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Title: Paul Clifford — Volume 06
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 "Paul Clifford — Volume 06" ***

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PAUL CLIFFORD, Volume 6.

By Edward Bulwer-Lytton



CHAPTER XXVIII.

               God bless our King and Parliament,
               And send he may make such knaves repent!
                         Loyal Songs against the Rump Parliament.


               Ho, treachery! my guards, my cimeter!
                                                  BYRON.

When the irreverent Mr. Pepper had warmed his hands sufficiently to be
able to transfer them from the fire, he lifted the right palm, and with
an indecent jocularity of spirits, accosted the _ci-devant_ ornament of
"The Asinaeum" with a sounding slap on his back, or some such part of his
conformation.

"Ah, old boy!" said he, "is this the way you keep house for us?  A fire
not large enough to roast a nit, and a supper too small to fatten him
beforehand!  But how the deuce should you know how to provender for
gentlemen?  You thought you were in Scotland, I'll be bound!"

"Perhaps he did when he looked upon you, Ned!" said Tomlinson, gravely;
"'t is but rarely out of Scotland that a man can see so big a rogue in so
little a compass!"

Mr. MacGrawler, into whose eyes the palmistry of Long Ned had brought
tears of sincere feeling, and who had hitherto been rubbing the afflicted
part, now grumbled forth,--

"You may say what you please, Mr. Pepper, but it is not often in my
country that men of genius are seen performing the part of cook to
robbers!"

"No!" quoth Tomlinson, "they are performing the more profitable part of
robbers to cooks, eh!"

"Damme, you're out," cried Long Ned,--"for in that country there are
either no robbers, because there is nothing to rob; or the inhabitants
are all robbers, who have plundered one another, and made away with the
booty!"

"May the de'il catch thee!" said MacGrawler, stung to the quick,--for,
like all Scots, he was a patriot; much on the same principle as a woman
who has the worst children makes the best mother.

"The de'il," said Ned, mimicking the "silver sound," as Sir W.  Scott had
been pleased facetiously to call the "mountain tongue" (the Scots in
general seem to think it is silver, they keep it so carefully) "the
de'il,--_MacDeil_, you mean, sure, the gentleman must have been a
Scotchman!"

The sage grinned in spite; but remembering the patience of Epictetus when
a slave, and mindful also of the strong arm of Long Ned, he curbed his
temper, and turned the beefsteaks with his fork.

"Well, Ned," said Augustus, throwing himself into a chair, which he drew
to the fire, while he gently patted the huge limbs of Mr. Pepper, as if
to admonish him that they were not so transparent as glass, "let us look
at the fire; and, by the by, it is your turn to see to the horses."

"Plague on it!" cried Ned; "it is always my turn, I think.  Holla, you
Scot of the pot! can't you prove that I groomed the beasts last?  I'll
give you a crown to do it."

The wise MacGrawler pricked up his ears.

"A crown!" said he,--"a crown!  Do you mean to insult me, Mr. Pepper?
But, to be sure, you did see to the horses last; and this worthy
gentleman, Mr. Tomlinson, must remember it too."

"How!" cried Augustus; "you are mistaken, and I'll give you half a guinea
to prove it."

MacGrawler opened his eyes larger and larger, even as you may see a small
circle in the water widen into enormity, if you disturb the equanimity of
the surface by the obtrusion of a foreign substance.

"Half a guinea!" said he; "nay, nay, you joke.  I'm not mercenary.  You
think I am!  Pooh, pooh!  you are mistaken; I'm a man who means weel, a
man of veracity, and will speak the truth in spite of all the half-
guineas in the world.  But certainly, now I begin to think of it, Mr.
Tomlinson did see to the creatures last; and, Mr. Pepper, it is your
turn."

"A very Daniel!" said Tomlinson, chuckling in his usual dry manner.
"Ned, don't you hear the horses neigh?"

"Oh, hang the horses!" said the volatile Pepper, forgetting everything
else, as he thrust his hands in his pockets, and felt the gains of the
night; "let us first look to our winnings!"

So saying, he marched towards the table, and emptied his pockets thereon.
Tomlinson, nothing loath, followed the example.  Heavens! what
exclamations of delight issued from the scoundrels' lips, as, one by one,
they inspected their new acquisitions!

"Here's a magnificent creature!" cried Ned, handling that superb watch
studded with jewels which the poor earl had once before unavailingly
redeemed,--"a repeater, by Jove!"

"I hope not," said the phlegmatic Augustus; "repeaters will not tell well
for your conversation, Ned!  But, powers that be! look at this ring,--a
diamond of the first water!"

"Oh, the sparkler!  it makes one's mouth water as much as itself.
'Sdeath, here's a precious box for a sneezer,--a picture inside, and
rubies outside!  The old fellow had excellent taste; it would charm him
to see how pleased we are with his choice of jewelry!"

"Talking of jewelry," said Tomlinson, "I had almost forgotten the morocco
case.  Between you and me, I imagine we have a prize there; it looks like
a jewel casket!"

So saying, the robber opened that case which on many a gala day had lent
lustre to the polished person of Mauleverer.  Oh, reader, the burst of
rapture that ensued!  Imagine it! we cannot express it.  Like the Grecian
painter, we drop a veil over emotions too deep for words.

"But here," said Pepper, when they had almost exhausted their transports
at sight of the diamonds,--"here's a purse,--fifty guineas!  And what's
this?  Notes, by Jupiter!  We must change them to-morrow before they are
stopped.  Curse those fellows at the Bank! they are always imitating us,
we stop their money, and they don't lose a moment in stopping it too.
Three hundred pounds!  Captain, what say you to our luck?" Clifford had
sat gloomily looking on during the operations of the robbers; he now,
assuming a correspondent cheerfulness of manner, made a suitable reply,
and after some general conversation the work of division took place.

"We are the best arithmeticians in the world," said Augustus, as he
pouched his share; "addition, subtraction, division, reduction,--we have
them all as pat as 'The Tutor's Assistant;' and, what is better, we make
them all applicable to the _Rule of Three_."

"You have left out multiplication!" said Clifford, smiling.  "Ah!
because that works differently.  The other rules apply to the specie-s of
the kingdom; but as for multiplication, we multiply, I fear, no species
but our own!"

"Fie, gentlemen!" said MacGrawler, austerely,--for there is a wonderful
decorum in your true Scotsmen.  "Actions are trifles; nothing can be
cleaner than their words!"

"Oh, you thrust in your wisdom, do you?" said Ned.  "I suppose you want
your part of the booty!"

"Part!" said the subtilizing Tomlinson.  "He has nine times as many parts
as we have already.  Is he not a critic, and has he not the parts of
speech at his fingers' end?"

"Nonsense!" said MacGrawler, instinctively holding up his hands, with the
fork dropping between the outstretched fingers of the right palm.

"Nonsense yourself," cried Ned; "you have a share in what you never took!
A pretty fellow, truly!  Mind your business, Mr. Scot, and fork nothing
but the beefsteaks!"

With this Ned turned to the stables, and soon disappeared among the
horses; but Clifford, eying the disappointed and eager face of the
culinary sage, took ten guineas from his own share, and pushed them
towards his quondam tutor.

"There!" said he, emphatically.

"Nay, nay," grunted MacGrawler; "I don't want the money,--it is my way
to scorn such dross!"  So saying, he pocketed the coins, and turned,
muttering to himself, to the renewal of his festive preparations.

Meanwhile a whispered conversation took place between Augustus and the
captain, and continued till Ned returned.

"And the night's viands smoked along the board!"

Souls of Don Raphael and Ambrose Lamela, what a charming thing it is to
be a rogue for a little time!  How merry men are when they have cheated
their brethren!  Your innocent milksops never made so jolly a supper as
did our heroes of the way.  Clifford, perhaps acted a part, but the
hilarity of his comrades was unfeigned.  It was a delicious contrast,--
the boisterous "ha, ha!" of Long Ned, and the secret, dry, calculating
chuckle of Augustus Tomlinson.  It was Rabelais against Voltaire.  They
united only in the objects of their jests, and foremost of those objects
(wisdom is ever the but of the frivolous!) was the great Peter
MacGrawler.

The graceless dogs were especially merry upon the subject of the sage's
former occupation.

"Come, Mac, you carve this ham," said Ned; "you have had practice in
cutting up."

The learned man whose name was thus disrespectfully abbreviated proceeded
to perform what he was bid.  He was about to sit down for that purpose,
when Tomlinson slyly subtracted his chair,--the sage fell.

"No jests at MacGrawler," said the malicious Augustus; "whatever be his
faults as a critic, you see that he is well grounded, and he gets at once
to the bottom of a subject.  Mac, suppose your next work be entitled a
Tail of Woe!"

Men who have great minds are rarely flexible,--they do not take a jest
readily; so it was with MacGrawler.  He rose in a violent rage; and had
the robbers been more penetrating than they condescended to be, they
might have noticed something dangerous in his eye.  As it was, Clifford,
who had often before been the protector of his tutor, interposed in his
behalf, drew the sage a seat near to himself, and filled his plate for
him.  It was interesting to see this deference from Power to Learning!
It was Alexander doing homage to Aristotle!

"There is only one thing I regret," cried Ned, with his mouth full,
"about the old lord,--it was a thousand pities we did not make him dance!
I remember the day, Captain, when you would have insisted on it.  What a
merry fellow you were once!  Do you recollect, one bright moonlight
night, just like the present, for instance, when we were doing duty near
Staines, how you swore every person we stopped, above fifty years old,
should dance a minuet with you?"

"Ay!" added Augustus, "and the first was a bishop in a white wig.  Faith,
how stiffly his lordship jigged it!  And how gravely Lovett bowed to him,
with his hat off, when it was all over, and returned him his watch and
ten guineas,--it was worth the sacrifice!"

"And the next was an old maid of quality," said Ned, "as lean as a
lawyer.  Don't you remember how she curvetted?"

"To be sure," said Tomlinson; "and you very wittily called her a hop-
pole!"

"How delighted she was with the captain's suavity!  When he gave her back
her earrings and aigrette, she bade him with a tender sigh keep them for
her sake,--ha! ha!"

"And the third was a beau!" cried Augustus; "and Lovett surrendered his
right of partnership to me.  Do you recollect how I danced his beauship
into the ditch?  Ah! we were mad fellows then; but we get sated--
_blases_, as the French say--as we grow older!"

"We look only to the main chance now," said Ned.  "Avarice supersedes
enterprise," added the sententious Augustus.

"And our captain takes to wine with an _h_ after the _w_!" continued the
metaphorical Ned.

"Come, we are melancholy," said Tomlinson, tossing off a bumper.
"Methinks we are really growing old, we shall repent soon, and the next
step will be-hanging!"

"'Fore Gad!" said Ned, helping himself, "don't be so croaking.  There are
two classes of maligned gentry, who should always be particular to avoid
certain colours in dressing; I hate to see a true boy in black, or a
devil in blue.  But here's my last glass to-night!  I am confoundedly
sleepy, and we rise early to-morrow."

"Right, Ned," said Tomlinson; "give us a song before you retire, and let
it be that one which Lovett composed the last time we were here."

Ned, always pleased with an opportunity of displaying himself, cleared
his voice and complied.


                    A DITTY FROM SHERWOOD.

                             I.
          Laugh with us at the prince and the palace,
          In the wild wood-life there is better cheer;
          Would you board your mirth from your neighbour's malice,
          Gather it up in our garners here.
          Some kings their wealth from their subjects wring,
          While by their foes they the poorer wax;
          Free go the men of the wise wood-king,
          And it is only our foes we tax.
          Leave the cheats of trade to the shrewd gude-wife
          Let the old be knaves at ease;
          Away with the tide of that dashing life
          Which is stirred by a constant breeze!

                            II.
          Laugh with us when you hear deceiving
          And solemn rogues tell you what knaves we be
          Commerce and law have a method of thieving
          Worse than a stand at the outlaw's tree.
          Say, will the maiden we love despise
          Gallants at least to each other true?
          I grant that we trample on legal ties,
          But I have heard that Love scorns them too,
          Courage, then,--courage, ye jolly boys,
          Whom the fool with the knavish rates
          Oh! who that is loved by the world enjoys
          Half as much as the man it hates?


"Bravissimo, Ned!" cried Tomlinson, rapping the table; "bravissimo!  Your
voice is superb to-night, and your song admirable.  Really, Lovett, it
does your poetical genius great credit; quite philosophical, upon my
honour."

"Bravissimo!" said MacGrawler, nodding his head awfully.  "Mr. Pepper's
voice is as sweet as a bagpipe!  Ah! such a song would have been
invaluable to 'The Asinaeum,' when I had the honour to--"

"Be Vicar of _Bray_ to that establishment," interrupted Tomlinson.
"Pray, MacGrawler, why do they call Edinburgh the Modern Athens?"

"Because of the learned and great men it produces," returned MacGrawler,
with conscious pride.

"Pooh! pooh!--you are thinking of ancient Athens.  Your city is called
the modern Athens because you are all so like the modern Athenians,--the
greatest scoundrels imaginable, unless travellers belie them."

"Nay," interrupted Ned, who was softened by the applause of the critic,
"Mac is a good fellow, spare him.  Gentlemen, your health.  I am going to
bed, and I suppose you will not tarry long behind me."

"Trust us for that," answered Tomlinson; "the captain and I will consult
on the business of the morrow, and join you in the twinkling of a
bedpost, as it has been shrewdly expressed."

Ned yawned his last "good-night," and disappeared within the dormitory.
MacGrawler, yawning also, but with a graver yawn, as became his wisdom,
betook himself to the duty of removing the supper paraphernalia: after
bustling soberly about for some minutes, he let down a press-bed in the
corner of the cave (for he did not sleep in the robbers' apartment), and
undressing himself, soon appeared buried in the bosom of Morpheus.  But
the chief and Tomlinson, drawing their seats nearer to the dying embers,
defied the slothful god, and entered with low tones into a close and
anxious commune.

"So, then," said Augustus, "now that you have realized sufficient funds
for your purpose, you will really desert us?  Have you well weighed the
pros and cons?  Remember that nothing is so dangerous to our state as
reform; the moment a man grows honest, the gang forsake him; the
magistrate misses his fee; the informer peaches; and the recusant hangs."

"I have well weighed all this," answered Clifford, "and have decided on
my course.  I have only tarried till my means could assist my will.  With
my share of our present and late booty, I shall betake myself to the
Continent.  Prussia gives easy trust and ready promotion to all who will
enlist in her service.  But this language, my dear friend, seems strange
from your lips.  Surely you will join me in my separation from the corps?
What! you shake your head!  Are you not the same Tomlinson who at Bath
agreed with me that we were in danger from the envy of our comrades, and
that retreat had become necessary to our safety?  Nay, was not this your
main argument for our matrimonial expedition?"

"Why, look you, dear Lovett," said Augustus, "we are all blocks of
matter, formed from the atoms of custom; in other words, we are a
mechanism, to which habit is the spring.  What could I do in an honest
career?  I am many years older than you.  I have lived as a rogue till I
have no other nature than roguery.  I doubt if I should not be a coward
were I to turn soldier.  I am sure I should be the most consummate of
rascals were I to affect to be honest.  No: I mistook myself when I
talked of separation.  I must e'en jog on with my old comrades, and in my
old ways; till I jog into the noose hempen or--melancholy alternative!--
the noose matrimonial."

"This is mere folly," said Clifford, from whose nervous and masculine
mind habits were easily shaken.  "We have not for so many years discarded
all the servile laws of others, to be the abject slaves of our own
weaknesses.  Come, my dear fellow, rouse yourself.  Heaven knows, were I
to succumb to the feebleness of my own heart, I should be lost indeed.
And perhaps, wrestle I ever so stoutly, I do not wrestle away that which
clings within me, and will kill me, though by inches.  But let us not be
cravens, and suffer fate to drown us rather than swim.  In a word, fly
with me ere it be too late.  A smuggler's vessel waits me off the coast
of Dorset: in three days from this I sail.  Be my companion.  We can both
rein a fiery horse, and wield a good sword.  As long as men make war one
against another, those accomplishments will prevent their owner from
starving, or--"

"If employed in the field, not the road," interrupted Tomlinson, with a
smile,--"from hanging.  But it cannot be!  I wish you all joy, all
success in your career.  You are young, bold, and able; and you always
had a loftier spirit than I have.  Knave I am, and knave I must be to the
end of the chapter!"

"As you will," said Clifford, who was not a man of many words, but he
spoke with reluctance: "if so, I must seek my fortune alone."

"When do you leave us?" asked Tomlinson.

"To-morrow, before noon.  I shall visit London for a few hours, and then
start at once for the coast."

"London!" exclaimed Tomlinson; "what, the very den of danger?  Pooh! you
do not know what you say: or do you think it filial to caress Mother
Lobkins before you depart?"

"Not that," answered Clifford.  "I have already ascertained that she is
above the reach of all want; and her days, poor soul! cannot, I fear, be
many.  In all probability she would scarcely recognize me; for her habits
cannot much have improved her memory.  Would I could say as much for her
neighbours!  Were I to be seen in the purlieus of low thievery, you know,
as well as I do, that some stealer of kerchiefs would turn informer
against the notorious Captain Lovett."

"What, then, takes you to town?  Ah! you turn away your face.  I guess!
Well, Love has ruined many a hero before; may you not be the worse for
his godship!"

Clifford did not answer, and the conversation made a sudden and long
pause; Tomlinson broke it.

"Do you know, Lovett," said he, "though I have as little heart as most
men, yet I feel for you more than I could have thought it possible.
I would fain join you; there is devilish good tobacco in Germany,
I believe; and, after all, there is not so much difference between
the life of a thief and of a soldier."

"Do profit by so sensible a remark," said Clifford.  "Reflect! how
certain of destruction is the path you now tread; the gallows and the
hulks are the only goals!"

"The prospects are not pleasing, I allow," said Tomlinson; "nor is it
desirable to be preserved for another century in the immortality of a
glass case in Surgeons' Hall, grinning from ear to ear, as if one had
made the merriest finale imaginable.  Well! I will sleep on it, and you
shall have my answer tomorrow; but poor Ned?"

"Would he not join us?"

"Certainly not; his neck is made for a rope, and his mind for the Old
Bailey.  There is no hope for him; yet he is an excellent fellow.  We
must not even tell him of our meditated desertion."

"By no means.  I shall leave a letter to our London chief; it will
explain all.  And now to bed.  I look to your companionship as settled."

"Humph!" said Augustus Tomlinson.

So ended the conference of the robbers.  About an hour after it had
ceased, and when no sound save the heavy breath of Long Ned broke the
stillness of the night, the intelligent countenance of Peter MacGrawler
slowly elevated itself from the lonely pillow on which it had reclined.

By degrees the back of the sage stiffened into perpendicularity, and he
sat for a few moments erect on his seat of honour, apparently in
listening deliberation.  Satisfied with the deep silence that, save the
solitary interruption we have specified, reigned around, the learned
disciple of Vatel rose gently from the bed, hurried on his clothes, stole
on tiptoe to the door, unbarred it with a noiseless hand, and vanished.
Sweet reader! while thou art wondering at his absence, suppose we account
for his appearance.

One evening Clifford and his companion Augustus had been enjoying the
rational amusement at Ranelagh, and were just leaving that celebrated
place when they were arrested by a crowd at the entrance.  That crowd was
assembled round a pickpocket; and that pickpocket--O virtue, O wisdom,
O Asinaeum!--was Peter MacGrawler!  We have before said that Clifford was
possessed of a good mien and an imposing manner, and these advantages
were at that time especially effectual in preserving our Orbilius from
the pump.  No sooner did Clifford recognize the magisterial face of the
sapient Scot, than he boldly thrust himself into the middle of the crowd,
and collaring the enterprising citizen who had collared MacGrawler,
declared himself ready to vouch for the honesty of the very respectable
person whose identity had evidently been so grossly mistaken.  Augustus,
probably foreseeing some ingenious ruse, of his companion, instantly
seconded the defence.  The mob, who never descry any difference between
impudence and truth, gave way; a constable came up, took part with the
friend of two gentlemen so unexceptionally dressed; our friends walked
off; the crowd repented of their precipitation, and by way of amends
ducked the gentleman whose pockets had been picked.  It was in vain for
him to defend himself, for he had an impediment in his speech; and
Messieurs the mob, having ducked him once for his guilt, ducked him a
second time for his embarrassment.

In the interim Clifford had withdrawn his quondam Mentor to the asylum of
a coffee-house; and while MacGrawler's soul expanded itself by wine, he
narrated the causes of his dilemma.  It seems that that incomparable
journal "The Asinaeum," despite a series of most popular articles upon
the writings of "Aulus Prudentius," to which were added an exquisite
string of dialogues, written in a tone of broad humour, namely, broad
Scotch (with Scotchmen it is all the same thing), despite these
invaluable miscellanies, to say nothing of some glorious political
articles, in which it was clearly proved to the satisfaction of the rich,
that the less poor devils eat the better for their constitutions,--
despite, we say, these great acquisitions to British literature, "The
Asinaeum" tottered, fell, buried its bookseller, and crushed its author.
MacGrawler only,--escaping, like Theodore from the enormous helmet of
Otranto,--MacGrawler only survived.  "Love," says Sir Philip Sidney.
"makes a man see better than a pair of spectacles."  Love of life has a
very different effect on the optics,--it makes a man wofully dim of
inspection, and sometimes causes him to see his own property in another
man's purse!  This _deceptio visus_, did it impose upon Peter MacGrawler?
He went to Ranelagh.  Reader, thou knowest the rest!

Wine and the ingenuity of the robbers having extorted this narrative from
MacGrawler, the barriers of superfluous delicacy were easily done away
with.

Our heroes offered to the sage an introduction to their club; the offer
was accepted; and MacGrawler, having been first made drunk, was next made
a robber.  The gang engaged him in various little matters, in which we
grieve to relate that though his intentions were excellent, his success
was so ill as thoroughly to enrage his employers; nay, they were about at
one time, when they wanted to propitiate justice, to hand him over to the
secular power, when Clifford interposed in his behalf.  From a robber the
sage dwindled into a drudge; menial offices (the robbers, the lying
rascals, declared that such offices were best fitted to the genius of his
country!) succeeded to noble exploits, and the worst of robbers became
the best of cooks.  How vain is all wisdom but that of long experience!
Though Clifford was a sensible, and keen man, though he knew our sage to
be a knave, he never dreamed he could be a traitor.  He thought him too
indolent to be malicious, and--short-sighted humanity!--too silly to be
dangerous.  He trusted the sage with the secret of the cavern; and
Augustus, who was a bit of an epicure, submitted, though forebodingly,
to the choice, because of the Scotchman's skill in broiling.

But MacGrawler, like Brutus, concealed a scheming heart under a stolid
guise.  The apprehension of the noted Lovett had become a matter of
serious desire; the police was no longer to be bribed, nay, they were now
eager to bribe.  MacGrawler had watched his time, sold his chief, and was
now on the road to Reading to meet and to guide to the cavern Mr. Nabbem
of Bow Street and four of his attendants.

Having thus, as rapidly as we were able, traced the causes which brought
so startlingly before your notice the most incomparable of critics, we
now, reader, return to our robbers.

"Hist, Lovett!" said Tomlinson, half asleep, "methought I heard something
in the outer cave."

"It is the Scot, I suppose," answered Clifford: "you saw, of course, to
the door?"

"To be sure!" muttered Tomlinson, and in two minutes more he was asleep.

Not so Clifford: many and anxious thoughts kept him waking.  At one
while, when he anticipated the opening to a new career, somewhat of the
stirring and high spirit which still moved amidst the guilty and confused
habits of his mind made his pulse feverish and his limbs restless; at
another time, an agonizing remembrance,--the remembrance of Lucy in all
her charms, her beauty, her love, her tender and innocent heart,--Lucy
all perfect, and lost to him forever,--banished every other reflection,
and only left him the sick sensation of despondency and despair.  "What
avails my struggle for a better name?" he thought.  "Whatever my future
lot, she can never share it.  My punishment is fixed,--it is worse than a
death of shame; it is a life without hope!  Every moment I feel, and
shall feel to the last, the pressure of a chain that may never be broken
or loosened!  And yet, fool that I am!  I cannot leave this country
without seeing her again, without telling her that I have really looked
my last.  But have I not twice told her that?  Strange fatality!  But
twice have I spoken to her of love, and each time it was to tear myself
from her at the moment of my confession.  And even now something that I
have no power to resist compels me to the same idle and weak indulgence.
Does destiny urge me?  Ay, perhaps to my destruction!  Every hour a
thousand deaths encompass me.  I have now obtained all for which I seemed
to linger.  I have won, by a new crime, enough to bear me to another
land, and to provide me there a soldier's destiny.  I should not lose an
hour in flight, yet I rush into the nest of my enemies, only for one
unavailing word with her; and this, too, after I have already bade her
farewell!  Is this fate?  If it be so, what matters it?  I no longer care
for a life which, after all, I should reform in vain if I could not
reform it for her; yet--yet, selfish and lost that I am! will it be
nothing to think hereafter that I have redeemed her from the disgrace of
having loved an outcast and a felon?  If I can obtain honour, will it
not, in my own heart at least,--will it not reflect, however dimly and
distantly, upon her?"

Such, bewildered, unsatisfactory, yet still steeped in the colours of
that true love which raises even the lowest, were the midnight
meditations of Clifford; they terminated, towards the morning, in an
uneasy and fitful slumber.  From this he was awakened by a loud yawn from
the throat of Long Ned, who was always the earliest riser of his set.

"Hullo!" said he, "it is almost daybreak; and if we want to cash our
notes and to move the old lord's jewels, we should already be on the
start."

"A plague on you!" said Tomlinson, from under cover of his woollen
nightcap; "it was but this instant that I was dreaming you were going to
be hanged, and now you wake me in the pleasantest part of the dream!"

"You be shot!" said Ned, turning one leg out of bed; "by the by, you took
more than your share last night, for you owed me three guineas for our
last game at cribbage!  You'll please to pay me before we part to-day:
short accounts make long friends!"

"However true that maxim may be," returned Tomlinson, "I know one much
truer,--namely, long friends will make short accounts!  You must ask Jack
Ketch this day month if I'm wrong!"

"That's what you call wit, I suppose!" retorted Ned, as he now,
struggling into his inexpressibles, felt his way into the outer cave.

"What, ho, Mac!" cried he, as he went, "stir those bobbins of thine,
which thou art pleased to call legs; strike a light, and be d---d to
you!"

"A light for you," said Tomlinson, profanely, as he reluctantly left his
couch, "will indeed be a 'light to lighten the Gentiles!'"

"Why, Mac, Mac!" shouted Ned, "why don't you answer?  faith, I think the
Scot's dead!"

"Seize your men!--Yield, sirs!" cried a stern, sudden voice from the
gloom; and at that instant two dark lanterns were turned, and their light
streamed full upon the astounded forms of Tomlinson and his gaunt
comrade!  In the dark shade of the background four or five forms were
also indistinctly visible; and the ray of the lanterns glimmered on the
blades of cutlasses and the barrels of weapons still less easily
resisted.

Tomlinson was the first to recover his self-possession.  The light just
gleamed upon the first step of the stairs leading to the stables, leaving
the rest in shadow.  He made one stride to the place beside the cart,
where, we have said, lay some of the robbers' weapons; he had been
anticipated,--the weapons were gone.  The next moment Tomlinson had
sprung up the steps.

"Lovett!  Lovett!  Lovett!" shouted he.

The captain, who had followed his comrades into the cavern, was already
in the grasp of two men.  From few ordinary mortals, however, could any
two be selected as fearful odds against such a man as Clifford,--a man in
whom a much larger share of sinews and muscle than is usually the lot
even of the strong had been hardened, by perpetual exercise, into a
consistency and iron firmness which linked power and activity into a
union scarcely less remarkable than that immortalized in the glorious
beauty of the sculptured gladiator.  His right hand is upon the throat of
one assailant; his left locks, as in a vice, the wrist of the other; you
have scarcely time to breathe!  The former is on the ground, the pistol
of the latter is wrenched from his grip, Clifford is on the step; a ball
--another--whizzes by him; he is by the side of the faithful Augustus!

"Open the secret door!" whispered Clifford to his friend; "I will draw up
the steps alone."

Scarcely had he spoken, before the steps were already, but slowly,
ascending beneath the desperate strength of the robber.  Meanwhile Ned
was struggling, as he best might, with two sturdy officers, who appeared
loath to use their weapons without an absolute necessity, and who
endeavoured, by main strength, to capture and detain their antagonist.

"Look well to the door!" cried the voice of the principal officer, "and
hang out more light!"

Two or three additional lanterns were speedily brought forward; and over
the whole interior of the cavern a dim but sufficient light now rapidly
circled, giving to the scene and to the combatants a picturesque and wild
appearance.

The quick eye of the head-officer descried in an instant the rise of the
steps, and the advantage the robbers were thereby acquiring.  He and two
of his men threw themselves forward, seized the ladder, if so it may be
called, dragged it once more to the ground, and ascended.  But Clifford,
grasping with both hands the broken shaft of a cart that lay in reach,
received the foremost invader with a salute that sent him prostrate and
senseless back among his companions.  The second shared the same fate;
and the stout leader of the enemy, who, like a true general, had kept
himself in the rear, paused now in the middle of the steps, dismayed
alike by the reception of his friends and the athletic form towering
above, with raised weapons and menacing attitude.  Perhaps that moment
seemed to the judicious Mr. Nabbem more favourable to parley than to
conflict.  He cleared his throat, and thus addressed the foe:

"You, sir, Captain Lovett, alias Howard, alias Jackson, alias Cavendish,
alias Solomons, alias Devil,--for I knows you well, and could swear to
you with half an eye, in your clothes or without,--you lay down your club
there, and let me come alongside of you, and you'll find me as gentle as
a lamb; for I've been used to gemmen all my life, and I knows how to
treat 'em when I has 'em!"

"But if I will not let you 'come alongside of me,' what then?"

"Why, I must send one of these here pops through your skull, that's all!"

"Nay, Mr. Nabbem, that would be too cruel!  You surely would not harm one
who has such an esteem for you?  Don't you remember the manner in which I
brought you off from Justice Burnflat, when you were accused, you know
whether justly or--"

"You're a liar, Captain!" cried Nabbem, furiously, fearful that something
not meet for the ears of his companions should transpire.  "You knows you
are!  Come down, or let me mount; otherwise I won't be 'sponsible for the
consequences!"

Clifford cast a look over his shoulder.  A gleam of the gray daylight
already glimmered through a chink in the secret door, which Tomlinson had
now unbarred and was about to open.

"Listen to me, Mr. Nabbem," said he, "and perhaps I may grant what you
require!  What would you do with me if you had me?"

"You speaks like a sensible man now," answered Nabbem; "and that's after
my own heart.  Why, you sees, Captain, your time is come, and you can't
shilly-shally any longer.  You have had your full swing; your years are
up, and you must die like a man!  But I gives you my honour as a gemman,
that if you surrenders, I'll take you to the justice folks as tenderly as
if you were made of cotton."

"Give way one moment," said Clifford, "that I may plant the steps firmer
for you."

Nabbem retreated to the ground; and Clifford, who had, good-naturedly
enough, been unwilling unnecessarily to damage so valuable a functionary,
lost not the opportunity now afforded him.  Down thundered the steps,
clattering heavily among the other officers, and falling like an
avalanche on the shoulder of one of the arresters of Long Ned.

Meanwhile Clifford sprang after Tomlinson through the aperture, and found
himself--in the presence of four officers, conducted by the shrewd
MacGrawler.  A blow from a bludgeon on the right cheek and temple of
Augustus felled that hero.  But Clifford bounded over his comrade's body,
dodged from the stroke aimed at himself, caught the blow aimed by another
assailant in his open hand, wrested the bludgeon from the officer, struck
him to the ground with his own weapon, and darting onward through the
labyrinth of the wood, commenced his escape with a step too fleet to
allow the hope of a successful pursuit.



CHAPTER XXIX.

          "In short, Isabella, I offer you myself!"
          "Heavens!" cried Isabella, "what do I hear?  You, my lord?"
                                             Castle of Otranto.

A novel is like a weatherglass,--where the man appears out at one time,
the woman at another.  Variable as the atmosphere, the changes of our
story now re-present Lucy to the reader.

That charming young person--who, it may be remarked, is (her father
excepted) the only unsophisticated and unsullied character in the pages
of a story in some measure designed to show, in the depravities of
character, the depravities of that social state wherein characters are
formed--was sitting alone in her apartment at the period in which we
return to her.  As time, and that innate and insensible fund of healing,
which Nature has placed in the bosoms of the young in order that her
great law, the passing away of the old, may not leave too lasting and
keen a wound, had softened her first anguish at her father's death, the
remembrance of Clifford again resumed its ancient sway in her heart.  The
loneliness of her life, the absence of amusement, even the sensitiveness
and languor which succeed to grief, conspired to invest the image of her
lover in a tenderer and more impressive guise.  She recalled his words,
his actions, his letters, and employed herself whole hours, whole days
and nights, in endeavouring to decipher their mystery.  Who that has been
loved will not acknowledge the singular and mighty force with which a
girl, innocent herself, clings to the belief of innocence in her lover?
In breasts young and unacquainted with the world, there is so pure a
credulity in the existence of unmixed good, so firm a reluctance to think
that where we love there can be that which we would not esteem, or where
we admire there can be that which we ought to blame, that one may almost
deem it an argument in favour of our natural power to attain a greater
eminence in virtue than the habits and arts of the existing world will
allow us to reach.  Perhaps it is not paradoxical to say that we could
scarcely believe perfection in others, were not the germ of
perfectibility in our own minds!  When a man has lived some years among
the actual contests of faction without imbibing the prejudice as well as
the experience, how wonderingly be smiles at his worship of former idols,
how different a colour does history wear to him, how cautious is he now
to praise, how slow to admire, how prone to cavil!  Human nature has
become the human nature of art; and he estimates it not from what it
may be, but from what, in the corruptions of a semi-civilization, it is!
But in the same manner as the young student clings to the belief that the
sage or the minstrel, who has enlightened his reason or chained his
imagination, is in character as in genius elevated above the ordinary
herd, free from the passions, the frivolities, the little meannesses,
and the darkening vices which ordinary flesh is heir to, does a woman who
loves for the first time cling to the imagined excellence of him she
loves.  When Evelina is so shocked at the idea of an occasional fit of
intoxication in her "noble, her unrivalled" lover, who does not
acknowledge how natural were her feelings?  Had Evelina been married six
years, and the same lover, then her husband, been really guilty of what
she suspected, who does not feel that it would have been very unnatural
to have been shocked in the least at the occurrence?  She would not have
loved him less, nor admired him less, nor would he have been less "the
noble and the unrivalled,"--he would have taken his glass too much, have
joked the next morning on the event, and the gentle Evelina would have
made him a cup of tea; but that which would have been a matter of
pleasantry in the husband would have been matter of damnation in a lover.
But to return to Lucy.

If it be so hard, so repellent, to believe a lover guilty even of a
trivial error, we may readily suppose that Lucy never for a moment
admitted the supposition that Clifford had been really guilty of gross
error or wilful crime.  True that expressions in his letter were more
than suspicious; but there is always a charm in the candour of self-
condemnation.  As it is difficult to believe the excellence of those
who praise themselves, so it is difficult to fancy those criminal who
condemn.  What, too, is the process of a woman's reasoning?  Alas! she
is too credulous a physiognomist.  The turn of a throat, with her, is the
unerring token of nobleness of mind; and no one can be guilty of a sin
who is blessed with a beautiful forehead!  How fondly, how fanatically
Lucy loved!  She had gathered together a precious and secret hoard,--
a glove, a pen, a book, a withered rose-leaf,--treasures rendered
inestimable because he had touched them; but more than all, had she the
series of his letters,--from the first formal note written to her father,
meant for her, in which he answered an invitation, and requested Miss
Brandon's acceptance of the music she had wished to have, to the last
wild and, to her, inexplicable letter in which he had resigned her
forever.  On these relics her eyes fed for hours; and as she pored over
them, and over thoughts too deep not only for tears but for all utterance
or conveyance, you might have almost literally watched the fading of her
rich cheek and the pining away of her rounded and elastic form.

It was just in such a mood that she was buried when her uncle knocked at
her door for admittance.  She hurried away her treasures, and hastened to
admit and greet him.

"I have come," said he, smiling, "to beg the pleasure of your company for
an old friend who dines with us to-day.  But, stay, Lucy, your hair is
ill-arranged.  Do not let me disturb so important an occupation as your
toilette; dress yourself, my love, and join us."

Lucy turned, with a suppressed sigh, to the glass.  The uncle lingered
for a few moments, surveying her with mingled pride and doubt; he then
slowly left the chamber.

Lucy soon afterwards descended to the drawing-room, and beheld with a
little surprise (for she had not had sufficient curiosity to inquire the
name of the guest), the slender form and comely features of Lord
Mauleverer.  The earl approached with the same grace which had in his
earlier youth rendered him almost irresistible, but which now, from the
contrast of years with manner, contained a slight mixture of the comic.
He paid his compliments, and in paying them declared that he must leave
it to his friend, Sir William, to explain all the danger he had dared,
for the sake of satisfying himself that Miss Brandon was no less lovely
than when he had last beheld her.

"Yes, indeed," said Brandon, with a scarcely perceptible sneer, "Lord
Mauleverer has literally endured the moving accidents of flood and
field,--for he was nearly exterminated by a highwayman, and all but
drowned in a ditch!"

"Commend me to a friend for setting one off to the best advantage," said
Mauleverer, gayly.  "Instead of attracting your sympathy, you see,
Brandon would expose me to your ridicule; judge for yourself whether I
deserve it!" and Mauleverer proceeded to give, with all the animation
which belonged to his character, the particulars of that adventure with
which the reader is so well acquainted.  He did not, we may be sure, feel
any scruple in representing himself and his prowess in the most
favourable colours.

The story was scarcely ended when dinner was announced.  During that meal
Mauleverer exerted himself to be amiable with infinite address.  Suiting
his conversation, more than he had hitherto deigned to do, to the temper
of Lucy, and more anxious to soften than to dazzle, he certainly never
before appeared to her so attractive.  We are bound to add that the point
of attraction did not reach beyond the confession that he was a very
agreeable old man.

Perhaps, if there had not been a certain half-melancholy vein in his
conversation, possibly less uncongenial to his lordship from the
remembrance of his lost diamonds, and the impression that Sir William
Brandon's cook was considerably worse than his own, he might not have
been so successful in pleasing Lucy.  As for himself, all the previous
impressions she had made on him returned in colours yet more vivid; even
the delicate and subdued cast of beauty which had succeeded to her
earlier brilliancy, was far more charming to his fastidious and courtly
taste than her former glow of spirits and health.  He felt himself very
much in love during dinner; and after it was over, and Lucy had retired,
he told Brandon, with a passionate air, that he adored his niece to
distraction!

The wily judge affected to receive the intimation with indifference; but
knowing that too long an absence is injurious to a grande passion, he did
not keep Mauleverer very late over his wine.

The earl returned rapturously to the drawing-room, and besought Lucy, in
a voice in which affectation seemed swooning with delight, to indulge him
with a song.  More and more enchanted by her assent, he drew the music-
stool to the harpsichord, placed a chair beside her, and presently
appeared lost in transport.  Meanwhile Brandon, with his back to the
pair, covered his face with his handkerchief, and to all appearance
yielded to the voluptuousness of an after-dinner repose.

Lucy's song-book opened accidentally at a song which had been praised by
Clifford; and as she sang, her voice took a richer and more tender tone
than in Mauleverer's presence it had ever before assumed.

       THE COMPLAINT OF THE VIOLETS WHICH LOSE THEIR SCENT IN MAY.

          In the shadow that falls from the silent hill
          We slept, in our green retreats
          And the April showers were wont to fill
          Our hearts with sweets.

          And though we lay in a lowly bower,
          Yet all things loved us well,
          And the waking bee left her fairest flower,
          With us to dwell.

          But the warm May came in his pride to woo
          The wealth of our honeyed store;
          And our hearts just felt his breath, and knew
          Their sweets no more!

          And the summer reigns on the quiet spot
          Where we dwell, and its suns and showers
          Bring balm to our sisters' hearts, but not--
          Ah! not to ours.


          We live, we bloom, but forever o'er
          Is the charm of the earth and sky;
          To our life, ye heavens, that balm restore,
          Or--bid us die!

As with eyes suffused with many recollections, and a voice which melted
away in an indescribable and thrilling pathos, Lucy ceased her song,
Mauleverer, charmed out of himself, gently took her hand, and holding the
soft treasure in his own, scarcely less soft, he murmured,--

"Angel, sing on!  Life would be like your own music, if I could breathe
it away at your feet!"

There had been a time when Lucy would have laughed outright at this
declaration; and even as it was, a suppressed and half-arch smile played
in the dimples of her beautiful mouth, and bewitchingly contrasted the
swimming softness of her eyes.

Drawing rather an erroneous omen from the smile, Mauleverer rapturously
continued, still detaining the hand which Lucy endeavoured to
extricate,--

"Yes, enchanting Miss Brandon!  I, who have for so many years boasted of
my invulnerable heart, am subdued at last.  I have long, very long,
struggled against my attachment to you.  Alas! it is in vain; and you
behold me now utterly at your mercy.  Make me the most miserable of men
or the most enviable.  Enchantress, speak!"

"Really, my lord," said Lucy, hesitating, yet rising, and freeing herself
from his hand, "I feel it difficult to suppose you serious; and perhaps
this is merely a gallantry to me by way of practice on others."

"Sweet Lucy, if I may so call you," answered Mauleverer, with an ardent
gaze, "do not, I implore you, even for a moment, affect to mistake me!
Do not for a moment jest at what, to me, is the bane or bliss of life!
Dare I hope that my hand and heart, which I now offer you, are not
deserving of your derision?"

Lucy gazed on her adorer with a look of serious inquiry; Brandon still
appeared to sleep.

"If you are in earnest, my lord," said Lucy, after a pause, "I am truly
and deeply sorry.  For the friend of my uncle I shall always have esteem;
believe that I am truly sensible of the honour you render me, when I add
my regret that I can have no other sentiment than esteem."

A blank and puzzled bewilderment for a moment clouded the expressive
features of Mauleverer; it passed away.  "How sweet is your rebuke!" said
he.  "Yes; I do not yet deserve any other sentiment than esteem.  You are
not to be won precipitately; a long trial, a long course of attentions,
a long knowledge of my devoted and ardent love, alone will entitle me to
hope for a warmer feeling in your breast.  Fix then your own time of
courtship, angelic Lucy!---a week, nay, a month!  Till then, I will not
even press you to appoint that day which to me will be the whitest of my
life!"

"My lord!" said Lucy, smiling now no longer half archly, "you must pardon
me for believing your proposal can be nothing but a jest; but here, I
beseech you, let it rest forever.  Do not mention this subject to me
again."

"By heavens!"  cried  Mauleverer,  "this  is  too cruel.  Brandon,
intercede with me for your niece."

Sir William started, naturally enough, from his slumber, and Mauleverer
continued,

"Yes, intercede for me; you, my oldest friend, be my greatest benefactor!
I sue to your niece; she affects to disbelieve.  Will you convince her of
my truth, my devotion, my worship?"

"Disbelieve you!" said the bland judge, with the same secret sneer that
usually lurked in the corners of his mouth.  "I do not wonder that she is
slow to credit the honour you have done her, and for which the noblest
damsels in England have sighed in vain.  Lucy, will you be cruel to Lord
Mauleverer?  Believe me, he has often confided to me his love for you;
and if the experience of some years avails, there is not a question of
his honour and his truth.  I leave his fate in your hands."

Brandon turned to the door.

"Stay, dear sir," said Lucy, "and instead of interceding for Lord
Mauleverer, intercede for me."  Her look now settled into a calm and
decided seriousness of expression.  "I feel highly flattered by his
lordship's proposal, which, as you say, I might well doubt to be gravely
meant.  I wish him all happiness with a lady of higher deserts; but I
speak from an unalterable determination, when I say that I can never
accept the dignity with which he would invest me."

So saying, Lucy walked quickly to the door and vanished, leaving the two
friends to comment as they would upon her conduct.

"You have spoiled all with your precipitation," said the uncle.

"Precipitation! d---n it, what would you have?  I have been fifty years
making up my mind to marry; and now when I have not a day to lose, you
talk of precipitation!" answered the lover, throwing himself into an
easy-chair.

"But you have not been fifty years making up your mind to marry my
niece," said Brandon, dryly.

"To be refused, positively refused, by a country girl!" continued
Mauleverer, soliloquizing aloud; "and that too at my age and with all my
experience!--a country girl without rank, _ton_, accomplishments!  By
heavens!  I don't care if all the world heard it,--for not a soul in the
world will ever believe it."

Brandon sat speechless, eying the mortified face of the courtier with a
malicious complacency, and there was a pause of several minutes.  Sir
William then, mastering the strange feeling which made him always rejoice
in whatever threw ridicule on his friend, approached, laid his hand
kindly on Mauleverer's shoulder, and talked to him of comfort and of
encouragement.  The reader will believe that Mauleverer was not a man
whom it was impossible to encourage.



CHAPTER XXX.

     Before he came, everything loved me, and I had more things to love
     than I could reckon by the hairs of my head.  Now I feel I can love
     but one, and that one has deserted me.  .  .  .  Well, be it so,--
     let her perish, let her be anything but mine!--Melmoth.

Early the next morning Sir William Brandon was closeted for a long time
with his niece, previous to his departure to the duties of his office.
Anxious and alarmed for the success of one of the darling projects of his
ambition, he spared no art in his conversation with Lucy, that his great
ingenuity of eloquence and wonderful insight into human nature could
suggest, in order to gain at least a foundation for the raising of his
scheme.  Among other resources of his worldly tact, he hinted at Lucy's
love for Clifford; and (though darkly and subtly, as befitting the purity
of the one he addressed) this abandoned and wily person did not scruple
to hint also at the possibility of indulging that love _after_ marriage;
though he denounced, as the last of indecorums, the crime of encouraging
it _before_.  This hint, however, fell harmless upon the innocent ear of
Lucy.  She did not in the remotest degree comprehend its meaning; she
only, with a glowing cheek and a pouting lip, resented the allusion to a
love which she thought it insolent in any one even to suspect.

When Brandon left the apartment, his brow was clouded, and his eye
absent and thoughtful: it was evident that there had been little in the
conference with his niece to please or content him.  Miss Brandon herself
was greatly agitated; for there was in her uncle's nature that silent and
impressive secret of influencing or commanding others which almost so
invariably and yet so quietly attains the wishes of its owner; and Lucy,
who loved and admired him sincerely,--not the less, perhaps, for a
certain modicum of fear,--was greatly grieved at perceiving how rooted in
him was the desire of that marriage which she felt was a moral
impossibility.  But if Brandon possessed the secret of sway, Lucy was
scarcely less singularly endowed with the secret of resistance.  It may
be remembered, in describing her character, that we spoke of her as one
who seemed, to the superficial, as of too yielding and soft a temper.
But circumstances gave the lie to manner, and proved that she eminently
possessed a quiet firmness and latent resolution, which gave to her mind
a nobleness and trustworthy power that never would have been suspected by
those who met her among the ordinary paths of life.

Brandon had not been long gone, when Lucy's maid came to inform her that
a gentleman, who expressed himself very desirous of seeing her, waited
below.  The blood rushed from Lucy's cheek at this announcement, simple
as it seemed.  "What gentleman could be desirous of seeing her?  Was it--
was it Clifford?"  She remained for some moments motionless, and
literally unable to move; at length she summoned courage, and smiling
with self-contempt at a notion which appeared to her after thoughts
utterly absurd, she descended to the drawing-room.  The first glance she
directed towards the stranger, who stood by the fireplace with folded
arms, was sufficient,--it was impossible to mistake, though the face was
averted, the unequalled form of her lover.  She advanced eagerly with a
faint cry, checked herself, and sank upon the sofa.

Clifford turned towards her, and fixed his eyes upon her countenance with
an intense and melancholy gaze, but he did not utter a syllable; and
Lucy, after pausing in expectation of his voice, looked up, and caught,
in alarm, the strange and peculiar aspect of his features.  He approached
her slowly, and still silent; but his gaze seemed to grow more earliest
and mournful as he advanced.

"Yes," said he at last, in a broken and indistinct voice, "I see you once
more, after all my promises to quit you forever,--after, my solemn
farewell, after all that I have cost you; for, Lucy, you love me, you
love me, and I shudder while I feel it; after all I myself have borne and
resisted, I once more come wilfully into your presence!  How have I
burned and sickened for this moment!  How have I said, 'Let me behold her
once more, only once more, and Fate may then do her worst!'  Lucy! dear,
dear Lucy!  forgive me for my weakness.  It is now in bitter and stern
reality the very last I can be guilty of!"

As he spoke, Clifford sank beside her.  He took both her hands in his,
and holding them, though without pressure, again looked passionately upon
her innocent yet eloquent face.  It seemed as if he were moved beyond all
the ordinary feelings of reunion and of love.  He did not attempt to kiss
the hands he held; and though the touch thrilled through every vein and
fibre of his frame, his clasp was as light as that in which the first
timidity of a boy's love ventures to stamp itself!

"You are pale, Lucy," said he, mournfully, "and your cheek is much
thinner than it was when I first saw you.  When I first saw you!  Ah!
would for your sake that that had never been!  Your spirits were light
then, Lucy; your laugh came from the heart, your step spurned the earth.
Joy broke from your eyes, everything that breathed around you seemed full
of happiness and mirth; and now, look upon me, Lucy! lift those soft
eyes, and teach them to flash upon me indignation and contempt!  Oh, not
thus, not thus!  I could leave you happy,--yes, literally blessed,--if I
could fancy you less forgiving, less gentle, less angelic!"

"What have I to forgive?" said Lucy, tenderly.

"What! everything for which one human being can pardon another.  Have not
deceit and injury been my crimes against you?  Your peace of mind, your
serenity of heart, your buoyancy of temper,--have I marred these or not?"

"Oh, Clifford!" said Lucy, rising from herself and from all selfish
thoughts, "why, why will you not trust me?  You do not know me, indeed
you do not,--you are ignorant even of the very nature of a woman, if you
think me unworthy of your confidence!  Do you believe I could betray it,
or do you think that if you had done that for which all the world forsook
you, I could forsake?"

Lucy's voice faltered at the last words; but it sank, as a stone sinks
into deep waters, to the very core of Clifford's heart.  Transported from
all resolution and all forbearance, he wound his arms around her in one
long and impassioned caress; and Lucy, as her breath mingled with his,
and her cheek drooped upon his bosom, did indeed feel as if the past
could contain no secret powerful enough even to weaken the affection with
which her heart clung to his.  She was the first to extricate herself
from their embrace.  She drew back her face from his, and smiling on him
through her tears, with a brightness that the smiles of her earliest
youth had never surpassed, she said,--

"Listen to me.  Tell me your history or not, as you will.  But believe
me, a woman's wit is often no despicable counsellor.  They who accuse
themselves the most bitterly are not often those whom it is most
difficult to forgive; and you must pardon me if I doubt the extent of the
blame you would so lavishly impute to yourself.  I am now alone in the
world" (here the smile withered from Lucy's lips).  "My poor father is
dead.  I can injure no one by my conduct; there is no one on earth to
whom I am bound by duty.  I am independent, I am rich.  You profess to
love me.  I am foolish and vain, and I believe you.  Perhaps, also, I
have the fond hope which so often makes dupes of women,--the hope that if
you have erred, I may reclaim you; if you have been unfortunate, I may
console you!  I know, Mr. Clifford, that I am saying that for which many
would despise me, and for which, perhaps, I ought to despise myself; but
there are times when we speak only as if some power at our hearts
constrained us, despite ourselves,--and it is thus that I have now spoken
to you."

It was with an air very unwonted to herself that Lucy had concluded her
address, for her usual characteristic was rather softness than dignity;
but, as if to correct the meaning of her words, which might otherwise
appear unmaidenly, there was a chaste, a proud, yet not the less a tender
and sweet propriety and dignified frankness in her look and manner; so
that it would have been utterly impossible for one who heard her not to
have done justice to the nobleness of her motives, or not to have felt
both touched and penetrated, as much by respect as by any warmer or more
familiar feeling.

Clifford, who had risen while she was speaking, listened with a
countenance that varied at every word she uttered,--now all hope, now all
despondency.  As she ceased, the expression hardened into a settled and
compulsive resolution.

"It is well!" said he, mutteringly.  "I am worthy of this,--very, very
worthy!  Generous, noble girl! had I been an emperor, I would have bowed
down to you in worship; but to debase, to degrade you,--no! no!"

"Is there debasement in love?" murmured Lucy.

Clifford gazed upon her with a sort of enthusiastic and self-gratulatory
pride; perhaps he felt to be thus loved and by such a creature was matter
of pride, even in the lowest circumstances to which he could ever be
exposed.  He drew his breath hard, set his teeth, and answered,--

"You could love, then, an outcast, without birth, fortune, or character?
No! you believe this now, but you could not.

"Could you desert your country, your friends, and your home,--all that you
are born and fitted for?  Could you attend one over whom the sword hangs,
through a life subjected every hour to discovery and disgrace?  Could you
be subjected yourself to the moodiness of an evil memory and the gloomy
silence of remorse?  Could you be the victim of one who has no merit but
his love for you, and who, if that love destroy you, becomes utterly
redeemed?  Yes, Lucy, I was wrong--I will do you justice; all this, nay,
more, you could bear, and your generous nature would disdain the
sacrifice.  But am I to be all selfish, and you all devoted?  Are you to
yield everything to me, and I to accept everything and yield none?  Alas!
I have but one good, one blessing to yield, and that is yourself.  Lucy,
I deserve you; I outdo you in generosity.  All that you would desert for
me is nothing--O God!--nothing to the sacrifice I make to you!  And now,
Lucy, I have seen you, and I must once more bid you farewell; I am on the
eve of quitting this country forever.  I shall enlist in a foreign
service.  Perhaps" (and Clifford's dark eyes flashed with fire) "you will
yet hear of me, and not blush when you hear!  But" (and his voice
faltered, for Lucy, hiding her face with both hands, gave way to her
tears and agitation),--"but, in one respect, you have conquered.  I had
believed that you could never be mine,--that my past life had forever
deprived me of that hope!  I now begin, with a rapture that can bear me
through all ordeals, to form a more daring vision.  A soil maybe
effaced,--an evil name maybe redeemed,--the past is not set and sealed,
without the power of revoking what has been written.  If I can win the
right of meriting your mercy, I will throw myself on it without reserve;
till then, or till death, you will see me no more!"

He dropped on his knee, left his kiss and his tears upon Lucy's cold
hand; the next moment she heard his step on the stairs, the door closed
heavily and jarringly upon him, and Lucy felt one bitter pang, and, for
some time at least, she felt no more!



CHAPTER XXXI.

               Many things fall between the cup and the lip!
                                 Your man does please me
               With his conceit.
                  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
               Comes Chanon Hugh accoutred as you see
               Disguised!
               And thus am I to gull the constable?
               Now have among you for a man at arms.
                  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
               High-constable was more, though
               He laid Dick Tator by the heels.
                                   BEN JONSON--Tale of a Tub.

Meanwhile Clifford strode rapidly through the streets which surrounded
the judge's house, and turning to an obscurer quartier of the town,
entered a gloomy lane or alley.  Here he was abruptly accosted by a man
wrapped in a shaggy great-coat, of somewhat a suspicious appearance.

"Aha, Captain!" said he, "you are beyond your time, but all 's well!"

Attempting, with indifferent success, the easy self-possession which
generally marked his address to his companions, Clifford, repeating the
stranger's words, replied,--

"All's well!  What! are the prisoners released?"

"No, faith!" answered the man, with a rough laugh, "not yet; but all in
good time.  It is a little too much to expect the justices to do our
work, though, by the Lord Harry, we often do theirs!"

"What then?" asked Clifford, impatiently.

"Why, the poor fellows had been carried to the town of -----, and brought
before the queer cuffin (Magistrate) ere I arrived, though I set off the
moment you told me, and did the journey in four hours.  The examination
lasted all yesterday, and they were remanded till to-day,--let's see, it
is not yet noon; we may be there before it's over."

"And this is what you call well!" said Clifford, angrily.  "No, Captain,
don't be glimflashy!  You have not heard all yet!  It seems that the only
thing buffed hard against them was by a stout grazier, who was cried
'Stand!' to, some fifty miles off the town; so the queer coffin thinks of
sending the poor fellows to the jail of the county where they did the
business!"

"Ah! that may leave some hopes for them!  We must look sharp to their
journey; if they once get to prison, their only chances are the file and
the bribe.  Unhappily, neither of them is so lucky as myself at that
trade!"

"No, indeed, there is not a stone-wall in England that the great Captain
Lovett could not creep through, I'll swear!" said the admiring satellite.

"Saddle the horses and load the pistols!  I will join you in ten minutes.
Have my farmer's dress ready, the false hair, etc.  Choose your own trim.
Make haste; the Three Feathers is the house of meeting."

"And in ten minutes only, Captain?"

"Punctually!"

The stranger turned a corner and was out of sight.  Clifford, muttering,
"Yes, I was the cause of their apprehension; it was I who was sought; it
is but fair that I should strike a blow for their escape before I attempt
my own," continued his course till he came to the door of a public-house.
The sign of a seaman swung aloft, portraying the jolly tar with a fine
pewter pot in his hand, considerably huger than his own circumference.
An immense pug sat at the door, lolling its tongue out, as if, having
stuffed itself to the tongue, it was forced to turn that useful member
out of its proper place.  The shutters were half closed, but the sounds
of coarse merriment issued jovially forth.

Clifford disconcerted the pug; and crossing the threshold, cried in aloud
tone, "Janseen!"

"Here!" answered a gruff voice; and Clifford, passing on, came to a small
parlour adjoining the tap.  There, seated by a round oak table, he found
mine host,--a red, fierce, weather-beaten, but bloated-looking personage,
like Dick Hatteraick in a dropsy.

"How now, Captain!" cried he, in a gutteral accent, and interlarding his
discourse with certain Dutch graces, which with our reader's leave we
will omit, as being unable to spell them; "how now!--not gone yet!"

"No!  I start for the coast to-morrow; business keeps me to-day.  I came
to ask if Mellon may be fully depended on?"

"Ay, honest to the back-bone."

"And you are sure that in spite of my late delays he will not have left
the village?"

"Sure!  What else can I be?  Don't I know Jack Mellon these twenty years!
He would lie like a log in a calm for ten months together, without moving
a hair's-breadth, if he was under orders."

"And his vessel is swift and well manned, in case of an officer's chase?"

"The 'Black Molly' swift?  Ask your grandmother.  The 'Black Molly' would
outstrip a shark."

"Then good-by, Janseen; there is something to keep your pipe alight.  We
shall not meet within the three seas again, I think.  England is as much
too hot for me as Holland for you!"

"You are a capital fellow!" cried mine host, shaking Clifford by the
hand; "and when the lads come to know their loss, they will know they
have lost the bravest and truest gill that ever took to the toby; so
good-by, and be d---d to you!"

With this valedictory benediction mine host released Clifford; and the
robber hastened to his appointment at the Three Feathers.

He found all prepared.  He hastily put on his disguise; and his follower
led out his horse,--a noble animal of the grand Irish breed, of
remarkable strength and bone, and save only that it was somewhat sharp in
the quarters (a fault which they who look for speed as well as grace will
easily forgive), of most unequalled beauty in its symmetry and
proportions.

Well did the courser know, and proudly did it render obeisance to, its
master; snorting impatiently and rearing from the hand of the attendant
robber, the sagacious animal freed itself of the rein, and as it tossed
its long mane in the breeze of the fresh air, came trotting to the place
where Clifford stood.

"So ho, Robin! so ho!  What, thou chafest that I have left thy fellow
behind at the Red Cave!  Him we may never see more.  But while I have
life, I will not leave thee, Robin!"  With these words the robber fondly
stroked the shining neck of his favourite steed; and as the animal
returned the caress by rubbing its head against the hands and the
athletic breast of its master, Clifford felt at his heart somewhat of
that old racy stir of the blood which had been once to him the chief
charm of his criminal profession, and which in the late change of his
feelings he had almost forgotten.

"Well, Robin, well," he renewed, as he kissed the face of his steed,--
"well, we will have some days like our old ones yet; thou shalt say, Ha!
ha! to the trumpet, and bear thy master along on more glorious
enterprises than he has yet thanked thee for sharing.  Thou wilt now be
my only familiar, my only friend, Robin; we two shall be strangers in a
foreign land.  But thou wilt make thyself welcome easier than thy lord,
Robin; and thou wilt forget the old days and thine old comrades and thine
old loves, when--Ha!" and Clifford turned abruptly to his attendant, who
addressed him; "It is late, you say.  True!  Look you, it will be unwise
for us both to quit London together.  You know the sixth milestone; join
me there, and we can proceed in company!"

Not unwilling to linger for a parting cup, the comrade assented to the
prudence of the plan proposed; and after one or two additional words of
caution and advice, Clifford mounted and rode from the yard of the inn.
As he passed through the tall wooden gates into the street, the imperfect
gleam of the wintry sun falling over himself and his steed, it was
scarcely possible, even in spite of his disguise and rude garb, to
conceive a more gallant and striking specimen of the lawless and daring
tribe to which he belonged; the height, strength, beauty, and exquisite
grooming visible in the steed; the sparkling eye, the bold profile, the
sinewy chest, the graceful limbs, and the careless and practised
horsemanship of the rider.

Looking after his chief with a long and an admiring gaze, the robber said
to the hostler of the inn, an aged and withered man, who had seen nine
generations of highwaymen rise and vanish,--

"There, Joe, when did you ever look on a hero like that?  The bravest
heart, the frankest hand, the best judge of a horse, and the handsomest
man that ever did honour to Hounslow!"

"For all that," returned the hostler, shaking his palsied head, and
turning back to the tap-room,--"for all that, master, his time be up.
Mark my whids, Captain Lovett will not be over the year,--no, nor mayhap
the month!"

"Why, you old rascal, what makes you so wise?  You will not peach, I
suppose!"

"I peach!  Devil a bit!  But there never was the gemman of the road,
great or small, knowing or stupid, as outlived his seventh year.  And
this will be the captain's seventh, come the 21st of next month; but he
be a fine chap, and I'll go to his hanging!"

"Fish!" said the robber, peevishly,--he himself was verging towards the
end of his sixth year,--"pish!"

"Mind, I tells it you, master; and somehow or other I thinks--and I has
experience in these things--by the fey, of his eye and the drop of his
lip, that the captain's time will be up to-day!"

     [Fey--A word difficult to translate; but the closest interpretation
     of which is, perhaps, "the ill omen."]

Here the robber lost all patience, and pushing the hoary boder of evil
against the wall, he turned on his heel, and sought some more agreeable
companion to share his stirrup-cup.

It was in the morning of the day following that in which the above
conversations occurred, that the sagacious Augustus Tomlinson and the
valorous Edward Pepper, handcuffed and fettered, were jogging along the
road in a postchaise, with Mr. Nabbem squeezed in by the side of the
former, and two other gentlemen in Mr. Nabbem's confidence mounted on the
box of the chaise, and interfering sadly, as Long Ned growlingly
remarked, with "the beauty of the prospect."

"Ah, well!" quoth Nabbem, unavoidably thrusting his elbow into
Tomlinson's side, while he drew out his snuffbox, and helped himself
largely to the intoxicating dust; "you had best prepare yourself, Mr.
Pepper, for a change of prospects.  I believes as how there is little to
please you in _guod_ [prison]."

"Nothing makes men so facetious as misfortune to others!" said Augustus,
moralizing, and turning himself, as well as he was able, in order to
deliver his body from the pointed elbow of Mr. Nabbem.  "When a man is
down in the world, all the bystanders, very dull fellows before, suddenly
become wits!"

"You reflects on I," said Mr. Nabbem.  "Well, it does not sinnify a pin;
for directly we does our duty, you chaps become howdaciously ungrateful!"

"Ungrateful!" said Pepper; "what a plague have we got to be grateful for?
I suppose you think we ought to tell you you are the best friend we have,
because you have scrouged us, neck and crop, into this horrible hole,
like turkeys fatted for Christmas.  'Sdeath! one's hair is flatted down
like a pancake; and as for one's legs, you had better cut them off at
once than tuck them up in a place a foot square,--to say nothing of these
blackguardly irons!"

"The only irons pardonable in your eyes, Ned," said Tomlinson, "are the
curling-irons, eh?"

"Now, if this is not too much!" cried Nabbem, crossly; "you objects to go
in a cart like the rest of your profession; and when I puts myself out of
the way to obleedgie you with a shay, you slangs I for it!"

"Peace, good Nabbem!" said Augustus, with a sage's dignity; "you must
allow a little bad humour in men so unhappily situated as we are."

The soft answer turneth away wrath.  Tomlinson's answer softened Nabbem;
and by way of conciliation, he held his snuff-box to the nose of his
unfortunate prisoner.  Shutting his eyes, Tomlinson long and earnestly
sniffed up the luxury, and as soon as, with his own kerchief of spotted
yellow, the officer had wiped from the proboscis some lingering grains,
Tomlinson thus spoke:

"You see us now, Mr. Nabbem, in a state of broken-down opposition; but
our spirits are not broken too.  In our time we have had something to do
with the administration; and our comfort at present is the comfort of
fallen ministers!"

"Oho! you were in the Methodist line before you took to the road?" said
Nabbem.

"Not so!" answered Augustus, gravely.  "We were the Methodists of
politics, not of the church; namely, we lived upon our flock without a
legal authority to do so, and that which the law withheld from us our
wits gave.  But tell me, Mr. Nabbem, are you addicted to politics?"

"Why, they says I be," said Mr. Nabbem, with a grin; "and for my part, I
thinks all who sarves the king should stand up for him, and take care of
their little families!"

"You speak what others think!" answered Tomlinson, smiling also.  "And I
will now, since you like politics, point out to you what I dare say you
have not observed before."

"What be that?" said Nabbem.

"A wonderful likeness between the life of the gentlemen adorning his
Majesty's senate and the life of the gentlemen whom you are conducting to
his Majesty's jail."


              THE LIBELLOUS PARALLEL OF AUGUSTUS TOMLINSON.

     "We enter our career, Mr. Nabbem, as your embryo ministers enter
     parliament,--by bribery and corruption.  There is this difference,
     indeed, between the two cases: we are enticed to enter by the
     bribery and corruptions of others; they enter spontaneously by dint
     of their own.  At first, deluded by romantic visions, we like the
     glory of our career better than the profit, and in our youthful
     generosity we profess to attack the rich solely from consideration
     for the poor!  By and by, as we grow more hardened, we laugh at
     these boyish dreams,--peasant or prince fares equally at our
     impartial hands; we grasp at the bucket, but we scorn not the
     thimbleful; we use the word 'glory' only as a trap for proselytes
     and apprentices; our fingers, like an office-door, are open for all
     that can possibly come into them; we consider the wealthy as our
     salary, the poor as our perquisites.  What is this, but a picture of
     your member of parliament ripening into a minister, your patriot
     mellowing into your placeman?  And mark me, Mr. Nabbem! is not the
     very language of both as similar as the deeds?  What is the phrase
     either of us loves to employ?  'To deliver.'  What?  'The Public.'
     And do not both invariably deliver it of the same thing,--namely,
     its purse?  Do we want an excuse for sharing the gold of our
     neighbours, or abusing them if they resist?  Is not our mutual, our
     pithiest plea, 'Distress'?  True, your patriot calls it 'distress of
     the country;' but does he ever, a whit more than we do, mean any
     distress but his own?  When we are brought low, and our coats are
     shabby, do we not both shake our heads and talk of 'reform'?  And
     when, oh! when we are up in the world, do we not both kick 'reform'
     to the devil?  How often your parliament man 'vacates his seat,'
     only for the purpose of resuming it with a weightier purse!  How
     often, dear Ned, have our seats been vacated for the same end!
     Sometimes, indeed, he really finishes his career by accepting the
     Hundreds,--it is by 'accepting the hundreds' that ours may be
     finished too!  [Ned drew a long sigh.]  Note us now, Mr. Nabbem, in
     the zenith of our prosperity,--we have filled our pockets, we have
     become great in the mouths of our party.  Our pals admire us, and
     our blowens adore.  What do we in this short-lived summer?  Save and
     be thrifty?  Ah, no! we must give our dinners, and make light of our
     lush.  We sport horses on the race-course, and look big at the
     multitude we have bubbled.  Is not this your minister come into
     office?  Does not this remind you of his equipage, his palace, his
     plate?  In both cases lightly won, lavishly wasted; and the public,
     whose cash we have fingered, may at least have the pleasure of
     gaping at the figure we make with it!  This, then, is our harvest of
     happiness; our foes, our friends, are ready to eat us with envy,--
     yet what is so little enviable as our station?  Have we not both our
     common vexations and our mutual disquietudes?  Do we not both bribe
     [Nabbem shook his head and buttoned his waistcoat] our enemies,
     cajole our partisans, bully our dependants, and quarrel with our
     only friends,--namely, ourselves?  Is not the secret question with
     each, 'It is all confoundedly fine; but how long will it last?'
     Now, Mr. Nabbem, note me,--reverse the portrait: we are fallen, our
     career is over,--the road is shut to us, and new plunderers are
     robbing the carriages that once we robbed.  Is not this the lot of--
     No, no!  I deceive myself!  Your ministers, your jobmen, for the
     most part milk the popular cow while there's a drop in the udder.
     Your chancellor declines on a pension; your minister attenuates on a
     grant; the feet of your great rogues may be gone from the treasury
     benches, but they have their little fingers in the treasury.  Their
     past services are remembered by his Majesty; ours only noted by the
     Recorder.  They save themselves, for they hang by one another; we go
     to the devil, for we hang by ourselves.  We have our little day of
     the public, and all is over; but it is never over with them.  We
     both hunt the same fox; but we are your fair riders, they are your
     knowing ones,--we take the leap, and our necks are broken; they
     sneak through the gates, and keep it up to the last!"


As he concluded, Tomlinson's head dropped on his bosom, and it was easy
to see that painful comparisons, mingled perhaps with secret murmurs at
the injustice of fortune, were rankling in his breast.  Long Ned sat in
gloomy silence; and even the hard heart of the severe Mr. Nabbem was
softened by the affecting parallel to which he had listened.  They had
proceeded without speaking for two or three miles, when Long Ned, fixing
his eyes on Tomlinson, exclaimed,--

"Do you know, Tomlinson, I think it was a burning shame in Lovett to
suffer us to be carried off like muttons, without attempting to rescue us
by the way!  It is all his fault that we are here; for it was he whom
Nabbem wanted, not us."

"Very true," said the cunning policeman; "and if I were you, Mr. Pepper,
hang me if I would not behave like a man of spirit, and show as little
consarn for him as he shows for you!  Why, Lord now, I doesn't want to
'tice you; but this I does know, the justices are very anxious to catch
Lovett; and one who gives him up, and says a word or two about his
c'racter, so as to make conviction sartain, may himself be sartain of a
free pardon for all little sprees and so forth!"

"Ah!" said Long Ned, with a sigh, "that is all very well, Mr. Nabbem, but
I'll go to the crap like a gentleman, and not peach of my comrades; and
now I think of it, Lovett could scarcely have assisted us.  One man
alone, even Lovett, clever as he is, could not have forced us out of the
clutches of you and your myrmidons, Mr. Nabbem!  And when we were once at
-----, they took excellent care of us.  But tell me now, my dear Nabbem,"
and Long Ned's voice wheedled itself into something like softness,--"tell
me, do you think the grazier will buff it home?"

"No doubt of that," said the unmoved Nabbem.  Long Ned's face fell.  "And
what if he does?" said he; "they can but transport us!"

"Don't desave yourself, Master Pepper!" said Nabbem: "you're too old a
hand for the herring-pond.  They're resolved to make gallows apples of
all such numprels [Nonpareils] as you!"

Ned cast a sullen look at the officer.

"A pretty comforter you are!" said he.  "I have been in a post chaise
with a pleasanter fellow, I'll swear!  You may call me an apple if you
will, but, I take it, I am not an apple you'd like to see peeled."

With this pugilistic and menacing pun, the lengthy hero relapsed into
meditative silence.

Our travellers were now entering a road skirted on one side by a common
of some extent, and on the other by a thick hedgerow, which through its
breaks gave occasional glimpses of woodland and fallow, interspersed with
cross-roads and tiny brooklets.

"There goes a jolly fellow!" said Nabbem, pointing to an athletic-looking
man, riding before the carriage, dressed in a farmer's garb, and mounted
on a large and powerful horse of the Irish breed.  "I dare say he is well
acquainted with your grazier, Mr. Tomlinson; he looks mortal like one of
the same kidney; and here comes another chap" (as the stranger, was
joined by a short, stout, ruddy man in a carter's frock, riding on a
horse less showy than his comrade's, but of the lengthy, reedy, lank, yet
muscular race, which a knowing jockey would like to bet on).  "Now that's
what I calls a comely lad!" continued Nabbem, pointing to the latter
horseman; "none of your thin-faced, dark, strapping fellows like that
Captain Lovett, as the blowens raves about, but a, nice, tight little
body, with a face like a carrot!  That's a beauty for my money!
Honesty's stamped on his face, Mr. Tomlinson!  I dare says" (and the
officer grinned, for he had been a lad of the cross in his own day),--
"I dare says, poor innocent booby, he knows none of the ways of Lunnun
town; and if he has not as merry a life as some folks, mayhap he may have
a longer.  But a merry one forever for such lads as us, Mr. Pepper!  I
say, has you heard as how Bill Fang went to Scratchland [Scotland] and
was stretched for smashing queer screens [that is, hung for uttering
forged notes]?  He died 'nation game; for when his father, who was a
gray-headed parson, came to see him after the sentence, he says to the
governor, say he, 'Give us a tip, old 'un, to pay the expenses, and die
dacently.'  The parson forks him out ten shiners, preaching all the while
like winkey.  Bob drops one of the guineas between his fingers, and says,
'Holla, dad, you have only tipped us nine of the yellow boys!  Just now
you said as how it was ten!'  On this the parish-bull, who was as poor as
if he had been a mouse of the church instead of the curate, lugs out
another; and Bob, turning round to the jailer, cries, 'Flung the governor
out of a guinea, by God!--[Fact]--Now, that's what I calls keeping it up
to the last!"

Mr. Nabbem had scarcely finished this anecdote, when the farmer-like
stranger, who had kept up by the side of the chaise, suddenly rode to the
window, and touching his hat, said in a Norfolk accent,--

"Were the gentlemen we met on the road belonging to your party?  They
were asking after a chaise and pair."

"No!" said Nabbem, "there be no gentlemen as belongs to our party!"
So saying, he tipped a knowing wink at the farmer, and glanced over his
shoulder at the prisoners.

"What! you are going all alone?" said the farmer.

"Ay, to be sure," answered Nabbem; "not much danger, I think, in the
daytime, with the sun out as big as a sixpence, which is as big as ever I
see'd him in this country!"

At that moment the shorter stranger, whose appearance had attracted the
praise of Mr. Nabbem (that personage was himself very short and ruddy),
and who had hitherto been riding close to the post-horses, and talking to
the officers on the box, suddenly threw himself from his steed, and in
the same instant that he arrested the horses of the chaise, struck the
postilion to the ground with a short heavy bludgeon which he drew from
his frock.  A whistle was heard and answered, as if by a signal: three
fellows, armed with bludgeons, leaped from the hedge; and in the interim
the pretended farmer, dismounting, flung open the door of the chaise, and
seizing Mr. Nabbem by the collar, swung him to the ground with a celerity
that became the circular rotundity of the policeman's figure rather than
the deliberate gravity of his dignified office.

Rapid and instantaneous as had been this work, it was not without a
check.  Although the policemen had not dreamed of a rescue in the very
face of the day and on the high-road, their profession was not that which
suffered them easily to be surprised.  The two guardians of the dicky
leaped nimbly to the ground; but before they had time to use their
firearms, two of the new aggressors, who had appeared from the hedge,
closed upon them, and bore them to the ground.  While this scuffle took
place, the farmer had disarmed the prostrate Nabbem, and giving him in
charge to the remaining confederate, extricated Tomlinson and his comrade
from the chaise.

"Hist!" said he in a whisper, "beware my name; my disguise hides me at
present.  Lean on me,--only through the hedge; a cart waits there, and
you are safe!"

With these broken words he assisted the robbers as well as he could, in
spite of their manacles, through the same part of the hedge from which
the three allies had sprung.  They were already through the barrier,--
only the long legs of Ned Pepper lingered behind,--when at the far end of
the road, which was perfectly straight, a gentleman's carriage became
visible.  A strong hand from the interior of the hedge, seizing Pepper,
dragged him through; and Clifford,--for the reader need not be told who
was the farmer, perceiving the approaching reinforcement, shouted at once
for flight.  The robber who had guarded Nabbem, and who indeed was no
other than Old Bags, slow as he habitually was, lost not an instant in
providing for himself; before you could say "Laudamus," he was on the
other side of the hedge.  The two men engaged with the police-officers
were not capable of an equal celerity; but Clifford, throwing himself
into the contest and engaging the policemen, gave the robbers the
opportunity of escape.  They scrambled through the fence; the officers,
tough fellows and keen, clinging lustily to them, till one was felled by
Clifford, and the other, catching against a stump, was forced to
relinquish his hold; he then sprang back into the road and prepared for
Clifford, who now, however, occupied himself rather in fugitive than
warlike measures.  Meanwhile, the moment the other rescuers had passed
the Rubicon of the hedge, their flight, and that of the gentlemen who had
passed before them, commenced.  On this mystic side of the hedge was a
cross-road, striking at once through an intricate and wooded part of the
country, which allowed speedy and ample opportunities of dispersion.
Here a light cart, drawn by two swift horses in a tandem fashion, awaited
the fugitives.  Long Ned and Augustus were stowed down at the bottom of
this vehicle; three fellows filed away at their irons, and a fourth, who
had hitherto remained inglorious with the cart, gave the lash--and he
gave it handsomely--to the coursers.  Away rattled the equipage; and thus
was achieved a flight still memorable in the annals of the elect, and
long quoted as one of the boldest and most daring exploits that illicit
enterprise ever accomplished.

Clifford and his equestrian comrade only remained in the field, or rather
the road.  The former sprang at once on his horse; the latter was not
long in following the example.  But the policeman, who, it has been said,
baffled in detaining the fugitives of the hedge, had leaped back into the
road, was not idle in the meanwhile.  When he saw Clifford about to
mount, instead of attempting to seize the enemy, he recurred to his
pistol, which in the late struggle hand to hand he had been unable to
use, and taking sure aim at Clifford, whom he judged at once to be the
leader of the rescue, he lodged a ball in the right side of the robber at
the very moment he had set spurs in his horse and turned to fly.
Clifford's head drooped to the saddle-bow.  Fiercely the horse sprang on.
The robber endeavoured, despite his reeling senses, to retain his seat;
once he raised his head, once he nerved his slackened and listless limbs,
and then, with a faint groan, he fell to the earth.  The horse bounded
but one step more, and, true to the tutorship it had received, stopped
abruptly.  Clifford raised himself with great difficulty on one arm; with
the other hand he drew forth a pistol.  He pointed it deliberately
towards the officer that wounded him.  The man stood motionless, cowering
and spellbound, beneath the dilating eye of the robber.  It was but for a
moment that the man had cause for dread; for muttering between his ground
teeth, "Why waste it on _an enemy_?" Clifford turned the muzzle towards
the head of the unconscious steed, which seemed sorrowfully and wistfully
to incline towards him.  "Thou," he said, "whom I have fed and loved,
shalt never know hardship from another!" and with a merciful cruelty he
dragged himself one pace nearer to his beloved steed, uttered a well-
known word, which brought the docile creature to his side, and placing
the muzzle of the pistol close to his ear, he fired, and fell back
senseless at the exertion.  The animal staggered, and dropped down dead.

Meanwhile Clifford's comrade, profiting by the surprise and sudden panic
of the officer, was already out of reach, and darting across the common,
he and his ragged courser speedily vanished.



CHAPTER XXXII

                                 Lose I not
          With him what fortune could in life allot?
          Lose I not hope, life's cordial?
               . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
          In fact, the lessons he from prudence took
          Were written in his mind as in a book;
          There what to do he read, and what to shun,
          And all commanded was with promptness done.
          He seemed without a passion to proceed,
               . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
          Yet some believed those passions only slept!
                                             CRABBE.

          Relics of love, and life's enchanted spring!
                    A. WATTS: On burning a Packet of Letters.

          Many and sad and deep
          Were the thoughts folded in thy silent breast!
          Thou, too, could'st watch and weep!
                                        MRS. HEMANS.

While Sir William Brandon was pursuing his ambitious schemes, and,
notwithstanding Lucy's firm and steady refusal of Lord Mauleverer, was
still determined on that ill-assorted marriage; while Mauleverer himself
day after day attended at the judge's house, and, though he spoke not of
love, looked it with all his might,--it became obvious to every one but
the lover and the guardian, that Lucy herself was rapidly declining in
appearance and health.  Ever since the day she had last seen Clifford,
her spirits, before greatly shattered, had refused to regain even a
likeness to their naturally cheerful and happy tone.  She became silent
and abstracted; even her gentleness of temper altered at times into a
moody and fretful humour.  Neither to books nor music, nor any art by
which time is beguiled, she recurred for a momentary alleviation of the
bitter feelings at her heart, or for a transient forgetfulness of their
sting.  The whole world of her mind had been shaken.  Her pride was
wounded, her love galled; her faith in Clifford gave way at length to
gloomy and dark suspicion.  Nothing, she now felt, but a name as well as
fortunes utterly abandoned, could have justified him for the stubbornness
of heart in which he had fled and deserted her.  Her own self-acquittal
no longer consoled her in affliction.  She condemned herself for her
weakness, from the birth of her ill-starred affection to the crisis it
had now acquired.  "Why did I not wrestle with it at first?" she said
bitterly.  "Why did I allow myself so easily to love one unknown to me,
and equivocal in station, despite the cautions of my uncle and the
whispers of the world?"  Alas! Lucy did not remember that at the time she
was guilty of this weakness, she had not learned to reason as she since
reasoned.  Her faculties were but imperfectly awakened; her experience of
the world was utter ignorance.  She scarcely knew that she loved, and she
knew not at all that the delicious and excited sentiment which filled her
being could ever become as productive of evil and peril as it had done
now; and even had her reason been more developed, and her resolutions
more strong, does the exertion of reason and resolution always avail
against the master passion?  Love, it is true, is not unconquerable; but
how few have ever, mind and soul, coveted the conquest!  Disappointment
makes a vow, but the heart records it not.  Or in the noble image of one
who has so tenderly and so truly portrayed the feelings of her own sex,--

                                       "We make
               A ladder of our thoughts where angels step,
               But sleep ourselves at the foot!"
                             [The History of the Lyre, by L. E. L.]

Before Clifford had last seen her, we have observed that Lucy had (and it
was a consolation) clung to the belief that, despite of appearances and
his own confession, his past life had not been such as to place him
without the pale of her just affections; and there were frequent moments
when, remembering that the death of her father had removed the only being
who could assert an unanswerable claim to the dictation of her actions,
she thought that Clifford, hearing her hand was utterly at her own
disposal, might again appear, and again urge a suit which he felt so few
circumstances could induce her to deny.  All this half-acknowledged yet
earnest train of reasoning and hope vanished from the moment he had
quitted her uncle's house.  His words bore no misinterpretation.  He had
not yielded even to her own condescension, and her cheek burned as she
recalled it.  Yet he loved her.  She saw, she knew it in his every word
and look!  Bitter, then, and dark must be that remorse which could have
conquered every argument but that which urged him to leave her, when he
might have claimed her forever.  True, that when his letter formally bade
her farewell, the same self-accusing language was recurred to, the same
dark hints and allusions to infamy or guilt; yet never till now had she
interpreted them rigidly, and never till now had she dreamed how far
their meaning could extend.  Still, what crimes could he have committed?
The true ones never occurred to Lucy.  She shuddered to ask herself, and
hushed her doubts in a gloomy and torpid silence.  But through all her
accusations against herself, and through all her awakened suspicions
against Clifford, she could not but acknowledge that something noble and
not unworthy of her mingled in his conduct, and occasioned his resistance
to her and to himself; and this belief, perhaps, irritated even while it
touched her, and kept her feelings in a perpetual struggle and conflict
which her delicate frame and soft mind were little able to endure.  When
the nerves once break, how breaks the character with them!  How many
ascetics, withered and soured, do we meet in the world, who but for one
shock to the heart and form might have erred on the side of meekness!
Whether it come from woe or disease, the stroke which mars a single fibre
plays strange havoc with the mind.  Slaves we are to our muscles, and
puppets to the spring of the capricious blood; and the great soul, with
all its capacities, its solemn attributes, and sounding claims, is, while
on earth, but a jest to this mountebank,--the body,--from the dream which
toys with it for an hour, to the lunacy which shivers it into a
driveller, laughing as it plays with its own fragments, and reeling
benighted and blinded to the grave!

We have before said that Lucy was fond both of her uncle and his society;
and still, whenever the subject of Lord Mauleverer and his suit was left
untouched, there was that in the conversation of Sir William Brandon
which aroused an interest in her mind, engrossed and self-consuming as it
had become.  Sorrow, indeed, and sorrow's companion, reflection, made her
more and more capable of comprehending a very subtle and intricate
character.  There is no secret for discovering the human heart like
affliction, especially the affliction which springs from passion.  Does a
writer startle you with his insight into your nature, be sure that he has
mourned; such lore is the alchemy of tears.  Hence the insensible and
almost universal confusion of idea which confounds melancholy with depth,
and finds but hollow inanity in the symbol of a laugh.  Pitiable error!
Reflection first leads us to gloom, but its next stage is to brightness.
The Laughing Philosopher had reached the goal of Wisdom; Heraclitus
whimpered at the starting-post.  But enough for Lucy to gain even the
vestibule of philosophy.

Notwithstanding the soreness we naturally experience towards all who
pertinaciously arouse an unpleasant subject, and in spite therefore of
Brandon's furtherance of Mauleverer's courtship, Lucy felt herself
inclined strangely, and with something of a daughter's affection, towards
this enigmatical being; in spite, too, of all the cold and measured vice
of his character,--the hard and wintry grayness of heart with which he
regarded the welfare of others, or the substances of Truth, Honour, and
Virtue,--the callousness of his fossilized affections, which no human
being softened but for a moment, and no warm and healthful impulse
struck, save into an evanescent and idle flash;--in spite of this
consummate obduracy and worldliness of temperament, it is not paradoxical
to say that there was something in the man which Lucy found at times
analogous to her own vivid and generous self.  This was, however, only
noticeable when she led him to talk over earlier days, and when by
degrees the sarcastic lawyer forgot the present, and grew eloquent, not
over the actions, but the feelings of the past.  He would speak to her
for hours of his youthful dreams, his occupations, or his projects, as a
boy.  Above all, he loved to converse with her upon Warlock, its remains
of ancient magnificence, the green banks of the placid river that
enriched its domains, and the summer pomp of wood and heath-land, amidst
which his noonday visions had been nursed.

When he spoke of these scenes and days, his countenance softened, and
something in its expression, recalling to Lucy the image of one still
dearer, made her yearn to him the more.  An ice seemed broken from his
mind, and streams of released and gentle feelings, mingled with kindly
and generous sentiment, flowed forth.  Suddenly a thought, a word,
brought him back to the present,--his features withered abruptly into
their cold placidity or latent sneer; the seal closed suddenly on the
broken spell, and, like the victim of a fairy-tale, condemned at a stated
hour to assume another shape, the very being you had listened to seemed
vanished, and replaced by one whom you startled to behold.  But there was
one epoch of his life on which he was always silent, and that was his
first onset into the actual world,--the period of his early struggle into
wealth and fame.  All that space of time seemed as a dark gulf, over
which he had passed, and become changed at once,--as a traveller landing
in a strange climate may adopt, the moment he touches its shore, its
costume and its language.

All men--the most modest--have a common failing; but it is one which
often assumes the domino and mask,--pride!  Brandon was, however, proud
to a degree very rare in men who have risen and flourished in the world.
Out of the wrecks of all other feelings this imperial survivor made one
great palace for its residence, and called the fabric "Disdain."  Scorn
was the real essence of Brandon's nature; even in the blandest disguises,
the smoothness of his voice, the insinuation of his smile, the popular
and supple graces of his manners, an oily derision floated, rarely
discernible, it is true, but proportioning its strength and quantum to
the calm it produced.

In the interim, while his character thus displayed and contradicted
itself in private life, his fame was rapidly rising in public estimation.
Unlike many of his brethren, the brilliant lawyer had exceeded
expectation, and shone even yet more conspicuously in the less
adventitiously aided duties of the judge.  Envy itself--and Brandon's
political virulence had, despite his personal affability, made him many
foes--was driven into acknowledging the profundity of his legal
knowledge, and in admiring the manner in which the peculiar functions of
his novel dignity were discharged.  No juvenile lawyer browbeat, no
hackneyed casuist puzzled, him; even his attention never wandered from
the dullest case subjected to his tribunal.  A painter, desirous of
stamping on his canvas the portrait of an upright judge, could scarcely
have found a finer realization for his beau-ideal than the austere,
collected, keen, yet majestic countenance of Sir William Brandon, such as
it seemed in the trappings of office and from the seat of justice.

The newspapers were not slow in recording the singular capture of the
notorious Lovett.  The boldness with which he had planned and executed
the rescue of his comrades, joined to the suspense in which his wound for
some time kept the public, as to his escape from one death by the postern
gate of another, caused a very considerable ferment and excitation in the
popular mind; and, to feed the impulse, the journalists were little
slothful in retailing every anecdote, true or false, which they could
collect touching the past adventures of the daring highwayman.  Many a
good story then came to light, which partook as much of the comic as the
tragic,--for not a single one of the robber's adventures was noted for
cruelty or bloodshed; many of them betokened rather an hilarious and
jovial spirit of mirthful enterprise.  It seemed as if he had thought the
highway a capital arena for jokes, and only robbed for the sake of
venting a redundant affection for jesting.  Persons felt it rather a sin
to be severe with a man of so merry a disposition; and it was especially
observable that not one of the ladies who had been despoiled by the
robber could be prevailed on to prosecute; on the contrary, they always
talked of the event as one of the most agreeable remembrances in their
lives, and seemed to bear a provoking gratitude to the comely offender,
rather than resentment.  All the gentlemen were not, however, of so
placable a temper; and two sturdy farmers, with a grazier to boot, were
ready to swear, "through thick and thin," to the identity of the prisoner
with a horseman who had civilly borne each of them company for an hour in
their several homeward rides from certain fairs, and had carried the
pleasure of his society, they very gravely asserted, considerably beyond
a joke; so that the state of the prisoner's affairs took a very sombre
aspect, and the counsel--an old hand--intrusted with his cause declared
confidentially that there was not a chance.  But a yet more weighty
accusation, because it came from a much nobler quarter, awaited Clifford.
In the robbers' cavern were found several articles answering exactly to
the description of those valuables feloniously abstracted from the person
of Lord Mauleverer.  That nobleman attended to inspect the articles, and
to view the prisoner.  The former he found himself able to swear to, with
a very tranquillized conscience; the latter he beheld feverish,
attenuated, and in a moment of delirium, on the sick-bed to which his
wound had brought him.  He was at no loss, however, to recognize in the
imprisoned felon the gay and conquering Clifford, whom he had once even
honoured with his envy.  Although his former dim and vague suspicions of
Clifford were thus confirmed, the good-natured peer felt some slight
compunction at appearing as his prosecutor.  This compunction, however,
vanished the moment he left the sick man's apartment; and after a little
patriotic conversation with the magistrates about the necessity of public
duty,--a theme which brought virtuous tears into the eyes of those
respectable functionaries,--he re-entered his carriage, returned to town,
and after a lively dinner _tete-a-tete_ with an old _chere amie_, who, of
all her charms, had preserved only the attraction of conversation and the
capacity of relishing a _salami_, Mauleverer, the very evening of his
return, betook himself to the house of Sir William Brandon.

When he entered the hall, Barlow, the judge's favourite servant, met him,
with rather a confused and mysterious air, and arresting him as he was
sauntering into Brandon's library, informed him that Sir William was
particularly engaged, but would join his lordship in the drawing-room.
While Barlow was yet speaking, and Mauleverer was bending his right ear
(with which he heard the best) towards him, the library door opened, and
a man in a very coarse and ruffianly garb awkwardly bowed himself out.

"So this is the particular engagement," thought Mauleverer,--"a strange
Sir Pandarus; but those old fellows have droll tastes."

"I may go in now, my good fellow, I suppose?" said his lordship to
Barlow; and without waiting an answer, he entered the library.  He found
Brandon alone, and bending earnestly over some letters which strewed his
table.  Mauleverer carelessly approached, and threw himself into an
opposite chair.  Sir William lifted his head, as he heard the movement;
and Mauleverer, reckless as was that personage, was chilled and almost
awed by the expression of his friend's countenance.  Brandon's face was
one which, however pliant, nearly always wore one pervading character,--
calmness; whether in the smoothness of social courtesy, or the austerity
of his official station, or the bitter sarcasm which escaped him at no
unfrequent intervals, still a certain hard and inflexible dryness stamped
both his features and his air.  But at this time a variety of feelings
not ordinarily eloquent in the outward man struggled in his dark face,
expressive of all the energy and passion of his powerful and masculine
nature; there seemed to speak from his features and eyes something of
shame and anger and triumph and regret and scorn.  All these various
emotions, which it appears almost a paradox to assert met in the same
expression, nevertheless were so individually and almost fearfully
stamped as to convey at once their signification to the mind of
Mauleverer.  He glanced towards the letters, in which the writing seemed
faint and discoloured by time or damp; and then once more regarding the
face of Brandon, said in rather an anxious and subdued tone,--

"Heavens, Brandon! are you ill; or has anything happened?  You alarm me!"

"Do you recognize these locks?" said Brandon, in a hollow voice; and from
under the letters he drew some ringlets of an auburn hue, and pushed them
with an averted face towards Mauleverer.

The earl took them up, regarded them for a few moments, changed colour,
but shook his head with a negative gesture, as he laid them once more on
the table.

"This handwriting, then?" renewed the judge, in a yet more impressive and
painful voice; and he pointed to the letters.

Mauleverer raised one of them, and held it between his face and the lamp,
so that whatever his features might have betrayed was hidden from his
companion.  At length he dropped the letter with an affected nonchalance,
and said,--

"Ah, I know the writing even at this distance of time; this letter is
directed to you!"

"It is; so are all these," said Brandon, with the same voice of
preternatural and strained composure.  "They have come back to me after
an absence of nearly twenty-five years; they are the letters she wrote to
me in the days of our courtship" (here Brandon laughed scornfully),--"she
carried them away with her, you know when; and (a pretty clod of
consistency is woman!) she kept them, it seems, to her dying day."

The subject in discussion, whatever it might be, appeared a sore one to
Mauleverer; he turned uneasily on his chair, and said at length,--

"Well, poor creature! these are painful remembrances, since it turned out
so unhappily; but it was not our fault, dear Brandon.  We were men of the
world; we knew the value of--of women, and treated them accordingly!"

"Right! right! right!" cried Brandon, vehemently, laughing in a wild and
loud disdain, the intense force of which it would be in vain to attempt
expressing.  "Right! and, faith, my lord, I repine not, nor repent."

"So, so, that's well!" said Mauleverer, still not at his ease, and
hastening to change the conversation.  "But, my dear Brandon, I have
strange news for you!  You remember that fellow Clifford, who had the
insolence to address himself to your adorable niece?  I told you I
suspected that long friend of his of having made my acquaintance somewhat
unpleasantly, and I therefore doubted of Clifford himself.  Well, my dear
friend, this Clifford is--whom do you think?--no other than Mr. Lovett
of Newgate celebrity!"

"You do not say so!" rejoined Brandon, apathetically, as he slowly
gathered his papers together and deposited them in a drawer.

"Indeed it is true; and what is more, Brandon, this fellow is one of the
very identical highwaymen who robbed me on my road from Bath.  No doubt
he did me the same kind office on my road to Mauleverer Park."

"Possibly," said Brandon, who appeared absorbed in a revery.

"Ay!" answered Mauleverer, piqued at this indifference.  "But do you not
see the consequences to your niece?"

"My niece!" repeated Brandon, rousing himself.

"Certainly.  I grieve to say it, my dear friend,--but she was young, very
young, when at Bath.  She suffered this fellow to address her too openly.
Nay,--for I will be frank,--she was suspected of being in love with him!"

"She was in love with him," said Brandon, dryly, and fixing the malignant
coldness of his eye upon the suitor.  "And, for aught I know," added he,
"she is so at this moment."

"You are cruel!" said Mauleverer, disconcerted.  "I trust not, for the
sake of my continued addresses."

"My dear lord," said Brandon, urbanely taking the courtier's hand, while
the _anguis in herba_ of his sneer played around his compressed lips,--
"my dear lord, we are old friends, and need not deceive each other.  You
wish to marry my niece because she is an heiress of great fortune, and
you suppose that my wealth will in all probability swell her own.
Moreover, she is more beautiful than any other young lady of your
acquaintance, and, polished by your example, may do honour to your taste
as well as your prudence.  Under these circumstances, you will, I am
quite sure, look with lenity on her girlish errors, and not love her the
less because her foolish fancy persuades her that she is in love with
another."

"Ahem!" said Mauleverer, "you view the matter with more sense than
sentiment; but look you, Brandon, we must try, for both our sakes, if
possible, to keep the identity of Lovett with Clifford from being known.
I do not see why it should be.  No doubt he was on his guard while
playing the gallant, and committed no atrocity at Bath.  The name of
Clifford is hitherto perfectly unsullied.  No fraud, no violence are
attached to the appellation; and if the rogue will but keep his own
counsel, we may hang him out of the way without the secret transpiring."

"But if I remember right," said Brandon, "the newspapers say that this
Lovett will be tried some seventy or eighty miles only from Bath, and
that gives a chance of recognition."

"Ay, but he will be devilishly altered, I imagine; for his wound has
already been but a bad beautifier to his face.  Moreover, if the dog has
any delicacy, he will naturally dislike to be known as the gallant of
that gay city where he shone so successfully, and will disguise himself
as well as he is able.  I hear wonders of his powers of self-
transformation."

"But he may commit himself on the point between this and his trial," said
Brandon.

"I think of ascertaining how far that is likely, by sending my valet down
to him (you know one treats these gentlemen highwaymen with a certain
consideration, and hangs them with all due respect to their feelings), to
hint that it will be doubtless very unpleasant to him, under his 'present
unfortunate circumstances' (is not that the phrase?), to be known as the
gentleman who enjoyed so deserved a popularity at Bath, and that, though
'the laws of my country compel me' to prosecute him, yet, should he
desire it, he may be certain that I will preserve his secret.  Come,
Brandon, what say you to that manoeuvre?  It will answer my purpose, and
make the gentleman--for doubtless he is all sensibility--shed tears at my
generous forbearance!"

"It is no bad idea," said Brandon.  "I commend you for it.  At all
events, it is necessary that my niece should not know the situation of
her lover.  She is a girl of a singular turn of mind, and fortune has
made her independent.  Who knows but that she might commit some folly or
another, write petitions to the king, and beg me to present them, or go--
for she has a world of romance in her--to prison, to console him; or, at
all events, she would beg my kind offices on his behalf,--a request
peculiarly awkward, as in all probability I shall have the honour of
trying him."

"Ay, by the by, so you will.  And I fancy the poor rogue's audacity will
not cause you to be less severe than you usually are.  They say you
promise to make more human pendulums than any of your brethren."

"They do say that, do they?" said Brandon.  "Well, I own I have a bile
against my species; I loathe their folly and their half vices.  'Ridet et
odit'--["He laughs and hates"]--is my motto; and I allow that it is not
the philosophy that makes men merciful!"

"Well, Juvenal's wisdom be yours, mine be Horace's!" rejoined Mauleverer,
as he picked his teeth; "but I am glad you see the absolute necessity of
keeping this secret from Lucy's suspicion.  She never reads the papers, I
suppose?  Girls never do!"

"No! and I will take care not to have them thrown in her way; and as, in
consequence of my poor brother's recent death, she sees nobody but us,
there is little chance, should Lovett's right to the name of Clifford be
discovered, that it should reach her ears."

"But those confounded servants?"

"True enough!  But consider that before they know it, the newspapers
will; so that, should it be needful, we shall have our own time to
caution them.  I need only say to Lucy's woman, 'A poor gentleman, a
friend of the late squire, whom your mistress used to dance with, and you
must have seen,--Captain Clifford,--is to be tried for his life.  It will
shock her, poor thing!  in her present state of health, to tell her of so
sad an event to her father's friend; therefore be silent, as you value
your place and ten guineas,'--and I may be tolerably sure of caution!"

"You ought to be chairman to the Ways and Means Committee!" cried
Mauleverer.  "My mind is now easy; and when once poor Clifford is gone,--
fallen from a high estate,--we may break the matter gently to her; and as
I intend thereon to be very respectful, very delicate, etc., she cannot
but be sensible of my kindness and real affection!"

"And if a live dog be better than a dead lion," added Brandon, "surely a
lord in existence will be better than a highwayman hanged!"

"According to ordinary logic," rejoined Mauleverer, "that syllogism is
clear enough; and though I believe a girl may cling now and then to the
memory of a departed lover, I do not think she will when the memory is
allied with shame.  Love is nothing more than vanity pleased; wound the
vanity, and you destroy the love!  Lucy will be forced, after having made
so bad a choice of a lover, to make a good one in a husband, in order to
recover her self-esteem!"

"And therefore you are certain of her!" said Brandon, ironically.

"Thanks to my star,--my garter,--my ancestor, the first baron, and
myself, the first earl,--I hope I am," said Mauleverer; and the
conversation turned.  Mauleverer did not stay much longer with the judge;
and Brandon, left alone, recurred once more to the, perusal of his
letters.

We scarcely know what sensations it would have occasioned in one who had
known Brandon only in his later years, could he have read those letters
referring to so much earlier a date.  There was in the keen and arid
character of the man so little that recalled any idea of courtship or
youthful gallantry that a correspondence of that nature would have
appeared almost as unnatural as the loves of plants, or the amatory
softenings of a mineral.  The correspondence now before Brandon was
descriptive of various feelings, but all appertaining to the same class;
most of them were apparent answers to letters from him.  One while they
replied tenderly to expressions of tenderness, but intimated a doubt
whether the writer would be able to constitute his future happiness, and
atone for certain sacrifices of birth and fortune and ambitious
prospects, to which she alluded: at other times, a vein of latent
coquetry seemed to pervade the style,--an indescribable air of coolness
and reserve contrasted former passages in the correspondence, and was
calculated to convey to the reader an impression that the feelings of the
lover were not altogether adequately returned.  Frequently the writer, as
if Brandon had expressed himself sensible of this conviction, reproached
him for unjust jealousy and unworthy suspicion.  And the tone of the
reproach varied in each letter; sometimes it was gay and satirizing; at
others soft and expostulatory; at others gravely reasoning, and often
haughtily indignant.  Still, throughout the whole correspondence, on the
part of the mistress, there was a sufficient stamp of individuality to
give a shrewd examiner some probable guess at the writer's character.  He
would have judged her, perhaps, capable of strong and ardent feeling, but
ordinarily of a light and capricious turn, and seemingly prope to imagine
and to resent offence.  With these letters were mingled others in
Brandon's writing,--of how different, of how impassioned a description!
All that a deep, proud, meditative, exacting character could dream of
love given, or require of love returned, was poured burningly over the
pages; yet they were full of reproach, of jealousy, of a nice and
torturing observation, as calculated to wound as the ardour might be
fitted to charm; and often the bitter tendency to disdain that
distinguished his temperament broke through the fondest enthusiasm of
courtship or the softest outpourings of love.

     "You saw me not yesterday," he wrote in one letter, "but I saw you;
     all day I was by you: you gave not a look which passed me unnoticed;
     you made not a movement which I did not chronicle in my memory.
     Julia, do you tremble when I tell you this?  Yes, if you have a
     heart, I know these words would stab it to the core!  You may affect
     to answer me indignantly!  Wise dissembler! it is very skilful,
     very, to assume anger when you have no reply.  I repeat during the
     whole of that party of pleasure (pleasure! well, your tastes, it
     must be acknowledged, are exquisite!) which you enjoyed yesterday,
     and which you so faintly asked me to share, my eye was on you.  You
     did not know that I was in the wood when you took the grin of the
     incomparable Digby, with so pretty a semblance of alarm at the
     moment the snake which my foot disturbed glided across your path.
     You did not know I was within hearing of the tent where you made so
     agreeable a repast, and from which your laughter sent peals so many
     and so numerous.  Laughter!  O Julia, can you tell me that you love,
     and yet be happy, even to mirth, when I am away!  Love!  O God, how
     different a sensation is mine!  Mine makes my whole principle of
     life!  Yours!  I tell you that I think at moments I would rather
     have your hate than the lukewarm sentiment you bear to me, and
     honour by the name of affection.'  Pretty phrase!  I have no
     affection for you!  Give me not that sickly word; but try with me,
     Julia, to invent some expression that has never filtered a paltry
     meaning through the lips of another!  Affection!  why, that is a
     sister's word, a girl's word to her pet squirrel!  Never was it made
     for that ruby and most ripe mouth!  Shall I come to your house this
     evening?  Your mother has asked me, and you--you heard her, and said
     nothing.  Oh! but that was maiden reserve, was it? and maiden
     reserve caused you to take up a book the moment I left you, as if my
     company made but an ordinary amusement instantly to be replaced by
     another!  When I have seen you, society, books, food, all are
     hateful to me; but you, sweet Julia, you can read, can you?  Why,
     when I left you, I lingered by the parlour window for hours, till
     dusk, and you never once lifted your eyes, nor saw me pass and
     repass.  At least I thought you would have watched my steps when I
     left the house; but I err, charming moralist!  According to you,
     that vigilance would have been meanness."

In another part of the correspondence a more grave if not a deeper gush
of feeling struggled for expression.

     "You say, Julia, that were you to marry one who thinks so much of
     what he surrenders for you, and who requires from yourself so vast a
     return of love, you should tremble for the future happiness of both
     of us.  Julia, the triteness of that fear proves that you love not
     at all.  I do not tremble for our future happiness; on the contrary,
     the intensity of my passion for you makes me know that we never can
     be happy, never beyond the first rapture of our union.  Happiness is
     a quiet and tranquil feeling.  No feeling that I can possibly bear
     to you will ever receive those epithets,--I know that I shall be
     wretched and accursed when I am united to you.  Start not!  I will
     presently tell you why.  But I do not dream of happiness, neither
     (could you fathom one drop of the dark and limitless ocean of my
     emotions) would you name to me that word.  It is not the mercantile
     and callous calculation of chances for 'future felicity' (what
     homily supplied you with so choice a term?) that enters into the
     heart that cherishes an all-pervading love.  Passion looks only to
     one object, to nothing beyond; I thirst, I consume, not for
     happiness, but you.  Were your possession inevitably to lead me to a
     gulf of anguish and shame, think you I should covet it one jot the
     less!  If you carry one thought, one hope, one dim fancy, beyond the
     event that makes you mine, you may be more worthy of the esteem of
     others, but you are utterly undeserving of my love.

             . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

     "I will tell you now why I know we cannot be happy.  In the first
     place, when you say that I am proud of birth, that I am morbidly
     ambitious, that I am anxious to shine in the great world, and that
     after the first intoxication of love has passed away I shall feel
     bitterness against one who has so humbled my pride and darkened my
     prospects, I am not sure that you wholly err.  But I am sure that
     the instant remedy is in your power.  Have you patience, Julia, to
     listen to a kind Of history of myself, or rather of my feelings?  If
     so, perhaps it may be the best method of explaining all that I would
     convey.  You will see, then, that my family pride and my worldly
     ambition are not founded altogether on those basements which move my
     laughter in another; if my feelings thereon are really, however, as
     you would insinuate, equal matter for derision, behold, my Julia, I
     can laugh equally at them!  So pleasant a thing to me is scorn, that
     I would rather despise myself than have no one to despise!  But to
     my narrative!  You must know that there are but two of us, sons of a
     country squire, of old family, which once possessed large
     possessions and something of historical renown.  We lived in an old
     country-place; my father was a convivial dog, a fox-hunter, a
     drunkard, yet in his way a fine gentleman,--and a very disreputable
     member of society.  The first feelings towards him that I can
     remember were those of shame.  Not much matter of family pride here,
     you will say!  True, and that is exactly the reason which made me
     cherish family pride elsewhere.  My father's house was filled with
     guests,--some high and some low; they all united in ridicule of the
     host.  I soon detected the laughter, and you may imagine that it did
     not please me.  Meanwhile the old huntsman, whose family was about
     as ancient as ours, and whose ancestors had officiated in his
     capacity for the ancestors of his master time out of mind, told me
     story after story about the Brandons of yore.  I turned from the
     stories to more legitimate history, and found the legends were
     tolerably true.  I learned to glow at this discovery; the pride,
     humbled when I remembered my sire, revived when I remembered my
     ancestors.  I became resolved to emulate them, to restore a sunken
     name, and vowed a world of nonsense on the subject.  The habit of
     brooding over these ideas grew on me.  I never heard a jest broken
     on my paternal guardian, I never caught the maudlin look of his
     reeling eyes, nor listened to some exquisite inanity from his
     besotted lips, but that my thoughts flew instantly back to the Sir
     Charleses and the Sir Roberts of my race, and I comforted myself
     with the hope that the present degeneracy should pass away.  Hence,
     Julia, my family pride; hence, too, another feeling you dislike in
     me,--disdain!  I first learned to despise my father, the host, and I
     then despised my acquaintances, his guests; for I saw, while they
     laughed at him, that they flattered, and that their merriment was
     not the only thing suffered to feed at his expense.  Thus contempt
     grew up with me, and I had nothing to check it; for when I looked
     around I saw not one living thing that I could respect.  This father
     of mine had the sense to think I was no idiot.  He was proud (poor
     man!) of 'my talents,' namely, of prizes won at school, and
     congratulatory letters from my masters.  He sent me to college.
     My mind took a leap there; I will tell you, prettiest, what it was!
     Before I went thither I had some fine vague visions about virtue.
     I thought to revive my ancestral honours by being good; in short, I
     was an embryo King Pepin.  I awoke from this dream at the
     University.  There, for the first time, I perceived the real
     consequence of rank.

     "At school, you know, Julia, boys care nothing for a lord.  A good
     cricketer, an excellent fellow, is worth all the earls in the
     peerage.  But at college all that ceases; bats and balls sink into
     the nothingness in which corals and bells had sunk before.  One
     grows manly, and worships coronets and carriages.  I saw it was a
     fine thing to get a prize, but it was ten times a finer thing to get
     drunk with a peer.  So, when I had done the first, my resolve to be
     worthy of my sires made me do the second,--not, indeed, exactly; I
     never got drunk: my father disgusted me with that vice betimes.  To
     his gluttony I owe my vegetable diet, and to his inebriety my
     addiction to water.  No, I did not get drunk with peers; but I was
     just as agreeable to them as if I had been equally embruted.  I knew
     intimately all the 'Hats' in the University, and I was henceforth
     looked up to by the 'Caps,' as if my head had gained the height of
     every hat that I knew.

          [At Cambridge the sons of noblemen and the eldest sons of
          baronets are allowed to wear hats instead of the academical
          cap.]

     But I did not do this immediately.  I must tell you two little
     anecdotes that first initiated me into the secret of real greatness.

     "The first was this: I was sitting at dinner with some fellows of a
     college, grave men and clever.  Two of them, not knowing me, were
     conversing about me; they heard, they said, that I should never be
     so good a fellow as my father,--have such a cellar or keep such a
     house.  'I have met six earls there and a marquess,' quoth the other
     senior.  'And his son,' returned the first don, 'only keeps company
     with sizars, I believe.'  'So then,' said I to myself, 'to deserve
     the praise even of clever men, one must have good wines, know plenty
     of earls, and for swear sizars.'  Nothing could be truer than my
     conclusion.

     "Anecdote the second is this: On the day I gained a high university
     prize I invited my friends to dine with me.  Four of them refused
     because they were engaged (they had been asked since I asked them),
    --to whom? the richest man at the University.  These occurrences,
     happening at the same time, threw me into a profound revery.  I
     awoke, and became a man of the world.  I no longer resolved to be
     virtuous, and to hunt after the glory of your Romans and your
     Athenians,--I resolved to become rich, powerful, and of worldly
     repute.

     "I abjured my honest sizars, and as I said before, I courted some
     rich 'Hats.'  Behold my first grand step in the world!  I became the
     parasite and the flatterer.  What! would my pride suffer this?
     Verily, yes, my pride delighted in it; for it soothed my spirit of
     contempt to put these fine fellows to my use!  It soothed me to see
     how easily I could cajole them, and to what a variety of purposes I
     could apply even the wearisome disgust of their acquaintance.
     Nothing is so foolish as to say the idle great are of no use; they
     can be put to any use whatsoever that a wise man is inclined to make
     of them.  Well, Julia, lo! my character already formed; the family
     pride, disdain, and worldly ambition,--there it is for you.  After
     circumstances only strengthened the impression already made.  I
     desired, on leaving college, to go abroad; my father had no money to
     give me.  What signified that?  I looked carelessly around for some
     wealthier convenience than the paternal board; I found it in a Lord
     Mauleverer.  He had been at college with me, and I endured him
     easily as a companion,--for he had accomplishments, wit, and good-
     nature.  I made him wish to go abroad, and I made him think he
     should die of ennui if I did not accompany him.  To his request to
     that effect I reluctantly agreed, and saw everything in Europe,
     which he neglected to see, at his expense.  What amused me the most
     was the perception that I, the parasite, was respected by him; and
     he, the patron, was ridiculed by me!  It would not have been so if I
     had depended on 'my virtue.'  Well, sweetest Julia, the world, as I
     have said, gave to my college experience a sacred authority.  I
     returned to England; and my father died, leaving to me not a
     sixpence, and to my brother an estate so mortgaged that he could not
     enjoy it, and so restricted that he could not sell it.  It was now
     the time for me to profit by the experience I boasted of.  I saw
     that it was necessary I should take some profession.  Professions
     are the masks to your pauper-rogue; they give respectability to
     cheating, and a diploma to feed upon others.  I analyzed my talents,
     and looked to the customs of my country; the result was my
     resolution to take to the Bar.  I had an inexhaustible power of
     application; I was keen, shrewd, and audacious.  All these qualities
     'tell' at the courts of justice.  I kept my legitimate number of
     terms; I was called; I went the circuit; I obtained not a brief,--
     not a brief, Julia!  My health, never robust, gave way beneath study
     and irritation.  I was ordered to betake myself to the country.  I
     came to this village, as one both salubrious and obscure.  I lodged
     in the house of your aunt; you came hither daily,--I saw you,--you
     know the rest.  But where, all this time, were my noble friends?
     you will say.  'Sdeath, since we had left college, they had learned
     a little of the wisdom I had then possessed; they were not disposed
     to give something for nothing; they had younger brothers, and
     cousins, and mistresses, and, for aught I know, children to provide
     for.  Besides, they had their own expenses; the richer a man is, the
     less he has to give.  One of them would have bestowed on me a
     living, if I had gone into the Church; another, a commission if I
     had joined his regiment.  But I knew the day was past both for
     priest and soldier; and it was not merely to live, no, nor to live
     comfortably, but to enjoy power, that I desired; so I declined these
     offers.  Others of my friends would have been delighted to have kept
     me in their house, feasted me, joked with me, rode with me, nothing
     more!  But I had already the sense to see that if a man dances
     himself into distinction, it is never by the steps of attendance.
     One must receive favours and court patronage, but it must be with
     the air of an independent man.  My old friends thus rendered
     useless, my legal studies forbade me to make new, nay, they even
     estranged me from the old; for people may say what they please about
     a similarity of opinions being necessary to friendship,--a
     similarity of habits is much more so.  It is the man you dine,
     breakfast, and lodge with, walk, ride, gamble, or thieve with, that
     is your friend; not the man who likes Virgil as well as you do, and
     agrees with you in an admiration of Handel.  Meanwhile my chief
     prey, Lord Mauleverer, was gone; he had taken another man's
     Dulcinea, and sought out a bower in Italy.  From that time to this I
     have never heard of him nor seen him; I know not even his address.
     With the exception of a few stray gleanings from my brother, who,
     good easy man!  I could plunder more, were I not resolved not to
     ruin the family stock, I have been thrown on myself; the result is
     that, though as clever as my fellows, I have narrowly shunned
     starvation,--had my wants been less simple, there would have been no
     shunning in the case; but a man is not easily starved who drinks
     water, and eats by the ounce.  A more effectual fate might have
     befallen me.  Disappointment, wrath, baffled hope, mortified pride,
     all these, which gnawed at my heart, might have consumed it long
     ago; I might have fretted away as a garment which the moth eateth,
     had it not been for that fund of obstinate and iron hardness which
     nature--I beg pardon, there is no nature--circumstance bestowed upon
     me.  This has borne me up, and will bear me yet through time and
     shame and bodily weakness and mental fever, until my ambition has
     won a certain height, and my disdain of human pettiness rioted in
     the external sources of fortune, as well as an inward fountain of
     bitter and self-fed consolation.  Yet, oh, Julia!  I know not if
     even this would have supported me, if at that epoch of life, when I
     was most wounded, most stricken in body, most soured in mind, my
     heart had not met and fastened itself to yours.  I saw you, loved
     you; and life became to me a new object.  Even now, as I write to
     you, all my bitterness, my pride, vanish; everything I have longed
     for disappears; my very ambition is gone.  I have no hope but for
     you, Julia; beautiful, adored Julia! when I love you, I love even my
     kind.  Oh, you know not the power you possess over me!  Do not
     betray it; you can yet make me all that my boyhood once dreamed, or
     you can harden every thought, feeling, sensation, into stone.

                  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

     "I was to tell you why I look not for happiness in our union.  You
     have now seen my nature.  You have traced the history of my life, by
     tracing the history of my character.  You see what I surrender in
     gaining you.  I do not deny the sacrifice.  I surrender the very
     essentials of my present mind and soul.  I cease to be worldly.  I
     cannot raise myself, I cannot revive my ancestral name; nay, I shall
     relinquish it forever.  I shall adopt a disguised appellation.  I
     shall sink into another grade of life.  In some remote village, by
     means of some humbler profession than that I now follow, we must
     earn our subsistence, and smile at ambition.  I tell you frankly,
     Julia, when I close the eyes of my heart, when I shut you from my
     gaze, this sacrifice appalls me.  But even then you force yourself
     before me, and I feel that one glance from your eye is more to me
     than all.  If you could bear with me,--if you could soothe me,--if
     when a cloud is on me you could suffer it to pass away unnoticed,
     and smile on me the moment it is gone,--O Julia! there would be then
     no extreme of poverty, no abasement of fortune, no abandonment of
     early dreams which would not seem to me rapture if coupled with the
     bliss of knowing that you are mine.  Never should my lip, never
     should my eye tell you that there is that thing on earth for which I
     repine or which I could desire.  No, Julia, could I flatter my heart
     with this hope, you would not find me dream of unhappiness and you
     united.  But I tremble, Julia, when I think of your temper and my
     own; you will conceive a gloomy look from one never mirthful is an
     insult, and you will feel every vent of passion on Fortune or on
     others as a reproach to you.  Then, too, you cannot enter into my
     nature; you cannot descend into its caverns; you cannot behold, much
     less can you deign to lull, the exacting and lynx-eyed jealousy that
     dwells there.  Sweetest Julia! every breath of yours, every touch of
     yours, every look of yours, I yearn for beyond all a mother's
     longing for the child that has been torn from her for years.  Your
     head leaned upon an old tree (do you remember it, near ------?), and
     I went every day, after seeing you, to kiss it.  Do you wonder that
     I am jealous?  How can I love you as I do and be otherwise!  My
     whole being is intoxicated with you!

                   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

     "This then, your pride and mine, your pleasure in the admiration of
     others, your lightness, Julia, make me foresee an eternal and
     gushing source of torture to my mind.  I care not; I care for
     nothing so that you are mine, if but for one hour."


It seems that, despite the strange, sometimes the unloverlike and
fiercely selfish nature of these letters from Brandon, something of a
genuine tone of passion,--perhaps their originality,--aided, no doubt,
by some uttered eloquence of the writer and some treacherous inclination
on the part of the mistress, ultimately conquered; and that a union so
little likely to receive the smile of a prosperous star was at length
concluded.  The letter which terminated the correspondence was from
Brandon: it was written on the evening before the marriage, which, it
appeared by the same letter, was to be private and concealed.  After a,
rapturous burst of hope and joy, it continued thus:--

     "Yes, Julia, I recant my words; I have no belief that you or I shall
     ever have cause hereafter for unhappiness.  Those eyes that dwelt so
     tenderly on mine; that hand whose pressure lingers yet in every
     nerve of my frame; those lips turned so coyly, yet, shall I say,
     reluctantly from me,--all tell me that you love me; and my fears are
     banished.  Love, which conquered my nature, will conquer the only
     thing I would desire to see altered in yours.  Nothing could ever
     make me adore you less, though you affect to dread it,--nothing but
     a knowledge that you are unworthy of me, that you have a thought for
     another; then I should not hate you.  No; the privilege of my past
     existence would revive; I should revel in a luxury of contempt, I
     should despise you, I should mock you, and I should be once more
     what I was before I knew you.  But why do I talk thus?  My bride,
     my blessing, forgive me!"

In concluding our extracts from this correspondence, we wish the reader
to note, first, that the love professed by Brandon seems of that vehement
and corporeal nature which, while it is often the least durable, is often
the most susceptible of the fiercest extremes of hatred or even of
disgust; secondly, that the character opened by this sarcastic candour
evidently required in a mistress either an utter devotion or a skilful
address; and thirdly, that we have hinted at such qualities in the fair
correspondent as did not seem sanguinely to promise either of these
essentials.

While with a curled yet often with a quivering lip the austere and
sarcastic Brandon slowly compelled himself to the task of proceeding
through these monuments of former folly and youthful emotion, the further
elucidation of those events, now rapidly urging on a fatal and dread
catastrophe, spreads before us a narrative occurring many years prior to
the time at which we are at present arrived.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

          Clem.  Lift the dark veil of years!  Behind, what waits?
          A human heart.  Vast city, where reside
          All glories and all vilenesses; while foul,
          Yet silent, through the roar of passions rolls
          The river of the Darling Sin, and bears
          A life and yet a poison on its tide.
               . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
          Clem.  Thy wife?

          Vict.  Avaunt! I've changed that word to "scorn"!

          Clem.  Thy child?

          Vict.  Ay, that strikes home,--my child, my child!

                                         Love and Hatred, by --------

To an obscure town in  shire there came to reside a young couple, whose
appearance and habits drew towards them from the neighbouring gossips a
more than ordinary attention.  They bore the name of Welford.  The man
assumed the profession of a solicitor.  He came without introduction or
recommendation; his manner of life bespoke poverty; his address was
reserved and even sour; and despite the notice and scrutiny with which he
was regarded, he gained no clients and made no lawsuits.  The want of all
those decent charlatanisms which men of every profession are almost
necessitated to employ, and the sudden and unushered nature of his coming
were, perhaps, the cause of this ill-success.  "His house was too small,"
people said, "for respectability."  And little good could be got from a
solicitor the very rails round whose door were so sadly in want of
repainting!  Then, too, Mrs. Welford made a vast number of enemies.  She
was, beyond all expression, beautiful; and there was a certain coquetry
in her manner which showed she was aware of her attractions.  All the
ladies of ------- hated her.  A few people called on the young couple.
Welford received them coldly; their invitations were unaccepted, and,
what was worse, they were never returned.  The devil himself could not
have supported an attorney under such circumstances.  Reserved, shabby,
poor, rude, introductionless, a bad house, an unpainted railing, and a
beautiful wife!  Nevertheless, though Welford was not employed, he was,
as we have said, watched.  On their first arrival, which was in summer,
the young pair were often seen walking together in the fields or groves
which surrounded their home.  Sometimes they walked affectionately
together, and it was observed with what care Welford adjusted his wife's
cloak or shawl around her slender shape, as the cool of the evening
increased.  But often his arm was withdrawn; he lingered behind, and they
continued their walk or returned homeward in silence and apart.  By
degrees whispers circulated throughout the town that the new-married
couple lived by no means happily.  The men laid the fault on the stern-
looking husband; the women, on the minx of a wife.  However, the solitary
servant whom they kept declared that though Mr. Welford did sometimes
frown, and Mrs. Welford did sometimes weep, they were extremely attached
to each other, and only quarrelled through love.  The maid had had four
lovers herself, and was possibly experienced in such matters.  They
received no visitors, near or from a distance; and the postman declared
he had never seen a letter directed to either.  Thus a kind of mystery
hung over the pair, and made them still more gazed on and still more
disliked--which is saying a great deal--than they would have otherwise
been.  Poor as Welford was, his air and walk eminently bespoke what
common persons term gentility.  And in this he had greatly the advantage
of his beautiful wife, who, though there was certainly nothing vulgar or
plebeian in her aspect, altogether wanted the refinement of manner, look,
and phrase which characterized Welford.  For about two years they lived
in this manner, and so frugally and tranquilly that though Welford had
not any visible means of subsistence, no one could well wonder in what
manner they did subsist.  About the end of that time Welford suddenly
embarked a small sum in a county speculation.  In the course of this
adventure, to the great surprise of his neighbours, he evinced an
extraordinary turn for calculation, and his habits plainly bespoke a man
both of business and ability.  This disposal of capital brought a
sufficient return to support the Welfords, if they had been so disposed,
in rather a better style than heretofore.  They remained, however, in
much the same state; and the only difference that the event produced was
the retirement of Mr. Welford from the profession he had embraced.  He
was no longer a solicitor!  It must be allowed that he resigned no great
advantages in this retirement.  About this time some officers were
quartered at ------; and one of them, a handsome lieutenant, was so
struck with the charms of Mrs. Welford, whom he saw at church, that he
lost no opportunity of testifying his admiration.  It was maliciously yet
not unfoundedly remarked that though no absolute impropriety could be
detected in the manner of Mrs. Welford, she certainly seemed far from
displeased with the evident homage of the young lieutenant.  A blush
tinged her cheek when she saw him; and the gallant coxcomb asserted that
the blush was not always without a smile.  Emboldened by the
interpretations of his vanity, and contrasting, as every one else did,
his own animated face and glittering garb with the ascetic and gloomy
countenance, the unstudied dress, and austere gait which destroyed in
Welford the effect of a really handsome person, our lieutenant thought
fit to express his passion by a letter, which he conveyed to Mrs.
Welford's pew.  Mrs. Welford went not to church that day; the letter was
found by a good-natured neighbour, and inclosed anonymously to the
husband.

Whatever, in the secrecy of domestic intercourse, took place on this
event was necessarily unknown; but the next Sunday the face of Mr.
Welford, which had never before appeared at church, was discerned by one
vigilant neighbour,--probably the anonymous friend,--not in the same pew
with his wife, but in a remote corner of the sacred house.  And once,
when the lieutenant was watching to read in Mrs. Welford's face some
answer to his epistle, the same obliging inspector declared that
Welford's countenance assumed a sardonic and withering sneer that made
his very blood to creep.  However this be, the lieutenant left his
quarters, and Mrs. Welford's reputation remained dissatisfactorily
untarnished.  Shortly after this the county speculation failed, and it
was understood that the Welfords were about to leave the town, whither
none knew,--some said to jail; but then, unhappily, no debts could be
discovered.  Their bills had been "next to nothing;" but, at least, they
had been regularly paid.  However, before the rumoured emigration took
place, a circumstance equally wonderful to the good people of  occurred.
One bright spring morning a party of pleasure from a great house in the
vicinity passed through that town.  Most conspicuous of these was a young
horseman, richly dressed, and of a remarkably showy and handsome
appearance.  Not a little sensible of the sensation he created, this
cavalier lingered behind his companions in order to eye more deliberately
certain damsels stationed in a window, and who were quite ready to return
his glances with interest.  At this moment the horse, which was fretting
itself fiercely against the rein that restrained it from its fellows,
took a fright at a knife-grinder, started violently to one side, and the
graceful cavalier, who had been thinking, not of the attitude best
adapted to preserve his equilibrium, but to display his figure, was
thrown with some force upon a heap of bricks and rubbish which had long,
to the scandal of the neighbourhood, stood before the paintless railings
around Mr. Welford's house.  Welford himself came out at the time, and
felt compelled--for he was by no means one whose sympathetic emotions
flowed easily--to give a glance to the condition of a man who lay
motionless before his very door.  The horseman quickly recovered his
senses, but found himself unable to rise; one of his legs was broken.
Supported in the arms of his groom, he looked around, and his eye met
Welford's.  An instant recognition gave life to the face of the former,
and threw a dark blush over the sullen features of the latter.

"Heavens!" said the cavalier, "is that--"

"Hist, my lord!" cried Welford, quickly interrupting him, and glancing
round.  "But you are hurt,--will you enter my house?"

The horseman signified his assent, and, between the groom and Welford,
was borne within the shabby door of the ex-solicitor.  The groom was then
despatched with an excuse to the party, many of whom were already
hastening around the house; and though one or two did force themselves
across the inhospitable threshold, yet so soon as they had uttered a few
expletives, and felt their stare sink beneath the sullen and chilling
asperity of the host, they satisfied themselves that though it was d---d
unlucky for their friend, yet they could do nothing for him at present;
and promising to send to inquire after him the next day, they remounted
and rode homeward, with an eye more attentive than usual to the motion of
their steeds.  They did not, however, depart till the surgeon of the town
had made his appearance, and declared that the patient must not on any
account be moved.  A lord's leg was a windfall that did not happen every
day to the surgeon of -------.  All this while we may imagine the state
of anxiety experienced in the town, and the agonized endurance of those
rural nerves which are produced in scanty populations, and have so
_Taliacotian_ a sympathy with the affairs of other people.  One day, two
days, three days, a week, a fortnight, nay, a month, passed, and the lord
was still the inmate of Mr. Welford's abode.  Leaving the gossips to feed
on their curiosity,--"cannibals of their own hearts,"--we must give a
glance towards the interior of the inhospitable mansion of the
ex-solicitor.

It was towards evening, the sufferer was supported on a sofa, and the
beautiful Mrs. Welford, who had officiated as his nurse, was placing the
pillow under the shattered limb.  He himself was attempting to seize her
hand, which she coyly drew back, and uttering things sweeter and more
polished than she had ever listened to before.  At this moment Welford
softly entered; he was unnoticed by either; and he stood at the door
contemplating them with a smile of calm and self-hugging derision.  The
face of Mephistopheles regarding Margaret and Faust might suggest some
idea of the picture we design to paint; but the countenance of Welford
was more lofty, as well as comelier, in character, though not less
malignant in expression, than that which the incomparable Retsch has
given to the mocking fiend.  So utter, so congratulatory, so lordly was
the contempt on Welford's dark and striking features, that though he was
in that situation in which ridicule usually attaches itself to the
husband, it was the gallant and the wife that would have appeared to the
beholder in a humiliating and unenviable light.

After a momentary pause Welford approached with a heavy step.  The wife
started; but with a bland and smooth expression, which since his sojourn
in the town of had been rarely visible in his aspect, the host joined the
pair, smiled on the nurse, and congratulated the patient on his progress
towards recovery.  The nobleman, well learned in the usages of the world,
replied easily and gayly; and the conversation flowed on cheerfully
enough till the wife, who had sat abstracted and apart, stealing ever and
anon timid glances towards her husband and looks of a softer meaning
towards the patient, retired from the room.  Welford then gave a turn to
the conversation; he reminded the nobleman of the pleasant days they had
passed in Italy,--of the adventures they had shared, and the intrigues
they had enjoyed.  As the conversation warmed, it assumed a more free and
licentious turn; and not a little, we ween, would the good folks of -----
have been amazed, could they have listened to the gay jests and the
libertine maxims which flowed from the thin lips of that cold and severe
Welford, whose countenance gave the lie to mirth.  Of women in general
they spoke with that lively contempt which is the customary tone with men
of the world; only in Welford it assumed a bitterer, a deeper, and a more
philosophical cast than it did in his more animated yet less energetic
guest.

The nobleman seemed charmed with his friend; the conversation was just to
his taste; and when Welford had supported him up to bed, he shook that
person cordially by the hand, and hoped he should soon see him in very
different circumstances.  When the peer's door was closed on Welford,
he stood motionless for some moments; he then with a soft step ascended
to his own chamber.  His wife slept soundly; beside the bed was the
infant's cradle.  As his eyes fell on the latter, the rigid irony, now
habitual to his features, relaxed; he bent over the cradle long and in
deep silence.  The mother's face, blended with the sire's, was stamped on
the sleeping and cherub countenance before him; and as at length, rousing
from his revery, he kissed it gently, he murmured,--

"When I look on you I will believe that she once loved me.  Pah!" he said
abruptly, and rising, "this fatherly sentiment for a -----'s offering is
exquisite in me!"  So saying, without glancing towards his wife, who,
disturbed by the loudness of his last words, stirred uneasily, he left
the room, and descended into that where he had conversed with his guest.
He shut the door with caution, and striding to and fro the humble
apartment, gave vent to thoughts marshalled somewhat in the broken array
in which they now appear to the reader:--

"Ay, ay, she has been my ruin!  and if I were one of your weak fools who
make a gospel of the silliest and most mawkish follies of this social
state, she would now be my disgrace; but instead of my disgrace, I will
make her my footstool to honour and wealth.  And, then, to the devil with
the footstool!  Yes! two years I have borne what was enough to turn my
whole blood into gall,--inactivity, hopelessness, a wasted heart and life
in myself; contumely from the world; coldness, bickering, ingratitude
from the one for whom (oh, ass that I was!) I gave up the most cherished
part of my nature,--rather, my nature itself!  Two years I have borne
this, and now will I have my revenge.  I will sell her,--sell her!  God!
I will sell her like the commonest beast of a market!  And this paltry
piece of false coin shall buy me--my world!  Other men's vengeance comes
from hatred,--a base, rash, unphilosophical sentiment! mine comes from
scorn,--the only wise state for the reason to rest in.  Other men's
vengeance ruins themselves; mine shall save me!  Ha! how my soul chuckles
when I look at this pitiful pair, who think I see them not, and know that
every movement they make is on a mesh of my web!  Yet," and Welford
paused slowly,--"yet I cannot but mock myself when I think of the arch
gull that this boy's madness, love,--love, indeed! the very word turns me
sick with loathing,--made of me.  Had that woman, silly, weak, automatal
as she is, really loved me; had she been sensible of the unspeakable
sacrifice I had made to her (Antony's was nothing to it,--he lost a real
world only; mine was the world of imagination); had she but condescended
to learn my nature, to subdue the woman's devil at her own,--I could have
lived on in this babbling hermitage forever, and fancied myself happy and
resigned,--I could have become a different being.  I fancy I could have
become what your moralists (quacks!) call 'good.'  But this fretting
frivolity of heart, this lust of fool's praise, this peevishness of
temper, this sullenness in answer to the moody thought, which in me she
neither fathomed nor forgave, this vulgar, daily, hourly pining at the
paltry pinches of the body's poverty, the domestic whine, the household
complaint,--when I--I have not a thought for such pitiful trials of
affection; and all this while my curses, my buried hope and disguised
spirit and sunken name not thought of; the magnitude of my surrender to
her not even comprehended; nay, her 'inconveniences'--a dim hearth, I
suppose, or a daintiless table--compared, ay, absolutely compared, with
all which I abandoned for her sake!  As if it were not enough,--had I
been a fool, an ambitionless, soulless fool,-the mere thought that I had
linked my name to that of a tradesman,--I beg pardon, a retired
tradesman!--as if that knowledge--a knowledge I would strangle my whole
race, every one who has ever met, seen me, rather than they should
penetrate--were not enough, when she talks of 'comparing,' to make me
gnaw the very flesh from my bones!  No, no, no!  Never was there so
bright a turn in my fate as when this titled coxcomb, with his smooth
voice and gaudy fripperies, came hither!  I will make her a tool to carve
my escape from this cavern wherein she has plunged me.  I will foment 'my
lord's' passion, till 'my lord' thinks 'the passion' (a butterfly's
passion!) worth any price.  I will then make my own terms, bind 'my lord'
to secrecy, and get rid of my wife, my shame, and the obscurity of Mr.
Welford forever.  Bright, bright prospects!  let me shut my eyes to enjoy
you!  But softly! my noble friend calls himself a man of the world,
skilled in human nature, and a derider of its prejudices; true enough, in
his own little way--thanks not to enlarged views, but a vicious
experience--so he is!  The book of the world is a vast miscellany; he is
perfectly well acquainted, doubtless, with those pages that treat of the
fashions,--profoundly versed, I warrant, in the 'Magasin des Modes'
tacked to the end of the index.  But shall I, even with all the
mastership which my mind must exercise over his,--shall I be able utterly
to free myself in this 'peer of the world's' mind from a degrading
remembrance?  Cuckold!  cuckold! 't is an ugly word; a convenient,
willing cuckold, humph!--there is no grandeur, no philosophical varnish
in the phrase.  Let me see--yes!  I have a remedy for all that.  I was
married privately,--well! under disguised names,--well!  It was a stolen
marriage, far from her town,--well! witnesses unknown to her,--well!
proofs easily secured to my possession,--excellent!  The fool shall
believe it a forged marriage, an ingenious gallantry of mine; I will wash
out the stain cuckold with the water of another word; I will make market
of a mistress, not a wife.  I will warn him not to acquaint her with this
secret; let me consider for what reason,--oh! my son's legitimacy may be
convenient to me hereafter.  He will understand that reason, and I will
have his 'honour' thereon.  And by the way, I do care for that
legitimacy, and will guard the proofs.  I love my child,--ambitious men
do love their children.  I may become a lord myself, and may wish for a
lord to succeed me; and that son is mine, thank Heaven!  I am sure on
that point,--the only child, too, that ever shall arise to me.  Never, I
swear, will I again put myself beyond my own power!  All my nature, save
one passion, I have hitherto mastered; that passion shall henceforth be
my slave, my only thought be ambition, my only mistress be the world!"

As thus terminated the revery of a man whom the social circumstances of
the world were calculated, as if by system, to render eminently and
basely wicked, Welford slowly ascended the stairs, and re-entered his
chamber.  His wife was still sleeping.  Her beauty was of the fair and
girlish and harmonized order, which lovers and poets would express by the
word "angelic;" and as Welford looked upon her face, hushed and almost
hallowed by slumber, a certain weakness and irresolution might have been
discernible in the strong lines of his haughty features.  At that moment,
as if forever to destroy the return of hope or virtue to either, her lips
moved, they uttered one word,--it was the name of Welford's courtly
guest.

About three weeks from that evening Mrs. Welford eloped with the young
nobleman, and on the morning following that event the distracted husband
with his child disappeared forever from the town of -----.  From that day
no tidings whatsoever respecting him ever reached the titillated ears of
his anxious neighbours; and doubt, curiosity, discussion, gradually
settled into the belief that his despair had hurried him into suicide.

Although the unfortunate Mrs. Welford was in reality of a light and
frivolous turn, and, above all, susceptible to personal vanity, she was
not without ardent affections and keen sensibilities.  Her marriage had
been one of love,--that is to say, on her part, the ordinary love of
girls, who love not through actual and natural feeling so much as forced
predisposition.  Her choice had fallen on one superior to herself in
birth, and far above all, in person and address, whom she had habitually
met.  Thus her vanity had assisted her affection, and something strange
and eccentric in the temper and mind of Welford had, though at times it
aroused her fear, greatly contributed to inflame her imagination.  Then,
too, though an uncourtly, he had been a passionate and a romantic lover.
She was sensible that he gave up for her much that he had previously
conceived necessary to his existence; and she stopped not to inquire how
far this devotion was likely to last, or what conduct on her part might
best perpetuate the feelings from which it sprang.  She had eloped with
him.  She had consented to a private marriage.  She had passed one happy
month, and then delusion vanished!  Mrs. Welford was not a woman who
could give to reality, or find in it, the charm equal to delusion.  She
was perfectly unable to comprehend the intricate and dangerous character
of her husband.

She had not the key to his virtues, nor the spell for his vices.  Neither
was the state to which poverty compelled them one well calculated for
that tender meditation, heightened by absence and cherished in indolence,
which so often supplies one who loves with the secret to the nature of
the one beloved.  Though not equal to her husband in birth or early
prospects, Mrs. Welford had been accustomed to certain comforts, often
more felt by those who belong to the inferior classes than by those
appertaining to the more elevated, who in losing one luxury will often
cheerfully surrender all.  A fine lady can submit to more hardships than
her woman; and every gentleman who travels smiles at the privations which
agonize his valet.  Poverty and its grim comrades made way for a whole
host of petty irritations and peevish complaints; and as no guest or
visitor ever relieved the domestic discontent, or broke on the domestic
bickering, they generally ended in that moody sullenness which so often
finds love a grave in repentance.  Nothing makes people tire of each
other like a familiarity that admits of carelessness in quarrelling and
coarseness in complaining.  The biting sneer of Welford gave acrimony to
the murmur of his wife; and when once each conceived the other the
injurer, or him or herself the wronged, it was vain to hope that one
would be more wary, or the other more indulgent.  They both exacted too
much, and the wife in especial conceded too little.  Mrs. Welford was
altogether and emphatically what a libertine calls "a woman,"--such as a
frivolous education makes a woman,--generous in great things, petty in
small; vain, irritable, full of the littleness of herself and her
complaints, ready to plunge into an abyss with her lover, but equally
ready to fret away all love with reproaches when the plunge had been
made.  Of all men, Welford could bear this the least.  A woman of a
larger heart, a more settled experience, and an intellect capable of
appreciating his character and sounding all his qualities, might have
made him perhaps a useful and a great man, and, at least, her lover for
life.  Amidst a harvest of evil feelings the mere strength of his nature
rendered him especially capable of intense feeling and generous emotion.
One who relied on him was safe; one who rebelled against him trusted only
to the caprice of his scorn.  Still, however, for two years, love, though
weakening with each hour, fought on in either breast, and could scarcely
be said to be entirely vanquished in the wife, even when she eloped with
her handsome seducer.  A French writer has said pithily enough: "Compare
for a moment the apathy of a husband with the attention, the gallantry,
the adoration of a lover, and can you ask the result?"  He was a French
writer; but Mrs. Welford had in her temper much of the Frenchwoman.  A
suffering patient, young, handsome, well versed in the arts of intrigue,
contrasted with a gloomy husband whom she had never comprehended, long
feared, and had lately doubted if she disliked,--ah! a much weaker
contrast has made many a much better woman food for the lawyers!  Mrs.
Welford eloped; but she felt a revived tenderness for her husband on the
very morning that she did so.  She carried away with her his letters of
love as well as her own, which when they first married she had in an hour
of fondness collected together,--then an inestimable board!--and never
did her new lover receive from her beautiful lips half so passionate a
kiss as she left on the cheek of her infant.  For some months she enjoyed
with her paramour all for which she had sighed in her home.  The one for
whom she had forsaken her legitimate ties was a person so habitually
cheerful, courteous, and what is ordinarily termed "good-natured" (though
he had in him as much of the essence of selfishness as any nobleman can
decently have), that he continued gallant to her without an effort long
after he had begun to think it possible to tire even of so lovely a face.
Yet there were moments when the fickle wife recalled her husband with
regret, and contrasting him with her seducer, did not find all the
colourings of the contrast flattering to the latter.  There is something
in a powerful and marked character which women and all weak natures feel
themselves constrained to respect; and Welford's character thus stood in
bold and therefore advantageous though gloomy relief when opposed to the
levities and foibles of this guilty woman's present adorer.  However this
be, the die was cast; and it would have been policy for the lady to have
made the best of her present game.  But she who had murmured as a wife
was not complaisant as a mistress.  Reproaches made an interlude to
caresses, which the noble lover by no means admired.  He was not a man to
retort, he was too indolent; but neither was he one to forbear.  "My
charming friend," said he one day, after a scene, "you weary of me,--
nothing more natural!  Why torment each other?  You say I have ruined
you; my sweet friend, let me make you reparation.  Become independent;
I will settle an annuity upon you; fly me,--seek happiness elsewhere,
and leave your unfortunate, your despairing lover to his fate."

"Do you taunt me, my lord?" cried the angry fair; "or do you believe that
money can replace the rights of which you have robbed me?  Can you make
me again a wife,--a happy, a respected wife?  Do this, my lord, and you
atone to me!"

The nobleman smiled, and shrugged his shoulders.  The lady yet more
angrily repeated her question.  The lover answered by an innuendo, which
at once astonished and doubly enraged her.  She eagerly demanded
explanation; and his lordship, who had gone further than he intended,
left the room.  But his words had sunk deep into the breast of this
unhappy woman, and she resolved to procure an elucidation.  Agreeably to
the policy which stripped the fabled traveller of his cloak, she laid
aside the storm and preferred the sunshine: she watched a moment of
tenderness, turned the opportunity to advantage, and by little and little
she possessed herself of a secret which sickened her with shame, disgust,
and dismay.  Sold!  bartered! the object of a contemptuous huxtering to
the purchaser and the seller, sold, too, with a lie that debased her at
once into an object for whom even pity was mixed with scorn!  Robbed
already of the name and honour of a wife, and transferred as a harlot
from the wearied arms of one leman to the capricious caresses of another!
Such was the image that rose before her; and while it roused at one
moment all her fiercer passions into madness, humbled, with the next, her
vanity into the dust.  She, who knew the ruling passion of Welford, saw
at a glance the object of scorn and derision which she had become to him.
While she imagined herself the betrayer, she had been betrayed; she saw
vividly before her (and shuddered as she saw) her husband's icy smile,
his serpent eye, his features steeped in sarcasm, and all his mocking
soul stamped upon the countenance, whose lightest derision was so
galling.  She turned from this picture, and saw the courtly face of the
purchaser,--his subdued smile at her reproaches,--his latent sneer at her
claims to a station which he had been taught by the arch plotter to
believe she had never possessed.  She saw his early weariness of her
attractions, expressed with respect indeed,--an insulting respect,--but
felt without a scruple of remorse.  She saw in either--as around--only a
reciprocation of contempt.  She was in a web of profound abasement.  Even
that haughty grief of conscience for crime committed to another, which if
it stings humbles not, was swallowed up in a far more agonizing
sensation, to one so vain as the adulteress,--the burning sense of shame
at having herself, while sinning, been the duped and deceived.  Her very
soul was appalled with her humiliation.  The curse of Welford's vengeance
was on her, and it was wreaked to the last!  Whatever kindly sentiment
she might have experienced towards her protector, was swallowed up at
once by this discovery.  She could not endure the thought of meeting the
eye of one who had been the gainer by this ignominious barter; the
foibles and weaknesses of the lover assumed a despicable as well as
hateful dye.  And in feeling _herself_ degraded, she loathed _him_.  The
day after she had made the discovery we have referred to, Mrs. Welford
left the house of her protector, none knew whither.  For two years from
that date, all trace of her history was lost.  At the end of that time
what was Welford?  A man rapidly rising in the world, distinguished at
the Bar, where his first brief had lifted him into notice, commencing a
flattering career in the senate, holding lucrative and honourable
offices, esteemed for the austere rectitude of his moral character,
gathering the golden opinions of all men, as he strode onward to public
reputation.  He had re-assumed his hereditary name; his early history was
unknown; and no one in the obscure and distant town of ------ had ever
guessed that the humble Welford was the William Brandon whose praise was
echoed in so many journals, and whose rising genius was acknowledged by
all.  That asperity, roughness, and gloom which had noted him at ------,
and which, being natural to him, he deigned not to disguise in a station
ungenial to his talents and below his hopes, were now glitteringly
varnished over by an hypocrisy well calculated to aid his ambition.  So
learnedly could this singular man fit himself to others that few among
the great met him as a companion, nor left him without the temper to
become his friend.  Through his noble rival--that is (to make our
reader's "surety doubly sure"), through Lord Mauleverer--he had acquired
his first lucrative office, a certain patronage from government, and his
seat in parliament.  If he had persevered at the Bar rather than given
himself entirely to State intrigues, it was only because his talents were
eminently more calculated to advance him in the former path to honour
than in the latter.  So devoted was he become to public life that he had
only permitted himself to cherish one private source of enjoyment,--his
son.  As no one, not even his brother, knew he had been married (during
the two years of his disguised name, he had been supposed abroad), the
appearance of this son made the only piece of scandal whispered against
the rigid morality of his fair fame; but he himself, waiting his own time
for avowing a legitimate heir, gave out that it was the orphan child of a
dear friend whom he had known abroad; and the puritan demureness not only
of life, but manner, which he assumed, gained a pretty large belief to
the statement.  This son Brandon idolized.  As we have represented
himself to say, ambitious men are commonly fond of their children, beyond
the fondness of other sires.  The perpetual reference which the ambitious
make to posterity is perhaps the main reason.  But Brandon was also fond
of children generally; philoprogenitiveness was a marked trait in his
character, and would seem to belie the hardness and artifice belonging to
that character, were not the same love so frequently noticeable in the
harsh and the artificial.  It seems as if a half-conscious but pleasing
feeling that they too were once gentle and innocent, makes them delight
in reviving any sympathy with their early state.

Often after the applause and labour of the day, Brandon would repair to
his son's chamber and watch his slumber for hours; often before his
morning toil commenced, he would nurse the infant in his arms with all a
woman's natural tenderness and gushing joy; and often, as a graver and
more characteristic sentiment stole over him, he would mentally say,
"You shall build up our broken name on a better foundation than your
sire.  I begin too late in life, and I labour up a painful and stony
road; but I shall make the journey to Fame smooth and accessible for you.
Never, too, while you aspire to honour, shall you steel your heart to
tranquillity.  For you, my child, shall be the joys of home and love, and
a mind that does not sicken at the past, and strain, through mere
forgetfulness, towards a solitary and barren distinction for the future.
Not only what your father gains you shall enjoy, but what has cursed him
his vigilance shall lead you to shun!"

It was thus not only that his softer feelings, but all the better and
nobler ones, which even in the worst and hardest bosom find some root,
turned towards his child, and that the hollow and vicious man promised to
become the affectionate and perhaps the wise parent.

One night Brandon was returning home on foot from a ministerial dinner.
The night was frosty and clear, the hour was late, and his way lay
through the longest and best-lighted streets of the metropolis.  He was,
as usual, buried in thought, when he was suddenly aroused from his revery
by a light touch laid on his arm.  He turned, and saw one of the unhappy
persons who haunt the midnight streets of cities, standing right before
his path.  The gaze of each fell upon the other; and it was thus, for the
first time since they laid their heads on the same pillow, that the
husband met the wife.  The skies were intensely clear, and the lamplight
was bright and calm upon the faces of both.  There was no doubt in the
mind of either.  Suddenly, and with a startled and ghastly consciousuess,
they recognized each other.  The wife staggered, and clung to a post for
support; Brandon's look was calm and unmoved.  The hour that his bitter
and malignant spirit had yearned for was come; his nerves expanded in a
voluptuous calmness, as if to give him a deliberate enjoyment of his hope
fulfilled.  Whatever the words that in that unwitnessed and almost awful
interview passed between them, we may be sure that Brandon spared not one
atom of his power.  The lost and abandoned wife returned home; and all
her nature, embruted as it had become by guilt and vile habits, hardened
into revenge,--that preternatural feeling which may be termed the hope of
despair.

Three nights from that meeting Brandon's house was broken into.  Like the
houses of many legal men, it lay in a dangerous and thinly populated
outskirt of the town, and was easily accessible to robbery.  He was
awakened by a noise; he started, and found himself in the grasp of two
men.  At the foot of the bed stood a female, raising a light; and her
face, haggard with searing passions, and ghastly with the leprous
whiteness of disease and approaching death, glared full upon him.

"It is now my turn," said the female, with a grin of scorn which Brandon
himself might have envied; "you have cursed me, and I return the curse!
You have told me that my child shall never name me but to blush.  Fool!
I triumph over you; you he shall never know to his dying day!  You have
told me that to my child and my child's child (a long transmission of
execration) my name--the name of the wife you basely sold to ruin and to
hell--should be left as a legacy of odium and shame!  Man, you shall
teach that child no further lesson whatever: you shall know not whether
he live or die, or have children to carry on your boasted race; or
whether, if he have, those children be not outcasts of the earth, the
accursed of man and God, the fit offspring of the thing you have made me.
Wretch!  I hurl back on you the denunciation with which, when we met
three nights since, you would have crushed the victim of your own
perfidy.  You shall tread the path of your ambition childless and
objectless and hopeless.  Disease shall set her stamp upon your frame.
The worm shall batten upon your heart.  You shall have honours and enjoy
them not; you shall gain your ambition, and despair; you shall pine for
your son, and find him not; or, if you find him, you shall curse the hour
in which he was born.  Mark me, man,--I am dying while I speak,--I know
that I am a prophet in my curse.  From this hour I am avenged, and you
are my scorn!"

As the hardest natures sink appalled before the stony eye of the maniac,
so, in the dead of the night, pinioned by ruffians, the wild and solemn
voice, sharpened by passion and partial madness, of the ghastly figure
before him curdling through his veins, even the haughty and daring
character of William Brandon quailed!  He uttered not a word.  He was
found the next morning bound by strong cords to his bed.  He spoke not
when he was released, but went in silence to his child's chamber,--the
child was gone!  Several articles of property were also stolen; the
desperate tools the mother had employed worked not perhaps without their
own reward.

We need scarcely add that Brandon set every engine and channel of justice
in motion for the discovery of his son.  All the especial shrewdness and
keenness of his own character, aided by his professional experience, he
employed for years in the same pursuit.  Every research was wholly in
vain; not the remotest vestige towards discovery could be traced until
were found (we have recorded when) some of the articles that had been
stolen.  Fate treasured in her gloomy womb, altogether undescried by man,
the hour and the scene in which the most ardent wish of William Brandon
was to be realized.





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