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Title: Eugene Aram — Volume 04
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 "Eugene Aram — Volume 04" ***

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                             EUGENE ARAM

                       By Edward Bulwer-Lytton



                               BOOK IV.

                               CHAPTER I.

        IN WHICH WE RETURN TO WALTER.--HIS DEBT OF GRATITUDE TO
            MR. PERTINAX FILLGRAVE.--THE CORPORAL'S ADVICE,
                      AND THE CORPORAL'S VICTORY.

                Let a Physician be ever so excellent,
                there will be those that censure him.
                         --Gil Blas.

We left Walter in a situation of that critical nature, that it would be
inhuman to delay our return to him any longer. The blow by which he had
been felled, stunned him for an instant; but his frame was of no common
strength and hardihood, and the imminent peril in which he was placed,
served to recall him from the momentary insensibility. On recovering
himself, he felt that the ruffians were dragging him towards the hedge,
and the thought flashed upon him that their object was murder. Nerved by
this idea, he collected his strength, and suddenly wresting himself from
the grasp of one of the ruffians who had seized him by the collar, he had
already gained his knee, and now his feet, when a second blow once more
deprived him of sense.

When a dim and struggling consciousness recurred to him; he found that
the villains had dragged him to the opposite side of the hedge and were
deliberately robbing him. He was on the point of renewing an useless and
dangerous struggle, when one of the ruffians said, "I think he stirs, I
had better draw my knife across his throat."

"Pooh, no!" replied another voice, "never kill if it can be helped: trust
me 'tis an ugly thing to think of afterwards. Besides, what use is it? A
robbery, in these parts, is done and forgotten; but a murder rouses the
whole country."

"Damnation, man! why, the deed's done already, he's as dead as a door-
nail."

"Dead!" said the other in a startled voice; "no, no!" and leaning down,
the ruffian placed his hand on Walter's heart. The unfortunate traveller
felt his flesh creep as the hand touched him, but prudently abstained
from motion or exclamation. He thought, however, as with dizzy and half-
shut eyes he caught the shadowy and dusk outline of the face that bent
over him, so closely that he felt the breath of its lips, that it was one
that he had seen before; and as the man now rose, and the wan light of
the skies gave a somewhat clearer view of his features, the supposition
was heightened, though not absolutely confirmed. But Walter had no
farther power to observe his plunderers: again his brain reeled; the dark
trees, the grim shadows of human forms, swam before his glazing eye; and
he sunk once more into a profound insensibility.

Meanwhile, the doughty Corporal had at the first sight of his master's
fall, halted abruptly at the spot to which his steed had carried him; and
coming rapidly to the conclusion that three men were best encountered at
a distance, he fired his two pistols, and without staying to see if they
took effect, which, indeed, they did not, galloped down the precipitous
hill with as much despatch, as if it had been the last stage to "Lunnun."

"My poor young master!" muttered he: "But if the worst comes to the
worst, the chief part of the money's in the saddle-bags any how; and so,
messieurs thieves, you're bit--baugh!"

The Corporal was not long in reaching the town, and alarming the loungers
at the inn-door. A posse comitatus was soon formed; and, armed as if they
were to have encountered all the robbers between Hounslow and the
Apennine, a band of heroes, with the Corporal, who had first deliberately
reloaded his pistols, at their head, set off to succour "the poor
gentleman what was already murdered."

They had not got far before they found Walter's horse, which had luckily
broke from the robbers, and was now quietly regaling himself on a patch
of grass by the roadside. "He can get his supper, the beast," grunted the
Corporal, thinking of his own; and bid one of the party try to catch the
animal, which, however, would have declined all such proffers, had not a
long neigh of recognition from the roman nose of the Corporal's steed,
striking familiarly on the straggler's ear, called it forthwith, to the
Corporal's side; and (while the two chargers exchanged greeting) the
Corporal seized its rein.

When they came to the spot from which the robbers had made their sally,
all was still and tranquil; no Walter was to be seen: the Corporal
cautiously dismounted, and searched about with as much minuteness as if
he were looking for a pin; but the host of the inn at which the
travellers had dined the day before, stumbled at once on the right track.
Gouts of blood on the white chalky soil directed him to the hedge, and
creeping through a small and recent gap, he discovered the yet breathing
body of the young traveller.

Walter was now conducted with much care to the inn; a Surgeon was already
in attendance; for having heard that a gentleman had been murdered
without his knowledge, Mr. Pertinax Fillgrave had rushed from his house,
and placed himself on the road, that the poor creature might not, at
least, be buried without his assistance. So eager was he to begin, that
he scarce suffered the unfortunate Walter to be taken within, before he
whipped out his instruments, and set to work with the smack of an
amateur.

Although the Surgeon declared his patient to be in the greatest possible
danger, the sagacious Corporal, who thought himself more privileged to
know about wounds than any man of peace, by profession, however
destructive by practice, could possibly be, had himself examined those
his master had received, before he went down to taste his long-delayed
supper; and he now confidently assured the landlord, and the rest of the
good company in the kitchen, that the blows on the head had been mere
fly-bites, and that his master would be as well as ever in a week at the
farthest.

And, indeed, when Walter the very next morning woke from the stupor,
rather than sleep, he had undergone, he felt himself surprisingly better
than the Surgeon, producing his probe, hastened to assure him he possibly
could be.

By the help of Mr. Pertinax Fillgrave, Walter was detained several days
in the town; nor is it wholly improbable, but that for the dexterity of
the Corporal, he might be in the town to this day; not, indeed in the
comfortable shelter of the old-fashioned inn, but in the colder quarters
of a certain green spot, in which, despite of its rural attractions, few
persons are willing to fix a permanent habitation.

Luckily, however, one evening, the Corporal, who had been, to say truth,
very regular in his attendance on his master; for, bating the
selfishness, consequent, perhaps, on his knowledge of the world, Jacob
Bunting was a good-natured man on the whole, and liked his master as well
as he did any thing, always excepting Jacobina, and board-wages; one
evening, we say, the Corporal coming into Walter's apartment, found him
sitting up in his bed, with a very melancholy and dejected expression of
countenance.

"And well, Sir, what does the Doctor say?" asked the Corporal, drawing
aside the curtains.

"Ah, Bunting, I fancy it's all over with me!"

"The Lord forbid, Sir! you're a-jesting, surely?"

"Jesting! my good fellow, ah! just get me that phial."

"The filthy stuff!" said the Corporal, with a wry face; "Well, Sir, if I
had had the dressing of you--been half way to Yorkshire by this. Man's a
worm; and when a doctor gets un on his hook, he is sure to angle for the
devil with the bait--augh!"

"What! you really think that damned fellow, Fillgrave, is keeping me on
in this way?"

"Is he a fool, to give up three phials a day, 4s. 6d. item, ditto,
ditto?" cried the Corporal, as if astonished at the question; "but don't
you feel yourself getting a deal better every day? Don't you feel all
this ere stuff revive you?"

No, indeed, I was amazingly better the first day than I am now; I
progress from worse to worse. Ah! Bunting, if Peter Dealtry were here, he
might help me to an appropriate epitaph: as it is, I suppose I shall be
very simply labelled. Fillgrave will do the whole business, and put it
down in his bill--item, nine draughts--item, one epitaph.

"Lord-a-mercy, your honour," said the Corporal, drawing out a little red-
spotted pocket-handkerchief; "how can--jest so?--it's quite moving."

"I wish we were moving!" sighed the patient.

"And so we might be," cried the Corporal; "so we might, if you'd pluck up
a bit. Just let me look at your honour's head; I knows what a confusion
is better nor any of 'em."

The Corporal having obtained permission, now removed the bandages
wherewith the Doctor had bound his intended sacrifice to Pluto, and after
peering into the wounds for about a minute, he thrust out his under lip,
with a contemptuous, "Pshaugh! augh! And how long," said he, "does Master
Fillgrave say you be to be under his hands,--augh!"

"He gives me hopes that I may be taken out an airing very gently, (yes,
hearses always go very gently!) in about three weeks!"

The Corporal started, and broke into a long whistle. He then grinned from
ear to ear, snapped his fingers, and said, "Man of the world, Sir,--man
of the world every inch of him!"

"He seems resolved that I shall be a man of another world," said Walter.

"Tell ye what, Sir--take my advice--your honour knows I be no fool--throw
off them ere wrappers; let me put on scrap of plaister--pitch phials to
devil--order out horses to-morrow, and when you've been in the air half
an hour, won't know yourself again!"

"Bunting! the horses out to-morrow?--faith, I don't think I could walk
across the room."

"Just try, your honour."

"Ah! I'm very weak, very weak--my dressing-gown and slippers--your arm,
Bunting--well, upon my honour, I walk very stoutly, eh? I should not have
thought this! leave go: why I really get on without your assistance!"

"Walk as well as ever you did."

"Now I'm out of bed, I don't think I shall go back again to it."

"Would not, if I was your honour."

"And after so much exercise, I really fancy I've a sort of an appetite."

"Like a beefsteak?"

"Nothing better."

"Pint of wine?"

"Why that would be too much--eh?"

"Not it."

"Go, then, my good Bunting; go and make haste--stop, I say that d--d
fellow--" "Good sign to swear," interrupted the Corporal; "swore twice
within last five minutes--famous symptom!"

"Do you choose to hear me? That d--d fellow, Fillgrave, is coming back in
an hour to bleed me: do you mount guard--refuse to let him in--pay him
his bill--you have the money. And harkye, don't be rude to the rascal."

"Rude, your honour! not I--been in the Forty-second--knows discipline--
only rude to the privates!"

The Corporal, having seen his master conduct himself respectably toward
the viands with which he supplied him--having set his room to rights,
brought him the candles, borrowed him a book, and left him for the
present in extremely good spirits, and prepared for the flight of the
morrow; the Corporal, I say, now lighting his pipe, stationed himself at
the door of the inn, and waited for Mr. Pertinax Fillgrave. Presently the
Doctor, who was a little thin man, came bustling across the street, and
was about, with a familiar "Good evening," to pass by the Corporal, when
that worthy, dropping his pipe, said respectfully, "Beg pardon, Sir--want
to speak to you--a little favour. Will your honour walk in the back-
parlour?"

"Oh! another patient," thought the Doctor; "these soldiers are careless
fellows--often get into scrapes. Yes, friend, I'm at your service."

The Corporal showed the man of phials into the back-parlour, and, hemming
thrice, looked sheepish, as if in doubt how to begin. It was the Doctor's
business to encourage the bashful.

"Well, my good man," said he, brushing off, with the arm of his coat,
some dust that had settled on his inexpressibles, "so you want to consult
me?"

"Indeed, your honour, I do; but--feel a little awkward in doing so--a
stranger and all."

"Pooh!--medical men are never strangers. I am the friend of every man who
requires my assistance."

"Augh!--and I do require your honour's assistance very sadly."

"Well--well--speak out. Any thing of long standing?"

"Why, only since we have been here, Sir."

"Oh, that's all! Well."

"Your honour's so good--that--won't scruple in telling you all. You sees
as how we were robbed--master at least was--had some little in my
pockets--but we poor servants are never too rich. You seems such a kind
gentleman--so attentive to master--though you must have felt how
disinterested it was to 'tend a man what had been robbed--that I have no
hesitation in making bold to ask you to lend us a few guineas, just to
help us out with the bill here,--bother!"

"Fellow!" said the Doctor, rising, "I don't know what you mean; but I'd
have you to learn that I am not to be cheated out of my time and
property. I shall insist upon being paid my bill instantly, before I
dress your master's wound once more."

"Augh!" said the Corporal, who was delighted to find the Doctor come so
immediately into the snare;--"won't be so cruel surely,--why, you'll
leave us without a shiner to pay my host here."

"Nonsense!--Your master, if he's a gentleman, can write home for money."

"Ah, Sir, all very well to say so;--but, between you and me and the bed-
post--young master's quarrelled with old master--old master won't give
him a rap,--so I'm sure, since your honour's a friend to every man who
requires your assistance--noble saying, Sir!--you won't refuse us a few
guineas;--and as for your bill--why--" "Sir, you're an impudent
vagabond!" cried the Doctor, as red as a rose-draught, and flinging out
of the room; "and I warn you, that I shall bring in my bill, and expect
to be paid within ten minutes."

The Doctor waited for no answer--he hurried home, scratched off his
account, and flew back with it in as much haste as if his patient had
been a month longer under his care, and was consequently on the brink of
that happier world, where, since the inhabitants are immortal, it is very
evident that doctors, as being useless, are never admitted.

The Corporal met him as before.

"There, Sir," cried the Doctor, breathlessly, and then putting his arms
akimbo, "take that to your master, and desire him to pay me instantly."

"Augh! and shall do no such thing."

"You won't?"

"No, for shall pay you myself. Where's your wee stamp--eh?"

And with great composure the Corporal drew out a well-filled purse, and
discharged the bill. The Doctor was so thunderstricken, that he pocketed
the money without uttering a word. He consoled himself, however, with the
belief that Walter, whom he had tamed into a becoming hypochondria, would
be sure to send for him the next morning. Alas, for mortal expectations!
--the next morning Walter was once more on the road.



                              CHAPTER II.

       NEW TRACES OF THE FATE OF GEOFFREY LESTER.--WALTER AND THE
        CORPORAL PROCEED ON A FRESH EXPEDITION.--THE CORPORAL IS
        ESPECIALLY SAGACIOUS ON THE OLD TOPIC OF THE WORLD.--HIS
       OPINIONS ON THE MEN WHO CLAIM 'KNOWLEDGE THEREOF.--ON THE
      ADVANTAGES ENJOYED BY A VALET.--ON THE SCIENCE OF SUCCESSFUL
      LOVE.--ON VIRTUE AND THE CONSTITUTION.--ON QUALITIES TO BE
                  DESIRED IN A MISTRESS,--A LANDSCAPE.

                This way of talking of his very much enlivens the
                conversation among us of a more sedate turn.
                         --Spectator, No. 3.

Walter found, while he made search himself, that it was no easy matter,
in so large a county as Yorkshire, to obtain even the preliminary
particulars, viz. the place of residence, and the name of the Colonel
from India whose dying gift his father had left the house of the worthy
Courtland, to claim and receive. But the moment he committed the inquiry
to the care of an active and intelligent lawyer, the case seemed to
brighten up prodigiously; and Walter was shortly informed that a Colonel
Elmore, who had been in India, had died in the year 17--; that by a
reference to his will it appeared that he had left to Daniel Clarke the
sum of a thousand pounds, and the house in which he resided before his
death, the latter being merely leasehold at a high rent, was specified in
the will to be of small value: it was situated in the outskirts of
Knaresborough. It was also discovered that a Mr. Jonas Elmore, the only
surviving executor of the will, and a distant relation of the deceased
Colonel's, lived about fifty miles from York, and could, in all
probability, better than any one, afford Walter those farther particulars
of which he was so desirous to be informed. Walter immediately proposed
to his lawyer to accompany him to this gentleman's house; but it so
happened that the lawyer could not, for three or four days, leave his
business at York, and Walter, exceedingly impatient to proceed on the
intelligence thus granted him, and disliking the meagre information
obtained from letters, when a personal interview could be obtained,
resolved himself to repair to Mr. Jonas Elmore's without farther delay;
and behold, therefore, our worthy Corporal and his master again mounted,
and commencing a new journey.

The Corporal, always fond of adventure, was in high spirits.

"See, Sir," said he to his master, patting with great affection the neck
of his steed, "See, Sir, how brisk the creturs are; what a deal of good
their long rest at York city's done'em. Ah, your honour, what a fine town
that ere be!--yet," added the Corporal, with an air of great superiority,
"it gives you no notion of Lunnun, like--on the faith of a man, no!"

"Well, Bunting, perhaps we may be in London within a month hence."

"And afore we gets there, your honour,--no offence,--but should like to
give you some advice; 'tis ticklish place, that Lunnun, and though you be
by no manner of means deficient in genus, yet, Sir, you be young, and I
be--" "Old,--true, Bunting," added Walter very gravely.

"Augh--bother! old, Sir, old, Sir!--A man in the prime of life,--hair
coal black, (bating a few grey ones that have had, since twenty--care,
and military service, Sir,)--carriage straight,--teeth strong,--not an
ail in the world, bating the rheumatics--is not old, Sir,--not by no
manner of means,--baugh!"

"You are very right, Bunting; when I said old, I meant experienced. I
assure you I shall be very grateful for your advice; and suppose, while
we walk our horses up this hill, you begin lecture the first. London's a
fruitful subject. All you can say on it won't be soon exhausted."

"Ah, may well say that," replied the Corporal, exceedingly flattered with
the permission he had obtained, "and any thing my poor wit can suggest,
quite at your honour's sarvice--ehem!--hem! You must know by Lunnun, I
means the world, and by the world means Lunnun,--know one--know t'other.
But 'tis not them as affects to be most knowing as be so at bottom.
Begging your honour's pardon, I thinks gentlefolks what lives only with
gentlefolks, and call themselves men of the world, be often no wiser nor
Pagan creturs, and live in a gentile darkness."

"The true knowledge of the world," said Walter, "is only then for the
Corporals of the Forty-second,--eh, Bunting?"

"As to that, Sir," quoth the Corporal, "'tis not being of this calling or
of that calling that helps one on; 'tis an inborn sort of genus the
talent of obsarving, and growing wise by obsarving. One picks up crumb
here, crumb there: but if one has not good digestion, Lord, what
sinnifies a feast?--Healthy man thrives on a 'tatoe, sickly looks pale on
a haunch. You sees, your honour, as I said afore, I was own sarvant to
Colonel Dysart; he was a Lord's nephy, a very gay gentleman, and great
hand with the ladies,--not a man more in the world;--so I had the
opportunity of larning what's what among the best set; at his honour's
expense, too,--augh! To my mind, Sir, there is not a place from which a
man has a better view of things than the bit carpet behind a gentleman's
chair. The gentleman eats, and talks, and swears, and jests, and plays
cards and makes love, and tries to cheat, and is cheated, and his man
stands behind with his eyes and ears open,--augh!"

"One should go to service to learn diplomacy, I see," said Walter,
greatly amused.

"Does not know what 'plomacy be, Sir, but knows it would be better for
many a young master nor all the Colleges;--would not be so many bubbles
if my Lord could take a turn now and then with John. A-well, Sir!--how I
used to laugh in my sleeve like, when I saw my master, who was thought
the knowingest gentleman about Court, taken in every day smack afore my
face. There was one lady whom he had tried hard, as he thought, to get
away from her husband; and he used to be so mighty pleased at every
glance from her brown eyes--and be d--d to them!--and so careful the
husband should not see--so pluming himself on his discretion here, and
his conquest there,--when, Lord bless you, it was all settled 'twixt man
and wife aforehand! And while the Colonel laughed at the cuckold, the
cuckold laughed at the dupe. For you sees, Sir, as how the Colonel was a
rich man, and the jewels as he bought for the lady went half into the
husband's pocket--he! he!--That's the way of the world, Sir,--that's the
way of the world!"

"Upon my word, you draw a very bad picture of the world: you colour
highly; and, by the way, I observe that whenever you find any man
committing a roguish action, instead of calling him a scoundrel, you show
those great teeth of yours, and chuckle out 'A man of the world! a man of
the world!"'

"To be sure, your honour; the proper name, too. 'Tis your green-horns who
fly into a passion, and use hard words. You see, Sir, there's one thing
we larn afore all other things in the world--to butter bread. Knowledge
of others, means only the knowledge which side bread's buttered. In
short, Sir, the wiser grow, the more take care of oursels. Some persons
make a mistake, and, in trying to take care of themsels, run neck into
halter--baugh! they are not rascals--they are would-be men of the world.
Others be more prudent, (for, as I said afore, Sir, discretion is a pair
of stirrups;) they be the true men of the world."

"I should have thought," said Walter, "that the knowledge of the world
might be that knowledge which preserves us from being cheated, but not
that which enables us to cheat."

"Augh!" quoth the Corporal, with that sort of smile with which you see an
old philosopher put down a sounding error from the lips of a young
disciple who flatters himself he has uttered something prodigiously
fine,--"Augh! and did not I tell you, t'other day, to look at the
professions, your honour? What would a laryer be if he did not know how
to cheat a witness and humbug a jury?--knows he is lying,--why is he
lying? for love of his fees, or his fame like, which gets fees;--Augh! is
not that cheating others?--The doctor, too, Master Fillgrave, for
instance?--" "Say no more of doctors; I abandon them to your satire,
without a word."

"The lying knaves! Don't they say one's well when one's ill--ill when
one's well?--profess to know what don't know?--thrust solemn phizzes into
every abomination, as if larning lay hid in a--? and all for their
neighbours' money, or their own reputation, which makes money--augh! In
short, Sir--look where will, impossible to see so much cheating allowed,
praised, encouraged, and feel very angry with a cheat who has only made a
mistake. But when I sees a man butter his bread carefully--knife steady--
butter thick, and hungry fellows looking on and licking chops--mothers
stopping their brats--'See, child--respectable man--how thick his
bread's buttered!--pull off your hat to him:'--When I sees that, my heart
warms: there's the true man of the world--augh!"

"Well, Bunting," said Walter, laughing, "though you are thus lenient to
those unfortunate gentlemen whom others call rogues, and thus laudatory
of gentlemen who are at best discreetly selfish, I suppose you admit the
possibility of virtue, and your heart warms as much when you see a man of
worth as when you see a man of the world?"

"Why, you knows, your honour," answered the Corporal, "so far as vartue's
concerned, there's a deal in constitution; but as for knowledge of the
world, one gets it oneself!"

"I don't wonder, Bunting--as your opinion of women is much the same as
your opinion of men--that you are still unmarried."

"Augh! but your honour mistakes!--I am no mice-and-trope. Men are neither
one thing nor t'other--neither good nor bad. A prudent parson has nothing
to fear from 'em--nor a foolish one any thing to gain--baugh! As to the
women creturs, your honour, as I said, vartue's a deal in the
constitution. Would not ask what a lassie's mind be--nor what her
eddycation;--but see what her habits be, that's all--habits and
constitution all one--play into one another's hands."

"And what sort of signs, Bunting, would you mostly esteem in a lady?"

"First place, Sir--woman I'd marry, must not mope when alone!--must be
able to 'muse herself; must be easily 'mused. That's a great sign, Sir,
of an innocent mind, to be tickled with straws. Besides, employments
keeps 'em out of harm's way. Second place, should obsarve, if she was
very fond of places, your honour--sorry to move--that's a sure sign she
won't tire easily; but that if she like you now from fancy, she'll like
you by and by from custom. Thirdly, your honour, she should not be avarse
to dress--a leaning that way shows she has a desire to please: people who
don't care about pleasing, always sullen. Fourthly, she must bear to be
crossed--I'd be quite sure that she might be contradicted, without
mumping or storming;--'cause then, you knows, your honour, if she wanted
any thing expensive--need not give it--augh! Fifthly, must not be over
religious, your honour; they pyehouse she-creturs always thinks themsels
so much better nor we men;--don't understand our language and ways, your
honour: they wants us not only to belave, but to tremble--bother!"

"I like your description well enough, on the whole," said Walter, "and
when I look out for a wife, I shall come to you for advice."

"Your honour may have it already--Miss Ellinor's jist the thing."

Walter turned away his head, and told Bunting, with great show of
indignation, not to be a fool.

The Corporal, who was not quite certain of his ground here, but who knew
that Madeline, at all events, was going to be married to Aram, and deemed
it, therefore, quite useless to waste any praise upon her, thought that a
few random shots of eulogium were worth throwing away on a chance, and
consequently continued.

"Augh, your honour--'tis not 'cause I have eyes, that I be's a fool. Miss
Ellinor and your honour be only cousins, to be sure; but more like
brother and sister, nor any thing else. Howsomever, she's a rare cretur,
whoever gets her. has a face that puts one in good-humour with the world,
if one sees it first thing in the morning--'tis as good as the sun in
July--augh! But, as I was saying, your honour--'bout the women-creturs in
general--" "Enough of them, Bunting; let us suppose you have been so
fortunate as to find one to suit you--how would you woo her? Of course,
there are certain secrets of courtship, which you will not hesitate to
impart to one, who, like me, wants such assistance from art--much more
than you can do, who are so bountifully favoured by Nature."

"As to Nature," replied the Corporal, with considerable modesty, for he
never disputed the truth of the compliment--"'tis not 'cause a man be six
feet without's shoes, that he's any nearer to lady's heart. Sir, I will
own to you, howsomever it makes 'gainst your honour and myself, for that
matter--that don't think one is a bit more lucky with the ladies for
being so handsome! 'Tis all very well with them ere willing ones, your
honour--caught at a glance; but as for the better sort, one's beauty's
all bother! Why, Sir, when we see some of the most fortunatest men among
she-creturs--what poor little minnikens they be! One's a dwarf--another
knock-kneed--a third squints--and a fourth might be shown for a hape!
Neither, Sir, is it your soft, insinivating, die-away youths, as seem at
first so seductive; they do very well for lovers, your honour; but then
it's always rejected ones! Neither, your honour, does the art of
succeeding with the ladies 'quire all those finniken, nimini-pinimi's,
flourishes, and maxims, and saws, which the Colonel, my old master, and
the great gentlefolks, as be knowing, call the art of love--baugh! The
whole science, Sir, consists in these two rules--'Ask soon, and ask
often.'"

"There seems no great difficulty in them, Bunting."

"Not to us who has gumption, Sir; but then there is summut in the manner
of axing--one can't be too hot--can't flatter too much--and, above all,
one must never take a refusal. There, Sir, now--if you takes my advice--
may break the peace of all the husbands in Lunnun--bother--whaugh!"

"My uncle little knows what a praiseworthy tutor he has secured me in
you, Bunting," said Walter, laughing: "And now, while the road is so
good, let us make the most of it."

As they had set out late in the day, and the Corporal was fearful of
another attack from a hedge, he resolved, that about evening, one of the
horses should be seized with a sudden lameness, (which he effected by
slily inserting a stone between the shoe and the hoof,) that required
immediate attention and a night's rest; so that it was not till the early
noon of the next day that our travellers entered the village in which Mr.
Jonas Elmore resided.

It was a soft, tranquil day, though one of the very last in October; for
the reader will remember that Time had not stood still during Walter's
submission to the care of Mr. Pertinax Fillgrave, and his subsequent
journey and researches.

The sun-light rested on a broad patch of green heath, covered with furze,
and around it were scattered the cottages and farm-houses of the little
village. On the other side, as Walter descended the gentle hill that led
into this remote hamlet, wide and flat meadows, interspersed with several
fresh and shaded ponds, stretched away towards a belt of rich woodland
gorgeous with the melancholy pomp by which the "regal year" seeks to veil
its decay. Among these meadows you might now see groups of cattle quietly
grazing, or standing half hid in the still and sheltered pools. Still
farther, crossing to the woods, a solitary sportsman walked careless on,
surrounded by some half a dozen spaniels, and the shrill small tongue of
one younger straggler of the canine crew, who had broke indecorously from
the rest, and already entered the wood, might be just heard, softened
down by the distance, into a wild, cheery sound, that animated, without
disturbing, the serenity of the scene.

"After all," said Walter aloud, "the scholar was right--there is nothing
like the country!"

              "'Oh, happiness of sweet retired content,
                To be at once secure and innocent!'"

"Be them Verses in the Psalms, Sir?" said the Corporal, who was close
behind.

"No, Bunting; but they were written by one who, if I recollect right, set
the Psalms to verse:--[Denham.] I hope they meet with your approbation?"

"Indeed, Sir, and no--since they ben't in the Psalms, one has no right to
think about 'em at all."

"And why, Mr. Critic?"

"'Cause what's the use of security, if one's innocent, and does not mean
to take advantage of it--baugh! One does not lock the door for nothing,
your honour!"

"You shall enlarge on that honest doctrine of yours another time;
meanwhile, call that shepherd, and ask the way to Mr. Elmore's."

The Corporal obeyed, and found that a clump of trees, at the farther
corner of the waste land, was the grove that surrounded Mr. Elmore's
house; a short canter across the heath brought them to a white gate, and
having passed this, a comfortable brick mansion of moderate size stood
before them.



                              CHAPTER III.

        A SCHOLAR, BUT OF A DIFFERENT MOULD FROM THE STUDENT OF
      GRASSDALE.--NEW PARTICULARS CONCERNING GEOFFREY LESTER.--THE
                          JOURNEY RECOMMENCED.

Upon inquiring for Mr. Elmore, Walter was shown into a handsome
library, that appeared well-stocked with books, of that good, old-
fashioned size and solidity, which are now fast passing from the world,
or at least shrinking into old shops and public collections. The time may
come, when the mouldering remains of a folio will attract as much
philosophical astonishment as the bones of the mammoth. For behold, the
deluge of writers hath produced a new world of small octavo! and in the
next generation, thanks to the popular libraries, we shall only vibrate
between the duodecimo and the diamond edition. Nay, we foresee the time
when a very handsome collection may be carried about in one's waistcoat-
pocket, and a whole library of the British Classics be neatly arranged in
a well-compacted snuff-box.

In a few minutes Mr. Elmore made his appearance; he was a short, well-
built man, about the age of fifty. Contrary to the established mode, he
wore no wig, and was very bald; except at the sides of the head, and a
little circular island of hair in the centre. But this defect was
rendered the less visible by a profusion of powder. He was dressed with
evident care and precision; a snuff-coloured coat was adorned with a
respectable profusion of gold lace; his breeches were of plum-coloured
satin; his salmon-coloured stockings, scrupulously drawn up, displayed a
very handsome calf; and a pair of steel buckles in his high-heeled and
square-toed shoes, were polished into a lustre which almost rivalled the
splendour of diamonds. Mr. Jonas Elmore was a beau, a wit, and a scholar
of the old school. He abounded in jests, in quotations, in smart sayings,
and pertinent anecdotes: but, withal, his classical learning, (out of the
classics he knew little enough,) was at once elegant, but wearisome;
pedantic, but profound.

To this gentleman Walter presented a letter of introduction which he had
obtained from a distinguished clergyman in York. Mr. Elmore received it
with a profound salutation--"Aha, from my friend, Dr. Hebraist," said he,
glancing at the seal, "a most worthy man, and a ripe scholar. I presume
at once, Sir, from his introduction, that you yourself have cultivated
the literas humaniores. Pray sit down--ay--I see, you take up a book, an
excellent symptom; it gives me an immediate insight into your character.
But you have chanced, Sir, on light reading,--one of the Greek novels, I
think,--you must not judge of my studies by such a specimen."

"Nevertheless, Sir, it does not seem to my unskilful eye very easy
Greek."

"Pretty well, Sir; barbarous, but amusing,--pray continue it. The
triumphal entry of Paulus Emilius is not ill told. I confess, that I
think novels might be made much higher works than they have been yet.
Doubtless, you remember what Aristotle says concerning Painters and
Sculptors, 'that they teach and recommend virtue in a more efficacious
and powerful manner, than Philosophers by their dry precepts, and are
more capable of amending the vicious, than the best moral lessons without
such aid.' But how much more, Sir, can a good novelist do this, than the
best sculptor or painter in the world! Every one can be charmed by a fine
novel, few by a fine painting. 'Indocti rationem artis intelligunt,
indocti voluptatem.' A happy sentence that in Quinctilian, Sir, is it
not? But, bless me, I am forgetting the letter of my good friend Dr.
Hebraist. The charms of your conversation carry me away. And indeed I
have seldom the happiness to meet a gentleman so well-informed as
yourself. I confess, Sir, I confess that I still retain the tastes of my
boyhood; the Muses cradled my childhood, they now smooth the pillow of my
footstool--Quem tu, Melpomene, are not yet subject to gout, dira podagra:
By the way, how is the worthy Doctor since his attack?--Ah, see now, if
you have not still, by your delightful converse, kept me from his letter-
-yet, positively I need no introduction to you, Apollo has already
presented you to me. And as for the Doctor's letter, I will read it after
dinner; for as Seneca--" "I beg your pardon a thousand times, Sir," said
Walter, who began to despair of ever coming to the matter which seemed
lost sight of beneath this battery of erudition, "but you will find by
Dr. Hebraist's letter, that it is only on business of the utmost
importance that I have presumed to break in upon the learned leisure of
Mr. Jonas Elmore."

"Business!" replied Mr. Elmore, producing his spectacles, and
deliberately placing them athwart his nose,

           "'His mane edictum, post prandia Callirhoen, etc.

"Business in the morning, and the ladies after dinner. Well, Sir, I will
yield to you in the one, and you must yield to me in the other: I will
open the letter, and you shall dine here, and be introduced to Mrs.
Elmore;--What is your opinion of the modern method of folding letters? I-
-but I see you are impatient." Here Mr. Elmore at length broke the seal;
and to Walter's great joy fairly read the contents within.

"Oh! I see, I see!" he said, refolding the epistle, and placing it in his
pocket-book; "my friend, Dr. Hebraist, says you are anxious to be
informed whether Mr. Clarke ever received the legacy of my poor cousin,
Colonel Elmore; and if so, any tidings I can give you of Mr. Clarke
himself; or any clue to discover him will be highly acceptable. I gather,
Sir, from my friend's letter, that this is the substance of your business
with me, caput negotii;--although, like Timanthes, the painter, he leaves
more to be understood than is described, 'intelligitur plus quam
pingitur,' as Pliny has it."

"Sir," said Walter, drawing his chair close to Mr. Elmore, and his
anxiety forcing itself to his countenance, "that is indeed the substance
of my business with you; and so important will be any information you can
give me that I shall esteem it a--" "Not a very great favour, eh?--not
very great?"

"Yes, indeed, a very great obligation."

"I hope not, Sir; for what says Tacitus--that profound reader of the
human heart,--'beneficia eo usque loeta sunt,' favours easily rapaid
beget affection--favours beyond return engender hatred. But, Sir, a truce
to trifling;" and here Mr. Elmore composed his countenance, and changed,-
-which he could do at will, so that the change was not expected to last
long--the pedant for the man of business.

"Mr. Clarke did receive his legacy: the lease of the house at
Knaresborough was also sold by his desire, and produced the sum of seven
hundred and fifty pounds; which being added to the farther sum of a
thousand pounds, which was bequeathed to him, amounted to seventeen
hundred and fifty pounds. It so happened, that my cousin had possessed
some very valuable jewels, which were bequeathed to myself. I, Sir,
studious, and a cultivator of the Muse, had no love and no use for these
baubles; I preferred barbaric gold to barbaric pearl; and knowing that
Clarke had been in India, from whence these jewels had been brought, I
showed them to him, and consulted his knowledge on these matters, as to
the best method of obtaining a sale. He offered to purchase them of me,
under the impression that he could turn them to a profitable speculation
in London. Accordingly we came to terms: I sold the greater part of them
to him for a sum a little exceeding a thousand pounds. He was pleased
with his bargain; and came to borrow the rest of me, in order to look at
them more considerately at home, and determine whether or not he should
buy them also. Well, Sir, (but here comes the remarkable part of the
story,) about three days after this last event, Mr. Clarke and my jewels
both disappeared in rather a strange and abrupt manner. In the middle of
the night he left his lodging at Knaresborough, and never returned;
neither himself nor my jewels were ever heard of more!"

"Good God!" exclaimed Walter, greatly agitated; "what was supposed to be
the cause of his disappearance?"

"That," replied Elmore, "was never positively traced. It excited great
surprise and great conjecture at the time. Advertisements and handbills
were circulated throughout the country, but in vain. Mr. Clarke was
evidently a man of eccentric habits, of a hasty temper, and a wandering
manner of life; yet it is scarcely probable that he took this sudden
manner of leaving the country either from whim or some secret but honest
motive never divulged. The fact is, that he owed a few debts in the town-
-that he had my jewels in his possession, and as (pardon me for saying
this, since you take an interest in him,) his connections were entirely
unknown in these parts, and his character not very highly estimated,--
(whether from his manner, or his conversation, or some undefined and
vague rumours, I cannot say)--it was considered by no means improbable
that he had decamped with his property in this sudden manner in order to
save himself that trouble of settling accounts which a more seemly and
public method of departure might have rendered necessary. A man of the
name of Houseman, with whom he was acquainted, (a resident in
Knaresborough,) declared that Clarke had borrowed rather a considerable
sum from him, and did not scruple openly to accuse him of the evident
design to avoid repayment. A few more dark but utterly groundless
conjectures were afloat; and since the closest search--the minutest
inquiry was employed without any result, the supposition that he might
have been robbed and murdered was strongly entertained for some time; but
as his body was never found, nor suspicion directed against any
particular person, these conjectures insensibly died away; and being so
complete a stranger to these parts, the very circumstance of his
disappearance was not likely to occupy, for very long, the attention of
that old gossip the Public, who, even in the remotest parts, has a
thousand topics to fill up her time and talk. And now, Sir, I think you
know as much of the particulars of the case as any one in these parts can
inform you."

We may imagine the various sensations which this unsatisfactory
intelligence caused in the adventurous son of the lost wanderer. He
continued to throw out additional guesses, and to make farther inquiries
concerning a tale which seemed to him so mysterious, but without effect;
and he had the mortification to perceive, that the shrewd Jonas was, in
his own mind, fully convinced that the permanent disappearance of Clark
was accounted for only by the most dishonest motives.

"And," added Elmore, I am confirmed in this belief by discovering
afterwards from a tradesman in York who had seen my cousin's jewels--that
those I had trusted to Mr. Clarke's hands were more valuable than I had
imagined them, and therefore it was probably worth his while to make off
with them as quietly as possible. He went on foot, leaving his horse, a
sorry nag, to settle with me and the other claimants.

                "I, pedes quo te rapiunt et aurae!"

"Heavens!" thought Walter, sinking back in his chair sickened and
disheartened, "what a parent, if the opinions of all men who knew him be
true, do I thus zealously seek to recover!"

The good-natured Elmore, perceiving the unwelcome and painful impression
his account had produced on his young guest, now exerted himself to
remove, or at least to lessen it; and turning the conversation into a
classical channel, which with him was the Lethe to all cares, he soon
forgot that Clarke had ever existed, in expatiating on the unappreciated
excellences of Propertius, who, to his mind, was the most tender of all
elegiac poets, solely because he was the most learned. Fortunately this
vein of conversation, however tedious to Walter, preserved him from the
necessity of rejoinder, and left him to the quiet enjoyment of his own
gloomy and restless reflections.

At length the time touched upon dinner; Elmore, starting up, adjourned to
the drawing-room, in order to present the handsome stranger to the
placens uxor--the pleasing wife, whom, in passing through the hall, he
eulogized with an amazing felicity of diction.

The object of these praises was a tall, meagre lady, in a yellow dress
carried up to the chin, and who added a slight squint to the charms of
red hair, ill concealed by powder, and the dignity of a prodigiously high
nose. "There is nothing, Sir," said Elmore, "nothing, believe me, like
matrimonial felicity. Julia, my dear, I trust the chickens will not be
overdone."

"Indeed, Mr. Elmore, I cannot tell; I did not boil them."

"Sir," said Elmore, turning to his guest, I do not know whether you will
agree with me, but I think a slight tendency to gourmandism is absolutely
necessary to complete the character of a truly classical mind. So many
beautiful touches are there in the ancient poets--so many delicate
allusions in history and in anecdote relating to the gratification of the
palate, that if a man have no correspondent sympathy with the illustrious
epicures of old, he is rendered incapable of enjoying the most beautiful
passages, that--Come, Sir, the dinner is served:

           "'Nutrimus lautis mollissima corpora mensis.'"

As they crossed the hall to the dining-room, a young lady, whom Elmore
hastily announced as his only daughter, appeared descending the stairs,
having evidently retired for the purpose of re-arranging her attire for
the conquest of the stranger. There was something in Miss Elmore that
reminded Walter of Ellinor, and, as the likeness struck him, he felt, by
the sudden and involuntary sigh it occasioned, how much the image of his
cousin had lately gained ground upon his heart.

Nothing of any note occurred during dinner, until the appearance of the
second course, when Elmore, throwing himself back with an air of content,
that signified the first edge of his appetite was blunted, observed, Sir,
the second course I always opine to be the more dignified and rational
part of a repast--

           "'Quod nunc ratio est, impetus ante fuit.'"
      [That which is now reason, at first was but desire.]

"Ah! Mr. Elmore," said the lady, glancing towards a brace of very fine
pigeons, "I cannot tell you how vexed I am at a mistake of the
gardener's: you remember my poor pet pigeons, so attached to each other--
would not mix with the rest--quite an inseparable friendship, Mr. Lester
--well, they were killed by mistake, for a couple of vulgar pigeons. Ah!
I could not touch a bit of them for the world."

"My love," said Elmore, pausing, and with great solemnity, "hear how
beautiful a consolation is afforded to you in Valerius Maximus:--'Ubi
idem et maximus et honestissimus amor est, aliquando praestat morte jungi
quam vitae distrahi;' which being interpreted, means, that wherever, as in
the case of your pigeons, a thoroughly high and sincere affection exists,
it is sometimes better to be joined in death than divided in life.--Give
me half the fatter one, if you please, Julia."

"Sir," said Elmore, when the ladies withdrew, "I cannot tell you how
pleased I am to meet with a gentleman so deeply imbued with classic lore.
I remember, several years ago, before my poor cousin died, it was my lot,
when I visited him at Knaresborough, to hold some delightful
conversations on learned matters with a very rising young scholar who
then resided at Knaresborough,--Eugene Aram. Conversations as difficult
to obtain as delightful to remember, for he was exceedingly reserved."

"Aram!" repeated Walter.

"What, you know him then?--and where does he live now?"

"In--, very near my uncle's residence. He is certainly a remarkable man."

"Yes, indeed he promised to become so. At the time I refer to, he was
poor to penury, and haughty as poor; but it was wonderful to note the
iron energy with which he pursued his progress to learning. Never did I
see a youth,--at that time he was no more,--so devoted to knowledge for
itself.

           'Doctrin‘ pretium triste magister habet.'"

"Methinks," added Elmore, "I can see him now, stealing away from the
haunts of men,

           'With even step and musing gait,'--

across the quiet fields, or into the woods, whence he was certain not to
re-appear till night-fall. Ah! he was a strange and solitary being, but
full of genius, and promise of bright things hereafter. I have often
heard since of his fame as a scholar, but could never learn where he
lived or what was now his mode of life. Is he yet married?"

"Not yet, I believe; but he is not now so absolutely poor as you describe
him to have been then, though certainly far from rich."

"Yes, yes, I remember that he received a legacy from a relation shortly
before he left Knaresborough. He had very delicate health at that time:
has he grown stronger with increasing years?"

"He does not complain of ill health. And pray, was he then of the same
austere and blameless habits of life that he now professes?"

"Nothing could be so faultless as his character appeared; the passions of
youth--(ah! I was a wild fellow at his age,) never seemed to venture near
one.

           'Quem casto erudit docta Minerva sinu.'

Well, I am surprised he has not married. We scholars, Sir, fall in love
with abstractions, and fancy the first woman we see is--Sir, let us drink
the ladies."

The next day Walter, having resolved to set out for Knaresborough,
directed his course towards that town; he thought it yet possible that he
might, by strict personal inquiry, continue the clue that Elmore's
account had, to present appearance, broken. The pursuit in which he was
engaged, combined, perhaps, with the early disappointment to his
affections, had given a grave and solemn tone to a mind naturally ardent
and elastic. His character acquired an earnestness and a dignity from
late events; and all that once had been hope within him, deepened into
thought. As now, on a gloomy and clouded day he pursued his course along
a bleak and melancholy road, his mind was filled with that dark
presentiment--that shadow from the coming event, which superstition
believes the herald of the more tragic discoveries, or the more fearful
incidents of life; he felt steeled, and prepared for some dread
denouement,--to a journey to which the hand of Providence seemed to
conduct his steps; and he looked on the shroud that Time casts over all
beyond the present moment with the same intense and painful resolve with
which, in the tragic representations of life, we await the drawing up of
the curtain before the last act, which contains the catastrophe--that
while we long, we half shudder to behold.

Meanwhile, in following the adventures of Walter Lester, we have greatly
outstript the progress of events of Grassdale, and thither we now return.



                              CHAPTER IV.

        ARAM'S DEPARTURE.--MADELINE.--EXAGGERATION OF SENTIMENT
      NATURAL IN LOVE.--MADELINE'S LETTER.--WALTER'S.--THE WALK.--
        TWO VERY DIFFERENT PERSONS, YET BOTH INMATES OF THE SAME
     COUNTRY VILLAGE.--THE HUMOURS OF LIFE, AND ITS DARK PASSIONS,
                ARE FOUND IN JUXTA-POSITION EVERYWHERE.

             Her thoughts as pure as the chaste morning's breath,
             When from the Night's cold arms it creeps away,
             Were clothed in words.
                         --Sir J. Suckling--Detraction Execrated

"You positively leave us then to-day, Eugene?" said the Squire.

"Indeed," answered Aram, "I hear from my creditor, (now no longer so,
thanks to you,) that my relation is so dangerously ill, that if I have
any wish to see her alive, I have not an hour to lose. It is the last
surviving relative I have in the world."

"I can say no more, then," rejoined the Squire shrugging his shoulders:
"When do you expect to return?"

"At least, ere the day fixed for the wedding," answered Aram, with a
grave and melancholy smile.

"Well, can you find time, think you, to call at the lodging in which my
nephew proposed to take up his abode,--my old lodging;--I will give you
the address,--and inquire if Walter has been heard of there: I confess
that I feel considerable alarm on his account. Since that short and
hurried letter which I read to you, I have heard nothing of him."

"You may rely on my seeing him if in London, and faithfully reporting to
you all that I can learn towards removing your anxiety."

"I do not doubt it; no heart is so kind as yours, Eugene. You will not
depart without receiving the additional sum you are entitled to claim
from me, since you think it may be useful to you in London, should you
find a favourable opportunity of increasing your annuity. And now I will
no longer detain you from taking your leave of Madeline."

The plausible story which Aram had invented of the illness and
approaching death of his last living relation, was readily believed by
the simple family to whom it was told; and Madeline herself checked her
tears that she might not, for his sake, sadden a departure that seemed
inevitable. Aram accordingly repaired to London that day,--the one that
followed the night which witnessed his fearful visit to the "Devil's
Crag."

It is precisely at this part of my history that I love to pause for a
moment; a sort of breathing interval between the cloud that has been long
gathering, and the storm that is about to burst. And this interval is not
without its fleeting gleam of quiet and holy sunshine.

It was Madeline's first absence from her lover since their vows had
plighted them to each other; and that first absence, when softened by so
many hopes as smiled upon her, is perhaps one of the most touching
passages in the history of a woman's love. It is marvellous how many
things, unheeded before, suddenly become dear. She then feels what a
power of consecration there was in the mere presence of the one beloved;
the spot he touched, the book he read, have become a part of him--are no
longer inanimate--are inspired, and have a being and a voice. And the
heart, too, soothed in discovering so many new treasures, and opening so
delightful a world of memory, is not yet acquainted with that weariness--
that sense of exhaustion and solitude which are the true pains of
absence, and belong to the absence not of hope but regret.

"You are cheerful, dear Madeline," said Ellinor, "though you did not
think it possible, and he not here!"

"I am occupied," replied Madeline, "in discovering how much I loved him."

We do wrong when we censure a certain exaggeration in the sentiments of
those who love. True passion is necessarily heightened by its very ardour
to an elevation that seems extravagant only to those who cannot feel it.
The lofty language of a hero is a part of his character; without that
largeness of idea he had not been a hero. With love, it is the same as
with glory: what common minds would call natural in sentiment, merely
because it is homely, is not natural, except to tamed affections. That is
a very poor, nay, a very coarse, love, in which the imagination makes not
the greater part. And the Frenchman, who censured the love of his
mistress because it was so mixed with the imagination, quarrelled with
the body, for the soul which inspired and preserved it.

Yet we do not say that Madeline was so possessed by the confidence of her
love, that she did not admit the intrusion of a single doubt or fear;
when she recalled the frequent gloom and moody fitfulness of her lover--
his strange and mysterious communings with self--the sorrow which, at
times, as on that Sabbath eve when he wept upon her bosom, appeared
suddenly to come upon a nature so calm and stately, and without a visible
cause; when she recalled all these symptoms of a heart not now at rest,
it was not possible for her to reject altogether a certain vague and
dreary apprehension. Nor did she herself, although to Ellinor she so
affected, ascribe this cloudiness and caprice of mood merely to the
result of a solitary and meditative life; she attributed them to the
influence of an early grief, perhaps linked with the affections, and did
not doubt but that one day or another she should learn its secret. As for
remorse--the memory of any former sin--a life so austerely blameless, a
disposition so prompt to the activity of good, and so enamoured of its
beauty--a mind so cultivated, a temper so gentle, and a heart so easily
moved--all would have forbidden, to natures far more suspicious than
Madeline's, the conception of such a thought. And so, with a patient
gladness, though not without some mixture of anxiety, she suffered
herself to glide onward to a future, which, come cloud, come shine, was,
she believed at least, to be shared with him.

On looking over the various papers from which I have woven this tale, I
find a letter from Madeline to Aram, dated at this time. The characters,
traced in the delicate and fair Italian hand coveted at that period, are
fading, and, in one part, wholly obliterated by time; but there seems to
me so much of what is genuine in the heart's beautiful romance in this
effusion, that I will lay it before the reader without adding or altering
a word.

"Thank you, thank you, dearest Eugene! I have received, then, the first
letter you ever wrote me. I cannot tell you how strange it seemed to me,
and how agitated I felt on seeing it, more so, I think, than if it had
been yourself who had returned. However, when the first delight of
reading it faded away, I found that it had not made me so happy as it
ought to have done--as I thought at first it had done. You seem sad and
melancholy; a certain nameless gloom appears to me to hang over your
whole letter. It affects my spirits--why I know not--and my tears fall
even while I read the assurances of your unaltered, unalterable love--and
yet this assurance your Madeline--vain girl!--never for a moment
disbelieves. I have often read and often heard of the distrust and
jealousy that accompany love; but I think that such a love must be a
vulgar and low sentiment. To me there seems a religion in love, and its
very foundation is in faith. You say, dearest, that the noise and stir of
the great city oppress and weary you even more than you had expected. You
say those harsh faces, in which business, and care, and avarice, and
ambition write their lineaments, are wholly unfamiliar to you;--you turn
aside to avoid them,--you wrap yourself up in your solitary feelings of
aversion to those you see, and you call upon those not present--upon your
Madeline! and would that your Madeline were with you! It seems to me--
perhaps you will smile when I say this--that I alone can understand you--
I alone can read your heart and your emotions;--and oh! dearest Eugene,
that I could read also enough of your past history to know all that has
cast so habitual a shadow over that lofty heart and that calm and
profound nature! You smile when I ask you--but sometimes you sigh,--and
the sigh pleases and soothes me better than the smile.

"We have heard nothing more of Walter, and my father begins at times to
be seriously alarmed about him. Your account, too, corroborates that
alarm. It is strange that he has not yet visited London, and that you can
obtain no clue of him. He is evidently still in search of his lost
parent, and following some obscure and uncertain track. Poor Walter! God
speed him! The singular fate of his father, and the many conjectures
respecting him, have, I believe, preyed on Walter's mind more than he
acknowledged. Ellinor found a paper in his closet, where we had occasion
to search the other day for something belonging to my father, which was
scribbled with all the various fragments of guess or information
concerning my uncle, obtained from time to time, and interspersed with
some remarks by Walter himself, that affected me strangely. It seems to
have been from early childhood the one desire of my cousin to discover
his father's fate. Perhaps the discovery may be already made;--perhaps my
long-lost uncle may yet be present at our wedding.

"You ask me, Eugene, if I still pursue my botanical researches. Sometimes
I do; but the flower now has no fragrance--and the herb no secret, that I
care for; and astronomy, which you had just begun to teach me, pleases me
more;--the flowers charm me when you are present; but the stars speak to
me of you in absence. Perhaps it would not be so, had I loved a being
less exalted than you. Every one, even my father, even Ellinor, smile
when they observe how incessantly I think of you--how utterly you have
become all in all to me. I could not tell this to you, though I write it:
is it not strange that letters should be more faithful than the tongue?
And even your letter, mournful as it is, seems to me kinder, and dearer,
and more full of yourself, than with all the magic of your language, and
the silver sweetness of your voice, your spoken words are. I walked by
your house yesterday; the windows were closed--there was a strange air of
lifelessness and dejection about it. Do you remember the evening in which
I first entered that house? Do you--or rather is there one hour in which
it is not present to you? For me, I live in the past,--it is the present-
-(which is without you,) in which I have no life. I passed into the
little garden, that with your own hands you have planted for me, and
filled with flowers. Ellinor was with me, and she saw my lips move. She
asked me what I was saying to myself. I would not tell her--I was praying
for you, my kind, my beloved Eugene. I was praying for the happiness of
your future years--praying that I might requite your love. Whenever I
feel the most, I am the most inclined to prayer. Sorrow, joy, tenderness,
all emotion, lift up my heart to God. And what a delicious overflow of
the heart is prayer! When I am with you--and I feel that you love me--my
happiness would be painful, if there were no God whom I might bless for
its excess. Do those, who believe not, love?--have they deep emotions?--
can they feel truly--devotedly? Why, when I talk thus to you--do you
always answer me with that chilling and mournful smile? You would make
religion only the creation of reason--as well might you make love the
same--what is either, unless you let it spring also from the feelings?

"When--when--when will you return? I think I love you now more than ever.
I think I have more courage to tell you so. So many things I have to say-
-so many events to relate. For what is not an event to US? the least
incident that has happened to either--the very fading of a flower, if you
have worn it, is a whole history to me.

"Adieu, God bless you--God reward you--God keep your heart with Him,
dearest, dearest Eugene. And may you every day know better and better how
utterly you are loved by your

"Madeline."

The epistle to which Lester referred as received from Walter, was one
written on the day of his escape from Mr. Pertinax Fillgrave, a short
note, rather than letter, which ran as follows.


"My dear Uncle,
"I have met with an accident which confined me to my bed;--a rencontre,
indeed, with the Knights of the Road--nothing serious, (so do not be
alarmed!) though the Doctor would fain have made it so. I am just about
to recommence my journey, but not towards London; on the contrary,
northward.

"I have, partly through the information of your old friend Mr. Courtland,
partly by accident, found what I hope may prove a clue to the fate of my
father. I am now departing to put this hope to the issue. More I would
fain say; but lest the expectation should prove fallacious, I will not
dwell on circumstances which would in that case only create in you a
disappointment similar to my own. Only this take with you, that my
father's proverbial good luck seems to have visited him since your latest
news of his fate; a legacy, though not a large one, awaited his return to
England from India; but see if I am not growing prolix already--I must
break off in order to reserve you the pleasure (may it be so!) of a full
surprise!

"God bless you, my dear Uncle! I write in spirits and hope; kindest love
to all at home.

"Walter Lester.

"P. S. Tell Ellinor that my bitterest misfortune in the adventure I have
referred to, was to be robbed of her purse. Will she knit me another? By
the way, I encountered Sir Peter Hales; such an open-hearted, generous
fellow as you said! 'thereby hangs a tale.'"

This letter, which provoked all the curiosity of our little circle, made
them anxiously look forward to every post for additional explanation, but
that explanation came not. And they were forced to console themselves
with the evident exhilaration under which Walter wrote, and the probable
supposition that he delayed farther information until it could be ample
and satisfactory.--"Knights of the Road," quoth Lester one day, "I wonder
if they were any of the gang that have just visited us. Well, but poor
boy! he does not say whether he has any money left; yet if he were short
of the gold, he would be very unlike his father, (or his uncle for that
matter,) had he forgotten to enlarge on that subject, however brief upon
others."

"Probably," said Ellinor, "the Corporal carried the main sum about him in
those well-stuffed saddle-bags, and it was only the purse that Walter had
about his person that was stolen; and it is probable that the Corporal
might have escaped, as he mentions nothing about that excellent
personage."

"A shrewd guess, Nell: but pray, why should Walter carry the purse about
him so carefully? Ah, you blush: well, will you knit him another?"

"Pshaw, Papa! Good b'ye, I am going to gather you a nosegay."

But Ellinor was seized with a sudden fit of industry, and somehow or
other she grew fonder of knitting than ever.

The neighbourhood was now tranquil and at peace; the nightly depredators
that had infested the green valleys of Grassdale were heard of no more;
it seemed a sudden incursion of fraud and crime, which was too unnatural
to the character of the spot invaded to do more than to terrify and to
disappear. The truditur dies die; the serene steps of one calm day
chasing another returned, and the past alarm was only remembered as a
tempting subject of gossip to the villagers, and (at the Hall) a theme of
eulogium on the courage of Eugene Aram.

"It is a lovely day," said Lester to his daughters, as they sate at the
window; "come, girls, get your bonnets, and let us take a walk into the
village."

"And meet the postman," said Ellinor, archly.

"Yes," rejoined Madeline in the same vein, but in a whisper that Lester
might not hear, "for who knows but that we may have a letter from
Walter?"

How prettily sounds such raillery on virgin lips. No, no; nothing on
earth is so lovely as the confidence between two happy sisters, who have
no secrets but those of a guileless love to reveal!

As they strolled into the village, they were met by Peter Dealtry, who
was slowly riding home on a large ass which carried himself and his
panniers to the neighbouring market in a more quiet and luxurious
indolence of action than would the harsher motions of the equine species.

"A fine day, Peter: and what news at market?" said Lester.

"Corn high,--hay dear, your honour," replied the clerk.

"Ah, I suppose so; a good time to sell ours, Peter;--we must see about it
on Saturday. But, pray, have you heard any thing from the Corporal since
his departure?"

"Not I, your honour, not I; though I think as he might have given us a
line, if it was only to thank me for my care of his cat, but--

           'Them as comes to go to roam,
           Thinks slight of they as stays at home.'"

"A notable distich, Peter; your own composition, I warrant."

"Mine! Lord love your honour, I has no genus, but I has memory; and when
them ere beautiful lines of poetry-like comes into my head, they stays
there, and stays till they pops out at my tongue like a bottle of ginger-
beer. I do loves poetry, Sir, 'specially the sacred."

"We know it,--we know it."

"For there be summut in it," continued the clerk, "which smooths a man's
heart like a clothes-brush, wipes away the dust and dirt, and sets all
the nap right; and I thinks as how 'tis what a clerk of the parish ought
to study, your honour."

"Nothing better; you speak like an oracle."

"Now, Sir, there be the Corporal, honest man, what thinks himself mighty
clever,--but he has no soul for varse. Lord love ye, to see the faces he
makes when I tells him a hymn or so; 'tis quite wicked, your honour,--for
that's what the heathen did, as you well know, Sir.

              "'And when I does discourse of things
                Most holy, to their tribe;
                What does they do?--they mocks at me,
                And makes my harp a gibe.'

"'Tis not what I calls pretty, Miss Ellinor."

"Certainly not, Peter; I wonder, with your talents for verse, you never
indulge in a little satire against such perverse taste."

"Satire! what's that? Oh, I knows; what they writes in elections. Why,
Miss, mayhap--" here Peter paused, and winked significantly--"but the
Corporal's a passionate man, you knows: but I could so sting him--Aha!
we'll see, we'll see.--Do you know, your honour," here Peter altered his
air to one of serious importance, as if about to impart a most sagacious
conjecture, "I thinks there be one reason why the Corporal has not
written to me."

"And what's that, Peter?"

"Cause, your honour, he's ashamed of his writing: I fancy as how his
spelling is no better than it should be--but mum's the word. You sees,
your honour, the Corporal's got a tarn for conversation-like--he be a
mighty fine talker surely! but he be shy of the pen--'tis not every man
what talks biggest what's the best schollard at bottom. Why, there's the
newspaper I saw in the market, (for I always sees the newspaper once a
week,) says as how some of them great speakers in the Parliament House,
are no better than ninnies when they gets upon paper; and that's the
Corporal's case, I sispect: I suppose as how they can't spell all them
ere long words they make use on. For my part, I thinks there be mortal
desate (deceit) like in that ere public speaking; for I knows how far a
loud voice and a bold face goes, even in buying a cow, your honour; and
I'm afraid the country's greatly bubbled in that ere partiklar; for if a
man can't write down clearly what he means for to say, I does not thinks
as how he knows what he means when he goes for to speak!"

This speech--quite a moral exposition from Peter, and, doubtless,
inspired by his visit to market--for what wisdom cannot come from
intercourse?--our good publican delivered with especial solemnity,
giving a huge thump on the sides of his ass as he concluded.

"Upon my word, Peter," said Lester, laughing, "you have grown quite a
Solomon; and, instead of a clerk, you ought to be a Justice of Peace, at
the least: and, indeed, I must say that I think you shine more in the
capacity of a lecturer than in that of a soldier."

"'Tis not for a clerk of the parish to have too great a knack at the
weapons of the flesh," said Peter, sanctimoniously, and turning aside to
conceal a slight confusion at the unlucky reminiscence of his warlike
exploits; "But lauk, Sir, even as to that, why we has frightened all the
robbers away. What would you have us do more?"

"Upon my word, Peter, you say right; and now, good day. Your wife's well,
I hope? and Jacobina--is not that the cat's name?--in high health and
favour."

"Hem, hem!--why, to be sure, the cat's a good cat; but she steals Goody
Truman's cream as she sets for butter reg'larly every night."

"Oh! you must cure her of that," said Lester, smiling, "I hope that's the
worst fault."

"Why, your gardiner do say," replied Peter, reluctantly, "as how she goes
arter the pheasants in Copse-hole."

"The deuce!" cried the Squire; "that will never do: she must be shot,
Peter, she must be shot. My pheasants! my best preserves! and poor Goody
Truman's cream, too! a perfect devil. Look to it, Peter; if I hear any
complaints again, Jacobina is done for--What are you laughing at, Nell?"

"Well, go thy ways, Peter, for a shrewd man and a clever man; it is not
every one who could so suddenly have elicited my father's compassion for
Goody Truman's cream."

"Pooh!" said the Squire, "a pheasant's a serious thing, child; but you
women don't understand matters."

They had now crossed through the village into the fields, and were slowly
sauntering by

           "Hedge-row elms on hillocks green,"

when, seated under a stunted pollard, they came suddenly on the ill-
favoured person of Dame Darkmans: she sat bent (with her elbows on her
knees, and her hands supporting her chin,) looking up to the clear
autumnal sky; and as they approached, she did not stir, or testify by
sign or glance that she even perceived them.

There is a certain kind-hearted sociality of temper that you see
sometimes among country gentlemen, especially not of the highest rank,
who knowing, and looked up to by, every one immediately around them,
acquire the habit of accosting all they meet--a habit as painful for them
to break, as it was painful for poor Rousseau to be asked 'how he did' by
an applewoman. And the kind old Squire could not pass even Goody
Darkmans, (coming thus abruptly upon her,) without a salutation.

"All alone, Dame, enjoying the fine weather--that's right--And how fares
it with you?"

The old woman turned round her dark and bleared eyes, but without moving
limb or posture. "'Tis well-nigh winter now: 'tis not easy for poor folks
to fare well at this time o' year. Where be we to get the firewood, and
the clothing, and the dry bread, carse it! and the drop o' stuff that's
to keep out the cold. Ah, it's fine for you to ask how we does, and the
days shortening, and the air sharpening."

"Well, Dame, shall I send to--for a warm cloak for you?" said Madeline.

"Ho! thankye, young leddy--thankye kindly, and I'll wear it at your
widding, for they says you be going to git married to the larned man
yander. Wish ye well, ma'am, wish ye well."

And the old hag grinned as she uttered this benediction, that sounded on
her lips like the Lord's Prayer on a witch's; which converts the devotion
to a crime, and the prayer to a curse.

"Ye're very winsome, young lady," she continued, eyeing Madeline's tall
and rounded figure from head to foot. "Yes, very--but I was as bonny as
you once, and if you lives--mind that--fair and happy as you stand now,
you'll be as withered, and foul-faced, and wretched as me--ha! ha! I
loves to look on young folk, and think o' that. But mayhap ye won't live
to be old--more's the pity, for ye might be a widow and childless, and a
lone 'oman, as I be; if you were to see sixty: an' wouldn't that be
nice?--ha! ha!--much pleasure ye'd have in the fine weather then, and in
people's fine speeches, eh?"

"Come, Dame," said Lester, with a cloud on his benign brow, "this talk is
ungrateful to me, and disrespectful to Miss Lester; it is not the way to-
-" "Hout!" interrupted the old woman; "I begs pardon, Sir, if I offended-
-I begs pardon, young lady, 'tis my way, poor old soul that I be. And you
meant me kindly, and I would not be uncivil, now you are a-going to give
me a bonny cloak,--and what colour shall it be?"

"Why, what colour would you like best, Dame--red?"

"Red!--no!--like a gypsy-quean, indeed! Besides, they all has red cloaks
in the village, yonder. No; a handsome dark grey--or a gay, cheersome
black, an' then I'll dance in mourning at your wedding, young lady; and
that's what ye'll like. But what ha'ye done with the merry bridegroom,
Ma'am? Gone away, I hear. Ah, ye'll have a happy life on it, with a
gentleman like him. I never seed him laugh once. Why does not ye hire me
as your sarvant--would not I be a favourite thin! I'd stand on the
thrishold, and give ye good morrow every day. Oh! it does me a deal of
good to say a blessing to them as be younger and gayer than me. Madge
Darkman's blessing!--Och! what a thing to wish for!"

"Well, good day, mother," said Lester, moving on.

"Stay a bit, stay a bit, Sir;--has ye any commands, Miss, yonder, at
Master Aram's? His old 'oman's a gossip of mine--we were young togither--
and the lads did not know which to like the best. So we often meets, and
talks of the old times. I be going up there now.--Och! I hope I shall be
asked to the widding. And what a nice month to wid in; Novimber--
Novimber, that's the merry month for me! But 'tis cold--bitter cold, too.
Well, good day--good day. Ay," continued the hag, as Lester and the
sisters moved on, "ye all goes and throws niver a look behind. Ye
despises the poor in your hearts. But the poor will have their day. Och!
an' I wish ye were dead--dead--dead, an' I dancing in my bonny black
cloak about your graves;--for an't all mine dead--cold--cold--rotting,
and one kind and rich man might ha' saved them all."

Thus mumbling, the wretched creature looked after the father and his
daughters, as they wound onward, till her dim eyes caught them no longer;
and then, drawing her rags round her, she rose, and struck into the
opposite path that led to Aram's house.

"I hope that hag will be no constant visitor at your future residence,
Madeline," said the younger sister; "it would be like a blight on the
air."

"And if we could remove her from the parish," said Lester, "it would be a
happy day for the village. Yet, strange as it may seem, so great is her
power over them all, that there is never a marriage, nor a christening in
the village, from which she is absent--they dread her spite and foul
tongue enough, to make them even ask humbly for her presence."

"And the hag seems to know that her bad qualities are a good policy, and
obtain more respect than amiability would do," said Ellinor. "I think
there is some design in all she utters."

"I don't know how it is, but the words and sight of that woman have
struck a damp into my heart," said Madeline, musingly.

"It would be wonderful if they had not, child," said Lester, soothingly;
and he changed the conversation to other topics.

As concluding their walk, they re-entered the village, they encountered
that most welcome of all visitants to a country village, the postman--a
tall, thin pedestrian, famous for swiftness of foot, with a cheerful
face, a swinging gait, and Lester's bag slung over his shoulder. Our
little party quickened their pace--one letter--for Madeline--Aram's
handwriting. Happy blush--bright smile! Ah! no meeting ever gives the
delight that a letter can inspire in the short absences of a first love
"And none for me," said Lester, in a disappointed tone, and Ellinor's
hand hung more heavily on his arm, and her step moved slower. "It is very
strange in Walter; but I am more angry than alarmed."

"Be sure," said Ellinor, after a pause, "that it is not his fault.
Something may have happened to him. Good Heavens! if he has been attacked
again--those fearful highwaymen!"

"Nay," said Lester, "the most probable supposition after all is, that he
will not write until his expectations are realized or destroyed. Natural
enough, too; it is what I should have done, if I had been in his place."

"Natural," said Ellinor, who now attacked where she before defended--
"Natural not to give us one line, to say he is well and safe--natural; I
could not have been so remiss!"

"Ay, child, you women are so fond of writing,--'tis not so with us,
especially when we are moving about: it is always--'Well, I must write
to-morrow--well, I must write when this is settled--well, I must write
when I arrive at such a place;'--and, meanwhile, time slips on, till
perhaps we get ashamed of writing at all. I heard a great man say once,
that 'Men must have something effeminate about them to be good
correspondents;' and 'faith, I think it's true enough on the whole."

"I wonder if Madeline thinks so?" said Ellinor, enviously glancing at her
sister's absorption, as, lingering a little behind, she devoured the
contents of her letter.

"He is coming home immediately, dear father; perhaps he may be here to-
morrow," cried Madeline abruptly; "think of that, Ellinor! Ah! and he
writes in spirits!"--and the poor girl clapped her hands delightedly, as
the colour danced joyously over her cheek and neck.

"I am glad to hear it," quoth Lester; "we shall have him at last beat
even Ellinor in gaiety!"

"That may easily be," sighed Ellinor to herself, as she glided past them
into the house, and sought her own chamber.



                               CHAPTER V.

     A REFLECTION NEW AND STRANGE.--THE STREETS OF LONDON.--A GREAT
       MAN'S LIBRARY.--A CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE STUDENT AND AN
               ACQUAINTANCE OF THE READER'S.--ITS RESULT.

                   Rollo. Ask for thyself.
                   Lat. What more can concern me than this?
                                --The Tragedy of Rollo.

It was an evening in the declining autumn of 1758; some public ceremony
had occurred during the day, and the crowd, which it had assembled was
only now gradually lessening, as the shadows darkened along the streets.
Through this crowd, self-absorbed as usual--with them--not one of them--
Eugene Aram slowly wound his uncompanioned way. What an incalculable
field of dread and sombre contemplation is opened to every man who, with
his heart disengaged from himself, and his eyes accustomed to the sharp
observance of his tribe, walks through the streets of a great city! What
a world of dark and troublous secrets in the breast of every one who
hurries by you! Goethe has said somewhere, that each of us, the best as
the worst, hides within him something--some feeling, some remembrance
that, if known, would make you hate him. No doubt the saying is
exaggerated; but still, what a gloomy and profound sublimity in the
idea!--what a new insight it gives into the hearts of the common herd!--
with what a strange interest it may inspire us for the humblest, the
tritest passenger that shoulders us in the great thoroughfare of life!
One of the greatest pleasures in the world is to walk alone, and at
night, (while they are yet crowded,) through the long lamplit streets of
this huge metropolis. There, even more than in the silence of woods and
fields, seems to me the source of endless, various meditation.

There was that in Aram's person which irresistibly commanded attention.
The earnest composure of his countenance, its thoughtful paleness, the
long hair falling back, the peculiar and estranged air of his whole
figure, accompanied as it was, by a mildness of expression, and that
lofty abstraction which characterises one who is a brooder over his own
heart--a ponderer and a soothsayer to his own dreams;--all these arrested
from time to time the second gaze of the passenger, and forced on him the
impression, simple as was the dress, and unpretending as was the gait of
the stranger, that in indulging that second gaze, he was in all
probability satisfying the curiosity which makes us love to fix our
regard upon any remarkable man.

At length Aram turned from the more crowded streets, and in a short time
paused before one of the most princely houses in London. It was
surrounded by a spacious court-yard, and over the porch, the arms of the
owner, with the coronet and supporters, were raised in stone.

"Is Lord--within?" asked Aram of the bluff porter who appeared at the
gate.

"My Lord is at dinner," replied the porter, thinking the answer quite
sufficient, and about to reclose the gate upon the unseasonable visitor.

"I am glad to find he is at home," rejoined Aram, gliding past the
servant, with an air of quiet and unconscious command, and passing the
court-yard to the main building.

At the door of the house, to which you ascended by a flight of stone
steps, the valet of the nobleman--the only nobleman introduced in our
tale, and consequently the same whom we have presented to our reader in
the earlier part of this work, happened to be lounging and enjoying the
smoke of the evening air. High-bred, prudent, and sagacious, Lord--knew
well how often great men, especially in public life, obtain odium for the
rudeness of their domestics, and all those, especially about himself, had
been consequently tutored into the habits of universal courtesy and
deference, to the lowest stranger, as well as to the highest guest. And
trifling as this may seem, it was an act of morality as well as of
prudence. Few can guess what pain may be saved to poor and proud men of
merit by a similar precaution. The valet, therefore, replied to Aram's
inquiry with great politeness; he recollected the name and repute of
Aram, and as the Earl, taking delight in the company of men of letters,
was generally easy of access to all such--the great man's great man
instantly conducted the Student to the Earl's library, and informing him
that his Lordship had not yet left the dining-room, where he was
entertaining a large party, assured him that he should be informed of
Aram's visit the moment he did so.

Lord--was still in office: sundry boxes were scattered on the floor;
papers, that seemed countless, lay strewed over the immense library-
table; but here and there were books of a more seductive character than
those of business, in which the mark lately set, and the pencilled note
still fresh, showed the fondness with which men of cultivated minds,
though engaged in official pursuits, will turn, in the momentary
intervals of more arid and toilsome life, to those lighter studies which
perhaps they in reality the most enjoy.

One of these books, a volume of Shaftesbury, Aram carefully took up; it
opened of its own accord in that most beautiful and profound passage
which contains perhaps the justest sarcasm, to which that ingenious and
graceful reasoner has given vent.

"The very spirit of Faction, for the greatest part, seems to be no other
than the abuse or irregularity of that social love and common affection
which is natural to mankind--for the opposite of sociableness, is
selfishness, and of all characters, the thorough selfish one--is the
least forward in taking party. The men of this sort are, in this respect,
true men of moderation. They are secure of their temper, and possess
themselves too well to be in danger of entering warmly into any cause, or
engaging deeply with any side or faction."

On the margin of the page was the following note, in the handwriting of
Lord--.

"Generosity hurries a man into party--philosophy keeps him aloof from it;
the Emperor Julian says in his epistle to Themistius, 'If you should form
only three or four philosophers, you would contribute more essentially to
the happiness of mankind than many kings united.' Yet, if all men were
philosophers, I doubt whether, though more men would be virtuous, there
would be so many instances of an extraordinary virtue. The violent
passions produce dazzling irregularities."

The Student was still engaged with this note when the Earl entered the
room. As the door through which he passed was behind Aram, and he trod
with a soft step, he was not perceived by the Scholar till he had reached
him, and, looking over Aram's shoulder, the Earl said:--"You will dispute
the truth of my remark, will you not? Profound calm is the element in
which you would place all the virtues."

"Not all, my Lord," answered Aram, rising, as the Earl now shook him by
the hand, and expressed his delight at seeing the Student again. Though
the sagacious nobleman had no sooner heard the Student's name, than, in
his own heart, he was convinced that Aram had sought him for the purpose
of soliciting a renewal of the offers he had formerly refused; he
resolved to leave his visitor to open the subject himself, and appeared
courteously to consider the visit as a matter of course, made without any
other object than the renewal of the mutual pleasure of intercourse.

"I am afraid, my Lord," said Aram, "that you are engaged. My visit can be
paid to-morrow if--" "Indeed," said the Earl interrupting him, and
drawing a chair to the table, "I have no engagements which should deprive
me of the pleasure of your company. A few friends have indeed dined with
me, but as they are now with Lady--, I do not think they will greatly
miss me; besides, an occasional absence is readily forgiven in us happy
men of office--we, who have the honour of exciting the envy of all
England, for being made magnificently wretched."

"I am glad you allow so much, my Lord," said Aram smiling, "I could not
have said more. Ambition only makes a favourite to make an ingrate;--she
has lavished her honours on Lord--, and see how he speaks of her bounty?"

"Nay," said the Earl, "I spoke wantonly, and stand corrected. I have no
reason to complain of the course I have chosen. Ambition, like any other
passion, gives us unhappy moments; but it gives us also an animated life.
In its pursuit, the minor evils of the world are not felt; little
crosses, little vexations do not disturb us. Like men who walk in sleep,
we are absorbed in one powerful dream, and do not even know the obstacles
in our way, or the dangers that surround us: in a word, we have no
private life. All that is merely domestic, the anxiety and the loss which
fret other men, which blight the happiness of other men, are not felt by
us: we are wholly public;--so that if we lose much comfort, we escape
much care."

The Earl broke off for a moment; and then turning the subject, inquired
after the Lesters, and making some general and vague observations about
that family, came purposely to a pause.

Aram broke it:--"My Lord," said he, with a slight, but not ungraceful,
embarrassment, "I fear that, in the course of your political life, you
must have made one observation, that he who promises to-day, will be
called upon to perform to-morrow. No man who has any thing to bestow, can
ever promise with impunity. Some time since, you tendered me offers that
would have dazzled more ardent natures than mine; and which I might have
advanced some claim to philosophy in refusing. I do not now come to ask a
renewal of those offers. Public life, and the haunts of men, are as
hateful as ever to my pursuits: but I come, frankly and candidly, to
throw myself on that generosity, which proffered to me then so large a
bounty. Certain circumstances have taken from me the small pittance which
supplied my wants;--I require only the power to pursue my quiet and
obscure career of study--your Lordship can afford me that power: it is
not against custom for the Government to grant some small annuity to men
of letters--your Lordship's interest could obtain for me this favour. Let
me add, however, that I can offer nothing in return! Party politics--
Sectarian interests--are for ever dead to me: even my common studies are
of small general utility to mankind--I am conscious of this--would it
were otherwise!--Once I hoped it would be--but--" Aram here turned deadly
pale, gasped for breath, mastered his emotion, and proceeded--"I have no
great claim, then, to this bounty, beyond that which all poor cultivators
of the abstruse sciences can advance. It is well for a country that those
sciences should be cultivated; they are not of a nature which is ever
lucrative to the possessor--not of a nature that can often be left, like
lighter literature, to the fair favour of the public--they call, perhaps,
more than any species of intellectual culture, for the protection of a
government; and though in me would be a poor selection, the principle
would still be served, and the example furnish precedent for nobler
instances hereafter. I have said all, my Lord!"

Nothing, perhaps, more affects a man of some sympathy with those who
cultivate letters, than the pecuniary claims of one who can advance them
with justice, and who advances them also with dignity. If the meanest,
the most pitiable, the most heart-sickening object in the world, is the
man of letters, sunk into the habitual beggar, practising the tricks,
incurring the rebuke, glorying in the shame, of the mingled mendicant and
swindler;--what, on the other hand, so touches, so subdues us, as the
first, and only petition, of one whose intellect dignifies our whole
kind; and who prefers it with a certain haughtiness in his very modesty;
because, in asking a favour to himself, he may be only asking the power
to enlighten the world?

"Say no more, Sir," said the Earl, affected deeply, and giving gracefully
way to the feeling; "the affair is settled. Consider it utterly so. Name
only the amount of the annuity you desire."

With some hesitation Aram named a sum so moderate, so trivial, that the
Minister, accustomed as he was to the claims of younger sons and widowed
dowagers--accustomed to the hungry cravings of petitioners without merit,
who considered birth the only just title to the right of exactions from
the public--was literally startled by the contrast. "More than this,"
added Aram, "I do not require, and would decline to accept. We have some
right to claim existence from the administrators of the common stock--
none to claim affluence."

"Would to Heaven!" said the Earl, smiling, "that all claimants were like
you: pension lists would not then call for indignation; and ministers
would not blush to support the justice of the favours they conferred. But
are you still firm in rejecting a more public career, with all its
deserved emoluments and just honours? The offer I made you once, I renew
with increased avidity now."

"'Despiciam dites,'" answered Aram, "and, thanks to you, I may add,
'despiciamque famem.'"



                              CHAPTER VI.

       THE THAMES AT NIGHT.--A THOUGHT.--THE STUDENT RE-SEEKS THE
           RUFFIAN.--A HUMAN FEELING EVEN IN THE WORST SOIL.

                          Clem. 'Tis our last interview!
                          Stat. Pray Heav'n it be.
                                      --Clemanthes.

On leaving Lord _____'s, Aram proceeded, with a lighter and more rapid
step, towards a less courtly quarter of the metropolis.

He had found, on arriving in London, that in order to secure the annual
sum promised to Houseman, it had been necessary to strip himself even of
the small stipend he had hoped to retain. And hence his visit, and hence
his petition to Lord--. He now bent his way to the spot in which Houseman
had appointed their meeting. To the fastidious reader these details of
pecuniary matters, so trivial in themselves, may be a little wearisome,
and may seem a little undignified; but we are writing a romance of real
life, and the reader must take what is homely with what may be more epic-
-the pettiness and the wants of the daily world, with its loftier sorrows
and its grander crimes. Besides, who knows how darkly just may be that
moral which shows us a nature originally high, a soul once all a-thirst
for truth, bowed (by what events?) to the manoeuvres and the lies of the
worldly hypocrite?

The night had now closed in, and its darkness was only relieved by the
wan lamps that vista'd the streets, and a few dim stars that struggled
through the reeking haze that curtained the great city. Aram had now
gained one of the bridges 'that arch the royal Thames,' and, in no time
dead to scenic attraction, he there paused for a moment, and looked along
the dark river that rushed below.

Oh, God! how many wild and stormy hearts have stilled themselves on that
spot, for one dread instant of thought--of calculation--of resolve--one
instant the last of life! Look at night along the course of that stately
river, how gloriously it seems to mock the passions of them that dwell
beside it;--Unchanged--unchanging--all around it quick death, and
troubled life; itself smiling up to the grey stars, and singing from its
deep heart as it bounds along. Beside it is the Senate, proud of its
solemn triflers, and there the cloistered Tomb, in which as the loftiest
honour, some handful of the fiercest of the strugglers may gain
forgetfulness and a grave! There is no moral to a great city like the
River that washes its walls.

There was something in the view before him, that suggested reflections
similar to these, to the strange and mysterious breast of the lingering
Student. A solemn dejection crept over him, a warning voice sounded on
his ear, the fearful Genius within him was aroused, and even in the
moment when his triumph seemed complete and his safety secured, he felt
it only as

           "The torrent's smoothness ere it dash below."

The mist obscured and saddened the few lights scattered on either side
the water. And a deep and gloomy quiet brooded round;

               "The very houses seemed asleep,
                And all that mighty heart was lying still."

Arousing himself from his short and sombre reverie, Aram resumed his way,
and threading some of the smaller streets on the opposite side of the
water, arrived at last in the street in which he was to seek Houseman.

It was a narrow and dark lane, and seemed altogether of a suspicious and
disreputable locality. One or two samples of the lowest description of
alehouses broke the dark silence of the spot;--from them streamed the
only lights which assisted the single lamp that burned at the entrance of
the alley; and bursts of drunken laughter and obscene merriment broke out
every now and then from these wretched theatres of Pleasure As Aram
passed one of them, a crowd of the lowest order of ruffian and harlot
issued noisily from the door, and suddenly obstructed his way; through
this vile press reeking with the stamp and odour of the most repellent
character of vice was the lofty and cold Student to force his path! The
darkness, his quick step, his downcast head, favoured his escape through
the unhallowed throng, and he now stood opposite the door of a small and
narrow house. A ponderous knocker adorned the door, which seemed of
uncommon strength, being thickly studded with large nails. He knocked
twice before his summons was answered, and then a voice from within,
cried, "Who's there? What want you?"

"I seek one called Houseman."

No answer was returned--some moments elapsed. Again the Student knocked,
and presently he heard the voice of Houseman himself call out, "Who's
there--Joe the Cracksman?"

"Richard Houseman, it is I," answered Aram, in a deep tone, and
suppressing the natural feelings of loathing and abhorrence.

Houseman uttered a quick exclamation; the door was hastily unbarred All
within was utterly dark; but Aram felt with a thrill of repugnance, the
gripe of his strange acquaintance on his hand.

"Ha! it is you!--Come in, come in!--let me lead you. Have a care--cling
to the wall--the right hand--now then--stay. So--so"--(opening the door
of a room, in which a single candle, wellnigh in its socket, broke on the
previous darkness;) "here we are! here we are! And, how goes it--eh!"

Houseman, now bustling about, did the honours of his apartment with a
sort of complacent hospitality. He drew two rough wooden chairs, that in
some late merriment seemed to have been upset, and lay, cumbering the
unwashed and carpetless floor, in a position exactly contrary to that
destined them by their maker;--he drew these chairs near a table strewed
with drinking horns, half-emptied bottles, and a pack of cards. Dingy
caricatures of the large coarse fashion of the day, decorated the walls;
and carelessly thrown on another table, lay a pair of huge horse-pistols,
an immense shovel hat, a false moustache, a rouge-pot, and a riding-whip.
All this the Student comprehended with a rapid glance--his lip quivered
for a moment--whether with shame or scorn of himself, and then throwing
himself on the chair Houseman had set for him, he said, "I have come to
discharge my part of our agreement."

"You are most welcome," replied Houseman, with that tone of coarse, yet
flippant jocularity, which afforded to the mien and manner of Aram a
still stronger contrast than his more unrelieved brutality.

"There," said Aram, giving him a paper; "there you will perceive that the
sum mentioned is secured to you, the moment you quit this country. When
shall that be? Let me entreat haste."

"Your prayer shall be granted. Before day-break to-morrow, I will be on
the road."

Aram's face brightened.

"There is my hand upon it," said Houseman, earnestly. "You may now rest
assured that you are free of me for life. Go home--marry--enjoy your
existence--as I have done. Within four days, if the wind set fair, I am
in France."

"My business is done; I will believe you," said Aram, frankly, and
rising.

"You may," answered Houseman. "Stay--I will light you to the door. Devil
and death--how the d--d candle flickers."

Across the gloomy passage, as the candle now flared--and now was dulled--
by quick fits and starts,--Houseman, after this brief conference,
reconducted the Student. And as Aram turned from the door, he flung his
arms wildly aloft, and exclaimed in the voice of one, from whose heart a
load is lifted--"Now, now, for Madeline. I breathe freely at last."

Meanwhile, Houseman turned musingly back, and regained his room,
muttering, "Yes--yes--my business here is also done! Competence and
safety abroad--after all, what a bugbear is this conscience!--fourteen
years have rolled away--and lo! nothing discovered! nothing known! And
easy circumstances--the very consequence of the deed--wait the remainder
of my days:--my child, too--my Jane--shall not want--shall not be a
beggar nor a harlot."

So musing, Houseman threw himself contentedly on the chair, and the last
flicker of the expiring light, as it played upward on his rugged
countenance--rested on one of those self-hugging smiles, with which a
sanguine man contemplates a satisfactory future.

He had not been long alone, before the door opened; and a woman with a
light in her hand appeared. She was evidently intoxicated, and approached
Houseman with a reeling and unsteady step.

"How now, Bess? drunk as usual. Get to bed, you she shark, go!"

"Tush, man, tush! don't talk to your betters," said the woman, sinking
into a chair; and her situation, disgusting as it was, could not conceal
the rare, though somewhat coarse beauty of her face and person.

Even Houseman, (his heart being opened, as it were, by the cheering
prospects of which his soliloquy had indulged the contemplation,) was
sensible of the effect of the mere physical attraction, and drawing his
chair closer to her, he said in a tone less harsh than usual.

"Come, Bess, come, you must correct that d--d habit of yours; perhaps I
may make a lady of you after all. What if I were to let you take a trip
with me to France, old girl, eh? and let you set off that handsome face,
for you are devilish handsome, and that's the truth of it, with some of
the French gewgaws you women love. What if. I were? would you be a good
girl, eh?"

"I think I would, Dick,--I think I would," replied the woman, showing a
set of teeth as white as ivory, with pleasure partly at the flattery,
partly at the proposition: "you are a good fellow, Dick, that you are."

"Humph!" said Houseman, whose hard, shrewd mind was not easily cajoled,
"but what's that paper in your bosom, Bess? a love-letter, I'll swear."

"'Tis to you then; came to you this morning, only somehow or other, I
forgot to give it you till now!"

"Ha! a letter to me?" said Houseman, seizing the epistle in question.
"Hem! the Knaresbro' postmark--my mother-in-law's crabbed hand, too! what
can the old crone want?"

He opened the letter, and hastily scanning its contents, started up.

"Mercy, mercy!" cried he, "my child is ill, dying. I may never see her
again,--my only child,--the only thing that loves me,--that does not
loath me as a villain!"

"Heyday, Dicky!" said the woman, clinging to him, "don't take on so, who
so fond of you as me?--what's a brat like that!"

"Curse on you, hag!" exclaimed Houseman, dashing her to the ground with a
rude brutality, "you love me! Pah! My child,--my little Jane,--my pretty
Jane,--my merry Jane,--my innocent Jane--I will seek her instantly--
instantly; what's money? what's ease,--if--if--" And the father, wretch,
ruffian as he was, stung to the core of that last redeeming feeling of
his dissolute nature, struck his breast with his clenched hand, and
rushed from the room--from the house.



                              CHAPTER VII.

           MADELINE, HER HOPES.--A MILD AUTUMN CHARACTERISED.
                      --A LANDSCAPE.--A RETURN.

                   'Tis late, and cold--stir up the fire,
                   Sit close, and draw the table nigher;
                   Be merry and drink wine that's old,
                   A hearty medicine 'gainst a cold,
                   Welcome--welcome shall fly round!
                   --Beaumont and Fletcher: Song in the Lover's Progress.

As when the Great Poet,--

                   Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detained
                   In that obscure sojourn; while, in his flight
                   Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
                   He sang of chaos, and eternal night:--

As when, revisiting the "Holy Light, offspring of heaven first-born," the
sense of freshness and glory breaks upon him, and kindles into the solemn
joyfulness of adjuring song: so rises the mind from the contemplation of
the gloom and guilt of life, "the utter and the middle darkness," to some
pure and bright redemption of our nature--some creature of "the starry
threshold," "the regions mild of calm and serene air." Never was a nature
more beautiful and soft than that of Madeline Lester--never a nature more
inclined to live "above the smoke and stir of this dim spot, which men
call earth"--to commune with its own high and chaste creations of
thought--to make a world out of the emotions which this world knows not--
a paradise, which sin, and suspicion, and fear, had never yet invaded--
where God might recognise no evil, and Angels forebode no change.

Aram's return was now daily, nay, even hourly expected. Nothing disturbed
the soft, though thoughtful serenity, with which his betrothed relied
upon the future. Aram's letters had been more deeply impressed with the
evidence of love, than even his spoken vows: those letters had diffused
not so much an agitated joy, as a full and mellow light of happiness over
her heart. Every thing, even Nature, seemed inclined to smile with
approbation on her hopes. The autumn had never, in the memory of man,
worn so lovely a garment: the balmy and freshening warmth, which
sometimes characterises that period of the year, was not broken, as yet,
by the chilling winds, or the sullen mists, which speak to us so
mournfully of the change that is creeping over the beautiful world. The
summer visitants among the feathered tribe yet lingered in flocks,
showing no intention of departure; and their song--but above all, the
song of the sky-lark--which, to the old English poet, was what the
nightingale is to the Eastern--seemed even to grow more cheerful as the
sun shortened his daily task;--the very mulberry-tree, and the rich
boughs of the horse chesnut, retained something of their verdure; and the
thousand glories of the woodland around Grassdale were still chequered
with the golden hues that herald, but beautify Decay. Still, no news had
been received of Walter: and this was the only source of anxiety that
troubled the domestic happiness of the Manor-house. But the Squire
continued to remember, that in youth he himself had been but a negligent
correspondent; and the anxiety he felt, assumed rather the character of
anger at Walter's forgetfulness, than of fear for his safety. There were
moments when Ellinor silently mourned and pined; but she loved her sister
not less even than her cousin; and in the prospect of Madeline's
happiness, did not too often question the future respecting her own.

One evening, the sisters were sitting at their work by the window of the
little parlour, and talking over various matters of which the Great
World, strange as it may seem, never made a part.

They conversed in a low tone, for Lester sat by the hearth in which a
wood fire had been just kindled, and appeared to have fallen into an
afternoon slumber. The sun was sinking to repose, and the whole landscape
lay before them bathed in light, till a cloud passing overhead, darkened
the heavens just immediately above them, and one of those beautiful sun
showers, that rather characterize the spring than autumn, began to fall;
the rain was rather sharp, and descended with a pleasant and freshening
noise through the boughs, all shining in the sun light; it did not,
however, last long, and presently there sprang up the glorious rainbow,
and the voices of the birds, which a minute before were mute, burst into
a general chorus, the last hymn of the declining day. The sparkling drops
fell fast and gratefully from the trees, and over the whole scene there
breathed an inexpressible sense of gladness--

                "The odour and the harmony of eve."

"How beautiful!" said Ellinor, pausing from her work--"Ah, see the
squirrel, is that our pet one? he is coming close to the window, poor
fellow! Stay, I will get him some bread."

"Hush!" said Madeline, half rising, and turning quite pale, "Do you hear
a step without?"

"Only the dripping of the boughs," answered Ellinor.

"No--no--it is he--it is he!" cried Madeline, the blood rushing back
vividly to her cheeks, "I know his step!"

And--yes--winding round the house till he stood opposite the window, the
sisters now beheld Eugene Aram; the diamond rain glittered on the locks
of his long hair; his cheeks were flushed by exercise, or more probably
the joy of return; a smile, in which there was no shade or sadness,
played over his features, which caught also a fictitious semblance of
gladness from the rays of the setting sun which fell full upon them.

"My Madeline, my love, my Madeline!" broke from his lips.

"You are returned--thank God--thank God--safe--well?"

"And happy!" added Aram, with a deep meaning in the tone of his voice.

"Hey day, hey day!" cried the Squire, starting up, "what's this? bless
me, Eugene!--wet through too, seemingly! Nell, run and open the door--
more wood on the fire--the pheasants for supper--and stay, girl, stay--
there's the key of the cellar--the twenty-one port--you know it. Ah! ah!
God willing, Eugene Aram shall not complain of his welcome back to
Grassdale!"



                             CHAPTER VIII.

     AFFECTION: ITS GODLIKE NATURE.--THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN ARAM
               AND MADELINE.--THE FATALIST FORGETS FATE.

                   Hope is a lover's staff; walk hence with that,
                   And manage it against despairing thoughts.
                                --Two Gentlemen of Verona.

If there be any thing thoroughly lovely in the human heart, it is
Affection! All that makes hope elevated, or fear generous, belongs to the
capacity of loving. For my own part, I do not wonder, in looking over the
thousand creeds and sects of men, that so many religionists have traced
their theology,--that so many moralists have wrought their system from--
Love. The errors thus originated have something in them that charms us
even while we smile at the theology, or while we neglect the system. What
a beautiful fabric would be human nature--what a divine guide would be
human reason--if Love were indeed the stratum of the one, and the
inspiration of the other! What a world of reasonings, not immediately
obvious, did the sage of old open to our inquiry, when he said the
pathetic was the truest part of the sublime. Aristides, the painter,
created a picture in which an infant is represented sucking a mother
wounded to the death, who, even in that agony, strives to prevent the
child from injuring itself by imbibing the blood mingled with the milk.
[Note: Intelligitur sentire mater et timere, ne mortuo lacte sanguinem
lambat.] How many emotions, that might have made us permanently wiser and
better, have we lost in losing that picture!

Certainly, Love assumes a more touching and earnest semblance, when we
find it in some retired and sequestered hollow of the world; when it is
not mixed up with the daily frivolities and petty emotions of which a
life passed in cities is so necessarily composed: we cannot but believe
it a deeper and a more absorbing passion: perhaps we are not always right
in the belief.

Had one of that order of angels to whom a knowledge of the future, or the
seraphic penetration into the hidden heart of man is forbidden, stayed
his wings over the lovely valley in which the main scene of our history
has been cast, no spectacle might have seemed to him more appropriate to
that lovely spot, or more elevated in the character of its tenderness
above the fierce and short-lived passions of the ordinary world, than the
love that existed between Madeline and her betrothed. Their natures
seemed so suited to each other! the solemn and undiurnal mood of the one
was reflected back in hues so gentle, and yet so faithful, from the
purer, but scarce less thoughtful character of the other! Their
sympathies ran through the same channel, and mingled in a common fount;
and whatever was dark and troubled in the breast of Aram, was now
suffered not to appear. Since his return, his mood was brighter and more
tranquil; and he seemed better fitted to appreciate and respond to the
peculiar tenderness of Madeline's affection. There are some stars which,
viewed by the naked eye, seem one, but in reality are two separate orbs
revolving round each other, and drinking, each from each, a separate yet
united existence: such stars seemed a type of them.

Had anything been wanting to complete Madeline's happiness, the change in
Aram supplied the want. The sudden starts, the abrupt changes of mood and
countenance, that had formerly characterized him, were now scarcely, if
ever, visible. He seemed to have resigned himself with confidence to the
prospects of the future, and to have forsworn the haggard recollections
of the past; he moved, and looked, and smiled like other men; he was
alive to the little circumstances around him, and no longer absorbed in
the contemplation of a separate and strange existence within himself.
Some scattered fragments of his poetry bear the date of this time: they
are chiefly addressed to Madeline, and, amidst the vows of love, a
spirit, sometimes of a wild and bursting--sometimes of a profound and
collected happiness, are visible. There is great beauty in many of these
fragments, and they bear a stronger impress of heart--they breathe more
of nature and truth, than the poetry that belongs of right to that time.

And thus day rolled on day, till it was now the eve before their bridals.
Aram had deemed it prudent to tell Lester, that he had sold his annuity,
and that he had applied to the Earl for the pension which we have seen he
had been promised. As to his supposed relation--the illness he had
created he suffered now to cease; and indeed the approaching ceremony
gave him a graceful excuse for turning the conversation away form any
topics that did not relate to Madeline, or to that event.

It was the eve before their marriage; Aram and Madeline were walking
along the valley that led to the house of the former.

"How fortunate it is!" said Madeline, "that our future residence will be
so near my father's. I cannot tell you with what delight he looks forward
to the pleasant circle we shall make. Indeed, I think he would scarce
have consented to our wedding, if it had separated us from him."

Aram stopped, and plucked a flower.

"Ah! indeed, indeed, Madeline! Yet in the course of the various changes
of life, how more than probable it is that we shall be divided from him--
that we shall leave this spot."

"It is possible, certainly; but not probable, is it, Eugene?"

"Would it grieve thee irremediably, dearest, were it so?" rejoined Aram,
evasively.

"Irremediably! What could grieve me irremediably, that did not happen to
you?"

"Should, then, circumstances occur to induce us to leave this part of the
country, for one yet more remote, you could submit cheerfully to the
change?"

"I should weep for my father--I should weep for Ellinor; but--"

"But what?"

"I should comfort myself in thinking that you would then be yet more to
me than ever!"

"Dearest!"

"But why do you speak thus; only to try me? Ah! that is needless."

"No, my Madeline; I have no doubt of your affection. When you loved such
as me, I knew at once how blind, how devoted must be that love. You were
not won through the usual avenues to a woman's heart; neither wit nor
gaiety, nor youth nor beauty, did you behold in me. Whatever attracted
you towards me, that which must have been sufficiently powerful to make
you overlook these ordinary allurements, will be also sufficiently
enduring to resist all ordinary changes. But listen, Madeline. Do not yet
ask me wherefore; but I fear, that a certain fatality will constrain us
to leave this spot, very shortly after our wedding."

"How disappointed my poor father will be!" said Madeline, sighing.

"Do not, on any account, mention this conversation to him, or to Ellinor;
'sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.'"

Madeline wondered, but said no more. There was a pause for some minutes.

"Do you remember," observed Madeline, "that it was about here we met that
strange man whom you had formerly known?"

"Ha! was it?--Here, was it?"

"What has become of him?"

"He is abroad, I hope," said Aram, calmly. "Yes, let me think; by this
time he must be in France. Dearest, let us rest here on this dry mossy
bank for a little while;" and Aram drew his arm round her waist, and, his
countenance brightening as if with some thought of increasing joy, he
poured out anew those protestations of love, and those anticipations of
the future, which befitted the eve of a morrow so full of auspicious
promise.

The heaven of their fate seemed calm and glowing, and Aram did not dream
that the one small cloud of fear which was set within it, and which he
alone beheld afar, and unprophetic of the storm, was charged with the
thunderbolt of a doom, he had protracted, not escaped.



                              CHAPTER IX.

      WALTER AND THE CORPORAL ON THE ROAD.--THE EVENING SETS IN.--
     THE GIPSEY TENTS.--ADVENTURE WITH THE HORSEMAN.--THE CORPORAL
             DISCOMFITED, AND THE ARRIVAL AT KNARESBOROUGH.

                   Long had he wandered, when from far he sees
                   A ruddy flame that gleamed betwixt the trees.
                   . . . . Sir Gawaine prays him tell
                   Where lies the road to princely Corduel.
                                --The Knight of the Sword.

"Well, Bunting, we are not far from our night's resting-place," said
Walter, pointing to a milestone on the road.

"The poor beast will be glad when we gets there, your honour," answered
the Corporal, wiping his brows.

"Which beast, Bunting?"

"Augh!--now your honour's severe! I am glad to see you so merry."

Walter sighed heavily; there sat no mirth at his heart at that moment.

"Pray Sir," said the Corporal after a pause, "if not too bold, has your
honour heard how they be doing at Grassdale?"

"No, Bunting; I have not held any correspondence with my uncle since our
departure. Once I wrote to him on setting off to Yorkshire, but I could
give him no direction to write to me again. The fact is, that I have been
so sanguine in this search, and from day to day I have been so led on in
tracing a clue, which I fear is now broken, that I have constantly put
off writing till I could communicate that certain intelligence which I
flattered myself I should be able ere this to procure. However, if we are
unsuccessful at Knaresbro' I shall write from that place a detailed
account of our proceedings."

"And I hopes you will say as how I have given your honour satisfaction."

"Depend upon that."

"Thank you Sir, thank you humbly; I would not like the Squire to think
I'm ungrateful!--augh,--and mayhap I may have more cause to be grateful
by and by, whenever the Squire, God bless him, in consideration of your
honour's good offices, should let me have the bit cottage rent free."

"A man of the world, Bunting; a man of the world!"

"Your honour's mighty obleeging," said the Corporal, putting his hand to
his hat; "I wonders," renewed he, after a short pause, "I wonders how
poor neighbour Dealtry is. He was a sufferer last year; I should like to
know how Peter be getting on--'tis a good creature."

Somewhat surprised at this sudden sympathy on the part of the Corporal,
for it was seldom that Bunting expressed kindness for any one, Walter
replied,--

"When I write, Bunting, I will not fail to inquire how Peter Dealtry is;-
-does your kind heart suggest any other message to him?"

"Only to ask arter Jacobina, poor thing; she might get herself into
trouble if little Peter fell sick and neglected her like--augh. And I
hopes as how Peter airs the bit cottage now and then; but the Squire, God
bless him, will see to that, and the tato garden, I'm sure."

"You may rely on that, Bunting," said Walter sinking into a reverie, from
which he was shortly roused by the Corporal.

"I'spose Miss Madeline be married afore now, your honour: well, pray
Heaven she be happy with that ere larned man!"

Walter's heart beat faster for a moment at this sudden remark, but he was
pleased to find that the time when the thought of Madeline's marriage was
accompanied with painful emotion was entirely gone by; the reflection
however induced a new train of idea, and without replying to the
Corporal, he sank into a deeper meditation than before.

The shrewd Bunting saw that it was not a favourable moment for renewing
the conversation; he therefore suffered his horse to fall back, and
taking a quid from his tobacco-box, was soon as well entertained as his
master. In this manner they rode on for about a couple of miles, the
evening growing darker as they proceeded, when a green opening in the
road brought them within view of a gipsy's encampment; the scene was so
sudden and so picturesque, that it aroused the young traveller from his
reverie, and as his tired horse walked slowly on, the bridle about its
neck, he looked with an earnest eye on the vagrant settlement beside his
path. The moon had just risen above a dark copse in the rear, and cast a
broad, deep shadow along the green, without lessening the vivid effect of
the fires which glowed and sparkled in the darker recess of the waste
land, as the gloomy forms of the Egyptians were seen dimly cowering round
the blaze. A scene of this sort is perhaps one of the most striking that
the green lanes of Old England afford,--to me it has always an
irresistible attraction, partly from its own claims, partly from those of
association. When I was a mere boy, and bent on a solitary excursion over
parts of England and Scotland, I saw something of that wild people,--
though not perhaps so much as the ingenious George Hanger, to whose
memoirs the reader may be referred, for some rather amusing pages on
gipsy life. As Walter was still eyeing the encampment, he in return had
not escaped the glance of an old crone, who came running hastily up to
him, and begged permission to tell his fortune and to have her hand
crossed with silver.

Very few men under thirty ever sincerely refuse an offer of this sort.
Nobody believes in these predictions, yet every one likes hearing them:
and Walter, after faintly refusing the proposal twice, consented the
third time; and drawing up his horse submitted his hand to the old lady.
In the mean while, one of the younger urchins who had accompanied her had
run to the encampments for a light, and now stood behind the old woman's
shoulder, rearing on high a pine brand, which cast over the little group
a red and weird-like glow.

The reader must not imagine we are now about to call his credulity in aid
to eke out any interest he may feel in our story; the old crone was but a
vulgar gipsy, and she predicted to Walter the same fortune she always
predicted to those who paid a shilling for the prophecy--an heiress with
blue eyes--seven children--troubles about the epoch of forty-three,
happily soon over--and a healthy old age with an easy death. Though
Walter was not impressed with any reverential awe for these
vaticinations, he yet could not refrain from inquiring, whether the
journey on which he was at present bent was likely to prove successful in
its object.

"'Tis an ill night," said the old woman, lifting up her wild face and
elfin locks with a mysterious air--"'Tis an ill night for them as seeks,
and for them as asks.--He's about--"

"He--who?"

"No matter!--you may be successful, young Sir, yet wish you had not been
so. The moon thus, and the wind there--promise that you will get your
desires, and find them crosses."

The Corporal had listened very attentively to these predictions, and was
now about to thrust forth his own hand to the soothsayer, when from a
cross road to the right came the sound of hoofs, and presently a horseman
at full trot pulled up beside them.

"Hark ye, old she Devil, or you, Sirs--is this the road to Knaresbro'?"

The Gipsy drew back, and gazed on the countenance of the rider, on which
the red glare of the pine-brand shone full.

"To Knaresbro', Richard, the dare-devil? Ay, and what does the ramping
bird want in the ould nest? Welcome back to Yorkshire, Richard, my ben
cove!"

"Ha!" said the rider, shading his eyes with his hand, as he returned the
gaze of the Gipsy--"is it you, Bess Airlie: your welcome is like the
owl's, and reads the wrong way. But I must not stop. This takes to
Knaresbro' then?"

"Straight as a dying man's curse to hell," replied the crone, in that
metaphorical style in which all her tribe love to speak, and of which
their proper language is indeed almost wholly composed.

The horseman answered not, but spurred on.

"Who is that?" asked Walter earnestly, as the old woman stretched her
tawny neck after the rider.

"An ould friend, Sir," replied the Egyptian, drily. "I have not seen him
these fourteen years; but it is not Bess Airlie who is apt to forgit
friend or foe. Well, Sir, shall I tell your honour's good luck?"--(Here
she turned to the Corporal, who sat erect on his saddle with his hand on
his holster)--"the colour of the lady's hair--and--"

"Hold your tongue, you limb of Satan!" interrupted the Corporal fiercely,
as if his whole tide of thought, so lately favourable to the Soothsayer,
had undergone a deadly reversion. "Please your honour, it's getting late,
we had better be jogging!"

"You are right," said Walter spurring his jaded horse, and nodding his
adieu to the Gipsy,--he was soon out of sight of the encampment.

"Sir," said the Corporal joining his master, "that is a man as I have
seed afore; I knowed his ugly face again in a crack--'tis the man what
came to Grassdale arter Mr. Aram, and we saw arterwards the night we
chanced on Sir Peter Thingumybob."

"Bunting," said Walter, in a low voice, "I too have been trying to recal
the face of that man, and I too am persuaded I have seen it before. A
fearful suspicion, amounting almost to conviction, creeps over me, that
the hour in which I last saw it was one when my life was in peril. In a
word, I do believe that I beheld that face bending over me on the night
when I lay under the hedge, and so nearly escaped murder! If I am right,
it was, however, the mildest of the ruffians; the one who counselled his
comrades against despatching me."

The Corporal shuddered.

"Pray, Sir!" said he, after a moment's pause, "do see if your pistols are
primed--so--so. 'Tis not out o' nature that the man may have some
'complices hereabout, and may think to way-lay us. The old Gipsy, too,
what a face she had! depend on it, they are two of a trade--augh!--
bother!--whaugh!"

And the Corporal grunted his most significant grunt.

"It is not at all unlikely, Bunting; and as we are now not far from
Knaresbro', it will be prudent to ride on as fast as our horses will
allow us. Keep up alongside."

"Certainly--I'll purtect your honour," said the Corporal, getting on that
side where the hedge being thinnest, an ambush was less likely to be
laid. "I care more for your honour's safety than my own, or what a brute
I should be--augh!"

The master and man had trotted on for some little distance, when they
perceived a dark object moving along by the grass on the side of the
road. The Corporal's hair bristled--he uttered an oath, which by him was
always intended for a prayer. Walter felt his breath grow a little thick
as he watched the motions of the object so imperfectly beheld; presently,
however, it grew into a man on horseback, trotting very slowly along the
grass; and as they now neared him, they recognised the rider they had
just seen, whom they might have imagined, from the pace at which he left
them before, to have been considerably a-head of them.

The horseman turned round as he saw them.

"Pray, gentlemen," said he, in a tone of great and evident anxiety, "how
far is it to Knaresbro'?"

"Don't answer him, your honour!" whispered the Corporal.

"Probably," replied Walter, unheeding this advice, "you know this road
better than we do. It cannot however be above three or four miles hence."

"Thank you, Sir,--it is long since I have been in these parts. I used to
know the country, but they have made new roads and strange enclosures,
and I now scarcely recognise any thing familiar. Curse on this brute!
curse on it, I say!" repeated the horseman through his ground teeth in a
tone of angry vehemence, "I never wanted to ride so quick before, and the
beast has fallen as lame as a tree. This comes of trying to go faster
than other folks.--Sir, are you a father?"

This abrupt question, which was uttered in a sharp, strained voice, a
little startled Walter. He replied shortly in the negative, and was about
to spur onward, when the horseman continued--and there was something in
his voice and manner that compelled attention: "And I am in doubt whether
I have a child or not.--By G--! it is a bitter gnawing state of mind.--I
may reach Knaresbro' to find my only daughter dead, Sir!--dead!"

Despite of Walter's suspicions of the speaker, he could not but feel a
thrill of sympathy at the visible distress with which these words were
said.

"I hope not," said he involuntarily.

"Thank you, Sir," replied the Horseman, trying ineffectually to spur on
his steed, which almost came down at the effort to proceed. "I have
ridden thirty miles across the country at full speed, for they had no
post-horses at the d--d place where I hired this brute. This was the only
creature I could get for love or money; and now the devil only knows how
important every moment may be.--While I speak, my child may breathe her
last!--" and the man brought his clenched fist on the shoulder of his
horse in mingled spite and rage.

"All sham, your honour," whispered the Corporal.

"Sir," cried the horseman, now raising his voice, "I need not have asked
if you had been a father--if you had, you would have had compassion on me
ere this,--you would have lent me your own horse."

"The impudent rogue!" muttered the Corporal.

"Sir," replied Walter, "it is not to the tale of every stranger that a
man gives belief."

"Belief!--ah, well, well, 'tis no matter," said the horseman, sullenly.
"There was a time, man, when I would have forced what I now solicit; but
my heart's gone. Ride on, Sir--ride on,--and the curse of--"

"If," interrupted Walter, irresolutely--"if I could believe your
statement:--but no. Mark me, Sir: I have reasons--fearful reasons, for
imagining you mean this but as a snare!"

"Ha!" said the horseman, deliberately, "have we met before?"

"I believe so."

"And you have had cause to complain of me? It may be--it may be: but were
the grave before me, and if one lie would smite me into it, I solemnly
swear that I now utter but the naked truth."

"It would be folly to trust him, Bunting?" said Walter, turning round to
his attendant.

"Folly!--sheer madness--bother!"

"If you are the man I take you for," said Walter, "you once lifted your
voice against the murder, though you assisted in the robbery of a
traveller:--that traveller was myself. I will remember the mercy--I will
forget the outrage: and I will not believe that you have devised this
tale as a snare. Take my horse, Sir; I will trust you."

Houseman, for it was he, flung himself instantly from his saddle. "I
don't ask God to bless you: a blessing in my mouth would be worse than a
curse. But you will not repent this: you will not repent it!"

Houseman said these few words with a palpable emotion; and it was more
striking on account of the evident coarseness and hardened vulgarity of
his nature. In a moment more he had mounted Walter's horse, and turning
ere he sped on, inquired at what place at Knaresborough the horse should
be sent. Walter directed him to the principal inn; and Houseman, waving
his hand, and striking his spurs into the animal, wearied as it was, was
out of sight in a moment.

"Well, if ever I seed the like!" quoth the Corporal. "Lira, lira, la, la,
la! lira, lara, la, la, la!--augh!--whaugh!--bother!"

"So my good-nature does not please you, Bunting."

"Oh, Sir, it does not sinnify: we shall have our throats cut--that's all.

"What! you don't believe the story."

"I? Bless your honour, I am no fool."

"Bunting!"

"Sir."

"You forget yourself."

"Augh!"

"So you don't think I should have lent the horse?"

"Sartainly not."

"On occasions like these, every man ought to take care of himself?
Prudence before generosity?"

"Of a sartainty, Sir."

"Dismount, then,--I want my horse. You may shift with the lame one."

"Augh, Sir,--baugh!"

"Rascal, dismount, I say!" said Walter angrily: for the Corporal was one
of those men who aim at governing their masters; and his selfishness now
irritated Walter as much as his impertinent tone of superior wisdom.

The Corporal hesitated. He thought an ambuscade by the road of certain
occurrence; and he was weighing the danger of riding a lame horse against
his master's displeasure. Walter, perceiving he demurred, was seized with
so violent a resentment, that he dashed up to the Corporal, and, grasping
him by the collar, swung him, heavy as he was,--being wholly unprepared
for such force,--to the ground.

Without deigning to look at his condition, Walter mounted the sound
horse, and throwing the bridle of the lame one over a bough, left the
Corporal to follow at his leisure.

There is not perhaps a more sore state of mind than that which we
experience when we have committed an act we meant to be generous, and
fear to be foolish.

"Certainly," said Walter, soliloquizing, "certainly the man is a rascal:
yet he was evidently sincere in his emotion. Certainly he was one of the
men who robbed me; yet, if so, he was also the one who interceded for my
life. If I should now have given strength to a villain;--if I should have
assisted him to an outrage against myself! What more probable? Yet, on
the other hand, if his story be true;--if his child be dying,--and if,
through my means, he obtain a last interview with her! Well, well, let me
hope so!"

Here he was joined by the Corporal, who, angry as he was, judged it
prudent to smother his rage for another opportunity; and by favoring his
master with his company, to procure himself an ally immediately at hand,
should his suspicions prove true. But for once, his knowledge of the
world deceived him: no sign of living creature broke the loneliness of
the way. By and by the lights of the town gleamed upon them; and, on
reaching the inn, Walter found his horse had been already sent there,
and, covered with dust and foam, was submitting itself to the tutelary
hands of the hostler.



                               CHAPTER X.

      WALTER'S REFLECTIONS.--MINE HOST.--A GENTLE CHARACTER AND A
       GREEN OLD AGE.--THE GARDEN, AND THAT WHICH IT TEACHETH.--A
      DIALOGUE, WHEREIN NEW HINTS TOWARDS THE WISHED FOR DISCOVERY
         ARE SUGGESTED.--THE CURATE.--A VISIT TO A SPOT OF DEEP
                      INTEREST TO THE ADVENTURER.

                   I made a posy while the day ran by,
                   Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie
                   My life within this band.
                                --George Herbert.


                                 The time approaches,
                   That will with due precision make us know,
                   What--
                                --Macbeth.

The next morning Walter rose early, and descending into the court-yard of
the inn, he there met with the landlord, who--a hoe in his hand,--was
just about to enter a little gate that led into the garden. He held the
gate open for Walter.

"It is a fine morning, Sir; would you like to look into the garden," said
mine host, with an inviting smile.

Walter accepted the offer, and found himself in a large and well-stocked
garden, laid out with much neatness and some taste; the Landlord halted
by a parterre which required his attention, and Walter walked on in
solitary reflection.

The morning was serene and clear, but the frost mingled the freshness
with an "eager and nipping air," and Walter unconsciously quickened his
step as he paced to and fro the straight walk that bisected the garden,
with his eyes on the ground, and his hat over his brows.

Now then he had reached the place where the last trace of his father
seemed to have vanished; in how wayward and strange a manner! If no
further clue could be here discovered by the inquiry he purposed; at this
spot would terminate his researches and his hopes. But the young heart of
the traveller was buoyed up with expectation. Looking back to the events
of the last few weeks, he thought he recognised the finger of Destiny
guiding him from step to step, and now resting on the scene to which it
had brought his feet. How singularly complete had been the train of
circumstance, which, linking things seemingly most trifling--most
dissimilar, had lengthened into one continuous chain of evidence! the
trivial incident that led him to the saddler's shop; the accident that
brought the whip that had been his father's, to his eye; the account from
Courtland, which had conducted him to this remote part of the country;
and now the narrative of Elmore leading him to the spot, at which all
inquiry seemed as yet to pause! Had he been led hither only to hear
repeated that strange tale of sudden and wanton disappearance--to find an
abrupt wall, a blank and impenetrable barrier to a course, hitherto so
continuously guided on? had he been the sport of Fate, and not its
instrument? No; he was filled with a serious and profound conviction,
that a discovery that he of all men was best entitled by the unalienable
claims of blood and birth to achieve was reserved for him, and that this
grand dream and nursed object of his childhood was now about to be
embodied and attained. He could not but be sensible, too, that as he had
proceeded on his high enterprise, his character had acquired a weight and
a thoughtful seriousness, which was more fitted to the nature of that
enterprise than akin to his earlier temper. This consciousness swelled
his bosom with a profound and steady hope. When Fate selects her human
agents, her dark and mysterious spirit is at work within them; she moulds
their hearts, she exalts their energies, she shapes them to the part she
has allotted them, and renders the mortal instrument worthy of the solemn
end.

Thus chewing the cud of his involved and deep reflection, the young
adventurer paused at last opposite his host, who was still bending over
his pleasant task, and every now and then, excited by the exercise and
the fresh morning air, breaking into snatches of some old rustic song.
The contrast in mood between himself and this!

"Unvexed loiterer by the world's green ways" struck forcibly upon him.
Mine host, too, was one whose appearance was better suited to his
occupation than his profession. He might have told some three-and-sixty
years, but it was a comely and green old age; his cheek was firm and
ruddy, not with nightly cups, but the fresh witness of the morning
breezes it was wont to court; his frame was robust, not corpulent; and
his long grey hair, which fell almost to his shoulder, his clear blue
eyes, and a pleasant curve in a mouth characterized by habitual good
humour, completed a portrait that even many a dull observer would have
paused to gaze upon. And indeed the good man enjoyed a certain kind of
reputation for his comely looks and cheerful manner. His picture had even
been taken by a young artist in the neighbourhood; nay, the likeness had
been multiplied into engravings, somewhat rude and somewhat unfaithful,
which might be seen occupying no inconspicuous or dusty corner in the
principal printshop of the town: nor was mine host's character a
contradiction to his looks. He had seen enough of life to be intelligent,
and had judged it rightly enough to be kind. He had passed that line so
nicely given to man's codes in those admirable pages which first added
delicacy of tact to the strong sense of English composition. "We have
just religion enough," it is said somewhere in the Spectator, "to make us
hate, but not enough to make us love one another." Our good landlord,
peace be with his ashes! had never halted at this limit. The country
innkeeper might have furnished Goldsmith with a counterpart to his
country curate; his house was equally hospitable to the poor--his heart
equally tender, in a nature wiser than experience, to error, and equally
open, in its warm simplicity, to distress. Peace be with thee--Our
grandsire was thy patron--yet a patron thou didst not want. Merit in thy
capacity is seldom bare of reward. The public want no indicators to a
house like thine. And who requires a third person to tell him how to
appreciate the value of good nature and good cheer?

As Walter stood, and contemplated the old man bending over the sweet
fresh earth, (and then, glancing round, saw the quiet garden stretching
away on either side with its boundaries lost among the thick evergreen,)
something of that grateful and moralizing stillness with which some
country scene (the rura et silentium) generally inspires us, when we
awake to its consciousness from the troubled dream of dark and unquiet
thought, stole over his mind: and certain old lines which his uncle, who
loved the soft and rustic morality that pervades the ancient race of
English minstrels, had taught him, when a boy, came pleasantly into his
recollection,

           "With all, as in some rare-limn'd book, we see
           Here painted lectures of God's sacred will.
           The daisy teacheth lowliness of mind;
           The camomile, we should be patient still;
           The rue, our hate of Vice's poison ill;
           The woodbine, that we should our friendship hold;
           Our hope the savory in the bitterest cold."
                    --[Henry Peacham.]

The old man stopped from his work, as the musing figure of his guest
darkened the prospect before him, and said:

"A pleasant time, Sir, for the gardener!"

"Ay, is it so ... you must miss the fruits and flowers of summer."

"Well, Sir,--but we are now paying back the garden, for the good things
it has given us.--It is like taking care of a friend in old age, who has
been kind to us when he was young."

Walter smiled at the quaint amiability of the idea.

"'Tis a winning thing, Sir, a garden!--It brings us an object every day;
and that's what I think a man ought to have if he wishes to lead a happy
life."

"It is true," said Walter; and mine host was encouraged to continue by
the attention and affable countenance of the stranger, for he was a
physiognomist in his way.

"And then, Sir, we have no disappointment in these objects:--the soil is
not ungrateful, as, they say, men are--though I have not often found them
so, by the by. What we sow we reap. I have an old book, Sir, lying in my
little parlour, all about fishing, and full of so many pretty sayings
about a country life, and meditation, and so forth, that it does one as
much good as a sermon to look into it. But to my mind, all those sayings
are more applicable to a gardener's life than a fisherman's."

"It is a less cruel life, certainly," said Walter.

"Yes, Sir; and then the scenes one makes oneself, the flowers one plants
with one's own hand, one enjoys more than all the beauties which don't
owe us any thing; at least, so it seems to me. I have always been
thankful to the accident that made me take to gardening."

"And what was that?"

"Why, Sir, you must know there was a great scholar, though he was but a
youth then, living in this town some years ago, and he was very curious
in plants and flowers and such like. I have heard the parson say, he knew
more of those innocent matters than any man in this county. At that time
I was not in so flourishing a way of business as I am at present. I kept
a little inn in the outskirts of the town; and having formerly been a
gamekeeper of my Lord--'s, I was in the habit of eking out my little
profits by accompanying gentlemen in fishing or snipe-shooting. So, one
day, Sir, I went out fishing with a strange gentleman from London, and,
in a very quiet retired spot some miles off, he stopped and plucked some
herbs that seemed to me common enough, but which he declared were most
curious and rare things, and he carried them carefully away. I heard
afterwards he was a great herbalist, I think they call it, but he was a
very poor fisher. Well, Sir, I thought the next morning of Mr. Aram, our
great scholar and botanist, and thought it would please him to know of
these bits of grass: so I went and called upon him, and begged leave to
go and show the spot to him. So we walked there, and certainly, Sir, of
all the men that ever I saw, I never met one that wound round your heart
like this same Eugene Aram. He was then exceedingly poor, but he never
complained; and was much too proud for any one to dare to offer him
relief. He lived quite alone, and usually avoided every one in his walks:
but, Sir, there was something so engaging and patient in his manner, and
his voice, and his pale, mild countenance, which, young as he was then,
for he was not a year or two above twenty, was marked with sadness and
melancholy, that it quite went to your heart when you met him or spoke to
him.--Well, Sir, we walked to the place, and very much delighted he
seemed with the green things I shewed him, and as I was always of a
communicative temper, rather a gossip, Sir, my neighbours say, I made him
smile now and then by my remarks. He seemed pleased with me, and talked
to me going home about flowers, and gardening, and such like; and after
that, when we came across one another, he would not shun me as he did
others, but let me stop and talk to him; and then I asked his advice
about a wee farm I thought of taking, and he told me many curious things
which, sure enough, I found quite true, and brought me in afterwards a
deal of money But we talked much about gardening, for I loved to hear him
talk on those matters; and so, Sir, I was struck by all he said, and
could not rest till I took to gardening myself, and ever since I have
gone on, more pleased with it every day of my life. Indeed, Sir, I think
these harmless pursuits make a man's heart better and kinder to his
fellow-creatures; and I always take more pleasure in reading the Bible,
specially the New Testament, after having spent the day in the garden.
Ah! well, I should like to know, what has become of that poor gentleman."

"I can relieve your honest heart about him. Mr. Aram is living in--, well
off in the world, and universally liked; though he still keeps to his old
habits of reserve."

"Ay, indeed, Sir! I have not heard any thing that pleased me more this
many a day."

"Pray," said Walter, after a moment's pause, "do you remember the
circumstance of a Mr. Clarke appearing in this town, and leaving it in a
very abrupt and mysterious manner?"

"Do I mind it, Sir? Yes, indeed. It made a great noise in Knaresbro'--
there were many suspicions of foul play about it. For my part, I too had
my thoughts, but that's neither here nor there;" and the old man
recommenced weeding with great diligence.

"My friend," said Walter, mastering his emotion; "you would serve me more
deeply than I can express, if you would give me any information, any
conjecture, respecting this--this Mr. Clarke. I have come hither, solely
to make inquiry after his fate: in a word, he is--or was--a near relative
of mine!"

The old man looked wistfully in Walter's face. "Indeed," said he, slowly,
"you are welcome, Sir, to all I know; but that is very little, or nothing
rather. But will you turn up this walk, Sir? it's more retired. Did you
ever hear of one Richard Houseman?"

"Houseman! yes. He knew my poor--, I mean he knew Clarke; he said Clarke
was in his debt when he left the town so suddenly."

The old man shook his head mysteriously, and looked round. "I will tell
you," said he, laying his hand on Walter's arm, and speaking in his ear--
"I would not accuse any one wrongfully, but I have my doubts that
Houseman murdered him."

"Great God!" murmured Walter, clinging to a post for support. "Go on--
heed me not--heed me not--for mercy's sake go on."

"Nay, I know nothing certain--nothing certain, believe me," said the old
man, shocked at the effect his words had produced: "it may be better than
I think for, and my reasons are not very strong, but you shall hear them.

"Mr. Clarke, you know, came to this town to receive a legacy--you know
the particulars."

Walter impatiently nodded assent.

"Well, though he seemed in poor health, he was a lively careless man, who
liked any company who would sit and tell stories, and drink o'nights; not
a silly man exactly, but a weak one. Now of all the idle persons of this
town, Richard Houseman was the most inclined to this way of life. He had
been a soldier--had wandered a good deal about the world--was a bold,
talking, reckless fellow--of a character thoroughly profligate; and there
were many stories afloat about him, though none were clearly made out. In
short, he was suspected of having occasionally taken to the high road;
and a stranger who stopped once at my little inn, assured me privately,
that though he could not positively swear to his person, he felt
convinced that he had been stopped a year before on the London road by
Houseman. Notwithstanding all this, as Houseman had some respectable
connections in the town--among his relations, by the by, was Mr. Aram--as
he was a thoroughly boon companion--a good shot--a bold rider--excellent
at a song, and very cheerful and merry, he was not without as much
company as he pleased; and the first night, he and Mr. Clarke came
together, they grew mighty intimate; indeed, it seemed as if they had met
before. On the night Mr. Clarke disappeared, I had been on an excursion
with some gentlemen, and in consequence of the snow which had been heavy
during the latter part of the day, I did not return to Knaresbro' till
past midnight. In walking through the town, I perceived two men engaged
in earnest conversation: one of them, I am sure, was Clarke; the other
was wrapped up in a great coat, with the cape over his face, but the
watchman had met the same man alone at an earlier hour, and putting aside
the cape, perceived that it was Houseman. No one else was seen with
Clarke after that hour."

"But was not Houseman examined?"

"Slightly; and deposed that he had been spending the night with Eugene
Aram; that on leaving Aram's house, he met Clarke, and wondering that he
the latter, an invalid, should be out at so late an hour, he walked some
way with him, in order to learn the cause; but that Clarke seemed
confused, and was reserved, and on his guard, and at last wished him
good-b'ye abruptly, and turned away. That he, Houseman, had no doubt he
left the town that night, with the intention of defrauding his creditors,
and making off with some jewels he had borrowed from Mr. Elmore."

"But, Aram? was this suspicious, nay, abandoned character--this Houseman,
intimate with Aram?"

"Not at all; but being distantly related, and Houseman being a familiar,
pushing sort of a fellow, Aram could not, perhaps, always shake him off;
and Aram allowed that Houseman had spent the evening with him."

"And no suspicion rested on Aram?"

The host turned round in amazement.--"Heavens above, no! One might as
well suspect the lamb of eating the wolf!"

But not thus thought Walter Lester; the wild words occasionally uttered
by the Student--his lone habits--his frequent starts and colloquy with
self, all of which had, even from the first, it has been seen, excited
Walter's suspicion of former guilt, that had murdered the mind's
wholesome sleep, now rushed with tenfold force upon his memory.

"But no other circumstance transpired? Is this your whole ground for
suspicion; the mere circumstance of Houseman's being last seen with
Clarke?"

"Consider also the dissolute and bold character of Houseman. Clarke
evidently had his jewels and money with him--they were not left in the
house. What a temptation to one who was more than suspected of having in
the course of his life taken to plunder! Houseman shortly afterwards left
the country. He has never returned to the town since, though his daughter
lives here with his wife's mother, and has occasionally gone up to town
to see him."

"And Aram--he also left Knaresbro' soon after this mysterious event?"

"Yes! an old Aunt at York, who had never assisted him during her life,
died and bequeathed him a legacy, about a month afterwards. On receiving
it, he naturally went to London--the best place for such clever
scholars."

"Ha! But are you sure that the aunt died?--that the legacy was left?
Might this be no tale to give an excuse to the spending of money
otherwise acquired?"

Mine host looked almost with anger on Walter.

"It is clear," said he, "you know nothing of Eugene Aram, or you would
not speak thus. But I can satisfy your doubts on this head. I knew the
old lady well, and my wife was at York when she died. Besides, every one
here knows something of the will, for it was rather an eccentric one."

Walter paused irresolutely. "Will you accompany me," he asked, "to the
house in which Mr. Clarke lodged,--and indeed to any other place where it
may be prudent to institute inquiry?"

"Certainly, Sir, with the biggest pleasure," said mine host: "but you
must first try my dame's butter and eggs. It is time to breakfast."

We may suppose that Walter's simple meal was soon over; and growing
impatient and restless to commence his inquiries, he descended from his
solitary apartment to the little back-room behind the bar, in which he
had, on the night before, seen mine host and his better-half at supper.
It was a sung, small, wainscoated room; fishing-rods were neatly arranged
against the wall, which was also decorated by a portrait of the landlord
himself, two old Dutch pictures of fruit and game, a long, quaint-
fashioned fowling-piece, and, opposite the fireplace, a noble stag's head
and antlers. On the window-seat lay the Izaak Walton to which the old man
had referred; the Family Bible, with its green baize cover, and the
frequent marks peeping out from its venerable pages; and, close nestling
to it, recalling that beautiful sentence, "suffer the little children to
come unto me, and forbid them not," several of those little volumes with
gay bindings, and marvellous contents of fay and giant, which delight the
hearth-spelled urchin, and which were "the source of golden hours" to the
old man's grandchildren, in their respite from "learning's little
tenements,"

           "Where sits the dame, disguised in look profound,
           And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel around."
                    --[Shenstone's Schoolmistress.]

Mine host was still employed by a huge brown loaf and some baked pike;
and mine hostess, a quiet and serene old lady, was alternately regaling
herself and a large brindled cat from a plate of "toasten cheer."

While the old man was hastily concluding his repast, a little knock at
the door was heard, and presently an elderly gentleman in black put his
head into the room, and, perceiving the stranger, would have drawn back;
but both landlady and landlord bustling up, entreated him to enter by the
appellation of Mr. Summers. And then, as the gentleman smilingly yielded
to the invitation, the landlady, turning to Walter, said: "Our clergyman,
Sir: and though I say it afore his face, there is not a man who, if
Christian vartues were considered, ought so soon to be a bishop."

"Hush! my good lady," said Mr. Summers, laughing as he bowed to Walter.
"You see, Sir, that it is no trifling advantage to a Knaresbro'
reputation to have our hostess's good word. But, indeed," turning to the
landlady, and assuming a grave and impressive air, "I have little mind
for jesting now. You know poor Jane Houseman,--a mild, quiet, blue-eyed
creature, she died at daybreak this morning! Her father had come from
London expressly to see her: she died in his arms, and, I hear, he is
almost in a state of frenzy."

The host and hostess signified their commiseration. "Poor little girl!"
said the latter, wiping her eyes; "her's was a hard fate, and she felt
it, child as she was. Without the care of a mother,--and such a father!
Yet he was fond of her."

"My reason for calling on you was this," renewed the Clergyman,
addressing the host: "you knew Houseman formerly; me he always shunned,
and, I fancy, ridiculed. He is in distress now, and all that is
forgotten. Will you seek him, and inquire if any thing in my power can
afford him consolation? He may be poor: I can pay for the poor child's
burial. I loved her; she was the best girl at Mrs. Summers' school."

"Certainly, Sir, I will seek him," said the landlord, hesitating; and
then, drawing the Clergyman aside, he informed him in a whisper of his
engagement with Walter, and with the present pursuit and meditated
inquiry of his guest; not forgetting to insinuate his suspicion of the
guilt of the man whom he was now called upon to compassionate.

The Clergyman mused a little, and then, approaching Walter, offered his
services in the stead of the Publican in so frank and cordial a manner,
that Walter at once accepted them.

"Let us come now, then," said the good Curate--for he was but the
Curate--seeing Walter's impatience; "and first we will go to the house in
which Clarke lodged; I know it well."

The two gentlemen now commenced their expedition. Summers was no
contemptible antiquary; and he sought to beguile the nervous impatience
of his companion by dilating on the attractions of the antient and
memorable town to which his purpose had brought him;--

"Remarkable," said the Curate, "alike in history and tradition: look
yonder" (pointing above, as an opening in the road gave to view the
frowning and beetled ruins of the shattered Castle); "you would be at
some loss to recognize now the truth of old Leland's description of that
once stout and gallant bulwark of the North, when he 'numbrid 11 or 12
towres in the walles of the Castel, and one very fayre beside in the
second area.' In that castle, the four knightly murderers of the haughty
Becket (the Wolsey of his age) remained for a whole year, defying the
weak justice of the times. There, too, the unfortunate Richard the
Second,--the Stuart of the Plantagenets--passed some portion of his
bitter imprisonment. And there, after the battle of Marston Moor, waved
the banners of the loyalists against the soldiers of Lilburne. It was
made yet more touchingly memorable at that time, as you may have heard,
by an instance of filial piety. The town was greatly straitened for want
of provisions; a youth, whose father was in the garrison, was accustomed
nightly to get into the deep dry moat, climb up the glacis, and put
provisions through a hole, where the father stood ready to receive them.
He was perceived at length; the soldiers fired on him. He was taken
prisoner, and sentenced to be hanged in sight of the besieged, in order
to strike terror into those who might be similarly disposed to render
assistance to the garrison. Fortunately, however, this disgrace was
spared the memory of Lilburne and the republican arms. With great
difficulty, a certain lady obtained his respite; and after the conquest
of the place, and the departure of the troops, the adventurous son was
released."

"A fit subject for your local poets," said Walter, whom stories of this
sort, from the nature of his own enterprise, especially affected.

"Yes: but we boast but few minstrels since the young Aram left us. The
castle then, once the residence of Pierce Gaveston,--of Hubert III.--and
of John of Gaunt, was dismantled and destroyed. Many of the houses we
shall pass have been built from its massive ruins. It is singular, by the
way, that it was twice captured by men of the name of Lilburn, or
Lilleburn, once in the reign of Edward II., once as I have related. On
looking over historical records, we are surprised to find how often
certain names have been fatal to certain spots; and this reminds me, by
the way, that we boast the origin of the English Sibyl, the venerable
Mother Shipton. The wild rock, at whose foot she is said to have been
born, is worthy of the tradition."

"You spoke just now," said Walter, who had not very patiently suffered
the Curate thus to ride his hobby, "of Eugene Aram; you knew him well?"

"Nay: he suffered not any to do that! He was a remarkable youth. I have
noted him from his childhood upward, long before he came to Knaresbro',
till on leaving this place, fourteen years back, I lost sight of him.--
Strange, musing, solitary from a boy! but what accomplishment of learning
he had reached! Never did I see one whom Nature so emphatically marked to
be GREAT. I often wonder that his name has not long ere this been more
universally noised abroad: whatever he attempted was stamped with such
signal success. I have by me some scattered pieces of poetry when a boy;
they were given me by his poor father, long since dead; and are full of a
dim, shadowy anticipation of future fame. Perhaps, yet, before he dies,
--he is still young,--the presentiment will be realized. You too know him,
then?"

"Yes! I have known him. Stay--dare I ask you a question, a fearful
question? Did suspicion ever, in your mind, in the mind of any one, rest
on Aram, as concerned in the mysterious disappearance of my--of Clarke?
His acquaintance with Houseman who was suspected; Houseman's visit to
Aram that night; his previous poverty--so extreme, if I hear rightly; his
after riches--though they perhaps may be satisfactorily accounted for;
his leaving this town so shortly after the disappearance I refer to;--
these alone might not create suspicion in me, but I have seen the man in
moments of reverie and abstraction, I have listened to strange and broken
words, I have noted a sudden, keen, and angry susceptibility to any
unmeant excitation of a less peaceful or less innocent remembrance. And
there seems to me inexplicably to hang over his heart some gloomy
recollection, which I cannot divest myself from imagining to be that of
guilt."

Walter spoke quickly, and in great though half suppressed excitement; the
more kindled from observing that as he spoke, Summers changed
countenance, and listened as with painful and uneasy attention.

"I will tell you," said the Curate, after a short pause, (lowering his
voice)--"I will tell you: Aram did undergo examination--I was present at
it--but from his character and the respect universally felt for him, the
examination was close and secret. He was not, mark me, suspected of the
murder of the unfortunate Clarke, nor was any suspicion of murder
generally entertained until all means of discovering Clarke were found
wholly unavailing; but of sharing with Houseman, some part of the jewels
with which Clarke was known to have left the town. This suspicion of
robbery could not, however, be brought home, even to Houseman, and Aram
was satisfactorily acquitted from the imputation. But in the minds of
some present at that examination, a doubt lingered, and this doubt
certainly deeply wounded a man so proud and susceptible. This, I believe,
was the real reason of his quitting Knaresbro' almost immediately after
that examination. And some of us, who felt for him and were convinced of
his innocence, persuaded the others to hush up the circumstance of his
examination, nor has it generally transpired, even to this day, when the
whole business is well nigh forgot. But as to his subsequent improvement
of circumstance, there is no doubt of his aunt's having left him a legacy
sufficient to account for it."

Walter bowed his head, and felt his suspicions waver, when the Curate
renewed.

"Yet it is but fair to tell you, who seem so deeply interested in the
fate of Clarke, that since that period rumours have reached my ear that
the woman at whose house Aram lodged has from time to time dropped words
that require explanation--hints that she could tell a tale--that she
knows more than men will readily believe--nay, once she was even reported
to have said that the life of Eugene Aram was in her power."

"Father of mercy! and did Inquiry sleep on words so calling for its
liveliest examination?"

"Not wholly--on their being brought to me, I went to the house, but found
the woman, whose habits and character are low and worthless, was abrupt
and insolent in her manner; and after in vain endeavouring to call forth
some explanation of the words she was reported to have uttered, I left
the house fully persuaded that she had only given vent to a meaningless
boast, and that the idle words of a disorderly gossip could not be taken
as evidence against a man of the blameless character and austere habits
of Aram. Since, however, you have now re-awakened investigation, we will
visit her before you leave the town; and it may be as well too, that
Houseman should undergo a further investigation before we suffer him to
depart."

"I thank you! I thank you--I will not let slip one thread of this dark
clue."

"And now," said the Curate, pointing to a decent house, "we have reached
the lodging Clarke occupied in the town!"

An old man of respectable appearance opened the door, and welcomed the
Curate and his companion with an air of cordial respect which attested
the well-deserved popularity of the former.

"We have come," said the Curate, "to ask you some questions respecting
Daniel Clarke, whom you remember as your lodger. This gentleman is a
relation of his, and interested deeply in his fate!"

"What, Sir!" quoth the old man, "and have you, his relation, never heard
of Mr. Clarke since he left the town? Strange!--this room, this very room
was the one Mr. Clarke occupied, and next to this,--here--(opening a
door) was his bed-chamber!"

It was not without powerful emotion that Walter found himself thus within
the apartment of his lost father. What a painful, what a gloomy, yet
sacred interest every thing around instantly assumed! The old-fashioned
and heavy chairs--the brown wainscot walls--the little cupboard recessed
as it were to the right of the fire-place, and piled with morsels of
Indian china and long taper wine glasses--the small window-panes set deep
in the wall, giving a dim view of a bleak and melancholy-looking garden
in the rear--yea, the very floor he trod--the very table on which he
leant--the very hearth, dull and fireless as it was, opposite his gaze--
all took a familiar meaning in his eye, and breathed a household voice
into his ear. And when he entered the inner room, how, even to
suffocation, were those strange, half sad, yet not all bitter emotions
increased. There was the bed on which his father had rested on the night
before--what? perhaps his murder! The bed, probably a relic from the
castle, when its antique furniture was set up to public sale, was hung
with faded tapestry, and above its dark and polished summit were
hearselike and heavy trappings. Old commodes of rudely carved oak, a
discoloured glass in a japan frame, a ponderous arm-chair of Elizabethan
fashion, and covered with the same tapestry as the bed, altogether gave
that uneasy and sepulchral impression to the mind so commonly produced by
the relics of a mouldering and forgotten antiquity.

"It looks cheerless, Sir," said the owner, "but then we have not had any
regular lodger for years; it is just the same as when Mr. Clarke lived
here. But bless you, Sir, he made the dull rooms look gay enough. He was
a blithesome gentleman. He and his friends, Mr. Houseman especially, used
to make the walls ring again when they were over their cups!"

"It might have been better for Mr. Clarke," said the Curate, "had he
chosen his comrades with more discretion. Houseman was not a creditable,
perhaps not a safe companion."

"That was no business of mine then," quoth the lodging-letter; "but it
might be now, since I have been a married man!"

The Curate smiled, "Perhaps you, Mr. Moor, bore a part in those revels?"

"Why, indeed, Mr. Clarke would occasionally make me take a glass or so,
Sir."

"And you must then have heard the conversations that took place between
Houseman and him? Did Mr. Clarke, ever, in those conversations, intimate
an intention of leaving the town soon? and where, if so, did he talk of
going?"

"Oh! first to London. I have often heard him talk of going to London, and
then taking a trip to see some relations of his in a distant part of the
country. I remember his caressing a little boy of my brother's; you know
Jack, Sir, not a little boy now, almost as tall as this gentleman. "Ah,"
said he with a sort of sigh, "ah! I have a boy at home about this age,--
when shall I see him again?"

"When indeed!" thought Walter, turning away his face at this anecdote, to
him so naturally affecting.

"And the night that Clarke left you, were you aware of his absence?"

"No! he went to his room at his usual hour, which was late, and the next
morning I found his bed had not been slept in, and that he was gone--gone
with all his jewels, money, and valuables; heavy luggage he had none. He
was a cunning gentleman; he never loved paying a bill. He was greatly in
debt in different parts of the town, though he had not been here long. He
ordered everything and paid for nothing."

Walter groaned. It was his father's character exactly; partly it might be
from dishonest principles superadded to the earlier feelings of his
nature; but partly also from that temperament at once careless and
procrastinating, which, more often than vice, loses men the advantage of
reputation.

"Then in your own mind, and from your knowledge of him," renewed the
Curate, "you would suppose that Clarke's disappearance was intentional;
that though nothing has since been heard of him, none of the blacker
rumours afloat were well founded?"

"I confess, Sir, begging this gentleman's pardon who you say is a
relation, I confess I see no reason to think otherwise."

"Was Mr. Aram, Eugene Aram, ever a guest of Clarke's? Did you ever see
them together?"

"Never at this house. I fancy Houseman once presented Mr. Aram to Clarke;
and that they may have met and conversed some two or three times, not
more, I believe; they were scarcely congenial spirits, Sir."

Walter having now recovered his self-possession, entered into the
conversation; and endeavoured by as minute an examination as his
ingenuity could suggest, to obtain some additional light upon the
mysterious subject so deeply at his heart. Nothing, however, of any
effectual import was obtained from the good man of the house. He had
evidently persuaded himself that Clarke's disappearance was easily
accounted for, and would scarcely lend attention to any other suggestion
than that of Clarke's dishonesty. Nor did his recollection of the
meetings between Houseman and Clarke furnish him with any thing worthy of
narration. With a spirit somewhat damped and disappointed, Walter,
accompanied by the Curate, recommenced his expedition.



                              CHAPTER XI.

GRIEF IN A RUFFIAN.--THE CHAMBER OF EARLY DEATH.--A HOMELY YET MOMENTOUS
    CONFESSION.--THE EARTH'S SECRETS.--THE CAVERN.--THE ACCUSATION.

                           ALL is not well;
           I doubt some foul play.
           . . . . . . . . . . . .
                           Foul deeds will rise,
           Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.
                                                --Hamlet.

As they passed through the street, they perceived three or four persons
standing round the open door of a house of ordinary description, the
windows of which were partially closed.

"It is the house," said the curate, "in which Houseman's daughter died,
--poor, poor child!  Yet why mourn for the young?  Better that the light
cloud should fade away into heaven with the morning breath, than travel
through the weary day to gather in darkness and end in storm."

"Ah, sir!" said an old man, leaning on his stick and lifting his hat, in
obeisance to the curate, "the father is within, and takes on bitterly. He
drives them all away from the room, and sits moaning by the bedside, as
if he was a going out of his mind. Won't your reverence go in to him a
bit?"

The curate looked at Walter inquiringly. "Perhaps," said the latter, "you
had better go in: I will wait without."  While the curate hesitated, they
heard a voice in the passage; and presently Houseman was seen at the far
end, driving some women before him with vehement gesticulations.
"I tell you, ye hell-hags," shrieked his harsh and now straining voice,
"that ye suffered her to die!  Why did ye not send to London for
physicians?  Am I not rich enough to buy my child's life at any price?
By the living ___, I would have turned your very bodies into gold to have
saved her!  But she's DEAD! and I ___  Out of my sight; out of my way!"
And with his hands clenched, his brows knit, and his head uncovered,
Houseman sallied forth from the door, and Walter recognized the traveller
of the preceding night. He stopped abruptly as he saw the little knot
without, and scowled round at each of them with a malignant and ferocious
aspect. "Very well, it's very well, neighbors!"  said he at length, with
a fierce laugh; "this is kind!  You have come to welcome Richard Houseman
home, have ye?  Good, good!  Not to gloat at his distress?  Lord, no!
Ye have no idle curiosity, no prying, searching, gossiping devil within
ye that makes ye love to flock and gape and chatter when poor men suffer!
This is all pure compassion; and Houseman, the good, gentle, peaceful,
honest Houseman, you feel for him,--I know you do!  Hark ye, begone!
Away, march, tramp, or--Ha, ha!  there they go, there they go!" laughing
wildly again as the frightened neighbors shrank from the spot, leaving
only Walter and the clergyman with the childless man.

"Be comforted, Houseman!"  said Summers, soothingly; "it is a dreadful
affliction that you have sustained. I knew your daughter well: you may
have heard her speak of me. Let us in, and try what heavenly comfort
there is in prayer."

"Prayer!  pooh!  I am Richard Houseman!"

"Lives there one man for whom prayer is unavailing?"

"Out, canter, out!  My pretty Jane!  And she laid her head on my bosom,
and looked up in my face, and so--died!"

"Come," said the curate, placing his hand on Houseman's arm, "come."

Before he could proceed, Houseman, who was muttering to himself, shook
him off roughly, and hurried away up the street; but after he had gone a
few paces, he turned back, and approaching the curate, said, in a more
collected tone: "I pray you, sir, since you are a clergyman (I recollect
your face, and I recollect Jane said you had been good to her),--I pray
you go and say a few words over her. But stay,--don't bring in my name;
you understand. I don't wish God to recollect that there lives such a man
as he who now addresses you. Halloo! [shouting to the women] my hat, and
stick too. Fal la! la!  fal la!--why should these things make us play the
madman?  It is a fine day, sir; we shall have a late winter.

"Curse the b___ , how long she is! Yet the hat was left below. But when a
death is in the house, sir, it throws things into confusion: don't you
find it so?"

Here one of the women, pale, trembling, and tearful, brought the ruffian
his hat; and placing it deliberately on his head, and bowing with a
dreadful and convulsive attempt to smile, he walked slowly away and
disappeared.

"What strange mummers grief makes!"  said the curate. "It is an appalling
spectacle when it thus wrings out feeling from a man of that mould!  But
pardon me, my young friend; let me tarry here for a moment."

"I will enter the house with you," said Walter. And the two men walked
in, and in a few moments they stood within the chamber of death.

The face of the deceased had not yet suffered the last withering change.
Her young countenance was hushed and serene, and but for the fixedness of
the smile, you might have thought the lips moved. So delicate, fair, and
gentle were the features that it was scarcely possible to believe such a
scion could spring from such a stock; and it seemed no longer wonderful
that a thing so young, so innocent, so lovely, and so early blighted
should have touched that reckless and dark nature which rejected all
other invasion of the softer emotions. The curate wiped his eyes, and
kneeling down prayed, if not for the dead (who, as our Church teaches,
are beyond human intercession), perhaps for the father she had left on
earth, more to be pitied of the two!  Nor to Walter was the scene without
something more impressive and thrilling than its mere pathos alone. He,
now standing beside the corpse of Houseman's child, was son to the man of
whose murder Houseman had been suspected. The childless and the
fatherless,--might there be no retribution here?

When the curate's prayer was over, and he and Walter escaped from the
incoherent blessings and complaints of the women of the house, they, with
difficulty resisting the impression the scene had left upon their minds,
once more resumed their errand.

"This is no time," said Walter, musingly, "for an examination of
Houseman; yet it must not be forgotten."

The curate did not reply for some moments; and then, as an answer to the
remark, observed that the conversation they anticipated with Aram's
former hostess might throw some light on their researches. They now
proceeded to another part of the town, and arrived at a lonely and
desolate-looking house, which seemed to wear in its very appearance
something strange, sad, and ominous. Some houses have an expression, as
it were, in their outward aspect that sinks unaccountably into the
heart,--a dim, oppressive eloquence which dispirits and affects. You say
some story must be attached to those walls; some legendary interest, of a
darker nature, ought to be associated with the mute stone and mortar; you
feel a mingled awe and curiosity creep over you as you gaze. Such was the
description of the house that the young adventurer now surveyed. It was
of antique architecture, not uncommon in old towns; gable ends rose from
the roof; dull, small, latticed panes were sunk deep in the gray,
discolored wall; the pale, in part, was broken and jagged; and rank weeds
sprang up in the neglected garden, through which they walked towards the
porch. The door was open; they entered, and found an old woman of coarse
appearance sitting by the fireside, and gazing on space with that vacant
stare which so often characterizes the repose and relaxation of the
uneducated poor. Walter felt an involuntary thrill of dislike come over
him as he looked at the solitary inmate of the solitary house.

"Hey day, sir!"  said she, in a grating voice, "and what now?  Oh! Mr.
Summers, is it you?  You're welcome, sir!  I wishes I could offer you a
glass of summut, but the bottle's dry--he!  he!" pointing, with a
revolting grin, to an empty bottle that stood on a niche within the
hearth. "I don't know how it is, sir, but I never wants to eat; but ah!
't is the liquor that does un good!"

"You have lived a long time in this house?"  said the curate.

"A long time,--some thirty years an' more."

"You remember your lodger, Mr. Aram?"

"A--well--yes!"

"An excellent man--"

"Humph."

"A most admirable man!"

"A-humph! he!--humph! that's neither here nor there."

"Why, you don't seem to think as all the rest of the world does with
regard to him?"

"I knows what I knows."

"Ah! by the by, you have some cock-and-a-bull story about him, I fancy,
but you never could explain yourself,--it is merely for the love of
seeming wise that you invented it, eh, Goody?"

The old woman shook her head, and crossing her hands on her knee, replied
with peculiar emphasis, but in a very low and whispered voice, "I could
hang him!"

"Pooh!"

"Tell you I could!"

"Well, let's have the story then!"

"No, no!  I have not told it to ne'er a one yet, and I won't for nothing.
What will you give me?  Make it worth my while."

"Tell us all, honestly, fairly, and fully, and you shall have five golden
guineas. There, Goody."

Roused by this promise, the dame looked up with more of energy than she
had yet shown, and muttered to herself, rocking her chair to and fro:
"Aha! why not?  No fear now, both gone; can't now murder the poor old
cretur, as the wretch once threatened. Five golden guineas,--five, did
you say, sir, five?"

"Ah!  and perhaps our bounty may not stop there," said the curate.

Still the old woman hesitated, and still she muttered to herself; but
after some further prelude, and some further enticement from the curate,
the which we spare our reader, she came at length to the following
narration:--

"It was on the 7th of February, in the year '44,--yes, '44, about six
o'clock in the evening, for I was a-washing in the kitchen,--when Mr.
Aram called to me an' desired of me to make a fire upstairs, which I did;
he then walked out. Some hours afterwards, it might be two in the
morning, I was lying awake, for I was mighty bad with the toothache, when
I heard a noise below, and two or three voices. On this I was greatly
afeard, and got out o' bed, and opening the door, I saw Mr. Houseman and
Mr. Clarke coming upstairs to Mr. Aram's room, and Mr. Aram followed
them. They shut the door, and stayed there, it might be an hour. Well, I
could not a think what could make so shy an' resarved a gentleman as Mr.
Aram admit these 'ere wild madcaps like at that hour; an' I lay awake a
thinking an' a thinking, till I heard the door open agin, an' I went to
listen at the keyhole, an' Mr. Clarke said: 'It will soon be morning, and
we must get off.'  They then all three left the house. But I could not
sleep, an' I got up afore five o'clock; and about that hour Mr. Aram an'
Mr. Houseman returned, and they both glowered at me as if they did not
like to find me a stirring; an' Mr. Aram went into his room, and Houseman
turned and frowned at me as black as night. Lord have mercy on me, I see
him now!  An' I was sadly feared, an' I listened at the keyhole, an' I
heard Houseman say: 'If the woman comes in, she'll tell.'

"'What can she tell?' said Mr. Aram; 'poor simple thing, she knows
nothing.'  With that, Houseman said, says he: 'If she tells that I am
here, it will be enough; but however [with a shocking oath], we'll take
an opportunity to shoot her.'

"On that I was so frighted that I went away back to my own room, and did
not stir till they had gone out, and then--"

"What time was that?"

"About seven o'clock. Well--You put me out! where was I?  Well, I went
into Mr. Aram's, an' I seed they had been burning a fire, an' that all
the ashes were taken out o' the grate; so I went an' looked at the
rubbish behind the house, and there sure enough I seed the ashes, and
among 'em several bits o' cloth and linen which seemed to belong to
wearing apparel; and there, too, was a handkerchief which I had obsarved
Houseman wear (for it was a very curious handkerchief, all spotted)
many's the time, and there was blood on it, 'bout the size of a shilling.
An' afterwards I seed Houseman, an' I showed him the handkerchief; and I
said to him, 'What has come of Clarke?'  An' he frowned, and, looking at
me, said, 'Hark ye, I know not what you mean; but as sure as the devil
keeps watch for souls, I will shoot you through the head if you ever let
that d---d tongue of yours let slip a single word about Clarke or me or
Mr. Aram,--so look to yourself!

"An' I was all scared, and trimbled from limb to limb; an' for two whole
yearn afterwards (long arter Aram and Houseman were both gone) I never
could so much as open my lips on the matter; and afore he went, Mr. Aram
would sometimes look at me, not sternly-like, as the villain Houseman,
but as if he would read to the bottom of my heart. Oh! I was as if you
had taken a mountain off o' me when he an' Houseman left the town; for
sure as the sun shines I believes, from what I have now said, that they
two murdered Clarke on that same February night. An' now, Mr. Summers,
I feels more easy than I has felt for many a long day; an' if I have not
told it afore, it is because I thought of Houseman's frown and his horrid
words; but summut of it would ooze out of my tongue now an' then, for
it's a hard thing, sir, to know a secret o' that sort and be quiet and
still about it; and, indeed, I was not the same cretur when I knew it as
I was afore, for it made me take to anything rather than thinking; and
that's the reason, sir, I lost the good crackter I used to have."

Such, somewhat abridged from its "says he" and "says I," its involutions
and its tautologies, was the story which Walter held his breath to hear.
But events thicken, and the maze is nearly thridden.

"Not a moment now should be lost," said the curate, as they left the
house. "Let us at once proceed to a very able magistrate, to whom I can
introduce you, and who lives a little way out of the town."

"As you will," said Walter, in an altered and hollow voice. "I am as a
man standing on an eminence, who views the whole scene he is to travel
over, stretched before him, but is dizzy and bewildered by the height
which he has reached. I know, I feel, that I am on the brink of fearful
and dread discoveries; pray God that--But heed me not, sir, heed me not;
let us on, on!"

It was now approaching towards the evening; and as they walked on, having
left the town, the sun poured his last beams on a group of persons that
appeared hastily collecting and gathering round a spot, well known in the
neighborhood of Knaresborough, called Thistle Hill.

"Let us avoid the crowd," said the curate. "Yet what, I wonder, can be
its cause?"  While he spoke, two peasants hurried by towards the throng.

"What is the meaning of the crowd yonder?" asked the curate.

"I don't know exactly, your honor, but I hears as how Jem Ninnings,
digging for stone for the limekiln, have dug out a big wooden chest."

A shout from the group broke in on the peasant's explanation,--a sudden
simultaneous shout, but not of joy; something of dismay and horror seemed
to breathe in the sound.

Walter looked at the curate. An impulse, a sudden instinct, seemed to
attract them involuntarily to the spot whence that sound arose; they
quickened their pace, they made their way through the throng. A deep
chest, that had been violently forced, stood before them; its contents
had been dragged to day, and now lay on the sward--a bleached and
mouldering skeleton!  Several of the bones were loose, and detached from
the body. A general hubbub of voices from the spectators,--inquiry,
guess, fear, wonder,--rang confusedly around.

"Yes!" said one old man, with gray hair, leaning on a pickaxe, "it is now
about fourteen years since the Jew pedlar disappeared. These are probably
his bones,--he was supposed to have been murdered!"

"Nay!" screeched a woman, drawing back a child who, all unalarmed, was
about to touch the ghastly relics, "nay, the pedlar was heard of
afterwards. I'll tell ye, ye may be sure these are the bones of Clarke,
--Daniel Clarke,--whom the country was so stirred about when we were
young!"

"Right, dame, right!  It is Clarke's skeleton," was the simultaneous cry.
And Walter, pressing forward, stood over the bones, and waved his hand as
to guard them from further insult. His sudden appearance, his tall
stature, his wild gesture, the horror, the paleness, the grief of his
countenance, struck and appalled all present. He remained speechless, and
a sudden silence succeeded the late clamor.

"And what do you here, fools?" said a voice, abruptly. The spectators
turned: a new comer had been added to the throng,--it was Richard
Houseman. His dress loose and disarranged, his flushed cheeks and rolling
eyes, betrayed the source of consolation to which he had flown from his
domestic affliction. "What do ye here?"  said he, reeling forward. "Ha!
human bones?  And whose may they be, think ye?"

"They are Clarke's!" said the woman, who had first given rise to that
supposition.

"Yes, we think they are Daniel Clarke's,--he who disappeared some years
ago!" cried two or three voices in concert. "Clarke's?"  repeated
Houseman, stooping down and picking up a thigh-bone, which lay at a
little distance from the rest; "Clarke's?  Ha! ha!  they are no more
Clarke's than mine!"

"Behold!" shouted Walter, in a voice that rang from cliff to plain; and
springing forward, he seized Houseman with a giant's grasp,--"behold the
murderer!"

As if the avenging voice of Heaven had spoken, a thrilling, an electric
conviction darted through the crowd. Each of the elder spectators
remembered at once the person of Houseman, and the suspicion that had
attached to his name.

"Seize him! seize him!" burst forth from twenty voices. "Houseman is the
murderer!"

"Murderer!" faltered Houseman, trembling in the iron hands of Walter,--
"murderer of whom?  I tell ye these are not Clarke's bones!"

"Where then do they lie?"  cried his arrester.

Pale, confused, conscience-stricken, the bewilderment of intoxication
mingling with that of fear, Houseman turned a ghastly look around him,
and, shrinking from the eyes of all, reading in the eyes of all his
condemnation, he gasped out, "Search St. Robert's Cave, in the turn at
the entrance!"

"Away!" rang the deep voice of Walter, on the instant; "away!  To the
cave, to the cave!"

On the banks of the River Nid, whose waters keep an everlasting murmur to
the crags and trees that overhang them, is a wild and dreary cavern,
hollowed from a rock which, according to tradition, was formerly the
hermitage of one of those early enthusiasts who made their solitude in
the sternest recesses of earth, and from the austerest thoughts and the
bitterest penance wrought their joyless offerings to the great Spirit of
the lovely world. To this desolate spot, called, from the name of its
once celebrated eremite, St. Robert's Cave, the crowd now swept,
increasing its numbers as it advanced.

The old man who had discovered the unknown remains, which were gathered
up and made a part of the procession, led the way; Houseman, placed
between two strong and active men, went next; and Walter followed behind,
fixing his eyes mutely upon the ruffian. The curate had had the
precaution to send on before for torches, for the wintry evening now
darkened round them, and the light from the torch-bearers, who met them
at the cavern, cast forth its red and lurid flare at the mouth of the
chasm. One of these torches Walter himself seized, and his was the first
step that entered the gloomy passage. At this place and time, Houseman,
who till then, throughout their short journey, had seemed to have
recovered a sort of dogged self-possession, recoiled, and the big drops
of fear or agony fell fast from his brow. He was dragged forward forcibly
into the cavern; and now as the space filled, and the torches flickered
against the grim walls, glaring on faces which caught, from
the deep and thrilling contagion of a common sentiment, one common
expression, it was not well possible for the wildest imagination to
conceive a scene better fitted for the unhallowed burial-place of the
murdered dead.

The eyes of all now turned upon Houseman; and he, after twice vainly
endeavoring to speak, for the words died inarticulate and choked within
him, advancing a few steps, pointed towards a spot on which, the next
moment, fell the concentrated light of every torch. An indescribable and
universal murmur, and then a breathless silence, ensued. On the spot
which Houseman had indicated, with the head placed to the right, lay what
once had been a human body!

"Can you swear," said the priest, solemnly, as he turned to Houseman,
"that these are the bones of Clarke?"

"Before God, I can swear it!" replied Houseman, at length finding his
voice.

"MY FATHER!"  broke from Walter's lips as he sank upon his knees; and
that exclamation completed the awe and horror which prevailed in the
breasts of all present. Stung by a sense of the danger he had drawn upon
himself, and despair and excitement restoring, in some measure, not only
his natural hardihood, but his natural astuteness, Houseman, here
mastering his emotions, and making that effort which he was afterwards
enabled to follow up with an advantage to himself of which he could not
then have dreamed,--Houseman, I say, cried aloud,

"But I did not do the deed; I am not the murderer."

"Speak out!  Whom do you accuse?"  said the curate. Drawing his breath
hard, and setting his teeth as with some steeled determination, Houseman
replied,--

The murderer is Eugene Aram!"

"Aram!"  shouted Walter, starting to his feet: "O God, thy hand hath
directed me hither!"  And suddenly and at once sense left him, and he
fell, as if a shot had pierced through his heart, beside the remains of
that father whom he had thus mysteriously discovered.





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