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Title: Delaware; - or, The Ruined Family Vol. 2
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Delaware; - or, The Ruined Family Vol. 2" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

      https://archive.org/details/delawareorruined02jame
      (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



DELAWARE;
OR
THE RUINED FAMILY.



EDINBURGH:
PRINTED BY M. AITKEN, 1, ST JAMES'S SQUARE.



DELAWARE;
OR
THE RUINED FAMILY.



A TALE.


IN THREE VOLUMES.
VOL. II.



EDINBURGH:
PRINTED FOR ROBERT CADELL, EDINBURGH;
AND WHITTAKER & CO., LONDON.
MDCCCXXXIII.



DELAWARE;
OR,
THE RUINED FAMILY.



CHAPTER I.


The sand in the hour-glass of happiness is surely of a finer quality
than that which rolls so slowly through the glass of this world's
ordinary cares and fears. Oh! how rosy-footed trip the minutes that
lead along the dance of joy! How sweetly they come, how swiftly they
fly, how bright their presence, and how speedy their departure! Every
one who has ever had a pen in his hand, has said exactly the same
words before me; and therefore, though a little stale, they must be
true.

The hours flew as lightly at Emberton Park as if they had plucked all
the down from the wings of their good father Time, in order to furnish
their own soft pinions; and many of the days which intervened between
the signature of the bill for twenty-five thousand pounds, given by
Sir Sidney Delaware to Lord Ashborough, and the time when it was to
become due, slipped away unnoticed. The worthy baronet suffered them
to pass with very great tranquillity, relying perfectly upon the word
of Mr. Tims, that the money would be ready at the appointed period. As
comfort, and happiness, too, are far less loquacious qualities than
grief and anxiety. Sir Sidney thought it unnecessary to enter into any
farther particulars with Burrel, than by merely thanking him, in
general terms, for the advice he had given; and by informing him that,
in consequence of his son's second journey to London, his affairs were
likely to be finally arranged in the course of a month or two. The
miser also suffering himself, for a certain time, to be governed by
his nephew--who well knew the only two strings which moved him like a
puppet, to be avarice and fear--did not attempt to give the young
stranger at Emberton any information of the events which had taken
place, till long after Captain Delaware's return; and, within five
days of the time when the bill became due, Burrel, who had delayed his
promised visit to Dr. Wilton till he was almost ashamed to go at all,
rode over to his rectory to pass a couple of days with the worthy
clergyman, whom he found deep in all the unpleasant duties of his
magisterial capacity. William Delaware, also, more active though less
clear-sighted than his father, allowed himself likewise to be deceived
by the assurance of Mr. Tims, that the money would be punctually
ready; and thus the days might have passed by unheeded by any one,
till the very moment that the money was required, had there not been
another person concerned, whose views demanded that Burrel's
twenty-five thousand pounds should not only be drawn for, but paid
into the hands of the miser at Ryebury.

This person, who was far more suspicious and more on the alert than
any of the party, was no other that Mr. Burrel's silent servant,
Harding, who began to grow very uneasy at the delay which was taking
place. This uneasiness was increased after his arrival with his master
at Dr. Wilton's, inasmuch as, at the very moment of their coming, the
worthy clergyman was engaged in investigating some particulars in
regard to the fire that had taken place at Mrs. Darlington's, which
had given rise to considerable suspicions of some foul play. The
first, and perhaps the most important point, appeared to be, that of
the whole plate which that worthy lady's house contained, not one
ounce was to be found either fused or in its wrought state. In the
next place, two or three persons who had first taken the alarm at
Emberton, on the night of the fire, and had set out instantly to give
assistance, deposed positively to having met a man, to all appearance
heavily laden, coming down the hill--which circumstance, considering
the time of night, was at least extraordinary. No one, however, could
identify this person; but from these facts, as well as from other
minor incidents, which it may be unnecessary to mention, it seemed
very clear that robbery had been committed during the progress of the
fire, if not before.

On their arrival at the rectory, both Burrel and his servant were
called upon by Dr. Wilton, to state their recollections. Of the
evidence given by the first, the worthy clergyman took a private note,
but the servant was publicly examined. He gave a clear, calm statement
of all that he remembered, mentioned the situation of the room in
which he slept, declared that he had been woke by some sounds below,
and had shortly after perceived a strong smell of fire, which
increasing, he began to put on his clothes. Finding, however, that
the smoke was growing thicker, and that other people in the house
seemed alarmed, he had not staid to clothe himself completely, but had
run out; and, seeing that the house was on fire, had proceeded to call
his master. Mr. Burrel not moving as fast as he thought prudent, he
said, he had left him, and got out of danger as fast as he could.

All this was delivered with amazing coolness and perspicuity, and Dr.
Wilton complimented him publicly on the clear and straightforward
manner in which he delivered his evidence. Nevertheless, there was
something in the whole business, which we--who see into the mechanism
of our people's hearts--conceive, not to have been pleasing to the
silent servant, and he felt it absolutely necessary--according to his
own particular notions of benevolence--to remind his master, that the
twenty-five thousand pounds which had been left idle, losing the
interest all the time, in the hands of Messrs. Steelyard and
Wilkinson, might soon be necessary to complete the charitable purpose
he entertained towards the family at Emberton.

To act remembrancer was not very easy, however, as his habitual
silence cut off a great deal of even that small gossip which usually
takes place between a man and his valet-de-chambre; but Harding was
not a person to be foiled, and what he could not do cunningly he
always did boldly.

It was on the second night, then, of their stay at the rectory, that,
while undressing his master, he began, after two or three preliminary
grunts, "I wished to ask your permission, sir--if you are going to
send me to London"----

"Send you to London!" exclaimed Burrel, "I am not going to send you to
London, What put such a thing into your head?"

"Oh, I beg pardon, sir, I did not mean to offend!" replied Harding.
"But when you first sent me to Mr. Tims at Ryebury, he asked me a
great many questions about you, and told me that you were going to pay
off the incumbrances upon Sir Sidney Delaware's estate."

"Which, I suppose, you have been good enough to spread throughout the
village!" said Burrel, not a little angry.

"I have never opened my mouth upon the subject, sir, to a living
creature, upon my honour!" replied the man, with a solemnity of
asseveration that was very suspicious.

"And pray, how is all this connected with your going to London,
Harding?" demanded his master.

"Why only, sir, as I hear the money is to be paid in three days, and
you did not speak of going up yourself, I thought you might be going
to send me for the sum," was the cool and self-complacent reply of the
worthy domestic.

"To be paid in three days!" exclaimed Burrel. "There must be some
mistake in that, surely."

"Oh no, sir, I can assure you!" replied the man earnestly. "The last
time I was up at the park, when I brought the horses to come over
here, I heard the Captain saying so to Miss Delaware--and he said,
that he hoped that Tims would have the money ready, or it would be a
sad affair."

"Indeed!" said Burrel, "This must be looked to. But you misunderstand
your situation, Harding. You are a person very trustworthy, I have no
doubt; but I never send my servants for such sums as that you mention,
especially when they have not been with me three months. So now, you
may go--and when I want to send you to London, or elsewhere, I shall
be sure to inform you."

The servant accordingly retired with a mortified and somewhat dogged
air; but, although he had not been entirely without hopes, that his
master might indeed despatch him for the money, yet his purpose was
sufficiently answered, to prevent his feeling deeply the
disappointment of expectations that had never been very sanguine.

The tidings Burrel had heard, annoyed him considerably; for, although
a doubt never crossed his mind, in regard to the payment of the money
having been made by Lord Ashborough, it seemed so extraordinary that
Mr. Tims had not made him acquainted with the day of payment, that a
vague suspicion of something being wrong obtruded itself upon his
imagination, and kept him for some time from sleep.

"Which is my nearest way to a house called Ryebury, my dear sir?" was
one of Burrel's first questions to Dr. Wilton at the breakfast-table
next morning. "It belongs to an old miserly money-lender, named Tims."

"The way to the money-lenders, like all those roads that lead to
destruction, is wide enough," replied Dr. Wilton. "But I hope, my dear
Harry, you are not going to borrow money?"

"No, no, my dear sir!" answered Burrel, laughing. "Heaven knows what I
should do with it, if I did. Within the last six years, I am sorry and
ashamed to say, I have accumulated near five-and-twenty thousand
pounds."

"Fie, fie, that is almost as bad!" cried Dr. Wilton. "I would never
advise any man to live quite up to his income, for if he set out with
such a determination, he will most certainly live beyond it; but I
would recommend every man who has enough for himself and for those who
may come after him, to spend very nearly his whole income. We are but
stewards, my dear Harry! we are but stewards! and we are bound to
dispense the good things that are intrusted to us."

"And yet I have both heard you cry out against luxury," replied
Burrel, "and declare that indiscriminate gifts of money did more harm
than good."

"True, true!" replied Dr. Wilton. "I have done all that you say. But
there are thousands of eligible ways in this world by which a man may
discharge that duty to society imposed upon him by a large fortune,
without injuring his own mind, or enervating his own body by luxury.
How much may be done to promote the instruction of youth, to furnish
employment for the poor and industrious, to encourage arts and
sciences, to reward the manufacturer even for his toil and skill, and
the merchant for his risk and enterprise, without being the least
luxurious in one's own person. Ximenes walked through halls tapestried
with purple and gold, and yet lay down upon a bed of straw. Fie,
Harry, fie! It is a shame for any rich man to accumulate more wealth
while there is a poor man in all the land."

Burrel smiled at the lecture of his old tutor; not indeed because he
undervalued his precepts, but because he evidently saw that the lapse
of ten years had been skipped over in the good doctor's mind, and that
he himself stood there as much the pupil in the eyes of Dr. Wilton, as
ever he had been in his days of boyhood.

"Well, well, my dear sir!" he answered; "as some compensation for my
negligence hitherto, I think I shall find a means of spending this
twenty-five thousand pounds in such a manner as even your severe
philosophy will approve."

"Ah, Harry! I see you are laughing at your old pedagogue," said his
friend. "But never mind; if worthy Dominie Sampson--a character I
revere and love, although the dolts on the stage have degraded him
into a buffoon--If worthy Dominie Sampson boasted of having taught
little Harry Bertram the rudiments of erudition, I will boast of
having taught you, Harry Burrel, the rudiments of virtue--So mind what
you do; for every action you perform is my pride or my shame."

"Then I will try to make you a proud man," replied Burrel. "But I must
now leave you, my dear sir, and seek this money-lender, if you will
direct me thither."

"Well, well, whatever be your purpose, take care what you are about
with him!" answered the doctor. "He is a wily knave. But I shall see
you again, ere you leave the country--which, if I judge right, will
not be soon"--and he fixed a gay glance upon Burrel's face, which
fully repaid the smile he had remarked--"Remember, Harry," he added,
"I am to speak the blessing."

Burrel laughed, and shook Dr. Wilton's hand, and the worthy rector,
conducting him to the door at which his horse stood prepared, pointed
out the direct road to Ryebury, which lay straight across the country,
at about six or seven miles distance.

Harding, at the same time, received orders to convey the little
baggage he had brought with him back to Emberton, and, that personage
internally congratulating himself, with the words, "All is right!" as
he heard Dr. Wilton direct his master on the road to the miser's
dwelling, proceeded calmly to lay out his plans for that which he
considered as his _coup de maitre_.

Burrel had no difficulty in finding his way; and at about eleven
o'clock he was standing before Mr. Tims's slate-coloured door,
enduring the reconnoissance which master and maid always inflicted on
those who visited their dwelling. At length Sally appeared, and Mr.
Burrel was ushered into Mr. Tims's parlour, where the miser received
him with as much cordiality as was in his nature, having from one
accidental circumstance acquired a particular regard for his present
visiter--a fact in natural history which perhaps requires some
explanation.

The simple truth, then, was merely this. On Burrel's first visit, the
miser, knowing him to be a man of large fortune, whom it might be well
to conciliate, had offered him a glass of ale; and then even went the
length of offering a glass of wine. Doing it--like most generous
people--with fear and trembling lest it should be accepted, he was
inexpressibly relieved by Burrel's declining both the expensive kinds
of refreshments that he offered. The matter sunk deep into his mind,
and at once created a fund of esteem and gratitude towards the
self-denying stranger, which was only augmented by the consciousness
that he himself always ate and drank that which was offered to him at
other houses, looking upon it all as a saving.

On the present occasion, as soon as Burrel entered, he again made the
offer of the ale, and would fain have offered the wine also--but there
was something within him which this time rendered it impossible. So
much was he of opinion, that the wine is the best which is drank at
other people's expense, that he could not believe it possible that
Burrel would refuse it twice. While this struggle was going on in his
bosom, however, Burrel, who saw that he was somewhat agitated, and
never took into consideration the important question regarding the
glass of wine, imagined that Mr. Tims felt ashamed of not having given
him intimation of the state of Sir Sidney Delaware's affairs, and
proceeded to speak of them at once.

"You have done wrong, my good sir!" he said, "in not letting me know
that the money required for redeeming the annuity is to be produced so
soon. You did not consider that a day or two's notice may be
necessary, in transactions to such an amount. However, it so luckily
happens that the money is ready!"

"But, my dear sir--my dear sir!" cried Mr. Tims, "How could I give you
notice when you were out of the way. I called upon you twice, at no
small expense of shoe-leather."

Such indeed was the fact--that is to say, that he had called--and as
the internal economy of Mr. Tims's heart is not unworthy of
investigation, as a curious piece of hydraulick machinery, it may be
well to state what were the contending feelings which made the miser,
at last, act contrary to the directions of his dearly-beloved nephew.
In the first place then, it would appear, that in regard to the
arrangements for the redemption of the annuity, a liberal commission
had been insured to him on the completion of the transaction, and
consequently he was a party interested. The injunctions, therefore, of
his nephew, to throw every quiet impediment in the way, to keep Mr.
Burrel in ignorance of the facts, and, if any thing should retard the
remittances which that gentleman expected, to refuse all assistance,
were clearly contrary to the general principles on which Mr. Tims
acted, namely, direct views of self-interest. To correct all this.
Lord Ashborough's lawyer had held out the prospect of his patron's
friendship on the one hand, and his wrath on the other, and had added
many vague promises of more golden rewards, to be procured by his
nepotal influence. But Mr. Peter Tims, although he had very little
family affection himself, forgot that his uncle possessed as little;
and though the only tie between Mr. Tims, senior, and the rest of the
world, existed in his nephew's person, yet the miser of Ryebury felt
that he could never be without friends or relations, as long as there
were pounds, shillings, and pence in the world. Mr. Tims, junior, as I
have said, forgot all this, and forgot too, that his uncle would be,
perhaps, less inclined to receive vague promises of compensation as
current coin, from him, than from any other individual; and, at the
same time, in order to show him how deeply Lord Ashborough was
interested, and how much it would behove him to reward the conduct he
pointed out, the lawyer committed the egregious blunder of letting the
miser know who the pretended Mr. Burrel really was.

The desire of making his own bargain instantly seized upon Mr. Tims of
Ryebury, and he at once wrote to Mr. Tims, of Clement's Inn, with a
puzzling question, as to what was to be the specific _consideration_
for acting in the manner prescribed. The reply was not so definite as
he liked, and he immediately called at Mr. Burrel's lodging to inform
him of the time appointed for the payment of the redemption money. His
calculations at the same time were partly true, and partly incorrect,
in regard to the probable advantages to be gained by courting
Burrel.--No man ever did, or ever will, make a correct calculation,
where self is one of the units. He is sure, by adding a cipher to it,
to multiply it by ten, in every shape and way, and thus throw the
whole computation wrong together. Mr. Burrel, or rather Mr. Beauchamp,
was heir to Lord Ashborough's title and estates, and likely to outlive
him by forty years; and therefore, thought Mr. Tims, is likely to
patronize me a thousandfold more than Lord Ashborough can. But Mr.
Tims forgot that if Henry Beauchamp was likely to outlive Lord
Ashborough, Lord Ashborough was fully as likely to outlive Mr. Tims.

These considerations, however, gave the miser a great leaning towards
Mr. Burrel, in the whole business, though he was not without some
speculations, in regard to catching all that he could from both
parties, if a way were to present itself. At present, he assured his
visiter that he had called upon him twice for the express purpose of
communicating with him on the subject of Sir Sidney Delaware's
affairs; but that, not having found him at home, he did not think fit
to leave any message, on so momentous a subject, with either the woman
of the house or the groom, who were the only personages he saw.

"Well, well, Sir!" replied Burrel. "The question now before us is
simply, how we are now to proceed? Must I go to London to receive this
money, and bring it down?"

"Why, I should think that would be an expensive way, sir," replied the
miser. "Forty shillings going and forty shillings coming, and
eighteenpence to the coachman each way, makes four pound three; and
then you may well calculate three shillings more for food and extras
going and coming, making four pounds six. Then you would not like to
carry such a sum about you; so that you would be obliged to do it by
draft, therefore the stamp would not be saved; and I am always for
saving the money of my clients--it is the duty of an honest man--No,
no, sir! I think you had better draw a letter of credit, in my favour,
on your agents, and I will direct them to lodge the money in the hands
of the London correspondents of our county bank, of which I am one of
the poorest proprietors. I will give you an acknowledgement in form
for the letter of credit, which, being duly satisfied, I will give you
a receipt in full, with a lean upon the mortgage from Sir Sidney
Delaware, as I settled before with Messrs. Steelyard and Wilkinson."

"But can all this be done in time, Mr. Tims?" demanded Burrel.

"Oh, no fear, no fear!" replied the miser. "This is but the
twenty-first. We can get the letter off to-day. The bills given by Sir
Sidney do not come due till the twenty-fourth; and we can easily have
notice of the money being lodged by the twenty-third in the afternoon,
when the post comes in."

Burrel mused a moment. He saw no objection; but yet he thought it
might be safer to go himself. He mused again; but then he thought of
Blanche Delaware, and that he had not seen her for two whole
days--That settled the matter in his mind. There could be no possible
obstacle, he persuaded himself, in London--therefore, neither pleasure
or necessity called him thither: one of those two great motives
chained him to Emberton, and therefore he determined to stay.

The miser agreed immediately to join him at his lodgings in the little
town, where all that was necessary for completing the business was to
be procured more easily. Burrel rode off; Mr. Tims reached Emberton in
half an hour; the letter was drawn; another written by Mr. Tims to his
London bankers; the whole were put in the post; and Burrel, after
dining alone, sauntered slowly and happily up the park, to take his
tea in the little octagon parlour of Emberton house.

He was received with those sparkling eyes which left no doubt that he
was welcome; the next day also past in happiness; and Burrel, somewhat
too sure perhaps of success, fixed in his own mind, as he strolled
homeward, that the morning which saw Sir Sidney Delaware freed from a
part of his difficulties by his exertions, should also see the
declaration of his love to her who had inspired it.



CHAPTER II.


On the twenty-third day of September, Sir Sidney Delaware had some
slight symptoms of a fit of gout, which rendered him somewhat
irritable and anxious. Three times did he give particular directions,
that, when Mr. Tims of Ryebury came, he was to be shown into the
library, and, as often when he heard any unusual sound in the mansion,
usually so still and tranquil, he demanded whether Mr. Tims had
arrived. Still Mr. Tims did not make his appearance, though about two
o'clock Mr. Burrel did; and the worthy baronet, in conversation with
his young friend, forgot his anxiety for a time. At length, however,
it began to resume its ascendency, and its first struggle was of
course with politeness. He was evidently uneasy; he moved to and fro
in his chair; he complained of some pain; and, at length, was in the
very act of desiring his son to take a walk, and see why Mr. Tims had
not kept his promise, when the daily bag arrived from the post,
and--together with a billet or two, apparently from some female
friends for Miss Delaware, which she carried away to her own room; and
a letter for Captain Delaware--appeared a lawyer-like epistle
addressed to Sir Sidney, and bearing the London postmark.

"I will go to Mr. Tims as soon as I have looked over this letter,
sir," said Captain Delaware; but Sir Sidney at the same moment opened
his own, and, after he had read, he exclaimed, "No, no, William, there
is no necessity! You and Blanche were going to walk with Mr. Burrel;
and here Lord Ashborough's lawyer tells me that he cannot be down on
the precise day--that is to-morrow--but will come the day after, or
the day after that, with a thousand apologies for not coming. If I be
well enough, I will go to this person, Tims, myself to-morrow. If not,
you can go. So call Blanche, and take your ramble while it is fine.
The clouds are beginning to gather."

Captain Delaware went to seek his sister, who, as we have said, had
retired to her own apartment; but he soon returned saying, that she
had a slight headach, and would stay at home. He would show Burrel the
way himself, he added, to what the people called the Sea Hill, so
named because the sea was thence first visible; and, though the spirit
of their proposed expedition had all evaporated, Burrel did not choose
to decline. "If she did but know!" he thought; "If she did but know
what is going on here in my heart, I do not think a slight headach
would keep her at home! But I must bring this matter to some
certainty--it is growing painful!" and more than one-half of his walk
passed in silent musing.

On his return, he went into the library with Captain Delaware. Blanche
was there with her father, but she was deadly pale, and Burrel felt
more than anxious--alarmed. As soon almost as he entered, Sir Sidney
Delaware pressed him to stay to dinner, and Burrel, who had often
declined, mastered by strong anxiety, agreed to do so on the present
occasion; though, as the invitation was given and accepted, he saw a
passing blush, and then a relapse to snowy paleness, come over the
countenance of her he loved.

The evening was no longer one of joy. Burrel hoped that some
opportunity would present itself of gaining a single moment of private
conversation with Blanche Delaware in the course of his stay; but it
was evident that she avoided every thing of the kind, and, at an early
hour, complaining of increased headach, she retired once more to her
room. Soon after, her lover took his leave, and returned home in a
state of feverish anxiety, difficult to be described; while Captain
Delaware perceived that something had gone wrong, but could not divine
what; and Sir Sidney, without seeing any thing deeper, felt that the
evening which had just past to its predecessors, was the dullest he
had spent since he had become acquainted with Henry Burrel.

To Burrel the night went by in sleepless restlessness; and, though we
would fain see how it flew with Blanche Delaware, we must take up her
story in the course of the morning after, when, rising as pale as the
night before, she found that the hour, instead of nine--which she had
fancied it must be at least--was only seven. Putting on her bonnet,
she glided down the old stone staircase, and proceeded into the park;
but it was not towards Emberton that she took her way. On the
contrary, turning her steps through the wild woodlands that lay at the
back of the mansion, she trod very nearly the same path which she had
pursued with Henry Burrel during the first days of their acquaintance.

She traced the walk by the bank of the stream. The kingfishers were
flitting over the bosom of the river; the waters were pouring on,
fretting at the same pebbles, dashing over the same little falls,
lying quiet in the same still pools, as when she had last seen them.
But the feelings of her heart were changed, and the light, which
nature had then borrowed from joy, was now all overshadowed by the
clouds of care. As she gazed upon the stream, and the wild banks, and
the hawthorn dingles round her, and felt that a bitter change in her
own bosom had stripped them of all their beauties, as ruthlessly as
the hand of winter itself could have done, the pain was too much, and
she wept.

Still she trod her way onward, pondering slowly and gloomily, till she
came so near the little glen that had terminated that happy walk with
Burrel, that she could not refrain from going on. A few minutes
brought her to the spot where the Prior's Well was first visible, and
a few minutes more found her standing under the rich carved canopy of
gray stone that covered over the fountain.

For several moments she gazed wistfully and mournfully upon the
waters, as, with a calm unobtrusive ripple, and a low whispering
murmur, they welled from the basin of the fountain, and trickled
through the grass and pebbles. "Oh, would to Heaven!" she thought,
"that yon calm water did really possess the mysterious power the old
legends attribute to it. But two days since, nothing on earth would
have made me taste it, though I believed not a word; and now I am
almost tempted to drink, though I still believe as little."

As she thought thus, she stretched out her hand to the little iron
cup; and, after a short pause, filled it, and gazed upon the water, as
it lay pure and clear, with that peculiar cold sparkling limpidity
which the old monks so greatly prized in their wells. Her hand shook a
little; but, after a single instant's consideration, with a smile
which was mingled of sadness and of a sort of gentle scorn, at the
drop of credulity that still lay at the bottom of her heart, she was
raising the cup to her lips when a hand was laid gently upon her arm.

She started, but without dropping the cup, and, turning round, she saw
beside her, Henry Burrel. Pouring the water carefully back into the
font, as if every drop were precious, she let go the chain, while,
with downcast eyes, and a cheek burning like crimson, she uttered a
scarcely audible good-morrow, in answer to some words that she had
hardly heard.

Burrel's hand still rested on her arm, while his eyes were fixed upon
her face, tenderly, but reproachfully. The action and the look were
those of intimacy, but not of presumption; and, indeed, there had been
of late a kind of mute language established between Blanche and her
lover, in which many a question had been asked, and many a feeling had
been acknowledged, which would have expired in shame, had words been
the only means of expression, and which gave Burrel some right to
enquire into the change he could not but perceive too plainly.

"You were about to drink, Miss Delaware!" he said. "But if you taste
of the enchanted fountain, I must drink also; for Heaven knows, then,
I shall have more need of the waters of oblivion than you have!"

He spoke with a smile; but there are smiles in the world more
melancholy than a world of sighs; and his was so full of pain,
anxiety, and disappointment, that Blanche, as she turned away, made
the only answer in her power--by tears. The drops from her eyes fell
thick, and as her left hand rested on the little carved border of the
stone font, over which her head still hung, partially averted to hide
the deep and varying feelings that passed across her face, the tears
dimpled the clear still waters; and though Burrel, as he stood, could
not see her eyes, he perceived that she was weeping bitterly. His
fingers, which had rested lightly on her arm to prevent her from
drinking the water, now glided down and circled round her hand,
clasping upon it with a degree of gentle firmness.

"Miss Delaware," he said, "for Heaven's sake, tell me, have my hopes
been all in vain?--Have I, like a presumptuous fool, dreamed of
happiness far greater than I deserve to possess? And do you now, by
the striking change which your demeanour towards me has undergone,
intend to rebuke my boldness in fancying that you might ever become
mine; and to crush the hopes which your former kindness inspired?"

Blanche Delaware wept, but she answered not a word; and Burrel gazed
on her for a moment in silence, in a state of agitation which might
have well prevented him from judging sanely of what was passing in her
mind, even had it been expressed by more unequivocal signs than the
bitter, though silent tears, that rolled over her cheeks.

"For God's sake, speak!" he exclaimed at length. "Oh, Blanche! if you
did but know the agony you are inflicting on a heart that loves you
better than any other earthly thing, you would at least save me the
torment of suspense--May I--dare I--hope that you will be mine?"

Blanche Delaware passed her hand across her brow, and brushed back the
rich long ringlets, that, as she stooped, had fallen partially over
her eyes. She turned towards her lover also, still grasping the edge
of the fountain with her left hand for support, and, with something
between a gasp and a sob, replied to his question at once--"No, Mr.
Burrel! No! You must not hope!--Oh, forgive me!"--she added, seeing
the deadly paleness that spread over his countenance. "Forgive me!
Forgive me! But for your sake--for your own sake--for both our sakes,
it is better said at once--I must not--I cannot"----

The rest died upon her lips. Enough, however, had been spoken to make
the rejection decisive; and yet it was spoken in such a tone as to
betray deep grief as well as agitation on her own part; and to
awaken--not suspicions--but a thousand vague and whirling fancies in
Burrel's brain.

"And will not Miss Delaware," he said at length, "at least console me
for broken hopes, and the first love of my heart crushed for ever, by
assigning some cause for this change in her opinion of one, who is
unconscious of having done any thing to offend or pain her?"

Blanche was again silent, and turned away her head, while the sighs
came thick and deep, and the tears were evidently falling fast. Burrel
paused for a moment, and then added, in a sad but kindly tone--"Or is
it, Miss Delaware, that I have imagined a heart free, that was before
engaged? Perhaps, long ere I knew you, some more fortunate person may
have created an interest which can be inspired but once--perhaps even,
circumstances may have prevented you from rendering him as happy as
you might otherwise have done--Oh, tell me, is it so? For though all
men are selfish, I should find it easy to gratify my selfishness in
contributing to your happiness. I have interest--I have power--and if
I could render Blanche Delaware happy with one that she loves, it
would be the next blessing to possessing her hand myself--Tell me,
Miss Delaware, I beseech you, is it as I imagine?"

"Oh! No, no, no! cried Blanche, turning her glowing face towards him.
No, upon my word--I never saw the man that I could love but"----

The deepening blush and the fresh burst of tears concluded the
sentence as Burrel's heart could have desired; and again laying his
hand upon hers, he besought her to tell him what then was the
obstacle. But Blanche drew back--not offended, but sad and determined.

"It is in vain, Mr. Burrel!" she said; "and I am bound to tell you so
at once. My mind is made up--my resolution is taken. You have my
highest esteem, my deepest gratitude, my most sincere regard, but you
cannot have"----

She paused at the word love; for no circumstances to the mind of
Blanche Delaware could palliate a falsehood, and she felt too bitterly
that he did possess her love also. She changed the phrase in the
midst, and added, "I can never give you my hand!"

One only glance at the countenance of her lover made her feel that she
could bear no more, and that it were better for them both to part at
once. She drew back a single step, and then, with a look of painful
earnestness, while her hand unconsciously was laid upon his arm, she
said, in a low sad tone, "Forgive me, Mr. Burrel! Oh, forgive me!" and
the next moment Burrel was standing alone by the side of the fountain.

He remained there for several minutes, with every painful feeling that
it is possible to imagine struggling together in his bosom. First,
their was the disappointment of hopes that he had encouraged to a
pitch, of which he had had no notion, till they were done away for
ever--the breaking of a thousand sweet dreams--the vanishing of a
crowd of happy images--the dissolution of all the fairy fabric which
the enchanter Fancy builds up round the cradle of young affection.
Then there were the doubts, the fears, the jealousies, the vague and
sombre imaginings, to which the unexplained and extraordinary conduct
of her that he loved gave rise; and then, again, was the rankling
sting of mortified pride, shooting its venom into the wound inflicted
by disappointment.

Burrel paused by the fountain, and suffered every painful thought to
work its will upon his heart in turn; and, oh! what he would have
given to have wept like a woman; but he could not. At length, steeling
himself with that bitter fortitude which is akin to despair, he turned
his steps towards the little town. He avoided, of course, the mansion;
and, though he gazed at it for a moment with a bent brow and quivering
lip, when he caught a sight of it from a distance, yet, as soon as he
withdrew his eyes, the sight only seemed to accelerate his pace.

"Have my horse at the door in a quarter of an hour!" were the first
words he addressed to his servant, as he entered the house; "and be
ready to take up the baggage to London by the coach."

Harding gazed upon his master in horror and astonishment; for the
newly-proposed arrangement did not at all coincide with his views and
purposes. But Burrel, having given his orders in a tone that left no
room for reply, walked on into the little parlour; and it was several
minutes before his worthy valet could so far recover from the shock,
as to find an excuse for evading the execution of his commands. He
soon, however, summoned sufficient obstacles to his aid; and, having
proceeded to order his master's horse, he returned and entered the
parlour uncalled.

"I have ordered the groom to bring up Martindale, sir," he said,
"because the bay needs shoeing. But I am afraid, sir, I cannot get all
the things ready for the coach. There is every thing to pack, sir, and
all the bills to be paid, and not above three quarters of an hour to
do it in."

Burrel had been gazing forth from the window, seeing nothing upon
earth; but his habitual command over himself, was too powerful to
suffer him to get deaf as well as blind, under any disappointment; and
he turned immediately that the servant spoke. "I forgot," he said,
taking out his pocket-book; "You must go up to-morrow morning. There
is money to pay the bills;" and he noted down as carefully as usual
the sum he gave, adding, "I shall sleep to-night at Dr. Wilton's, and
shall be in town on Saturday. Have the travelling chariot taken to
Holditch, to be put in order, as soon as you arrive. Call in all my
bills in London; and get things arranged to set off for the continent
in the course of next week."

The man bowed low, with his usual silent gravity; in a few minutes
more the horse was at the door; and Burrel, riding slowly out of the
town, took the road towards the house of his former tutor.



CHAPTER III.


"Hush, Master William! hush!" cried the old housekeeper, who, having
lived from ancient and better days in the family at Emberton, could
never forget that William Delaware had been once a boy, nor ever
remember that he was now a man. "Hush, Master William! Miss Blanche is
not well, poor dear--not well at all; and, indeed, I think----But
there he goes!" and as she spoke. Captain Delaware, who had been
calling loudly to his sister to come down and make breakfast for him,
as he was in haste, hurried into the breakfast-parlour to perform that
office for himself. It was not, indeed, that William Delaware was in
the least indifferent to his sister's health or happiness, but he
possessed that sort of constitution, which hardly permits one to
understand what sickness is; and although, had he known that Blanche
was suffering under aught that he could assuage or even sympathize
with, he would have hastened to offer comfort and consolation, with
every feeling of fraternal affection, he now only muttered to himself,
"Oh, she has got one of those cursed headachs!" and proceeded to spoon
the tea into the tea-pot, as if he had been baling a leaky boat.
"Blanche has got a headach, and is not coming down," he added, as Sir
Sidney Delaware entered; "and I have made tea, because I wish to reach
Ryebury, and speak with the old miser before he goes out. The fellow
must be shuffling."

Sir Sydney expressed his anxiety at the continuance of Blanche's
headach, more strongly than his son had done. His eyes had been less
quick than those of Captain Delaware, in seeing the growing love
between Burrel and his daughter, for such feelings had long before
passed away from his own bosom; but his personal experience of
sickness had taught him to sympathize with it far more than his son
could do, and he was about to visit Blanche's chamber immediately, had
not the business of Mr. Tims first attracted him for a moment, and
then detained him till breakfast was over, and his son was about to
depart.

With manifold directions to express surprise at the miser's want of
punctuality. Captain Delaware was dismissed by his father, and took
the way direct to Ryebury, fully determined to enforce Sir Sidney's
rebuke, with many more indignant expressions. "Here," he thought, "my
father might have been pressed severely by this time--insulted--nay,
even arrested--because this scoundrel has not thought fit to produce
the money--doubtless, keeping it to get the additional interest of a
single day. If it were not for creating new obstacles, I would
horsewhip him for his pains!"

William Delaware was naturally quite sufficiently hasty in his
disposition; but people who are so, have not unfrequently a way of
lashing themselves up into anger before there is any necessity for it,
by conjuring up a thousand imaginary injuries or insults in the
future, as soon as they have begun to suspect that Mr. A, B, C, or D,
intends to offend or wrong them. Thus, it must be confessed, did
William Delaware, as he walked along towards the house of the miser.
First, he thought that Mr. Tims might strive still to delay the
payment he had promised, in order to increase his gains by a day or
two more interest--next, he imagined that he might wish to prolong the
matter, in order to augment Sir Sidney Delaware's difficulties, and
exact a higher commission; and then, again, it struck him that the
miser, whose repute for double-dealing was rather high in the
neighbourhood, might have in view so to entangle the affairs of the
family, as to get possession of the estate itself. Notwithstanding all
this, it is true that William Delaware was not of a suspicious nature.
All these phantoms were conjured up by anger at the foregone
disappointment. A very slight circumstance--the delay of the
payment--had raised them; and a less--even a few fair speeches--would
have dispelled them. The distinction is necessary to the appreciation
of his character. He was hasty in all his conclusions--rapid in his
expectations of good or evil, as soon as his mind was set upon either
track--but not suspicious; and, consequently, easily turned from the
one road into the other.

It so happened, however--unfortunately enough--that while in the very
height of his indignation at Mr. Tims, with that personage's evil
deeds and qualities--real and imaginary--past, present, or future--all
red-hot and hissing in his mind, who should he encounter but the miser
himself, with his sharp red nose turned towards Emberton, and his
hands behind his back. Mr. Tims saw him instantly; and as there were
various questions which he was anxious to have settled and resolved
before he entered into any discussion with either Sir Sidney or his
son, he thought that he might escape by a side-path, which opportunely
lay just at his left hand; and, consequently, making a rotatory
movement on his right heel, he was turning in amongst the bushes, when
he was arrested by the voice of the young officer, addressing him in
not the most placable tones in the world. As Mr. Tims was well aware,
that amongst the _stadio-dromoi_, he could not compete with so young
an opponent as Captain Delaware, he instantly turned and met that
gentleman, whose previous wrath was not a little heightened by this
evident attempt at evasion.

The most difficult thing for a man who has been secretly coaxing his
own anger, is to begin to give it vent without appearing unreasonable;
and Mr. Tims's countenance was so cold, dry, and calm, that nothing
could be made out of the "Good-morning, Captain Delaware!" with which
he opened the conversation.

"I thought, sir, that by making my visit so early, I should have found
you at home," was Captain Delaware's brief rejoinder.

"Business called me abroad," replied Mr. Tims, as laconically.

"Were you going towards Emberton Park?" demanded the young officer.

"No, sir, I was not!" answered Mr. Tims, whose manner towards the son
of "poor Sir Sidney Delaware," was always very different from that
which he assumed to rich Mr. Burrel, and was peculiarly simple on the
present occasion.

"You were not!" cried Captain Delaware, "then, let me tell you, sir,
you should have been there yesterday. I beg to know, sir, why you were
not to the time you yourself appointed for the signature of the
mortgage, and the payment of the money advanced."

"Because it was not convenient, sir, and because the money was not
ready," replied Mr. Tims with imperturbable calmness.

Captain Delaware's command over himself abandoned him; and, raising
the whip he had in hand, he shook it over the miser's head,
exclaiming, "Not convenient! Not ready! By Heaven, if it were not for
your years, I would make you find it convenient to keep your word when
you have pledged it, and to be ready at the time you promise!"

He was dropping the whip, though his eyes were still flashing, when a
voice close beside him, proceeding from an honest neighbouring farmer,
whose approach he had not observed, exclaimed, "Captain, Captain!
Don't ye strike the old man! Don't ye, now! Don't ye! Oh, that's
right, now--reason it with him, like--but don't ye strike him!"

"No, no, Retson, I am not going to strike him!" replied Captain
Delaware. "Go on, my good fellow, and leave us--I will not strike
him!"

"Well, well. Captain," said the farmer, laughing, "I'll go--but your
word's given, mind.--So, don't ye strike the old man, though he were
the devil himself,--He looks more like a wet hen under a penthouse,
howsomever."

The fanner's description was not far from correct; for Mr. Tims--who
had expected no such fierce explosion as that which his words had
occasioned, and had fancied he could be insolent in security--now
stood aghast as the rhetoric of Captain Delaware's horsewhip seemed
likely to be applied to his shoulders. His knees acquired an
additional bend, his nether jaw dropped, his arms hung distant from
his sides, his cheeks grew paler, and his red nose stood out in
prominent relief, under the very act of fear. The good farmer's
interposition, however, calmed him sufficiently to enable his tongue
to falter forth some words of apology, declaring that he did not
intend to offend Captain Delaware--far from it; but how could that
gentleman expect him to speak boldly upon such subjects, out in the
public high-road? Who could tell, he demanded, that there might not be
robbers in the immediate neighbourhood of the place where they then
stood?

"Well, if that be all," answered Captain Delaware, "I will protect you
against robbers, till you get to your own house; and there you will be
sufficiently at ease to give me a proper explanation of your
unaccountable conduct."

Mr. Tims would fain have evaded this immediate consummation; as his
purpose in walking to Emberton was to see Mr. Burrel, and ascertain
exactly which way would be the most advantageous for him to act; but
Captain Delaware was peremptory; the mediating farmer had walked up
the lane, and Mr. Tims was obliged to turn his steps homeward. When he
had entered the house, and led his unwelcome visiter into his little
parlour, carefully closed the door, and listened to hear that the
steps of even his faithful dirty Sally no longer haunted the passage,
he began his explanation in a low tone.

"As you say, Captain Delaware--as you say, indeed," he went on. "It is
a most unfortunate circumstance; but how can I help it? I depended
upon another for the money--the letter of credit that he gave for the
sum was duly presented; but it appears that a bill for ten thousand
pounds, which he expected to be paid by this time, had been
dishonoured, and that his agents had not sufficient assets to meet the
demand. But as you say, sir, it was impossible that I could help it."

Captain Delaware sat for a moment in silent but bitter disappointment.
At length he exclaimed, "And who the devil is this gentleman, from
whom you were to receive this money?"

Mr. Tims hesitated. "Why, as to that, Captain Delaware," he said, "I
was expressly forbidden to tell; but since the matter has come to this
pass, I dare say there can be no harm in it. He is no one else than
the gentleman calling himself Mr. Burrel, or, in other words, your
cousin, Mr. Henry Beauchamp."

William Delaware started off his chair, as any other quick-blooded
person would have done, if such a tide of sudden and unexpected
information were poured upon him. For a moment the blood rushed up
into his cheeks--the first feeling of laying one's self under a deep
obligation to any one, being always painful. As long as he had thought
that the miser advanced the money on mortgage, it had seemed a mere
matter of traffic; but when he heard that it was Burrel, it instantly
became an obligation, and the first feeling, as I have said, was not
altogether pleasant. Neither was the fact, that the gay, the wealthy,
the dashing, the sarcastic cousin, of whom he had heard so much,
had--notwithstanding the chilling coldness with which Sir Sidney had,
a year or two before, repelled some advances which Beauchamp had
made--neither was the fact, I say, that he had opened his way into
their family circle, taken a place by their fireside, and witnessed
all the poverty and decay of their house, agreeable at its first
aspect. But a moment's thought--by recalling all the delicacy of Henry
Beauchamp's conduct, the kind and unaffected regard which he had shown
towards them all, the persevering friendship with which he had
followed up his purpose, and the real services he had so zealously
planned--soon took away from the mind of William Delaware, all that
was painful in the sudden news he heard, and the glow was almost at
once succeeded by a bright and happy smile.

"I see it all now!" he cried, "I see it all now! and since such are
the facts, Mr. Tims, the matter will be very easily arranged."

"Oh, doubtless, doubtless, sir!" replied Mr. Tims. "As you say, every
one knows that Mr. Beauchamp has the wherewithal to do any thing that
he likes. His fortune is immense, sir! His fortune is immense! His
father made a mint of money when he was Governor of ----."

"How much did you say was the deficiency?" demanded Captain Delaware.

"Only ten thousand pounds, sir!" replied the miser. "A mere nothing to
Mr. Beauchamp; and as you say, sir, he could raise it in a minute, if
he liked. I was just going to see him upon the business, when I met
you, and you were so violent, Captain Delaware."

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Tims! I beg your pardon!" said the young
officer. "I was in the wrong; but now I will save you the trouble you
were about to take, and go on at once to my cousin myself. It is high
time that I should acknowledge his generous kindness, and thank him
for it."

"But, I trust, Captain Delaware--I trust," faltered forth the miser in
an agony of fear, lest the job should be taken out of his hands by the
meeting of the principal parties. "I trust that the business may be
suffered to proceed in the regular train--I cannot be expected to lose
all my little emoluments."

"Do not be afraid--do not be afraid, sir!" replied Captain Delaware,
who soon saw the current of the miser's thoughts. "Do not alarm
yourself. The whole business shall pass through your hands; and you
shall get as much upon it as you honestly can."

"Ay, sir! Now, that is what I call something like!" replied the
relieved Mr. Tims. "Captain Delaware, will you take a glass of wine
after your walk, or a glass of ale? But, as you say, time presses; and
perhaps you may be anxious to see your excellent and worthy cousin,
who doubtless can set all right--and high time it is he should do so,
I can tell you--for my worthy nephew, Mr. Peter Tims, solicitor of
Clement's Inn, who is agent for my good lord and former patron, the
Earl of Ashborough, is to be down early to-morrow--and he is a smart
practitioner, I can tell you--and the bill being out, you know"----

"The whole of course requires promptitude," interrupted Captain
Delaware. "Not that I think Lord Ashborough, or Lord Ashborough's
lawyer, would act an ungentlemanly part in the business; but I know it
would go far to break my father's heart, were the bill he has given to
be presented before he could pay it. So now, Mr. Tims, good-morning. I
will call upon you again when I have seen my cousin."

Away sped William Delaware like an arrow from a bow, his breast full
of mingled emotions, and his heart throbbing with contending feelings.
He did not, it is true, reason much with himself, as he went, in
regard to his position relative to Henry Beauchamp. He felt that he
owed him a deep debt of gratitude--he felt that he had every reason to
love and to admire him; and although he could not but experience
likewise, a sort of generous distaste to the mere act of borrowing
money from any one, yet he determined to meet his cousin frankly and
openly; for his heart had arrived at the same conclusion that his
father's had reached before, and he thought, that if there were any
man on earth on whom he would choose to confer the honour of accepting
an obligation, it was Henry Beauchamp. He was soon in the streets of
Emberton, and soon at the door of Burrel's lodging. His application
for admittance was answered by the landlady, who told him that Mr.
Burrel was gone; but that the valet was still there, and was settling
some accounts with a gentleman in his own room.

"Gone!" cried Captain Delaware. "Gone! You mean gone out, Mrs. Wilson,
surely--but, send the servant to me."

"Oh no, sir! Sorry I am to say, he is gone for good and all, too
surely," replied Mrs. Wilson. "But if you will walk into the parlour,
Captain, I will send Mr. Harding to you directly--and I hope, if you
should chance to hear of any good lodger, Captain, you will not forget
me."

"No, no!" replied Captain Delaware, somewhat impatiently, as he walked
forward into the little parlour which Burrel had inhabited; "but make
haste, Mrs. Wilson, and send the man to me directly. What can be the
meaning of all this?" he added, as the good woman shut the door.
"Phoo! There must be some mistake," and he walked towards the window
which looked out into the road. Two minutes after he had taken up that
position, steps sounded along the passage, and, the street door being
opened, Burrel's servant, Harding, ushered out a coarse, vulgar man,
whom, as we have described him before, when he made his appearance in
the stage-coach with Burrel, we shall not notice farther on the
present occasion. A few brief words, which Captain Delaware neither
could nor would hear, concluded that worthy's conversation with Mr.
Beauchamp's servant; and the next moment Harding himself made his
appearance, and, after a silent bow, stood waiting the young officer's
commands.

"Mrs. Wilson must surely have been mistaken just now, in telling me
that your master has left Emberton?" was Captain Delaware's abrupt
address.

"No, sir; she was quite right!" replied Harding, in a respectful tone.

"Good God, this is most unfortunate!" cried Captain Delaware. "And,
pray, what was the cause of his abrupt departure?"

Under ordinary circumstances, Harding would have adhered to his
taciturnity; but Captain Delaware's declaration, that his master's
absence was most unfortunate, excited his curiosity--not in the
abstract, but personally, inasmuch as he did not know how far the
unfortunate circumstance complained of might affect himself--and he
therefore determined, as a nice feat of strategy, to provoke the young
officer's loquacity, by showing that he knew or suspected more of his
family concerns than the other imagined.

"I really cannot tell, sir," replied he in a low and deferential tone,
"what was the absolute cause; and perhaps I might offend you, if I
were to say what I fancy it was--although nobody can regret it more
than I do in my humble sphere."

"Not at all! Not at all! I shall not be offended at all!" replied
Captain Delaware quickly. "On the contrary, I shall be glad to hear any
cause assigned for what seems to me quite inexplicable on many
accounts."

"Why then, sir, the fact is," replied Harding, "that I could not help
seeing that my master--I beg your pardon, sir, I am afraid I shall
offend you--Well, sir, that my master seemed to feel very differently
towards my young lady at the park than I ever saw him feel before for
any one; and I naturally thought, sir, that he was not going to be a
single man much longer. But then, last night, he did not come home at
all at ease; and this morning, after having been out for a long time
in the park, or at the mansion, he returned as if he had got his
death-blow--ordered me to get every thing ready to set off for London;
and mounting his own horse, not half an hour ago, galloped away
before. So, of course, I thought he had been refused--and that is a
thing he never was in his life before, I can answer for it."

Captain Delaware threw himself down in a chair, in a state of
confusion, perplexity, and distress indescribable. He instantly
combined Burrel's conduct with Blanche's illness of the previous night
and that morning; and, cursing internally what he called all the silly
caprices and ill-placed delicacies of womankind, he was first about to
set out to accuse his poor sister of having cast away the affections
of a man whom she evidently loved, and to insist upon her recalling
him. Then, however, he remembered the immediate business that had
brought him there, and despair took possession of him. The ten
thousand pounds were not forthcoming, Burrel was gone, Lord
Ashborough's agent was to be down the next morning, and William
Delaware knew that the effect upon his father's mind was likely to be
terrible, if the necessary sum could not be procured in time.

"Good God!" he exclaimed at length. "This is most unfortunate indeed.
What is to be done? Do you think your master could not be overtaken? I
have business to settle with him of the utmost importance, which must
be concluded to-day."

"My master left me a great many things, sir, to settle for him,"
replied the servant; "and perhaps that which you speak of was amongst
them. He told me to call upon Mr. Tims, and"----

"That is exactly the question," cried Captain Delaware, interrupting
him. "Have you got the money?"

"What!" cried Harding, almost as eagerly. "Has the money not been
paid?"

"No, indeed!" answered Captain Delaware. "His agents declared that
they had not assets--that a part of the sum--no less than ten thousand
pounds--had not been paid into their hands!"

"If's a juggle!" cried the servant. "I see it all! It is a juggle of
that rogue in grain, Peter Tims--No, no, sir, my master never dreamed
that the money would not be paid; and he only ordered me to tell Mr.
Tims at Ryebury, that he was to send up all papers for him to the
lawyers in London, as my master talks of going abroad. But I can set
all right yet, sir, I think. Mr. Burrel has only gone to Dr. Wilton's
at present, and I know he will not be angry with me for going after
him, to tell him all that has happened, and I will make bold to tell
him, too, a great many things he does not know. So make your mind
easy, sir. I beg your pardon for the liberty--but, depend upon it, the
money shall be at Ryebury before to-morrow morning."

Captain Delaware paused a moment to think; for there was something
unpleasant to his feelings in seeming to press for Henry Beauchamp's
assistance, especially as he knew not what might have passed between
him and Blanche. But there was no choice but to do so, or to plunge
his family into ruin; and his meditation on the subject was brought to
an end by Harding--who was a man of fine feelings himself when it
suited him--declaring that he held it his bounden duty to inform his
master immediately, whether Captain Delaware liked it or not.

Captain Delaware, however, reflecting that Beauchamp was his cousin,
and that no other resource was open to him, did not oppose the man's
determination; and it being settled that Harding should mount one of
his master's horses, and follow him to Dr. Wilton's rectory
immediately, the young officer, with a mind much relieved, returned
towards his paternal dwelling, meditating a severe cross-examination
for Blanche, and internally declaring, "That Harding is a very honest
fellow!"



CHAPTER IV.


The very honest fellow was soon upon horseback, muttering to himself,
"Ten thousand pounds short!--that would never do!--but I must mind
what I am about, else he will go back and pay the money to this young
chap, and then the whole business will be spoilt. Let me see;" and he
set himself seriously to consider the best means of getting Burrel
either to intrust him with the money--in which case he thought he
might be able to cheat his accomplice, and appropriate the whole of
that part of the spoil--or to pay it at once to Mr. Tims; and in that
event, Harding still calculated on coming in for a share. It was yet
early in the day; but, nevertheless, Master Harding rode as if for
life; for being one of those personages who calculated _almost_ every
chance--the _almost_ is very necessary, for he did not calculate
all--he foresaw that it would be necessary for Burrel, who could not
be supposed to have so large a sum about him, to procure the money
from some other source, and, knowing that Messrs. Steelyard and
Wilkinson, his master's agents, were part proprietors of a county bank
at about twenty miles distance from Emberton, he concluded that
Burrel's first application would be there, where his means of payment
would be best known.

The reason why things seldom answer, which are so beautifully
calculated before hand, is probably, because the smallest event in the
world is brought about by such a compound piece of machinery, that the
most minute wheel going wrong--a pin, a pivot, a spring, a link of the
chain, a cog, a catch, a lever, a balance wheel, getting the least out
of place--the whole machine falls into a different train of action,
and strikes six when we thought it was about to strike seven. This
trite fact was beautifully exemplified in the case of Harding, who had
calculated to a word what he was to say to his master, and how soon
either he himself or his said master was to set out for the bank
at ---- --how long it would take to go, so as to arrive during banking
hours--how long it would take to settle the business with the
partners, and at what precise moment of time either he himself or
Burrel could be back in Emberton. It so happened, however, that, on
reaching the rectory, to his horror and astonishment, he found that
Mr. Burrel, on arriving at that place before him, had got into Dr.
Wilton's carriage, which had been standing at the door, and had gone
out with the worthy clergyman.

How soon they would be back, no one could tell, and where they were
gone to, was as little known, so that worthy Master Harding had to
remain at the rectory, suffering pangs of impatience, that were not
the less severe because he covered them over as usual with a face of
calm indifferent gravity. Nevertheless, in order to lose no time, he
immediately proceeded to the stable, and there put his master's horse
in a complete state of preparation to start again at a moment's
notice, while, at the same time, he supplied the beast that brought
him thither liberally with oats, feeling, like Mr. Tims, a sort of
Diogenesian satisfaction at feeding either his horse or himself at
another person's expense. Still he was called upon to practise the
copy-line virtue of patience for no inconsiderable length of time;
for, notwithstanding all his aspirations, Mr. Burrel, or rather Mr.
Beauchamp, did not appear for at least two hours; and the vision of
the banking-house, and its speedy arrangements--the transfer of the
money, and the ultimate ten thousand pounds--floated faint and more
faint before his mental view. "He's a devil of a goer, however, that
Mr. Beauchamp when he has a mind!" thought the man, consoling himself
with the usual straw-catching delusions of hope, as probability waxed
weakly. "He's a devil of a goer when he has a mind! No man gets over
his miles sooner; and as for Martindale, give him but easy ground, and
the beast would do it well in the time without turning a hair."

As he thus cogitated, the roll of wheels sounded past the stable; and,
on looking out, Harding saw the plain chariot of the divine glide
forward with merciful slowness to the door. The step descended with
the same quiet and tranquil movement, and Henry Beauchamp, with deep
and unusual gravity on his countenance, got out, and entered the
house, followed by Dr. Wilton.

Harding lost no time; but immediately made his arrival known to his
master, and, in a private audience, informed him of Mr. Tims's
betrayal of his secret, and of all he had gathered from Captain
Delaware, at the same time, throwing in dexterously a few of those
apparently casual words which he judged most likely to prevent Mr.
Beauchamp from holding any direct communication with the family at
Emberton. He still took care, however, to insinuate the necessity of
immediately supplying the deficiency in the sum promised, and clenched
the impression by directing his master's suspicions towards Lord
Ashborough, and Peter Tims, Esq. of Clement's Inn, solicitor, &c. All
that he dared not urge, on his own part, lest he should ruin his
particular plans by the appearance of impudent intrusion, he allowed
Beauchamp by implication--which is generally a sort of semi-lie--to
attribute to Captain Delaware, trusting that any want of vraisemblance
would be covered by the agitation of his master's mind. In all this he
was wonderfully successful; and the more so because every thing that
he said was fundamentally true, and therefore Henry Beauchamp had no
difficulty in believing it to be so. That gentleman, however,
expressed no surprise. In fact, he had been lately troubled with a
great deal more surprise than he liked; and he was returning fast to
his old habit of taking every thing as a matter of indifference, or,
at least, of seeming to do so. Beauchamp thought calmly for a few
minutes, and then asked, "How far is it to ----?" naming the town
where the county bank was situated.

"About twenty miles from Emberton, sir," replied the man; "sixteen or
seventeen from this place."

"What is o'clock?" demanded his master, who, in the agitation of the
preceding night, had forgotten to wind up his watch.

The man drew a fine French repeater from his pocket, and examined its
face; but it lied like himself. Hope backed him against time for ten
thousand; and though the watch was too slow by quarter of an hour, he
took off ten minutes more from the hour it noted.

"Saddle Martindale!" said Mr. Beauchamp, when he had pondered the
man's reply. "Bring him up directly! Then go back to Emberton, and
to-morrow to London, where, do as I bade you before. If you have not
sent over my dressing-cases here, you need not send them--If you
have--have them brought back, and take them up with the other things."

The man bowed and withdrew; and Burrel, after another moment's
thought, descended to Dr. Wilton's library, and informed his worthy
tutor that he had received a sudden call to a different place, which
compelled him to set out immediately. The cause of his departure he
did not disclose, as he felt a great repugnance to make even so
intimate a friend of all the parties as Dr. Wilton, acquainted with
the circumstances of his cousins' difficulties, although he had not
scrupled, during their drive, to inform the good clergyman, that there
was no longer any probability--if there had indeed ever existed
any--of an alliance between his own family and that of Sir Sidney
Delaware. The cause of his different conduct, in regard to these two
affairs, might perhaps be, that generosity is always taciturn where it
is real--love is always loquacious where it is sure of not being
laughed at.

Whether, in a longer conversation, the good doctor might or might not
have seduced Beauchamp into telling him more, can hardly be
ascertained; for scarcely had he announced his intended departure,
when he was informed that his horse was at the door. Dr. Wilton had no
time to express his surprise; but grasping his young friend's hand, he
repeated twice, "Now mind, my dear Harry, mind! I tell you, I am sure
there is some mistake, or some very base man[oe]uvre, and you have
promised not to quit London till you hear from me."

Beauchamp shook his head mournfully. "It is no use, my dear sir," he
replied; "but, nevertheless, of course I will keep my word."

At the door his servant, while holding the stirrup, demanded, in a
peculiarly humble tone, "Pray, sir, may I expect to see you at
Emberton to-night, for there are several things"----

"I shall be at Ryebury, but certainly not at Emberton," answered
Beauchamp. "If there be any thing unsettled when you come to London,
it must be done afterwards."

The man bowed low, perfectly satisfied; and Beauchamp and his horse
went off at a gallop. "That will do it!" said Harding, as he saw his
master depart; and, mounting his own beast, he returned calmly to
Emberton, calculating to a nicety, at what hour his master would have
paid the money into the hands of Mr. Tims.

In the mean time, Beauchamp rode on, with a light hand and an easy
seat. He was one of those men who bring in their horses quite fresh,
when every other horse in the field is dead beat; and feeling
confident that he could arrange the whole business and return to
Ryebury before night, he did not put Martindale to the top of his
speed. What was his surprise, however, on passing a village church,
after an hour and a half's riding, to find the hand of the dial--that
fatal indicator, which, in every land, has pointed out from age to age
the dying moment of hopes, and wishes, and enjoyments--demonstrating,
beyond a doubt, that the hour was past, and his journey of no avail.

He rode on to the town of ----, however, but the bank was shut. He
enquired for the partners, but there was only one in the town, and he
was nowhere to be found.

Beauchamp bit his lip, and asked himself, "What is to be done now?"
Some men would have thought, that, having exerted themselves so far,
they had done enough, and would have let matters take their course;
but he was not one of that class. The idea crossed his mind, indeed;
and, to use one of his own expressions, he let it strike against his
heart, to see whether it would ring with the sharp, cold, brazen sound
of worldly feelings; but his heart was of a different metal, a great
deal too soft to respond to such hard selfishness. "For his sake, for
her sake, for all their sakes," he thought, "I must save them from
disappointment and disgrace. This Ryebury miser may very likely have
the money with him, and if not, he is, as he informed me, a proprietor
in the neighbouring bank, and therefore can easily arrange the matter.
I will tell him who I really am, and give him a power of attorney to
sell out and pay himself."

With this resolution, he gave his horse half an hour's rest, and then
turned his rein once more towards Ryebury, where, we have already
seen, that the way was prepared for his purpose, by the previous
knowledge of his rank and fortune, which the miser had obtained from
Lord Ashborough's lawyer. As we have endeavoured to show, in the
preceding pages, Henry Beauchamp had his full share of weaknesses,
amongst which was a very tolerable portion of irritable pride. A
certain modification of this feeling had made him determine, from the
first, not to set his foot in the streets of Emberton again. That
place, it is true, had likewise, in his mind, a painful association of
ideas as connected with a bitter disappointment; and although he was
always ready to meet such regrets boldly, if they came alone, yet as
they were mingled, in this case, with mortified pride, his resolution
gave way. He was a rejected suitor--a disappointed lover. He who had
fancied that his heart was proof, had been captivated by a simple
country girl, had danced attendance upon her for several weeks, and
had ultimately been rejected. From the words that his servant had
purposely let fall, he felt sure that the whole town of Emberton were
by this time aware of his disappointment; and if ever you have been
skinned alive, reader, you may have some idea of the irritable fear
which he felt of running against the rough and rasping pity, even of
the insignificant animals of a country town.

Two miles, therefore, before he reached Emberton, he turned off from
the high-road, and having by this time refreshed all his boyish
recollections of the country round, he directed his course to a
hamlet, which lay at the distance of about a mile and a half from
Ryebury, and which was possessed of a little public-house, in the
stable of which he could put up his horse, while he himself proceeded
on foot to the dwelling of the miser. The sun was just down as he
reached the hamlet; and after having examined, with habitual care, the
accommodation for his horse, he walked out, and took his way towards
Ryebury, in the midst of as splendid an evening as ever poured through
the autumnal sky. A flood of rich purple was gushing from the west,
with two or three soft clouds of rose colour, and gold, hanging about
the verge of the sky, while all the rest was blue, "with one star
looking through it, like an eye." On his right, lay the rich
cultivated lands between Emberton and Ryebury; so full of tall trees,
hedgerows, masses of planting and park, that the yellow stubble
fields, or the fresh ploughed fallow, could hardly be perceived amidst
the warm, though withering greens of the foliage. On his left, lay a
high wooded bank, above which, peered up the edge of a more distant
field; and beyond it again the hills, and wide downs, that stretched
away towards the sea-side, in the dim purple shadow, that covered all
that part of the prospect, taking an aspect of wide and dreary
solitude, very different from the gay sunshiny look the whole assumed
in the daytime. Yet the scene, though full of repose, was any thing
but melancholy. The partridges were calling in the fields round about,
the blackbirds were flying on, from bush to bush, before the
passenger, with that peculiar note, something between a twitter and
song, with which they conclude their melody for the year, and some gay
laughing voices in the hamlet, which he had just left behind, came
mellowed by the distance, and seemed to speak of hearts at rest, and
the day's labour done. As Beauchamp walked slowly on, with feelings in
his bosom which harmonized indeed with the scene, but which carried
all that was solemn in the aspect of the dying day into a sense of
profound dejection, the light waned; and though the purple became of a
still richer hue, the blue assumed also a deeper shade; the stars
looked out as if to supply the place of the glory that was passing
away, and the long shadows of the high grounds around, spread
something more than twilight through the valley.

I wish it were possible to tell all the mingled feelings that were
then to be found in the wayfarer's heart, as he walked on; and to
point out how weaknesses, and virtues, and fine and generous
sentiments, and human perversities, all linked arm in arm together,
walked along with him on the way: how he felt that life was to him a
blank--that the heart had grown old--that the bubble had burst--that
the toy had lost its splendour: how he felt a pride in the very idea
of serving her and hers, whose conduct had dashed the cup of happiness
from his lip for ever--and how he thought that his affection might
have been worthy of a higher estimation; and how he cursed his own
folly, for ever suffering his heart to become the debased thing that a
woman could trample upon. But his feelings were infinite, and not to
be defined; for in the rainbow of the human heart, the colours and the
shades are so blended together, and softened away into each other,
that it is impossible to say where one ends and the other begins.

Deep thoughts are most beguiling companions.--Why wilt thou write such
truisms, oh, my pen?--But deep thoughts are most beguiling companions,
and Beauchamp found himself within a hundred and fifty yards of the
miser's house, ere he thought that he had threaded half the way. It
was just where the path he had been following joined the little wooded
lane that led from Emberton, and rose up the high bank on which the
house was situated. The increasing elevation brought a little more
light; and, as Henry Beauchamp advanced, he saw a man and woman--who
had been apparently walking together--part as he came near. The male
figure turned hastily towards the little town; the woman glided away
in the direction of the miser's house, and was lost in the obscurity.
All was again still; but a moment after there was a low plaintive
whistle, which called his attention for an instant. He heard it again,
but at a greater distance, and thought, "It is the curlews upon the
downs;" and, without giving it any farther heed, he walked on, and
rang the bell of Mr. Tims's house, in such a manner, as to insure that
his visit would not be long unknown to the inmates.

A bustle within immediately succeeded; and, from the very highest
window in the house, the head of Mr. Tims himself was thrust
cautiously forth, like that of a tortoise from its shell, or a
hedgehog beginning to unroll. The next moment he retreated, and his
voice was heard calling from the top of the stairs to the bottom,
"Don't open the door, Sarah! Don't open the door! It can be nobody on
any good errand at this time of night! Don't open the door on any
account!" and again he came to the window to examine once more the
aspect of his nocturnal visitant.

As soon as Beauchamp perceived the black ball, which he conceived to
be the crowning member of Mr. Tims's person once more protruded from
the flat front of the house, he raised his voice sufficiently to
convey the sounds to the elevated point from which the miser was
reconnoitring, and desired him to come down, and give him admission,
adding, "It is I, Mr. Burrel!"

"Mr. Burrel!--No, no!" cried the incredulous miser. "That is not Mr.
Burrel's voice--No, no--I'm not to be done--Go along, sir!"

"Mr. Tims," said Beauchamp, quietly, "come down to me directly. I tell
you again, I am Mr. Burrel--and having heard that a part of the sum
that Messrs. Steelyard and Wilkinson"----

"Hush, hush!" cried the miser, now convinced, "Hush, hush!--I will
come down, sir; I will come down directly. I did not know you at
first; but I will come down in a minute. Sarah, get a light
there."--No reply.--"Sarah, get a light!" again shouted Mr. Tims; and
a moment after, Sarah's voice was heard, demanding what was the
matter.

Mr. Tims now speedily descended; but, before he would admit his
visiter, he again made him speak through the door, and took a view of
his person by means of a little grated aperture, practised in the
upper part thereof. The examination was satisfactory, and speedily
bars fell and bolts were withdrawn, and Henry Beauchamp was admitted
within the walls of a place, whose precautionary fastenings were
exactly like those of a prison, with the only difference of being
intended to keep people out, rather than to keep them in. He was
instantly ushered into the invariable parlour, where, by the light of
a solitary tallow candle--white and perspiring under its efforts to
give light in a warm autumn evening--he explained to Mr. Tims the
purpose of his visit.

Mr. Tims, as we have already seen, well knew who Burrel, as he called
himself, really was, even before he told him; and he had also employed
means to ascertain the amount of his property; but, in the present
instance, the prospect of deriving some usurious benefit from his
companion's evident anxiety to furnish the money to Sir Sidney
Delaware, forthwith made him take good care to be utterly ignorant of
every thing concerning him, except that he had drawn upon his agents
for a sum which they had not sufficient assets to pay.

He hummed and he hesitated for a considerable time--declared that he
did not doubt that he was Mr. Beauchamp; but, nevertheless, he must
remind him that he had drawn in the name of Burrel--he might be
perfectly solvent; but such things were never safe without good and
sufficient security. He was quite ready to hand over to him the sum he
had received from Messrs. Steelyard and Wilkinson; but as to advancing
the ten thousand pounds more, really he did not see his way in the
business clearly.

Mr. Beauchamp, who was not to be deceived by all this, reasoned with
him for some time; but at length he assumed another tone, and rising,
took up his hat and stick.

"Since this is the case, Mr. Tims," he said, "the matter must be
arranged otherwise. I had proposed to ride on towards London to-night
in the cool; but, as you doubt my respectability, I shall return
to Emberton, and by daylight to-morrow set out for the town
of ----, where, you know very well, that my agents, to whom I before
referred you, are part proprietors of the bank. There the matter will
be done at once, and I shall be back again before Lord Ashborough's
lawyer can arrive. You will therefore be so good as to give me the
money which you have already received; we will exchange all vouchers
on the subject; and we will do without you in the farther transaction
of this business."

This plan, of course, was not that which Mr. Tims proposed to himself,
and the very mention thereof at once brought him to his senses. He
declared that he had no doubt of Mr. Beauchamp's identity, and
respectability, and solvency; and he should be very glad indeed to
accommodate him; but, of course, Mr. Beauchamp would not object to
give him a trifling commission in addition to the ordinary interest,
in order to cover the risk.

"There is no risk at all, sir!" replied Beauchamp, somewhat sharply;
"and you are just as much convinced at this moment that I am the
person I represent myself to be, as I am myself. However, name the
commission you require; and if, when weighed against a ride of forty
miles, I find it the least troublesome of the two, you shall have it."

After undergoing a slight convulsion in his anxiety to gain all he
could, and yet not to break off the negotiation, Mr. Tims named the
sum; and although, at another time, Henry Beauchamp would have ridden
ten times the distance sooner than yield to his exaction, yet the
bitter disappointment he had received that morning, and the sort of
mental lassitude that it had left, made him agree to the miser's
demand, though he did it with a sneer. This, however, by no means
concluded the business; for Mr. Tims, calculating on the bonus
promised him by Sir Sidney Delaware, proposed to pay the money over
himself the next day; while Beauchamp--who, from the shuffling he
observed, and a strong suspicion of some foul play on the part of his
uncle's lawyer, did not choose to trust him--required that it should
be immediately given into his own hands. On this point Mr. Tims fought
inch by inch most gallantly. First, he declared that he had not so
much money in the house; next, the necessary stamps could not be
procured; and lastly, when he saw that he had fairly worn his opponent
out, he acknowledged that he expected a commission from Sir Sidney
Delaware for raising the money; and, showing Beauchamp a letter from
the baronet to that effect, he prevailed upon him to add that sum also
to his note of hand for the ten thousand pounds, trusting to his own
ingenuity to be able to wring it a second time from Sir Sidney
himself. As soon as this was done, there was no longer any difficulty
about the money; and while Beauchamp, furnished with pen and ink,
remained writing in the parlour, with every now and then passing over
his countenance a sneer at himself for having yielded so tamely to the
miser's exactions, Mr. Tims visited some far distant part of his
dwelling, and, after a considerable interval, returned with the whole
of the sum required, which, thanks to the blessed invention of paper,
now lay in a very small compass.

The rest of the business was soon settled, except the matter of a
stamp; and as the miser--although he now frankly admitted that he knew
the quondam Mr. Burrel to be Henry Beauchamp, nephew and heir to Lord
Ashborough--seemed not a little anxious upon this matter, alleging
sagely that Mr. Beauchamp might die, might be thrown from his horse
and killed, _et c[oe]tera, et c[oe]tera_; his young visiter both drew
up such an acknowledgement as might be afterwards stamped if
necessary, and desired him to send down to Emberton for what was
farther required, promising that he himself would return in an hour
and sign the document, which was still more cautiously to insure the
miser against loss.

He then rose and departed--Mr. Tims viewing, with that mixture of
pity, wonder, and admiration, wherewith cowards regard heroes, the
young gentleman issue forth into the dark night air, loaded with so
large a sum, and armed with nothing but a small ash twig not thicker
than his little finger. Burrel, however, like a great many other
heroes, never suspected for a moment that he was in any danger, and
walked on quite calmly, though he could not help noticing the same
peculiar whistle which he had heard before. Nothing, however, occurred
to interrupt him. A bright moon was now rising up; and, at the
distance of a little more than a mile from the miser's house, just
where the lane opened out upon a wide upland field, he perceived the
figure of a man coming rapidly over the rise. He himself was hid by
the bushes and trees; but, by the walk and air, he immediately
recognized Captain Delaware in the person who now approached. There
would be no use of staying here, at the fag-end of a chapter, to
analyze or scrutinize the train of feelings or of reasonings that made
Beauchamp at once determine to avoid an interview. Suffice it that his
resolution was instantaneous; and pushing through the hedge, near
which he stood, at the cost both of gloves and hands, he walked
forward on the other side of the hedgerow, while William Delaware
passed him within a couple of yards' distance.



CHAPTER V.


We must now return for a moment to the morning of that day, whose sun
we have just seen go down, and to Blanche Delaware, who sat in her
solitary chamber, with the world feeling all a wide lonely desert
around her. Not a month before, there had not been a happier girl upon
the earth. She had been contented; she had possessed her own little
round of amusements and occupations. She had music, and books, and
flowers, and nature, and two beings that she dearly loved, constantly
beside her, and she had never dreamed of more. The buoyancy of health,
and a happy disposition, had raised her mind above the low estate to
which her family had been reduced; and a refined taste, with that
noblest quality of the human mind, which may be called the power of
admiration, had taught her, like the bee, to extract sweetness and
enjoyment from every flower that Heaven scattered on her way. But
since that time, she had been taught another lesson--She had been
taught to love! That passion had given a splendour to the world that
it had never before possessed. It had painted the flowers with richer
colours--it had spread a sunshine of its own over the face of
nature--it had given new soul to the music that she loved. The dream
had been broken--the adventitious splendour had passed away; but it
left not the flowers, or the music, or the face of nature, as they
were before. It took from them their own beauties, as well as that
which it had lent them. All had withered, and died; and the world was
a desert.

She had wept long, and bitterly; but she had dried her eyes, and
bathed away the traces of her tears, when her father entered her room,
and enquired tenderly after her health. "You do not look well, indeed,
my dear Blanche," he said. "I wish you would send to Emberton for Mr.
Tomkins."

Blanche assured him, however, that it was nothing but a headach--that
she would be better soon--that she was better already--and that she
was just thinking of coming down stairs. There was, indeed, a sort of
trembling consciousness at her heart, which made her fear, at every
word, that her father was going to touch upon the subject most painful
to her heart; but she soon perceived that no suspicion had been
awakened in his bosom; and she trusted that her brother would share in
her fathers blindness, especially as he had been absent so long in
London. In this hope, and as far as possible to remove all cause for
doubt, at least, till she was able to bear an explanation, Blanche
nerved her mind to restrain her feelings, and soon followed her father
to the library. It was some time, as we have seen, before William
Delaware returned, and Sir Sidney had walked out a little way towards
Ryebury to meet him; but as he had been since at Emberton, he came of
course by a different path, and arrived alone. His mind was in no
slight degree irritated and impatient, from all that had passed; and
poor Blanche had unfortunately so far fallen under his displeasure,
from the facts which the servant had communicated to him, that he was
prepared, as he mentally termed it, to give her a severe scolding; but
when he entered the library, he found her looking so sad and
woebegone, that his heart melted; and sitting down beside her on the
sofa, where she had been reading, he took her hand kindly in his, and
asked her after her health, with a look full of fraternal affection.
Blanche fancied that he too was deceived, and answered, that her
complaint was only a headach, which would soon pass away.

"Are you sure, my sweet sister," asked Captain Delaware, "that it is
not a heartach, which may be long ere it leave you, if you do not take
the advice of some one who has a right to counsel you?"

The blood rushed burning into Miss Delaware's cheek, and she trembled
violently; but her brother folded his arm round her waist, and still
speaking gently and kindly, he went on:--"Hear me, dearest Blanche--We
have been brought up as brother and sister seldom are--shut out the
greater part of our lives from the rest of the world--loving each
other dearly from the cradle--I, seeing little of mankind, except
within the sphere of my own vessel; and you, seeing nothing of mankind
at all. I believe that I have been the only confidant you have had
from childhood, and I do not intend, dearest, that you should withdraw
that confidence from me, till I put this little hand into that of the
only man who ought to be your confidant from that moment."--The tears
rolled rapidly over Blanche Delaware's cheeks.--"Although it may seem
strange," continued her brother, "that you should be expected to make
a confidant of any man at all in love matters, yet, for want of a
better, Blanche, you must tell me all about it; and, perhaps, I shall
not make the worse depository of a secret, for being a sailor.--We are
all tender-hearted, Blanche," he added, with a smile; "at least when
we are on shore. So now tell me--has Mr. Burrel offered you his hand?"

Blanche was silent, though her brother waited during more than one
minute for a reply; but the blood again mounted into her cheek, and
the tears dropped thicker than before. "Well, well," he continued,
"if you cannot answer by words, dear sister, I must try and make out
your signals, though I have not, perhaps, the most correct code
myself--Burrel has offered you his hand?" Blanche gently bent her
head. It could scarcely be called an assent; but it was enough for her
brother, and he went on. "Well, then, what was the difficulty? He
loved you, and you loved him."

Blanche would have started up, but her brother's arm held her firmly,
and, as her only resource, she hid her glowing face upon his shoulder,
and sobbed aloud. "Nay, nay, dear girl!" he cried, "Where is the shame
or the harm of loving a man who has long loved you? Do you think I
have not seen your love, my dear sister? And do you think that I would
suffer your heart to be won, unless I knew that the man who sought it,
really loved you and was worthy of you? But tell me, Blanche, where is
the difficulty--what is the obstacle? Some trifle it must be--I will
not call it a caprice, for my sister is above that--but some idle
delicacy--some over-retiring modesty, I am afraid."

"No, no, William, I can assure you!" replied Blanche Delaware, raising
her head, "I could be above all that too--but it cannot be."

"But, my dear Blanche," said Captain Delaware, more seriously than he
had hitherto spoken--for he had endeavoured to mingle a playfulness
with his tenderness. "But, my dear Blanche, you must assign some
reason--at least to me. Burrel will think that we have all trifled
with him. I stood virtually pledged to him for your hand, on condition
that he won your love. That he must have felt he has done, or that you
have been sporting with him--and such an imputation must not lie on
you, nor must he think that I have deceived him."

"Do you know who he really is?" demanded Blanche suddenly.

"Yes, Blanche, as well as you do," replied her brother. "He is your
cousin and mine, Henry Beauchamp, whom we have both played with on
that carpet in our childhood."

"It is useless, William--it is all useless!" replied Blanche, with a
deep and painful sigh. "But there is my fathers step in the hall--Let
me go, William, if you love me--and oh, do not, for Heaven's sake,
increase his anxiety just now, by letting him know any thing of all
this!--Let me go, my dear brother, I beseech you!" and struggling
free, she made her escape by the door opposite to that by which Sir
Sidney Delaware was just about to enter the library.

Captain Delaware had a painful task before him, in the necessity of
communicating to his father, the result of the enquiries he had set
out in the morning to make, although he could not find in his heart to
tell him explicitly upon what doubtful chances his hope of receiving
the money ere the next morning, was founded. He confined his
information, therefore, as much to general terms as possible; and
informed Sir Sidney that Mr. Tims had not yet indeed received the
money, which was to be furnished by a third party, but that he doubted
not it would be paid that night, or early the next morning, before
Lord Ashborough's lawyer could arrive.

These tidings stopped any farther enquiries from Sir Sidney Delaware,
though they did not satisfy or quiet his mind; and he concluded that
his son had told him all he knew, although that all but served to
render him anxious and impatient. He remained restless and disturbed
through the whole of the day; raised a thousand aerial hypotheses in
regard to Mr. Tims's delay--drew a general picture of all misers,
lawyers, and usurers, which might have ornamented the scrap-book of
Eblis--and more than once threatened to visit the worthy proprietor of
Ryebury himself, from which feat he was with difficulty dissuaded by
his son, who, in fact, was but little less anxious than himself.

Perhaps, indeed, Captain Delaware's anxiety was the more keen and
corroding, because he forced himself to conceal it, and to appear
perfectly confident and careless. Blanche, on her part, avoided all
communication with her brother, except that, when they met at dinner
and at tea, her eyes besought him to spare her. The moments waned;
neither Mr. Tims nor Burrel, nor any messenger from either, appeared
during the evening; and, as night began to fall, Captain Delaware's
impatience gradually got the better of his self-command; and finding
himself in the situation of a shell, the fuse of which was rapidly
burning down to the powder, and which must consequently explode in a
short time, he thought it better to carry himself away, and let his
heat and disappointment reck itself upon any other objects than his
friends and relations.

As the most natural vent for such feelings, he took his way towards
Ryebury; but when he returned, after about an hour's absence, he
appeared to the eyes of his sister--who strove to read his looks with
no small apprehension--more heated and irritable than before.

"Well, William, what does Mr. Tims say now?" demanded Sir Sidney
Delaware, whose own anxiety had at once told him whither his son had
turned his footsteps, although Captain Delaware had given no
intimation of his purpose.

"I have not seen him, sir!" was the reply. "The old dotard would not
let me in. Afraid of _robbers_, I suppose. I rang till I was tired,
and then came away. But it is no matter; the money will be forthcoming
to-morrow, I have no doubt. The coach does not arrive till the
afternoon; and Lord Ashborough's solicitor did not come by it
to-night, for I enquired at the inn."

Things which, buoyed up on the life-preserver of a light heart, float
like feathers over all the waves of adversity that inundate this briny
world, sink the soul down to the bottom of despair the moment that the
life-preserver, dashed against some sharp rock, or beaten by some more
violent surge, suffers the waters to flow in, and the fine elastic air
to escape. Not many weeks before, Blanche Delaware would have
wondered, in the happy contentedness of her own heart, at the anxiety
and disappointment of her brother and her father, and would have
looked upon the events which they seemed to regret so bitterly, but as
a very small and easily borne misfortune. But in the present
depression of her spirits, it overwhelmed her even more than it did
them. Her own grief was so deep, that she could not well bear any
more; and, soon after her brother's return, she retired to her chamber
to weep.

The night went by, and Blanche and her father descended to the
breakfast-table somewhat earlier than usual; for care makes light
sleepers.

"Is William out?" demanded Sir Sidney Delaware, as he met his
daughter. "I wished to have gone to Ryebury with him."

"I do not think he is down yet!" she replied. "I have not seen him,
and yet it is odd he should be the last up to-day."

"Send up and see, my love!" said her father; which was accordingly
done, and the result was, that Captain Delaware was found just
dressing. Blanche thought it very strange, that on such an occasion
her brother should yield to a laziness he did not usually indulge; but
Captain Delaware seemed in no hurry to come down, and the breakfast
proceeded without him. Before it was concluded, however, and before he
had made his appearance, the sound of wheels coming up the avenue was
heard, and a hack post-chaise drove to the door. The whole proceedings
of its occupants were visible from the breakfast-parlour; and, as Sir
Sidney sat, he could perceive that the first person who got out was a
stout unpleasant-looking man, in whom, although greatly changed since
last he saw him, he recognized Lord Ashborough's lawyer. The next that
followed was evidently a clerk, and he carried in his hand one of
those ominous-looking bags of green serge, Mr. Peter Tims, immediately
after the descent of the clerk, turned back to the chaise door, and
spoke a few words to some one who remained within, and then followed
the servant up the steps of the terrace.

Blanche looked at her father. He was very pale. "I wish you would call
William, my love!" he said, with a faint effort to smile; "We may want
his presence in dealing with these gentlemen."

Blanche hastened to obey, and, almost as she left the room, Mr. Peter
Tims was announced. He entered with a low bow, but a face full of cool
effrontery, which gave the lie to his profound salutation. He
immediately informed Sir Sidney that he now had the pleasure of
waiting upon him to settle the little business between him and his
noble client, Lord Ashborough; and he ended by presenting the bill for
twenty-five thousand pounds, which had now been due nearly two days.

Sir Sidney Delaware begged him to be seated, and then, in an
embarrassed but gentlemanly manner, explained to him that the money
which he had expected to receive, had not yet been paid; but that he
trusted that it would be so in the course of the day.

The face of Mr. Peter Tims grew dark; not that he did not anticipate
the very words he heard, but that he thought fit to suit his looks to
his actions. "Ha! then," he cried, "my lord was right, sir!--my lord
was right when he said he was sure that the annuity would never be
redeemed, and that the only object was to reduce the interest. But I
can tell you. Sir Sidney, that such conduct will not do with us!" and
he made a sign to his clerk, who instantly left the room. "We had
heard something of this yesterday, and that made me come as far
as ---- last night."

Sir Sidney Delaware's cheek grew red, and his lip quivered, but it was
with anger. "What is the meaning of this insolence, sir?" he demanded,
in a tone that changed Mr. Tims's manner at once from the voluble to
the dogged. "You seem to me to forget yourself somewhat strangely!"

"Oh no, sir, no!" replied the lawyer. "All I have to say is--This, I
think, is your bill--now more than due. Are you ready to take it up?
If not, I must proceed as the law directs!"

"And pray, sir, what does the law direct you to do," demanded Sir
Sidney Delaware, "when the payment of a sum of money is delayed for a
few hours, by some accidental circumstance?"

"It is all very well talking. Sir Sidney!" said the man of law; and
was proceeding in the usual strain when Captain Delaware entered the
room, and, passing behind his father, whispered something in the
baronet's ear that made him start. Almost at the same moment, the
lawyer's clerk returned, followed by one of those ill-looking fellows,
who, as poor Colley Cibber declared, were "fitted by nature for doing
ugly work," and, consequently, engaged by the sheriffs for that
purpose.

"Which is the gemman, Mr. Tims?" cried the bailiff, for such was the
personage now introduced. "Is't the ould un, or the young un? for we
must not be after mistaking."

"Stop a moment!" cried Captain Delaware. "Pray, who are these persons,
sir?" he continued, addressing Mr. Tims.

"Merely my clerk, sir, my clerk!" replied Mr. Tims, who did not
particularly approve the flashing of Captain Delaware's eye. "Merely
my clerk, and an officer of the sheriff's court, instructed to execute
a writ upon the person of Sir Sidney Delaware, at the suit of my noble
lord the Earl of Ashborough. You know, Captain Delaware," he added,
edging himself round the table to be out of reach of the young
officer's arm; "you know, you yourself assured me that the money would
be ready before the time, and now two days have elapsed, so that it is
clear sir--it is clear, I say, that all this is nothing but trifling."

"Pray, Mr. Tims," said Captain Delaware in a milder tone than the
other expected, "answer me one question, as you are a shrewd and
clever lawyer, and I want my mind set at rest."

"Certainly, sir, certainly!" replied Mr. Tims; "very happy to answer
any legal question, provided always, nevertheless, that it does not
affect the interests of my client."

"My question is merely this, sir," answered the young officer, whose
mind--both from what Burrel's servant had let fall, and from his own
observations--had come to the conclusion, that the Messieurs Tims,
uncle and nephew, had combined to prevent the payment of the money.
"My question is merely this--Suppose two or three men were to enter
into an agreement for the purpose of delaying the payment of a sum of
money, in order to arrest a person on a bill they had obtained from
him, would they not be subject to indictment for conspiracy?"

The countenance of Mr. Tims fell; but the moment after it kindled
again with anger, and he replied, "I will answer that question in
another time and place; and, in the mean time, officer do your duty!"

"Stand back, sir!" said Captain Delaware, sternly, as the man
advanced. "Mr. Tims, you _shall_ answer that question in another time
and place, and that fully. In the mean time, as you say, be so good as
to present your bill. I shall only observe upon your conduct, that the
fact of your having obtained this very writ, before you had ever
presented the bill for payment, gives a strong presumption that you
had taken means to prevent the money being ready, and concluded that
those means had been successful."

Mr. Tims turned very pale; but he was not one of those unfortunate men
whose impudence abandons them at the moment of need, and he almost
instantly replied, "No, sir, no! It affords no presumption. The fact
is, we never thought the money would be paid. We always knew that the
whole business was an artifice--that you had no honest means of coming
by the money--and, after having allowed one whole day, and a part of
another, to elapse, that there might be no excuse, we came prepared to
make the artifice fall upon the heads of those that planned it.
Officer, why do you not execute the writ?"

"Because the gemman demands you should present the bill!" replied the
man.

"The bill matters nothing--the debt has been sworn to," answered Mr.
Tims; "but, that there may be no farther quibble--there--there, sir,
is a bill signed by Sir Sidney Delaware for the sum of twenty-five
thousand pounds, which became due the day before yesterday. Are you
ready to pay it? Can you take it up? Are you prepared to discharge
it?"

"We are, sir!" replied Captain Delaware; "and, when we have done so, I
shall take the liberty of caning you for the words you have had the
impudence to use, and the imputations you have been shameless enough
to utter, till you shall have as good an action of battery against me,
as I shall have an indictment for conspiracy against you."

"No, no, William!" said Sir Sidney Delaware. "There is not an
instrument of castigation in the house, from the dog-whip to the stick
with which the boy cudgels the jackass, that would not be disgraced by
touching the back of that man or his instigator."

"First, sir, let us see the money," cried Mr. Tims; "and then let any
man touch me if he dare. The money, sir! Where is the money, I say?"

"Here, sir!" replied Captain Delaware, drawing out a pocket-book.
"Here is the money that you require; and, therefore, before proceeding
to any thing else, we will terminate this business."

It would be difficult, in that confused gabble of a thousand depraved
dialects which the reviews call "good manly English," to express the
horror and despair of Mr. Peter Tims, at finding that--notwithstanding
all the arts and artifices he had used, and which were a thousandfold
more in number than we have had space to put down--the money had been
obtained; and, therefore, that the patronage and business of Lord
Ashborough might be looked upon as lost to him for ever.

Nothing, however, could be done; and he was obliged to sit down and
transact the receipt of the money, and all the other formal business
incident to the occasion, with a bitter heart and a gloomy
countenance. The notes, indeed, which Captain Delaware handed to him,
in discharge of his father's bill, he examined with scrupulous
attention; and had he been able to detect even a suspicious look about
any of them, would probably have made it a plea to delay the
acceptance of the payment; but all was fair and clear; and in half an
hour the bill was paid, and Sir Sidney Delaware's estate was delivered
from the burden which had kept his family in poverty for so many
years. Mr. Tims, indeed, took care to conduct himself with a degree of
irritating insolence, intended, beyond doubt, to tempt the young
officer to strike him as he had threatened, which would probably have
been the case, had not Sir Sidney Delaware pointed out to his son, in
a calm bitter tone, the real object of the lawyer, observing aloud,
that pettifogging attorneys often made considerable sums by carrying
actions of assault into a peculiar court, where the costs to the
offender were very severe.

This turned the scale; and, when the whole was concluded, the lawyer
was suffered to depart, loaded with nothing but disappointment and
contempt.



CHAPTER VI.


There are few things in life so troublesome or so tedious as the
turnings back which one is often obliged to make, as one journeys
along over the surface of the world; the more especially because these
turnings back happen, in an infinite proportion, oftener to the hasty
and the impatient than to other men; and that, too, on account of
their very haste and impatience, which makes them cast a shoe here, or
drop their whip there, or ride off and forget their spurs at the other
place. But yet it is not an unpleasant sight, to see some sedate old
hound, when a whole pack of reckless young dogs have overrun the scent
in their eagerness, get them all gently back again, under the sage
direction of the huntsman and his whips, and with upturned nose, and
tongue like a church bell, announce the recovery.

Know then, dear readers, that in our eagerness to get at the scene
just depicted, we have somewhat overrun the scent, and must return,
however unwillingly, to the time and circumstances, under which Henry
Beauchamp left Mr. Tims of Ryebury, on the preceding night. It was, as
may be remembered, fine clear autumn weather. The night, indeed, would
have been dark, but for the moon, which poured a grand flood of light
through the valleys, and over the plains; and Mr. Tims who loved the
light--not so much because his own ways were peculiarly good, as
because it is known to be a great scarer of those whose ways are more
evil still--remarked with satisfaction, as he ushered his guest to the
door, that it was as clear as day.

"Sally, Sally!" he exclaimed, as soon as Mr. Beauchamp was gone, "Are
all the doors and windows shut?"

"Lord bless me, yes!" answered the dirty maid, shouting in return from
the kitchen, like Achilles from the trenches, "As fast shut as hands
can make them."

"What is that noise, then?" demanded the miser, suspiciously. "Only me
putting in the lower bolt of the back-door," answered the maid.

"Oh Sally, Sally! you never will do things at the time you are bid!"
cried the reproachful usurer. "I told you always to shut up at dusk.
But come here, and put on your bonnet I want you to run down to the
town for a stamp."

Sally grumbled something about going out so late, and meeting impudent
men in the lanes; but after a lapse of time, which the miser thought
somewhat extraordinary in length, she appeared equipped for the walk,
and received her master's written directions as to the stamp, or
rather stamps, he wanted, and where they were to be found in Emberton.
The miser then saw her to the door, locked, bolted, and barred it,
after her departure, and returning to the parlour, lifted the dim and
long wicked candle, bearing on its pale and sickly sides, the evidence
of many a dirty thumb and finger; and then with slow, and somewhat
feeble steps, climbed, one by one, the stairs, and retired to a high
apartment at the back of the house, for which he seemed to entertain a
deep and reverential affection.

Well, indeed, might he love it; for it was the temple of his divinity,
the place in which his riches and his heart reposed, and which
contained his every feeling. There, shrined in a safe of iron, let
into the wall, were the Lares and Penates of his house, bearing either
the goodly forms of golden disks--with the face of the fourth George
pre-eminent on one side, and of his namesake saint all saddleless and
naked, on the other--or otherwise, the forms of paper parallelograms,
inscribed with cabalistic characters, implying promises to pay. Here
Mr. Tims sat down after having closed the door, and placed the candle
on a table; and, throwing one leg clothed in its black worsted
stocking over the other, he sat in a sort of rapt and reverential
trance, worshipping mammon devoutly, in the appropriate forms of
vulgar and decimal fractions, interest, simple and compound.

Scarcely had he gone up stairs, however, when a change of scene came
over the lower part of his house. A door, which communicated with the
steps that led down to the kitchen, moved slowly upon its hinges, and
the moonlight streaming through the grated fan window, above the outer
door, fell upon the form of a man emerging with a careful and
noiseless step from the lower story into the passage. The beams, which
were strong enough to have displayed the features of any one where
this very suspicious visiter stood, now fell upon nothing like the
human face divine, the countenance of the stranger being completely
covered and concealed by a broad black crape, tied tightly behind his
head. As soon as he had gained the passage, and stood firm in the
moonlight, another form appeared, issuing from the mouth of the same
narrow and somewhat steep staircase, with a face equally well
concealed. A momentary conversation was then carried on in a whisper
between the two, and the first apparition, looking sharply at the
chinks of the several doors around, seemingly to discover whether
there was any light within, replied to some question from the other,
"No, no! He is gone up stairs, to hide it in the room where she told
us he kept it. Go down and tell Wat to come up, and keep guard here;
and make haste!"

The injunction was soon complied with; and a third person being added
to the party, was placed, with a pistol in his hand, between the outer
door and the top of the stairs. Before he suffered his two companions
to depart, however, on the errand on which they were bent, he seemed
to ask two or three questions somewhat anxiously, to which the former
speaker replied, "Hurt him! Oh, no! do not be afraid! Only tie him,
man! I told you before that we would not. There is never any use of
doing more than utility requires. He will cry out when he is tied, of
course; but do not you budge."

"Very well!" answered the other, in the same low tone, and his two
comrades began to ascend the stairs. Before they had taken three
steps, however, the first returned again to warn their sentinel not to
use his pistol but in the last necessity; observing, that a pistol was
a bad weapon, for it made too much noise. He then resumed his way, and
in a moment after was hid from his companion. The whole topography of
the house seemed well known to the leader of these nocturnal
visitants; for, gliding on as noiselessly as possible, he proceeded
direct towards the room where the miser sat.

Mr. Tims, little misdoubting that such gentry were already in
possession of his house, had remained quietly musing over his gains,
somewhat uneasy, indeed, at the absence of Sally, but not much more
apprehensive than the continual thoughts of his wealth caused him
always to be.

He had indeed once become so incautious, in the eagerness of his
contemplations, as to draw forth his large key, and open the strong
iron door which covered the receptacle of his golden happiness. But,
immediately reflecting that Sally was not in the house to give the
alarm if any cause of apprehension arose below, he relocked the chest,
and was returning to the table, when a sudden creak of the stairs, as
if one of the steps had yielded a little beneath a heavy but cautious
foot, roused all his fears. His cheeks and his lips grew pale; his
knees trembled; and, with a shaking hand, he raised the candle from
the table, and advanced towards the door.

It was opened but too soon; and, ere the unhappy miser reached it, the
light fell upon a figure which left him no doubt of the purport of the
visit. It was not for his life the old man feared half so much as for
his treasure, in the defence of which he would have fought an universe
of thieves. A blunderbuss hung over the mantle-piece, and the pully of
an alarum-bell by the window, and the miser's mind vibrated for a
single moment between the two. Dropping the candle almost at once,
however, he sprang towards the bell, while one of the men shouted to
the other near whom he passed, "Stop him! Stop him from the bell! By
G--, he will have the whole country upon us!"

Both sprang forward. The candle, which had blazed a moment on the
floor, was trampled out, and complete darkness succeeded. Then
followed a fearful noise of eager running here and there--the
overthrowing of chairs and tables--the dodging round every thing that
could be interposed between people animated with the active spirit of
flight and pursuit--but not a word was spoken. At length there was a
stumble over something--then a heavy fall, and then a sound of
struggling, as of two people rolling together where they lay.
Another rushed forward, and seemed to grope about in the darkness.
"D---- it, you have cut me, Stephen!" cried a low deep voice.

"Murder! Murder! Murder!" screamed another. "Oh! Oh! Oh!" and all was
silent.

Two men had fallen; and another had bent down over them. But only one
of those who had rolled on the floor rose up, beside the other who had
been kneeling. Both remained quite still, with nothing but the
monosyllable, "Hush!" uttered by either.

After a pause of several minutes, the one observed, in a low voice,
"You have done him, Stephen!"

"He would have it," replied the other. "Run down and get a light, and
do not let the youngster know how it has turned out."

"But I am all bloody!" said the other. "He will see it in a minute.
Besides, you have cut my hand to the bone."

"Well, you stay, and I will go down?" replied the first.

"Not I!" was the answer. "I'll not stay here in the dark with him."

"Then go down, and do not waste more time," said the first, somewhat
sharply. "Tell the boy, if he ask, that the old man cut your hand
while you were tying him--but, at all events, make haste!"

The other obeyed, and after a long and silent interval, returned with
the light. It flashed upon a ghastly spectacle. There, on the floor,
at a short distance from the bell-rope, which he had been endeavouring
to reach, lay the figure of the unhappy miser in the midst of a pool
of gore, which was still flowing slowly from two deep gashes in his
throat. His mouth was open, and seemed in the very act of gasping. His
eyes were unclosed and turned up, with a cold dull meaningless stare;
and his gray hair, long, lank, and untrimmed, lay upon his ashy
cheeks, dabbled with his own blood. By his side, exactly on the very
spot where he had stood when the other left him, appeared the
murderer. His features could not be seen, for they were still
concealed by the crape over his face; but the attitude of his head and
whole person evinced that his eyes were fixed, through the black
covering, upon the spot where his victim lay, now first made visible
to his sight by the entrance of the light. In his hand was a long
clasp-knife, hanging laxly, with the point towards the ground, and a
drop or two of blood had dripped from it upon the floor. The
disarrayed chamber, the overturned furniture, and a small stream of
blood that was winding its way amidst the inequalities of an
old-fashioned floor, towards the doorway, where the beams had sunk a
little, made up the rest of the scene--and a fearful scene it was.

"Is he quite dead?" demanded the man who entered, after a momentary
pause.

"As dead as Adam!" replied the other, "And, as the business is done,
there is no use of thinking more about it!" But the very words he
used, might seem to imply that he had already been thinking more of
what had passed than was very pleasing. "Such obstinate fools will
have their own way--I never intended to kill him, I am sure; but he
would have it; and he is quiet enough now!"

The other approached, and though, perhaps, the less resolute ruffian
of the two, he now gazed upon the corpse, and spoke of it with that
degree of vulgar jocularity, which is often affected to conceal more
tremour and agitation than the actors in any horrid scenes may think
becoming. Perhaps it was the same feelings that attempted to mask
themselves in the overdone gaiety which Cromwell displayed on the
trial and death of Charles Stuart.

"The old covey is quiet enough now, as you say!" remarked the inferior
ruffian, drawing near with the light. "His tongue will never put you
or I into the stone pitcher, Stephen."

"His blood may," replied the other, "if we do not make haste. She said
the key of the chest was always upon him. There it is in his hand, as
I live! We must make you let go your hold, sir--But you grasp it as
tight in death as you did in life."

With some difficulty the fingers of the dead man were unclosed,
and the large key of the iron safe wrenched from his grasp. The
freshly stimulated thirst of plunder, did away, for the moment, all
feelings of remorse and awe; and the two ruffians hastened to unlock
the iron door in the wall, the one wielding the key, while the other
held the light, and gazed eagerly over his shoulder. The first
drawer they opened caused them both to draw a long deep breath of
self-gratulation, so splendid was the sight of the golden rows of new
sovereigns and old guineas it displayed. A bag was instantly produced,
and the whole contents emptied in uncounted. The hand of the principal
plunderer was upon the second drawer, when a loud ring at the
house-bell startled them in their proceedings.

"He will not open the door surely?" cried the one.

"No, no! I told him not," answered the other. "But let us go down, to
make sure."

Setting the light on the floor, they both glided down the stairs, and
arrived just in time to prevent their comrade, whom they had left upon
guard below, from making an answer, as he was imprudently about to do.
The bell was again rung violently, and after a third application of
the same kind, some heavy blows of a stick were added. Again and again
the bell was rung; and as the visiter seemed determined not to go away
without effecting an entrance, the man who seemed to have led
throughout the terrible work of that night, put his hand slowly into
his pocket, and, drawing forth a pistol, laid his hand upon the lock
of the door.

"He will ring there till Sally comes up," observed the other in a
whisper, "and then we shall be all blown."

Just as the click of cocking the pistol, announced that the
determination of the first ruffian was taken, a receding step was
heard, and calmly replacing the weapon, he said, "He is gone!--now let
us back to our work quick, Tony!"

"All is very silent up stairs," said the young man who had been
keeping watch, in a low and anxious tone.

"Oh, the old man is tied and gagged sufficiently! Do not be afraid,
Wat!" replied the other. "Only you keep quite quiet--If any one comes,
make no answer; but if they try to force a way in by the back-door,
which is on the latch, give them a shot! You have good moonlight to
take aim;" and mounting the stairs with the same quiet steps, he once
more entered the chamber of the miser.

The young man who remained below, listened attentively; and though the
footfalls of his two comrades, were as light as they well could be,
yet he heard them distinctly enter the room where they had left the
candle. As their steps receded, however, and no other sound followed,
he suffered the hand which held the pistol to drop heavily by his
side.

"They have killed the old man!" he muttered. "He would never lie
still like a lubber, and see them pillage his chests, without making
some noise, if he were not dead! I thought that cold-blooded rascal
would do it, if it suited his cursed utility--I wish to God I had
never"----

But the vain wish was interrupted by the sound of a door, gently
opened below; and, in a moment after, the form of Sally, the miser's
maid, appeared gliding up with a sort of noiseless step, which showed
her not unconscious of all that was proceeding within her master's
dwelling. A low and hasty conversation now took place between her and
the man upon watch, who told her his suspicions of the extent to which
his companions had pushed their crime, notwithstanding a promise which
they had made, it seems, to abstain from hurting their victim.
Somewhat to his surprise and disgust, however, he found, that though
the woman was trembling in every limb, from personal agitation and
fear of discovery, yet she felt little of the horror, which he himself
experienced, when he reflected on the murder of the poor defenceless
old man. She replied in a low but flippant tone, that dead men tell no
tales, and added, that she dared to say Mr. Harding would not have
done it, if the old fool had not resisted.

At that moment the light from above began to glimmer upon the stairs,
and the two murderers soon after appeared, the one carrying a candle,
and the other a heavy bag, with which they at once proceeded into the
little parlour, where the old man had so lately sat with Mr.
Beauchamp. The other two followed, and the one who had remained below,
immediately taxed the principal personage in the tragedy, whom we may
now call Harding, with the act he had just committed.

"Hush, hush!" cried Harding, in a stern tone, but one, the sternness
of which, was that of remorse. "Hush, hush, boy! I would not have done
it, if I could have helped it. But there," he added, putting the heavy
bag upon the table. "There, is enough to make your mother easy for the
rest of her days."

"And shall I be ever easy again for the rest of mine?" demanded the
youth.

"I hope so!" answered his companion dryly. "But come, we must not lose
time. This is too heavy for one of us to carry; and yet we have not
found a quarter of what we expected--Sally, my love, fetch us some
cloths, or handkerchiefs, or something. We may as well divide the
money now, and each man carry his own."

So saying, he poured the mingled heap of gold and silver on the table;
and as soon as some cloths were procured to wrap it in, he proceeded
to divide it with his hand into four parts, saying, "Share and share
alike!"

Some opposition was made to this, by the man who had accompanied him
in the more active part of the night's work, and who declared that he
did not think that the person who only kept watch, or the woman
either, deserved to be put on the same footing with themselves, who
had encountered the whole danger. He was at once, however, sternly
overruled by Harding, whose character seemed to have undergone a
strange change, amidst the fiery though brief period of intense
passions through which he had just passed. The softer metal had been
tempered into hard steel; but when for a moment he removed the crape
from his face, to give himself more air, it was pale, anxious, and
haggard; and had a look of sickened disgust withal, that was not in
harmony with his tone.

Carefully, though rapidly, he rendered the several lots as nearly
equal as the mere measurement of the eye would permit, bade his
comrades each take that which he liked, and contented himself with the
one they left. The necessity of haste, or rather the apprehensiveness
of guilt, made them all eager to abridge every proceeding; and the
money being tied up, and a large sum in notes divided, they prepared
to depart.

"Had we better go out by the back-door or the front?" demanded
Harding, turning to the woman.

"Oh, la! by the front, to be sure!" she replied. "The hind who lives
in the cottage on the lea opposite, might see us if we went out by the
back. Nobody can see us come out in the lane, unless some one be
wandering about."

"We must take our chance of that!" replied Harding; and, putting out
the light, he led the way to the door.



CHAPTER VII.


"And now, my dear William," said Sir Sidney Delaware, as soon as Mr.
Tims had departed, and the rolling wheels of his post-chaise were no
longer heard grating down the western avenue--"And now, my dear
William, lay your angry spirit. Depend upon it, that man carries with
him a sufficient punishment in the disappointment he has suffered. He
is one of that class of rogues for whom the old Athenians, finding no
appropriate corporeal infliction, decreed the punishment of the Stela;
or, in other words, ordered their names and infamy to be engraved upon
a pillar, and thus held them up to shame for ever.

"As our law has no such just award," replied Captain Delaware, "I
should certainly have had great pleasure in writing his shame on his
back with a horsewhip instead; but of course, as you did not like it,
I forbore."

"No, no, my dear boy!" said his father, "You would have degraded
yourself, gratified him, and had to pay a large sum for a small
satisfaction. But now all that is past; explain to us the rest of the
business. How happened the money to arrive so apropos, and without the
accompaniment of the miser of Ryebury? Was Mr. Tims senior, unwilling
to meet Mr. Tims junior, on a business, in regard to which it was
evident that the lawyer both wished and anticipated a different
result?"

"Strange enough to say, my dear sir," replied Captain Delaware, "you
are asking me questions which I cannot at all answer--There is Blanche
smiling," he added, "because I told her the same, before I came down,
and she chose to be incredulous--though she knows that there never was
sailor or landsman yet, so little given to romancing as I am."

"But you can tell me when it was you received the money?" said Sir
Sidney, in some degree of surprise.

"Oh, certainly, sir!" answered his son. "It was this morning, not long
before Blanche came up to my room."

"Why, they told me you had not been out this morning," said his
father.

"Neither have I, my dear sir," replied Captain Delaware.

"In short, papa, he makes a mystery of the whole affair," said
Blanche; "and will not say how or where he got it."

"You are wrong, my dear sister," rejoined her brother. "I am perfectly
willing to say how and where I got it; and in fact I told you before."

"Oh but, William!" exclaimed his sister, "I saw very well that you
were only jesting. You did not, I am sure, intend me to give credence
to that story?"

"Well for you that you are not a man, my pretty Blanche," answered
Captain Delaware, shaking his hand at her good-humouredly, "I will
repeat the same, word for word, to my father; and if he do not believe
me, I will swear to it if he likes."

"Not I--not I, William!" said Sir Sidney. "Any thing that you assert
in so solemn a manner, I will believe without any swearings however
improbable it may be."

"Well then, my dear sir," replied Captain Delaware, "the fact is this:
When I rose this morning, in looking about for something on my
dressing-table, I found a paper parcel with my name written upon it;
and, on opening it, saw the notes which I just now gave to that
blackguard. There was no one thing in or about the parcel that could
lead me to divine from whom or whence it came; but as it contained the
precise sum required, and was addressed to myself, I could not doubt
the purpose for which it was intended. I have a vague recollection,
indeed, of seeing it lying there last night; but I was out of humour,
and somewhat sick at heart, and took but little notice of any thing.
However, it must have been there when I went to bed, for no one could
have come into my room without my hearing them."

"Hum!" said Sir Sidney Delaware, with a smile. "Hum!" and,
notwithstanding his promise of full faith in his son's account, it was
evident he did not give credit to a word of it. "Well, well, William,"
he said, "we will not press you hard; though your grave face almost
deserves that one should believe you."

"On my word, sir! On my honour!" reiterated Captain Delaware, "Every
word that I tell you is true. This is very hard indeed that I am not
to be believed even when I pledge my honour."

"Nay, nay!" said Sir Sidney. "If you bring your honour into the
scrape, my dear boy, I suppose we must believe you. But you will not,
I dare say, deny that you have some shrewd guess at how the money came
there, or who sent it?"

"In regard to the person who sent it," answered Captain Delaware, a
good deal mortified at doubts which he felt he did not deserve, "I
have certainly a very strong suspicion, though I do not feel justified
in naming the friend to whom my mind turns; but, as to how it came
there, I am fully as ignorant as yourself or Blanche."

"Well, all I can say is, that the whole business is very
extraordinary," replied Sir Sidney Delaware, more gravely than he had
hitherto spoken. "Indeed, I know not which would seem the most
strange, that such a large sum should be left in your room without
your privity or knowledge; or that my son should so strongly assert,
even in jest, what is not strictly true."

"Sir, you are doing me injustice!" said Captain Delaware, with a
burning cheek and a quivering lip; "and, as it is so, I will soon
investigate, and, if possible, discover how it was that this took
place;" and, striding across the room, he rang the bell with a degree
of violence, which showed the pain it cost him to brook respectfully,
even from his father, the doubt that Sir Sidney's last words
insinuated. Blanche gently glided across the room; and, laying her
hand upon his arm, raised her beautiful eyes to his with a look half
imploring half reproachful. Captain Delaware did not reply, but turned
away; and, walking to the window, looked out into the park till the
servant appeared.

"Who left a paper parcel on my dressing-table last night?" he demanded
abruptly, and somewhat sharply too, as the man entered.

The first reply was a stare of astonishment, at the unwonted tone of
one usually so mild and kindly in his whole deportment. "I'm sure I do
not know, sir!" answered the man as soon as he had recovered. "I did
not!"

"William, you are heated," said Sir Sidney Delaware, interrupting his
son, as he was about to put another question to the servant. "I
perceive now, perhaps too plainly, that the matter is not a jest; and
therefore, of course, believe what you have said. The business,
however, must be investigated; as we cannot lie under so great an
obligation to any one, without due acknowledgement and repayment--Did
you see any stranger about the house or near it during the course of
yesterday evening?" he continued, turning to the servant.

"No one, sir," replied the man. "That is to say, no one near the
house. In the lanes, at the back of the park, I met Harding, Mr.
Burrel's valet, loitering about with another young man towards dusk;
and now, I recollect, the housemaid declared that she saw some one
just passing by the terrace at about eight or nine o'clock."

"Send the housemaid here!" said Sir Sidney; "and desire Mrs.
Williams"--the name of the old housekeeper--"and desire Mrs. Williams
to come with her."

The commands of Sir Sidney were immediately obeyed, and the
examination of the housemaid began in form. The footman, however, had
already told nearly as much as she could tell herself. When going
along one of the corridors, during the previous evening, to shut the
windows which looked out upon the western part of the park, she had
seen a gentleman, she said, walking along just below the terrace,
towards the wood. She could not tell who he was, for she only saw him
for a moment; and, as he was partly concealed by the raised terrace on
which the house stood, she only caught a sight of his head and
shoulders.

Here ended all information. The old housekeeper had seen no one, and
the housemaid declared that she neither could tell how tall the
gentleman was, nor could vouchsafe any other particulars in regard to
his personal appearance, except that he was a gentleman, she was sure;
for he walked like a gentleman. Sir Sidney would fain have forced her
into a definition of the walk of a gentleman; but the housemaid was
not to be caught, and took refuge in stupidity, as usual in such
cases.

By the time this was over, William Delaware's heat had evaporated, and
it was with a smile he asked his father, "Well, sir, who do you think
our _dear unknown friend_ is?"

"Why, of course, William, I cannot say who it positively is," replied
Sir Sidney; "but it would not surprise me, were I to find that it was
your admirable friend Burrel."

"Nor I either!" answered William Delaware. "What do you think,
Blanche?"

But Blanche was looking out of the window, with a very red tip to the
fair finely-turned ear that rested on the smooth glossy waves of her
rich brown hair. Perhaps she did not hear the question, but certainly
she did not answer it; and her brother, though he would fain have said
a word or two of kind malice, could he have known how far he might
venture without inflicting real pain, would not run the risk.

"I wish, William," said his father, "that you would go down to
Emberton and see Mr. Burrel. The circumstances of the proposed
arrangement with Lord Ashborough were mentioned more than once in his
presence, and if he have heard by any chance of there being a delay on
the part of Mr. Tims, he may certainly have taken means to remedy that
inconvenience. In fact, I know of no other person at all likely to
perform such an act of liberality in this somewhat romantic manner."

Blanche glided out of the room, and her father went on. "Mrs.
Darlington, though a very good woman, and not without feeling, does
not perform such acts as this. Otherwise, as she came to Emberton I
hear yesterday, to meet Dr. Wilton and another magistrate about this
burning of her house, we might have supposed that she was the lender
of the money. Good Dr. Wilton himself could not, I know, command so
large a sum. I wish, therefore, you would go and visit Mr. Burrel, and
tell him that, while we accept the loan as an obligation, and
appreciate his conduct as it should be appreciated, we are desirous of
giving him a mortgage upon the property which he has released from so
great a burden."

"I will go down almost immediately, sir," replied Captain Delaware;
"but, in all the confusion of this morning, I have lost my breakfast,
for it seems that the surprise and wonderment of finding the packet,
detained me till you and Blanche had finished."

The bell was rung, breakfast was again made, and Captain Delaware
proceeded somewhat quickly in the task of despatching it, reflecting,
in the intervals of a broken conversation with his father, upon all
that he would have to say to Burrel--how he might best and most
delicately thank him for the kindness and promptitude of the service
he had rendered--how he might arrive at the facts of his situation in
regard to Blanche; and whether he would be justified in communicating
at once to Sir Sidney his cousin's real name, without consulting
Beauchamp himself. In the meanwhile, the baronet walked backwards and
forwards--now looked out of the window--now talked with his son,
feeling that degree of pleasant perturbation, that sort of long swell,
which remains after some moment of peculiar agitation is happily over,
and the mind is settling down slowly into a calm.

Before his son had finished his breakfast, however, Sir Sidney
remarked that there seemed a great many people in the park. "I
suppose," he said, "the worthy lawyer has informed the good folks of
the town that we are rather more than a thousand a-year richer than we
were in the morning; and therefore we may now expect the respectful
congratulations of all those who treated us with the greatest degree
of contempt while we were poor.

"I will go and kick them out, sir, directly," said Captain Delaware,
"if you will allow me to finish this piece of toast."

"I hope you may finish a great many, William," replied his father,
"before you begin kicking at all. But there really seems something
extraordinary here. There is a whole posse, and here is a chariot
driving up the avenue--Dr. Wilton's, I think."

Captain Delaware rose for a moment, looked out of the window, declared
the carriage to be certainly Dr. Wilton's, and the personages on foot
to be a set of blackguards, who had no business there; and then sat
down to his breakfast again, with the intention, as soon as he had
concluded, of going forth and sending the gentry, who had now
approached close to the house, back to the town without any very
flattering expression of regard. He was just depositing his coffee-cup
in the saucer, when Dr. Wilton entered the room unannounced,
accompanied by another magistrate, and followed by Mr. Peter Tims,
with two or three other persons, whose appearance in that place
greatly surprised both Sir Sidney and his son.

The baronet advanced, however, and shook his reverend friend by the
hand; and Captain Delaware exclaimed laughing, "Why, my dear Dr.
Wilton, I never thought to see you with such a crew, headed by such a
rascally boatswain as that behind you.--Why, you have got all the
constables of Emberton at your back! What is the matter?"

"I am sorry to say, my dear William, that I am come upon a very
serious business," replied Dr. Wilton; "although, indeed, the part
that regards you, both our good friend here, Mr. Egerton, and myself,
look upon as quite ridiculous. Yet the matter is of so very horrible a
nature, that it does not admit of a jest; and this person--this
gentleman, urges a charge against you, so seriously and plausibly,
that we are forced to examine into the matter, though we doubt not
that you can clear yourself at once."

"The scoundrel does not pretend to say that I struck him!" cried
Captain Delaware, his cheek burning with anger, "I threatened, indeed,
and I wish I had put my threat"----

"The charge is a much more serious one than that," said Dr. Wilton,
interrupting him; and then, turning to his brother magistrate, he said
in a low tone. "Remark his demeanour! I told you it was ridiculous!"

"You had better, however, have the warrant executed," replied the
other, in the same low tone. "We can hold the examination here; and if
it turn out as you expect, discharge it as soon as the business is
over."

"What is the matter, gentlemen?" said Sir Sidney Delaware. "All this
seems very strange! Will you be kind enough to explain!"

"Captain Delaware," said Mr. Egerton, "we are here upon an unpleasant
duty. You are charged by this person, who is, I am told, Mr. Tims, a
lawyer of Clement's Inn, with a very serious crime; and although, from
your character and station, Dr. Wilton and myself do not for a moment
believe the accusation to originate in anything but error, and are
willing to do all to spare your feelings; yet, in pursuit of the ends
of justice, we are bound to act towards you as we would towards any
other person in the same situation. A charge against you, then, having
been made before us, upon oath, we were bound to grant a warrant
against you, which must now be executed. The examination, however, can
as well take place here as elsewhere; and as this gentleman has
declared that he is ready to go into it immediately, we will instantly
proceed, not at all doubting that you can clear yourself at once."

Captain Delaware had listened at first with surprise and indignation;
but gradually, as the importance of the whole business became strongly
impressed upon his mind, he assumed a more serious aspect, and bowing
low, in reply to Mr. Egerton's address, he said, gravely but frankly,
"Although I cannot divine what charge that person is about to
bring--or rather has brought--against me; yet I thank you, sir, for
the courtesy with which you are inclined to treat me, and of course
surrender myself at once. Do not look so shocked, my dear father," he
added, turning towards Sir Sidney; "be assured that your son never did
an act that he was ashamed to acknowledge in the face of the whole
world. But I think you had better leave us; for this business seems
likely to be too painful for you."

"Never, never, my dear boy!" replied Sir Sidney. "Never! I am a
magistrate also, and should know something of these affairs; and
though, of course, I cannot act in your case, I will not leave you
while I have life."

A tear rose in Dr. Wilton's eye; but Mr. Egerton beckoned forward the
officer charged with the warrant against Captain Delaware, to whom the
young gentleman surrendered immediately, merely requiring to be
informed of the nature of the crime with which he was charged.

"I object! I object!" cried Mr. Peter Tims. "I will not have the
prisoner put upon his guard!"

"You seem strangely ignorant of the fundamental principles of English
law, sir, for a person who follows it as a profession," replied Mr.
Egerton. "Captain Delaware, you are charged with the murder of a
person of the name of Tims, residing at Ryebury, in this
neighbourhood."

"Good God!" exclaimed Captain Delaware, with unfeigned horror, "Then
that is the reason the poor fellow did not bring the money last
night."

"Put down that observation clerk!" said Dr. Wilton to a young man who
had followed into the room with the constables, and two or three other
persons.

"Let us carry on the matter a little more formally, my dear sir," said
Mr. Egerton. "Sir Sidney, with your permission, we will take our seats
here.--Clerk, place yourself there.--Constable, put a chair for
Captain Delaware at the bottom of the table--stand back yourself, and
keep those other persons back. Captain Delaware, it is customary to
warn persons in your present situation, against saying anything that
may commit themselves. To you I have only to remark, that your
examination will of course be taken down, and may hereafter be brought
against you."

"You will understand, however," added Dr. Wilton, "that the present
investigation is merely instituted by us, to ascertain whether this
person can bring forward sufficient evidence in support of the
accusation, to oblige us to remand you for farther examination."

"I shall bring forward sufficient evidence to compel you to commit
him," cried Mr. Tims, "however prejudiced you may be in his favour."

"Do not be insolent, sir!" said Mr. Egerton, "or I may find it
necessary to punish you in the first instance. Your charge is already
made, and we shall proceed with the examination as we judge most
expedient ourselves. Remember, Captain Delaware, you are warned
against committing yourself."

"I have nothing to conceal, sir, and therefore have no reason to fear
saying anything that is true!" replied the young officer. "Pray,
proceed!"

"Well, then, let me ask," said Mr. Egerton, "when and where you
happened to see Mr. Tims--generally known by the name of the miser of
Ryebury--for the last time?"

"It was yesterday morning," replied Captain Delaware. "I met him first
in the lanes leading to his own house; accompanied him home, and left
him there."

"Pray, did any high words pass between you and him, on that occasion?"
demanded the magistrate; "and if so, what was the subject of dispute?
You are not compelled to answer, unless you like."

"I am sorry to say," replied Captain Delaware, "that there were high
words passed between myself and the poor old man. The cause of them
was simply, that he had agreed to furnish a certain sum of money to
pay off an annuity which was pressing heavily upon this estate; and
that he failed to perform his promise at the time agreed upon."

"And to obtain which, whether he would or not, you murdered him!"
cried Mr. Peter Tims.

Captain Delaware started up, with the fire flashing from his eyes, but
instantly resumed his seat, saying, "Am I to be thus insulted,
gentlemen?"

"Mr. Peter Tims," said Mr. Egerton sternly, "if you again interrupt
the proceedings, I will have you removed from the room; and if you are
insolent," he added, seeing the other about to reply, "I shall equally
know how to deal with you!"

The lawyer was silent, and Dr. Wilton demanded, "Will you state.
Captain Delaware, whether on your last meeting with the unhappy man,
Mr. Tims, you threatened to strike him, or used any violent menaces
towards him?'"

William Delaware reddened, but he replied at once, "Sorry I am to say,
my dear sir, that I did threaten to horsewhip him; but it was upon
severe provocation, from the cool insolence with which he informed me
that he was not able to keep the promise he had made--the performance
of which was of infinite consequence to my family."

"And are you certain. Captain Delaware," demanded Mr. Egerton, "that
that was the last time you ever saw this unhappy man?"

"Perfectly certain!" replied the young officer; and then added, after
a momentary pause, "I went to his house last night, in order to
ascertain whether the money had arrived, but could not obtain
admittance. I rang several times without effect."

Dr. Wilton and Mr. Egerton looked at each other, and the latter then
demanded--"Then pray, Captain Delaware, where did you obtain the money
which you paid to Mr. Tims here present this morning?"

"I suppose, sir," replied Captain Delaware, with some degree of
haughtiness, "that, as the question is evidently intended to entangle
me, I might, according to the principle you have yourself laid down,
refuse to answer; but it is indeed unnecessary to do so, and if the
simple truth do not clear me, I can hope for nothing else." He then
circumstantially recapitulated the same story which he had that
morning related to his father, concerning the receipt of the money.

Mr. Tims laughed scornfully, and Mr. Egerton looked to Dr. Wilton,
who, in return, whispered something to him, which seemed to make an
immediate impression. "Captain Delaware," he said, "it is fit that I
should inform you, that a strong case is made out against you. In the
first place, there has been evidence on oath given before us, at the
house of this unfortunate man, Mr. Tims, that you were heard to
threaten him violently yesterday morning--clerk, hand me the minute of
Farmer Ritson's evidence--yes, those are the words! In the next place,
you were seen going towards his house last night after sunset, and two
or three other persons unknown, were observed proceeding in the same
direction. About that period the deceased was evidently still alive,
as his servant, it appears, was sent to Emberton for bill stamps, the
written description of which is before us in his own hand. The man has
been found murdered, in the very room where he kept his money, as if
he had been killed in the act of taking out certain sums from his iron
chest. The body of the woman has not been discovered, but a long track
of blood down the stairs, has pointed the direction in which it was
carried, and doubtless it will be found ere long."

Captain Delaware had listened attentively, but not without impatience;
for perfect innocence made him feel the charge utterly absurd, and at
length he broke forth. "And do you, sir," he exclaimed, "call it a
strong case, that I was heard to threaten an old knavish miser with a
horsewhipping, and was seen somewhere in the neighbourhood of his
house on the night that he was killed, without any other evidence
whatever?"

"Not without any other evidence whatever, Captain Delaware," replied
Mr. Egerton, somewhat sharply. "But on a train of circumstantial
evidence, sir, very painful for us to contemplate. You mistake the
matter, Captain Delaware," he added, in a more kindly tone. "Your
previous high character induces us to put the most liberal
construction upon every thing, and to extend to your case the most
calm--nay, the most friendly--consideration that justice will admit,
before we even remand you to await the result of the coroner's
inquest. Besides the circumstances I have stated, you must remember,
that you yourself acknowledge that, up to a late hour last night, you
were not possessed of the sum required. By half-past nine this
morning, that sum is in your possession. One of the notes before me
bears the mark of a forefinger stained with blood; and in the bedroom
of the deceased a paper has been found, dated yesterday morning, in
which the dates and numbers of some of the notes paid by you this
morning are marked as having been received by post that day. Your
account of the manner in which the money came into your hands, is
somewhat extraordinary--nay, so much so, as to be highly improbable;
and I fear, that unless you can in some way explain these
circumstances, we shall be bound to commit you at once."

Sir Sidney Delaware hid his face in his handkerchief, and wept. Mr.
Tims rubbed his hands with a degree of glee, not at all diminished by
the loss of his uncle, and Captain Delaware gazed upon the two
magistrates, stupified at finding himself suddenly placed in
circumstances so suspicious. There was innocence, however, in the
whole expression of his countenance; in the surprise, in the horror,
in the bewilderment it betrayed; and Mr. Egerton, who was a shrewd and
observing, without being an unfeeling man, saw that such conduct could
not be affected, and believed that it could only proceed from a heart
devoid of guilt.

"Bethink yourself, my dear sir!" he said, after a short pause, during
which he awaited in vain Captain Delaware's answer. "However
improbable, I will not believe any thing that you have said to be
untrue."

"If you did, sir, I could pardon you," replied the young officer, with
a glowing cheek; "for, long ere you appeared, I could scarcely prevail
upon my own family to believe the tale. How much more, then, might it
be doubted by a person who is nearly a stranger to me?"

"Well but, my dear sir!" said Mr. Egerton, more convinced of the
prisoner's innocence, by this outbreak of feeling, than he had been
before, "Can you not account for the fact of the money being so placed
in your bedroom?'"

Captain Delaware related what had passed in the morning, and the
servants being called, recapitulated their tale; the footman declaring
that he had seen no one but Mr. Burrel's man, Harding, in the lanes at
the back of the park, and the housemaid swearing that she had seen a
stranger on the terrace just after nightfall. Dr. Wilton, at the first
sound of Burrel's name, sent off a messenger to his lodging at
Emberton, with orders to bring up the landlady with Harding, and the
groom, if the two latter were still there; and, in the meanwhile, Mr.
Egerton continued the examination, evidently more with a view of
giving the prisoner every chance of explaining the suspicious
circumstances, than with a wish to find him guilty.

"Now, Captain Delaware," he said, "I am about to put a question to
you, which the circumstances, I believe, fully justify. Do you, or do
you not, know any one who was likely to perform so extraordinary, and,
I must say, foolish an act, as that of placing so large a sum in your
chamber, without giving you any notice of his so doing?--I say, have
you any suspicion as to who was the person who did so?"

"I certainly have, sir!" replied William Delaware. "And he was not a
man to do a foolish act. Circumstances unknown to you, sir, might
induce him to do, in the present instance, what he would not have done
upon any other motives."

"And pray, sir, who may he be?" demanded the magistrate.

Captain Delaware paused; but replied, after an instant's thought--"My
present situation, of course, compels me to be more explicit upon such
a subject, than I otherwise should be. The person I suspect of having
placed the money in my room, is a gentleman who has lately been
residing at Emberton, under the name of Burrel, but who may now be
named as my cousin, Henry Beauchamp."

Sir Sidney Delaware started up off his chair, but immediately resumed
his seat again; and another look of intelligence passed between Mr.
Egerton and Dr. Wilton.

"I appeal to Dr. Wilton," added Captain Delaware, "if such a thing be
not probable."

"Most probable in his case!" replied Dr. Wilton. "Indeed, more than
probable"----

"Pray, sir, are you now acting as a magistrate or as a witness?"
demanded Mr. Tims. "If as the latter, I would ask you, whether Mr.
Beauchamp did not pass the day at your house yesterday, which I hear
in the village that he did beyond all doubt?"

"Then you have heard, sir, what was not the case!" replied Dr. Wilton.

"Pray, at what hour did he leave your house, sir?" demanded Mr. Tims,
taking care to preserve so respectful a tone as to afford no excuse
for refusing an answer to his question.

"I should not hold myself bound to reply to you, sir," said the
clergyman; "but a sense of justice must of course supersede every
other consideration, whether indignation at impudence, or contempt for
low cunning; and therefore I reply, that he left my house, I should
suppose, about three o'clock."

"I will presume to ask one question more, if I am permitted," said the
unruffled Mr. Peter Tims, bowing to Mr. Egerton, who was evidently
listening with interest. "At Mr. Beauchamp's departure, Dr. Wilton,
did he tell you whither he was about to turn his steps?"

Dr. Wilton fidgeted on his seat; but truth was paramount, and he
answered, "He certainly implied that he was going to London."

"Did he take the road which leads in that direction?" asked Mr. Tims.

"He did!" replied the clergyman, and the interrogatory dropped, by a
low bow on the part of the lawyer to both the magistrates.

The examination now paused for several minutes, till good Mrs. Wilson,
who had been Beauchamp's landlady at Emberton, was brought into the
room. Although the questions which were asked her were few, and of the
simplest kind, the poor woman gave her evidence in as wild and
confused a manner as if she had been charged with the murder herself.
The result, however, was, that she swore Mr. Burrel had left her house
early in the forenoon of the preceding day, as she understood, for
London; that his groom, with the greater part of his luggage, had gone
by the coach that very morning; and that his gentleman, Mr. Harding,
had followed his master the night before. She could not say exactly at
what hour; but swore that it was between eight and ten.

This evidence was all that could be adduced at the time; and Mr. Tims,
upon the strength of the case he had made out, resumed a degree of his
former insolence, and demanded loudly, that Captain Delaware should
instantly be committed.

A long conversation, which was carried on in so low a tone as to be
inaudible to any one but the two magistrates and the clerk, then
ensued between Dr. Wilton and Mr. Egerton; the latter of whom at
length said, to the surprise even of Captain Delaware himself, "I do
not think, Mr. Tims, that, all things considered, we should be
justified in committing the prisoner till after the coroner's jury
have sat upon the body. We have determined, sir, to remand him."

Mr. Tims stormed and raved, slapped the table with all the unction of
forensic eloquence, and demanded where the magistrates intended to
confine the prisoner in the mean time. There was no place of security
nearer than the county town, except the cage at Emberton; and he
doubted not--he added, with a sneer--that the friendship which the
worthy magistrates entertained for the prisoner would prevent him from
occupying that lodging.

"Our sense of decency and humanity will do so, at least," replied Mr.
Egerton, coolly. "In a word, sir, we do not think that there is
sufficient direct evidence before us to commit the accused till the
coroner's inquest has sat. The coroner has been already sent for, and
the inquest can be held immediately. The jury may themselves like to
examine the prisoner; and, therefore, it will be useless to send him
to the county town. In order to spare his feelings as much as
possible, which of course we wish to do, we have determined, if two of
our most active constables can find a room in this house which they
judge undoubtedly secure, to leave him here, under their custody. If
not, he must be removed to Emberton, and placed in the justice room,
though the security of it is doubtful."

In vain the lawyer argued. The justices were determined; and the
officers, after spending some time in examining the house, returned,
declaring that no room in a prison could be more secure than the
prisoner's own bedroom, which was so high above the terrace, that no
escape could be effected from the window; and which had but one door,
opening into an anteroom, where they could keep watch. Mr. Tims
himself was permitted to examine the room; and could not but
acknowledge that he was satisfied. The constables received every
injunction to be cautious, and Captain Delaware having been asked
whether he had any thing farther to say, replied that he had not.

"Then you may remove the prisoner!" said Mr. Egerton.

Sir Sidney Delaware staggered up, and caught him in his arms. Captain
Delaware pressed his father for a moment to his heart; and saying, in
a low but firm voice, "Do not be afraid--I am as innocent as a child
of the charge they bring against me!" tore himself away, and quitted
the room.



CHAPTER VIII.


While the examination had been proceeding in the little
breakfast-parlour, the ear of Captain Delaware had been more than once
struck by a number of voices speaking in the library, from which it
opened; and as he was conducted through that apartment, the first
sight that presented itself was his sister, Blanche, bathed in tears.
She had been prevented from entering the room in which the magistrates
sat; but the moment she beheld her brother, she sprang forward, and
threw herself into his arms, clinging to his bosom in an agony of
distress and tenderness. Captain Delaware kissed her cheek, and bade
her be comforted, assuring her that the charge against him was not
only false, but perfectly absurd; and that a few hours would set him
at liberty again.

"Oh, no! No, no!" cried Blanche. "I see it all, William! It is all
part of a plot to ruin us, and they will never be satisfied till we
are crushed and disgraced. That Lord Ashborough and his lawyer, will
work their designs by some means, be assured!"

At that moment Dr. Wilton advanced from the inner room, and withdrew
Blanche from the arms of her brother, bidding her take heart; and
whispering that he had already sent off a messenger for Mr. Beauchamp,
whose presence, he doubted not, would clear up the whole story.
Blanche shook her head mournfully, and covered her eyes with her
hands, while her brother was led away to his own room. The door was
locked on the outside, and the constables, placing themselves in the
anteroom, cut off all communication between the young officer and his
family, who remained desolate and anxious, amidst the scenes which had
lately been so full of calm happiness and enjoyment.

In the meanwhile, Captain Delaware seated himself at the table, in his
own room, and endeavoured to bend the whole powers of his mind to the
investigation of his own situation, in all its bearings. While either
in the actual presence of the magistrates, or under the eyes of his
own family, he had felt it necessary to repel every thought of real
danger, and not to yield one step to apprehension; but now he saw that
it was indispensable to look at his situation in the worst point of
view, and to admit the utmost extent of the peril in which he stood.

He was innocent! that was one great source of confidence and
expectation, for he believed, and felt sure, that an innocent man had
very seldom suffered. But still such things had occasionally taken
place, beyond all doubt; and it behoved him to consider whether his
own might not be one of those cases, in which such an event was
likely. As he looked at the evidence against himself, he could not but
acknowledge that, as it stood at the present moment, there was a
strong presumption of his guilt. He had been seen to threaten the
murdered man, in the morning; he had been seen in the neighbourhood of
his house, on the night the murder was committed; he had been in known
and acknowledged want of the money up to that hour; and then he had
suddenly obtained possession of it in a manner of which he could give
no probable account. Several of the notes had been certainly in
possession of the murdered man, a few hours before the crime was
committed on his person; and one of them he had himself remarked,
while paying it to the lawyer, appeared stained with blood. "Were I
upon a jury," he thought "what verdict would I return? Guilty,
undoubtedly--unless some clear explanation of such suspicious
circumstances could be given and substantiated. Now, let me consider
what I have to give, and how it can be proved."

"I have nothing but the bare supposition that the money was placed in
my room by Henry Beauchamp, or by his servant; and although that
surmise may be equal to a certainty in my own mind, it is likely to
have little weight with others. Dr. Wilton, too, admits that he set
out for London about three o'clock, when the money assuredly was not
here! Can I be mistaken in supposing it to have been him? Can
Blanche's suspicion be correct, that this is part of a plan to ruin my
father and his family for ever?"

As these ideas crossed William Delaware's mind, he shuddered with
mingled feelings of horror at the thought of such guilt, and
apprehension for the consequences to himself; but at the same time, as
he suffered his mind to rest upon the suspicion, it acquired a degree
of probability that he was not inclined to assign to it at first. He
recalled the conduct which Lord Ashborough had pursued towards his
father through life--the vindictive malice he had displayed during the
two or three years that elapsed after their first quarrel, as young
men--the cold grinding exactions, not unmingled with scorn, with which
he had kept him through life at fortune's lowest ebb--the rude
harshness with which he had repelled his first proposal for redeeming
the annuity. Then the sudden change in his manners--the facility with
which he agreed to that which he had so peremptorily declined--the
business of the bills--the delay in the payment--and the fact of the
lawyer having come down prepared with a writ against his father,
before he could have known, except by collusion with the miser,
whether the money would be paid or not--all these facts passed before
his remembrance, and with that rapidity of conclusion which was one of
his greatest weaknesses, he instantly became convinced that Lord
Ashborough and his adviser would halt at no step which might crush his
father, and his father's house; that the present charge originated in
such motives; and that it would be supported against him by every
artful device that hatred could frame, or wealth and skill could carry
through. He did not, it is true, suppose that the unhappy man at
Ryebury had been murdered with a view to the charge against him; but
he did believe that the murder had been seized upon as an incident to
render the crime more heinous; and, however it occurred that the two
facts leaped so well together, he concluded that the money had been
placed in his room for the express purpose of betraying himself and
his family, by bringing against him some accusation, the very
suspicion of which would ruin him in his profession, degrade him from
his station in society, and sink his father beneath a load of shame
and despair.

He thought over it, again and again; and whenever the improbabilities,
which were not thinly mingled with the composition of his suspicions,
came across his mind, and made him begin to doubt if he were right, he
set against them, on the other hand, all the reasons that existed for
believing that the money could not have been left by Beauchamp, and
called to mind also the words of his sister.

"How could such a suspicion enter her mind," he asked himself, "unless
she had discovered something to make her believe that Lord Ashborough
and his lawyer were bent upon her family's ruin?" and, as he thus
thought, he would have given worlds for a few minutes' conversation
with Blanche, longing for it, of course, the more eagerly on account
of its impossibility.

Whichever way he turned, there were improbabilities to be encountered;
and for long he vacillated between the opinion that Beauchamp had left
the money in his chamber, and the suspicion that it had been placed
there by some of the agents of Lord Ashborough, in order that a charge
of robbery, embezzlement, or something equally criminal and degrading,
might be raised upon the fact. Now the one predominated, now the
other, and his mind continued tossed between the two, like a ship
rolling in the long swell that follows a severe storm. At length he
determined to write down all the causes of suspicion he had against
the lawyer Peter Tims, in order to lay them clearly and substantially
before the magistrates or the coroner, that his own established
reputation and high character might be supported by strong proofs of
animosity and vindictive feeling on the part of the accuser.

Materials for writing were luckily to be found in his chamber, and he
proceeded to place on paper the history of the whole transaction with
Lord Ashborough up to the payment of the bill that morning; but the
effect upon his own mind was fully as great as that which he intended
to produce upon others; and, before he had concluded the paper, he was
morally convinced, that by the instigation of Lord Ashborough's agent,
and by his instigation alone, the money had been left in his room. He
laid down the pen to combine in thought this certainty with the
presumptions of guilt already brought forward against him; and,
as he perceived how much might be made of the evidence already
collected--how little opportunity the law allowed him for gathering
the means of rebutting the accusation--and what a facility unbounded
wealth, great influence, and freedom from all restraint, gave to his
enemy, he clasped his hands and gave himself up to despair.

"Beauchamp will of course be sent for," he thought; "and, when he
comes, it only remains for him to declare that he had nothing to do
with the transaction--and my condemnation takes place of course. Good
God! a Commander in his Majesty's Navy to die like a common felon! My
name and my family to be branded with infamy for ever! My father to
expire of shame within the year; and my poor Blanche, if she survive,
to be pointed at for life as the sister of the murderer, William
Delaware! Ay!" he thought more bitterly still; "and Beauchamp will
thank his good stars which kept him from such an alliance; and Maria
Beauchamp may perhaps blush when she remembers that the murderer was
her cousin. But time," he cried, starting up, "time will do me
justice, and clear my name; and then she may weep to think how I was
wronged, and how she believed it!"

After walking up and down the room for some time, in a state of mind
which it would be difficult to describe, he took down a book and
endeavoured to read, but in vain. He then strove to amuse his mind by
looking out of the window, which commanded an extensive view over the
wilder part of the park at the back of the house, and thence to the
rich country beyond Ryebury, and the high downs which crowned the
cliffs above the sea. All the scene was bright and clear, and there
was a beautiful air of freshness and liberty in the whole--the very
clouds, as they skimmed over the sky, and raced their dark shadows
along the lea, spoke of light freedom, and no one would have enjoyed
it more than William Delaware at any other moment; but every thing
that is sweet, requires the heart to be in tune. The pitch of all his
feelings was many a tone too low--the fairer was the scene the greater
was the discord it produced with the thoughts of the prisoner, and the
whole was "like sweet bells jangled out of tune, and harsh."

"Time," he still thought, "time will clear my fame, and do me justice;
and in the meanwhile, doubtless, I shall die condemned. Still, it is
hard enough to feel that one is innocent, and yet to bear the shame
and the punishment of the guilty. I wish to Heaven I could speak with
Blanche!" Approaching the door, he knocked somewhat sharply,
exclaiming, "Mr. Thomson, I much wish that I could speak with my
sister for a few minutes! Can you not grant me such a liberty?"

"Quite impossible, Captain!" replied the chief constable. "I wish to
Heaven I dared! I am sure you know that I would do any thing I could
to help you. But this, you see, is no ordinary job; and though I know
well enough you are innocent, yet that fellow, Tims, threatened us so,
we dare not for our lives."

"Well, I cannot help it then!" answered the prisoner, with a sigh. "Do
you know whether the coroner is arrived yet?"

"Not yet, sir!" answered the constable, still speaking through the
door. "The jury is summoned for five o'clock, I hear."

Captain Delaware looked at his watch. It was just three; and for the
long hours that succeeded, he continued in the same frame of mind,
torturing himself with all those dreamy miseries that an imaginative
and impatient heart calls up constantly to aggravate all the ills of
misfortune or disappointment. There is no such terrible tamer of the
spirit as solitary confinement; and, ere nightfall, the whole hopes
and expectations of William Delaware were completely sunk, and the
state of his mind was pure despair.

His dinner, which had been brought in by one of the constables at
five, remained untouched; and he listened to every sound, expecting
each moment to be called before the coroner; but no summons came. At
length, just as night was approaching, he heard a considerable sound
of voices in the anteroom; and, starting up, he prepared to go along
with the messenger, who, he doubted not, had been despatched for him;
but the sound subsided, and, in a minute after, the constable again
entered the room.

"You had better take something really, Captain," said the man kindly,
eyeing the untasted dinner. "There is no use, you know, sir, of
letting your heart get down that way."

"I have been expecting to be sent for every minute," replied the
prisoner; "and I cannot eat in such a state of anxiety."

"You will not be sent for to-night, Captain," replied the constable.

"Has the coroner sat, then?" demanded Captain Delaware.

"Ay, sir!" was the answer.

"And what is the verdict?" cried the accused, fixing his eyes eagerly
upon the officer's face.

"Wilful murder, sir!" answered the constable, shaking his head.

"Against me?" exclaimed the prisoner.

"Even so!" replied the officer sadly. "Even so!"

Captain Delaware fell back into his chair, and clasped his hands over
his eyes, while the man went on trying to comfort him.

"That is nothing, you know, sir--nothing at all!" he said. "You have
had no time, you know, to prove your innocence--You have had no trial
yet. Lord bless you, sir, nobody in the town believes you guilty! They
all know you too well--and, when it comes to the trial, all will go
right, depend upon it. Even the coroner, they tell me, said the case
was so doubtful a one, that he would not have you removed to-night.
But you had better take something really."

Captain Delaware signified that it was impossible; and the man,
telling him that he would bring him a light in a short time, left him
to himself. His thoughts and feeling may perhaps be conceived, but
cannot be written. Had there lingered a ray of hope in his mind before
this announcement reached him, it would now have vanished; but, amidst
the agonized feelings which possessed him, if there was one sensation
more painful than the rest, it was produced by the thought, that on
the morrow he was to be hurried away to the common jail--there, beyond
doubt, as he now thought, to await an unjust sentence and an
ignominious death. His ideas were still in the same state of confused
bewilderment, when the constable returned with a light, and, setting
it down on the table, he said--

"Captain! there is your good old housekeeper, Mrs. Williams, takes on
terribly because you will not eat; and she's so pressing to speak with
you through the door, to see if she cannot get you to take something,
that I have promised her she shall, while the other officer is down at
his supper. So, do take something, if it be but to please the old
lady!"

"Well, well, I will speak to her when she comes!" answered Captain
Delaware in the same desponding tone; and Mr. Thomson withdrew.

In about five minutes after, he heard the step of the other constable
depart, and ere long there was a gentle tap at his door.

"Come in!" was his first reply; but, instantly remembering his
situation, he approached the door, and demanded, "Who is there?"

"It is I, Master William!" answered the voice of the old housekeeper.
"Oh dear! Oh dear! to think of their accusing you of killing a man--you
that were always as gentle as a lamb!"

"Do not speak so loud, Mrs. Williams," said the voice of the friendly
constable. "I do not want the other man to hear you. He is a stranger
in the place, and of course cannot feel for the old family as I can."

"Well, well, Mr. Thomson," answered the old lady; "I will speak low.
You see that he does not come up stairs. Oh dear, Master William!" she
proceeded; "good Mr. Thomson here says you eat nothing at all. Pray,
do eat something."

"I cannot, indeed, Mrs. Williams," replied the prisoner; "but I shall
be better to-morrow, and then I will. It is the first shock, you know,
that is the worst. It will wear off in a day or two."

As he spoke there was a slight noise, as of the key turning round in
the lock, which was instantly caught by the quick ears of the
constable. "You must not try to go in now, Mrs. Williams," he said.
"It is against my strict orders."

"I am not trying to go in," she replied, somewhat crossly. "You would
soon pull me out again, if I did. It was only my cap caught against
the key, as I was stooping down to ask if he would have the soup.
Master William," she continued, again addressing the prisoner, "are
you there?--for I must not speak loud, he says--I have such a nice
basin of soup for you, if I could but get you to _take it_."

William Delaware remarked again a slight noise at the keyhole, and
thought that the good old lady laid a peculiar emphasis on the words
"_take it!_" He replied, however,--"Indeed, Mary, I cannot take any
thing to-night."

"Pray do!" she said, "Pray do! It is the best thing for you by far.
Will you really not take it, Master William?"

As she spoke, he perceived the end of a small piece of paper protruded
gradually through the keyhole; and it became evident, that the good
old housekeeper, standing between the officer and the door, had
contrived, without being detected, to insinuate through the aperture
some written information from Captain Delaware's family. The prisoner
instantly took a step forward, and laying hold of the little roll,
drew it completely through, saying aloud, "Well, well! I will take it,
then."

"Ah, that is right!" cried the voice of the old lady, joyfully. "There
is a good boy! Do always what you are bid! I will send the soup up as
soon as ever it is warm!"

"Do so, and thank you!" replied the prisoner. "Tell Blanche and my
father," he added, "that, as I am innocent, I doubt not my innocence
will soon appear; and bid them be of good heart."

The old lady bade God bless him, and went away; and as soon as he had
heard the constable seat himself again in the anteroom, he opened the
paper he had received, and read the contents.

It began in the handwriting of the old housekeeper, and had probably
been written in the first instance without consultation with any one
else; but below there appeared a few lines from his father, which had
evidently been added afterwards.

It began. "Master William, do get away as fast as you can. Don't stop,
for God's Sake, to let those wicked people have their will. Remember
the trapdoor under your bed, where you used to play at hide-and-seek
when you were little. Master ordered it to be fastened up long ago;
but I had only one nail put in, for what was the use, you know. You
can easy get the nail out, I am sure; and there shall be a horse
waiting for you at the back park gate at twelve o'clock to-night, and
money and all to take you to foreign parts, till the conspiracy Miss
Blanche says is against you, can be proved upon them. So, do now, for
the love of Heaven!"

Beneath this epistle his father had written, in a hasty and tremulous
hand--"I sincerely think the above is the best plan you can follow.
There is evidently a conspiracy against us; and, as you have been
selected for the victim, it is better for you to make your escape
while you can, than remain, and risk all that malice, wealth, art, and
villainy, can do against you. Take the road to ----, where there are
always foreign vessels lying. Write to us when you are safe, under
cover to Mr. ----, the trustee of your poor mother's little property.
Fare-you-well, my dear boy, and God bless you!    S. D."


A new struggle now arose in the breast of the prisoner. The idea of
flight had never suggested itself to his mind before; and, though he
had in truth lost all hope that his own innocence would prove his
safety in the present instance, still the thought of giving additional
weight to the charge against himself, by absconding, was painful. Yet
his father advised it; and it was more than probable that Sir Sidney
had better means of knowing the peculiar dangers of his situation than
he had himself. Aware of his own innocence, he felt, no doubt, that
sooner or later he should be able to establish it beyond all question,
if time were but allowed him. All he had to fear was, that, by the
rapidity with which such transactions are sometimes carried through,
he might be condemned, and even executed, before some of those
circumstances which time is sure eventually to disclose, could be
discovered to prove him guiltless, and to fix their villainy upon his
accusers.

It is wonderful how well the human mind reasons upon its own side of
the question, when on the one hand is the prospect of an ignominious
death, with but the remote hope of our innocence working a miracle in
our favour, and, on the other, are presented the ready means of
escape. Every one knows too well, that the law is not one of those
lions that invariably lie down at the feet of virtue; and that, had
poor Una, with such suspicions against her, met in the desert a law
lion instead of a real one, the beast would infallibly have torn her
in pieces. All this Captain Delaware knew. He had lost hope that his
innocence would serve him; he was strongly urged by those who had the
best opportunity of judging of his real situation; the means of escape
were at hand, and he determined to make use of them.

Although he had been treated hitherto with great lenity, he knew not
how soon an order for searching him might come, and therefore he took
means immediately to destroy the paper he had received. This was
scarcely accomplished when the constable again appeared with the soup,
and, as the door opened and shut, he saw lying on the floor of the
anteroom a set of fetters. They were evidently not intended to be put
upon his limbs that night, as the officer made no allusion to them;
but, had his intention of escaping even wavered, the sight of those
badges of ignominy would have determined him from that moment.

"I shall leave you the candle. Captain," said the man, "though I
believe it is out of rule--and I have a notion that, all things
considered, one of us ought to sleep in the room with you; but, as
that would not be agreeable to you I'm sure, we must get the old
housekeeper to make us a shake-down in the outer room."

"I shall not forget your civility, Thomson," said Captain Delaware;
"and, as you are quite sure that it is not in my nature to commit such
a crime as that with which these fellows charge me, so you may be sure
I shall some time have the means of thanking you better, when I have
proved my innocence.

"I trust you may, Captain!--I am sure you may!" replied the man
heartily; and, wishing him good-night, he left him.

His resolution being now taken, the means of putting it into execution
became the next question. He looked round the room, and examined
carefully every closet and drawer, in the hopes of finding some
implement wherewith to extract the nail that fastened the trapdoor to
which the letter referred, and which he well remembered having passed
through as a boy a thousand times ere he went to sea. But his room had
been thoroughly searched before he had been confined in it, and
neither knife, nor gun-screw, nor tool of any kind, was to be found.
"Perhaps I can get it out with my hands," he thought; and, kneeling by
his bed, he soon discovered the three boards in the dark oak flooring,
that were contrived to play upon a hinge, and thus formed a trapdoor.
It was close by the bedside, and, opening back against the edge of the
bedstead, would have given him exit at once if he could have found any
thing with which to extract the nail, or rather nails; for,
notwithstanding Mrs. Williams's assertion, there was apparently one in
each of the boards. He gazed upon them for a moment in silence,
thinking over every article of furniture that the room contained, in
the hope of turning some one to the use he desired; but it was in
vain, and at length, taking a dollar from his purse, he slipped it
partly between the boards, merely to see whether they were or were not
strongly fastened down.

To his great surprise, they moved up easily by the effort he made, as
far as the crown-piece could be brought to act as a lever. He
immediately applied his hand to keep them in that position, and then
slipping the silver a little farther down, raised them still higher.
Another effort enabled him to interpose his fingers between the
trapdoor and the flooring; and it became evident at once, on a closer
examination, that the single nail which had in reality fastened it
down, had been lately pushed out--in all probability from below. The
hole, which it had left in the beam, was still fresh; and Captain
Delaware now perceived that what he had taken for two other nails,
were in fact merely nail-heads, driven in to make the several boards
resemble each other. Gently replacing the trapdoor, he returned to the
table, and sat down to indite a clear statement of the reasons which
induced him to effect his escape without awaiting the event of his
trial. Into this he wove the notes he had before written concerning
the previous conduct of his accuser, and he boldly declared that he
looked upon Lord Ashborough as the instigator, and the lawyer as the
agent, in a premeditated scheme to destroy his family. To bear upon
this point, he brought all the circumstances within his knowledge, and
all the arguments he could make use of; and, after avowing his
conviction that nothing but time would establish his innocence, he
folded the paper, and addressed it to Dr. Wilton and Mr. Egerton.
Before this was concluded, it was near eleven o'clock, and the only
light that was allowed him was beginning to burn low. In order,
therefore, to take advantage of it while it lasted, he approached the
trap, and was about to raise it, when it suddenly occurred to him
that, in the letter he had just written, it might seem that he had
shifted his ground of defence, since he had avowed in the morning that
he believed Henry Beauchamp to have placed the money in his chamber;
and, turning back to the table, he sat down to explain that
circumstance, and to desire that Beauchamp might be called upon to
state whether he had done so or not. Luckily, as it happened, he did
so; for the moment after, with scarcely any noise, the door of his
room opened, and the head of the other constable, who was a stranger
in the town, appeared, looking in as if from some excited suspicion.

"Oh, good-night Captain!" he said, "I did not know whether you were
asleep."

"Not yet," replied Captain Delaware calmly; "but, as you are not
asleep either, I wish you would get me another light, and some
sealing-wax, as I want this letter to go early to-morrow to the
magistrates."

"It's no use, Captain, I am afraid," replied the constable.
"Howsomdever, it shall go--but the boy as takes it, must be paid, you
know."

"There is half a sovereign to pay him with," replied the prisoner;
"keep the rest for your own trouble--and get me another light and some
sealing-wax."

"Why, every one is a-bed but me, and I was just agoing," replied the
man. "But I will see." So saying, he departed, but returned in a few
minutes with another light, and a stick of sealing-wax; and, finding
the prisoner still writing, he left him, telling him that he was just
going to bed, but if he would push the letter under the door, it
should be sent the first thing next morning.

Captain Delaware gladly saw him depart, and ere he had concluded, and
sealed his letter, heard unequivocal signs of one at least of his
jailers having fallen into a sound sleep. He listened anxiously, again
and again, but all was silent in the house, except the dull, hard
breathing of the constables, in the anteroom. It was now half-past
eleven, and the hour at which the horse was to be at the back park
gate was so near, that it became necessary to execute his design with
promptitude; yet there was something painful in it altogether, which
made him linger a moment or two in his father's house, calling up its
host of memories, and evoking from the dim night of time, the sweet
and mournful spirit of the past.

He felt, however, that it was all in vain--that such thoughts but
served to weaken him; and, taking up the light, he approached his
bedside, and once more raised the trapdoor. The little ladder stood
ready, just as it used to stand in the days of his childhood, and
descending slowly, step by step, holding the light in one hand, and
supporting the trapdoor in the other, he reached the last step but two
or three, and then suffered the door to close over his head. The
narrow cavity in which he now was, filled the centre of one of those
internal buttresses, if I may use the term, into the masonry of which
one of the back staircases of the old mansion was joisted. It was
about six feet square in the inside, and at the first floor beneath
his own, afforded a sort of landing-place, on which the ladder rested.
Thence, again, a more solid stair of stone wound down to a sort of
vault under the terrace, in which was placed the great draw-well that
supplied the house with the water principally used by the family.

When the trapdoor was closed, William Delaware, who was descending
backwards, turned to look how many steps intervened between his feet
and the ground, when, to his surprise, he found that the last step but
one of the ladder, old and rotted by the damp, was broken through the
middle, and offered, in the fresh yellow surface of the fracture,
incontestable proofs that the way had been trod very lately by some
other foot than his own. Over the floor of the landing-place, too,
which that thriftless housewife Neglect had left covered with a thick
coat of dust, might be traced three distinct steps from the mouth of
the staircase; and the young fugitive at once saw that the way which
had served to introduce the money into his chamber was now before him.
That being the case, he felt that if his suspicions in regard to Mr.
Tims were true, the outlet might and would probably be watched; and,
consequently, he determined to examine the whole ground cautiously
before he attempted to go out into the park.

Down the stairs, which were likewise covered with dust, he could trace
the same alternate step coming up and going down again, but no other
footmarks were to be seen, and it was evident that but one person had
passed that way for years. The doors, however, which at different
parts of the descent had been placed to guard that means of entrance,
were now wide open; and, descending to the vault or cellar in which
the well was placed, William Delaware put out the light behind a pile
of old bottles, that nearly covered the foot of the stairs, and then
cautiously approached the door, underneath which a narrow line of pale
moonlight was visible.

The door was sometimes padlocked, and it seemed so closely fastened,
that the young sailor's heart began to fail him as he approached, but
carelessness or the good old housekeeper had left no obstacles there;
and, as he drew it slowly towards him, it yielded to his hand without
a sound, exposing to his sight, once more, all the fine wild park
scenery at the back of the mansion, lighted up by as glorious a moon
as ever looked out through the blue sky upon the fair face of earth.
For full five minutes, he paused and turned his eyes in every
direction, but nothing was to be seen which could cause him the
slightest apprehension; and throwing the door wider open, he
considered which would be the nearest and the best covered way towards
the gate at which the horse was to be stationed. At the western angle
of the park, a sweep of old trees came within a hundred yards of the
house, and thence a path wandered in amongst some large hawthorns and
two or three splendid larches, leading down towards the glen in which
the Prior's Well was situated. The gate which he wished to reach,
indeed, lay somewhat to the east; but in order to proceed straight
thither, he would have been obliged to cross a wide open piece of
grassy ground, on which the moon was shedding a light nearly as clear
as that of day, and which was commanded by every window in that side
of the building.

Gliding along, then, under the terrace, and bending--so that his head
might not appear above it, he reached the opposite angle of the
building, one of the old octagon towers of which threw out a long
shadow, that fell upon the nearest trees, and mingled with the
obscurity beneath them. Following this dark track, William Delaware
walked quickly on, gained the shelter of the wood, and then, threading
the well-known paths with a step of light, reached the dim glen which
he had trod so lately with Burrel and his sister, and only paused,
with the burning thirst of intense agitation, beside the old fountain,
where, in the braggadocio spirit of a heart at ease, he had dared them
to drink the icy waters of indifference.

"I may drink now myself, indeed!" he thought, as he filled the iron
cup; but still he paused in raising it to his lips--gave his heart one
moment to dream--conjured up as idle a hope as ever crossed the mind
of man, and then tossed the cup back again into the well. And I should
like to know if all the human race were brought, one by one, to the
side of a fountain of such virtues as that--without a mortal eye to
look on, and arm their vanity against their affections--if there would
be one being found in all the world so hapless--so hopeless--so
without one sweet drop of feeling or of fancy--so destitute of life's
ties and the hearths yearnings--as to raise the chilly waters
irrevocably to their lips!



CHAPTER IX.


It is impossible to describe the joy and satisfaction with which the
excellent people of Emberton had heard, that Mr. Tims, the old miser
at Ryebury, had been murdered. I do not, of course, mean to say that
every one in the whole town had those enlarged and general views which
made them take in at once all the infinite advantages, both moral and
physical, which that event was likely to afford them. Some, indeed,
only calculated upon the overflowing and inexhaustible source of
bustle, excitement, surmise, and gossip, which was thus opened to
them. Some fixed their thoughts upon the renown that Emberton would
acquire throughout the realm, as the place where the dreadful murder
was committed, and others calculated upon wealth and emolument, from
the number of visiters that it would bring to see the place. But only
a few, of more vast and comprehensive minds, saw all these particulars
in one general view, and rubbed their hands in great anticipations, as
sharing in the sweet excitement of the moment, they talked over the
murder with their neighbours, and added many bright touches from their
own fancy to ornament the bloody deed.

The first news of the event that reached Emberton, had been conveyed
by Farmer Ritson's hind, who supplied the old miser with his quotidian
pennyworth of milk, and who had discovered the deed on applying in
vain for admission. He alarmed his master, whose house was half a mile
distant, and the good farmer instantly sent the intelligence to
Emberton. The messenger's arrival took place just five minutes after
Mr. Tims junior had driven through the town on his way to the mansion
at the park; and as both Dr. Wilton and Mr. Egerton, the nearest
magistrates, had passed the preceding evening and night at Emberton,
enquiring into some suspicious circumstances connected with the
burning of Mrs. Darlington's house, they were instantly called from
their breakfast, and proceeded to examine into this fresh crime, which
was destined to illustrate the annals of the neighbourhood.

They found the house at Ryebury already surrounded by a number of
people; and from amongst them various persons stepped forward to offer
some little item of testimony; but an unexpected visiter soon appeared
in the person of the lawyer, who, on leaving the park, in not the most
placable humour, ordered the postboy to drive to his uncle's house,
and arrived just as the magistrates were about to leave the premises.
No sooner did he hear of the event, than he determined if possible to
involve the family of Sir Sidney Delaware in the consequences, and
entered into an examination of the circumstances, which soon not only
furnished him with the means of doing so, but also really convinced
him that Captain Delaware was guilty of the crime that he proposed to
impute to him. He at once laid his charge, and related the
circumstances of his late transaction with Sir Sidney Delaware's
family, in his own particular way. He would fain, indeed, have
involved the father too in the accusation he brought against the son;
but his own clerk, and the sheriff's officer, distinctly stated before
the magistrates, that it had been evident throughout, that Sir Sidney
had not been aware, on their first arrival, that his son was in
possession of the money necessary to pay the debt; and, for fear of
spoiling a very hopeful case against Captain Delaware, the lawyer was
obliged to abandon all charge against the baronet.

If the news of the murder alone, had so soothed and gratified each of
those mixed feelings--the love of the marvellous--the passion for
talking--and the general dislike to our fellow creatures, which
all--combined with, or rather, as it were, imbedded in a soft stratum
of vanity--enter into the spirit of gossiping; how much more were the
good folks of Emberton delighted and stimulated when they heard the
charge against Captain Delaware, and learned that the result of the
coroner's inquest was a verdict of wilful murder against him. The
reason why we are so much better pleased when a person in our own or a
superior station, commits a crime, or enacts a folly--why we tell it
immediately to every one we meet, and aggravate it by our own
comments--is probably, that a person in that rank having had as great
advantages in circumstances and education as ourselves, our vanity has
the full opportunity of complimenting us on not having done the same,
without the necessity of admitting one deduction on the score of
greater temptations, or inferior knowledge, which we are compelled to
do, when the criminal is low, ignorant, or poor. The fact is, in all
these cases, we make ourselves a bow on our own good behaviour, and
the lowness of the bow depends upon the relative situation of the
sinner or the fool over whom we crow.

Thus, when the matter came to be discussed at Emberton, every one
cried out, "Well, one would have thought that a young man of such
hopes, and such an education as this Captain Delaware, would be the
last to commit so dreadful a crime! A poor ignorant wretch driven to
vice from necessity one might have suspected; but not the son of a
baronet, and a Master and Commander in the King's Navy!"

Amongst such speculations fled away the evening; and, as we have
said--although the people did not illuminate the town--the verdict of
the coroner's jury certainly did make them as happy as the gossiping,
envious, scandalous community of a little country town could be made.
Early the next morning, however, just as the chaise which was to
convey the prisoner to the county town was about to set out for his
father's house, and as all the people of Emberton were preparing to
turn out, and stare at him as he passed, a buzzing rumour began to
spread abroad that Captain Delaware had escaped in the night.

"Escaped!" cried the old maiden in the house at the corner of the
bridge, letting fall the china cup from her hand as the maid announced
the fatal intelligence. "Escaped!--then we shall be all murdered in
our beds! Escaped!--why did they let the ruffian escape?"

In a different manner did the mercer bear the tidings; for, without
replying one word to the shopboy who told him, he proceeded to carry
the news direct to the stationers; and, as he detailed it, he added,
"So there can be no doubt of his guilt now!"

"There never was any! There never was any!" replied the linen-draper
in the same charitable spirit. "But you have heard that wild Wat
Harrison, the widow's son, has not been seen or heard of for two or
three days, and that there are manifold suspicions"----

"To be sure! To be sure! Those Delawares were always fond of him,"
replied the mercer. "He sailed with this very Captain you know; and it
seems he has been under his orders once too often. I always said he
would come to be hanged!"

While such charitable conversation was passing at Emberton, the
magistrates were not inactive; warrants, horses, and constables were
despatched in all directions, and both Dr. Wilton and Mr. Egerton,
well knowing the blame that would attach to themselves, returned to
the mansion to investigate by what means the prisoner had escaped. The
constables in whose charge he had been left, and the room which he had
occupied, were first examined. The two men declared upon oath, that no
one had been admitted to the accused but themselves, since he had been
remanded--that they had both slept in the anteroom--that the door had
been locked all night--that the window was far too high to afford the
means of evasion--and that they had both seen and spoken to Captain
Delaware as late as eleven the preceding night. The inferior constable
at the same time handed the fugitive's letter to Dr. Wilton, who
opened and read it, while Mr. Egerton made the first superficial
examination of the room; and, as his fellow magistrate was about to
institute a more rigorous investigation, the clergyman exclaimed.
"Stay stay, Mr. Egerton this letter concerns us both, and in it
William Delaware alludes, in some measure, to the method of his
intended escape!"

"See here! He says the officers are entirely guiltless of it, as it is
by a passage they are not acquainted with."

"Then there must be some private entrance," said Mr. Egerton.

"I dare say there is," answered Dr. Wilton; "but this letter, in many
points, throws some new light upon the subject. Read it! Read it! and,
at all events, let us, as far as we can, do the poor boy justice. Read
it, my dear sir!"

Mr. Egerton took it to the window, and read it attentively over. He
then gave the letter back to Dr. Wilton, saying, "He makes out a good
case against his accuser; but I am afraid, my dear doctor, that it
will not screen himself. However, on every account--for charity's
sake, and the sake of mere justice, I will of course exert myself to
the utmost--that is to say, quietly--quietly you know, for the matter
is nearly out of our hands--but I will exert myself to the utmost to
discover every fact connected with the charge. In the mean time, we
must do our duty, and endeavour to recover our prisoner. Let us
examine the walls."

"First examine the floor," said Dr. Wilton. "Sliding panels have not
been to be found since the epoch of Udolpho; but trapdoors are to be
met with in all these old houses."

The hint was instantly complied with; and the trapdoor was discovered
at once, together with its communication with the park. Nothing
farther, however, could be made of this fact. The way the fugitive had
taken, remained still undiscovered; and the only effect which their
investigation produced upon the minds of the two magistrates was, that
each perceived at once that the means which Captain Delaware had taken
to make his escape, might very well have served another person for the
purpose of placing the money in his chamber unseen; and thus his tale
acquired a degree of probability which it had not before possessed.

When the examination was concluded, as far as it could be carried at
the time, and every necessary measure for overtaking the fugitive had
been put in train for execution, Mr. Egerton went back to Emberton to
confer with the coroner, who was hourly expected to return to that
little town, in order to see the prisoner despatched to the county
jail. Dr. Wilton, in the meanwhile, laying aside his magisterial
capacity, proceeded, as a friend and a clergyman, to visit Sir Sidney
Delaware and his daughter. He found them, as he had expected,
depressed in the extreme and saw that they were naturally in a high
state of nervous anxiety in regard to Captain Delaware's safety. At
first there was a degree of painful embarrassment in the whole
deportment of Sir Sidney Delaware, which made him treat even Dr.
Wilton with no small haughtiness and reserve. But the good clergyman
came to console and to sooth; and he persevered with all those kindly
and feeling attentions, which are sure ultimately to win their way to
an amiable heart, however much the road thither may be obstructed by
the pride of undeserved shame, or the reckless repulsiveness of bitter
disappointment.

When he found Sir Sidney unwilling to listen, impatient of
consolation, or heedless of conversation, he turned to Blanche, and
won her into the innocent man[oe]uvre of wiling her father from his
bitterer thoughts. Gradually the feelings of the baronet relaxed: he
was brought more and more to speak of his own sorrows, and of his
son's unhappy fate; and though a tear or two forced themselves through
his eyelids, his griefs and even his apprehensions--as is sometimes
the case--were partly lost as they were poured forth into a friendly
ear.

We must do justice to all, however. Dr. Wilton was not the only friend
who came to sooth and console the unhappy family at Emberton Park; and
the person who next appeared was certainly one whom they did not
expect to see. It was Mrs. Darlington, who had lately taken a house at
the distance of about ten miles. After spending a part of the
preceding day at Emberton, she had returned to her dwelling, in no
small horror at the charge which she heard had been brought against
her young friend, William Delaware.

Now Mrs. Darlington, as we have shown before, was not without her
foibles and absurdities, but withal she had a far greater share of
real goodness of heart, and of the milk of human kindness, than
generally falls to the lot of that amphibious class called very good
sort of people. It must also be remarked, that though she was in no
degree very brilliant, and only made herself ridiculous by the
smattering of pretty accomplishments which she possessed, yet there
was a certain rectitude of understanding about her, which, in early
years, taking the form of tact, enabled her to assume at once the tone
of a society above the rank in which she was born; and which, in after
life, had often guided her to just conclusions, when people without
half her little weaknesses, and who pretended to ten times her
abilities, were all in the wrong.

In the present instance, no sooner did she hear of the accusation
against Captain Delaware, than, from her previous knowledge of his
character, she pronounced it at once to be perfect nonsense; and when
Dr. Wilton informed her that he and Mr. Egerton had remanded the young
officer on suspicion, she merely asked, "How they could be so
foolish?" The coroner's inquest produced no other effect. She still
pronounced it all nonsense together; and quietly declared to her maid
that she was sure it would ultimately be found that the people who had
murdered the poor old man were the very same who had set fire to her
house, and carried off her plate.

The worthy lady, however, passed the whole of that evening and the
next morning in a state of considerable perturbation. She was a great
stickler for proprieties--hated every thing in the world that made a
noise--liked a small lion, it is true, but had a great aversion to a
bear, even if, like a late learned Grecian, it affected to be a lion
solely on the strength of being a wild beast--and finally, she did not
at all approve of personages who were in any way doubtful. All this
operated strongly upon the prudential organs of her cerebral
development, and would have induced her to stay at home quietly, and
watch the course of events in regard to the Delaware family, had not
the goodness of heart we have spoken of, and the rectitude of judgment
which established Captain Delaware's innocence in her mind beyond all
manner of doubt, both pressed her strongly forward to show countenance
and kindness to the ruined family in their distress.

There was a considerable struggle for it, however, in her own mind;
but, nevertheless, at ten o'clock, she again declared that it was all
nonsense together, and ordered the chariot as soon as possible.

By this time her resolution was taken; and, stepping lightly in, she
ordered the coachman to drive to Emberton Park.

It is not impossible that on her arrival she might have been denied
admittance--for just inasmuch as one never knows all the coldness of
the general world till one tries it, one does not know the kindness of
the exceptions either--but, without any questions, she walked out of
the carriage, and, tripping across the hall with a step a good deal
too juvenile, she entered the library unannounced.

Sir Sidney bowed with stately formality; but Blanche, who understood
the whole business better, exclaimed, while the bright tears rose in
her eyes, "Oh, Mrs. Darlington, this is very kind of you indeed!"

"Not at all, my dear Blanche! Not at all!" replied Mrs. Darlington, in
her usual quick but little meaning manner. "Where is your brother? I
am resolved to see him, and tell him how foolish I think all the
magistrates of the county have grown together. Beg your pardon, Dr.
Wilton; but it is true indeed!"

"You cannot see him, madam, I am afraid," replied Dr. Wilton gravely;
"for he has made his escape from confinement."

"Oh, dear! I am very glad to hear it," she replied. "You surely would
not have had him stay in a nasty filthy prison for two or three weeks,
because a great rogue chose to accuse him of a crime nobody believes
he committed. I am very glad to hear it indeed!"

The good lady then paused for a moment; and perceiving that, although
her avowal of disbelief in regard to Captain Delaware's guilt had been
not a little pleasing to his father, Sir Sidney still remained sad and
depressed, she turned to him, kindly saying, "Come, come, Sir Sidney,
I will not have you look so gloomy. You are as careworn as if your son
were really guilty; and as we all know very well that he is not, you
should make yourself quite sure that he will easily be able to cause
his innocence to appear. But I have laid out a little scheme for you
and Blanche. I have nobody staying with me in my new house, and the
place is quite quiet. You will do nothing here but grow dull and
melancholy, and I will have you get into the chariot with me, and come
away and spend a week or two, till all this is settled."

Although Sir Sidney Delaware felt that the invitation was most kind,
and in his own dwelling experienced that sickening disgust which one
feels towards all once-loved things, when some fatal change has
poisoned them with bitter associations, yet he declined Mrs.
Darlington's offer on his own part, though he much pressed his
daughter to accept it. Blanche, however, refused to leave her father;
and the matter would have ended thus, had not Mrs. Darlington
discovered that one great motive in Sir Sidney's desire to remain at
his own dwelling, at least for that night, was to hear the first news
brought by the messengers despatched to intercept his son.

As soon as she found how much weight this had upon him, she proposed
to go forward with Dr. Wilton to Emberton, and there hear all that had
been done, in her own business: after which, she said, she would
return at six o'clock for Sir Sidney and his daughter, who must have
received tidings from the three county towns to which officers had
been despatched.

Some slight difficulties having been discussed and overcome, this plan
was agreed to. Mrs. Darlington and Dr. Wilton departed; and the fact
that Mrs. Darlington had visited the ruined family at Emberton, having
been ascertained, by the appearance of her carriage rolling down the
avenue from the house, threw the town into a state of agitation which
might have afforded matter of envy to the Arch-Agitator himself.

In the meanwhile, the various messengers charged with the warrants
against Captain William Delaware, proceeded towards their
destinations. It may be only necessary to follow one of them, however;
as all the rest, being sent in various wrong directions, might have
gone onward in a direct line till they met at the antipodes, without
setting eyes upon William Delaware. The one, then, who was directed to
ride with all speed to the seaport town of ----, and having got his
warrant backed by the proper authorities, to search for and take the
person of the accused, arrived in that place at about two o'clock of
the afternoon; and, finding that no less than five foreign vessels had
sailed that day at high water, which took place at eight of the clock,
he proceeded, as he had been directed, to enquire at the offices of
all the foreign vice-consuls what passports had been granted during
the morning.

The consuls and their clerks were as civil as possible, and the names
and descriptions were read over to him; but the poor man might as well
have been in Babel, such a confused multitude of unchristianlike
christian names were pronounced in his ears. His next attempt was at
the descriptions; but he found that, during that one morning, people
of all colours and complexions, of all ages and sizes, of all features
and professions, had sailed for foreign parts, or obtained their
passports, which was quite as good; and therefore, bewildered and in
despair, he gave up the search; and, having committed his charge to
the constables of the place, once more mounted and returned to
Emberton.

These tidings were balm to the hearts of Sir Sidney and Blanche
Delaware, but were not quite so pleasing to the people of Emberton,
who next to a murder enjoyed a hanging--which, indeed, is generally
much the same thing. Another messenger, however, arrived about the
same time, who brought news which somewhat diverted their attention.
This was the man who had been sent the day before to London, by Dr.
Wilton, in search of Mr. Beauchamp, and who was a shrewd intelligent
fellow, not likely to miss the track of any one he sought for. But the
tidings he brought back imported, that Mr. Beauchamp had never reached
his house in town; and that, along the whole line of road, no person
resembling him had either fed a horse, taken a post-chaise, mounted a
stage, or entered an inn for the last four days.

Every one opened their eyes; and the people of Emberton all went to
bed with the consolatory reflection that Mr. Beauchamp, or rather Mr.
Burrel, as they termed him, must undoubtedly have been murdered also.
Dr. Wilton was himself uneasy. Sir Sidney Delaware said that the
absence of Henry Beauchamp was most unfortunate on many accounts; but
Blanche turned deadly pale when she heard the tidings, and the vague
apprehensions by which they were accompanied; and it would require no
great skill in the book of the human heart to read the silent
commentary that went on in her own bosom, on the unexplained absence
of one she dearly loved.



CHAPTER X.


Exactly three days after the arrival of Mr. Peter Tims at Emberton,
and the discovery of his uncle's murder, the Right Honourable the Earl
of Ashborough was sitting at his breakfast-table, in his house of
Parmouth Hall, in the county of ----. It was a rainy morning, and over
the whole face of the country there was a dim sort of ground-glass
haze, which cut off all the far prospect from view, leaving even
those objects that were near, nothing but an indistinct aspect of
drippingness, not at all consolatory to those who had laid out their
expeditions for the day. Though a very regular man in his habits, Lord
Ashborough had a notion that fires were made to warm people, and that
people might very well be cold in the beginning of October, so that,
in addition to the glossy damask, and the splendid china, and the
burnished silver, and all those other things, which, as we have before
observed, make an English breakfast something far superior to any
other meal eaten in any other place in the world, there was the bright
and blazing fire in the polished grate, setting itself up in eternal
opposition to the rain without.

At one end of the table sat the earl, with his whole person in high
preservation, just as it came from the hands of his valet. At the
other end sat Maria Beauchamp, his niece, in all the full blow of
youth and beauty, fashion and good taste. By the side of Miss
Beauchamp sat two gentlemen, the Honourable Colonel ----, and
Mr. ----, whose names are not worth the trouble of writing, as I never
intend to mention them again. Suffice it that they were guests of Lord
Ashborough's; the first being a gentleman who, the noble lord thought,
would do very well for his niece, and the second a gentleman who
thought the noble lord's niece would do very well for him. Maria
differed from both; and, in short, thought very little of the two
personages at all; though the one poured a continual stream of
idleness into her ear which amused her, and the other made love by
being profoundly silent, which amused her as much.

"Either we have breakfasted early, or the post is late," said Lord
Ashborough; and one of the other gentleman was replying something
quite as significant, when a servant brought in the post-bag, and
delivered it formally into his lordship's hands. Lord Ashborough
immediately distributed the letters and newspapers; and as breakfast
was by this time nearly over, and the after humdrum commencing, each
gentleman put his letters in his pocket, and opened his newspaper.

"Hum!--Hum!" said the Colonel, running his eye over the columns--"Hum!
Horrid murder! We will keep that for a _bonne bouche_, I think. What
are funds?"

"Hum!--Hum!" said Mr. ----. "Hum--Horrid murder!--Hum!--'Pon my
honour, Colonel, the Draper has won the match against the Grand
Signor!"

"Ha!" said Lord Ashborough, "Ha! The French, I see, have persuaded the
English that they have not the slightest intention of keeping
possession of Algiers--and the English believe them. Let us see what
will be the case this time three years--Ha! Horrid murder! Good
God!--his throat cut from ear to ear!--Let us see--Coroner's
inquest--Wilful murder against--Why, Maria, here is a cousin of ours
been committing murder!--He will be hung to a certainty, my love; and
you will be obliged all the winter to wear deep mourning for his
offences."

"And pray, sir, who is the gentleman?" demanded Miss Beauchamp. "You
know I have so many cousins, and uncles, and such distant relations,
that I cannot be expected to remember them all, even when one of them
commits a murder."

"Oh! it is very possible, so careless a young lady may have forgot
him!" replied Lord Ashborough, somewhat piqued at the tone of her
answer; "but you have seen him within this month--It is Captain
William Delaware--the son of the man at Emberton, who has been cutting
the throat of an old miser at--at--at--a place called Ryebury--I think
it is."

Miss Beauchamp turned very pale, but, without reply, raised the
coffee-cup towards her lips. Ere it reached them, however, it dropped
from her hand, and dashed some of the china to pieces by its fall,
while the young lady herself sank back, fainting in her chair, much to
the horror and consternation of every one present. Lord Ashborough
started up, and advanced to his niece's assistance; Mr. ---- kneeled
by her side, and supported her head; while Colonel ----, who was a
tall stiff man, rose up, like the geni coming out of the copper
vessel--that is to say, by degrees--and rang the bell.

Miss Beauchamp was conveyed speedily to her own room; and the
excellent Colonel exclaimed, "Why, Ashborough, this murder which your
cousin has committed, seems to affect Miss Beauchamp more than
yourself!"

"I had forgot," replied Lord Ashborough, "that she and her brother
were almost brought up with those Delawares in their childhood. As to
myself, the matter does not affect me at all, Colonel--I always
thought that some catastrophe of the kind would take place. The
father--who was both at school and at college with me--was always one
of those violent, ruthless, unprincipled men, on whose conduct you
could never calculate; and as he was generally in scrapes and
difficulties, you know, temptation might assail him at any moment. The
son seemed, from the little I have ever seen of him, a boy of the same
disposition. Heaven knows," he added, with an air of modest candour,
"I acted in as liberal a manner as possible towards them! It was only
the other day that I accepted a mere trifle, in lieu of an annuity of
two thousand a-year which I held, payable upon their estates."

"Scamps!" said the Colonel, walking towards the window. "One never
makes any thing of scamps. When one has any poor relations--and I
suppose every one has some--the best way is to cut them at once--one
never makes any thing of scamps!"

"Mr. Tims, my lord, waiting in the library," said a servant entering,
just as the Colonel concluded his sensible, comprehensive, and
charitable observation.

"Not the ghost of the murdered man, I hope!" cried Mr. ----, who had
been reading the report of the coroner's inquest.

"No; but the body of his nephew, I suppose," replied Lord Ashborough.
"You had better try the billiard-room, gentlemen, as the day is so
bad;" and he proceeded to the library, where he was awaited by Mr.
Peter Tims, dressed in what the newspapers call a suit of decent
mourning, with a countenance made to match, according to the tailor's
term.

Lord Ashborough nodded, and Mr. Tims bowed low as they met; and the
peer, letting himself sink into an easy-chair, began the conversation
by saying, "I suppose, Mr. Tims, I must condole with you on your
uncle's death?"

"I have much need of condolence on many accounts, my lord," replied
the lawyer; "but I have one happiness, which is, that while your
lordship is pleased to condole with your humble servant, he has an
opportunity of congratulating you."

"Why, indeed, things seem to have turned out luckily," replied
Lord Ashborough; "but I am not yet half informed of what has
occurred--all I know is from a brief account in the newspapers.

"If your lordship is at liberty," said the lawyer, "I will explain the
whole;" and he forthwith set to work, and recounted all the principal
events which had happened, since he last left Lord Ashborough;
contriving, however, to take almost as much credit to himself for all
that had happened, as if he had cut his uncle's throat himself, on
purpose to ruin the family of Sir Sidney Delaware.

Lord Ashborough listened, and smiled with triumph, as Mr. Tims,
pandering to his malignity, dwelt upon the agony of Sir Sidney
Delaware, and the pain and shame of his gallant son--upon the
inevitable ruin that must overtake their whole race--and upon the
probable consequences to the unfortunate baronet's health. The smile,
however, soon faded away; and, strange to say, that though hatred to
Sir Sidney Delaware had been the predominant passion of Lord
Ashborough's existence, though the knowledge that he was leading a
life of comparative poverty, had been one of his greatest pleasures;
and the hope of ruining him utterly, an object that the earl had never
lost sight of--yet now that it was all accomplished--that it was
done--that he was trodden under his feet, and presented to his eyes,
heartbroken and desolate, ruined and disgraced, the joy passed away in
that evanescent smile of triumph--the delight lasted but a moment, and
left a vacancy in his desires.

Why it was so, we cannot be called upon to prove. It is a fact in the
heart's natural history, and that is all that we have to do with it.
It might be, indeed, that Othello's occupation was gone; and that Lord
Ashborough, in accomplishing his purpose, had dried up a source of
thought and gratification. It might be, that he was like Bruce at the
fountains of the Nile--that all which had lured him on, through a
dangerous and intricate way, was obtained; and that he had nothing to
lead him farther, or to guide him back. It might be that, as usual,
conscience took advantage of the sudden lassitude of satiety, to smite
the heart, for the very gratifications that were palling upon the
appetite.

"Well, Mr. Tims! Well!" he said at length. "All this is very
fortunate. But, pray, may I ask how is it that you lay claim to so
much subject of condolence? If I have understood you right, your
uncle's death could be no matter of very inconsolable grief to
you--though, doubtless, you might have preferred another manner."

"No, my lord, no!" replied Mr. Tims. "It is not that at all. He was an
old man--a very old man--one would have thought that death had forgot
him--and, to tell the truth, it was perhaps as well for him to die a
quick as a lingering death; and I hear, when the carotid artery is
cut, as it was in his case, a man cannot suffer above a second or two.
But as I was saying, my lord, it was not either of his death or of the
manner that I was thinking, but the murderer must have carried away
full twelve thousand pounds in money, besides the sum destined to pay
your lordship's note"----

"Which, by the way, I hope you have paid into the hands of my banker?"
interrupted Lord Ashborough, whose first thought was, of course, of
himself.

"Why, not yet, my lord--not yet!" replied the attorney. "The law has
yet to decide to whom it belongs, my lord."

"How, sir!" cried Lord Ashborough, reddening, "To whom can it belong
but to me? Was it not paid to you on my account?"

"Beg pardon, my lord! Beg pardon!" replied Mr. Tims. "But, whichever
way it goes, your lordship cannot be a loser. If it be proved, as it
can be proved, that the money was stolen from my uncle, the payment to
you of course is null, and the money belongs to me, as sole heir of
the late Mr. Tims of Ryebury. But then, my lord--hear me, my lord, I
beg--the whole transaction with Sir Sidney Delaware is null also, and
you will be able to recover at common law!"

Lord Ashborough's face again lighted up, and it is very possible that
the thought of pursuing his game still farther, and hunting it to the
death, might add not a little to his placability. "We must have
counsel's opinion as to the best means to be employed," he said. "This
young ruffian, you tell me, has escaped, and of course the prosecution
must drop, unless he can be apprehended."

"Oh no, my lord, no!" answered Mr. Tims. "That does not follow at
all--there are indeed various modes of proceeding, on which it would
be advisable to consult some common law barrister; but, in the mean
time, the money is quite secure--so much so, indeed, that if your
lordship likes it to be paid into your bankers"----

"Why, Mr. Tims," said Lord Ashborough, thoughtfully. "I think it might
be as well, you know."

"Well, my lord, I am quite ready to do so," answered the lawyer, "on
your making over to me your claims against Sir Sidney Delaware, and
his estate of Emberton."

Lord Ashborough started, "No, no!" he cried. "No!--at all events, we
will speak of that hereafter. Cannot a bill of outlawry be pursued
against this young man--and ought he not to be dismissed from his
Majesty's service? I have a great mind to return to town, and see
about the whole business, Mr. Tims. I dare say, I can get rid of these
two men who are staying here, by the day after to-morrow; and, in the
mean time, you had better go back to Emberton, and urge the pursuit as
actively as possible. It is not probable that he can have got out of
the country so soon! Why do you not send for officers from Bow
Street?"

"They are already on the scent, my lord," replied the man of law; "and
I doubt not that they will catch him ere he gets far. Murder is a
crime which all civilized nations will agree in punishing--and as to
the money, my lord"----

"Oh, I doubt not it is safe! I doubt not it is safe!" replied Lord
Ashborough, "When I come to town, we must take counsel as to the best
method of recovering it, as speedily as possible, from Sir Sidney
Delaware."

"Oh, it is quite safe, depend on it!" answered Mr. Tims, "I was only
going to say, that I am likely to be the only loser in this business;
as the twelve thousand pounds are, I am afraid, lost for ever."

"I hope not, Mr. Tims, I hope not!" replied the earl; "and if they be,
we must endeavour to make it up to you, some other way. I do not of
course mean to say, that I can take upon me to pay the money, as you
see I am likely to be a loser by the whole transaction myself."

"I think not, my lord, indeed," replied the lawyer. "Beg your
lordships pardon; but I think you are likely to be a great gainer."

"How so, sir?" demanded the peer with open eyes. "I gain nothing, and
lose at least the law expenses."

"Why, my lord," replied the lawyer, "I think in default of issue-male,
on the part of Sir Sidney Delaware, you stand next in the entail; now,
if we can convict this young man who has committed the murder, you of
course succeed."

"Ay! but suppose we cannot catch him," cried the earl, his face
brightening at the thoughts of the reversion.

"Perhaps we can do without, my lord," answered Mr. Tims. "I am much
mistaken if, upon due cause, the law, deprived of the power of dealing
real death, will not pronounce a criminal legally dead; and I think
that were I certain I should not be a loser, I could bring forward a
sufficient case to ensure that result."

"Mr. Tims," said Lord Ashborough solemnly, laying his hand with a
dignified gesture upon a book that lay before him. "Mr. Tims, I
can assure you, that no one who wishes me well shall ever lose a
farthing by me. I think you must know the fine--I might say the
fastidious--sense of honour which I entertain, and I promise you upon
my word, that if you succeed in carrying through the very just and
reasonable design you propose, and establish me as heir of entail to
the Emberton property, I will make you full compensation for whatever
loss you may have sustained in the course of this business."

"Say no more, my lord! Say no more!" replied Mr. Tims. "We will find
means either to catch and hang him at once, or to cut him off from
performing any legal act; and in the mean time--as life is always
uncertain--I will, with your lordship's permission, draw up a little
document for your lordship to sign, purporting that you will, on your
succession to the Emberton estate, indemnify me for the losses I have
sustained, by the robbery of my uncle's house."

Already Lord Ashborough began to repent of his liberal promise, and to
consider whether he could not have done quite as well without the
agency of Mr. Tims; but, as it appeared that the chief proofs of
Captain Delaware's guilt were in the lawyer's hands, he thought it
better to adhere strictly to his engagement, and therefore signified
his assent.

"Of course, my lord," continued the lawyer, "you will find it
necessary to proceed against Sir Sidney Delaware immediately, either
at common law for the recovery of the sum agreed to be paid by bill,
and which cannot be considered as paid, the money wherewith it was
satisfied having been stolen; or else to proceed by petition in the
Court of Chancery, in order to recover possession of the original
annuity deed, the authenticated copy of which is in my possession,
praying also that the rents of the Emberton estate may be paid into
court, till such time as judgment be pronounced."

The lawyer spoke these hard purposes in a tone of significance, which
would have been an insult to any one with whose inmost thoughts he was
not so well acquainted as he was with those of Lord Ashborough; but
the earl heard him with a meaning smile, and replied, "Why really, Mr.
Tims, you seem inclined to be rather hardhearted towards this Sir
Sidney Delaware."

"Your lordship would not have me very tender towards a man whose son
has murdered my only relation," replied the lawyer; "and besides, law
has nothing to do with tenderness; and as your lordship's agent, I am
bound to suggest what I think the best legal means of protecting your
interests."

"Certainly, certainly!" answered the earl. "Far be it from me to blame
you, my good sir. Follow which plan you judge best--both if you
please!"

"Both be it then, my lord!" replied Mr. Tims, rubbing his hands at the
interminable prospect which the case held out, of pleas and papers
without end--an universe of parchment, and a heaven of red tape. "Both
be it then, my lord!--There is not the slightest reason that we should
not proceed in both courts at once, to make all sure; and if, before
two months are over. Sir Sidney Delaware be not as completely beggared
as ever man was, the English law will be very much changed--that is
all that I can say.--Unless, indeed," he added thoughtfully, "your
lordship's worthy nephew come to his aid--marry Miss Delaware, and
advance money to defend her father."

"No fear! No fear!" replied Lord Ashborough. "He will not marry her,
depend upon it."

"Why, my lord, I am afraid," said Mr. Tims; "that is to say, I have
heard it very strongly reported in Emberton, that he did propose to
Miss Delaware, and that she refused him, not knowing who he was. She
and her father are now staying with the lady at whose house she first
met Mr. Beauchamp; they are very likely to meet again--he to declare
his real name, and she to accept him; for you may imagine, after all
that has happened, she will be glad enough to get married at all--and
you know how romantic he is in some things, though he strives to hide
it."

"You are mistaken, Mr. Tims!" said Lord Ashborough. "What has happened
will make her persist in her refusal more steadily than ever."

Though hating Sir Sidney Delaware and his whole family with the
bitterest enmity. Lord Ashborough knew them well, and understood the
principles upon which they acted--for the basest heart will sometimes,
in a great degree, appreciate a more noble one. This appreciation,
however, is never candidly admitted, even to the heart itself; and
while, from a secret conviction of the truth, it often calculates
justly the results--comprehends in a moment what will be the effect of
particular circumstances--and makes use of that knowledge for its own
selfish purposes--it is sure to attribute all good actions to base and
mean motives, even in its own secret thoughts, and to give them false
and evil names in conversation with others.

"No, no, Mr. Tims!" he said, "What has happened will make her refuse
him more steadily than ever, if she have a drop of her father's blood
in her veins. I know those Delawares well, and their cursed pride,
which they fancy to be fine feeling and generous sentiment. If it were
to save her father and her whole family from destruction, depend upon
it, she would not marry any man while she thought that her brother's
infamy was to be a part of her dowery.--I might say her only dowery;
for I suppose the pittance she had from her mother has been swallowed
up long ago. No, no! all is very safe there. Maria, who has heard a
good deal about her from her brother's old tutor, let me unwittingly
into the secret, that she is her father over again in those respects;
but sting her irritable pride, and you can make her do any thing."

"Well, my lord, well!" said Mr. Tims. "If your lordship be sure, I, of
course, have nothing to say. Only, I cannot understand any woman
refusing a gentleman of Mr. Beauchamp's present wealth and future
expectations. I cannot understand it, indeed!"

"I dare say not!" replied Lord Ashborough drily. "But in the
meanwhile, Mr. Tims, I think you had better return to Emberton
to-night. It is not much above thirty miles. Proceed as earnestly as
possible against the son, and after putting matters in train there,
come up and meet me in London on Monday next."

"At the same time, my lord," said the lawyer, "I will serve all the
tenants with notice not to pay their rents to Sir Sidney Delaware;"
and this being agreed to with a smile. Lord Ashborough rejoined his
guests, and Mr. Tims proceeded to hold a serious consultation with the
housekeeper, over a cold pasty and a glass of sherry, ere he once more
set out for Emberton.



CHAPTER XI.


Now, the very same character might be given of Mr. Peter Tims of
Clement's Inn, attorney-at-law, as that which Voltaire,
in his _Discours à l'Academie_, gives of the President de
Montesquieu--"C'etoit un génie mâle et rapide qui aprofondit tout en
paraissant tout effleurer;" and in several of his late conversations
with Lord Ashborough, he had penetrated into the depths of that
nobleman's thoughts and feelings, while he seemed to give explicit
credit to his lightest words. He saw, therefore, that there were two
strong principles which worked the whole machine; the chief springs,
as it were, of all his lordship's conduct, at least on the present
occasion. The one of these principles was, it is true, a little
stronger than the other; and the two were, revenge and avarice; the
latter succumbing somewhat to the former, but both at present working
very well together.

There are certain classes of passions and vices which people often
find an excuse for indulging, by persuading themselves that they are
invariably connected with some great or noble feeling or other. Now,
of this character is revenge, which men are apt to fancy must be the
offspring of a generous and vehement heart, and a fine, determined,
sensitive mind. But this is all a mistake. Revenge, in the abstract,
is merely a prolongation throughout a greater space in time, of that
base selfishness which leads us to feel a momentary impulse to strike
any thing that hurts or pains us either mentally or corporeally; and
the more brutal, and animal, and beastlike be the character of the
person, the greater will be his disposition to revenge. But we must
speak one moment upon its modifications. Revenge always proceeds
either from a sense of real injury, or a feeling of wounded vanity. It
seldom, however, arises from any real injury; and where it does, it
would, (if possible to justify it at all,) be more justifiable; but,
in this modification, a corrective is often found in the great mover
of man's heart; and vanity itself whispers, it will seem nobler and
more generous to forgive. The more ordinary species of revenge,
however, and the more filthy, is that which proceeds from wounded
vanity--when our pride or our conceit has been greatly hurt--not alone
in the eyes of the world, but in our own eyes--when the little
internal idol that we have set up to worship in our own hearts, has
been pulled down from the throne of our idolatry, and we have been
painfully shown that it is nothing but a thing of gilt wood. Then,
indeed, revenge, supported by the great mover of man's heart, instead
of being corrected by it, is insatiable and everlasting. But in all
cases, instead of being connected with any great quality, it is the
fruit of a narrow mind, and a vain selfish heart.

The latter of the two modifications was that which affected Lord
Ashborough, and it had remained with him through life; but Mr. Tims
very evidently saw, that as soon as his lordship imagined his revenge
to have nothing left to feed upon, it of course became extinct; and
that his own employment at least, in any very extensive business, as
far as Lord Ashborough was concerned, would be at an end. The avarice,
too, would come into play; and the worthy lawyer perceived that it was
necessary to keep alive his appetite for vengeance, and at the same
time to take care that his admirable patron's avarice should be broken
in to run in harness with his own.

These were his motives for suggesting the course of proceeding which
he had insinuated might be pursued, although he felt very doubtful as
to the legal possibility of carrying on the matter exactly as
prosperously as he had taught his patron to believe. At all events, he
felt that this was his best chance, not only of keeping possession of
the money he had already got, but of obtaining the twelve thousand
pounds more, which, together with the rest of his uncle's property, he
felt would raise him to a station in society in which he might--not
pause but--make more still.

After satisfying the cravings of hunger, therefore, and thinking that
the time might soon come when the earl himself would find it necessary
to treat him with more attention, Mr. Tims got into his chaise,
humming the chorus of the Little Ploughboy--


    "So great a man--so great a man--so great a man I'll be!"


And once more rolled away towards Emberton, resolved instantly to see
Sir Sidney Delaware, and to embroil the whole affair as much as
possible.

His clerk had been left behind at the little town to take care of the
business during his absence; and although it was late ere the lawyer
returned, he instantly set him to work to prepare notices to all the
tenants of Sir Sidney Delaware not to pay their rents. This he knew
was a bold stroke; but looking upon the unhappy baronet as an enemy in
time of war, he knew that one great object was to cut off his
supplies. Early the next morning Mr. Tims sallied forth to make a
general round of the tenants, and proceeded to a farmhouse, from the
crowded stackyard and busy aspect of which he argued a large and
prosperous farm. The farmer himself appeared superintending the
thatching in the yard; and Mr. Tims, notice in hand, stepped up to
him, and informed him of his business.

As the honest man read, his mouth expanded wide across his rosy face,
with a grin of satisfaction, which Mr. Tims remarked as something
extraordinary at least. "Sorry, sir, I can't oblige you!" said the
farmer, eyeing him with a look of merry contempt. "I paid my rent to
Sir Sidney yesterday morning. I thought just now--as he is in trouble
I hear with some bit of a blackguard lawyer of the name of Tims--he
might want the money, you know. So I took it up to the good lady's
house where he is stopping, seeing it was due on the twenty-fifth
o' last month."

"Oh, you have paid it, have you?" said Mr. Tims. "Then I can tell you,
most likely you will have it to pay over again."

"Pay it over again!" cried the farmer, who easily divined who the
person was that spoke to him. "Pay it over again! Come, come, none of
your gammon, master, or I'll break your head for you, and that is all
the payment you'll get from me. Who should I pay my rent to but my own
landlord? and a good landlord he has always been, and a kind--never
racked us up to the last farthing, like some o' them, though he wanted
the money enough himself. I'll tell you what, you had better not say a
word against him or his--and if you be one of Lawyer Tims's clerks,
bid him not show his face among us here, or he'll get such a licking
as will serve him for a long while."

While this conversation was proceeding between Mr. Peter Tims and the
farmer, a considerable number of the farm-servants had gathered round
their master, and very unequivocal signs and symptoms were given as to
their sense of the matter. Various words, too, were heard, which
sounded harsh upon the tympanum of Peter Tims's ear, such as--"I
shouldn't wonder if it were Lawyer Tims himself--A looks like a
lawyer--let's duck um in the horsepond--or cart him into the muck."

Now Peter Tims was, in a certain degree, a coward; and although he
could have made up his mind to be knocked down by the farmer for the
sake of a good assault case; yet the idea of being "ducked in the
horsepond, or carted into the muck," by a body of persons who could
not afford to pay a sous for their morning's amusement, made him beat
a retreat as fast as possible.

Although Mr. Peter Tims proceeded _seriatim_ to each of the tenants on
the Emberton estate, it may be unnecessary to detail the particulars
of the various receptions he met with. Suffice it, that he found that
in one respect they all agreed, which was, that their rent, by a
general arrangement between them, had been paid up the day before,
which, though the money was really due, was about ten days before the
usual time. Although he occasionally met with a somewhat rough
reception, and declared that he had never seen a more rude and uncivil
set of people in his life, yet he escaped without any actual violence;
and in the end, hoping to gain at least some ground, he determined to
make his last visit to Sir Sidney Delaware himself.

Accustomed to do disagreeable things of all kinds, Mr. Tims had as
little respect for human feelings as most men; but still there was
something in his peculiar situation with regard to Sir Sidney
Delaware, that in some degree awed even his worldly heart. He was
going to force himself into the presence of a man, whose destruction
he was pursuing eagerly, on the most base and sordid motives. That,
however, was nothing new; but we must recollect that Mr. Tims really
supposed the son of him he was about to visit, had murdered in cold
blood his last relation; and, with that belief, there mingled both the
internal conviction that his own arts had driven the unfortunate young
man to commit the horrid deed which had been perpetrated at Ryebury,
and the remembrance that he himself, Peter Tims, was even then
straining every nerve to bring to an ignominious death, him whom his
machinations had hurried into the most fearful of human crimes, and
whose father he was still urging onward to ruin and despair. All these
feelings and remembrances made the business very different from any he
had before undertaken, and the lawyer's heart even, fluttered as the
chaise drove through the gates of the dwelling now occupied by Mrs.
Darlington. "It is odd enough," he thought, "that my delaying the
payment of the money should have caused my uncle's murder. Now, if I
were superstitious, I should take fright and not follow this business
up, for fear it should turn out ill likewise--but that is all
nonsense;" and when the chaise stopped, and a servant appeared, he
boldly demanded to speak with Sir Sidney Delaware.

"Sir Sidney Delaware is not here, sir!" replied the man abruptly.

"Not here!" cried Mr. Tims. "Not here! And pray, where is he then?"

"Can't tell, sir!" replied the man.

"But he was here?" rejoined the lawyer.

"Oh yes, sir, he was here!" was the reply.

"When did he go?"

"Yesterday."

"Where to?"

"I don't know."

"Is your mistress at home?" demanded Mr. Tims at length, finding that
there was nothing to be made of the footman. The answer was in the
affirmative; and Mr. Peter Tims was shown into an empty room, where
the servant took the precaution of demanding his name, and then went
to inform his mistress. After remaining for some time in expectation,
Mr. Tims was rejoined by the servant; but, instead of ushering the
lawyer to Mrs. Darlington's presence, he said, with a grave and solemn
aspect, "Sir, my mistress bids me inform you that she is busy at
present, and cannot receive you."

"Oh, if she be busy, I can wait!" answered Mr. Tims, relapsing
determinedly into his chair.

"You may wait all day for that matter," replied the man, losing
patience; "for I can tell you, she does not intend to see you at all.
So now, you have the plain English of it!"

"Very extraordinary conduct, I must say!" observed Mr. Tims, as with
slow and indignant steps he walked towards his chaise.

"And pray, are you really ignorant of Sir Sidney Delaware's present
abode?" he added, after having insinuated his hand into his pocket,
and drawn forth a broad silver piece, which he thought fully
sufficient to tempt the discretion of any Johnny, even if he were as
immaculate as Eve before the fall.

But the servant either would not tell, or could not, because he did
not know: the latter of which was the most probable, as he answered
sharply, as if angry at losing the money through his ignorance, "You
have had your answer once, sir," he said, "and I shall give you no
other;" and, with this ungracious reply, Mr. Tims was obliged to
content himself.

The chaise rolled him back hungry and dissatisfied to Emberton, where
the tidings he had so often before received, that the pursuit of
Captain Delaware had not advanced a single step, did not tend to
relieve him. He found, too, that Sir Sidney and Miss Delaware had
certainly not returned to their own dwelling, and his enquiry in
regard to whither they had gone when they left Mrs. Darlington's, only
served to make the people of the town open wide their nostrils,
showing plainly that the baronet's departure must have been secret
indeed, as it had escaped the all-enquiring eyes and ears of that
gossiping community.

If any thing could have soothed the mind of Mr. Tims, it would have
been, perhaps, the profound respect of the landlord of the King's
Arms--he, Mr. Tims, being in no degree insensible to the charms of
importance and high station, and enjoying the homage of mine host, as
a sort of foretaste of the increased consequence he was to possess in
society, from his accession to his unfortunate uncle's ill-gotten
wealth.

His dinner comforted him also greatly; and when, after that meal was
discussed, the landlord presented himself in person to ask, whether he
might not recommend his admirable port, Mr. Tims, after an internal
struggle, acquiesced, and the wine was accordingly produced.

"Pray, landlord," said the lawyer, after a few words of innkeeper
gossip had passed, while with a clean napkin he rubbed the outside of
the decanter. "Pray, who was that gentleman standing at the door as I
got out, who stared at me so hard? The gentleman in the black coat and
gray trowsers."

"Oh, sir!" replied mine host of the King's Arms, "Don't you
know?--That is Mr. Cousins, the officer from London, come to enquire
into this sad business!"

"Why, Ruthven was sent for, and came too; for I saw and spoke to him
long!" ejaculated Mr. Tims in some surprise.

"True, sir! True!" replied the landlord. "But Ruthven was sent after
the captain, you know; and Dr. Wilton thought it would be better to
have some one else down to keep about the place; so Cousins was sent
for, and has been here all day--that is to say, about the place; for
he was both up at Emberton and at Ryebury, I heard the waiter saying."

"At Emberton!" cried Mr. Tims; "Then, I dare say, he can tell me
something of the people there. Will you have the goodness to present
my compliments to him, and say, I should be happy if he will take a
glass of wine with me?"

"Certainly, sir! Certainly!" replied the landlord; and away he went in
ambassage to Cousins, who soon after was ushered into the private room
occupied by Peter Tims, Esq.

He was--or rather is--neither a very tall nor a very stout man; but
yet, in the various points of his frame, there is a good deal of solid
strength to be remarked; and in his face, which is pale and somewhat
saturnine, Mr. Tims thought he could trace a great deal of resolution,
mingled with that shrewd knowledge of human nature in its most debased
form, which is at once necessary to, and inseparable from, the
character of an officer of police. The lawyer, seeing that the officer
was a very gentlemanly person in his appearance, soon made sufficient
advances; and, being seated together over their wine, Mr. Tims
enquired whether his companion had heard anything of the family at
Emberton.

"No!--No!" he said, in a tone which appeared habitually guarded
against all enquiries, except from those authorized to squeeze the
contents out of the spunge of his mind. "No!--No!" he said. "I have
heard nothing of them at all!"

"Come, come now, Mr. Cousins!" said the lawyer, who well entered into
the spirit of the wariness displayed by his companion, "You know I am
interested in this business!"

"Yes, so I hear, sir," replied Cousins, without a word more.

"Well, well, then, be a little more communicative, Mr. Cousins,"
rejoined the lawyer. "Did you see any of the family at the park?"

"No!" answered the officer; "They were all away!"

"But did not the old woman--the housekeeper--or cook--or
something--tell you where they had gone to?" demanded the lawyer.

"There was no old housekeeper there," answered the officer. "They were
all away together, and the house shut up."

Mr. Tims was beaten out of his impassibility, and absolutely stared.
"But surely you know where they are gone to--or, at least, you guess?"
he said, after a pause.

"Why, I may guess to be sure," replied Cousins; "but that is nothing
to nobody, you know. If one were to tell every thing they guess, sir,
not one-half of their guesses would come true!"

Mr. Tims paused for a minute or two, seeing that, for some reason,
Cousins was resolute in not saying a word upon the affairs of Sir
Sidney Delaware; and therefore, like a good tactician, finding the
enemy's position impregnable in front, he determined to shift his
ground, and make the attack from another quarter. "You have been, I
hear, at my poor unhappy uncle's place at Ryebury, too?" said Mr.
Tims, at length. "Did you make any new discoveries? Fill your glass,
Mr. Cousins."

"None that I know of, sir," replied Cousins, answering the question
and obeying the command at the same time. "The house was just as it
was left, I fancy."

"But did you find nothing that might lead to the detection of the
murderer?" said Mr. Tims.

"Why, sir, I understood that you had detected the murderer yourself,"
answered the officer; "and that his name was Captain William
Delaware."

"Yes, yes! that is all true enough," rejoined the lawyer; "but I mean,
did you find no new proof against him?"

"Why, as to that, sir, I did not find any in particular," replied
Cousins. "Indeed, the only thing of which I found any positive proof
at all, was, that somebody had been murdered."

"The man is a fool!" thought Mr. Peter Tims--"A natural!" But yet
there was a small, twinkling, subdued sort of fun lurking about the
corners of Cousins's dark eyes, that caused the lawyer strongly to
suspect that the officer was making a jest of him, and he consequently
found himself waxing vastly indignant. His anger, however, led him
into no extravagance; and, after having put a variety of other
questions to his companion, who did not choose to give a
straightforward answer to any of them, his wrath assumed the form of
sullen silence, which he expected would soon be received as a hint to
retire.

In this he was mistaken. Cousins remained with outstretched feet and
emulative silence, filling his glass unbidden, with a fond reliance on
the generosity of the lawyer's disposition, for all which he was
heartily given to the devil, full a dozen times within the next half
hour. At the end of that period, the landlord again appeared at the
door, and gave Mr. Cousins a nod. The officer immediately started upon
his feet, and wishing Mr. Tims good-night, with many thanks for his
kind condescension, he followed mine host out of the room.



CHAPTER XII.

Leaving Mr. Tims to meditate for half an hour, and then to call his
clerk, in order to proceed with business of various kinds, we must
follow Cousins, the officer, along the passage, down the six steps at
the end, up the six steps opposite, and thence into another room,
larger and more handsomely furnished, in a different part of the
house. As he entered, the whole demeanour of the officer was as
completely changed as it is possible to imagine; and, instead of the
easy and nonchalant, perhaps somewhat listless air, which had
overspread him in the presence of the attorney, he entered the chamber
to which he had been summoned with a look of brisk activity, mingled
with respect, which strangely altered his whole appearance. The
character of the persons before whom he now presented himself, might
easily account for the change; for the officer was too well acquainted
with all ranks and stations of men, and too much accustomed to suit
his conduct to his company, not to make the most marked difference in
his demeanour towards a low attorney and towards two men of so much
respectability as Dr. Wilton and Mr. Egerton. Neither of those two
gentlemen, it is true, could be considered as so wealthy as Mr. Tims
had lately become; but, thank God! wealth--notwithstanding all its
efforts to confound itself with respectability, has not yet been able
to do so entirely, even in the eyes of the vulgar.

The two magistrates were sitting together after dinner; but glasses
and decanters had been removed, a clerk called in, and each had his
bundle of notes before him. Cousins bowed respectfully, and advanced
to the end of the table, but no farther; while Dr. Wilton--who, as the
reader may have remarked, had been quite bewildered and overcome
during the examination of William Delaware--having now resumed all
that quick and active intelligence which was the ordinary
characteristic of his mind, proceeded to question the officer as to
the result of his investigations during the morning.

"Well, Cousins," he said, "you went to Ryebury, of course? Did you
examine accurately the footmarks that I mentioned to you?"

"Not those in the garden, sir," replied the officer, with a
countenance now full of quick intelligence; "because you see, sir, it
was very evident that such a number of people had been there since the
murder, that there was no use; for we could not have distinguished one
from the other; but I went up into the room where it had been done,
and there the matter was clear enough."

"Ha!" said Mr. Egerton. "And what did you make out there? I saw
nothing but a pool of blood flowing from the dead body."

"I beg your worship's pardon," answered the officer; "but you are
mistaken there. As far as I could make out, it must have been done by
two men--I don't mean to say, mind, that there were not three; but if
there were, the other never stepped in the blood; but two there were
certainly; for I got the tread of one very near whole--that is to say,
the round of his boot heel, and more than three inches of the toe from
the tip backwards--so that one of them had a remarkable long foot.
There is the measure and shape of it, as far as I could get it--more
than twelve inches, you see, sir."

"And the other!" said Dr. Wilton, "the other man's foot--what was the
length of it?"

"Ah! sir, that I could not get at!" replied the officer. "There was
nothing but about five inches of the fore part of the sole; but that I
got twice; and it is as different a foot, you see, from the other as
one would wish to find. Twice as broad, and square-toed; and then I
got the mark of a hand, too, which must have been at the poor old
devil's throat when they were cutting it, for it was all blood. It had
rested on the cornice of the dado; and the fellow, whoever he was,
wanted part of the third finger of his left hand."

"Ha, that is a good fact!" said Dr. Wilton eagerly; "but how did you
make that out, Cousins?"

"Why, sir, because it marked all the way up, but left off suddenly
before it got to the end," answered the officer.

"But might not that finger have been bent?" said Mr. Egerton.

"Not unless it bent in the middle of the second joint," replied
Cousins; "but the matter was quite clear, sir; and one has nothing to
do but look at it to satisfy themselves that a part of the finger was
wanting; and what is oddest of all, that it has not been taken off at
the joint. All I saw besides was, that the fellow who cut the old
man's throat, must have gone away with his pantaloons very bloody; for
he did it kneeling, and there is just a clear spot where his knee and
part of his leg kept the blood from going over the floor."

"Indeed! That may serve some purpose, too!" said Dr. Wilton; "but did
you find no more steps or marks of any other person."

"Oh, plenty of steps, sir!" replied the officer. "There were all the
dirty feet of the coroner's inquest. But I think--though I'm not quite
so sure of that--that there must have been somebody left below to keep
watch, while the others went up to do the job. You see, sir, there is
in one place of the passage floor a fresh deal, and I can trace upon
that deal the marks of a shoe with large nails in it, going backwards
and forwards, the matter of twenty times. Now, I hear that the deal
was put in not a week ago, and all the folks here agree, that the old
man never let a person with nails in his shoes twenty times into his
house in all his life; so it looks like as if that were the only time
and way in which it could get so often marked."

The two magistrates looked at each other, and Mr. Egerton answered,
"Your suspicion is a shrewd one. Cousins; but now, tell us sincerely,
from all that you have seen and heard, do you think that Captain
Delaware has been one of those concerned?"

"Why really, sir, I _cannot_ say!" answered the officer; "but to tell
the truth--though there is no knowing after all--nevertheless--not to
speak for a certainty, you know--but still, I should think not."

"You are now speaking to us in confidence, you know, Cousins," said
Dr. Wilton; "and, indeed, we are altogether acting extra-officially in
regard to the murder, though we think it may connect itself with the
other affair. Tell us, therefore, why you judge it was not Captain
Delaware."

"Why, sir, that is difficult to say," replied the officer. "But first
and foremost, do you see, it strikes me that the job was done by as
knowing a hand as ever was on the lay--one that has had a regular
apprenticeship like. Well, as far as I can hear, that does not match
the Captain. Then, next, whoever did it, has got in upon the sly, by
means of the girl, whether she be an accessory or not. At all events,
she has gone off with her 'complices.--She's never murdered--never a
bit of her, take my word for that! Then you see, sir, when I had done
with Ryebury, I went away to Emberton Park House; and though there was
a mighty fuss to get in, all the family being gone, yet I managed it
at last, and got a whole heap of the Captain's old boots and shoes,
and measured them with the footmarks, and on oath I could prove that
none of them--neither those up, nor those down stairs--the marks I
mean--ever came off his foot."

"Why, it would seem to me, that what you have said, would go very far
to exculpate him altogether," said Dr. Wilton.

"Ay, sir! But that is a mighty rum story about the notes," answered
the officer. "It would make a queer case for the 'sizes, any how.
Nevertheless, I don't think him guilty; and if he would explain
about the money, all would be clear enough--but that story of his
won't go; and if he sticks to it and is caught, he'll be hang'd if
Judge ----tries him. He'll get off if it come before Sir ----. He did
well enough to slip his head out of the collar any way."

"But do you not think that Ruthven will catch him then?" demanded Dr.
Wilton, with no small anxiety.

"Why, not near so easy as if he were an old thief," replied the
officer; "for you see, sir, we know all their haunts, and where
they'll take to in a minute, while this young chap may go Lord knows
where!"

Both the magistrates paused thoughtfully for a minute or two, and at
length Dr. Wilton went on; "You see Cousins the fact is this, that the
coroner having issued his warrant against Captain Delaware, our
straightforward duty as magistrates is to use all means to put that
warrant in execution; and we are neither called upon, nor have we
perhaps a strict legal right, after a verdict has been pronounced, to
seek for evidence in favour of the person against whom that verdict
has been given. At the same time, we are blamed for not committing the
prisoner at once; and the coroner is blamed for not sending him off to
the county jail the moment the verdict was given, though it was then
night. It is also a part of our clearest duty to do all in our power
to bring the guilty to punishment, and to prepare the case, in a
certain degree, for the officers of the crown; consequently, without
any great stretch of interpretation, we may consider ourselves
justified in using every means, to satisfy ourselves who are innocent
and who are guilty. You think that Captain Delaware is not the
culprit; and you think that three persons have, at all events, been
concerned in the murder. Some suspicion of this kind must also have
been in the minds of the coroner's jury, when they returned a verdict
against Captain William Delaware, and some person or persons unknown.
It is our next business, therefore, to search for those persons
unknown, by every means in our power."

"Why, as to the Captain, sir," answered Cousins, "the business would
be soon settled, if we could find out how he came by the money.'"

"It is the most extraordinary thing in the world," said Dr. Wilton,
"that Mr. Beauchamp cannot be found anywhere--I am really beginning to
be apprehensive concerning him. He left me in a very low and depressed
state; and if his servant, Harding, were not with him--which, as he is
not to be heard of either, it would seem he is--I should be afraid
that his mind had given way."

"Harding! Harding!" said Cousins, thoughtfully, "I wonder if that
could be the Harding who was a sort of valet and secretary to ---- the
banker, and who pocketed a good deal of his cash when he failed. He
had well nigh been hanged, or at least taken a swim across the
pond--but the lawyer let him off for some disclosures he made, and got
him a new place too, they say! I have lost sight of that chap for a
long time. But however, sir, you were speaking about the persons
unknown. Now I think, do you see, that I have got the end of a clue
that may lead to one of them; and if we get one we cannot fail to get
all."

"Who then do you think it is?" demanded Mr. Egerton. "Let no means be
spared to find out even one of the ruffians."

"Why sir, you see, I don't mind telling you, because it will go no
farther; but I think it had better be alone," and he looked
significantly at the clerk, who was instantly ordered to withdraw.

"Beg pardon, gentlemen," said Cousins more freely, when the other had
left the room; "but I've known some of those country clerks that were
the arrantest gossips in the whole neighbourhood. However the matter
is, I hit upon what I think is the head of the right nail, when I was
after the other business, do you see. You told me to enquire about the
burning of the lady's house, and the silver plate that had
disappeared; so, amongst other things, I went to the coach-office, and
examined the books, and just about that time I found that there had
been two parcels sent up to Amos Jacobs, Esq., to be left till called
for. Now, thinks I, who can Amos Jacobs be, but the old Jew of the
Scuttle-hole, as they call him. He receives stolen goods, gentlemen,
and is as great a blind as ever swung. Well, I asked the book-keeper
if he had noticed those two parcels; and he said yes, because they
were so small, and yet so heavy. So then I asked who brought them; and
he said a gentleman what had been lodging three doors down the street,
for six weeks or so. So away I went; and, looking up at the house, I
saw, 'Lodgings to Let' stuck up, and in I walked."

"Mr. Beauchamp's lodgings, I dare say," said Dr. Wilton smiling.

"No, no, sir!" replied Cousins, "I knew those before. They lie a good
bit farther down. But an old woman came to show me the lodgings,
thinking I was going to take them. So I asked her who had been in them
before, and she up and told me all about it. A very nice gentleman she
said he was, who was a great chemist she believed; for he was always
puddling about over a fire, making experiments as he told her--but
bless you, gentlemen! he was just making white soup of the lady's
plate--that was what he was doing. So then I asked her his name, and
she told me it was Mr. Anthony Smithson. So then the whole matter came
upon me at once. Your worships must understand that, as far as I know
of or remember, there is only one man upon the lay in London who has
lost a bit of his finger; and not having seen him for some time, I had
forgot all about him. His name is Tony Thomson--but sometimes people
called him Billy Winter--and at times he took the name of Johnson--and
Perkins too, I have heard him called--but the name he went by
generally, a good while ago, was Tony Smithson."

"But if the lodgings were to be let, he must of course be gone?" cried
Dr. Wilton; "and we are as far off from the facts as ever."

"Oh! he is gone, sure enough!" answered the officer, "That was the
first thing I asked the old woman, and she told me that he went the
very day before the terrible murder, and that he would be so sorry to
hear it, for he used often to walk up that way, and asked her many
questions about Mr. Tims, poor old man. Well, when I heard this, and
had got a good deal more out of her, I thought I might as well look
through the place; for these sort of folks generally are in too great
a hurry not to leave something behind them; and I opened all the
drawers and places--and the old woman thought it very strange, till I
told her who I was. He had cleared all away, however, except this gold
thimble, which had fallen halfway down between the drawers and the
wall. It has got 'J. D.' upon it, which, I take it, means--'Something
Darlington.' So it must have been prigged at the time of the fire."

Dr. Wilton and Mr. Egerton both looked at the thimble, and felt
convinced that it had belonged to Mrs. Darlington. At all events, the
information which Cousins had obtained, was of course most important,
as it rendered it more than probable, that one at least of the persons
who had robbed, if not fired the house upon the hill, had been also a
principal in the murder of the miser. Both the magistrates, therefore,
joined in giving high commendations to the officer, and particular
directions were added for prosecuting the investigation. Cousins,
however, had already anticipated several of the orders he now
received.

"I tried all I could, sir," he replied, "to find out some of the
fellow's stray boots or shoes, but he had left none behind. I then
went to all the different shoemakers and cobblers, to see if any of
them could give me his measure; but he had been too cunning for that.
The stage-coachman, however, remembered taking him up here for London,
and setting him down, by his own desire, at a little public-house four
miles off; so that we have got upon the right scent beyond doubt; and
if you will give me permission, gentlemen, I will go out this evening,
and find out whom he most kept company with in this place, before the
matter gets blown. I have had a good pumping to-night already; but it
would not do."

"And pray, who took the trouble of pumping you. Cousins?" demanded Mr.
Egerton. "Though this is the most gossiping town in Europe, I should
have thought there was roguery enough in it also, to keep the
inhabitants from meddling unnecessarily with a police-officer."

"Oh, it was none of the people of the place, sir!" replied Cousins.
"They only stared at me. This was the Mr. Tims who gave the Captain in
charge, I hear. He seems a sharp hand, and he has a great goodwill to
prove the captain guilty, though I don't see just yet, what good it
would do him, either."

Dr. Wilton asked several questions concerning the lawyer, and the
examination to which he had subjected the officer; and then--after
shaking his head, and observing that he believed Mr. Peter Tims to be
a great rogue--he dismissed Cousins to pursue his enquiries in the
town.

It must be here remarked, that Mr. Egerton, although he knew William
Delaware personally, and did not think him at all a person to commit
the crime with which he was charged, had never felt that assured
confidence in his innocence which Dr. Wilton had always experienced.
It was not, indeed, that Mr. Egerton thought worse of Captain Delaware
individually than the clergyman did, but he thought worse of the whole
human race. Gradually, however, he had been coming over to Dr.
Wilton's opinion; and his conversation that night with the officer,
had completely made a convert of him, by showing him that,
notwithstanding the one extraordinary circumstance which yet remained
to be explained, every new fact that was elicited, tended more and
more to prove that the murder had been committed by persons of a very
different class and habits from the supposed delinquent. Feeling,
therefore, that in some degree he had done the unfortunate young
gentleman injustice, he now determined to redouble his exertions to
apprehend the real culprits, in the hope and expectation of clearing
the character of Captain Delaware. With this view, he resolved to
remain at Emberton that night, contrary to his former plans; and he
proposed to Dr. Wilton to visit the old miser's house at Ryebury the
next morning, in order to verify the footmarks, as measured by
Cousins, lest the new proprietor might think fit, after the funeral,
which was to take place at four that day, to have all traces of the
horrid scene effaced, which he might do for more reasons than one, if
the malevolence Captain Delaware charged him with were really his
motive.

"Why, the truth is," replied Dr. Wilton, in answer to this proposal,
"that I intended to go very early to-morrow to Mrs. Darlington's, to
see poor Blanche Delaware, and try to discover whether she can give
any clue by which Henry Beauchamp can be found."

"Is it likely that she should possess any?" said Mr. Egerton,
laughing.

"Why, they are cousins, you know," answered Dr. Wilton, with a smile
which served to contradict the reason that his words seemed to assign
for the knowledge of her cousin's movements, which he attributed to
Miss Delaware. "They are cousins, you know; and I have heard it
reported that there was something more--but, at all events, I am
anxious about the lad, and do not choose to leave any chance of
discovering him untried."

"But, by the way, I forgot," said Mr. Egerton, "I heard an hour or two
ago that Sir Sidney and Miss Delaware had left Mrs. Darlington's, and
had gone to some watering-place, I think the people said."

"Oh no, impossible!" said Dr. Wilton. "Impossible! They would have
let me hear, as a matter of course." Nevertheless, he rose and rang
the bell, although, so convinced was he of the truth of what he
asserted, that, ere the waiter appeared, he had proceeded to arrange
with Mr. Egerton, that while that gentleman went to Ryebury, and
verified the traces which Cousins had observed, he would drive to Mrs.
Darlington's, and make the enquiries he proposed.

"Pray, have you heard any thing of Sir Sidney Delaware having left
Mrs. Darlington's new house?" demanded Dr. Wilton, when the waiter
appeared.

"Oh dear yes, sir!" replied the man. "Mr. Tims--Lawyer Tims, sir--who
was there this morning, could find none of them, and has been
enquiring all over the place to make out where they are gone to. But
nobody can tell, sir, and every one says they have run away."

"Nonsense! said Mr. Egerton, "That will do!" and the waiter retired.

"This is very extraordinary!" said Dr. Wilton. "Every one seems to be
disappearing, one after the other. Nevertheless, I will go up and
enquire of Mrs. Darlington, and will come and join you at Ryebury
afterwards."

The meeting was accordingly arranged, and shortly after Cousins
returned, bringing a vast store of fresh information. Mr. Anthony
Smithson, alias Thomson, alias Perkins, alias Johnson, alias Winter,
fully described and particularized, so as to leave no doubt whatever,
of his identity with crushfingered Billy Winter, a notorious London
flashman, had been remarked, by all the wonder-mongers of Emberton,
for his intimacy with Mr. Harding, Mr. Burrel's servant. He had been
also observed to have a peculiar predilection for the lanes and fields
about the house at Ryebury. This information had led the officers to
fresh enquiries, concerning the philosophical Harding himself, who had
been accurately described by the investigating and observing people of
Emberton; and, on his return, Cousins expressed his fullest
conviction, that he was the identical Harding, who had, as he before
described, got off in a serious criminal case, solely by the
connivance of an attorney. Who that attorney was, need hardly be
explained; and indeed, to do so, would only lead us into the details
of a previous affair, totally unconnected with this history. Suffice
it, that no sooner did Cousins hear that Harding had been with his
master, at the house of Mrs. Darlington, on the day of the fire, than
he at once declared himself to be perfectly certain that his hands,
and no others, had kindled the flame. He added also, that he did not
doubt that Smithson and Harding--whether they had exactly fixed upon
any precise object or not--had come down to Emberton, with the
intention of acting in concert; and he added, that it would not at all
surprise him, to find that they were the two who committed the murder
itself, especially as the people had particularly described to him the
valet's long foot.

While he was speaking, Dr. Wilton rapidly turned over his notes of the
examination of Captain Delaware, and the servants at Emberton Park,
and at length lighted upon the declaration of the manservant, who
stated, that in returning from some errand in that direction, he had
seen the valet Harding at the back of the park, the lanes surrounding
which led directly towards Ryebury.

"If I could think of any reason for his putting the money in the
captain's room," said Cousins, as the clergyman read this passage, "I
should think that Harding had done it himself, on purpose to hang
him."

"May he not have been instigated to do it by others?" said Mr.
Egerton.

"If one could find out any reason for it," replied the officer.

"Why, Captain Delaware suspected something of the kind himself,"
replied the magistrate, and he read a part of the young fugitive's
letter, watching from time to time, as he did so, the effect it
produced upon the countenance of a man who, like Cousins, was
accustomed to trace and encounter crime in every form. The officer
closed one eye, put his tongue slightly into his cheek, and ended by a
half whistle.

"You had better look to it gentlemen," he said; "you had better look
to it--such things have been done before now--so you had better look
to it!"

"We will!" answered Dr. Wilton, "We will! let us see you to-morrow
about nine, Cousins."

The officer took the hint, and withdrew.



CHAPTER XIII.


Oh, that I had the lucid arrangement of the late Lord Tenterden, or
the happy illustration of Francis Jeffrey, or the _curiosa Felicitas_
of George Gordon Byron, or the nervous verve of Gifford, or the
elegant condensation of Lockhart, or any of the peculiar powers of any
of the great men of past or future ages, to help me to make this
chapter both interesting and brief; for there are several facts to
state, and small space to state them in; and--what is worse than
all--they are so dry and pulverized, that they are enough to give any
one who meddles with them, what the Spaniard gracefully terms a
"_retortijon de tripas_."

As, however, they are absolutely necessary to the clear understanding
of what is to follow, I will at once place them all in order together,
leaving the reader to swallow them in any vehicle he may think fit.

First, then, on his visit to Mrs. Darlington, Dr. Wilton obtained no
information whatever, except that the tidings he had before heard were
true. Sir Sidney Delaware and his daughter, Mrs. Darlington said, had
indeed left her; but they had requested, as a particular favour, that
she would not even enquire whither they were going; and, as the favour
was a very small one, she had granted it of course. From the house of
that worthy lady, Dr. Wilton proceeded to join Mr. Egerton at Ryebury,
where--according to their own request--they were met by the coroner
for the county. All the traces which had been observed by Cousins were
verified, and a complete plan of the scene of the murder was made
under the direction of the magistrates.

A long conference took place at the same time between the two justices
and the coroner, who expressed less dissatisfaction at the escape of
Captain Delaware than they had expected.

"We must share the blame between us, gentlemen," he said. "You, for
not having remanded him to some secure place, I, for not having sent
him five-and-twenty miles that night to the county jail. Certain it
is, the case was a very doubtful one, and I would fain have had the
jury adjourn till the following morning. But in truth," he added,
"coroners' juries, knowing that their decision is not final, and
disgusted and agitated by the horrible scenes they are obliged to
examine, very often return a hasty and ill-considered verdict, in
spite of all the officers of the crown can do. This was, I am afraid,
the case in the present instance; and I have no doubt that the young
man may have made his escape more from apprehension of a long and
painful imprisonment--which is a severe punishment in itself--than
from any consciousness of guilt."

Finding his opinion thus far favourable, the two magistrates
communicated to the crown-officer all that they had discovered in
regard to Harding and Smithson, and also the faint suspicion which
they entertained, that Harding, at the instigation of Mr. Tims junior,
had placed the money in the chamber of Captain Delaware.

The coroner, however, shook his head. "As to Harding and Smithson," he
said, "the matter is sufficiently made out to justify us in issuing
warrants for their apprehension; and Harding may perhaps--from some
motive we know nothing of--have placed the money as you suspect,
especially as he seems to have been well acquainted with Emberton
Park; but I do not believe that Mr. Tims had any thing to do with it.
To suppose so, would at once lead us to the conclusion that he was an
accomplice in the murder of his uncle; and his whole conduct gave the
lie to that. No--no--had he even known that his uncle was dead before
he came here, his whole actual behaviour afterwards would have been
very different. He did not affect any great sorrow for his uncle, as
he would have done had he been at all culpable; but, at the same time,
he was evidently vindictive in the highest degree against the
murderers. No--no-you are mistaken there, gentlemen! But let us issue
warrants against the other two, and intrust their execution to
Cousins. We shall easily be able to get at the truth in regard to
Captain Delaware from one of those gentry, if we can but catch them."

While the warrants were in preparation, it was announced to the
magistrates that Mr. Peter Tims himself was below, with the
undertakers; and also, that the constable of a neighbouring parish had
brought up a boy who had found a hat upon the sea-shore, which, it was
supposed, might throw some light upon the matter before the
magistrates.

Mr. Tims was accordingly directed to wait, while the boy was brought
up, and the hat examined. The peculiarity of its form--a form unknown
in Emberton--and of its colour--a shade of that light russet-brown, in
which Shakspeare clothes the dawn for her morning's walk--at once led
Dr. Wilton to believe that it had belonged to his unfortunate friend
Henry Beauchamp. As Beauchamp, however, was not one of those men who
write their names in their hats, the matter still remained in the most
unpleasant state in the world--a state of doubt; and such a state
being not less disagreeable to Dr. Wilton than to any one else--after
catechising the boy, and discovering that nothing was to be
discovered, except that the hat had been washed on shore at about
five miles' distance from Ryebury, of which washing it bore ample
marks--the worthy clergyman left his companions in magistracy to
expedite the warrants, and returned in person to Emberton, in order to
examine Mrs. Wilson, Beauchamp's late landlady, in regard to the hat,
which he carried thither along with him.

As soon as Mrs. Wilson saw it, she declared that it was the identical
hat that poor dear Mr. Burrel used always to wear in the morning. She
had seen it, she said, full a hundred times, and knew it, because the
leather in the inside was laced with a silk tag, for all the world
like the bodices she could remember when she was young. Eagerly, also,
did she question Dr. Wilton as to where it had been found; for it
seems that Mr. Burrel had been no small favourite with the old lady;
and when she was made acquainted with the facts, she wrung her hands,
declaring that she was sure the poor young gentleman had gone and
drowned himself for love of Miss Delaware. Now, Dr. Wilton had at his
heart entertained a sort of vague suspicion that Beauchamp,
notwithstanding all his strong moral and religious principles,
might--in a moment of despair, and in that fancied disgust at the
world, which he was somewhat too apt to pamper--do some foolish act.
Perhaps I should have said that he _feared_ it might be so; and, as he
would rather have believed any other thing, and was very angry at
himself for supposing it possible, he was of course still more angry
at good Mrs. Wilson for so strongly confirming his apprehensions.
He scolded her very heartily, therefore, for imagining what he had
before imagined himself; and was just leaving her house, when he
bethought him of making enquiries concerning the haunts and behaviour
of Mr. Burrel's valet, Harding. To his questions on this head,
Mrs. Wilson--though a little indignant at the reprimand she had
received--replied in the most clear and distinct manner, that Harding
had never kept company with any one but Mr. Smithson, the chemist
gentleman, who lodged farther up the town; that no one scarcely ever
heard the sound of his voice; and that, for her part, so queer were
his ways, that she should have thought that he was a conjurer, if he
had not been a gentleman's servant--which two occupations she
mistakenly imagined to be incompatible.

Dr. Wilton next enquired what was the size of the valet's foot, at
which Mrs. Wilson looked aghast, demanding, "Lord! how should she know
what was the size of the gentleman's foot? But stay!" she cried the
moment after, "Stay stay, sir! Now I think of it, I can tell to a
cheeseparing; for in the hurry that he went away in, he left a pair of
boots behind him; and the groom, when he set off the morning after,
would not take them, because he said Mr. Harding was always _jawing_
him and meddling with his business, and some day or another he would
tell him a thing or two."

Dr. Wilton demanded an immediate sight of the boots, with all the
eagerness of a connoisseur, and with much satisfaction beheld a
leathern foot-bag of extraordinary length brought in by the landlady,
who declared, as she entered, that "he had a very long foot after
all."

The boot was immediately carried off to the inn; but as Mr. Egerton
had the measurements with him at Ryebury, Dr. Wilton was obliged to
wait one mortal hour and a half ere he could proceed to ascertain the
correspondence of the valet's boot with the bloody mark of the
murderer's foot, tormenting himself about Beauchamp in the meanwhile.
After waiting that time, however, in fretful incertitude, as to going
to the place itself, or staying his fellow magistrate's return, Mr.
Egerton appeared, the paper on which the footmarks had been traced was
produced, and the boot being set down thereon, filled up one of the
vacant spaces without the difference of a line.

"Now, now, we have him!" cried Dr. Wilton, rubbing his hands eagerly.
"Now we have him. Beyond all question, the council for the crown will
permit the least criminal to become king's evidence, and I doubt not,
in the slightest degree, that we shall find poor William Delaware
completely exculpated."

"You call to my mind, my dear friend," said Mr. Egerton, laying his
hand on Dr. Wilton's arm, as if to stop his transports? "You call to
my mind a waggish receipt for dressing a strange dish."

"How so? How so?" demanded Dr. Wilton, with a subdued smile at the
reproof of his eagerness, which he knew was coming in some shape or
other. "What is your receipt, my dear sir?"

"It runs thus"--answered Mr. Egerton, "_How to dress a griffin_--First
catch a griffin!--and then, dress him any way you like!"

"Well, well!" answered Dr. Wilton. '"We will try to catch the griffin,
my dear sir, and you shall not find me wanting in ardour to effect the
preliminary step, if you will aid me to bring about the second, and
let me dress my griffin when I have caught him. To say truth," he
added, relapsing into grave seriousness, "the subject is not a
laughing one; and I am afraid I have suffered my personal feelings to
become somewhat too keenly interested--perhaps to a degree of levity.
God knows, there is little reason for us to be eager in the matter,
except from a desire that, by the punishment of the guilty, the
innocent should be saved, and I am willing to confess, that I
entertain not the slightest doubt of the innocence of William
Delaware. A crime has certainly been committed by some one; and
according to all the laws of God and man, it is one which should be
punished most severely. Heaven forbid, however, that I should treat
such a matter with levity. All I meant to say is, that if we do
succeed in apprehending the real murderers, we must endeavour to make
their conviction the means of clearly exculpating the innocent."

"I hope we shall be as successful as you could wish," replied Mr.
Egerton; "and I think it would give me scarcely less pleasure then it
would give yourself, to hear that Captain Delaware is innocent,
although I will not suffer either a previous good character, or a
gallant deportment, or a handsome countenance, to weigh with me,
except as presumptive testimony in his favour, and as a caution to
myself, to be on my guard against the natural predilections of man's
heart. But what have you discovered regarding the hat?"

"Confirmation, I am afraid too strong, of my worst fears," answered
Dr. Wilton; and he related how positively Mrs. Wilson had declared it
to have belonged to Mr. Beauchamp. Measures for investigating this
event also, were immediately taken, and information of the supposed
death by drowning, of a gentleman lately residing at Emberton, was
given to all the stations on that coast. This new catastrophe, of
course, furnished fresh food to the gossiping propensities of the
people of the town; and the tale, improved by the rich and prolific
imagination of its inhabitants, was sent forth connected by a thousand
fine and filmy links, with the murder of the miser, and the
disappearance of the Delaware family. It instantly appeared in all the
public prints, who, to do them but justice, were far too charitable to
leave it in its original nakedness. Hence it was transferred, with new
scenery, dresses, and decorations, to a broad sheet of very thin
paper, and distributed by a man with a loud voice, on the
consideration of one halfpenny, to wondering housemaids and keepers of
chandlers' shops, under the taking title of the "Rybury Trajedy!" and
there is strong reason to believe, that it was alone owing to the
temporary difficulties of Mr. ----, of the ---- Theatre, that Captain
William Delaware was not brought upon the boards, with a knife in his
hand cutting the throat of the miser, while Henry Beauchamp threw
himself from the rocks into the sea, for love of the murderer's
sister. That this theatrical consummation did not take place, is much
to be wondered at; and it is to be hoped, that when the managers are
furnished with all the correct particulars, they will still give the
public their version of the matter on every stage, from Drury Lane to
the very barn at Emberton itself.

As may be easily supposed, for two country magistrates, Dr. Wilton and
Mr. Egerton had now their hands tolerably full; and consequently, on
separating, they agreed to meet again at Emberton in two days. In the
mean time, the funeral of the murdered man took place, conducted, as
Mr. Peter Tims assured every body, with that attention to economy,
which would have been gratifying to the deceased himself, if he could
have witnessed it. Nobody could doubt that the nephew had probability
on his side in this respect, though the undertaker grumbled, and the
mercer called him a shabby person. After the interment, Mr. Tims took
possession of the premises and the papers of the deceased; but, for
reasons that may be easily divined, he did not choose to stay in the
dwelling that his uncle had inhabited. Passing the ensuing evening and
night at the inn, he had all the papers removed thither, and continued
in the examination thereof for many an hour, in a room from which even
his own clerk was excluded. Those who saw him afterwards declared,
that his countenance was as resplendent as a new sovereign; but he
selfishly kept all his joy to his own bosom, and after spending
another day in Emberton, he set off post for London, with many a bag
and tin-case, to take out letters of administration.



CHAPTER XIV.


Lord Ashborough left his niece, Maria Beauchamp, and the chief part of
his establishment, in the country; and setting out with but two
servants, arrived in the metropolis late on Saturday night. With that
attention to decorum and propriety which formed a chief point in his
minor policy, he appeared, on the Sunday morning, in the gallery of
St. George's Church, Hanover Square, exactly as the organ sounded, and
with grave and devout face passed through the next two hours. But let
it not be supposed that the impressive service of the church of
England, read even in its most impressive manner, occupied his
thoughts, or that even the eloquence of a Hodgson caught his ear and
affected his heart. It was only the flesh-and-blood tenement of Lord
Ashborough that was at church, Lord Ashborough himself, in heart and
in spirit, was in his library in Grosvenor Square, eagerly conversing
with Mr. Peter Tims, on the best means of snatching the last spoils of
his enemy. Sir Sidney Delaware. Not that Lord Ashborough did not go to
church with the full and clear purpose of doing his duty; but people's
ideas of doing their duty are so very various, that he thought the
going to church quite enough--without attending.

Now, in spite of risking a _longueur_ we must observe, that there are
some people, who, although they live in great opposition to the
doctrines they hear, nevertheless, deserve a certain degree of honour
for going to church, because they persevere in doing so, though the
two hours they spend there are the most tiresome of their whole lives.
Attribute it to resolution, or sense of decency, or what you will,
still some honour is their due; but we are sorry to say, that no such
plea could be set up in favour of Lord Ashborough. The two hours that
he spent at church were not tedious; he had the comfortable persuasion
that he was doing his duty, and setting a good example; and, at the
same time, had a fair opportunity of thinking over all his plans and
projects for the ensuing week, without any chance of interruption.
Thus, the time he spent within the holy walls, was a time of calm and
pleasant reflection, and what profit he derived from it, the rest of
his life must show. At all events, there was nothing disagreeable in
it. It was a part of the pomp and parade of existence, and he went
through it all, with a degree of equanimity that took away every kind
of merit from the act.

Before he had concluded his breakfast on the Monday morning, a servant
announced that Mr. Peter Tims had been shown into the library; and
thither Lord Ashborough bent his steps, after he had kept the lawyer
waiting long enough to preserve his dignity and show his indifference.

Mr. Peter Tims was seated in the far corner of the library with great
humility, and rose instantly on the peer's entrance, bowing to the
ground. Now, the fact was--and it may need some explanation--that Mr.
Tims found he was growing a great man, in his own estimation, on the
wealth he derived from his uncle. He had just discovered that pride
was beginning to get above avarice in his heart, and he became afraid,
that Lord Ashborough might think he was deviating into too great
familiarity, from feeling a strong inclination in his own bosom to do
so. Such a consummation was, of course, not desirable on many
accounts; and with his usual politic shrewdness, Peter Tims resolved
to assume a far greater degree of humility than he really felt,
and--while by other means, he raised himself slowly in the estimation,
both of his noble patron and the world in general, suffering his
newly-acquired wealth silently to act with its own weight--and
determined to affect still a tone of ample subserviency till his
objects were fully gained.

In the meanwhile, Lord Ashborough, who believed that a gulf as wide as
that which yawned in the Forum, lay between himself and Peter Tims,
bespoke the lawyer with condescending civility, bade him take a seat,
and enquired what news he had brought from Emberton.

Mr. Peter Tims hesitated, and then replied, that the news he brought
was bad, he was afraid, in every respect. "In the first place, my
lord, I have not been able to stop any of the rents, for they had
unfortunately been paid on the day preceding my return to Emberton. In
the next place, it would appear that Sir Sidney Delaware has run away
as well as his son; for he has certainly disappeared, and,
notwithstanding every means I could use, I was not able to discover
any trace of him."

He had imagined that Lord Ashborough would have expressed nothing but
disappointment at tidings which threatened to make his views upon the
Emberton estate more vague and difficult of success; but he was
mistaken. The first passion in the peer's breast was revenge. The
picture presented to him was Sidney Delaware flying from his country,
disgraced, ruined, and blighted in mind and body. Memory strode over
three-and-twenty years in an instant, and showed him the same man as
he had then appeared--his successful rival triumphing in his
disappointment. Placing the portrait of the present and the past
together, the peer again tasted the joy of revenge, and mentally ate
his enemy's heart in the marketplace. For a moment, avarice gave place
to revenge; but, after all, avarice is the most durable and permanent
of human passions. Like Sinbad's Old Man of the Sea, it gets upon the
back of every thing else that invades its own domain, and never leaves
them till they die of inanition. Ambition sometimes gorges itself;
pride is occasionally brought down; vanity tires, and love grows cold;
but avarice, once possessed of the human heart, may be driven into the
inmost recesses for a moment, but never quits the citadel, and always
sooner or later regains the outworks.

"Will this make any difference with regard to our proceedings against
the old man and his son?" demanded the peer, after he had given
revenge its moment, and had suffered avarice to return.

"Not at all, as respects the son!" answered Mr. Tims; "but I am afraid
that, in the father's case, it may occasion some delays. You see, my
lord, not knowing where he is, we cannot serve him with process.
In regard to the son, too, you see, my lord, nothing can be
discovered--not the slightest trace. However, I doubt not that we
shall be able to fit him with a law, that will secure your lordship
the reversion. But I am afraid, my lord, I have still worse news in
store for you. Grieved I am to be such a croaking raven in your
lordship's ears, and thus to"----

"Do me the favour, then, my good sir," said Lord Ashborough, cutting
across his figures of speech impatiently, "to make your croaking as
brief as possible; and, without circumlocution, to tell me what is the
matter."

"I would first ask your lordship," said Mr. Tims, who had a great
opinion of the foolish plan of breaking bad tidings by degrees. "I
would first ask your lordship, if you have lately heard from Mr.
Beauchamp?"

"Oh, is that all?" said Lord Ashborough. "I told you before, and I
tell you again, Mr. Tims, there is no more chance of her marrying
Henry Beauchamp, than there is of my marrying my walking-stick."

"But it is not that, my lord!" cried Mr. Tims. "It is not that at all!
I am afraid Mr. Beauchamp is drowned!"

Lord Ashborough started from his chair, pale and aghast, with a
complication of painful feelings, which Mr. Tims had little thought
could be excited by the death of any living thing. But the lawyer made
the common mistake of generalizing too broadly. He had fancied that
his patron was calmly callous to every thing but what immediately
affected himself, and he was mistaken; for it is improbable that there
ever was a man whose heart, if we could have traced all its secret
chambers and intricate windings, did not somewhere contain a store,
however small, of gentle feelings and affections. Lord Ashborough
loved his nephew, though probably Henry Beauchamp was the only human
being he did sincerely love. In him all the better affections of his
heart had centred.

Lord Ashborough had also loved his brother, Beauchamp's father; and in
early life, when the heart is soft, he had done him many a kindness,
which--as they were perhaps the only truly generous actions of his
life--made him love his brother still more, as the object that had
excited them. Neither, in the whole course of their lives, did there
occur one unfortunate point of rivalry between them; and Mr.
Beauchamp, or rather Governor Beauchamp, as he was at last generally
called, felt so deeply the various acts of friendship which his
brother had shown to him, and him alone, in all the world, that he
took the best way of expressing his gratitude, namely, by making Lord
Ashborough on all occasions appear to advantage, giving way to his
pride, putting the most favourable construction on his actions, and
never opposing him in words, however differently he might shape his
own conduct. Thus the love of his brother remained unshaken and
increasing, till the last day of Governor Beauchamp's life; and at his
death it was transferred to his son, rendered indeed more tender, but
not decreased by regret for the father, and by the softening power of
memory.

It is sad to think that any less noble feelings should have mingled
with these purer affections, even though they might tend to increase
the intensity of his affection for Henry Beauchamp. It would be far
more grateful to the mind, to let this redeeming point stand out
resplendent in the character of the peer; but we are telling truth,
and it must not be. The shadow, however, perhaps is a slight one; but
it was pride of two kinds that gave the full height to Lord
Ashborough's love for Beauchamp. In the first place, to his title and
estates there was no other heir than Henry Beauchamp. There was not
even any collateral line of male descent, which could have perpetuated
the earldom, if his nephew had been removed. Henry Beauchamp dead, and
the peer saw himself the last Lord Ashborough. In him, therefore, had
centred all the many vague, and, we might almost call them,
_mysterious_ feelings of interest, with which we regard the being
destined to carry on our race and name into the long futurity. Family
pride, then, tended to increase the earl's affection for his nephew;
but there was pride also of another kind concerned. Lord Ashborough
admired Henry Beauchamp as well as loved him; and, strange to say,
admired him, not only for the qualities which they possessed in
common, but for the qualities which his nephew possessed, and which he
himself did not. They were both good horsemen, and Lord Ashborough had
been in his youth, like Henry Beauchamp, skilled in all manly
exercises, had been elegant in his manners, and graceful in his
person; but light wit, a fertile imagination, a generous disposition,
were qualities that the earl had never possessed; and yet he was
gratified beyond measure that his nephew did possess them, delighted
in the admiration they called upon him, and was proud of the heir to
his fortune and his name.

All these facts had been overlooked by Mr. Tims, whose mind, though of
the same kind of web as that of his patron, was of a grosser texture;
and not a little was he surprised and frightened, when he beheld the
effect which his abrupt tidings produced upon the earl.

Lord Ashborough turned deadly pale, and, staggering up, rang the bell
violently. Mr. Tims would have spoken, but the earl waved his hand for
him to be silent; and when the servant appeared, exclaimed, "The drops
out of my dressing-room! Quick!"

The man disappeared, but returned in a moment with vial and glass; and
pouring out a few drops, Lord Ashborough swallowed them hastily; and
then leaning his head upon his hand, paused for a minute or two, while
the servant stood silent beside him, and the lawyer gazed upon him in
horror and astonishment. In a short time the peer's colour returned;
and, giving a nod to the servant, who was evidently not unaccustomed
to scenes somewhat similar, he said, "You may go!"

"Now, Mr. Tims," he continued, when the door was once more closed,
"what were you telling me? But first, let me say you should be more
cautious in making such communications. Do you not know that I am
subject to spasms of the heart, which are always brought on by any
sudden affection of the mind?"

Mr. Tims apologized and declared his ignorance, and vowed he would
not have done such a thing for the world, _et c[oe]tera_; but Lord
Ashborough soon stopped him, and demanded, with some impatience, what
had given rise to the apprehension he had expressed. The lawyer, then,
with circumlocution, if not with delicacy, proceeded to state the
rumours that he had heard at Emberton, which had been confirmed to him
by Mrs. Wilson, namely, that Mr. Beauchamp's hat had been washed on
shore on the sea-side not far from that place. He had found it his
duty, he said, to make enquiries, especially as the good landlady had
declared that the young gentleman had appeared very melancholy and
"out of sorts" on the day he left her. No other part of Mr.
Beauchamp's apparel had been found except a glove, which was picked up
on the road leading from Emberton to a little fishing village not far
off.

"There is one sad fact, my lord, however," continued the lawyer "which
gives me great apprehension. I, myself, in the course of my enquiries,
discovered Mr. Beauchamp's beautiful hunter, Martindale, in the hands
of a poor pot-house keeper, in a village about three miles, or not so
much, from Emberton. This man and his servants were the last people
who saw your nephew. He came there, it appears, late one evening on
horseback, asked if they had a good dry stable, put up his horse, saw
it properly attended to, and then walked out, looking very grave and
disconsolate, the man said. I found that this person knew the horse's
name; and, when I asked him how he had learned it, for he did not know
Mr. Beauchamp at all, he said, that the gentleman, just before he
went, had patted the horse's neck, and said, 'my poor Martindale! I
must take care of you, however!'"

Lord Ashborough listened with a quivering lip and haggard eye as Mr.
Tims proceeded with his tale. "Have you been at his house?" he
demanded, as the other concluded.

"I went there the first thing this morning, my lord," replied Mr.
Tims; "but I am very sorry to say, none of his servants know any thing
whatever in regard to him. They all say they have been expecting him
in town every day for the last week."

Lord Ashborough again rang the bell. "Order horses to the carriage
immediately!" he said, when his servant appeared; "and go on to
Marlborough Street with my compliments to Sir George F----, and a
request that he would send me an experienced officer, who can go down
with me into the country directly. Mr. Tims, I must enquire into this
business myself. I leave you here behind to take every measure that is
necessary; but, above all things, remember that you have ten thousand
pounds to pay into the hands of poor Beauchamp's agents. Do not fail
to do it in the course of to-day; and explain to them that the
business of the bill was entirely owing to forgetfulness. Let all the
expenses be paid, and clear away that business at once. I am almost
sorry that it was ever done."

"And about Sir Sidney Delaware, my lord?" said Mr. Tims. "What"----

"Proceed against him instantly!" interrupted the peer, setting his
teeth firm. "Proceed against him instantly, by every means and all
means! The same with his son! Leave not a stone unturned to bring him
to justice, or punish him for contumacy. If it had not been for those
two villains, and their damned intrigues, this would not have happened
to poor Henry!"

Thus do men deceive themselves; and thus those things that, would they
listen to conscience instead of desire, might become warnings and
reproofs, they turn to apologies for committing fresh wrongs, and fuel
to feed the fire of their passions into a blaze. The observation may
be commonplace, but it is true; and let the man who does not do so,
call it trite, if he will--no one else has a right.

It was evident that the earl was in no placable mood; and Mr. Tims,
though he had much yet to speak of, and many a plan to propose, in
order to overcome those legal difficulties to the design he had
suggested, which were now springing up rapidly to his mind, yet
thought it expedient to put off the discussion of the whole till his
noble patron was in a more fitting humour, not a little apprehensive
that, if he touched upon the matter at present, the earl's anger might
turn upon himself, for discovering obstacles in a path which he had
formerly represented as smooth and easy. He therefore contented
himself with asking a few more directions; and, leaving Lord
Ashborough, proceeded straight to Doctors' Commons to make the
necessary arrangements concerning his uncle's property. That done, he
visited the stamp-office; his business there being of no small
consequence to himself. It was neither more nor less than to cause a
paper to be stamped, which he had found amongst other documents
belonging to his uncle, which acknowledged the receipt of the sum of
ten thousand pounds from Mr. Tims of Ryebury, and was signed by Henry
Beauchamp.

Considerable difficulties were offered at the stamp-office to the
immediate legalization of this paper; but Mr. Tims was so completely
aware of every legal point, and, through Lord Ashborough's business,
was so well known at the office, that it was at length completed, and
he immediately turned his steps towards the house of Messrs. Steelyard
and Wilkinson, who had lately become the law-agents of Henry
Beauchamp. Before he had gone above half a mile on the road thither,
he pulled the check-string of the hackney-coach in which he was
seated, and bade the man drive to Clement's Inn. This was immediately
done; and Mr. Tims entered his chambers, and retired into its inmost
recesses, to pause upon and consider the step that he had just been
about to take.

This was no other than to wait upon Messrs. Steelyard and Wilkinson,
and tender them Mr. Beauchamp's stamped acknowledgement of the receipt
of ten thousand pounds from his uncle, in discharge of the ten
thousand pounds which he had been directed to pay by Lord Ashborough,
appropriating to himself, as his uncle's heir, the money which was
thus left in his hands. The matter was susceptible of various points
of view; for, though the law does not recognize the principle of any
man helping himself in such a manner, yet we are informed by those who
know better than ourselves, that it is very difficult under many
circumstances to prevent him from doing so. There was one point,
however, which greatly incommoded Mr. Tims, namely, that the
acknowledgement in Mr. Beauchamp's hand, was dated on the very day of
the Ryebury murder, and thereby offered a strong presumption, that the
money had really been placed in Captain Delaware's chamber by his
cousin. Many important consequences might ensue should Mr. Beauchamp
reappear, and declare such to have been the fact; and although Mr.
Tims sincerely hoped and trusted that he was at the bottom of the sea,
yet, as it might happen that he was not, the lawyer, with laudable
precaution, sat down to state to himself the results which would take
place, in each of the two cases, if he were now to present his
acknowledgement.

He found, therefore, that should Mr. Beauchamp never be heard of more,
the case would go on against Captain Delaware, the suit in chancery
might proceed against Sir Sidney Delaware, the twenty-five thousand
pounds he had got would remain in his hands, and, by presenting the
acknowledgement, he would be enabled to retain possession of ten
thousand pounds more. All this, therefore, was in favour of acting as
he had determined.

On the other hand, if Mr. Beauchamp did reappear--which he did not
think likely--he began to suspect that Captain Delaware would be
cleared, that the twenty-five thousand pounds would be transferred to
Lord Ashborough, that the Emberton estate would be freed from all
encumbrance, and that he would undoubtedly lose the twelve thousand
pounds which had been stolen from his uncle, as well as Lord
Ashborough's favour and business. "The more reason," he thought, "why
I should immediately get this money, which undoubtedly did belong to
my uncle! But, can I then continue the process against Captain
Delaware," he continued, "with such a strong presumption of his
innocence in my own hands?"--and he looked at the note, which nearly
amounted to positive proof--"But what have I to do with that? It does
not absolutely prove his innocence. The coroner's inquest has returned
its verdict, and the law must take its course--besides, Henry
Beauchamp is at the bottom of the sea, and a jury of fishes sitting on
his own body by this time--Pshaw! I will present the acknowledgement
to-morrow."

This doughty resolution Mr. Tims accordingly fulfilled, and at noon,
waited in person on Messrs. Steelyard and Wilkinson. He was shown into
the private room of the latter, a seat was placed for him, and his
business was asked.

"Why, Mr. Wilkinson," he replied, "I have first to explain to you an
uncommonly awkward blunder, which took place by some forgetfulness on
the part of my noble friend and client, the Earl of Ashborough, who,
not adverting to the arrangements made between us, did not leave
assets in my office to pay the bill drawn by you on Mr. Beauchamp's
account. Had I been in town myself," he added, feeling wealthy, "of
course I would have supplied the money; but I, like my noble friend
and client, was out of town till yesterday."

"Rather unfortunate, indeed, Mr. Tims!" replied Mr. Wilkinson dryly,
"especially as Mr. Beauchamp drew for the money. His letter was
couched in such terms as to permit of our handing over the assets that
were in our hands; but we cannot tell that he has not been put to
great inconvenience. Lord Ashborough's note was of course
protested.--Here it is! I hope you have come to retire it."

"I am directed by my Lord Ashborough to do so," answered the lawyer;
"but I rather imagine that Mr. Beauchamp could not be put to much
inconvenience; for I find by this document that he has obtained that
sum, and four hundred and thirty-two pounds more, from my late
unfortunate uncle, to whose property I have taken out letters of
administration, and therefore, retaining the ten thousand pounds now
in hand, I request you would hand me over the four hundred and
thirty-two pounds at your convenience, when I will give you a receipt
in full."

"Sir, this is somewhat unprecedented," replied Mr. Wilkinson, "and I
think you will find that money cannot thus be stopped, _in transit_,
without form of law. Such proceedings, if once admitted, would open a
door to the most scandalous abuses. You acknowledge that you are
commissioned to pay us this money, on account of Lord Ashborough.
Having done so, you will have every right to present your claim
against Mr. Beauchamp, which will, of course, be immediately examined
and attended to."

Mr. Tims replied, and Mr. Wilkinson rejoined; but as it is more than
probable that the reader may already have heard more than he desires
of such a discussion, it will be unnecessary to say more than that Mr.
Tims adhered to his first resolution, and carried off the sum he had
in hand, leaving Mr. Wilkinson to send down to Lord Ashborough his
protested bill, and Beauchamp's note of hand, if he pleased.

In the mean time, that noble lord proceeded, as fast as a light
chariot and good horses could carry him, down to Emberton. It was
dark, however, ere he arrived; and the first object that met his sight
the following morning, as he looked forth from the windows of the inn,
was the old mansion, at the end of its wide and solitary park, with
the stream flowing calmly on, through the midst of the brown grass and
antique trees, and the swans floating upon its bosom in the early
light. He had not seen it since he was a mere youth, and the finger of
time had written that sad word _decay_ on the whole aspect of the
place. To the earl, through whose whole frame the same chilly hand had
spread the growing stiffness of age, the sight was awfully sad, of the
place where he had spent the most elastic days of life, and it was
long ere he could withdraw his eyes, as he paused and contemplated
every feature of the scene, and woke a thousand memories that had long
slept in the night of the past.

There was a change over all he saw since last he had beheld it--a
gloom, a desolation, a darkness; and he felt, too, that there was a
change as great in himself. But there was something more in his
thoughts; the decay in his own frame was greater, more rapid, more
irremediable. The scene might flourish again under some cultivating
hand; the mansion, repaired with care, and ornamented with taste,
might assume a brighter aspect, but nothing could restore life's
freshness or the body's strength to him. Each day that past must see
some farther progress in the downfall of his powers; and few, few
brief months and years would behold him in the earth, without leaving
a being behind him to carry on his lineage into time, if Henry
Beauchamp were, indeed, as his fears anticipated. It was the first
time that he had thought in such a sort for long; and most unfortunate
was it that there was no voice, either in his own heart, or from
without, to point the moral at the moment, and to lead the vague ideas
excited, of life, and death, and immortality, to their just
conclusion. He thought of death and of his own decay indeed; but he
never thought of using better the life that still remained--for he
scarcely knew that he had used the past amiss--and after indulging for
some minutes those meditations that will at times have way, he found
that they only served to make him melancholy, and turned again to the
everyday round of life.

When he was dressed and had breakfasted, he set out for the small
village near which Henry Beauchamp's hat had been found. In his way,
he stopped also at the house where the hunter had been left,
identified the horse, and listened attentively to the replies which
the landlord and his servants made to the shrewd questions of an
officer he brought with him from London.

The man's tale was very simple, and quite the same that he had given
to Mr. Tims. He described Henry Beauchamp very exactly, declared that
he had appeared grave and melancholy when he came there; and that he
had never heard anything of him since. The servants told the same
story; and Lord Ashborough only acquired an additional degree of
gloom, from ascertaining in person the accuracy of the lawyer's
report.

"Oh, he is gone!" he thought, as he returned to his carriage, giving
way to despair in regard to his nephew. "He is gone! This Sidney
Delaware is destined to be the blight of all my hopes and
expectations. If it had not been for his vile intrigues to get quit of
that annuity, all this would never have happened; but I will make him
rue it, should it cost me half my fortune."

It may be asked, whether the earl did never for a moment allow the
remembrance, that his own intrigues might have something to do with
the business, to cross his mind. Perhaps he did--perhaps, indeed, he
could not prevent such thoughts from intruding. But that made him only
the more bitter against Sir Sidney Delaware. Have you never remarked a
nurse, when a child has fallen down and hurt itself, bid it beat the
naughty ground against which it fell? Have you never seen a boy when
he has cut his finger, throw the knife out of the window, or even a
man curse the instrument that he has used clumsily? It is the first
impulse of pampered human nature, to attribute the pangs we suffer to
any thing but our own errors, and to revenge the pain, which we have
inflicted on ourselves, upon the passive instrument. Lord Ashborough
did no more, although, as he rolled on towards the sea-side, he
meditated every sort of evil against Sir Sidney Delaware.

No great information could be obtained upon the coast, although Lord
Ashborough spent the whole day in fruitless enquiries, and although
one of the officers of the coast-guard gave every assistance, with the
keen and active intelligence of a sailor.

The only thing elicited, which seemed to bear at all upon the fate of
Henry Burrel, was the fact, that one of the sailors, on the look-out
about a week before, had heard, or fancied he heard, a man's voice
calling loudly for help. So convinced had he been himself of the fact,
that, with one of his comrades, he ran down the shore in the direction
of the sounds; but he could discover nothing. It was a fine clear
moonlight night, he said, so that he must have seen any thing, if
there had been any thing to see; but the sound only continued a
moment, and on not finding any person, he had concluded that it was
all the work of fancy.

With these scanty tidings, which, of course, only served to increase
his apprehensions, Lord Ashborough was obliged to be satisfied for the
time; and, returning to the inn at Emberton, he gave orders for
printing placards, and inserting advertisements in the newspapers,
each purporting that a large reward would be paid on the discovery of
the body of a gentleman, supposed to be drowned, of whom a very
accurate description was subjoined. The placards were pasted up all
over the country; and Lord Ashborough himself remained two days at
Emberton, but there was something in the aspect of the old mansion and
the park, that was painful to him. When he rose, there it was before
his eyes; when he went out, there it stood, grave and gray, apparently
in his very path; when he returned, he found it still sad and gloomy
at his door. At length, satisfied that he had done ail in his power to
discover his nephew, he returned to town, leaving the police-officer
behind him, with orders to spare neither trouble nor expense to
ascertain the facts; and although the earl himself did not choose to
appear openly in the business of Captain Delaware, a private hint was
conveyed to the officer through his lordship's valet, that, to aid the
others who were upon the search, might be very advantageous to
himself.



END OF VOLUME SECOND.



EDINBURGH:
M. AITKEN, 1, ST. JAMES'S SQUARE.





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