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Title: The Convict - A Tale
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford)
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.

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THE CONVICT.

A Tale.


BY

G. P. R. JAMES



LONDON:
SIMMS AND M'INTYRE,
PATERNOSTER ROW; AND DONEGALL ST. BELFAST.
1851.



THE CONVICT.



CHAPTER I.


It may be very well in most cases to plunge, according to the rule of
the Latin poet, into the middle of things. It may be very well even,
according to the recommendation of Count Antoine Hamilton, to 'begin
with the beginning.' But there are other cases where there may be
antecedents to the actual story, which require to be known before the
tale itself is rightly comprehended. With this view, then, I will give
one short scene not strictly attached to that which is to follow, ere
I proceed with my history.

In a small high room of the oldest part of St. John's College,
Cambridge, in a warm and glowing day of the early spring, and at about
seven o'clock in the morning, there sat a young man with his cheek
leaning on his hand, and his eyes fixed upon the page of an open book.
There were many others closed and unclosed upon the table around him,
as well as various pieces of paper, traced with every sort of curious
figure which geometrical science ever discovered or measured. The
page, too, on which his eyes were bent, was well nigh as full of
ciphers as of words, and it was evident, from everything around, that
the studies of the tenant of that chamber were of a very abstruse
character.

And yet to gaze at him as he sits there, and to consider attentively
the lines of the face, and the development of the organs of the head,
the physiognomist or phrenologist would, at once pronounce that,
although by no means wanting in any of the powers of mind, that young
man was by nature disposed to seek the pleasures of imagination rather
than the dry and less exciting, though more satisfactory, results of
science. There were some slight indications, too, about his room, of
such tastes and propensities. In a wine-glass, half filled with water,
were some early flowers, so arranged that every hue gained additional
beauty from that with which it was contrasted; a flute and some music
lay upon a distant table; one window, which looked towards the
gardens, and through which came the song of birds and the fragrant
breath of the fresh fields, was thrown wide open; while another, which
looked towards courts and buildings, was closed, and had the curtains
drawn. Nevertheless, had any eye watched him since he rose, it would
have found that from the hour of five he had remained intent upon the
problems before him, suffering not a thought to wander, neither rising
from the table, nor turning his eyes even for a moment to the
worshipped beauty of external nature. The air came in gently from
without, and fanned his cheek, and waved the curls of his dark hair;
the smell of the flowers was wafted to the sense; the song of the bird
sounded melodious in his ear; but not the breeze, nor the odour, nor
the lay called off his attention from the dry and heavy task before
him. His cheek was pale with thought, his fine eyes looked oppressed
with study, though still bright; and the broad expansive brow ached
with the weary labours of many a day and night: labours to which he
saw no end, from which he hardly hoped to obtain any very great
result. Tall and manly in person, with limbs apparently formed for
robust exercises, and a mind fitted for the enjoyment of every refined
and graceful pleasure, he had chained down the body and, I may almost
add, the spirit, to the hard captivity of intense study, in the hope
some day of making himself a great name, and recovering from the grasp
of fortune that wealth and station which had been the inheritance of
his ancestors.

Still he felt weary and sick at heart; still hopeless despondency
would hold him enthralled; and though, with, an unflinching
perseverance, for many a long year he had pursued the same weary
round, he felt that he was fitted for other things, and regretted that
the energies of his nature were doomed to struggle with objects the
most repulsive to his tastes.

There was a knock at the door; not a light and timid tap, but strong
and familiar. Without raising his eyes, however, he said, "Come in,"
and the next instant a gentleman entered, in a black gown and cap. He
was an elderly man, with a somewhat florid and jovial, but upon the
whole, benevolent countenance. His forehead was high, and very broad
over the brows, and there were lines of thought upon it which mingled
somewhat curiously with the cheerful and almost jocular expression of
the lips and eyes. Indeed, he was a man of great eminence in science
and in literature, who, having in early life conquered all the
difficulties of very arduous pursuits, found no longer any trouble in
those tasks which would have startled or overpowered many another man.
and who consequently walked lightly under burdens which had become
familiar, and which had in reality no weight for him, because he had
become accustomed to bear them.

"Well, Edward," he said--the young man was a distant relation of his
own--"still poring and plodding! My dear lad, you must not carry this
too far. You have already done much, very much, and you must take some
thought of health."

The young man rose with a faint smile, and placed a chair for his old
relation. "I have both your example and your precept, my dear sir," he
replied, "for pursuing the course before me without relaxation. You
told me, some four years ago, that before you were as old as I was
then, you had taken high honours at this university. I could only do
so last year; and you have often said that unremitting study in youth
is the only means of winning a title in after years to repose and
enjoyment. Besides, I must study hard to recover lost time, and to fit
myself for the course before me."

"True, true, very true!" rejoined the elder man; "but you have studied
hard for nearly six years now. There was the great fault. You did not
begin early enough; your father should have sent you here full two
years before you came. Let me see: you are now six-and-twenty, and for
any man destined to fight his way in one of the learned professions,
it is never too early to begin to labour."

"But neither my poor father nor myself," replied the young gentleman,
"were at all aware that I should ever have, as you so justly call it,
to fight my way in one of the learned professions, I was then the heir
of six or seven thousand a year; I have now only the income of a
fellowship; and that I could not have obtained had I not been
supported here by your bounty."

"Say nothing of that Edward," replied the other; "neither let us look
back. You have done enough for the present. You have distinguished
yourself here; after the long vacation you will be called to the bar,
and eminence, doubtless, is before you; but still there are a few hard
steps to be taken, which require strength of body as well as powers of
mind, and in your case both mind and body will suffer if you pursue
this course any farther. Come, I have something to propose which I
think will be gratifying to you, and which I know will be good for
you. The friends of a young nobleman, whose father I knew well, have
written to request that I would recommend to them some competent
person to accompany their relation upon a short tour which he is about
immediately to make upon the continent. The terms they propose are
very liberal; the expedition will be a pleasant one; and if you choose
to undertake the task, it will refresh and invigorate you, both
mentally and corporeally. The young man will be of age in the autumn,
and will return about the very time when you are to be called to the
bar. The connexion is a very good one, and few men get on in life
without powerful friends. By both information and character you are
fitted to do justice to the trust reposed in you, and my advice is to
accept the offer without hesitation. You know I would not recommend
anything to you without due consideration of all the circumstances."

The young man paused thoughtfully ere he replied. The temptation was
too strong to be resisted. At the time when all his prospects in life
were blighted he had been preparing to set out, with all the resources
of wealth at his command, upon such a tour as that in which he was now
desired to share. Very different were the circumstances, it is true,
but still the pleasures which he had then anticipated had nought to do
with wealth, except as a means. He had formed no schemes of display,
of luxury, or splendour: he had only thought of visiting scenes rich
in natural beauty and historic recollections; of treading where great
men had trod; of dwelling for a time where great deeds had been
performed; of seeing the face of earth in its most beautiful and its
grandest aspects; and all that was now before him. But yet there was a
certain repugnance to the idea of dependence, to the thought of
linking himself, even for a time, to a being of whose character,
conduct, and views, he knew nothing, and his first reply was doubtful.

"Who is this young lord, my dear sir?" he asked. "I should be very
willing to go, as you judge it right, for, to say the truth, I am very
weary of this life, which only the strong impulse of necessity has
made me follow; but you can easily conceive I should not like the task
of guiding every young man through Europe;" and he added, with a
melancholy smile, "I am not fitted for bear-leading, as you know, and
in this world there are many bears in high places."

"True," replied his relation, with a slightly sarcastic smile, and a
touch of that unextinguishable jealousy which exists between St.
John's and another great college--"true; we see that every day at
Trinity; but this young man is not a bear, nor a bear's cub; or, at
all events, he is well licked. It is young Lord Hadley, whom you must
have seen."

"Oh! I know him well," replied the student, with a well-satisfied
look. "Though not perfection, he is very much better than most young
men of the present day; a little rash, a little given to dissipation,
perhaps, but right at heart, kind and well feeling; too easily led,
but yet, I do believe, always preferring right to wrong."

"As to rashness," replied his companion, "you are rash enough, Ned,
yourself; and as to his being easily led, that will be an advantage
while he is with you. You have that decision of character which he
wants; and will, I am sure, have power to restrain his habits of
dissipation, and supply that firmness, for the time at least, of which
he is destitute. I can see by your face that you are willing to
undertake the task, and, therefore, I shall write in that sense."

Thus saying, he was turning towards the door; but he stopped, after
taking a step or two, and coming back to the table, laid down upon it
a piece of paper, which, with one of those curious tricks whereof most
men have some, he had been twisting first round one finger and then
round another, during the whole time that the conversation lasted.
"You will want a supply for your preparations, my dear lad," he said;
"there is a cheque for a couple of hundred pounds. You can repay me
when you are a judge."

"Indeed I do not want it," answered the other, with a slight glow
coming into his face; "I have quite enough."

"Pooh! nonsense," said the old man; "if you have enough without it,
buy oranges with it." And without waiting for farther discussion, he
left the room.



CHAPTER II.


It was a dark autumnal night, the wind was strong and very fierce,
sweeping along over fields and downs, tearing the branches and the
withering leaves from the trees, and screaming along the rocks and
tall precipitous cliffs upon a high and iron-bound part of the coast
of England. There was no moon in the sky, but from time to time the
sudden glance and disappearance of a star showed how rapidly the dull
gray clouds were hurried over the face of the heavens; and the moaning
of the trees and shrubs, added to the wild whistling of the gale,
showed how it vexed the still, reposing, rooted things of creation in
its harsh fury as it swept through them.

On the summit of one of the most elevated points upon the coast there
was a little indentation, extending from the highest point of the
downs to the edge of the cliff, where it was somewhat lower than at
other places. This little hollow was sheltered from most of the winds
that blew, except when a gale came very nearly due west; and in
consequence of this protection some low scrubby trees had gathered
themselves together, as in a place of refuge, never venturing to raise
their heads above the neighbouring slopes, but spreading out broad and
tolerably strong in the lower part of the dell. From them there was a
footpath extending on either side; on the one, leading to the top of
the precipice, on the other, to the high road, which lay at about half
a mile's distance. The path was little frequented, and the short
mountain grass encroaching upon it here and there, almost obliterated
the track, but in passing towards the top of the cliff it wound in and
out amongst some large stones and rocks, with here and there a
scattered tree overshadowing it as it ran on.

By the side of one of those rocks, on the night of which I speak, and
guarded by it from the direct course of the blast, were seated three
powerful men, each of whom had reached what is called the middle age.
They had a lantern with them; and between the lantern and the road one
of them was seated with his back to the latter, his left shoulder
touching the rock, and his face towards the sea. Thus, no one coming
from the eastward could see the light itself, although, perhaps, a
faint general glimmer could be perceived; but at the same time the
lantern could be distinguished by any one on the sea at the distance
of half a mile or more. Within that distance, the interposing cliff
must have cut it off from the eyes of wanderers upon the wave.

The men were evidently watching for something, and as usually happens
in such moments of expectation, their conversation was broken and
desultory. None of them seemed to be armed, and two of them were
clothed in sailors' jackets, while the third wore a large shaggy great
coat, such as was commonly at that time used by pilots. He was a tall,
strong, good-looking man enough, with a dark complexion, and a skin
apparently well accustomed to exposure in all sorts of weathers, being
rough and florid, and appearing, perhaps, more so than was really the
case, from the glare of the lantern and the contrast of his own gray
hair, as its long curls waved about in the night wind. The others were
ordinary, hard-featured men, with that sort of grave, self-composed
aspect, which is not at all unusual in sailors of all classes: men of
few words and vigorous action, who can perhaps troll a song or crack a
jest with their boon companions, but who are the most opposite
creatures in the world to the sailor of drama or romance. But he in
the rough coat had something about him which could not well be passed
without attention by any one who had even ordinary powers of
observation; and yet it is very difficult to describe what it was, for
as he sat there perfectly still and tranquil, there was nothing, to
all appearance, likely to call for remark. Yet it would have been
difficult for any one to watch him at that moment without feeling that
there was a something impressive in his figure, a dignity of aspect it
may be called, for there is such a thing even in the rudest and least
cultivated.

The wind whistled loud and strong; it was heard rushing and roaring
farther down, and hissing and screaming high above over the bleak tops
of the hills. There was a cheerless, desolate sound about it: a sound
of warning and of woe. Well might the traveller hasten towards his
journey's end, and the weary, houseless wanderer seek the shelter of
shed or out-house, or the warm side, of the farmer's stack. But still
those three men sat there almost motionless. The rock protected them
to a certain degree, but the blast would whirl round the point and
sweep chilling in amongst them. They were very silent, too, and not a
word had been spoken for some ten minutes, when one said to the other,
"It won't do; the wind's getting to the southward, and if it shifts
but one point she can't lay her course."

"We must wait and see," said the man in the rough coat. "I hope they
won't try, if the wind does shift."

"It has shifted already," said the third; "it is coming right over
from the great house."

No reply was made, and they all fell into silence again.

"I hope your people are keeping a good look-out, Master Clive," said
one of the two sailor-looking men, after another long pause. "Didn't I
hear that you had sent your two young men away over to Dorchester?"

"I did it on purpose," replied the other; "but do not you be afraid of
the look-out. It is trusted to one who won't be found wanting."

"It would be awkward if any of them were to pounce upon us," rejoined
the other.

"They might rue it," replied the man in the pilot's coat; and again
the conversation stopped.

About three minutes after, there was heard a loud halloo from the side
of the high-road, and one of the men started up; but the voice of him
they called Clive was heard saying, in a low tone, "Lie close, lie
close! I don't know the tongue; some drunken fool, perhaps, who has
lost his way; but we shall soon see." And at the same time, drawing
the lantern nearer to him, he put his hand into one of the large
pockets of his coat, and pulled out a pistol, which he looked at by
the dull light. The next instant the halloo was repeated, and the cock
of the pistol was heard to click.

"They are coming this way," said one of the sailors; "hadn't we better
dowse the glim, Master Clive?"

"No," replied the other, sternly; "would you have me endanger the boat
and our friends in her, to save myself from a little risk?"

As he spoke, steps were heard coming along the side of the hill, and
the moment after, a voice called aloud, "Is there a person of the name
of Clive there?"

The tone was that of a gentleman: there was no country accent, no
broad pronunciation; and Clive instantly started up, replying, "Yes;
what do you want with me?"

"I am sorry to tell you," said the voice they had heard, "that an
accident has happened to your daughter;" and at the same time a tall,
powerful, and handsome young man advanced towards the light. "It is
not, I trust, very serious," he added, in a kindly tone, as if anxious
to allay the apprehensions which his first words must have produced.
"I am afraid her right arm is broken, but she complains of no other
injury."

The old man put the pistol he had in his hand to the half-cock, and
replaced the weapon in his pocket, gazing in the stranger's face with
a look of apprehension and inquiry, but without making any reply for
some moments.

"Are you telling me the truth, sir?" he said at length.

"I am, indeed," replied the stranger; "I would not deceive you for the
world. A gentleman, with whom I have been travelling, and myself, got
out of the carriage to walk up the hill, and just at the top I saw
something lying near the road, and heard, as I thought, a groan. On
going nearer, I found a girl, partly covered with stones and dirt, and
apparently unable to extricate herself. She said she was not much
hurt, but could not shake off the mass that had fallen upon her, being
unable to use her right arm."

"It's that devil of a wall has fallen upon her," said one of the
sailors. "I knew it would come down some day in the first gale, for it
was all bulging out, and nothing but loose stones at the best."

"Exactly so," said the stranger; "such was the account of the accident
she herself gave; but it would seem that the wall brought part of the
bank with it, which probably prevented the stones from injuring her
more severely."

"Where is she?" demanded Clive, abruptly.

"She is in the carriage, just where the path joins the high road. We
were taking her home as fast as possible, when she asked me to come
down hither, and give you information of what had happened, for she
said it was necessary you should know."

"Ay! she is a dear good girl," said the man, in reply; "she always
thinks of those things; but I must think of her. I will go up with
you, sir. You stay here, lads, and keep a good look out till after the
tide has made; it will be no use staying any longer." And with a quick
step he led the way along the edge of the little basin in the hills,
taking a much shorter path than that which had been followed by his
visitor while seeking him. As he went, he asked a few questions, brief
and abrupt, but to the point; and after every answer, fell back into
thought again. It is probable that apprehension for his child occupied
his mind in those silent pauses, for the heart of affection is never
satisfied with any tale, however true, however circumstantial, when a
beloved object has been injured. We always ask ourselves, 'Is there
not something more?'

At length, as they mounted over the slope, the lighted lamps of a
carriage could be seen on the high road, at a little distance, and in
a moment after--for he now sprang forward eagerly--Clive was by the
side of the vehicle. Two servants, one of whom was dressed in the
costume of a courier, with a gold band round his cap, and a good deal
of black silk braid on his coat, were standing by the side of the
carriage, and one of them immediately threw open the door.

"I am not hurt, dearest father," said a sweet mellow voice, from
within; "that is to say, I am very little hurt. These two gentlemen
have been very kind to me, and would insist upon taking me home,
otherwise I would not have gone away, indeed."

"You would have done very wrong to stay, my child," answered Clive;
"and I thank the gentlemen much for their kindness. Can you walk now,
Helen?"

"She shall not walk a step to night, Mr. Clive," said a young
gentleman, who was sitting in the farther corner of the carriage; "she
is not fit for it; and we will not suffer such a thing. Nay more, I
think it would be very much better for you to get in and take her
home. I and my friend can follow on foot very well. It is but a short
distance, and she has been telling me the way. Here, Müller, open this
door." And before any one could stop him he was out of the carriage.

Clive made some opposition, but he suffered it to be overruled by the
persuasions of the two gentlemen, and in a minute or two was seated by
the side of his daughter, in the handsome travelling carriage which
had brought her thither, and was rolling away towards his own house,
the road to which the postillions seemed to know well. The two young
gentlemen sauntered slowly after on foot, conversing over the accident
which had diversified their journey.

"She seems to me to be exceedingly pretty," said the younger one, who
had been left with her in the carriage, while the other went to seek
Clive.

"Her language and manners, too," rejoined the other, "are very much
superior to her father's apparent station. What in heaven's name could
she be doing out there at this time of night?"

"Perhaps looking for her lover," replied the younger, with a laugh.

"No, no," said his companion; "her own words and her father's will not
admit of such a supposition. I have some doubt as to the trade of the
parties; but she certainly seems very little fitted to take part in
it, if it be what I suspect. Are you sure you know the way?"

"Oh! quite sure," answered the other; "we are to go on till we come to
a finger-post, and then to turn down the lane to the left. That will
lead us to the house, and she says there is no other there."

"The moon is getting up, I think, to guide us," said the elder of the
two young men; and then, after a moment's silence, during which his
thoughts wandered wide, he added, "I dare say we shall be able to get
some information at the house as to this good Master Clive's
avocations. He had a cocked pistol in his hand when I came up, and did
not seem at all well pleased at being disturbed."

In such sort of chat they walked on, the moon rising slowly, and
spreading her silvery light over the scene. Sometimes she was hidden
for a moment by the rushing clouds; but, with the peculiar power of
the soft planet, her beams seemed to absorb the vapours that sought to
obscure them; as calm truth, shining on and growing brighter as it
rises, devours the mists of prejudice and error, with which men's
passions and follies attempt to veil it.

In about a quarter of an hour they reached the finger-post which had
been mentioned, and there found one of the servants waiting to guide
them on the way. By him they were informed that the house was not more
than a quarter of a mile distant; and although one of the young
gentlemen said that it might have been as well to order the carriage
to come back to the high road as soon as it had set the poor girl and
her father down, the other replied that it would be much better to go
and see how she was, as there might be no surgeon in the
neighbourhood, and they might be able to render some assistance.

A minute or two after, the road led them to the brink of a little
dell, narrow, and well wooded, on the other side of which, rising high
above the trees, appeared a tall house, flat, and not very
picturesque, except from its accessories, although the moon was now
shining bright on the only side which the travellers saw. The road,
winding about to avoid the dell, carried them round to the other side
of the building, where they had to pass through a large farm-yard, the
dogs in which recorded in very loud tones their protest against the
admission of any strangers, although an old woman-servant, with a
light shaded by her apron, was waiting at the door to receive the
expected guests.

The place into which they were admitted, was evidently a large
farm-house of a very comfortable description. It might have been in
former times, indeed, the seat of some country gentleman of small
fortune, for the room on the left of the passage in which they
entered, was handsomely wainscoted with oak, each panel of which was
surrounded by a very respectable garland of flowers carved in the
woodwork. There, too, was a little sideboard, partly covered with
china and glass, rather heterogeneous in its parts, and which might
almost have furnished a history of glass ware from the time of the
middle ages downwards. There were tall Venice glasses, cut and gilt
like attar-of-rose bottles. There was the pleasant large claret glass,
so light that it added nothing to the weight of the wine within, with
a white spiral in the stalk, and sundry little stars ground upon the
delicate sides. There was the large goblet, somewhat yellowish in
tinge, rudely and bluntly cut and polished, looking almost like a cup
of rock crystal; and in the centre was an exceedingly beautiful large
chalice, richly gilt and ornamented, very delicate in form. But these
were mingled with things of more common use, some handsome enough in
their kind, but others of a sort usually to be seen in the basket of
an itinerant vender of crockery and decanters.

I might go on farther, describing many other curious little things
which that room contained, for there was a number of them; but I have
gone far enough to give some idea of the place, and have done so not
without thought; for, rightly read, I know few things that give a more
correct indication of the character of particular persons, if they
have any character at all, which is not always the case, than the
objects with which they surround themselves in their familiar
dwellings.

However, the two young gentlemen had hardly time to observe much,
before a door, different from that by which they had entered,
opened, and Clive himself came in. He had laid aside his heavy coat,
and now appeared in the dress of a wealthy farmer; and certainly a
powerful, well-looking, dignified man he was. There was no want of
ease in his manners, though they were not in the least familiar or
self-sufficient. There seemed, indeed, a consciousness of powers
mental and corporeal about him; a reliance upon his own nature, which
left not the slightest touch of embarrassment in his demeanour. He
never seemed to doubt that what he was doing and what he was saying
was right, though without thinking it at all extraordinary or
excellent.

"I am deeply obliged to you, gentlemen, both," he said; "and to you,
sir, in particular;" and he turned to the elder of the two. "My
daughter, thank God! is not much hurt; for though her arm is broken, I
trust we shall get that set speedily."

"I hope you have some surgeon here," said the younger gentleman; "for
whatever is to be done, had better be done at once."

"None nearer than the town, and that is seven miles," replied Clive;
"most unfortunately, too, I have sent both my men to some distance,
but I have ordered one of the girls to go and call up the herd, and
bid him bring the doctor directly."

"Why not send one of the post-boys?" said the young gentleman; "he is
already mounted, and two horses will carry us easily on, for we cannot
have more than two or three miles to go."

The proposal was adopted with many thanks, and the post-boy
accordingly sent on, after which the farmer, for so we must call him,
refrained, with a native sense of propriety, from loading the two
strangers with any further expressions of gratitude; but told them
that his daughter would be glad to see them before they went, to thank
them personally for the service they had rendered her.

"She is in the next room," he said, "and will not be satisfied unless
I bring you there."

There was no great resistance made, for the younger man had a strong
inclination to see whether, in the full light, she was as pretty as
she had seemed; and his companion felt that sort of interest in her
which a fine mind always takes in those on whom some benefit has been
conferred. The room in which she was, adjoined that which they had
first entered, and was fitted up very neatly, though plainly, as a
little sort of drawing-room. The girl herself was seated on a small
chintz-covered sofa, with her right arm supported by a cushion, and
one small foot resting on a stool. She was certainly exceedingly
beautiful, with large dark devoted-looking eyes, and dark eyebrows and
eyelashes, but with hair of a light brown, and an exceedingly fair
skin. A mixture of races seemed apparent in her; for the hair and
complexion of the fair Saxon were blended, yet not inharmoniously,
with the dark eyes of more southern lands. Her hand was small and
delicate, and her form fine, though slight; her dress, too, though
plain, was very good and ladylike; and everything that they saw was
calculated to raise greater surprise in the minds of her visitors that
she should be out alone, apparently watching for something upon the
high road, in a cold autumnal night.

Gracefully, and with much feeling, she thanked the two gentlemen, and
especially the elder, for extricating her from her dangerous and
painful situation, and for the kindness and tenderness which they had
afterwards shown her. The colour varied a good deal in her cheek as
she did so; and having received, in answer to their questions, an
assurance that she suffered very little--and that, from the fact of
the mass of earth which came down with the wall having diminished the
force of the stones, she was uninjured, except inasmuch as her arm was
broken, and her left foot somewhat bruised--they took their leave, and
departed to resume their journey.



CHAPTER III.


There was a small party assembled at a large country house not above
three miles, by the high road, from the spot where the last events
which I have recorded took place. It was a very extensive and very
old-fashioned brick building. Old-fashioned! It is a curious term. The
house was little more than a century old; a father might have seen it
built, and a son might have heard it called old-fashioned, for the
savour of earthly things passes away so rapidly, that what our parents
considered the perfection of skill and convenience, we hold to be but
a rude effort towards our own excellence. Yet they were very
convenient buildings, those old houses of the reigns of George the
First and George the Second; solid in their walls, large and yet
secure in their windows, high in their ceilings, broad and low in
their staircases, many in their rooms, and strong in their partitions.
There was little lath and plaster about them, little tinsel and bright
colouring; but there was a sober and a solid grandeur, a looking for
comfort rather than finery, of durability rather than cheapness, which
made them pleasant to live in, and makes them so even to the present
day.

Nothing that tended to comfort was wanting in that house; its solidity
seemed to set at defiance wind, and storm, and time; and its wide
grates laughed in the face of frost and cold, and bade them get forth,
for they could have no abiding there. Turkey carpets covered most of
the floors, even of those rooms which, by a law of the Draco-like
dictator, Fashion, are condemned to bear that sort of carpet called
Brussels, although the town which has given it name probably never in
the world's history produced a rood thereof. The Turks, when they made
them, must have marvelled much at what the Christian dogs could want
with such large carpets; for the one in the room where the party was
assembled--which was called the drawing-room, although it was lined
with books--could not have been less than forty feet in length, by
thirty in breadth, and yet there was a margin between it and the
book-cases. There were four windows on one side of the room, as one
looked towards which there was a door on the right hand leading into
the library, a door on the left leading into the dining-room, and
opposite the windows was another door, which opened into a large
vestibule, separated from a stone hall by a screen filled up with
glass.

In one of the two fire-places which the room contained was a large
blazing fire of wood, and near it was seated in an arm-chair, reading
a book, a very gentlemanly and well-dressed man, a good deal past the
middle age, with his feet, warming themselves at the blaze, crossed
and elevated upon a low stool. The other fire-place was not so well
attended to, but, nevertheless, it was glowing with a tolerable degree
of brightness, and near it were seated two young people, amusing
themselves, as best they might, during an evening which expectation
had rendered somewhat tedious. Sometimes they played at chess
together, and laughed and wrangled good-humouredly enough; sometimes
the one read and the other wrote; sometimes the one drew and the other
read; sometimes they talked in low tones, and laughed gaily as they
conversed. They were very nearly of an age, that is to say, there was
not quite two years' difference between them, but those two years had
been so allotted, as, considering their sexes, to make the difference
of five or six. The lady was the elder of the two. She was very nearly
approaching one-and-twenty, while the young man was a few months
beyond nineteen. They seemed fond of each other, but it was with a
fraternal sort of fondness, although they were not brother and sister;
and yet, for the young man at least, their near propinquity, and
constant communication, had it not been for other circumstances, might
have proved dangerous, for certainly a lovelier or more engaging
creature has seldom been seen than her with whom he then sat in the
unchecked familiarity of near relationship. She was the very opposite,
in personal appearance at least, of the girl we have lately spoken of.
Her hair could hardly be called black, for in certain lights there was
a gleam of rich brown in it, but her eyebrows and eyelashes were as
dark as night, and her complexion, though by no means brown in itself,
and tinged in the cheeks with the rose, was of that shade which
usually accompanies black hair; but her blue eyes were blue; deep
blue, it is true; so much so, that what with the jetty fringe that
surrounded them, and their own depth of hue, many a person thought
that they were black. Yet they were blue--very blue; of the colour of
an Italian sky when the sun has just gone down beyond the highest
hill, and left it full of depth and lustre. In height she was
certainly taller than the Venus de Medici; but yet she did not strike
one as tall, whether it was from the great symmetry of her figure or
some peculiarity in the proportions. But that which most attracted an
observer, and especially those who knew her well, was a sparkling
variety in the expression of her countenance, and a similar variety in
the grace of her movements. When she was reading, or thinking, or
writing, or singing, there was an earnestness, a deep tranquillity in
her aspect, which would have made one suppose her a being of a very
meditative and almost grave disposition; but in conversation, and on
all ordinary occasions, the look was quite different; gay, sparkling,
flashing with cheerfulness and spirit. When she sat still, the lines
of her form fell with such easy grace, and seemed so full of tranquil
beauty, that any one might have thought that the predominant character
was calm repose; but when she moved, especially under any immediate
excitement, the light elasticity of every motion changed her at once
into a different creature.

Her young companion was very different in every respect. Of a fair and
almost feminine complexion, his light hair waved gracefully over a
fine high brow, his blue eyes were soft and kindly-looking, and his
lips and nose, chiselled with the utmost delicacy, would have suited a
woman's face better than a man's. No beard or whiskers as yet gave
anything masculine to his countenance, and his slight figure and soft
satiny skin made him look still younger than he really was. To look
upon him, one would not have supposed that he had seen more than
sixteen years of age; and yet under that fair and delicate form there
were many strong and generous impulses, firm and resolute purposes,
and even a daring spirit, mingled strangely enough with a tenderness
and devotedness seldom found in the grown and experienced man, and a
degree of simplicity not at all approaching weakness, but depending
upon youth and inexperience.

"I care nothing about it, Edgar," said the lady, in a low tone, in
answer to something which the other had said; "he may come and go
whenever he pleases, without my ever giving the matter two thoughts.
You cannot tease me, cousin, for it is a matter of no interest to me,
I can assure you."

"I know better, little heretic," replied her young companion; "you
would fain have me believe, Eda, that you are as cold as ice, but I
know better. We shall see the fire kindled some day."

"Very likely," said the lady, with a smile; "but you know, Edgar, that
even that curious black stone, which seems to have been especially
given to England for the purpose of drying and warming our damp, cold
climate, smoking our ceilings and dirtying our hands, is as cold as
ice, too, till it is kindled."

"But there may be such things as concealed fires, fair cousin,"
retorted the young man, with a laugh.

The lady's cheek coloured a little, but she instantly changed the
defence into an attack, saying, almost in a whisper, and with a glance
to the gentleman reading by the fire, "I know there are, Edgar. Take
care, you bold boy, take care; for if you make war upon me, I shall
carry it into your own country."

The young man glanced hastily round him, in the same direction which
her eyes had before taken, and his cheek blushed like that of a young
girl at the first kiss of love. The lady saw that she had not missed
her mark, and maliciously sent another shaft after the first. "Where
were you this morning at eight o'clock?" she said, in the same subdued
tone; "and yesterday, and the morning before? Ah, Master Edgar! do not
jest with edged tools, or at least, learn how to use them better, or
you will cut your fingers, dear boy!"

"Hush, hush!" said the young man, in a low voice, and evidently a good
deal agitated; "let us make peace, Eda."

"You began hostilities," replied the lady, satisfied that she had got
that command of her young companion which ladies do not at all
dislike, and by that very means which they are fondest of
employing--the possession of a secret.

Almost at the same moment in which she spoke, the older gentleman by
the fire laid his book upon his knee, and pulled his watch out of his
pocket. "Very extraordinary!" he said, turning round his head; "it is
nearly ten o'clock; I am glad we dined. You see, Eda, there is no
counting upon the motions of young men."

"Especially, my dear uncle," replied the lady, "when combined with bad
roads, bad horses, and high hills. I will answer for it, when Lord
Hadley does come, you will have long tales of broken-down hacks,
together with abuse of lazy postillions and slow ostlers. But hark!
here he comes, or some carriage, at least, for carts are quiet at this
time of night."

"And don't dash along the avenue at such a rate," said her cousin
Edgar; "it is certainly the ship in sight, and we shall soon see the
freight."

The two gentlemen looked towards the door and listened, the lady
calmly pursued the task which occupied her, copying some music from a
sheet of embossed and pink-edged paper; and one of those little
intervals succeeded which take place between the arrival at the door
and the appearance in the drawing-room of an expected guest. It lasted
a minute, or a minute and a half, for there seemed to be some orders
to be given in the passage, and some questions to be asked; and then
the door of the room opened, and a servant, in a well-laced jacket,
announced "Lord Hadley," and "Mr. Dudley."

Had any eye watched the lady's countenance, they would certainly have
thought that some strong emotion was busy in her heart at that moment,
for her cheek first turned very pale, and then glowed warmly; but
it might also have been remarked that it was not at the first name
that the varying hue became apparent. The second name produced the
change, and, at the same time, the pen in her hand dropped upon the
music-paper, and blotted out the note she had just been tracing.

At the name of Mr. Dudley, too, an alteration of aspect took place in
her uncle, but it was momentary; his brow contracted, his face turned
pale, but immediately a placable look returned, and with a courteous
smile he advanced to meet the two gentlemen who entered. They were the
same whom we have seen upon the road, and in the house of Mr. Clive.
The second of the two, also, I must remark, not to give the reader the
trouble of turning back, was the student to whose room at Cambridge I
first introduced him.

Lord Hadley, a young, slight, fashionable man, with a good deal of
light hair always in high gloss and beautiful order, and a profusion
of whisker nicely curled, advanced at once towards the elder
gentleman, and shook him heartily by the hand, calling him Sir Arthur
Adelon. He then extended his hand to the young gentleman, whom he
seemed to know well also, giving as he did so, a glance, but not one
of recognition, towards the face of the lady. Sir Arthur instantly
touched his arm gently, and led him up to her, saying, "Eda, my dear,
let me introduce to you my friend, Lord Hadley--Lord Hadley, my niece,
Miss Brandon."

Lord Hadley bowed, and the lady curtsied gravely; but there was
evidently no emotion upon her part, at the introduction. In the mean
time, Mr. Dudley had remained in the most unpleasant occupation in the
world, that of doing nothing while other people are taken notice of. A
moment after, however, Sir Arthur Adelon turned towards him, and with
a courteous though somewhat formal how, said, "I am very happy to see
you, Mr. Dudley; allow me to introduce you to my son and my niece."

"I have already the pleasure of Miss Brandon's acquaintance," said the
tutor; and advancing towards her, he shook hands with her warmly. If
she really felt any strong emotions at that moment, she concealed them
well; and Mr. Dudley, turning again towards the baronet, finished with
graceful ease what he had been saying. "I was not at all aware, Sir
Arthur, that Miss Brandon was your niece, or it would have added
greatly to the pleasure I had in accompanying Lord Hadley, which
pleasure is more than perhaps you know, for it affords me the
opportunity of expressing my gratitude to an old friend and benefactor
of my poor father."

The gentleman to whom he spoke was evidently embarrassed from some
cause, though what that was did not fully appear. His face again
turned somewhat pale, and he hesitated in his reply. "Oh! really!" he
said; "then you are the son of Mr. Dudley of St. Austin's? Well, I am
very happy, indeed, to see you;" and he shook hands with him, but it
was not warmly, adding, as he did so, "but you are late, gentlemen. We
waited dinner for you an hour, and had even given up the hope of
seeing you to-night."

"I am really very sorry we detained you," replied Lord Hadley; "but we
have had two adventures, or rather, one impediment and one adventure.
First, at Dorchester, we found all the post-horses gone to some
review, or races, or archery-meeting, or one of those many tiresome
things, I don't well know what, which take post-horses away from the
places where they ought to be; and then, not far from this place, we
found a young lady who had contrived to get herself nearly crushed to
death under a wall, which had fallen, and carried a whole bank of
earth along with it."

Instant exclamations of surprise and interest followed; and the young
nobleman, who did not dislike attracting a little attention, proceeded
with his tale. After describing the spot where they discovered the
poor girl, he proceeded, in a frank, dashing way, to say, "She owes
her life, in truth, to my friend Dudley; for I, with my usual
thoughtlessness, was going to draw her from under the rubbish that had
fallen upon her as fast as I could; but he stopped me, showing me that
if I attempted it, I should bring down the whole of the rest of the
stones; and then he set to work, as if he had been bred an engineer,
and secured her against any fresh accident in the first place. She was
not so much hurt as might have been expected, though, I am sorry to
say, her poor little arm was broken."

On the old gentleman the tale had produced little impression; in Eda
Brandon it had excited feelings of compassion and interest; but it had
affected young Edgar Adelon very much more perceptibly. Luckily, no
one was looking at him; and he had not voice to attract any attention
towards himself by asking even a single question, though there was one
he would have given worlds to put.

"But what did you do with her?" demanded Eda Brandon, eagerly. "You
should have brought her on here, if the place was not far distant; we
could easily have sent for a surgeon, and we would have taken good
care of her."

"We knew neither the way nor the distance, Miss Brandon," said Mr.
Dudley; "but we did what was probably the best under any
circumstances. We took her to her father's house, and Lord Hadley
kindly sent on one of the post-boys to seek for some one to set her
arm."

"It is doubtless Helen Clive he speaks of," said a voice just behind
Mr. Dudley; so peculiar in its tones, so low, so distinct, so silvery,
that no one who heard it once could ever forget it.

Dudley turned quickly round, and beheld a middle-aged man, dressed in
a long, straight-cut black coat, with a black handkerchief round his
neck, and no shirt-collar apparent. His beard was closely shaved, and
looked blue through the pale skin. His eyes were fine, the brow large
and fully developed, but the mouth small and pinched, as if that
feature, which, together with the eyebrow, is more treacherous in its
expression of the passions than any other, was under strong and
habitual command. He stooped a little from the shoulders, either from
weakness or custom, and indeed he seemed by no means a strong man in
frame; but yet there was something firm and resolute in his aspect; a
look of conscious power, as if he had been seldom frustrated in life.
The gray eyebrow, too, hanging over the dark eye, and seeming to veil
its fire, gave an expression of inquiring perspicacity to the whole
face, which impressed one more with the idea of intelligence than of
sincerity. No one had seen or heard him enter, except, indeed, Sir
Arthur Adelon, whose face was towards the door, but yet he had been
standing close to the rest of the party for two or three minutes
before attention was attracted to himself by the words he uttered.

Lord Hadley turned, as well as his tutor, and looked at the new-comer
with some curiosity. "Yes," he replied, "her name was Clive, and I
think the old gentleman called her Helen."

"If her name was Clive," rejoined the man whom he had addressed, "it
was assuredly Helen Clive; for there is but one Mr. Clive in this
neighbourhood, and he has but one child."

"Really, sir, I am delighted to find you know so much about him," said
Lord Hadley; "for both he and his daughter, to tell you the truth,
have excited in me a good deal of interest and curiosity."

"Why?" was the stranger's brief question; and it was put in a somewhat
dry and unpleasant tone.

"Oh! simply because we found that she had been out upon the high road
at nine o'clock at night, sitting under an uncemented stone wall,
watching for something or somebody," was the first part of Lord
Hadley's reply, for he thought the stranger's tone rather impertinent.
"So much for my curiosity," he continued. "Then, as for my interest:
in the first place, my dear sir, she was exceedingly pretty; in the
next place, wonderfully ladylike, considering the circumstances in
which we found her; then, she had broken her arm, which, though
perhaps not as poetical as some other accidents, was enough to create
some sympathy, surely; and moreover, Dudley found her father sitting
upon the top of the cliff, looking over the sea, with a cocked pistol
in his hand."

"As to her beauty," replied the stranger, "with that I have nothing to
do. The interest you feel is undoubtedly worthy and well-deserved; and
as to the wonder, sir, you may depend upon it, that whatever Helen
Clive was doing, she had good reason for doing, and motives which, if
she chose to explain them, would quiet your surprise very speedily."

Mr. Dudley, who had taken no part in the conversation, smiled slightly
to hear a perfect stranger to Lord Hadley assume at once that tone of
calm superiority which he knew was likely to be most impressive with
his pupil.

The young nobleman was about to reply, however, when Sir Arthur Adelon
interposed, saying, "My lord, I should have introduced to you before
now our friend, the Reverend Mr. Filmer--Mr. Filmer, Lord Hadley." The
young lord bowed, and the other gentleman advanced a step, when, as he
passed, Mr. Dudley perceived that a small spot, about the size of a
crown piece, on the top of his head, was shaved, and recognising at
once the Roman Catholic priest, he gained with rapid combination some
insight into several things which had before been obscure.

The priest's manner softened. In a few moments he, with Lord Hadley
and their host, were in full conversation. With timid hesitation young
Edgar Adelon drew near and joined them; and Dudley, approaching the
table near which Miss Brandon was still standing, spoke a few words
with her in perhaps a lower tone than is quite customary on ordinary
occasions. They neither of them knew that they were speaking low; but
the emotions of the heart have immense mastery over the tones of the
voice; and though the words that they uttered were little more than
commonplace sentences of surprise and pleasure at their unexpected
meeting, of question and explanation of what had occurred to each
since they had last seen each other, they were certainly both a good
deal moved by the unspoken eloquence of the heart. In a short time,
just as Lord Hadley was about to retire to his room to put his dress
in order, supper was announced, and postponing his toilet, he offered
his arm to Miss Brandon, and led her into the adjacent room. Sir
Arthur Adelon and Mr. Dudley followed, and the priest lingered for a
moment or two behind, speaking to the baronet's son, and then entered
the supper-room with a quick step. He then blessed the meal with every
appearance of devotion; and Dudley's eye, which was marking much,
perceived that Sir Arthur and his son made the sign of the cross, but
that Eda Brandon forbore; and he was glad to see it.

The meal became very cheerful: as it went on, the first strangeness of
new arrival wore off with the two guests. Jest and gaiety succeeded to
more serious discourse, and topic after topic was brought forward and
cast away again with that easy lightness which gives a great charm to
conversation. The master of the house was somewhat stiff and stately,
it is true; but the three young men did not suffer his dignified air
to chill them. The priest was a man of great and very various
information, had seen, studied, and penetrated not only all the
ordinary aspects of society, but the hearts and spirits of thousands
of individuals. There was not a subject that he could not talk upon,
whether gay or grave; from the green-room of the theatre or
opera-house, to the cabinets of statesmen and the saloons of monarchs.
His conversation was graceful, easy, flowing, and becoming; and
although there was a point of sarcastic wit in it which gave it, in
the opinion of Dudley, almost too great a piquancy, yet when that
gentleman recollected what had been said, he could not find one word
that was unfitted to the character of a well-bred man and a priest. It
was all so quietly done too: the stinging gibe, the light and flashing
jest, that the young tutor sometimes thought the whole must have
received point and peculiar application from the manner; but yet he
could not recollect emphasis laid upon any word; and he carried away
from that table, when he retired to rest at night, much matter for
thought upon all that he had seen, and many a deep feeling re-awakened
in his heart, which he had hoped and trusted had been laid asleep by
the power of reason, and the struggle of a strong mind against a warm
and enthusiastic heart.



CHAPTER IV.


The wind had blown away the clouds which lay so heavy on the sky
the night before. The morning rose bright and sparkling, with a
brisk gale stirring the air, and a clear, fresh, frosty look over
the whole earth. At an early hour--for matutinal habits had become
inveterate--Mr. Dudley rose, and going to the window, gazed out upon a
scene of which he had been able to discover little at the dark hour
of his arrival.

I will not pause to describe all that he beheld, for the public taste
is as capricious in matters of composition as in regard to mere dress;
and the detailed description of scenery, the pictures with the pen,
which please much at one time, weary at another. It is a railroad age,
too: all the world is anxious to get on, and we hurry past
remorselessly all the finer traits of mind and character which were
objects of thought and study to our ancestors, just as the traveller,
in the long screaming, groaning, smoking train, is hurried past those
sweet and beautiful spots in which the contemplative man of former
days was accustomed to pause and ponder.

On one small portion of the landscape, however, I must dwell, for I
shall have to speak of it presently, and must recur to it more than
once hereafter. The house was situated in an extensive park; and a
long avenue of beech trees, not perfectly straight, but sweeping with
a graceful curve over the undulations of the ground, led down to the
park gates and to the lodge. At a short distance from that lodge, a
little thicket of wood joined on to the avenue, and ran along in
irregular masses till it reached the park wall: and these objects, the
avenue, the wavy green slopes of the park, the thicket beyond, and the
top of the park wall, were those upon which Mr. Dudley's eye first
rested. Beyond the limits of the park, again, in the same direction,
he caught a glimpse of a varied country, apparently tolerably fertile
and well-cultivated, close to the park, but growing rapidly wilder and
more rude, as it extended into some high and towering downs, which
Dudley conceived to be those he had traversed the night before.

As the reader well knows, some kinds of beech tree retain their leaves
longer than almost any other tree or shrub, except the tribe of
evergreens; and even through frost, and wind, and rain, they hang
yellow upon the wintry boughs, till the coming of the new green buds,
like ambitious children, forces their predecessors down to the earth.
The avenue was thus thickly covered, so that any one might have walked
there long unseen from most parts of the house or park. But when Lord
Hadley, on his way back to London from the Continent, had accepted a
kind, though not altogether disinterested invitation to Brandon--for
so the place was called--he had merely mentioned that his tutor was
with him, and to the tutor had been assigned a room considerably
higher in the house than the apartments of more lordly guests. Dudley
did not feel at all displeased that it should be so; and now as he
looked forth, he had a bird's-eye view, as it were, of the avenue, and
a fine prospect over the distant country. Thus he was well contented;
and as he had been informed that the family did not meet at breakfast
till half-past nine, and it was then little more than six, he
determined to dress himself at once, and roam for an hour or two
through the park, and perhaps extend his excursion somewhat beyond its
walls.

One of the first operations in a man's toilet--I say it for the
benefit of ladies, who cannot be supposed to know the mysteries
thereof--is to shave himself; and an exceedingly disagreeable
operation it is. I know not by what barbarous crotchet it has happened
that men have tried to render their faces effeminate, by taking off an
ornament and a distinction with which nature decorated them; but so it
is, that men every morning doom themselves to a quarter of an hour's
torture, for the express purpose of making their chins look smug,
and as unlike the grown man of God's creation as possible. Dudley's
beard was thick and black, and required a good deal of shaving. He
therefore opened a very handsome dressing-case--it was one which had
been a gift to him in his days of prosperity; and taking out a
small finely-polished mirror, he fastened it--for the sake of
more light than he could obtain at the looking-glass on the
toilet-table--against the left-hand window of the room; then with a
little Naples soap, brought by himself from the city of the syren, a
soft badger's-hair brush and cold water--for he did not choose to ring
the servants up at that early hour of the morning--he set to work upon
as handsome a face as probably had ever been seen. The brush and the
soap both being good, he produced a strong lather, notwithstanding the
cold water; and turning to put down the brush and take up the razor,
which he had laid down on a little table in the window, his eyes
naturally fell upon that part of the park grounds beneath him, where
the avenue terminated close to the house. As they did so, they rested
upon a human figure passing rapidly from the mansion to the shade of
the beech trees; and Dudley instantly recognised Edgar Adelon, the son
of his host. There was nothing very extraordinary in the sight; but
Dudley was a meditative man by habit, and while he reaped the sturdy
harvest of his chin, he went on thinking of Edgar Adelon, his
appearance, his character, his conversation; and then his mind turned
from the youth to another subject, near which it had been fluttering a
great deal both that morning and the night before, and settled upon
Eda Brandon. Whatever was the course of his meditations, it produced a
sigh, which is sometimes like a barrier across a dangerous road,
giving warning not to proceed any further in that direction.

He then gazed out of the window again, and following with his eyes the
course of the avenue, he once more caught sight of the young
gentleman, he had just seen, hurrying on as fast as he could go. He
had no gun with him, no dogs; and a slight degree of curiosity was
excited in the tutor's mind, which he would have laughed at had it
been anything but very slight. Shortly after, he lost sight of the
figure, which, as it seemed to him, entered the thicket on the right
hand of the avenue; and Dudley thought to himself, "Poor youth! he
seemed, last night, though brilliant and imaginative enough at times,
sadly absent, and even sad at others. He is gone, perhaps, to meditate
over his love; ay, he knows not how many more pangs may be in store
for him, or what may be the dark turn of fate near at hand. I was once
as prosperous and as fair-fortuned as himself, and now--"

He would not go on, for it was a part of his philosophy--and it was a
high-minded one--never to repine. As he passed to and fro, however, in
the room, he looked from time to time out of the window again; and
just as he was putting on his coat, he suddenly saw a figure emerge
from the thicket where it approached closest to the park wall, beheld
it climb easily over the boundary, as if by a stile or ladder, and
disappear. At that distance, he could not distinguish whether the
person he saw was Edgar Adelon or not; but he thought the whole
man[oe]uvre strange, and was meditating over it, with his face turned
to the window, when he heard a knock at his door, and saying, "Come
in," was visited by the Reverend Mr. Filmer.

The priest advanced with a calm, gentlemanly smile and quiet step,
saying, "I heard you moving in your room, Mr. Dudley, which adjoins
mine, and came in to wish you good morning, and to say that if I can
be of any service in pointing out to you the objects of interest in
this neighbourhood, of which there are several, I shall be most happy.
Also in my room I have a very good, though not very extensive,
collection of books, some of great rarity; and though I suppose we are
priests of different churches, you are too much a man of the world, I
am sure, to suffer that circumstance to cause any estrangement between
us."

"It could cause none, my dear sir," replied Dudley, "even if your
supposition were correct; but I am not an ecclesiastic, and I can
assure you I view your church with anything but feelings of bigotry;
and, indeed, regret much that the somewhat too strict definitions of
the Council of Trent have placed a barrier between the two churches
which cannot be overleaped."

"Strict definitions are very bad things," said the priest; "they are
even contrary to the order of nature. In it there are no harsh lines
of division, but every class of beings in existence, all objects, all
tones, glide gradually into each other, softened off, as if to show us
that there is no harshness in God's own works. It is man makes
divisions, and bars himself out from his fellow men."

Dudley did not dislike the illustration of his new acquaintance's
views; but he remarked that he did not touch upon any definite point,
but kept to generals; and having no inclination himself for religious
discussions, he thanked Mr. Filmer again for his kindness, and asked
him if there were any objects of particular interest within the limits
of a walk before breakfast.

"One which for me has much interest," replied the priest: "the ruins
of a priory, and of the church once attached to it, which lie just
beyond the park walls. I am ready to be your conductor this moment, if
you please."

Dudley expressed his willingness to go; Mr. Filmer got his hat, and in
a few minutes they issued forth into the fresh air.

Taking their way to the right, they left the avenue of trees upon the
other hand; and, by a well-worn path over the grassy slopes of the
park, they soon reached the wall, over which they passed by a stone
style, and then descended a few hundred yards into a little wooded
dell, with a very bright but narrow stream running through it. A
well-trimmed path, through the copse brought them, at the end of five
minutes more to an open space bosomed in the wood, where stood the
ruin. It was a fine specimen, though much decayed, of that style of
architecture which is called Norman; a number of round arches, and
deep, exquisitely chiselled mouldings, were still in good
preservation; and pausing from time to time to look and admire, Dudley
was led on by his companion to what had been the principal door of the
church, the tympanum over which was quite perfect. It was highly
enriched with rude figures; and the tutor gazed at it for some time in
silence, trying to make out what the different personages represented
could be about. Mr. Filmer suffered him, with a slight smile, to
contemplate it uninterruptedly for some time; but at length he said,
"It is a very curious piece of sculpture that. If you remark, on the
right-hand side there is represented a hunt, with the deer flying
before the hounds, and a number of armed men on horseback following.
Then in the next compartment you see dogs and men again, and a man
lying transfixed by a javelin."

"But the third is quite a different subject," said Dudley: "a woman,
seemingly singing and playing on a harp, with a number of cherubim
round her, and an angel holding a phial; and the fourth compartment is
different also, showing two principal figures embracing in the midst
of several others, apparently mere spectators."

"It is, nevertheless, all one story," said the priest; "and is, in
fact, the history of the foundation of this church and priory, though
connected with a curious legend attached to three families in this
neighbourhood, of each of which you know something. I will tell it to
you as we return; but first let us go round to the other side, where
there is a fragment of a very beautiful window."

Dudley was not content without exploring the whole of the ruin; but
when that was done they turned back towards the park again, and Mr.
Filmer began his tale:--

"Nearly where the existing house stands," he said, "stood formerly
Brandon Castle, the lord of which, it would appear, was a rash,
impetuous man, given much to those rude sports which, in the intervals
of war, were the chief occupations of our old nobility. In the
neighbourhood there was a family of knightly rank, of the name of
Clive, the head of which, in the wars of Stephen and Matilda, had
saved the life of the neighbouring baron, and became his dearest,
though comparatively humble friend. The lord of Brandon, though not
altogether what may be called an irreligious man, was notorious for
scoffing at the church and somewhat maltreating ecclesiastics. He had
conceived a passion for a lady named Eda Adelon, the heiress of some
large estates at the distance of about thirty miles from this place,
and had obtained a promise of her hand; but upon one occasion, he gave
her so great offence in regard to an abbey which she had aided
principally in founding, that she refused to ratify the engagement,
and entered into the sisterhood herself, telling him that the time
would come when he, too, would found monasteries, and perhaps have
recourse to her prayers. Five or six years passed afterwards, and the
baron himself, always irascible and vehement, became more so from the
disappointment he had undergone. The only person who seemed to have
any power over him, and that was the power which a gentle mind
sometimes exercises upon a violent one, was his companion, the young
Sir William Clive. Hunting was, as I have said, his favourite
amusement; and on one occasion he had pursued a stag for miles through
the country, always baffled by the swiftness and cunning of the beast.
He had thrown a number of javelins at it, always believing he was sure
of his mark; but still the beast reappeared unwounded, till at length
it took its way down the very glen where Brandon Priory stands, and
then entered the thicket, just as the baron was close upon its track.
Fearing to lose it again, he threw another spear with angry vehemence,
exclaiming, with a fearful oath, 'I will kill something this time!' A
faint cry immediately followed, and the next instant Sir William Clive
staggered forth from the wood, transfixed by his friend's javelin, and
fell, to all appearance dying, at the feet of the baron's horse. You
have now the explanation of the first two compartments; I will proceed
to give you that of the two others. The great lord was half frantic at
the deed that he had done; the wounded man was taken up and carried to
the castle; skilful leeches were sent for, but employed their art in
vain; the young knight lay speechless, senseless, with no sign of life
but an occasional deep-drawn breath and a slight fluttering of the
heart. At length one of the chirurgeons, who was an ecclesiastic,
ventured to say, 'I know no one who can save him, if it be not the
Abbess Eda.' Now, Eda Adelon had by this time acquired the reputation
of the highest sanctity, and she was even reported to have worked
miracles in the cure of the sick and the infirm. Filled with anguish
for his friend, and remorse for what he had done, the baron instantly
mounted his horse, and rode, without drawing a rein, to the abbey,
where he was admitted to the presence of the abbess, and casting
himself upon his knees before her, told the tale of his misadventure.
'Kneel to God, and not to me, Lord Brandon,' said the abbess; 'humble
your heart, and pray to the Almighty. Perchance he will have
compassion on you.'

"'Pray for me,' said the baron; 'and if your prayers are successful,
Eda, I vow by Our Lady and all the saints, to lead a new and altered
life for the future, and to found a priory where my poor friend fell,
and there twelve holy men shall day and night say masses in
commemoration of the mercy shown to me.'

"'I will pray for you,' replied the abbess; 'wait here awhile;
perchance I may return with good tidings.'

"While left alone the baron heard a strain of the most beautiful and
solemn music, and the exquisite voice of the Abbess Eda singing an
anthem; and at the end of about an hour she returned to him, carrying
a phial of precious medicine, which she directed him to give to his
friend as soon as he reached his castle. The legend goes that the
phial had been brought down to her by an angel, in answer to her
prayers; but certain it is, the moment the medicine was administered
to the wounded man his recovery commenced, and he was soon quite
restored to health. The baron did not forget his vow, but built the
priory where you have seen the ruins; and in commemoration of the
event caused the tympanum you have examined to be chiselled by a
skilful mason. We find, moreover, that he bestowed the hand of his
only sister upon the young Sir William Clive; and the malicious folks
of the day did not scruple to affirm that the young lady had been
walking in the wood with the gallant knight at the very moment when he
received the wound."

The priest ended with a quiet smile, and Dudley replied with that sort
of interest which an imaginative man always takes in a legend of this
kind, "I do not wonder that where there are such tales connected with
a family, it clings to the old faith with which they are bound up, in
spite of all the changes that go on around."

"Alas! in this instance, my dear sir," replied the priest, "such has
not been the case. The Adelons and the Clives, it is true, have
remained attached to the church; the Brandons have long abandoned her.
Even this fair girl, Sir Arthur's niece, has been brought up in your
religion;" he paused a moment, and then added, with a sigh, "and
continues in it."

Dudley could not say that he was sorry to hear it; but he was spared
the necessity of making any reply by the approach of another person,
in whom he instantly recognised the father of the girl whom he had
aided to rescue from extreme peril the evening before. "Ah! Mr.
Clive," he said, as the other drew near, "I am very happy to see you;
I should have come down during the morning to inquire after your
daughter. I trust that she has not suffered much, and that you got a
surgeon speedily."

"In about two hours, my lord," said Clive; "country doctors are not
always readily to be found; but the delay did no harm; the broken arm
was set easily enough, and my poor girl is none the worse for what has
happened, except inasmuch as she will have to go one-handed about the
world for the next month or so."

"You have mistaken me for the gentleman who was with me, Mr. Clive,"
said Dudley; "he was Lord Hadley; I am a very humble individual,
having neither rank nor honours."

"The nobility of the heart, sir, and the honours which are given
unasked to a high mind," replied Clive. "I know not why, but both my
daughter and myself fancied that you were the nobleman, and the other
was a friend."

"The very reverse," answered Dudley; "he is the nobleman, I am merely
his tutor."

The old man mused for a minute or two very profoundly, and said at
length, "Well, I suppose it is all just and right in the sight of the
great Distributor of all gifts and honours; but I beg your pardon,
sir, for giving you a title that is not your due, which I know is a
greater offence when it is too high than when it is too low. Against
the one offence man is sheltered by his pride; to the other he is laid
open by his vanity. Mr. Filmer, I should like to speak a word with
you, if possible."

"Certainly," said the priest, "certainly; if you will walk on, Mr.
Dudley, for a very short way, I will talk to Mr. Clive, and overtake
you immediately. I beg pardon for our scanty expedition; after
breakfast, or in the evening, we will take a longer ramble."

Dudley bowed and walked on, with very little expectation, to say the
truth, of being rejoined by the priest before he reached the house;
but he miscalculated, for five minutes had hardly passed when, with
his peculiarly quiet step, rapid but silent, Mr. Filmer rejoined him.
Dudley had clearly comprehended from the first that Mr. Filmer was a
man likely to be deeply acquainted with the affairs of all the Roman
Catholic families in the neighbourhood. There is one great
inconvenience attending the profession of the Roman Catholic faith, in
a country where the great bulk of the population is opposed to it. The
nearest priest must be the depositary of the secrets of all; and it
must depend upon the honesty with which they are kept, whether the
private affairs of every family are, or are not, bruited about through
the whole adjacent country. In lands where the population is
principally papistical, such is not the case; for the numbers of the
priesthood divide the secrets of the population, and it rarely happens
that one man has enough to make it worth his while to talk of the
concerns of the families with which he is connected, even were not his
lips closed upon the weightier matters by the injunctions of the
church. Dudley was somewhat curious to have an explanation of the
circumstances in which he had found both Clive and his daughter on the
preceding evening; but a feeling of delicacy made him forbear from
putting any question to Mr. Filmer upon the subject, and as they
walked on to the house he merely remarked, "I suppose this gentleman
whom we have lately seen is a descendant of the person mentioned in
your legend?"

"From father to son direct," replied the priest. "It is but little
known how much noble blood there is to be found amongst what is called
the yeomanry of England. If the old Norman race were still considered
worthy of respect, many a proud peer would stand unbonneted before the
farmer. But Mr. Clive cultivates his own land, as was done in days of
yore."

"I should almost have imagined," said Dudley, with a laugh, "from the
spot and manner in which I found him last night, that he added other
occupations, probably, if less noble, not less ancient."

Mr. Filmer turned and gazed at him with a look of some surprise, but
he made no reply; and as they were by this time near the house the
conversation dropped entirely.



CHAPTER V.


With a quick step Edgar Adelon pursued his way along the avenue,
through the thicket, by the paths which he knew well, and over the
wall of the park by the stones built into it to form a stile; but it
was the eager beating of his heart which made his breath come fast and
thick, and not the rapidity with which his young limbs moved. He knew
not that he was observed by any one; and with that intensity of
feeling which few are capable of, and which, perhaps, few for their
own happiness should desire, his whole mind and thoughts were filled
with one subject, so that he could give no heed to anything that
passed around him. He walked on down a very narrow, shady lane, which
led by a much shorter way than had been taken by the carriage of Lord
Hadley the night before, to the house of Mr. Clive, and was entering a
meadow upon the side of the hill, without observing that any one was
near, when suddenly a voice called him by name, and turning he beheld
the tall old man himself, and instantly advanced towards him and
grasped his hand eagerly.

"How is Helen?" he said--"how is Miss Clive? Lord Hadley and Mr.
Dudley told us of the accident last night, and I have been in a fever
to hear more of her ever since. They said she was not much hurt; I
hope it is so, but I must go down and see her."

The old man had gazed at him while he spoke with a fixed, steadfast
look, full of interest, but in some degree sad. "She is not much hurt,
Edgar," he answered; "her arm is broken, but that will soon be well.
Otherwise she is uninjured. But, my dear boy, what are you doing? This
cannot go on. You may go down to-day and see her, for you would not
pain her, or injure her, I know; but you must tell your father that
you have been. That I insist upon, or I do not let you go."

"I will, I will!" answered Edgar Adelon; "surely that will satisfy
you. Injure her! I would not for the world; no, not for anything on
earth."

"Well, if your father knows it, Edgar, I have nought to say," rejoined
the old man; "and I will trust to your word that you do tell him. That
which he does with his eyes open is his fault, not ours. All I say is,
I will have no deceit."

"You will hear from himself that I have told him," replied the young
man, with a glowing cheek; "but mark me, Clive, I do not always say
when I go to your house any more than when I go to other places. If
the occasion requires it I speak; but if not, I am silent."

Clive again looked at him steadfastly, as if he were about to add
something more in a grave tone; but then suddenly laying his hand upon
his shoulder he gave him a friendly shake, saying, "Well, boy, well!"
and turned away and left him.

Edgar Adelon pursued his course with a well-pleased smile and a light
step. His conversation with Clive was a relief to him; it was
something which he had long seen must come, which he had dreaded, and
it was now over. Five minutes brought him in sight of the house
towards which his steps were bent; and he paused for a moment, with
joyful beating of the heart, to look at it, as it stood rising out of
its trees upon the opposite side of the dell, as if it were perched
upon the top of a high cliff overhanging the valley; though, in truth,
beneath the covering of the wood was stretched a soft and easy
descent, with manifold walks and paths leading to the margin of the
little stream.

It is no unpleasant thing to pause and gaze into the sparkling wine of
the cup of joy before we quaff it: and such was the act of Edgar
Adelon at that moment, although his whole heart was full of those
tremulous emotions which are only combined with the intense and
thirsty expectation of youth. Then with a wild bound he darted down
the road, crossed the little bridge, and ran up the opposite slope. He
entered the yard of the building at once, and no dogs barked at him. A
small terrier came and wagged his tail, and the great mastiff crept
slowly out of his kennel, and stretched himself in the morning
sunshine. Edgar Adelon must have been often there before. He walked
into the house, too, without ceremony, and his question to the first
woman-servant he met was, "Where is Helen?" but he corrected it
instantly into "Where is Miss Clive?"

The woman smiled archly, and told him where she was; and a moment
after, Edgar was seated beside her on a sofa in the little
drawing-room which I have described. I do not know that it would be
altogether fair or just to detail all that passed between them; but
certainly Edgar's arm stole round the beautiful girl's waist, and he
gazed into her dark eyes and saw the light of love in them. He made
her tell him all that happened, that is to say, all that she chose to
tell; for she refused to say how or why she was out watching upon the
road at a late hour of the evening. He was of a trustful heart,
however; and when she first answered, with a gay look, "I went to meet
a lover, to be sure, Edgar," he only laughed and kissed her cheek,
saying, "You cannot make me jealous, Helen."

"That is, I suppose, because you do not love me sufficiently," said
Helen Clive.

"No, love," he replied, "it is because I esteem you too much." And
then he went on to make her tell him when the surgeon had arrived, and
whether the setting of her arm had pained her much, and whether she
was quite, quite sure that she was not otherwise hurt.

"My foot a little," replied his fair companion; "it is somewhat
swelled; don't you see, Edgar?" And he knelt down to look, and kissed
it with as much devotion as ever a pilgrim of his own faith kissed the
slipper of the pope.

Then came the account of her deliverance from the perilous situation
in which she had been found. "Do you know," she said, "if I had not
been a great deal frightened and a little hurt, I could have laughed
as I lay; for it was more ridiculous than anything else, to feel one's
self half buried in that way, and not able to move in the least.
Luckily it was the earth fell upon me first, and then the stones upon
that, so that I could only move my arms; and when I tried to do that,
it instantly set some of the stones rolling again, by which my poor
arm was broken; so then I lay quite still, thinking some one must come
by, sooner or later, till I heard a carriage coming up the hill, and
saw by the light of the lamps two gentlemen walking fast before it. I
called to them as loud as I could, and they both ran up. The one was
kind enough, and was going to pull me out at once; but if he had done
so, most likely he and I and his companion would have been all killed,
or very much hurt. The other, however, stopped him, and kindly and
wisely and gently, secured all the fragments of the wall that were
still hanging over, so that he could get me out without danger; and
then he lifted off the stones one by one, and he, and the servants,
and the other gentleman removed the weight of the earth and lifted me
up; and all the time he spoke so kindly to me, and comforted and
cheered me, so that I shall always feel grateful to him till the last
day of my life."

"And so shall I, my sweet Helen," said Edgar Adelon, eagerly; "but
which was it, the dark one or the fair one?"

"Oh! the dark one," replied Helen Clive; "the tallest of the two. I
think the post-boy told my father that it was Lord Hadley."

"No, no," said her lover; "the fair one is Lord Hadley, the dark one
is Mr. Dudley, his tutor, and I am glad of it; first, because I like
him best, and secondly, because I am more likely with him to have an
opportunity of showing my gratitude for what he has done for you, dear
girl. If ever I have, I shall not forget it, Helen."

"You must not, and you will not, I am sure, Edgar," answered Helen
Clive. "I think that men's characters and nature are often shown more
by the manner in which they do a thing, than by the act itself; and
though I felt grateful enough for deliverance, yet I will confess I
felt more grateful still for the kind and gentle way in which he spoke
to me, asked if I were much hurt, told me not to be frightened, that
they would soon release me; and still, while he used the very best
means of extricating me, kept talking cheerfully to me all the time."

"God bless him!" said Edgar Adelon; "I shall love that man, I am
sure."

"Then, too," continued Helen, "when they had put me in the carriage,
and we had gone about half a mile over the down, I asked them to stop
and let one of their servants go and tell my father what had happened
to me; and the young light-haired one called to a servant he named
'Müller,' to go; but the other said, 'No, no! I will go myself. The
man might only frighten your father;' and he opened the carriage door
and jumped out, as if he had a real pleasure in doing all he could do
for a poor girl whom he had never seen before, and a man whom he had
never seen at all."

"That is the true spirit of a gentleman," said Edgar; "a better
coronet, my Helen, than gilded leaves and crimson velvet can make. But
now tell me more about yourself. When does the surgeon say your arm
will be well, and when can you come out again to take a morning's
walk?"

"I can walk quite well," answered Helen Clive; "my foot and ancle are
a little bruised, but that is all. As for my arm, it may be six weeks,
or two months, Mr. Sukely says, before I can use it; so no more
playing on the guitar, Edgar, for a long time."

"Well, we must have patience," answered Edgar Adelon. "It is pleasant,
my Helen, to hear you make sweet music, as the poet calls it, and
warble like a bird in spring; but yet I do not know that the best
harmony to my ear is not to hear the spoken words of that dear tongue
in the tones of love and confidence. But come, we will have our
morning walk; the brightest hour of all my day is that between seven
and eight."

"I will get my bonnet on and come," answered Helen; and she left the
room for the purpose she mentioned.

Edgar, in the meanwhile left alone, gazed for a moment or two at the
pages of the book she had been reading, and was writing a lover's
comment in the margin, when one of the doors of the room opened, and
he started up, thinking that Helen had returned prepared. He was
surprised, however, to see a tall, powerful, broad-shouldered man of
about forty, well dressed, and having the appearance of a gentleman.
His face, however, though intelligent, was not altogether pleasant in
expression; the head was round, the forehead square-cut and massive,
the jaw-bone large and angular, the eyes gray, but sharp and flashing,
the eyebrows bushy and overhanging, and the grayish red hair cut
short, and standing stiff and bristly, while enormous whiskers of the
same hue almost concealed each cheek. The young gentleman, it is true,
got but an imperfect view of him, for the intruder withdrew as soon as
he saw that there was any one in the room, and closed the door. Edgar
felt somewhat surprised and curious, for he had never before seen any
one in Mr. Clive's house at that hour of the morning but himself, his
servants and labouring men, and Helen; and with the rapid divination
of thought, he at once connected the appearance of this stranger with
the events of the night before. He had not much time for reflection
before Helen Clive returned; but then he instantly told her what had
occurred, and inquired who the visitor was.

"Ask no questions, Edgar," replied Helen, "or put them to my father;
but at all events, do not mention to any one else, I beseech you, that
you have seen such a person here."

Edgar mused, and walked out with her, perhaps in a more meditative
mood than he had ever experienced in the society of Helen Clive
before. It soon passed away, however; and they wandered on, side by
side as usual, in conversation too deeply interesting to them to be
very interesting to a reader of a work like this. But all bright
things will come to an end, and that sweet hour, which perhaps they
too often indulged in, terminated all too soon; and the impassioned
boy took his way back to Brandon full of wild and glittering visions
of love and happiness. He had somewhat outstayed his time; and when he
reached the house, he found the whole party sitting down to breakfast.

"Why, why, where have you been, Edgar?" asked Sir Arthur; "you have
been an early wanderer."

"Oh! I often am," answered Edgar; but remembering his promise to Mr.
Clive, he added, "I have been down to Knight's-hyde Grange, to see
poor Helen Clive after the accident of last night."

Sir Arthur Adelon seemed neither surprised nor displeased. "How is
she?" he inquired. "Not much hurt, I hope?"

"Not much," replied Edgar, encouraged by his father's manner; "the
dear girl's arm is broken, and her foot a little bruised, but that is
all." His cheek flushed a little as he ended, for he saw not only the
deep blue eyes of his beautiful cousin fixed upon him, but those of
the priest also.

Sir Arthur took no notice, however, but merely said, "Did you see Mr.
Clive, also?"

"Yes, I met him," replied the young man; "he was coming up this way."

"I must see him to-day, myself," said the baronet; "and I suppose, in
gallantry, I ought to go down and ask after your fair playfellow, too,
Edgar;" and turning towards Lord Hadley, he added, "they were children
together, and many a wild race have they had in the park, when my poor
brother-in-law Brandon was alive. Clive and he were related; for there
is no better blood in the country than that which flows in the veins
of this same farmer-looking man whom you met last night."

"Let us all go down and visit them, my dear uncle," said Eda Brandon.
"I have not seen Helen for a long time."

The party was agreed upon, and the breakfast proceeded; but to one at
least there present, the cheerful morning meal seemed not a pleasant
one. Mr. Dudley ate little, and said less; and yet there seemed to be
no great cause for the sort of gloom that hung upon him. Everybody
treated him with the utmost courtesy and kindness; he was seated next
to Sir Arthur Adelon, between him and Mr. Filmer. Lord Hadley, in big
good-humoured way, never seemed to look upon him as the tutor, but
called him on more than one occasion, 'My friend Dudley;' and there
was a warmth, mingled with reverence, in the manner of young Edgar
Adelon, when he spoke to him, which must have been gratifying.

Could the cause of the sort of melancholy which affected him, be the
fact that Lord Hadley was seated next to Eda Brandon, and that his
eyes and his manner told he thought her very beautiful?

However that might be, as soon as breakfast was over, and the party
rose, Dudley retired at once to his room, and when he had closed the
door, he stood for a moment with his hands clasped together, gazing on
the floor. "This is worse than vain," he said at length; "this is
folly; this is madness. Would to God I had not come hither; but I must
crush it out, and suffer myself to be no longer the victim of
visionary hopes, which have no foundation to rest upon, and feelings
which can never be gratified, and which it is madness to indulge." He
sat himself down to read, but his mind had lost its usual power, and
he could not bend his thoughts to the task. Perhaps three quarters of
an hour had passed, when some one knocked at his door, and Edgar
Adelon came in.

"They are all ready to go, Mr. Dudley," he said. "Will you not come
with us?"

"I think not," replied Dudley; "I am not in a very cheerful mood. This
day is an anniversary of great misfortunes, Mr. Adelon, and it is not
fair to cloud other people's cheerfulness with my grave face."

"Oh! cast away sad thoughts," said Edgar; "if they are of the past,
they are but shadows; if they are of the future, they are morning
clouds."

"Clouds that may be full of storms," replied Dudley, sadly.

"Who can tell?" cried the young man, enthusiastically; "and if they
be, how often do the rain-drops of adversity water the field, and
advance the harvest of great future success. I have read it, I have
heard of it, I am sure that it is true. Come, Mr. Dudley, come; for
the man who gives himself up to sorrow makes a league with a fiend
when there is an angel waiting for him. Hope is energy, energy is
life, life is happiness if it is rightly used. We wound the bosom of
the earth to produce fruits and flowers, and heaven sometimes furrows
the heart with griefs to produce a rich crop of joys hereafter."

Dudley grasped his hand warmly. "Thanks, thanks, my young friend," he
said; "I will come. I certainly did not think to receive such bright
lessons, and such wise ones, from one so young."

"The philosophy of youth," answered Edgar, with a laugh, "is, I
believe, the best, for it is of God's implanting. It is an instinct to
be happy; and where is the reason that is equal to instinct?"

"Nowhere," answered Dudley, taking his hat, with a smile; "and I will
follow mine."



CHAPTER VI.


I will beg leave with the reader to precede the party which was just
setting out from Brandon, and to give one more scene at the house of
Mr. Clive, which took place shortly before their arrival.

About a quarter of an hour after Edgar had turned his steps homeward,
Mr. Clive entered the room where Helen was sitting, and placed himself
in a chair opposite to her. But upon Helen's part there was nothing
like a bashful consciousness; she had been accustomed to her lover's
coming and going for years; their mutual affection had sprung up so
gradually, or rather had developed itself so easily, that she could
hardly mark the time when they had not loved; there had been none of
those sudden changes which startle timid passion, and neither her
father nor Sir Arthur Adelon had ever shown any of that apprehension,
in regard to their frequent meeting, which might have created anxiety,
if not fear, in her own breast. She therefore looked up frankly in her
father's face, and said, "Edgar has been here, my dear father, and
unfortunately Mr. Norries opened the door and came in while he was in
the room; but I am sure there is no cause for apprehension, for I
begged Edgar not to speak of it to any one, and he gave me his word
that he would not."

Mr. Clive cast down his eyes, and thought for several minutes without
reply. But he then murmured some words, more to himself than to his
daughter, saying:--"That is bad; that is unfortunate: not that I doubt
Edgar, my Helen; but I must speak with Norries about it; for he is
somewhat rash, and he may show himself to others not so much to be
trusted. That I do trust Edgar you may well judge, my dear child,
otherwise he would not be so often here."

He spoke, gazing at his daughter with a look of some anxiety, and with
the white eyebrows drawn far over the eyes. "I know not that I am
right, my Helen," he added; "I almost begin to fear not. I feel I
should only be doing right if I were to bid this youth make his visits
fewer and shorter; and yet I would not pain him for a great deal, for
he is kind, and good, and honest; but it must come to that in the end,
Helen."

"Oh! no, my father, no," cried Helen Clive, imploringly. "Why should
you do that?"

"Listen to me, Helen," said her father; "you have not thought of these
things fully. He loves you, Helen."

"I know it," cried Helen Clive, with the ingenuous blood mounting into
her cheek; "I know it, and I love him; but why should that prevent him
from coming? Why should that deprive us of the very happiness which
such love gives?"

"Because it cannot be happy, my Helen," answered her father; "because
he is a gentleman of high degree, and you the daughter of no better
than a yeoman."

"My father," said Helen, rising, and laying the hand that was
uninjured on her father's arm, "have I not heard you say that the
blood of the yeoman Clive is as pure as that of the noble house of
Adelon, and perhaps of older strain? Is not the land you cultivate
your own, as much or more than his that he farms to others? There is
not that difference between us that should be reasonably any bar; but
even suppose it were so, what could you seek by separating us?"

"Your own happiness, my child," answered Clive, gravely.

"By making us both miserable some years, months, or weeks, before we
otherwise might be so," rejoined Helen, eagerly; "that is all that can
be done now. We love as much as we can love, and so long as we are
doing nought that is wrong, violating no duty to you, nor to his
father, surely we may enjoy the little portion of happiness that is
sure, and leave to the future and God's good will the rest."

She spoke eagerly, and with her colour heightened, her eye full of
light, and her beautiful lips quivering in their vehemence; and Clive
could not help feeling a portion of a father's pride rise up and take
part with her. He could not but say to himself, as he gazed at her in
her beauty, "She is worthy to be the bride of the greatest lord in all
the land."--"Well, Helen, well," he said, using an expression which
was habitual to him, "I must trust you both; but remember, my child,
in making over to you the care of your own happiness, I put mine under
your guardianship also, for mine is wrapped up in yours. But hark!
there is Norries pacing to and fro above. I must go and speak with
him. That wild spirit will not brook its den much longer." And walking
to the door, he mounted the stairs to the room which was just over
that where he had been sitting.

"Ah! you are come back at last, Clive," said the strong, hard-featured
man whom I have before described. "Well, what have you heard? Were all
those movements that alarmed you so much last night but mere idle
rumour?"

"No," answered Clive; "but I find you were not the object. A party of
smugglers was taken farther down the coast, and the intimation which
the officer so mysteriously hinted to me they had received, referred
to that affair."

"To be sure," replied his companion; "they all think me in the United
States. No one but yourself has ever known that I was in France the
while."

"I can't help thinking, my good friend," replied Clive, "that it might
have been better for you to have stayed there. You know you are in
jeopardy here, and may be recognised at any moment."

"Well, well, Clive!" answered his companion, "I will not jeopardise
you long; it is my intention to go on this very night, so do not be
alarmed. I thank you much for what you have done, which is as much or
more than I could expect, and am only sorry that poor Helen has been
injured in my cause."

Clive looked at him steadfastly for a moment or two, with his usual
calm, steady, grave expression of countenance, and then replied, with
a faint smile, "It is curious, Norries, how, whenever men are blamed
by their best friends for a foolish action when it is committed, or
warned against a rash action which they are determined to commit, they
always affect to believe that there is some personal feeling actuating
their counsellor, and persuade themselves that his advice is not good,
not by trying it on the principles of reason, but by their own
prejudices. I have no personal fears in the matter; I anticipate no
danger to myself or to my family; neither should you think so. Last
night I was ready to have shed my blood to insure your safety, which I
certainly should not have been likely to do if I were a man full of
the cold calculations you suppose----"

"Well, well, well, Clive!" said Norries, interrupting him, "I was
wrong, I was wrong: think of it no more; but one meets so much cold
calculation in this life, that one's heart gets chilled to one's best
friends. My coming might, indeed, as you say, be what the world would
call rash; but every attempt must be estimated by its object, and till
you know mine, do not judge me hastily. Where I was wrong, was in not
giving you sufficient intimation of my intention, that you might have
prepared and let me know when I could land without risk; but the man I
sent over to you was delayed one whole day for a passage, and that day
made a great difference."

"It did," answered Clive; "for I had barely time to send my own two
men away to a distance, and get others, in whom I could better trust,
to help me. I had no means either of giving you warning that there was
a great movement at Barhampton, and that the officers were evidently
on the look-out for some one on the coast. You only said that you
would land in the cove between nine and ten, and that I must show a
light due east of the cove mouth to guide you, as there was no moon. I
had nothing for it, therefore, but to make ready against attack, in
order that you might get back to the boat if you were the person these
men were looking for. But now, Norries, I am very anxious to hear what
is your object, for it should be a great one to induce you to
undertake such a risk."

"It is a great one," answered Norries, with his gray eyes flashing
under his contracted brow: "no less than the salvation of my country,
Clive. In that last affair, the rash fools of the manufacturing
districts hurried on, against all persuasion, before matters were half
ripe, with the light spirit of the old Gauls: firm in the onset,
daunted by the first cheek, and tame and crouching in defeat. Had they
behaved like men, I would have remained with them to the last, to
perish or to suffer; but there was no shame in abandoning men who
abandoned their own cause at the very first frown of fortune. Now
there is a brighter prospect before me and before England. There are
sterner, calmer, more determined spirits, ready and willing to dig a
mine beneath the gaudy fabric of corruption and tyranny, which has
been built up by knavish statesmen in this land, and to spring the
mine when it is dug. The boasted constitution of England, which
protects and nurses a race of privileged tyrants, and refuses
justice--ay, and almost food--to the great mass of the people, is like
one of the feudal castles of the old barons of the land, built high
and strong, to protect them in their aggressions upon their
neighbours, and in their despotic rule over their serfs. But there
have been times in this and other lands when the serfs, driven to
madness by unendurable tyranny, have, with the mattock and the axe of
their daily toil, dug beneath the walls of the stronghold, and cast it
in ruins to the ground. So will we, Clive; so will we!"

Clive crossed his arms upon his chest, and gazed at him with a
thoughtful and a melancholy look; and when he had done he shook his
head sadly, as if his mind could take no part in the enthusiastic
expectations of his companion.

"Why do you shake your head, Clive?" demanded Norries, impatiently.

"Because I have lived long enough, my good friend," replied Clive, "to
see some hundreds of these schemes devised, perfected, executed, and
every one has brought ruin upon the authors, and worked no
amelioration in the institutions of the land."

"Simply because men are tame under injuries; simply because they
submit to injustice; simply because, out of every ten men in the land,
there is not one who has a just notion of the dignity of man's nature,
or a just appreciation of man's rights," was the eager reply of
Norries. "But their eyes have been opened, Clive; the burden is
becoming intolerable; the very efforts that have been made, and the
struggles that have been frustrated, have taught our fellow countrymen
that there is something to struggle for, some great object for
endeavour. They have asked themselves, what? and we have taught them.
One success, only one great success, and the enormous multitude of
those who are justly discontented with the foul and corrupt system
which has been established, but who have been daunted by repeated
failures, will rise as one man, and claim that which is due to the
whole human race, sweeping away all obstacles with the might and the
majesty of a torrent. You, Clive, you, I am sure, are not insensible
to the wrongs which we all suffer."

"I am neither unaware that there are many evils tolerated by law, nor
many iniquities sanctioned by law," replied Clive, "nor insensible to
the necessity of their removal; but at the same time, I am fully
convinced that there is a way by which they can be removed--and that
the only way in which they ever will be removed--without violence or
bloodshed, or the many horrors and disasters which must always
accompany anything like popular insurrection. When the people of
England think fit to make their voice heard--I mean the great mass of
the people--that voice is strong enough to sweep away, slowly but
surely, every one of the wrongs of which we have cause to complain."

"But how can it make itself heard, that voice of the people of
England?" demanded Norries; "where can it make itself heard? The
people of England--the many, the multitude, the strength of the land,
the labouring poor--have no voice in the senate, at the bar, on the
bench. The church of the majority is the rich man's church, the law of
the land is the rich man's law, the parliament of the country is the
rich man's parliament. But it is vain talking with you of such things
now; but come and hear us for one single night--hear our arguments,
hear our resolutions, and you will not hesitate to join us."

"No," replied Clive, in a firm tone, "I will not, Norries; I would
rather trust myself to calm deliberate thought than to exciting
oratory or smooth persuasions. In fact, Norries, as you well know, and
as I have known long, I am of too eager and impetuous a nature, too
easily moved, to place myself willingly in temptation. When I argue
tranquilly with myself, I am master of myself; but when I go and
listen to others, the strong passions of my young nature rise up. I
keep myself free from all brawls; I enter into disputes with no man,
for in my past life the blow of anger has too frequently preceded the
word of remonstrance, and I have more than once felt occasion to be
ashamed of myself as an impetuous fool, even where I have not had to
reproach myself as an unjust aggressor."

"You have had enough to bear, Clive," replied Norries; "as I know from
my poor lost Mary, your dear sister--'the oppressor's wrong, the proud
man's contumely, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient
merit of the unworthy takes.' With the old Saxon blood strong in your
veins, the old Saxon freedom powerful in your heart, have not you and
yours, from generation to generation, been subject to the
predominating influence of the Norman usurpers, and are you not still
under their sway? But hark! there are people at the door, and many of
them. Perhaps they have come to seek me."

Clive strode hastily to the window, and looked out, but then turned
round, saying, "No, it is the people from Brandon House--Sir Arthur
Adelon and all the rest--come down, I dare say, to inquire after
Helen, for they are very fond of her, as well they may be."

"Sir Arthur Adelon!" repeated Norries, with a slight smile, "that is
well; let me look at him;" and he too approached the window. "He is
much changed," he continued, as he gazed out, "and perhaps as much
changed in mind as in person--but yet I must have him with us, Clive.
He must give us his support, for it is necessary to have some gilding
and some tinsel even on the flag of liberty."

Clive laughed aloud. "You mistake, you mistake, Norries," he said; "if
you calculate thus rashly, your schemes are vain indeed. Sir Arthur
Adelon is a mere man of the world; kind and good-humoured enough, but
with no energy or resolution such as are absolutely necessary in those
who join in great undertakings."

"It is you who mistake, Clive," replied Norries; "you see but the
exterior. Underneath it there are strong things mingled with weak
ones--passions powerful enough and persevering; and you shall see that
man, with his high station, wealth, and name, shall go with me in that
which I undertake, and shall prove a shelter and defence in case of
need, should anything discover a portion of our schemes before they
are matured. I must see him this very day before I go to Barhampton,
for thither I shall certainly proceed to-night."

"Well, Norries, well, you know best," answered Clive, with a faint
smile; "when I see these wonders, I may have more confidence. Till
then, I tell you fairly, all your plans seem to me to be rashness
approaching to madness. I must go down and receive them, however, for
I hear they have come in. Shall I tell Sir Arthur that you wish to see
him, Norries?"

"No," answered the other, thoughtfully; "I will take my own
opportunity." And Clive departed, leaving him alone.



CHAPTER VII.


I know no more delightful sensation upon earth, than when a being whom
we love, acting beneath our eyes, but unconscious that we are
watching, fulfils to the utmost the bright expectations that we have
formed; while in the deed, and the tone, and the manner we see the
confirmation of all that we had supposed, or dreamed, or divined of
excellence in heart and mind. Charles Dudley loved Eda Brandon, and
all she did or said was of course a matter of deep interest to him;
and although I will not say he watched, yet he observed her conduct
during the morning of which I have been writing, and especially during
their visit to the Grange, as Mr. Clive's house was called. He thought
it was perfect; and so perhaps it was, as nearly as anything of the
earth can be perfect; and perhaps, although there was no great event
to call strong feelings into action, although there was nothing which
would seem to an ordinary eye a trial of character or demeanour, yet
there was much which, to a very keen and sensitive mind, showed great
qualities by small traits. Helen Clive was in an inferior position of
life to Eda Brandon. It may be said that the difference was very
slight: that her father cultivated his own land; that she had
evidently received the education and possessed the manners of a lady;
but yet the very slightness of the difference might make the demeanour
of the one towards the other more difficult--not, perhaps, to be what
the world would call very proper, but to be perfect. It might be too
cold, it might be too familiar; for there is sometimes such a thing as
familiarity which has its rise in pride, and the object of it is more
likely to feel hurt by it than even by distance of manner. But there
was nothing of the kind in the conduct of Eda Brandon. She treated
Helen in every respect as an equal: one with whom she had been long on
terms of intimate affection, and who required no new proof that she
saw no difference between the position of Mr. Clive's daughter and
that of the heiress of Brandon and all its wealth. There was no
haughtiness; there was no appearance of condescension: the haughtiest
mark of pride. It was easy, kind, unaffected, but quiet and ladylike;
and although Helen herself felt a little nervous, not at the station,
but at the number of the guests who poured in, Eda's manner soon put
her completely at ease, and the only thing which seemed at all to
discompose her, was a certain sort of familiar gallantry in the
manners of Lord Hadley, which even pained another present more than
herself.

But it is with Eda and Dudley that I wish particularly to deal just
now; and one thing I may remark as seemingly strange, but not really
so. It was with delight, as I have said, that Dudley observed the
demeanour of Eda Brandon towards Helen Clive; but a saddening
sensation of despondency mingled with the pleasure, and rendered it
something more than melancholy. It was like that of a dying parent
witnessing the success and growing greatness of a beloved child, and
knowing that his own eyes must soon close upon the loved one's career
of glory. He said to himself, "She never can be mine: long years of
labour and toil, struggles with a hard and difficult profession, and
fortunate chances with many long lapses between, could alone put me in
a position to seek her love or ask her hand; and in the mean time her
fate must be decided."

As they had walked down from the house, Lord Hadley had been
continually by her side. He had evidently been much struck and
captivated. A vague hint had been thrown out that a union between
himself and the heiress of Brandon had been contemplated by kind and
judicious friends; and a meaning smile which had crossed the lip of
young Edgar Adelon, when he saw Lord Hadley bending down and saying
something apparently very tender in his cousin's ear, had sent a pang
through the heart of Dudley, which his young companion would not have
inflicted for worlds had he known the circumstances. Again and again
Dudley repeated to himself, "It is impossible. How can I--why should I
entertain any expectation? The warrior goes into the strife armed; the
racer is trained and prepared for the course: I have no weapons for
the struggle, no preparation for the race, although the prize is all
that is desirable in life. I will yield this all-vain contention; I
will withdraw from a scene where everything which takes place must
give me pain. It is easily done. The term of my engagement with Lord
Hadley is nearly at an end; and I can easily plead business of
importance for leaving him here, now that our tour is finished, and
once more betaking myself to my books, wait in patience till the time
comes for that active life in the hard world of realities, which will,
I trust, engross every feeling, and occupy every thought."

Such were his reflections and resolutions as the party, after taking
leave of Helen and Mr. Clive, walked out of the door of the Grange to
return to Brandon House. I often think that all reflections are vain,
and all resolutions worse than vain. The first are but as the games of
childhood--the construction of gay fabrics out of materials which have
no solidity; the second are but shuttlecocks between the battledoors
of circumstances. So, at least, Charles Dudley found them both.

It is necessary, however, before I proceed farther, to say something
of the exact position of the parties as they quitted the house. Eda
and her uncle went first; Dudley followed half a step farther back;
and Lord Hadley and Edgar came next. As Dudley was walking on, with
his eyes bent on the ground, he heard the voice of Sir Arthur's son
exclaim, "Eda, Eda, we are going down by the stream, Lord Hadley and
I, to see the ruins of the priory. Let us all go."

"No, dear Edgar," answered Miss Brandon, "I can't indulge your
wandering propensities to-day. I shall be tired by the time I get
home, and have got a letter to write."

"I can't go either, Edgar," said his father; "for I have a good deal
of business to do."

"Well, Mr. Dudley, at all events you will come," said Edgar Adelon;
but Mr. Dudley replied by informing him that he had passed some time
at the priory already that morning.

"Well, come along, Lord Hadley, then," said Edgar, in a gay tone; "I
never saw such uninteresting people in my life, and you shall have the
treat and the benefit of my conversation all to yourself. I will tell
you the legend, too, and show you what a set of people these Brandons
have been from generation to generation."

Lord Hadley did not decline, and they walked away together down the
course of the stream, whilst Sir Arthur and his niece, accompanied by
Dudley, pursued their course towards Brandon. They were about halfway
between the Grange and the gates of the park, when a quick but heavy
step was heard behind them, and Dudley, turning his head, saw a stout
farm-servant following, somewhat out of breath. The man walked
straight up to Sir Arthur Adelon, and presented a note, saying, "I was
to give you that directly, your honour."

Sir Arthur took the note, and looked at the address without any
apparent emotion; but when he opened it, his aspect changed
considerably, and he stopped, saying, in a hesitating manner, "I must
go back--I must go back."

"Oh! it is but a short distance," said Eda; "we can return with you."

"No, my dear, no," answered her uncle, with what seemed a good deal of
embarrassment in his air; "you had better go on to Brandon. Mr. Dudley
will, I am sure, escort you."

"Assuredly," replied Dudley, gravely; and Sir Arthur adding, "I may
not, perhaps, be back to luncheon, Eda, but do not wait for me,"
turned, and with a quick step hurried along the road towards Mr.
Clive's house.

It seemed as if everything had combined to leave Charles Dudley and
Eda Brandon alone together. If he had laboured a couple of years for
such a consummation it would not have occurred. He did not offer Eda
his arm, however; and although his heart was beating very fast with
feelings that longed for utterance, he walked on for at least a
hundred and fifty yards, without a word being spoken on either side.
Ladies, however, feel the awkwardness of silence more than men; and
Eda, though she was shaking very unaccountably, said at length, "I am
afraid, Mr. Dudley, that what you find here is not so beautiful and
interesting as the scenes you have lately come from. You used, I
remember, to be a very enthusiastic admirer of the beauties of
nature."

Dudley raised his fine eyes to her face, and gazed at her for a moment
with melancholy gravity. "All I admired then," he said at length, "I
admire now. All I loved then, dear Miss Brandon, I love now. It is
circumstances which have changed, not I."

"I did not know that circumstances had changed," said Eda, in a low
and sweet tone, as if she really felt sympathy with him for the grief
his manner implied. "I had heard that a sad, a terrible change of
circumstances had occurred some time before; but I was not at all
aware that any new cause of grief or disappointment had been added."

Dudley again thought before he answered; but it was not the thought of
calculation, or if it was, it was but the calculation of how he should
answer calmly; how he should speak the true feelings of his heart with
moderation and gentleness: not at all a calculation of whether it were
better to speak those feelings or not.

"You are right, Miss Brandon," he said, "the change of circumstances
had taken place before; but all things have their consequences; and
the results of those material alterations in fortune and station
which had befallen me, were still to be made manifest to, and worked
out by, myself. When first we met, you were very young--not sixteen, I
think--and I was not old. Everything was in the spring-day with me. It
was all full of promise. I had in those days two fortunes: worldly
wealth, and even a greater store of happy hopes and expectations--the
bright and luxuriant patrimony of inexperienced youth. From time to
time we saw each other; till, when last we met, prosperity had been
taken from me, the treasure of earthly riches was gone, and though not
actually beggared, I and my poor father were in a state of absolute
poverty. Still the other fortune, that rich estate of youthful hope
and inexperienced expectation, though somewhat diminished, was not
altogether gone. I fancied that, in the eyes of the noble and the
good, wealth would make no difference. I had never found it make any
difference to me in my estimation of others. I imagined that those
qualities which some had esteemed and liked in me, would still at
least retain my friends. I never for an instant dreamed that it could
or ought to have an influence on the adamant of love. I had almost
said and done rash things in those days; but you went away out of
London, and I soon began to perceive that I had bitterly deceived
myself."

"You never perceived any difference in me," cried Eda, her voice
trembling with emotions which carried away all discretion. "You do not
mean to say, Mr. Dudley, that you saw, or that you thought you saw,
such base weakness in my nature as would render of the slightest value
in my eyes a change of fortune in those I--I----" And extending her
left hand, as if to cast the idea from her, she turned away, and shook
her head sorrowfully, with her eyes full of tears.

"No, no, Miss Brandon!" answered Dudley; "no, no, Eda! I said not so.
It was the world taught me the world's views. Nay, more, I laid the
blame of misunderstanding those views upon myself, not others. I saw
some reason even in those views which debarred me from happiness; I
felt the due value of station and fortune when I had lost them, which
I never felt while they were my own. But listen to me still with
patience for one moment. Expectation was not yet fully tamed. I said
to myself, I will make myself a station, I will regain the fortune
which has been lost; and then, perhaps, love may re-illumine the torch
of hope at its own flame, and all be light once more."

"Love!" murmured Eda, in a low tone, as he paused for an instant; but
Dudley went on:--

"The hardest lesson of all was still to learn: how slow, how
hopelessly slow, is man's progress up the steep hill which leads to
fame and emolument in this world: how vain is the effort to start into
eminence at once! I had to learn all that consuming thought, and
bitter care, and deep disappointment, and hopeless love, and the
anguish of regret, can do to wear the strongest frame, and wring the
firmest heart, and quell the brightest expectations, and batten down
the springs of life and hope beneath the heavy load of circumstances."

"Oh! Dudley, Dudley," cried Eda, "why, why should you yield to such
dark impressions?"

"Eda," said Dudley, "would you have had me hope?"

"Yes, yes," she answered, with her cheek glowing and her eyes full of
tears, as they passed the park gates and entered the avenue. "Hope
ever! ever hope! and let not adverse circumstances crush a noble
spirit and a generous heart. See, there is Mr. Filmer coming down
towards us; I must wipe these foolish tears from my eyes. But let me
add one warning. I have said a generous heart, because, indeed, I
believe yours to be so; but yet, Dudley, it was hardly generous enough
when you imagined that those whom you judged worthy of love and esteem
could suffer one consideration of altered fortunes to make even the
slightest change in their regard or in their conduct. You should never
have fancied it, and must never, never fancy it again. I can hardly
imagine," she said, turning, and looking at him with a bright smile,
as she uttered words of reproach which she knew were not quite
justified, thus qualifying with that gay look the bitter portion of
her speech: "I can hardly imagine that you know what true love is, or
you would be well aware that it is, indeed, as you said yourself, a
thing of adamant: unchangeable and everlasting. On it no calumny can
rest, no falsehood make impression; the storms and tempests of the
world, the labour of those who would injure or defame, the sharp
chisel of sarcasm, the grinding power of argument and opposition, can
have no effect. Such is strong, true love. It must be love founded on
esteem and confidence, but then, believe me, it is immoveable. If ever
you love, remember this."

"If ever I love, Eda?" answered Dudley, gazing at her; "you know too
well that I do love; that I have loved for years."

"I once thought so," replied Eda, in a low tone; "but hush! Dudley,
hush! let us compose ourselves: he is coming near."

"He does not see us," said Dudley; "his eyes are bent upon the ground.
Can we not avoid him by turning through the trees?"

"No, no," answered Miss Brandon; "he sees everything. Never suppose at
any time that because his eyes are bent down they are unused. He is
all sight, and never to be trusted. Is my cheek flushed? I am sure it
ought to be," she added, as her mind reverted to the words she had
spoken: "I am sure it ought to be, for I feel it burn."

"A little," replied Dudley, gazing at her with a look of grateful
love; "but he will not remark it."

"Oh! yes, he will," answered Eda, giving a timid glance towards
Dudley's face, and then drawing down her veil. "Yours is quite pale."

"It is with intense emotions," replied Dudley; "emotions of gratitude
and love."

"Hush! hush!" she said; "no more on that score; we shall be able to
talk more hereafter. What a beautiful day it has been after such a
stormy night. One could almost fancy that it was spring returned, if a
bird would but begin to sing."

"Ah! no," answered Dudley, somewhat sorrowfully; "though there be
browns in both, the colours of the autumn are very different from
those of the spring; the hues of nascent hope are in the one, of
withering decay in the other; and though the skies of autumn may be
glorious, they are the skies of spring which are sweet."

They were now within some twenty or thirty paces of Mr. Filmer, who
was still walking on, calmly and quietly, with his eyes bent upon the
ground, as if absorbed in deep and solemn meditation. The light and
shadow, as he passed the trees, fell strangely upon him, giving a
phantom-like appearance to his tall dark figure and pale face; and
there was a fixed and rigid firmness in his whole countenance which
might have made any casual observer at that moment think him the
veriest ascetic that ever lived.

Eda, who knew him well, and had read his character more profoundly
than he imagined, led the way straight up to him, though they had
before been on the other side of the avenue, as if she were determined
that he should not pass without taking notice of them, and when they
were at not more than three yards' distance, he started, saying, "Ah!
my dear young lady, I did not see you. Why, your party has become
small." And his face at once assumed a look of pleasing urbanity,
which rendered the whole expression as different as possible from that
which his countenance had borne before.

"Edgar and Lord Hadley," answered Eda, "have gone to see the priory,
and my uncle was coming home with us, when somebody stopped him upon
business and carried him off."

"Mr. Dudley and I visited the priory this morning," replied Mr.
Filmer; "and he seemed exceedingly pleased with it, I am happy to
say."

"I was very much so, indeed," said Dudley. "In truth, my reverend
friend, I feel a great interest in all those remnants of former times,
when everything had a freshness and a vigorous identity which is lost
in the present state of civilisation. I forget who is the author who
compares man in the present polished and artificial days to a worn
shilling which has lost all trace of the original stamp; but it has
often struck me as a very just simile. I like the mark of the die; and
every object which recalls to my mind the lusty, active past, is worth
a thousand modern constructions. Even the university in which I have
been educated I love not so much for its associations with myself as
for its associations with another epoch. There is a cloistral,
secluded calm about some of the colleges, which has an effect almost
melancholy and yet pleasurable."

Mr. Filmer replied in an easy strain, as if he had remarked nothing;
but, nevertheless, he had perceived, somehow, without even raising his
eyes, that Eda had dropped the veil over her face as he came near, and
he saw that there were traces of agitation both on her countenance and
on that of Dudley. He remarked, too, that Dudley spoke more and more
eloquently upon many subjects during the rest of the day; that, in
fact, there was a sort of relief apparent in his whole manner, and in
all his words; and he formed a judgment not very far from the truth.
Such a judgment, from indications so slight, is not unusual in men who
have been educated as he had been, to mark the slightest peculiarities
of manner, the slightest changes of demeanour, that occur in their
fellow-men, in order to take advantage of them for their own purposes.
In the present instance he continued quietly his observations, without
letting any one perceive that he was watching at all; but not a word,
nor a look, nor a tone of Eda Brandon and Charles Dudley escaped him
during the day.

Turning back with Miss Brandon and her lover towards the house, Mr.
Filmer, or Father Peter, as he was sometimes called by Sir Arthur's
servants, accompanied them to the door, and then proposed that they
should cross the park to a little fountain, covered with its old cross
and stone, which he described as well worthy of Dudley's attention.
Eda confirmed his account of its beauty, but said that she must
herself go in, as she was a good deal fatigued, and had also to write
a letter. She advised Dudley, however, to go and see it; and if the
truth must be told, she was not sorry to avoid the priest's society,
for in his presence she felt a restraint of which she could not divest
herself, even at times when she could detect no watching on the part
of Filmer. She knew that he was observing with the quiet, shrewd eyes
of Rome, and the very feeling embarrassed her.

Dudley had no excuse for staying behind, and he accompanied the priest
on his walk, conversing on indifferent subjects, and not yet fully
aware that every word and even look, was watched by one who let nought
fall to the ground. For nearly a couple of hundred yards the two
gentlemen walked on in silence; but then Mr. Filmer, in pursuit of his
own investigations, observed, in a sort of meditative tone, "What a
sweet, charming girl that is! I think I understood that you had known
her long, Mr. Dudley."

"For many years," replied his companion. "When first I knew her she
was quite a girl, I had almost said a child, and very lovely even
then; but I had no idea that she was the niece of Sir Arthur Adelon."

"Her mother was his sister," replied Mr. Filmer; "and the way in which
she became Sir Arthur's ward was this:--Her father died when she was
quite young, leaving her entirely to the control of her mother, as her
sole guardian and his executrix. She was a very amiable woman, Mrs.
Brandon, though, unfortunately, her husband had converted her to your
church. I believe she was very sorry for her apostacy before her
death, and, at all events, she left Miss Brandon to the guardianship
of her brother, Sir Arthur, with the entire management of her
property."

"Till she comes of age, I suppose?" Dudley replied, as the other made
a short pause.

"Yes; but before that time she will be probably married," answered the
priest.

"To Lord Hadley, perhaps you think?" rejoined Dudley, with very
different feelings from those with which he would have pronounced such
words some two or three hours before.

"Oh, no!" answered Mr. Filmer, calmly; "I do not think that Sir Arthur
would ever consent to her marriage with a Protestant. I know that he
would sooner see her bestow her hand upon the humblest Catholic
gentleman in England."

Dudley was somewhat puzzled. If the assertion of the priest could be
relied upon, why had Sir Arthur Adelon so ostentatiously asked Lord
Hadley there. The priest said it in a natural, easy tone; but Dudley
felt that in some degree he had himself been trying to extract
information from Mr. Filmer, and that the attempt was somewhat
dangerous with a Roman Catholic priest. He did not feel quite sure,
indeed, that he had not betrayed a part of his own secrets while
endeavouring to gain intelligence of the views of others. "I should
have thought that the feelings of Sir Arthur Adelon were more liberal,
especially as he has always yourself beside him," said Dudley, with a
slight inclination of the head.

"You do me more than justice, my young friend," replied Mr. Filmer;
"it is very natural in these times, when there is a persecuting and
oppressive spirit abroad, that we should wish to see an heiress of
great wealth, and whose husband must possess great influence, bestow
her hand upon a person of our own religious creed. I may say this can
be felt without the slightest degree of bigotry, or any view of
proselytism. I have none, I can assure you; and indeed you may judge
that it is so when you know that one of my best friends and most
constant companions is the clergyman of the little church the spire of
which you see rising up there just above the hill. My feeling is that
there is not sufficient difference between the two churches--although
yours, I feel, is in some points a little heretical--to cause any
disunion between honest and well-meaning men; and moreover, though
anxious myself to see others adopt what I conceive to be just views,
yet I confess the object of their conversion does not appear to me so
great a one as to hazard the slightest chance of dissension in order
to obtain it."

"Those are very liberal opinions, indeed," said Dudley; "and though I
know that a good many of the laymen of the church of Rome entertain
them, I was not aware that they are common amongst the clergy."

"More common than you imagine, my young friend," answered the priest;
"in fact the heads of the church, itself are not so intolerant as you
suppose. Rules have been fixed, undoubtedly; definitions have been
given; but it is always in the power of the church to relax its own
regulations; and when sincere and devout Christianity, a feeling of
that which is orthodox, and a veneration for those traditions which,
descending from generation to generation through the mouths of saints
and martyrs, may be considered as pure and uncorrupt as the Scriptures
themselves, are perceived in any one, the church is always willing to
render his return to her bosom easy and practicable, by relinquishing
all those formal points of discipline which may be obnoxious to his
prejudices, and by relaxing the severity of those expositions, the
cutting clearness of which is repugnant to a yet unconfirmed mind."

Dudley paused in great surprise, asking himself, "What is his object?"
This is a question which is rarely put by any man to his own heart
without some strong doubt of the sincerity of the person he has been
conversing with.

"What is his object?" thought Dudley. "Does he really hope to convert
me by the mingled charms of his own eloquence, and the fascination of
my dear Eda's fortune?" He resolved, however, not to display his real
opinion of the arguments used, but to suffer the worthy priest to
pursue his own course and expose his own purposes. "He must do it
sooner or later," he said; "and then I shall discover what is the
meaning of this long discourse. In the mean time, he cannot shake
Eda's confidence in me, nor my love for her."

"I am happy to find," continued Dudley, aloud, "that such very just
and liberal views are entertained; for undoubtedly the definitions of
the Council of Trent have been one of the great stumbling-blocks in
the way of those persons who would willingly have abandoned doctrines
of which they are by no means sure, to embrace others emanating from a
church, the principal boast of which is its invariable consistency
with itself."

The priest looked at him with a doubtful and hesitating glance. He was
apprehensive, perhaps, of showing too much of the policy of the church
of Rome; and he stopped, as it was his invariable custom to do when
the expression of his opinions might do injury to the cause he
advocated, and no great object was to be obtained. He thought, indeed,
in the present instance, that something more might be ventured; but
yet he judged it more prudent to wait awhile, calculating that if he
managed well, growing passion might do the work of argument; and after
viewing, with Dudley, the little fountain, he turned back to the
house, directing his conversation to subjects of a totally different
character, grave but not ascetic, round which he threw a peculiar and
extraordinary charm. It was very strange the fascination of his manner
and conversation. When first its power was felt by any keen and quick
mind, one strove to grasp and analyze it, to ascertain in what it
consisted; but like those subtle and delicate essences which chemists
sometimes prepare, and which defy analysis, something, and that the
most important, that which gave efficacy and vigour to the whole,
always escaped. The words seemed nothing in themselves: a little
subtle, perhaps, somewhat vague, not quite definite. The manner was
calm and gentle, the look was only at wide distant moments emphatic;
but yet there was a certain spirit in the whole which seemed to glide
into the heart and brain, unnerving and full of languor, disarming
opposition, persuading rather than convincing, wrapping the senses in
pleasing dreams rather than presenting tangible objects for their
exercise. It was like the faint odours of unseen plants, which,
stealing through the night air, visit us with a narcotic rather than a
balmy influence, and lull us to a deadly sleep, without our knowing
whence they come or feeling the effect till it is too late.



CHAPTER VIII.


Sir Arthur Adelon, after leaving Eda and Dudley together, hurried back
as fast as he could go to the house of Mr. Clive, passing by the way
the man who had brought him the note, which he still held clasped
firmly in his hand. He was evidently a good deal agitated when he set
out; the muscles of his face worked, his brow contracted, and muttered
sentences escaped his lips. From this state he seemed to fall into
deep thought. The emotions probably were not less intense, but they
were more profound; and when he came near the house he stopped and
leaned for a moment against the gate, murmuring, "What can it be?"
After a pause of a moment or two he rang the bell, and asked the maid
who appeared, where the gentleman was who had sent him that letter.
The woman seemed somewhat confused, said she did not know anybody had
sent him a letter, but that Mr. Clive was in the drawing-room with his
daughter. Her embarrassment, and that of the baronet, however, were
removed, almost as she spoke the last words, by a voice calling down
the stairs and saying, "Sir Arthur Adelon, will you do me the honour
of walking up hither?"

The baronet instantly obeyed the invitation, but it was with a very
pale face, and the next instant he was in the room with Norries. The
latter had withdrawn into the chamber where his conference had taken
place with Clive, and he fixed a steadfast gaze on the baronet as he
entered; then turning towards the door, he closed it and waved his
visitor to a seat, taking one himself at the same time, and still
keeping his bright gray eyes fixed firmly upon the baronet's face.
Hitherto not a word had been spoken, and Norries remained silent for
some instants; but at length he said, "I perceive, both by your coming
and your demeanour, Sir Arthur Adelon, that you have not forgotten
me."

"Oh, no! Mr. Norries," replied the baronet; "I remember you quite
well, and am happy to see you. But is it not somewhat dangerous for
you to visit England just now?"

"Not in the least, I think," said Norries. "I am obliged to you for
your solicitude, Sir Arthur. If it had shown itself materially twelve
months ago, it might have kept me out of York Castle."

"I really do not see how I could have served you," answered Sir Arthur
Adelon; "indeed, I never knew that you were in York Castle."

"For three days," replied Norries, laconically. "But this is
irrelevant; let me speak of more important affairs. As your memory is
so good, you have probably not forgotten yet what took place eight and
six years ago, in regard to transactions affecting Charles Dudley,
Esquire, since dead."

"Well, sir, well!" cried Sir Arthur, "what of that?"

"You inquired once," said Norries, "for the correspondence respecting
that affair; I think I could give you some information concerning it."

"Was it not burnt?" exclaimed Sir Arthur. "You told me it was burnt."

"Pardon me, Sir Arthur," replied Norries; "I never told you any such
thing. My partner did, but he lied in this case as in many others, and
I, who knew little of the transaction at the time, found the papers
after his death, and have them safe in my possession."

There was some writing paper lying on the table, clean and unsullied;
but without knowing what he did, Sir Arthur Adelon took it in his
hands, and in two minutes it was twisted into every conceivable shape.
Norries gazed at him with the slightest possible smile; and in the end
he said, "I am afraid, Sir Arthur, that paper will not be very
serviceable; however, we can get more."

"Paha!" cried Sir Arthur Adelon; "let us think of serious things, Mr.
Norries. Those letters must be destroyed. Do you mean to say they were
all preserved?"

"Every one," answered Norries; "nay, more. I have spoken of eight and
of six years ago, but amongst the documents there are several of a
much earlier period, which show that the schemes then executed had
been long devising, that the purpose then accomplished had been long
nourished. The motives, too, are very evident from certain passages;
and I now tell you, Sir Arthur Adelon, that if I had been made aware
of the facts--of the whole facts--those schemes would never have been
accomplished, that purpose would have been frustrated."

And he gazed sternly at the baronet, setting his teeth hard.

"My partner, Mr. Sherborne," continued Norries, after a pause, during
which his companion uttered not a word, but remained with his eyes
bent down, and his teeth gnawing his nether lip; "my partner, Mr.
Sherborne, was a great scoundrel, as you know, Sir Arthur. In fact,
you knew it at the time you employed him."

"No, sir, I did not," exclaimed Sir Arthur, catching at the last word.

"Yes, Sir Arthur, you did," replied Norries, firmly; "or you never
would have employed him in so rascally a business."

"He suggested to me everything that was done," replied the baronet,
eagerly.

"In consequence of a private conversation, of which he made a note,"
rejoined Norries, "and of a letter, still preserved, so confirmatory
of the memorandum, that there can be no doubt of its accuracy."

The face of Sir Arthur Adelon flushed. He was a man of one sort of
courage, and he replied, haughtily, "I think you intend to insult me,
sir. Beware what you are doing."

"I am quite aware," answered Norries, slowly inclining his head;
"neither do I intend at all to insult you, Sir Arthur. I speak truth
in plain terms, having learned in sorrow and adversity that such is
the only right course to pursue. In justice and in good faith I ought
to place the whole of those papers in the hands of a gentleman nearly
related to that Mr. Dudley--his son, I mean."

"It could do him no good," exclaimed the baronet; "the thing is past
and gone; he ruined and dead; nothing can by any farther means be
recovered. This Mr. Dudley, could not regain a shilling, nor an acre
of his father's property, as you well know."

"True," replied Norries; "there are some things in law which have no
remedy, as I do well know; but it is right that the son should learn
who ruined his father, and he should have known long ago, but for one
circumstance which may perhaps operate still farther."

"What is that?" demanded the baronet, quickly; "I have no objection
whatsoever to give a considerable sum for the possession of those
papers. They can be of no use to any one but myself. Come, let us talk
reasonably, Mr. Norries--let us say a thousand pounds."

"Money will not do, here, sir," answered the other, in a contemptuous
tone; "it had its effect upon Mr. Sherborne, who was a rascal; but it
will have no effect upon his partner, who is an honest man."

"Then what, in heaven's name, do you want?" demanded Sir Arthur
Adelon.

"To see you act up to your professions, Sir Arthur," replied Norries.
"At the election which began poor Mr. Dudley's ruin, and which I had
some share in conducting on your part, you professed, and I really
believe entertained--for I think that, in that at least, you were
sincere--principles of firm and devoted attachment to the cause of the
people. You declared that if they did but return you to parliament,
you would advocate all measures in favour of their rights and
liberties; you were more than what is called a Radical--you were a
Reformer in the true sense of the word; you gloried in being descended
from the old Saxon race; you pointed out that your name itself was but
a corruption of that of one of our last Saxon princes; and you
promised to do your best to restore to the people that perfect freedom
which is an inalienable inheritance of the Saxon blood. You called
your son Edgar, in memory of Edgar Atheling, and you promised, in my
hearing, to maintain those principles at all times and under all
circumstances, with your voice, with your hand, with your heart's
blood. Now, Sir Arthur, I call upon you to redeem that promise; and if
you do, in the way I shall point out, you shall have those papers. I
have kept them back from the person to whom, perhaps, they ought
justly to have been given, because I would not blacken the name of one
whom I believed to be a true patriot. I found excuses for you in your
own mind to excuse to myself my retention of them. I knew you to be a
man of strong passions under a calm exterior; I knew that strong
passions, whenever they become masters, are sure to become despots;
and I thought that you had acted to the man we have mentioned, under
an influence that was overpowering--the influence of the strongest and
most ungovernable of all the passions: the thirst for revenge."

"Revenge!" exclaimed Sir Arthur. "Who told you I was moved by
revenge?"

"No one told me," answered Norries; "I knew it. I might have read it
in every line of those letters; I might have seen it in every deed you
did; but there was a portion of your previous history, Sir Arthur,
which I knew from my connexion with that part of the country, and
which when once the machinations were exposed to my view, afforded
the key to all. I ask you, Sir Arthur Adelon, whether some six or
seven-and-twenty years ago, Mr. Charles Dudley did not carry off from
your pursuit, the lady on whom you had fixed your heart?"

Sir Arthur Adelon's usually placid face assumed the expression of a
demon; and no longer averting his eyes from the fixed, stern gaze of
Norries, he stared full in his face in return, and slowly inclined his
head. He said not a word, but that look and that gesture were
sufficient reply. They said, more plainly than any words could have
spoken, "You have divined it all; you have fathomed the dark secret of
my heart to the bottom."

"Well, Sir Arthur," continued Norries, with a softened air, "I can
excuse strong passions, for I have them myself, and I know them at
times to be irresistible. In your case, I was sure you had been thus
moved. I looked upon you as a man devoted to the service of your
country; and I thought that, in a case where all other considerations
should give place to the interests of my country, it would be wrong to
damn for ever the name of one who might do her the best and highest of
services. There was but one thing that made me doubt your sincerity."

"You should not doubt it," said Sir Arthur; "I am as sincerely devoted
to the service of my country as ever."

"It is your general sincerity to which I allude," said the
plain-spoken Norries; "and the reason why I doubted it is this. When
you had effected your purpose--when you had ruined an honest and good
man, though a Norman and an aristocrat--you did not boldly and
fearlessly leave him to his fate; you afforded him assistance to save
a pitiful remnant of his property, and affected benevolence and
kindness to a man you hated. I understand it all, Sir Arthur; it was
not unnatural, but it was insincere."

"We had been upon good terms for many years," replied the baronet, who
had now resumed his usual demeanour.

"Good terms!" repeated Norries, with a laugh; "well, be it so. You are
now keeping up the appearance of good terms with the government which
you then opposed, and of which you spoke in language certainly
seditious, as it is called, and perhaps treasonable. These things have
created a doubt. That doubt must be removed, not by words and
professions, not by appearances and pretences, but by acts."

"Speak plainly," said Sir Arthur Adelon. "What is it that you want?"

"There is a meeting to be held at twelve o'clock this night in the
little town of Barhampton," said Norries, "where several gentlemen,
entertaining precisely the same sentiments which you expressed some
eight years ago to the people of Yorkshire, are to take into
consideration what decisive measures can be adopted for obtaining
those objects which you then professed to seek. I require that you
should then join us, and be one of us."

"Impossible!" cried Sir Arthur Adelon, with a look of consternation
and astonishment. "Would you have me attend a seditious meeting at
midnight with a man who has fled from the course of justice--I, a
magistrate for the county?"

A bitter smile came upon the lip of his companion; but he replied
immediately, "Even so! I would, indeed, Sir Arthur. The spirit of
patriotism is not so strong in you, it would seem, as the spirit of
revenge, or you would not hesitate. But thus much, to end all, one way
or the other: you either come, and, if you do come and frankly join
us, without any insincerity, receive the papers I have mentioned; or
you stay away, and Mr. Edward Dudley receives them."

"This is unfair!" exclaimed Sir Arthur Adelon.

"Unfair!" replied Norries; "how unfair, sir? I acting according to my
conscience, however you may be acting. My only reason for withholding
these letters from the person who would have a right to possess them,
if their suppression were not necessary to the service of my country,
is because I trust that you, whose name and station may be an infinite
advantage as a leader of the people hereafter, will put yourself in
that position in which no want of moral courage, no vacillating
hesitation can be shown, or would be possible. If you refuse to do so,
you will take from me my only motive for not giving them to him who
will know how to use them rightly. You will show yourself as insincere
in your professions of patriotism as you were insincere in your
professions of friendship; and I shall then regard you with contempt,
and treat you without consideration."

There was a stern and commanding energy in his manner which crushed
down, as it were, in the breast of Sir Arthur Adelon the angry
feelings which his impetuous words aroused. He felt cowed in the
presence of the bold, fearless man who addressed him. He remembered,
in former times, several traits of his decision and unhesitating
vehemence; and he felt sure that he would do as much or more than he
said. At first, indeed, anger was predominant; he gathered himself up,
as it were, for a spring; but his heart failed him, and he said in a
mild tone, "You are too fierce--you are too fierce! Let me consider
for a moment how this can be arranged. I am as willing as any one to
make sacrifices for my country's advantage; but first you take me by
surprise, next you use words and proceed in a manner which are little
likely to induce me to trust to your guidance."

He thought he had got an advantage, and he was proceeding, gradually
resuming a tone of dignity, when Norries stopped him, saying, "Sir
Arthur Adelon, there are times and circumstances which of themselves,
and in their own pressing nature, abridge all ceremonies. If your
house were on fire, and you in danger of perishing by the flames, I
should not wait for the punctilios of etiquette, but should wake you
roughly, saying, 'Run, run, save your life and your family!' Sir, I
tell you England is on fire, and the time is come for all men to
choose their part. The days of weak indifference are over. Now is the
time for decision and action; but nevertheless, I will not leave you
any excuse, but humbly entreat you to come to our meeting to-night,
and support with your presence, and your voice, and your influence,
those principles which you have asserted warmly on other occasions."

"But it may be very difficult to manage," said Sir Arthur Adelon; "I
have guests in my house, whom I cannot in courtesy leave without some
exceedingly good excuse. I am not accustomed to go out at such hours
of the night, and to do so will certainly appear very suspicious,
especially under existing circumstances."

"All that will be easily arranged," answered Norries. "You are a
magistrate, you say, and may consequently be called upon at any hour
on pressing occasions. You do not, of course, communicate to your
family or your guests the exact business which calls you forth, or the
motives for going at one hour rather than another; but should anything
more be wanting to smoothe the way for you, I will presently write you
a note, calling upon you to be at Barhampton to-night at twelve, on
matters of importance. I do not think," he added, with a sneering
smile, "that even your confessor will venture to cross-question a
gentleman of your independence upon a business with which he has
nothing to do."

"Certainly not," replied Sir Arthur Adelon; "and I have no objection
to come; but I cannot bind myself to anything till I hear upon what
measures your friends decide."

"Nor can I bind myself to anything, then, till I hear upon what you do
decide," rejoined Norries. "The papers are yours whenever you act up
to your professions. I shall ask nothing more, Sir Arthur. I have a
copy of your speech upon an occasion which you well remember; I will
require nothing more of you than to fulfil the pledges therein given,
and the moment you prove you are ready so to act, I resign into your
hands those letters, of which others might not judge so favourably as
I am inclined to judge. Do you promise to come?"

"I do," answered Sir Arthur Adelon, in a firmer tone than he had
hitherto used, but with a certain degree of bitterness too. "Yet,
Norries, there are various other thoughts and considerations of deep
moment, which our conversation of to-day suggests. It revives in me
the memories and feelings of past years. You should have considered
that these matters had passed away from my mind for a long time; that
of the plans, and hopes, and schemes, and passions of those times,
some have been accomplished or gratified, and have been well nigh
forgotten; some, from the utter hopelessness of seeing them
accomplished, have faded away, and become more like a vision than a
reality. What will not a man do when he is eager and excited with the
vehement impulse of fresh feelings and sharp discussions, and the
enthusiasm of those who surround him? But take those accessories away,
and the purposes themselves fall into a sleep from which it requires
some time and preparation to arouse them into active and energetic
being again. You should have considered this, and not pressed me so
eagerly without some preparation."

"Perhaps I should," replied Norries; "but, Sir Arthur, you have known
me long, and have known me to be a brief and abrupt man. _My_ purposes
never sleep; _my_ objects never fade: the one engrossing object of my
country's fate and the welfare of my fellow-men is never a passing
vision to my eyes, but a stern reality ever present, so that I am
little able to comprehend the hesitations of other men."

Sir Arthur Adelon, while the other spoke, had cast down his eyes
thoughtfully, as if little attending to the words of his companion;
but when he ceased speaking, he said, in an abstracted manner, "This
Dudley, too, he has intruded himself into my family. He is now at
Brandon, as you have doubtless heard. The cold, icy hand seemed to
seize my heart again when I saw him. I felt as if the spawn of the
viper were before me, and as if it were destined that the race were to
survive and poison my peace, even when the reptile that first stung me
was crushed."

Norries gazed at him steadfastly, with his brow contracted with a
steady, contemplative, inquiring look; and then he replied, "I do
beseech you, Sir Arthur Adelon, to banish such thoughts, to let the
faults of the dead, if faults there were, rest with the dead. I think
you believe in a God, do you not? Well, sir, there is a God who will
judge him and you. He is gone to receive his judgment; the time will
come, ere long, for you to receive yours. In the mean while, injure
not one who has never injured you, and pursue this fell and heinous
vengeance no further against the son of one whom you once loved----"

"And of one I always hated," answered the baronet, finishing the
sentence for him. "But do you not know, Norries, that as the sweetest
wine turns soonest to vinegar, so love, wronged and despised, changes
to the bitterest hate; as for the rest, I purpose pursuing no
vengeance against the young man. I wish he would quit my dwelling, for
the very feeling of being obliged to maintain a courteous and soft
demeanour towards him, increases the loathing with which I regard him.
That is all--that is all, I assure you; I would do him no harm--but I
love him not, nevertheless."

"I can see that, Sir Arthur Adelon," answered his companion; "and I
see, moreover, a dark and sinister fire in your eyes, which I observed
once before, when first in my presence you mentioned the name of Mr.
Dudley to my partner. There were deeds followed that mention, which I
need not call to your mind. I trust there will be none such now--nay,
nor any attempt towards them; if there be, I will prevent it. I am not
so good a lawyer--indeed, I know but little of the trade--I am not so
good a lawyer as Mr. Sherborne, but I am a bolder, more resolute, and
more honest man. However, I shall see you to-night. Is it not so?"

"Undoubtedly," answered Sir Arthur Adelon; "but you have not yet told
me where I shall find you in Barhampton."

"You had better go to the little inn--the Rose, I think it is called,"
replied Norries; "there is but one. There some one shall come to lead
you to us; for we are upon our guard, Sir Arthur, and resolute neither
to be taken unawares, as some men have been, nor to act rashly, and
bring down destruction on our own heads, as those thoughtless, weak,
and poor-spirited men did in Yorkshire."

"I am very happy to hear it," said the baronet, in a tone of
sincerity. "I will be there somewhat before twelve; till then,
farewell." And shaking Norries by the hand with every sort of apparent
cordiality, he left him, and returned to Brandon. But when he had
re-entered the house, he retired for some time to the library, not to
consider his future conduct, not to review the past. It was, in truth,
that the conversation of that morning had aroused within him feelings
dark, bitter, and deadly, which had slept for years; and he felt he
could not see Mr. Dudley without calming himself, lest sensations
should appear which he wished studiously to conceal from every eye.



CHAPTER IX.


With a quiet, cat-like watchfulness, Mr. Filmer remarked everything
which passed between Eda Brandon and Charles Dudley. It was not words
that he laid in wait for, but looks and gestures, the involuntary as
well as the voluntary, the trifling as well as the important. Nothing
escaped him, not even the accidental trait or the slightest possible
indication of a passing emotion. Not the quick glance of the eye,
withdrawn as soon as given, not the trembling hand nor the quivering
lip, not the irrepressible sigh; not the fit of absence and the sudden
raising of the look to the loved one's face, was unremarked by one who
knew human nature well, and had made a trade of observation. "They
love," was his conclusion, "and they understand each other. That walk
home has concluded what seems to have been begun long ago. Now, then,
what good is to be derived from this affair?"

It is a common calculation which he made, but one very apt to mislead.
Men who see others labouring for the gratification of their passions,
are often tempted by the opportunity to endeavour to rule them for
their own purposes, and then, whatever event occurs, they ask, "What
good is to be derived from this affair?" But they often miscalculate,
because they do not ask themselves also, "Is there anything to be made
of it, with honour and honesty?" If they did they might succeed where
they every day fail.

Mr. Filmer, however, had his own particular views, which led him upon
one peculiar course. His very position gave a direction to all his
actions. The Roman priest stands alone amidst the world, separated
from all the dearest ties of our nature by an irremovable barrier. He
may have sympathies, but they are curtailed and restricted; he may
have affections, but they are limited and enthralled. One predominant
object is ever before him: one career is fixed for his efforts. He
stands alone in the world, I repeat, not so much the servant of God as
the servant of a hierarchy, to the interest and advancement of which
all his energies must be devoted, and for whose purposes all his
talents must be employed. As long as he can bring the satisfaction of
affections, and the gratification of any passions, within the circle
to which the whole course of education from his earliest years has
restricted his consciousness of duty, perhaps they may be more
strongly--I had almost said more fiercely--exercised, from the very
fact of their narrow range; but the moment they would go beyond that
limit, the petrifying influence of an engrossing church comes in, and
changes the man into the mere representation of a system.

Such was the situation of Mr. Filmer. He was by no means without
passions: fiery, eager, impetuous; but they were subdued to the one
strict rule, and setting out with that mighty conquest, it was in
general more easy for him to subdue the minds of other men also. He
was not without considerable abilities--abilities approaching genius.
He might have been a great man, in short, if he had not been compelled
to be an artful man. But for a priest of that church, in the midst of
an adverse population, it is impossible to be otherwise. It is not a
religion of openness and candour; and its means must be covert, its
course tortuous and indirect. Even in the very case of Mr. Dudley, his
passions were not quiescent; but he was prepared to sacrifice all
personal feeling for the one great object of his existence, and he
watched, as I have said, asking himself, "To what uses the events
taking place could be applied?"

It was not, however, Dudley alone whom he watched, nor Dudley and Eda.
Sir Arthur Adelon was also an object of attentive consideration during
the evening. There was something in his manner which showed the keen
eye of the priest that the mind was not at ease: that there was
something working within the baronet's bosom; and he was surprised
that it was not revealed to him at once, for the secret of Sir Arthur
Adelon's thoughts was not often concealed from him. The whole of his
past life had been displayed before Filmer's eyes, and much which had
been taking place had been discussed again and again between them. So
far there was nothing to be concealed; and the priest marvelled that,
if anything had gone wrong in the course of Sir Arthur's morning
expedition, he could sit for several hours without communicating the
fact to him.

Sir Arthur, however, paused and hesitated; not that he feared at all
to recur to the past, but it was his yet unconfirmed purposes for the
future which he hesitated to reveal. He knew that Filmer was a firmer,
more resolute man than himself; he doubted that he would approve any,
even the slightest, concession to fear. That he was politic and
skilful he knew, and that his policy and skill would be exercised in
his patron's behalf he was also fully convinced. But there was a dread
upon him; and he apprehended that the priest would advise measures too
bold for his nerves at that time. If he had been forced into vigorous
defence, Sir Arthur would have sought his advice at once; but there
was a choice of courses before him; he hesitated: hesitation is always
a weakness, and as such is sure to take the weaker course. Twice,
however, during the evening, he caught Filmer's eye resting upon him
with a very inquiring look. He judged that he suspected something, and
therefore he resolved in the end to tell him a part; to show him a
half-confidence; deceiving himself, as all men in such circumstances
do deceive themselves, and believing that he could to a certain extent
deceive Mr. Filmer also, although he had known that clear-sighted and
penetrating man for seven-and-twenty years.

The dinner passed most cheerfully with all but Sir Arthur Adelon. Lord
Hadley was in great spirits; and, seated next Eda, he made himself as
agreeable as moderate talents, gentlemanly manners, and no very
decided character would admit. Dudley was calm, by no means so gay as
his young companion; but yet the happiness that was in his heart, like
a lamp within an alabaster urn, spread light and cheerfulness over
all. Mr. Filmer was, as usual, composed and tranquil in his manner; at
times impressive in his language, but often adding to the gaiety of
others by a quiet jest or epigrammatic reply, which derived additional
force from his seeming unconscious of its possessing any. Eda left the
table very soon after the dessert had appeared. There were those
things in her bosom which made her feel happy in the solitude of her
own chamber. Thought, calm, uninterrupted thought, was at that moment
very sweet to her. She loved and was beloved; and she had the grand
satisfaction of feeling that she had it in her power to raise one to
whom her affections had been given for years, who possessed her
highest esteem, and who she knew well deserved high station, from
unmerited misfortunes to the position which he was born to ornament.
It was indeed a blessing, and Eda went and pondered upon it till her
eyes filled with pleasant tears.

For about a quarter of an hour after she had gone, Sir Arthur Adelon
continued at the table, passing the wine with somewhat nervous haste,
and keeping up a broken conversation from which his thoughts were
often absent. At length he said, speaking across the table, "Filmer,
my reverend friend, I wish to speak with you for a few minutes: Lord
Hadley, Mr. Dudley, you must not suffer the wine to stand while we are
absent; I shall be back almost immediately." And he led the way out of
the room.

Filmer followed him with a quiet smile, saying to himself, as he
walked along towards the library, "What men do timidly they always do
awkwardly; in that they are different from women, in whom timidity is
grace. Adelon has had twenty opportunities of speaking to me, and has
of course chosen the worst."

"Well, Filmer," said the baronet, almost before the door was closed,
"I have something to talk to you about of great importance."

"I thought so, Sir Arthur," answered Mr. Filmer. "What is it?"

"Why did you think so?" inquired his friend, somewhat surprised, and
somewhat apprehensive.

"Because it seemed to me that you had been annoyed at something,"
replied Filmer. "When you are uneasy, Sir Arthur, it is soon
perceived; too soon, indeed. The young and unobserving may not remark
such things, but one who has been, I trust I may say, your friend for
so many years, can perceive when you are uneasy in a moment; and a
very shrewd judge of men's feelings and actions, which I do not
pretend to be, would, I doubt not, discover the uneasiness, even
without having had the advantage of such long acquaintance."

These words, as he intended, added to the embarrassment which Sir
Arthur already felt; but nevertheless he pursued his course,
endeavouring, as far as possible, to conceal that he had any
concealment. "Well, Filmer, well," he said, "men cannot alter their
natures, you know; and the matter is one which might well cause
uneasiness. You recollect that affair of Charles Dudley? You do not at
all doubt that this is his son who is here?"

"No," answered Mr. Filmer, drily; "but we knew that last night. I
certainly did, from the moment I saw the back of his head, and your
face left no doubt that you had made the same discovery."

"The very first sight of him," answered Sir Arthur Adelon, bitterly,
"and the feelings which that sight produced, left me no doubt of who
it was that stood before me. But listen a moment, Filmer--listen a
moment. There is much more behind. You remember well that business of
Charles Dudley, I say, of him who was my friend and companion, my
rival and my enemy, and last, my acquaintance----"

"And your victim," murmured Filmer, in so low a tone that Sir Arthur
Adelon did not remark the words, but added, "and my debtor. You
doubtless also remember the election which we contested, and my
lawyers, Messrs. Sherborne and Norries?"

"Perfectly," answered Filmer; "the one the soul of policy and
intrigue; shrewd, penetrating, subtle, and faithless; the other, the
incarnation of republican energy and determination, rash and
inconsiderate, though full of vigour and ability. He was implicated a
short time ago in the Chartist insurrection, apprehended with his
fellows, if I remember right, and thrust into York jail----"

"Whence he made his escape in two or three days," rejoined Sir Arthur
Adelon. "It would be a strong prison that would keep him in. However,
Sherborne is dead; Norries alive, well, and in this country."

"That is no great matter, then," answered Mr. Filmer. "Sherborne was
the dangerous man, and he is gone. All your communications were with
him, my good friend; at least as far I know, and I think I saw every
letter."

The words, "I think," were spoken in a somewhat doubtful tone, as if
he did not feel quite sure of the extent of Sir Arthur's confidence;
but the baronet replied, eagerly, "Every one, Filmer; and indeed, as
you well know, many of them were dictated by yourself."

"True!" said the priest--"true! I am happy to say they were; I say I
am happy, Sir Arthur, because it was but right that that man should
receive a check. Not contented with marrying a lady of the only true
church, who was promised by her relations to one of their own just and
reasonable belief, he perverted her from the path of truth into that
of error, and in twelve months had filled her mind with all the
foulest doctrines of that heresy in which he had himself been brought
up. It was just and right, Sir Arthur, that he should not be permitted
to go on in such a course, and that he should feel even here the
consequences of those acts."

"Yes; but my dear friend," replied Sir Arthur Adelon, "those papers
are of much importance, let me tell you. Both your character and mine
are compromised if they should ever see the light----"

"But you told me they were burned," said Mr. Filmer, with a
countenance less firm and tranquil than usual.

"Yes; so Sherborne assured me most solemnly," replied Sir Arthur
Adelon; "but nevertheless it is not the truth. They are all in the
hands of this Norries, and he is using every possible means to render
them available for his own purposes."

This was, as the reader knows, substantially true; for Sir Arthur
Adelon was one of those men who do not like to tell a direct
falsehood, even when it is their intention to deceive; and he intended
his words to convey to the mind of the priest a very different
impression of Norries' intentions, while he could always fall back
upon the precise terms he had employed, and put a larger
interpretation upon them than Mr. Filmer was likely to do at the
moment.

The priest mused. "Why what can he do with them?" he demanded, at
length, still in a thoughtful tone. "They can be of little service to
him. The time is long past; the circumstances altogether forgotten.
Charles Dudley, of St. Austin's, is dead----"

"But his son is living," replied the baronet, quickly, impatient
that his companion did not see the importance of the documents at
once--"his son is living; Norries knows that he is here, and he
threatens to place the whole of the papers in his hands."

"That might be unpleasant, certainly," answered Filmer; "although you
had every right to act as you did act, at least such I humbly judge to
be the case; yet one would not like to have all one's private and
confidential communications to a solicitor exposed to the eyes of an
adversary's son."

"Like!" exclaimed Sir Arthur, vehemently; "Filmer, you use wonderfully
cold terms to-night! Why, it would be ruin and destruction! Call to
mind, I beg of you, all the particulars of the transaction. Remember
what was done to lead him on from expense to expense in that business.
Remember all which that man Sherborne suggested, and which we
executed. The matter of the petition, too, against his return, and
what was arranged between our people and his own agents, and the
business of the flaw in the title. You must have forgotten, I think."

"Oh! no," replied the priest; "I have not forgotten, Sir Arthur, and I
say it would be unpleasant, very unpleasant. What does this person
Norries ask for the papers?"

"Oh! a great deal," answered Sir Arthur Adelon, still speaking with
that sort of mental reservation which he had learned betimes; "more
than I am inclined to grant: a great deal more; but I shall see him
to-night. I have an appointment with him at Barhampton, and shall
there learn what is the real extent of his demand."

The priest meditated for several minutes with a grave and somewhat
anxious countenance. "Norries," he said, at length, "was a wild and
somewhat eccentric man, but as far as I could judge, a just and honest
one. His views, too, though somewhat extreme, as his acts were
occasionally ill-timed, were all in a right direction. I am afraid,
Sir Arthur, we have fallen back from the ground we then occupied. The
truth is, my excellent friend, the Church of Rome, as it is called,
the Catholic Church, as it really is, has not that tendency which men
suppose towards the aristocratic distinctions which have risen up in
this land. It might place upon its banner the words 'Civil liberty,
spiritual submission.' It reverences all ancient things: amongst the
rest, ancient blood; but is certainly opposed to an aristocracy
springing from the people, and founded upon wealth; although in itself
it may be termed a spiritual republic, in which every man, according
to his genius and ability, can, with the grace of God, rise to the
very highest of its grades, even to the chair of St. Peter itself. We
have often seen it. But, as is the case in all republics, the utmost
submission is required to the ruling power, although there is always a
corrective for the misuse of power in the synods and councils. It is a
hierarchy, indeed, but a hierarchy open to all men; and as a hierarchy
it is opposed to the domination of all lay powers, which are ever
inclined to resist the milder influence of spiritual powers."

"But what has all this to do with the question?" exclaimed Sir Arthur
Adelon, not comprehending what the reader has perhaps perceived, that
the priest was carrying on in words one train of reasoning, very
loosely connected with the immediate subject, while in thought he was
revolving more pertinently all the difficult points that were before
him.

"What I mean to say is this," replied Mr. Filmer. "Men consider it
strange that Roman Catholics should, from time to time, give their
support to movements savouring of republicanism; and that persons
whose views tend to republicanism should often link themselves closely
with Catholics; but as I have shown, the connexion is not at all
unnatural, and the views of this good man Norries might well be, as
they were, supported by ourselves; even were it not perfectly right
and justifiable, in the pursuit of a great and all-important object,
to combine even with men the most opposed to us in the minor points of
politics, when by so doing we see the probability of advancing the
truth."

"What! would you have me, then, join with him now?" exclaimed Sir
Arthur, in considerable surprise; for the arguments of Father Peter
went so directly to support the inducements held out by Norries, that
the baronet could hardly persuade himself there had not been some
communication between the Chartist and the priest.

"I did not exactly say that," answered Filmer. "Men's views frequently
undergo a change in a few years. I know not what this man's opinions
may now be. He was then an eager advocate for perfect freedom of
religious opinions; he was then for sweeping away altogether what they
call here the Church of the State, and leaving every man to follow
what creed he thinks best."

"But, surely, my reverend friend," exclaimed Sir Arthur Adelon, "such
are principles you would never support or even tolerate? It was in his
religious views alone that I differed from Norries."

The priest smiled with one of those calm, sagacious smiles that have a
certain though moderate portion of triumph in them, the triumph of
superior astuteness. "I would support them for their hour," he said.
"I remember hearing of a wise stratagem practised by a great general
who was besieging a refractory city. The inhabitants had dammed up a
river which ran on one side of the town, and thus had defended their
walls on that side from all attack. The dam or barrier which they had
constructed was immediately under the fire of one of their strongest
works, so that it was unassailable; but the general of whom I speak,
by a week's hard labour, turned the course of a still larger river
into that which served for their defence, and the mighty torrent,
rushing down, swept away the barriers altogether. The river resumed
its equal flow, and the attacking army, marching on, took the town by
storm on the very side where it had been judged impregnable. Now, my
dear friend, the Catholic religion is the attacking army; the revolted
and besieged city is this country of England; the overflowed river
which defends us is moderate toleration of opinion; the barrier which
keeps the waters up is the heretical church of this country, and we
have nought to do but to pour the torrent of licentious freedom
against that barrier till it is quite overthrown, in order to have a
clear way for our march, and to secure our ultimate triumph."

The baronet paused and mused for several moments, partly considering
the new views which his companion had propounded, partly debating with
himself as to whether he should make his confidence more complete than
he had at first intended, and before he replied Mr. Filmer went on
again. "I do not mean to say, Sir Arthur," he continued, "that I would
advise you to take any rash or dangerous step; and indeed, on the
contrary, I think you had a great deal better, while you give
encouragement to the moral movement, oppose most strongly all appeal
to force, till the country is far more prepared for it than at
present. To show yourself upon their side may give vigour to their
proceedings, may gain many adherents to range themselves openly with
them who are merely restrained by fear and timidity, and may assist
them in raising that prestige of power, numbers, and respectability,
which, if it can be maintained, conquers in the end all opposition;
for as you are well aware, so curiously constituted is the mind of
this nation, that no question, however absurd, no view, however false,
no measure, however evil and detrimental, will not gain the adherence
of the great multitude if they can once be taught to believe, by truth
or falsehood, that it is supported by numbers and by respectability. I
have no doubt that, if I could show, or rather, if I could persuade,
the people of England that there are a million or two of atheists in
the land demanding the abolition of all religious worship whatsoever,
the great body of the people would be easily induced to renounce their
God, and endeavour to sweep away every trace of religion from the
land. There is no being on the face of the earth so susceptible of
moral contagion as an Englishman."

"It is a dark view of the case," said Sir Arthur Adelon.

"But a true one," answered Filmer; "otherwise England would have been
still Catholic. However, to return to these papers. You say you will
see Norries again tonight; you must then discover what is the extent
of his demand. I would make him no promises, were I in your place,
till I had had time for thought and deliberation; neither would I
refuse anything that he might demand, that is to say, not absolutely,
till we have consulted together. I will go with you, if you like, to
speak with him."

"I do not think he would open his views before another," said Sir
Arthur, hastily; "but as it is well, my reverend friend, to be
prepared against the worst, let us consider what must be done should
this man's views be very exorbitant, and should he refuse all time for
deliberation."

"Then you must say 'No,' of course," replied Filmer; "and we will take
measures against his measures."

"I see none that we can take," answered the baronet, gloomily. "He
would instantly place the papers in this young man's hands, and then
ruin, and destruction, and disgrace, would be the consequence."

"Should you find that there is danger of his doing so suddenly," was
Mr. Filmer's reply, "we must deal with Mr. Dudley ourselves, either in
attaching him to us by bringing him over to the true faith again,
or----"

"There is no chance of that; there is no chance of that!" exclaimed
the baronet, interrupting him, and waving his hand impatiently.
"Filmer, you think your eloquence can do everything; but you could as
soon move the church of St. Peter, and set it down in the capital of
England, as you would bring back to the true faith one of that
stubborn race of heretics!"

"You are prejudiced, my friend," replied Filmer, calmly; "but do not
suppose that I rely upon my own eloquence. It can do nothing but by
strength from on high, and the voice of the true church is powerful.
Still, temporal means must be employed as well; and I see a way before
me of so completely rendering it his interest, notwithstanding every
cause of enmity he may have, to bury all past deeds in oblivion, to
seek your friendship rather than your hate, and, I trust, even to
return to the bosom of the church, that I am not without very great
hopes of success. Should those hopes prove vain, however, my dear Sir
Arthur, should he show himself deaf to the voice of truth, obstinate
in error, revengeful and rancorous in disposition, we must use the
right of self-defence, which every creature has, and in a firm,
determined spirit, but with prudent skill, retort upon him any attack
he may make upon you, and without hesitation or fear, aim blow after
blow, till he either sinks beneath the assault, or is driven to flight
for safety."

His brow gathered into a stern and determined frown as he spoke; and
Sir Arthur Adelon so well knew his unflinching resolution in the hour
of danger, and his keen and subtle policy in the time of difficulty,
that he gained courage from the courage of his companion, and smiled
with some bitter satisfaction at the thought of pursuing the vengeance
he had already heaped upon the father to the destruction of the son
likewise. He only ventured to observe, "How either of these two
objects is to be accomplished, I do not see."

"Leave that to me," answered Filmer, in a confident tone. "I think you
have never known me fail, Sir Arthur, in that which I promised you to
perform. I will mature my plans, prepare my ground for either course;
and though there may be difficulties which would startle a weak,
irresolute, or unpractised mind, they alarm not me. On the contrary, I
often think it is a blessing of God that I am placed in a calm and
tranquil position of life, and have embraced a sacred profession,
which rules and regulates the turbulent impulses of our nature; for I
feel a sort of expansion of mind and rejoicing of heart when
circumstances compel me to struggle with intricate and perilous
difficulties, and overcome stubborn and apparently insurmountable
obstacles, which might have led me, had I not been excluded from
mundane things, into the strife and toil and degrading greatness of
mere earthly ambition."

It is probable that he really believed what he said; for there is no
man who does not deceive himself more or less; and those who from
passion, or interest, or education, or any other evil inducement,
fall into the darkest errors, are those who are in most need of
self-deception. He thought deeply for a moment or two after he had
spoken, and there was a gloomy look of pride upon his countenance,
too, as if he even regretted that in which he pretended to rejoice: a
shadow from the fallen archangel's wing. But then again he roused
himself with a start, and said, in an ordinary and composed tone, "We
will talk over our old plans early to-morrow, Sir Arthur; you had
better now go to your conference."

"Not yet," said Sir Arthur, rising. "It is not to take place till
twelve. But we must rejoin those young men, or they may think our
prolonged absence strange." Thus saying, he led the way to the door,
and Filmer only detained him to add one sentence:--

"Remember," he said, "do not commit yourself!"



CHAPTER X.


The town of Barhampton--or rather, that town which it suits me so to
denominate--is one of no great importance in point of size, and of no
great commerce, for railroads have not yet reached it; and the nearest
point which had been attained by any of those strange contrivances for
hurrying man through life and through a country, lay at the distance
of nearly fifty miles at the time of which I speak. Nevertheless, it
was a sea-port; and had it been near the capital, near any important
town, or situated in a thickly-populated district, it possessed
several considerable advantages, which would have secured to it, in
all probability, an extensive and lucrative trade. It had a very nice
small harbour, for which man had done something and nature much. The
water was deep therein; and had there been room for one of the
unwieldy monsters of the deep, a three-decker might have lain at
anchor there with six fathom under her keel. But the harbour was very
small, and had a line-of-battle ship attempted it, her boom would
probably have knocked down the harbour-master's office at the end of
the little jetty, while her bowsprit entered the Lord Nelson
public-house by the windows of the first floor. Boats and coasters, of
from thirty to ninety tons, could come in at all times of tide, but
nothing larger was seen in the harbour of Barhampton.

Outside the harbour, however, in what was called the bay, especially
when the wind set strong from the southwest, a very different scene
was displayed, for there nature seemed to have laboured alone on a far
grander scale. Two high and rocky promontories, at some points about a
mile and a half apart, stretched forth from the general line of the
coast into the sea, like two gigantic piers. One, following the line
of the high ridge which crowned it, was nearly straight; the other
swept round in the arc of a large circle, projecting considerably
farther into the ocean than the other, but gradually approaching, in
its sweep, the opposite promontory; so that, at the entrance of this
magnificent bay, the passage was not more than half a mile in width.
Few winds, of all those to which mariners have given name, affected in
any great degree the deep still waters within that high and
mountainous circle; and there, when tempests were raging without,
might be seen riding, in calm security, the rich argosie and the
stately ship of war. No cargoes, however, were now disembarked at
Barhampton, except those of the small vessels which entered the
harbour, and which supplied the town and the neighbouring country with
a variety of miscellaneous articles of ordinary use.

Nevertheless, in former times, the town, it would appear, must have
been a place of some importance. Rising up the slopes of the hills,
from the brink of the harbour, its narrow, tortuous, ill-lighted,
unswept, and dilapidated-looking streets reached the summit of the
high ground, where a number of superior houses were to be found,
somewhat stately in appearance, antique in form, and cold and formal
in aspect, except, indeed, where a cheerful little garden interposed,
blushing with china-astres, dahlias, and other autumnal flowers. Yet
even these could not give it an air of life, or if they did at all, it
was an air of vegetable life. There was no movement, there was no
activity in it. It seemed as if everybody in the place was dead,
except a few men who had come in to bury the rest. Beyond these houses
of the better classes, as rich people are called, were some poorer
dwellings, descending the slope on the opposite side of the ridge; and
beyond these again, came the ancient walls of the town, built and
perfected when Barhampton was a place of strength.

The town had not, indeed, been dismantled even yet, but it had been
disarmed; and now, instead of large cannon, and soldiers 'bearded like
pard,' the broad ramparts displayed the nursery-maids and the little
children of the citizens flirting with apprentices, or peeping out of
empty embrasures; or, on the Sunday, the great mass of the inhabitants
of the town walking in gay attire, enjoying the fine air, and gazing
over the wide prospect. Round about, nearly in the shape of a
horse-shoe, from one point of the harbour to the other, enclosing the
whole city, if it could be so called, within their area, swept those
old walls, time-worn, and lichen-covered, and loaded with snapdragon.
No mason's trowel, no busy chisel, had been employed upon them for
more than two centuries, and the hard knocks of Oliver Cromwell's
cannon had left traces still unobliterated even by the equalizing hand
of time.

The external appearance of the place was not at all deceptive. The
march of improvement was not a quick march in Barhampton. In fact, in
the space of fifty years, but one improvement had been made in the
town, and the audacious and reforming mayor, who had sanctioned,
recommended, and successfully carried out this act of innovation, had
been held in execration ever since by a considerable portion of his
fellow-townsmen. The deed I speak of was the enlargement of the
High-street, and the giving it as near as possible a straightforward
direction. It would now admit two carriages, or even waggons, abreast
in every part; formerly only one could pass, except at particular
places, where a greater expansion had been purposely given to the
road, in order to prevent the comers up and goers down from jamming
each other together immovably. In previous times, also, this street
had pursued a sort of zigzag direction, which nearly doubled its
length, and this had evidently been done, not for the purpose of
avoiding the acclivities, but rather for that of finding them out; for
even in going down the hill, carriages had to mount as often, though
not so far at any one time, as they had to descend; and in coming up,
one rise seemed only to be overcome in order to go down and seek for
another.

The same innovating magistrate who had committed the heinous act of
straightening and widening the street, had expressed an antipathy to
the old town gates, and their heavy oaken doors, with portcullis and
draw-bridge; but the whole town rose as one man to resist his rash and
horrible proceedings. In vain he showed that more than one horse had
taken fright in going over the clattering, rickety, old bridge; in
vain he pointed out that a very respectable old lady had broken her
neck at the same spot, by a fall into the ditch. The people said that
the horses were mad and the lady drunk, to do such things; and the
mayor died, like all great patriots, before he saw his schemes for the
improvement of his native place carried into full accomplishment.

Thirty years had passed since the reign of this potentate, and a
change had come over the spirit of the people of Barhampton. There
were many great reformers in the place--men who sighed for a complete
change in all things--who stood up for the rights and liberties of the
people; who would have all men permitted to sell gin and cordial
compounds from any hour at which they chose to begin, to any hour at
which they chose to end; who corrected municipal abuses, and
castigated corrupt parish officers; who worried the mayor, tormented
the aldermen, bored the county magistrates and members of parliament,
abused the overseers, and set even the beadle at nought. But in the
mending of their ways they still forgot to mend the ways of the city:
that did not come under their notions of reform. They refused a
church-rate, and therefore could not be expected to vote a paving and
lighting rate. They objected to all taxes of all kinds, and most of
all they objected to tax themselves. They evaded imposts wherever they
could; paid grumblingly those they were compelled to pay; cheated the
customs by prescription, and the excise by cunning; and thought
themselves pure and immaculate if they only defrauded the state and
escaped the law. How often is it with men, that punishment rather than
crime is considered disgraceful!

But I must not moralize upon the little community of Barhampton.
Things went on increasing and prospering with the reformers. At first
they were moved apparently by nothing but the pure spirit of
innovation; but there were some men of more mind amongst them than the
rest; and having all agreed upon the necessity of great and sweeping
changes in church, state, and municipality, they proceeded to inquire
what sort of changes were desirable. They instructed themselves in
what other people demanded, and thus the reforming part of the
population divided itself into three distinct portions, consisting of
Whigs, Radicals, and Chartists. Amongst the former were some of the
most respectable and dullest men of the town: the Radicals comprised
the great body of the mob-ocracy. The Chartists were men of
enthusiastic temperaments, sincere and eager characters, and in many
instances, of considerable powers of mind. They saw great social
evils, magnified their extent by the force of imagination, and,
unaccustomed to any of the details of public business, perceived but
one remedy for the sickness of the state, and imagined that remedy to
be a panacea for all ills. Moral force was a good thing in their eyes,
but physical force they thought a better. They believed themselves
prepared for all contingencies; they imagined themselves ready to shed
their blood in support of that which they never doubted to be good;
they dreamed of the crown of martyrdom in their country's service;
and, in short, they were political fanatics, though not a small
portion of true patriotism lay at the bottom of their yearnings for
revolution. On most occasions the Radicals would join with them, and
therefore the Chartists looked upon them for the time as brothers; but
the union was not solid, and in more important matters still, the
Radicals were disposed to support the Whigs. This fact began to be
felt a little before the period at which my tale opens. The Chartists
imagined that they perceived a greater sympathy in many points between
themselves and the Tories, than between themselves and the Whigs; that
there was more real philanthropy, a greater wish to see the condition
of the lower classes materially improved, amongst persons of Tory
principle, than in any other class. But there were also fundamental
differences, which rendered perfect assimilation with them impossible,
and though they regarded the Tories with a kindly feeling, they could
not unite with them for any great object.

Such was briefly the state of the town, physical and moral, when the
carriage of Sir Arthur Adelon rolled through the gates, which had not
been closed for half a century; and a drag having been put on, it
began to descend slowly the principal street of the place. In that
principal street was situated the small inn called the Rose, which,
though there were numerous public-houses, was the only place which
kept post-horses, and honoured itself by the name of hotel. The
streets were miserably dark, and nearly deserted, and Sir Arthur
Adelon felt a little nervous and uneasy at the thought of what was
before him.

In the heat of blood and party strife, men will go boldly and
straight-forwardly towards objects pointed out by principles in their
own mind, and will seek those objects and assert those principles at
the risk of life and fortune, and all that makes life and fortune
desirable. But they proceed upon the same course with very different
feelings when, in calmness and tranquillity, after a long cessation of
turmoil and contest, they return to the same paths, even though their
general views may remain unchanged, and they may think their purposes
as laudable as ever.

Such was the case with Sir Arthur Adelon. Perhaps, if one looked
closely into his heart, and could see, not only what was in it at the
present moment, but what I may call the history of his sensations, we
should find that his having embraced the extreme views which he
entertained had originated in mortified vanity and an embittered
spirit. An early disappointment, acting upon a haughty and somewhat
vindictive temper, had soured his feelings towards society in general;
and when, shortly afterwards, he had met a check, by the refusal of a
peerage which he thought he had well merited, a bitter disgust
succeeded towards institutions in which he was excluded from the high
position he had coveted, and he became anxious to throw down other men
from a position which he could not attain. It was by no regular
process of reasoning from these premises that he arrived at the
extremely democratical opinions which he often loudly proclaimed; but
the events of his early life gave a general bias to his thoughts,
which led him step by step to the violent views which he announced in
two contested elections in Yorkshire; and at the present time, though
he had sunk into temporary apathy, his notions were not at all
moderated even by years and experience. He was not inclined, indeed,
to risk so much, or to engage in such rash enterprises, as he might
have done in the hasty days of youth; but the long-buried seeds were
still in his mind, and it only required warmth and cultivation to make
them spring up as green and fresh as ever. Nevertheless, he approached
discussions in which he felt he might be carried beyond the point
where prudence counselled him to stop, with a great degree of nervous
anxiety; and he almost hoped, as his carriage stopped at the inn door,
and no signs of waking life appeared but the solitary lamp over the
little portico, that some accident might have prevented the meeting.
The next instant, however, a light shone through the glass door, and a
waiter appearing, approached the step of the carriage, saying, "The
gentleman told me to tell you, Sir Arthur, that he would be back in a
few minutes."

The baronet bit his lip--there was now no escaping; and following the
waiter to a sitting-room, he ordered some sherry, and took two or
three glasses, but they did not raise his spirits. All was silent in
the town; not a sound was heard but the sighing of the breeze from the
bay, and a faint sort of roar, which might be the wind in the chimney,
or the breaking of the sea upon the shore. Solemn and slow, vibrating
in the air long after each stroke, the great clock of the old church
struck twelve, and Sir Arthur Adelon muttered to himself, "I will not
wait, at all events; they cannot expect me to wait." One, two, three
minutes passed by, and the baronet rose, and was approaching the bell,
when the foot of the waiter was heard running up the stairs, and the
door was opened.

"The gentleman, sir," said the waiter; and entering more slowly, a
stout, hard-featured, red-haired man appeared, well dressed, and
though clumsily made, not of an ungentlemanly appearance. Sir Arthur
had never seen his face before, and gazed on him with some surprise;
but the stranger waited till the door was closed again, and then
advancing, with a slight bow, he said, "Sir Arthur Adelon, I believe?"

"The same, sir," replied the baronet. "I expected to find another
gentleman here. May I ask whom I have the honour of addressing?"

"My name, sir, is Mac Dermot," replied the stranger; "and my friend,
Mr. Norries, who is probably the person you allude to, would have been
here to receive you, but being detained with some preliminary
business, he requested me to come hither, and be your guide a little
farther in the town."

The name given was information sufficient to Sir Arthur Adelon
regarding the person before him. He saw one of the chief leaders of
the great, though somewhat wild and ill-directed movement, in which he
himself had taken, as yet, a very inconsiderable part. He felt that
his very communication with such a man compromised him in a high
degree; and he was anxious to ascertain how much Mac Dermot really
knew of his affairs before he proceeded farther. He therefore slowly
drew on his gloves, and took up his hat, saying, "I am very happy to
see you, Mr. Mac Dermot. I suppose my old acquaintance, Mr. Norries,
has made you acquainted with the various circumstances in which he has
been connected with me?"

"Not particularly," replied his companion. "He has informed us that he
acted for some time as your solicitor, when you were residing in
Yorkshire; and he has laid before us the report of several speeches
which you made at that time, with which, I may add, I was myself well
acquainted before; but which has given great satisfaction to every one
present, from the prospect of seeing a gentleman of such rank and
influence, and one who can so eloquently express our own exact
sentiments, likely to be united with us once more in advocating the
cause of the people against those who oppress them. Will you permit me
to lead the way?"

Sir Arthur Adelon had marked every word that was spoken with peculiar
attention, and Mac Dermot's reply was a great relief to him. Norries
had not mentioned the power he had over him, and moreover the words
'advocating the cause of the people' seemed to him to imply that
nothing of a violent or physical nature was intended; and that all the
leaders of the movement had in view was to endeavour to strengthen
themselves in public opinion by argument and by moral force.

He therefore followed with a lighter step, and was conducted through
several narrow and tortuous streets and back lanes, to a house which
presented no very imposing appearance, as far as it could be
discovered in the darkness of the night. The door was low and narrow,
and stood ajar; and when Mac Dermot pushed it open, and Sir Arthur saw
the passage by a light which was at the other end, he said to himself,
"There can be no very formidable meeting here, for there does not seem
to be room for a dozen men in the whole house." He was conducted
through the passage to a staircase as narrow, which led to a long sort
of gallery, running round what seemed a stable-yard, at the end of
which was a door, which Mac Dermot held open for his companion to
pass. When Sir Arthur had gone through, his guide closed the door and
locked it, and then saying, "This way, sir," led him to another door,
at which a man was standing immoveable, with a lamp in his hand. There
Mac Dermot knocked, and the door was unlocked and opened from within.

The next moment Sir Arthur Adelon found himself in a very large,
low-ceilinged, ill-shaped room, with a long table in the midst. There
were several tallow candles round about, emitting a most disagreeable
odour, and casting a red, glaring, unsatisfactory light upon the faces
of between thirty and forty men, seated at the board in various
attitudes. At the head of the table, in an armchair, appeared Norries,
such as I have described him before; but any attempt to paint the
other groups in the room would be vain, for every sort of face, form,
and dress which England can display, was there assembled, from the
sharp, shrewd face of long-experienced age, to the delicate features
of the beardless lad; from the stout and stalwart form of the hardy
yeoman, to the sickly and feeble frame of the over-tasked artisan of
the city. Here appeared one in the black coat and white neck-cloth
usually worn by the ministers of religion; there a man in the garb of
a mechanic: in one place a very spruce blue satin handkerchiefed
gentleman, with yellow gloves, and close by him another who was
apparently a labouring blacksmith, with his hands brown and sooty from
the forge. An elderly man, in a well-worn flaxen wig, and large eyes
like black cherries, might have passed by his dress for a very small
country attorney, and opposite to him sat a broad-shouldered man of
six foot two, in a blue coat, leather breeches, and top-boots,
probably some large farmer in the neighbourhood of the town.

Two seats were reserved on each side of the chairman; and while Mac
Dermot locked the door again, and every person present rose, Sir
Arthur Adelon, with his stately step and aristocratic air, but, if the
truth must be told, with a good deal of disgust and some anxiety at
heart, walked up to the head of the table, shook hands with Norries,
and took one of the vacant chairs. The other was immediately occupied
by Mac Dermot, and then rising, the chairman said, "Gentlemen, I have
the honour of introducing to you Sir Arthur Adelon, whose station and
fortune afford the lowest title to your esteem. Far higher in mind
than in rank, far richer in generous qualities and in mental
endowments than in wealth, he has ever shown himself the friend of
that great and majestic body, the people of this country; he has
always professed and undauntedly maintained the same opinions which we
conscientiously entertain; and he is ready, I am sure, to go heart and
hand with us in all just and reasonable measures for the defence of
our rights and liberties."

The whole party assembled gave the baronet a cheer, and the sensations
with which Sir Arthur had entered began already to wane, even in the
first excitement of the moment. Here, however, I must drop the curtain
over a scene of which the reader has probably had enough, and proceed
to other events of no less importance in this tale.



CHAPTER XI.


It is the most difficult thing in the world to convey to the mind of a
reader the idea of extended space by a rapid sketch. You may say days
passed, and weeks; but the reader does not believe a word of it. He
takes up the narrative where it left off; an abstract proposition is
put before him, and he does not pursue it to any of its consequences.
He does not consider for one moment, unless it be clearly explained to
him, how those days and those weeks, with all the events which they
brought to pass, had wrought upon the characters, the circumstances,
and the relative positions of the personages before him. In a mere
sketch with the pencil you can do better: by lighter lines and finer
touches you make distant objects recede; by bolder strokes and
stronger delineations you bring forward the near and the distinct.
Nevertheless, I must endeavour to pass over several days rapidly,
curtailing every unnecessary description, rejecting every needless
detail, and yet dwelling so far upon the several events as to mark to
the reader's mind that time was passing, and bearing on its rapid and
buoyant flood a multitude of small objects, marking to each individual
the progress of time towards eternity.

Day after day was spent at Brandon House in the usual occupations of a
country mansion. There were walks, and rides, and drives, and shooting
parties; and the fact most important for Charles Dudley was, that he
was frequently alone for more than an hour together with Eda Brandon.
All was explained, all was promised, all was understood. In less than
two months she would be of age, her hand and her property at her own
disposal; and Dudley felt angry at himself, from a sensation of regret
which he experienced, that he did not still possess the ancient
estates of his house, that he might unite himself to her for ever, as
pride termed it, upon equal terms.

Those were very, very happy interviews; sometimes over the green lawns
or shady groves of the park, sometimes alone in the library or the
drawing-room, sometimes sitting side by side near the river, or in the
deep wood, and talking with a melancholy pleasure over the past, or
looking forward with a cheerful hope unto the future. They wondered
sometimes that these communications were so little interrupted, and
that nobody observed or attempted to interfere; but Sir Arthur Adelon
was frequently absent on business as he said; Lord Hadley was seized
with a passion for roaming about the country, which he had never
displayed before; and a sort of irritable gloom had fallen upon Edgar
Adelon, the cause of which he explained to no one, but which was
easily seen by the eyes of his cousin. He often sought solitude, shut
himself up in his own room, walked, when he went forth, in a different
direction from the rest of the party, and seemed involved in thought,
even when Eda and himself, and Dudley, were together without
witnesses.

Nevertheless, he was the person who most frequently cut short the
interviews of the two lovers, or deprived them of opportunity when the
golden fruit was at their lips. He seemed to have conceived a peculiar
and extraordinary affection for Lord Hadley's tutor; and there was
that confident reliance and unreserved frankness in the friendship he
displayed with which Dudley could not help feeling gratified, and
which he could not make up his mind to check, even for the sake of a
few more happy moments with Eda Brandon. By fits and starts the young
man would come and ask him to join him in his walks; would seek his
society and his conversation; and would sometimes express his regard,
nay, even his admiration, with a warmth and a candour which seemed to
Dudley, ignorant of all cause for such sensations in his heart, as
savouring too much of childish simplicity for one who was standing at
the verge of manhood. His conversation, however, was very interesting,
full of wild flights of fancy, rich and imaginative in terms, and
overflowing with the deep stream of the heart. He insisted upon it
that his companion should call him Edgar, and said that he would
always use the name of Dudley; and many a counsel would he ask of him,
and listen to his advice with that profound and deep attention which
showed that, from some cause or other, reverence had been joined with
affection. This extraordinary interest sometimes puzzled Dudley. He
would ask himself could Edgar have perceived the mutual affection of
Eda and himself, and could his regard for his fair cousin have taught
him to love whomsoever she loved? But there was no appearance of such
perception when they were together: not by a word, not by a smile, not
by a quiet jest, did he ever show a knowledge of their affection; and
Dudley at length concluded that it was one of those boyish friendships
which, suddenly conceived, and nourished, by long after-intercourse,
often form the basis of lasting regard which only terminates with
life.

Another person, who seemed to have been much struck with Dudley, and
who also occupied a good deal of his time, was Mr. Filmer; but to say
the truth, Dudley himself was less pleased with his society than with
that of Edgar Adelon. It was always smooth, easy, agreeable. There was
not the slightest appearance of effort in his conversation; nothing
strained, nothing at all peculiar in his demeanour. He was learned,
witty, imaginative; mingling quiet cheerfulness and unobtrusive gaiety
with occasional strains of thought so deep and so intense, yet so
pellucid and bright, that the hearer was carried away with wonder and
delight. He was fond of talking of religious subjects, and with all
the many associated with them by his church. He had a love for, and an
intimate acquaintance with, ancient architecture in all its branches;
and he combined therewith fancies, hypotheses, or theories, as the
reader may have it, which gave a sort of mystical signification to
every part and portion of an old building, and spread, as it were, a
religious feeling through the conception and the execution of the
whole. Every church, or abbey, or cathedral, which had been raised in
pure catholic times, was in his eyes but a symbol of the spiritual
church--a hierarchy, as it were, in stone. He loved sacred music, too.
There was not a chant, a canon, an anthem, a mass, or a dirge, that he
did not know, and could descant upon eloquently, or sit down and play
it with exquisite taste, if no great execution, joining occasionally a
powerful and melodious voice in snatches of rich song, without the
slightest appearance of vanity or display, but merely as if to give
the hearer an idea of the composition which he had mentioned.

All this was very charming, but still there was something which made
Charles Dudley prefer the frank, free, fearless conversation of Edgar
Adelon. He knew not well what that something was; he could not term it
a studiedness, but it was all too definite, too circumscribed by
rules, too much tied down to purposes and views which allowed no
expansion but in peculiar directions. Although there was no
affectation, there seemed to be an object in everything he said. There
was, in short, a predominant idea to which everything was referrible,
and which deprived his conversation of that wide and natural range,
that free and liberal course, which is one of the greatest charms of
friendly intercourse. One felt that, in a very different sense from
that in which the beautiful words were originally used--'he was in the
world, but not of the world.'

A time came rapidly when much was explained that was at first dark;
but we must turn to another of our characters, whose fate was
intimately interwoven with that of Charles Dudley. Lord Hadley, as I
have said, was frequently absent from Brandon House; and when he was
present, there was something in his manner which showed a change of
thought or feeling. He attempted to flirt with Eda Brandon--a
difficult matter at any time, but more difficult still in the
circumstances which existed, and especially when it was done with an
effort. His manner towards Dudley, too, was very different. He sought
his society but little; was captious in his conversation with him, and
somewhat petulant in his replies. He seemed not well pleased when that
gentleman was with Eda; and marked his feelings so plainly, that
Dudley was sometimes inclined to fear that his pupil had conceived an
attachment to the object of his own affection. But then, again, twice
when they were sauntering in the park before the house, Lord Hadley
made an excuse to leave him and Miss Brandon together, and walked away
in the direction of the Grange, remaining absent for two or three
hours.

In the mean time, rumours spread, and the newspapers announced that
there were threatening signs in the manufacturing districts; that
great meetings of artisans were taking place in public and in private;
that the people determined to have what they called 'a holiday;' and
that some great attempt at popular insurrection was contemplated by
those immense masses, which, congregated within a very narrow space,
have the means of rapid communication ever open, and whose amount of
intelligence is sufficient to make them feel the ills they suffer, and
the wrongs they are subject to, without showing them the best means of
relieving the one or casting off the other. The prompt and decided
measures of government, too, were detailed in the public prints; the
march of different regiments was mentioned; and some portions were
displayed of the general plan for suppressing any outbreak, which had
been formed by the great master of strategy, sufficient to prove to
any person not infatuated by false hopes, that the movements of the
people would be effectually checked as soon as ever they transgressed
the bounds of law.

To most of the little party assembled at Brandon, these reports came
like the roar of the stormy ocean to persons calmly seated by the
domestic hearth. They were far removed from the scene of probable
strife; they had full confidence in the power and the wisdom of
government. There were no manufactories for many miles around; and the
nearest point at which there was any great congregation of artisans
lay at some twenty or thirty miles' distance, where there were both
mines and potteries. Nevertheless, Eda observed that her uncle read
with the deepest attention everything that referred to the discontent
of the manufacturing population. She saw, too, that he was uneasy;
that there was a restlessness and an impatience about him which she
could not account for; and she pointed it out to Dudley, who remarked
it also. "I have not seen him in this state for years," she said; "and
I cannot help thinking that something of great importance must be
weighing upon his mind."

"I have heard," replied Dudley, "that at one time he took a very warm,
I might almost say vehement, interest in political matters, and went
through a contested election in the north, as the advocate of the most
extreme pretensions of the people. I have cause to remember that
period, dearest Eda, for with that election commenced the ruin of my
poor father. He had represented the town for many years in parliament,
when your uncle started against him upon principles almost republican.
As they had been friends from boyhood, although the contest was
carried on very fiercely by their several supporters, it was conducted
with courtesy and kindness by themselves--as much courtesy and
kindness, indeed, as could exist under such circumstances between men
of the most opposite political principles. My father was returned, but
some of the electors thought fit to petition against him, accusing his
agents of the most extensive bribery and corruption. As the population
was large and very equally divided in opinion, the expenses of the
election itself had been enormous. Innumerable witnesses were brought
before the committee on both sides; the investigation lasted for
months; the most eminent barristers were retained by enormous fees;
and though it ended in my father retaining his seat, an outlay of
nearly thirty thousand pounds was incurred by the contest and the
petition. To meet this expense, he proposed to mortgage the estates;
when your worthy uncle, feeling, perhaps, that his supporters had not
treated my father very well, offered to take the proposed mortgage at
a low rate of interest. It was necessary, however, that the title
deeds should be closely examined, and they were submitted to the
inspection of his lawyer, a scoundrel of the name of Sherborne. This
man, who was as keen and acute as he was unprincipled, discovered a
flaw in the title; and instead of merely advising your uncle not to
take the mortgage, he communicated the fact to another party, and a
long law-suit was the consequence, which ended in our being stripped
of the property which my grandfather had purchased and paid for. My
father was now loaded with a very large debt besides, which he had no
means of paying, and his spirits and his health sunk and gave way at
once. In these circumstances, Sir Arthur Adelon acted with a degree of
kindness which I can never forget. He purchased a very small property
which had descended to me from my mother, at more than its real value,
and did not even wait till I was of age to make the transfer before he
paid the money. I had thus the means of comforting and soothing my
father during an enforced absence from England, and the long period of
sickness which preceded his death; and the moment I was of age I
assigned the property to your uncle. Though I had never seen him
myself, I wrote to thank him, at my father's death; but he did not
answer my letter, and, what is somewhat strange, he has never adverted
to the subject since I have been here, perhaps thinking rightly, that
it must be a very painful one to me. I have been led into a long
story," he continued, "when I only wished to explain to you that Sir
Arthur is known to feel very intensely upon the subject of the
people's rights and claims. That he sympathises deeply with these poor
men in the manufacturing districts, there can be no doubt; and I
rather think you will find that the anxiety and uneasiness he displays
are to be attributed to the interest he feels in them."

Eda mused, but did not reply. She was deeply attached to her uncle,
who for many years had acted as a father towards her; but yet she
might know his character better than Dudley, and might entertain
reasonable doubts as to his being moved by the feelings which that
gentleman ascribed to him. She did not express those doubts, however,
and the conversation took another turn.

The fifth day of Dudley's stay at Brandon was a Sunday, and it
commenced with a tremendous storm of wind and rain. The nearest
village church was, as I have shown, at some distance; and Sir Arthur
Adelon, though he courteously proposed to order the carriage to carry
any of the party, who might desire it, to the morning's service, added
some remarks upon the state of the weather and the likelihood of the
servants getting very wet, which prevented any one from accepting his
offer. A room had been fitted up at Brandon, and decorated as a
chapel; and at the usual hour, Mr. Filmer appeared, to officiate in
the celebration of mass.

Eda Brandon was not present; for, as she informed Dudley, she had
promised her mother, before her death, never to be present at the
services of the Roman Catholic church. Lord Hadley and his tutor,
however, with less rigid notions, accompanied Sir Arthur and a number
of his servants to the chapel; and somewhat to Dudley's surprise, Mr.
Clive and his daughter also appeared soon after, notwithstanding the
tempest that was raging without.

Dudley felt a reverence for religion in all its forms; the worship of
God was to him always the worship of God; and though he did not affect
to adore in a wafer the real presence of his Saviour, he behaved with
gravity and decorum through the whole ceremony. Lord Hadley, on the
contrary, treated the whole matter somewhat lightly; paid little
attention to the offices of the church; and kept his eyes fixed,
during a great part of the service, upon Helen Clive, with a look
which was not altogether pleasing to his tutor. Nor did it seem so to
Edgar Adelon either; for when he glanced towards Lord Hadley for a
moment, his colour became suddenly heightened, and his eyes flashed
fire, giving to Dudley, for the first time, a key to what was passing
in his bosom.

After mass was concluded, Sir Arthur took Clive familiarly by the arm,
and walking with him into the library, begged him not to think of
returning to the Grange with Helen till the storm had passed. Mr.
Clive declined to stay, however, saying that he did not feel the
weather himself, and that, as he had come up in his own little
sociable, Helen would be under cover as she went back. The day passed
as other days had done; but during the afternoon Mr. Filmer paid
particular attention to Dudley, and was altogether more cheerful and
entertaining than he had been for some time, as if the services of his
religion formed a real pleasure to him, the effect of which remained
for several hours after they were over.



CHAPTER XII.


The morning of the second day of the week once more broke calm and
clear, and Dudley was musing in his room on much that had lately
passed. From all that he had observed the day before, he feared that
the conduct of Lord Hadley towards Helen Clive was not that which he
could approve; and although he might have regretted much to leave the
society of Eda at that moment, he would not have suffered any personal
feeling to prevent him from urging an immediate removal from what he
conceived a dangerous position, if he had not recollected that the
young nobleman was so nearly of age as to be very likely to resist any
interference. He was considering, therefore, how he should act, when
he was again visited in his room by Mr. Filmer, for the purpose of
engaging him to take a stroll in the fresh morning air.

With many men, the effect of intense thought and mental anxiety is
very great upon the mere body; and Dudley felt heated and almost
feverish. He believed, too, that in the course of their ramble he
might, perhaps, obtain some farther information regarding his pupil's
conduct from the priest; for he well knew that the clergy of the
Romish church look upon it almost as a matter of duty to ascertain the
facts of every transaction in which any of their flock are concerned.
He therefore agreed to the proposal at once; and after they had issued
forth into the park, pondered, even while they were conversing, upon
the best means of introducing the topic of which he was desirous of
speaking.

As they walked on, detached masses of cloud, left by the storm of the
preceding day, floated heavily overhead; and the shadows and the
gleams crossed the landscape rapidly, bringing out many points of
beauty, which were not observable either under the broad sunshine of
summer, or the cold, gray expanse of the wintry sky.

"The scenery here is certainly very lovely," said Dudley; "and I think
that of the park peculiarly so. It is more varied, as well as more
extensive, than any park that I have seen in England."

"Yes, it is very beautiful," replied the priest, in a somewhat
common-place tone; "and, indeed, the whole property is a very fine
one. There are few heiresses in England who can boast of such an
estate as Miss Brandon."

"Miss Brandon!" said Dudley, in a tone of some surprise. "Do you mean
to say that she is the owner of this beautiful place? I thought it was
the property of her uncle."

The priest turned a short, quick glance to his face, and then replied,
in a very marked manner, but yet with a well-satisfied smile, "I am
glad to hear you thought so, my young friend; but in answer to your
question, this property is Miss Brandon's. Sir Arthur is only here as
her guardian. It was much her mother's wish that she should live with
him till her marriage; but, at the same time, she expressed a strong
desire that her principal residence should be at Brandon. Sir Arthur
is a very conscientious man, and he consequently, having undertaken
the task, carries out his sister's views more fully than most men
would be inclined to do. The bulk of his own property is in Yorkshire,
as I believe you know; but he is not there more than a month in the
year. The rest of his time is spent at Brandon or in London."

"May I ask," said Dudley, "what there could be pleasing to you in my
believing this property to be Sir Arthur Adelon's?"

Mr. Filmer smiled. "Perhaps," he said, "it might be more courteous to
leave your question unanswered than to answer it; but nevertheless I
will not affect reserve. I look upon it, in ordinary cases, to be
rather a misfortune than otherwise for a young lady to inherit a large
fortune. There are three results, each very common. Sometimes her
relations and friends arrange and bring about a marriage for her with
a man perhaps the least suited to her on the face of the earth; some
coarse and wealthy brute; some dissolute peer. At other times, she
becomes the prey of a designing sharper; a man probably without
honour, honesty, or principle: low in birth and mind as in fortunes.
Or if she escapes these perils, and reaches the age of discretion
unmarried, from a knowledge of the risks she has escaped, she is
filled with suspicions of every gentleman who approaches her; doubts
the motives of all who profess to love her, and fancies that her
wealth, and not her heart, is the object sought. I know not which of
these results is most to be deprecated." He made a pause, and then
continued, with a smile: "That you did not know the property to belong
to her, shows that you can be influenced by no motives but such as
must be gratifying to herself."

Dudley cast down his eyes and mused for several moments. He was not at
all aware that his conduct towards Eda had been such as to display the
secret of their hearts to even the keenest eye; and he was surprised,
and not well pleased, to find that it had been penetrated at once by
the shrewd priest. As he did not answer, Mr. Filmer went on, with a
frank and even friendly tone: "I need not tell you, Mr. Dudley, after
what has fallen from me," he said, "that I wish you success, not with
any of the rash enthusiasm of a young man in favour of a friend, but
upon calm and due deliberation. You are a gentleman by birth and
education; a man of high honour and feeling I sincerely believe you to
be, and this Lord Hadley is in no degree fitted for her. Light and
volatile as a withered leaf; with no fixed principles, and no strong
religious feelings; full of unbridled passions, and appetites that
have been pampered from his boyhood; the effect of wealth and high
station, those two great touchstones of the human character, will be
disastrous to him. He is in the high road now to become a confirmed
libertine, and even at the present moment is labouring to destroy the
peace of a happy family far more ancient and respectable than his own,
and to introduce discord into a peaceful neighbourhood, where,
happily, we have few such as himself to stir up the angry feelings of
our nature."

"You have touched upon a subject, my dear sir," replied Dudley, who
could not help feeling gratified by many of the expressions he had
used, "in regard to which I much wished to speak with you; and I was
meditating upon the very point when you came into my room. I have
remarked, for some days past, that Lord Hadley has been much absent
from the house at which he is visiting, so much so as almost to be
discourteous; and yesterday, in the chapel, I could not help observing
indications of feelings which I regretted much to see, and in regard
to which you have confirmed my suspicions."

"His conduct there was very reprehensible," said Mr. Filmer, in a
grave tone. "He spends the time during his long absences from Brandon
either in visiting at Mr. Clive's house, or in lying in wait for poor
Helen in her walks. His object is not to be mistaken by any one of
ordinary sagacity and knowledge of the world; but yet, Clive, though a
very sensible man, does not perceive it. You must have remarked how
blind parents usually are under such circumstances. He looks upon Lord
Hadley as a mere boy, and a frank and agreeable one. He thinks that
his visits are to himself; and the young gentleman, with more art than
one would have supposed him capable of, takes care to go down to the
Grange when he knows that the master is out, and has some excuse ready
for waiting till he returns."

"From what you tell me," replied Dudley, "it seems absolutely
necessary that one of two courses should be pursued: either I must
immediately endeavour to induce Lord Hadley to remove from Brandon--in
which case I am afraid he would resist, as in a few weeks he will be
of age--or else Mr. Clive must be warned, and take such measures as
may put a stop to this young man's visits."

"I do not know that either is necessary," answered Mr. Firmer; "nor
would either have the effect that you anticipate. Lord Hadley would
not go, or would return to pursue the same course when he is his own
master; and in regard to warning Clive, I should have done it before,
had I not known and felt that it might be dangerous to do so. He is a
man of a very strong and hasty spirit: resolute, bold, determined, and
easily moved by anything that looks like indignity, to bursts of
passion of which you can form no idea, never having seen him roused.
Neither have I any fear whatsoever for Helen. She is guarded not only
by high principle, and a pure and noble heart, but by other feelings,
which are often a woman's greatest safeguard. Lord Hadley will then
find his designs in vain; and I do not think he would venture to
insult her in any way."

Dudley mused for a moment, having learned more of his pupil during
their journey on the Continent than he had known when he undertook the
task of guiding him. "I do not know," he said, in a doubtful tone: "I
do not know."

"He had better not," said Mr. Filmer, sternly; "but be sure, my dear
young friend, that there shall be an eye, not easily blinded, on all
his actions. The interest you take in this matter raises you more
highly in my esteem than ever; and I will own, that I could not help
drawing a comparison, very unfavourable to this young lord, between
your conduct and his in the chapel yesterday. Reverence to the
ceremonies of religion is due even to decency, if not to principle;
but there was something more in your demeanour, which gave me good
hope that if you would sometimes attend to the various services of our
church, receive even but slight instruction in its doctrines, cast
from your mind the prejudices of education, and meditate unbiassed
over the principal differences between our church and yours--of
course, not without full explanation of all our views upon those
dogmas which are so erroneously stated by most Protestant
writers--your conduct gave me good hope, I say, that under these
circumstances you might be regained to that true faith of which many
of your ancestors were the greatest ornaments."

Dudley smiled. The secret was now before him. The priest had really
conceived the design of converting him; and his full and strong
attachment to the Protestant religion, his unhesitating condemnation
in his own heart of the errors of the Romish church, made the very
idea ridiculous in his eyes. "I fear, my dear sir," he replied, as the
slight smile passed away, "that your expectation is altogether vain.
There is no chance whatever, let me assure you, of my ever abandoning
the religion in which I have been brought up."

"Do not be too sure, my friend," replied Mr. Filmer, smiling also; "I
have seen more obstinate heretics than yourself brought to a knowledge
of the truth. I do not despair of you at all. You have a mind free
from many prejudices which affect others of your religion. You are not
at all bigoted or intolerant; and you view these matters so calmly,
and yet devoutly, that with my firm convictions, after much study and
thought, I cannot help thinking, if you will but look into the matter
fully, you will arrive at a just conclusion."

"I trust, undoubtedly, that such will be the case," was Dudley's
answer; "but I believe, my dear sir, that I have arrived at a just
conclusion already. It has not been without study either, nor from the
showing of Protestant divines, but rather from the works of your own
church, many of which I have examined with great care and attention,
and which have only strengthened me in my convictions. The more
impartial a man is in forming his opinions, and the less vehement and
passionate he is in their assertion, the more firm he is likely to be
when they are formed, and the more steady in their maintenance."

They had by this time reached the other side of the park, and passing
through a little wicket gate, were entering the road beyond the walls.
Mr. Filmer's lips were compressed as he listened, and he seemed to
struggle against some strong emotion; but just at that moment the
tramp of numerous feet was heard, and looking up the road, they saw a
multitude of people, in the dress of country labourers and working
men, advancing at a quick pace, two and two, in an orderly and
decorous manner. Mr. Filmer and his companion paused to let them pass;
and as they went by, talking together, Filmer could not help
remarking, that in the countenances of many there was a stern and
thoughtful, and in others an enthusiastic and excited expression,
which seemed to indicate that they were engaged in no ordinary
occupation. They passed on without taking any notice of the two
gentlemen, although two or three times Dudley heard the name of Sir
Arthur Adelon mentioned amongst them; and when the last had gone by,
he inquired, not unwilling to change the matter of their conversation,
"Who can these men be, and what can be their object in this curious
sort of array?"

"I really do not know," answered Mr. Filmer; "but it would not
surprise me if they were Chartists."

"Have you many of them here?" asked Dudley.

"Oh, yes! they are very numerous," replied the priest, "both amongst
the peasantry and the townspeople, and these may very likely be going
to some of their meetings on the downs. They are all very orderly and
quiet in our county, however; and, indeed, form the best behaved and
most respectable part of our population. A great enthusiasm is very
often extremely useful. The men who feel it are often restrained
thereby from anything low or base, or degrading to the great principle
which moves them. Such, my young friend, ought to be the power of
religion upon the heart; and such it is, as you must have yourself
seen, with a great many of the ecclesiastics of the church to which I
belong. Base and bad men may be found in every country, and will
disgrace every creed; but I cannot help thinking you will find, if you
will really read and study some works which I will lend you, that the
natural tendency of every doctrine of the Catholic religion is to
elevate and purify the hearts of men, and to mortify and subdue every
corrupt affection. I know," he continued, "that the exact reverse has
been stated by Protestant writers, but they have been mistaken--I will
not use a harsher term--and will only add, study, and you will see."

"I will certainly read the books with great pleasure," replied Dudley;
"but at the same time I must not lead you to expect for one moment
that they will make any change in my opinions."

He spoke in the most decided tone; and Mr. Filmer replied, with a
slight contraction of the brows, and a very grave and serious manner,
"Then I fear your dearest hopes will be disappointed."

Dudley felt somewhat indignant at the implied threat; but he was
prevented from answering by the appearance of Lord Hadley, who came
towards them, not from the side of Brandon, and who, instantly joining
them, returned in their company towards the house, affecting an
exuberant degree of gaiety, and laughing and jesting in a manner which
harmonized ill with the more serious thoughts of his two companions.
The subject of the mass, at which they had been present the day
before, was accidentally introduced in the course of their
conversation, which thence deviated to the ceremonies of the Roman
Catholic religion in other countries; and the young peer said,
laughing, "If it were not for its mummeries, Mr. Filmer, I should
think it a very good religion too, a capital religion. It is so
pleasant to think that one can shuffle off all one's peccadilloes on
the shoulders of another man, that I wonder who would not be a Roman
Catholic, if he could."

A scowl, momentary, but fiend-like, crossed the countenance of the
priest; and Dudley, who had observed it, was surprised to hear him
say, the next moment, with a bland smile, "You are a little mistaken
in your views, my lord; and I think if you would examine the subject
well, under a competent instructor, you would not find it so difficult
a thing to be a Roman Catholic as you imagine."

"I should prefer an instructress," answered Lord Hadley, with a laugh;
but Mr. Filmer did not reply, finding it, perhaps, somewhat difficult
to guide his arguments between two men of such totally different
characters and views as the young lord and his tutor. The rest of
their walk back through the park passed almost in silence; but from
various indications Dudley judged that the previous gaiety of Lord
Hadley had been more affected than real.



CHAPTER XIII.


To a person inexperienced in the ways of life and in human character,
it might seem strange that a man should pursue one woman with every
appearance of passion, and should yet, at the same time, not only seek
the love of another, but also entertain some feeling of jealousy at
any sign of favour for a rival. But yet this is the case every day,
and it was so with Lord Hadley. Had he been asked whether he admired
Helen Clive or Eda Brandon most, he would have replied, if he answered
sincerely, "Helen Clive;" but she was in his eyes merely a plaything,
to be possessed, to sport with, and to cast away; while Eda was looked
upon in a very different light--to add wealth to his wealth; to
flatter his vanity by the display of her beauty and her grace as his
wife; to gratify his pride by uniting the blood of the Brandons, one
of the oldest families in the land, to that of the Hadleys, who, to
say the truth, required not a little to graft their young plant upon a
more ancient stock. Whatever feelings he entertained for her certainly
did not reach the height of passion; but yet, when he was beside her,
he evidently sought to win regard, and it was plain that he by no
means liked the preference she showed for Dudley.

Sir Arthur Adelon saw that something had gone amiss with his young and
noble guest; and while they were sitting at luncheon, with not the
most placable of feelings existing on the part of Lord Hadley towards
his tutor, Sir Arthur was considering what could be the cause of the
coldness and haughtiness of tone which he remarked, when a servant
entering announced to Mr. Dudley that a gentleman of the name of
Norries wished to speak with him for a few moments in the library.

Sir Arthur instantly turned deadly pale; but recovering himself in a
moment, he started up before his guest could reply, saying, "I beg you
ten thousand pardons, Mr. Dudley, but I have something of much
importance to say to Mr. Norries, and if you will permit me I will
take up his time for a moment or two while you finish your luncheon,
as I have got business which will call me out immediately, and perhaps
your conversation with him may be somewhat long."

Dudley was replying that he really did not know what business Mr.
Norries could have with him, as he knew no such person, when, with a
familiar nod, Sir Arthur said, "I will not detain him three minutes,"
and hurried out of the room, followed by the keen, cold eye of the
priest.

"Who is Mr. Norries, father?" inquired Eda Brandon. "I never heard of
him before."

"An old acquaintance of Sir Arthur's," replied Mr. Filmer, in a
common-place tone. "He was once a lawyer, I believe, and too honest a
man for a profession from which he retired some time ago."

Not two minutes elapsed before Sir Arthur Adelon was in the room
again. His conference with Mr. Norries had been short indeed; but it
seemed to have been satisfactory, for when he returned his lip wore a
smile, although his face was now a good deal flushed, as if from some
recent and great excitement.

"You will find Norries in the library, Mr. Dudley," said the baronet,
as soon as he entered; and while Dudley rose and walked to the door,
Sir Arthur seated himself at the table and fell into deep thought.

In the mean time Dudley proceeded to the room to which he had been
directed, and found there, waiting his arrival, the same powerful,
hard-featured man whom I have before described.

The keen gray eyes of Norries were fixed upon the door, and when
Dudley entered a slight flush passed over his cheek. "Mr. Dudley," he
said; "there is no mistaking you. You are very like your father."

"I believe I am, Mr. Norries," replied Dudley, "pray be seated. You
were well acquainted with my poor father, I presume."

"No, I had not that honour, sir," answered Norries. "I have seen him
more than once, however, as the partner of Mr. Sherborne, the
Yorkshire solicitor of Sir Arthur Adelon."

Dudley's face grew stern, and he made a movement as if to rise, but
refrained, merely saying, "Mr. Sherborne's name, sir, is an unpleasant
one to me. I should not like to speak my opinion of him to his
partner; but were he still living, I should undoubtedly let him hear
it in person."

"I was his partner, sir, in business, but not in rascality," replied
Norries, "the full extent of which I did not know till he was dead.
Nature did not make me for a lawyer, Mr. Dudley; and the result of my
study of the profession has been to show me that, either by errors in
their original formation, or by perversions which have crept in
through the misinterpretation of judges, the laws of this land do not
afford security against injustice, redress for wrongs committed,
protection to the innocent, punishment to the guilty, or equity in any
of the relations between man and man. With this view of the case, I
could not remain in a profession which aided to carry out, in an
iniquitous manner, iniquitous laws, and I therefore quitted it. Before
I did so, however, it became my task to examine all the papers in the
office of my deceased partner and myself, many of which I had never
seen or heard of before. In so doing, sir, I found some which affected
your father; and amongst others, several letters of his, apparently of
importance. The latter you shall have; the other papers, relating to a
contested election in which he took part, are at present necessary to
myself."

"I feel much obliged to you, Mr. Norries," replied Dudley. "Of course
I shall feel glad to have my poor father's letters. In regard to the
other papers relative to the election, as that has been a business
long settled, they can be of no service to me, and I do by no means
wish to recall old grievances. I am now in the house of my father's
opponent on that occasion, and I am well aware that he then acted
honourably, and afterwards most liberally and kindly to my poor
father."

Norries knit his brows, and shut his teeth tight, but he suffered no
observation to escape him; and Dudley continued, saying, "I do not,
therefore, wish for one moment to revive any unpleasant memories
connected with that contest, and think the papers referring to it just
as well in your hands as in mine. Was this the only matter you wished
to speak to me upon!"

"I have nothing farther to say, Mr. Dudley," replied Norries, rising,
"but that I will in a few days send your father's letters to you at
any place you please to mention." And after having received Mr.
Dudley's address at St. John's College, Cambridge, he took his leave.
Once he stopped for a moment as he was going out--thought, muttered
something to himself, but without adding anything more, departed.

On quitting Brandon House, Norries made his way straight to the avenue
which I have mentioned once or twice before; and walking hurriedly
down under the shade of the trees, he turned into a path which led
through the copse on the right to a stile over the wall. His direction
was towards the Grange, but he did not follow exactly the same road
which had been pursued by Edgar Adelon. About a hundred yards up the
lane there lay the entrance of another narrow footway which was sunk
deep between two banks, with a hedge at the top, forming an
exceedingly unpleasant and dangerous cut in the way of any horseman
following the fox-hounds; and indeed there was a tradition of two
gentlemen having broken their necks there some fifty years ago, in
consequence of having come suddenly upon this unseen hollow way, in
leaping the hedge above. Along it, however, Mr. Norries now sped with
a quick step, till it opened out upon a little green, where stood two
cottages in a complete state of ruin, to arrive at which more easily
from the high road, the path had probably been cut in former years. On
the other side of the green, mounting over the bank and passing
through the fields, was a more open footway, with a stile at the
bottom of the descent, upon which was sitting, when Norries came up, a
short, slightly-made man, with a sharp face, and keen, eager, black
eyes. "Well, Nichols," said Norries, approaching, "I have not kept you
long."

"No, no," answered the other man, quickly; "but what news--what news,
Mr. Norries? What does he say?

"Why he will come, Nichols, whenever we give the word," answered
Norries, "without hesitation or delay."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the other; "better news than I thought. I feared
he was shirking, from what he said last time, or else that he would
take so long to consider that we should lose our opportunity."

"I took means to quicken his decision," said Norries. "But let us get
on, Nichols, for I expect Conway and Mac Dermot to join me at Clive's
for a consultation; and we must then separate till to-morrow night."

"Is Clive's a safe place?" asked Nichols, following, as the other
strode on rapidly. "He is dead against us, you know, Norries."

"But he would not betray any man," replied the other; "and besides, he
is out at the town, and will not be back for two or three hours."

Nothing farther was said till they reached the Grange, where, going in
without ceremony, Norries put his head into Helen's drawing-room,
saying, "I can go into the up-stairs room which I had before, Helen
dear, I suppose?"

"Oh, certainly!" answered Helen. "Everything is there just as you left
it; but my father is not at home, and will not return for some hours."

"That does not matter," answered Norries; and calling one of the
maids, he told her, if any gentlemen came to inquire for him, to show
them up stairs to him; and mounting the steps, he led the person
called Nichols into the room where his conference had been held with
Sir Arthur Adelon. Helen in the mean time remained below, unoccupied,
apparently, with anything but thought, for though there was a book
open before her, she seldom looked at it. She was seated with her face
to the window, which commanded a view of the garden, and through the
trees across the river to the opposite side of the little dell in
which it flowed. With one arm in a sling, and the other resting across
the book upon the table, she gazed forth from the window, watching
that opposite bank with an anxious, almost apprehensive expression of
countenance, and if she dropped her eyes to the page for a moment, she
raised them again instantly. Hardly three minutes had passed after
Norries' arrival, when a figure was indistinctly seen coming over the
slope, and Helen, starting up, exclaimed, "There he is again! This is
really too bad. I am glad my uncle is here!" But before the words were
well uttered, the figure came more fully in sight, and Helen saw that
it was that of a perfect stranger. Another equally unknown to her,
followed close behind the first; and she sat down again, murmuring
with a slight smile, "I frighten myself needlessly. But it is really
very hard to be so treated. I do not know what to do. If I were to
tell my father what he had said, and how he had treated me, he would
kill him on the spot; and if I told Edgar all, they would fight, I am
sure. Poor, dear, generous Edgar! I can see he is very uneasy, and yet
I dare not speak. It is very strange that Father Peter should treat
the matter with such indifference. I believe my best way would be to
tell my uncle."

As she thus went on murmuring broken sentences, the two men whom she
had seen approached the house, rang the bell, and Helen could hear
their heavy footsteps mount the stairs.

She had turned her head towards the door when they came into the
house; but the moment that her eyes were directed towards the window
again, she saw the figure of Lord Hadley, coming down the path with a
proud, light, self-confident step, and instantly starting up once
more, she closed the book, and ran out of the room. A maid was in the
passage, and in an eager and frightened tone, the beautiful girl
exclaimed, "Tell him exactly what I said, Margaret. If he asks for me,
say I will not see him. Make no excuses, but tell him plainly and at
once, I will not."

"That I will, Miss Helen," answered the woman, heartily. "Shall I ask
Ben the ploughman to thrash him if he won't go away?"

If Helen had uttered the reply that first rose in her mind, her words
would have been, "I wish to heaven you would!" but she refrained, and
saying, "No; no violence, Margaret," she ran up stairs to her own
room, and seated herself near a little table, after locking the door.

What passed below she could not hear; but between that chamber and the
next was a partition of old dark oak, not carved into panels, as in
the rooms below, but running in long polished planks from the ceiling
to the floor, with the edges rounded into mouldings, for the sake of
some slight degree of ornament. They were tightly joined together, but
still the words of any one speaking in a loud tone in the one room,
could be heard in the other; and it seemed to Helen, from the pitch to
which two or three of the voices were elevated, that one of the party
at least in her uncle's chamber was somewhat hard of hearing. Her
thoughts for a moment or two after she entered, were too much agitated
for her to pay any particular attention; but all remained still below,
and she said to herself, "He has gone in to wait for my father, or to
sit down and rest himself, as he pretends, I dare say. I wonder how a
gentleman can have recourse to such false excuses, and here I must be
kept a prisoner till he chooses to go."

As she thus thought, some words from the neighbouring room caught her
ear, and instantly fixed her attention. It was without design she
listened: by an impulse that was irresistible. Her cheek turned paler
than it was before; her lips parted with eagerness and apparent
anxiety; and she put her hand to her brow, murmuring, "Good heaven! I
hope my father has no share in all this! I will go down upon my knees
to him, and beg him not to meddle with it." But the next moment other
words were spoken, and the look of terror passed away from her
beautiful face like a dark cloud from a summer sky. Then again the
name of Sir Arthur Adelon was mentioned frequently, and again the
cloud came over Helen's fair brow; but now there was surprise mingled
with fear, for it was marvellous to her, that a man of great wealth,
station, and respectability, should be implicated so deeply in the
schemes which she heard.

About half an hour passed in this manner, and then the maid came up
and tapped at her door, saying, "He is gone, Miss Helen:" and the fair
prisoner, glad to be released, opened her door and descended to the
room below. "What shall I do? How shall I act?" was Helen's first
thought. "To betray them to justice I cannot, I must not; but yet it
is very horrible. There will be terrible bloodshed! And Sir Arthur
Adelon, too; who could ever have suspected that he would join them?
Oh, I wish he would be warned! I will tell Eda. She has more power
over him than any one, and he may be persuaded to refrain. My uncle
will have his course; nothing will turn him, I am sure, and he will
ruin himself utterly in the end; but I do hope and trust he will have
no influence over my father. Oh, no! the men said he would have nought
to do with it. But hark!"

There were steps heard descending. Two or three people quitted the
house, and after a lapse of a few minutes, Norries entered the room
with a calm, even cheerful countenance, and seated himself beside
Helen.

"What is the matter, little pet?" he said. "You look sad and anxious.
Is your arm paining you, my dear?"

"Oh, no!" replied Helen; "it has never pained me at all since it was
set. I think it is quite well now."

"Who was that came in about half an hour ago?" asked Norries, somewhat
abruptly. "I heard the bell ring, and a man's foot in the passage."

"It was Lord Hadley," answered Helen, colouring a little at the very
mention of his name. "He came in to to wait for my father, I suppose,
or upon some such excuse."

"My dear Helen," said Norries, laying his hand quietly upon hers,
"have nought to do with him, see him as little as possible; for though
to suspect you, my dear child, of anything that is wrong, is quite out
of the question for those who know you, yet the frequent visits of men
who, in our bad state of society, hold a rank far superior to your
own, and especially of such a dissolute, thoughtless youth as this,
may injure your fair fame with those who do not know you."

The kindly tone in which he spoke encouraged Helen; and looking up in
his face, she said, "This is a subject on which I much wish to speak
to you, for I dare not tell my father. I did not see Lord Hadley, my
dear uncle, for I went to my own room the moment I saw him coming, and
ordered the maid to tell him, if he asked for me, that I _would not_
see him, in those plain terms."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Norries, now much interested; "then he must have
done something very wrong, Helen."

"He has said things to me which I cannot repeat, my dear uncle," she
replied, with a glowing face. "He wanted to persuade me to leave my
father's house, and go away to London with him; and--and--he has
behaved very ill to me, in short."

"Did he dare?" exclaimed her uncle, with his eyes flashing, and his
cheek turning red. "Your father must know this, Helen."

"Oh, no, no!" cried Helen Clive; "I dare not tell him, indeed. I am
sure if he knew all he would kill him on the spot. You know how very
violent he is when he is made angry, and how angry he would be if he
knew I had been insulted as I have been."

"I do know it well, Helen," replied Norries, thoughtfully, "and I will
acknowledge yours is a difficult position. You are no coquette, my
dear child, to give this man any encouragement, even at the first,
before he had shown himself in his true colours; and I feel sure you
have done your best to keep him from the house."

"Indeed I have," replied Helen Clive; "I have never liked him from the
first, though I felt gratitude for the kindness which I received from
him and his friend Mr. Dudley, and expressed it. But oh! how different
has Mr. Dudley's conduct ever been. It was to him, indeed, I owed my
safety, though the other was kind also at the time; but the very night
when they had brought me here, he looked at me in a way--I cannot
describe it--but it made me feel very uncomfortable."

"And Mr. Dudley has been always kind?" asked her uncle.

"I cannot tell you how kind," answered Helen. "His manner was so
gentle, so like a gentleman; and he seemed to feel so much for me in
every way, both when he was extricating me from the heap of stones and
earth, and afterwards when I was anxious to let my father know what
had happened, that I can never forget it; and then, when I saw him the
day after, there was such a difference between his conduct and Lord
Hadley's, that in any moment of danger I would have clung to him like
a brother, while I shrunk from the other's very look. I did not know
why then; but I know now."

"It is like the race of Dudley," replied Norries, and leaning his head
upon his hand, he fell into deep and seemingly bitter thought. "How
men may be led into great errors!" he exclaimed at length. "Helen,
your father must know of all this; but I will tell him, and tell him
why you dared not. That in itself will act as a check upon him; for
with high hearts like his, to see the consequences of their passions
is to regret them. But fear not, little pet, I will take care to tell
him when he will have time for calm thought before he can act. Helen,
it must be! A daughter must not show a want of confidence in her
father."

"I would not for the world," replied Helen Clive; "but oh! take care,
my dear uncle, for I tremble to think of the consequences."

"I will take care, poor thing," said Norries; "although, dear Helen,
we must never think of consequences where a matter of right and duty
is concerned; and now farewell." Thus saying, he took his departure,
and left her, with an anxious mind and agitated heart, to await the
coming events.



CHAPTER XIV.


The afternoon had been clear, and even warm. Every cloud had passed
away from the sky; and when, about a quarter to six, Eda Brandon
retired to her own room to dress for dinner, the sun, set about a
quarter of an hour before, had left the sky all studded with stars.
She was fond of seeing the heavens, and the curtains of her windows
were not drawn; so that while she sat at her toilette table, with the
maid dressing her beautiful hair, she could gaze out at the orbs of
light in the firmament, which was spread like a scroll written with
characters of fire before her eyes.

It was very dark, however, for--as the reader learned in moons will
comprehend from what was said at the beginning of this work--the fair
planet of the night had not yet risen; and as Eda continued to gaze,
there suddenly shot up through the obscurity what seemed a bright,
rushing ball of fire; then pausing, suspended as it were, in the air
for a moment, it burst into a thousand glittering sparks, which
descended slowly towards the earth again.

"What can that be?" exclaimed Eda. '"La! ma'am, it's a rocket," said
the maid. "I shouldn't wonder if it was some of those Chartist
people's signals. They are making a great stir about here just now, I
can tell you, Miss Eda; and I am getting horribly afraid for what will
happen next."

"Do you mean to say that such things are taking place in this
neighbourhood?" inquired Eda, in some surprise. "I think you must be
confounding the reports from the manufacturing districts."

"Oh! dear, no, ma'am!" replied the maid. "My brother, who is servant
with Mr. Gaspey, told me yesterday, that he had seen full fifty of
them marching across, two and two, to some of their meetings; and he
and his master both think we shall have a row. La! there goes another
rocket: it's their doings, depend upon it."

"That cannot be," answered Eda. "Those rockets are thrown up from the
sea. I should not wonder if it was some ship in distress. Open the
window, and listen if there are guns."

The maid obeyed, but all was silent, though the wind blew dead
upon the coast; and Eda, finishing her toilette, descended to the
drawing-room.

A number of the neighbouring gentry had been invited to dine at
Brandon on that day, and the table was well-nigh full. As soon as that
pause in devouring took place, which usually succeeds when people have
eaten fully sufficient to satisfy the hungry man, and have nothing
left but to pamper the epicure, conversation, which was very slack
before, became animated upon the subject of the movements which were
taking place in different parts of the country, of the designs of the
Chartists, and of the danger of 'the people's holiday' terminating in
anarchy and bloodshed.

Eda watched her uncle, for she knew well that he entertained opinions
upon political subjects very different from those of the gentlemen by
whom he was surrounded. Sir Arthur changed colour several times while
the subject was under discussion; but at length a young military man,
with somewhat rash impetuosity, exclaimed, "Depend upon it, this is a
disease that wants blood-letting. A few inches of cold iron, applied
on the first attack, will soon cut it short."

Sir Arthur fired at the speech, and replied, warmly, "My opinion is
totally different, sir. If it be a disease at all, it is one of those
that are salutary in the end, and likely to clear off a mass of evils
which have accumulated in the pursy and pampered constitution of this
country. But," he continued, in a more moderate tone, "as the opinions
at the table are very wide apart, it may be wise to avoid politics."

"Perhaps so," replied the young officer, with a courteous inclination
of the head; and the subject dropped, much to Eda's relief.

She was destined, however, in the course of that evening to meet with
a new subject of anxiety and annoyance. Lord Hadley, without actually
getting at all tipsy, took enough wine after dinner to render him
overbearing and irritable; and when Dudley seated himself beside her
for a moment in the drawing-room, and said a few words to her in a low
tone, the young peer instantly cut across their conversation, and in a
haughty and domineering manner, gave a flat contradiction to something
which his tutor had asserted.

Although of an amiable, and usually of a placable disposition, Dudley
instantly retorted in severe terms: his growing contempt for the young
peer overcoming his ordinary command over himself. Lord Hadley's words
grew high, and tones loud; Edgar Adelon and the young officer, who had
been one at the dinner-table, drew near; and the former listened with
evident satisfaction to the severe castigation which the peer received
at the hands of Mr. Dudley. It was given without loss of temper, but
yet with an unsparing and a powerful hand; and the young man, almost
furious, exposed himself every moment more and more, while the
contemptuous smile of Edgar Adelon rendered his punishment still more
bitter. The presence of Miss Brandon acted as a certain restraint; and
as the eyes of several ladies in the room turned upon them, Lord
Hadley, with a burning heart and a flushed cheek, turned away and left
the room, while Edgar, with a laugh, muttered, "It will do him good;"
and Dudley calmly resumed his conversation with Eda.

Miss Brandon, however, was herself much agitated and alarmed; and in
the course of the evening, as the company from time to time broke into
different groups, she took the opportunity of saying, at a moment when
they were unobserved, "For pity's sake, Edward, do not let the dispute
go any farther with that foolish young man. Remember, he is but a boy,
in mind at all events, and really unworthy of your notice."

"Oh! fear not, dear Eda," replied Dudley; "for your sake, if for
nothing else, I would not suffer such an idle dispute to deviate into
a direct quarrel. But the relations between him and me must be
immediately altered. As long as he thought fit to demean himself as a
gentleman and a man of honour, there seemed to be nothing degrading in
the position that I held. Now, however, the case is different."

Other persons coming up prevented their farther conversation; and when
the guests had taken their leave, Eda retired, not to rest, but to
think over events which were the cause of no slight anxiety. Slowly
undressing, she dismissed her maid, and sitting down before the table,
wrapped in her dressing-gown, meditated painfully over the probable
result. The moments often fly fast in thought as well as in activity;
and Eda, in surprise, heard a clock which stood near her door strike
one, while she was still sitting at the table. She rose to go to bed,
but at that moment a curious sound caught her ear. It seemed to
proceed from the park, and was that of a dull, heavy tramp, sometimes
sounding louder, sometimes softer, sometimes distinctly measured,
sometimes varied into a mere rustle. It struck her as very curious;
and although she tried to persuade herself that it was a herd of deer
passing over the gravel in the avenue, yet she was not satisfied, and
proceeding to a window, drew back the curtains and gazed out.

The moon was not yet to be seen in the sky, but still her approaching
light shed a certain degree of lustre before her. The night was
certainly clearer than it had appeared shortly after sunset, and the
stars were more faint and pale. From the left-hand side of the park,
moving rapidly across the wide open space in front of the house, at a
distance of not more than a hundred yards, a stream of dark human
figures was seen, tending towards the opposite side, where the stile
led down into the little valley with the stream and the old priory.
There seemed to be between two and three hundred men, principally
walking two and two; but every here and there in the line, they were
gathered into a little knot, and apparently carrying some heavy mass
upon their shoulders. At one spot within sight they halted, and one of
the burdens which they carried was shifted to the shoulders of fresh
bearers, displaying to the eyes of Eda, as the change was effected, an
object which, to imagination, looked much like the form of a man. It
seemed very heavy, however, and took at least eight or ten persons to
carry it. It required some time, too, to move it from one set of
shoulders to another; and when the party marched on again, Eda said to
herself, "This must be a train of those misguided men, the Chartists.
How bold of them to come across the park! I trust my uncle has nothing
to do with them; but I almost fear it."

Even as the thought passed through her mind, a single figure came
forth from the terrace just below her, and followed upon the track of
the others. The form, however, was too slight and graceful for that of
Sir Arthur Adelon. It was that of a young and lightly made man; and
Eda at once recognised her cousin Edgar.

The moment she did so, she threw open the window, and leaning out,
spoke to him in a low voice. "What is all this, Edgar?" she said. "Who
are those men, and what are they about?"

"I do not know, pretty cousin," he answered; "but I am going to see."

"Oh! for heaven's sake, take care," cried Eda. "You had better take no
notice of them. There were two or three hundred men, and they may
murder you."

"Pooh! pooh!" answered Edgar. "Go to bed, Eda, dear; you will catch
cold, and then somebody will scold me to-morrow;" and away he walked
after the party of men, which he also had seen from his room as he sat
meditating near the window. The intruders seemed to know the park
tolerably well, but Edgar Adelon knew it better; and cutting off an
angle here, and taking a short turn there--by a hawthorn bush, round a
clump of chestnuts, through a copse, over a rise--he contrived to come
in sight of them continually, without being seen himself, till at
length they reached the stone stile, and paused around it in an
irregular mass. The young gentleman was at that moment standing with
his back against a large horse-chestnut tree, and he could not at all
make out the man[oe]uvres that followed. Some of the men stood upon
the top of the stile, and seemed, with great labour and difficulty, to
lift a large and very weighty object over the wall. Then came another
effort of the same kind, and then the men began to pass rapidly into
the road beyond the park.

As soon as the last had disappeared, young Edgar Adelon darted out of
his place of concealment, and followed; but by the time he reached the
lane, although the moon had now risen, not a trace of the mob could be
discovered; and he was turning away to the left, when suddenly a
murmur of voices from the copse and valley below showed him the
direction which those he sought had taken. There were ways through
that copse only known to himself and the gamekeepers, unless, indeed,
some of the neighbouring poachers were as learned in its recesses; but
following one of these paths, he soon came within sight of the open
space before the old priory, and a strange scene presented itself to
his eyes. Full two hundred men were there assembled; some sitting on
fragments of the old ruin, some sauntering idly about the little
green, some bathing their hands in the stream, which sparkled not only
in the light, pure and pale, of the newly-risen moon, but in that of
two or three torches, which had by this time been lighted. In the
centre, however, there was a group of some thirty persons, more busily
employed, in the midst of whom shone the torches I have mentioned; and
by their glare, Edgar now perceived, for the first time clearly, the
heavy objects which the men had carried, and saw what they were now
doing with them. Two small field-pieces, apparently of brass, lay upon
the ground, detached from their carriages, which had been taken to
pieces, and which the mob were busily putting together. A good deal of
skill was shown in the task, and no slight eagerness appeared in the
rough, bronzed countenances of the men around, as they looked on or
assisted from time to time. The fixing the carriages together was soon
complete, and then came the more laborious work of slinging the
cannon, and adjusting them in their proper position. This was not
accomplished without difficulty, but it was at length complete; and
Edgar Adelon felt inclined to turn away and go back to the house, when
suddenly a loud voice exclaimed, "Now run them back into those dark
nooks, and gather round and hear a word or two."

Eight or ten men instantly applied themselves to drag the field-pieces
into the recesses of the building, and then came forth again,
gathering round the person who had spoken. He then placed himself upon
a large mass of fallen masonry, and in a loud, clear tone, and with
powerful and energetic language, pronounced an harangue, which gave to
Edgar Adelon the astounding information that his father was looked
upon as the leader of the rash men he saw before him, and their future
guide and support in schemes which seemed to his fresh young mind
nothing but mete madness. A part, at least, of their plans and
purposes was displayed; and with a heart filled with terror and
anxiety for his father, Edgar Adelon made his way out of the copse, to
return to Brandon House, asking himself how he should act, and
resolving to consult the priest as soon as he could see him on the
following morning.



CHAPTER XV.


What a whimsical thing is that strange composition--man. The very
elements of his nature war against each other, though bound together
by hoops of steel. The spirit and the body are continually at
variance, and the activity of the one often renders the other inert.
Eda Brandon could not sleep after Edgar Adelon left her; her
imagination, ever busy, presented to her continually scenes the most
fearful and the most terrible, where the gibbet, and the axe, and the
deadly shot were seen and heard; and her uncle's form appeared as a
criminal, freed for an hour or two from dark imprisonment, to endure
the torture of a public trial. She judged of all she knew as a woman
judges: with keen foresight and penetration, but without sufficient
experience to make that penetration available. But still her fancy was
busy, and it kept her waking. For more than one hour she did not
sleep; but still she tried hard to do so, for she proposed to rise
early on the following morning, when she knew that those whom she had
determined to consult, as to all the questions before her, would be
up. But such resolutions are vain. Fatigue and exhaustion imperatively
counselled repose; and at length, when her eyes closed,
notwithstanding all her determinations to watch, she went on in a
profound slumber for more than one hour after her usual time of
rising.

A morning of hurry and anxiety succeeded. Dudley had already gone out
with the gamekeepers and Edgar to shoot; Lord Hadley was still in bed;
Mr. Filmer had been summoned to a dying man at daybreak.

Sir Arthur ate his breakfast absorbed in journals and papers; and Eda,
though she loved him, had still doubts and hesitations, which
prevented her from speaking to her uncle on the subject predominant in
her thoughts. At length he looked at his watch, and rose suddenly,
saying, "I must leave you, dear Eda. It is strange that Mr. Norries
has not arrived, as I expected him on business."

No mention was made of the peculiar influence that the one party
possessed over the other; and the tone, too, was so commonplace, that
Eda began to imagine she had been over-penetrating, and had imagined
things that did not exist; so that she saw her uncle depart with
comparative tranquillity, and remained alone for near an hour, trying
to occupy herself with the ordinary amusements of the morning. At the
end of that time, however, her maid opened the door of her own little
sitting-room, saying, "Miss Clive, ma'am," and Helen was soon seated
by Eda Brandon.

"What is the matter, Helen dear," said Eda, as the other, at her
invitation, sat down on the sofa beside her. "You look pale; and
agitated I am sure you are; for however we may hide it, dear Helen,
and however difficult it may be to detect in line or feature, the
anxiety of the heart writes itself upon the face in characters faint
but very distinct. You are anxious about something, Helen. Something
has gone amiss. Tell me, dear Helen; for I think I need not say that
if I can console or help, you have only to tell the how, to Eda
Brandon."

"You are ever kind to your own little Helen, as you used to call me in
my childhood, Eda," replied her beautiful companion. "You were then
but a child yourself, but from that day to this there has been no
change, and it is time that I should try to return the kindness.
Dearest Eda, it is you I am anxious for--at least yours; and I cannot
refrain from telling you what I know, in the hope that you may be able
to avert the danger; but you must promise me first not to mention one
word to any one of that which I am about to say."

"But, my dear Helen, how can I avert danger if I may not mention to
any one the circumstances?" inquired Eda. "I am a very weak, powerless
creature, Helen; and as you say the danger menaces mine more than
myself, if I must speak of it to no one, how can I warn them."

"Listen, listen, Eda!" was the answer. "You must not indeed tell what
I relate, except as I point out; but still you shall have room enough
to warn those you love of the danger their own acts are bringing upon
them. Do you promise, Eda?"

"Certainly, Helen," replied Eda Brandon; "it is for you to speak or be
silent; and I must take your intelligence on your own conditions. Yet
I think you might trust me entirely to act for the best, Helen."

"I must not," said Helen Clive. "What I have to say might involve the
lives of others. Listen, then, Helen. Your uncle, Sir Arthur, is
involved in schemes which will, I am sure, lead to his destruction. He
is going this very evening to a place whence he will not come back
without great guilt upon his head, and great danger hanging over him;
perhaps he may never come back at all; but be sure that if he do go,
peace and security are banished from him for ever. Persuade him not to
go, Eda. That is the only thing which can save him."

She spoke with eager interest, and it was impossible, from her look,
her tone, her whole manner, to doubt for one moment that she was fully
impressed with the truth of what she said. Nor was Eda without her
anxiety; all that she had seen the night before, all that she had
remarked of her uncle's behaviour for several days, not only showed
her that there was foundation for Helen Clive's assertion, but
directed her suspicions aright; and though she paused, it was not in
any doubt, but rather to consider how, without deceit, she could
obtain further information from one who was not disposed to give it.

"I cannot persuade him, Helen," she said, at length, in a sad tone,
"without much more intelligence than you have given: he would only
laugh at me. Nay, perhaps with all that you could give, such would be
the same result. Men are often sadly obstinate, and ridicule the
prophetic fears of woman, who sees the events in which they are called
to mingle, but from which she is excluded, not unfrequently more
justly than themselves, because she is but a spectator. You have
neither told me the place to which he is going, nor the hour, nor the
object, no, nor the inducement. Inducement?" she continued, in a
thoughtful tone, as if speaking to herself; "what can be a sufficient
inducement for my uncle, with everything to lose and nothing to gain
by such commotions, to take part in any of these rash schemes?"

"I see that you have yourself had fears," answered Helen, "and that
those fears have not led you far from the truth. Then as to the
inducement, Eda----"

"Oh! yes, speak of that," replied Miss Brandon; "if I knew what it
was, perhaps I might remove it."

"Perhaps so," said Helen, thoughtfully, and then paused for an instant
to consider. "I think you can, Eda," she continued. "If I know looks,
and can understand tones, you certainly will be able. But there are
several inducements, as I suppose there are in all things. There is
the vanity, I believe, of adhering steadily to opinions once
professed, how much soever the man, the circumstances, or the times
may be changed; but that would have been nothing, had they not led him
on from act to act, and whenever he wavered, whenever he thought of
how much he risked upon an almost hopeless undertaking, still forced
him forward by fears."

"By fears!" exclaimed Eda. "Of what? Of whom? Who has Sir Arthur
Adelon to fear? What can he apprehend?"

She spoke somewhat proudly, and Helen gazed at her with a sad but
tender look, while she replied, in a few brief words, "He whom he
fears is one whom, if generously treated, there is no cause to fear.
His name is Dudley, Eda! What he fears, is the discovery by Mr. Dudley
of some dark transactions in the past--I know not what, for they did
not mention it--the proofs of which these men have in their
possession."

Eda sat before her, silent with amazement, for several moments; but
then she put her hand to her brow, and the next moment a smile full of
hope came up into her face. "If that be the inducement," she said, "I
think it will be easily removed, dear Helen. But you spoke of others;
may they not be sufficiently strong to carry him on in the same course
still?"

"Oh, no!" replied Helen, "that is the great motive. Take that away,
and he will be safe. Speak to Mr. Dudley first, Eda, and get him to
say to Sir Arthur these words, or some that are like them: 'I have
heard of some papers to be returned to me in a few days, Sir Arthur
Adelon, affecting questions long past; but I think it right to say at
once, that I wish all those gone-by affairs to be buried in oblivion;
and I pledge you my word, if those papers are given to me, I will
destroy them without looking at them.'"

"That is much to ask, Helen," exclaimed Eda, with a look of
hesitation; "how can I tell that those papers do not affect his very
dearest interests? I remember well that his father lost a fine
property some years ago, by a suit at law. May not these very papers
affect that transaction; may they not afford the means of recovering
it?"

"They do not, they do not," answered Helen, eagerly; "and if they did,
would he not promise _you_, Eda?"

The emphasis was so strong upon the word "you," that it brought the
colour into Eda Brandon's cheek; for she found that woman's eyes had
seen at once into woman's heart. Still she shrunk from owning the love
that was between Dudley and herself; and she replied, "I had better
ask my cousin Edgar to speak to Mr. Dudley about it."

"Speak to him yourself, Eda," replied Helen, with a faint smile; "your
voice will be more powerful. But let me proceed, for I must be home
without delay. When you have Mr. Dudley's promise to speak as I have
said, then beg Sir Arthur yourself not to go this night where he is
going. Mind not, Eda, whether he laughs or is angry, but do you detain
him by every persuasion in your power."

"But if he should not come home?" said Eda; "such a thing is not
impossible. He has been out very much lately, both by day and by
night, and we are all ignorant of whither he goes on such occasions."

Helen once more paused before she replied, and then said, with evident
hesitation and fear: "You must send some persons down to seek him,
then, dear Eda. Let them go down to a place called Mead's Farm,
half-way between this and Barhampton, about eight o'clock tonight.
There is a large empty barn there; and at it, or near it, they will
find two or three men standing, who will not let them pass along the
path unless they give the word, 'Justice.' Then, if they go along the
road before them, towards Barhampton, they will find the person they
are seeking. But, oh! I trust, Eda, he will be found before that, for
then it will be almost too late."

"Who can I send?" said Eda, in a low tone, as if speaking to herself;
but Helen caught the words, and replied, in an imploring tone, "Not
Mr. Adelon, Eda--not your cousin. He might be led on with his father,
and ruin overtake him too."

Eda smiled sweetly, and laid her hand upon Helen Clive's, with a
gentle and affectionate pressure; but, as she did so, some painful
anticipations regarding the fate of her beautiful and highly-gifted
companion crossed her mind, and she said, with a sigh, "Do you know, I
am almost a Chartist too, Helen!"

Helen started, saying, "Indeed! I do not understand what you mean,
Eda."

"What I mean is, dear Helen," replied Miss Brandon, "that I wish there
were no distinctions upon earth, but virtue, and excellence, and high
qualities."

Helen now understood her, and cast down her eyes with a blush and a
sigh; and Eda put her arm round her neck, adding, "In time of need, my
Helen, come to me. Tell me all and everything, and above all, how I
can serve you; and you shall not find Eda Brandon wanting. But, hark!
there's Lord Hadley's voice in the hall below."

Helen Clive turned pale and trembled. "He will not come here?" she
said, eagerly. "Do not let him come here. Oh! how shall I get away?"

"Why, what is the matter?" asked Eda, in surprise; but before Helen
could answer, another voice, rich and harmonious, but speaking in
grave and almost stern tones, was heard. "My lord, I beg your pardon,
but this is a matter which admits of no delay. I must repeat my
request for a few minutes' conversation with you immediately."

Lord Hadley was then heard answering sharply; and the next moment the
voices ceased, as if the speakers had retired into one of the rooms
below.

"You do not seem to like Lord Hadley, Helen," said Eda, in a
thoughtful tone.

"I abhor him," answered Helen Clive, "and I have cause. But now I must
return to the Grange, and I will ask you as a favour, dear Eda, to
send some one with me by the way. It is very strange to feel afraid at
going out alone for one who has been accustomed, as I have been, to
roam about like a free bird, without one thought of danger or
annoyance; but now I tremble at every step I take, and watch every
coming figure with apprehension."

"And has this young man done this?" asked Eda Brandon. "It is sad,
very sad; but you shall have protection, Helen."

Helen Clive did not reply, and Eda rang the bell, and gave orders that
one of the old servants, who had been attached for twenty years to her
father's house, should accompany Helen back to the Grange.

They then parted, after some more brief explanations; but just as
Helen reached the foot of the stairs, where the servant was waiting
for her, the door of the library was thrown violently open, and Lord
Hadley appeared with a flushed and angry countenance. Mr. Dudley was
standing two or three steps behind him, and his cheek too was hot, and
his brow frowning.

Without seeing Helen, and, indeed, in the blind fury of passion,
without noticing any one else, the young nobleman turned before he
left the library, and with a menacing gesture, said to Mr. Dudley:
"Your insolence, sir, shall not go without notice. Don't suppose your
rash and mercenary pretensions have escaped my eyes. Be you sure they
will be treated with the contempt they merit; but I will take care
that they shall be pursued no farther, for they shall be exposed to
Sir Arthur Adelon this very day."

Dudley took a step forward and replied, with a stern look, "Your
lordship had better take care what use you make of my name in your
discourse, for depend upon it, if you treat it disrespectfully I shall
know how to punish you for so doing."

It is probable that more angry words would have followed, but at that
moment two other persons were added to the group, by the advance of
Mr. Filmer from the outer hall, and by the appearance of the butler
from the side of the offices, carrying a tray with letters.

"Two letters for your lordship," said the servant, advancing in a
commonplace manner, as if he observed nothing of the angry discussion
which was going on. "A letter for you, sir," he continued, addressing
Dudley, as soon as Lord Hadley had taken what he presented.

The young nobleman gave a hurried glance around; and the slight pause
which had been afforded was sufficient to allow reflection to come to
his aid. By this time Mr. Filmer was speaking to Helen Clive, and both
she and the priest were moving fast towards the great doors of the
house; but the presence of the two servants was now enough to restrain
Lord Hadley's impetuous temper; and without opening the letters he
hurried away towards his bed-room, leaving Dudley alone in the
library. The butler shut the door and retired to tell the housekeeper
and some of his fellow-servants all that which he had seen and heard,
but which he had affected not to observe.

Dudley, in the mean time, laid down the letter on the table, and
stood in bitter thought. Although a man of strong command over
himself--command gained during a long period of adversity--he was
naturally of a quick and eager disposition, and a severe struggle was
taking place in his bosom at that moment to maintain the ascendancy of
principle over passion.

"No!" he said, at length--"No. I will make one more effort to reclaim
him. I will not dwell upon his insulting conduct towards me; but I
will point out the wickedness and the folly of the course he is
pursuing, and endeavour to call him back to honour and to right." The
very determination served to calm him; and looking down upon the
letter on the table, he took it up, saying, "I wonder who this can be
from? I do not know the hand. I must see, for the seal is black." And
opening it, he found the following words:--


"Dear Sir,

"We have the melancholy task of informing you of the sudden decease,
last night, at half-past nine o'clock, of our much respected friend
and client, the Rev. Dr. Dudley, which took place at St. John's, just
as he was about to retire to rest. Although we know that you will be
greatly grieved at this sad event, we are forced to intrude some
business upon your attention under the following circumstances. About
a fortnight ago, our late respected client, having felt some
apoplectic symptoms, judged it right to send for Mr. Emerson, of our
firm, in order to make his will, which was in due form signed, sealed,
and delivered. He therein appointed you his sole executor, having
bequeathed all his property, real and personal, to yourself, with the
exception of a few small legacies. He has also requested you to make
all the arrangements for his funeral as you may think proper, merely
directing that it should be conducted in a plain and unostentatious
manner. It is therefore very necessary that you should return to
Cambridge as soon as possible, or that you should send your directions
by letter. In the mean time we will take all proper steps in the
matter, and trust to be honoured with your confidence, as we have been
with that of your lamented relative for many years."


The letter was signed by a well-known law firm in Cambridge.

The first emotion in the mind of Edward Dudley was that of deep
grief--grief, simple and unalloyed, for the loss of one whom he had
truly loved; but the next was a feeling of bereavement. His staff was
broken, his support gone, The only one in all the world who had acted
a kindly, almost a parental part to him, for long, long years, was no
more. He felt, as I have said, bereaved; for although the love of Eda
Brandon, that love which had been cherished in secret by both, was a
great consolation and a comfort, yet it was so different, both in kind
and in degree, from the affection entertained for him by his own
relation, that they could not be brought at all into comparison the
one with the other. New attachments never wholly compensate for old
ties. They fill a different, perhaps a larger place, but they leave
the others vacant. He mourned sincerely then; and it was some time
before the thought--which would have presented itself much earlier to
a worldly mind, came even to his memory--the thought that the riches
of the earth, which can never compete, in a generous heart, with those
affections which are above the earth, but which influence so much the
course of human life and mortal happiness, were now his. That he was
no more the impoverished student, seeking by hard labour to recover
the position which his family had once maintained. That he was not
only independent, but wealthy; and though perhaps not exactly upon a
par in point of fortune with the heiress of large hereditary
possessions, still no unportioned adventurer, seeking to mend his
condition with her gold. He knew that his father's first cousin had
himself inherited a very fair estate. He knew that he had held rich
benefices and lucrative offices; and he also knew that, though a
liberal and a kindly man, he had been also a very prudent one, and had
certainly lived far within his income. Thus he was certain of more
than a moderate fortune; but although it would be folly to deny that
such a conviction was a relief to his mind, still sincere grief was
predominant, and he felt that the wealth he had acquired by the loss
of a friend could in no degree compensate for the bereavement.

While he thus meditated, he heard a quick but heavy step upon the
stairs, the glass doors between the hall and the vestibule bang with a
force which might almost have shaken the panes from the frame, and the
moment after he saw the figure of Lord Hadley pass the windows of the
library. Dudley instantly took up his hat, darted out and looked
around; but the young nobleman had disappeared, and seeing one of the
gamekeepers who had been out with him and Edgar in the morning,
walking slowly away from the house, he stopped him and asked which way
the young nobleman had taken. His manner was quick and eager, and the
cloud of grief was still upon his brow, so that the man looked at him
for a moment with some surprise before he answered. He then pointed
out the way, and Dudley was turning at once to follow it, when the
butler came out upon the terrace, saying, with a low bow, "Miss
Brandon wishes to speak with you for a few moments, sir, if you are
not otherwise engaged."

"If the business is not of great importance," said Dudley, "I will be
back in ten minutes."

"It is nothing particular, I believe, sir," answered the man; "she has
just had a note from Sir Arthur to say he won't be back to dinner. I
fancy that is all."

"Then say I will wait upon her in ten minutes," replied Dudley; "I
wish to catch Lord Hadley for a moment before he proceeds farther. We
have something to speak about which must be settled at once." And he
sped upon the way, as the gamekeeper had directed. It was in the
direction of the Grange.

Ten minutes elapsed, and Dudley had not returned. A quarter of an
hour, half an hour, an hour; and when he came back he was evidently a
good deal excited. He calmed himself down, however, as much as
possible, and immediately requested an interview with Miss Brandon,
who came down and joined him in the library, remaining with him nearly
till dinner-time. They were at last interrupted by the priest, who
came in search of a book, and shortly after the dressing-bell rang. At
the dinner-table, Lord Hadley, who appeared very late, was gloomy and
thoughtful. He never addressed a word to Mr. Dudley, and spoke but
little to Eda or the priest, who took one end of the table. Edgar
Adelon did not at all seek to converse with him; and when any words
passed between them, they were as sharp as the customs of society
would permit. Dudley was very grave, and if he still took any interest
in Lord Hadley's conduct he might not be altogether satisfied to see
him drink so much wine. As soon as Eda had quitted the room, however,
Dudley rose, saying that, with Mr. Filmer's permission, he would
retire, as he was obliged to go out for a short time; and after
emptying two more glasses, Lord Hadley also left the table, and the
party broke up.

The young peer took his hat in the vestibule, and walked out upon the
terrace, asking one of the men who were in the hall if he had seen
which way Mr. Dudley took. The man replied, "Up the avenue, my lord;"
and Lord Hadley pursued the same path. It was never to return.



CHAPTER XVI.


The night was dark but fine; and innumerable stars spangled the sky,
as four men stood on watch by the side of a large old barn, within
sight of a farm-house. Although a human habitation was there, the
place had a desolate and solitary aspect. There was the farm-stead,
with its ricks and stacks, it is true, showing that industry was at
work; but not another house was to be seen around except that yeoman's
dwelling; not a labourer's cottage even; and the ground immediately
around was uncultivated, and presented no homely and comfortable
hedge-rows, no protection from the bleak winds which swept over the
adjacent downs. Immediately round about the house, the ground, sloping
hither and thither, was covered with short turf upon a sandy soil,
which appeared in many a yellow patch and broken bank; and between two
of the latter ran a good broad road, heavy to travel through with wain
or cart. At the edge of this road, and not more than twenty or thirty
yards from it, was the large, shapeless barn I have mentioned, the
boarding broken off in several places, and the tiling in a very
shattered condition. Between it and the road, upon the bank, which was
not above three feet high, were seated the men, who, as I have stated,
were placed on watch there; and it was evident that they listened from
time to time, for distant sounds, breaking off their low-toned
conversation, and bending an attentive ear at the word 'Hush!'

"They can't have got there yet, William," said one of them. "Remember,
it is more than three miles."

"Ay, but they will go it quick," answered the other.

"That was at the first starting," replied the first. "Their march will
be slower after a while. It is your impatience calculates your time
and not your wit."

"I would rather be at work with them there," said another, "than
lagging here, doing nothing."

"We have a post of more importance, and perhaps of more danger too,"
rejoined the second speaker. "The success of the whole may depend upon
us. Hark! there is a footstep! Perhaps it is the soldiers they talked
of. Now, jump down and stand to your arms, my lads. Remember--you,
William, carry the intelligence at the first sight of them, while we
hold them in parley as long as possible." And as he spoke, he jumped
down into the road, first snatching up a musket that lay by his side.

Whoever or whatever it was they expected, only a single figure
appeared, and as it came up the sandy path towards them, a voice
shouted, "Stand! Give the word!"

"Justice," replied the clear, full voice of Mr. Dudley; and as he
spoke, he continued to advance direct towards the men who barred the
road.

"That's the word, sure enough," said one of them in a low tone; "but
he has got no arms, and does not look like our people."

"I dare say he is one of Sir Arthur's men," replied another; and after
a momentary hesitation, they made way to let him pass. Dudley,
however, paused in the midst of them, inquiring, in a familiar tone,
"Which way have they taken?" and after hearing the reply of "Straight
on; you cannot miss it," he walked forward at the same rapid pace
which had brought him thither.

For a little more than two miles farther, no sound nor sight indicated
that he was approaching the scene of any important event. The road was
varied, sometimes passing over a part of the bare downs, sometimes
gliding in between little copses and hedge-rows, sometimes crossing
over a shoulder of the hill, sometimes skirting its base. At length,
however, a distant roar was heard, as of a multitude of human beings
talking tumultuously; and coming out of the little valley, through
which passed the byeway he was pursuing, a strange and not
unpicturesque scene burst upon his eyes. He was now at the foot of the
steep ascent which led up to the old gates of the small town of
Barhampton; and the decayed walls, with their flanking towers, were
seen crowning the rise, at the distance of somewhat more than a
quarter of a mile. I have said that they were seen, though the night
was very dark, and the moon had not yet risen; but it was by a less
mellow and peaceful light than that of the fair planet that the
crumbling fortifications were displayed. More than a hundred links
were blazing with their red and smoky glare around the gate and
beneath the walls; and a sea of human beings, moving to and fro, some
on horseback and some on foot, was shown by the same fitful flames,
with strange effects of light and shade, varying over them every
moment as the groups themselves changed their forms, or the links were
carried from place to place. At the same time, a dull, murmuring,
subdued roar was heard, strong but not loud, as of many persons
speaking eagerly; and every now and then a voice rose in a shout above
the rest, as if giving directions or commands.

Without pausing even an instant to gaze upon the scene, however
strange and interesting, Dudley hurried on up the ascent, sometimes
running, sometimes walking, till he reached the outskirts of the mob,
where a number of the less zealous and energetic were standing idly
by, some with arms in their hands of various kinds and sorts: muskets,
fowling-pieces, pikes, swords, scythes set upright upon poles; pistols
and daggers, or large knives; some totally unarmed, like himself, or
furnished merely with a bludgeon. In advance was the denser part of
the crowd: agitated, vociferous, swaying hither and thither, and
seeming to attend but little to the commands which were shouted from
time to time by several persons on horseback. The confusion was
indescribable, and little could be seen of what was going on in front,
though the light of the torches caught strong on one or two of the
banners, bearing inscriptions in gilt letters, and upon the figures of
the horsemen, who were raised above the crowd on foot. Towards one of
these Mr. Dudley strove to force his way; but it was with difficulty
that he gained, every moment or two, a step in advance, till at length
he came suddenly, in the midst of the densest mass of the people, upon
a brass six-pounder, of somewhat antique form, with the two horses
which had drawn it up the hill. There seemed to be another a little in
advance; but seeing the space somewhat clear on the other side of the
gun, Dudley leaped over it, and hurried on more freely towards the
figure upon which his eyes had been fixed, and which he recognised at
once, though some attempt had been made to disguise the person. As he
was passing the other field-piece, however, a man of foreign
appearance, with a large pair of mustachios, stopped him rudely,
telling him in French to keep back.

Dudley replied in the same language, "I must pass, sir. I wish to
speak with that gentleman;" and, at the same time, he thrust aside the
other, who was much less powerful than himself, and was approaching
Sir Arthur Adelon, when suddenly a broad blaze broke up just under the
arch of the old gateway, and a loud voice exclaimed, "That will soon
burn them down."

The crowd recoiled a little, and Dudley for a moment caught sight of a
huge pile of dry bushes which had been placed against the old gates,
and lighted by some gunpowder. The next instant he was by Sir Arthur's
side, and then for the first time saw, a little in advance of the
baronet, the lawyer Norries, apparently acting as the leader of the
multitude, and at that moment giving directions for bringing round the
muzzles of the field-pieces to bear upon the gates as soon as they
should be destroyed by the flames.

The tumult and uproar were so great that Sir Arthur neither saw nor
heard Dudley, till the latter had spoken to him three times, and then,
when he turned his eyes upon him, he started, and became very pale.

"Sir Arthur, listen to me for a moment," said Dudley; "bend down your
head, and hear what I have to say."

The baronet, seemingly by an involuntary movement, did as he was
required; and Dudley continued, in a low voice, saying, "Take the
first opportunity of turning your horse and riding away; and be
sure----"

"Impossible, sir, impossible!" answered Sir Arthur, in the same tone.

"And be sure," continued Dudley, without heeding his reply, "that if
you do not, you will have bitter cause to regret it. Listen to me yet
one moment, sir, before you answer."

"There is a part of the gate down!" cried the loud voice of Norries.
"Bring these cannon round quicker. Have you lost your hands and arms?"

"Sir Arthur Adelon," continued Dudley, earnestly, "I was asked a
question by those who sent me, and to it I gave a willing reply. In
accordance with that reply I was directed to say to you, I have heard
that some papers will be given up to me in a few days affecting
questions long past; but I say at once, I wish all those gone-by
affairs to be buried in oblivion, and if you will retire at once from
this scene of treasonable violence, I give you my word that when those
papers are given to me, I will destroy them without looking at them."

"Then he has betrayed me!" murmured Sir Arthur, with a furious look
towards Norries; "he has forced me forward into these deeds, and then
betrayed me. But it is too late," he added, aloud, for the preceding
words, though they were caught by Dudley, had been uttered in a very
low tone. "I know not what you speak of, sir. If you have come here to
put forth enigmas, I am too busy to unriddle them. It matters not to
me whether you look at papers or not. That is all your own affair."
And breaking off abruptly, he again gazed gloomily at Norries, and
muttered something between his teeth, of which Dudley only heard the
word, "Revenge."

There were two holsters at his saddle-bow, such as are commonly used
in some of our volunteer regiments of cavalry; and as he spoke, Sir
Arthur Adelon put his right hand to one of them, while he turned his
horse with the other. But Dudley grasped his bridle rein, saying, "One
word more, Sir Arthur, and then I must go. You are in great danger,"
he added, in a lower voice. "Not only are there troops within the
town, but in five minutes you will have the yeomanry upon you. So much
have I learned this day. Be advised for your own sake, for the sake of
your family. Turn your horse, disentangle yourself from the crowd, and
make the best of your way back to Brandon."

Sir Arthur gazed at him with a look of stupified astonishment; but ere
he could answer, a voice shouted, "The gate's down!--the gate's down!"
And immediately a rush forward took place, beginning with those
behind, who heard the announcement without seeing what was going on in
front.

"Orderly, orderly!" cried Norries; "let the guns advance first." But
as he spoke, there was a loud ringing peal of musketry from the inner
side of the gateway, and then a straggling shot or two. A man amongst
the rioters dropped; another staggered, pressing his hand upon his
side, and fell; and the horse which Norries was riding reared high,
and then came thundering down.

At the same instant there came the sound of a wild "Hurrah!" from the
side of the hill to the left, together with that of galloping horse.
Another volley of shot rang from behind the gateway of the town; and
then, with a cheer, a small but compact body of infantry advanced at
the charge with fixed bayonets from within the walls. Two more of the
rioters had fallen by the second discharge; the cry spread amongst
them that the cavalry were upon them; those at the extreme verge of
the crowd began to run; the centre remained firm for a moment, more
from indecision than courage; but the next instant, panic seized all,
and one general scene of flight and confusion followed.

Dudley caught one more glance of Sir Arthur Adelon, but it was only to
see that he was spurring the fine horse he rode fiercely along the
slope towards the other side from that which now presented the
advancing line of a well-disciplined body of yeomanry cavalry.

It was now time that Dudley should think of his own safety. He was in
the midst of a body of rioters, whose acts amounted to treason, though
a more lenient construction was afterwards put upon them, under the
merciful influence of modern civilisation. With quick step, then, but
not at a run, he turned somewhat in the direction which had been taken
by Sir Arthur Adelon, skirted round the town to the westward, and when
he had got in amongst some houses which had been built beyond the
walls, turned back, as if coming towards the scene of affray.

The great mass of the people had fled down the hill towards the
villages and copses in the interior; and it must be said that the
yeomanry, inexperienced in such proceedings, made but few prisoners,
considering the number of people present at the attack upon the town.
A confused noise, however, reached Dudley's ears, of galloping horse,
and shouts and cries; but, keeping away to the right, he avoided the
spot where the pursuit was going on, and at the same time endeavoured
to regain the road which led towards Brandon. He was some time in
finding it, and even when actually upon it, did not feel sure that he
was right, till he perceived, after having gone on for a quarter of a
mile, a tall finger-post, of a peculiar form, which he had remarked as
he passed before.

The road was quite solitary, although he thought he heard steps
running on fast before him; and no one did Dudley meet with during the
whole weary seven miles he had still to walk before he reached the
gates of Brandon Park. Sad and gloomy were the thoughts which kept him
company by the way from that scene of mad violence. He reflected upon
the fate of the misled men who had fallen or been taken; and with
still more sorrowful feelings he thought of the future condition of
the widow, the orphans, the parents of the dead, and all that were
connected with or dependent upon the prisoners. But it is with his own
fate I have to do, and not with his mere meditations, and therefore I
will conduct him at once past the old barn and lonely farm-house,
which marked about half the distance, and bring him to the gates of
the park. The moon was by this time rising, but the light of a candle
was in the lodge, and the small door leading into the park, at the
side of the greater ones, was open. Dudley passed through, and
advanced up the avenue towards the house; but he had not proceeded two
hundred yards, when two men started out upon him from behind the
trees, and seized him by the shoulder.

"Mr. Edward Dudley," said one, "I apprehend you in the Queen's name.
Here is the warrant."

"Upon what charge?" demanded Dudley, without making any resistance.

"Why, it may be murder; it may be manslaughter," replied the
constable; "that remains to be seen. You must come to the lodge for
to-night, sir; for I am ordered to keep you there in safe custody, in
the little room with the round window at the back."



CHAPTER XVII.


It is necessary now to leave Dudley in the hands of the constables,
and to take up the history of another personage in the tale.

Sir Arthur Adelon spurred on for four miles without drawing a rein,
and almost without giving a thought to any point in his situation,
except the effort necessary to escape personal danger. For the first
two miles he fancied that he heard the sounds of pursuit behind him;
but gradually, as no one appeared, and his keenest attention did not
confirm the impressions which fear had produced, he became convinced
that he had escaped immediate capture; and while he still urged his
horse furiously forward, he meditated over the perilous future. His
course was directed along a narrow horse-path across the downs, with
every turning of which he was well acquainted, but which added nearly
two miles to the distance he had to go. He paid little attention to
any external objects; but one thing could not escape his eye as he
rode over the high grounds towering above the sea. It was a dim light,
at the distance of about a mile from the shore, and he knew right well
that it was burning on board a small French brig, which had brought
over the two field-pieces the night before. The sight suggested to his
mind the idea of flight from England; but there were many difficult
and dangerous points to be considered before such a step could be
taken; and after awhile, he somewhat checked his horse's speed, and
though still proceeding at a quick trot, revolved in an intense, but
confused and rambling manner, the circumstances which surrounded him.
His inclination was certainly to fly; but then he remembered that to
do so would fix upon him participation in the crimes of that night;
that he might not be able to return to his country for long years, and
that the rest of his life might be spent in the pains of exile. He
recollected, too, that he had held back at that period of the attack
upon the town of Barhampton, when the magistrates had appeared upon
the wall, and summoned the multitude to disperse, and retire quietly
to their homes; and he fancied that, disguised as his person had been,
in a large wrapping cloak, with a handkerchief tied over the lower
part of his face, and a hat unlike that which he usually wore, he
might have escaped without observation on the part of most of the
rioters. But then again, Dudley had seen him, spoken to him,
recognised him. He was the only one, except Norries, that was fully
aware of his presence on the spot, and Sir Arthur believed that he had
seen the latter fall dead under the fire of the troops. Could Dudley
be silenced, all might go well; but still the baronet hesitated and
balanced, and remained undecided till the gates of Brandon Park
appeared before him. It was necessary to come to some immediate
decision; and yet he could not make up his mind to decide; and at
length he determined, as most men in a state of doubt are inclined to
do, to cast the burden upon another. "I will speak with Filmer," he
thought; "and upon his advice I will act." The gates were immediately
opened on his ringing the bell; for the tenants of the lodge, knowing
that he was absent, had waited up for his return, and riding hard up
the avenue, Sir Arthur entered his niece's house a little after eleven
o'clock. A momentary hesitation crossed him when he was passing the
threshold, as to whether he should consult with Father Peter or not;
but that doubt was immediately put an end to, by the first words of
the butler, who stood behind the servant that opened the door.

"Oh! Sir Arthur!" he said, with a very grave face, "some terrible
things have happened----"

"I know--I know," cried Sir Arthur, interrupting him hastily, and
somewhat surprised to find that the tidings had travelled so quick.
"Where is Mr. Filmer? I must see him directly. Call him to me
immediately."

"He is in the library, sir," replied the man; and passing on with a
quick step, Sir Arthur Adelon entered the room where the priest was
seated alone. Father Filmer was sitting at a large library-table, with
his head resting on his hand: and as he raised his eyes to the
baronet's countenance, with the light of the large lamp streaming upon
his broad forehead, there was an expression of intense stern thought
upon his face, which made Sir Arthur feel he was in the presence of
his master more than of his friend perhaps. He closed the door, and
saw that it was firmly shut; and as he was advancing towards the
table, Mr. Filmer inquired, "What is the matter, Sir Arthur? You are
pale, haggard, and apparently much agitated."

"Have you not heard, my good father?" asked the baronet. "I had
understood that the rumour had reached Brandon."

"I have heard much," replied the priest; "but what I wish to hear is,
what it is that has so much affected you. My son," he continued,
rising, and gazing gravely upon Sir Arthur's face, "if you would
have comfort, consolation, and advice from one who is your old and
long-tried friend, as well as your spiritual guide, you must have
confidence in him. Now, in that confidence you have been wanting
lately. You have told me half, and I have known the whole. You have
avoided rather sought my counsel; and I have not forced it upon you,
although I knew you to be engaged in enterprises dangerous to yourself
and others, and knew also the inducements which forced you forwards,
and from which I could have relieved you, if you would but have been
guided by me. The only thing of which I was unaware, was that the rash
attempt was to be made to-night. I see by your face, by your dress, by
your manner, that it has been so; and I now ask you the result, not
from any idle curiosity, but for the purpose of delivering you from
the difficulties which your own want of confidence has brought upon
you. Speak; and every word that you say shall be held as sacred as if
uttered under the seal of confession."

"The result, my best friend," replied Sir Arthur, "is more disastrous
than can be conceived." And he went on to give his own version of all
that had occurred, dwelling particularly upon Dudley's appearance
amongst the rioters, and the words which he had used. Filmer suffered
him to proceed to an end without a single question. He did not even
embarrass him by a look, but having resumed his seat, kept his eyes
fixed thoughtfully upon the table, and his head slightly bent, in
listening attention.

"And now what am I to do?" asked Sir Arthur. "I will be guided
entirely by your advice. There is the French brig which has been hired
by some of these men, through the _Société Democratique_, now lying
off the coast. A boat will carry me on board in half an hour, and I
shall be safe in France, as fugitives accused of mere political
offences cannot be claimed."

"Would you ruin yourself for ever?" asked Father Filmer; "would you
put a brand upon your name which can never be effaced? Think not of
it; merely answer me one or two questions. Are you sure that Norries
is dead?"

"I saw him fall with my own eyes," answered the baronet; "and I think
that one of the cannon passed over him, for the horses took fright at
the firing."

"Norries would not betray you, I think," said Mr. Filmer,
thoughtfully; and then repeated, "he would not betray you, even if he
were living, I do believe."

"But he has betrayed me to this young Dudley already," answered Sir
Arthur Adelon, sharply. "His words clearly showed that he is informed
of all that passed six years ago. He, the son of my greatest enemy,
has me now entirely in his power: it is that which makes it so
necessary to fly; he saw me, spoke to me, can swear to my presence
there."

"But he, you think, is the only one?" said the priest, in a tone of
inquiry.

"Assuredly," replied Sir Arthur. "I have been at only two of their
meetings; and at the last I strongly dissuaded them from the attempt,
and said that I would take no part in it, which was the cause of
Norries' threatening visit here. All my other communications have been
carried on with him."

"Then you are safe," said the priest. "If any one has by chance
recognised your person, it may easily be said that you were there to
dissuade the people from their rash attempt; and you can call
witnesses to prove that you had done so before."

"But Dudley, Dudley!" said the baronet, almost impatiently; "he can
prove all."

"I will provide for him," replied the priest, with a marked emphasis
and a bitter smile. "He shall be taken care of."

"But how, how?" cried Sir Arthur.

"Come with me and I will show you," answered Mr. Filmer; and lighting
a taper at the lamp, he led the way into the hall. Sir Arthur
followed, in wonder and doubt, and the priest opened the door of the
dining-room, and went in. As soon as Sir Arthur entered, his eyes fell
upon the dining-room table, which was covered with a white cloth,
concealing from the eye some large object like the figure of a man.
Mr. Filmer set down the light he carried on the side-board, where two
other wax candles were burning; and then, with a slow, firm step, and
grave countenance, approached the end of the table, and threw back the
cloth. Sir Arthur had followed him step by step, but what was his
horror and surprise to see, when the covering was removed, the cold,
inanimate features of Lord Hadley, with his forehead and head covered
with blood, and his clothes likewise stained with gore and dust.

"Good heaven!" he exclaimed, "how has this happened, and how does this
bear upon my own fate?"

"How it has happened," answered Mr. Filmer, "remains to be proved, and
shall be proved; and how it bears upon your fate, I will leave you to
divine, at least for the present. That unhappy young man had a sharp
and angry discussion this morning with Mr. Dudley. The subject was
Helen Clive, whom he who lies there was pursuing with the basest
intentions, and insulting with familiarities as well as importunities,
alike repugnant to one of so high a mind. The dispute proceeded to
very fierce and angry menaces on both parts. Dudley forgot his usual
moderation, and the sharp terms he used were overheard by myself and
two others. At dinner they were cold and repulsive towards each other;
and after dinner, towards eight o'clock, Mr. Dudley left the house,
upon what errand I do not know. That unhappy young man followed him,
inquiring which way the other took, and I find that they were seen
passing the lodge, and going up towards the downs. At that time they
were in eager conversation; their gestures were warm, and their tones
indicative of much excitement, though the words they uttered were not
heard. Somewhat more than two hours ago, the boatmen--fishermen or
smugglers, as the case may be--brought home that lifeless mass of
clay, with the vital spark even then quite extinct. The account they
gave was this: that one of their number, while watching a French brig
lying about a mile from the shore, heard high words from the cliff
above his head. He thought he heard a cry, too, as if for help, and
looking up, he saw two men at the very edge of the precipice, though
in the darkness he could but distinguish the bare outline of their
forms against the sky. There seemed to him to be blows struck and a
scuffle between them, and the moment after, one disappeared, for the
dark face of the rock prevented his fall from being seen; but a loud
cry, almost a shriek, he said, and then the sound of a heavy fall and
a deadly groan, called him to the spot, where he found this youth
lying weltering in his blood."

The priest paused for a moment or two, while Sir Arthur Adelon
approached nearer and bent down his head over the dead body; and then
Mr. Filmer, with a significant look, continued:--"Mr. Dudley will have
occupation enough. There is no other wound," added the priest,
observing that Sir Arthur was still looking close at the corpse, "but
that occasioned by the fall. The skull is fractured, the right thigh
broken, the brain severely injured. Death must have been very speedy,
though he was still living when the fishermen found him, but never
uttered a word. Now, my son, the consequences of this act are
important to you."

"But was it Dudley who killed him?" asked the baronet, with an eager
look. "I cannot think it; and my good, kind friend, I cannot wish to
bring his blood upon my head, were it even to spare my own. The events
of this night," he continued, taking the priest's hands in his and
pressing them tight, "have given me strange feelings, Filmer. I have
seen men die, if not in consequence of my act, at least in consequence
of acts in which I participated, and I cannot, I will not, even to
save my own life, bring a farther weight upon my conscience."

"For whatever you do in this case," answered Filmer, "the church has
power to absolve you, and for much more than I intend you should do.
This Dudley is an obstinate heretic, who has had the means of light
and has refused it; and although it is necessary now, from the
circumstances of the times, to refrain from exercising that just
rigour which in better and more spiritual days was displayed to every
impenitent person in his situation, yet, of course, we cannot look
upon him with the same feelings, or find ourselves bound to him by the
same ties, which would exist between us and a Catholic Christian. Body
and soul he is given over to reprobation; and we have no need to go
out of our way to shelter him in any degree from the laws of his own
heretic land: a land which for centuries has given the true faith up
to persecution and injustice of every kind. Let him take his chance. I
ask you to do nothing more. The evidence is very strong against him.
No other person was seen near this unfortunate young man. But a very
short time could have elapsed after they were remarked together,
apparently in high dispute, before this fatal occurrence took place.
Other evidence may appear, and he may be proved guilty or innocent;
but, at all events, he must be tried, and the time of that trial may
be yet remote. The first cases that will be taken will certainly be
those connected with these riots, and the only direct witness against
you will be then in jail."

"But how am I to act in this business?" demanded Sir Arthur Adelon.
"As a magistrate, as the person in whose house both the dead man and
the living were staying, I shall continually be called upon to share
in the different proceedings, and my part will be a terribly difficult
one to play, my friend."

"Not in the least," answered Filmer. "You must refuse to act as a
magistrate, even should you be called upon, alleging your acquaintance
with both parties, and your natural partiality for Mr. Dudley, on
account of old friendship between his father and yourself, as
sufficient excuses. Whatever evidence you give may be highly
favourable to the accused person. The testimony against him will be
strong enough, rest assured of that."

"Then do you really think him guilty?" demanded the baronet, gazing at
the priest, with those doubts which a long acquaintance with his
character had impressed even upon the mind of a man not very acute.

"Nay, I do not prejudge the question," replied Filmer. "As yet we have
not sufficient grounds to go upon. All I say is, the case of suspicion
is very strong; and what I would advise you to do, under any
circumstances, would be to send immediately for your nearest
neighbour, Mr. Conway, turn over the case to him, and let him judge
whether it be not necessary instantly to issue a warrant for the
apprehension of Mr. Dudley, when he returns. It were better that not a
moment were lost, for although you have probably ridden fast, it
cannot be long ere the person we suspect is here."

"Perhaps he may not return at all," said Sir Arthur. "It is more than
probable that, on foot and unarmed, he has been apprehended as one of
the rioters, but we can send, at all events." And ringing the bell
sharply, he gave the necessary orders.

"But now," continued the baronet, reverting to the topic of greatest
interest in his own mind, as soon as the servant had left the room,
"how am I to act in regard to this attack upon Barhampton?"

"We must see," replied the priest. "Should Norries be dead, or have
made his escape, you must assume a degree of boldness; acknowledge
that your views are the same in regard to general principles as those
of the unfortunate men implicated; but declare openly that you have
always opposed any recourse to physical force in the assertion of any
political opinions whatever, and bring forward witnesses to prove that
you attempted to dissuade them from all violence, refusing to take any
part therein. That will be easily done; and should any one come
forward to state that you were present at the attack, you can show
that you went thither on hearing that it was about to take place, in
order to constrain them to refrain from executing their intentions by
every means in your power."

"But how can I show that?" demanded Sir Arthur.

"We will find a way," replied Filmer; "but that can be discussed
to-morrow. I must now go out to console some of my little flock who
are suffering from affliction. In the mean time you must manage this
examination. The witnesses are the old man at the lodge, your butler,
the head footman, Brown, and the fishermen who are now waiting in the
servants' hall."

As he spoke he moved towards the door. Sir Arthur would fain have
detained him a moment to ask farther questions, but Filmer laid his
hand upon his arm, saying, "Be firm, be firm!" and left him.



CHAPTER XVIII.


At the distance of about a quarter of a mile from Clive Grange was a
group of six or seven cottages, of neat and comfortable appearance,
tenanted by labourers on Mr. Clive's own farm. They were all
respectable, hard-working people; and as Clive himself was not without
his prejudices, especially upon religious matters, he had contrived
that most of those whom he employed should be Roman Catholics. As
there were not many of that church in the part of the country where he
lived, some of these men had come from a distance. He would not,
indeed, refuse a good workman and a man of high character on account
of his being a Protestant, but he had a natural preference for persons
of his own views, and all things equal, chose them rather than any
others. This preference was known far and wide; and consequently, when
any of his distant friends wished to recommend an honest man of the
Romish creed to employment, where they were certain to be well
treated, they wrote to Mr. Clive, so that he had rarely any difficulty
in suiting himself.

In one of these cottages, at a much later hour than usual, a light was
burning on the night of which I have been speaking; and within, over
the smouldering embers of a small wood fire, sat a tall man of the
middle age, with a peculiar deep-set blue eye, fringed with dark
lashes, which is very frequently to be found amongst the Milesian
race. His figure was bent, and his hands stretched out over the
smouldering hearth to gain any little heat that it gave out; and, as
he thus sat, his eyes were bent upon the red sparks amongst the white
ashes, with a grave, contemplative gaze. He seemed dull, and somewhat
melancholy, and from time to time muttered a few words to himself with
the peculiar tone of his countrymen.

"Ay-e!" he said, as something struck him in the half-extinguished
fire, "that one's gone out too. If the priest stays much longer
they'll all be out, one after the other. Well, it's little matter for
that; we must all go out some time or another, and very often when we
think we are burning brightest. That young lad now, I dare say, when
he went out for his walk, never fancied his neck would be broke before
he came home again. Sorrow a bit! He got what he deserved anyhow, and
I'd ha' done it for him if the master hadn't--Hist! That must be the
priest's step coming down the hill. He is the only man likely to be
out so late in this country, and going with such a slow step, though
the lads are having a bit of a shindy to-night they tell me."

The next moment the latch was lifted, the door opened, and Mr. Filmer
walked in. The labourer instantly rose and placed a wooden chair for
his pastor by the side of the fire, saying, "Good night, your
reverence! It's mighty cold this afternoon."

"I don't find it so," answered Filmer; "but I dare say you do, sitting
all alone here, with but a little spark like that. I was afraid you
would get tired of waiting, and go to bed. I am much obliged to you
for sitting up as I told you."

"Oh! in course I did as your reverence said," answered Daniel Connor.
"I always obey my priest."

"That's right, Dan," answered Mr. Filmer. "Now I have come to tell you
what I want you to do, like a good lad."

"Anything your reverence says, I am quite ready to do," replied the
Irishman. "I kept the matter quite quiet as you said, and not a bare
word about it passed my lips to any of the servants, for I am not
going to say anything that can hurt the master, for a better never
lived than he."

"No, Dan," answered the priest; "but I'll tell you what you must do,
you must say a word or two to serve him." And Filmer fixed his eyes
keenly upon the man's face, which brightened up in a moment with a
very shrewd and merry smile, as he replied, "That I'll do with all my
heart, your reverence. It's but the telling me what to say and I'll
say it."

"Well then, you see, Dan," continued Filmer, "this is likely to be a
bad business for Mr. Clive, if we do not manage very skilfully. He is
somewhat obstinate himself, and might with difficulty be persuaded to
take the line of defence we want, and which indeed is necessary to his
own safety. Now the first thing that will take place here is the
coroner's inquest."

"Ay! I suppose so," said Connor; "but they shan't get anything out of
me there, I can answer for it. I can be as blind as a mole when I
like, and as deaf too."

"But you must be somewhat more, Dan," was the priest's reply. "You
see, if suspicion fixes to no one, and the jury bring in a verdict of
wilful murder against some person or persons unknown, the magistrates
will never leave inquiring into the matter till they fix it upon your
poor master. What we must do must be to turn the first suspicions upon
some one else, so as to keep Mr. Clive free of them altogether, and
then he will be safe enough."

"Won't that be something very like murder, your reverence?" asked
Connor, abruptly, with a very grave face. "I never did the like of
that, and I think it's a sin, is it not?"

"The sin be upon me," answered Filmer, sternly. "Cannot I absolve you,
Daniel Connor, for that which I bid you do? Are _you_ going to turn
heretic too? Do you doubt that the church has power to absolve you
from your sins, or that where she points out the course to you the end
does not justify the means?"

"Oh, no! the blessed saints forbid!" exclaimed Connor, eagerly. "I
don't doubt a word of it; I am quite sure your reverence is right; I
was only just asking you, like!"

"Oh! if that's all," answered Mr. Filmer, "and you are not beginning
to feel scandalous doubts from living so long amongst a number of
heretics all about, I will answer your question plainly. It is not at
all like murder, nor will there be any sin in it. The person who is
likely to be suspected will be able easily to clear himself in the
end; so that he runs no risk of anything but a short imprisonment,
which may perhaps turn to the good of his soul, for I shall not fail
to visit him, and show him the way to the true light. But in the mean
time, Mr. Clive will be saved from all danger; and if you look at the
matter as a true son of the church, you will see that there is no
choice between a believer like Mr. Clive and an obstinate heretic and
unbeliever like this other man."

"Oh! if it is a heretic!" exclaimed Connor, with a laugh, "that quite
alters the matter; I didn't know he was a heretic."

"You do not suppose, I hope," replied Mr. Filmer, "that I would have
proposed such a thing if he was not. All my children are equally dear
to me, be they high or low, and I would not peril one to save
another."

"Well, your reverence, I am quite ready to do whatever you say,"
answered Connor; "and if you just give me a thought of the right way
I'll walk along it as straight as a line."

"The case is this, then," rejoined the priest; "there was a quarrel
between this young lord and a Mr. Dudley, which went on more or less
through the whole of this day. Dudley went out about eight o'clock,
and Lord Hadley followed him and overtook him, and they went on
quarrelling by the way. Very soon after that the young lord met with
his death. Now men will naturally think that Mr. Dudley killed him,
for no one but you and your master and Miss Clive saw him after, till
he was speechless. What you must do then is this:--when you hear that
the coroner's inquest is sitting, you must come up and offer to give
evidence; and you must tell them exactly where you were standing when
the young lord came up to the top of the cliff; and then you must say
that you saw a man come up to him, and a quarrel take place, and two
or three blows struck, and the unhappy lad pitched over the cliff."

"And not a word about Miss Helen?" said the man.

"Not a word," answered Filmer. "Keep yourself solely to the fact of
having seen a man of gentlemanly appearance----"

"Oh! he is a gentleman, every inch of him," exclaimed Connor. "No
doubt about that, your reverence."

"So you can state," continued the priest; "but take care not to enter
too much into detail. Say you saw him but indistinctly."

"That's true enough," cried the labourer; "for it was a darkish night,
and I was low down in the glen and he high up on the side of the hill,
so that I caught but a glimmer of him, as it were. But it was the
master, notwithstanding, that I am quite sure of, or else the devil in
his likeness. But, by the blessed saints! I do not think it could be
the devil either, for he did what any man would have done in his
place, and what I should have done in another minute if he hadn't come
up, for I would not have stood by to see the young lady ill-treated,
no how."

"Doubtless not," answered the priest; "and it would be hard that the
life of such a man should be sacrificed for merely defending his own
child."

"Oh, no! that shall never be," answered Connor, "if my word can stop
it; and so, father," he continued, with a shrewd look, "I suppose that
the best thing I can do is, if I am asked any questions, to say that I
didn't rightly see the gentleman that did it; but that he looked like
a real gentleman, and may be about the height of this Mr. Dudley. I
saw him twice at the farmhouse, and if he is in the room, I can point
him out as being about the tallness of the man I saw; and that's not a
lie either, for they are much alike, in length at least. Neither one.
nor the other stands much under six feet. I'd better not swear to him,
however, for that would be bad work."

"By no means," answered the priest. "Keep to mere general facts; that
can but cause suspicion. I wish not to injure the young man, but
merely to turn suspicion upon him rather than Mr. Clive; and by so
doing, to give even Mr. Dudley himself a sort of involuntary penance,
which may soften an obdurate heart towards the church which his
fathers foolishly abandoned, and leave him one more chance of
salvation, if he chooses to accept of it. It is a hard thing, Daniel
Connor, to remain for many thousands of years in the flames of
purgatory, where every moment is marked and prolonged by torture
indescribable, instead of entering into eternal beatitude, where all
sense of time is lost in inexpressible joy from everlasting to
everlasting; but it is a still harder thing to be doomed in hell to
eternal punishment, where the whole wrath and indignation of God is
poured out upon the head of the unrepenting and the obstinate for ever
and ever."

"It is mighty hard, indeed!" answered the labourer, making the sign of
the cross. "The Blessed Virgin keep us all from such luck as that!"

"It is from that I wish to save him," rejoined Mr. Filmer; "but his
heart must first be humbled, for you know very well, Daniel, that
pride is the source of unbelief in the minds of all these heretics.
They judge their own opinions to be far better than the dogmas of the
church, the decisions of councils, or the exposition of the fathers;
and by the same sin which caused the fall of the angels, they have
also fallen from the faith. Let no true son of the church follow their
bad example; but knowing that all things are a matter of faith, and
that the church is the interpreter mentioned in Scripture, submit
their human and fallible reason implicitly to that high and holy
authority which is vested in the successor of the Apostle and the
Councils of the Church, where they will find the only infallible
guide."

"Oh! but I'll do that, certainly," replied Connor, eagerly; and yet a
shade of doubt seemed to hang upon him, for he added, the moment
after, "But you know, your reverence, that when they swear me they
will make me swear to tell the whole truth, and if I do not say that I
know it was Mr. Clive, it will be false swearing."

"Heed not that," answered Filmer, with a frown. "Have I not told you
that I will absolve you, and do absolve you? Besides, how can you
swear to that which you only believe, but do not exactly know. You
told me this evening, up at the hall, that you did not see your
master's face when he struck the blow."

"Ah! but I saw his face well enough when he was going up," replied the
labourer.

"That does not prove that he was the same who did the deed," said
Filmer. "Another might have suddenly come there, without your
perceiving how."

"He was mighty like the master, any how," said the man, in a low tone;
"but I'll say just what your reverence bids me."

"Do so," answered Filmer, turning to leave the cottage; "the church
speaks by my voice, and accursed be all who disobey her!"

The stern earnestness with which he spoke; the undoubting confidence
which his words and looks displayed in his power, as a priest of that
church which pretends to hold the ultimate fate of all beings in its
hands; his own apparent faith in that vast and blasphemous pretension;
had their full effect upon his auditor, who, though a good man, a
shrewd man, and not altogether an unenlightened man, had sucked in
such doctrines with his mother's milk, so that they became, as it
were, a part of his very nature. "To be sure I will obey," said
Connor; "it is no sin of mine if any harm comes of it. That's the
priest's affair, any how." And he retired to his bed.



CHAPTER XIX.


Father Peter turned away to the right, and walked on; for he had yet
work to do, and a somewhat different part to play before the night was
done. The versatility of the genius of the Roman church is one of its
most dangerous qualities. The principle that the end justifies the
means, makes it seem right to those who hold such a doctrine, to 'be
all things to all men,' in a very different sense from that of the
apostle. Five minutes brought Mr. Filmer to the door of the Grange,
and he looked over that side of the house for a light, but in vain.
One of the large dogs came and fawned upon him, and all the rest were
silent; for it is wonderful how soon and easily he accustomed all
creatures to his influence. His slow, quiet, yet firm footfall was
known amongst those animals as well as their master's or Edgar
Adelon's, and at two or three hundred yards they had recognised it.

After a moment's consideration, Filmer rang the bell gently, and the
next instant Clive himself appeared with a light in his hand. He was
fully dressed, and his face was grave and composed. "Ah, father!" he
said, as soon as he perceived who his visitor was, "this is kind of
you. Come in. Helen has not gone to bed yet."

"I am glad to hear it, my son," replied Filmer, "for I want to speak a
few words with you both." Thus saying, he walked on before Mr. Clive
into the room where Helen Clive usually sat. He found her with her
eyes no longer tearful, but red with weeping; and seating himself with
a kindly manner beside her, he said, "Grieve not, my dear child,
whatever has happened. There is consolation for all who believe."

"But you know not yet, father, what has happened," answered Helen,
with a glance at her father: "you will know soon, however."

"I do know what has happened, Helen," said the priest; "though not all
the particulars; and I have come down at once to give you comfort and
advice. Tell me, my son, how did this sad event occur?"

"It is soon rumoured, it would seem, then," observed Clive, in a
gloomy tone. "I told you, Helen, that concealment was hopeless, though
we thought no eye saw it but our own, and that of Him who saw all, and
would judge the provocation as well as the punishment."

"Concealment is not hopeless, my son," replied Filmer, "if concealment
should, be needful, as I fear it is. Only one person saw you, and he
came at once to tell me, and bring me down to comfort you; for he is a
faithful child of our holy mother the church, and will betray no man.
But tell me all, Clive. Am I not your friend as well as your pastor?"

"Tell him, Helen--tell the good father," said Clive, seating himself
at the table, and leaning his head upon his hand. "I have no heart to
speak of it."

The priest turned his eyes to Helen, who immediately took up the tale
which her father was unwilling to tell. "I believe I am myself to
blame," she said, in a low, sweet tone; "though God knows I thought
not of what would follow when I went out. But I must tell you why I
did so. My father and I had been talking all the evening of the wild
and troubled state of the country, and of what was likely to take
place at Barhampton tonight."

"It has taken place," replied Father Filmer; "the magistrates were
prepared for the rioters; the troops have been in amongst the people,
and many a precious life has been lost."

"It was what we feared," continued Helen, sadly. "Alas! that men will
do such wild and lawless things. But about that very tumult my father
was anxious and uneasy, and towards half-past six he went out to see
if he could meet my uncle Norries as he went, and at all events to
look out from the top of the downs towards Barhampton. He promised me
that he would on no account go farther than the old wall, and that he
would be back in half an hour. But more than an hour passed, and I
grew frightened, till at last I sent up Daniel Conner to see if he
could find my father. He seemed long, though perhaps he was not, and I
then resolved to go myself. I had no fear at all; for I had never
heard of Lord Hadley being out at night, and I thought he would be at
the dinner-table, and I quite safe--safer, indeed, than in the day. I
was only anxious for my father, and for him I was very anxious.
However, I walked on fast, and soon came to the downs, but I could see
no one, and taking the slanting path up the slope, I came just to the
edge of the cliff, and looked out over the sea to Barhampton Head.
There was nothing to be seen there, and only a light in a ship at sea.
That made me more frightened than ever, for I had felt sure that I
should find my father there; and thinking that he might have sat down
somewhere to wait, I called him aloud, to beg he would come home.
There was no answer, but I heard a step coming up the path which runs
between the two slopes, and then goes down over the lower broken part
of the cliff to the sea-shore; and feeling sure that it was either my
father, or Connor, or one of the boatmen, who would not have hurt me
for the world, I was just turning to go down that way when Lord Hadley
sprang up the bank, and caught hold of me by the hand. I besought him
to let me go, and then I was very frightened indeed, so that I hardly
knew, or know, what I said or did. All I am sure of is that he tried
to persuade me to go away with him to France; and he told me there was
a ship for that country out there at sea, and its boat with the
boatmen down upon the shore, for he had spoken to them in the morning.
He said a great deal that I forget, telling me that he would marry me
as soon as we arrived in France; but I was very angry--too angry,
indeed--and what I said in reply seemed to make him quite furious, for
he swore that I should go, with a terrible oath. I tried to get away,
but he kept hold of my hand, and threw his other arm round me, and was
dragging me away down the path towards the sea-shore, when suddenly my
father came up and struck him. I had not been able to resist much, on
account of my broken arm, but the moment my father came up he let me
go, and returned the blow he had received. We were then close upon the
edge of the cliff, and there is, if you recollect, a low railing,
where the path begins to descend. My father struck him again and
again, and at last he fell back against the railing, which broke, I
think, under his weight, and oh! father, I saw him fall headlong over
the cliff. I thought I should have died at that moment, and before I
recovered myself my father had taken me by the hand and was leading me
away. When we had got a hundred yards or two, I stopped, and asked if
it would not be better to go or send down to the sea-shore, to see if
some help could not be rendered to him. My father said he had heard
the boatmen come to assist him, and that was enough."

Clive had covered his eyes with his hand while Helen spoke; but at her
last words he looked up, saying, in a stern tone, "Quite enough! He
well deserved what he has met with. I did not intend it, it is true;
but whether he be dead or living, he has only had the chastisement he
merited. I had heard but an hour or two before all his base conduct to
this dear child--I had heard that he had outraged, insulted,
persecuted her; and although I had promised Norries not to kill him,
yet I had resolved, the first time I met with him, to flay him alive
with my horsewhip. I found him again insulting her; and can any man
say I did wrong to punish the base villain on the spot? I regret it
not; I would do it again, be the consequences what they may; and so I
will tell judge and jury whenever I am called upon to speak."

"I trust that may never be, my son," replied the priest, looking at
him with an expression of melancholy interest; "and I doubt not at all
that, if you follow the advice which I will give you, suspicion will
never even attach to you."

"I shall be very happy, father, to hear your advice," answered Clive;
"but I have no great fears of any evil consequences. People cannot
blame me for striking a man who was insulting and seeking to wrong my
child. I did but defend my own blood and her honour, and there is no
crime in that."

"People often make a crime where there is none, Clive," answered Mr.
Filmer. "This young man is dead, and you must recollect that he was a
peer of England."

"That makes no difference," exclaimed Clive. "Thank God we do not live
in a land where the peer can do wrong any more than the peasant! I am
sorry he is dead, for I did not intend to kill him; but he well
deserved his death, and his station makes no difference."

"None in the eye of the law," replied Mr. Filmer, gravely; "but it may
make much in the ear of a jury. I know these things well, Clive; and
depend upon it, that if this matter should come before a court of
justice at the present time, especially when such wild acts have been
committed by the people, you are lost. In the first place, you cannot
prove the very defence you make----"

"Why, my child was there, and saw it all!" cried Clive, interrupting
him.

"Her evidence would go for very little," answered the priest; "and as
I know you would not deny having done it, your own candour would ruin
you. The best view that a jury would take of your case, even supposing
them not to be worked upon by the rank of the dead man, could only
produce a verdict of manslaughter, which would send you for life to a
penal colony, to labour like a slave, perhaps in chains."

Clive started, and gazed anxiously in his face, as if that view of the
case were new to him. "Better die than that!" he said; "better die
than that!"

"Assuredly," replied Mr. Filmer. "But why should you run the risk of
either? I tell you, if you will follow my advice, you shall pass
without suspicion." But Clive waved his hand almost impatiently,
saying, "Impossible, father, impossible! I am not a man who can set a
guard upon his lips; and I should say things from time to time which
would soon lead men to see and know who it was that did it. I could
not converse with any of my neighbours here without betraying myself."

"Then you must go away for a time," answered Filmer. "That was the
very advice I was going to give you. If you act with decision, and
leave the country for a short time, I will be answerable for your
remaining free from even a doubt."

"The very way to bring doubt upon myself," answered Clive, with a
short, bitter laugh. "Would not every one ask why Clive ran away?"

"The answer would then be simple," said the priest, "namely, that he
went, probably, because he had engaged with his brother-in-law,
Norries, in these rash schemes against the government which have been
so signally frustrated this night at Barhampton."

"One crime instead of another!" answered Clive, gloomily, bending down
his brow upon his hands again.

"With this difference," continued Mr. Filmer, "that the one will be
soon and easily pardoned, the other never; that for the one you cannot
be pursued into another land, that for the other you would be pursued
and taken; that the one brings no disgrace upon your name, that the
other blasts you as a felon, leaves a stain upon your child, deprives
her of a parent, ruins her happiness for ever."

"Oh fly, father, fly!" cried Helen. "Save yourself from such a
horrible fate!"

"What! and leave you here unprotected!" exclaimed Clive.

"Oh no! let me go with you!" cried Helen,

"Of course," said the priest. "You cannot, and you must not go alone.
Take Helen with you, and be sure that her devotion towards you will
but increase and strengthen that strong affection which she has
inspired in one worthy of her, and of whom she is worthy. I have
promised you, Clive, or rather I should say, I have assured you, that
your daughter shall be the wife of him she loves, ay, with his
father's full consent. If you follow my advice, it shall be so; but do
not suppose that Sir Arthur would ever suffer his son to marry the
daughter of a convict. As it is, he knows that your blood is as good
as his own, and that the only real difference is in fortune; but with
a tainted name the case would be very different. There would be an
insurmountable bar against their union, and you would make her whole
life wretched, as well as cast away your own happiness for ever."

"But how can I fly?" asked Clive. "The whole thing will be known
to-morrow, and ere I reached London I should be pursued and taken."

"There is a shorter way than that," answered Filmer, "and one that
cannot fail."

"The French ship!" cried Helen, with a look of joy.

"Even so," rejoined the priest; "she will sail in a few hours. You
have nothing to do but send down what things you need as fast as
possible, get one of the boats to row you out, embark, and you are
safe. I will give you letters to a friend in Brittany, who will show
you all kindness, and you can remain there at peace till I tell you
that you may safely return."

Clive paused, and seemed to hesitate for a moment or two; but Helen
gazed imploringly in his face, and at length he threw his arms around
her, saying, "I will go, my child; I have no right to make you
wretched also. Were it for myself alone, nothing should make me run
away; but now nothing must induce me to sacrifice you. Go, Helen; get
ready quickly. Perhaps they may think that I have had some share in
this tumult, and suspicion pass away in that manner."

"Undoubtedly they will," rejoined Mr. Filmer; "and I will take care to
give suspicion that direction. Be quick, Helen: but do you not need
some one to aid you."

"I will get the girl Margaret," said Helen Clive, "for I am very
helpless." And closing the door, she departed.

"What shall I do with the farm?" inquired Clive, as soon as she was
gone. "I fear everything will go to ruin."

"Not so, not so," answered Mr. Filmer, cheerfully. "I will see that it
is well attended to; and though, perhaps, something may go wrong,
against which nothing but the owner's eye can secure, yet nothing like
ruin shall take place. And now, hasten away, Clive, and make your own
preparations. No time is to be lost; for if the people on board the
ship learn that the attack upon Barhampton has failed, they may
perhaps put to sea sooner than the hour they had appointed. I will
write the letter while you are getting ready, and I will go down with
you to the beach, and see you off."

About three quarters of an hour passed in some hurry and confusion,
ere Clive and his daughter were prepared to set out. The priest's
letter was written and sealed; a man was called up to wheel some boxes
and trunks down to the shore; and various orders and directions were
given for the management of the farm during Clive's absence. The
servants seemed astonished, but asked no questions; and Mr. Filmer
skilfully let drop some words which, when remembered at an after
period, might connect the flight of Mr. Clive with the mad attempt
upon the town of Barhampton. When all was completed, they set forth on
foot, passing through the narrow lanes in the neighbourhood of the
house, till they reached and crossed the high road, and then,
following one of the little dells through the downs, descended by a
somewhat rugged path to the sea-side. Some of the boatmen were already
up, preparing to put to sea; and as Clive had often been a friend to
all of them, no difficulty was made in fulfilling his desire. The sea
was as calm as a small lake; and though the water was too low to
launch one of their large boats easily, yet a small one was pushed
over the sands, and Helen and her father stood beside it, ready to
embark, when a quick step, running over the beach, was heard, and Mr.
Filmer exclaimed, "Quick, quick, into the boat, and put off!"

"That is Edgar's foot," said Helen, hanging back. "Oh, let me wait,
and bid him adieu! I know it is Edgar's foot!"

"The ear of love is quick," said Mr. Filmer. "I did not recognise it;"
and in another moment Edgar Adelon stood beside them.

"I have been to the house," he said, "and they told me where to seek
you."

"We are forced to go away for a time by some unpleasant circumstances,
Mr. Adelon," said Clive, gravely.

"I know--I know it all," answered Edgar, quickly. "I watched the whole
attack from the hill. It was a strange, ghastly sight, and I will not
stop you, Mr. Clive, for it would be ruin to stay; but let me speak
one word to dear Helen--but one word, and I will not keep you."

The father made no opposition; he knew what it was to love well, and
he would not withhold the small drop of consolation from the bitter
cup of parting. Edgar drew the fair girl a few steps aside, and they
spoke together earnestly for a few minutes. He then pressed her hand
affectionately in his, and each repeated "For ever!" Then leading her
back towards the boat, against the sides of which the water was now
rising, he shook Clive's hand warmly, saying, "God bless and protect
you! Let me put her in the boat." And before any one could answer, he
had lifted Helen tenderly in his arms, walked with her into the
shallow water, and placed her in the little bark. Clive followed,
after another word or two with Mr. Filmer; the boatmen pushed off, and
the prow went glittering through the waves. Edgar Adelon stood and
gazed, till Mr. Filmer touched him on the arm, saying, "Come, my son;"
and then, with a deep sigh, the young man followed him towards the
cliffs.

"I must go back to the Grange for my horse," said Edgar, as the priest
was turning along the high road towards Brandon.

"Better send for it," said Mr. Filmer. "Your father has returned, and
may inquire for you."

"It is strange," said Edgar, following him. "I could have sworn I saw
his tall bay hunter among the people at Barhampton."

"You might well be mistaken," answered Mr. Filmer; "but whatever
you saw, Edgar, take my advice, and say to no one that you saw
anything--no, not to Eda."

Edgar did not reply, and the rest of their walk passed in silence till
they reached the gates of the park. They were open, and a man was
standing at the lodge door, with whom the priest paused to speak for
an instant, while Edgar, at his request, walked on. Mr. Filmer
overtook the young man ere he had gone a hundred yards, and as they
approached the house, he said, "You had better go straight to your
room, and to bed, Edgar. Unpleasant things have happened. Eda has
retired, your father has another magistrate with him, and neither your
presence nor mine will be agreeable."

"To my own room, certainly," answered Edgar Adelon; "but not to bed,
nor to sleep, father. I have need of thought more than rest;" and when
the door was opened, he passed straight through the hall, taking a
light from the servant, and mounting the stairs towards his own room.



CHAPTER XX.


We must now return for a short time to Mr. Dudley, having brought up
many of the other personages connected with this tale nearly to the
same point at which we last left himself. As soon as he had entered
the lodge in the custody of the two constables, he demanded in a calm
tone to see their warrant, entertaining but little doubt that he had
been apprehended for taking some share in the riots of which he had
been a witness, and that the ignorance of the men who held him in
custody had occasioned the use of such very vague and unsatisfactory
terms as 'murder or manslaughter, as the case may be.' What was his
astonishment, however, when he read as follows:--

"To the Constable of the Hundred of ----, in the County of ----, and
all the other Peace Officers of the same County.

"Forasmuch as Patrick Ferrars, of the parish of Brandon, in the said
county, servant, hath this day made information before me, Stephen
Conway, Esquire, one of her Majesty's justices of the peace, in and
for the said county, that he hath just cause to suspect, and doth
suspect, that Edward Dudley, Esquire, on the ---- day of ----, in the
year of our Lord 18--, at or near the place called Clive Down, in the
said parish of Brandon, in the said county, feloniously, wilfully, and
of his malice aforethought, did kill and murder Henry Lord Hadley, by
striking him sundry blows, and throwing him over the cliff at the said
place, by which the said Lord Hadley instantly died: these are
therefore to command you, or one of you, in her Majesty's name,
forthwith to apprehend and bring before me, or some other of her
Majesty's justices of the peace, in and for the said county, the body
of the said Edgar Dudley, to answer unto the said charge, and be
farther dealt with according to law. Herein fail not."

"Good heaven!" he exclaimed, in a tone of astonishment, which could
not be assumed; "do you mean to say that Lord Hadley has been killed?"

"Come, come, master, that won't do," said the dull brute into whose
hands he had fallen. "You know all about it, I dare say. You must
march into that 'ere room till to-morrow morning, for there's no use
in taking you twenty miles to the jail, to bring you back again
tomorrow to the crowner's 'quest."

It was with great difficulty that Dudley restrained his temper. The
charge at first sight seemed to him ridiculous, and he would have
scoffed at it, if horror at the fate of his unhappy pupil had not
occupied his mind so completely that no light thought could find
place.

"I ask you civilly, sir," he said, moving into the room pointed out,
closely followed by the constables, "to give me some information in
regard to facts which I must know to-morrow morning, and in which I am
deeply interested. If you are so discourteous as to refuse me an
answer, I cannot force you; but at the same time I suppose there is
nobody on earth but yourself who would think of denying me some
information respecting a friend who, I gather from your warrant, has
been killed."

"Very like a friend to pitch him over the cliff!" answered the
constable. "Howsumdever, the magistrates know all about it, and you
had better wait and talk to them, for if you talk more to me I shall
send down for the handcuffs: a fool I was for not bringing them with
me. We shall sit up with ye by turns, for I am not going to let ye get
off, master, you may depend upon it."

Dudley only replied by a contemptuous smile, and, seating himself in a
chair, he gave himself up to thought, while the one constable took a
place opposite, and the other retired and locked the door. For nearly
two hours Dudley remained meditating over the strange turn which had
taken place in his fate; and as he reflected upon various
circumstances which had occurred during the evening, his situation
began to assume a more serious aspect than it had at first presented.
Not that he supposed, for one moment, he was in the slightest danger,
for his consciousness of innocence was too great to admit of his
believing that, when his whole conduct was explained, even a suspicion
would rest upon him; but he recollected the violent dispute which he
had had with Lord Hadley in the morning, in the presence of several
witnesses, and also called to mind that when he had gone out after
dinner, in order to fulfil his promises to Eda, he had been followed
and overtaken by Lord Hadley, and that the first part, at least, of
their conversation had been carried on in a sharp and angry tone. He
remembered, too, that they had met several people, and that though in
the end the young nobleman had seemed somewhat touched by his
remonstrances, and surprised and vexed at his decided resignation of
all farther responsibility regarding his conduct, no one had witnessed
the more moderate and kindly manner in which they had parted, or could
prove that they had parted at all before the fatal occurrence of which
he had such vague information. The attempt to extract anything more
from the constable he saw would be in vain, though he thirsted for
intelligence; and his thoughts, after dwelling for some time upon his
own case, naturally turned to the unhappy youth who had been cut off
at so early a period, in the midst of a career of folly and vice. He
could not help sighing over such a result; for notwithstanding
headstrong passions, and a certain degree of weakness of character,
which would have prevented Lord Hadley from ever becoming a great man,
Dudley had perceived some traits of goodness in his nature, which,
under right direction, either by the care of wise and prudent friends,
or by the chastening rod of adversity, might have been so guided as to
render him an estimable and useful member of society. His mind
reverted to his own young days, and he recollected wild schemes, rash
enterprises, some faults and follies which he now greatly regretted;
and he thought, "If I had gone on, the pampered child of prosperity, I
might perhaps have been like him." He did himself injustice, it is
true, but still the fancy was a natural one; and he felt, at least,
that in his case 'the uses of adversity had been sweet.'

The body and the mind are alternately slaves to each other. When
stimulated to strong exertion, the mind conquers the body; when
oppressed with fatigue or sickness, the body conquers the mind; but
the powers of both seem sometimes worn out together, and then sleep is
the only resource: that heavy, overpowering sleep, the temporary death
of all the faculties; when no memory of the past, no knowledge of the
present, no expectation of the future, comes in dreams to rouse even
fancy from the benumbing influence that overshadows us. Such was the
case with Dudley at the end of those two hours. He had gone out early
in the morning in the pursuit of healthful exercise; but in the course
of his ramble with Edgar Adelon, subjects had arisen which moved him
deeply. His young companion, with all the warm enthusiasm and
confidence of his nature, had poured forth to him all the stores of
grief, anxiety, and indignation, which had been accumulating in
silence and in secret since first he had become aware of Lord Hadley's
pursuit of Helen; and Dudley, entering warmly into his feelings, had
chosen his course at once. He had determined to speak decidedly to his
pupil; to place before his eyes the scandal and the wickedness of that
which he was engaged in; to demand that it should either cease at
once, or he quit Brandon; and in case he refused, to resign all
farther control over him, and instantly to make the young peer's
relations in London aware of the fact and the cause. Then had come the
fierce and angry discussion with Lord Hadley, followed by an agitating
conversation with Eda; another dispute with his pupil, perhaps more
painful than the first; the hurried and anxious walk to Barhampton,
and the troubled scene which had taken place there. He was exhausted,
mentally and corporeally; and at the end of two hours he slept,
leaning his head upon his folded arms, and remaining so still and
silent, that it seemed as if death rather than slumber possessed him.
His sleep lasted long, too, and he was aroused only by some one
shaking him roughly by the shoulder on the following morning. Dudley
started up, and wondered where he was; but gradually a recollection of
all the facts returned; and the man's words: "Come, master, the
crowner is sitting," required no explanation.

Somewhat to Dudley's surprise, when he reached the door of the lodge,
he found the carriage of Sir Arthur Adelon waiting for him; and
entering with one constable, while the other took his seat upon the
box, he was driven up the avenue to Brandon House. The servants at the
door showed no signs of want of respect, and he was immediately
conducted between his two captors into the library, where he found a
number of persons assembled in a confused mass at the end of the room,
and the coroner's jury seated round the large table, near the windows.
In the centre was a portly man in a white waistcoat, with a pompous,
wine-empurpled face, and an exceedingly bald head, whom he concluded
rightly to be the coroner. Several magistrates were also in the room,
amongst whom were two persons with whom he had dined at the table of
Sir Arthur Adelon a few days before; but Dudley looked in vain for the
baronet himself, or for any well-known and friendly face. He wanted no
support, it is true; for he was not timid by nature, and he was
conscious of innocence; but yet he would have felt well pleased to
have had friends around him. One of the magistrates shook hands with
him, however, and the other bowed; while some people near the coroner
whispered to that officer, whose eyes were instantly fixed upon the
new comer.

"Mr. Edward Dudley, I believe," he said, aloud; and when Dudley
signified that it was so by bending his head, the other continued:
"Although not strictly necessary, sir, inasmuch as this is an inquest
for the purpose of ascertaining how a certain person met with his
death, and we consequently as yet know nothing of accused or accusers,
yet, as I have been given to understand that a warrant has been issued
for your apprehension under the hand of my worshipful friend, Mr.
Conway, I have thought it best that you should be present, in order
that you should watch proceedings in which you are deeply interested.
You will remark that it is not necessary for you to say anything upon
this occasion, and to do so or not must be left to your own
discretion."

"I thank you for your caution, sir," replied Dudley; "although, having
been bred to the bar, it was not so necessary in my case as it might
be in some. I have no knowledge of the circumstances which have caused
any suspicion to fall upon me, and shall hear with interest the
evidence which may be given regarding facts that I am utterly
unacquainted with."

"Ahem!" said the coroner. "We will now hear the witnesses in the
natural order, gentlemen of the jury. By the natural order, I mean the
order in which the facts connected with the discovery happened. Our
first question will be, where and how the body was found; next, whose
the body is--for you will remark, gentlemen of the jury, that at the
present moment all we know is, that the body of a dead man has been
found under exceedingly suspicious circumstances, and we must have it
identified; then we must inquire how he came by his death. If the
person who first found the corpse is in court, let him stand forward."

A man of somewhat more than six feet high, in a round jacket and
oilskin hat, advanced to the table, and gave his evidence in a very
clear and intelligent manner, saying, "I was standing out upon the
sand last night, near upon low water----"

"Where at?" asked the coroner. "Pray describe the place as accurately
as possible."

"Why, it was just between Gullpoint and our cottages at St. Martin's,"
replied the boatman; "and the hour might be about eight, or near it.
The water was not quite out, so it must have been about eight. I was
standing looking out after the French brig, which had been making
signals like, with lights of different colours, which I did not
understand, when all in a minute I heard some one give a sort of loud
cry, just as if they had been hurt or frightened. It came from the
land, and I heard it quite plain, for the wind set off shore, and
turning round, I looked up in the way that the sound seemed to come
from----"

"Was it moonlight?" asked the coroner.

"Lord bless you, no, sir!" replied the boatman; "but the night was not
very dark, for that matter. However, as I turned, I heard a bit of a
row at the top of the cliff, and I could see two men standing up there
close together, one a tall man, t'other a little shorter; and the tall
one hit the other twice or three times, and then down he came. I could
see him fall back, but after that I lost him, for you see, sir, as he
tumbled down the cliff, it was darker there. When they were a-top,
they had got the sky behind them; but when he fell, he got into the
gloom, and I saw no more of him, till hearing a cry almost like that
of a gull, only louder, I ran up as hard as I could. As I came over
the shingle near the cliff, I heard a groan or two, and just below the
rock I found the young man who is in t'other room, lying with his feet
to the beach and his head to the cliff; so, you see, he must have
turned right over, once at least, as he tumbled."

"What distance were you from the cliff when you saw the two men
quarrelling?" asked the coroner.

"It might be a hundred yards or more," replied the boatman; "perhaps
two."

"And did you see them clearly?" inquired the officer.

"Clear enough to see what they were about," answered the fisherman,
"but not to see their faces."

"You have said one was tall, the other shorter," continued the
coroner; "do you see any one here of the height of the taller one, as
far as you can judge?"

The man looked round him, and it so unfortunately happened that
Dudley, anxious to hear all the evidence, had taken a step or two
forward. The boatman's eyes instantly fell upon him, and pointing him
out with his hand, he said, "Much about that gentleman's height, I
should think."

"Do you mean to say, that you think he was the man?" asked the
coroner, while a slight frown came over Dudley's face.

"No, that's another case," answered the stout boatman. "All that I
could see, as they stood and I stood, was, that the one was taller
than the other a good bit, and that the tall one knocked the short one
over the cliff."

The three succeeding witnesses were of the same class and profession
as the first; but they proved nothing more than the finding of the
injured man, his insensible condition when they came up, and his
death, without having spoken, as they carried him to Brandon House.

"I think we must have the evidence of Sir Arthur Adelon," said the
coroner, looking towards one of the servants, several of whom were in
the room. "Pray present my compliments to him, and say that I should
be glad of his presence for a few moments."

Sir Arthur, however, did not appear immediately; and when he entered,
there was a good deal more agitation in his manner than he could have
desired. His first act was to shake hands with Dudley, in a friendly,
even a warm manner; and the coroner, rising, bowed low to one of the
great men of the neighbourhood, apologising for troubling him, as he
called it.

"It is necessary, Sir Arthur," he said, "to make a few inquiries, as I
am given to understand that the unfortunate young nobleman who met
with his death last night in so tragical a manner, has been for some
days an inmate of your house, as well as the gentleman who labours
under suspicion--as to whether you are aware of any circumstance
tending to corroborate the charge--any quarrel, I mean, between the
parties, or anything likely to produce so fatal a result?"

"Of nothing in the world," replied Sir Arthur Adelon, in a frank tone.
"Lord Hadley and my friend, Mr. Dudley, have always appeared, in my
presence, at least, upon the very best terms. What took place
yesterday I am not aware of, as I was out the greater part of the day,
until late in the evening, having heard very unpleasant rumours, which
have proved, alas! too correct, and wishing to ascertain the facts,
and to see what could best be done for the good of the community."

His eye glanced to Dudley's face as he uttered the last somewhat vague
and double-meaning words; but the countenance he looked at remained
perfectly calm and firm, without the slightest perceptible change of
expression.

"Then you have no cause, Sir Arthur," inquired the coroner, "to
suppose Mr. Dudley at all implicated in this transaction?"

"From my own personal knowledge, none in the world," answered the
baronet. "There are always rumours afloat after deeds are done, but if
my deliberate opinion could have any weight, I should say that Mr.
Dudley is perfectly incapable of intentionally injuring any man. That
he would do much to save or serve a fellow-creature, I believe; but
nothing to wrong or aggrieve one."

"High testimony," said the coroner, in a pompous tone. "I am much
obliged, Sir Arthur;" and looking at a slip of paper which he held in
his hand, he pronounced the name of Patrick Ferrers. The butler at
Brandon House immediately stood forward, and without much questioning,
made a deposition somewhat to the following effect:--"I knew the late
Lord Hadley; I have known him since he has been at Brandon House. He
was the same gentleman whose body now lies in the dining-room. He was
here about ten days before he met with his death. I know also the
prisoner, Mr. Dudley, I never saw any quarrel between them till
yesterday, when Mr. Dudley and Lord Hadley came home about the same
time together, and Mr. Dudley insisted on speaking in private with
Lord Hadley. Mr. Dudley seemed a little cross, and they went into this
room together. I went in the mean time to fetch some letters which had
been brought while they were out. When I came back, I saw Lord Hadley
coming out of the library, Seemingly in a great passion. He shook his
fist at Mr. Dudley, and seemed to be using very hard words, which I
did not hear. Mr. Dudley was then a step or two behind him, but he
seemed very angry too, though not so angry as his lordship; and I
could hear every word he said, though perhaps I cannot recollect them
exactly now, but I know that they were something like, 'You had better
take care what you say of me, my lord, for if you treat me
disrespectfully, I will punish you, depend upon it.'"

The coroner looked towards Mr. Dudley, who observed, in a quiet tone,
"The words were not exactly those, but the meaning is given with
sufficient accuracy."

"Go on," said the coroner. "Did you observe anything of a similar
nature during the rest of the day?"

"About an hour after," continued the butler, "Lord Hadley went out
again, Mr. Dudley followed him, and I heard the gamekeeper say----"

"We must have nothing upon hearsay," exclaimed the coroner; "the
gamekeeper, I dare say, can answer for himself. Speak to what is
within your own knowledge."

"When Mr. Dudley came back, I was in the hall. The porter let him in,
but we both remarked that he looked a deal ruffled. At dinner, he and
Lord Hadley seemed very cool and snappish to each other; and
immediately after dinner Mr. Dudley went out, and Lord Hadley went
after him, asking Brown, the head footman, which way the other
gentleman had gone. I heard him myself, so that I can speak to; and
that is the last I saw or heard of either of them, till his lordship's
body was brought in last night, and Mr. Dudley came here this
morning."

"John Brown!" said the coroner, and the head footman stood forward. He
corroborated the greater part of the butler's testimony, and added but
little else, except an expression of his own opinion that the young
lord and Mr. Dudley had been out of sorts with each other, as he
termed it, all the preceding day.

The gamekeeper was then brought forward, and stated, that he was just
walking away from the house, after having been out with Mr. Dudley and
Mr. Adelon during the whole morning, when the former came up to him
with a quick step, asked which way the young nobleman had taken, and
followed him as fast as he could go.

The man and woman at the lodge were then called, and proved that, a
little before eight on the preceding night, they were standing
together at the door of their cottage, when the young peer and Mr.
Dudley passed out of the park. The man said that they were talking
very angrily, and the woman that they were speaking very quick, but
she remembered hearing Mr. Dudley say, "Such conduct is most
reprehensible, my lord, and will receive chastisement sooner or
later." Both she and her husband deposed that the young peer and Mr.
Dudley took their way towards the Downs, and a labourer stated that he
had seen two gentlemen going on in the same direction, one of whom was
tall like the prisoner, and the other somewhat shorter. "They were
then speaking quick and sharp," he said, "and one of them was tossing
his arms about a good deal."

A pause for a moment or two succeeded, and then the coroner raised his
voice, saying, "Is there any one else who can give evidence in this
case? Let it be recollected that it is the bounden duty of all men,
when a crime has been committed, to assist in bringing the criminal to
justice."

"Please your worship," said a tall, raw-boned man, coming forward
towards the table, "I think I can say a word or two, if you would be
kind enough to hear me."

"We are here to listen to every one who can speak to any facts
connected with the death of the unfortunate young nobleman whose body
has been lately viewed by the jury," was the coroner's reply. "Speak
to facts, without entering into hearsay, my good man; and in the first
place, tell us what is your name and occupation?"

"I am a labourer by trade, and my name is Daniel Connor," answered the
witness; "and as to facts, it's just them I've got to speak about, for
I suppose I am the only man, except the boatman, who saw the thing
done. I was just taking a walk quietly upon the Downs, over above St.
Martin's when I saw the young lord--I've seen him many a time before
down at Mr. Clive's farm--come walking along very dully like. I saw
him quite well, though he didn't see me, for he was walking along the
road in the little dell, and I was sitting down above."

"Why, I thought you said you were walking," said the coroner.

"To be sure I was," answered Daniel Connor; "sorrow a thing else. I
was taking a walk and sitting down, your worship, as many a man does,
I believe."

"Was there any one else with Lord Hadley?" asked the coroner.

"That I can't just say," answered Connor. "There was nobody close to
him, or I should have seen them both at once, and there might be
somebody not far off, as indeed there was; but you see, your worship,
I leaned back upon the turf, for I didn't want to be disturbed in my
meditations."

"Ah!" said the coroner. "Go on, my man."

"Well, a minute after--it might be two minutes, perhaps, for I won't
be particular as to that--I heard two men quarrelling, and looking up
to the sky, I saw them clear enough."

"What! in the sky?" said the coroner.

"No, agin it," replied the witness; "for both their feet were upon
the ground at that time, but just at the edge of the cliff, where
there's a bit of a rail. They were hitting each other about, and
being a peaceable man anyhow, having had enough of rows in my own
country--that's Ireland, your worship--I sat quite still, and then the
one gave the other a great knock, and away he went back over the
railing, and so I walked quietly home, and saw no more."

"Be so good as to describe the man who struck the other, and knocked
him over the cliff," said the coroner.

"Why, that's mighty difficult to do," answered Daniel Connor, "seeing
that they were fifty yards off and more, and looked just like two
black shadows on the wall."

"Did you ever see him before?" demanded the crown officer, somewhat
impatiently.

"Maybe I have," answered the witness; "but I should not just like to
say for certain."

"But you had no doubt in the case of Lord Hadley," rejoined the
coroner.

"That was natural like," answered Daniel Connor; "for he came within
ten yards of me, and t'other was a good bit farther off when I saw
him."

"Let me try, Mr. Coroner," said the foreman of the jury. "Was he a
tall man or a short man, witness?"

"Oh! it was a tall man he was," replied Connor; "I dare say an inch
taller than I am, and I'm no bantam."

"Did you ever see that gentleman before?" continued the foreman,
pointing out Dudley.

"I think I have, your honour," answered the witness.

"Was he the man you saw strike Lord Hadley on the cliff?" demanded the
coroner, in a stern tone.

"I shouldn't just like to swear," answered Daniel Connor; "but he's
not unlike him, any how."

For the first time a sense of danger reached Dudley's bosom; and
stepping forward at once, he placed himself directly before the
witness, and gazed sternly in his face. An impression--a feeling,
without any apparent cause, and which he could not account for
himself, took possession of him, that the man was wilfully giving
untrue evidence. But his severe searching look had no effect upon the
mind of Daniel Connor. It was under a more powerful influence; and
though in reality by no means a bad or malicious man, yet, relying
upon the assurances of the priest, he looked upon the matter between
Dudley and himself rather as a game that they were playing than
anything else; and the same shrewd, momentary smile passed over his
countenance which had once crossed it while conversing with the priest
during the preceding night. He gave a glance at the prisoner's face,
and in answer, as it seemed, to his gaze, he said, "Ay--yes, sir, you
are mighty like him, any how; but I should not just like to swear."

"Will you allow me, sir, to ask this man some questions?" inquired
Dudley, addressing the coroner.

"Undoubtedly," replied that officer; "and the jury will be very happy
to hear any explanation you may have to give regarding this affair."

"Now, answer me truly," said Dudley. "What were you doing upon the
Downs at that hour of the night?"

"Just taking a walk, your honour," replied the man.

"And what had you been engaged in all day?" demanded Dudley.

"I had been ploughing all the morning from daylight till dinner-time,"
answered Connor; "and arter that, I had been doing a many little jobs
about the farm."

"And yet after that you went to take a long walk over the Downs," said
Dudley. "Now will you swear that Lord Hadley did not come up the road
you mention, alone."

"No, I won't swear that," replied Connor, "for I did not see. He was
alone, sure enough, when I first set eyes upon him; but you see, your
honour, some one must have been very near him, for a minute or two
arter, some one pitched him over the cliff."

"Was he walking fast or slow?" asked Dudley.

"Mighty slow, considering that it was a cold night," answered the
witness.

"And yet you thought fit to sit down and meditate on that cold night,"
remarked Dudley. "Did you hear any words spoken between the young
nobleman and the man who killed him?"

"Oh, ay! there was plenty of talk," replied Connor, "but I didn't hear
what they said."

"Now, you have said that you knew Lord Hadley at once," continued
Dudley; "it was a dark night, and he was down in a road below you, you
assert; and yet you declare that you cannot be sure of who was the man
who afterwards struck him, though they were then both clear out
against the blue sky."

"I didn't say I wasn't sure," answered the witness, somewhat
maliciously. "I may be sure enough, and yet not like to swear, your
honour."

Dudley asked several other questions, but they were to no purpose, or
only served to confirm the impression already produced. He himself
felt that it was so; and with a slight touch of that eager impatience
which had once been strong in his disposition, before adversity had
tamed it, he exclaimed, turning towards the jury, "I know not,
gentlemen, what is this man's object--perhaps, indeed, I ought not to
assume that he has any object--but all his words are evidently
calculated to give you a false view of the case. As has been sworn by
other persons, I did go out yesterday, immediately after dinner. I was
joined by Lord Hadley. There was some discussion between us as we
walked along, but it was not of so angry character as that of the
morning; and allow me to say, that the dispute between us was entirely
as between tutor and pupil. I found it necessary to reprehend some
part of Lord Hadley's conduct, and he being very nearly of age,
angrily resisted all authority, and refused to listen to my counsel.
As we walked along together last night, although there were occasional
bursts of passion on his part, I thought that my arguments had
produced some effect, and we parted at a spot where the high road
towards Barhampton is traversed by the path leading from Clive Grange
over the downs, and through the brake in the hills to the sea-shore.
He was then calm, though somewhat gloomy; and I walked on nearly to
Barhampton, where I was a witness to a very serious riot. I returned
immediately towards Brandon, and was seized in the avenue by two
constables, who refused to give me any information farther than merely
showing their warrant. I call God to witness that I never saw Lord
Hadley after we parted at the cross-road! This is all I have to say,
and the only explanation of my conduct that can be given."

"Perhaps, sir, you will have the goodness to inform us what it was
that took you to Barhampton at so late an hour," said the coroner.

Sir Arthur Adelon, who had been standing near the table, drew back,
and walked towards the end of the room, as if about to quit it, but
paused amongst the crowd before he reached the door. Dudley remarked
the movement of apprehension; but he was resolved not to betray him on
any account, and he replied, after a moment's pause, "I went on
private business, sir."

"A curious hour to transact business," said the coroner. "Can you not
explain the nature of it, even in general terms?"

"In a certain degree, I have no objection," replied Dudley. "It
related to some papers belonging to my father, and I wished to say a
few words upon the subject to a gentleman whom it was necessary for me
to see that night. I had no means of seeing him at an earlier hour, or
in every respect I should have preferred it."

The coroner paused thoughtfully for a moment or two, and then asked,
"Have you anything to add, sir?"

Dudley signified that he had not, and the room was ordered to be
cleared.

As soon as the coroner was alone with his jury, he addressed them in a
somewhat long and florid speech, being a man rather fond of his own
eloquence. His observations in regard to the general duties of persons
in their situation, may be spared the reader; but after having
discussed that topic for some time, he proceeded to comment upon the
evidence. "It is proved," he said, "that Mr. Dudley and the
unfortunate young nobleman had been upon bad terms during the whole of
that day; that they had quarrelled, and used threatening language to
each other; and that they continued in dispute till the last moment
they were seen together. I do not wish to make the case worse than it
is, gentlemen of the jury, or to say that Mr. Dudley went out with any
evil intentions towards his pupil. There is no animus shown, and it
must be recollected that he went out first, and his lordship followed;
but I do mean to say we have it clearly before us, that they were both
in that state of mind which rendered a quarrel of the most serious
description, even to acts of violence, extremely probable. Then we
trace them together for some way, on the road to the very spot where
the fatal occurrence took place. Even by Mr. Dudley's account, not
many minutes could have elapsed between the time at which he says they
parted, and the time when Lord Hadley met with his death--hardly time
enough for the young nobleman to have met and quarrelled with another
man. Then we have the evidence of the fisherman or boatman, and the
evidence of the labourer, Daniel Connor, each account confirming the
other. The one says that the fatal blow was struck by a tall man, such
as you have seen Mr. Dudley is; the other, that the person who
quarrelled with, and ultimately killed Lord Hadley, was a tall man,
very much like Mr. Dudley, though, from the darkness of the night he
will not absolutely swear to him. Now, gentlemen, this is a very
conclusive train of evidence taken by itself; but let us examine Mr.
Dudley's own statement. He admits all the previous facts: the
quarrelling in the morning; the going out at night; the being followed
by Lord Hadley; their walk together towards the very spot; and their
arrival at a place which, as far as my recollection serves, is only a
few hundred yards from the scene of the tragedy. Mr. Dudley, indeed,
says that he there left Lord Hadley, and walked on towards Barhampton,
upon business of which he will give no distinct account. Doubtless he
might walk to Barhampton, and that he did go somewhere is very clear,
for he did not return to Brandon Park, we are informed, till about
midnight; but it is just as probable as not, that he should wander
about for some time after committing such an act as certainly was
perpetrated by some one. That he did do so is not the slightest
presumption of innocence, but rather, perhaps, the contrary. Then,
again, we have to consider the conduct of Lord Hadley, and to ask
ourselves was it probable that, after parting with Mr. Dudley, he
should go on, in a cold unpleasant night, to stroll upon the downs,
without, as far as we know, any object whatsoever. It is evident that,
when he last went out from this house, he followed his tutor, to speak
with him on the same painful subjects which had led to such severe
quarrels in the morning. When their discussion was at an end, it would
seem much more likely that he should return to Brandon House, where a
pleasant family party was waiting his return. Such would probably have
been his conduct if Mr. Dudley's statements were correct. But does it
not naturally suggest itself to your minds, as much more likely, that
the dispute was carried on vehemently between the two gentlemen; that
the young nobleman took the path over the downs, followed, at some
short distance, by his tutor; that more irritating words passed when
they reached the top of the cliff, and that the fatal blow was struck
which hurried the young nobleman into eternity. It is for you,
gentlemen of the jury, to consider all these facts, and to decide upon
your verdict. If you judge that the hand of Mr. Dudley did really slay
the young nobleman, the manner of whose death is the subject of
inquiry, you will have to choose between two courses. If you believe
Mr. Dudley entertained a premeditated design to kill his pupil--of
which, I confess, I see no trace in the evidence--you will bring in a
verdict of 'Wilful Murder.' If, on the contrary, you think that the
act was committed in a moment of hasty passion--for, remark, the fact
of the blow not having been intended to produce death is no
justification--you will then bring in a verdict of 'Manslaughter;' and
whatever view you take, you will remember that this is only a
preliminary inquiry, and that the person upon whom suspicion falls
will have the opportunity, at an after period, of bringing forward any
evidence he pleases, to prove his innocence."

The jury took very little time to deliberate. They were most of them
sensible men, in a respectable station of life, perhaps a little too
easily bent by the opinions of a superior; but even had not the
coroner's own view of the case been so evident, they probably would
have come to the same decision. After a few words had passed between
them, to ascertain that they were all of one mind, their foreman
returned a verdict of "Manslaughter against Edward Dudley."



CHAPTER XXI.


When Dudley was taken out of the library where the coroner's jury sat,
he was surrounded in the hall by several persons, all eager to have
some conversation with him. Mr. Conway, the magistrate who had signed
the warrant for his apprehension, spoke to him in a good-humoured way,
expressing his sorrow that he had been called upon to perform so
unpleasant a duty. Dudley bowed stiffly, but did not reply, for he was
neither pleased with the act nor the apology; but he was immediately
succeeded by another magistrate, who, with as much kindness and more
judgment, pressed him to call every little particular of his walk on
the preceding night to his mind; to put them down while they were
still fresh in his memory; and to try to recollect every one he had
seen or spoken with between the period of his quitting Brandon and his
return, in order to prepare an unbroken chain of evidence for his
defence. "I have known a man's life saved," he said, "by keeping a
note-book, in which he wrote down at night everything that had
occurred to him during the day."

Dudley thanked him for his suggestions, and felt that he did not
believe him guilty; but at the same time he perceived very clearly
that the magistrate concluded the coroner's jury would give a verdict
against him. Almost at the same moment Sir Arthur Adelon came up, and
with a very peculiar expression of countenance pressed his hand, but
without speaking. The next moment Edgar came in from the park, through
the glass doors. His whole appearance betrayed great agitation. His
eye was flashing, his cheek flushed, and there was a nervous,
excitable quivering of his lip as he approached Dudley, which told how
much he was moved. He wrung the prisoner's hand hard, with a swimming
moisture in his eyes which he seemed ashamed of; but his tongue failed
him when he tried to speak, and all he could say was, "Oh, Dudley!"

"You do not think me guilty, I am sure, my young friend," said Dudley.

"Guilty!" cried Edgar--"guilty! Oh! no, no; guilty of nothing but of
too high and noble a heart. I have been out all the morning since I
heard of this dreadful affair, seeking for evidence all the way you
went; but I have been able to find none. Which way did you take after
you passed the lodge?"

"It matters not, Edgar, at present," answered Dudley. "Many thanks for
your kindness, but all that must be thought of hereafter. I can easily
see how these good gentlemen will decide, and I must have counsel down
from London, who will gather together the necessary testimony to prove
my innocence of an act I never even dreamed of. I shall call upon your
kindness, I dare say, Edgar, in the course of this affair."

"Believe me, my dear sir," said Sir Arthur Adelon, "nothing shall be
wanting on my part to give you every assistance. I need not tell you
that, as I said before the jury, I am fully and entirely convinced of
your innocence, and shall ever remain so, being certain, from what I
know of your character, that you are quite incapable of committing
such an act, even in a moment of anger."

"Let me add my assurance, also, Mr. Dudley," said the priest,
approaching with his quiet step. "You are not a man to give way to
hasty bursts of passion."

"I trust not, Mr. Filmer," replied Dudley; "and on the present
occasion there was no provocation. In the morning, indeed, Lord Hadley
used very intemperate language towards me; but at night, though he had
evidently drunk more wine than was wise, yet, as I have often remarked
with him before, the effect was to render him more placable and
good-humoured."

"Showing that he was not bad at heart," said Mr. Conway: "_in vino
veritas_, Mr. Dudley."

"I do not think he was bad at heart, by any means," replied Dudley.
"Prosperity and weakness of character ought to bear many of the sins
which are laid upon the shoulders of a bad disposition. I trust, Sir
Arthur," he continued, "you will have the kindness to break this sad
event to poor Lady Hadley, who, although she has, thank heaven, other
children to console her, will feel her loss most bitterly."

Some farther conversation of the same kind took place, during which
the same little crowd continued round the prisoner, while Edgar Adelon
kept his place close to Dudley's side, with a look of impatience and
anxiety which led the latter to believe that his young friend had
something of importance to communicate. It was by this time about
half-past nine, the usual breakfast hour at Brandon House, and the
spot where Dudley stood was directly opposite the foot of the great
staircase. The two constables were close behind him; and as I said
before, the magistrates and others who had been present at the inquest
as spectators, had remained around him in the hall, not expecting that
the coroner's address to his jury would be so tediously long as it
proved.

"They are a long time in finding their verdict," said one of the
magistrates; and as he spoke Edgar Adelon crossed over to his father,
and said, "Would it not be better that we should wait in your
justice-room? Eda will be down directly, depend upon it."

"I forgot--I forgot," said his father. "I had better go and
communicate to her what has taken place."

"Does she not know?" asked Dudley.

"Nothing, nothing," replied the baronet, and was advancing towards the
stairs; but he was too late, for Miss Brandon had turned the first
flight from her own room before he reached the foot. She paused for an
instant, seeing such a number of people in the hall; but the next
moment she proceeded, with a look of apprehension; for the sight at
once awakened fears in regard to her uncle, though she had been
assured, before she retired to rest the night preceding, that Sir
Arthur had returned safe and well.

The baronet advanced to meet her; and Dudley, yielding to the impulse
of his heart, took a step or two forward to say a few words, the last,
perhaps, he might be able to speak to her for some months. Eda's eyes
were fixed upon him as she came down the last two steps; but ere he
could reach her the head constable caught him rudely by the collar,
exclaiming, "Come, come, master, I mustn't lose hold of ye, seeing as
how this is a case of murder."

Eda gazed wildly in Dudley's face for an instant, and then dropped
fainting on the floor of the hall.

"Look to her, Edgar; look to her, Edgar!" said Dudley, in a low voice.
"Do not let her alarm herself so. Tell her, for heaven's sake! that
the charge is false, nay, absurd."

A number of persons ran forward to assist Miss Brandon, and carried
her into the breakfast-room. At the same moment the door of the
library opened, and the constables were ordered to bring in the
prisoner. They hurried him in without ceremony, and he found the jury
still seated round the table, and the coroner on his feet, with a
written paper in his hand. "The verdict of the jury," he said, aloud,
"is Manslaughter against Edward Dudley, Esquire. Constables, I have
here made out a warrant for the committal of that gentleman to the
county jail; but of course, if the magistrates who ordered his
apprehension think fit to proceed with their own separate
investigation of the case, it will be your duty to consult their
convenience as to the time of his removal; and I will add, that you
are bound to put him to no unnecessary inconvenience consistent with
his safe custody, a course which I must say you do not seem to have
followed hitherto."

The chief constable held down his head with a dogged look, but without
reply; and Mr. Conway, standing forward, addressed the coroner,
saying, "I, as the magistrate who issued the warrant, do not see any
necessity, sir, for taking this matter at all out of the hands of your
court. The case has undergone here a very minute and well-conducted
investigation, and I do not think anything could be added which may
not quite as well be brought forward at the assizes."

The two gentlemen bowed to each other with mutual polite speeches, and
Dudley was removed in custody of the two officers.

"A pack of fools," murmured Edgar Adelon, in no very inaudible tone;
and following Dudley out of the room, he crossed the hall to the
breakfast-room, when the constables seemed somewhat puzzled how to
proceed with their prisoner. The next moment, however, Edgar returned
with his father, who advanced direct towards Dudley, saying, "I grieve
very much, Mr. Dudley, that the jury have thought fit to come to this
conclusion; but you must use my carriage over to ----, and as I am one
of the visiting magistrates, I will take care that the short residence
which you must submit to in a prison shall be rendered as little
inconvenient to you as possible."

Dudley thanked him for his kindness, took leave of Edgar, and in a few
minutes was rolling away to a town at the distance of about sixteen
miles, with one constable by his side, and the other on the box.

The first reflections of the prisoner were naturally not very
pleasant; but those which succeeded were still less agreeable. A hard
fate seemed to pursue him. Born to station, affluence, and ease, he
had set out in life filled with bright hopes and eager expectations.
The sparkling cup of youth had seemed replete with pleasant drops of
every kind, and he had little dreamed, while such bright things
appeared upon the surface, that there was such a bitter draught below.
He had indulged in many a wild and ardent fancy, and sated, if not
spoiled, by the cup of success, had longed, as every young man has
longed, for change, for new pleasures, for pursuits opposite to those
which he had followed, for enjoyments differing in their novelty to
the joys which he had tasted. Ah! little does one know in youth, when
we seek a change of condition, what it is we pray for. Even if that
very alteration which we desire is granted to us, we find it loaded
with evils unforeseen, with inherent cares and anxieties which we had
never perceived, with consequences destructive of all our bright
expectations. But how often does it happen that when pampered
happiness seeks mere abstract change, from satiated appetite and the
desire of fresh enjoyment, the chastening hand on high sends bitter
reverses, to teach us the value of the blessings we despised, and to
lead us to that humble thankfulness which is rarely to be found in the
ungrateful heart of prosperity. Adverse fortune had fallen upon him
early, and coming to a strong and thoughtful mind, had produced the
full fruits of the wholesome lesson. Fortune, and all that fortune
gives, had been lost, and even the society of a wise and affectionate
parent had been taken away. He had had to soothe the departing hours
of a beloved father through a long sickness; he had had to struggle
with difficulties and to undertake labours never contemplated at the
outset of his career; and now, when both love and fortune smiled upon
him for an instant again, like a gleam of sunshine through a stormy
cloud, the light seemed snatched away as soon as given, the flame of
hope extinguished as soon as kindled. But he had felt and acknowledged
the uses of adversity; and although, with the natural superstition
which is in every man's heart, which led men in ancient, and even some
in modern times, to believe in the ascendancy of a propitious or
unpropitious star, he had first felt inclined to suppose that his evil
fortunes dogged him as a destiny from which he could not fly, yet
reason and religion taught him that the sorrows which are sent by the
Almighty are ordained in mercy, and in the end, he said, "This may be
salutary too."

The first fruit of true Christian resignation is exertion; and giving
up all useless ponderings upon the past, as he rode along, he turned
to provide against the future; but strange to say, his thoughts became
more gloomy as he did so. He tried to collect and arrange in his mind
all the evidence he could bring forward in his defence; but with a
feeling of pain and apprehension, to which he had never before given
way, he perceived nothing that he could add at the assizes to that
which had been brought forward before the coroner's jury. He had seen
nobody from the moment when Lord Hadley quitted him, till he came upon
the men on watch at Mead's Farm. Of these he knew not one even by
name; and he was too clear-sighted not to perceive, even in his own
case, that his having met them some time afterwards, was no proof
whatever that he had not committed previously the act with which he
was charged. To show an object in going out at that late hour of the
evening might indeed have some effect; but yet he felt it would be
impossible, with a regard to his own honour, for so small an
advantage, to betray the confidence which had been placed in him, and
to ruin Sir Arthur Adelon, with very little benefit to himself. One
slight probability, indeed, in his favour might be raised, by his
proving the cause of the angry discussions which had taken place
between himself and Lord Hadley; and yet he felt a repugnance either
to cast an imputation upon the dead, or to bring forward the name of
Helen Clive under such circumstances. He did not indeed entertain such
romantic notions of honour and chivalrous courtesy, as to think that
it would be unjustifiable to do either, if his own safety absolutely
depended upon it; but he resolved, in the first place, to consult his
counsel as to whether it was necessary, and then to send a message to
Mr. Clive, telling him that such was the case. With that exception he
had nothing to add to what he had already said; and although it would
tell in his favour to show that the dispute between himself and his
pupil was honourable to himself, and showed a mind not likely to
commit a crime, yet he saw very clearly that it was no distinct
evidence of innocence. All these thoughts occupied him long; his
companion, though more civil than before, was dull and gloomy; and
Dudley was still meditating on his course, when the first houses of a
town came in view, and then a large stone building, with emblematic
fetters over the gate; and in two minutes more he was within the walls
of a prison.



CHAPTER XXII.


There were two persons in Brandon House who suffered deeply on the
morning when Dudley was carried away to prison; and each mistakenly
encouraged some degree of self-reproach, such as none but delicate
minds can feel, for having unwittingly and unwillingly placed one they
loved in a dangerous and painful position. Eda Brandon thought, "Had I
not taxed his generosity to forgive, uninquiringly, injuries of which
he knew not the extent, and to go forth to save from disgrace and
danger the very man who had inflicted them, this false charge could
never have been brought."

Edgar Adelon said to himself, "If I had not communicated to him all my
suspicions regarding the conduct of this young reptile lord towards my
sweet Helen, he would not, in a fit of generous indignation, have done
that which has brought him into peril and sorrow. Oh, that I had had
any other friend at hand to consult upon the conduct I should pursue!
Oh, that Helen, telling me all, had justified me in driving forth the
viper from my cousin's house! Oh, that Father Peter had not withheld
the tale of all the insults that she suffered, till it was too late
for me to act, and another had punished the offender as I ought to
have done!"

Such thoughts passed through his mind about two hours after Dudley's
removal from Brandon, and while Eda was still in her own room, to
which she had been carried as soon as the house had resumed its usual
state. Mr. Filmer and Sir Arthur Adelon were closeted in the library;
and the only apparent result of their conversation as yet had been an
order for one of the grooms to ride as fast as possible to Barhampton,
and bring four post-horses to carry the baronet on his way to London.

"What can I do? How can I act?" Edgar Adelon asked himself. "I must
have some one to consult with, and I know not whom. I do not believe
my father loves Dudley in his heart. I have seen him eye him with an
expression of dislike; and I will not trust the priest. Good man as he
is, his policy is always a subtle one. It is a pity that, with those
Italians, amongst whom he lived so long, he acquired that covert and
indirect mode of dealing. His purposes and ends are always right, I do
believe: too right and honest to be sought by crooked means. I must
talk with Eda; she is candour and truth itself, and yet has wit enough
to put all Filmer's arts at fault. I will talk with her;" and with his
usual hasty action, he was going at once to put his purpose in
execution, when he heard his father come out of the library, go up the
stairs, and knock at his cousin's door.

Sir Arthur remained long with his niece; and Edgar, who remained in
the room below for some time, thought he heard his father's voice
sometimes raised higher than usual. At other times, however, it
sounded with a low murmur, as if holding a long and earnest argument.
The young man grew impatient at length, and going forth into the park,
he wandered about for nearly an hour, and when he returned, found Sir
Arthur's post-chariot at the door, ready to bear him away.

"Your father has been waiting for you, Mr. Adelon," said the butler;
"he is in the breakfast-room." And Edgar immediately directed his
steps thither, without asking any questions.

"Why, Edgar, did you not know I was going?" demanded the baronet, as
soon as his son appeared; and then, without waiting for a reply, he
proceeded: "It is necessary for me, my dear boy, to go up to London at
once, to break the sad intelligence of Lord Hadley's death to his poor
mother. In the mean time, I think it will be better for you, more
decent, more proper, to meddle as little as possible with the affairs
of a gentleman charged with having produced his death, at least till
after he has had a fair trial, and is acquitted or found guilty. I
have some other business of importance to transact in London, but I
trust to be down in time to be present at the funeral, if it is to be
performed here. Mr. Filmer will make all the necessary arrangements,
according to the directions he will receive."

Edgar Adelon was, like most young men, somewhat wrong-headed. His
disposition was too firm and generous for him to be spoiled, as it is
usually called; but he had been very much indulged, and usually took
his own way. He never, indeed, showed the least want of respect
towards his father, in word or manner; but he generally followed the
course which suited him best, with less reverence in his actions than
in his deportment. On the present occasion, then, he made no reply,
but remained determined to do everything he could for Dudley,
notwithstanding all opposition. After a few more words from Sir
Arthur, Edgar accompanied his father to the door of the carriage, took
leave of him, and then at once mounted the stairs to Eda's room, and
knocked at the door.

"Go into my little sitting-room, Edgar," said Eda, who knew his step,
"and I will come to you directly. I wish much to speak to you, my dear
cousin."

But Eda kept him some time waiting, and when she came at length, Edgar
saw that tears had been late visitants in her eyes.

"Do not grieve, Eda, dear," said Edgar, taking her hand kindly. "This
will all pass away; but let you and I sit down together, and consult
what can best be done for poor Dudley. He will be acquitted, to a
certainty, I think: nay, I am sure."

"I do not know, Edgar," answered Eda; "but in the mean time we must do
all we can to help and comfort him; and that is why I wished to speak
with you so much, for I know no one but you who seem to love him
here."

"Oh, yes! there is one other, Eda," answered Edgar, with a smile; "one
who loves him very well, I think."

The colour rose in Eda's cheek, but she raised her eyes to his,
answering at once, "There certainly is, Edgar, and I have just told
your father so. I avow it, Edgar, the more frankly, because it is
necessary, if we really would serve him, to have no concealments from
each other. We have jested and laughed over such things, Edgar; but
now it is necessary that we should speak plainly, both of your
situation and mine."

"First, then, tell me what my father said," answered Edgar. "I promise
you, Eda, dear, I will have no concealments from you now. You are a
sweet, kind, affectionate girl as ever lived, and you have neither
pride nor prejudices which should make me afraid to tell you all my
own feelings. Let me hear what my father answered when you told him of
Dudley's love, and what you said to him again."

"He said much, Edgar, that was very unpleasant," replied Eda; "but do
not let me dwell upon it. He found me firmer than he expected, and he
is now fully aware of my intentions, and moreover, aware that he can
never change them: at least I hope so, for what I said should leave no
doubt. But now to other matters. I think you have a sincere affection
for Dudley: is it not so?"

"I would lay down my life for him," answered Edgar Adelon. "But when I
said that there was another who loved him well too, I did not
altogether mean you, Eda, but I meant Mr. Filmer."

Eda waved her hand and shook her head. "Your religious feelings blind
you, Edgar," she said. "Mr. Filmer does not love him: never has loved
him. There was a peculiar look came into his face the very first
moment he saw Dudley here, which you did not remark, but which I did,
and which I have remarked more than once before, when any one whom he
hates approaches him. It is but for a moment, but it is very distinct;
and moreover, I have seldom seen any one call up that look who has not
somehow fallen into misfortune. Do you remember the farmer Hadyer,
upon your father's estate in Yorkshire, and how, after being in very
prosperous circumstances, he was soon totally ruined? Well, the first
time I saw the poor man come up to speak to your father when Mr.
Filmer was present, that look came into the priest's face."

"Nay, it is you are prejudiced, Eda," replied her cousin. "What
offence could poor Hadyer have given to Father Peter, and how was he
instrumental in his ruin?"

"His wife had been a Catholic, and became a Protestant the year
before," answered Eda. "How his ruin was brought about, I do not know;
but I heard Mr. Filmer dissuade your father from granting what Hadyer
asked, and which seemed to me but just and equitable. He said nothing
in the man's presence; but when he was gone, and he found your father
was inclined to accede, he urged that if your father granted the
remission of half a year's rent to one farmer on account of the flood
which carried away double the value of corn, he would have some such
accidents happening to some of the tenants every year. But all this is
irrelevant; Mr. Filmer loves him not: of that I am quite sure. We must
seek other counsel, Edgar, and find means to prove Dudley's innocence.
There is one, I think, who can supply it, if she will, and you must go
to her and seek it; for, if I am not mistaken," and Eda smiled as she
fixed her eyes upon him, "your voice will be more powerful with her
than that of any other human being."

"You mean dear Helen Clive," replied Edgar. "Eda, you have made your
confession; and mine is soon made. Helen Clive shall be my wife,
whatever obstacles may stand in the way. She, too, would, if she
could, I am sure, show sufficient justification for what Dudley did.
It was an act of righteous vengeance upon as base a man as ever
breathed."

"What do you mean, Edgar?" exclaimed Eda Brandon, gazing at him as he
spoke, with a flushed cheek and flashing eye. "You do not really
believe that Dudley did kill this unhappy young man?"

"I do, Eda," answered her cousin; "but listen to me." And he proceeded
to tell her all he knew--and it was but a part--of Lord Hadley's
conduct to Helen Clive. He spoke, too, of how he had himself, on the
preceding morning, informed Dudley of the facts, acknowledged his own
love for Helen, and asked the advice of his friend as to the course he
ought to pursue.

"He soothed, comforted, calmed me, Eda," continued the young man: "and
in the end, told me to leave the affair in his hands, and he would
take care that my own dear, gentle Helen should be insulted no more.
From the evidence given by the servants, it is clear that Dudley and
the other had a bitter quarrel upon this very theme; that the
wrongdoer was insolent in his wrong, and provoked his monitor more
than patience could endure. Dudley is by nature fiery and impetuous,
Eda, and depend upon it, they met last night; this base peer provoked
his nobler friend, and Dudley struck a blow which, though
unintentionally, punished him as he deserved."

Eda mused sadly for a moment; but she then replied, "No, Edgar, no!
Your father told me that Dudley solemnly denied the act. Were it as
you say, he would not have done so. Impetuous he may be; but most
decided in right and truth he is, and always has been. He would have
told the tale of what had happened as it did happen; the act and the
motive would have stood forth clear together, and he would have left
the rest to fate. But besides, I know he did not do it. He went out at
my request, on business, which nothing, I am sure, would have turned
him from. The dinner was somewhat late, the hour named fast
approaching, and I could see his anxiety to go. He would not, I know,
have gone ten steps out of his way at that moment on any account
whatever. No, Edgar, he did not do it; and Helen, perhaps, may help us
to the proofs, for she must know who the men were that Dudley was to
meet near Mead's farm. There were others about, too, I am sure, and by
their testimony we may perhaps show, step by step, every yard of the
way that Dudley took. Go to her, Edgar--go to her at once. Why do you
shake your head?"

"Because, dear Eda, Helen is no longer within reach," replied Edgar
Adelon; "she embarked last night with her father, who was implicated
in this mad rising and attempt upon Barhampton."

Eda sat speechless with surprise and consternation, Her hope of
proving Dudley's innocence had been based entirely upon the
information which could be given by Helen Clive; and now to find that
she was gone, and evidently to a distance, too, seemed to strike her
with despair. From her uncle, and from the servants, she had gleaned a
very accurate idea of all the evidence which had been given before the
coroner's jury; and she had seen, from the first, the difficulties of
her lover's situation, with far more alarm than he himself had felt;
but her mind was quick and intelligent, and turned, after a temporary
pause of consternation, to consider what was best next to be done.

"Fear not, Eda, dear," continued Edgar, seeing the expression of alarm
upon her face; "I must soon hear where Helen is. She has promised to
write to me whenever she arrives in France, and to let me know where
she is to be found. At all events, the priest must know."

"Stay, stay, Edgar!" said Eda. "Helen's evidence would be too late. My
uncle tells me the assizes will be held in ten days, and you must
trust Mr. Filmer in nothing, Edgar. You think I am prejudiced, but it
is not so. I know him, my dear cousin. But there is another way. If we
could but find a person named Norries, he might assist us."

"Why, that was the very leader of these men," said Edgar, somewhat
sharply. "I heard him myself harangue them two nights ago on the
little green before the old priory, and he used my father's name in a
false and shameless manner."

"Alas! in too true a manner, Edgar," answered Eda. "I must tell you
all now, Edgar, for Dudley must not be sacrificed. His object in going
out that night, was to save my uncle from participating in acts that
may bring ruin on his head. Whether he succeeded in persuading him to
desist or not, I do not know, for I did not dare to ask your father;
but be assured, Edgar, that up to eight o'clock last night, it was Sir
Arthur's intention to be present with, if not to lead, the people who
attacked Barhampton. It was I who urged Dudley to go."

"But what could he do?" demanded Edgar. "You know my father in such
circumstances attends to no advice."

"True," answered Eda; "but Dudley had a power over him, Edgar." And
she proceeded to explain all that she herself knew of the dark
transactions in which Sir Arthur Adelon had been engaged in former
years. She put it gently and kindly, not as an accusation, but as an
unfortunate fact; and she told how generously Dudley had promised at
once, when he heard the means Norries had employed to urge her uncle
forward on so fatal a course, that he would assure Sir Arthur, on his
word of honour, to destroy the papers spoken of, without even looking
at them.

Edgar's check at first flushed, and then turned pale, and in the end,
he covered his eyes with his hands, and remained buried in thought.

"Helen told me," continued Eda, willing to lead his mind away from the
more painful part of the subject, "that whoever I sent to seek my
uncle would find some men waiting near the place called Mead's farm.
There were watches, she told, along the whole line of road, and some
of them surely saw Dudley pass. At all events, Norries can give
information, if any one; and the only difficulty will be to find him."

"I will find him," cried Edgar Adelon, starting up; "but then," he
added, "perhaps he may have left the country too. I will seek him,
however, let him be where he will, and find him if it be in human
power to do so, for Dudley shall not suffer for his noble and generous
devotion."

"But let us consider, Edgar, how Norries can best be heard of," said
Eda; but Edgar waved his hand with that bright, happy thing, the smile
of youthful confidence, upon his face, and answered, "I will find him,
dear girl, I will find him. I know several of the men who were with
him. I recognised their faces at the priory; but I will about it at
once, for there is no time to be lost."



CHAPTER XXIII.


It was a dark and stormy night when Edgar Adelon, mounted upon a
powerful horse, which seemed wearied with long travel, rode along
towards a little village near the sea-coast, about twelve miles from
Brandon. The rain beat hard upon him, dashing in his fair face, and
almost blinding man and steed; the wind tossed about the curls of his
hair like streamers round his head; neither great coat nor cloak
sheltered his delicate form from the blast or the down-pouring deluge;
but still he spurred on, seeming heedless of the tempest that raged
around. He entered the street of the village; he passed the little
alehouse, where there were lights and laughing voices within; and he
drew not a rein till he reached the last cottage but one upon the
right hand side, before which he checked his horse suddenly, and
sprang to the ground. Fastening the bridle round the paling, he went
forward and knocked at the door, and then immediately lifted the latch
and went in, saying, "Martin Oldkirk lives here, I believe?"

A short, square-built, vigorous-looking man rose from the fire-side,
and eyed him with a suspicious look as he entered. He had been reading
a sort of newspaper, small in size and apparently badly printed, by
the light of a single tallow candle; but he instantly put the paper
away, and shaded his eyes to examine the visitor.

"Yes," he said, at length, "my name is Martin Oldkirk. What do you
want with me?"

"I want to speak a few words with you," answered Edgar Adelon, closing
the door behind him, and advancing to the table. "You know a gentleman
of the name of Norries, I believe?"

The man hesitated, and then replied, "I have seen such a person, I've
a notion. He called here once, but that's all."

"You know me, however, I suppose?" answered Edgar Adelon.

"Yes, I think I have seen you before somewhere," replied Oldkirk, with
an indifferent air. "You are the baronet's son over at Brandon, I
fancy."

"Exactly so," replied the young gentleman; "and Harry Graves, who
works for Mr. Mead, told me that you could give me some information."

"What about?" demanded the man, abruptly.

"About this very Mr. Norries," answered Edgar Adelon, fixing his eyes
upon him. "I have been eight days hunting him, and find, at last, that
you are the only man who knows where he is."

"That's a lie, at least!" answered the man, in an insolent and
swaggering tone; "and you may tell Harry Graves so for me."

Edgar smothered his indignation at his companion's brutality, and
replied, "At all events you know where he is to be found, and you must
tell me where he is, for I must speak to him immediately upon business
of importance."

"You won't hear from me," answered the man; "for mayhap I do not know
where he is. If you want him you must find him for yourself."

"No," said Edgar, sternly. "You must find him for me, or if you don't
you must take the consequences."

"And what may they be?" asked the labourer, with no less insolence in
his manner, but with a contemptuous smile curling his lip at the same
time.

"Why, simply, that I shall give you up to justice," answered Edgar
Adelon, "as one of the rioters who treasonably attacked the town of
Barhampton."

"You would find that difficult to prove," answered the man, "because I
was not there."

"Not so difficult as you imagine," answered the young gentleman. "I
have the written testimony of three witnesses to show that you were
present; and if you do not do what I require, depend upon it I will
use those means to convict you."

The man had taken two steps round the table, and he now sprang at once
between Edgar and the door, exclaiming, "Then d--mn me if I don't
knock your brains out for your pains. I'm not to be bullied in that
way."

As he spoke, he was advancing upon the young gentleman; but when he
was within not much more than two yards, Edgar suddenly drew a pistol
from between his waistcoat and his shirt, where he had put it to keep
it dry, and presented it at Oldkirk, cocking it at the same time with
a loud click.

"I came prepared for all that," he said, with a bitter smile. "They
told me you were a desperate fellow, and that they were all afraid to
come near you. Take another step and you are a dead man."

Martin Oldkirk paused and gazed at him with a look in which a certain
portion of admiration was joined with surprise. "Upon my life," he
said, at length, "you're a brave little devil! but this is hardly
fair, sir. Now, let us sit down and talk over the matter. I see what
stuff you're made of, and I don't think you'd do what's wrong, or wish
me to do so either."

"Well, keep your distance, then," said Edgar Adelon. "You are a
stronger man than I am, and the pistol only puts us on a level. As to
wishing you to do what's wrong, I have no such desires nor intention.
I wish you to do what is right, and that I will show you in a minute."

Oldkirk retreated to his former situation, and waited without reply
for Edgar Adelon to go on. "You have heard me request you," said the
young gentleman, seating himself opposite to him, "to tell, show, or
lead me to the place where Mr. Norries lies concealed. Now, I have not
the slightest intention whatsoever of injuring that gentleman in any
way. No consideration would induce me to betray him; and I give you my
word of honour that his secret shall be as safe with me as it is with
you."

"Why, upon second thoughts," replied the peasant, "I should guess it
would, seeing that that which hurts him might hurt your own father,
Mr. Adelon; and mayhap it's about your father's affairs that you are
going to speak with him."

Edgar shut his lips tight; and after a moment's pause replied, "I know
nothing of my father's affairs, Mr. Oldkirk, and I will not deceive
you about it. My business with Mr. Norries has no connexion with my
father whatsoever. I desire to speak with him in regard to matters
which I am sure he takes some interest in. A gentleman, a very dear
and intimate friend of my own, has been apprehended and committed for
trial, charged with an act which he did not commit, and in regard to
which, I think, Mr. Norries may furnish some information which may be
useful to my friend's defence."

"That he won't," replied Oldkirk, abruptly. "He'll inform against no
one, I'll answer for it."

"You mistake and interrupt me," said Edgar Adelon, with a slight
degree of haughtiness in his manner. "I neither expect nor desire that
he should turn informer; but I think he may be able to give me the
names of several persons who saw my friend on the night in question,
and who can bear testimony to where he was at certain times, so as to
prove that it was impossible he could commit the crime with which he
is charged."

"That's another affair," said Martin Oldkirk; "and if you assure me,
sir, upon your word of honour, that you have no other object than
this, I don't mind lending a hand; but at the same time you see, Mr.
Adelon, when a thing is trusted to me by any persons I mustn't tell
other people anything about it till I have asked leave."

"That is fair enough," answered Edgar Adelon; "I pledge you my word of
honour that I have no other object whatever in seeking Mr. Norries
than that which I have stated; and I have no objection to tell you the
circumstances of the case, in order that you may communicate them to
Mr. Norries himself before he sees me."

"Oh! that's not needful, sir," replied the man. "I guess well enough
what it is all about: this gentleman that is accused of killing the
young lord up at Brandon, who was buried t'other day. I don't think
you need trouble your head much about it, for every one knows well
enough he didn't do it, and they'll never get a jury to condemn him;
but for the matter of that, I don't blame a gentleman who wants to
help a friend, and an innocent man too, at a pinch like that. But
you'll have a long way to go, sir, though it's all in your way home
too."

"I do not mind how far it may be," answered Edgar, "nor whether it be
in my way or not. Mr. Norries I will see, and this very night, too, if
it be possible. I am quite ready to go, if you are willing."

"Well, that's right," replied Oldkirk. "I like a man that's ready to
do anything to serve a friend. So come along, we'll set to work at
once; but you'll have to stay behind, maybe for ten minutes or so,
while I ask leave. If I get it, well enough; if I don't get it, I
suppose you and I are to have a tussle."

"I'll think of that as we go along," answered Edgar Adelon; "but, at
all events, we'll have a truce till you come back again from your
mission, and fair play on both parts, my good friend."

"Agreed," said Oldkirk. And putting up his pistol in his breast again,
the young gentleman followed him quietly out of the house, and taking
his horse's bridle over his arm, walked on by the man's side in
perfect confidence.

This conduct seemed to please him not a little, for he was much more
conversible and open than he had been at first; but he still kept a
guard upon his communications, taking care not to say a word which
could lead his companion even to suspect where Norries lay concealed.

The way was long, and the drenching rain poured upon the two
wayfarers, as amongst the narrow lanes and between the high hedgerows
which distinguished the inland parts of that country, they wandered on
for more than an hour. They passed one village, a hamlet, and some
scattered houses; but Edgar, in his wanderings, had made himself
acquainted with every rood of the country round Brandon, and he
perceived that each step he took brought him nearer home. At length,
Martin Oldkirk stopped by the side of a little church at the distance
of about five miles from the park, and said, "Now you must wait here
for me, master, till I can get leave to bring you on. But you are very
wet, and that's a bad thing for a genteel lad like you. If you like
it, I can get you a glass of spirits from that farm-house there, where
you see the light glimmering."

"It would, perhaps, be better for me to go in there and wait for you,"
replied Edgar; "for although I care little about bad weather, having
been accustomed to brave it all my life, yet the rain dashing heavily
in one's face is not pleasant."

"That will not do, sir," replied the man; "they might track us, if
they saw you and me together."

"Well, then, I will put my horse under the yew tree and go into the
church porch," said the young gentleman; "spirits I do not drink, and
shall do well enough without them."

"There are worse things on a wet night," answered the other; and
turning away, he left Edgar to follow his own course.

The church porch alluded to was a deep, old Norman projection from the
face of a building, the greater part of which was of more modern date;
for successive church-wardens had each done his best to spoil, by
additions and improvements, what had once been a small but very
beautiful piece of architecture. There, however, under the round and
richly moulded arches, Edgar Adelon found a temporary shelter, while
an old yew tree, planted probably by Saxon hands, protected his horse
from the fury of the storm. Time seemed to pass very slowly to his
impatient spirit, and as the porch approached close to the road, he
listened, though for some time in vain, for a coming step. At length
one sounded at a distance, and in a minute or two more his guide was
at his side.

"Well," cried Edgar, eagerly, "what news?"

"It won't do, sir, tonight," replied the man. "I was directed to tell
you that you must not come on now, but that if you will be there
to-morrow evening at nine, you will not only see him you want, but get
all the information that he can give."

"It is very unfortunate," answered Edgar; "the assizes open the day
after to-morrow; this trial will be one of the first, in all
probability, and we shall have no time to prepare. But I will be
wherever you will name, of course; or will you come and guide me?"

"I will be there waiting for you," said the other; "but you must swear
not to say one word to any person which can lead people to find out
where the gentleman is, on any account whatever."

"Most willingly," replied Edgar Adelon; "under no circumstances
whatever, by word, or look, or sign, will I betray the place of his
concealment, upon my honour."

"That will do," rejoined Oldkirk. "And now, to tell you where to come.
I dare say you know the country pretty well?"

"Oh! yes," answered the young gentleman; "there are few parts within
twenty miles round where I could not find my way."

"Well, then, do you know the old workhouse at Langley?" asked the
countryman. "It stands just at the back of the village."

"Perfectly," replied Edgar. "Am I to be there?"

"You will find me near the door at nine to-morrow," said Oldkirk. "And
now, master, can you find your road home?"

"As easily as if it were broad day," answered his companion. "And now,
Oldkirk, let me say, I am sorry I used a threat towards you; but you
must forgive it; for when one is so deeply interested as I am in
proving the innocence of a friend, one often says things one would not
say at another time."

"There, don't say any more about it," replied the other. "May be some
day you may lend me a hand, and that will clear all scores; so good
night, sir!"

Edgar bade him farewell, mounted his horse, and spurred on towards
Brandon, seeing not a living creature till he came within a hundred
yards of the park gates. His heart was lightened, and his spirits,
which had been greatly depressed, rose high at the thoughts of
serving, nay, perhaps of saving, one for whom, from the first, he had
in his young enthusiasm conceived the warmest friendship. The wind had
somewhat abated, but the rain still continued when he approached the
park, and the night was so dark that his horse was nearly upon a
foot-passenger before he saw him. The person whom he overtook was
walking slowly on, with an umbrella covering his head and shoulders;
but the sound of the falling hoofs startled him, and made him jump
aside just as Edgar checked his horse.

"Is that you, Edgar?" said Mr. Filmer, turning round; and Edgar
immediately sprang to the ground, apologizing for having nearly ridden
over him. "The truth is, father," he said, "I was riding fast to catch
dear Eda before she goes to bed, and to tell her the tidings which
have made me very joyful."

"Let me share them," said Father Filmer; "for if I judge rightly they
will be joyful to me too."

"I am sure they will," cried Edgar, forgetting, in the
light-heartedness of the moment, the caution which Eda had given. "By
this time to-morrow, I trust to be able to prove Dudley's innocence
beyond a doubt."

"That is indeed most satisfactory," answered the priest. "But are you
quite sure, my young friend? Youth is apt to be sanguine; too
sanguine, alas! not to meet with disappointment."

"I trust such will not be the case now," answered Edgar Adelon; "for
at nine to-morrow I am to meet one who can give me information if he
will."

Mr. Filmer was well aware that his hold upon the mind of the young
gentleman who was now walking on beside him was much less strong than
that which he possessed over Daniel Connor, Sir Arthur Adelon, or even
Mr. Clive. He knew that to attempt to force his secrets from him, by
representing a full communication thereof to the priest in the light
of a religious duty, would be at once treated by Edgar as a ridiculous
assumption, and that he must therefore take a very different course
with him from that which he had pursued with others; as, indeed, he
had done in addressing every one of the persons I have named above. To
no two of them had he put forth exactly the same motives in exercising
the influence which he possessed over them. The general line he took
was still the same, indeed, though he modified his arguments to each
individual; but now he was obliged, in a degree, to choose a new
direction.

"I seek no confidence, my son," he said, "but that which is voluntary.
You have been a little reserved lately, but that matters not; though,
perhaps, I might have aided you more than you know. When I ask you,
therefore, who is the person you have to meet, and where you are to
meet him, I do not want you to tell me anything you may be disposed to
conceal, and have only in view your own safety; for you must remember,
Edgar, that these are somewhat dangerous times; and if I am not much
mistaken, the people you have to deal with are rash and violent men,
who will not scruple at anything which may serve their purpose."

"There is not the slightest danger," answered Edgar Adelon. "I know
who and what they are quite well; and they know that I would not
betray them for any consideration whatever. That which prevents me
from telling you whom I am going to meet and where, is that which has
hitherto prevented me from speaking with you as openly as I could
wish: namely, that the affairs with which I have to do are not my own,
and that other persons are compromised throughout the whole matter. I
could not, therefore, in honour reveal to you any of the particulars;
and in this case especially, I am bound, by a most solemn promise, to
discover nothing to any one."

"It is very well," replied the priest. "I have no curiosity; and I
shall be perfectly satisfied if you can prove that our young friend is
totally innocent. At nine tomorrow, did you say? Well, may you be
successful; for I myself am quite sure of Mr. Dudley's innocence, and
therefore trust it may be clearly established. You had better,
therefore, mount again, and get home to your fair cousin as soon as
possible, for I know she is very anxious, unnecessarily so, I believe;
but we must always make allowances."

Thus saying, he seemed to drop the subject; and after walking a few
steps farther with him, Edgar Adelon sprang into the saddle, and rode
on towards Brandon Park.



CHAPTER XXIV.


By half-past eight o'clock Edgar Adelon was at the door of the old
workhouse at Langley. The building had long been disused, but though
not in the best order in the world, it could not be said to have
fallen into decay. When a harsh and parsimonious law was substituted
for one which was excellent in itself, but had been long and sadly
misused; when poverty was first virtually pronounced criminal, and
punished by statute; when the vices of the past, and the follies of
rich magistrates, were visited upon the present generation, and upon
the heads of the poor; when those whom God had joined together were
put asunder by legislation, and when a deputy parliament,
irresponsible directly to the people, was created to make laws and
regulations for those who are denied a voice in the senate, or a vote
at an election; when the medical attendance of the sick and the needy
was first contracted for by scores, as bullocks and sheep are paid for
at a toll-gate; when charity put on a pedant's gown, and national
benevolence was circumscribed by iron theories, the poor of Langley
had been transferred to the union house, and the old workhouse had
been put up to auction.

It was bought by a person who wished to establish a school: a wild,
eccentric, clever philanthropist, who fancied that he could bend man's
stubborn nature to his own Utopian schemes of excellence. The school,
however, as might have been expected, proved a complete failure; and
after keeping it up for two years, he abandoned it in despair. No
purchaser could be found to take the building off his hands; and
leaving the charge of it to an old man and his wife, he spent a few
pounds annually in checking the course of decay, but seemed to forget
it altogether, except when he paid the bills. There was a little space
of ground round it, and a low wall; and within that wall Edgar Adelon
now stood, waiting for the coming of his guide. He doubted not that
the person he sought was to be discovered within the large, rambling
old building: and finding that his impatient spirit had carried him
thither a good deal before the time, he walked round it more than
once, looking up to the windows, to see if he could discover the room
which Norries inhabited. All was dark, however, except where, from a
room on the ground floor, close to the door, streamed forth a solitary
light; and mounting the steps, the young gentleman looked in, and
perceived the old man in charge and his wife seated at their little
fire. He now began to doubt that Norries was there. It might merely be
a place of rendezvous, he thought; and as time wore on, he fancied
that his guide was long in coming, and then that he would not come.

The night formed a strong contrast with the last: it was fine, and
calm, and clear, and at length a step was heard at a good distance,
approaching rapidly. Edgar would not wait for the new-comer's
approach, but went to meet him, and in a few minutes he could perceive
the figure of Martin Oldkirk.

"Ay, sir, you are too soon," said the man. "I am before my time; but
come on, and we shall soon find him we want. Now, wait here for me a
minute," he continued, when they reached the door of the workhouse;
and walking round towards the back, he disappeared. After remaining
impatiently for about five minutes, Edgar thought he heard a bolt
withdrawn, and expected to gain admission; but the sound ceased again,
and in an instant or two afterwards, he heard a step once more. The
next moment the voice of Oldkirk called him; and he found the
countryman standing at the western angle of the building.

"Stop a minute, Mr. Adelon," said the man; "are you very sure that you
have not let out the secret to any one?"

"To no one upon earth," answered Edgar. "You surely do not suspect me
of such baseness?"

"No, sir, I don't suspect you of baseness, at all," replied Oldkirk;
"but young gentlemen will be imprudent sometimes."

"I have not in this instance, at all events," answered Edgar. "I have
not said a word to anybody which could give the slightest idea of
whither I was going when I came out."

"It is strange enough," answered the other, in a thoughtful tone.
"There are two men and a little boy standing talking together at this
hour of night, at the corner of the lane. They seem to be doing
nothing. I wonder what they can want?"

"Nothing connected with me, depend upon it," answered Edgar, becoming
somewhat impatient. "It seems to me nothing unusual that two men
should be standing there talking."

"But the boy comes from a place close by Brandon," replied Oldkirk. "I
dare say it is all right, however, so we had better go in;" and
proceeding to the door, near which Edgar had been waiting, he opened
it, first lifting the latch. The first room they came to was a little
stone hall, where paupers had often waited for their daily allowance
of bread, or meat, or soup, or for medical aid; and there Edgar Adelon
paused, while Oldkirk shut and bolted the door.

"Now we must find our way in the dark," said the latter, as soon as he
had completed his task. "It won't do to carry a light about here. Keep
close behind me, sir."

Following his footsteps, Edgar went forward through a door, which
closed behind them with a weight and pulley, and then along a stone
passage, at the end of which the man said, "Here are the stairs;" and
mounting about twenty steps, they came to the upper story of the
building. It seemed, as far as the young gentleman could judge, a
strange, rambling sort of place, with rooms on the right hand and on
the left, and paved passages between them, through several of which he
was led, till at length, stopping suddenly, Oldkirk said, "I will wait
for you here. Go straight on, sir, till you see a light shining
through the keyhole of a door; just push that open and go in, but
don't be longer than you can help."

Edgar followed his directions without reply; and a moment after, in a
turn of the passage to the left, saw the light the man had spoken of,
not only shining through the keyhole, but through a chink of the door,
which was ajar. Pushing it open, as he had been told to do, he took a
step forward, and a scene unpleasant and even painful was before him.

The room was a small square chamber, lined with squalid panelling, and
floored, like the rest of the building, with stone. The rain of the
preceding night had come through the roof at one corner, staining the
ceiling and the walls. There was but one window, covered not only with
a large moveable shutter, formed of planks of wood, but with a
blanket, pinned up with two forks, so as to prevent the slightest ray
of light from finding its way out through the crevices. The air felt
hot and close, although there was neither fire nor fire-place, and the
night was cold. In one corner was a bed, of the most humble
description, without curtains, and by its side stood a chair and a
table, the latter supporting several phials partly filled with
medicine, and a tea-cup, as well as a solitary tallow candle, with a
long, unsnuffed wick, set in a large, dirty, tin candlestick. The
bedding seemed to consist of a mattress or palliass, part of which was
apparent, two or three coarse rugs and a sheet, with an ill-filled
bolster, doubled up to support the head.

As soon as Edgar entered the room, the form of a man raised itself
slowly and painfully up in the bed, supporting itself on the right
arm, and a pair of hollow eyes gazed at him earnestly. The head was
surrounded with a bandage, and the wild gray hair floated loose about
it; while beneath appeared a countenance full of intelligence, but
worn and haggard, apparently with sickness and suffering. The hue of
robust health was totally gone; and the pale, yellow, waxy tint of the
skin seemed more sallow from a black plaster down one check, and a
gray and reddish beard of eight or nine days' growth. No one,
probably, who had known Norries in health, would have recognised him
at that moment; and Edgar Adelon who had never seen him, except once
as a boy, imagined at first that there must be some mistake.
Association, as it is called, is perhaps one of the most extraordinary
phenomena of the human mind: not alone in the rapid power which it has
of awakening recollection from the slumber of long years to the things
of the past, but in the strange difference of the means by which it is
itself excited. With one man it is a sight; with another, a sound;
with another, an odour; with another, a taste, which calls up suddenly
scenes and circumstances and persons, which have been long buried
beneath the sand and rubbish of passing things in the course of years.
With Edgar Adelon the exciting cause, in almost all instances, was
sound; and the moment Mr. Norries spoke, he recollected his voice, and
the place where he had last beheld him; and all that then took place
flashed back upon his memory like a scene in a dream.

"Are you Mr. Adelon?" demanded the wounded man.

"The same," answered Edgar.

"What! not the boy who came to call upon Mr. Sherborne, with Sir
Arthur Adelon, some six or seven years ago?" rejoined Norries. "How
you are changed!"

"Greatly, I believe," replied Edgar; "but you are very much changed
too, Mr. Norries, and I regret to see that the alteration has been
effected by illness."

"Ay!" answered the other, gloomily, "they have brought the strong man
to infant weakness, and the daring man to skulk in a hole like this.
If others had been as resolute and as vigorous, the case would have
been different. But I have not regrets for myself, Mr. Adelon. I
regret that another opportunity has been lost for my country: an
opportunity which may never return. I regret that my countrymen, in
their feebleness and their timidity, have suffered the golden moment
to slip from them, after boasting that they were ready to seize it,
and to dare all odds to render it available to the common good. They
fled, sir, like a flock of sheep, from a handful of men in red coats,
and I am almost hopeless of them. I went down, it is true, almost at
the first, with a bitter wound in my side, and my horse shot under me;
but if they had then rushed on--ay, though they had trampled the soul
out of my body--they would have gained the day, and I would have
blessed them. Nevertheless, the time may yet come, and I will live for
it. Only one success, to give them confidence in themselves, to knit
them together, to prove to them that they can fight and conquer if
they will, and all is secure. It is the novelty of the thing that
scares them: and those Frenchmen, too, who ran at the very first shot,
what do they deserve? But I forget; we are rambling from the point."

"You seem to have been badly wounded, indeed," replied Edgar, as the
sick man sunk back upon his pillow, exhausted with the stern vehemence
of his own thoughts; "but tell me, Mr. Norries, have you proper
attendance here? Such wounds as yours would need a skilful surgeon."

"They were sharp ones," answered Norries, "and not few; for I had just
staggered up, and was calling some few stout hearts around me, when
the cavalry dashed in amongst us. One cut at me, and gashed my cheek,
and another brought me down with a blow over the head. They passed on,
thinking me dead; and so I should have been very soon if that brave
fellow, Oldkirk, had not dragged me away, and hiding me and himself in
a dry ditch, bound up my wounds and stanched the blood. There has been
many a man ennobled for a worse deed; but he will have his reward here
or hereafter. The people here are very kind to me, too. I saved their
little property for them one time, by the few scraps of law I ever
learned, and they are grateful: it is a marvel, as this world goes. I
have a surgeon from a distant town, and I drink his drugs, and let him
probe my wounds, and let him torture me as much as he will; not that I
have any faith in him, but because it pleases the good people, who
think that something is being done to serve me. I need no surgeon, Mr.
Adelon, but nature and a strong constitution. Surgeons and lawyers,
the craft is much the same; the one tortures and destroys the body,
the other the mind--both rascally trades enough! But let us think of
other things. You have been seeking me--why?"

"I thought Oldkirk had told you," replied Edgar. "I gave him all the
needful particulars last night."

"He told me something of it," answered Norries, "but not the whole.
Besides, I forget. Lying here in this gloomy sickness, my thoughts
wander over many things, like the dove of the deluge, finding no place
to rest upon. Let me hear the business from your own lips."

"It is very simple," replied Edgar Adelon. "A friend, for whom I have
more deep regard than I feel for any man living, is accused of having
killed the young Lord Hadley on the very night of the attack upon
Barhampton. He went out from Brandon at about eight o'clock, and was
followed by that lord: they were seen passing the lodge, and walking
on together in high dispute. Lord Hadley was brought home dead, having
been struck over the cliff by some one, whom the coroner's jury choose
to believe was my friend: not without some grounds, it is true." And
Edgar proceeded to detail the evidence given, dwelling minutely upon
the circumstances, in order to show Norries the danger of the position
in which Dudley was placed. "My friend," he continued, "declares that
he went on to the very gates of Barhampton that night; that Lord
Hadley parted from him at the spot where the path from the Grange
crosses the high road, and that he never saw him after. He met several
men near Mead's farm, it would seem; but we have reason to believe
that there were others scattered along the whole line of road he took,
and that some of them must have seen his parting from Lord Hadley, and
be able to bear testimony to the fact. If you know, as we imagine, who
these men were, and can give me information, so that their evidence
may be obtained, I beseech you, Mr. Norries, to do so; for the lawyers
who have been brought from London assure us that is the only hope of
obtaining a favourable verdict for my friend Mr. Dudley."

"Mr. Dudley, the friend of one of the name of Adelon!" replied
Norries, in a low, marvelling tone; "that is a strange phenomenon! An
Adelon strive to save a Dudley! That is stranger still. But true, your
mother's was kindlier blood. Is your father aware of what you are
doing?"

"My father is in London, detained by business of importance," answered
Edgar; "but I know to what you allude, Mr. Norries. Some quarrel
existed in former years between my father and Dudley's, but that is no
reason for enmity between their children."

"A quarrel!" exclaimed Norries, raising himself again upon his arm.
"Do you know, Mr. Adelon, that your father ruined his? Do you
know--but no, you do not; I will tell you. Dudley's mother was your
father's first love. They had been rivals for honours at school, at
the university, and they then became rivals for her hand. Sir Arthur
was encouraged by the mother, but Charles Dudley was accepted by the
daughter. He was successful here, as he had always been before, and
your father is not a man to forget such things, sir. He ruined him, I
say."

"It is false!" exclaimed Edgar. "It cannot be true."

"Not true!" cried Norries; "do you dare tell me it is not true? But
this is all vain--lying here, the veriest child might insult me at
will. But I tell you it is true, and I have the papers which prove it.
He waited long for his revenge, but it came at last. He took advantage
of a temporary pressure on his enemy--a pressure caused by his own
acts, and offered in kindly words to lend money on a mortgage, merely
and solely for the purpose of getting Dudley's title-deeds into his
lawyer's possession; for that cunning lawyer had taught him that there
never was a title in which a flaw could not be found. It was all done
by his directions--all done for one object. The flaw was soon
discovered, the title disallowed, the secret told to the next heir,
and Mr. Dudley ruined. I can prove it step by step, the whole
machinations from the beginning to the end, for that lawyer was my
partner, and the papers are now in my possession."

"And you used them, Mr. Norries," replied Edgar, with a mixture of
anger and sorrow in his tone, "to force my father on in a course which
might be his ruin. Do not talk of ungenerous conduct, for surely this
was not generous."

"I used them, sir," replied Norries, sternly, "to keep him to
principles which he had long before asserted, to promote the
deliverance of my country, to favour the people's right. I have since
regretted, perhaps, that I did so; for I am weak, like other men, and
the result having been unfortunate, may wish I had not employed the
means which the object justified. I ought to have given those letters
to Mr. Dudley, and will do so now, if he and I both live. And now,
sir, with that knowledge before you, I will help you to save the young
man, if you please."

Edgar sat silent for a moment or two, with his eyes bent fixedly upon
the wall, and Norries at last asked, "What say you? would you save
him?"

"Assuredly!" replied Edgar Adelon, with a start; "can you doubt it?
Whatever be the consequences, can you suppose that I would hesitate to
deliver my friend, or that I would see an innocent man suffer for a
crime in which he had no share?"

"Then you are one of the noble and the true," replied Norries, warmly;
"one of the few, the very, very few. Give me your hand, Mr. Adelon;
and forgive me that I have pained you by such sorrowful truths."

Edgar gave him his hand, but turned away his head with a sigh, and
Norries continued. "That every word I have uttered is true, you shall
have proof," he said. "If I live, I will show you those letters."

"No!" answered Edgar, sharply; "I will not look into one page of them.
He is my father, sir, whatever he may have done. To me he has no
faults, nor would I willingly see any in his conduct to other men. If
you will aid me to prove Dudley's innocence, Mr. Norries, I will thank
you most deeply; but say no more to me of my father or my father's
acts."

"So be it," answered Norries; "to Mr. Dudley's business, then. First,
be sure he did not kill Lord Hadley. I may know, or at least guess,
who did. But of that I can prove nothing. Secondly, there was but one
man, as far as I recollect, near the spot where the two roads cross.
My memory of that night is somewhat indistinct, indeed, and there may
have been two. One certainly was Edward Lane, the blacksmith; the
other, a man named Herries, living near Barhampton, but I am not sure
of his station. Seek out Lane first, and tell him I sent you to him
with my request that he will voluntarily tender his evidence. He must
make some excuse for being there at that hour of the night. He is
resolute and bold, but somewhat wrong-headed, and you may have trouble
with him, though I think my name will satisfy him. The other man will
tell you at once if he was there or not, if you but say that I desire
it. Tell Mr. Dudley, for me, too, that I regret much what has
happened, and that I cannot serve him farther. You say that he went as
far as the gates of Barhampton--I know not what could bring him
thither, and assuredly I did not see him there; but that is no marvel,
for I had much to do."

"He went upon a kindly errand, Mr. Norries," replied Edgar, "and
certainly was there, for he said it, and Dudley's word is not to be
doubted. But I will detain you no longer to-night, as you seem
exhausted, and perhaps our conversation has been too long already. I
thank you much for the information you have given me, and I am sure
Dudley will be grateful also." Thus saying, the young gentleman shook
hands with the sick man, and left him.



CHAPTER XXV.


At the end of the stone passage, Edgar found Martin Oldkirk waiting
for him; and proceeding in silence, they issued forth from the old
workhouse, but not by the front entrance, passing through a small door
at the back, the key of which the countryman seemed to possess for his
own private use, as he put it in his pocket after having turned it in
the lock. As soon as they were a few steps from the building, Edgar
turned towards his companion, saying, "I must find Lane, the
blacksmith, to-night. I suppose, my shortest way is through Langley?"

"No, sir," answered Oldkirk, "I will show you a shorter way than that;
and I had better go with you too, for if I don't, you'll not make much
of Edward Lane. We must take the first turning through the fields:
there's a stile a couple of hundred yards up."

Without reply Edgar proceeded along the road; and they had nearly
reached the stile of which Oldkirk spoke, when four or five men and a
little boy sprang out from the hedge upon them. Two of them seized
Edgar by the collar; and though he made an effort to shake himself
free, it is probable he would have offered no violent resistance if
Oldkirk had not struck violently right and left, knocking down one of
the assailants, and severely hurting another. The men struck again in
their own defence, and a general scuffle took place, in the midst of
which, without knowing from what hand it came, Edgar received a severe
blow on the head from a stick. The fire flashed from his eyes, his
brain seemed to reel, and everything passing from his sight, he fell
senseless to the ground.

When Mr. Adelon recovered his recollection, he could not for some
minutes conceive where he was, for all the objects around were new and
strange to him. He was stretched upon a bed in a large but low-roofed
room, with a woman and two men standing by him, and applying some cold
lotions to his head. His brain seemed confused and dizzy, and a
violent aching pain over his brows showed him that he had been very
severely handled. The remembrance of all that had occurred came back
to him almost immediately; and turning to one of the men, he demanded
where he was, and why he had been so assaulted.

"You are at Farmer Grange's for the present, master," replied the man;
"and no one would have hurt you, if you had not resisted. We came out
to get hold of a party of those Chartists who are charged with being
concerned in that business at Barhampton, and if you choose to go
consorting with them, you must take the consequences."

"Have you a warrant?" demanded Edgar, raising himself on the bed.

"We've got warrants against five or six on 'em," answered the man;
"Martin Oldkirk, Neddy Lane, Eaton, and others."

"Have you a warrant against me?" demanded Edgar; "though I need not
ask the question, for I know very well you have not."

"As to that, I can't say," was the man's answer, "for I don't know who
you are yet; but you were consorting with one of 'em, at all events."

"You know very well that I am Sir Arthur Adelon's son," replied the
young gentleman; "and I demand that you show me your warrant against
me. If you have one, I shall submit to the law, of course; but if you
have not, I insist upon your suffering me to go home directly."

"That I shan't do, you may be sure," said the man. "I don't know who
you are, or anything about you; and I shall wait till the constable of
the hundred comes back, at all events. He's gone to Barhampton to find
a surgeon for your head, that you would have broke, whether we liked
it or no. He won't be long, I dare say, and you must stay quiet till
he returns."

Resistance would be in vain Edgar well knew, and he was forced to
submit, though most unwillingly; but gradually a stronger power
mastered him. Violent and general headache came on, a sensation of
feverish langour spread over his limbs, and by the time that the
little clock which was ticking against the wall struck two, he felt
that he was almost incapable of moving.

In about half an hour afterwards the head constable of the hundred
came back from Barhampton, with the surgeon who was accustomed to
attend Sir Arthur Adelon's family; and after examining his patient's
head, and having felt his pulse, asking two or three questions at the
same time as to what sensations he experienced, he drew forth his
lancet, and proceeded, according to the old practice, to bleed his
patient largely. Whether the custom of so doing be good or not, Edgar
Adelon certainly felt great relief, though a degree of faint
drowsiness spread over him at the same time. To his inquiry as to
whether he could not be moved to Brandon, the surgeon shook his head,
saying, "Impossible;" and Edgar then proceeded to complain of the
manner in which he had been treated by the constable and those who
accompanied him. In the midst of his statement, however, the
overpowering sensation of weariness which he felt prevailed over even
anger on his own account and anxiety for his friend, his eyelids
dropped heavily once or twice, and he fell into a profound sleep.

When he woke on the following morning it was broad daylight, and he
found Mr. Filmer sitting by his bedside. His head still ached, but he
felt better than on the preceding night, and a long explanation ensued
as to the occurrences which had brought him into the state in which
Mr. Filmer found him. As it was clear no warrant was out against him,
and the men who had apprehended him had retired from the farm-house,
somewhat apprehensive of the consequences of what they had done, Edgar
expressed his determination to rise immediately and pursue the object
which he had in view when he was seized. He explained in general terms
to his companion the nature of the business he was upon; and no
arguments of the priest, bearing upon the state of his own health, and
the danger of the step he proposed, would have had any effect, had not
Mr. Filmer added the assurance that Mr. Dudley's trial would not come
on for several days, as he had received intimation that very morning
that it was far down on the list, and that all the Chartists who had
been taken at Barhampton were to be proceeded against in the first
instance.

"Besides, Edgar," he said, "the object you have in view can perhaps be
more easily attained. If you will tell me the name of the man you are
seeking I will go to him myself, and find means, one way or another,
to bring him hither to speak with you."

The idea seemed to Edgar a good one, for in truth he felt little equal
to the task, and after a few words more of explanation, Mr. Filmer set
out upon his errand. As he went, Edgar turned his eyes towards the
clock, and perceived to his surprise that it was nearly noon; but the
priest did not return till the sky was beginning to grow gray, and
then brought the unpleasant intelligence that Edward Lane was nowhere
to be found.

"He has probably heard of there being a warrant out against him," Mr.
Filmer said, "and has concealed himself till these assizes are over;
knowing well, as we all know, that it is one of the bad customs of
this country, whatever be the government, to let political offenders
off easily if they avoid the first pursuit of justice, while those who
are early apprehended have the law administered not only with
strictness but with passion."

"I must find him, at all events," said Edgar, "and that speedily."

"I shall know where he is by to-morrow morning," replied Mr. Filmer,
with a meaning smile. "I have directed several shrewd and trustworthy
members of my own flock, who know him well, to obtain information, and
communicate it to me at once. I will then let you know, my dear son.
So make your mind easy, for not an hour shall elapse after I have
received the intelligence before it is in your possession."

Again Edgar Adelon suffered himself to be tranquillized by assurances
which would have had no effect, had he not been enfeebled by illness.
The next morning when he woke his headache was gone, and his mind was
fresh and clear, but he still felt very feeble, and willingly lay in
bed till the good farmer's wife brought his breakfast, and the hour
appointed for the surgeon's visit had nearly come. He wondered,
indeed, that Mr. Filmer had not been with him, that Eda had neither
come nor sent; and the doubts which she had raised regarding the
sincerity of the priest began to recur unpleasantly to his mind. He
became uneasy, restless; and when the medical man at length arrived,
three quarters of an hour after his time, he shook his head, saying,
"You are not quite so well today, Mr. Adelon, and must remain
perfectly quiet."

"It is lying here idle," answered Edgar Adelon, "when I have many
important things to do. I should be quite well were I up."

"You must rise on no account to-day," replied the surgeon; "and,
indeed, I am very glad to find that you did not get up, which I almost
anticipated you might do, as I am a little later than the hour I
appointed. I know your impatient spirit of old, my young friend." And
he smiled facetiously.

"I certainly thought you never would come," replied Edgar; and the
surgeon, fearful that he might have given some offence to the son of a
wealthy patient, hastened to explain. "The fact is," he said, "that I
was anxious to hear the trial of some of these Chartists, and rode
over to ---- early this morning. I was detained, however, longer than
I expected by a poor woman who is suffering under ----"

"But what came of them?" exclaimed Edgar Adelon, eagerly, well knowing
that when the worthy gentleman got upon an interesting case there was
no end of it. "The Chartists, I mean. Were any of the trials over?"

"Oh, no!" answered the surgeon. "Their trials are put off till the
next assizes. The case of your acquaintance, Mr. Dudley, was just
coming on. I should have stayed to hear it if I had had time; but as I
promised to be over here by eleven I hurried away, otherwise I would
have brought you all the news."

He spoke in the most commonplace tone in the world; and Edgar at that
moment hated him mortally; but he said not another word, and kept his
eyes shut almost all the time that his surgeon remained, as if he were
inclined to go to sleep again. As soon as the man of healing was gone,
however, he sprang up in his bed, hurried on his clothes, and without
even waiting to wash himself or brush his hair, surprised the good
woman of the house by appearing in the kitchen of the farm.

"La, sir!" she exclaimed, "I am glad to see you up again. I hope
you're better."

"Oh! yes, quite well now, thank you, Mrs. Grange," replied the young
gentleman, with a swimming head and a feeling of faint weakness in all
his limbs. "I am going out to take a ride, if your husband will lend
me a horse."

"That he will, I am sure, sir," answered the farmer's wife; and
running to the window of the kitchen, she screamed out into the yard,
"Grange! Grange! here is Mr. Adelon quite well again, and wants you to
lend him your nag to take a ride."

"Certainly, wife," answered the farmer, coming out of a barn on the
opposite side of the court. "When will he like him?"

"Directly," answered Edgar Adelon, eagerly, and speaking over the good
woman's shoulder; "it will refresh me and do me good."

"He shall be up in a minute, then, sir," answered the farmer. "I am
glad to see you well again. I'll just take some of the hair off his
heels, and comb out his mane a bit----"

But Edgar did not stay to hear more, and hurrying back into the room
to which he had been first taken, sought for his hat, which he found
sadly battered and soiled. Without waiting even to brush off the dirt,
he proceeded at once to cut short the farmer's unnecessary
preparations, and mounting the horse, as soon as he could obtain it,
rode away at a quick trot towards the county town. He knew not what he
sought; he had no definite object in going; but he felt that he had
been deceived, that he had been kept in idleness, while the fate of
his friend was in jeopardy, and his impatience increased every moment
till the farmer's nag was pushed into an unwonted gallop. He slackened
his pace a little, it is true, as he entered the town, but still rode
very fast to an inn close by the courts, and ringing the bell
furiously, gave his horse to the hostler.

In a few moments he was pushing his way through the crowd in the
entrance, and the next instant he caught sight of Dudley, standing
with his arms crossed upon his chest, and his eyes fixed upon the
jury-box. His brow was calm, but very stern; there was no fear in his
fine eyes, but they were grave, even to sadness. On the opposite side
were the jury, with their foreman leaning a little forward; and at the
same instant a voice, coming from just below the bench, demanded, in a
loud tone, "How say you, gentlemen of the jury; Guilty, or not
guilty?"

"Guilty of manslaughter, my lord," replied the foreman.

The eyes of Edgar Adelon turned dim, his brain reeled, and he fell
back amongst the crowd without uttering a word.



CHAPTER XXVI.


Two years had passed.

Two years! What is it? who can say? Different to every being in the
whole wide range of universal existence, Time is the true chameleon,
and takes its colour entirely from the things through which it glides.
Now gray and dull, now bright and shining, now purple with the mingled
hues of exertion and success, rosy with love and hope, or azure with
faith and confidence! Years, what are they? Nothing: for to many they
have no existence; mere spots in the wide ocean of eternity, which
realize the mathematician's utmost abstraction when he defines a point
as that which hath no parts, or which hath no magnitude--neither
length, breadth, nor thickness. Yet to others how important are years,
how full of events, and feelings, and actions! How often is it that,
in that short space of two years a life is crowded; so that when we
look back at the end of mortal existence, there, gathered into those
four and twenty months, stands out the whole of active being, and all
the rest is idleness and emptiness, the broad selvages of the narrow
strip of cloth.

Two years, too, viewed from different positions in the wide plain of
life, how different do they appear! The prospective and the
retrospective changes them entirely. It is the looking up and looking
down a hill, for the perspective of time is very different from that
of substantial objects. The vanishing point comes close to the eye
when we gaze back; is far, far removed when we gaze forward. At every
period of life, too, it changes, and with every feeling of the heart,
with every passion of our nature. To the young man the two years just
passed stretch far away, filled with incidents and sensations all
bright in their novelty, and vivid to the eye of memory. To the old
man they are but a space, and that space empty. He hardly believes
that the time has flown which has brought him two strides nearer to
the grave. Say to the eager and impetuous youth, two years must pass
before you can possess her whom you love, and you spread out an
eternity before him, full of dangers and disappointments. Tell the
timid clinger to life's frail thread, you can but live two years
longer, and the termination seems at the very door. Pain, pleasure,
hope, fear, thought, study, care, anxiety, our moral habits, our
corporeal sensations, our thirsty wishes, our replete indifference;
all contract or expand the elastic sphere of time, and we find at last
that it is but a phantasm, the sole existence of which is in change.

The sun, and the moon, and the stars, were given, we are told, to be
for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years; and
regularity was given to their motions, that order might be in variety;
but variety is not less infinite because all is rendered harmonious,
and regular recurrence only serves to work out spaces in the ever
teeming progress of change. It is not alone that the vast whole does
not present at any time two things exactly alike; but it is that all
things in that whole, and the whole itself, are altering every
instant, and every fraction of an instant, which gives us the infinity
of variety. All is in movement, upon, throughout, and round the earth.
All is undergoing change, but it is the vastness, the violence, the
rapidity of that change, which marks time, or, in other words, marks
the march of the shadow.

Two years had passed with their changes, and of those I shall speak
hereafter. Suns had set and risen, day and night had been, months had
succeeded weeks, hearts were cold that were then warm, eyes were dim
that were then bright, the shade of gray had come upon the glossy
hair, sickness and health had changed places in many a frame, states
had seen revolutions, men had perished and been born, vice and virtue
had triumphed or had failed, monarchs had died, and good and wise men
passed away; shipwreck and flame, and war and pestilence, and accident
and sorrow, had done their part; and bursting forth again from a
thousand different sources, the teeming life of earth had sprung up
and glittered in the sun, as if but the more abundant for that which
had been abstracted from it. The world had grown older, but not less
full; and those who had aided the work, and had undergone the change,
were hardly conscious that it had taken place.

Two years had passed.



CHAPTER XXVII.


It was evening. The sky was of a deep purple, seldom seen in any part
of the northern hemisphere. There was a line of light upon the western
sky, not yellow, not red: I know not the name of the colour; it was
dying-day colour; the last gleam of the eyes of expiring light.
Everything was solemn and grand. There was a deep stillness in the
air, a vastness in the wide expanse, a profundity in the hues of every
object, a silence and a grandeur in the whole, that sank into the
soul, and filled the mind with imaginings melancholy though grand. One
might stand there, and fancy one-self the first or the last of created
beings upon earth, with the first or the last sunset before him.

It was a mountain-top, high over the flat lands around, starting up
from the scrub abrupt and precipitous, and wherever the eye turned
there was neither road, nor living thing, nor human habitation. Not an
insect was heard, there was no wind in the heavens, the trees rested
motionless, not a lizard was seen upon the rocks. Dark waves of
magnificent vegetation flowed away like a sea from the feet, and a
distant glimpse of the Austral Ocean, with the light of the sinking
sun skipping along over its vast, solitary bosom, was the only thing
that relieved the magnificent monotony; and yet it was a sea without a
sail, without an oar.

Ten steps farther, and the summit will be gained!

The ten steps were taken, and then all was changed. Another scene
broke upon the view, infinite in its variety, magnificent in its
colouring, and varied by life. But what life? Not that of man; not
that of any creature which holds familiar intercourse with him. The
savage beast and the wild bird of the wilderness were there; but
neither flocks, nor herds, nor but, nor mansion, nor anything to show
that the human foot had ever pressed before that beautiful and awful
scene.

There, in centuries long passed, had flamed the wild volcano, lifting
up its beacon-tower of flame over the untravelled seas of the far
south. There had poured the torrent of the red lava; there had heaved
and panted the earthquake ere the fire burst forth; there, perhaps,
from the depth of the ocean, had been hurled up, in the last fierce
struggle which burst the gates of the prison-house, and set free the
raging spirit of the flame, the mighty masses of rock piled upon rock,
precipice above precipice, coral and lava, limestone and basalt, the
floorwork of the waters mingling in rifted masses with the barriers
that hemmed it in, and all cemented together by a stream of manifold
materials fused in the internal fire.

Towering up in wild, irregular walls, assuming strange shapes, but
everywhere gigantic in size, the crags of lava surrounded a vast,
profound basin, the crater of the extinct volcano. Precipice upon
precipice, jagged rock rising beside jagged rock, formed the ramparts
and the embrasures of the desert fortress; and the eye of the
wanderer, as he looked down, caught suddenly a scene the most
opposite, in the hollow space below, where soft green turf, of the
richest verdure, carpeted the bosom of the cavity, till it reached the
brink of the deep dark lake that filled up half the expanse.

Opposite, and surrounding about three-quarters of the lake, rose
precipitous cliffs of pure white coral, some seventy or eighty feet in
height, looking down into, and reflected from the waters; and, as if
to make them harmonise with the solemn gloom of that still tarn, every
here and there a large white bird skimmed over the waves, and carried
a line of light along with it.

There was something which moved, too, under the nearest clump of tall
trees, which were scattered wide apart over the carpet of verdure; but
a mass of rock, which rolled down from the wanderer's foot, scared the
creature which had caught his eye, and its wild and enormous bounds
showed him in an instant that it was not, as he had fancied and
feared, a human being like himself.

He had but little cause to fear. Never had the spot been visited by
anything in the form of a man, unless it were the wildest and lowest
of the race--the Australian savage--and that but rarely, if at all.
Amidst the solitary peaks of Mount Gambier he stood alone; perhaps the
first since the creation who ever set a footstep there.

As he gazed towards the west, the sun sank, and a greenish shade
spread over the blue. He cast his eyes over the land through which he
had lately passed: it was all one gray, indistinct mass. He looked
down into the vast hollow of the hills; the colouring had suddenly
faded, and darkness filled the chasm. But then, as if in compensation,
the moment after came forth the stars, large and lustrous, bursting
forth all at once, and spangling both the bosom of the heaven and the
deep waters of the lake below.

"Here will I live or die," said the wanderer; "it matters not which."
And placing his bundle under his head, he laid himself down beneath
the edge of the rock, and gazed up towards the sky.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


A heavy dew fell during the night, and when the wanderer, whom we have
seen climb that steep hill on the preceding evening, woke on the
following day, his clothes were full of moisture, and his limbs felt
stiff and weary. If he had desponded on the night before, it was well
nigh despair that he now felt. He rose slowly, and gazed over the
scene around him--the vast, voiceless solitude--and there was no
comfort in it. He felt the spirit of desolation spreading its icy
influence more and more strongly every moment over his heart, and he
knew that if he gave way to it, even in the least, it would overwhelm
him entirely, would put out strength and effort, hope, action, life
itself. And yet he scarcely knew why he should struggle; the voice of
despair still asked him what he had to live for. Every earthly object
of existence seemed gone; why should he struggle to preserve that
which had become valueless? "Who would covet," he asked himself, "the
possession of a desert, and what is life to me but one tract of arid
barrenness!"

Strange, when the mood is nicely balanced, how small a grain of dust
will turn the scale! A memory came upon him as the words passed his
lips, a memory of early years, when, in the wanton spirit of youth,
almost of boyhood, he had pictured to himself the free life of the
children of Ishmael as an object of wild desire; and now he asked
himself, "Who would covet the possession of a desert?" He recollected
how he had dreamed of scouring the wide sands upon his fleet steed,
climbing the red rocks, resting in his light tent, and living a life
of free enjoyment and unrestrained exertion. The remembrance changed
the current of his feelings, and gazing forth over the scene around,
lit up and brightened with the rising sun, he asked himself another
question: "Why should I not, in the midst of this vast and beautiful
solitude, realise those visions of my early youth?"

Alas! long since then, experience and passion, and many a sweet and
many a bitter lesson, had placed in his hands the keys of other
enjoyments. He had tasted the food which makes early pleasures
insipid; and when he thought again of those very simple dreams, he
felt that there would be something wanting even in their fulfilment.
Where were the friendly and the kind? Where were the bright and
beloved? Where were the dear companionships? Where the elevating
society? Where the food for the thoughts? Where the employment for the
mind? Above all, where was the honoured name, the respect, the esteem
which had once been his? And he felt too bitterly that what has been
must still be had, even for peace: that it is deprivation, not denial
of joys, that is unhappiness. Could he consent to live on in such
circumstances? Was there anything within the scope of probability
which could make life endurable? Could he debase himself to the sordid
joys of those around him? Could he live a life of slavery and labour,
with that barrier placed at the end of the course of exertion and
obedience, which limited the utmost range of hope and expectation to
free association with the low, the vile, and the base; to the
accumulation, perhaps, of dross; to become a great man among the
meanest of his race? That was not to be thought of; and what was the
alternative? To live a roving life in the bush, companionless, if not
with savages the most debased and barbarous of the human race; to fly
the face of civilised man as a pestilence; to have neither
acquaintances, nor friends: no social life, no love. Solitude,
solitude! It is a lovely thing to abstract contemplation. The mind of
man, not called upon to try the vast experiment, looks upon it, as
upon every great endeavour, as bringing a reward with it equal to the
difficulties and the impediments; but brought nearer, placed within
the reach of effort, we cannot grapple with the mighty task. The
feeble heart shrinks from it; the firm mind doubts and hesitates. We
feel how sad and terrible it is to be alone; we learn that it is the
antithesis of our nature.

It were better to die, he thought. There were hopes beyond the grave,
which taught him that death was not solitude. That kindly voices would
hail his coming. That, purified from all earthly imperfections,
friendships high and holy--the friendships of the just made
perfect--would console him for the loss of earthly esteem. But in life
there was love, too--human, passionate love; and when he asked
himself, what was to make up for that, the mind paused and pondered.

Let us not blame him, that he was still a being of clay; that he could
not shake off the affections of this earth; that he could not
altogether wish to die, while affections, deep and strong, bound him
to the state of being in which God had placed him. That was the only
tie to life yet left unsevered; but as the last, it was the strongest.
He had often thought of these things before. He had often asked
himself, "Will she, too, believe me guilty? Will she cast me from her
heart, as society has cast me from its bosom? Will she forget me? Will
she wed another?" And the deep love within his breast, imaging that of
another, had ever answered, "No, no, no! It cannot be."

The same voice was still strong, but yet there was a langour, a
depression spreading over his whole frame, which dulled his ear even
to the voice of the syren, Hope. Though she might love him, said
Despair, what chance did there exist of his ever seeing her again?
Condemned for life, unable to return, marked out as a felon, sent as a
convict to a distant land, without means, without object in return,
what could he do? His heart sunk at the thought. He must wither out
there--there, in the midst of that wild solitude, falling back daily,
as the progress of man advanced, to avoid recognition and fresh
anguish.

He thought not, it is true, of raising his hand against his own life;
such a purpose never presented itself as a temptation. He had too much
faith; but he felt disposed to give up all exertion, to yield without
a struggle to his adverse fate, to lay himself down and die. Still,
however, one voice said, "Live!" and the last spark of human hope was
fanned into a flame, faint, but yet sufficient to light him to
exertion.

With feeble hands and weary limbs he opened the knapsack which he had
brought thither, took out the axe which was strapped upon the top, and
then from the inside drew slowly forth some lines and fish-hooks,
saying to himself, "The good old man thought he bestowed an invaluable
present on me when he gave the means of supporting life, but yet I
could hardly feel grateful for the gift. I will not hesitate, however,
between two courses, and as I have determined to live, will make an
effort to save life."

In truth, he knew not well how to set about his task. The first thing,
indeed, was to build himself a cabin; and choosing out an indentation
of the rock, through which no wet seemed to have percolated, he
resolved to fix his residence there, at least for the first; by doing
which he was likely to spare much labour, enclosing it only on one
side. He chose young and slight trees from amongst the infinity which
grew around, and sharpened some of them for palisades, after he had
hewn them down with the axe; but ere he had half completed even the
necessary preparations, he felt faint and weary; and though not
hungry, he resolved to see if he could procure some food to renew his
strength.

Choosing out a thin and pliant sapling, he descended towards the bank
of the lake slowly and with great difficulty, for the precipices were
tremendous, and the natural paths few. At length, however, he
accomplished it. And then came the question, when he reached the brink
of the clear and limpid waters, of what was to be his bait? The sorrow
which approaches despair is often bitterly imaginative; and as he sat
with his head resting on his hand, and pondered, he thought of all the
baits with which man is angled for and caught by his great enemy in
the world; and oftentimes a rueful smile came upon his fine but worn
countenance, in which he himself, and passages in his past existence,
shared the sarcasm with his fellow men.

The sun rose while he thus wasted time, and pouring into the crater,
filled it with ardent light. He felt very thirsty, and kneeling down
upon the brink, which was covered with soft turf, he drank of the
clear wave. As he did so, a large fly, of a peculiar golden colour,
skimming away, settled on the face of the windless waters at a short
distance, and instantly a fish, springing half out of the lake,
enclosed it within its voracious jaws. "We are all destroyers,"
thought the wanderer; and looking along the banks, he caught one of
the same insects, fastened it to the hook upon his line, the line to
the rod, and cast the baited snare upon the clear bosom of the water.
The living objects of man's chase have doubtless their traditions; but
the fish of that lake had never been taught human guile, and the
instant the hook touched the water a large animal was upon it. To draw
it to the shore cost the weak and weary man a considerable effort; but
another and another, both considerably smaller, were soon after taken;
and, satisfied with his spoil, he slowly ascended the steep paths
again towards the place where he had commenced building his hut.

He had observed at that spot a tree, some of the branches of which had
been shivered by the lightning, and with these he contrived to light a
fire, and prepare his meal. After partaking of it frugally, he once
more set to work again, to construct a dwelling which would give him a
shelter from the not unfrequent storms of that land, and afford a
defence against wild beasts, or wilder men, during the night.

It was, as may well be conceived, of the rudest and the simplest kind.
The stakes he planted side by side, at a short distance from the rock,
where a ledge of coral, projecting at the height of seven feet,
overhung the turf about two yards, and formed a sort of roof. The door
puzzled him greatly; for though he remembered well the expedients of
the solitary mariner in Juan Fernandez, and often in thought drew a
comparison between his own fate and that of Crusoe, yet he was
destitute of many of the implements which the other had possessed. His
axe and two gimlets had been given him in compassion by an old
inhabitant of a very distant part of the colony, and these, with a
large knife, formed all his store of tools. When the palisade was up,
however, and the space, left open at first between the edge of the
ledge and the top of the posts, had been covered over with twisted
branches, the little strength which had been left was exhausted, and
he lay down to rest beneath the shelter of a blackwood tree. Weariness
and heat soon produced their usual effect, and he slept.

It was about three o'clock. His rod and fishing-line lay beside him,
as well as the axe with which he had worked, and the chips and
fragments of the small trees he had cut down were scattered all
around. He had slept for a full hour; and during that time a change,
to him of considerable importance had taken place in the scene. No
human eye beheld it, but a large bird of prey, which was soaring aloft
over the heights of Mount Gambier, saw a party ride rapidly through
the plains below, and halt upon the first acclivity of the mountain.
It consisted of six persons, only one of whom seemed of superior rank.
There were, however, nine horses, three of which carried heavy
burdens, consisting of sacks, bags, and cases. Each of the horsemen
had a gun over his shoulder; and as soon as they had drawn the rein,
they sprang to the ground, and commenced unloading the baggage,
amongst which was found a small tent, requiring nothing for its
erection but one of those poles that were easily to be procured in the
neighbouring woods.

"We shall have plenty of time to go up and come down again before it
is dark," said the chief person of the party, speaking to one who
seemed to be a servant. "Give me the other gun, Maclean. We may get
some specimens. I must have some more caps, too, for these will not
fit it."

After a few more words and directions to the other men, the leader
and two more commenced the ascent of the hill, which, from the spot
they had already reached to the summit, did not occupy more than
three-quarters of an hour, and then the stranger turned round and
gazed, saying to himself, "How magnificent!"

"I think we had better get on, captain," said his servant, Maclean.
"The sun's getting down, and we shan't have much time."

"Pooh, nonsense!" answered the other, looking at his chronometer; "it
is only a few minutes past four. This is the twenty-first of December,
Midsummer-day, and we shall have light till half-past nine or longer."

"We are a good bit farther north than we were at Hobart Town, five
days ago, sir," replied the servant, seeing that his master still
paused to gaze; "and you will not have so much light as you think
for."

"Well, it does not much matter," answered the officer, a good-looking
young man, with a very intelligent and benevolent expression of
countenance. "We can find our way down, I dare say, even in the dusk,
especially if they light a fire to cook the kangaroo." He paused for a
moment, and then said, in a meditative tone, "I dare say we are the
first human beings, certainly the first Europeans, who ever set their
feet upon this hill."

"I don't think it, sir," replied Maclean, who had taken a step or two
nearer to the high precipitous rocks which surrounded the vast crater.

"Indeed!" exclaimed his master. "What makes you think so, my good
friend?"

"That, captain," answered the man, pointing with his finger to a spot
on the ground, a little to the right of himself and his master, on
which, when Captain M---- turned his eyes that way, he saw lying a
scrap of paper with something written upon it. On taking it up, he
found that it was part of the back of a letter, with the English
post-mark distinct upon it. The writing consisted only of a few words,
or rather fragments of words, being a portion of the original address,
and it stood thus:--"----dley, Esq.--Brandon House,--onshire."

It signified very little to the eyes that saw it, for he knew not
where Brandon House was, nor anything about it; but yet what strange
feelings did the sight of that letter call up in his breast. Where was
the writer? Where the receiver of that letter? Who could he be? What
had become of him? What brought him there? were questions which the
mind asked instantly, with a degree of interest which no one can
conceive who has not stood many thousand miles from his own land, and
suddenly had it and all its associations brought up by some trifling
incident like this that I relate.

Putting his gun under his arm, and holding the paper still in his
hand, Captain M---- walked slowly and thoughtfully on, passed through
a break in the high wall of rocks, and gazed down into the basin of
the mountain. The magnificence of the scene was gradually drawing his
mind away from other thoughts, when his servant touched his arm, and
said in a low voice, "We had better be a little upon our guard, sir,
for there are more people about us than we know of, and I have heard
that our friends who take to the bush are worse devils than the people
of the country; and they are bad enough. Look down there, and you will
see the axe has been at work--ay, and there's a man lying under that
tree. He looks mighty like as if he were dead."

"I see, I see," answered Captain M----. "You stay here with Johnstone,
while I go on. Put a ball in each of your guns, however, in case of
the worst; though I don't think, if we do not injure them, they will
try to do any harm to well-armed men."

"I wouldn't trust them," replied the servant; "but we'll keep a
look-out, sir, and I think I could put a ball in an apple at that
distance."

Captain M---- advanced quietly, not wishing to wake the man if he were
sleeping, till he was close to him; and so profound was his slumber,
that the young officer gazed on him nearly for a minute without his
having heard the approach of any one. At length Captain M---- stooped
down, and shook him gently by the arm. The other instantly started up,
and laid his hand upon the axe by his side; but the officer at once
addressed him in a kindly tone, saying, "Do not be alarmed; it is a
friend."

"A friend," answered the stranger, rising to his full height, with the
axe in his hand, and gazing at him from head to foot; "that is a word
easily said; but here it cannot be a true one. I have no friends,
sir."

"In that, perhaps, you may be mistaken," answered Captain M----. "As
for myself, I trust I am a friend to the whole human race; but what I
meant to say was, that I am not an enemy."

"That one understands," answered the other; "though it is somewhat
difficult, too, in a land where nature seems to have planted fraud and
enmity amongst the human race, and to which other countries send the
offscourings of their population to propagate new crimes, and even
degrade the barbarous wickedness they found."

The words and the appearance of his strange companion struck the young
officer very much. His tone was high and proud, his look grave and
thoughtful; and though there was a certain degree of bitterness in
what he said, yet there was that gentlemanly dignity in the whole
which could not be mistaken.

"It is strange to meet you, sir, in this place," said Captain M----,
after a moment's thought. "I had imagined, till a moment ago, that I
was the first European who had ever climbed this hill."

"You are the second, I believe," answered the stranger. "I was the
first; at least I can find no trace of any one of that adventurous
race, who, in pursuit of wealth, dominion, science, pleasure, or
health, penetrate into almost every part of the known world, having
been here before me."

"Then you are alone?" said his visitor.

"Quite," replied the other. "You have men with you, I see," and he
turned his eyes towards the servant and his companion, who were
standing at a little distance. "Whatever be your object, whether you
come to take me, or are merely here from the curiosity which sets half
our countrymen running over the world, you have but one man, and that
a wearied and exhausted one, to deal with."

"Set your mind at rest," replied Captain M----, who saw that there was
some lingering suspicion still in the stranger's bosom. "I have no
commission, and certainly no wish, to disturb you in any way; neither
did I come to these countries altogether from mere curiosity. A desire
to benefit my fellow-creatures, and a strong interest in the fate of
men whose crimes have shut them out from the general pale of society,
but not, I trust, from the compassion of their brethren, or from the
mercy of their God, first led me to a neighbouring island; and I am
extending my wanderings through this uncultivated but beautiful
country, with a hope of turning to account for others what I have
myself observed. Perhaps you can give me some information; and I
promise you, as a man of honour and a gentleman, never to say a word
to any one which can do you the least detriment. I see you must be a
man of superior education, and I should imagine of superior rank, to
those who are usually met with in this country; and I am sure, after
the candid expression of my views, and the pledge I have given you
will not scruple to say anything that can further my objects."

"I have nothing to say," answered the other, seating himself where he
had before been lying. "I know little, have seen little; but all I
have seen has been iniquity, and villany, and vice, and folly, and
ignorance, in high and low, master and servant, convict and tyrant. I
am inclined to cry with the Psalmist, 'There is none that doeth good;
no, not one.'"

Captain M---- smiled somewhat sadly. "I am afraid you are quite
right," he answered; "and it has long been my conviction that the
system of what is called convict discipline in these colonies not only
does not tend in the slightest degree to reform an offender, but tends
to degrade his moral character to the lowest possible point. It is my
belief that even the system followed at a very rude period of our
history, and when the person sentenced to transportation was actually
sold as a slave to the planters of America, though corrupt and
abominable in a high degree, was really less detrimental to the
unhappy convict than that upon which we now act. I have always held
that we have no right to condemn a man's soul as well as his body; and
I feel that we are here instrumental in plunging those whom we expel
from our own country into vice and crimes more horrible than they ever
contemplated when they committed the act which brought them hither."

The stranger smiled brightly. "You seem to me," he said, "to be the
first really benevolent and reasonable man who has visited a place of
abominations. But even you, perhaps, have not considered all. What
little I can tell you, I will tell. Call down your men from above, and
seat yourself here by me, and in the face of nature, and of the God
who willed it to be 'very good,' I will tell you truly, without even a
shade of deceit, all that my own short experience has shown."

"I cannot do so now," replied Captain M----, "for I have got more
companions below, and must go down to them before it is dark,
otherwise they would probably come to seek me. But cannot you go down
with us? You shall be kindly treated, I promise, and free to return
whenever you please."

The stranger shook his Load. "No," he said, "I will never seek man
again! I will lie in my own lair, like the beast of the field. Here I
have beauty and excellence around me uncontaminated; but wherever
man's foot treads, there is violence, and evil, and corruption."

"Well," replied the young officer, "I will not press you, if you do
not like it; but if you will permit me, I will come up again
to-morrow, and we will talk of all these subjects fully, before I go
back to Tasmania. There is a surveying vessel off the coast, which
will wait for me till I come down; but in the mean time I would fain
know what you meant when you said, in speaking of the abominations and
evils of the convict system, that I had not considered all. It is
probable, indeed, that I have not, although I have given great
attention to the subject; but I wish to know what it was to which you
alluded."

The stranger laid his hand on Captain M----'s arm, and said, "In the
fallibility of human judgment, in the difficulties of proof, and in
the imperfection of law, it must often happen, and does often happen,
that a man perfectly innocent is condemned with the guilty. Were it
only that he had to suffer in person from the sad mistake, the event
might be lamented, perhaps excused. But what have those lawgivers and
those statesmen to reproach themselves with, who have framed a system
which, in all cases of such error, must be fatal to the eternal
happiness of the man unjustly condemned, which plunges him into an
atmosphere pestilential to every good feeling of the heart, to every
high principle, to every religious thought! Do they not know that vice
is contagious? Have they not inoculated hundreds with the moral
plague? Have they not even denied the sick the help of spiritual
physicians in the pest-house to which they have confined them? I tell
you, sir, it is from this that I have fled. Innocent of even the
slightest offence towards my fellow-men, though doubtless culpable in
much towards my God, I could have borne the labour, and the slavery,
and the disgrace, if not without murmuring, yet with patience. But
when I found that I was to remain, bound hand and foot, amidst beings
corrupted beyond all cure, and daily to accustom my eyes and my mind
to scenes and thoughts which could leave no high or holy feeling
unblasted in my heart, I said, 'Man has no right to do this,' and I
broke my chain."

Captain M---- seemed much moved, and he wrung the stranger's hand
hard. "I am sorry for you, sir," he said; "I am sorry for you. I will
come up to-morrow, and we will talk more. In the mean time, tell me
what I must call you to myself; I know that many persons in your
situation take an assumed name. It is that which I mean."

"I have taken none," answered the stranger, with a sad smile; and
then, pointing to the fish lying on the grass, he added, "You must
think of me, if we never meet again, as the Nameless Fisherman of the
Nameless Lake."

"Nay, we shall meet to-morrow, if you are still here," answered
Captain M----.

"I shall be here, if I am alive," replied the stranger, "to-morrow,
and the next day, and for the years and months to come, till death
relieves me. But perhaps even before to-morrow there may be an end of
all. I have felt ill: the body has given way beneath the mind; the
strong rider has well-nigh killed the weak horse; and this morning I
felt as if I were incapable of any exertion. I did make it, however,
and methinks I am better for my labours. But now, adieu! The sun has
reached a point whence his descent will be rapid, and darkness will
overtake you if you have far to go."

"Farewell!" answered Captain M----. "I scarcely like to go and leave
you here alone, or to think of what you will have to endure in this
solitude, if you persist in remaining here. How you are to procure
food, or shelter, or clothing, I do not perceive."

"The skins of beasts," replied the stranger, "will give me clothing
good enough for my state: the fish of the lake must give me food.
Bread, indeed, I may never taste again, but there are fruits and roots
which may supply its place. Then as to shelter, the clefts of the
rock, the caverns by which it is pierced, will afford all that I need;
and as for means and appliances to make these things available, nature
must furnish and teach me. Surely I shall not be more helpless than
one of the savages of this land. They live, and I shall live; longer,
at least, than is desirable to myself. Farewell, farewell!" And once
more bidding him adieu for the time, Captain M---- left him, and
returned to his people.



CHAPTER XXIX.


The emotions with which Dudley saw the strangers depart were very
strong. It seemed like the last glimpse of civilised life to be
afforded him. It brought back the memory of happier hours. The
pleasant thoughts of early days returned; and as he did not wish that
any one should see the strong movements of his heart, he paused for
several minutes, till he thought the visitor and his party must have
descended the hill to some distance; and then, walking slowly to the
top and through the break in the cliffs, he followed the track which
they had pursued with his eye, till it lighted on them, and then
watched them till they were lost amongst the trees which surrounded
the spot where they had fixed their little encampment. Then turning
back to the sort of dwelling-place he had chosen, he spread the turf
within the enclosures thickly with the leaves which he stripped from
the branches. Kneeling down upon the ground, just without the
palisade, he prayed for about five minutes; and then rising, watched
the sky while it ranged through almost every colour of the rainbow,
till at length it became gray, and knowing that five minutes more
would bring darkness, he placed his knapsack as a pillow on the
leaves, and once more laid himself down to sleep. Slumber was not so
easily obtained, however, as it had been on the night before: he felt
better in body, indeed, but more depressed in mind. The visit of the
stranger had disturbed rather than calmed him; it had roused up
regrets which he had laboured to banish; it had shown him, more
forcibly than ever, the value of all which he had for ever lost, and
he lay and meditated painfully for more than one hour.

At length, however, he slept; and, although it lasted not for long,
his slumber was refreshing. Shortly after daybreak he was on foot
again, and felt lighter and easier than on the preceding day. Prayer
was his first occupation; and then going down to the banks of the
lake, he undressed and plunged in, swimming boldly, as he had been
accustomed to do while a student in a civilised land. The walk up the
hill warmed him again, though he had found the water very cold; but
there was invigorating refreshment in the cool wave; and the rejoicing
sensation of returning strength diminished to the eye of imagination
the dangers of the present, the evils of the past, and the dreariness
of the future. When he reached his hut, he lighted the fire as before,
put one of the fish he had caught to broil on the ashes, and then sat
down to consider what was to be done next. Tools he wanted of many
kinds, and weapons for the chase; and he saw that notwithstanding all
the advantages of education, the savage, accustomed to depend upon
himself alone, had great advantages over the European, habituated to
tax the industry of a thousand hands for the production of every
article he used. He had learned something, indeed, of the natural
resources of the country, of that which it produced spontaneously for
the support of life, and he doubted not that, till the winter came on,
he should be able to supply himself with all that was needful. The
intervening time he proposed to devote for preparations against that
period, when, although game might be more easily found, the tree and
the shrub would refuse all contributions. He would fashion for himself
a bow, he thought, tall and strong, such as he had drawn in early
days; he would prepare snares, ay, and nets, perhaps, from the fibrous
bark of the trees. The spoils of the chase should furnish him with
clothing, and he would lie in wait for the creatures of the wood, like
the hunters in the days of old.

He smiled as he thus thought, but there was bitterness in it, too; and
rising up, he set to work to complete that which the previous evening
had left undone.

He had hardly commenced, however, when the sound of voices calling
reached him, and looking out from his hut, he saw his visitor of the
night before, with three men, each laden with his several burden.
Dudley suspended his labour, but did not advance to meet them. The
society of one he could bear, but the presence of many was a load to
him.

"There; lay the things down under the tree," said Captain M----, when
they were within about a hundred yards, "and then go and do as I told
you, taking care, if you find any of the specimens I mentioned, not to
break the crystals. You can return about two. Till then leave me here
without interruption, except in case of emergency."

The men deposited their burdens on the ground, and the young officer,
coming frankly forward to his new acquaintance, shook hands with him,
saying, "This wild life has a strange charm. I think I could go on
roving through these scenes as long as life and health lasted."

"Do you see that sun," asked Dudley, "soaring up from the dark
horizon, like an eagle from its eyry?[1] Do not, however, suppose it
is that which gives the light and beauty you find in these scenes. The
sun is in man's heart. You have no dark shadow on you, either innate
or accidental. You have no foul thoughts to mourn, as some in these
lands have. You have no black cloud hanging over fame, and blighting
life, like myself. You have no disappointed hopes, and fruitless
yearnings for friendships and affections lost for ever, to spread the
golden pathway of the sky with a dull, gray pall. Well may all seem
bright to you: you have no despair."

"Man should never despair so long as there is a pure spot in his
heart," replied Captain M----; "and the innocent wrongly condemned
should despair least of all, knowing that there is one who sees where
man sees not, and who, though in wisdom he may chastise, yet in his
own good time will comfort and raise up."

"It is that faith alone which gives me strength to live," replied
Dudley; "but yet my fate is sad: so sad as to darken all around. Were
it not for that chance of change below, which hope ever holds out to
the man not utterly lost, and for that certainty of change in another
world which faith affords to the believer, life here, to a man wronged
and blasted as I have been, would be a boon not worth the keeping.
What have I to look forward to?--a life of toilful solitude,
struggling each day for bare subsistence, without companionship or
sympathy, without speech, without object, without reward, and with the
high privilege of thought unfruitful except of bitterness and ashes.
When the time of age and sickness comes, too, what will be my fate
then? But I will not think of it. I shall be an idiot before that, or
worse, a savage."

"Nay, I trust not," answered Captain M----. "If you are innocent, as
you say, sooner or later that innocence will appear, and--"

"Impossible!" replied Dudley. "I had a fair and impartial trial; there
was a skilful and well-conducted defence; the jury were men of probity
and sense; the judge mild and equitable. All was done that could be
done, and hope on that side would be worse than vain."

"Then you must learn to endure your lot," said Captain M----, gravely,
"and to make it as tolerable as possible by your own exertions. I can
do little to help you or to render it easier, but that little I will
do. I have brought you up a few things that may be a comfort to you
for a time, and some others which will be of more permanent service. I
can well spare them, for I shall embark to-night, and can procure
more. Come and see the little store, which, though mere trifles, may
be of much use to you: at least till you have become accustomed by
degrees to the fate which has fallen upon you."

Dudley followed him with a full heart; and sitting down by the bundles
which the men had brought up, Captain M---- exposed to his companion's
eyes what was, indeed, a treasure to one placed in such strange and
fearful circumstances. There were blankets against the wintry cold,
and a rough wrapping coat; some packets of common medicines in a small
white wood box; a hammer, a small saw, and one or two other tools,
together with a good knife, and a measure. There was a case bottle,
too, and a drinking-cup, and some linen.

"This other packet," said Captain M----, "contains some books: one on
the botany of this colony, which may be very serviceable to you; a
single volume of essays, some sermons written for the convicts, the
Vicar of Wakefield, and a Bible."

"They will indeed be treasures," said Dudley, with a glad look. "A
Bible I already possess. That has been left to me, though I have
lost all else; and most grateful do I feel for so much kindness,
sir--kindness where I have no right nor title to expect it."

"Every man has a right to expect it of his fellow men," answered
Captain M----; "and I should be worse than a brute if I could refuse it
to one circumstanced as you are, when I will not pretend to doubt your
innocence."

"That is strange!" said Dudley, thoughtfully; "that you should not
doubt it, knowing nothing of me, while others who knew much, did
doubt."

"And yet," answered his companion, "I am not without a reason. I have
accustomed myself much to observe men, and the way in which they act,
under particular circumstances, and I never yet saw one who owned he
had a fair and impartial trial in every particular, and yet declared
himself innocent, unless he was innocent. There has been always a
something which he thought unfair--a cause why he had been cast, as it
is termed; either the judge was wrong, or the jury was wrong, or the
witnesses were perjured, or the counsel for the prosecution had acted
unfairly, or something or another had given an unfavourable turn to
the trial. However, I will beg of you to accept of these little
articles, and moreover, this small writing-case, with which I have
travelled. I know not whether it will be useful to you at present,
being entirely unaware of the circumstances of your case; but at a
future period it may be most serviceable; and even now, if you feel
inclined to write a few lines to any friend in England, I will carry
your letter safe to the next post, and take care that it shall be
forwarded to its destination."

"What can I say?" asked Dudley, putting his hand to his brow, and
speaking as it were to himself. "Nevertheless, I will write, if it be
but a few words, to tell them that I still live;" and thanking Captain
M---- again and again, especially for his last gift, Dudley seated
himself, and wrote as follows:--


"Dear Edgar,

"Though deprived of the power of seeing you before I went, I heard
something of your kindness, and my heart will ever be grateful. I know
you have never doubted my innocence, nor has Eda. Tell her, for me,
that I am innocent, and that my innocence and my faith are my only
support. I have quitted the colony to which I was sent: broken, in
short, the bonds which they placed upon me, and I am now living in
perfect, utter solitude. Tell her I love her still--shall always love
her. Yet, let her forget me; for what but pain can follow remembrance
of one so lost to hope and all that brightens earth as
   "Edward Dudley."


He folded the letter, and addressed it, and then gazed at it for a
moment with a somewhat puzzled expression of countenance. "How shall I
seal it?" he said at length.

"You will find wax and a light-box in the top of the case," answered
Captain M----, with a smile. "That which I provided for a long journey
amongst civilised men as well as wild nature, may serve you for many
months in this solitude."

"For many years," said Dudley, sadly; "but yet it will be a treasure
and a consolation to me. Even the capability of noting down the
passing of the days is something, and I thank you from the very bottom
of my heart."

The letter was accordingly sealed and delivered to the charge of
Captain M----, who looked at the address with interest, thinking, as
he did so, "I must inquire into this case, for it seems a very strange
one."

In the mean time, Dudley was gazing at the light-box with a thoughtful
air. "This will be most serviceable too," he said at length, "for I
can foresee that in the winter I shall have much difficulty in
procuring fire. There are no flints here; and although I know that the
savages can obtain a light by rubbing pieces of dry wood together, yet
I have seen none that is fit for the purpose. I have had great
difficulty already in lighting a fire, and the scorched branches which
afforded me the means of doing so will soon be exhausted. I must wrap
this little box carefully up, so as to keep it from all damp, and
doubtless the matches will last me through the winter.

"I am sorry there are no more of them," answered Captain M----; "but at
all events they will give you time to learn other contrivances. I know
not well, indeed, how you procure food, for I suppose you do not live
altogether on the produce of the lake."

"I do not propose to do so," said Dudley, "for in some seasons I
believe it would afford me no supply; but I must have recourse to the
old primeval means--the bow and arrows, and the snare," he added, with
a smile.

Captain M---- looked for a moment or two at the fine double-barrelled
gun which lay beside him, before he answered; but then, raising his
eyes with a frank, kind expression, he said, "Perhaps I am doing
wrong, but I cannot make up my mind to leave you altogether dependent
upon such very precarious means of support. I have said I believe you
innocent; let me add, I feel sure you are a man of honour also, and if
you will promise me never to use what I am going to give against human
life, except in your own defence, and especially not against any one
sent to take you, in case such a thing should ever occur, I will leave
you this gun, and supply you with ammunition. You will then be in a
condition always to procure food at least."

The promise he required was readily made; and Dudley said little more,
for the feeling of gratitude he experienced was overpowering. He sat
with his head leaning on his hand, buried in meditation; and who can
trace the wild range of his thoughts during the few minutes which he
thus remained silent. His companion saw that his kindness had plunged
him into that sort of gloom which is often produced by feelings the
most noble and the most tender, when they stand strongly contrasted
with some dark and irremediable point in the fate of those who
experience them; and in order rather to rouse him from his reverie
than anything else, he said, "I suppose you are well accustomed to the
use of a gun."

"I will show you," answered Dudley, who was certainly one of the most
skilful marksmen of his day. "Let us walk down the hill; we shall
doubtless find some game; and if you will permit me, I will prove that
you do not place your gun in inexpert hands."

"Willingly," replied Captain M----, rising from the ground where he
had been seated. "I am sorry I have not more powder and shot with me;
but I will leave upon the spot where our little party is encamped all
that we have, except a few charges, which may be necessary as we go
down towards the sea-shore. If you are provident it will serve you for
some time; and ere long, depend upon it, a population will grow up
around you from whom you will be able to obtain fresh supplies. This
country must be destined to be much more thickly populated very soon.
The human race is advancing in every direction, and the progress
already made is marvellous."

"That is the most frightful consideration of all the many which
present themselves to the mind in contemplating the present state of
the neighbouring colony," replied Dudley. "When one thinks of its
rapid progress, and of the multitudes springing up here like a crop of
grain, and remembers that almost every seed is diseased, that the
moral condition of almost every human being is either tainted at his
arrival, or destined soon to be tainted by the contaminating
influences to which he is exposed, what can we look forward to in the
future but a perfect hell upon earth? Can we expect that, without
efficient guidance, with few means of religious instruction, with no
moral restraints and no correcting principle but the fear of corporeal
punishment, destitute of even habitual reverence for probity, crowded
together in places where virtue, and honour, and honesty, are a scoff
and a reproach, where the highest distinction is excess in vice or
skill in crime, can we expect that any man who may become a father
will breed his child up in the way that he should go, and will not
rather infect him with his own vices, to be fostered and matured by
others, equally, if not more, conversant with crime? It is a known
fact, sir, that in the neighbouring colony of Van Dieman's Land the
free emigrant of the lower class is looked upon with more doubt and
suspicion even than the convict, and is, nine times out of ten, as
base and degraded. What must a colony become thus constituted? and
what is the awful responsibility upon a nation which, possessing a
large, I might say an immense, extent of fertile and beautiful
country, plants in it, as the germ of future nations, all that is
wretched, abominable, and depraved of the mother country; denies the
wretched men that it sends out the means of amelioration, and by every
law and ordinance insures that the pestilence shall be propagated from
man to man, till none but those who are placed above temptation by
superior fortune or superior culture remains unaffected by moral
disease more frightful than any plague which ever ravaged the world?"

"But how can this be amended?" asked Captain M----. "What are the
means?"

"They require deep consideration," replied Dudley. "It is the actual
state of things which first strikes us; the remedies may be long in
seeking. This is more especially the case when a particular system has
long been going on, and every attempt at partial reform has but added
evil to evil, till at length the whole has become intolerable. The
natural process is easily described; and it is only by historically
viewing the question that we can see how such monstrous abominations
have arisen. These things are not done as a whole: it is step by step
that they are performed. If man sat down calmly to consider what was
best to be done under particular circumstances, if he meditated
philosophically upon the object which he proposed to attain, and
endeavoured to foresee, as far as the shortness of the human view will
permit, the results of all that he attempts for temporary purposes, he
might frame, and would frame, if not a perfect system, at least one,
the defects in which would be comparatively few, and easily remedied;
but what has been usually his course? He has considered the temporary
purpose alone, and that not philosophically. In the first institution
of transportation, his object seemed to be twofold: to punish guilty
persons, and to deliver their country from their presence. Simple
exile was the simplest form in which this could be achieved; the next
was the selling of the convict for a slave; then came the
transportation to a colony of the mother country, with a prohibition
against return: otherwise the peopling of a colony with the vicious
and the criminal; then punishment in the colony was added to mere
transportation; and in all and every one of these steps, nothing was
held in view but infliction on the culprit--relief to his native land.
Reformation was never thought of, degradation was never guarded
against; the moral condition of the convict, or his religious
improvement, was never taken into consideration; nor did the mind of
man seem to reach, till within the last few years, the comprehension
of that essential point in the whole question, that where the convict
was going he was to become the member of a vast community, the state
and condition of which would for years be strictly connected with that
of the country which expelled him. None of these things were ever
thought of, and still less the high and imperative duty which binds
legislators to attempt, in punishing, to reclaim; a duty not only to
their country and to their fellow men, but to their God."

Captain M---- seemed to ponder over his companion's words for a few
moments, and then replied. "I doubt not that what you say is true. The
evils you speak of have arisen, in a great part, from the want of a
due comprehension and consideration of the objects to be obtained; but
were that all, the evils of the system existing would be speedily
remedied; but I fear there is another great error which statesmen have
fallen into, and which will ever, as long as it is persisted in, throw
insuperable obstacles in the way of reform. The error I allude to is a
belief that corporeal punishment will reclaim. I am convinced that its
only tendency is to degrade and render more vicious the person on whom
it is inflicted. That it must exist I do not deny, for the probability
of incurring it must be held up before the convict's view, to deter
him from adding fresh crimes to those which have gone before; but the
principal means I would employ would be entirely moral means:
encouragement to a right course, exhortation, instruction, and the
chance of recovering gradually that sense of moral dignity, the want
of which is a source of all evil."

"A theory which may be pushed too far," said Dudley, "though excellent
in itself. Punishment is undoubtedly needful, both as a restraint and
an act of justice, but believe me also, that coercion as a means is
likewise required. I am convinced that in all these matters we try to
generalize too much. If we consider the infinite variety of human
characters, we shall see that an infinite variety of means is required
in the direction of any large body of human beings. To expect that any
man, or any body of men, should be able to scrutinize the character of
each individual convict, so as to apply the precise method of
treatment to his particular case, would be to require far too much;
but the rules and regulations adopted by a government, and carried out
by its officers in the colony, should be such as to render the
application of particular means as easy as possible. Entrusted to
well-instructed and observing men, a general knowledge of the
character of each convict could be easily obtained from his conduct on
his passage, and of the crime for which he received sentence. The
reports thus obtained might form the basis for correct classification
on the arrival of each ship; and the distribution of the unfortunate
men sent out might be afterwards made in accordance with this
classification. Thus you would save those comparatively pure from
contamination, and you would reduce the number of those requiring
strict supervision and coercion to the utmost possible extent. You
would acquire, in fact, the power of at once applying the means to the
end; you would know where moral means would be most efficacious, where
restraint was most needful, and have some guidance for shaping your
conduct according to the necessities of the case. I am aware, indeed,
that some classification is made, but of the most imperfect character,
and this I look upon as one of the causes of the total failure of the
system of transportation. I believe, also, the machinery, both for
improving the moral conduct of the convict, and for preventing crime
after his arrival in the colony, has been most inadequate from the
very beginning. I look upon it that one of the greatest possible
objects is, by constant and active supervision, to prevent the
possibility of a vicious course being pursued for some time after the
convict's arrival in the colony. Believe me, that to dishabituate his
mind from the commission of evil, is the first step to habituate it to
the pursuit of good. But what has been the case? When first convicts
were sent to this colony--the period is not very remote--it never
seemed to enter into the contemplation of those who sent them to
afford them any religious instruction, and it was entirely owing to
the exertions of a private individual that the means of spiritual
improvement were provided them at all; and now, when the influx of
these unhappy men into Van Dieman's Land is from five thousand to nine
thousand per annum, if we look either to the opportunities afforded
them of obtaining religious training, or to the power granted to the
local government of ensuring constant supervision, even in the cases
of the most hardened and irreclaimable, we shall find that it is
utterly inadequate to the numbers who require it. What can be the
result? What right have we to expect anything but that which we see?
With a system founded originally in an incomplete view of the case,
with an incomplete classification of the persons on whom it is to
operate, and with the most inefficient means of carrying out the
objects which should be ever held in view, the failure is inevitable;
and thus has a place set apart for the reception of criminals, whom it
was a duty not only to punish but to reform, become a mere nest of
unreclaimed felons, and a school for every species of vice and
wickedness which can degrade the human race, and bring eternal
destruction upon the soul of man. The way in which these colonies have
been conducted, I do not scruple to say, is a great national sin,
which cannot be without it punishment."

The conversation proceeded in the same strain for some time further,
during which they made their way slowly downward towards the banks of
the lake, now pursuing a green path amongst large masses of rook and
stone, now descending natural steps as it were in the coral rock, now
pausing to gaze with interest into one of the deep caves which pierced
the side of the precipice, and in which the light assumed a shadowy
red from the hue of the internal walls. To two warm-hearted and
enthusiastic men, a conversation so deeply affecting the best
interests of their fellow-creatures was, as may well be supposed,
highly interesting, and there was something in the grandeur, the
wildness, and the solitude of the scene, which seemed to elevate and
expand the thoughts as they reasoned of the destinies of the
multitudes fated to be the fathers of a population about ere long to
overspread the wide uncultivated tracts around them. The morning was
balmy and refreshing, the sun had not yet risen high enough to render
the heat burdensome; and as their course lay along the eastern side of
that wide basin, the cool shadows of the rocks, and hills, and trees,
spread out long and blue over the rugged precipices and the verdant
turf at their feet. For a time they forgot the object of their walk,
but at length Dudley pointed to a spot in the sky, saying, "There is a
vulture, and if you will permit me I will try my skill in bringing him
down. He will soon come near; for I have remarked in travelling hither
that in this country the birds of prey, whenever they see a moving
object, approach it rapidly. The butchers of the air have not yet
learned that there are butchers of the earth more powerful than
themselves."

"You had better draw out the balls and put in some slugs," said
Captain M----, handing him the gun; "though I suspect he will not come
within range."

"I will try the ball upon him," said Dudley; "I used not often to miss
my mark, but it is two long years since I had gun or rifle in my
hand;" and gazing down upon the highly finished fowling-piece, he
thought of the morning when he had gone out to shoot with Edgar
Adelon, and all the dark and terrible events which had followed.
Suddenly rousing himself, after a few moments he looked up towards the
sky again, and saw that the bird had approached much nearer, skimming
along just over the summit of the crags which towered above them, and
with curved neck and bent head, eyeing them as he sailed along. Dudley
put the gun to his shoulder, and though Captain M---- remarked, "He is
much too far," pulled the trigger, after a momentary pause. The report
was hardly heard before the broad wings fluttered with convulsive
beating, collapsed, and whirling round and round in the air, the
tyrant of the mountain came thundering down at the distance of some
thirty yards from them. When they reached the spot where he lay they
found him quite dead, though the yellow eyes still rolled in the bare
skinny head. The ball had passed right through him; but it seemed that
he had recently been inflicting the fate upon some other creature
which he had just received himself, for his strong horny bill and
talons were red with blood, which, from its fresh appearance, could
not have been shed very long.

"This would seem a species of condor," said Captain M----, after
examining it carefully. "What an immense extent of wing! I must carry
it away with me as a very fine specimen."

"I thought the condor was confined to South America," said Dudley;
"but I am very ignorant of such subjects, and certainly here shall not
have any temptation to form a museum of natural history. I must save
whatever powder and shot you can afford me, for the sole purpose of
obtaining food, and refrain from spending it upon my fellow-animals of
prey."

"It is a condor, I think," answered his companion; "and I believe that
species is spread more generally over both the old and new world than
is supposed. They are very rare, however, everywhere."

"I have seen many strongly resembling this creature hovering about
these cliffs and the top of the neighbouring hill," answered Dudley;
"but, of course, I never could approach one till now, for they did not
think fit to attack me, and I had no means of bringing them down. We
will carry it back with us; but first, I must provide you with some
dinner, and the lake is my only resource. Some of the feathers of this
good gentleman will make an artificial fly, not at all unlike those I
saw yesterday on the shore;" and sitting down by the dead vulture, he
speedily constructed an insect which had sufficient resemblance to
those they were accustomed to devour, to deceive the voracious
inhabitants of the waters.

Five or six large fish, not exactly trout, but somewhat resembling
that species, repaid an hour's angling; and then walking back, the two
wanderers, each with his own particular burden, made their way to the
spot where Dudley's fire had been lighted the day before. Their meal
was frugal enough; bread they had none; their drink was supplied by a
little stream issuing from the rocks; but yet it seemed pleasant to
both, and Captain M---- said, with a smile, when he saw his companion
somewhat puzzled as to how he should distribute the food, "I can see
you are not accustomed to this roving life. The memory of old habits
clings to you still; but as far as my experience shows me, it is
wonderfully less tenacious with uncultivated than with cultivated
minds. A few months is quite sufficient to qualify any convict for a
bushranger."

"It would take years so to qualify me," replied Dudley. "I affect no
particular degree of refinement, but I do think the delicacies of life
form one of the greatest charms of society. They are, in fact, based
upon higher principles than at first appear. I believe that they are
all founded upon the maxim, 'neither to be, nor to seem, nor to do
anything, which can be unnecessarily offensive to others.' This
implies no sacrifice of principle, and no unreasonable subserviency of
manner; for the moment a man tries to bend what is right to what is
courteous, that instant courtesy becomes a vice; but I never yet heard
a reasonable opinion which could not be so expressed as to offend no
reasonable man; and with regard to the minor and to the conventional
courtesies, to omit them where no wrong is implied would be a
violation of that which is due to our follow-men and to ourselves.
Nevertheless, you must not expect towels and water-basins in the
desert to wash after you have eaten with your fingers, any more than
you must expect bread where there are no ovens, or wine where no
grapes grow."

"I am perfectly satisfied," answered Captain M----, in a gay tone; "I
shall find my finger-glass at the little stream there, and my napkin
on the green grass; but still, my good friend, there are several
little things which may be serviceable to you in my small encampment
down below. I shall have no need of them, going back so soon; and I do
heartily believe there are no less than four or five round-pointed
table-knives, and at least three two-pronged forks. Some towels, too,
may not come amiss; and if ever you should have another dinner-party
here, they may serve as napkins as well. I will leave them on the spot
when we go away, and you can take possession of them at your leisure.
I could procure you, too, a box of nails from the ship; but I do not
know how to convey them to you without discovering your retreat to
those on board; and, doubtless, you would not like to come into too
near proximity with the people of the vessel, especially as they have
orders to search for and seize an escaped convict of the name of
Brady; a most desperate fellow, who has hitherto frustrated every
attempt to take him. He has somehow made his way over hither from Van
Dieman's Land, at least it is supposed so."

"He has not come to this district, as far as I have seen," answered
Dudley; "but still it would be better to avoid all recognition.
Nevertheless, I will admit, this box of nails you speak of would be of
greater value to me than a box of pure gold, and if you will put it on
shore at a spot where these two hills are in a direct line with each
other, I will seek it and bring it away. I might say I will hereafter
find some way to show my gratitude; but now I have none, nor any hope
of so doing. I can therefore but thank you again and again, and say,
would there was a chance of my being able to do that for you and yours
which my heart prompts, but which my means forbid."

"Not for ever, not for ever," answered Captain M----.

"I feel very sure that if you but persevere in abstaining from evil, a
time will come when errors will be removed and truth made manifest."

"Beyond the grave," answered Dudley; and then suddenly changing the
conversation, he carried it on in a somewhat lighter tone, till
Captain M---- rose to leave him. They parted like two old friends who
might never meet again, and while one carried away a feeling of deep
intense interest and curiosity, the other remained with a sensation of
desolation more profound and painful than ever.



CHAPTER XXX.


Wearily passed the days; for though active exertion is undoubtedly the
best of all mere earthly balms to the hurt mind--and Dudley had plenty
of it--yet there are moments when, in perfect solitude, thought will
return, and tears open wounds afresh. He strove against it, indeed, as
much as man could strive. He laboured incessantly, more for the
purpose of occupying his mind with anything but his own dark fate,
than to render his abode more comfortable; and when in the watches of
the night he awoke, and thought would return, he tried hard to turn it
into any other channel than that of memory. Still, in spite of
himself, the bitter theme would often recur; in vain he tried to
meditate upon mere abstract questions of art, of science, of
philosophy; in vain, to fix the mind down to the present and its
necessities, all gloomy as that present was; still departed happiness,
and bright hopes blasted, would rise up like spectres, and scare peace
and tranquillity away.

Sometimes he would try to create a feeling of alarm in his own breast
at the prospect of the coming winter, when in that lonely scene he
should be left in the midst of snows and tempests, with none of the
resources of the fruit-tree or the lake; when the wind and the storm
would rave round his frail dwelling, and the long night would have no
solace, no occupation, but that of listening to the howling of the
blast; and he would devote his thoughts and his exertions to provide
against the coming of the sad season. He went down to the spot where
the tent of Captain M---- had been pitched, and there found fresh proofs
of his kindness; for he had left everything that he could possibly spare
behind him, together with a few words written on a scrap of paper,
giving his address, and assuring his lonely friend that if at any time
he could serve him he would do so with pleasure. Then, with fresh
means and more serviceable tools than the mere hatchet with which he
had first commenced the work, poor Dudley laboured hard to render his
dwelling proof against storm or enemy; but the want of nails soon
presented itself, and he set out for the sea-shore, thinking, "His
kindness would not forget."

Nor had it; for after a walk of twenty miles, he found not only the
box which had been promised, but two other presents of equal value--a
large bag of fresh biscuits, and a ship's hand-lamp surrounded by
thick glass.

Sometimes, as on this occasion, the expedients to which he was forced
to have recourse, called up a melancholy smile. "Where shall I find
oil?" he thought, "or any means of nourishing the flame; and yet there
must be oleaginous shrubs or trees in the neighbourhood, amongst all
the many children of these vast forests. I must learn many a trade
before I have done, and must try and construct myself an oil-mill. If
all fails, I must come down, as the winter approaches, and see if I
can surprise a seal upon the shore."

As he thus thought, he seated himself and ate one of the biscuits with
a relish for the plain wheaten food which he had never known before.
For the last eight or nine days he had tasted nothing but fish or
flesh; and he now found that bread is indeed the staff of life; for he
arose lighter and yet more refreshed from his simple meal by the
sea-shore than he had felt since he commenced his wandering course. He
then adjusted the burdens he had to carry, so as to render their
pressure as equal as possible, during his long walk back; and I may
remark, indeed, that his mathematical studies proved more serviceable
to him in existing circumstances than he had ever thought possible. He
had always regarded them as fine abstractions, the principal use of
which, to a man of the station in which he was born, was to produce a
habit of correct reasoning; but now, when he came to apply them
practically; he felt how invaluable they are in every walk of life.

With his gun under his arm, and laden with a weight of eighty or
ninety pounds, he walked slowly on his way, still keeping the summit
of the mountain in view. At first his course lay across an arid tract
of country, near the sea-shore, producing no vegetation but some thin
tall stalks of grass, and thickly strewn with small, flat, circular
fragments of stone, exactly resembling the biscuits he was carrying.
As the ground rose a little, however, a more prolific soil was
obtained, and he entered what is called the scrub, where tall trees,
and bushes, and a thousand fruit and flower-bearing shrubs, surrounded
him on every side, and often cut off the view of Mount Gambier. Long
brakes or paths were still to be found through the thicket, however,
and every now and then, for a mile or two, the vegetation was thinner,
so that, guiding his course by the sun, and calculating as exactly as
he could, the distance which both he and the great orb of day had
travelled, he followed a direct line as far as the nature of the
ground would permit, and from time to time caught sight of the lofty
rocks above the crater, over the leafy wilderness around him. Here and
there, however, came a patch of bright green meadow, and at the edge
of one of these, before he entered the forest again, he sat down to
rest himself, and cast the burdens from his shoulders, for the
fatigues he had lately undergone were very great, and he felt the
unusual weight he carried. He was dreadfully thirsty too, for he had
not found a drop of fresh water on the journey, and the heat was
intense.

In about half an hour, the decline of the sun, and the gradual
lengthening of the shadows, somewhat cooled the air, and a fresh
breeze sprang up from sea-ward, agitating the tops of the tall trees.
Dudley rose to proceed upon his way, for he had still a walk of more
than two hours before him; and with his gun under his arm, he was
stooping down to lift his bag of biscuit, when he suddenly heard a
step. It was that of a man, and was consequently the more ungrateful
to his ear than if it had been that of a beast, however wild and
fierce. His gun was instantly in his hand, with both barrels cocked;
and the next moment, coming at a quick pace out of one of the glades
in the neighbouring wood, appeared a figure not calculated to
dissipate any apprehensions. It was that of a man, tall, and
powerfully built, and of a most unprepossessing countenance. He was
evidently a European, but yet the colour which his skin had acquired
by long exposure was almost as dark as that of one of the natives of
the land. His black hair, of more than six months' growth, fell wild
over his shoulders and brows, and his beard also had been suffered to
remain unshorn till it nearly reached his bosom. In this mass of hair,
which covered his face, the features, which were sharp and aquiline,
seemed planted as if looking through a mask; and the whole, together
with the fierce, quick expression, gave the same impression as if one
suddenly saw a wild beast glaring through a bush. He was covered with
an old, tattered, brown great coat, and had a belt round his waist,
and another over his shoulders. In the former were placed a pair of
pistols; and the latter supported a knapsack, a large gourd in the
shape of a bottle, and several other articles of a very miscellaneous
description. He instantly paused on seeing a stranger; and Dudley,
forgetting that his own appearance was little less wild and strange,
raised his gun to his shoulder, exclaiming, "Halt, whoever you are!"

The man instantly advanced a step, crying, with a laugh, "Hail fellow,
well met! Don't you see I'm not an officer?"

"I don't know," answered Dudley; "but you must halt nevertheless, till
I know who you are. Another step, and I fire!"

The man paused, for he was out of the range of a pistol, but within
that of a gun, otherwise it is probable a shot would have been the
first reply.

"I tell you I am a poor devil like yourself," he replied, "who have
got away from those incarnate fiends at Norfolk Island, have come over
here, and taken to the bush. I am half-starved, for I have fed upon
raw parrots as long as I could get any, and have not had a morsel for
these two days."

"That's another case," said Dudley, dropping his gun from his
shoulder; "I can help you, and that's enough for me. I have got
biscuit here; come and have some."

Short parleys and quick intercourse are common in the wilder parts of
a colony, where every man, having even a glimmering of civilisation,
depends upon others many times each year for the few advantages of
society he can ever obtain; Strange it is, that where the violence of
barbarism is most strong, the charity of hospitality is most frank and
ready. The stranger advanced at once, thrusting back the pistol he had
half drawn from his belt, and taking Dudley's hand, he shook it
warmly, saying, "You must be new to this place. Just arrived from
Norfolk, I dare say. Come, give us some biscuit, man, for I am right
down starved."

Dudley opened the bag, and the man thrust his hand in at once, drawing
out two or three biscuits, which he began to eat voraciously. "That's
capital!" he said, adding a fearful oath. "After all, there's nothing
like biscuit. Well, I'm glad you didn't fire, for I'd rather have this
than lead in my stomach; and it would have cost me a shot in return,
when, to say the truth, I haven't got one to spare, for I've got no
powder but the charges in my pistols, and one of those I must save for
McSweeny. He may take two, perhaps, but I don't think it."

"And pray who is he?" asked Dudley.

"Oh, the man that betrayed me once!" replied his companion. "A
storekeeper I trusted, and he sold me. He killed himself that night,
and he knows it. So he's only waiting till I've got leisure, then
we'll settle accounts."

"Then you mean you'll kill him," said Dudley, guessing the man's
meaning, though not very certain.

"To be sure," answered the other. "He shall go out of the colony one
day soon. Come, I must have another biscuit."

"As many as you like," answered Dudley, "and take some with you, if
you please; but if you've got any water in that bottle, you shall give
me some, for I am as thirsty as you are hungry."

"Ay, there's water in it, sure enough, now," replied the other,
unslinging the gourd and giving it to him. "There was something better
in it not long ago--real Bengal brandy, but that was gone a great deal
too soon. Lord! it's just like a dream; how I drank it up; but such as
it is, you may have it."

Dudley assuaged his thirst, and then returned the man the gourd,
saying, "That is better than brandy, and take my word for it, peace is
bettor than revenge. Revenge is like that brandy you talk of: you take
it to assuage a thirst, and it leaves a more consuming thirst than
ever. From the moment you have had it, a burning will seize upon your
heart, which nought will ever cool, you will die parched up with crime
upon crime, without peace in the present, peace in the past, or peace
in the future."

The man gazed at him with a look of utter astonishment. "No, I
shan't," he replied. "I shall be hanged. That's my death. I always
intended it."

"But did you ever consider," asked Dudley, "that this life is not all;
that there is another beyond this world, to which the pains or the
pleasures of this life are nothing?"

"Are you a methodist parson, young man?" said the other, knitting his
brows at him.

"No," answered Dudley; "nothing of the kind. I am a plain man, as you
are, but one who has learned to reverence the will of God; to think of
the future as well as the present; and to remember in all my actions
here that they have a reference to a hereafter, in comparison with
which this life and all that it affords is a mere nothing."

"Then what the devil brought you here?" asked the other; and after an
instant's pause, continued, "Well, I have heard of such things as you
talk of, but it is all guess-work. No dead man ever came back to tell
me what had happened to him after he was gone. All I see rots as soon
as it's put in the ground, and the rest's but a chance, or an old
woman's tale. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush; so I'll
have my will while I live, and risk all the rest."

"Did you ever think how much you risk?" asked Dudley, gravely. "Do you
know Norfolk Island? Well, suppose for one moment, that all which man
can be made to suffer there were increased a thousand fold, and
carried on throughout eternity without the possibility of escape, even
by death--remember, this is what you risk, and much more."

"Pooh! that's nonsense," answered the man. "No one could stand it.
Why, sooner than stay there, I stood--one night when they had caught
me, after I had got off, and had tied my hands with a strong rope--I
stood, I say, with my back to the fire and my wrists to the flame,
till the rope was burnt through. There are the marks," he continued,
baring his seared and withered arms. "But let us talk of something
else. If you are not a parson, you talk very like one, and I hate
parsons. What were you convicted of?"

"Of killing a man," answered Dudley.

"Ay, that was something worth while," replied his companion. "I
thought it had been some larceny, or something like that, by the way
you talked. But what do you intend to do now? You've run, of course,
and that's quite right; but it's a hardish sort of life, especially
out here. I'm half sorry I didn't keep in 'tother island; but they ran
after me so sharply, than when I got a ship that would take me, which
was a great chance--she was a whaler that sent her boat on shore--I
thought it was not worth while to stay. Then I found they had got
scent of me; and so I've walked six or seven hundred miles altogether,
rather than go back to the d--d place. They would have put me in a
chain gang directly, and I have seen such things there I don't want to
see any more. I dare say I know more of it than you do, for you seem a
new hand. I'll tell you what I saw once. I saw two men--they were in
the same gang with myself--toss up with a brass halfpenny, which
should knock the other's brains out, and be hanged for it afterwards.
The lot fell upon James Mills, and he did it handsomely, for he
finished the other fellow, whose name was Ezekiel Barclay, with one
blow of his pick, and when he was hanged at Hobart Town, he told all
the people how it had happened, and why he had done it; and many of
them said, I have heard, that it was a great shame to drive men to
such a pass--that it was better for one to have his skull smashed, and
the other his neck twisted, than to live on slaving any longer."

Dudley gave a shudder, so visible, that his hardened companion laughed
aloud. "Wait a bit, and you'll get accustomed to such things," he
said; "but you'll find it more hard to get accustomed to living here.
I'm beating up towards some more civilised place, I can tell you; I
have had enough, and too much of this kind of life, and if I find I am
to be caught, I'll do something to be hanged for when they have caught
me. It's no use going on in this way for ever--but how did you get
this biscuit? You've got money, I guess."

"Not a penny," answered Dudley, with a smile. "A friend gave me these
things to help me on."

"A devilish kind friend," replied the man; "but they won't last long,
and what will you do after? You're not up to half the tricks, I dare
say, for living in the scrub; but I can teach you a thing or two, if
you are going my way, for I must be jogging."

"I am going to the foot of those hills," replied Dudley, who felt
somewhat anxious to make some impression on the man's mind, and turn
him from the dreadful purpose he seemed to meditate. "If you like to
come with me, I can give you a night's lodging."

The man grinned at him with a very peculiar laugh. "Are you not
afraid?" he said. "Do you know I'm Jack Brady?"

"Not in the least," answered Dudley, "We are companions in misfortune,
and you are not a man, I am sure, whatever you may do, either to wrong
me or betray me."

"That's hearty!" said the man, holding out his hand to him, "I would
not betray you if you had killed my brother; and as to wronging you,
no man can ever say I harmed him that trusted me."

"Well, I do trust you fully," replied Dudley; "I am quite sure of you;
and my little store, such as it is, you shall share."

"Perhaps I can tell you things which may be of as much service to
you," said the man; "so come along, for it's getting late, and I
reckon those hills are six miles off or more."

"That to the full," replied Dudley, rising. "I am ready; let us go."

Perhaps he might not feel quite as sure as he said he was; but,
nevertheless, he reflected that they were but man to man, and life was
not a thing so valuable in his eyes, to fear the hazard thereof, if he
could do good.

"I'll carry your lantern," said the man, taking it up as he spoke.
"Have you got any oil?"

"No," answered Dudley; "it is that which puzzles me; but I think I
shall be able to get a seal upon the coast."

"Oh! you can manage better than that," said the other. "I'll show you
half-a-dozen trees that you can get oil from, and some that have got a
kind of fat, of which you can make candles. This is a precious place
for vegetables. Nature has been kind to the place; it's man's done all
the mischief."

"It's the same everywhere," answered Dudley; "let us take care that we
don't blame ourselves."

"There's truth enough in that," answered Brady; "but come along;
you'll soon make a famous bushranger, for you'll forget how to preach,
having nobody to preach to."

"It will do me very little good, my friend," replied Dudley, as they
walked along, "to preach to you or to anybody, as I am neither paid,
nor likely to be paid, for doing it; but, depend upon it, if there
were more to preach, and more to hear, in our penal settlements, they
would be happier places than they are. Good conduct towards our
fellow-creatures, and reverence towards God, are the sources of all
happiness on earth."

"I love my fellow-creatures well enough," said the man, "and would do
anything to help them. No man can say I ever took a penny from a poor
man, or injured a weak one. It is against my principles, sir, whatever
you may think; but many who are here I do not look upon as men at all.
They are devils in men's bodies, and nothing more. With them I am at
war, and ever will be; and if a man betrays me, that man dies, if I
live. There is no use talking about it, for my mind is made up."

He spoke in a stern, determined tone, and his face assumed an
expression of demoniacal ferocity when he alluded to the fact of being
betrayed; but it passed away in a moment or two; and, as if he sought
no farther discussion on a subject in regard to which his resolution
was taken, he began to look round amongst the trees and shrubs, and at
length pointed out one to Dudley, saying, "There, you see those little
berries; well, let them get ripe; they'll turn almost quite black in a
week or two; and then, if you bruise them between two stones, and put
them in a kettle over a little fire, you'll have oil enough for your
purposes. There do not seem to be so many good sorts of trees and
plants here as on t'other side. Why, there, if it be not a very dry
year, a man may live for many a month on what he finds growing wild.
But you'll do very well here, too; and, I dare say, farther in, you
may find the same sorts of shrubs as over by Port Philip. There's the
great, long gum-tree, and cypresses, I see, too; but not so many as in
New South Wales. It's a fine country, however, and I like it better,
for there are too many men over there. Here there seems to be no one
but you and I: at least, I have not seen a living soul but one, beside
yourself, for three hundred miles or more."

"Is it not dangerous for a stranger, unacquainted with botany, to feed
upon the fruits of a land totally new to him?" inquired Dudley.

"Oh dear, no!" answered Brady. "Those that have a stone in them you
may always eat, and most of those that have a hard shell to them. I
don't speak of beans, you know, for many of them are poisonous enough,
I believe; but of nuts and such like. But I'll tell you what a man,
whom I once knew, did, and it wasn't an unclever sort of trick, which,
if you stay long here, you may practise too. He caught a young
kangaroo when it was quite little, and bred it up to hop about his
place like a dog that had lost its fore-legs. Well, whatever he saw
the kangaroo eat, he knew he might eat too, for they're a sort of
human creatures, those kangaroos; I never half liked shooting one in
my life."

Dudley thought how strange that a man, who, for passion or revenge,
would shed his fellow's blood like water, should feel repugnance to
kill a mere brute, from a fancied resemblance to the human race. Yet
such are the inconsistencies of our nature, and we meet with them
every day.

"It's very good eating, though," continued his companion, "and I dare
say, man's good eating enough too, at least I've heard one of those
black fellows say so; but of all things that's the best in this
country it's the wombat. I should think there must be a good number of
them about here, for I've seen a great many of their holes."

"What is it like?" asked Dudley. "I never met with one."

"It's about the size of a badger, and in shape something like a large
rat," replied Brady; "but when, he's roasted, he's for all the world
like a young pig; you'd hardly know the difference if it wasn't he's
not quite so fat. The first time you see a hole with fresh tracks
going in, you dig the fellow out and roast him, and you'll thank me
for as good a dinner as ever you had in your life. He bites foully,
though, I can tell you, so take care of your hands."

"I must lay up some store of provisions for the winter," replied
Dudley; "but how to preserve them I do not know, unless I dig a
saltpan by the Sea."

"Pooh, nonsense!" answered the man, "you'll find plenty of salt-pans
ready made. There's too much of that commodity about. I can't say it's
very good, for there's mostly something bitter mixed with it; but one
must not be dainty in these countries. If you look about, you'll find
many a hole of twenty acres or more, with the salt as hard upon the
top as ice. And you have nothing to do but to cut yourself a little
tank out of the coral limestone, and make a pickling-pan of it."

"That would be a laborious business, I'm afraid," replied Dudley, "for
which I have not proper tools."

"Lord bless you! you can cut it like cheese," replied the bushranger.
"Then you've nothing to do but to let it stand out in the air for a
little while, and it grows as hard as flint. Why, the man that I was
talking about, that I saw between this and Adelaide, has built himself
quite a house of it, and all with his own hands."

As he spoke, they came to the top of a little rising ground, from
which the land sloped away with very gentle undulations for five or
six miles. Mount Shanck, with its truncated cone, and Mount Gambier,
with its peaky summits, were both within sight; while to the eastward,
over a wild extent of scrub, the blue tops of some distant hills were
seen, and the ground below, between them and the foot of Gambier, was
wonderfully and beautifully varied with wide spaces of rich green
pasture, and manifold clumps and small woods of gigantic shadowy
trees, the long shadows of which fell upon the verdant meadows as if
thrown upon green velvet.

"Well, that's mighty pretty!" cried the bushranger, as he and Dudley
stopped to gaze. "It puts me in mind of England--doesn't it you? It's
for all the world like some great gentleman's park, isn't it now? It's
a fine place that England, any how. I've never seen anything like it;
d--n them for sending me out of it, I say!"

"What a vast variety of different kinds of vegetation!" said Dudley.
"What are those dark, gloomy-looking trees there, to the eastward?"

"That's what they call the tea-tree," answered his companion; "bad
enough tea it would make, however; and this one here, under which we
are standing--heaven knows how high it is, for it seems as if it were
looking after the clouds up there--they call the stringy bark, and
those just below us are the blackwood trees. Those fellows that you
see out in the meadows, with their little leaves all strung upon a
stalk, they call mimosas here--I don't know what their right name is;
but what's better than all, I see you've got lots of juniper here: all
those bushes that you see; and when their berries are ripe, if you
could but get some molasses, or maize, or anything of that kind, and
make a still out of an old kettle, you could brew yourself some
capital gin, and be as merry as a king."

"Without subjects," said Dudley.

"All the merrier for that," answered the bushranger. "I had never a
fancy for pig-driving; and ruling a lot of men, every one of whom has
his own fancy, must be as bad or worse. Well, it is a beautiful
country, surely; and I think one might live very comfortably here, if
it was not for that roving spirit one gets. Perhaps one might turn
better too, if the folks would but let one; but that's impossible in
this country. I was bad enough when I came here, but I'm ten times
worse now, and shall be worse every day till I'm hanged."

"Did you ever try to be better?" asked Dudley. "Depend upon it you
would find it to your advantage."

"It's no use," answered the man, "and that you may find some day to
your own cost. You've done quite right to come away to a place where
there are no other white people but yourself; but they'll find you out
here in time; and if I were to stay here, they would hunt me out soon
enough, and have me down to a chain gang, and drive me madder than I
am. My only safety is in moving about, and then it's difficult to
track me. You might as well expect devils to get good as the people in
this colony; for if they wanted, there are other devils put on purpose
to prevent them. But let us talk about the place, and not the people.
I hate that sort of thing."

During the latter part of this conversation they had descended slowly
through the beautiful country before them, passing under various kinds
of trees, with the evening chirp of the cicada spreading a melancholy
murmur through the air, and multitudes of black and white cockatoos
whirling round in the air, and parroquets of every kind and colour
moving about amongst the branches. From amongst the long thick grass
at the foot of the descent a tall emu started up, and galloped away
upon its long legs across the plains. Every now and then they came
upon a thicket covered with beautiful flowers, and they found the bank
of a little stream gemmed with the Murray lily, and clothed in
different places with a shrub bearing small purple bells. The
ice-plant, too, was seen here and there; and had but the mind been at
ease, few things more delightful could be found on earth than a ramble
through that lovely scene. The spirit of peace and bounty seemed to
pervade it all, and a forcible line of a rash but beautiful poet
recurred to Dudley's mind,

   "And all but the image of God is divine."

Nevertheless, the impression of all that beauty and the calm spirit
which it seemed to give forth, was not without effect even upon his
rude companion. He walked on in silence for some way, gazing around
him on every side, and at length he said--

"I believe one does not half know how beautiful the country is when
one's living in towns. I often think it would be better if people
didn't live in towns at all, for you see one gets to like all sorts of
things one doesn't care for in the country."

"Doubtless there are many more temptations in towns," replied Dudley;
"and what is worse than all, less opportunity for a man to commune
quietly with his own thoughts; for I am quite sure, that if a person
did so always, before he acts, there would not be half the harm done
that takes place in the world. The opportunity of doing so is a great
blessing, and the habit of so doing a greater blessing still."

"I am not quite sure that that's the right cause of mischief,"
answered the bushranger. "Men seldom do things all at once. It's bit
by bit a man gets on. If a man goes into a house and takes a glass of
gin or brandy, as the case may be, it is not to get drunk, and he'd
most likely do the same if he'd an hour to think of it. It is just to
keep his spirits up when they're inclined to get low; then he finds a
friend there, and he takes another glass; and then, while they are
talking, another, till glass after glass goes into his mouth, and then
to his head, and then nobody knows what happens. It's the same with
other things too. It's all bit by bit; besides, I believe the devil is
in some people: in me, perhaps. I dare say you think so. Now, there
are the savage people here: the natives, as they call them; if the
devil isn't in them, I don't know what is. They've never had any
teaching, and yet they'll do such things as you've no notion of. I've
seen them pick a man's pocket with their toes as cleverly as any prig
in all London with his hands; and they'll throw those long spears of
theirs right into your back, at such a distance that you'd think they
couldn't hit a mountain. Then, as for their devilish tricks, they'll
kill a man for his fat just as the settlers do a bullock for its
tallow, and smear themselves all over with it, and then put red ochre
on the top of that. You must keep a sharp look out for them, for
there's no trusting them, and there's a whole heap of them not far
from here, especially the people they call the Milmenduras, great,
tall fellows, with curly hair; and there are the Fatayaries, too, but
I don't think they're so bad as the others. I saw some of their
wirlies as I came along. They're terrible savages, to be sure, and the
only way to keep clear of them is to make them think that you're what
they call a 'Mooldthorpe,' a sort of devil--that's what they think of
me, and they don't touch me."

"I would rather make them think me an angel of good than an angel of
evil," answered Dudley.

The man laughed aloud. "They'd kill ye, and eat ye, for all that," he
answered. "They think, what the officers fancy we think, that it's
only worth while minding those who torment or punish us. They care
nothing about spirits of good. It's the spirits of evil they care
about. Look there, there's one of them looking out now by that little
wood! Let's keep clear of his spear; no, it's a kangaroo, upon my
life! See how he goes hopping off, thirty feet at a jump, and yet
sometimes the wild dogs will catch them, jump as wide as they will, as
those dogs in the colony will catch me before I've done, let me roam
far or near. I know it's my luck, and so I may as well have my will
for a while."

This was not exactly the sort of conclusion to which Dudley had hoped
to lead him. He thought he discovered some small portion of good
amidst the great mass of evil in the man's nature; but he knew not how
difficult it is to eradicate weeds which have grown up, year after
year, even in a soil which might have been made at one time prolific
of other things. Neither had he sufficient experience of such
characters to be aware of the best means of planting better thoughts.
Whenever he attempted to do so, his companion flew away from the
subject, resolved not to hear, and they had reached the foot of Mount
Gambier without the least progress having been made. As Dudley began
to climb the hill, however, the bushranger exclaimed, "Why, you don't
live up there, do you?"

"Yes, indeed I do, at the very top," replied Dudley.

"Oh! then hang me if I go any farther," answered Brady. "I'm tired,
and getting sleepy, and I don't want to add a great bit to my walk off
to-morrow. It's full forty miles to Mr. Norries's place, where I
intend to sleep. The day after, I dare say I can steal a horse.
There's one, I know, at Pringle's sheep farm, and that'll carry me
into the bush near Adelaide. It'll be three weeks before I reach it, I
dare say, so if you'll give me a day or two's biscuit, I'll thank
you."

"With all my heart," answered Dudley, who had by this time given up
all hope of making an impression on his companion. "You had better
take a good stock, as you've such a long way to go."

"No," answered Brady, "there's no use a-lumbering one's self. I'll
have a dozen; that's enough for three days, at four a day, and before
I've eaten them, perhaps I may be as dead as a sheep; besides, Mr.
Norries will feed me to-morrow, and I'll make Pringle feed me the day
after."

"And who is this Mr. Norries?" asked Dudley, somewhat struck by the
name. "Is he a runaway convict, like ourselves?"

"He's a convict, sure enough," answered Brady; "but at the end of the
first year, he got indulgence, as they call it, for good behaviour and
helping the governor's secretary at a pinch. Besides, though he's
condemned for life, what he did wasn't very bad after all. He was a
sort of lawyer, you see, and got into a terrible row, as what they
call a Chartist. Devil take me if I know rightly what that means!
There were no Chartists in England when I set out on my travels. But,
however, he was cast, and sent out to Hobart Town, which he reached
just as I started off, a good many months ago. I recollect hearing
they were all very civil to him, for they do make distinctions out
here, let them say what they will."

Dudley listened with eager attention, hesitating not a little as to
how he should act in consequence of the unexpected information he had
just received. A thirst for some companionship was upon him. To know
that a well-educated and intelligent, though misguided man, was within
what seemed, in that wild and thinly-peopled tract, but a short
distance, gave him a strong desire to open some communication with
him, and curiosity as to many events in the past rendered that desire
almost irresistible. Yet he doubted and feared, for the idea of being
betrayed and carried back to the bondage from which he escaped, was
terrible to him. After much hesitation, then, he sent a brief and not
very distinct message to Norries by his lawless companion, proposing
to watch all the better against surprise thenceforward. "Tell Mr.
Norries," he said, "that there is a person living here who knew
something of him in former days, and whom he last saw about the time
when he was planning those schemes which turned out so ill."

"You would not like to tell your name, I suppose?" asked Brady.

"No, that is not necessary," replied Dudley. "If he guesses, well; if
not, it does not matter."

"Well, I think you must give me a couple of charges of powder for my
pains," replied the bushranger.

"Willingly," replied Dudley, "and some small-shot too. I have no
bullets with me but what are in the gun.

"That'll do--that'll do," was the reply. And having received the gift,
the wild and lawless man shook hands with his unfortunate companion,
and saying that he should look out for some low tree to sleep in, he
left him to pursue his way towards his solitary dwelling on the
mountain-top.



CHAPTER XXXI.


Thought, we are told by some authors, is the high and characteristic
privilege of man. The truth of the axiom is not universally admitted,
and even if it were so, I can only say that, like many other high and
characteristic privileges, thought may become very burdensome, if its
exercise is constantly enforced. I cannot help believing that the
Arabian fabulist, when he represented Sinbad the sailor cast upon a
desert island, and persecuted by an old man, who, once having got upon
his shoulders, could never be thrown off again till he was made drunk,
intended to allegorize the fate of one condemned to solitary thought,
and perhaps, to point out the only means he saw of obtaining
deliverance from its oppressive dominion.

Left once more alone, Dudley could not refrain from thinking over and
comparing the words and actions of the two men who had been his only
visitors in that solitary place, and he certainly felt none of that
regret that the last of the two had left him, which he had experienced
on the departure of the first. The very fact, however, of their having
come at all was at first a source of some apprehension to him. He had
sought out a place of refuge where he thought the foot of man had
never trod, nor ever was likely to tread, at least for many long
years; and now, within one week, two strangers, either of whom might
betray the secret of where he sojourned, had found him, and conversed
with him. How many more might be led thither, by accident or
curiosity, or in the pursuit of gain, or from any of the many motives
which lead man to wander and to explore? It was a question which
startled him, and as I have said, he felt apprehension and regret at
first; but those sensations gradually wore away, as day after day, and
hour after hour gave him more and more up to the weariness of thought.
To provide for the wants of the day or of the future, to complete his
shelter from storm and tempest, to frame from the rock, or from the
clay, or from the trunk of the cedar, or the oak, the tools and
utensils of which he had need, did not afford sufficient occupation to
engross his mind entirely throughout any one day. When he was fishing
in the lake, when he was watching for the passing of game, when he was
hewing out cisterns from the rock, or breaking with his axe the hard
crust of the salt-pool, thought would still press heavily upon him,
and daily it became more heavy and dark. To hear the tones of the
sweet human voice, to tell the feelings, or give utterance to the
fancies of his own breast, seemed each moment a privilege more to be
coveted, and he felt bitterly that man is made for society, and that
utter solitude is utter desolation.

A month passed after he had met with Brady without his seeing one
single human being, without his ever hearing the tones of even his own
voice; and the effect upon his mind may be understood when I say, that
at length, before kneeling down to pray, he murmured, "I will say my
prayers aloud, for fear I lose the use of speech."

But even that was not a relief; and darker and darker grew his
meditations as the leaves became a little brown, and the grass assumed
a yellow tinge, and the flowers gave place everywhere to the berries
in the wood, and the sun rose later, and set earlier; till at length
he could bear it no longer, and he said, "I will go out and seek this
Norries; for I believe if I remain longer here, given up altogether to
the bitter contemplation of the past and the future, my brain will
turn, and I shall go mad."

With his gun upon his shoulder, then, his powder-horn, his shot-belt,
and a large wallet of skin, containing his provision of biscuit, by
his side, he set out early in the morning, directing his course
according to the information he had received from the bushranger. The
air was fresh and cool, and here and there a faint star might still be
seen in the sky, "paling its ineffectual fires" at the approach of the
sun. For three hours he walked on lightly and with ease; but then the
heat began to have effect, and before another hour was over the sun
beat fiercely on his head, so that he was glad to sit down beneath the
shade of a tall, solitary tree, where the wind from the ocean, the
roar of which he heard not far off, could come to refresh him. He felt
how terrible it must be to cross, in the summer season, any of those
wide, arid deserts which form a considerable portion of New Holland,
and one of which he knew lay close to the east of the fertile tract in
which he had fixed his dwelling. There, for seventy or eighty miles,
extend limestone hills without grass, or tree, or water; not a herb,
not a shrub, not a living thing, if it be not the lizard or the
scorpion, is to be seen throughout the whole tract; and as he looked
to the south-east, and saw a yellow, reddish streak extending across
the distance, and resting with a hard edge upon the sky at the
horizon, he thought, "I must take care not to involve myself in such a
wilderness as that. To die of thirst must be a fearful death;" and
instinctively he rose, and walked on towards a spot in the plain where
the grass seemed somewhat greener, and the trees in more luxuriant
foliage than the rest.

He found, as he expected, a little stream, somewhat shrunk, indeed, by
the late heats, but still containing plenty of clear and beautiful
water; and wading through some reeds upon the bank under a fringe of
large trees, he was going to fill a gourd which he had dried, when
suddenly a number of birds, of the duck species, rose up close to him,
and putting his gun to his shoulder, he fired, and brought down two
with one shot. They were beautiful birds, of a jetty black colour, and
seemed fat and well-conditioned; and he laid them down on the bank,
and then went in again to fill his gourd. When he came back he found a
large snake, with its head raised, and its tongue darting in and out,
hissing at the dead birds, as if hardly comprehending how they lay so
still. The reptile did not seem to hear his approach, and he killed it
easily with the stock of his gun, saying somewhat bitterly,
"Slaughter, slaughter! It is all warfare, this life; defensive against
the strong, offensive against the weak. It is a strange state of
being!"

Almost at the same moment a loud shout met his ear, and he charged his
gun again hastily, suspecting that the cry might come from some of the
wild natives. He listened attentively, and shortly after heard a sound
amongst the bushes farther up the stream. But he had often been told
that such is the stealthy skill of the savage that, in creeping upon
his face, he does not disturb the foliage more than a light wind, and
here it was evident that the person who approached was taking no pains
to conceal his advance, dashing through the brushwood with a hasty
step, and seeming rather to court than avoid observation.

"Can it be some one in pursuit of me?" thought Dudley; but the next
moment a voice shouted aloud in English, "Who was that firing?" and
after pausing a moment the figure of Mr. Norries, with a gun in his
hand, and two dogs following him, came forth from the bushes, and
stood to gaze under one of the large detached trees. His eyes
instantly fell upon Dudley, but that gentleman's appearance was so
much altered that Norries did not recognise him at first, and cocking
his gun, advanced cautiously, with his broad brow furrowed with a
doubtful and inquiring frown. He himself was well dressed after the
colonial fashion, in a large straw hat, light linen shooting-jacket,
and cotton trousers; and certainly Dudley's appearance was somewhat
strange and Robinson Crusoe-like; the greater part of his dress being
composed of the skin of the kangaroo, and the cap upon his head,
though formed of lighter materials, being of his own manufacture from
the inner bark of some of the trees which he had cut down. The next
instant, however, Norries seemed suddenly to recognise him, and
placing his gun under his arm again, came straight across the stream
to meet him.

"Ah! Mr. Dudley! I am glad I have met you," he said. "I intended to
come and find you out as soon as the weather was a little cooler; for
that infernal villain, Brady, told me there was an Englishman who knew
me living on Mount Gambier, and I was sure it was you from his
description."

"I told him to tell you," answered Dudley; "though I did not choose to
give him my name, not that I believe he would betray me or any one,
for there is, I think, some good in the man; and I am much obliged to
him for having remembered my message."

"Betray you he certainly would not," answered Norries; "for that was
not one of his vices; and he punished it bitterly enough when he found
it in others. You heard what he did after he left me?"

"I have heard nothing since I saw him," answered Dudley. "But you
speak as if the man were dead."

"Oh! he is hanged by this time," answered Norries. "The day after he
quitted my house he stole a horse at Pringle sheep-run, and then rode
straight on night and day, I believe, to take revenge upon a man as
bad or worse than himself, who kept what they call a store. The
fellow's name was McSweeny; and it seems he had given this man Brady
up to justice. He was sitting quietly in his cabin, drinking with an
old man and a lad, about nine o'clock at night, when Brady presented
himself at the door. Few words passed between them, for Brady's
salutation was only 'McSweeny, I want you.' He had a pistol cocked in
his hand, but McSweeny walked out doggedly and asked, 'What do you
want, Brady?' 'I give you five minutes to say your prayers,' replied
the ruffian. 'I don't want five, nor one,' answered McSweeny. 'I'm not
given to prayers; and as I've lived I'll die.' There were no more
words passed, but a shot was fired; and when they ran out from the
house they found McSweeny, with his brains blown out, and lying before
his own door. The whole country was in arms after the murderer, and
the last news I heard was that he had been caught and sent to Hobart
Town, where he has been hanged ere this time, as he both desired and
deserved. But let us dismiss such a person from our thoughts, Mr.
Dudley. In intellectual being, as in mere animal existence, there are
various classes and dignities, according as he is ranged in which, we
value the individual. Who minds seeing a serpent swallow a lizard, or
a chameleon suck in a gnat? The existences which perish are so small
as not to be worth the counting; and this man's being was even less,
for all that was not contemptible was noxious. I gave him food when he
wanted it, and shelter. The utmost extent to which his gratitude
carried him was not to rob me when he went away. Let us talk of other
things. You will, doubtless, soon return to your own country. I never
shall."

The whole of his companion's manner, tone, and language surprised
Dudley not a little. There was an elevation in it, a sense of dignity
which he might have concluded would have been totally extinguished by
a criminal conviction; but Dudley had not read the character of
Norries quite aright. There are men, and he was one of them, who,
taking to their heart some great principle, religious, moral, or
political, have their reward, their encouragement, and their
consolation in following its dictates, and seeking by any means to
attain the objects which it sets before them. They build a pyramid of
thought, and its vastness sinks every other thing into vain
insignificance. I have already shown the principles which Norries had
adopted, and the objects that he sought; and let it not be supposed
that, because sometimes he did seek those objects by means that his
own heart condemned, he had any motives of personal ambition, any
dreams of individual greatness in the future to gratify. With a
mistake, not at all uncommon in politics as well as in religion, he
fancied that the end not only justified the means, but dignified it.
Nay, more; he felt proud of every sacrifice which he made for the one
great principle. The sacrifice of wealth, of station, of profession,
of friendship, of prejudices or opinions, of liberty, ay, of life
itself, were all in his eyes honourable, if incurred in the pursuit of
his grand object. To be branded as a felon, to be sent forth from his
native country as a convict, ay, to work as a slave, had it been
required as a consequence of his assertion of his wild notions of
liberty, would have only added to his personal dignity in his own
eyes, and to the dignity of the cause for which he suffered.

Dudley had never met with a political fanatic before; and though he
soon learned to comprehend his companion's feelings, it at first
struck him as somewhat surprising to find his manner prouder, and his
tone more elevated, as a convict in a distant land, than they had
appeared when free in his own country. In answer to his last words,
however--words which puzzled him as much as the manner in which they
were spoken, he replied, "There is no probability, Mr. Norries, of my
ever returning to my own land. Perhaps you are unaware, that for an
offence in which I had no share, I was condemned to transportation for
life. Indignant and disgusted, indeed, by the scene to which I was
transferred, the cruel tyranny on one part, and the wickedness and
vice on the other, I contrived to escape, and made my way hither,
concealed on board a whaler, and I must therefore request you to
mention to no one that you have seen me. I find, indeed, that of all
punishments one of the most terrible is solitude; and I was on my way
to visit you, even for a day's relief, when I met you here. But there
is no chance whatsoever of my even attempting to revisit England."

Norries smiled. "Magna est veritas, et prevalebit," he replied. "You
are innocent, and you will be proved innocent. I was guilty, as far as
bad laws can make men guilty who strive against oppression. I denied
not the splendid crime they imputed to me, and here I stand, glorying
in it. Here I will remain, too, for ever, seeing new nations rise up
around me, and trying to give such a direction to their energies while
yet in infancy, that in their manhood they shall root out the very
name of oppression from their land, and every man be free, and
virtuous in his freedom. I thought it no shame, indeed, as the
patriarch Joseph by his wisdom won favour with those to whom he was
sold in bondage, to render myself useful to my taskmasters, and thus
to get my hand withdrawn from the bonds I could not break; but with
England I have done for ever. Twice have I struggled for her freedom,
twice have those who should have supported me fled at the first note
of danger. I will see what a new race will do. But as you are so far
on your way to my dwelling, Mr. Dudley, either come on with me, or I
will go back with you. But no; it were better you should come on, for
I have much to talk to you about, and something to give you. Do you
not remember I promised you some papers? They are lodged in safe
hands, and you shall have them yet. The two most important I have with
me here."

"How did you contrive to preserve them?" asked Dudley. "Me they
stripped of everything."

"There were ways and means," replied Norries.--"Sometimes in the sole
of my shoe, sometimes in the lining of my coat, they were concealed,
but at all events they are safe, and shall be yours. The others are
left at Clive's house, and will be given to you on your return."

"Do not, do not, Mr. Norries," replied Dudley, "try to nourish hopes
in me which may--nay, which must--be disappointed. All that could be
done to save me from disgrace and infliction was done at my trial.
Every evidence that could be brought forward was adduced in my favour,
and nothing that poor Edgar Adelon could do was left undone. My
counsel, too, were the first in the land, and I am bound to admit, as
one educated in the study of the law, that setting aside all
consideration of my character, and sentiments, of which neither judge
nor jury could know much, there was sufficient to convict me."

"And yet you were innocent," answered Norries. "That should show you,
Mr. Dudley, what sort of things laws are. Edgar Adelon did all that he
could, indeed; and I helped him to the best of my power, though I was
unable to move from the wounds I had received. But all that good kind
youth's efforts were in vain, and would have been fruitless even if he
had succeeded in finding the men he sought. I spoke with them
afterwards, and neither of them ever saw you on that fatal night, so
that they could prove nothing. All his labour served but two ends: to
bring me hither; for it was through his inquiries for me that others
were led to the place of my retreat; and secondly, to open his own
eyes to the true character of the viper who has poisoned your
existence he thinks, for ever."

"Whom do you mean?" asked Dudley, eagerly; "I know no one who failed
to do anything that was possible to serve me. Sir Arthur Adelon, it is
true, was absent for a strange length of time; but still, all that he
did, probably all he could do, was kind and generous. Do you mean
him?"

"No!" answered Norries, somewhat sternly, "I do not. He was bound in
chains of fear; and in the end he would have risked something perhaps;
but it was then too late. No; I mean the man who contrived the whole
accusation, who gave it probability, who removed the proofs of
innocence, who quietly, and calmly, and deliberately, drew toils
around you from which you could not escape, and then left the dogs of
the law to worry you at their pleasure."

"This is very strange!" exclaimed Dudley; "I have had no suspicion of
such practices. Do you mean to say I have been made the victim of a
conspiracy?"

"No," replied Norries, "for a conspiracy implies many acting for an
end of which they are conscious. Here there was but one, guiding
others who were unconscious of the end for which he strove. Sir Arthur
Adelon, himself, was but one of the tools."

"Can you mean Filmer?" asked Dudley.

"Ay, even so," answered Norries; "but come on to my house, and I will
tell you all about it; for not being taken till the assizes were over,
I was long in prison, and there I learned many facts which, skilfully
put together, developed the whole scheme."

"Had we not better rest here till the heat of the day is passed?"
asked Dudley. "We have fresh water here; and I have a few biscuits. We
can get fish out of the river, too, and broil them speedily."

Norries smiled. "How soon," he said, "man habituates himself to
circumstances. What would you have said to such fare two years ago,
Mr. Dudley? Hard biscuit, coarse bream, and cold water! But I can
treat you better, and can show you a road which, sheltered by tall
trees, never feels the sun except for about half a mile, and which,
open to the sea, catches every breeze that blows. There is a little
lake, too, on the way, and I have got a canoe upon the lake, in which
we can skim easily across, saving many miles of toil. Let us bring
these birds with us; they will add to our evening meal, for their
flesh is as good as their plumage is beautiful;" and taking up the
ducks by the feet, he walked on up the stream, with Dudley following,
buried in meditation upon all he had lately heard.



CHAPTER XXXII.


There was a ball at the Government House at Hobart Town, and although,
perhaps, had any one possessed the wishing carpet of the eastern
prince, and sailed, in the twinkling of an eye, from Paris or St.
James's, to the shores of Van Dieman's Land, they might have seen in
the assembly dresses which were at least twelve months behind the
fashion, and hair dressed after an exploded mode, yet it was,
nevertheless, a very gay and interesting sight, and people seemed to
be enjoying themselves as much as if the saloons had been those of a
king's palace, and everybody present had been lords and ladies. A
great deal of taste had been shown in the decorations; the company
comprised the elite of the inhabitants; and although, as is usual in a
colony--I might almost say invariable--the government officers and the
government officers' wives, were not without envy, hatred, malice, and
all uncharitableness towards each other, yet the carping and
censorious spirit which would have full indulgence a few hours after,
was restrained for the time, and nothing could be more civil and
courteous than Mrs. So-and-so was to Mrs. So-and-so, or the Attorney
General to the Colonial Treasurer.

There was a great number of young and very pretty women present,
looking like the fairest blossoms amongst the wilderness of flowering
shrubs with which the rooms were decorated; but it might be observed
that many of the youngest and the prettiest turned their eyes from
time to time to one spot in the room more frequently than they did to
any other. That spot, it is true, was not very far distant from the
position assumed by the Governor himself; but yet it is probable it
was not at the Governor they were looking, for he was a grave, elderly
gentleman, of no great attractions, and about two yards from him there
stood a young gentleman of much more captivating appearance. He seemed
to be hardly one-and-twenty years of age, slight in form, but very
handsome in features, with the light hair waving in beautiful glossy
curls round his brow, and a good deal of whisker also strongly curled
upon his cheeks. He was dressed in the height of the English fashion
at the time; and certainly no person on all the earth, not even a
Parisian lady, is dressed so well, and with such good taste, as a
high-bred English gentleman. The plain black coat fitting to
perfection, but light and perfectly easy, the snowy white waistcoat,
the shirt, of extraordinary fineness, as pure as driven snow, the
plain wristband turned back over the cuff, the beautifully-made gloves
and boots, and withal that air of ease and grace which, if not a part
of the dress, except metaphorically, gives value to the whole, at once
distinguished that young man from all the rest, and pointed him out as
one of the marked in the capital of nations. There was also something
in the expression of his countenance, as well as in his general air,
which was calculated to attract attention. There was a quick, bright,
remarking glance of his eye, as it fixed upon the door by which
visitors entered, that might speak a keen and intelligent spirit, if
not some eager and anxious object at the moment; and the slight bend
between the eye-brows on the fair broad brow, as well as the firm
setting together of the teeth and beautifully chiselled lips, seemed
to imply to the one or two physiognomists in the room, a character of
rapid decision and determined perseverance. Had it not been for that
expression, with features so fine, and a skin so fair and delicate,
the face would have been almost too feminine.

To this young stranger--for he was quite new to the colony--the
Governor from time to time introduced some of the most distinguished
of his guests; and he spoke to them gravely, but courteously, with a
sort of flashing and fanciful wit, which seemed so natural and easy
to him as not even to produce a smile on his own lip, at that which
called a laugh from others. In fact, it was but the expression of the
thoughts which whatever was said to him aroused, done without effort
and without object.

At length another gentleman entered the room, dressed much in the same
style as himself, and bearing with him the same air of gentlemanly
ease. He advanced straight to the Governor, shook hands with him as an
old friend, and was then turning away--for it seemed, from some after
conversation, that they had had a long conference in the morning; but
the representative of the crown stopped the new comer, saying,
"Captain M----, I must introduce you to a young friend who arrived in
the Cambria yesterday. He is travelling for pleasure and information,
he tells me; and though the amount to be derived here is, I believe,
not very great, and this is somewhat a strange place to seek it in,
yet I am anxious that any we can afford should be given to him, and I
know none so able to give it as yourself. Mr. Adelon, allow me to
introduce my friend Captain M----, whose objects in visiting this and
the neighbouring colonies are somewhat like to your own, only he has
the advantage of having been some months before you."

Edgar Adelon held out his hand to his new acquaintance, saying, "I
have had the pleasure of hearing much of you, Captain M----. Some of
the gentlemen whom we took up at the Cape, and especially the surgeon,
were well acquainted with your labours of benevolence. I trust you
will grant me the pleasure of your acquaintance."

Captain M---- had been gazing at him with a look of much interest, but
perhaps a little too attentively to be quite courteous. He replied,
however, "Anything I can do to serve or to assist you I shall be most
happy to perform. I have heard of your family, I imagine. You are Mr.
Adelon, of Brandon, I believe?"

"My father has lived at Brandon for some years," replied Edgar; "but
it belongs to my cousin, to whom he is guardian. Our own place is
Overbridge, in Yorkshire."

"Is your father at Brandon now?" inquired Captain M----.

"No," replied Edgar; "he is a great way off. My cousin's health
required change of air, and he has been wandering with her far and
wide. The last letter I had from them was dated Jerusalem."

"Then I suppose you did not accompany them?" said the Governor; "yet I
should have thought, Mr. Adelon, much more, both of pleasure and
information, might have been derived from such a tour as that which
they took, than from a long, dull voyage to Van Dieman's Land."

"Some people prefer soda-water, some champagne," answered Edgar, with
a smile. "Business, to me of deep interest, kept me in England, at the
period of their departure; some accidental circumstances pointed my
inclination this way; and in three days after I had formed my
resolution I was upon the water. The voyage was dull enough, I will
admit; but I hope, sir, that I have now cracked the nut and come to
the kernel."

"I think that your father's name is Edgar," said Captain M----,
returning to his questions, not without an object: "Mr. Edgar Adelon,
if I mistake not?"

"No," replied the young gentleman, "that is my misfortune and his
fault. His name is Sir Arthur Adelon, but he had me christened Edgar,
I am sorry to say."

"I do not see why you should be sorry," rejoined the Governor; "it is
a good and well-sounding name enough."

"There are some people, my dear Sir George," answered Edgar, "who are
deeply read in history, and who naturally confound me with Edgar
Atheling, giving me an historical value which I do not yet possess. It
is true the worthy gentleman they take me for has been dead hard upon
a thousand years; but people's wits now move by railroad as well as
their bodies, and they have not time to stop for such trifles as that.
A thousand years are nothing to them; and a lady the other day entered
with me at large into that part of my family history; evidently
thinking that if I was not actually the man himself, he must at least
have been my uncle. I very humbly begged pardon for correcting her,
but assured her that the relationship was not so close as she thought.
She said it was all the same so there was a relationship, and upon
that score I referred her to my father, who believes it, though I do
not."

At that moment there came another call upon the Governor's attention,
and Captain M---- and Edgar were left standing alone together. "I am
afraid, Mr. Adelon," said the former; "you have thought my questions
very impertinent, but I had a motive."

"All men have, I believe," answered Edgar; "and it is as likely,
Captain M----, that you have thought my answers impertinent likewise.
But I, too, had a motive, which, perhaps, when we know each other
better, I may trouble you with. I have been somewhat vexed, too, and
disappointed since I came here, and do not altogether wish the
Governor, though an excellent man, I believe, to see into my feelings
or my views."

"Disappointed already!" said Captain M----; "that is very soon."

"True," answered Edgar; "but still it is so. Disappointed, not
baffled; for my motive in coming was too strong to suffer me easily to
give up the pursuit of my object. You see I am frank with you."

"And I will be frank with you, Mr. Adelon," said Captain M----, in a
low voice. "The fact is, I have a letter for you, and I wished to be
certain that you were the person to whom it is addressed."

"For me!" exclaimed Edgar, eagerly. "Who is it from?"

"I must give you a strange answer," replied Captain M----. "It is from
the Nameless Fisherman by the Nameless Lake."

"That is no information," replied Edgar. "Have you got it here? Could
we not go into another room?"

"I have it here in Hobart Town," replied Captain M----; "but I
certainly did not bring it to the Government House with me. You must
have a little patience, my dear sir. I will bring the letter to you
to-morrow; and to tell you the truth, having found you so
unexpectedly, I must take a little time to consider of my own conduct,
for there are circumstances connected with that letter which it may be
difficult to deal with."

"Of course, if the letter is addressed to me, it must be given to me,"
replied Edgar, almost sharply.

"Undoubtedly," answered Captain M----; "but, perhaps, I may not feel
myself justified in affording you any farther information than the
letter itself contains."

"I dare say that will be sufficient," answered Edgar, with a better
satisfied air; "but at all events, Captain M----, I think, if that
letter be what I suspect, I can show you reasons for giving me every
information in your power, sufficient to satisfy fully a man of your
character."

"We shall see," answered Captain M----; "and in the mean time, as I
have said, I will think over the circumstances. At what hour shall I
call upon you tomorrow?"

"At any hour you like," answered Edgar. "The sooner the better,
indeed. Will you say six in the morning?"

"Rather early," replied Captain M----; "but so be it. They are going
to begin dancing, I see. Is that one of your amusements?"

"Not to-night," answered Edgar; and then after a pause, he added, in a
low, meditative tone, "The Nameless Fisherman of the Nameless Lake!
Was he a tall, exceedingly handsome man; a gentleman in every word,
and look, and movement, with the most scrupulous taste in his dress?"

He was interrupted by a smile, faint and almost sad, which came upon
Captain M----'s lip. "He is certainly tall," replied the young
officer, "and evidently highly educated. Doubtless he has been very
handsome, too, but when I saw him, he was exceedingly emaciated, pale
and hollow-eyed; and as for his dress, it was not as neat and precise
as you mention. It was partly the dress of a convict, partly that of a
savage, and his beard was of a month's growth at least."

"I had forgotten," said Edgar, vehemently, putting his hand before his
eyes; "I had forgotten how he has been trampled on, and injured, and
oppressed; and what changes such injury and oppression may work, even
in the innocent, the generous, and the noble."

The suddenness of his gesture, and the warmth with which he spoke,
called several eyes upon him; and the next instant he turned sharply
away, and entered a lesser room on the Governor's left. Captain
M---- followed him, beginning to understand and appreciate his
character. As but few people had yet arrived, the room was vacant, and
sitting down at a card-table together, they entered into a long and
earnest conversation, carried on in low tones, for nearly an hour; and
then, some other persons entering, they returned to the ball-room with
faces apparently more cheerful than when they had left it.



CHAPTER XXXIII.


The least perceptible gleam of gray light was shining in the eastern
sky; the stars were twinkling clear and large, with hardly diminished
brightness, when, from the door of a house, in the midst of wild woods
and beautiful savannas, came forth two men, and took their way across
a patch of half-cultivated land before the door. The dwelling itself
was an odd-looking construction, but not altogether unpleasant to the
eye. The principal building was a long range on the ground floor,
constructed of masses of very white stone, neatly hewn and joined
together, while above, what seemed a single room, with two windows
unglazed, towered above the rest, with a flat roof. All the way along
the front ran a little balcony, supported by rough trunks of trees,
and decorated with the wild vine; while, along the edges of the walks,
which had been carefully laid out through the cultivated patch I have
spoken of, were little trellises of lath and twig, partially covered
with an immense variety of climbing plants. The whole had an air of
comfort, and neatness, and security, as it were, which spread, like an
emanation of the social spirit, into the scene around, and took from
it that appearance of desolation which Dudley felt so much in his own
wilder, though more beautiful, habitation.

For about five miles Norries walked on by the side of his guest of the
preceding night; and then they came to the edge of a low melancholy
lake, in the midst of the thickest part of the scrub, as the low woods
are called, in which the dark blue hues of a heavy dawning sky were
reflected, varied with lines of light, as the rising sun caught upon
the edges of the dull clouds. Three large snowy white birds were
hovering over the surface of the gloomy waters; and through a break in
the woods beyond, a dull orange hue marked the horizon where the day
was appearing.

The canoe was found where they had left it on the preceding evening;
and as they got into the frail bark, Norries remarked, "It will save
you fifteen miles of heavy march, for the tarn is very narrow here;
but on foot you would have to take the whole way round, which makes
the distance well nigh sixty miles, to the foot of Mount Gambier from
my house, I have never been there myself, but so the scoundrel Brady
told me."

"Not so far, I think," replied Dudley; "but I trust, Mr. Norries, you
will come up to my lonely dwelling ere long; for sad and desolate as a
residence there was before, it will be even more so now. My own fate
was a dark shadow, but I still had confidence in human nature. I
thought it capable of crimes, undoubtedly, committed under strong
temptation or sudden passions; but the black page in man's character
which you have opened to me, has made me feel sadder than ever. It is
another confidence gone, Mr. Norries, and that is always painful."

"We grow grave as we grow old," answered Norries, paddling his canoe
with no mean skill, "because we lose the delusions which fill youth
with smiles; but do we not grow wiser too, sir? Nevertheless, do not
let the discovery of some things in the world, which you did not know,
induce you to judge too harshly because you had before judged too
leniently. It is in the just appreciation of men and things that lies
the wisdom which gives no merriment but much tranquillity. I have
learned some hard lessons lately, Mr. Dudley as well as yourself; but
they have not made me misanthropical. I have found that there are
worse men in the world, feebler men in the world--deeper crime, and
deeper folly, than I thought; but at the same time, I have found
devotion more high and pure, honesty more incorruptible, and wisdom in
simplicity, more beautiful than even my enthusiasm had ever figured.
It is as wrong to undervalue as to overvalue men, to hope too little
from them as to expect too much; but, for you, brighter days
undoubtedly will come, and with them hopes and enthusiasms, which
revive, like flowers refreshed by dew, as soon as the sun of success
arises. I am too old for such things, but I hope I have found peace."

"I trust that it may be so in your case," replied Dudley, "but I will
indulge no hopes in my own. They have branded me with the name of
felon; can they ever wipe out that stain? They have severed ties which
can hardly be knit again. Even now, I know not the extent of the evil;
and from my experience of life, I am inclined to believe that human
hope, even in despair, so much outstrips probability, that when ills
of any kind are to be suffered and endured, they are sure to be much
greater than foresight reckoned upon."

"It is a heavy view of life, indeed," answered Norries; "but yet I
hope you will find yourself mistaken. No one can tell, however; and as
I have been deluded myself by others, I will take no share in
deluding."

At this point the conversation dropped for the time, and was not
resumed again till they were nearing that shore of the lake which was
next to Mount Gambier. There Norries left his guest upon the bank,
adding a few more cautions and instructions in regard to the
productions, climate, and inhabitants of New Holland; and wishing him
heartily good bye, turned his canoe, and rowed, or paddled, towards
the other side of the lake.

Dudley walked on, with his gun under his arm, while the glorious light
of the rising sun spread broad over the whole scene. The morning air
was fresh, and he felt invigorated by repose and society; but still
his mind was sadly depressed, and his eyes were more frequently bent
upon the ground than raised to the woody scene around him, or to the
glorious sky above. At length, however, about four hours before noon,
he paused for a moment in the midst of a wide savannah, surrounded on
every side by magnificent trees, to gaze at the park-like appearance
of the landscape, which had reminded him strongly, as had been the
case with Brady, of some of the most beautiful parts of his native
land. The memories that it called up were sweet, but a well of
bitterness sprang up in the past, turning the whole cup of life to
gall.

As he looked around, with a slow and contemplative gaze, he fancied he
saw a dim, shadowy figure creeping quietly along amidst the tall bolls
of the trees on the edge of the wide meadow. If his eyes did not
deceive him, it was the form of a tall man, stealing through the
second or third row of cedars, which were there very thick; but though
he watched intently, he could not catch another glance of it, and he
could only guess that it was one of the natives, who, on seeing a
white man, had plunged into the deeper parts of the scrub, or had
hidden himself behind some tree or bush. He knew that the aborigines
were fierce and cunning, especially the Milmendura, who were said to
frequent that neighbourhood; but he was well armed, and did not feel
much apprehension, for he had heard that the greater part of the tribe
were down at the Coorong, a great salt inlet of the sea, many miles
distant, or at the lakes in the same neighbourhood. With one or two,
he thought, if he should meet them, he could cope easily, at least on
open ground; and he consequently walked on without any appearance of
suspicion, though he kept his eyes upon the scrub, as if looking for
game. The cedars were succeeded by a large patch of tall stringy bark
trees, having no brushwood beneath them, and there he twice more
caught a sight of the dim figure, flitting along, almost step by step,
as he advanced, and then sheltering itself behind one of the large
trunks. He had now no doubt that it was that of a man watching him,
which certainly was not altogether pleasant, especially as the dark
colour of the native's skin so much resembled, in the shade, the
objects amongst which he was moving, that it was with very great
difficulty he was distinguished at all.

When Dudley arrived at the spot where the savannah ended, he chose a
passage through a more open part of the belt of woodland which
separated it from a still larger extent of grazing ground, and kept a
keen watch upon his right, that he might not be attacked unprepared.
He saw nothing, and heard nothing, however, for five or six hundred
yards, till he was just issuing forth again into the meadows beyond,
and had his eye upon the top of Mount Gambier, seen over the wavy
outline of the scrub; but then a cry was heard, more like the sudden
yelp of a dog when hurt, than any sound produced by a human throat,
and something came whizzing through the trees towards him. The natural
impulse was to jump aside at once; but before he could do it, a long
and apparently heavy spear descended within two yards of him, burying
its sharp point deep in the ground, and quivering as it stood nearly
erect, like a young tree newly planted.

Dudley instantly cocked both barrels of his gun, and looked towards
the spot whence the missile came. But nothing was to be seen but the
trunks of the trees, with here and there a little patch of underwood.
No moving thing was within sight, but the branches gently agitated by
the fresh morning air. Pulling the spear out of the ground, the
wanderer carried it away with him as well as his gun, and walking
quickly on, got as fast as possible into the open ground again, which
now lay before him, unbroken for an extent of nearly three miles. A
wood of tall trees was prolonged upon his right; and on his left was a
piece of uneven bushy land, between the meadow and a sterile tract
stretching to the sea-shore; but between the two covers, the space of
open meadow ground, with nothing but a solitary tree starting up here
and there, varied in breadth from a mile to a mile and a half, so
that, by keeping a middle course, he was out of reach of spear or
arrow sent from beneath the trees. He walked on, then, quietly looking
around him, indeed, from time to time, but displaying no sign of fear
or haste; and more than once he thought he caught sight of a native in
the wood, who did not venture to come out into the open meadow.

By the time he had walked to within five or six hundred yards of the
end of the savannah, the sun had gained great power, and the length of
the shadows had diminished considerably. Before him lay some miles of
country, neither exactly wood nor exactly pasture, but undulating, and
broken with a number of scattered trees, and large clumps of mimosas
and cedars, together with thickets of various kinds of shrubs, and
juniper bushes, rising to an unusual height. That there was one enemy
at least near, Dudley had already proof sufficient; and the tract
through which he had to pass before he could reach his mountain
dwelling-place was undoubtedly well fitted for the attack of a subtle
assailant. There were a thousand places, as he well knew--for he was
now entering a country which he had frequently explored--whence a
concealed enemy might hurl one of the tremendous spears of the
country, without exposing himself, even in the least degree. After
short consideration, Dudley resolved to seek a resting-place at a
little rising knoll in the savannah, shaded by two or three mimosas,
and at the distance of fully three hundred yards from the wood, hoping
that, if the savage who had been watching him were alone, he would get
tired of waiting for an opportunity, and leave him to pursue his
journey without farther molestation. He seated himself, then, laying
down his gun and the spear beside him, but not removing the axe from
his belt, as it was there readier to his hand; and, taking some
provisions from his wallet, he began his frugal meal, still keeping a
wary eye upon the country round. He had just finished the portion of
food which he allowed himself, and had drunk half the water contained
in his gourd, when he thought he perceived a curious undulatory
movement in the long dry grass at no great distance. The wind had
fallen away, so that it could not be produced by that cause; and he
felt sure that a snake, let its size be what it might, would have
crept on its way without such evident signs of its progress. Turning
his eye a little to the left, he saw the long grass agitated in a
similar manner; and starting up at once, he cocked his gun again, and
pointed it at one of the spots where the motion was apparent. The act
of rising gave him a better view; and he now distinctly saw several
dark objects moving towards him, whenever the grass was thrown aside a
little as they advanced. He hesitated an instant, unwilling to
sacrifice human life; but knowing that his own must depend upon
decision--for both the spear which had been hurled at him, and the
insidious method of approach now adopted, showed that, if they were
men who were creeping up, they must be enemies--he took his
resolution, and, aiming well, fired at the object which had first
caught his eye.

In an instant, with a wild yell, rose up six or seven tall and
frightful savages, with long curly hair, bedaubed with grease and
ochre. One, the moment he had reached his feet, fell back again amidst
the grass; but the others, poising their spears lightly for an
instant, discharged them all at once at Dudley with an aim fearfully
accurate. The exceedingly brief pause they had made, however, to
direct their missiles, gave him time enough to jump behind the nearest
mimosa. Three spears passed on one side, one on the other, and two
struck the tree, and tore off a large portion of the bark. The
wanderer had but short time for consideration; for after having cast
their spears, the savages rushed on with clubs, and other weapons of
their own construction, shouting and screaming wildly. Snatching up
the spear, of which he had possessed himself, Dudley set his back
against the tree, aiming the second barrel of his gun at a tall,
powerful man, who was the foremost, and seemed to be the commander of
the party. His situation was desperate, indeed, but he determined to
sell his life dearly. His gun made him certain of one of the enemy;
and he calculated that, what between the spear he held and his
hatchet, he might bring down two more; but three still uninjured would
remain, even when this was accomplished; and, unable to throw the
javelin with their force and precision, as soon as his gun was
discharged, each savage had an advantage over him, which must in the
end overpower resistance. The leader of the natives, however, seeing
the barrel of the fowling-piece directed towards himself, and probably
fully aware of its fatal effects, both from what he had seen that day,
and previous knowledge, halted suddenly, and then spoke a few words to
his companions in their own tongue. The effect was instantaneous; the
men separated at once, and running round the clump of trees, with the
second spear which each carried, poised in their hands, prepared once
more to attack from a distance, and from every quarter, so that some
one weapon was sure to take effect.

Seeing that he must die, Dudley, still aiming at the chief, was
dropping his finger on the trigger, when, to his surprise, the man
fell back upon the ground with a loud shriek; and Dudley might have
been tempted to imagine that it was a feint to prevent him from
firing, had he not at the same instant heard the sharp report of a
gun, succeeded instantly by another, while, at the same moment, a
second of the savages sprang high up into the air, dropping his lance
with a fearful yell. A loud cheer from the side of the low bushes
followed instantly; and the assailants, finding themselves assailed by
arms and numbers superior to their own, fled as fast as they could go,
one of them throwing his spear in haste at Dudley before he went, but
only grazing his shoulder slightly, in consequence of a hurried and
ill-directed aim.

Thanking God for his preservation, Dudley turned towards the spot from
whence the cheer he had heard proceeded, and beheld a party of five or
six men advancing from the scrub. One was on foot, but all the rest
were mounted; and Dudley, to his surprise, recognised in the
pedestrian the vigorous form of Norries, whom he had thought full
twenty miles away. The young wanderer advanced at once from under the
mimosas to meet his deliverers; but as he came nearer, the aspect of
one of the horsemen seemed familiar to his sight. Associations sweet
and happy rose up, which he had not suffered to visit him for years.
Hopes undefined and vague, but bright and glorious, swam before his
eyes, and with a beating heart and giddy brain, Dudley stopped unable
to take another step in advance.



CHAPTER XXXIV.


At the same moment that Dudley, with his whole thoughts and feelings
cast into confusion, halted suddenly in his advance, the horseman who
was coming forward on the right hand of Norries drew his rein tight,
and sprang to the ground. A few words passed between him and his
companion, accompanied by quick and eager gesticulations, and then he
darted forward and clasped Dudley's hand in his own.

"Dudley!" "Edgar!" were the only words that were uttered by either for
several moments, for overpowering emotion in the bosom of each forbade
all farther utterance. The coming up of Norries was a relief to both,
although there were several strangers in the party who accompanied
him, and in one of them Dudley thought he recognised an officer of the
government whom he had seen at Hobart Town.

"Did I not tell you, Mr. Dudley," said Norries, in his abrupt way,
"that, notwithstanding all the wickedness and the crime which this
world contains, all the folly, the feebleness, and the selfishness
which are to be found in every class of life, there is still devotion
more high and pure, honesty more incorruptible, and wisdom more
beautiful, than even the enthusiasm of inexperience can picture to the
mind of youth?"

"You did, indeed," answered Dudley, with a bewildered look; "but I do
not comprehend all this. In heaven's name, Edgar, how came you hither?
What brought you to this place?"

"To see you, Dudley," answered Edgar, wringing his hand again; "to
bring you good tidings, to comfort, to----"

"Well, well," cried Norries, interrupting him, "we will talk that all
over by-and-bye. Don't you see that Mr. Dudley is a good deal
discomposed by all this? He is very glad to meet with an old friend
from England, and that is enough to shake a man's heart who has not
known what gladness is for many a long month. Besides, he has had to
defend his life against a whole herd of these savages. My gun served
you well there, Mr. Dudley, and two of the balls you gave me last
night for my own defence have been turned to yours. But let us come up
to the scene of action, and see what the results are. I brought two of
the men down, I think."

"And I one," answered Dudley; "but one of them was only wounded, and I
believe got away with the rest. Those spears of theirs are frightful
things; and I had five or six of them thrown at me at once. The tree
sheltered me that time, but I could not have escaped them again in the
same manner, and must have died here, had it not been for what I must
call your marvellous arrival at the very moment when my fate was in
the balance."

"It was not marvellous at all," answered Norries. "The fact is, as
soon as I had got to the other side of the lake, after leaving you
this morning, I found Mr. Adelon and these other gentlemen coming down
from my house, where they had been to seek me for information and
guidance; and paddling back again, while they rode round, we followed
very close upon your heels. We saw some of the natives moving about,
and suspected that they were watching ourselves, which only made us
hurry our pace, and follow the track under the low scrub between the
pasture and the shore. Hearing these black dogs yelping, and the
report of a gun, we were quite sure that some European was in trouble,
and so we scrambled through the bushes as fast as we could go, and got
in sight of our friends with the spears just at the right moment. You
must have walked very slow, or halted somewhere, for you had a full
hour's start of us."

"I did walk slow," answered Dudley, "and I also sat down to rest under
the trees, in hopes that the savages, having no cover to hide them,
and being afraid, I believe, of a gun, would free me from their
unpleasant company, and leave me to pursue my way during the evening
in peace. But it seems they need very little cover, for without a bush
or shrub of any kind to hide them, they had got within a hundred yards
of me, before I was aware of their approach."

"Lord bless you, sir!" cried the government officer, who was following
slowly as they advanced towards the mimosa trees, "they will creep
through the long grass just like a rattle-snake. But here lies one of
them, dead enough, I think." And with that he dismounted, and turned
over the body of one of the savages with his foot. The man had
apparently died instantly, and without pain; for Norries' ball had
passed through his heart, and the features, though horrible in
themselves, were not contorted. Another was found a moment after, with
the same low, unpleasant brow running back at a sharp angle from the
eyes; and after gazing at it for a moment, Dudley turned inquiringly
to Norries, saying, "What shall we do with the bodies?"

"Oh! leave them where they are," answered Norries. "Their friends will
come and fetch them; and some day or another you may see them slung up
between two bushes, like a scarecrow in a field in England. But now,
Mr. Dudley, I think these gentlemen and I had better go on to your
place, for this, I believe, is the only opportunity I shall ever have
of returning your visit."

"I shall be very happy to do all I can for their convenience,"
answered Dudley, looking at the numerous party with some hesitation;
"but I think you could give them better accommodation, Mr. Norries,
for I have nowhere to lodge myself but a hole in a rock."

"I can hardly take them there," whispered Norries. "I have often poor
creatures who have run away coming about me, and you see there are
some of the government people here."

"Oh! never mind the accommodation, sir," exclaimed the government
officer, speaking at the same time. "We are all bushmen except Mr.
Adelon and his servant, and we can make a bivouac of it, if you can
lodge those two."

"That I think I can do," answered Dudley, "though very roughly. You do
not know, Edgar," he continued, turning to his young friend, "what it
is to lead a rover's life here."

"It is a life I should like beyond all things, for a short time at
least," replied Edgar Adelon; but the officer added almost at the same
time, addressing Dudley, with a meaning smile, "You have had a good
three months' trial of it, sir, at all events."

Dudley hardly knew what to understand from his manner, for there was a
shrewd, intelligent look about the man's countenance whenever he
addressed him, which plainly indicated that he knew all about his
actual situation as an escaped convict, or deserter, as it is
frequently called in colonial parlance; but, at the same time, his
manner was respectful, and not in the least degree menacing, so that
Dudley could not suppose for one moment, either from his general
demeanour or from the company in which he came thither, that his
object was to apprehend and convey him back to a penal settlement. Yet
what was he to think? What was he to expect? He did not venture to
indulge in hopes, for the bright promise-maker had so frequently
deceived him that he trusted her no longer; and even the first whisper
of her voice, sweet and soothing as it ever is, he shrunk from, as if
it had been the fanning of a vampire's wing lulling him into a fatal
repose. Hope was, indeed, the enemy whom he dreaded most, for he
feared that that sweet voice of hers might prove more treacherous than
man's bitterest hate. Neither could he understand how his fate could
have been changed; but while he said to himself, "No, I will not
indulge in hope," he trusted still.

Giving his horse to the servant who followed him, Edgar Adelon walked
on by Dudley's side, sometimes conversing with him and sometimes in
silence. They looked at each other frequently, with an anxious glance,
as if each had much to say to the other--questions to ask, tales to
tell, intelligence to communicate; but there were so many always round
them, that it would have been difficult to say one word unheard, and
the common feelings and thoughts of mutual interests in the breasts of
both were not fitted for indifferent ears. They had proceeded some ten
or twelve miles in this manner, and Dudley thought he perceived that
Edgar walked with a fainter pace, when they arrived upon the bank of a
broad but not very deep river, a tributary, apparently, of the Murray
or the Glenelg. Dudley had crossed it on the preceding day, and knew
that in no place it was more than knee-deep. He was about to walk in
at once, therefore, but Edgar knelt down upon the bank to drink,
saying, "I am dreadfully thirsty, and hungry too, if the truth must be
told; for we expected to find provisions at your house, Mr. Norries,
but were disappointed by not finding you within."

"You should have gone in and taken them, young gentleman," replied
Norries; "we never scruple at such things in the scrub. Every man is
welcome to whatever the house contains in the way of food. I dare say,
however, Mr. Dudley has a biscuit or two in his wallet. You look
faint."

"He has not touched a morsel all day," said the officer. "He was so
eager to get forward, we could not make him eat."

"I have only three hard biscuits left," answered Dudley; "but stay, I
have the means of getting more nourishing food. I saw fish in this
river as I passed yesterday, and they must be at feed about this time.
If you will light a fire, I will soon get some." And drawing out a
winder with a strong line, he sought along the bank for bait. A
peculiar kind of grub appeared in plenty near the roots of the trees;
and while Edgar lay down on the bank to rest himself, Dudley cut a
sapling for a rod, and once more tried his fortune for a meal out of
the waters. The first cast of his line was unsuccessful; and suffering
the bait to float slowly down, the fisherman was preparing to draw it
out a second time, when he suddenly felt a tug, which nearly drew the
rod he had made out of his hands. The officer and one of the other men
had followed him, watching his sport; and although, by every device he
could think of, Dudley strove to save his line from snapping, and draw
the fish to the shore, it soon became apparent that without a reel, or
any appropriate tackle, he must be unsuccessful; and the officer,
plunging in, exclaimed, "I will kill him!" and ran his left hand down
the line, opening a large clasp-knife with the other. He had to rue
the experiment, however, for the moment after having bent down and
dipped his arms in the water, he drew them out again, exclaiming, "He
has cut me to the bone!" but he resolutely attempted the feat again,
and appeared to succeed, for shutting up his knife, and taking hold of
the line, he drew it slowly to the side, when, with Dudley's
assistance, he lifted out an enormous fish of the perch kind, weighing
not less than fifty pounds.[2] A fire was by this time lighted; and
the fish, cut into slices, was put to broil thereon, affording, in a
few minutes, a very satisfactory meal to the whole party.

When somewhat refreshed, Edgar Adelon looked up, saying with a smile,
"I feel stronger how, Dudley, thanks to the Nameless Fisherman of the
Nameless Lake." And in those few words, a part, at least, of the
history of Edgar's coming was told to his companion. After resting for
about an hour and a half, the whole party rose, and pursued their way
to the foot of Mount Gambier, which began to tower above them as they
advanced; and when, having left some of the party below with the
horses, the others reached the top, the same wild and magnificent
scene was presented to the eyes of Edgar Adelon, in the light of the
setting sun, which had welcomed Dudley on the day of his first
arrival. The effect was great upon an enthusiastic and impressible
mind, and he exclaimed, "Well, Dudley, methinks it would not be so
hard to pass one's days in such a spot as this."

"This is not its only aspect," answered Dudley, laying his hand upon
his arm.

"And it is so with everything in life," said Norries. "There is
scarcely any object in any state so inherently beautiful, or so
inherently hideous, that the light in which we view them will not
render them either pleasant or repulsive to the eye."

"There is somewhat more to be said, too, Edgar," continued Dudley.
"Much of the intensity of everything depends upon its accessories.
There are accessories to all states in the human heart. Think, for one
moment, of the condition of my mind here, and you will see that a
paradise might well be a desert to me."

"True, true," answered Edgar, pressing his hand upon his eyes, and
then adding with a sigh, "but that is over."

"Take my advice, Mr. Adelon," said Norries. "Go into the hut, lie
down, and give yourself up to sleep, without thinking or talking any
more. From what I have seen of you to-day, I very clearly perceive
that you have been too much fatigued, and too much excited. In ten
minutes it will be night, and you will rise refreshed, to tell your
tale under the light of the dawning day. I will sleep out here upon
this soft grass."

"I do not think I can sleep," replied Edgar.

"Try, try," said Dudley; and he led him into his wild dwelling, and
pointed out to him his own lowly bed of dried herbs and grass, covered
with the skins of the kangaroo. "There, Edgar," he said, "rest there.
It has been my couch through many a weary and restless night; but
sleep should visit your eyes more readily, for kindness surely has its
own balm, and he who comes to comfort and to cheer may well expect
repose and peace."

He was turning to leave the but, but Edgar detained him for a moment,
saying, "Let me comfort and cheer, then, Dudley, by telling you my
best news first. You need no longer be an exile, you need no longer
live in solitude; I have your full pardon with me. You are free."

It was not that Dudley was ungrateful either to God or man. It was not
that he did not feel the intelligence as a relief; but at that moment
the sense of having been injured was stronger upon him than ever. The
redress did not seem to him to be complete, and he repeated,
"Pardoned! pardoned! What have I done that requires pardon?"

"Nothing, Dudley," answered Edgar; "but there is much to be told and
much to be considered. Not now, however, for I feel that Mr. Norries's
advice is right, and I must have repose."



CHAPTER XXXV.


There is a strange and curious difference between the light of morning
and the light of evening. The same sun gives it, the same flood of
glory falls through the skies, the same scene lies below, the same
horizon sweeps around. It seems only that the lightgiver is at the one
hour in the east, at the other in the west, and no sufficient cause
appears for that extraordinary difference of hue in the air and over
the earth.

It was morning, and the soft early light was stealing gently over
everything, amongst the leaves of the trees, through the breaks in the
rocks, down into the deep basin of the hills, into the caverns of the
lava, along the smooth unruffled surface of the lake; and Charles
Dudley and Edgar Adelon were seated together upon the top of the bold
crags which towered over the crater of the extinct volcano. The whole
scene was softened to their eyes; a slight mist hung over the woody
world on the one hand, and profound shadows, only broken here and
there by the quiet morning ray, lay in the deep abyss upon the other
side. It was a fit scene for such conversation as they were to hold,
and Dudley, with his head resting on his hands, listened with eager
attention to his young companion's words, sometimes, indeed,
interrupting him by a question, but generally too intensely moved for
any inquiry.

"Then she loves me still!" he said: "then she loves me still!"

"As deeply and devotedly as ever," answered Edgar; "and you have
wronged her if you have doubted, Dudley."

"Never, never!" murmured Dudley.

"But let me proceed," said Edgar Adelon. "Matters pursued this course
for many months. I recovered completely from the fever. The trials of
the rioters at Barhampton took place, and almost every man who
underwent the ordeal was condemned. Men thought the government very
lenient in not pressing a more serious crime upon them, and banishment
for life was judged a mild sentence. I heard nothing of Mr. Clive or
Helen, and you can imagine, Dudley, how my too eager and impatient
spirit could bear such suspense. I inquired of Filmer. I asked
everybody connected with the farm, but I received no intelligence. The
priest assured me that he was acting on Mr. Clive's behalf without any
other authority or directions than those which he had received on that
fatal night which brought so much misery along with it. Yet Helen had
promised to write, and I never knew her break her word. My father,
though long detained in London, returned at length to Brandon.

"It was after the trial of the rioters," he added, with a sad but
meaning look; "and finding poor Eda in the melancholy and desponding
state which I have described, he took her into Yorkshire, in order, if
possible, to divert her mind from the subject on which her thoughts
rested so painfully. It was clear, however, to my eyes, at least, that
he himself was neither well nor happy. I guessed the cause; but that
is a part of the story, Dudley, which I cannot enter into. You may,
perhaps, divine the whole, but I cannot speak of it. I took advantage
of the change of our residence from Brandon, and obtained my father's
consent to travel for some months on the continent. He had no idea, it
is true, why I went, or what I sought; but a suspicion had crossed my
mind, which, as it proved, was a just one. What made it enter into my
head I cannot rightly tell. There are some things so like intuition
that I can hardly doubt that the mind has greater powers than
philosophers have been inclined to admit. In this instance a
perception of the truth flashed across me like a stream of lightning,
one day while I was conversing with Filmer. He said nothing, it is
true, which could naturally give rise to the idea which presented
itself. The words were merely, 'Poor Clive's long absence;' and
whether it was the tone in which he spoke, or the peculiar look with
which the words were accompanied, I know not; but I asked myself at
once, 'Is Clive's absence connected with Dudley's fate?'"

"But tell me, Edgar," said Mr. Dudley, "did you never suspect that Mr.
Filmer himself had laboured to deprive me of the proofs of my
innocence?"

"Never," answered Edgar. "Eda suspected him, I know; but I always
thought she was prejudiced. I also suspected him, but not of that. I
thought he had practised on me one of his pious frauds."

"Mr. Norries told me," said Dudley, "that he had certainly taken means
to stop your communication with the only men who were likely to have
the power of proving that I quitted Lord Hadley at the exact spot
where I asserted I had left him, and walked on at once towards
Barhampton."

"He did do so," replied Edgar, "and I discovered that he did; but you
must recollect I had been severely injured by a blow on the head, and
I attributed Filmer's conduct to an anxiety on his part to prevent my
exerting myself at a time when I was certainly unfit for it. I was
angry that he did so, and I taxed him with it. He boldly justified his
conduct, asked me if even the exertion I had made had not nearly
killed me, and then demanded, what would the consequences have been
had I made such exertion two days before. This satisfied me, Dudley,
and never till that moment which I have just been speaking of, did a
suspicion of the truth cross my mind. However, if I had been anxious
before to discover Clive's residence, I was now determined that I
would do so, and as soon as possible I set out upon the pursuit. One
of the men who had been tried for insurrection acknowledged that they
had been supplied with arms from France, brought over in a vessel
chartered by the communists of that country, at the port of Nantes. I
knew it was the same in which Mr. Clive and Helen had quitted England,
and to Nantes I accordingly went. I had obtained every clue that I
possibly could as to the proprietors of the vessel, before I set out,
but my information aided me but little. No effort I could make enabled
me to trace those whom I sought. I wandered all through Brittany, and
La Vendee, and Normandy, and Touraine; but it was all in vain. Beyond
the town of Nantes itself I lost all trace, and at length, late in the
spring of last year, I returned to England. My father and Eda were by
this time in London; and Filmer, I found, was absent in France. I told
Eda all I had done. I tried to console her with hopes of still
establishing your innocence. It was the only consolation the dear girl
had; for my father, not judging rightly of her heart and mind, was
eager to dissipate her gloomy thoughts by forcing her into society.
His house was filled with people from morning to night; but Eda
remained almost entirely shut up in her own room, and would not go out
to any public place, or any party. She never would believe that Filmer
had been really anxious for your safety, and her doubts now affected
me. A new suspicion took hold of me. Although he had made a pretence
to my father of very different business in France, I suspected that he
had gone to see Clive; and one day, when my father handed me over a
letter of his, containing some interesting observations upon the state
of France--there is no man more capable of making them--I examined
carefully the post-mark of the letter, and discovered the word Angers.
In looking at the date of the letter, it was Tours. This was a
discovery. He was deceiving my father, as well as myself; but I
brought no rash charges; I have grown wonderfully prudent, Dudley; and
I would not even write to Clive till I was aware that Filmer had left
him, if, as I suspected, he was at Angers with him. Another month
passed in impatient suspense, and my father threw out many hints of
tours in different parts of Europe, which he thought might amuse Eda's
mind. There were even preparations for travelling made, when suddenly
Mr. Filmer again appeared amongst us. The very night after his
arrival, I was informed by Sir Arthur that he intended to go to Italy,
and thence by the Ionian Islands and Greece, to Constantinople. Eda
and Filmer were to be his companions, and my presence was looked upon
as a matter of course. I was not even invited: it was taken for
granted. But I was resolved not to go, at least at once, and therefore
I took care to involve myself in engagements which could not easily be
broken through. With one friend I laid a bet, a very heavy one, as to
the result of three days' shooting on the moors. I promised my friend,
Eldred, to be present at his marriage; and in fact, I created for
myself so many excuses that my father was obliged to own it would be
necessary for me to stop and join the party afterwards at Naples. I
could see Mr. Filmer's face change when he heard this arrangement; and
a look of bitter gloom came upon it, which confirmed my former doubts.
Without waiting for their departure, I at once wrote a letter to Clive
himself, and addressed it 'Angers;' but I was now suspicious of
everything. I took it to the post myself, and I told him to whom I
wrote all that had befallen you, begging him to address his reply to a
hotel in London. Day after day passed by; my father and the rest set
out upon their tour, and I began to fancy that I had been mistaken,
for no letter came. I then determined that I would go over to Angers
myself, and was sitting in the dining-room of my father's house, the
only public room which had been left open when he went abroad,
gloomily pondering, both over my own fate and yours, Dudley, when I
saw, on the opposite side of the street, a figure which instantly made
me start up and hurry to the window. It was Clive himself; and he was
gazing up at the closed windows of the house, thinking, as he told me
afterwards, that there was nobody in town, and proposing to go down to
Brandon in search of me. He had received my letter, and as soon as
possible had come over in person, leaving dear Helen in France. I need
not tell you now all the particulars of what followed, for we shall
have plenty of time, I trust, to dwell upon details which will
interest you much. It may be only necessary to say, that the
noble-spirited old man had been kept in utter ignorance of an act
having been charged upon you which he had himself performed--an act
which in him was an act of justice, but in you might be considered as
a crime. He told me that Helen had written to me often, and that
although he had not seen what she wrote, he was sure that she had used
such expressions as would have led me at once to perceive how Lord
Hadley had met his death----"

"How was it!" exclaimed Dudley, interrupting him. "But I can guess; I
can guess. Go on, Edgar."

"Nay, it is soon told," answered Edgar Adelon. "On that fatal night,
Clive had learned from Mr. Norries the shameful persecution which my
sweet Helen had suffered from Lord Hadley, and he was returning over
the cliffs, with a heart full of angry feelings, when he heard a cry
for help, and instantly recognised his daughter's voice. Springing
forward, he found the villain dragging her down towards the sea-shore,
where he expected, it seems, to meet with a boat, which would have
carried them to France. Clive instantly struck him a furious blow.
Lord Hadley let go Helen, and returned it, and another was given by
Clive. Only those three blows were struck; but the third, coming from
Mr. Clive's powerful arm, dashed the unfortunate wretch back upon the
railings at the top of the cliff; the woodwork gave way, and he fell
headlong to the bottom. Thus took place the death of Lord Hadley; and
you have seen enough of Mr. Clive yourself to be sure that it was not
with his consent or knowledge that the deed was imputed to you. As
soon as he discovered from my letter that such was the case, he came
to give himself up and to clear you; and as he knew little of the
means to be employed in such cases, he at first sought me at the hotel
where I had ordered the letters to be addressed, and was thence
directed to my father's London house. More by accident than by
possessing any better information than his own, I advised him to
follow what, as it has proved, was the best course he could have
taken. I felt sure that, under the circumstances, no evil result could
befall him from the open confession of the whole, which he proposed to
make; and I offered to go with him immediately to the Secretary of
State, whom I know personally, and tell him the whole facts. He agreed
perfectly to my views, and we set off at once. You know Clive's
straightforward, almost abrupt, way of dealing; but in this instance,
it was understood and appreciated. The Secretary asked but few
questions. Clive placed before him the letter which he had received
from me; told him that it was the first intelligence which had been
given to him of an innocent man having been accused and condemned for
a deed which he had performed; and that he had instantly come over
from France to tell the whole truth. The tale was so simple, and
Clive's sincerity so clear, that all doubts as to your share in the
transaction were at an end. The only question was how the case of
Clive himself was to be dealt with; and the Secretary determined to
leave him at liberty till his daughter and a labourer at the Grange,
named Daniel Connor, could be brought to Loudon, upon his undertaking
to appear whenever he should be called upon, and to hold no
communication in the mean time with either of the two who were
summoned as witnesses. In the end, a full investigation took place at
the Secretary of State's office, where a police magistrate of great
keenness and discrimination was called upon to assist. The
examinations of Helen and of Daniel Connor were conducted apart,
without either of them having seen Mr. Clive. Helen told the story
simply and exactly as her father had told it; and the man, after a
momentary hesitation and some prevarication, on being informed that
Clive had come over himself voluntarily to tell the whole tale,
confirmed every particular which had been previously stated. His
evidence was compared with that which he had given before the
coroner's jury and at your trial; and it was found that, although he
had evidently given a colour to the truth on those two occasions,
which left the jury to infer that you had committed the deed, he had
not actually perjured himself. The intention, however, to procure your
condemnation was so clear, that it led to farther inquiry; for in
every other respect the man seemed honest and well-meaning, and the
character that he bore in the country was exceedingly high. His
veneration and regard for Clive did not sufficiently account for his
conduct; and on being severely cross-questioned, he admitted that he
had been prompted to give his evidence in the manner which you heard
it given. I am sorry to say that the prompter was one whose character
and profession should have been the last to be sullied by such acts."

"I can guess whom you mean," replied Dudley. "But here comes Norries
himself, and I should much wish to ask him one question upon this
matter: namely, why he did not himself either tell you that Clive had
done the deed, when you were seeking for evidence in my defence, or
give Mr. Clive information of my having been tried and condemned,
though innocent?"

While he was speaking, Norries came up, and sat down beside them, and
as he did not answer, although he must have heard part of what passed,
Dudley addressed the question to himself. He replied, with a smile,
"How ready all men are, Mr. Dudley, to judge upon insufficient
grounds! You have jumped at the conclusion that I was aware of facts
which had not in any way come to my cognizance. I will not deny that I
felt the strongest possible suspicion that my brother-in-law Clive had
killed Lord Hadley, knowing the vehemence of his nature, the warmth
and tenderness of his love for his daughter, and the gross insults and
injuries she had received. But I had no right to inform others of my
suspicions; and as to where Clive was, I never heard till yesterday. I
was sure, however, that wherever he was, he would sooner or later do
you justice; indeed, I do not know, and cannot comprehend, how the
most upright and honest man that ever lived could suffer, either by
his act or neglect, another to bear the imputation of a deed of his."

"He was deceived," answered Edgar Adelon. "He was kept without
information. He was made to believe that suspicion rested upon him,
and that if he returned to England, he would bring a blight and a
shadow upon his honourable name, and a disgrace upon his child. He
knew not that Dudley had ever been tried, far less that he had been
condemned; and it is evident that Helen's letters to myself were all
intercepted and destroyed."

"By whom?" demanded Norries.

"By the priest," replied Edgar.

"Ay, I remember," said Norries, thoughtfully, "There was a priest used
to come down to the house; one Father Peter, they used to call him. I
never saw him; but Clive represented him as upright and elevated in
character and mind."

"He knows better now," answered Edgar; "for many of Mr. Filmer's
insincere proceedings have been now so thoroughly exposed, that the
blackest web of subtlety ever woven by the disciples of Loyola cannot
conceal their falsehood and their baseness."

"Filmer!" said Norries, thoughtfully; "is that the same man whom they
called Father Peter?"

"The same," replied Edgar. "But to return to my tale, Dudley. Clive's
straightforward tale, and Helen's clear and candid evidence, backed by
that of many of the servants at Clive Grange, who were more or less
aware of Lord Hadley's previous conduct towards her, convinced the
Secretary of State that there was no ground for the Crown proceeding
against a man who had accidentally slain another in defence of his own
child. He left it to the relations of the dead man to act as they
liked; but upon a clear view of the evidence, they were advised not to
prosecute; and thus ended the matter as affecting Clive. In regard to
yourself, a full pardon immediately passed the great seal; and I have
the strongest and most positive assurance in writing that everything
shall be done, as soon as you return, to clear your reputation from
the slightest stain. I felt, Dudley," continued Edgar, grasping his
hand, "that your sympathy with me, and your indignation of the base
treatment of one I love, had had a share, at least, in bringing so
many misfortunes upon you, and I determined at once to set out to seek
you, and bear you the happy tidings of your exculpation in person.
Although Helen might feel some anxiety for my safety and health during
a long voyage, and, perhaps, would have been better pleased, as far as
she was personally concerned, had I remained in England, she was far
from trying to dissuade me; and after seeing her and her father once
more happily established at Clive Grange, I set out for this distant
land as soon as I could find a ship. Shortly before I departed, I
received a letter from my father, who had journeyed as far as Syria.
He expressed some surprise that I had not joined him and Eda; but,
doubtless," added the young man, with a smile, "he was more surprised
still when my next letter informed him that I had sailed for
Australia. I gave him no particulars, nor assigned any reason for my
going; for I wished much, Dudley, to leave you free to act in any way
you might think fit, and to consult with you upon my own future
conduct as well as yours. There is no probability of the tidings of
Clive's confession and your exculpation reaching my father from any
public source, as the examination was conducted privately; and I made
it a particular request, both to Helen and her father, that they would
not speak of the subject at all till my return. I will not conceal
from you that there are difficulties and dangers, perhaps, before us
both, prejudices of many kinds to be overcome; ay, and the skill and
cunning of a subtle adversary to be frustrated. I know him now, and
depend upon it, he will never forgive the detection of his falsehood
and baseness."

"Filmer!" said Norries, who had been meditating gravely for several
minutes: "Filmer! Father Peter! That throws fresh light upon the
whole. Mr. Dudley, I should like to speak with you for a few moments
quite alone; and afterwards we had better go to breakfast, for this
mountain air gives a keen appetite."

"I must catch or shoot our breakfast first," replied Dudley, "unless
you will content yourselves with some salt provisions which I have
laid up here."

"Let us walk down to the lake together," replied Norries. "We can
converse as we go; and you can exercise your skill in angling, while I
give you some information that may be useful."

Dudley willingly agreed; and when he and Norries rejoined the party
above, after an absence of more than an hour, they brought with them
plenty of fish, and Dudley's face bore an expression of thoughtful
satisfaction, as if his conversation with Norries had added a new
relief to that which the intelligence of Edgar had afforded.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


Eda Brandon sat in her room alone. Her fair face was somewhat paler
than when first it was presented to the reader's eyes, and the look of
sparkling cheerfulness was no longer there. It had grown very
thoughtful; but yet those who had seen her only four days before, if
they had keen and remarking eyes, would have perceived, when they
looked at her now, that, from some cause, a great alteration had very
recently taken place; that an expression of careless despondency was
gone; that there was, in fact, the light of hope renewed upon her
countenance. During the long pilgrimage she had made with her uncle,
it must not be supposed that Eda had cherished the melancholy which
had fallen upon her, that she had neglected any reasonable opportunity
of diverting her thoughts from the bitter subject of a hopeless
passion. All that was beautiful in nature; all that was fine and
admirable in art; all that was rich in association, or decorated by
memories, she eagerly sought and calmly dwelt upon, feeling that they
were objects which might well give the mind occupation, without
altogether jarring with the sadder tones which rose continually from
the heart. It was only society that she avoided: the society of the
world, which, in reality and truth, is not society at all; for the
mere herding together of a certain number of human beings, with hardly
a thought or feeling in common, deserves a very different name. There
might be, also, a certain portion of apprehension in her thus flying
from the mixed crowd. She had a sort of presentiment that her uncle
would seek to force some match upon her, in the idle expectation of
weaning her heart from a passion which, although it had not lately
been mentioned between them, she felt convinced he must see traces of
each day; and as at every instant she felt that her love for Dudley
could never decay, as she longed to be with him more and more, she was
anxious to avoid anything which could bring on discussions equally
painful to herself and to Sir Arthur. Thus their journey had passed in
visiting many distant scenes, and so far as this could afford
amusement, Eda had gained something by the continual change; but
whenever they stopped, the same dark gloom fell upon her, and it
became the more profound when, at the end of a tour even longer than
had been at first proposed, they returned to take up their residence
at Brandon.

Sir Arthur, with the pertinacity which characterised him, and the
somewhat impenetrable blindness to the character of others, which is
universal, I believe, in vain and self-sufficient men, still pursued
his purposes with regard to Eda; and thinking that the opportunities
of a country residence would be most favourable to his schemes, filled
the house with gentlemen, each of whom, he thought, might be a
suitable match for his fair niece, and who were not at all indifferent
to the advantages of wedding broad lands and well-economised revenues.
There was a middle-aged peer, and a young and wealthy baronet, and a
simple esquire, enormously rich in everything but brains, and a
captain of dragoons, the nephew and presumptive heir to a duke, who,
to say the truth, was the best of the party, for he was a man of
feeling, of character, and of thought, a little enthusiastic, indeed,
in his notions, but whose imagination, in all its flights, soared
heavenward. He was the only one who even caught Eda's ear for more
than a moment, and he did so under somewhat curious circumstances, for
it was neither his abilities, the richness of his fancy, nor the
generous character of his mind, sparkling through his conversation,
which attracted her attention. On the contrary, as she saw from the
first that he sought her society rather eagerly, she was for a time
inclined to withdraw from him more decidedly than from the others,
when one day, shortly after his arrival, he said, almost abruptly,
"Miss Brandon, you are very sad, and I can see that all these people
tease you. I can divine the cause; but do not class me with them, for
if you suppose that I have come here with the same views and purposes,
you are mistaken."

"I do not exactly understand you," said Eda, gravely, "nor can I admit
exactly that my uncle's friends do tease me. I am not fond of much
society, but that is all."

"There is one way of explaining what I mean, Miss Brandon," answered
the other, "which will make you understand me without referring to
other men's views. It is by making you a confidant of that which is,
indeed, a great secret. I am engaged to a lady, whom I love most
sincerely, and have, indeed, been engaged for more than two years. She
is not rich, and I am very poor, and we say nothing about our mutual
understanding, for fear it should give offence to those with whom my
hopes of fortune rest. I have told you this, because I think it will
put your mind at ease, so far as I am concerned, and because I wish
much to speak with you upon another subject, of much interest, which
may occupy more time than we can now command alone. There, I knew how
it would be! Here comes Lord Kingsland, to say his soft nothings."

"Which I certainly shall not wait to hear," replied Eda, with a smile.

This brief conversation had taken place the day before, and now Eda
sat with an open letter before her, in the hand-writing of her cousin
Edgar. It was light and cheerful, though not very definite; but there
were two or three words in it which conveyed to Eda's mind more than
the general tone seemed to imply. All he said was, "Do not give way to
melancholy, my sweet cousin. Shake off the gloom which hung upon you
when you departed, for the melancholy is now without cause, and the
gloom is very useless. Storm-clouds last but a day or two, Eda; the
wind is up, and has wafted yours away."

Eda knew that Edgar would not so have written to her had he not had
better hopes in store than he ventured to express; and although she
had shared her uncle's surprise when she first heard that Edgar had
gone to Australia, she had felt what Sir Arthur had not felt: that he
had not taken that journey without a powerful motive.

It was the spring of the year; the days had not lengthened much, and
it was still dark at the dinner hour. Eda had dined in her own room
the day before, but now she prepared to go down with a lighter heart
than she had known for long, long months; and ringing for her maid,
conversed with her from time to time, while she dressed her hair. When
the girl's task was done, she went down to the housekeeper's room, not
without having remarked the change in her mistress; and there she told
her good old fellow-servant, with a shrewd and self-satisfied look.
"Miss Brandon's getting over it, I can tell you, Mrs. Gregson. The
captain's to be the man, I'm sure."

In the mean time, Eda proceeded to the drawing-room with a lightened
heart, and diversified the ceremonious moments which occur while
people are waiting for their meal, by damping, if not extinguishing,
any hopes Sir Arthur's guests might have conceived.

"Really, you look resplendent to-night, Miss Brandon," said the peer,
seating himself beside her. "The country air seems quite to have
refreshed you."

"I trust it may have the same effect upon your lordship in time,"
replied Eda; and a slight smile that came upon the lips of the young
dragoon gave more point than she intended to her words.

Lord Kingsland, however, was not so easily driven from his attack, and
he replied, "Oh! I do not think country air has any effect upon me. I
am so much accustomed to spend the whole spring in London, that the
air of the great city at that season of the year agrees with me by
habit better than that of the country."

"I feel very differently about it," replied Eda. "I should have
thought, from my own experience, that fifty or sixty springs in London
would shrivel any one to a mere mummy."

"Miss Brandon, Miss Brandon!" exclaimed the peer, with a smile, which
he intended to be perfectly courteous and good-humoured, but from
which he could not banish an expression of mortification, "I see the
air must be detrimental to one's looks, at all events, or you would
not pile so many years upon my head."

Eda would fain have apologised and explained, but Lord Kingsland had
enjoyed enough of her conversation for that evening, and he soon after
walked away.

The man of money next approached, dressed in the very height of the
fashion, and began speaking of the beauty and fertility of some parts
of the estate of Brandon, remarking how wide a space it occupied in
the map which hung in the hall.

"It is, indeed, of a goodly length and breadth," replied Eda; "almost
too extensive to be held by one individual. I am sufficient of a
politician to think it would be much better if large properties were
prevented from increasing. Moderate fortunes in the hands of many must
be better for a country than immense fortunes in the hands of a few."

"Very Spartan notions, indeed!" said the young gentleman; "but I dare
say you would not carry them out in practice."

"Undoubtedly," replied Eda, gaily; "I would prevent any man, having a
large estate, from acquiring another by any means."

There was no reply to this bold assertion; and the baronet who
followed seemed likely to call upon himself some as decided an
expression of opinion, when dinner was announced, and the peer
exercised his prerogative of taking Miss Brandon into the dining-room.
The meal passed off tranquilly and stupidly enough, and the pudding
and tart course was being removed, when a dull, heavy sound, like that
of a cannon, made the windows rattle in the sashes. Nobody took any
notice, however, for Mr. Filmer was describing, with powerful
eloquence, one of the ceremonies of the Romish church, the performance
of which he and Sir Arthur had witnessed at St. Peter's. At the
interval of about a minute, however, the same sound was repeated, and
after another interval the report was heard again.

"Those are minute-guns," said Sir Arthur Adelon. "Some ship got upon
the Dog-bank, I dare say, and the wind is blowing very high, too."

"I saw a very fine large bark just coming round the point," said Lord
Kingsland, "while I was taking a stroll upon the downs this evening.
Probably it is her guns we hear, for there was no other vessel in
sight."

"She must have passed the Dog, then, far," said Mr. Filmer, "and has
probably run upon the spit beyond Beach-rock. The wind sets thence, so
that we should hear the guns as clearly as we do now."

"More likely she has gone bump upon the shore," said Sir Arthur, "or
the low reefs which lie two or three hundred yards out. She would try
to hug the land as close as possible, to get into the bay, and avoid
the fury of the gale."

While these words were spoken on all parts, several more guns were
distinctly heard; and Eda, rising, with her face very pale, as the
first dishes of the dessert were set upon the table, retired, saying,
"I will send out some of the servants, my dear uncle. They may,
perhaps, give the fishermen some help in case of need."

"They will never arrive in time, my love," replied Sir Arthur, "if the
ship has got ashore. It must be fully twelve miles up to the spit, or
more; but do as you like."

"I will certainly send, if you have no objection," replied Eda. "The
men may aid to save a human life, and a walk or ride of twelve miles
is nothing in comparison."

Retiring into the drawing-room, Eda immediately rang the bell, and
ordered as many of the servants as could be spared, to get upon
horseback, and ride on as fast as possible in the direction from which
the sound of the guns seemed to proceed. Her orders were clear, calm,
and distinct, although her pale face and her trembling hand seemed to
show that she was greatly agitated. "Call all the country people as
you go," she said; "and tell them to hurry down to give assistance
with whatever their experience of the coast may lead them to think is
necessary. I know," she continued, "that the salvation of human life
is not rewarded by the law or by government, while enormous rewards
follow the saving of property; but tell the men that I will give ten
guineas for every life that is saved by their exertions."

"Ten guineas, ma'am?" said the butler, to whom she spoke. "That is a
great deal."

"Ten guineas, or more," replied Eda, in a firm tone, "if it be
necessary to quicken their efforts. Now, make haste." And lifting her
eyes to the door, she perceived that the young captain of dragoons was
standing just upon the nearer side of the threshold. She coloured a
little as she saw him, for real enthusiasts have generally a certain
degree of shyness with them; but as soon as she had ceased speaking
the officer advanced, saying, "I will go with the men, Miss Brandon.
They need somebody to lead and to direct, and I am not unaccustomed to
such transactions. Hark! the guns seem to have ceased, but that is no
sign that the poor souls are out of danger, and I will set out
directly."

"I will not thank you, Captain M----," said Eda Brandon, "for I have
no personal interest in these poor people; but your own heart will
thank you, and God will bless you for your readiness on this
occasion."

He left her and departed; and Eda sat in solitude, with her head
resting on her hand, for nearly half an hour, with feelings which it
would be very difficult to describe, for they were sensations for
which no reasonable cause could be assigned; phantom fears, which
seemed to rise out of the depth of night, unevoked by anything more
tangible than themselves. At length she was joined by the rest of the
party, and strove to maintain a tranquil and equal demeanour, although
the utter indifference she saw around her to the fate of a number of
human beings perishing, perhaps, within a few miles, rather tended to
increase than to diminish the agitation which she felt. Mr. Filmer sat
down to play at chess with the younger baronet, and beat him most
signally, giving him a piece. Sir Arthur and Lord Kingsland played at
piquet; and she was left to the tender mercies of the rich young
commoner, who entertained her with an account of graperies and
pine-pits, gave her a lecture upon the horticultural gardens, and was
even deviating into some account of stock and piggeries, when Eda
herself turned the conversation. Eleven o'clock arrived, and nobody,
appeared, but Eda made no movement to go. The chessmen were by this
time discarded; three games of piquet had been played, and Sir Arthur
had rung for wine and water, when Captain M---- entered with a calm
and easy air, and walking up at once to Eda, without taking the least
notice of any one else, he said, in a low tone, "There is some one in
the library who will be glad to see you, and whom you will be glad to
see. Do not agitate yourself," he continued, seeing that she trembled
very much, "all is safe."

But before I proceed to relate what followed, I must notice the events
which had taken place between the time at which Captain M---- set out
on his expedition and that at which he returned.



CHAPTER XXXVII.


The night was very dark, and, blowing a gale of wind. The blast was
not, indeed, directly upon the shore at the point of the coast nearest
to Brandon; but about seven miles to the eastward, the line of the
land took a bend towards the south, forming a low shingly beach, with
a spit of sand running out into the sea, for full half a mile beyond
the southernmost point of the cliffs, and against this shingly beach
the gale blew hard and direct. The distance from Brandon house to the
sea, in a straight line, was less than two miles; but Captain
M----, followed by five or six servants, took his way across the
country towards that part of the coast on which he judged the ship
must have stranded. Riding on rapidly, he arrived, in about three
quarters of an hour, at a village some nine miles from Brandon; and
calling at one or two of the houses, he found that all the men, warned
by the signals of distress, had gone down to the shore to give
assistance. He learned, too, some farther particulars of the disaster
which had occurred, and the exact spot where it had taken place.
Pushing on without farther pause, then, he rode through the little
village, where, as may be remembered, Edgar Adelon obtained his first
interview with Martin Oldkirk; and issuing forth at the farther end,
he soon after came upon the sea-shore, where a lighted tar-barrel and
several links shed a red glare over a terrible scene, which was also,
from time to time, partially illuminated by glimpses of the moon, as
the gray clouds, hurrying rapidly past, left her bright face visible
for a moment, and then concealed it again beneath their swarthy veil.

A tall and beautiful vessel appeared aground at the distance of less
than a hundred yards from the beach. The masts were all still
standing, and the fine tracery of the rigging, partially seen by the
lights upon the shore, was now and then rendered completely visible
when the moonlight broke forth behind for a moment, and brightened the
stormy sky. Around the burning tar-barrel were several groups of men,
with some women and children; and farther down upon the beach, even
amidst the spray and foam, were others, one of whom held up a link,
half extinguished by the dashing waves. An awful surf was falling in
thunder upon the shore; and each mountain wave, as it rolled up,
struck the unfortunate vessel on the stern and windward side, making a
clear breach over her as she heeled towards the beach. When the moon
was hidden, only the bow and the fore-mast could be seen by the lights
on the shore, the rest of the ship being enveloped in darkness, except
where the white surf rushed pouring over the hull, and sprang
glittering up amongst the cordage; but when the momentary moon shone
out, the shrouds, the tops, and many parts of the rigging, were seen
loaded with human beings, striving in agony to postpone the fate which
seemed ready to fall upon them. There were shrieks and cries for help,
and loud shouts of direction and command; but all were so mingled with
the noise of the rushing wind, and the thunder of the billows upon the
shore, that everything was indistinct, rising in one loud screaming
roar to the spot at which the young officer had arrived.

Drawing in his horse, he paused to gaze for a moment and consider what
was expedient to be done; and at the same moment he perceived some of
the men, with that gallant and intrepid daring which characterises the
boatmen on the English coast, endeavouring to launch a boat a little
to windward of the stranded ship. With a loud cheer they pushed her
down into the water as a wave receded, and with a tremendous effort
were shoving her off, when again the billows returned with a furious
sweep, capsized her in a moment, and nothing was seen for several
seconds but the figures of the men struggling in the surf, and the
black hull of the boat surrounded by the whirling eddies of the
retiring wave. For a moment it seemed as if several of the gallant
fellows would be lost; but some clung to the boat, others scrambled
back to the shore, and one, who was carried out, striking hard for
life, was caught by another wave, and dashed back again, bleeding and
almost senseless, on the beach.

Springing to the ground with several of the servants, Captain
M---- hurried down to the principal group upon the beach, and put one
or two questions, the import of which not being clearly seen at first
by the men he addressed, they answered somewhat sullenly.

"My good sir," he said, speaking to a large, square-built man of the
middle age, who seemed to be one of the principal boatmen, "I have
been accustomed to these things, and aided to save many lives on a
worse coast than this. The same means may prove effectual here, but we
must have recourse to them immediately, or the ship will be a complete
wreck."

"In two hours there won't be one of her timbers together," answered
the man, dully.

"Then the more need to get the people off her at once," said Captain
M----.

"Ay, if you can do it," said the boatman, turning away.

"Stay a moment," cried the young officer, in a tone of command. "Has
any one got a gun with a large bore, and a good long hank of stout but
thin cord?"

The object seemed to strike the man instantly, and turning sharply
round, he laid his broad hand upon the young officer's shoulder,
exclaiming, with an oath, "That's a good thought! There's my large
duck-gun will do capitally; and as for a cord, you can't have anything
better than one of our fish-lines. It's both light and strong."

All was changed in a moment; the efforts of the crowd were turned in a
different direction; hope seemed to revive; a number of fishing-lines
were brought forth, the heavy gun was placed in Captain M----'s hands,
powder was procured, a bullet pierced and attached to one end of the
strong cord, while the other end was fastened tightly to a thick rope.
Every one aided; and Captain M---- having charged the piece, advanced
as far as he could down to the beach, so that the waves, as they
flowed up, reached his knees, and then prepared to fire. Before he did
so, however, he turned to those behind him, saying, "We shall have to
try several times before we succeed, so do not be disappointed if the
first shot fails." Then elevating the gun, he pulled the trigger; in
the hope that the bullet would carry the line over the rigging of the
ship. As he had foreseen, however, the first attempt was unsuccessful.
The sudden explosion of the powder broke the line before the bullet
had got a foot from the mouth of the gun.

"We must have less powder and a smaller ball;" said the young officer.
"Some one cut a piece out of my glove here to wrap it in. Perhaps we
shall succeed better this time."

Nor was he disappointed; the ball carried the line clear over the
ship, between the main and fore masts, and fell into the sea some way
beyond. The unhappy voyagers seemed to have comprehended the efforts
made for their safety, and had watched with eager eyes and in profound
silence everything that was done. Not a word, not a cry was uttered
from the moment the first shot was fired; and even when the second and
more successful attempt was made, they were all silent still, for the
line was so fine they did not perceive that the efforts of their
friends on shore had been successful till the gestures of the crowd,
rather than the voice of one of the boatmen, speaking through a
trumpet, drew the attention of a sailor to the spot where the line had
fallen. The directions were then given to run it through a pulley, and
gently haul up the rope, and this being accomplished, the rope was
made fast at both ends, and a means of communication, however frail,
established with the shore.

A shout of joy burst forth from the people of the ship, and a loud
cheer answered it from the beach.

There were many difficulties still to be overcome, however; for as the
ship rocked to and fro when the waves struck her, there was a great
chance of the rope snapping, especially if burdened with the weight of
a man; but the son of one of the boatmen, a lad of about thirteen
years of age, volunteered to try the dangerous path, with a light
hawser made fast round his middle. Slowly and with difficulty he
pursued his way, holding on both by hands and feet; but his perilous
task was at length accomplished, and as soon as the hawser was firmly
fixed, he returned to the shore, bringing back the end of the rope
first sent, which had been passed through a pulley, so as to play
easily.

Several of the men then came over from the ship without much
difficulty; but this method was so slow, that Captain M---- proposed
another plan, which was immediately adopted when it was found that
there were a number of women and children in the bark. One of the
sails of a small lugger was detached from the yard, and the corners
being gathered together and made quite secure, it was slung upon the
hawser, and connected with the rope passed through the pulley. It was
thus easily moved backwards and forwards between the ship and the
shore. Two, and sometimes three people, were brought to land at once;
and joy and satisfaction displayed itself in every form and shape
amongst those who were rescued from the grave.

During the whole time that these operations had been proceeding, two
men were seen standing together in the fore-top, who, though they had
busied themselves and assisted greatly in fastening the hawser and in
passing the ropes, showed no anxiety to save themselves; aiding,
indeed, to put the women and children into the sail, but remaining
perfectly calm and motionless while the others passed to the shore.
There was something in their manner and appearance which struck
Captain M---- not a little, and advancing to one of the persons who
had first come over, he inquired who those two persons were.

"They are passengers from Sidney, sir," replied the man; "perfect
gentlemen both of them, and two brave fellows as ever lived; for if it
had not been for them, we should have all lost heart long ago."

While he was speaking, some of the men who remained on board seemed by
their gestures to urge the two gentlemen to go over; and the shorter
of the two, taking a child in his arms from one of the sailors--it was
the only child left--stepped into the sail, and holding fast by the
rope above, was speedily drawn to land. A woman, who had been brought
across some time before, with two other children, now rushed almost
down into the sea when this new freight approached, as if afraid the
man would drop the child. But the young gentleman--for he seemed very
young, and was evidently of a superior class--placed the little boy
safely in her arms, saying, "He is quite safe and warm."

The woman prayed God to bless him; but at the same moment his hand was
taken by Captain M----, and shaken heartily, while one of the servants
exclaimed, "Mr. Adelon!--hurrah! hurrah!" and half the people on the
beach took up the cry, and waved their hats joyfully. But Captain
M---- and Edgar Adelon were speaking together eagerly and in a low
voice, while the latter pointed once or twice to the fore-top of the
stranded vessel, as if explaining to his friend that some one whom
they both knew was there. Several other persons then landed, so that
the number on the shore amounted to nearly sixty, besides the
inhabitants of the neighbouring huts and villages. Amongst the last
who appeared was Edward Dudley, and he was warmly greeted by Captain
M----, though his appearance now, it must be remarked, notwithstanding
his being somewhat worn and tempest-tossed, was very different from
that of the Nameless Fisherman by the Nameless Lake.

The servants of Sir Arthur Adelon were standing at some distance while
their young master spoke with Captain M----; and Dudley, taking the
arm of the latter, walked slowly away with him up the beach, and out
of the light of the fire; but Edgar turned to speak a few minutes to
his fellow-travellers, giving kind and liberal orders for their
comfort and accommodation.

"I do not wish," said Dudley, addressing Captain M----, "to be
recognised just at present. I will choose my own time and my own
manner; and you may, doubtless, divine the reasons, as I know you have
been made acquainted with a considerable portion of my history."

"I can easily conceive," replied Captain M----, "that you have a great
many painful and unpleasant things to go through, which you would
desire to do in your own way; but I congratulate you most sincerely,
Mr. Dudley, not alone upon your salvation this night, but upon your
restoration to your country and your friends, your property and your
reputation. I trust this storm will be the last you will have to
encounter."

"God only knows!" replied Dudley; "but for the future, my dear sir, I
shall be less apt than in earlier years to give way either to hope or
to despair."

"Hope is the best of the two," replied the young officer, in a lighter
tone. "It comes from heaven, and is an ingredient, more or less, in
everything that is good, and high, and holy. The other comes from
below, leading to all that is evil, and dark, and disastrous. Choose
hope, then, my good friend. But here comes some one quickly after us.
I trust none of the men are much injured?"

"None of the survivors," answered Dudley, gravely; "but twenty or
thirty perished when the ship first struck."

"Mr. Adelon sent me, sir," said a rough, but not unpleasant voice, "to
show one of you two gentlemen the way to my cottage. It is the
gentleman who was on the wreck," he continued, looking at Dudley, who
said, in reply, that he was willing to go wherever the other should
lead.

"Then I will leave you now," said Captain M----, in a low voice, "and
your secret is perfectly safe with me, depend upon it; but I trust
that we shall meet again before I depart for London, and if not here,
in the great city."

"I will certainly find you out," replied Dudley, "for the scene and
the circumstances in which we first met are never to be obliterated
from memory, nor the kindness with which you soothed and relieved, at
a moment when I thought there was none to help."

They then parted; and after taking a few steps forward with the stout,
broad-set countryman who had been sent up to him, Dudley inquired how
far they were from Brandon.

"Hard upon eleven miles, sir," replied the man.

"Then the place where we run ashore must be what they call Beachrock
Spit, I suppose?" rejoined Dudley.

"Just so, sir," said the man; "the rock that names it is about two
miles farther on, t'other side of the spit, as we call it; but the
village is up hard by, not above a quarter of a mile inland."

"Do you know a man of the name of Martin Oldkirk?" asked Dudley, after
advancing a few paces farther. "He must live in that village, I
think."

"Yes, I know him, sir," answered the countryman, abruptly. "What do
you want with him?"

"I want some conversation with him," answered Dudley. "I bring him
some news of distant friends, and had, indeed, brought him a letter;
but that, with all the rest of my baggage, is in the unfortunate ship,
which will be a total wreck before to-morrow."

"I'm sorry for that, sir," said his companion; "for, to tell you the
truth, I am Martin Oldkirk myself, so you may speak away as fast as
you please."

"By and bye will do," answered Dudley, "for I shall be very glad,
Oldkirk, if you can let me lodge in your cottage for a night or two.
At all events, you will allow me to dry my clothes there, and while
that is doing, we can talk of other things."

"I should be very happy to lodge you, sir," replied the man, in a
civil tone; "but, Lord bless you, sir! it is not fit for such as you;
and besides, there's but one bed and a bare bedstead in the place."

"The bare bedstead will do well enough for me," replied Dudley, "at
least for the present; and to-morrow, perhaps, you will be able to
procure me something else. Doubtless to-night every house and every
bed in the place will have more than its fair share of occupants."

"We may be quite sure of that," answered Martin Oldkirk; "but I can
get you some good hay and a clean pair of sheets, and that, with
plenty of coats and things to keep you warm, will be better lodging
than where you were like to have lodged an hour or two ago."

"That is true," answered Dudley; "and I should be a fool to grumble.
You know a certain Mr. Norries, Oldkirk, do you not?"

"That I do," cried the man, with a start. "Poor gentleman, I am sorry
for him! He deserved better, but he might have got worse; and one
thing will always make his heart light. He never betrayed any one,
though he might have got off himself if he had peached against others.
But he always was an upright man, and readier to hurt himself than any
one else. But I can't help thinking of him often, and how hard it is
that he should be out there working like a galley-slave, when he only
wished to free his country. I dare say he's very sad-like, isn't he,
sir? For I take it, you come from that place, don't you?"

"Make your mind easy about his fate," answered Dudley, "for he was
well and happy when I saw him, And would not, I believe, come back to
England, even if they would let him. He is under no restraint either,
except that he cannot return from banishment."

"Ay, they will find out what a man they've lost," answered Oldkirk. "I
should have liked to have seen his hand-writing once again, however;
but here we are just at the cottage, and I will blow you up a fire in
a minute, and then run and get some things that you may want. A glass
of brandy-and-water wouldn't be amiss, nor against Father Mathew
either; for I am quite sure that the doctor would order it for you,
after having gone through such a business."

"I'm accustomed to privation in storm and tempest," answered Dudley,
entering the cottage; "so do not give yourself much trouble about
provisions, my good friend," But, for some reason or another, Martin
Oldkirk, though as we have seen, not given at all times to very
intense courtesy, was determined to do the best he could to make his
guest comfortable; and having blown the smouldering embers of his fire
into a blaze, and piled on a quantity of mingled coal and wood, he
went out again upon his hospitable errand.

Dudley took off his coat and waistcoat to dry them at the fire, and
drawing a pocket-book from the pocket of the former, examined the
papers which it contained carefully, to ascertain that they had not
been injured by the sea-water, the spray of the waves having dashed
over him for several hours. The leathern cover of the book was
completely wet, but the contents were safe enough; and after seeing
that some documents, apparently official, were all uninjured, he read
over by a candle, which his host had lighted, some memoranda written
in a clear clerk-like hand.

"Ay, if he will answer me," he said, commenting as he read; "but I
doubt the fact. It is most unfortunate the loss of my baggage. It
cannot be helped, however; and after all, it is not vengeance I seek.
Nevertheless, the power to thwart this man's evil schemes were
something;" and sitting down by the fire-side, he fell into thoughts
from which he was roused, in about twenty minutes, by the sudden
lifting of the latch of the door, and the entrance of Edgar Adelon
"and Captain M----.

"They are all safe," said Edgar. "And now, what will you do, Dudley? I
shall ride on to Brandon at once."

"And I will remain here, Edgar," replied the other, "if you are quite
sure that none of the servants recognised me. I remembered the
butler's face at once."

"I do not believe that any one saw you," replied Edgar; "and I suppose
the best plan will be to act in the manner that was previously
arranged; for our shipwreck here," he added, with a smile, "has merely
landed us a hundred miles nearer Brandon."

"The only thing," replied Dudley, "that is necessary, is not to
mention to any one my return to England, till I have time to arrange
all my plans; nor, indeed, to say that you have met with me at all, or
heard anything concerning me."

"But, Eda," said the young gentleman; "what to her, Dudley?"

"Oh! tell her, of course," replied his friend. "I would not keep her
in unnecessary suspense for a moment; and she will see the necessity
of her acting differently towards others."

A slight smile came upon the lip of Captain M---- as he heard their
conversation. "I do not know whether you are aware," he said, "that
there are a good many guests at Brandon: reputed suitors of the young
lady. Indeed, it is more like the hall of Ulysses during his absence
than anything else. But I suppose," he continued, with a gay glance
towards Dudley, "the wandering king of Ithaca will some day soon
return to claim his own, and drive these daring mortals from the
gates." His words did not cheer Dudley, for there were still too many
difficulties in his path, too many painful circumstances in his
situation, for anything like gay hope to brighten the cloudy aspect of
his fate; and as he did not himself reply, Edgar reverted to what they
had been speaking of before, and said, "Well, I will ride on then at
once, and I suppose I shall hear from you as to farther proceedings."

"Oh! yes; I shall easily find a messenger," replied Dudley; and once
more shaking hands warmly with Captain M----, he saw him and his
companion depart.

Little delay was made upon the road by Captain M---- and Edgar Adelon,
although the latter had a strong inclination to choose the right-hand
road, where it parted from the high-way to Barhampton, leading direct
to Clive Grange. He refrained, however, remembering that his father
must know of the wreck, and might hear that he was on board. On
arriving at Brandon House, the tranquil aspect of all things, and the
servant's reply that Sir Arthur was playing at piquet, showed him that
no great anxiety on his account had found its way into his father's
bosom; and consequently proceeding to the library himself, he
requested Captain M---- to send Eda to him, as we have seen he did.
The moment she appeared he took her in his arms and kissed her with
fraternal affection, saying, "I have just escaped death, dearest Eda,
and I wanted to see you before I see any one else, for I have good
news for you. Dudley is well, is here in England, and has received a
full pardon."

Eda turned very pale, pressed her hand upon her heart, and grasped the
arm of a chair for support. "Stay, stay, Edgar," she said, "do not
tell me too much at once. A full pardon, do you say? But still the
stain will remain upon his name."

Edgar drew back a step, and gazed at her gravely, almost sternly. "And
would that make any difference to you, Eda, when you knew him, when
you felt him, to be innocent?" he demanded.

Eda waved her hand, with a look of reproach. "None, Edgar, none!" she
answered. "You cannot suppose such a thing for a moment; but it will
make a great difference to him. I know Dudley well, and I feel sure
that these events will cast a shadow over his whole life, if his
innocence cannot be clearly established. But yet, I will not regret
it," she cried, rising with, a brighter look, and laying her hand upon
her cousin's arm. "It will give me the means, dear Edgar, of proving
to him what devotion and attachment a woman's heart is capable of. The
vision of my young love, when first he and I knew each other, now
eight years ago, will now indeed be realized. I thought then how happy
it would make me to show such a man as that, that no circumstances of
fortune, no inducements, no unworthy obstacles, could affect in the
slightest degree my attachment, when once given upon just and
reasonable grounds. Now I can prove it to him all, and I am ready to
prove it."

"I am sorry, dear girl, to dispel your visions of devotion," answered
Edgar, gaily; "but here, though you can make him as happy as man need
be, by giving him your fair hand and your true heart, you cannot cheer
him under the doubt and suspicion of the world, for from that he is
now quite cleared. His pardon was not granted till his innocence was
proved beyond a doubt, by the acknowledgment of him who did the deed
for which he has been so great a sufferer; and be assured that he will
not rest satisfied until, by act of parliament, his condemnation is
reversed. I will tell you more hereafter, dear cousin; and now I will
go and see if I can find fitter clothes to appear in this smart house;
for during the last year and a half I have been much more accustomed
to sit in ships' cabins, or to range wild woods, than to take my place
in a gay drawing-room. But remember, Eda, not one word of Dudley's
return nor of his pardon. There is much to be done and thought of."

Eda would fain have had some explanations regarding the wreck of the
vessel which brought her cousin over, but Edgar answered gaily, "I
will tell all that to the assembled multitude in the drawing-room;"
and then he, in turn, asked questions about Clive Grange, and its
inhabitants; but Eda replied in the same tone in which he had spoken,
"I will tell you all that to-morrow, Edgar. You cannot see Helen
to-night, nor, indeed, to-morrow either, for she and Mr. Clive are
both absent, I find, and do not return till the end of the week." With
that they parted.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


About an hour and a half after Edgar had left him, Dudley was seated
with Martin Oldkirk at a very homely meal; but it was good, though
plain, and the gentleman had shared, or rather more than shared, with
his companion, the small portion of brandy which the labouring man had
brought. Either Dudley's spirits had risen, or he had assumed a
greater degree of cheerfulness than he really felt. He was by nature
frank and free, as the good old English term goes, although early
misfortunes had, as we have shown in his room at Cambridge, given a
thoughtful cast to an imaginative mind. If, occasionally, he seemed a
little proud or haughty, it was with his equals or his superiors in
rank, where a feeling that impaired circumstances in himself might
generate a sense of condescension in them, induced him, by a certain
coldness of manner, to repel that vainest form of pride. With those
inferior to him, his manner was very different. Calm, easy, certain of
his own position and of their estimation of it, he ran no chance of
offending by too great familiarity, or of checking by too great
reserve. He was well aware that the lower classes are much keener
observers than the general world gives them credit for being, and that
their estimation of their superiors in station is generally founded on
much more just grounds than those on which men who are accustomed to
judge by mere conventional standards too frequently rely.

Oldkirk had become easy in his society, and their conversation, though
not, perhaps, exactly gay, was cheerful and interesting. Dudley
described the house that Norries had built for himself, his habits,
his manners of life, the difficulties, the dangers, the pleasures, and
the wild freedom of an Australian settler; and Martin Oldkirk
questioned, and talked, and discussed, as if his companion had been an
old friend. They put their feet to the fire, they gazed into the
glowing embers; they leaned on either side of the table in meditative
chat, and the high-born, high-bred gentleman felt that he was speaking
with a man of considerable natural powers, who, though uncultivated,
was not ignorant, and though not always courteous, rarely actually
vulgar.

At length Dudley drew out his pocket-book, and taking forth the
memoranda which he had previously examined, looked over them for a
moment, and then inquired, in an ordinary tone, "Pray did you ever
know a person of the name of Filmer--Peter Filmer?"

The man started from his seat as if he had been struck; his whole
countenance worked, his lips quivered, his brow contracted, and his
sharp eyes fixed upon Dudley, with a fierce and angry stare. It seemed
as if he were deprived of the power of utterance, for though his under
jaw moved, as if he would have spoken, he spoke not, but struck the
table a hard blow with his clenched fist.

"What is the matter?" exclaimed Dudley. "I did not intend to agitate
you in this manner. I had no idea that such simple words could produce
such emotion."

Martin Oldkirk cast himself down again upon the settle from which he
had risen, pressing his hands upon his eyes; and when Dudley added a
few words more, he exclaimed, in a loud, harsh voice, "Hold your
tongue, hold your tongue! you have named a fiend, and you have raised
one!"

"I did not intend it, I can assure you," replied Dudley, "let us speak
of something else."

"No!" cried the man, "I can neither speak nor think of anything else
now that name is mentioned. Let me look at that paper; let me see what
is put down there."

"I have no objection," answered Dudley; "but if it is to agitate you
thus, you had really a great deal better forbear."

The man did not answer, but stretched forth his hand; and Dudley gave
him the paper. He then laid it down before him, drew the single candle
closer to him, and supporting his broad forehead with his clasped
hands, and leaning his elbows on the board, gazed upon the memoranda
with a haggard and staring eye. He remained in the same position for
fully ten minutes, without uttering one word, and then, pushing the
paper across to Dudley, he said, in a much calmer tone, "That is Mr.
Norries's writing?"

"It is," answered Dudley; "but I am quite sure he had no idea the
questions he had there put down for me to ask would agitate you so
terribly!"

"He should have known! he should have known!" said Martin Oldkirk,
with stern bitterness; "but it matters not. I shall have recovered
myself before tomorrow morning, and we will then talk more--but yet,
tell me first, what have you to do with this man? This, this----" but
it seemed he could not utter the word, and after breaking off the
sentence abruptly, he added, "Have you ever seen him? Do you know
him?"

"I have seen him, do know him," answered Dudley; "and I have every
reason to believe that he has endeavoured to injure me most basely."

Dudley paused, and thought for a moment or two, and then added, "I had
better, perhaps, tell you how; for you had some share in the
business."

"I?--I?" exclaimed Martin Oldkirk. "What had I to do between you and
him? I have not seen him for many long years. I knew Sir Arthur Adelon
was here, it is true, and I kept out of his way; but the priest is not
with him surely."

"The priest is with him," answered Dudley; "and has never left him."

"Oh! yes he did; yes he did!" replied the peasant; "he was away two
whole years, I know. I thought he had gone to do penance, as he would
call it, and would never appear in the world again. Had he done so,
had he wept in solitude and silence for the whole of his bad career, I
might have forgotten it: no, not forgotten it! forgiven, perhaps, but
forgot it, never! He is here, then, here in this country; here in the
baronet's house?"

"I cannot exactly say that," answered Dudley; "for I do not know, and
I would not deceive you on any account; but he was here two years ago,
rather more, perhaps, for it was in the autumn; and he did all he
could to injure me, though life or death were at stake."

"Ay, that is strange," said Martin Oldkirk. "Pray, may I ask what is
your name, sir, for that is a thing I do not know even yet?"

"My name is Dudley," replied his companion; "and you may perhaps
remember----"

"Why, then, you are the man who was tried and cast for the death of
the young lord over the cliffs?" said Martin Oldkirk, interrupting
him.

"The same," answered Dudley. "I was tried and condemned for an act
with which I had nothing to do. Of Father Filmer, I have seen little
or nothing, except when he came to visit me in prison, and tried to
convert me to the Roman Catholic faith."

"Ah! he never lost sight of that," answered Oldkirk; "but still, what
had he to do with you?"

"Why, you shall hear," answered Dudley; "only let me tell my tale to
the conclusion. Do you remember one night when Mr. Adelon came to
visit you, and when you gave him a good deal of assistance?"

"Oh, yes! I remember it very well," answered the man. "I thought, at
first, there was some trick, and I would not say much; but I soon got
sure of my man, and then I was willing enough to do anything I could
for him, for I thought of his mother, poor young man. It's a pity I
couldn't do more; but I fancied that Mr. Norries would know how to
manage."

"Mr. Norries knew little of the matter till it all transpired long
afterwards," replied Dudley; "but now, as a friend, Mr. Norries wishes
me to possess such information as to frustrate the schemes of this Mr.
Filmer, and he know no one better to whom he could send me than
yourself."

"I should like to see the letter," said Martin Oldkirk.

"I am afraid that cannot well be," replied Mr. Dudley; "my baggage, as
I told you, is by this time, doubtless, at the bottom of the sea; but
you know Mr. Norries's hand-writing, and you cannot doubt that those
memoranda were put down by him."

"That's true, that's true!" said the man; "but still I should like to
see the letter. However, don't let us talk any more of things which
are so long gone. I will give you an answer to-morrow, when I have
thought over it. In the mean time, I should like very much to hear
what the matter was all about two years ago. I recollect the trial
very well, and Mr. Adelon coming to me in search of information. I
gave him a rudish sort of answer at first; but he was so frank and so
desperate-like, that I could not well refuse; and in the end I went
with him to Norries, but I cannot see how this hypocritical priest had
anything to do with that."

"What object, and interest he could have, I know not," answered
Dudley, who was a little puzzled with the rambling and desultory
manner in which his companion spoke. "All I can tell you is what he
actually did, and of that Mr. Adelon says he has no doubt. In the
first place, when Edgar went to meet you the second time, he saw you
at the old workhouse of a place the name of which I forget. He was
followed secretly, by Mr. Filmer's order, by a little boy, who was
directed, immediately he discovered the place he entered, to give
information to the constable of the hundred, who was already warned to
seize Mr. Adelon and any one whom he had with him, on the pretence of
his companions having been engaged in the Chartist riots."

"Ay, I broke master constable's head for his pains," said Oldkirk. "Go
on, sir."

"He then deceived Mr. Adelon as to the time of my trial," continued
Dudley; "and subsequently the same man gave intimation to a
blacksmith, named Edward Lane, who could have borne important
testimony, that the officers of justice were seeking for him. This
priest also persuaded Mr. Clive and his daughter, who could have
proved my innocence at once, and who have proved it since, to fly from
England, and induced a man, named Daniel Connor, to give evidence
which approached as near perjury as possible."

"He hated you heartily," said Martin Oldkirk, setting his teeth hard;
"and he cannot hate without seeking to destroy."

"For some reason, he certainly does seem to hate me," replied Dudley;
"and whether he has power to injure me farther or not, I cannot tell;
but at all events, it is the opinion of both Mr. Adelon and myself,
that he will try to do so, and that, perhaps, in matters which most
deeply affect my welfare. Mr. Norries, with whom I consulted, told me
to ask you for some particulars of this priest's previous life, which
he thought would open the eyes of Sir Arthur Adelon to the man's real
character."

"Puppies are only blind nine days," replied Oldkirk, with a bitter
smile. "Sir Arthur Adelon has been blind for twenty years. You will
find it a hard matter to open his eyes. Did his son tell him what the
priest had done in your case?"

"No," answered Dudley, "he did not, on many accounts. For some weeks
after my condemnation Edgar was very ill, and then he only arrived at
the whole truth by degrees. He proposes now to do so, however, and I
wish to strengthen the case against this man by any previous
circumstances which may tend to show his false and deceitful
character."

"Do not tell it to Sir Arthur when alone," said Oldkirk, musing while
he spoke. "He is too weak to retain a deep impression long; he may
believe a part of what you say at first, but his inclination will be,
not to believe, and if his own better judgment and convictions are not
backed up by those of others, they will soon fall and be forgotten. I
have seen it so myself. As to the rest, I will think over it, sir, and
see what can be done. It is many a year since I heard that bitter
name, and it has raised feelings in me which I had hoped and thought
were dead. I will try to get quieter before to-morrow. I did not know
the viper was so near me, or I might have tried to crush his brains
out before now. I knew that Sir Arthur was here a great deal, but him
I have never seen but once, and that at a distance. The son I saw many
times, for he rode much about the country, and I used to think how
much like his poor mother he was, but I never spoke to him till he
came that night to see me, for I did not wish to have anything more to
do with them."

"Did no one ever tell you that they had a priest with them?" asked
Dudley.

"Oh! yes, I heard that," replied Martin Oldkirk; "but there are many
priests in Rome, and I knew that this man had been away for a long
while after poor Lady Adelon's death; so I never thought it was the
same. Did Mr. Norries tell you to ask me for anything more?"

"Yes," replied Dudley; "he said you have charge of certain papers
belonging to me."

"They were given me by Norries," replied Oldkirk; "and I certainly
shan't give them to any one without his orders."

"Perhaps you are right," replied Dudley; "and to tell you the truth, I
care very little about them, for they only serve to prove a fact which
I have long known: that strong passions take as inveterate a hold of
weak minds as of more powerful minds. They might, indeed, give me some
little authority and influence where it may be needful, but that is
all."

"Strike at Filmer, strike at Filmer!" said Martin Oldkirk, sharply;
"and be you sure, sir, that man has nourished in the baronet every
evil plant, till it has produced evil fruit. But remember, whatever
you do, do it before plenty of witnesses. Take some public room, some
crowd, some general meeting, and tax him there with all his
wickedness. Unmask him before multitudes, and make him a scoff and a
byword for ever. But now, sir, it is late; you must be tired enough,
and we shall have many things to talk of to-morrow. It is my way, when
anything moves me a great deal, to lie down and sleep. I sleep like a
stone when I am much moved; and then I get up with my thoughts fresh
and clear. I have made you up the best bed I can, and I dare say
weariness will be as good as a feather pillow. Wait, I will light you
another candle; I dare say, now, you never sat with a single one
before."

"I have sat through long nights with none," replied Dudley. "You
forget, my good friend, what it is to be a convict in a penal colony,
and cannot know what it is to be an escaped convict in the midst of
wilds and deserts which the foot of man has seldom trod; but such has
been my fate."

"I did forget," replied Martin Oldkirk. "You have had a hard lot,
sir." And Dudley and he parted for the night.

The sun had been up more than an hour when Dudley awoke on the
following morning; and while he dressed himself in the little back
room of the cottage where he had slept, he heard voices in the
neighbouring chamber, and could distinguish the words: "I hope the
gentleman will remember us well for our trouble, for you see, Martin,
the locks aren't broken, and we've not even looked into them."

"I will be answerable for him," replied the voice of Martin Oldkirk.
"You may be sure he will pay you well;" and the words were succeeded
by a heavy trailing sound, as if some large object was dragged slowly
from one side of the room to another.

When Dudley entered the front chamber, he saw two large boxes standing
on the left hand side, to which Martin Oldkirk pointed, with a look of
satisfaction, saying, "We've got them out, sir, though we had some
trouble, and they seemed pretty well soaked in the seawater. Now that
the tide's out, she stands well nigh high and dry at one part; that's
to say, what's left of her, for the masts are all down, and she's
broken in two. Another tide, if the wind goes on blowing in this way,
won't leave a stick of her together. A good deal has been got out of
her, notwithstanding: one-third of the cargo, I dare say, and most of
the passengers' baggage."

"This, is, indeed, an important service, Oldkirk," replied Dudley;
"and you shall now have Norries's letter; but we must break the chest
open, for my keys are lost."

What he proposed was soon effected. The trunks were broken open, the
different articles they contained taken out to dry, and the letter
which had been so often mentioned was placed in Oldkirk's hands. He
took it to the window and read it eagerly, and then exclaimed, "That's
a good man, that's a good man, sir! He's the only lawyer that I ever
knew who would come forward to help a poor man without fee or reward.
He saved me from ruin. The little I have I owe all to him, and I will
do all that he tells me. You shall hear all about it, sir; every word;
but first let us have some breakfast."



CHAPTER XXXIX.


The calm evening light was shining sweetly upon park, and wood, and
valley, and high, bare down: a strong wind blew the fleecy clouds fast
across the sky, varying the face of earth with shadows that chased one
another like children in their play; and ever and anon the sun was
left clear and brilliant, and his rays, poured obliquely from a point
hardly two hand's-breadth from the horizon, gilded the western sides
of the trees, and made their lustrous leaves shine like diamonds.
Through the heart of Eda Brandon the shadowy clouds of manifold
emotions passed as rapidly as the vapours over the sky, but still the
sun of hope shone forth again, and rendered the little world of her
fair bosom as bright and sparkling as the scene around her. He was
safe, he was home again, he was near her, he was clear of blame; his
innocence was made manifest to the eyes of the whole world. She could
look with pride even to his sufferings and to her own love; she could
say, "He has been injured, traduced, and grieved, but he is innocent,
and I have loved him still." Oh! how joyful was the thought of
consoling him through life for all he had undergone! how sweet the
expectation of seeing him again, as, leaning on Edgar's arm, she
walked quickly across the park towards the old priory; but yet those
feelings were sorely agitating. Joy would hold its place, and all seem
glad and cheerful for a time; but then, the very intensity of her
affection would reach a point which became almost painful, and a
sensation of faintness would come over her, and make her pause and
pant for breath.

Edgar felt for her; for although a great change had come over him
since first he was presented to the reader; although experience and
action, the seasoning fires of youth, had given decision and firmness
to his character; although he had grown more powerful in mind, more
manly in character, yet not one of the warm enthusiastic feelings of
his heart had been lost, and he could understand what it was to feel,
with sensations very like those of fear, the meeting with a lover
under such circumstances as hers. He soothed her kindly, and tenderly,
too; he cheered her with every bright subject that fancy could
suggest; but he ventured not to laugh or jest, as he might have done
at another time; for he saw and knew that the emotions were too deep,
the waters of the heart too profound, to be stirred by the light winds
in sport. At length the limits of the park were reached, and they
passed out. He walked quickly through the little wood, though Eda
murmured, "Oh, Edgar!" and would fain have paused for a moment, for he
thought she would be better, stronger, happier, when the first meeting
was over. In a minute more, the gray ruin, and the green ivy, and the
little meadow before the sculptured porch, and the stream glancing
beyond, were before their eyes, and the form of Dudley, rising up from
a pile of architectural fragments, on which he had been sitting, was
in Eda's sight.

There had been many emotions, as I have said, in her breast, as she
walked thither; there had been anxiety, and joy, and some degree of
apprehension of she knew not what; but the moment that she beheld him
every impression gave way to one, the thought of all he had suffered,
and how he had suffered it. It came rushing upon her like a torrent,
as one great image, the anguish, the indignation, the privations, the
sorrows, the wrongs he had endured and felt; and giving way at once to
the impulse of the heart, and forgetting all conventional forms, and
the cold, thoughtful ceremonies of the world, she sprang forward, she
cast herself into his arms, she wept with mingled joy and grief.

There was a long, long pause, for neither of the two could speak, and
Edgar would not. The tears rose, too, in Dudley's eyes: not the tears
of those weaker emotions which shake the light and the tender on
meeting again with those they love, but the tears of strong, powerful,
soul-subduing gratitude to God for mercies shown, and hope and
happiness restored. He thanked, from his very heart, the Almighty
Ruler of all destinies, that he had seen his native land again; he
thanked him for deliverance from disgrace, and sorrow, and undeserved
punishment; he thanked him for a reputation cleared, a high name
restored, for honour, and for peace, and for dawning happiness; and
perhaps he thanked him more than all for giving him the love, the
persevering, devoted, unchanging love of one whom he loved so well. It
was indeed the crowning blessing of all; that which alone could render
life cheerful and pleasant to him; and while, with his arms around
her, he pressed her to his heart, and kissed her soft cheek, he felt
that of all the blessings prepared for man by the great Creator in the
terrestrial paradise, there was no blessing equal to the last, which
was bestowed for the comfort and consolation needed by man even in
Eden.

At length their feelings found voice; and seating themselves upon the
same shaded pile of chiselled stone-work where Dudley had waited the
coming of Eda and her cousin, they began to talk over the past and the
future. Of the past the reader knows so much that he need not listen
to their conversation here. Nor did Dudley dwell upon it long, for he
knew that their time was short, and that Eda must speedily return to
mingle once more with gay scenes, in which she took no interested
part; but turning quickly to the more important present, on which so
much depended, he besought Eda not to say to any one that she had seen
him, nor to give a hint that he had returned to the land.

"There are many things, dearest Eda," he said, "which I wish to do
before I openly avow myself. I must, in the first place, claim back my
property from the crown, and take measures to make my restitution to
all my rights, and the restoration of honour to my name, as clear and
perfect as possible; and for these purposes I must see Mr. Clive. But
I am told he is absent. Do you think he will soon return?"

"Not till the end of the week they told me at the Grange, Dudley,"
answered Miss Brandon; "but I can easily get his address."

"Are you quite sure, dear Eda," asked Dudley, "that he has not told
the facts concerning the death of Lord Hadley to other and less
discreet persons than yourself, especially to Mr. Filmer?"

"Certainly not, unless by letter," replied Eda; "for both Mr. Clive
and Helen were away when we arrived. I have asked at many of the
cottages of the peasantry in regard to the cause of his long absence,
but do not find that any one entertains the slightest suspicion of
what it seems, from Edgar's account, has taken place in London, and I
am quite sure that neither my uncle nor Mr. Filmer have the slightest
knowledge of the changed circumstances in which we stand. I think it
might be better," she added, and then paused and hesitated, with a
beautiful blush rising up and tinging her cheek and temples, "I think
it might be better--why should I scruple to say so? to come up to
Brandon and claim me for your own at once. There are several persons
there, some of them entertaining expectations, I believe with my
uncle's encouragement, which can never be fulfilled; and I would fain
have it known at once, Dudley, that my hand is promised to another,
and that there is nothing which has been able to shake my esteem for a
man whose conduct in trifles only gave me, in early years, the
clearest indication of what would be his conduct in more important,
though more painful, scenes at an after period."

Dudley pressed his lips upon her hand. "Dear Eda," he said, "the
temptation is a great one; but let us think well what we are doing.
Your uncle, I believe, knows not, has, in fact, no suspicion, that my
innocence is proved, and my pardon granted."

"None, none whatever," answered Eda. "During several months, while we
were wandering hither and thither, he only saw the newspapers at
intervals, and I know not whether the case was ever stated in them at
all."

"It was hinted at in one of the evening prints," said Edgar Adelon;
"but the whole transaction was conducted privately, without any
affectation of secrecy indeed, but in a quiet, unostentatious manner;
and the Secretary of State thought, when all was decided, that it
would be better to take no public notice of the transaction till your
return, Dudley; when, as he said, you could yourself have recourse to
such means as you might judge advisable."

Dudley had fallen into a reverie while Edgar was speaking, but he
roused himself immediately, saying, in the same low tone which they
had hitherto employed--for the impression of their secret meeting
affected even their conversation, while no one could hear--"Perhaps it
might be better, as you say, Eda; but if I determine upon following
this course, prepare yourself, love, for somewhat strange and perhaps
unpleasant scenes. Your uncle will, of course, imagine at first than I
am an escaped convict. He will be indignant at my showing myself in
his house at all, still more indignant at what he will consider my
rash pretensions. He may carry this indignation to violent measures
and harsh terms; and if you yourself are present, it may place you in
unpleasant circumstances."

"I fear not," answered Eda, "the whole will be easily explained; and
although he will, doubtless, still object, and I might be most
unwilling, in matters not affecting my whole happiness and welfare, to
reject the counsel of one who has been a father to me, yet in this
case, Dudley, no objections will be of any avail. I have scrutinized
my own heart; I know and understand my own feelings, and I am ready to
choose my part at once, and to act up to it to the end."

"But the question is this," said Dudley. "Can you do so, my Eda, if I
think fit, on motives of my own, to give no explanations to your
uncle, or any one who may be present, to let mistakes go on, and
confusion work itself clear by gradual and natural means?"

"But upon what motives, Dudley?" asked Eda, in a tone of anxiety. "Why
should you suffer mistakes to exist when there is an easy way of
explaining them?"

"Not for the purpose, believe me, dear girl," replied Dudley, "of
showing how strong is the force of your attachment, and inducing you
to avow your unshaken affection even for a condemned convict; neither
with a view to let your uncle commit himself by injustice towards me;
but to open his eyes, perhaps, to the conduct of a villain and a
hypocrite who has long deceived him. The course I propose seems to me
to be the best adapted to that object; but I will think over it Eda
till to-morrow morning. Could not you and Edgar stroll down here
together on an early walk an hour or two before breakfast?"

"Assuredly," answered Edgar, speaking for his cousin. "All our guests
are sad lie-a-beds, and will be in no condition to interrupt us,
except our good friend, Captain M----, and of him we can easily
dispose."

"Well, I will think of it to-night," replied Dudley. "I should have
liked to see Clive first, indeed; but I think as he is absent we must
not wait his coming. Only remember not to give any explanation till I
judge right to do so myself. I think Eda will not disavow her love
under any circumstances?"

"Assuredly," answered Eda; "but one of our servants said to-day, that
there was some expectation entertained of the return of Mr. Clive and
Helen to-morrow: tidings which have kept Edgar's heart beating all the
day;" and she gazed at her cousin with a gay smile.

"I shall be able to tell you more when we meet, Dudley," said Edgar;
"and to say the truth, I think your plan the very best you could have
formed; for whether Mr. Clive is here or not, I shall be able to prove
all the facts, having a copy of the depositions."

"There are more facts than you know, Edgar," answered Dudley, in a
somewhat stern tone; and Eda started at the words, and drew a little
aside, saying, "Speak with me for a moment, Dudley. You would not, I
am sure," she continued, in a low voice, "do anything to injure my
uncle. You may have obtained those papers of which we once heard much
mention; but I think--nay, I am sure--that you would not use them to
his detriment."

"Pain him, I must, Eda," replied Dudley; "injure him I will not in the
least degree, and even the pain shall turn to his benefit, ay, and to
his peace; for with all his prosperity he has not been a happy man.
But the sun is down, dear one, and I must not keep you longer, for it
will be quite dark ere you reach the house."

Thus saying, he led her back to where Edgar stood, and bade them
adieu, adding, as they parted, in a louder tone than they had hitherto
used, "Then I shall see you here to-morrow, about eight, and we will
decide upon our future course."

Edgar and Eda assured him they would not fail, and took their way back
through the little wood. Dudley gazed after them till they were hidden
by the young green boughs, and then walked slowly away in the
direction of the small place called Beach Rock.

For some minutes after he was gone, all was still and silent. The rosy
beams of the evening departed from the light clouds overhead; the
nightingale broke forth in the wood; the scene around lost its lustre,
and became gray; and the bat, more surely summer's harbinger even than
the martin, flitted quietly over the space before the old building, in
search of its insect prey. At the end of those few minutes, however,
some of the branches of ivy, which had extended themselves across the
ruined doorway, were pushed back, and a dark shadowy figure came out
in the gray twilight, and stood for a moment with the arms crossed
upon the chest. It was that of a man, dressed in a long straight-cut
black coat, with a white cravat tied round the throat. There was
nothing else remarkable in his appearance, and he gazed quietly to the
left, upon the road taken by Eda and Edgar, and then to the right,
where Dudley had disappeared. He next fell into a fit of meditation,
the nature of which it would be difficult to divine. It ended,
however, with a low, unpleasant laugh, and saying to himself, "So, so!
at eight o'clock to-morrow," he turned and walked away in the same
direction as Miss Brandon and her cousin, but took the road under the
park wall for some way, and entered the enclosure by a stile farther
up.



CHAPTER XLVIII.


It still wanted half an hour of eight o'clock on the following
morning, when Dudley walked along the road from Beach Rock to Brandon.
He was not alone, however, for by his side was Martin Oldkirk, whose
stern but not unpleasant features were lighted up with an expression
of high satisfaction. At the distance of about a quarter of a mile
from the old Priory the two paused, and Dudley turned to take the path
across the fields which led to the ruin, while Martin Oldkirk went on;
but after a moment the young gentleman paused, and called to his
companion, saying, "I think you would do it more quickly if you would
go back and get the gig we left at Seafield. I should like to have
them all at Brandon by half-past nine."

"I shall go quicker on foot, sir," replied Oldkirk. "Seafield is a
mile and a half, and that would be all lost time."

Without more words he walked on; and leaping the stile with a light
heart, Dudley soon reached the bank of the little stream near which
ran the path he was following. Slackening his pace a little, as he
proceeded, to gaze at the dancing waters sparkling in the morning
light, he advanced with the copse straight before him, and an angle of
the ruin rising gray above the green foliage. The hour and the scene
and the season all harmonised well with the feelings in his bosom. He
was going to meet her he loved in the bright morning of the year's
most hopeful time, and his heart was full of the thrilling emotions of
life's happiest dream.

He reached the little lawn which spread from the old portal to the
brink of the stream, and knowing he was before the hour, was advancing
to take the seat which he had chosen the night before, and wait with
hope and fancy for his companions, when a man came forth from one of
the recesses of the building, with a slow and sauntering air.

"This is disagreeable!" thought Dudley; "but it matters not. As I have
resolved on my course, I will walk on. I shall be sure to meet them in
the park;" and he began to cross the green towards the copse, when the
man whom he had seen called to him, saying, "Sir, sir! I want to ask
you a question."

Dudley instantly paused and turned round, when at the same moment
another man appeared, and the first approaching said, "Is not your
name Dudley, sir?"

"Yes," replied the young gentleman; "what may be your pleasure with
me?"

"I apprehend you in the Queen's name," said the stranger, grasping his
arm and producing a constable's staff. "Come along with me!"

"Where is your warrant?" demanded Dudley, with perfect calmness, while
the second man approached.

"I don't need any warrants," answered the constable. "I know you for a
returned convict; and I shall take you at once before Mr. Conway."

"No, that you shall not do," replied Dudley, keeping them at a little
distance. "It is your duty to take me before the nearest magistrate;
that is Sir Arthur Adelon, and you have no pretence for making me go
four miles when there is a justice within one."

"Well, there can be no objection to that," said the constable; but the
other man interposed, observing in a low tone, "He said before Mr.
Conway."

"I don't care for that," replied the other; "I don't take my orders
from he. Did he say why?"

"I have told you what is your duty," said Dudley; "and you know it to
be so. Disregard it at your peril; for you will find in a very short
time that you are altogether wrong in this business; and if you
subject me to more inconvenience than necessary, I will punish you."

"Well, I shall put the handcuffs on you, at all events, my young
blade," replied the constable; "that I have a right to do."

"No, you have not," answered Dudley, who had a stout stick in his
hand; "and you shall not do it. I tell you I am not an escaped
convict, and that I am ready to go before Sir Arthur Adelon, without
the slightest resistance; but any attempt to treat me with indignity I
will resist to the utmost of my power, knowing that I am in the right.
The consequences, then, be upon your own heads; for whether I be
injured or you be injured, in any struggle which may take place, the
responsibility will rest with you."

It is unfortunate that the inferior officers of the law have seldom
any accurate knowledge of the law they have to execute, which
generally makes their proceedings either rashly violent or weakly
hesitating. "Well, sir," said the constable in return, after a
moment's thought, "if you will go quietly I don't mind."

"I will go quietly," replied Dudley, "and for your own satisfaction,
one can come on one side and the other on the other; but remember, if
either of you attempt to touch me, I will knock him down."

This being arranged, the whole party proceeded with some caution
through the little wood, across the road, and into the park. They had
hardly gone a hundred yards, however, when Dudley perceived those whom
he had come to meet, advancing towards him. He took not the least
notice, but proceeded with a calm and deliberate step; and he could
see that Edgar suddenly hurried his pace.

When they came a little nearer, Sir Arthur Adelon's son left his
cousin beneath one of the chestnut trees, and hastening forward, shook
Dudley warmly by the hand. The two constables looked at each other in
some surprise, for this was a sort of recognition which they had not
the least expectation of witnessing; and they made no effort to
interrupt a low conversation which went on for a minute or two between
their prisoner and his friend.

"I will tell him; I will not fail to tell him," said Edgar. "I will
get back with Eda as fast as possible, that she may be there before
you arrive. Good-bye, good-bye, for the present!"

Thus ended their short conference; and Dudley, turning to the
constables, told them he was ready to proceed. It was evident the two
men began to doubt that they were exactly in the right; but Dudley
gave them no opportunity of satisfying themselves any farther, walking
on with a slow step, and suffering Eda and her cousin to enter the
house before him. Few of the servants were seen about the place; and
the man who appeared at the hall-door, in answer to the summons of the
bell, was a stranger to Dudley.

A small room in Brandon House had been set apart as a justice-room;
but when the servant led the constables and their prisoner thither, he
found the door locked, and consequently conducted them to the library.

"Sir Arthur is not down yet," said the footman; "but I will tell him
as soon as he is up."

"Tell Mr. Filmer," said the constable; "he's up, I'll warrant."

Dudley listened with a slight smile, but made no remark aloud,
thinking, though mistakenly, "Some of the servants saw me on the night
of the wreck, and have told the priest."

After waiting for a few minutes, the same servant returned, and
beckoned one of the constables out of the room. He was absent for
nearly a quarter of an hour; but on his return he advanced towards
Dudley, saying, "I am to take you to Mr. Conway, sir; for Sir Arthur
will not like to deal with the case, because he knows you."

"I am afraid he must," replied Dudley, firmly. "I am here in a
magistrate's house, and I certainly shall not quit it till he has
decided whether there is, or is not, cause for keeping me in custody.
You need not speak another word on the subject, my good friend, for
here I am determined to remain."

The man seemed puzzled, and gave a significant look towards his
companion. He then quitted the room once more; but returning after an
absence of a few minutes, sat down at a little distance from the
prisoner, and beat the top of his hat with his fingers. Many persons
were now heard moving about the house, and a round-headed, fat-faced
young man, in a Melton coat, top-boots, and white-cord breeches,
entered, looked round, and walked out again. Some one also passed
along under the windows, whistling one of those interminable airs
which ornament modern operas, and which are so happily adapted to
vulgar tastes, that everybody can whistle them, and everybody does. A
moment after, Sir Arthur's voice was heard in the hall, saying,
apparently to a servant, "Well, ring the breakfast bell; I dare say we
shall not be long. Do you know what it is about? Who is he?"

"He looks quite like a gentleman, sir," said the servant; "but I did
not ask any questions. Mr. Filmer has spoken with the constables."

"Well, send Mr. Filmer to me," said Sir Arthur Adelon. "Good morning,
my lord; good morning, Captain M----. The constables have brought in a
prisoner; I must go and see what it is all about; but I will join you
at breakfast in a few minutes."

"Yours is an open court, I suppose, Sir Arthur," said the voice of
Captain M----; "and if you will permit me, I will see how people
conduct such business here."

"Certainly, certainly," said Sir Arthur Adelon; and opening the door
of the library, he walked in, followed by Lord Kingsland and Captain
M----.

The moment the baronet's eyes fell upon Dudley, however, a change came
over his face. He turned very pale, and his lip quivered; but he
recovered speedily, and noticing the prisoner with a haughty bow, he
said, "I did not expect to see you here, sir." At the same time, he
moved towards a great arm-chair, by the side of the library table.
Captain M----'s eye glanced towards Dudley with a very slight smile,
but he took no farther notice of him, and seated himself near the peer
and the baronet.

"I dare say you did not, Sir Arthur," said Dudley, in reply to the
magistrate's words. "My coming hither, at this moment, was unexpected
to myself, though I certainly should have troubled you with a visit in
a short time. It is to these two worthy gentlemen I owe the pleasure
of seeing you sooner than I intended."

"Humph!" said Sir Arthur, with a cold look. "I am to suppose, sir,
then, that they brought you hither: in which they probably only did
their duty? Upon what charge have you brought this--this--this
gentleman, before me," he continued, addressing the constable.

"Why, your worship, Sir Arthur," replied the man, "I had information,
that this gentleman, this Mr. Dudley, is an escaped convict; the same
as he who was condemned at the assizes two or three years ago. If he's
not, he's very like him."

"What do you say to this charge, sir," demanded Sir Arthur Adelon,
looking at Dudley with the same cold demeanour.

"By your permission, Sir Arthur," replied Dudley, "I will put one
question to this good man."

"Oh! as many as you please," answered the baronet, throwing himself
back in his chair, evidently not very much at ease.

"Well, then, tell me, my good friend the constable," continued Dudley,
"who was it that gave you orders to apprehend me?"

"Why, nobody gave me orders like," replied the constable; "but I had
information like."

"From whom?" demanded Dudley. "That is exactly what I want to know."

The man looked a little bewildered, but at length replied, "Why, I was
told not to say anything about it."

"Yes; but you must say something here," said Dudley. "I insist upon
your informing Sir Arthur Adelon, who it was that gave you that
information."

"Why, it was Mr. Filmer; Father Peter, as they call him, if I must
say," replied the constable. "I don't see why he should mind my
telling."

"I doubt its being very pleasing to him," replied Dudley; "but with
that we have nothing to do."

"I do not see what we have to do with the matter at all," said Sir
Arthur Adelon. "To me it seems of no importance."

"To you it is of the greatest importance in the world," replied
Dudley. "I put the question for the express purpose of leading to the
complete display of a villain's character. I must request you to send
for Mr. Filmer, sir."

"I have sent for him already," said Sir Arthur, sharply; "but the
question is, whether you, sir, are an escaped convict or not, and with
that Mr. Filmer has nothing to do."

"That is not the whole question," replied Dudley. "When that is all
made clear, it will remain to be seen whether these men have acted
properly in taking me into custody without a warrant, and without
information on oath. I might also add, that they sought, in the first
instance, doubtless by the advice of the same worthy informer, to take
me four miles hence, to Mr. Conway, when they apprehended me on the
very grounds of Brandon."

"That was wrong," said Sir Arthur. "Pray, who told you to do that,
constable?"

"Why, Mr. Filmer, sir," answered the man.

"Ah! here he comes to answer for himself," observed the baronet as the
door opened; but instead of Mr. Filmer, it was the baronet's son who
appeared, and walking straight up to Dudley, he shook hands with him
warmly.

Sir Arthur eyed him for a moment with a look of displeasure, and
perhaps would have fain closed the doors of the library against any
farther audience; but he felt that there were many circumstances which
might render such a step injudicious; and turning to one of the
constables, he said, in a hurried manner, "Send for Mr. Filmer again;
say I desire to speak with him. Pray be seated, Mr. Dudley," he
continued, in a more courteous tone than he had hitherto used. "I
could certainly have wished that this case had been brought before Mr.
Conway, or any other magistrate, rather than myself; for the feelings
of friendship which I have always entertained towards you, may throw a
suspicion of partiality over my proceedings. But I shall try to avoid
the reality as far as possible, and deal with the matter in hand
according to the principles of justice and common sense."

Dudley felt a little indignant at this speech, well understanding the
quality of the friendship which Sir Arthur expressed towards him; but
a portion of contempt mingled with his indignation, for he was aware
that hypocrisy has its origin in weakness more frequently than in art.
Cunning is the refuge of the feeble. He sat down, therefore, in
silence, merely bowing his head; and the moment after Mr. Filmer
entered the room.

Whether he had obtained any hint of what was occurring, or whether
shrewd perception supplied the place of information, I know not; but
his course was evidently chosen from the moment he entered the room.
His step was, as usual, calm and easy, silent, but firm; and turning a
cold, stern glance upon Dudley, he advanced to the table where Sir
Arthur Adelon sat, and said at once, without giving any one time to
explain, "I am very happy, Sir Arthur, to see that the constables have
done their duty upon the information which I afforded them last night,
although I perceive they have not attended to my warning, nor carried
before Mr. Conway a case upon which I knew it would be very painful
for you to decide."

As he spoke, his eyes again turned towards Dudley for a moment, and he
saw an expression upon that gentleman's face which did not satisfy
him. It was an expression of tranquil, almost contemptuous calmness.
Dudley seemed rather amused than not; but if the priest was not well
pleased with the look of the prisoner, he was still less so with a
word that sounded close in his ear. "Hypocrite!" said a low voice, and
turning round, he saw Edgar Adelon close beside him.

"Did you apply that term to me, my son?" said Mr. Filmer, almost in a
whisper.

With a stern, contracted brow, the young man slowly bent his head in
sign of affirmation, and then withdrew a step, leaving him alone.

"Pray, Mr. Filmer," said Dudley, rising, "though the question may
appear a little irregular, and not bearing on the points at issue, may
I ask how you obtained certain information of my return to this
country, so as, without making oath or taking out a warrant against
me, to send constables to apprehend me?"

"The question _is_ irregular," said the priest, sternly; but the
moment after, a gleam of bitter satisfaction came into his eyes, and
he added, "I can tell you if you desire it, nevertheless; but if you
will take my advice you will not inquire;" and he looked round to
Edgar Adelon with one of his serpent sneers, which seemed but the more
intense from the assumed mildness and tranquillity of every feature
but the lip. Edgar at once quitted the room, but Dudley replied--

"Sir, having nothing whatsoever to fear, I will beg you to give the
information I desired."

Mr. Filmer seemed to hesitate for a moment, and turned a look towards
Sir Arthur Adelon, who answered it by saying, "Pray do; this matter
must be investigated to the bottom."

"Be it so, then," said Mr. Filmer. "Yesterday evening I chanced, as is
frequently my custom, to wander forth to the old Priory, wishing, as
who might not wish, to spend a short time in meditation, perhaps in
prayer, upon the spot and amidst the scenes where holy men, ay, and
martyrs, too, have trod the earth with their feet and watered it with
their blood, and addressed their petitions to heaven. I was sitting,
lost in thought, when I heard voices near, and looking forth I saw a
party, consisting of two gentlemen and a lady. Shall I give their
names?" he continued; and he fixed his eyes firmly upon Dudley.

"Decidedly," replied the prisoner; although perhaps, to say the truth,
he was not quite well pleased at the idea of his conversation with Eda
having been overheard.

"Certainly, certainly," replied Lord Kingsland, who seemed for the
moment to have the parliamentary spirit strong upon him. "Name, name!"

"Pray give them," said Sir Arthur Adelon, although his feelings were
not very comfortable.

"One gentleman was Mr. Dudley," replied the priest, slowly; "the other
was your son, Sir Arthur; the lady's name perhaps I had better not
mention."

"She will name it herself," said Eda Brandon, entering the room,
leaning upon Edgar's arm. "I was the person, my dear uncle, who was
with Edgar and Mr. Dudley at the Priory; and I was exceedingly glad,"
she continued, crossing over to Dudley and giving him her hand, "to
congratulate him on his safe return to England."

Dudley retained the fair, small hand she offered, in his own for a
moment or two; and there they stood together, she with her colour a
good deal heightened, and he with his eyes full of bright and proud
satisfaction. It had required a great effort; but all that she had
said was calm and lady-like and nothing more. She had made no avowal
of attachment; she had tried to banish the tone, the look, the manner
of affection; but those who were around and marked the blush upon her
cheek, the light in Dudley's eyes, doubted not for one instant the
spring of love, from the depths of which those bright bubbles rose to
the surface.

Sir Arthur Adelon looked utterly confounded; and Eda, seeing, with
some embarrassment, that all eyes were fixed upon her, said, in a
somewhat faltering tone, but which grew stronger and firmer as she
went on, "I am afraid, my dear uncle, that I have intruded where I
have little business; but Edgar having told me; in his enthusiastic
way, that Mr. Filmer was likely to make a mystery of that in which
there is really none, I came to sweep all such things away; for there
is nothing that I should more dislike than any of my actions being
made a secret of. When all this is over, Mr. Dudley," she continued,
turning towards him, "I shall be most happy to welcome you to Brandon;
indeed, breakfast is already waiting;" and she was retiring from the
room, when her uncle exclaimed, "Stay, Eda, stay! All this is most
extraordinary! Pray, then, did you know that this gentleman had
returned?"

"Perfectly," answered Eda. "I was aware that he had come back in the
same ship with Edgar, and that he had suffered shipwreck with him,
after having endured two years of undeserved hardship, brought upon
him by the basest machinations of a designing man."

She would not look at Filmer while she spoke, for the strong, earnest
love of her heart, had raised the spirit of indignation in her, which
she feared might appear too clearly; and turning away she quitted the
library.

"What is the meaning of all this?" asked Sir Arthur Adelon, looking at
his son. "There seems to be a serious accusation against some one, but
what it is I cannot divine."

"It is, I believe, a very common case, Sir Arthur," answered Mr.
Filmer; "ingratitude to those who have served and benefited us;
suspicion of those who have dealt honestly for our own good against
our inclination; and slander of the innocent in order to shield the
guilty; but the simple question before you, I believe, is, without
considering any idle attack upon me, or defence equally idle, whether
that person standing there is or is not an offender, under the
sentence of the law, escaped from the country and the punishment to
which the law assigned him."

"I can answer that question at once," said Captain M----; "and you
must forgive me for speaking, notwithstanding your message, my dear
Dudley. I first knew that gentleman, Sir Arthur, in the quality of the
Nameless Fisherman by the Nameless Lake. I afterwards had the pleasure
of seeing him at the Government House, at Hobart Town, with his
character cleared from all stain, and his name and honour as bright
and proud as that of any gentleman in the land. I can testify that he
received a pardon under the great seal, in consequence of being
clearly proved innocent of an offence for which he had been wrongly
condemned."

"Then I have no farther business here," said Mr. Filmer, with perfect
tranquillity of tone and look. "I could not be aware of the
circumstances under which Mr. Dudley had returned; and I suppose that
no one will deny I acted properly, in pointing out to the officers of
justice a person whom I believed to have escaped from the due
punishment of a great offence."

"Stay one moment," said Dudley, "I have not yet done with you, sir. I
have a charge to make against you, and a very heavy one."

Mr. Filmer's face might turn a shade or two paler; for it is a
difficult thing, when, through a long life, one has been acting a deep
and criminal part, to see even the chance of exposure, and yet so rule
the heart, that the blood will not fly back to it in alarm. Habitual
success may do something; the confidence of tried skill and known
power may do something likewise; and the custom of concealing emotion
may still rule words, and tones, and actions, and even looks; but that
subtle thing, whatever it is, which sometimes sends the warm stream of
life rushing in an instant through every vein to the face, and at
others, calls it suddenly back to the deep well of the heart, cannot
be so commanded. The vagueness of a charge, too, does greatly add to
its terrifying influence upon one who has been a hypocrite from the
beginning. All his powers of mind, be they what they may, are but as a
small garrison in a ruined fortress, attacked by a large army. Every
evil act that he has committed, every false word that he has spoken,
has made a breach in his own walls of defence. He knows not at what
feeble and unguarded point he may be attacked, for he has himself
raised up an innumerable host to assail him; his own crimes are his
own enemies, and in proportion to their multitude must be his fears.

Mr. Filmer did turn somewhat paler than he was before; but so calm was
his whole aspect, that no one marked the change but Dudley and Edgar
Adelon, whose keen eyes were fixed upon his face the whole time.

"Well, sir," he said, turning towards his accuser, "I shall be very
ready to hear and answer the charge, as I know it must be groundless;
but will you allow me to suggest that it should be made at a later
hour of the day. You are aware that I am an early riser, and I have
not yet broken my fast. My appetite, too, is good, considering my
years."

"It seems, sir, that you wished to increase mine by a walk of four
miles," replied Dudley; "but this matter is serious, and cannot be
turned off lightly. I will make the charge whenever Sir Arthur Adelon
thinks fit to receive it; but I do not lose sight of you till it is
made."

"Then am I to consider it as of a criminal nature, and cognizable by a
magistrate?" demanded the baronet, very much discomposed.

"Such as must lead you, if it be even in part established," replied
Dudley, "to commit this person to prison, or at all events, to require
bail for his appearance."

"Then I would much prefer that the charge should be made before
another magistrate," said Sir Arthur; but Dudley, Edgar, and the
priest himself, interfered, the two former somewhat eagerly, and the
latter with the slightly sarcastic tone which marked his replies when
he was not well pleased.

"As my accuser has no objection, Sir Arthur," he said, "I must add my
voice to his. I at least do not suspect you of partiality; but the
great question with me at present is breakfast. I know you have not
yet taken any yourself, my kind friend; and although I do not bear any
ill will to Mr. Dudley on account of whatever accusations he may bring
against me either for pastime or revenge, I certainly shall be very
angry with him if he interrupts our pleasant morning meal, which was
always, I must say, a very tranquil one till he first set his foot in
this house."

"That is true, at least," said Sir Arthur, in a low tone. But Edgar
interfered again, observing, "You had better, perhaps, join Eda in the
breakfast-room, my dear father. Dudley, she will be happy, as you
heard, to see you there; and after the meal we can proceed with this
unfortunate business."

"An exceedingly good motion, and one for which I shall certainly
vote!" exclaimed Lord Kingsland, rising.

And then, turning to Captain M----, he added, in a low voice, "I
think, M----, if we ever intended, in the private theatricals of
Brandon, to perform the Rivals, we may spare ourselves the trouble!"

"I had no part in the cast," replied Captain M----, "though I am very
sure, my good lord, there are more private theatricals going on in
every house in the land than we generally imagine."

"Ever moralizing I ever moralizing!" said the peer, with an air of
easy persiflage. And he took his way to the breakfast-room, followed
by the rest of the party.



CHAPTER XLI.


There was a certain degree of agitation upon Eda's beautiful face,
when the party from the library entered the room where she sat; but
that agitation did not take one particle from the grace of her
demeanour; and in a few minutes all were seated round the table. As
usual, where there is a great deal of vanity, there was a certain
portion of spite in Lord Kingsland's nature; and on the present
occasion it did not sleep. Ho was mortified at losing the hand of the
heiress of Brandon, and he took care to make the person who was likely
to cause that loss feel all that was painful in his position to the
utmost. Not, indeed, that he ever dreamed that Eda would give, or that
Sir Arthur would suffer her to give, her hand to one who had been a
convict; that was a thing quite out of the question, in his opinion.
It might be supposed, therefore, that he would not easily be led to
give up the pursuit in which he had engaged, as a marriage with the
heiress had always been looked upon by him merely as a matter of
convenience; but in every man's mind there is some peculiar prejudice
of that sort commonly called crotchet, generally proceeding from
vanity, and in his case decidedly so. He thought Eda Brandon
exceedingly beautiful; but still he had not husbanded the fine
feelings of the heart so carefully as to be capable of love.
Nevertheless, Lord Kingsland would on no account have married a woman
who had loved another. He did not like that any man on earth should be
able to say of his wife, "She was once engaged to me;" and how much
less would he have liked it to be said that Lady Kingsland had been in
love with a _convict!_

As that could not be, the only consolation he could find under his
little disappointment was to make Eda and Dudley feel that the latter
had been a convict, and would ever by his fellow-men be regarded as a
convict. He became exceedingly curious, on a sudden, about Van
Dieman's Land, asked innumerable questions in regard to Hobart Town,
and even ventured upon Norfolk Island. Convict discipline became a
matter of great interest to him; and to hear him speak upon the
subject, of which he knew nothing, one would have thought that he was
a great philanthropical legislator.

Dudley answered his questions with calm gravity; but yet he could not
help feeling, with painful acuteness, that the world, the bitter,
slanderous world, had got its fangs in his flesh, with a hold that
nothing could shake off; that a stain had been placed upon his name
most unjustly, which, though it might be erased, would still leave a
trace behind.

With the sharp and clear perception of woman, Eda understood the
motives in which the peer's conduct originated, and felt both contempt
and anger. The only effect which it produced upon her own conduct,
however, was to make her demeanour to Dudley more marked and tender.
Eda Brandon never flirted in her life, and there was something very
distinct from anything of that sort in her behaviour on the present
occasion; but she felt that it was due to Dudley, when she saw him so
unfairly annoyed, to take her stand, as it were, by his side, and to
let her affection for him be perfectly undisguised.

The other gentlemen who were in the room, and who had not been present
at the scene which had taken place in the library, seemed amazingly
puzzled at all they now witnessed. In addition to everything else, Sir
Arthur Adelon was evidently ill at ease, and Edgar was stern, silent,
and almost sharp in his replies when forced to speak.

Mr. Filmer was the only one who maintained his usual placid demeanour,
and he did that perfectly; for, alas! it is a very fatal error to
believe that the external appearance of calm tranquillity is always an
indication of a heart at peace with itself. The priest made a fuller
breakfast than usual, conversed agreeably with those around him, and
gave no indication of having any cause for anxiety or even deep
thought within. Before the meal was fully over, however, a servant
came in and announced that Mr. Clive and his daughter were there; and
Dudley could perceive that Filmer's face turned deadly pale.

"Show them in," said Sir Arthur. "I am very glad they have returned."

"Who is Mr. Clive?" asked the young baronet, whom I have mentioned
once before, and while Sir Arthur was answering, "Oh! he is a
gentleman of very old family, but of somewhat reduced circumstances,"
the priest arose quietly, and saying, in a low tone, "I am glad they
have come too; I want much to speak with Clive for a few minutes,"
moved, with his usual noiseless step, towards the door.

But Edgar Adelon suddenly sprang up from the table, and placed himself
in the way. "That cannot be suffered," he exclaimed. "You must remain
here, sir."

"You! This from you, Edgar!" exclaimed Mr. Filmer, drawing back with
an air of astonishment, if not really felt, certainly well assumed.

"Yes!" answered Edgar, "and more too; for where I once esteemed----"

What he was about to add was stopped by the entrance of Mr. Clive and
Helen, who sprang forward to Eda Brandon as to a sister. Sir Arthur
greeted Mr. Clive himself, with his usual kind, but somewhat stately
air; and Mr. Filmer approached with a degree of eagerness which in him
betokened no slight agitation, as if to welcome Mr. Clive, holding out
his hand to him at the same time. But Clive drew back, and looking
sternly at the priest, said, "Excuse me, sir; there are matters which
require explanation before I can either look upon you as my friend, or
listen to you as my pastor."

"What can be the meaning of all this?" exclaimed Sir Arthur Adelon.
"Explain, Clive: I am in the dark."

"Ay, let him explain," answered Mr. Filmer, setting his teeth tight;
"I can give a sufficient account of my own conduct and my own motives,
and do not fear any explanations." But his clouded brow and unwonted
manner showed that there was something which he had wished concealed,
but which could be no longer hidden.

"If you wish it, sir, my conduct can all be easily explained," said
Clive; and then, turning towards Sir Arthur, he was going on, when his
eyes suddenly fell upon Dudley, and advancing towards him, he took his
hand in his own, and pressed it, with a grave look, saying, "Mr.
Dudley, I am delighted to see you back in your own country again, and
free from all stain or reproach. Believe me, had I known that a false
charge had been brought against you, had it not been studiously
concealed from me by the most artful and the most infamous means, you
should not have laboured for one hour under an imputation from which I
can free you, This I am sure you know, and you now know also who it
was that did the deed for which you have suffered so severely; but
what you do not know, perhaps, is, the man whom you see there standing
before you, urged me to fly, knowing that the act was mine, and the
very same night contrived means to turn the charge against you."

Mr. Filmer took a step towards them where they stood, and exclaimed,
with a solemn and impressive air, "Clive, Clive, my friend! You are
suffering a generous nature to betray you into most ungenerous acts. I
wish those words had been spoken by heretical lips, rather than yours.
Have you no respect for the religion you profess, or for its
ministers, that when one of them did you an act of great kindness, you
should use it as a charge against him? Tell me, did I not, the moment
I knew what you had done, did I not, I say, come down, at a late hour
of the night, to comfort and counsel you? I did advise you to fly; I
acknowledge it; but it was in consideration of your own safety that I
did so; for let me tell you, my son, that even in this land, which
boasts so much of its equity and its justice, it is no slight thing to
kill a peer of the realm. As soon as I was told who it was that had
done it, I went down for the sole purpose of advising you to fly, as
the only means of saving you from detection and punishment."

"May I ask you, sir," said Dudley, "as this seems to be an explanation
rather than an examination, who was the man from whom you derived your
information?"

"You are very ignorant, sir, it would appear," replied Filmer, with an
air of reproof, "of the rules and principles of a church of which you
are accustomed to express contempt and abhorrence, otherwise you would
know that a priest does not break the seal of confession. To give you,
or any one else, the name, would be a violation of that important
law."

"And did you really know who it was that killed Lord Hadley?" demanded
Sir Arthur Adelon, in a tone of surprise.

"I did, sir. What then?" replied Mr. Filmer, with a stern look, laying
a somewhat menacing emphasis upon the words.

"Nay, nothing," replied Sir Arthur Adelon; but Dudley went on, sternly
saying, "It is unnecessary, Mr. Filmer, to violate the seal of
confession, for we know the name of your informant already, and in
this deposition you will find all the facts. I am inclined to imagine
that Daniel Connor is even now in this house, but if you will examine
that paper, you will see that he has already deposed to his having
told you the whole truth, and to your having come down to him
afterwards, to induce him to put his evidence in such a shape as to
bring the charge upon me rather than upon Mr. Clive. Now, Sir Arthur
Adelon, this is something like a subornation of witnesses, and it can
be proved by the man's own statement."

"You are labouring under a mistake, young gentleman," said Filmer, now
driven to bay. "For his own sake and his safety I certainly did
recommend to Daniel Connor to go up and give his evidence
spontaneously, in order that no suspicion should attach to himself. He
said, if I recollect rightly, that the man who had done the deed was
very much of the same height as yourself, but when he swore that, he
swore truly."

"Doubtless," replied Dudley; "but he states that he could have told
exactly who did it, and would have told, if it had not been for your
persuasions to the contrary."

"This seems a very bad case," said Lord Kingsland, speaking to Edgar
Adelon. "If the animus can be proved, it will assume a serious
complexion."

Without replying directly to the peer, Edgar stepped forward, and
addressing Mr. Filmer, demanded, "Did you, or did you not, sir--when
you knew that I was seeking for evidence, and had nearly obtained it,
to show before a jury the impossibility of Mr. Dudley having committed
the offence with which he was charged--did you not cause me to be
watched, followed, and apprehended, after a struggle, in which my life
was nearly endangered; and did you not afterwards deceive me grossly,
as to the time when the trial was to be brought on, and take every
means of preventing me from accomplishing the end I had in view? Now,
sir, you cannot deny it, and if you can, I will convict you by the
testimony of your own spy. Your conduct towards members of your own
flock might be explained away, perhaps, but this proves your object,
if it does not prove your motives."

"Are you not of my own flock?" asked Mr. Filmer, in a tone of
reproach. "My son, I am sorry to hear of such a defalcation."

Edgar paused, gazing silently in his face for a moment; and then, with
a sudden start, he replied, "I will not have the question turned from
the straightforward course. Your object was, I say, to load an
innocent man with a false charge, to deprive him of all means of
establishing his innocence, and to see him condemned and suffer for
that of which you knew him to be guiltless."

He spoke impetuously; but there was a truth, a sincerity, an
earnestness in his whole tone and manner, which carried conviction to
the hearts of those who heard it; and at a mere glance round, Mr.
Filmer gathered enough, from the faces of the somewhat numerous
auditory, to show him that he was condemned by the judgment of all
present. But he quailed not; his brow grew stern, his look lofty, and
he replied, in a loud, almost imperious tone, "My object was, sir, to
save you, and to save that lady from the wiles of the artful and
ambitious: that is the great object that I have had in view in every
act of mine which concerned that person."

But his reply only still farther roused Edgar's indignation. "Of me,
sir," he said, "you shall say what you like; but do not attempt again
to mix my dear cousin's name with this business. With her, at least,
you have nothing to do, except that, knowing you all along to be what
you are, she has tolerated you in her house out of respect for my
father; but I think if she had known, and my father had known, how
deeply and shamelessly you have injured him, and injured one who is
now a saint in heaven, she would never have suffered you to enter her
gates, and he would have spurned you from his door."

"What do you mean? whom do you mean?" exclaimed Sir Arthur Adelon,
starting forward, with a face as pale as ashes, and eyes haggard with
intense emotion. "Whom do you mean, my son? Whom do you mean, my
Edgar?"

"My mother," answered Edgar Adelon, in a slow and solemn tone; and
almost as he spoke the words, Sir Arthur reeled and fell at his feet.



CHAPTER XLII.


The scene of confusion that ensued after the event related in the last
chapter is not to be described. Every one crowded round Sir Arthur
Adelon, and he was speedily raised and placed upon the sofa. Servants
were called, water was sprinkled in his face, and all the usual
restoratives were had recourse to for some time in vain. He opened his
eyes faintly, indeed, for a moment, but he seemed instantly to
relapse, and a servant was sent off in haste to Barhampton for the
surgeon who usually attended him; for the only person who seemed to be
sure that it was an ordinary fainting fit, though one of a very severe
kind, was Captain M----, who, with kind and judicious words,
encouraged Eda and Edgar to pursue their efforts, assuring them that
they would be finally successful.

At the end of half an hour Sir Arthur began to revive; and one or two
of the guests, who had made their comfort yield to their politeness,
then vacated the room, leaving only Captain M----, with Edgar, Dudley,
Eda, and Helen. For some time the baronet seemed incapable of
speaking, for though he looked round from time to time with an anxious
glance, he remained perfectly silent, notwithstanding more than one
inquiry as to how he felt. His first words, however, when he did
speak, instantly recalled the subject which had interested them all so
deeply the moment before he had fainted.

"Where is the priest?" he said. "Where is Father Peter?" And every one
instantly looked round, and then, for the first time, perceived that
he was gone. Eda would fain have diverted her uncle's attention from
matters which she knew must be most painful to him; but Sir Arthur
slowly raised himself upon the sofa, and would have got up entirely
had his strength permitted, still repeating, "Where is he? where is
he? Seek him, seek him! Do not let him escape!" Then pressing his hand
upon his brow, he added, "Can it be true? It has been a frightful
dream to me for many a long year. Seek him, seek him, somebody! Oh! if
it be true, I will tear his heart out!"

Dudley and Captain M---- hurried away from the room to inquire for the
priest, while Eda assured her uncle that she doubted not he would soon
be found; but Edgar, looking from the back of the sofa behind which he
was standing, shook his head with a stern and mournful expression of
face, as if to express a strong doubt that such would be the case.

But little information of Father Filmer's movements could be obtained
by Dudley and his companion from the servants. Some of them had seen
him pass out of the breakfast-room, but not aware that any charge
whatever had been brought against him, had taken no notice of so
ordinary an occurrence. Others had seen him mount the staircase
towards his own room, but when he was sought for there he was not
found. No one had seen him quit the house, however; and though one or
two of those who had lately come up the alley, or through the park,
were questioned particularly on the subject, none could give any
information, and every room to which it was supposed he might have
betaken himself was examined in vain. Finding all their search
fruitless, the two gentlemen at length returned to the breakfast-room,
and found Sir Arthur half-seated, half-reclining on the sofa, but much
more calm than he had been when they left him. He looked hard at
Dudley for a moment without speaking, as if endeavouring to gain
command over himself, and then said, in a cold and formal tone, "Pray
be seated, sir. You have brought some serious charges against a
gentleman who has long lived with me as a friend, ay, for more than
five-and-twenty years. Had you concluded all you wished to say?"

"There were other charges, Sir Arthur," replied Dudley, "which in your
eyes would be doubtless much more important. Those which I have
brought affect myself alone; and though, perhaps, more immediately
cognizant by the law, as coming nearly, if not quite, under the
statute in regard to the subornation of evidence, is in my mind less
criminal than his conduct towards you, whom, for the five-and-twenty
years you speak of, he has deceived, betrayed, and injured. But on
that subject, Sir Arthur, as I see it affects you much, it will be
better to speak at a future period. Those charges which I have
actually brought I am prepared to sustain immediately. Indeed, they
can be proved at once by Mr. Clive, who is in the next room; or even
this young lady," he continued, pointing to Helen, "can give you full
information. But all this had better also be referred to another
occasion, when you will be more able to give attention to the
subject."

"His presence would be necessary," said Sir Arthur, leaning his head
upon his hand. "But there is one question more, sir; one question
more, and I have done for the present. Was it from you, sir, that my
son derived the information which led him to utter the words he lately
did?"

"No, assuredly," answered Dudley; "but I can see clearly that his
words pointed to the same painful subject, in regard to which I also
have charges to make of a most serious character. Where he obtained
his information I cannot tell."

"From the same source whence yours was derived, Dudley," replied
Edgar. "Only a few words were spoken; but connected with some old
letters from my poor mother, they were enough to enlighten me as to
much of the dark past."

Sir Arthur waved his hand as his son spoke, saying, "I cannot hear it
now; I will go to my own room. Come with me, Edgar. I shall have the
honour of seeing you again this evening, sir," he continued, turning
to Dudley, who replied, with a slight degree of embarrassment of
manner, "Assuredly, Sir Arthur, if you wish it; but if our farther
conference is to be this evening, I must, I fear, be an intruder here
till that time, for my present abode is near the place where we met
shipwreck, twelve miles distant."

Sir Arthur Adelon was faint, agitated, and shaken; but yet a touch of
his own self-important pride could not be repressed; and with an air
by no means very well satisfied or altogether courteous, he replied,
pointing to Eda, while he walked towards the door leaning on his son's
arm, "That lady is mistress of herself and of this house, and
doubtless she will be happy in having your society."

"Oh, my dear uncle!" said Eda, starting forward with a look of pain,
"how can you speak such unkind words?"

"Well, well!" replied her uncle, kissing her brow, "I do believe you
love me, Eda; but no more just now." And he slowly quitted the room.

As soon as he was gone, Eda turned towards Dudley, with many mingled
emotions in her bosom, which, had it not been for the presence of
others, would probably have found relief in tears and in his arms. As
it was, she gave him her hand, saying, "You stay, of course, Dudley,
and I trust will remain some days."

"I must stay till this task is accomplished," he replied, and he would
fain have added the dear, familiar name which he ever called her in
his heart; but the presence of Captain M---- restrained him, and he
would not call her Miss Brandon. "I was not aware," he proceeded,
"that the information I have to convey would pain your uncle so deeply
as the effect of the few words spoken by Edgar make me fear it will,
or I would not have undertaken the task. We make sad mistakes in life,
I am afraid, in judging of the character of others. We are too apt to
suppose that one great predominant passion or weakness swallows up all
others; and yet I am convinced, that if we looked into the heart of
any man, be he the most ambitious, the most avaricious, the most vain,
the most proud, we should find some well of tenderness hidden under
the rubbish of life, which, if opened out again, might pour forth
fresh and pure waters to revivify and beautify all around."

"Oh! that we had many searchers for such wells," said Eda; "but it
seems to me that men, in dealing with their fellow-men, rather labour
to cover and hide them. But what can have become of Mr. Filmer? Do you
think he has fled?"

"It would seem so," answered Dudley; "and yet I can hardly imagine
that one who has gone on for so many years in successful hypocrisy,
would yield the field after so brief a struggle."

"I do not know," said Captain M----; "it may be that he finds himself
fully detected, and then what a mass of fraud and sin must present
itself to memory, and terrify him with the prospect of exposure and
punishment! I remarked that he stood firm before all the charges
brought against him in regard to his infamous and criminal conduct
towards you, Dudley. It seemed as if he thought that, upon some
principle he could justify himself, at least, to himself, for acts the
most base; but when Mr. Adelon uttered those few words about his
mother, my eye was upon him, and he gave way at once. I saw him shake
in every limb, and should certainly have watched him narrowly, to
prevent his escape, had not Sir Arthur occupied all my attention. But
now, I think, I will mount my horse, and riding round for a few miles,
endeavour to obtain some information regarding this man's place of
retreat. It surely will not be so difficult here to overtake a
bushranger as it is in the fifth quarter of the globe, Dudley?"

As he spoke, Edgar re-entered the room with a quick step; but it was
to Helen he now turned. He had only hitherto, throughout all the
scenes which had taken place, spoken a few words to her, and given her
one look; but the words and the look were both of love. He now led her
at once into the deep window, and conversed eagerly with her, mingling
inquiries about matters quite different with expressions of tenderness
and affection.

"This bad man must be found, Helen, dearest," he said; "you look pale,
love, and anxious. I am the more eager to find him, my beloved,
because he has disgraced the religion which we hold, perverting its
pure precepts to suit the dark, foul purposes of his own heart. Even
were it not for that, my Helen, I would pursue him throughout life;
for he poisoned the sources of my dear mother's happiness, and has
turned the noble nature of my father to a curse. Nay, look not up so
imploringly in my face, sweet love, with those dear reproachful eyes,
as if you thought your Edgar fierce and stern. It is only that I am
eager, Helen, very eager; I have ever been so: eager in love; eager, I
trust, in pursuit of justice and right; eager in defence of innocence;
and surely I may be eager in the punishment of iniquity and wrong?
Helen will not think me very wrong for being so?"

"Wrong, Edgar!" she answered; "do you not know I think everything you
do right? I never saw you do anything that was wrong from our infancy
till now."

"Oh! yes, many a thing," answered Edgar; and then dropping his voice,
he added: "When first I kissed those dear pouting lips, did you not
tell me I was very wrong indeed? But, Helen, we must find this man,
wherever he may be. I shall not rest in peace till I have made him,
with his own lips, undo the wrong he did my mother. You know his
haunts well. Tell me, love, where you think it most likely he would
betake himself."

"Not to our house, certainly," answered Helen, "now that he knows we
are aware of all his baseness to poor Mr. Dudley; and not to the
cottage of Connor, unless it be to reproach him for exposing him. I
really know not where he will go; surely not to the Priory!"

"No, I should think not," answered Edgar, musing. "But here comes your
father. This night shall set his heart at ease."

"That will never be," replied Helen, with a very sorrowful look. "The
death of that unhappy young man still rests like a heavy weight upon
him. You have but to look into his face to see that it is bearing him
down to the earth."

"I trust your happiness, dear Helen, may cheer him," answered her
lover; "and to secure that shall be Edgar's task."

Advancing towards Clive as he spoke, he put nearly the same questions
to him which he had put to Helen, regarding the probable course which
Mr. Filmer had pursued.

"I should have thought he was more likely to turn and stand at bay
than to fly," replied Mr. Clive; "but if he has fled, it will be far,
depend upon it."

"Then the more reason for seeking for him immediately," exclaimed
Edgar. "Come, Captain M----, let you and I set out. If I find him, I
will venture to apprehend him without warrant, and risk whatever may
be the result."

"There may be some risk, it is true," replied Captain M----, "for it
does not seem to me that he has committed any offence clearly
cognizable by a magistrate. Indeed, I am afraid some of the greatest
crimes that men can perpetrate have never yet been placed within the
grasp of the law. But let us go; I will take my share of the
responsibility." And leaving the little party in the breakfast-room,
they went out to pursue their search.



CHAPTER XLIII.


The rooms occupied by Sir Arthur Adelon at Brandon House consisted of
a large dressing-room, and an old-fashioned chamber on the first
floor, lined with dark oak, supporting a richly ornamented stucco
ceiling, where cupids and naiads, and a great number of heterogeneous
deities, were flirting away all round the cornices, with plaster of
Paris fruits and flowers in their hands. A bed, which rivalled the
celebrated one of Ware in its dimensions, with old-fashioned chintz
curtains, stood at one side of the room, looking small and modest,
from the extent of the space about it. Opposite the foot of the bed
was a fire-place, with hand-irons for burning wood, and on each side
of it were two doors, one leading into the dressing-room, and the
other into a large commodious closet. The windows of the room were
three, and the curtains, which were now drawn close, were of the same
thick chintz as those which shrouded the bed. There was thus very
little light admitted, although the stuff of which the curtains were
composed was sufficiently diaphanous for the eye of any one within to
mark the change of light and shadow, as the clouds passed through the
air without. The door of the dressing-room was open, and one of the
windows, partly thrown up, admitted the air of spring, which, to say
the truth, was at the time we speak of somewhat sultry and oppressive.

It was but little after the hour of noon when Edgar Adelon and his
companion rode away from the stable-yard at Brandon, and at that time
Sir Arthur was seated in a chair before the table, with his head
resting on his hand, and his eyes half shut. Painful emotions seemed
to be passing through his mind, for the muscles of his face moved, and
every now and then he would draw a deep and heavy sigh. Who shall say
what was in his thoughts? Did he ponder over a life spent in vanities
which had proved worse than ashes; of time misused in planting the
seeds of very, very bitter fruit? Did he take that review of the long
past, which every one, who has a mind capable of thinking, must
sometimes ponder on in moments of silent, sleepless solitude? Did he
consider how great wealth and lofty station, and high health and
education, and every gift and every advantage which can decorate the
fate of man, may be all rendered impotent of good to himself and
others, by the pampering of one evil passion, by a devotion to one
vanity or folly? Perhaps he did; but if so, if his eyes were keen
enough, and his sight unsealed sufficiently to judge of the past
justly, he saw that his weaknesses and his faults had been seized upon
by a superior intellect, to render him, through their means,
subservient to the views and purposes of others whose motives he even
yet did not clearly distinguish.

"If he did that, he is a scoundrel indeed," said Sir Arthur, in a low
murmur. "He is a scoundrel," he added, the next moment; "that is
clear: for who but a scoundrel would, for any purpose, suborn evidence
against an innocent man?"

But as that thought passed through his mind, a look of anguish came
upon his countenance, and perhaps he felt that he had been art and
part in the deeds he condemned. He might feel, too, that there were
purposes, that there were passions, which, in the more vigorous days
of life, would have led him, nay, had led him, to deeds little less
base, and courses as tortuous as those which he viewed with horror in
another.

But, at the same time, whichever way he turned his eyes in the wide
range of the past, that other was still by his side, encouraging him
in all that he now regretted; suggesting the act to his mind,
preparing the means to his hand, and, with insidious eloquence,
removing the restraints of conscience and of feeling, while they rose
up as obstacles to his purpose. He saw that the fiend's own work had
been done with him; that his faults and his vices had but been
employed to generate more, and to leave his heart in possession of
remorse.

The sad and bitter contemplation went on for more than one hour. A
servant quietly opened the door, and finding that he was up, and not
asleep, told him that the surgeon had arrived from Barhampton; but Sir
Arthur waved his hand, and saying that he was busy, desired to be left
quite alone. "I have no need of surgeons," he said; and as soon as the
servant had retired, fell back into his reverie again. It lasted about
half an hour longer, and then, wearied with the conflict of thought,
he moved towards his bed, saying, "I will lie down and sleep, if I
can; then I shall be more able to encounter the task of the evening;
for I must and will have it all explained. It is getting very dark: it
cannot be dusk yet." And looking at his watch, he found that it was
barely two o'clock. He accordingly laid down in his dressing-gown, and
thought for half an hour longer before sleep reached him; but while
the busy brain still worked, the ideas shifted and changed place, and
became confused. He thought of Eda and of Dudley, and of the
insinuations thrown out by the priest; and the vanity which was still
at the bottom of his heart again poured forth bitter waters.
"Impossible," he said to himself; "she cannot, she will not, she must
not marry a convict; and yet she can do as she pleases. I have no
authority over her; and this man, too, has me in his power, and he
knows it. I can see that by his bold demeanour to-day. But I will not
think of all these things: I will sleep. All that must be settled
hereafter. And Edgar, too: there is another thorn in my side; but I do
not mind that so much, for Clive is of as ancient blood as any in the
land, and what though he be poor, that does not take from his descent.
I wish it had happened otherwise; and I was foolish to suffer this to
go on, but at least it is some satisfaction she is a Catholic. It
might have been worse. It is very warm; I will open another window."
But while he was thinking of rising to do so, his eyelids fell once or
twice heavily, and he dropped into a quiet slumber.

While he thus lay, with his hand partly fallen over the side of the
bed, the light seemed to decrease in the room, and a large heavy drop
or two of rain beat upon the windows, followed by a faint flash, and a
distant roar of thunder. It did not wake Sir Arthur Adelon, however;
and a minute or two after, the door of the large closet opened slowly
and noiselessly, and a figure entered with a still and silent step. It
was that of the priest, dressed in his usual dark apparel, and
carrying a roll of paper in his hand. For a moment he paused, and
looked around the room, then advanced to the table, and laid down the
paper, saying, "It will do as well." But the next instant his eye
caught sight of the hand of Sir Arthur Adelon, which, as I have said,
had dropped over the side of the bed, and with a bitter smile, Filmer
advanced and gazed upon the sleeping face of him who had been once so
much his friend. The clear, fair skin of the old man's cheek was still
somewhat pale with the emotions of the day, and his brow still bore
the trace of care. His mouth, too, moved from time to time, as if the
busy thoughts which had been agitating him were yet at work within,
prompting words which the chained lip refused to utter. As he gazed,
the priest's look became stern and almost fierce; and it would seem
that some thoughts or purposes suggested themselves to his mind, which
other feelings induced him to reject, for he waved his arm, and spread
forth his hand, as if he were throwing something from him, and
murmured in a low voice, "No!"

The moment after, there was a vivid flash of lightning, which,
notwithstanding the shade of the curtains, glared round the whole
room, and made the face of the sleeping man look like that of a
corpse. The rattle of the thunder succeeded, shaking the whole house;
and Sir Arthur Adelon started and turned, as if to rise up from his
bed. The priest instantly laid his hand upon his arm, saying, "My
son!"

Sir Arthur gazed at him with a bewildered look, and then a sharp and
angry expression came into his face. "Ah! is that you!" he said. "They
thought you were gone."

"They mistook," replied the priest. "Lie still, and hear me, for I
have much to say. Your incorrigible weakness shows me, that it is vain
to remain with you longer. I cannot make you what you ought to be, and
now I leave you to yourself."

"What I ought to be!" said Sir Arthur Adelon, raising himself upon his
arm. "Have you not made me all I ought not to be?"

"As the most precious medicines become the most hurtful poisons to
some peculiar constitutions," answered the priest, "so the best
counsels to some men produce the worst results. Such has it been in
your case; for the inherent feebleness of your mind was not capable of
bearing the strong food that mine would have given it."

"This is too insolent!" exclaimed the baronet, raising himself still
farther, and stretching his hand towards the bell; but Filmer grasped
his arm tight, with a menacing look, saying, "Forbear! and remember,
man, what must be the consequence of my staying here. If I go, it is
in charity to you; for should I stay, depend upon it, it will be to
expose, from the beginning to the end, the acts of a life the records
of which I have put down here, lest your own memory should have been
more treacherous than mine. Remember, I say, that everything, from
first to last, is within my grasp, and that I can, when I please, open
the casket, and pour out the jewels of proud Sir Arthur Adelon's good
deeds for the admiring eyes of all the world. Remember, that against
the code of honour, the laws of the land, and the dictates of
religion, you have equally offended, and that if I remain, I remain to
explain all."

The baronet evidently quailed before him; and sinking back upon his
pillow again, he gazed up in his face for a moment in silence, and
then said, "Dark and evil man as you are, speak not of religion or of
laws; but if you would do one act of charity before you go, explain to
me, rather than to others, the saddest and the gloomiest page in my
life's history. Relieve my mind of the heavy doubts and fears that
have been upon it for many a long year; notwithstanding all the
presumptions that you brought forward--ay, bitter as it may be--tell
me, rather, that the wife whom I so dearly loved was really
guilty--guilty of anything, rather than leave me to think that my
unkindness killed her wrongfully. Speak, man, speak! Do not stand
there, smiling at me like a fiend, but tell me, was she guilty or
not?"

"As innocent as the purest work of God," replied the priest; and as he
spoke, a sharp shudder passed over the whole frame of Sir Arthur
Adelon, and his face became distorted with various passions: sorrow,
and rage, and remorse. "Villain, villain, villain!" he cried, "then
why did you so basely deceive me?"

"What, then, you have not seen Martin Oldkirk?" said Filmer, with a
look of some surprise. "He is here, in this house, and will soon tell
you all."

"What! Martin Oldkirk, my old servant?" exclaimed the baronet. "Ah! I
see, I see the whole damnable plot. You--you corrupted him."

"Nay, not so," answered Filmer, in a still bitter contemptuous tone;
"but your own weak jealousy twisted his words from their right
meaning, and made that serviceable to your suspicions which should
only have confirmed your trust."

"At your suggestion, fiend!" exclaimed Sir Arthur, fiercely. "I
remember it all, as well as if it were but yesterday. Oh! fool that I
have been!" And striking his clenched fist upon his forehead, he fell
back again upon the bed from which he had once more partially risen.

"And fool that you ever will be," answered Filmer, with a look of
contempt. "Had that woman remained with you another year, she would
have made you a heretic, as she was herself in heart." But his words
fell upon an inattentive ear, for Sir Arthur Adelon had relapsed into
the same state in which we have seen him during the morning. The
priest gazed on him with a stern and thoughtful brow when he perceived
that he had again fainted; but gradually a slight, a very slight smile
curled his lip, and he said, speaking his thoughts aloud, "What shall
I do? He has fainted again. Pshaw! he will get better of this, as he
has got better of many things. Poor, unhappy man, without firmness to
carry forth good or evil! Had he but been firm, half of Yorkshire
might have been Catholic at this day, and I, perhaps, a cardinal," and
he added, the next moment, "with power to direct the efforts of the
true church, in a course which would insure to her the return of this
darkened land to her motherly bosom."

It was an after-thought, undoubtedly; for it is to be remarked, that
in all hierarchies, where men are expected to merge personal passions
and desires in the objects of a great body or institution, the
passions and desires still remain; but by a cunning self-deceit, the
individuals persuade themselves that they are made subservient to, or
banished to open a space for, the general ends and purposes which the
whole have in view. It is very seldom that a man can say, with
sincerity and truth, "I desire to be made a bishop or a cardinal, only
for the good of religion."

Mr. Filmer perhaps felt that truth as much as any man; but yet he
still persuaded himself that he was right, or at all events, affected
to believe it; for the fraudulent juggle that goes on between man and
his own heart, is almost always more or less successful where strong
passions are engaged, and there were many strong passions which shared
in the motive of every one of Mr. Filmer's actions. If one had
examined closely, the promotion of his church's views would have been
found to bear a very small and insignificant share in any of his
proceedings; and yet, even to himself, he affected to believe it to be
the great, the sole, the overpowering object of his endeavours.

While he stood and gazed upon the face of Sir Arthur Adelon, as he lay
like a corpse before him, the low-muttered thunder growled around his
head, and the heavy drops of rain began to fall thick and fast,
pattering in a deluge upon the windows, and splashing upon the turfy
lawns. "There is more in the hills," he said, "and I must make haste,
or the rivers will be swollen and stop me. I wonder which way the
fools have taken who went in pursuit. The servants must have done
dinner. But that matters not; they will not venture, I think, to
oppose me, even if any one sees me; and that brutal idiot, Oldkirk,
must be gone. I must even take my chance. Who minds the lightning?"

And yet such is human nature, the very next flash made him put his
hands before his eyes and turn somewhat pale.

"It is awfully vivid," he said. "This artillery of heaven, men think,
is sent to punish the guilty alone: the immediate retribution of the
Almighty. If so, why does it choose its aim so lucklessly? I have seen
the loveliest and the purest struck by it; the murderer, the villain,
and the false prophet pass through it unscathed. But I will go, lest a
worse fate than that of the lightning should reach me. Farewell, old
man!" he continued, looking at the couch on which Sir Arthur Adelon
was lying; "after many years' sojourn on this earth together, you and
I may never meet again. If friendship unvarying, and services not to
be doubted, and counsels ever for the best, could have done aught with
you, you should have had them, nay, you have had them. But you were
too weak and idle to profit even by experience. Instead of full trust,
you gave half confidence; instead of full obedience, you gave nothing
but a questioning support; and the church must triumph wherever it
sets its foot, or the day of its destruction is arrived."

With this unvarying maxim of the Roman church, he turned away and left
him, placing the papers he had brought farther on the table, with the
claws of the inkstand to hold them safely down. He retired by the same
means which had given him entrance; and without the slightest
appearance of anxiety or haste, opened the first door and shut it
behind him, then pulled back the private door which afforded a
communication between his room and that of the baronet, and ascended a
flight of steps which led to the chambers above.

All remained still and quiet below; and in a few minutes, proceeding
into the stable-yard, Mr. Filmer had mounted, without the slightest
opposition, a horse which had been set apart for his own use while at
Brandon, and was riding away, but in a direction different to that
which Edgar and his friend had taken.



CHAPTER XLIV.


They first paused at the park gates, Edgar Adelon and Captain
M----, and asked, in a quiet, easy tone, if Mr. Filmer had lately
passed. The answer, as the reader may anticipate, was, "No;" and
separating, they rode round the whole extent of the wide space
enclosed within the walls of Brandon Park--not less than four or five
square miles--inquiring of every person whom they met, and at every
cottage which they passed, but without receiving any intelligence
whatever. After having made this circuit, they rode down to Clive
Grange, where Edgar was received with the greatest joy by all the
servants; but no information was afforded, till one of the
maid-servants recollected having heard the ploughman say that he
thought he had seen Father Peter walking over the downs towards
Barhampton. Edgar, impetuous as usual, was for setting out
immediately; but Captain M---- stopped to investigate the statement,
and inquired when this vision was seen. That the maid could not tell,
but informed him that the man had mentioned the fact when he came home
to dinner, adding, however, that he had returned to his work. Finding
that the spot where he was employed lay considerably out of the way,
the two gentlemen set off again, taking the cottage of Daniel Connor
as they went; but the door was locked, and nobody within.

At Barhampton their inquiries were equally vain, though every quarter
was applied to where it was supposed that anything like information
could be obtained; and after a fruitless search of nearly an hour,
they turned their horses' heads back towards Brandon, conversing on
what it might be expedient to do next.

By this time, however, the indications of an approaching storm were
visible in the sky. Large clouds, not decked with the fleecy fringes
of the soft spring, but hard, defined, and of a bluish black, were
rising rapidly in the south; and as Edgar and his friend gazed over
the wide scene which presented itself to the eye from the slope just
out of the gates of Barhampton, a curious purple light spread over the
whole, giving to field, and hill, and tree, those intense hues which
are more frequently seen in southern lands.

"Does not that put you in mind of Australia?" asked Captain M----, as
they rode on.

"In some degree," replied Edgar; "but we shall have a fierce storm
soon, or I am much mistaken. We had better leave the downs on the
right, and cross the river by Clive Grange again. It will save us a
mile."

The plan he proposed was followed; but long before they reached the
stream, the storm, which was advancing as if to meet them, broke full
upon their heads. The lightning flashed, and the thunder roared; but
they suffered most from the rain, which poured down in torrents,
mingled with enormous hailstones. On came the tempest, sweeping over
the land, so lately bright and sunny, putting out every gleam of
light, and involving all in a dark mist, only marked by the black
lines of the descending hail.

The two horsemen urged their horses on at a rapid trot, taking the
road past Mead's farm, and along the brow of the hill overhanging the
river, to reach the bridge near Mr. Clive's house; and they remarked,
as they rode along, that the waters below, usually so limpid and
bright, were now turbid and red, whirling in rapid eddies, near the
banks, but rushing on in foam and confusion, in the midst of the
course.

"Why this is quite a torrent," said Captain M----, as they proceeded.
"When we passed this morning it was nothing but a clear trout-stream."

"It is sometimes very furious when there is much rain in the hills,"
replied Edgar. "I remember it carrying away a mill some way higher up;
miller, miller's man, and miller's wife, all went floating down
together in their crazy dwelling; and yet, strange to say, no one was
drowned."

"See, there is Mr. Clive and his daughter coming down the opposite
slope," said the young officer.

"Good heaven! Helen will be drenched in this deluge," exclaimed Edgar;
and he was spurring on his horse to a still faster pace, when an event
occurred which for an instant seemed to turn him to stone.

Helen and her father reached the bottom of the slope, and had already
advanced about two-thirds of the way across the bridge, round the old
piers of which the red torrent was beating angrily, when suddenly the
part just before them gave way, and fell in a large mass into the
river. Clive caught his daughter's arm, and was hurrying back; but the
next instant the part beneath their feet cracked, leaned over to the
side, fell, and with those whom it had supported the moment before,
was plunged into the struggling waters.

For an instant, as I have said, the sight of her he loved so
enthusiastically, likely to perish before his sight, seemed to turn
Edgar Adelon into stone; but it was only for an instant, and springing
from his horse with one bound, he was down the bank, and into the
midst of the torrent. He caught sight of Helen's dress as she rose
again amidst the waters, and struck out strongly towards her, battling
successfully with the fierce rage of the current, till it brought her
down to where he was. His first grasp missed her, but his second
caught her by the arm, and lifting her head above the stream, he
struck back for the shore, holding her far from him, lest, in the
terror and agitation of the moment, she should deprive him of the
means of saving her; but Helen, with wonderful presence of mind, did
not attempt to touch him. The bed of the river, as it has been before
described, was narrow; and the current had luckily drifted her towards
the side of Clive Grange. Thus, a few strong strokes brought Edgar to
the bank, which was there not very steep, and without much difficulty
he lifted her out, and had the joy of holding her in his arms alive.

During the whole of the last events Edgar had remarked nothing that
was passing near him. He saw Helen, and Helen only. He thought of
nothing but Helen; but the moment after she was safe upon the shore,
his thoughts turned to her father, and he looked eagerly around. With
deep satisfaction, however, he perceived at a little distance Captain
M---- helping the old man up the bank; and he discovered afterwards
that his friend had plunged in at the same moment as himself, but that
finding Helen's father was a good swimmer, and was striking for the
shore, he merely kept near him, till he perceived that, when just near
the bank, Clive began to sink. Helen was weak and faint, but she found
strength, to hurry to her father's arms, as he sat upon the turf,
supported by Captain M----; and all her first feelings were joy and
satisfaction when she saw that he was still alive. He did not answer
her when she spoke, however, but pressed his hand tight upon his side,
seeming to breathe with difficulty. The next instant Helen perceived
the blood trickling through his fingers, and clasping her hands
together, she exclaimed, "Oh, Edgar! he is hurt, he is very much
hurt!"

"A little, a little, dear girl!" said Clive, with a great effort. "I
shall soon be better; but it might be as well to send up to the Grange
for some people to carry me up. I am too weak to walk. Thank God! you
are safe, my dear child. It was that heavy beam struck me as we fell."

Edgar sprang away towards the house, and returned in a very short time
with some men carrying a sofa, on which the large, powerful frame of
Mr. Clive was speedily laid, and he was conveyed to the Grange, and
put to bed. It was then found that there was a deep lacerated wound on
the left side of the chest, and an indentation, which seemed to show
that several of the ribs had been broken. A man was immediately sent
to bring the nearest surgeon; and Edgar was watching anxiously with
Helen by the bedside of the injured man, while the lightning still
continued to flash through the room and the thunder to roll overhead,
when one of the maids put her head into the room, saying, "Oh, Mr.
Adelon! here is one of your servants wishes to speak with you."

The woman's face expressed terror and agitation; and Edgar, starting
up, demanded what was the matter.

"Why, he says, sir, that Brandon has caught fire with the lightning,"
replied the woman, "and they wish you to come up directly."

Edgar turned a look to Clive, who said at once, as if in reply, "Go,
Edgar, go. Take the stone bridge higher up. Yet one word, my dear boy,
before you depart."

Edgar approached close to the bedside and bent down his head. "Perhaps
we may never meet again," said Clive, with a good deal of agitation in
his voice. "My Helen, Edgar! What will become of my Helen, if I am
taken from her?"

Edgar took his hand and pressed it warmly. "Eda will be a sister to
her," he said, "and I will be her husband; till then, a brother."

"Go," said Clive, "go! God's will be done! I am sure I may trust you,
Edgar."

"On my honour, on my life, by everything I hold dear!" answered Edgar;
and with one parting caress to Helen, he hurried away.

Captain M---- was waiting for him below with the servant, who was
beginning to pour forth the tale of the disaster at Brandon, when
Edgar cut him short by eagerly demanding, "Where are the horses?"

"They are here in the court," answered Captain M----. "Yours led the
way, and mine followed. This is, indeed, a day of disasters; but I do
hope that no great injury has been done at Brandon, for this rain must
have kept down the fire."

"It was blazing away, sir, like a hundred lime-pits, when I was
sent off to seek you," replied the servant, following them to the
court-yard.

"Were all safe?" demanded Edgar, eagerly; but the man could give him
no satisfactory account of the inmates, merely telling him that the
lightning had struck the older part of the building towards the back,
and that the flames had instantly spread from room to room with the
utmost rapidity and fury.

As the horses had not been unsaddled, no time was lost; and riding up
the stream to a stone bridge about half a mile higher on its course,
they soon reached the gates of Brandon Park. The lodge was empty, the
gates were open; and dashing between the trees of the avenue, so as to
reach the open space whence the house was first visible, Edgar
strained his eyes forward to see whether the fire was still going on.

A good deal of smoke was apparent, rising from one part of the
building, but no flames were to be perceived, and the servant, riding
up to Edgar's side, said, in a glad tone, "They have got it under,
sir. It is very different now from what it was when I came away."

His master paused not to listen, however, but spurred on towards the
terrace, where a number of people were to be seen moving about
confusedly hither and thither, amongst whom, one group might be
distinguished bearing out something that looked like a mattress
towards the court and stable-yard. Edgar thought of his father, and
that chilly feeling came over his heart which is said to be sometimes
premonitory of approaching sorrow. When he came nearer, he perceived
Dudley and Eda following those who had gone on into the court; and he
called loudly to them, for they had not remarked his approach. Dudley
instantly turned, said a word or two to Eda, and then hurried forward
to meet her cousin.

"The fire is extinguished, Edgar," he said, in a grave tone, as they
met. "It is only the second floor and part of the first that are
destroyed. Come with me, and you shall see."

"Is every one safe?" demanded Edgar, gazing in Dudley's face; and
before the other could answer, he added, "My father! Where is my
father?"

His friend did not answer him at once, and he was darting away towards
the court-yard, when Dudley laid his hand upon his arm, saying, "Do
not go thither now, Edgar. Come apart with me, and I will tell you
all."

"I must; I will go at once!" exclaimed Edgar Adelon, passing him; and
with a rapid step he hurried on across the terrace, round the angle of
the house, and towards the great gates of the court-yard. On the right
was a large building, used as a billiard-room; and under shelter of
the ornamental porch, Edgar saw Eda, with fair face bedewed with
tears. She instantly came forward to meet him, saying, "Wait a few
moments, Edgar. Do not go in there now, my dear cousin."

But Edgar passed her too, with a sad look, saying, "It must come once,
Eda. Why not now?" When he entered the room he found five or six men
laying a mattress, with some bed-clothes that covered it, upon the
billiard-table, and pushing through them he beheld his father
stretched out, cold and stiff, but with no mark of fire or injury
whatsoever upon him, and a calm and placid look upon his countenance.

The young man gazed upon his parent's face for several moments with a
look of sad, stern thought, while the servants and labourers who were
present drew back as soon as they perceived who it was that
interrupted them in their melancholy task. As he gazed, many memories
crowded on him; paternal tenderness and affection, innumerable sweet
domestic scenes, words spoken long ago, kindly looks and tones of
love; and with that sad feeling which ever takes possession of the
bosom, when with any of the near and dear the silver chain is broken,
the tears rose up into Edgar Adelon's eyes, and fell upon the dead
man's hand.

He wished not to be seen to weep; and turning away without a word, he
gave one hand to Eda, and the other to Dudley, who had been standing
close behind him, and with them left the chamber of the dead.



CHAPTER XLV.


Six or eight hours before Brandon had been one of the most convenient
and comfortable houses in the whole county. Everything about it had
displayed that aspect of ancient and undiminished respectability and
wealth which, thirty years ago, was the general characteristic of the
English gentleman's country seat; and now, when Edgar Adelon, with Eda
and Dudley, entered the hall, although the fire had never reached that
floor, and had but partially destroyed the floor above, the scene of
confusion and disarray left in the mansion scarcely a trace of its
former self. Large quantities of furniture, books, chests of papers,
valuable pictures, and objects of art, were piled up, without order or
regularity, in the hall and the various rooms around it, and streams
of water were flowing over the marble pavement of the vestibule, and
soaking the thick carpets of the drawing-room, the library, and the
dining-room.

Of all seasons, when the empty-minded and the selfish-hearted, who are
inherently bores at all times, are the most oppressive, the season of
grief and anxiety is foremost. At other moments we are obliged to
tolerate them, as one of the evils of a high state of refinement. Do
not let any one suppose this a paradox; for there is no doubt of the
fact, that as "the sun breeds maggots in a dead dog," (I do not know
that I quote very accurately), so a refined state of society generates
both empty heads and cold hearts. At other times, I say, we bear them
as one of the evils of our social state; but then they become
perfectly intolerable. We find, then, that there are human beings in
every outward form and lineament like ourselves, who, nevertheless,
are not of our nature, nor, apparently, of our race; we feel, or we
fancy, that monkeys might be princes amongst them.

Eda had a great deal to suffer from creatures of this kind during that
day. The peer, and the baronet, and the wealthy esquire, had returned
from their several occupations in time to witness the conflagration at
Brandon; and after having taken care of their horses and their
carriages, and all their other effects, they had gathered together to
interrupt the servants and country people by giving assistance. As
soon as they saw Eda, however, enter the house with her cousin and Mr.
Dudley, they found it courteous to go in and condole with her; and
although she bore the infliction with wonderful patience, Edgar did
not approach by any means so near to the character of Job.

One or two of his brisk sayings soon scattered the party, and after
having, in a very polite manner, ascertained that the fire was
entirely extinguished, the three gentlemen I have mentioned took their
leave, got their carriages and horses, and departed. Dudley made no
show of going, for he knew that he should still be a welcome guest;
and Captain M---- also remained, though not till he had received a
pressing request from Edgar to do so.

"We can put you up somewhere," he said; "and there are things to be
investigated, in which, perhaps, you can help me. Stay with us here in
the library, M----, now that those tiresome people are away, and let
me inquire how this fire originated in reality, and how my poor father
met with his death. I do not understand all this," he added, solemnly
and sternly. "There is no trace of fire upon my father's person. I
have strange suspicions; and before I give way to grief I must think
of justice. I must see the people who first entered his room;" and
going to the door, he gave orders to one of the servants in the hall
to bring all those who had been present at the early part of the
catastrophe into the library.

"This is a sad business for us all, dear Eda," he said, turning
towards his cousin, who was seated in the recess of one of the
windows, from time to time wiping the tears from her eyes. "Your
beautiful place is well nigh destroyed."

"Would I could repair your loss, Edgar," replied Eda, "as easily as
mine can be repaired."

"It must be some comfort to you, Edgar," said Dudley, who had hitherto
scarcely spoken a word, "to know that your father did not suffer. It
is impossible that any violence could have been offered to him; it is
equally impossible that the fire can have reached him or injured him
in any way; and I am inclined to think that he was never conscious of
its existence, for I was one of the first who entered his room;
indeed, there were only two who mounted the stairs before me; and when
I strove to wake him I found that he was no more; nay, his hand was
quite cold. The room, indeed, was full of smoke, but the air was not
sufficiently loaded to suffocate any one who was not in a fainting
fit, or exceedingly debilitated."

"Who was there first?" demanded Edgar.

"The butler and Martin Oldkirk ran up together," replied Dudley; "and
I followed as soon as I had seen Eda upon the terrace. For some time
we did not at all imagine the house was on fire, although there was a
strong smell of burning wood; but at length the smoke came rolling
down the stairs, and at the same time, it seems, one of the keepers
from the park rushed into the offices, saying that the whole roof was
in flames."

"Ah! here come the men!" cried Edgar. "Now, Martin Oldkirk, my good
friend, stand forward and tell me what you found, when first you went
into my father's room."

"It was the butler, sir, went in first," said Martin Oldkirk. "I was
waiting in his pantry, as I had been ordered; and when the alarm of
fire came he ran on first, saying he must save Sir Arthur, and I
followed. There was a good deal of smoke in the room, but no fire;
indeed, it is uninjured even now. We both ran to the bed, and found
Sir Arthur lying upon it, but there was no sign of life about him. Mr.
Dudley came in the next moment, and the valet a minute after. Sir
Arthur was dressed as he is now; and we took him up and carried him
down, first to the dining-hall, and then out to the billiard-room, as
you saw."

"You are sure there was nobody in the room when you entered?" asked
Edgar Adelon.

"No one, sir," replied Oldkirk; "but there was a packet of papers,
written in a hand which I know well, and so I took it up, and have got
it here."

"Give it to me," said Edgar; and gazing at the first lines he
exclaimed, "This is Filmer's handwriting. That man must have been in
the house when we went away. This letter is dated to-day, and it was
not there when I left my father. I charge you, my friends, most
solemnly, to tell me if any of you have seen him within the last four
hours."

"Oh yes! Mr. Edgar," said one of the grooms, coming forward. "He went
away about an hour and a-half or two hours ago. I saddled his horse
for him."

"I am sure he was in Sir Arthur's room just about luncheon time," said
the valet; "for knowing that my master was not well, I went up to see
if he wanted anything, and not liking to disturb him, I listened at
the door. I heard some people speaking loud, and I can swear that one
of the voices was Father Peter's. It was just about the time when the
storm began."

Edgar gazed gloomily at the papers in his hand, and Dudley demanded,
"Did you hear any of the words, sir, that passed?"

"Why, Sir Arthur seemed very angry," replied the man; "and I heard him
cry out, 'Villain, villain, villain!' I should have opened the door,
and had my hand upon the lock, but then Sir Arthur went on speaking
more quietly, so that I was sure no one was hurting him."

"Let us ascertain at once," said Captain M----, "how the fire really
originated; for this affair, it seems to me, will assume a very
serious aspect if it cannot be shown that it was caused by the
lightning, as we have been led to suppose."

"Oh! Lord bless ye; yes, sir, it was caused by the lightning, sure
enough," replied one of the keepers. "Why, as I was standing on
Little-green hill, as we call it, just at t'other side of the park,
towards the back there, I saw something come down from the sky in a
great stream, just as I have seen a man pour out a ladleful of lighted
pitch, only ten times at fast, and it hit the corner of the roof, and
in a minute all the slates flew about like dust, and then there was a
blaze just at the same place. So I took to my heels as fast as
possible, and never stopped running till I got into the servants'
hall, but by that time the place was all in a blaze."

"That is so far satisfactory," said Captain M----; "and I believe, my
dear Adelon," he added, "you will find that the melancholy event,
which we must all deplore, has taken place by natural causes. It is
probable that the conversation between your father and Mr. Filmer was
of an angry and agitating character. Sir Arthur, who was much shaken
in the morning, was ill able to bear fresh anxiety or sorrow. He may
have again fainted before or after the priest left him, and the
suffocating effect of the smoke may have done the rest. You add to
your grief, which must be poignant enough, by suspicions, for which,
at present, I see no cause."

"No cause, my friend!" said Edgar. "If you could look at this paper
which I hold in my hand, but which I dare not show you or any one, you
would see at once that there is cause to suspect that bad man of
anything; for there is nothing evil, nothing wicked, which he has not
done himself, or prompted others to do, and which he boldly avows here
as the means to a great end. That end must, indeed, be accursed, to
which such means are necessary. That can never be holy which treads
such unholy paths. This paper will give me matter for deep thought,[3]
may make a change in all my views, and may teach me to renounce many
opinions instilled into me in youth, if I should find that a religion,
which I have hitherto considered pure and holy, naturally requires
fraud, ignorance, and wrong, for its support. I say not how I shall
act, I know not how I shall act; but I do say, and I do know, that
this thing will force upon me a review of all my previous convictions,
and I trust that God will give me understanding to judge in the end
aright."

"Pray God it be so!" said Eda Brandon; but she said no more, although
she felt, and had ever felt, that a religion which pretended to rest
upon revelation, and yet withheld that revelation from the great mass
of the people, commenced with an error which has characterised every
pagan idolatry, and opened the way to corruptions the most gross, and
abominations the most foul.

Every one else was silent for a moment, and then Edgar moved his hand,
saying, "I will keep you no longer, my good friends. Perhaps your
testimony may be wanted in a more formal inquiry on a future day. But,
in the mean time, remember that this man, this Mr. Filmer, whom we
have all been accustomed most mistakenly to reverence, has been proved
to be guilty of the most horrible deceits, and is charged with crimes
of a very serious character. If, then, any of you should meet with
him, hear of him, or know where he is to be found, it is your duty to
give him up to justice, that the accusations against him may be
patiently investigated. At present, you had better go and get some
refreshment after all your labours; and I am sure my cousin will
reward and thank you for the services you have rendered."

The strength of mental exertion seemed to have kept him up till the
servants and others, who had been summoned to the library, quitted the
room; but when they were gone, he threw himself down in a chair,
before the large table where his father had so often sat, and resting
his arms upon it, bent down his head till his eyes were hid upon them,
and remained thus in silence for several minutes, while Eda, and
Dudley, and Captain M----, spoke together earnestly, but in a low
voice.

By this time the shades of evening were beginning to come over the
sky, and although the rain had ceased, the clouds were heavy and dark.
Yet a gleam of yellow light was seen beneath, towards the west, and
Dudley, laying his hand upon Eda's, said, "See, Eda, there is hope in
the midst of sorrow: I will go and speak to Edgar. There are many
things more painful in the events of the day than even the death of a
father whom he loved. He must be roused by new incitements to action;
and there is cause, too, for exertion."

Advancing a step or two towards Edgar, he laid his hand upon his
shoulder gently, saying, "Do not give way, my friend. Heavy sorrows
have befallen you; but there are duties to be performed, efforts to be
made, important steps to be considered. Our friend, Captain M----,
tells me that poor Mr. Clive has met with a terrible accident, and it
is his opinion that Helen Clive may both have to encounter fresh
grief, and be left without protection or comfort."

Edgar started up as if his words had roused a new spirit within him,
and Dudley continued thus:--"Under these circumstances, Eda is
inclined to take refuge at the Grange, where there is plenty of room.
She would not do so if she did not look upon Helen, and Helen did not
look upon her, as a sister."

Edgar started forward, in his impetuous way, towards his fair cousin,
and taking her hand, pressed his lips upon it with tears in his eyes.
"Thank you, Eda," he said; "thank you for Helen, thank you for myself.
I know what leads you to the Grange, and I must go with you."

"We will all go down," said Dudley. "I trust that our evil
anticipations may be found premature; but should the worst happen,
Helen will need all the comfort that can be given to her. There are
many things, however, first to be done here, Edgar; and although I now
boldly claim a right to act on Eda's behalf, yet it is but fitting
that her nearest and dearest surviving relation should join his voice
to mine in all matters. There is another task, Edgar, which you must
entrust to me. Painful as it must be, I think I can promise to perform
it according to your wishes; and in the few cases where a doubt may
occur to me, as to how I should act, I will apply to yourself."

Edgar pressed his hand warmly in his own, murmuring, "Dudley, we are
brothers;" and Dudley, turning away his head for a moment, answered,
"Come, Edgar, we must give directions for restoring some degree of
order here, and for setting a watch, to ensure, that if the fire
should break out again in any place where it is yet smouldering, it
shall be extinguished at once. Then we will all go down to the Grange;
and after seeing what is the state of poor Mr. Clive, Captain
M---- and myself will leave you and Eda there, and find lodgings for
the night somewhere in the neighbourhood."

Much, indeed, remained to be done, and many orders to be given before
the party could set out; but the mind of Edgar Adelon, in many scenes
of trial and difficulty, had gained much strength since first we saw
him; and to a strong mind exertion is relief, even under the load of
grief.



CHAPTER XLVI.


The clouds had passed away from the sky, the stars shone out clear and
bright, when Edgar Adelon, with his cousin Eda, Edward Dudley, and
Helen, stood by the bed-side of Mr. Clive; but the clouds of sorrow
had not yet passed from the minds of any there present: the star of
Hope was hidden, though it might still be in the sky. There was a
surgeon sitting by the sick man's side, with his hand upon the pulse,
Helen's eyes were fixed eagerly upon the face of the man of healing,
but after a moment or two he raised his look to hers, and shook his
head gravely.

"It is of no use, my child," said Clive, in a low and feeble tone. "I
am on the eve of the long departure. I feel death gaining upon me
fast; life is at an end, and with it manifold cares, sorrows, and
apprehensions. I am going, I trust, to a happier place, where none of
these things can disturb me, and where your beloved mother has long
been awaiting me. This feeling, this hope, would make my going very
tranquil, were it not that even now all the tender yearnings of a
father's heart for the welfare of his child are as strong upon me as
ever, Helen. Oh! who can ever know till they have felt it, what fears,
what hopes, what thoughts, and cares for the beloved ones, rush
through a father's heart and brain at every moment of existence, and
make his life one long care for them. I ought not to let them disturb
me now, in this last solemn scene; but still, Helen, your fate is my
anxiety, my only anxiety."

Helen wept; but Edgar Adelon once more came forward to the dying man's
bed-side, and said, with an earnest, though low-toned voice, "Be not
anxious, Mr. Clive; sweep that anxiety away. Helen is mine, as soon as
ever she will. I am now, alas, my own master, to do as I think best. I
am certain that this is best;" and he took Helen's hand, and kissed
it. "But there may be anxieties even beyond that, Mr. Clive," he
added. "You may think that though she be the wife of Edgar Adelon, she
may yet be an unhappy wife; but here I vow, as solemnly as man can vow
anything, that my whole existence shall be devoted to her happiness.
If ever any of those things which men say disturb domestic
tranquillity: a hasty word, an angry feeling, a discontented thought
should occur, although my deep love now tells me they cannot, I will
think of this moment; I will think of this promise; I will think of
the fate of my own dear mother; and I will hasten to atone to Helen
with all my heart. You know me, Mr. Clive; you know how I have loved
her from boyhood; and I think you will not doubt that I shall love her
to the end."

"I do not doubt you, Edgar," said Mr. Clive, very, very faintly. "I
have watched and known you from a boy, as you say, and I know that
your enthusiasms, in love or friendship, are not only warm, but
enduring. Mine have been so too, but there has been too much vehemence
with me. I doubt not your intentions in the least either; but I only
doubt that others may interfere to forbid that which you are yourself
thoroughly disposed to perform. You say that you are your own master:
I know not what you mean."

Edgar shook his head sadly, and replied, "My father has gone where her
father is going. We have been children together, and we shall be
orphans together. In all things our fate will be united. She is mine;
I am hers; and in heart and spirit, in love and truth, in hopes and
fears, in joys and sorrows, on this earth and I trust in heaven, we
shall be one."

"Amen!" said Mr. Clive; and raising his hand, as if in the act of
giving a solemn benediction, his head sunk back on the pillow, and the
spirit took its flight.

*    *    *    *    *
*    *    *    *    *

There were many tears shed at Brandon House and Clive Grange; and on
one day, followed by the same mourners, carried to the same burial
ground, that of the old Priory, the representatives of the ancient and
noble houses of Adelon and Clive were committed to the earth. They had
died in the same faith in which they and their ancestors lived; and a
Roman Catholic priest, as amiable and excellent as he whom it has been
my painful task in these pages to depict was base and evil, solemnised
the last rites of their church amongst the mouldering remains of ages
past away.

Some months went by, and Eda Brandon and Helen Clive kept their
mourning state at the Grange, while Edgar took up his abode at the
lodge of Brandon Park, and surrounded with books, seemed to forget
himself in deep study, except during those hours which he spent with
her he loved.

Dudley was absent more than once, and remained absent for several
weeks at a time; but Eda Brandon did not think his passion cooled, and
she knew there was no cause to suppose so; for he was engaged in
sweeping the last trace of the convict from his name, and recording
the proofs of his innocence in such a manner that doubt or shame could
never visit him. He had property to claim, too, and to receive, which
removed all suspicion that he sought wealth rather than love in his
marriage with Eda Brandon; and towards the autumn, about the same
period of the year when he had first visited Brandon Park, his fate
was united with hers, on the same day that Helen became the wife of
Edgar Adelon.

To say that every trace of the events which had so chequered Dudley's
early life with dark shadows was swept away, even in the intense joy
of his union with her he loved, would be false, for there was a shade
rested upon him; but perhaps, although his happiness was of a graver
cast than it might have been had unvarying prosperity shone upon his
whole career, it was not less deep, less full, less enduring.

Edgar Adelon's joy in his marriage with Helen Clive was brighter and
more lively. People somewhat wondered that the benediction of the
Romish church was not asked to his union with Helen Clive; but it
speedily became rumoured that both had, a few days before, in a quiet
and unostentatious manner, renounced the errors in which they had been
brought up. Inquiry had produced conviction, and they acted with open
minds and clear consciences, knowing that neither persuasion, nor
sophistry, nor interest, had been allowed to have any effect; but that
the simple study of that holy Word, which is closed in so many
countries of the earth to those who seek the waters of life, had given
them a knowledge of the truth, which none could take from them.

The fate of Mr. Filmer remained a mystery. He was never again seen in
England; but Captain M----, while on his bridal tour through Italy,
wrote to his friends at Brandon, that amongst the monks at Camaldoli
he had caught sight of a face which he was convinced was that of
Father Peter; and it is certain that, not long after, with money which
came from that country, Daniel Connor set out for Rome, and joined
himself to a religious community of the most severe and penitential
rule.

Martin Oldkirk was well provided for by Dudley and Edgar Adelon; and
though he remained a stern and somewhat thoughtful man, and retained a
feeling of wrathful grief at the remembrance that words of his,
perverted by the priest, should have been used to destroy the
happiness of an innocent and beloved mistress, yet his heart was
softened by prosperity and opened to enjoyment.

Norries is still living in Australia. It is supposed he might have
obtained a full pardon some time ago, if he had thought fit to apply
for it; but such was not the case; and contented where he is, he goes
on seeing a new population growing up around him, to whom, from time
to time, he communicates his own transcendental notions on political
subjects; but he has gained experience from the past, and whatever he
may seek himself, or teach others to aim at, he always inculcates the
doctrine, that moral force is the only just means by which a triumph
can be obtained over injustice or wrong.

"The axe, the sword, and the pike," he says, "belonged to ages when
the physical triumphed over the intellectual. The age of reason and of
mental power has begun, and truth and argument are the weapons with
which the bad must be conquered, and the good armed for battle. The
thunder of a nation's voice is worth the roar of a thousand cannon;
and knowledge, and conscience, and right, are arms which no armies can
withstand."



FOOTNOTES

[Footnote 1: This word is usually wrongly written _ærie_, as if
derived from _aer_ or _air_, but I am convinced it comes from the
German word _ey_, an egg.]

[Footnote 2: These fish in the Murrumbidgee and other rivers sometimes
reach the weight of a hundred or a hundred and twenty pounds. They are
evidently genuine perch, although the colonists call them river cod.]

[Footnote 3: The little history of a life here referred to, may be
given to the public at a future period, as it is neither uninteresting
nor uninstructive; but, for various reasons, it must not be printed at
present.]



THE END.





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