, when you shrink, like a palsied crone, from the
sprinkling of a few water-drops?"

"A few water-drops, my very good friend," answered the other, "a few--
what call you them, ay, water-falls rather; (ugh! ugh!) but let me
tell you, my brother citizen, that a man may not like to get his skin
wet with waters and would yet thrust his arm up to the very elbow in
blood! (ugh! ugh!)"

"The devil!" mentally ejaculated Mr. Brown, who at the word "scheme"
had advanced one step from his retreat, but who now at the last words
of the intruder drew back as gently as a snail into his shell; and
although his person was far too much enveloped in shade to run the
least chance of detection, yet the honest broker began to feel a
little tremor vibrate along the chords of his thrilling frame, and a
new anathema against the fatal umbrella rise to his lips.

"Ah!" quoth the second, "I trust that it may be so; but, to return to
our project, are you quite sure that these two identical ministers are
in the regular habit of walking homeward from that Parliament which
their despotism has so degraded?"

"Sure? ay, that I am; Davidson swears to it!"

"And you are also sure of their persons, so that, even in the dusk,
you can recognize them? for you know I have never seen them."

"Sure as fivepence!" returned the first speaker, to whose mind the
lives of the persons referred to were of considerably less value than
the sum elegantly specified in his metaphorical reply.

"Then," said the other, with a deep, stern determination of tone,
"then shall this hand, by which one of the proudest of our oppressors
has already fallen, be made a still worthier instrument of the wrath
of Heaven!"

"You are a d--d pretty shot, I believe," quoth the first speaker, as
indifferently as if he were praising the address of a Norfolk squire.

"Never did my eye misguide me, or my aim swerve a hair's-breadth from
its target!  I thought once, when I learned the art as a boy, that in
battle, rather than in the execution of a single criminal, that skill
would avail me."

"Well, we shall have a glorious opportunity to-morrow night!" answered
the first speaker; "that is, if it does not rain so infernally as it
does this night; but we shall have a watch of many hours, I dare say."

"That matters but little," replied the other conspirator; "nor even
if, night after night, the same vigil is renewed and baffled, so that
it bring its reward at last."

"Right," quoth the first; I long to be at it!--ugh! ugh! ugh!--what a
confounded cough I have! it will be my death soon, I'm thinking."

"If so," said the other, with a solemnity which seemed ludicrously
horrible, from the strange contrast of the words and object, "die at
least with the sanctity of a brave and noble deed upon your conscience
and your name!"

"Ugh! ugh!--I am but a man of colour, but I am a patriot, for all
that, my good friend!  See, the violence of the rain has ceased; we
will proceed;" and with these words the worthy pair left the place to
darkness and Mr. Brown.

"O Lord!" said the latter, stepping forth, and throwing, as it were,
in that exclamation, a whole weight of suffocating emotion from his
chest, "what bloody miscreants!  Murder his Majesty's ministers!--
'shoot them like pigeons!'--'d--d pretty shot!' indeed.  O Lord! what
would the late Lady Waddilove, who always hated even the Whigs so
cordially, say, if she were alive?  But how providential that I should
have been here!  Who knows but I may save the lives of the whole
administration, and get a pension or a little place in the post-
office?  I'll go to the prime minister directly,--this very minute!
Pish! ar'n't you right now, you cursed thing?" upbraiding the
umbrella, which, half-right and half-wrong, seemed endued with an
instinctive obstinacy for the sole purpose of tormenting its owner.

However, losing this petty affliction in the greatness of his present
determination, Mr. Brown issued out of his lair, and hastened to put
his benevolent and loyal intentions into effect.


    When laurelled ruffians die, the Heaven and Earth,
    And the deep Air give warning.  Shall the good
    Perish and not a sign?--ANONYMOUS.

It was the evening after the event recorded in our last chapter: all
was hushed and dark in the room where Mordaunt sat alone; the low and
falling embers burned dull in the grate, and through the unclosed
windows the high stars rode pale and wan in their career.  The room,
situated at the back of the house, looked over a small garden, where
the sickly and hoar shrubs, overshadowed by a few wintry poplars and
grim firs, saddened in the dense atmosphere of fog and smoke, which
broods over our island city.  An air of gloom hung comfortless and
chilling over the whole scene externally and within.  The room itself
was large and old, and its far extremities, mantled as they were with
dusk and shadow, impressed upon the mind that involuntary and vague
sensation, not altogether unmixed with awe, which the eye, resting
upon a view that it can but dimly and confusedly define, so frequently
communicates to the heart.  There was a strange oppression at
Mordaunt's breast with which he in vain endeavoured to contend.  Ever
and anon, an icy but passing chill, like the shivers of a fever, shot
through his veins, and a wild and unearthly and objectless awe stirred
through his hair, and his eyes filled with a glassy and cold dew, and
sought, as by a self-impulse, the shadowy and unpenetrated places
around, which momently grew darker and darker.  Little addicted by his
peculiar habits to an over-indulgence of the imagination, and still
less accustomed to those absolute conquests of the physical frame over
the mental, which seem the usual sources of that feeling we call
presentiment, Mordaunt rose, and walking to and fro along the room,
endeavoured by the exercise to restore to his veins their wonted and
healthful circulation.  It was past the hour in which his daughter
retired to rest: but he was often accustomed to steal up to her
chamber, and watch her in her young slumbers; and he felt this night a
more than usual desire to perform that office of love; so he left the
room and ascended the stairs.  It was a large old house that he
tenanted.  The staircase was broad, and lighted from above by a glass
dome; and as he slowly ascended, and the stars gleamed down still and
ghastly upon his steps, he fancied--but he knew not why--that there
was an omen in their gleam.  He entered the young Isabel's chamber:
there was a light burning within; he stole to her bed, and putting
aside the curtain, felt, as he looked upon her peaceful and pure
beauty, a cheering warmth gather round his heart.  How lovely is the
sleep of childhood!  What worlds of sweet, yet not utterly sweet,
associations, does it not mingle with the envy of our gaze!  What
thoughts and hopes and cares and forebodings does it not excite!
There lie in that yet ungrieved and unsullied heart what unnumbered
sources of emotion! what deep fountains of passion and woe!  Alas!
whatever be its earlier triumphs, the victim must fall at last!  As
the hart which the jackals pursue, the moment its race is begun the
human prey is foredoomed for destruction, not by the single sorrow,
but the thousand cares: it may baffle one race of pursuers, but a new
succeeds; as fast as some drop off exhausted, others spring up to
renew and to perpetuate the chase; and the fated, though flying victim
never escapes but in death.  There was a faint smile upon his
daughter's lip, as Mordaunt bent down to kiss it; the dark lash rested
on the snowy lid--ah, that tears had no well beneath its surface!---
and her breath stole from her rich lips with so regular and calm a
motion that, like the "forest leaves," it "seemed stirred with
prayer!"  [And yet the forest leaves seem stirred with prayer.--
BYRON.]  One arm lay over the coverlet, the other pillowed her head,
in the unrivalled grace of infancy.

Mordaunt stooped once more, for his heart filled as he gazed upon his
child, to kiss her cheek again, and to mingle a blessing with the
kiss.  When he rose, upon that fair smooth face there was one bright
and glistening drop; and Isabel stirred in sleep, and, as if suddenly
vexed by some painful dream, she sighed deeply as she stirred.  It was
the last time that the cheek of the young and predestined orphan was
ever pressed by a father's kiss or moistened by a father's tear!  He
left the room silently; no sooner had he left it, than, as if without
the precincts of some charmed and preserving circle, the chill and
presentiment at his heart returned.  There is a feeling which perhaps
all have in a momentary hypochondria felt at times: it is a strong and
shuddering impression which Coleridge has embodied in his own dark and
supernatural verse, that something not of earth is behind us; that if
we turned our gaze backward we should behold that which would make the
heart as a bolt of ice, and the eye shrivel and parch within its
socket.  And so intense is the fancy that when we turn, and all is
void, from that very void we could shape a spectre, as fearful as the
image our terror had foredrawn.  Somewhat such feeling had Mordaunt
now, as his steps sounded hollow and echoless on the stairs, and the
stars filled the air around him with their shadowy and solemn
presence.  Breaking by a violent effort from a spell of which he felt
that a frame somewhat overtasked of late was the real enchanter, he
turned once more into the room which he had left to visit Isabel.  He
had pledged his personal attendance at an important motion in the
House of Commons for that night, and some political papers were left
upon his table which he had promised to give to one of the members of
his party.  He entered the room, purposing to stay only a minute; an
hour passed before he left it: and his servant afterwards observed
that, on giving him some orders as he passed through the hall to the
carriage, his cheek was as white as marble, and that his step, usually
so haughty and firm, reeled and trembled like a fainting man's.  Dark
and inexplicable Fate! weaver of wild contrasts, demon of this hoary
and old world, that movest through it, as a spirit moveth over the
waters, filling the depths of things with a solemn mystery and an
everlasting change!  Thou sweepest over our graves, and Joy is born
from the ashes: thou sweepest over Joy, and lo, it is a grave!  Engine
and tool of the Almighty, whose years cannot fade, thou changest the
earth as a garment, and as a vesture it is changed; thou makest it one
vast sepulchre and womb united, swallowing and creating life! and
reproducing, over and over, from age to age, from the birth of
creation to the creation's doom, the same dust and atoms which were
our fathers, and which are the sole heirlooms that through countless
generations they bequeath and perpetuate to their sons.


    Methinks, before the issue of our fate,
    A spirit moves within us, and impels
    The passion of a prophet to our lips.--ANONYMOUS.

    O vitae Philosophia dux, virtutis indagatrix!-CICERO.
    ["O Philosophy, conductress of life, searcher after virtue!"]

Upon leaving the House of Commons, Mordaunt was accosted by Lord
Ulswater, who had just taken his seat in the Upper House.  Whatever
abstraction or whatever weakness Mordaunt might have manifested before
he had left his home, he had now entirely conquered both; and it was
with his usual collected address that he replied to Lord Ulswater's
salutations, and congratulated him on his change of name and accession
of honours.

It was a night of uncommon calm and beauty; and, although the moon was
not visible, the frosty and clear sky, "clad in the lustre of its
thousand stars," [Marlowe] seemed scarcely to mourn either the
hallowing light or the breathing poesy of her presence; and when Lord
Ulswater proposed that Mordaunt should dismiss his carriage, and that
they should walk home, Algernon consented not unwillingly to the
proposal.  He felt, indeed, an unwonted relief in companionship; and
the still air and the deep heavens seemed to woo him from more
unwelcome thoughts, as with a softening and a sister's love.

"Let us, before we return home," said Lord Ulswater, "stroll for a few
moments towards the bridge: I love looking at the river on a night
like this"

Whoever inquires into human circumstances will be struck to find how
invariably a latent current of fatality appears to pervade them.  It
is the turn of the atom in the scale which makes our safety or our
peril, our glory or our shame, raises us to the throne or sinks us to
the grave.  A secret voice at Mordaunt's heart prompted him to dissent
from this proposal, trifling as it seemed and welcome as it was to his
present and peculiar mood: he resisted the voice,--the moment passed
away, and the last seal was set upon his doom; they moved onward
towards the bridge.  At first both were silent, for Lord Ulswater used
the ordinary privilege of a lover and was absent and absorbed, and his
companion was never the first to break a taciturnity natural to his
habits.  At last Lord Ulswater said, "I rejoice that you are now in
the sphere of action most likely to display your talents: you have not
spoken yet, I think; indeed, there has been no fitting opportunity,
but you will soon, I trust."

"I know not," said Mordaunt, with a melancholy smile, "whether you
judge rightly in thinking the sphere of political exertion the one
most calculated for me; but I feel at my heart a foreboding that my
planet is not fated to shine in any earthly sphere.  Sorrow and
misfortune have dimmed it in its birth, and now it is waning towards
its decline."

"Its decline!" repeated his companion, "no, rather its meridian.  You
are in the vigor of your years, the noon of your prosperity, the
height of your intellect and knowledge; you require only an effort to
add to these blessings the most lasting of all,--Fame!"

"Well," said Mordaunt, and a momentary light flashed over his
countenance, "the effort will be made.  I do not pretend not to have
felt ambition.  No man should make it his boast, for it often gives to
our frail and earth-bound virtue both its weapon and its wings; but
when the soil is exhausted its produce fails; and when we have forced
our hearts to too great an abundance, whether it be of flowers that
perish or of grain that endures, the seeds of after hope bring forth
but a languid and scanty harvest. My earliest idol was ambition; but
then came others, love and knowledge, and afterwards the desire to
bless.  That desire you may term ambition: but we will suppose them
separate passions; for by the latter I would signify the thirst for
glory, either in evil or in good; and the former teaches us, though by
little and little, to gain its object, no less in secrecy than for
applause; and Wisdom, which opens to us a world, vast, but hidden from
the crowd, establishes also over that world an arbiter of its own, so
that its disciples grow proud, and, communing with their own hearts,
care for no louder judgment than the still voice within.  It is thus
that indifference not to the welfare but to the report of others grows
over us; and often, while we are the most ardent in their cause, we
are the least anxious for their esteem."

"And yet," said Lord Ulswater, "I have thought the passion for esteem
is the best guarantee for deserving it."

"Nor without justice: other passions may supply its place, and produce
the same effects; but the love of true glory is the most legitimate
agent of extensive good, and you do right to worship and enshrine it.
For me it is dead: it Survived--ay, the truth shall out!--poverty,
want, disappointment, baffled aspirations,--all, all, but the
deadness, the lethargy of regret when no one was left upon this
altered earth to animate its efforts, to smile upon its success, then
the last spark quivered and died; and--and--but forgive me--on this
subject I am not often wont to wander.  I would say that ambition is
for me no more; not so are its effects: but the hope of serving that
race whom I have loved as brothers, but who have never known me,--who,
by the exterior" (and here something bitter mingled with his voice),
"pass sentence upon the heart; in whose eyes I am only the cold, the
wayward, the haughty, the morose,--the hope of serving them is to me,
now, a far stronger passion than ambition was heretofore; and whatever
for that end the love of fame would have dictated, the love of mankind
will teach me still more ardently to perform."

They were now upon the bridge.  Pausing, they leaned over, and looked
along the scene before them.  Dark and hushed, the river flowed
sullenly on, save where the reflected stars made a tremulous and
broken beam on the black surface of the water, or the lights of the
vast City, which lay in shadow on its banks, scattered at capricious
intervals a pale but unpiercing wanness rather than lustre along the
tide, or save where the stillness was occasionally broken by the faint
oar of the boatman or the call of his rude voice, mellowed almost into
music by distance and the element.

But behind them, as they leaned, the feet of passengers on the great
thoroughfare passed not oft,--but quick; and that sound, the commonest
of earth's, made rarer and rarer by the advancing night, contrasted
rather than destroyed the quiet of the heaven and the solemnity of the
silent stars.

"It is an old but a just comparison," said Mordaunt's companion,
"which has likened life to a river such as we now survey, gliding
alternately in light or in darkness, in sunshine or in storm, to that
great ocean in which all waters meet."

"If," said Algernon, with his usual thoughtful and pensive smile, "we
may be allowed to vary that simile, I would, separating the universal
and eternal course of Destiny from the fleeting generations of human
life, compare the river before us to that course, and not it, but the
city scattered on its banks, to the varieties and mutability of life.
There (in the latter) crowded together in the great chaos of social
union, we herd in the night of ages, flinging the little lustre of our
dim lights over the sullen tide which rolls beside us,--seeing the
tremulous ray glitter on the surface, only to show us how profound is
the gloom which it cannot break, and the depths which it is too faint
to pierce.  There Crime stalks, and Woe hushes her moan, and Poverty
couches, and Wealth riots,--and Death, in all and each, is at his
silent work.  But the stream of Fate, unconscious of our changes and
decay, glides on to its engulfing bourne; and, while it mirrors the
faintest smile or the lightest frown of heaven, beholds, without a
change upon its surface, the generations of earth perish, and be
renewed, along its banks!"

There was a pause; and by an involuntary and natural impulse, they
turned from the waves beneath to the heaven which, in its breathing
contrast, spread all eloquently, yet hushed, above.  They looked upon
the living and intense stars, and felt palpably at their hearts that
spell--wild, but mute--which nothing on or of earth can inspire; that
pining of the imprisoned soul, that longing after the immortality on
high, which is perhaps no imaginary type of the immortality ourselves
are heirs to.

"It is on such nights as these," said Mordaunt, who first broke the
silence, but with a low and soft voice, "that we are tempted to
believe that in Plato's divine fancy there is as divine a truth; that
'our souls are indeed of the same essence as the stars,' and that the
mysterious yearning, the impatient wish which swells and soars within
us to mingle with their glory, is but the instinctive and natural
longing to re-unite the divided portion of an immortal spirit, stored
in these cells of clay, with the original lustre of the heavenly and
burning whole!"

And hence then," said his companion, pursuing the idea, "might we also
believe in that wondrous and wild influence which the stars have been
fabled to exercise over our fate; hence might we shape a visionary
clew to their imagined power over our birth, our destinies, and our

"Perhaps," rejoined Mordaunt, and Lord Ulswater has since said that
his countenance as he spoke wore an awful and strange aspect, which
lived long and long afterwards in the memory of his companion,
"perhaps they are tokens and signs between the soul and the things of
Heaven which do not wholly shame the doctrine of him [Socrates, who
taught the belief in omens.] from whose bright wells Plato drew (while
he coloured with his own gorgeous errors) the waters of his sublime
lore."  As Mordaunt thus spoke, his voice changed: he paused abruptly,
and, pointing to a distant quarter of the heavens, said,--

"Look yonder; do you see, in the far horizon, one large and solitary
star, that, at this very moment, seems to wax pale and paler, as my
hand points to it?"

"I see it; it shrinks and soars, while we gaze into the farther depths
of heaven, as if it were seeking to rise to some higher orbit."

"And do you see," rejoined Mordaunt, "yon fleecy but dusky cloud which
sweeps slowly along the sky towards it?  What shape does that cloud
wear to your eyes?"

"It seems to me," answered Lord Ulswater, "to assume the exact
semblance of a funeral procession: the human shape appears to me as
distinctly moulded in the thin vapours as in ourselves; nor would it
perhaps ask too great indulgence from our fancy to image amongst the
darker forms in the centre of the cloud one bearing the very
appearance of a bier,--the plume, and the caparison, and the steeds,
and the mourners!  Still, as I look, the likeness seems to me to

"Strange!" said Mordaunt, musingly, "how strange is this thing which
we call the mind!  Strange that the dreams and superstitions of
childhood should cling to it with so inseparable and fond a strength!
I remember, years since, that I was affected even as I am now, to a
degree which wiser men might shrink to confess, upon gazing on a cloud
exactly similar to that which at this instant we behold.  But see:
that cloud has passed over the star; and now, as it rolls away, look,
the star itself has vanished into the heavens."

"But I fear," answered Lord Ulswater, with a slight smile, "that we
can deduce no omen either from the cloud or the star: would, indeed,
that Nature were more visibly knit with our individual existence!
Would that in the heavens there were a book, and in the waves a voice,
and on the earth a token of the mysteries and enigmas of our fate!"

"And yet," said Mordaunt, slowly, as his mind gradually rose from its
dream-like oppression to its wonted and healthful tone, "yet, in
truth, we want neither sign nor omen from other worlds to teach us all
that it is the end of existence to fulfil in this; and that seems to
me a far less exalted wisdom which enables us to solve the riddles,
than that which elevates us above the chances, of the future."

"But can we be placed above those chances;--can we become independent
of that fate to which the ancients taught that even their deities were

"Let us not so wrong the ancients," answered Mordaunt; "their poets
taught it, not their philosophers.  Would not virtue be a dream, a
mockery indeed, if it were, like the herb of the field, a thing of
blight and change, of withering and renewal, a minion of the sunbeam
and the cloud?  Shall calamity deject it?  Shall prosperity pollute?
then let it not be the object of our aspiration, but the byword of our
contempt.  No: let us rather believe, with the great of old, that when
it is based on wisdom, it is throned above change and chance! throned
above the things of a petty and sordid world! throned above the
Olympus of the heathen! throned above the Stars which fade, and the
Moon which waneth in her course!  Shall we believe less of the
divinity of Virtue than an Athenian Sage?  Shall we, to whose eyes
have been revealed without a cloud the blaze and the glory of Heaven,
make Virtue a slave to those chains of earth which the Pagan subjected
to her feet?  But if by her we can trample on the ills of life, are we
not a hundredfold more by her the vanquishers of death?  All creation
lies before us: shall we cling to a grain of dust?  All immortality is
our heritage: shall we gasp and sicken for a moment's breath?  What if
we perish within an hour?--what if already the black cloud lowers over
us?--what if from our hopes and projects, and the fresh woven ties
which we have knit around our life, we are abruptly torn?--shall we be
the creatures or the conquerors of fate?  Shall we be the exiled from
a home, or the escaped from a dungeon?  Are we not as birds which look
into the Great Air only through a barred cage?  Shall we shrink and
mourn when the cage is shattered, and all space spreads around us,--
our element and our empire?  No; it was not for this that, in an elder
day, Virtue and Valour received but a common name!  The soul, into
which that Spirit has breathed its glory, is not only above Fate,--it
profits by her assaults!  Attempt to weaken it, and you nerve it with
a new strength; to wound it, and you render it more invulnerable; to
destroy it, and you make it immortal!  This, indeed, is the Sovereign
whose realm every calamity increases, the Hero whose triumph every
invasion augments; standing on the last sands of life, and encircled
by the advancing waters of Darkness and Eternity, it becomes in its
expiring effort doubly the Victor and the King!"

Impressed by the fervour of his companion, with a sympathy almost
approaching to awe, Lord Ulswater pressed Mordaunt's hand, but offered
no reply; and both, excited by the high theme of their conversation,
and the thoughts which it produced, moved in silence from their post
and walked slowly homeward.


                        Is it possible?
    Is't so?  I can no longer what I would
    No longer draw back at my liking! I
    Must do the deed because I thought of it.
         .     .     .     .     .     .
    What is thy enterprise,--thy aim, thy object?
    Hast honestly confessed it to thyself?
    O bloody, frightful deed!
         .     .     .     .     .     .
    Was that my purpose when we parted?
    O God of Justice!--COLERIDGE: Wallenstein.

We need scarcely say that one of the persons overheard by Mr. Brown
was Wolfe, and the peculiar tone of oratorical exaggeration,
characteristic of the man, has already informed the reader with which
of the two he is identified.

On the evening after the conversation--the evening fixed for the
desperate design on which he had set the last hazard of his life--the
republican, parting from the companions with whom he had passed the
day, returned home to compose the fever of his excited thoughts, and
have a brief hour of solitary meditation, previous to the committal of
that act which he knew must be his immediate passport to the jail and
the gibbet.  On entering his squalid and miserable home, the woman of
the house, a blear-eyed and filthy hag, who was holding to her
withered breast an infant, which, even in sucking the stream that
nourished its tainted existence, betrayed upon its haggard countenance
the polluted nature of the mother's milk, from which it drew at once
the support of life and the seeds of death,--this woman, meeting him
in the narrow passage, arrested his steps to acquaint him that a
gentleman had that day called upon him and left a letter in his room
with strict charge of care and speed in its delivery.  The visitor had
not, however, communicated his name, though the curiosity excited by
his mien and dress had prompted the crone particularly to demand it.

Little affected by this incident, which to the hostess seemed no
unimportant event, Wolfe pushed the woman aside with an impatient
gesture, and, scarcely conscious of the abuse which followed this
motion, hastened up the sordid stairs to his apartment.  He sat
himself down upon the foot of his bed, and, covering his face with his
hands, surrendered his mind to the tide of contending emotions which
rushed upon it.

What was he about to commit?  Murder!--murder in its coldest and most
premeditated guise!  "No!" cried he aloud, starting from the bed, and
dashing his clenched hand violently against his brow, "no! no! no! it
is not murder: it is justice!  Did not they, the hirelings of
Oppression, ride over their crushed and shrieking countrymen, with
drawn blades and murderous hands?  Was I not among them at the hour?
Did I not with these eyes see the sword uplifted and the smiter
strike?  Were not my ears filled with the groans of their victims and
the savage yells of the trampling dastards?--yells which rang in
triumph over women and babes and weaponless men!  And shall there be
no vengeance?  Yes, it shall fall, not upon the tools, but the master;
not upon the slaves, but the despot.  Yet," said he, suddenly pausing,
as his voice sank into a whisper, "assassination!--in another hour
perhaps; a deed irrevocable; a seal set upon two souls,--the victim's
and the judge's!  Fetters and the felon's cord before me! the shouting
mob! the stigma!--no, no, it will not be the stigma; the gratitude,
rather, of future times, when motives will be appreciated and party
hushed!  Have I not wrestled with wrong from my birth? have I not
rejected all offers from the men of an impious power? have I made a
moment's truce with the poor man's foe? have I not thrice purchased
free principles with an imprisoned frame? have I not bartered my
substance, and my hopes, and the pleasures of this world for my
unmoving, unswerving faith in the Great Cause? am I not about to crown
all by one blow,--one lightning blow, destroying at once myself and a
criminal too mighty for the law? and shall not history do justice to
this devotedness,--this absence from all self, hereafter--and admire,
even if it condemn?"

Buoying himself with these reflections, and exciting the jaded current
of his designs once more into an unnatural impetus, the unhappy man
ceased and paced with rapid steps the narrow limits of his chamber;
his eye fell upon something bright, which glittered amidst the
darkening shadows of the evening.  At that sight his heart stood still
for a moment: it was the weapon of intended death; he took it up, and
as he surveyed the shining barrel, and felt the lock, a more settled
sternness gathered at once over his fierce features and stubborn
heart.  The pistol had been bought and prepared for the purpose with
the utmost nicety, not only for use but show; nor is it unfrequent to
find in such instances of premeditated ferocity in design a fearful
kind of coxcombry lavished upon the means.

Striking a light, Wolfe reseated himself deliberately, and began with
the utmost care to load the pistol; that scene would not have been an
unworthy sketch for those painters who possess the power of giving to
the low a force almost approaching to grandeur, and of augmenting the
terrible by a mixture of the ludicrous.  The sordid chamber, the damp
walls, the high window, in which a handful of discoloured paper
supplied the absence of many a pane; the single table of rough oak,
the rush-bottomed and broken chair, the hearth unconscious of a fire,
over which a mean bust of Milton held its tutelary sway; while the
dull rushlight streamed dimly upon the swarthy and strong countenance
of Wolfe, intent upon his work,--a countenance in which the deliberate
calmness that had succeeded the late struggle of feeling had in it a
mingled power of energy and haggardness of languor,--the one of the
desperate design, the other of the exhausted body; while in the knit
brow, and the iron lines, and even in the settled ferocity of
expression, there was yet something above the stamp of the vulgar
ruffian,--something eloquent of the motive no less than the deed, and
significant of that not ignoble perversity of mind which diminished
the guilt, yet increased the dreadness of the meditated crime, by
mocking it with the name of virtue.

As he had finished his task, and hiding the pistol on his person
waited for the hour in which his accomplice was to summon him to the
fatal deed, he perceived, close by him on the table, the letter which
the woman had spoken of, and which till then, he had, in the
excitement of his mind, utterly forgotten.  He opened it mechanically;
an enclosure fell to the ground.  He picked it up; it was a bank-note
of considerable amount.  The lines in the letter were few, anonymous,
and written in a hand evidently disguised.  They were calculated
peculiarly to touch the republican, and reconcile him to the gift.  In
them the writer professed to be actuated by no other feeling than
admiration for the unbending integrity which had characterized Wolfe's
life, and the desire that sincerity in any principles, however they
might differ from his own, should not be rewarded only with indigence
and ruin.

It is impossible to tell how far, in Wolfe's mind, his own desperate
fortunes might insensibly have mingled with the motives which led him
to his present design: certain it is that wherever the future is
hopeless the mind is easily converted from the rugged to the criminal;
and equally certain it is that we are apt to justify to ourselves many
offences in a cause where we have made great sacrifices; and, perhaps,
if this unexpected assistance had come to Wolfe a short time before,
it might, by softening his heart and reconciling him in some measure
to fortune, have rendered him less susceptible to the fierce voice of
political hatred and the instigation of his associates.  Nor can we,
who are removed from the temptations of the poor,--temptations to
which ours are as breezes which woo to storms which "tumble towers,"--
nor can we tell how far the acerbity of want, and the absence of
wholesome sleep, and the contempt of the rich, and the rankling memory
of better fortunes, or even the mere fierceness which absolute hunger
produces in the humours and veins of all that hold nature's life, nor
can we tell how far these madden the temper, which is but a minion of
the body, and plead in irresistible excuse for the crimes which our
wondering virtue--haughty because unsolicited--stamps with its
loftiest reprobation!

The cloud fell from Wolfe's brow, and his eye gazed, musingly and
rapt, upon vacancy.  Steps were heard ascending; the voice of a
distant clock tolled with a distinctness which seemed like strokes
palpable as well as audible to the senses; and, as the door opened and
his accomplice entered, Wolfe muttered, "Too late! too late!"--and
first crushing the note in his hands, then tore it into atoms, with a
vehemence which astonished his companion, who, however, knew not its

"Come," said he, stamping his foot violently upon the floor, as if to
conquer by passion all internal relenting, "come, my friend, not
another moment is to be lost; let us hasten to our holy deed!"

"I trust," said Wolfe's companion, when they were in the open street,
"that we shall not have our trouble in vain; it is a brave night for
it!  Davidson wanted us to throw grenades into the ministers'
carriages, as the best plan; and, faith, we can try that if all else

Wolfe remained silent: indeed he scarcely heard his companion; for a
sullen indifference to all things around him had wrapped his spirit,--
that singular feeling, or rather absence from feeling, common to all
men, when bound on some exciting action, upon which their minds are
already and wholly bent; which renders them utterly without thought,
when the superficial would imagine they were the most full of it, and
leads them to the threshold of that event which had before engrossed
all their most waking and fervid contemplation with a blind and
mechanical unconsciousness, resembling the influence of a dream.

They arrived at the place they had selected for their station;
sometimes walking to and fro in order to escape observation, sometimes
hiding behind the pillars of a neighbouring house, they awaited the
coming of their victims.  The time passed on; the streets grew more
and more empty; and, at last, only the visitation of the watchman or
the occasional steps of some homeward wanderer disturbed the solitude
of their station.

At last, just after midnight, two men were seen approaching towards
them, linked arm in arm, and walking very slowly.

"Hist! hist!" whispered Wolfe's comrade, "there they are at last; is
your pistol cocked?"

"Ay," answered Wolfe, "and yours: man, collect yourself your hand

"It is with the cold then," said the ruffian, using, unconsciously, a
celebrated reply; "let us withdraw behind the pillar."

They did so: the figures approached them; the night, though star-lit,
was not sufficiently clear to give the assassins more than the outline
of their shapes and the characters of their height and air.

"Which," said Wolfe, in a whisper,--for, as he had said, he had never
seen either of his intended victims,--"which is my prey?"

"Oh, the nearest to you," said the other, with trembling accents; "you
know his d--d proud walk, and erect head that is the way he answers
the people's petitions, I'll be sworn.  The taller and farther one,
who stoops more in his gait, is mine."

The strangers were now at hand.

"You know you are to fire first, Wolfe," whispered the nearer ruffian,
whose heart had long failed him, and who was already meditating

"But are you sure, quite sure, of the identity of our prey?" said
Wolfe, grasping his pistol.

"Yes, yes," said the other; and, indeed, the air of the nearest person
approaching them bore, in the distance, a strong resemblance to that
of the minister it was supposed to designate.  His companion, who
appeared much younger and of a mien equally patrician, but far less
proud, seemed listening to the supposed minister with the most earnest
attention.  Apparently occupied with their conversation, when about
twenty yards from the assassins they stood still for a few moments.

"Stop, Wolfe, stop," said the republican's accomplice, whose Indian
complexion, by fear, and the wan light of the lamps and skies, faded
into a jaundiced and yellow hue, while the bony whiteness of his teeth
made a grim contrast with the glare of his small, black, sparkling
eyes.  "Stop, Wolfe, hold your hand.  I see, now, that I was mistaken;
the farther one is a stranger to me, and the nearer one is much
thinner than the minister: pocket your pistol,--quick! quick!--and let
us withdraw."

Wolfe dropped his hand, as if dissuaded from his design but as he
looked upon the trembling frame and chattering teeth of his terrified
accomplice, a sudden, and not unnatural, idea darted across his mind
that he was wilfully deceived by the fears of his companion; and that
the strangers, who had now resumed their way, were indeed what his
accomplice had first reported them to be.  Filled with this
impression, and acting upon the momentary spur which it gave, the
infatuated and fated man pushed aside his comrade, with a muttered
oath at his cowardice and treachery, and taking a sure and steady,
though quick, aim at the person, who was now just within the certain
destruction of his hand, he fired the pistol.  The stranger reeled and
fell into the arms of his companion.

"Hurrah!" cried the murderer, leaping from his hiding place, and
walking with rapid strides towards his victim, "hurrah! for liberty
and England!"

Scarce had he uttered those prostituted names, before the triumph of
misguided zeal faded suddenly and forever from his brow and soul.

The wounded man leaned back in the supporting arms of his chilled and
horror-stricken friend; who, kneeling on one knee to support him,
fixed his eager eyes upon the pale and changing countenance of his
burden, unconscious of the presence of the assassin.

"Speak, Mordaunt; speak! how is it with you?" he said.  Recalled from
his torpor by the voice, Mordaunt opened his eyes, and muttering, "My
child, my child," sank back again; and Lord Ulswater (for it was he)
felt, by his increased weight, that death was hastening rapidly on its

"Oh!" said he, bitterly, and recalling their last conversation--"oh!
where, where, when this man--the wise, the kind, the innocent, almost
the perfect--falls thus in the very prime of existence, by a sudden
blow from an obscure hand, unblest in life, inglorious in death,--oh!
where, where is this boasted triumph of Virtue, or where is its

True to his idol at the last, as these words fell upon his dizzy and
receding senses, Mordaunt raised himself by a sudden though momentary
exertion, and, fixing his eyes full upon Lord Ulswater, his moving
lips (for his voice was already gone) seemed to shape out the answer,
"It is here!"

With this last effort, and with an expression upon his aspect which
seemed at once to soften and to hallow the haughty and calm character
which in life it was wont to bear, Algernon Mordaunt fell once more
back into the arms of his companion and immediately expired.


    Come, Death, these are thy victims, and the axe
    Waits those who claimed the chariot.--Thus we count
    Our treasures in the dark, and when the light
    Breaks on the cheated eye, we find the coin
    Was skulls--
         .     .     .     .     .     .
                        Yet the while
    Fate links strange contrasts, and the scaffold's gloom
    Is neighboured by the altar.--ANONYMOUS.

When Crauford's guilt and imprisonment became known; when inquiry
developed, day after day, some new maze in the mighty and intricate
machinery of his sublime dishonesty; when houses of the most reputed
wealth and profuse splendour, whose affairs Crauford had transacted,
were discovered to have been for years utterly undermined and
beggared, and only supported by the extraordinary genius of the
individual by whose extraordinary guilt, now no longer concealed, they
were suddenly and irretrievably destroyed; when it was ascertained
that, for nearly the fifth part of a century, a system of villany had
been carried on throughout Europe, in a thousand different relations,
without a single breath of suspicion, and yet which a single breath of
suspicion could at once have arrested and exposed; when it was proved
that a man whose luxury had exceeded the pomp of princes, and whose
wealth was supposed more inexhaustible than the enchanted purse of
Fortunatus, had for eighteen years been a penniless pensioner upon the
prosperity of others; when the long scroll of this almost incredible
fraud was slowly, piece by piece, unrolled before the terrified
curiosity of his public, an invading army at the Temple gates could
scarcely have excited such universal consternation and dismay.

The mob, always the first to execute justice, in their own inimitable
way took vengeance upon Crauford by burning the house no longer his,
and the houses of his partners, who were the worst and most innocent
sufferers for his crime.  No epithet of horror and hatred was too
severe for the offender; and serious apprehension for the safety of
Newgate, his present habitation, was generally expressed.  The more
saintly members of that sect to which the hypocrite had ostensibly
belonged, held up their hands, and declared that the fall of the
Pharisee was a judgment of Providence.  Nor did they think it worth
while to make, for a moment, the trifling inquiry how far the judgment
of Providence was also implicated in the destruction of the numerous
and innocent families he had ruined!

But, whether from that admiration for genius, common to the vulgar,
which forgets all crime in the cleverness of committing it, or from
that sagacious disposition peculiar to the English, which makes a hero
of any person eminently wicked, no sooner did Crauford's trial come on
than the tide of popular feeling experienced a sudden revulsion.  It
became, in an instant, the fashion to admire and to pity a gentleman
so talented and so unfortunate.  Likenesses of Mr. Crauford appeared
in every print-shop in town; the papers discovered that he was the
very fac-simile of the great King of Prussia.  The laureate made an
ode upon him, which was set to music; and the public learned, with
tears of compassionate regret at so romantic a circumstance, that
pigeon-pies were sent daily to his prison, made by the delicate hands
of one of his former mistresses.  Some sensation, also, was excited by
the circumstance of his poor wife (who soon afterwards died of a
broken heart) coming to him in prison, and being with difficulty torn
away; but then, conjugal affection is so very commonplace, and there
was something so engrossingly pathetic in the anecdote of the pigeon-

It must be confessed that Crauford displayed singular address and
ability upon his trial; and fighting every inch of ground, even to the
last, when so strong a phalanx of circumstances appeared against him
that no hope of a favourable verdict could for a moment have supported
him, he concluded the trial with a speech delivered by himself, so
impressive, so powerful, so dignified, yet so impassioned, that the
whole audience, hot as they were, dissolved into tears.

Sentence was passed,--Death!  But such was the infatuation of the
people that every one expected that a pardon, for crime more
complicated and extensive than half the "Newgate Calendar" could
equal, would of course be obtained.  Persons of the highest rank
interested themselves in his behalf; and up to the night before his
execution, expectations, almost amounting to certainty, were
entertained by the criminal, his friends, and the public.  On that
night was conveyed to Crauford the positive and peremptory assurance
that there was no hope.  Let us now enter his cell, and be the sole
witnesses of his solitude.

Crauford was, as we have seen, a man in some respects of great moral
courage, of extraordinary daring in the formation of schemes, of
unwavering resolution in supporting them, and of a temper which rather
rejoiced in, than shunned, the braving of a distant danger for the
sake of an adequate reward.  But this courage was supported and fed
solely by the self-persuasion of consummate genius, and his profound
confidence both in his good fortune and the inexhaustibility of his
resources.  Physically he was a coward! immediate peril to be
confronted by the person, not the mind, had ever appalled him like a
child.  He had never dared to back a spirited horse.  He had been
known to remain for days in an obscure ale-house in the country, to
which a shower had accidentally driven him, because it had been idly
reported that a wild beast had escaped from a caravan and been seen in
the vicinity of the inn.  No dog had ever been allowed in his
household lest it might go mad.  In a word, Crauford was one to whom
life and sensual enjoyments were everything,--the supreme blessings,
the only blessings.

As long as he had the hope, and it was a sanguine hope, of saving
life, nothing had disturbed his mind from its serenity.  His gayety
had never forsaken him; and his cheerfulness and fortitude had been
the theme of every one admitted to his presence.  But when this hope
was abruptly and finally closed; when Death, immediate and
unavoidable,--Death, the extinction of existence, the cessation of
sense,--stood bare and hideous before him, his genius seemed at once
to abandon him to his fate, and the inherent weakness of his nature to
gush over every prop and barrier of his art.

No hope!" muttered he, in a voice of the keenest anguish, "no hope;
merciful God! none, none?  What, I, I, who have shamed kings in
luxury,--I to die on the gibbet, among the reeking, gaping, swinish
crowd with whom--O God, that I were one of them even! that I were the
most loathsome beggar that ever crept forth to taint the air with
sores! that I were a toad immured in a stone, sweltering in the
atmosphere of its own venom! a snail crawling on these very walls, and
tracking his painful path in slime!--anything, anything, but death!
And such death!  The gallows, the scaffold, the halter, the fingers of
the hangman paddling round the neck where the softest caresses have
clung and sated.  To die, die, die!  What, I whose pulse now beats so
strongly! whose blood keeps so warm and vigorous a motion! in the very
prime of enjoyment and manhood; all life's million paths of pleasure
before me,--to die, to swing to the winds, to hang,--ay, ay--to hang!
to be cut down, distorted and hideous; to be thrust into the earth
with worms; to rot, or--or--or hell! is there a hell?--better that
even than annihilation!"

"Fool! fool!--damnable fool that I was" (and in his sudden rage he
clenched his own flesh till the nails met in it); "had I but got to
France one day sooner!  Why don't you save me, save me, you whom I
have banqueted and feasted, and lent money to! one word from you might
have saved me; I will not die!  I don't deserve it!  I am innocent!  I
tell you, Not guilty, my lord,--not guilty!  Have you no heart, no
consciences?  Murder! murder! murder!" and the wretched man sank upon
the ground, and tried with his hands to grasp the stone floor, as if
to cling to it from some imaginary violence.

Turn we from him to the cell in which another criminal awaits also the
awful coming of his latest morrow.

Pale, motionless, silent, with his face bending over his bosom and
hands clasped tightly upon his knees, Wolfe sat in his dungeon, and
collected his spirit against the approaching consummation of his
turbulent and stormy fate.  His bitterest punishment had been already
past; mysterious Chance, or rather the Power above chance, had denied
to him the haughty triumph of self-applause.  No sophistry, now, could
compare his doom to that of Sidney, or his deed to the act of the
avenging Brutus.

Murder--causeless, objectless, universally execrated--rested, and
would rest (till oblivion wrapped it) upon his name.  It had appeared,
too, upon his trial, that he had, in the information he had received,
been the mere tool of a spy in the ministers' pay; and that, for weeks
before his intended deed, his design had been known, and his
conspiracy only not bared to the public eye because political craft
awaited a riper opportunity for the disclosure.  He had not then
merely been the blind dupe of his own passions, but, more humbling
still, an instrument in the hands of the very men whom his hatred was
sworn to destroy.  Not a wreck, not a straw, of the vain glory for
which he had forfeited life and risked his soul, could he hug to a
sinking heart, and say, "This is my support."

The remorse of gratitude embittered his cup still further.  On
Mordaunt's person had been discovered a memorandum of the money
anonymously inclosed to Wolfe on the day of the murder; and it was
couched in words of esteem which melted the fierce heart of the
republican into the only tears he had shed since childhood.  From that
time, a sullen, silent spirit fell upon him.  He spoke to none,--
heeded none; he made no defence on trial, no complaint of severity, no
appeal from judgment.  The iron had entered into his soul; but it
supported, while it tortured.  Even now as we gaze upon his inflexible
and dark countenance, no transitory emotion; no natural spasm of
sudden fear for the catastrophe of the morrow; no intense and working
passions, struggling into calm; no sign of internal hurricanes, rising
as it were from the hidden depths, agitate the surface, or betray the
secrets of the unfathomable world within.  The mute lip; the rigid
brow; the downcast eye; a heavy and dread stillness, brooding over
every feature,--these are all we behold.

Is it that thought sleeps, locked in the torpor of a senseless and
rayless dream; or that an evil incubus weighs upon it, crushing its
risings, but deadening not its pangs?  Does Memory fly to the green
fields and happy home of his childhood, or the lonely studies of his
daring and restless youth, or his earliest homage to that Spirit of
Freedom which shone bright and still and pure upon the solitary
chamber of him who sang of heaven [Milton]; or (dwelling on its last
and most fearful object) rolls it only through one tumultuous and
convulsive channel,--Despair?  Whatever be within the silent and deep
heart, pride, or courage, or callousness, or that stubborn firmness,
which, once principle, has grown habit, cover all as with a pall; and
the strung nerves and the hard endurance of the human flesh sustain
what the immortal mind perhaps quails beneath, in its dark retreat,
but once dreamed that it would exult to bear.

The fatal hour had come! and, through the long dim passages of the
prison, four criminals were led forth to execution.  The first was
Crauford's associate, Bradley.  This man prayed fervently; and, though
he was trembling and pale, his mien and aspect bore something of the
calmness of resignation.

It has been said that there is no friendship among the wicked.  I have
examined this maxim closely, and believe it, like most popular
proverbs,--false.  In wickedness there is peril, and mutual terror is
the strongest of ties.  At all events, the wicked can, not unoften,
excite an attachment in their followers denied to virtue.  Habitually
courteous, caressing, and familiar, Crauford had, despite his own
suspicions of Bradley, really touched the heart of one whom weakness
and want, not nature, had gained to vice; and it was not till
Crauford's guilt was by other witnesses undeniably proved that Bradley
could be tempted to make any confession tending to implicate him.

He now crept close to his former partner, and frequently clasped his
hand, and besought him to take courage and to pray.  But Crauford's
eye was glassy and dim, and his veins seemed filled with water: so
numbed and cold and white was his cheek.  Fear, in him, had passed its
paroxysms, and was now insensibility; it was only when they urged him
to pray that a sort of benighted consciousness strayed over his
countenance and his ashen lips muttered something which none heard.

After him came the Creole, who had been Wolfe's accomplice.  On the
night of the murder, he had taken advantage of the general loneliness
and the confusion of the few present, and fled.  He was found,
however, fast asleep in a garret, before morning, by the officers of
justice; and, on trial, he had confessed all.  This man was in a rapid
consumption.  The delay of another week would have given to Nature the
termination of his life.  He, like Bradley, seemed earnest and
absorbed in prayer.

Last came Wolfe, his tall, gaunt frame worn by confinement and
internal conflict into a gigantic skeleton; his countenance, too, had
undergone a withering change; his grizzled hair seemed now to have
acquired only the one hoary hue of age; and, though you might trace in
his air and eye the sternness, you could no longer detect the fire, of
former days.  Calm, as on the preceding night, no emotion broke over
his dark but not defying features.  He rejected, though not
irreverently, all aid from the benevolent priest, and seemed to seek
in the pride of his own heart a substitute for the resignation of

"Miserable man!" at last said the good clergyman, in whom zeal
overcame kindness, "have you at this awful hour no prayer upon your

A living light shot then for a moment over Wolfe's eye and brow.  "I
have!" said he; and raising his clasped hands to Heaven, he continued
in the memorable words of Sidney, "Lord, defend Thy own cause, and
defend those who defend it!  Stir up such as are faint; direct those
that are willing; confirm those that waver; give wisdom and integrity
to all: order all things so as may most redound to Thine own glory!

"I had once hoped," added Wolfe, sinking in his tone, "I had once
hoped that I might with justice have continued that holy prayer;
["Grant that I may die glorifying Thee for all Thy mercies, and that
at the last Thou hast permitted me to be singled out as a witness of
Thy truth, and even by the confession of my opposers for that OLD
CAUSE in which I was from my youth engaged, and for which Thou hast
often and wonderfully declared Thyself."--ALGERNON SIDNEY.] but--" he
ceased abruptly; the glow passed from his countenance, his lip
quivered, and the tears stood in his eyes; and that was the only
weakness he betrayed, and those were his last words.

Crauford continued, even while the rope was put round him, mute and
unconscious of everything.  It was said that his pulse (that of an
uncommonly strong and healthy man on the previous day) had become so
low and faint that, an hour before his execution, it could not be
felt.  He and the Creole were the only ones who struggled; Wolfe died,
seemingly, without a pang.

From these feverish and fearful scenes, the mind turns, with a feeling
of grateful relief, to contemplate the happiness of one whose candid
and high nature, and warm affections, Fortune, long befriending, had
at length blessed.

It was on an evening in the earliest flush of returning spring that
Lord Ulswater, with his beautiful bride, entered his magnificent
domains.  It had been his wish and order, in consequence of his
brother's untimely death, that no public rejoicings should be made on
his marriage: but the good old steward could not persuade himself
entirely to enforce obedience to the first order of his new master;
and as the carriage drove into the park-gates, crowds on crowds were
assembled to welcome and to gaze.

No sooner had they caught a glimpse of their young lord, whose
affability and handsome person had endeared him to all who remembered
his early days, and of the half-blushing, half-smiling countenance
beside him, than their enthusiasm could be no longer restrained.  The
whole scene rang with shouts of joy; and through an air filled with
blessings, and amidst an avenue of happy faces, the bridal pair
arrived at their home.

"Ah! Clarence (for so I must still call you)," said Flora, her
beautiful eyes streaming with delicious tears, "let us never leave
these kind hearts; let us live amongst them, and strive to repay and
deserve the blessings which they shower upon us!  Is not Benevolence,
dearest, better than Ambition?"

"Can it not rather, my own Flora, be Ambition itself?"


    So rest you, merry gentlemen.--Monsieur Thomas.

The Author has now only to take his leave of the less important
characters whom he has assembled together; and then, all due courtesy
to his numerous guests being performed, to retire himself to repose.

First, then, for Mr. Morris Brown: In the second year of Lord
Ulswater's marriage, the worthy broker paid Mrs. Minden's nephew a
visit, in which he persuaded that gentleman to accept, "as presents,"
two admirable fire screens, the property of the late Lady Waddilove:
the same may be now seen in the housekeeper's room at Borodaile Park
by any person willing to satisfy his curiosity and--the housekeeper.
Of all further particulars respecting Mr. Morris Brown, history is

In the obituary for 1792, we find the following paragraph:

"Died at his house in Putney, aged seventy-three, Sir Nicholas
Copperas, Knt., a gentleman well known on the Exchange for his
facetious humour.  Several of his bons-mots are still recorded in the
Common Council.  When residing many years ago in the suburbs of
London, this worthy gentleman was accustomed to go from his own house
to the Exchange in a coach called 'the Swallow,' that passed his door
just at breakfast-time; upon which occasion he was wont wittily to
observe to his accomplished spouse, 'And now, Mrs. Copperas, having
swallowed in the roll, I will e'en roll in the Swallow!'  His whole
property is left to Adolphus Copperas, Esq., banker."

And in the next year we discover,--

"Died, on Wednesday last, at her jointure house, Putney, in her sixty-
eighth year, the amiable and elegant Lady Copperas, relict of the late
Sir Nicholas, Knt."

Mr. Trollolop, having exhausted the whole world of metaphysics, died
like Descartes, "in believing he had left nothing unexplained."

Mr. Callythorpe entered the House of Commons at the time of the French
Revolution.  He distinguished himself by many votes in favour of Mr.
Pitt, and one speech which ran thus: "Sir, I believe my right
honourable friend who spoke last (Mr. Pitt) designs to ruin the
country: but I will support him through all.  Honourable Gentlemen may
laugh; but I'm a true Briton, and will not serve my friend the less
because I scorn to flatter him."

Sir Christopher Findlater lost his life by an accident arising from
the upsetting of his carriage, his good heart not having suffered him
to part with a drunken coachman.

Mr. Glumford turned miser in his old age; and died of want, and an
extravagant son.

Our honest Cole and his wife were always among the most welcome
visitors at Lord Ulswater's.  In his extreme old age, the ex-king took
a journey to Scotland, to see the Author of "The Lay of the Last
Minstrel."  Nor should we do justice to the chief's critical
discernment if we neglected to record that, from the earliest dawn of
that great luminary of our age, he predicted its meridian splendour.
The eldest son of the gypsy-monarch inherited his father's spirit, and
is yet alive, a general, and G.C.B.

Mr. Harrison married Miss Elizabeth, and succeeded to the Golden

The Duke of Haverfield and Lord Ulswater continued their friendship
through life; and the letters of our dear Flora to her correspondent,
Eleanor, did not cease even with that critical and perilous period to
all maiden correspondents,--Marriage.  If we may judge from the
subsequent letters which we have been permitted to see, Eleanor never
repented her brilliant nuptials, nor discovered (as the Duchess of
---- once said from experience) "that Dukes are as intolerable for
husbands as they are delightful for matches."

And Isabel Mordaunt?--Ah! not in these pages shall her history be told
even in epitome.  Perhaps for some future narrative, her romantic and
eventful fate may be reserved.  Suffice it for the present, that the
childhood of the young heiress passed in the house of Lord Ulswater,
whose proudest boast, through a triumphant and prosperous life, was to
have been her father's friend; and that as she grew up, she inherited
her mother's beauty and gentle heart, and seemed to bear in her deep
eyes and melancholy smile some remembrance of the scenes in which her
infancy had been passed.

But for Him, the husband and the father, whose trials through this
wrong world I have portrayed,--for him let there be neither murmurs at
the blindness of Fate, nor sorrow at the darkness of his doom.  Better
that the lofty and bright spirit should pass away before the petty
business of life had bowed it, or the sordid mists of this low earth
breathed a shadow on its lustre!  Who would have asked that spirit to
have struggled on for years in the intrigues, the hopes, the objects
of meaner souls?  Who would have desired that the heavenward and
impatient heart should have grown insured to the chains and toil of
this enslaved state, or hardened into the callousness of age?  Nor
would we claim the vulgar pittance of compassion for a lot which is
exalted above regret!  Pity is for our weaknesses: to our weaknesses
only be it given.  It is the aliment of love; it is the wages of
ambition; it is the rightful heritage of error!  But why should pity
be entertained for the soul which never fell? for the courage which
never quailed? for the majesty never humbled? for the wisdom which,
from the rough things of the common world, raised an empire above
earth and destiny? for the stormy life?--it was a triumph! for the
early death?--it was immortality!

I have stood beside Mordaunt's tomb: his will had directed that he
should sleep not in the vaults of his haughty line; and his last
dwelling is surrounded by a green and pleasant spot.  The trees shadow
it like a temple; and a silver though fitful brook wails with a
constant yet not ungrateful dirge at the foot of the hill on which the
tomb is placed.  I have stood there in those ardent years when our
wishes know no boundary and our ambition no curb; yet, even then, I
would have changed my wildest vision of romance for that quiet grave,
and the dreams of the distant spirit whose relics reposed beneath it.


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